Federal grand jury hearing evidence about terrorist attacks against Trade Center

Tuesday, September 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A federal grand jury has been convened to investigate the suicide hijackings that destroyed the World Trade Center, authorities said Tuesday.

The grand jury was convened in White Plains, a suburb north of New York, and will issue subpoenas. The grand jury began meeting last week, a law enforcement source said on condition of anonymity.

The scope of the White Plains grand jury was not immediately clear, but New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said similar investigations will be undertaken nationwide.

``You're going to see things like the grand jury in White Plains,'' he said. ``You're going to see grand juries around the country, perhaps, looking into matters pertaining to this investigation.''

White Plains is part of the federal court system's Southern District of New York, which is based in Manhattan. But the Manhattan courthouse is open only to court employees because of the devastation at the Trade Center a few blocks away.

The Southern District, headed by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, has historically led all investigations related to Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the attacks.

Marvin Smilon, a spokesman for White, had no comment Tuesday.

The investigation of the attacks has stretched from Florida to California and overseas, and tracked the movements of the men suspected of hijacking and crashing the four airliners.

Acting on 47,000 potential leads, the FBI has detained 75 people for questioning and on immigration charges and has arrested at least four material witnesses, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Tuesday. As many as 190 others are wanted for questioning.

The FBI is keeping a tight hold on its witnesses, jailing an unspecified number of them to keep them from fleeing. Courts have sealed all information about those arrested.