Hijackers' roommate, charged with obtaining illegal visa, ordered released

Thursday, July 11th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BALTIMORE (AP) _ A Jordanian man who lived with two Sept. 11 hijackers has been ordered released from federal custody and is to be monitored electronically at his father's home.

Rasmi Al-Shannaq, 27, is charged with obtaining a fake visa from the U.S. embassy in Qatar. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. District Judge Andre Davis on Wednesday upheld a magistrate's ruling earlier in the day to free the man, whose friends and relatives had pledged $410,000 for his release.

``This is the first step in a long process,'' said defense attorney Jim Wyda, adding that his client should be released by Thursday and would go into immigration custody.

A date has not yet been set for an immigration hearing, an immigration official said.

Al-Shannaq was taken into custody June 24 during an FBI and Immigration and Naturalization Service raid on his Baltimore home. The men he lived with are suspected of hijacking American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon. Al-Shannaq has acknowledged living with the hijackers.

Prosecutors say he could pose a danger to the public and is a flight risk because he is a Jordanian citizen and because of the charge against him.

In her ruling earlier Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Susan Gauvey said Al-Shannaq had no criminal history and Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey Eisenberg had conceded that there was no attempt to link Al-Shannaq with Sept. 11.