Claim: The FBI is asking for the public’s assistance in locating five men who supposedly entered the USA illegally on
Status: Not any more.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2002]
This just in! FBI believes:
5 Arab Men with Terror Ties Snuck into Country!
FBI intelligence says these men may have snuck into the U.S. on Christmas Eve. All are believed to be connected to terrorism investigations.
The FBI is asking the public to help it locate 5 men of Arab decent who they believe entered the country illegally from Canada. All Americans are asked to help with this manhunt.
We’re sending their pictures to 2 million Internet users and asking everyone to please pass the pictures to at least
The FBI needs your help in the fight against terrorism!
Origins: When the above message began circulating via
The five men described in the warning were said to have been part of a group of nineteen who obtained bogus travel documents in Canada. FBI and White House officials wouldn’t directly link the five men to terrorism but said their names came to light during an anti-terrorism investigation into a passport smuggling ring. According to the FBI’s press release:
Although the FBI has no specific information that these individuals are connected to any potential terrorist activities, based upon information developed in the course of
The FBI was unclear on exactly how the five men might have slipped into the country — whether they got past border security, used an illegal entry point, or employed forged passports. The five men, who were believed to be traveling on false British passports, were traced to a forger in Pakistan with links to
A few days after the alert was issued, a Pakistani jeweler named Mohammed Asghar came forward and claimed that the picture of “Mustafa Khan Owasi” was actually a photograph of him, that he had never been to the USA, and that a passport forger who had crafted a phony visa for him had re-used his picture without his knowledge.
FBI officials later admitted that the information on which the warning had been based, provided by a forgery suspect held in police custody in Canada and awaiting extradition to the U.S., was probably fabricated and called off the search. Michael John Hamdani, who is in police custody in Canada, passed an initial Canadian polygraph test when he reported the alleged illegal entries, but officials said they were not convinced he told the truth after further investigation turned up discrepancies in his story.
Last updated: 8 March 2008