N.Z. Deports a Roommate of a Terrorist.
New Zealand's prime minister defended on Monday her government's decision to deport a former roommate of one of the Sept. 11 hijackers.
New Zealand said Saturday that Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali, a Yemeni, was deported to Saudi Arabia on May 30, claiming his presence in New Zealand posed a security threat.
The immigration minister has said there was no evidence he was involved in terrorist activities in New Zealand.
Rayed Abdullah is named in U.S. government reports as a roommate of Saudi Arabian Hani Hanjour, one of the hijackers aboard the airliner flown into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Rayed Abdullah was never charged in connection with the attacks.
Rayed Abdullah entered New Zealand in February, telling authorities he wanted to study English in Auckland. He was deported one day after being arrested in Palmerston North, 335 miles south of Auckland, where he was taking pilot training at the Manawatu Districts Aero Club.
"When you have someone who clearly has been a close associate of a terrorist who took a plane into the Pentagon, it's clearly not useful to be providing them with pilot training in New Zealand," Prime Minister Helen Clark said.
Immigration Minister David Cunliffe said Monday the Yemeni man was expelled because of his "direct association with people involved in the 9/11 bombing, the nature of his ... activities in the United States (and) the general nature of his activities in New Zealand."
Rayed Abdullah already held a U.S. pilot's license and had 79 hours of flying time on his log book before arriving in New Zealand, the Manawatu club said.
Clark dismissed as "sheer speculation" reports that Rayed Abdullah had been allowed to enter the country deliberately so security services could monitor his activities.
She said he used an alias to enter the country.
"Clearly the man set out to deceive," Clark told the NewstalkZB radio network.