By SAM SKOLNIK
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
October 11, 2001
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A Seattle man of Middle Eastern descent who reportedly predicted terrorists would attack the United States has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in New York, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
The man, employed as a security guard, suggested to an East Coast friend in a telephone conversation days before the Sept. 11 passenger-jet hijackings that an attack on U.S. soil was coming, the sources said.
After the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the friend went to federal authorities with his concerns.
When the tipster passed a lie-detector test, FBI agents in Seattle were assigned to track down the security guard.
The man refused to cooperate with the agents, who asked him to also submit to a lie-detector test.
"That's not happening," one of the sources said yesterday.
On Wednesday, a federal grand jury in New York state, secretly impaneled to investigate and indict those suspected of involvement in the attacks, subpoenaed the Seattle man, according to the sources.
He was not arrested and has not been detained. He is expected to travel to New York of his own volition to appear before the panel, the sources said.
The man holds an alien registration card, or "green card," meaning he is either a legal permanent U.S. resident or an asylum-seeker, according to the sources.
His name has not been released.
His lawyer, Peter Offenbecher of Seattle, said Wednesday that he is "not in a position to confirm or deny anything."
In Seattle, FBI officials and prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office declined comment.
It is unclear whether prosecutors in New York believe the man to be a material witness -- meaning he has knowledge relating to the events but took no direct role in perpetrating them -- or whether he is suspected of playing an active role in the plot.
Although the subpoena was issued by a New York grand jury, Attorney General John Ashcroft recently took over much of the investigation from the U.S.
Attorney's Office in New York. Federal officials have not said whether the grand jury investigating the Sept. 11 attacks will sit in New York or Washington, D.C., near Justice Department headquarters.
Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden yesterday did not return a call for comment.
Earlier this week, the FBI narrowed the focus of its investigation to 220 people they've arrested since the attacks.
About 400 others previously suspected have no connection to terrorism, investigators have now concluded.