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Authorities Say Apex Pilot Not Linked To Terrorism

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APEX, N.C. — Some federal law enforcement officials haveclosed investigations of a Tanzanian native detained in NorthCarolina after determining he has no connections to terrorists.

Issaya Nombo, who was arrested by federal authorities on April 15 at his Apex home for overstaying his visa, attractedattention from the Immigration and Naturalization Service when hisname was found on a computer printout in a cave in Afghanistan.

The printout was a Web page showing Nombo's graduation from aFlorida flight school.

Nombo could still face legal problems after federal officialssaid he was found with a counterfeit green card and Social Securitycard.

"He's still in custody, and I think our interest in him haswaned," said Raleigh FBI agent Frank Perry. "It's pretty much inthe hands of the INS."

An experienced pilot, Nombo was convicted of fraud in SouthAfrica for purchasing an airline pilot's examination. Nombo andanother man did not show up for sentencing in March 2001.

Two months later, he applied for and received a student visa totake flying lessons in Florida.

INS agents discovered that Nombo's student visa had expired lastAugust, officials said. Authorities tracked him to North Carolinaand detained him April 15, but Mark Corallo, a spokesman with theU.S. Department of Justice, said investigators quickly learnedNombo had no ties to terrorism.

Sue Brown, a spokeswoman with the INS in Atlanta, refused toanswer questions about Nombo and referred all inquiries to theDepartment of Justice.

The name was found on a printed copy of the home page of the Website run by Voyager Aviation in Merritt Island, Fla. The pageincluded a congratulations to Nombo and two other recent graduatesof the flight school, the FBI said.

Perry had said earlier that it is possible terrorists had beensearching the Internet for flight schools and for recent graduatesof certain ethnicities who might be recruited.

A man and a woman, both Tanzanian, were arrested with Nombo inApril and also are under INS detention, officials have said.

Nombo began working as a cashier at a Raleigh-DurhamInternational Airport restaurant in August but was laid off afterSept. 11 when air travel slumped, officials have said. He wasrehired in mid-December and worked there until March 12.

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