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A college student from Jordan was charged Friday with lying to a grand jury about his association with two men suspected of hijacking the plane that crashed into the Pentagon last month. The charges against Osama Awadallah were brought in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where a grand jury has been hearing testimony related to the investigation of the Sept. 11 disaster that heavily damaged the Pentagon and toppled the World Trade Center towers. Awadallah, 21, who was studying English as a second language at Grossmont College in La Mesa, Calif., was charged with two counts of making false statements for allegedly falsely describing his association with suspected hijackers Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Khalid Al-Mihdhar. The charges each carry a potential penalty of five years in prison. The criminal complaint signed by FBI Agent Thomas D. Rosato Jr. did not accuse Awadallah of knowing anything about the hijacking or the terrorist attacks. Awadallah was arrested Sept. 21 as a material witness in the case. Jesse Berman, a court-appointed lawyer, declined to comment Friday. Another attorney, Randall Hamud, has said Awadallah was picked up in a witch hunt for Middle Easterners. “Every witness brought before a grand jury as part of the investigation of the horrific attacks on Sept. 11 — indeed, as part of any investigation — has an absolute obligation to tell the truth throughout his or her testimony,” U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White said in a statement. “This prosecution demonstrates that we will not allow perjury to impede the pursuit of justice for the victims of these attacks and puts witnesses on notice that anyone who assists terrorists through lies and deception will be vigorously prosecuted,” she added. The charges were at least the second major perjury case to result from the worldwide investigation. Faisal M. Al Salmi was accused in an indictment unsealed Oct. 12 in Arizona with giving false statements to the FBI about his association with Hani Hanjour, who is suspected of piloting the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. In the New York case, prosecutors said Awadallah admitted during testimony Oct. 10 that he knew Al-Hazmi and saw him about 35 to 40 times in the San Diego area between April 2000 and last January. They said he identified Al-Hazmi from a series of photographs. However, prosecutors said, Awadallah denied knowing Al-Mihdhar, saying he did not know anyone named Khalid Al-Mihdhar and did not recognize his name. But prosecutors said in court papers Friday that Al-Hazmi was accompanied by Al-Mihdhar on a number of occasions when Awadallah saw them, including at the gas station where Awadallah worked in the San Diego area. The government also alleged that Awadallah submitted an exam booklet in a college class in which he made reference to “Nawaf” and “Khalid.” The government’s first charge alleges that Awadallah lied to the grand jury when he said he did not know anyone named Khalid. The second charge accuses him of lying when he said he did not write the names “Nawaf” and “Khalid” in his exam booklet. Prosecutors said he later admitted he wrote them. Awadallah was awaiting an initial court appearance on the charges Friday. Meanwhile, in Germany, authorities said Friday they had issued an international arrest warrant for a Moroccan on charges that he helped plan and prepare the Sept. 11 attacks. Zakariya Essabar, 24, is the third fugitive sought by German prosecutors in a probe into the Hamburg-based terrorist cell to which three of the hijackers allegedly belonged. Prosecutors say Essabar allegedly had contacts with the suspected hijackers, all Arabs who lived and studied in Hamburg, as well as with two other suspects sought by Germany. All six are accused of forming the cell. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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