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A Yemeni man who authorities say may have helped some of the Sept. 11 hijackers pleaded guilty Friday to lying to an immigration officer. Mohdar Abdullah, a former student at San Diego State University, has been in federal custody since shortly after the terrorist attacks. He will be given credit for time served at sentencing on Oct. 8 and likely will be deported to Yemen, according to his lawyer, Kerry Steigerwalt. Abdullah, 24, was charged with filing an asylum application in May 2000 in which he falsely claimed he was from Somalia and was a member of a minority group that faced persecution there. On Friday, he acknowledged that he lied to an immigration officer. Abdullah, whose given name is Al-Mohdar Mohamed Al-Mohdar Zeid, told the officer he entered the United States on Dec. 7, 1998, at New York on an Italian passport. In truth, he entered three days later from Canada on a Yemeni passport. Investigators have said Abdullah was a friend of Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi and Hani Hanjour, who crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. But the plea did not address the government’s allegations that Abdullah helped the three men obtain Social Security cards and driver’s licenses, and telephoned a flight school in Florida to arrange for flight lessons. Steigerwalt said the allegations were never substantiated. “I guess I can just say that if it were true, I would have seen some criminal charges along those lines,” the attorney said. Steigerwalt has insisted his client had only “incidental” contact with the hijackers and had no prior knowledge of the attacks. At his arrest, prosecutors said Abdullah spoke without prompting of “the hatred in his heart for the United States government.” Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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