Police seek `accomplice' of Algerian bomb smuggler

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The Independent Online
POLICE IN the United States and Canada were continuing their hunt yesterday for a man who they believe may be an accomplice of Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian caught trying tosmuggle bomb-making equipment into America from Canada last week. Security was tightened at the border as US intelligence sources in Washington also revealed they had evidence of "periodic contact" between Ressam and people linked to Osama bin Laden, the alleged terrorist mastermind based in Afghanistan.

Canadian police said the suspected accomplice of Mr Ressam was believed to have spent the previous three weeks with him in Vancouver, but it was not known whether he took the ferry to the US with Mr Ressam. FBI agents in Seattle were said to be scouring Mr Ressam's telephone records in the hope of tracing one, and possibly more accomplices.

Mr Ressam, who carried two Canadian identity documents in different names, was a resident of Montreal who had been refused political asylum because of his suspected links with the Algerian terrorist organisation, the Armed Islamic Group.

On Sunday, Canadian police searched two flats leased by Mr Ressam in Montreal and a van registered in a name believed to be one of his aliases. But no explosives were found.

The reference by US intelligence to Mr Ressam's links to members of Mr bin Laden's group was the first time they had drawn a connection between the apprehended man and the Saudi exile who is top of America's most wanted list.

The explosives found in Mr Ressam's hire car were of a type used by groups associated with Mr bin Laden. But that did not in itself establish a link because such devices are not unique to one group. The inference yesterday was that American intelligence had additional evidence, perhaps from surveillance.