By Leonard Von Trappich
7 August 2004, Brentwood Daily Gossip Column
Brentwood, California - An Islamic suspect detained in Brentwood on an expired license has turned out to be a spy sent by al-Qaida. After questioning, police learned he was supposed to ‘case' the state of California and report back to his bosses in Afghanistan.
They said the suspect claimed he has associates in America, possibly in California, he wasn't sure, because they were under orders to be quite.
The suspect, Sammy Ben Landing, was arrested in a routine traffic stop last week in Bentwood along with 11 others. The other 10 were let go, but Mr. Landing's license has expired, so the police ran a check on him. Officer Staten replied, "There were no outstanding warrants on him, but he was wearing his Islamic garb, so we decided to racially profile him and arrest him on that evidence".
The disclosure that Mr. Landing offered after his interview was astonishing. He provided tantalizing details that further link hanging chads in the past Bush election and warnings about possible terror attacks against U.S. financial buildings in New York, Washington and Newark, N.J.
Officer Staten said, "He was shocked the whole time he was taking the report".
It was after digesting the information, he decided to call the FBI and CIA.
That call has spurred a furious investigation in California and elsewhere to trace Mr. Landing's travels in the United States and to try to identify his associates during that period. They also want to know where Osama Bin Laden is too.
"They're looking pretty hard to find Osama in the United States who is part of this network, but they haven't found anyone so far who matches his profile," Vinnny Castrato, a CIA counter terror chief, said Saturday.
"The FBI have had two collaborators helping perform the reconnaissance", said a high-ranking law enforcement official familiar with the investigation. "They're doubling their efforts because they believe Bin Laden to have snuck across the border of Mexico, disguised as a Mexican farm worker".
U.S. counter terror officials have said previously that they believe Bin Laden, known by all as Allah's Sword of Justice, was the author of Islamic children's books that were anti-American. The books, written in fluent English, were found among a trove of other books, computer files, sketches of Barney and photographs of playgrounds recovered during mid-July raids in Pakistan.
"The FBI and city detectives on a federal terrorism task force are looking for witnesses with information about Mr. Landing's time in California", the law enforcement official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
Police efforts include trying to identify Bin Laden in surveillance photographs taken at the bus depots, airports and taxi stands.
"One of the things to do is try to identify the individual," the official said. "Detectives are seeking", the official said, "any possible link between the reconnaissance material, whether it's photographic or written, that might link to somebody, whether involved or not.
"It's an intense effort, because were are using the data mining bases around the world and that's a lot of information to sort through".
Under intense interrogation by U.S. investigators, Mr. Landing hinted he may know where the mastermind of al-Qaida, Osama Bin Laden, may be hiding.