By Larry Neumeister
NEW YORK – Two men taken off a train a day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because they were carrying box cutters and hair dye have been indicted on federal charges of credit card fraud.
The government alleges that Syed Gul Mohammed Shah and Mohammed Azmath were responsible for credit cards with an outstanding balance of approximately $414,000.
On Sept. 11, they left Newark, N.J., on a flight bound for San Antonio, Texas, but the flight terminated at St. Louis when all airline flights were grounded because of the attacks. The men then boarded a Texas-bound train, on which they were later arrested.
Investigators said men had two box cutters, hair dye, a knife and several thousand dollars in cash. They also said the men had shaved hair from their bodies, as some of the Sept. 11 hijackers may have been instructed to do.
Recently, however, investigators have said privately that they do not believe Shah, 36, and Azmath, 38, were involved in terrorism.
Shah’s lawyer, Lawrence Feitell, has said it was not unusual for his client to carry a box cutter because he had recently lost his job at a newsstand, where the blades are used to open boxes and bundles of newspapers. The lawyer said the dye was used to cover his client’s graying hair.
A message left with a lawyer for Azmath was not immediately returned.
If convicted, the men could each face up to five years in prison.
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