A federal grand jury indicted a Canadian woman and an Algerian
citizen yesterday on immigration charges as the nationwide investigation into a terrorist bomb plot continued.
In an eight-count indictment filed in Burlington, Vt., Lucia Garofalo, 35, and Bouabide Chamchi, 20, were charged with alien smuggling and misuse of a passport. The pair were not charged with any terrorism-related crimes, even though previous filings by federal prosecutors linked them to another Algerian, Ahmed Ressam, who was arrested with explosives in his car in Port Angeles, Wash., last month.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerome Niedermeier agreed to reconsider his earlier ruling that Garofalo be held without bail.
Garofalo and Chamchi were arrested Dec. 19 near the Canadian border in Beecher Falls, Vt., after border officials recognized her from previous crossings that had aroused their suspicions. Her attorney did not return calls asking for comment.
Garofalo's other crossings were part of yesterday's indictment, with the government alleging that she had illegally driven three foreign nationals believed to be Algerian into the United States between Dec. 6 and the day of her arrest. In addition to Chamchi, Mustafa Roubici and a man identified as John Doe a.k.a Ahmed Saeen were named as her passengers from Canada to the United States.
Separately yesterday, the importance of the federal anti-terrorist effort over the holidays was underlined in a speech at the National Press Club by national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger.
"Thankfully, the New Year's Eve celebrations around the world passed without a terrorist attack. But just because we dodged a bullet doesn't mean there was no bullet to dodge," Berger said.
"The last weeks of 1999 saw the largest U.S. counterterrorism operation in history. Terrorist cells were disrupted in eight countries, and attacks were almost certainly prevented, thanks to the good work of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies."
Staff writer Charles Babington contributed to this report.