Manila police arrest wrong man at airport
By Arturo Bariuad, The Straits Times Philipines Bureau, 16 September 2001
MANILA - Philippine authorities hunting down suspected foreign terrorists here with links to Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden and Tuesday's attacks in the US suffered a major embarrassment yesterday after initial leads. They had to let the suspect go.

A Saudi Airlines pilot Mohammad Bukhari, who arrived in Manila on Thursday night, was held on suspicion that he was a brother of one of the terrorists implicated in Tuesday's devastating attacks on New York.

But after hours of questioning that lasted until yesterday morning, Chief Superintendent Robert Delfin, intelligence chief of the Philippine National Police, said: 'We were able to establish that he is not related to any of the hijackers.'

A police officer said it was a mistake to have detained Mr Bokhari.

He was a last-minute substitution in the crew for a Saudi Arilines flight SV862 from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Manila on Thursday.

The Philippine officials on Saturday allowed Mr Bokhari to leave the country.

In another development, the government's claim that one of the 18 supposed hijackers was the same man questioned days earlier, turned out to be misleading.

The man, along with two other Omanis, had been questioned by the police for allegedly filming the US Embassy in Manila.

Details furnished by the US federal authorities on Friday revealed that the three Omanis merely shared the surname of Marwan Al-shehhi, who was on board United Airlines Flight 175 that crashed into the World Trade Center.

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