Man arrested at home had overstayed his visa


A 42-year-old man arrested with five illegal immigrants in his Northwest Baltimore apartment Wednesday overstayed a visa two years ago and is scheduled to appear at a bail hearing in state court today, officials said.

Abderrahim Houti is being held in lieu of $5,000 bail on state criminal charges that he harassed and threatened an Owings Mills woman and her family last month.

Police arrested Houti on those charges Wednesday morning at his apartment in the 3600 block of Labyrinth Road. While there, detectives noticed several other men of Middle Eastern descent and what police described as suspicious circumstances. They notified federal officials.

Five men were in the country illegally, Immigration and Naturalization Service officials said yesterday. Two of the men are Canadian citizens, originally from Pakistan and Afghanistan, officials said.

The other three are from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia. Two other men found at the apartment were in the country legally and were released by police after questioning, officials said.

Houti, a Moroccan, arrived in the United States in June 2000 on a six-month visa and did not leave when it expired, said Louis D. Crocetti Jr., district director of the INS Maryland office.

Federal officials placed a detainer on Houti yesterday that will require local officials to turn him over to INS agents if he is able to post bail. Houti would then appear before an immigration judge.

Law enforcement officials said they seized a computer, a camera that they said probably was used to make fake identification cards and information about flight training. Detectives seized two computers, identification cards, photographs, notebooks and literature, officials said.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris declined to comment to The Sun yesterday, but he told WBAL-TV that "this is an al-Qaida [method of operation]. ... There are a lot of things that don't smell right, frankly."

"There was a lot of interesting material in the home," Norris told the station.

FBI agents aiding the investigation said they had received no information indicating a terrorist threat. Immigration officials have said that a preliminary investigation found the men violated immigration rules but weren't planning terrorist attacks.

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