By BRIAN BLOMQUISTand WILLIAM NEUMAN
October 17, 2001 — Credit cards belonging to the suicide hijackers continued to be used after the Sept. 11 attacks – indicating associates of the terrorists remained in the United States weeks after the kamikaze strikes, authorities said yesterday.
The most recent charge on one of the cards came two weeks ago – a full three weeks after the terror strike – a law-enforcement official told The Post.
"We have an occasional ping that the cards are still being used," the official said, referring to alerts sent to investigators when there is activity on a flagged account.
"We believe there are additional people out there. Many of the closest associates got out of the country early on, but we also believe there are a number of people here we’re still looking at."
The official cautioned that associates of the hijackers, who used the cards, may not have known details of the terror attacks beforehand and may have merely played support roles in the network.
The hijackers had obtained more than 100 credit cards in their own names, variations of their names or by using false identities, the source said.
Several of the hijackers used credit cards to buy their tickets for the fatal flights.
The terror plastic included the "full gamut" of credit card companies, including Visa, Mastercard and American Express, the official said, adding that the hijackers circulated the cards freely among themselves and their associates.
It was not clear how many times the cards have been used since the attacks, but the source said it’s possible some of them may have been stolen and used by people not tied to the terrorists.
The credit card transactions were recorded in Florida, New Jersey and Maryland, states where the hijackers spent periods of time.
In some cases, the credit card use has helped investigators locate and detain associates of the hijackers, the official said.
Meanwhile, French authorities began an investigation into the activities of Zacarias Moussaoui, a French-Moroccan who was detained in Minnesota in August and is now being probed in the terror attacks on America.
Moussaoui raised suspicions when he went to a flight school and said he wanted to learn to fly a plane but not to land.
Moussaoui has been suspected of terror connections in France since 1999 and investigators there hope to dig up ties between European terror networks and the American hijackers.
In other developments:
* Yemeni officials froze the bank accounts of two honey stores included on a U.S. list of terror-linked companies.
Yemen’s central bank put a hold on the funds of Al-Nur Honey Press and Al-Shifa Honey Press for Industry and Commerce pending an investigation of the alleged terror ties.
The U.S. Treasury Department says Al-Nur is owned by Muhammad Hamdi Sadiq al-Ahda, who was once imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for planning terrorist activities. Al-Shifa is owned by Mahmud Abu al-Fatuh Muhammad, who the United States claims is linked to bin Laden activities in Italy.
* Authorities overseas gave new details of suspected bomb plots derailed in recent weeks.
Turkish police officials said they arrested a group plotting to blow up the American consulate in Istanbul.
Officials in Jordan said Jordanian and Lebanese investigators had acted last weekend to thwart a plan to attack the American and British embassies in Lebanon.
American officials had said previously that four overseas terror attacks have been derailed since the Sept. 11 hijackings, including planned strikes in France, Belgium, Turkey and Yemen.
* Canadian authorities were questioning passengers on an Air Canada flight from Toronto that was grounded the day of the terror attacks and never took off.
Two box cutters like those used by some of the hijackers were found in the plane before its next flight.
With Post Wire Services