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Police quiz Israeli found in Arouca hills


"What's up, buddy?" was the friendly greeting which Spring Road villagers were frequently offered by an Israeli national who was found hiding in a forested area in the Northern Range on Friday afternoon.

Senior police were, up to late yesterday, trying to trace how the man, believed to be between 30 and 35, arrived in the country, and what was the purpose of his visit.

They said that from information received, the man might have been a stowaway.

The police were also examining whether the man could be linked to the four bombings which occurred in Port-of-Spain and St James, but they have since ruled out that.

When contacted yesterday, Police Commissioner Trevor Paul confirmed that the man was still in custody, and that investigators were exploring all aspects of the probe.

However, another member of the police executive said they learnt that the man, who is believed to have been in the country for the past two months, speaks five different languages fluently.

"That in itself may be pointing to something which we have been exploring. Another thing is that an immigration stamp was found in the man's possession," the spokesman said.

He said the man was nabbed after information received and Arouca police had to trek several miles into a hilly, heavily-forested area off Spring Road, shortly after 5 pm, in search of him on Friday.

A woman who was believed to be living with the man was also arrested, but was released later.

The spokesman said instructions were given to have the man interviewed by all intelligence agencies, so that a comprehensive report could be compiled and handed over to the CoP and ACP James Philbert, who is in charge of the Special Intelligence Unit.

"We have the information circulating internationally about what we have learnt about the man, and we are looking at all different aspects of his identity."

When reached via his cellphone, National Security Minister Martin Joseph said he knew nothing about the issue.

"I am not in a position to give any comments on the matter, whether brief or otherwise, because I have no information," Joseph said hastily.

ACP in charge of the Northern and Eastern Division, Dennis Graham, under whose purview Arouca falls, was informed of the Israeli's arrest only yesterday morning.

Sources from the Special Anti-Crime Unit (SAUTT) said after the man was taken to Arouca Police Station, senior SAUTT officers went to the station to interview him.

He said SAUTT, together with members of the Arouca CID, spent hours trying to obtain information from the Israeli.

"He did not appear to be aggressive. What we did was just a basic profile of the man, including photographing him and recording a physical description of him.

"He had a passport on him, and that was seized also," the officer added.

"We are expected to receive assistance from our local Interpol and members of the FBI."

Another senior SAUTT member said an informant from the village told them the man was often seen leaving the area early on mornings with a huge bag and returning late in the afternoon.

"We were also informed that he is well-known in the district and that a lady used to cook for him."

Up to late yesterday afternoon, police were also questioning a Rastafarian man and his wife who they said were "very friendly" with the Israeli.

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