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Pakistani's N.C. video raises suspicions

Karachi decries N.Y. mosque sting

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Federal officials charged a Pakistani citizen with immigration violations and said yesterday the man was detained last month after being spotted taking videotapes of downtown skyscrapers.

Kamran Akhtar was arrested July 20 after being taken in for questioning by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Anthony Maglione. Charges against him were contained in indictments unsealed in federal court yesterday.

Akhtar, 36, is charged with violating federal immigration and naturalization laws and making a false statement, according to a news release by US Attorney Gretchen Shappert.

US Magistrate Judge Carl Horn ordered Akhtar held in federal custody at a hearing yesterday morning in federal court. He was being held by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Darrell Stephens, Akhtar told Maglione at the time of his arrest that he was making videotapes for family members.

''This is one that will require more investigation, to determine just what he was doing with these tapes," Stephens said.

Mayor Pat McCrory said Charlotte residents and workers in the city's busy financial district, which is home to two of the nation's top five bank headquarters, should not alter their routine.

A federal affidavit unsealed yesterday said a review of the tape in Akhtar's camera and others in his possession showed film of the downtown Wachovia Bank and Bank of America headquarters buildings. Calls to Bank of America and Wachovia were not immediately returned yesterday.

There also were pictures from other major US cities, including Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, and Austin, Texas.

Meanwhile, an FBI sting operation that used a purported assassination plot against a Pakistani diplomat to snare two leaders of an Albany mosque has drawn complaints from Pakistan, which issued a protest yesterday.

An FBI informant asked two suspects to launder money for profit from the sale of a shoulder-fired missile that would be used to kill Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations, according to a federal complaint.

''This has increased our ambassador's and our mission's vulnerability . . . and could have endangered the life of our ambassador," Khan said in a statement.

A 19-count indictment, unsealed Monday, charges Yassin Muhiddin Aref, 34, and Mohammed Mosharref Hossain, 49, with conspiring to launder money and promote terrorism. It did not provide details about allegations that they are tied to an extremist group linked to Al Qaeda.

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