Bergen (New Jersey), Wednesday, September 12,
detained as suspected conspirators
ABOUT eight hours after
terrorists struck Manhattan's tallest skyscrapers,
police in Bergen County detained five men who they
said were found carrying maps linking them to the
The five men, who were in a van stopped on Route
3 in East Rutherford around 4:30 p.m., were being
questioned by police but had not been charged with
any crime late Tuesday. The Bergen County Police
bomb squad X-rayed packages found inside the van
but did not find any explosives, authorities
However, sources close to the investigation said
they found other evidence linking the men to the
"There are maps of the
city in the car with certain places
highlighted," the source said. "It looked like
they're hooked in with this. It looked like they
knew what was going to happen when they were at
Liberty State Park."
Sources also said that bomb-sniffing dogs
reacted as if they had detected explosives,
although officers were unable to find anything. The
FBI seized the van for further testing, authorities
Sources said the van was stopped as it headed
east on Route 3, between the Hackensack River
bridge and the Sheraton hotel. As a precaution,
police shut down Route 3 traffic in both directions
after the stop and evacuated a small roadside motel
near the Sheraton.
Sources close to the investigation said
the men said they were
Israeli tourists, but police had not been
able to confirm their identities. Authorities would
not release their names.
East Rutherford officers stopped the van after
the FBI's Newark Field Office broadcast an alert
asking surrounding police departments to look for a
white Chevrolet van, police said.
"We got an alert to be on the lookout for a
white Chevrolet van with New Jersey registration
and writing on the side," said Bergen County Police
Chief John Schmidig. "Three individuals were
seen celebrating in Liberty State Park after the
impact. They said three people were jumping up and
The East Rutherford officers summoned the county
police bomb squad, New Jersey state troopers, and
FBI agents, who waited alongside the van as
prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office tried
to obtain a warrant to search the van late Tuesday,
By 10 p.m., members of the bomb squad were
picking through the van and X-raying packages found
inside, Schmidig said.
Sources said the FBI alert, known as a BOLO or
"Be On Lookout," was sent out at 3:31 p.m.
"Vehicle possibly related to New York
terrorist attack. White, 2000 Chevrolet van with
New Jersey registration with 'Urban Moving
Systems' sign on back seen at Liberty State
Park, Jersey City, NJ, at the time of first
impact of jetliner into World Trade Center.
"Three individuals with van were seen
celebrating after initial impact and subsequent
explosion. FBI Newark Field Office requests
that, if the van is located, hold for prints and
FBI spokeswoman Sandra Carroll declined
to comment on the incident late Tuesday.
State police Lt. Col. Barry W. Roberson
confirmed the traffic stop at a late night news
briefing at state police headquarters in Trenton.
He would not elaborate, however.
Business records show an Urban Moving Systems
with offices on West 50th Street in Manhattan and
on West 18th Street in Weehawken. Telephone
messages left at the businesses Tuesday evening
were not immediately returned.
Business records show the owner as Dominik
Suter of Fair Lawn. A woman answering the
telephone at Suter's home acknowledged he owned the
company but refused to comment further. She also
declined to identify herself.
It was not clear Tuesday whether the van stopped
by police is related to Suter's company.
A business traveler staying at the Homestead
Studio Suites Hotel said she watched state troopers
drive the suspects away in a procession of state
police cars about 5 p.m.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, said
the people detained appeared to be white men, but
she could not give more details. About 5:30 p.m.,
police evacuated the hotel without offering guests
"First, they told us we could hang out in the
lobby, but then they told us we had to leave," the
At 10 p.m., the hotel guest said she could see
at least two police officers searching through the
van while a crowd of other officers kept their
distance. Except for police vehicles and a tow
truck, the service road beside Route 3 was empty,
Staff Writer Wendy Ruderman contributed to