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Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sunday, May 9, 2004

Two Israelis arrested after high-speed chase in Tennessee

The Associated Press

Ryder truckERWIN, Tenn. -- Two Israeli men who led the Unicoi County sheriff on a high-speed chase in a rented moving truck were placed under arrest and are being investigated by the FBI, local officials said.

Shmuel Dahan and Almaliach Naor, both from Israel, were being held without bond Sunday afternoon at the Unicoi County Jail. The truck, rented from a Ryder office in Mars Hills, N.C., was being held in the county garage pending an FBI investigation, officials said.

Dahan is charged with reckless driving, littering, false identification and evading arrest, while Naor faces charges of false identification and evading arrest, an officer with the Unicoi County Sheriff's Department who would not give his name said Sunday.

An investigation by the FBI is ongoing and more charges are possible, he said. A woman who answered the phone at the FBI's Knoxville office said there was no one available to answer questions about the arrest.

The incident began late Saturday afternoon [May 8, 2004] when Sheriff Kent Harris noticed a rental truck traveling at a high speed along former U.S. Highway 23, a lightly-traveled highway near the North Carolina state line.

"I was really concerned because the driver would not stop after I flashed my headlights for nearly three miles," Harris said. "He was weaving back and forth and I was wondering what a large (rental truck) was doing on the two-lane highway late Saturday afternoon instead of the faster I-26 Interstate."

Harris said he saw the men throw something from the truck while they were being pursued. Officers scouring the area later found a vial containing an unknown substance along the roadway, he said.

Once the men were apprehended, officers also found a "Learn to Fly" brochure in the truck, leading Harris and others to express concern about security at the Nuclear Fuel Services plant in Erwin.

"I got a sick feeling when I saw it," Harris said.

Dahan also gave authorities a fake Florida driver's license issues in Plantation, Fla., he said, while Naor produced a fake identification card.

Harris subsequently contacted the FBI, the federal Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms and other local authorities to look into the situation.

"We're not overreacting," Harris said. "We have a responsibility to protect the citizens of Unicoi County and that's what I'm going to do at any cost. I'd rather overreact, if that's what you call it, than be sorry later."

 Website note: we request readers to keep their eyes open for follow-up stories on this incident.


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