A customer sees someone he thinks matches an FBI photograph. Authorities search the city on the eve of a presidential visit.
By KATHRYN WEXLER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 26, 2003
TAMPA -- Police searched several square miles of South Tampa on Tuesday night after a sandwich shop customer reported seeing a man who looked like a terrorist suspect wanted by the FBI.
A customer at a Subway at S Dale Mabry Highway and W Sevilla Street told police that he saw a man about 5 p.m. who resembled a photograph he had seen on television of Adnan El Shukrijumah.
Federal officials announced last week they were searching worldwide for El Shukrijumah, 27, who had lived in South Florida and was believed to have ties to al-Qaida.
The Subway customer said he noticed the resemblance when the man entered the store and bought a sandwich from a clerk.
The tipster, whose name was not released by police, said he followed the man out of the store and watched him get into a red, newer model, two-door Grand Am with tinted windows. The customer, who said the man appeared to walk faster when he realized he was being followed, did not get the license plate number, police said.
Several minutes later, Tampa Police Capt. Bob Guidara stopped by the Subway for dinner. The customer told the officer of his suspicions.
Guidara showed the customer a wanted poster of El Shukrijumah, and the customer said he thought that was the man who had just left. The officer also showed the poster to the clerk, who also said it looked like the man who was in his store.
Tampa police spokeswoman Katie Hughes said there have been hundreds of reported sightings of El Shukrijumah, including some in the Tampa Bay area.
All have been taken seriously, she said, but officials were particularly concerned about Tuesday's report because of President Bush's visit today to MacDill Air Force Base, a few miles from the Subway shop.
"We're collaborating with all the (law enforcement) agencies, especially with the president coming," Hughes said. "Everybody's in touch and aware of what happened tonight."
El Shukrijumah lived for six years with his family in Miramar in South Florida. While his family has said he owns an import-export business of Islamic items bought from Saudi Arabia, federal officials have said he intended to inflict violent attacks on Americans.
His father, Gulshair El Shukrijumah, has said that when he last heard from his son five months ago, his son was living in Morocco with a new wife and child. The elder El Shukrijumah said federal agents were wrong about his son and said Adman left the United States months before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Federal officials believe Adnan El Shukrijumah is an al-Qaida member trained to carry out deadly attacks. His name surfaced after the March 1 capture of senior al-Qaida organizer Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.