Update: The Justice Department Manhunt

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MANNY CENETA/AFP

Ashcroft and Mueller during a press conference at FBI headquarters

The Justice Department, headed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, has been working overtime since the terrorist attacks last Tuesday. As the CIA probes global terrorist cells with suspected connections to Osama bin Laden, the FBI continues its domestic investigation, urging cooperation from widespread business and commerce interests.

Wednesday, FBI head Robert Mueller sent bank officials a list of 21 people wanted in connection to the attacks: "The FBI is requesting that all financial institutions check their records for any relationships or transactions with the named suspects," the alert read.

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One hundred and fifteen people are now wanted for questioning in a widening probe into the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Thursday morning, Justice Department officials confirmed that one of those people, 34-year-old Nabil Al-Marabh was arrested outside Chicago.

In other news:

  • John Ashcroft and Robert Mueller are both briefing President Bush on intelligence matters each morning.

  • Ashcroft spokeswoman Mindy Tucker told reporters Wednesday the DOJ is "investigating the possibility of identity theft," but refused to elaborate. Justice and FBI officials say they don't yet know how many of the hijackers may be using phony names or stolen identities, but indicated the possibility of identity theft is one reason the FBI has not released more information about the hijackers' nationalities and backgrounds.

  • Some officials have suggested that the level of sophistication of last week’s attacks may point to state sponsorship. But while Ashcroft told reporters that "It's pretty clear that the networks that conduct these kinds of events are harbored and supported, sustained, protected by a variety of foreign governments," Tucker later insisted Ashcroft was not saying, or even hinting that the September 11th attacks actually had state sponsorship. Ashcroft was speaking generally, she said, and although the question was specifically about last week's attacks, his answer wasn't.

  • Ashcroft and Tucker also denied all reports that the terrorists responsible for the September 11th attacks may have had concrete plans to launch another assault later this month. "At this point we don't know of a credible threat," Tucker said.