BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Prosecutors say alleged members of a terror cell trained by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network were under investigation even before the Sept. 11 attacks but intensified their communications this month.
The investigation into the men began in early summer 2001, about the time they returned from Afghanistan, said Michael Battle, U.S. attorney for western New York. The men were born in the United States and are of Yemeni descent.
"What essentially happened is that information came to our attention that pointed us in the direction of these individuals," Battle said.
He declined to comment on specifics, but said law enforcement officials investigated to corroborate the information.
He said the communications and other activities surrounding the cell increased this month.
Federal authorities who announced the arrests said bin Laden lectured them while they were in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The men came home to Lackawanna, 5 miles south of Buffalo on the shore of Lake Erie, in June 2001. Federal agents said they had no information the cell was planning an attack in the United States.
Four of the men were arrested Friday and a fifth was arrested Saturday.
A sixth American of Yemeni descent was arrested last week in the Persian Gulf emirate of Bahrain, a Bahraini government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Monday. The official said the suspect, who was about to get married, agreed to go back to the United States to continue the investigation.
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