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2 Linked to Extortion Threat Nabbed

March 10, 2000

MONTREAL (AP) _ Police here have arrested two more people for possessing illegal explosives and charged one of them with trying to extort Israel into freeing Lebanese prisoners, authorities said Friday.

Police previously had arrested another man, Tarek Adealy Khafagy. The two new suspects are Ayman Bondok, 23; and Kim St. Louis, 31, police said.

Khafagy, an Egyptian, was arrested Saturday and charged with possession of explosives and counterfeit money police found in his apartment. Bondok and St. Louis were arrested Thursday and charged with possessing the same explosives, said Constable Michel Blackburn of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Bondok, a Canadian citizen of Egyptian origin, also was accused of making a threatening telephone call to Israel’s consulate in Montreal. He demanded freedom for Lebanese prisoners held by Israel, Blackburn said.

Blackburn said police have yet to find any evidence connecting the suspects to known terrorist groups and believe they were acting on their own.

Khafagy has denied any knowledge of the illegal materials. Asked if Khafagy might be released now that Bondok and St. Louis have been charged, Blackburn said: ``It’s something we are looking into right now with our prosecutor.″

St. Louis, a Canadian citizen, was released on bail after agreeing to avoid any contact with Bondok or Khafagy. Bondok was scheduled to appear at a bail hearing Friday.

Blackburn said Khafagy, who came to Canada from Egypt in 1998 seeking refugee status, had his bail hearing postponed until May 22. Khafagy wept in court Wednesday when told of the postponement, and his lawyer said Khafagy _ who speaks little English or French _ didn’t understand why he was being held.

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