A second Algerian citizen has been arrested at a U.S. border checkpoint as the federal government tightens security at scores of entry points into the United States.
The U.S. Border Patrol said Monday the man used a falsified Canadian passport at the tiny border station in Beecher's Falls in Vermont's northeast corner. With him was a woman whose background wasn't immediately detailed by authorities.
Mark Henry, assistant chief of the Border Patrol sector covering Vermont, said he could not provide identification for either person. Both were jailed pending a federal court appearance in Burlington.
"I don't know why they were here. It could be as simple as she's smuggling him into the United States," he said.
Last week, a man was arrested while trying to enter Port Angeles, Wash., on a ferry from Victoria, British Columbia. Authorities said Ahmed Ressam had nitroglycerin and other potential bomb-making materials in his car when he was arrested.
Vincent Illuzzi, the prosecutor for Vermont's Essex County, where Monday's alleged attempted entries were made, said he had been told there was no clear link between the Washington state and Vermont arrests.
The U.S. Customs Service said Monday it has transferred 300 employees to inspection duty to facilitate more frequent and thorough border checks for explosives in light of the incidents in Washington and Vermont.
Customs spokesman Roger Maier said the additional employees will remain on inspection duty until the new year arrives, but he declined to say to which ports of entry they were sent.
Inspectors are on a "heightened state of awareness," said P.T. Wright, the Customs port director at the town of Nogales, on the Arizona-Mexico border.
"The same factors that key you onto a potential drug smuggler key you onto a potential terrorist: The story that doesn't quite match, the nervousness," Wright said. "They're trained to look for things that just don't fit the norm."
Meanwhile, Kevin Weeks, Michigan's U.S. Customs management director, said authorities there were adding more staff at the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
Farther west, authorities were beefing up security along the U.S.-Canada border from the northeastern tip of Minnesota to Montana. It has 28 land ports of entry, including some of the nation's most-remote.
A former head of counterterrorist operations at the CIA who now works as a security consultant said last weekend that U.S. law enforcement officials believe Ressam, 32, is tied to suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, wanted by the United States in connection with two U.S. embassy bombings in Africa last year.
Vincent Cannistraro said the detonation device found in Ressam's rental car -- circuit boards linked to a Casio watch and a nine-volt battery -- is "the method they teach in (bin Laden's) camps in Afghanistan."
Today, the Taliban rejected U.S. claims that bin Laden is planning attacks from Afghanistan and urged the United States to "resolve this issue rationally."
"Bin Laden doesn't even have an access to a telephone or fax," Sayed Mohammed Haqqani, the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan told a news conference. "He is just a guest. He cannot act against anyone."
In a letter last week, the United States warned the Taliban that it would hold the ruling orthodox militia responsible for a terrorist attack against its interests anywhere in the world.
The warning followed last week's arrest of 14 alleged followers of bin Laden in Jordan -- and 200 in Pakistan -- who were suspected of planning terrorist activities against Americans during millennium celebrations.