updated 5/25/2005 12:09:29 AM ET 2005-05-25T04:09:29

An alert by El Salvador and Nicaragua on the possible presence of two al-Qaida terror suspects was a false alarm, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

“The Department of Homeland Security has no specific intelligence to support this claim, or previous claims that al-Qaida is active in Central America,” said spokesman Brian Roehrkasse.

Another government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the alert was the result of a mixup that apparently occurred when a representative of the Nicaraguan Interior Ministry attended a recent anti-terrorism seminar during which routine information about the two suspects was given out.

The information was then delivered back through the Nicaraguan government and distributed publicly in a press release, the official said.

The Nicaraguan press release “erroneously stated that two suspected members of al-Qaida were believed to be in Central America,” the official told The Associated Press.

Officials in El Salvador and Nicaragua said earlier Tuesday they were on the lookout for a Yemeni man known only as Altuwiti and Ahmed Salim Swedan, a 36-year-old Kenyan on the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists.

Nicaragua’s Interior Ministry, which is in charge of internal security, announced earlier Tuesday that it had alerted all border posts because the two suspected terrorists were “possibly” in Central America.

Nicaraguan Deputy Interior Minister Avil Ramirez said his country received the report from El Salvador, the only Latin American nation with troops in Iraq and which in the past has received al-Qaida-type threats.

El Salvador said it issued a similar alert based on information from “international intelligence organizations, and since Monday, all immigration officials have been alerted and have their photos and their names to avoid that they enter the country.”

Swedan was indicted on Dec. 16, 1998, for alleged involvement in the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. The U.S. State Department has offered a reward of up to US$5 million (euro4 million) for information leading to his arrest.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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