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Saudi tourist accused of trying to molest a 2 1/2-year-old girl
Friday, April 28, 2006

(04-28) 18:15 PDT SACRAMENTO, (AP) --

A tourist from Saudi Arabia traveled to California to molest a 2 1/2-year-old girl, federal and state officials said Friday.

Nabil Al Rowais, 37, was arrested at a Vallejo hotel Thursday night after he arrived for a visit he'd arranged by e-mail with a man he thought was the girl's father, officials said.

The girl doesn't exist and the "father" was really an undercover agent.

Al Rowais told investigators he is a practicing psychiatrist in Saudi Arabia, though he entered the United States on a nonimmigrant visa issued in Canada, according to a joint statement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento, and the California Department of Justice.

It's unclear whether Al Rowais was residing in Canada, said Justice Department spokeswoman Robin Schwanke.

He faces five to 30 years in prison if he is convicted of traveling in foreign commerce with the intent to have sex with a minor.

A federal magistrate on Friday ordered Al Rowais held without bond for a May 12 court appearance.

The sting resulted from an ICE investigation known as Operation Babynet, initially sparked by an El Dorado Hills man who eventually pleaded guilty to molesting his infant daughter and distributing the images over the Internet.

"Whether a sexual predator is on the Internet exploiting our virtual borders or is an alien who has preyed on children, ICE is using all of its law enforcement authorities to identify them and bring them to justice," Rick Eaton, assistant special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Sacramento, said in a statement.

ICE agents have arrested more than 7,800 people nationwide, including nearly 2,000 in California, as part of its 2-year-old Operation Predator targeting child sex predators.