Asem Ellbahnsany Haroon, 26, managed to easily infiltrate Port Newark -- where there are just the kind of oil refineries that Osama bin Laden talked about blowing up as part of a global-chaos plot in papers found in his Pakistan hideout.
"There have been reports . . . that indicate al Qaeda is trying to use explosive to blow up oil tankers to disrupt the world's economy. What's right next door to Port Newark? All of these oil refineries that line the highway there," said one law-enforcement source.
Authorities are now scrambling to figure out how Haroon managed to elude border checkpoints at the port -- and they are also nervously wondering whether he came here with others who have yet to be caught.
Haroon was arrested Jan. 31 after Port Authority cops found him hunkered down near the waterfront inside a warehouse that has remained unoccupied for about a year.
When Haroon was found, it appeared he had been squatting inside for several days and had set up a makeshift camp.
"When I first saw him, he was so weak," a law-enforcement source said.
"But he might be a terrorist and possibly be a threat because none of the answers he gave ever made any sense."
Haroon told investigators that he was an Iraqi citizen who had arrived at Port Newark two weeks earlier on an unspecified Italian freighter.
It turns out he's an Egyptian who was once denied a visa to enter the United States. Federal authorities told a judge that Haroon "had fought as an insurgent against the American forces in Fallujah."
Sources could not say whether he was suspected of being a member of the Taliban or al Qaeda, although it does not appear he was on any international terror "watch list."