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A few days before 9/11, two men identified by eyewitnesses as  Atta and Alshehhi were seen heavily drinking alcohol at Shuckum’s Oyster Bar in Hollywood, Florida.  

Tony Amos, Shuckums‘ manager said to Associated Press on September 12, 2001 that the „two men“, one of whom he recognized as Atta, had each consumed several drinks on September 7, 2001 and had given the bartender a hard time. Amos added: „The guy Mohamed was drunk, his voice was slurred and he had a thick accent.“1 Bartender Patricia Idrissi said to St. Petersburg Times that the men were “wasted“ when they entered the bar. She reportedly directed them to a nearby Chinese restaurant for eating. They later returned to Shuckums‘ and Atta ordered five rum and Cokes.2  According to Cox News Service, they entered the bar, already wasted, at 4:00 p.m. on Friday (September 7) or on the next day (Saturday, September 8).3   

According to the Miami Herald of September 13, 2001, Atta, Alshehhi and a third unidentified person entered the bar at 3:00 p.m. Two FBI agents, who visited Shuckum’s already on the evening of September 11(!), showed bartender Patricia Idrissi photographs of two Middle Eastern men. She immediately recognized one as a customer who had given her a hard time.  Idrissi said that after arguing about their bill the man pulled out a wad of $100 and $50 bills, paid the tab and left her a $3 tip. The bar employees said FBI agents told them at least one of the men was from Pakistan and that passenger manifests from the aircraft that crashed on 9/11 showed these men were on one of the hijacked planes that took off from Boston.4   

Interesting in the above story are the following facts:

(i)  The FBI knew within hours of the events to look up a particular bar in Hollywood, Florida, for evidence that Atta and Alshehhi had visited that bar.  This suggests that the FBI  had previously monitored their movements, in other words that they were „known“ to the FBI.

(ii)   The FBI possessed already at that time photographs of Atta and Alshehhi. This again suggests that the FBI had prior knowledge of these individuals, whoever they were.

(iii) The FBI wanted Amos and Idrissi to know that their former patrons had been on one of the hijacked planes that took off from Boston. This intention does not necessarily mean that this information was true, only that the FBI wanted Amos and Idrissi to believe that they had served two of the 9/11 terrorists.

According to The Guardian of September 16, 2001, Atta spent Friday afternoon (September 7) drinking with al-Shehri (sic) and a third man at Shuckum’s.5 According to The Guardian’s account, Patricia Idrissi remembered that one of them had gone off to play a video machine at one end of the restaurant while Atta and al-Shehri (sic) sat drinking and arguing. Al-Shehri (sic) drank rum and coke; Atta knocked back five Stolichnaya vodkas with orange juice. When it came to pay Atta complained about their $48 bill and argued with the manager. “You think I can’t pay my bill?“ Atta shouted. “I am a pilot for American Airlines. I can pay my fucking bill.“ Then he reportedly peeled out a note from a thick wad of $50 and $100 bills, leaving a $2 tip. 

How did Tony Amos know that the two men were Atta and al Shehhi? According to the St. Petersburg Times and other newspapers, FBI agents arrived at Shuckum’s „soon after the attack“, a formulation which would place their visit within hours of the attack. It was never explained by anyone how the FBI selected this particular bar, and that it did so just hours after the attacks. The newspaper disclosed that the FBI agents arrived there with pictures of several Middle Eastern men and asked Amos if he recognized them. Amos couldn’t believe his eyes, writes the St. Petersburg Times. They had been right here, not a foot from him, and he instinctively wondered: Was there something I should have done. Amos is then quoted, acknowledging indirectly that the people who were in his bar had indeed been those accused of having hijacked and piloted two of the aircraft of 9/11:

There was a certain amount of frustration. There was guilt…But I talked to some of the firefighters, and they made me feel better. They were like, ‚Man, there’s nothing you could do, how could you have known?‘

 

According to the Associated Press article,6 Amos said, “FBI agents showed photos of two men to restaurant employees Tuesday night (September 11, 2001). The photos had signatures on the bottom.“  He said he identified the photo of a man whose first name was signed Mohamed who had told him he was a pilot with American Airlines.

In another account of this episode, Atta „played video games“ and the other two, one of whom was designated as Shehhi, „had about five drinks each“.  Amos, designated there as „the manager“ is reported saying that it was Shehhi, and not Atta, who „pulled out a wad of cash and put it on the bar table and said, ‚There is no money issue. I am an airline pilot‘.“7  

According to the BBC of September 13, 2001, FBI agents „questioned employees at a bar in Hollywood, Florida, where Mr Atta sometimes went drinking.“8  This is the only report that suggests Atta had previously visited that bar in order to have drinks. According to St. Petersburg Times of the same day,9 a bar manager in Hollywood told FBI agents he saw “the two men” (Atta and Al Shehi) drinking heavily last week.” Tony Amos, the night manager at Shuckums told the Palm Beach Post that Atta argued with him about his tab. According to bartender Patricia Idrissi, Atta said: “I’‘m a pilot for American Airlines and I can pay my bill”. She added: “They were wasted.”

Among the documents sent by the FBI to the 9/11 Commission and released in 2009, we found three FD-302 reports relating to the Shuckum’s episode. The three reports are significantly at variance with interviews conducted by media reporters and at variance with each other. All three FBI reports cover interviews conducted at Shuckum’s on the very day of the attacks by unidentified FBI special agents. All three employees questioned by the FBI are reported to have been shown photographs of Atta and Marwan Alshehhi. The reports are neiter identified by unique serial numbers, as should have been the case, nor by the time of day of the interview, making it impossible to refer to them by a unique identifier and order them by time.  We will simply refer to these three reports as „first“, „second“ and „third“.

In the „first“ of these reports10 a female unidentified employee of Shuckum’s, after being shown the photographs of Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, said she “did not recognize Alshehhi, however she stated Atta was in Shuckum‘s on Wednesday, September 5, 2001.“ As these reports are not verbatim transcriptions, we do not know what questions were asked of the employee, nor what she actually said. It is, however, noteworthy that the report does not mention Atta or Alshehhi drinking alcohol or making a fuss about the bill. This omission suggests that either journalists had invented the testimony of Shuckum’s employees or that the FBI, “sanitized“ the report by deleting testimony about the consumption of alcohol.

According to the second FBI report11 a female unidentified employee of Shuckum’s said she “did not recognize Atta (but] did recognize Alshehhi and stated Alshehhi was in the restaurant with another man on Thursday, September 6, 2001 (…) between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.“ She also allegedly stated that Alshehhi “sat at the end of the bar, did not speak English well and was very rude. Alshehhi complained about his bill, paid in cash and left. [The interviewee] heard Alshehhi state they were going to a Chinese restaurant.“  Here, too, it is not mentioned for what they paid.  In this account they are said to have paid in cash.

The third FBI report12 covers an interview with a male unidentified employee of Shuckum’s, who “recognized Alshehhi as a patron of Shuckum‘s on or about Thursday, September 6, 2001.“ The interviewee stated that Alshehhi “was accompanied by another male of middle eastern descent.“ He described Alshehhi “as being confrontational and was arguing with the bar tender.“ The interviewee “did not recognize [the photograph of] Atta.“

In the Timeline of October 11, 2001 issued by FBI Miami  (based on 302, Serial 1058), the episode at Shuckum’s is described thus:

Mohamed Atta was identified by (…), waitress, as being present [on September 5, 2001] at Shuckum’s Raw Bar, Hollywood, Florida,  where he played a video game for three hours.13 

 

Here again, no mention is made of drinking.

The news that Atta drank alcohol days before he allegedly perpetrated a martyrdom operation in the name of Islam, were clearly embarrassing for the official legend. With time, the story of the Shuckum’s binge changed. Later media stories had Atta only drinking „cranberry juice“ or  „fruit juice“ at Shuckum’s. On September 28, 2001, for example, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune told the following the story:

Atta went to a bar in Hollywood four days before the attack. He drank fruit juice while his two companions got loaded14 .

 

Apart from the above attempt to sanitize the story, we note that neither the FBI nor mass media questioned the identity of the person who visited Shuckum’s. There was no attempt to suggest that this person was somebody else than Mohamed Atta.1

1 . Ken Thomas, Feds investigating possible terrorist-attack links in Florida, Associated Press, September 12, 2001,   http://web.archive.org/web/20030402060235/www.nctimes.net/news/2001/20010912/10103.html   (last visited  2.11.2011 ) Cached at   www.juscogens.org/KenThomas01

2 . Barry Klein, Wes Allison et al, FBI seizes records of students at flight schools, St. Peterburg Times, September 13, 2001,   http://www.sptimes.com/News/091301/Worldandnation/FBI_seizes_records_of.shtml  . It is to be noted that the story changed over time. In later reports, such as by The Washington Post of September 16, 2001, Atta was no  longer reported to have drunk alcool but cranberry juice!  It appears someone had felt that the original story would undermine the neat official legend of Atta as a devout, and even fanatic, Muslim.

3 . Eliot Kleinberg and Colleen Mastony, FBI agents follow leads in Florida cities, Cox News Service, September 12, 2001

4 . Daniel de Vise, Curtis Morgan and Manny Garcia,  On Terror’s Trail: Five Florida Men Were Among The Suspects They Were Listed Aboard Planes in N.Y. Crashes, The Miami Herald, September 13, 2001, Final Edition (perhaps they conflated Pakistan with Afghanistan- E.D.)

5 . Ed Vulliamy et al,  When our world changed forever, The Guardian (U.K.) September 16, 2001, at    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/sep/16/news.september11   (last visited December 25, 2010) cached at   www.juscogens.org/Vulliany01

6 . Associated Press, Sept. 12, 2001 supra

7 . Amy Goldstein and Peter Finn, Hijack suspects profile: polite and purposeful, Washington Post, September 14, 2001 (author’s document #68)

8 . Author’s Document #24

9 . Author’s Document #25

10 . FBI FD-302 document Nr. 265D-NY-280350-MM, of September 11, 2001. Author’s document #355.

11 . FBI FD-302 document Nr. 265D-NY-280350-MM, of September 11, 2001. Author’s document #356

12 . FBI FD-302 document Nr. 265D-NY-280350-MM, of September 11, 2001. Author’s document #357

13 . Timeline Pertaining to South Florida, FBI Miami, 265A-NY-280350-MM, October 11, 2001, Last Update December 3, 2001 (hereafter FBI Miami Timeline)

14 . Chris Davis, Hijacker with cold stare hated mission of blending in, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 28, 2001. Author’s document #423.  The original article cannot be anymore located in the newspaper’s  online archives.

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