Saturday, September 22, 2001
San Antonio rental agent says he recognized hijacker
By T.A. BADGER
Associated Press Writer
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — An apartment leasing agent said Friday that one of the suspected suicide hijackers was among a large group of Middle Eastern men using an apartment near Lackland Air Force Base earlier this summer.
But a co-worker disputed the agent’s report, saying that there was only one man at the apartment in question. Still, he says, the claim has attracted the attention of federal agents.
Patrick Cavanagh, a temporary agent at the Suncrest Apartments, says he recognized Ziad Jarrahi as one of the eight to 10 men coming and going from the complex one day in mid-June.
Cavanagh says he recalled Jarrahi on Wednesday after seeing his picture in a Time magazine story about the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The leasing agent says he immediately notified FBI agents in San Antonio.
Jarrahi ( Jarrah ) is believed to be one of the four hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93 out of Newark, N.J. The flight, bound for San Francisco, crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
Cavanagh says there’s no doubt in his mind that Jarrahi was among the “very impatient, very antsy” men he saw at Suncrest.
“We had talked face to face maybe an arm’s length from each other,” he said. “If you talk to someone that close, you never forget the face.
Cavanagh said Jarrahi asked him for the quickest way to get to Interstate 410. He said Jarrahi and others in the group then drove away from the complex and returned about 45 minutes later.
The member of the group whose name was on the apartment lease said he was a doctor and showed identification as being from Saudi Arabia, Cavanagh said. Cavanagh said he didn’t recognize that man from any of the photos of suspected hijackers.
He also said the man was not Dr. Al-Badr Al-Hazmi, a Saudi national living in San Antonio who is being held as a material witness in the terror attacks.
However, Joe Segura, a full-time rental agent at Suncrest, says Cavanagh’s account is not accurate.
Segura says he remembers that Cavanagh dealt with one Saudi man coming to San Antonio to study at the Defense Language Institute at Lackland.
Capt. Dave Westover, an Air Force spokesman in Washington, said Friday that none of the suspected hijackers studied at the language school.
Segura says he was shocked when he saw a television interview in which Cavanagh made his claim.
“I was here that day and I said, `I can’t believe he’s saying that,’ ” Segura said.
Nonetheless, Segura says, agents from the FBI and CIA have been coming to Suncrest at least twice a day since Wednesday to ask questions and examine records.
FBI officials in San Antonio did not return phone calls Friday.