Category Archives: Other reports

Mohammed Atta bought box cutters at last minute!

Final hours of hijack monster – he waited until last minute to buy boxcutters 
New York Post – New York, N.Y.
Author: CINDY ADAMS in New York and JOHN LEHMANN in Portland, Maine
Date: Oct 12, 2001

(Copyright 2001, The New York Post. All Rights Reserved)

Hijack ringleader Mohamed Atta had one final job to do before bunkering down in his hotel room for his last night of sleep – he had to go shopping for boxcutters.

Staff members at the Wal-Mart in South Portland told The Post yesterday that Atta bought the $1.84 boxcutters he used to hijack American Airlines Flight 11 less than 12 hours before he commandeered the plane.

The store’s surveillance video shows Atta’s shopping expedition on Monday, Sept. 10 started at 9:22 p.m. and ended 17 minutes later. He got there just in time. The store closed for the day at 10.

The staffers, who asked not to be identified, said they had been warned not to give details.

“We all know what he bought,” one of them said. “We’re just not allowed to talk about it.”

The staffer was surprised the hijackers had not made their deadly purchase earlier.

“It’s unbelievable they would leave it to the last minute,” the staffer said.

Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams refused to talk about what Atta purchased.

The shopping expedition was part of a flurry of activity undertaken by Atta in the Portland area that night.

The Post, retracing the final steps of Atta and his accomplice Abdulaziz Alomari, visited the hotel room the two shared before carrying out the murderous plot that took the lives of more than 5,000 people and sent shock waves across the world.

The pair checked into the Comfort Inn in South Portland at 5:43 p.m. on Sept. 10, after driving up from Boston, a two-hour trip, in a blue Nissan Altima.

General Manager Laura Wale cautioned, “We’re continuing to cooperate with the FBI investigation and can’t say much.” But she revealed that the hijackers shared Room 233.

It is believed they paid $179 for the double room. They kept to themselves, rarely talking to staff and other guests.

As word of the inn’s infamous role spread in the days following the atrocity, a few people actually asked to spend the night in the “room where Atta slept,” she said.

If they got the room, it was by accident.

The FBI released the room back to the Comfort Inn after 24 hours, and the hotel began renting it. But guests were not told who had spent the night there.

Those who slept there didn’t get many thrills for their money.

With its framed floral prints, Styrofoam coffee cups and gold bedspreads, the room that was the last lair of a pair of monsters looks like any other highway hotel room.

One guest – who wondered if his room had housed the hijackers – said, “It’s kind of creepy, when you think they were sleeping there, speaking on the telephone, using that shower.”

Atta and Alomari left their hotel room sometime around 7 p.m.

There were reports the two were sighted at two nearby restaurants – a Pizza Hut and Weathervane Seafood Restaurant – between 7 and 8:30 p.m.

Workers at the Pizza Hut were still jumpy: “We’ve got to try to run a business here,” the restaurant’s manager said.

A waitress at Weathervane said two Middle Eastern-looking men – one who resembled Atta – dined at the restaurant that night and asked for the details of how the fish and chicken were cooked.

Sue Paquette, a spokeswoman for Weathervane, said the two men may have been part of a group of five Muslim men – wearing traditional Middle Eastern dress, including turbans – who dined at the restaurant two nights before, on Saturday.

The group of five made an effort to be “gregarious and friendly,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the staff haven’t been able to say for sure whether any of the men were involved in the hijack,” she said.

At 8:31 p.m., Atta and Alomari were photographed at a nearby Key Bank ATM and 20 minutes later at a Fast Green ATM in the parking lot of a Pizzeria Uno restaurant.

At 9:15 p.m., they visited JetPort gas station near Portland’s airport. An attendant said they asked for directions to Wal-Mart, where Atta began his shopping seven minutes later.

The pair checked out of Comfort Inn at 5:33 a.m. on Sept. 11 and drove to the airport, only seven minutes away.

At 6 a.m., they caught a plane to Boston – where they connected with the doomed Flight 11.

Atta’s final visit to Portland on Sept. 10 was apparently not his first.

Several people report having seen him in the months before.

Barry Mason, who works at Portland Micucci Wholesale Grocery, store said he’ll never forget his brush with Atta, whom he saw in the store three or four times. The last time was on Aug. 29, when Atta bought Syrian pita bread.

“I looked at him and made eye contact,” Mason said. “His eyes were so cold and scary – I looked away and thought, I hope he never comes back.'”

Other people told investigators that men answering the terrorists’ description were spotted playing video games in various Portland arcades.

The terrorists’ interest in Portland continues to baffle local police and the two FBI agents conducting investigations in the city.

They’re still trying to establish whether a terrorist cell was set up in Portland to assist the hijackers.

Local and federal authorities are now retracing their steps – re- checking old tips and looking into new ones.

They’re re-interviewing workers at every restaurant, store and arcade the terrorists may have patronized.

But the investigation hasn’t been helped by rivalry between the FBI and Portland cops.

Local Police Chief Michael Chitwood said his men conducted dozens of interviews and sifted through hundreds of tips.

He said he shared all the information they dug up with the FBI – which told him nothing in return.

“I have 160 cops, and the FBI had two agents in Portland,” he told a local newspaper.

“We talk to people every day. If you’re looking for someone, the people most likely to have run into that person is local police.”

But Chitwood did say his men have been able to run down one tip that had sounded promising. People said an Afghan man nicknamed Omar had been in the city talking about wanting to learn how to fly a plane.

He said he passed on the information to the feds – then followed up on it, even though the FBI warned him to “back off.”

His cops eventually found Omar and were convinced he was not connected to Atta.

The FBI has not responded to the chief’s charges.

—-

THE LAST DAY OF ATTA

Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari at the following places

1. 5:43 p.m. Check into Room 233 at the Comfort Inn, 90 Maine Mall Road, South Portland

2. 7:30-8 p.m. Believed to have visited Weathervane Seafood restaurant, 380 Gorham Road, South Portland

3. 8-9 p.m. Visited Pizza Hut, 415 Maine Mall Road, South Portland. Stayed only 15 minutes

4. 8:31 p.m. Photographed by security cameras at the Key Bank ATM, 445 Gorham Road, South Portland

5. 8:41 p.m. Photographed by security cameras at the Fast Green ATM, in the parking lot of UNO’s restaurant, 280 Maine Mall Road, South Portland

6. 9:15 p.m. Seen at Jetport Gas station to ask for directions to Wal-Mart, 446 Western Ave, South Portland

7. 9:22 p.m. Shopped at Wal-Mart, 451 Payne Road, Scarborough

Photos: NY Post: Steven Hirsch
[Illustration]
-MOHAMED ATTA “Cold and scary” eyes. -DEMONS IN MAINE: Room 233 (above) at a Comfort Inn in South Portland was where Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari spent their last night. They bought $1.84 boxcutters (right) at a local Wal-Mart and were photographed at a gas station (below) on Sept. 10, the night before embarking on mass murder.Steven Hirsch (above and left)

Was passenger Daniel Lewin shot on flight AA11 on 9/11?

"I can tell you, their knives would not have stopped him," he added. "He would have taken their knives or their box cutters away and used them against them…He was very, very strong and had a lot of meat on him," said Brad Rephen, a New York lawyer who grew up with Lewin in Jerusalem. "They couldn’t have subdued him by slashing him. The only way they could have stopped him was by shooting him." he said

Was passenger Daniel Lewin shot on flight AA11 on 9/11?

FAA memo says Flight 11 passenger was shot who happened to be a multi-millionaire elite Israeli military commando who understands Arabic and who happened to be sitting directly in front of one of the alleged hijackers.

"An internal Federal Aviation Administration memo summarizing the Sept. 11 hijackings says a passenger aboard American Airlines Flight 11 was shot to death by a single bullet, WorldNetDaily has learned.

The FAA claims the memo, time-stamped Sept. 11 at 5:30 p.m., was written in error.

"It was a first draft," said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown in a phone interview today. "There was no gun."

She said a final draft of the executive summary, received by FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, does not include the account of a gun being fired aboard the plane, which slammed into the first World Trade Center tower not long after departing Boston.

Brown refused to release the final draft, however, arguing it is "protected information."

WorldNetDaily has obtained a copy of the first draft of the memo, which can be viewed here.

Here is the key excerpt, which is very specific (although the time is plainly wrong):

"The American Airlines FAA Principal Security Inspector (PSI) was notified by Suzanne Clark of American Airlines Corporate Headquarters, that an on board flight attendant contacted American Airlines Operations Center and informed that a passenger located in seat 10B shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B at 9:20 a.m.

"The passenger killed was Daniel Lewin, shot by passenger Satam Al Suqami. One bullet was reported to have been fired."

In fact, Flight 11 had already crashed well before 9:20 a.m. (assuming the FAA memo writer was referring to the Eastern time zone and not a later one). At 8:25 a.m. ? nearly an hour earlier than stated in the memo ? Flight 11 had turned sharply off its planned westbound path and headed south toward Manhattan. It then crashed into the north tower at 8:48 a.m." – WorldNetDaily (02/27/02)

"In another tragic irony of Sept. 11, three of the five Islamic hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 were seated next to an elite Israeli commando. And it may just have gotten that Jewish passenger killed before all the others.

In fact, his friends and associates are now sure of it, after reading a secret government memo naming Israeli-American Daniel C. Lewin as a gunshot victim on the flight.

WorldNetDaily published the Federal Aviation Administration memo in an exclusive article Wednesday. The FAA, while confirming the document is authentic, claims the report of Lewin’s shooting, written several hours after the Sept. 11 hijackings, was premature and inaccurate. His friends don’t buy it.

"Danny was an officer in a secret unit of the Israeli army called ‘sayeret matkal,’" said Yehuda Schwartzberg, a childhood friend from Jerusalem. "My guess is that he did something in some way to stand up against the hijackers, and was executed because of it."

Keith Lowery, a business associate of the late Boston high-tech executive who had dual citizenship, says the terrorists may have singled him out because of his "Jewishness" — as they did Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

The FAA memo’s summary of the Flight 11 shooting incident, real or not, is the most detailed and specific — not to mention shocking — of the four hijacking summaries. It says Lewin, sitting in seat 9B, was "shot by passenger Satam al-Suqami," sitting behind him in seat 10B. (Both names match those on the manifest released by the airline.)

"One bullet was reported to have been fired," the memo states.
What’s more, the report echoes another account of a fatal struggle in that same business-class section of the plane — as revealed by the FBI.

An FBI investigative document reconstructing notes of a frantic phone call from a Flight 11 flight attendant to her manager on the ground in Boston, reveals that "a business-class passenger" was killed by the hijackers.
"A hijacker also cut the throat of a business-class passenger, and he appears to be dead," Amy Sweeney relayed to American flight services manager Michael Woodward on the ground at Logan International Airport.
She also relayed the exact seat numbers of the hijackers in the ninth and 10th rows — the very rows cited in the controversial FAA report.
The FBI’s account of the unrecorded call was leaked to the Los Angeles Times, which ran a story Sept. 20.

The 31-year-old Lewin, an Israeli citizen since a teen, was a captain in the Israel Defense Force and had extensive anti-terrorism training.

"Anyone who knows Danny knows that it was not his nature to go down without a fight," Schwartzberg said. "Maybe this (memo) shows that he died a hero."

An FAA special agent agrees.

"With his background in special forces, he would have had more of a fighting instinct click into gear, rather than be herded around" or fooled by their cover, said the agent, who wished to go unnamed. "They probably killed him first because he was fighting back."

Lewin, a graduate of MIT and Israel’s Technion, lived with his wife, Anne, and two sons, Eitan and Itamar, in Brookline, Mass., where he helped run Akamai Technologies — which he co-founded, nearly becoming a billionaire in the dot-com stock boom. He previously worked for IBM’s research lab in Haifa, Israel. His parents and brothers all live in Israel.
Attempts to reach his family for comment were unsuccessful.
Lewin was traveling to Los Angeles on business." – WorldNetDaily (03/01/02)

Lewin: Flight 11’s unsung hero? ‘Knives wouldn’t have stopped’ ex-Israeli commando, army pal says

"He could bench-press 315 pounds and squat more than 450 pounds as a teen-ager. As an officer in an elite unit of the Israeli army, he was trained to kill terrorists with a pen or a credit card, or just his bare hands. On Sept. 11, he may have gotten the chance.

As fate would have it, Daniel C. Lewin, a 31-year-old Israeli-American, was seated on American Airlines Flight 11 between hijackers Mohammed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari in the row in front of him, and hijacker Satam al-Suqami in the row behind him.

A secret Federal Aviation Administration executive summary, first uncovered by WorldNetDaily, says that al-Suqami, who would have been sitting directly behind Lewin in seat 10B, shot and killed Lewin with a single bullet.

The FAA maintains the high-level report was a mistaken first draft and that Lewin was more than likely stabbed, not shot, along with American Airlines crew members on Flight 11. (Box cutters were allowed that day through airline security, which the FAA regulated, but not guns.)

But a childhood friend who served with Lewin in the Israel Defense Force says only a bullet would have stopped Lewin.

"He’d be more than a match for those skinny little (expletive)," said Brad Rephen, a New York lawyer who grew up with Lewin in Jerusalem. "With his training, he would have killed them with his bare hands."

"I can tell you, their knives would not have stopped him," he added. "He would have taken their knives or their box cutters away and used them against them."

Rephen recalls Lewin’s injured hands after he returned from an Israeli anti-terrorist training course.

"They were pretty beaten up from the fighting he did," he said. "He knew how to fight with knives and take knives away from people."

He described Lewin, at about 5-11, 200 pounds, as "thick-boned." He says he witnessed him bench-press more than 300 pounds and squat close to 500 pounds.

"He was very, very strong and had a lot of meat on him," Rephen said. "They couldn’t have subdued him by slashing him. The only way they could have stopped him was by shooting him."

Before returning to America, where he worked as an Internet company executive in Boston, the Denver-born Lewin was a captain in Sayeret Matkal, a top-secret reconnaissance unit of the Israeli army used for special anti-terror missions such as the raid on Entebbe. In 1976, Israeli commandos rescued 103 hostages from a gang of Arab terrorists at the airport in the Ugandan capital.

Lewin went on dozens of such missions, friends say. In the ’80s, for example, he helped rescue thousands of Jews stranded in Ethiopia. His outfit ? Unit 269 ? secured the airport there during the airlift operation, friends say.

Rephen called Lewin "the best of the best."

"About 2,500 guys try out for the unit he was in," he said. "Twenty-five make it, and one gets chosen as an officer. It was him."

He was also extremely tough and determined, Rephen says.
He recalls an earlier time, during basic military training, when Lewin fell into a ravine and was knocked unconscious and rushed to the hospital.
"He was back the next day," Rephen said.

He guesses that Lewin, who understood Arabic, sensed something was wrong on Flight 11 the moment he took his seat next to the three terrorists, including Atta, the ringleader.
"He probably picked up that they were on a suicide mission by what they were saying or wearing," Rephen said.

"Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups put on headbands as badges of their death," he added. "If they put that stuff on, and he saw it, he would have known the ride was over."

And then he would have made his move.

"If I know Danny, when he realized what they were doing, he attacked them," Rephen said. "He probably cursed them in Arabic to scare them, and then he hurt them."

He speculates that during the struggle with Atta and the other hijacker sitting in front of Lewin in row 8, al-Suqami shot him from behind.
"I have no doubt they got a gun on the plane as a backup for a situation like that," Rephen said, speculating that they either brought it on board the plane, likely in pieces, or had it planted there earlier by ground services crew.

The FAA report, though very specific, does not indicate whether Lewin was killed during a struggle or while sitting in his seat. Whatever happened, it likely went down within 15 minutes or so of takeoff. Authorities say the pilots were overpowered by then.

Rephen, like other Lewin friends and associates contacted by WorldNetDaily, doubts the report of gunfire was written in error.
"If this were an error, they wouldn’t have been so fact-specific," Rephen said.

The FBI says the Lewin incident is still under investigation.
"I don’t think we know for sure right now if he was killed" on board the flight, said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson. "All of this is something we’re trying to figure out ourselves."

Attempts to reach Lewin’s family were unsuccessful. His wife and children live in the Boston area, and his parents, both doctors, and two younger brothers live in Israel." – WorldNetDaily (03/27/02)
FAA memo says Flight 11 passenger was shot who happened to be a multi-millionaire elite Israeli military commando who understands Arabic and who happened to be sitting directly in front of one of the alleged hijackers.

"An internal Federal Aviation Administration memo summarizing the Sept. 11 hijackings says a passenger aboard American Airlines Flight 11 was shot to death by a single bullet, WorldNetDaily has learned.

The FAA claims the memo, time-stamped Sept. 11 at 5:30 p.m., was written in error.

"It was a first draft," said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown in a phone interview today. "There was no gun."

She said a final draft of the executive summary, received by FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, does not include the account of a gun being fired aboard the plane, which slammed into the first World Trade Center tower not long after departing Boston.

Brown refused to release the final draft, however, arguing it is "protected information."

WorldNetDaily has obtained a copy of the first draft of the memo, which can be viewed here.

Here is the key excerpt, which is very specific (although the time is plainly wrong):

"The American Airlines FAA Principal Security Inspector (PSI) was notified by Suzanne Clark of American Airlines Corporate Headquarters, that an on board flight attendant contacted American Airlines Operations Center and informed that a passenger located in seat 10B shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B at 9:20 a.m.

"The passenger killed was Daniel Lewin, shot by passenger Satam Al Suqami. One bullet was reported to have been fired."

In fact, Flight 11 had already crashed well before 9:20 a.m. (assuming the FAA memo writer was referring to the Eastern time zone and not a later one). At 8:25 a.m. ? nearly an hour earlier than stated in the memo ? Flight 11 had turned sharply off its planned westbound path and headed south toward Manhattan. It then crashed into the north tower at 8:48 a.m." – WorldNetDaily (02/27/02)

"In another tragic irony of Sept. 11, three of the five Islamic hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 were seated next to an elite Israeli commando. And it may just have gotten that Jewish passenger killed before all the others.

In fact, his friends and associates are now sure of it, after reading a secret government memo naming Israeli-American Daniel C. Lewin as a gunshot victim on the flight.

WorldNetDaily published the Federal Aviation Administration memo in an exclusive article Wednesday. The FAA, while confirming the document is authentic, claims the report of Lewin’s shooting, written several hours after the Sept. 11 hijackings, was premature and inaccurate.
His friends don’t buy it.

"Danny was an officer in a secret unit of the Israeli army called ‘sayeret matkal,’" said Yehuda Schwartzberg, a childhood friend from Jerusalem. "My guess is that he did something in some way to stand up against the hijackers, and was executed because of it."

Keith Lowery, a business associate of the late Boston high-tech executive who had dual citizenship, says the terrorists may have singled him out because of his "Jewishness" — as they did Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

The FAA memo’s summary of the Flight 11 shooting incident, real or not, is the most detailed and specific — not to mention shocking — of the four hijacking summaries. It says Lewin, sitting in seat 9B, was "shot by passenger Satam al-Suqami," sitting behind him in seat 10B. (Both names match those on the manifest released by the airline.)

"One bullet was reported to have been fired," the memo states.
What’s more, the report echoes another account of a fatal struggle in that same business-class section of the plane — as revealed by the FBI.

An FBI investigative document reconstructing notes of a frantic phone call from a Flight 11 flight attendant to her manager on the ground in Boston, reveals that "a business-class passenger" was killed by the hijackers.
"A hijacker also cut the throat of a business-class passenger, and he appears to be dead," Amy Sweeney relayed to American flight services manager Michael Woodward on the ground at Logan International Airport.
She also relayed the exact seat numbers of the hijackers in the ninth and 10th rows — the very rows cited in the controversial FAA report.
The FBI’s account of the unrecorded call was leaked to the Los Angeles Times, which ran a story Sept. 20.

The 31-year-old Lewin, an Israeli citizen since a teen, was a captain in the Israel Defense Force and had extensive anti-terrorism training.

"Anyone who knows Danny knows that it was not his nature to go down without a fight," Schwartzberg said. "Maybe this (memo) shows that he died a hero."

An FAA special agent agrees.

"With his background in special forces, he would have had more of a fighting instinct click into gear, rather than be herded around" or fooled by their cover, said the agent, who wished to go unnamed. "They probably killed him first because he was fighting back."

Lewin, a graduate of MIT and Israel’s Technion, lived with his wife, Anne, and two sons, Eitan and Itamar, in Brookline, Mass., where he helped run Akamai Technologies — which he co-founded, nearly becoming a billionaire in the dot-com stock boom. He previously worked for IBM’s research lab in Haifa, Israel. His parents and brothers all live in Israel.
Attempts to reach his family for comment were unsuccessful.
Lewin was traveling to Los Angeles on business." – WorldNetDaily (03/01/02)

Lewin: Flight 11’s unsung hero? ‘Knives wouldn’t have stopped’ ex-Israeli commando, army pal says

"He could bench-press 315 pounds and squat more than 450 pounds as a teen-ager. As an officer in an elite unit of the Israeli army, he was trained to kill terrorists with a pen or a credit card, or just his bare hands. On Sept. 11, he may have gotten the chance.

As fate would have it, Daniel C. Lewin, a 31-year-old Israeli-American, was seated on American Airlines Flight 11 between hijackers Mohammed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari in the row in front of him, and hijacker Satam al-Suqami in the row behind him.

A secret Federal Aviation Administration executive summary, first uncovered by WorldNetDaily, says that al-Suqami, who would have been sitting directly behind Lewin in seat 10B, shot and killed Lewin with a single bullet.

The FAA maintains the high-level report was a mistaken first draft and that Lewin was more than likely stabbed, not shot, along with American Airlines crew members on Flight 11. (Box cutters were allowed that day through airline security, which the FAA regulated, but not guns.)

But a childhood friend who served with Lewin in the Israel Defense Force says only a bullet would have stopped Lewin.

"He’d be more than a match for those skinny little (expletive)," said Brad Rephen, a New York lawyer who grew up with Lewin in Jerusalem. "With his training, he would have killed them with his bare hands."

"I can tell you, their knives would not have stopped him," he added. "He would have taken their knives or their box cutters away and used them against them."

Rephen recalls Lewin’s injured hands after he returned from an Israeli anti-terrorist training course.

"They were pretty beaten up from the fighting he did," he said. "He knew how to fight with knives and take knives away from people."

He described Lewin, at about 5-11, 200 pounds, as "thick-boned." He says he witnessed him bench-press more than 300 pounds and squat close to 500 pounds.

"He was very, very strong and had a lot of meat on him," Rephen said. "They couldn’t have subdued him by slashing him. The only way they could have stopped him was by shooting him."

Before returning to America, where he worked as an Internet company executive in Boston, the Denver-born Lewin was a captain in Sayeret Matkal, a top-secret reconnaissance unit of the Israeli army used for special anti-terror missions such as the raid on Entebbe. In 1976, Israeli commandos rescued 103 hostages from a gang of Arab terrorists at the airport in the Ugandan capital.

Lewin went on dozens of such missions, friends say. In the ’80s, for example, he helped rescue thousands of Jews stranded in Ethiopia. His outfit ? Unit 269 ? secured the airport there during the airlift operation, friends say.

Rephen called Lewin "the best of the best."

"About 2,500 guys try out for the unit he was in," he said. "Twenty-five make it, and one gets chosen as an officer. It was him."

He was also extremely tough and determined, Rephen says. He recalls an earlier time, during basic military training, when Lewin fell into a ravine and was knocked unconscious and rushed to the hospital. "He was back the next day," Rephen said.

He guesses that Lewin, who understood Arabic, sensed something was wrong on Flight 11 the moment he took his seat next to the three terrorists, including Atta, the ringleader. "He probably picked up that they were on a suicide mission by what they were saying or wearing," Rephen said.

"Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups put on headbands as badges of their death," he added. "If they put that stuff on, and he saw it, he would have known the ride was over."

And then he would have made his move.

"If I know Danny, when he realized what they were doing, he attacked them," Rephen said. "He probably cursed them in Arabic to scare them, and then he hurt them."

He speculates that during the struggle with Atta and the other hijacker sitting in front of Lewin in row 8, al-Suqami shot him from behind. "I have no doubt they got a gun on the plane as a backup for a situation like that," Rephen said, speculating that they either brought it on board the plane, likely in pieces, or had it planted there earlier by ground services crew.

The FAA report, though very specific, does not indicate whether Lewin was killed during a struggle or while sitting in his seat. Whatever happened, it likely went down within 15 minutes or so of takeoff. Authorities say the pilots were overpowered by then.

Rephen, like other Lewin friends and associates contacted by WorldNetDaily, doubts the report of gunfire was written in error. "If this were an error, they wouldn’t have been so fact-specific," Rephen said.

The FBI says the Lewin incident is still under investigation. "I don’t think we know for sure right now if he was killed" on board the flight, said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson. "All of this is something we’re trying to figure out ourselves."

Attempts to reach Lewin’s family were unsuccessful. His wife and children live in the Boston area, and his parents, both doctors, and two younger brothers live in Israel." – WorldNetDaily (03/27/02)

Did Mohamed Atta’s bags contain paradise wedding suit?

The clothing found in one of hijacking ringleader Mohamed Atta’s bags wasn’t a pilots’ uniform, as first reported, but his paradise wedding suit, says an American Airlines employee who was with authorities when they first opened his luggage.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp”ARTICLE_ID=28904

 

Airline denied Atta paradise wedding suit

By Paul Sperry,
September 11, 2002
WorldNetDaily.com

 

At last minute, American turned away luggage containing cologne, gold Koran

 

The clothing found in one of hijacking ringleader Mohamed Atta’s bags wasn’t a pilots’ uniform, as first reported, but his paradise wedding suit, says an American Airlines employee who was with authorities when they first opened his luggage.

 

 

Alongside the navy suit ” which was eerily laid out as if Atta were in it, with a sapphire-blue necktie looped under a crisp dress-shirt collar and neatly knotted ? was a bottle of cologne. At the foot of the bag, which had been locked, was a fancy leather-bound Koran painted gold.

 

 

Because of an American policy instated just before Sept. 11 to curb baggage-related flight delays, Atta’s two checked bags ” which had been held up from an earlier flight ? were left behind in Boston, says the employee, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal from the Dallas-based carrier, which continues to gag all employees from talking about the Sept. 11 hijackings. Two of the hijacked flights were American.

 

As it happens, Atta was the only passenger among the 81 aboard American Flight 11 whose luggage didn’t make the flight, American sources confirm. Atta is thought to have piloted the Boeing 767, loaded with some 16,000 gallons of fuel, into the first World Trade Center tower a year ago today.

 

 

As a result, the 33-year-old Egyptian native, who was single, was denied his ceremonial outfit with which he apparently expected to enter the Muslim version of Heaven and join in "marriage" the "women of paradise … dressed in their most beautiful clothing," as a five-page letter found in his other bag envisioned it.

 

According to the Koran, Muslims’ sacred book, the afterworld is more a physical than metaphysical place, filled with sensuous earthly pleasures. Martyrdom, or dying in the cause of Allah, is the shortest path to get there.

 

In preparation for martrydom, ablution.

 

"Shave excess hair from the body and wear cologne. Shower," advises the letter, which was handwritten in Arabic and later translated by the FBI (it’s still not clear if Atta penned the letter himself). "Do not leave your apartment unless you have performed ablution."

 

The bag with the clothing, moreover, included only personal items, whereas the other bag contained utility items, such as navigational tools and even a large serrated knife.

 

 

He says as soon as he and others gathered at Logan International Airport saw the suit and other items arranged as they were in the suitcase, it became clear to them that Atta had no plans on coming back to this world.

 

 

The other bag, which had also been locked, contained, among other things:

 

* A videotape of the Boeing 757 aircraft.
* A flight operating manual for the Boeing 757, which has the same cockpit as the 767.
* An Arab-English dictionary.
* A packet of papers which included the 5-page letter, as well as Atta’s last will and testament, which was dated April 11, 1996, and also written in Arabic.
* A chart-plotting ruler.
* A manual slide-rule device called an "E6B," but more commonly known as a flight "computer," which pilots use to measure fuel consumption, weight and balance and other things.
* A folding-blade knife with finger grips on the handle.

 

 

One suitcase had Atta’s earthly belongings, including many things he used or wanted to use in his mass-murdering plot, while the other contained his spiritual requirements to enter paradise.

 

"It was clear to us he did not want to check those bags," the American employee said.

 

Indeed, Atta intended to carry on all three of the bags he initially brought with him to Portland International Jetport in Maine earlier that morning, sources there say.

 

But Atta was forced to check his two larger bags, described as soft-sided with roller boards, because the 19-seat commuter plane he flew to Boston allows passengers just one carry-on bag each, says a US Airways Express employee who works at the ticket counter where Atta checked in.

 

The two bags were tagged for final destination to Los Angeles International Airport, which is where Flight 11 had been bound.

 

Both Atta and his traveling companion and fellow hijacker, Abdulaziz Alomari, boarded US Airways Express Flight 5930 with one carry-on each.

 

Their carry-ons also contained papers, says a passenger who was seated two rows in front of Atta on the shuttle flight.

 

 

Roger Quirion of Winslow, Maine, says he observed the two, who he says were "joined at the hip," while waiting at the gate.

 

"They were sitting together, acting very serious. They were going through papers, something from their carry-on," Quirion told WorldNetDaily.

 

"It struck me as though they were preparing for some type of meeting," he added. "I thought they were business travelers."

 

When Atta arrived at Logan’s Terminal B from Portland, little did he know that US Airways was slow in transferring his bags from the commuter jet to the American baggage dock.

 

They arrived before takeoff ? but after American’s just-imposed cut-off time for late baggage. The new rule refused any bags delivered within 10 minutes of the flight’s scheduled take-off. Atta’s came within several minutes.

 

"His bags, which were transferred rampside, were transferred late by US Airways Express," the American employee said.

 

As soon as the bags were dropped off at American’s loading dock, a ground-crew worker checked the tag, put them on a cart and drove them out to the 767 getting ready to taxi to the runway.

 

But he got a "thumbs down" by the crew that loads the bags, the employee said.

"It was about three minutes before departure," he said. "They had it locked up, and it was ready to go."

 

The bags were brought back and tagged for rerouting to the 11 a.m. flight to LAX, he says.

 

When it became clear that Flight 11 had been hijacked, the crew chief called the Massachusetts State Police, which dispatched a state trooper to the baggage rerouting area with a bomb-sniffing dog, says the American source, who assisted the trooper and other authorities.

 

After the dog cleared the bags for explosives, the trooper had the small locks on Atta’s bags cut off and the bags opened.
Then the FBI got involved.

 

Authorities were able to quickly ID the bags as Atta’s thanks to information a flight attendant aboard Flight 11 phoned down to an American flight-services manager at Logan. She described the attackers and gave their seat numbers and Atta’s name. " –

 

WorldNetDaily (09/11/02)

A look at 9/11 terrorists? visa applications

October 9, 2002, 10:30 a.m.
Visas that Should Have Been Denied
A look at 9/11 terrorists? visa applications.

by Joel Mowbray
http://www.nationalreview.com/mowbray/mowbray100902.asp

 he cover story in National Review‘s October 28th issue (out Friday) details how at least 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers should have been denied visas ? an assessment based on expert analyses of 15 of the terrorists’ visa-application forms, obtained exclusively by NR.

In the year after 9/11, the hand-wringing mostly centered on the FBI and CIA’s failure to "connect the dots." But that would not have been a fatal blow if the "dots" had not been here in the first place. If the U.S. State Department had followed the law, at least 15 of the 19 "dots" should have been denied visas ” and they likely wouldn’t have been in the United States on September 11, 2001.

According to expert analyses of the visa-application forms of 15 of the 9/11 terrorists (the other four applications could not be obtained), all the applicants among the 15 reviewed should have been denied visas under then-existing law. Six separate experts who analyzed the simple, two-page forms came to the same conclusion: All of the visa applications they reviewed should have been denied on their face.

9/11 Terrorist Visa Applications

Hani Hanjour, 1997 (~167k file)
Hani Hanjour, 2000 (a) (~205k file)
Hani Hanjour, 2000 (b) (~169k file)
Waleed al-Sherhi, 2000 (~169k file)
Wail al-Sherhi, 2000 (~206k file) 
Abdulaziz Alomari, 2001 (~259k file) 

Even to the untrained eye, it is easy to see why many of the visas should have been denied. Consider, for example, the U.S. destinations most of them listed. Only one of the 15 provided an actual address ” and that was only because his first application was refused ” and the rest listed only general locations ? including "California," "New York," "Hotel D.C.," and "Hotel." One terrorist amazingly listed his U.S. destination as simply "No." Even more amazingly, he got a visa.

The experts ? who scrutinized the applications of 14 Saudis and one from the United Arab Emirates ? include four former consular officers, a current consular officer stationed in Latin America, and a senior official at Consular Affairs (CA) ? the division within the State Department that oversees consulates and visa issuance ? who has extensive consular experience.


 

All six experts strongly agreed that even allowing for human error, no more than a handful of the visa applications should have managed to slip through the cracks. Making the visa lapses even more inexplicable, the State Department claims that at least 11 of the 15 were interviewed by consular officers. Nikolai Wenzel, one of the former consular officers who analyzed the forms, declares that State’s issuance of the visas "amounts to criminal negligence."

The visas should have been denied because of a provision in the law known as 214(b), which states that almost all nonimmigrant visa (NIV) applicants are presumed to be intending immigrants. The law is clear: "Every alien [other than several narrowly exempted subcategories] shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for a visa, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant [visa]." State’s Deputy Press Secretary Phil Reeker recently remarked that 214(b) is "quite a threshold to overcome." It just wasn’t for Saudi applicants.

Defying the conventional wisdom that al Qaeda had provided its operatives with extensive training to game the system with the right answers to guarantee a visa, the applications were littered with red flags, almost all of which were ignored. The forms were also plagued with significant amounts of missing information ? something that should have been sufficient grounds to deny many of the visas. For example, while all but one terrorist claimed to be employed or in school, only on three forms is the area marked "Name and Street Address of Present Employer or School" even filled out. At the very least, the CA executive points out, "The consular officers should not have ended the interview until the forms were completed."

Any discrepancies or apparent problems that would have been resolved by way of explanation or additional documentation should have been noted in the area reserved for a consular officer’s comments ? yet this was only done on one of the forms. Which begs the question: Were 11 of the 15 terrorists whose applications were reviewed actually interviewed as State claims?

Though all of the 15 applications obtained by NR should have been denied, some were worse than others. Here are some of the worst:

Wail and Waleed al-Shehri
Brothers Wail and Waleed al-Shehri applied together for travel visas on October 24, 2000. Wail claimed his occupation was "teater," while his brother wrote "student." Both listed the name and address of his respective employer or school as simply "South City." Each also declared a U.S. destination of "Wasantwn." But what should have further raised a consular officer’s eyebrows is the fact that a student and his nominally employed brother were going to go on a four-to-six-month vacation, paid for by Wail’s "teater" salary, which he presumably would be foregoing while in the United States. Even assuming very frugal accommodations, such a trip for two people would run north of $15,000, yet there is no indication that the consular officer even attempted to determine that Wail in fact had the financial means to fund the planned excursion. They appear to have received their visas the same day they applied.

Abdulaziz Alomari
On June 18, 2001, Abdulaziz Alomari filled out a simple, two-page application for a visa to come to the United States. Alomari was not exactly the ideal candidate for a visa. He claimed to be a student, though he left blank the space for the name and address of his school. He checked the box claiming he was married, yet he left blank the area where he should have put the name of his spouse. Although he claimed to be a student, he marked on his form that he would self-finance a two-month stay at the "JKK Whyndham Hotel" ” and provided no proof, as required under law, that he could actually do so.

Despite the legal requirement that a visa applicant show strong roots in his home country (to give him or her a reason to come back from America), Alomari listed his home address as the "ALQUDOS HTL JED" (a hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia). Alomari didn’t even bother filling in the fields asking for his nationality and gender, apparently realizing that he didn’t need to list much more than his name to get a visa to the United States. As it turns out, he didn’t. He got his visa.

When he arrived in the United States, he connected with his friend, Mohammed Atta. And less than three months later ” that September 11 ? he and Atta helped crash American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Hani Hanjour
The most troubling of the applications reviewed is Hanjour’s. It appears that Hanjour was the only applicant of the 15 who was initially refused ? although this is not entirely clear, because the consular officers did not always circle "Issued" or "Refused" (as required by law) on the other forms. Hanjour had received a student visa in 1997 in order to study English at the ELS Language Center in Melbourne, Fla. On his first of two attempts to obtain a second visa in 2000, Hanjour requested a travel visa for the purpose of a "visit" ? for "three years." An unidentified consulate employee, likely a Foreign Service national (a Saudi resident), highlighted the obvious problem with an applicant stating a desire to overstay his visa (the maximum length for a travel visa is 24 months) with an extra-long "visit." The unknown employee wrote in the comment box: "like to stay three years or more!" and circled the remark. That employee or a different one also scribbled something underneath about Hanjour’s wish to find a flight school during the trip. This application was refused ? but only temporarily.

On the subsequent application filed two weeks later, Hanjour was armed with all the right answers. Rather than stating "AZ, Rent home" as his U.S. location, he gave a specific address, complete with a house number and street name ? the only one of the 15 applicants to have done so. On the second go-round, Hanjour applied for a twelve-month student visa, and changed the purpose of the visit to "study" and the desired length of stay to a more appropriate "one year." But so many changes, all of which smoothed out rough spots on the original application, should have troubled the consular officer. "It’s never a good sign if someone cleans up his paperwork too well," comments the current consular officer stationed in Latin America.

As disturbing as the visa forms are, perhaps more disturbing is that State’s handpicked candidate to be the new chief enforcer of visa policies, Maura Harty, had not even looked at them as of her Senate confirmation hearing last week ? yet the Senate is poised to rubber stamp her nomination. That’s a real shame, because examining the applications yields many valuable lessons. The most important is that we’re not going to keep out terrorists until State figures out that it needs to enforce the law.

? Joel Mowbray is an NRO contributor and a Townhall.com columnist.

Passport of hijacker found several blocks from WTC

A passport is supposedly found belonging to one of the alleged hijackers who’s plane crashed into one of the WTC’s.

"New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said Sunday a passport belonging to one of the hijackers was discovered a few days ago several blocks from the crash site by a passerby. Based on the new evidence, the FBI and police decided to widen the search area beyond the immediate crash site." – CNN (09/17/01)

Interview with Rudi Dekkers on Atta

Rudi Dekkers
Florida, Sunday 21 October, 2001
http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/atta/interviews/dekkers.htm

Broadcast 12 Nov. 2001, ABC.AU 


Producer Quentin McDermott travelled to Venice, Florida to interview Rudi Dekkers, the president of Huffman Aviation where Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi completed their flight training.

When was Mohamed Atta here and why did he come here?

Mohamed Atta came here July 1st, 2000 to check out the facility, they stated to my student co-ordinator that they came from a flight school in the area, they were not happy and they were looking for another flight school, so my student co-ordinator gave them all the information, prices, the way we work here. And they said they would think about and will come back. The only problem we had back then was there was no sleeping place for them, we had no space because normally the students are not coming and say we need a room when they come from here, most of the time when they come from Europe we’d know where to help them, we’d have space. Anyway, July 3rd they came back, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi and stated they wanted to do business with us and stated that they needed a place to stay. We told them you can attend here in the flight school, you need to pay $1,000 down per person and we will check if we can find a room, we called the hotels, there was nobody decent price and then I said to my employees because I knew that some of my employees were renting rooms out, is somebody available? Charles Voss my bookkeeper was available to rent out some space and he did. This is how it all started. Now – Atta had a private licence already, he needed to do the single, multi-engine commercial course and instrument rating, the same as Marwan Al-Shehhi. Al-Shehhi had only a few hours so he practically did the whole course and he paid $20,800, he paid that by every week putting a cheque down, hardly any cash, we don’t like cash, especially when it’s from foreigners because you’re not allowed to take a lot of cash with you over the border, so they paid with cheque, Atta paid $18,800 due to the fact that he already had some hours.

Now what exactly was the course that they were taking?

As I said, Atta had his private pilot licence, he wanted to be a commercial, multi-engine, IFR-rated pilot, the same as Marwan Al-Shehhi.

How long was the course?

Depends – you can work on it every day, then you can do it between three and six months. In most cases the people who are coming over to do the professional course stay four, five, six months and that was the case with them, they came July 3rd to train and December 21st they did their check-ride with the designated examiner from the FAA and it took them, by the way, five months.

So when they left, what qualifications did they leave with?

They left with a commercial, single, multi-engine IFR rating, up to a maximum of 12,000 lb airplane, that means small airplanes, they flew the Seneca II, that’s a two engine, six seater airplane, you’re not capable to fly a jet airplane if you have this licence. But they went for the full course, they didn’t come in here and said we only want to steer left and right, and have control of the airplane, they came for the full course, because if you do an exam with the FAA, the FAA is not going to say we’ll just test you for steering left and right, they test you for everything.

Were they good students?

I have heard from the instructors that they were average students, the examiner told me the same, Mr Whitman designated examiner from the FAA. We had some problems in the beginning with Atta that he was not listening, so at the beginning he was certainly not a good student, he was not listening to the instructors, had an attitude he felt like he was standing above everybody here. I have spoken with him on numerous occasions because when I see a face on a regular basis in my facility, I tend to ask him, "oh who are you and where are you from" because as the president of the company I don’t know all my customers, but I try to know them. I think that’s publicity for the company, its PR and so I ask him where are you from, what are you doing and what are your goals and Atta was really not a nice person to talk to, but anyhow he told me, I think back then he told me he was from Egypt but I can’t tell exactly any more, I didn’t remember that, but he told me that he wanted to get the commercial multi-licence to obtain further training in his country to get to the commercial airlines and I said to him, "but you’re a little older already, most students are a little younger", he’s says "well I have an opportunity to get into the airline if I get my licenses" and it happens, it’s not out of the ordinary that that doesn’t happen up to 40 years old people change their profession.

So he said he was from Egypt and he said he wanted to fly in commercial airlines?

Yeah, I thought he said Egypt I can’t take an oath on that any more, because I have heard so many things from him in the five months time that they were here, this is not important data for me to remember, so I tend to forget things that I don’t need to know.

Now there have been stories that he presented himself as an Arab prince, is that correct?

Well, no. If he was a prince, yes or no, I can’t state that because we never heard them talking about that, we never heard anything, we have heard that one of my students who was here in the same time that Atta and Al-Shehhi was here, and I think it was Miss Greaves, that she stated in the London newspaper that he was a prince, that their clothing was expensive and that Al-Shehhi was his guard. Nothing of that we have seen here in the five months they were here, they were absolutely low profile, they clothed themselves like we all do, jeans and and sneakers, there was nothing else. My personal feeling was Atta was an asshole first class, and Al-Shehhi was a very nice, likeable person, he had fun, he was laughing, he took the jokes were talking about, this is a male environmental, so we talk about girls, planes but Atta was never socialising.

Why do you say Atta was an asshole?

Well, when Atta was here and I saw his face on several occasions in the building, then I know that they’re regular students and then I try to talk to them, it’s kind of a PR – where are you from, are there more people from where you’re from who need to be trained, and I tried to communicate with him. I found out from my people that he lived in Hamburg and he spoke German so one of the days that I saw him, I speak German myself, I’m a Dutch citizen, and I started in the morning telling him in German, "good morning, how are you, how do you like the coffee, are you happy here", and he looked at me with cold eyes, didn’t react at all and walked away. That was one of my first meetings I had, or coffee break meetings, and I just didn’t like the guy, I talked to him several occasions, the way he looked, the way he was, was to me like I don’t like the guy. Sometimes you have that impression from when you meet people in the field and that was my first impression, no – did I have a an impression that he was a terrorist or to become terrorist? Of course not, because if that was the case as I have stated all over the world, I would kill him with my own bare hands, but he was just an asshole first class, he had an attitude towards everybody, towards the instructors, towards Charles Voss where he was staying for a week, and we didn’t like the guy, but he was a customer, he was here to do a professional course, after the first month when he had problems with the instructors, the chief flight instructor took him separate, discussed the problems and we have said, if you do not listen to the instructors instruction, then you’re out of here, we’ll just kick you out and then he’s he’s changed, he listened to the instructions and and I still didn’t like him but he is a customer and he paid the bills and there was nothing else that we could have know, could have seen that he was up to, what he did.

You make him sound as if he was very arrogant.

Yes he was a very arrogant person. He was very arrogant, his last name started with Atta and that that is probably attitude – it start for a bad attitude, he had a bad attitude and and we just didn’t like him.

Did he give any indication of why he had this bad attitude?

No, we never talked about it, you don’t talk to somebody and say you got a bad attitude when he’s a customer, we left him alone, he did only his studying and he never did any socialising with any of our customers or instructors, so we didn’t care, just do what you’ve got to do and get out when you’re done.

You mentioned earlier that he had quite cold eyes and other people have mentioned this?

Well if you look at his picture which you have seen in the newspapers you can see probably what I mean, cold, no life in his face, no expression in his face, if I am happy I smile, when I’m angry I look angry – this guy had just a cold face and I wish we had a signal that what he was up to, I wish we had that, but unfortunately we didn’t, I got 48 employees here and most of them have seen him and talked to him for a brief moment – nobody knew this and Al-Shehhi, he was a likeable, young people, 23 years old, had fun, was laughing, every day he had fun.

Can I just be clear about the the aircraft they were flying – I’ve been told Cessna 172 that he did 40 hours in and 15 in Piper Cherokee – is that correct?

If I had the invoice in front of me I can tell you if it’s correct or not, they they flew about 250 hours here because when you obtain a a commercial licence you need to fly 250 hours, they have done a lot of flight hours in a two seater Cessna a 152 or 150, and after that they have flown 172s, they have flown Warriors and they have flown the Pied Piper Seneca – I think the majority of the flight time is done in single engines, it could be Warrior, 172. I can give you a copy of the invoice and then you can see it yourself (view the invoice).

Now, knowing what eventually occurred, would the training that they received here have been sufficient to allow Atta to steer a commercial airliner into the World Trade Centre?

Well I have heard this question numerous times and I am proud in the fact that we try to deliver a good product. I’m not proud that this was a student through us, although we know that there is no blame for Huffman Aviation, but I can reverse the question and ask you, you have a drivers license, are you capable to steer in a big truck, you probably can steer – but now you need to do something, turn, descend, then I don’t believe it’s possible – I believe everybody with some skills and a pilot licence can steer, but they had to steer 90 degrees to the left, they had to descend, they had to do – hit a target, that is kind of difficult, I think and I have said this in the first day after September 11 that they had other training because I don’t believe it was possible without any other training. They did get some hours in a simulator, I believe it was a 727, and I think that’s what you have to have before you know a little bit how it feels – if you go out of my airplanes, directly into a Boeing, I don’t think you make it, but here again – when you and I are stepping in an airplane we want to go back to our wives, our children, because we want to survive, we don’t want to kill ourselves. I don’t understand that Atta and Al-Shehhi went for a licence, that is a hard licence to get when they fly themselves against a building – they were just trying to get experience, why do you need a licence, we don’t understand it, it doesn’t fit with what their plan was. But to come back on the question, I don’t believe that that you can steer a Boeing, you need to have additional instruction.

Some people have speculated that that the reason they were able to steer so accurately is because they were able to influence GPS information. Is that possible, and were they learning any of that here?

No, we do not have simulators, we do not have any information toys of these planes, I have learned also with all the interviews, because I became kind of a data bank from all the reporters, they tell me information and so I get more information, what happened outside my facility, is that they bought flight simulator from Microsoft Windows -you can get a copy on your screen at home, on your monitor from the computer and you can learn the GPS, so it could be possible that they had knowledge about the avionics equipment in that plane. It is a bold step what they did, but again they went with a different mission, they didn’t go with the mission I want to go home to my wife and kids, they went with a different mission, and I don’t know how people think if they go with a mission like that.

How did you feel when the aircraft hit the World Trade Centre?

On September 11 at 9 oclock in the morning or maybe a little bit before I had Washington on the line, one of the departments for one of my other businesses and I was talking to a lady and she screamed, "oh they hit the World Tower Centre", and I said "you’re joking", and then she said, "I’m not joking, somebody flew against the WTC". I said, "you’re joking" and she became mad, and I said "OK, I’ll hang up and have a nice day". Then we watched the television and we saw what happened and we were shocked, I mean everybody here was like, how the heck is that possible, then 15 minutes later, we saw the second building hit with the plane that we saw that was banking like enormous, immediately we were standing there with at least 15 pilots, immediately we said, how can the captain do this, immediately the reaction in the group was, no captain would do this, so immediately in the group we said somebody hijacked the plane, but that person almost missed the target because they were banking at least 30, 40 degrees and they were missing it – so we knew as pilots that there was somebody in the cockpit who had some experience but they were missing almost their target – what we wished they missed their target, but we felt terrible, we felt terrible, I mean, we had some tears, especially when the building collapsed it was even worse, but that day I didn’t know that I was involved as Huffman Aviation, till the next morning 7 o’clock I had a phone call on September 12th from my manager here in Huffman Aviation and said that, since 2.30 that morning, the FBI was here to ask for two files, they couldn’t find them right away, so I went over to Huffman Aviation, I live 16 miles away from here, and I talked to them, they found the file in the meantime and they explained to me that they were suspected hijackers who went into the World Tower Centers and we were shocked, I mean now the problem was at my doorstep and not 2000 miles away, so we were shocked. Incredible feeling, but I didn’t feel worse than the day before due to the fact we knew that we did a legit job, we didn’t have any clue, I had questions from reporters, they said, "don’t you feel betrayed?" I said, no, because only a loved one can betray me, the customer cannot betray me, do I feel bad, shoot, yes, I feel terrible, I mean I feel like every other American here and I’m a Dutch citizen, but I feel like the Americans, this is terrible and the bastards who did this need to get punished and I have stated, you know, if they would walk here, I would kill them with my bare hands, if I had any clue that these animals were up to this, I’m an extrovert, that means I’ll take action, this is terrible, this is besides the financial stress we have all over the world because of this, this is something that goes beyond our thinking.

But despite Mohamed Atta’s attitude you were never suspicious of his motives?

No. No. No. I’m 45 years old, I’m doing about 25 years business, I meet all kinds of people I have easy and quick opinion about people and 90% of the time I’m right and sometimes you’re not right, I just didn’t like the guy – but does that mean that it’s stamped on his face that he’s a terrorist? No. His behaviour was not abnormal for me versus other Muslim students we had in the years. Huffman Aviation doesn’t do a lot of Muslim students, five, six, seven a year, but they all are by themselves, they all are a little different than we are and it was not different than any other behaviour, he was just not a likeable person.

Did the instructors tell you that Atta and Al-Shehhi were particularly interested in those kinds of banking manoeuvres?

 I did not hear from my instructors that Atta and Al-Shehhi were specifically interested in one section of their flying. They have to do everything to obtain the licence. I have not heard that, not even after the fact we knew what they did, and I’ve spoken with the two instructors, Gerry and Mark, who flew with them and they didn’t say to me that they were specially interested into turn and banking, no.

Can you tell me the story about Atta and Al-Shehhi landing a plane which stalled and which they they abandoned?

We had a phone call on December 26 from Signator Flight Support on Miami International that one of our planes with the two suspected hijackers ? we didn’t know that back then of course, Atta and Al-Shehhi ? landed about 3 o’clock in the afternoon on Miami Airport International, they went off the runway and then they had a problem with the plane that either it had too much fuel or they did something, but the engine stopped, on the taxi-way. Now that can happen, they tried to restart it, they were not able to restart it. Now they did something foolish. They cut off communications with ground, they shut off the master switch of the plane and now Miami International had a problem, there was a plane sitting on a taxi-way, no communications, nothing, so they make quite a mistake there. December 27 we had a phone call from the FAA and they stated to us, was it our plane, can we send the maintenance records, etc etc, this is what we found out, but what I don’t understand when you obtain December 21st, your licence as a pilot, commercial pilot, that you go to Miami International ? I fly 20 years and for me it’s still kind of stress to go to Miami International, so what were they doing there, I don’t understand that and then they make that big mistake. Then they drove back with a cab from Miami to Venice, and that’s 200 miles and they want us to pay for the bill, so we didn’t do that, but this is the attitude that they had and they were abusing people around them.

So was the aircraft your aircraft?

It was my aircraft, they rented that after their licenses, they rented the plane for that day and went to Miami International without my knowledge and they would not have that plane rented with my permission if we knew they went to such a big airport.

It seems to me that to have done that is a serious breach of the rules. Shouldn’t they have lost their licenses?

No, I don’t think so. When pilots make mistakes the FAA will investigate that and will issue either a first warning with a two year probation or a fine, the FAA is not that difficult, they understand if you’re a pilot that you can make mistakes like you can make a mistake in traffic with your car, and they don’t take your licence right away. If you’re drunk behind the wheel, yeah they’ll take your licence and that’s the same as in an airplane, so the FAA is always trying to work with the people, no problem, but they were just curious why students actually pilots already just shut off the master switch and that is a no no.

How did they pay for their course?

They paid with $1000 down bank cheque from some trust here in Florida and they paid about every week $1000 and the total for Atta was about $18800 and Al-Shehhi was about $20,800.

That information presumably has been quite useful to the FBI?

Yeah, we have given of course the whole invoice, every day that they’d been flying, we noticed also when we looked at the invoice that sometimes there were two or three days gone and and the instructor was waiting for them but there was no Atta and Al-Shehhi and we bitched about that to them but they came back and they did the course and they told us sometimes that they, Atta want to take a day off and that is an understandable issue, now we know that they went all over Florida to have contacts, etc etc.

Now you have another site down in Naples, tell me about that and tell me about the significance of of the people who’ve been students there?

Yeah, we have another flight school 16 miles south from here, Ambassador Airways in Naples, and do only foreigners. We do foreigners and Americans here but in Ambassador we do 90% foreigners and I had at the moment of a week before September 11, I had one student there with a Muslim background who broke his course a week before September 11, stated to us that he wanted to go to Boston because he was doing a cruise or something, and he just stopped his course.

 He came from England when he attended the flight course in Naples, but he lives in Italy. His father works for the NATO, his mum came over when he was sick in the first two weeks that he attended our flight school and she was completely Muslim dress, you know, we didn’t understand why a mum comes over when a 20-year-old or 19-year-old boy is sick with just the flu, we didn’t understand that. Then there was money wired to the flight school from an official address like it had to do with the NATO or something, we didn’t understand it, so this was a weird situation, then the person left a week prior finishing his course to Boston and also a week prior to September 11, all these things together is too many co-incidences and we don’t believe in co-incidence any more, so I reported this to the FBI and the FBI is looking into it and the boy’s name did not appear on the list of hijackers or the 19 or 21 suspects total, but he is not home yet, so it is kind of strange, very strange.

What job does his father do in NATO?

We don’t know, he bragged about the fact that his father was doing something with NATO but we don’t know. Now it could be all legit, it could be all right, but as I say, too many coincidences are not right.

As a result of this, what if anything have you changed in your systems of operation?

Hardly anything, the FBI when they came in here they asked us if we had the files from these two people and they were surprised to find in the files a copy of their passport and a copy of their INS immigration stamp ” that is not something we have to do, but due to the fact that these people were from overseas, we wanted to have a copy, due to the fact if something happens, we want to go to their home and have information. Now the government here is talking about that they wanted the flight schools do a background check ? well, I think that’s ridiculous, we are a flight school, we are nothing else, and a business who rents out space or sells fuel or sells groceries and if you pay for it you get it. Of course if we have knowledge about a person with wrong doing we will report that, we will not work with these people, but I have noticed, I’m here about 10 years now, I have noticed that the government agencies here do not work together so well, yes now they do in this distress situation but, for example, Atta was apparently a known terrorist because he had a bus bombing involvement in 1987 or 86 in Lebanon. He was on a list, yet he lived in Germany without a problem, yet he comes into the country here, he gets a licence from the motor vehicle department to drive car, then he does a test, a flight test, he gets a temporary ticket for 120 days to fly, the information goes to Oklahoma, this is a Federal Agency and they type him out a licence without checking. I would say to the government we need to find a system that we do not have this any more and we need to help each other. I’m not trying to bitch here, I’m trying to help, it makes no sense to let these people into the country and tell the flight school you need to do a background check. I suggest that the government agency is checking one database computer with all the information about people. I am a nobody but I know one thing. Flight schools doing background checks, they’re not the border, they’re not immigration.

We’ve heard this story about a bus bombing in in Israel, but we haven’t heard confirmation of it. Do you know it to be true?

All I know is the information I get from sources. I have heard from several sources, New York Times, reporters, in the internet you can find also his name that he is involved, suspected to be involved, let me put it that way, suspected – would it not be a question mark for the government if you have a suspecting person? Let the FBI, CIA, FAA, DMV, all the agents work together and let’s get one central computer where all the names are, and will this cost us our freedom, no. Because if you have nothing to fear and your name is in there you don’t mind. I think that they’re doing a lot of things after the fact that could be prevented before. We have heard on the news also here that the director of the FBI wrote a report to the president a couple of days before the bombing that he suspected there was a terrorist attack on his way. Unfortunately this was too late, the guy did a good job but unfortunately was too late, but when we link the computers together as a government here, I think that we’re doing the right thing then.

The life of Mohamed Atta, interviews

Four Corners follows the life of Mohamed Atta, from the beginning in Egypt to the end in New York, seeking out from those who knew him best what lay behind his deliberate decision to embark on a mission to die for.

Transmit of Broadcast 12 November 2001 "A Mission to Die For"
http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/atta/transcript.htm
ABC.com
 Reporter: Liz Jackson
 Producer: Quentin McDermott
 Researcher: Sally Virgoe

LIZ JACKSON: Here, in New York City, the army now patrols the streets, guarding the still-smoking ruins of the World Trade Centre towers. Deep in the rubble, thousands of the dead still lie buried, two months after the terrorist attack. Somewhere here too, lie the remains of the hijackers who chose to die in carrying out their murderous mission, for reasons that even those who were close to the man held to be their ringleader struggle to comprehend.

The Mohamed he knew is Mohamed Atta, captured here by a security video camera taking a connecting flight to board the first plane that slammed into the side of the World Trade Centre.

ANNE GREAVES: The thing that struck me was that he had a terribly set expression on his face ? totally unemotionless. Um ? cold eyes.

RUDY DEKKERS: Did I have an impression that he was a terrorist or to become a terrorist? Of course not. Because if that was the case, as I have stated all over the world, I would kill him with my own bare hands. But he was just an asshole, first-class.

LIZ JACKSON: In younger days, Mohamed Atta was a university student ? to those who met him then, a normal, intelligent young man.

DR JERROLD M. POST: The question of how an individual who is normal can carry out an act of inexplicable evil to the rest of us is ? is the question of the moment.

MOHAMED SID-AHMED: It’s him, but there’s many others as well. We’ve had, for the first time, a collective act of suicide, of terrorism. We’ve had, for the first time, people engineering their own death. We’ve had something very frightening when it comes to this.

LIZ JACKSON: Tonight on Four Corners, we follow the life of Mohamed Atta, from the beginning in Egypt to the end in New York, seeking out from those who knew him best what lay behind his deliberate decision to embark on a mission to die for.

Mohamed Atta was born 33 years ago in small village in Northern Egypt, but his family moved here, to the Cairo suburb of Abdeen, when he was 10. His father was a lawyer and his mother, who doted on her only son, was also an educated woman. Once a wealthy, elegant area, the suburb has long been in decline.

Over the past 20 years, people here have seen their living standards plummet, their neighbourhood slump into shabby disrepair. Mohamed Atta’s neighbour showed us the flat where his family lived. Mohamed had two sisters, both university educated as well.

Arabi runs a car repair shop around the corner and lived downstairs from Mohamed Atta’s family for 13 years. They moved away in 1991. The family, he says, was not particularly religious. His sisters didn’t wear the veil.

Arabi said that the Atta’s didn’t mix much with their neighbours and Mohamed never brought friends home from school. While we were chatting, some other neighbours gathered around. They were angry with the amount of attention being given to the attack on September 11.

MAN: You ask about Mohamed Atta? I will tell you something. Did you go to Palestine and photograph the soldier of Israel who killed the Palestinian?

LIZ JACKSON: Well, the media have covered that story, yes. They have been there. The ABC has done that story, yes.

MAN: The Israelis kill the children of Palestinians every day, every day! What happened in America? Two building! Two buildings bombed ? OK. What does America do? They want to hit all the world. For what? Two buildings.

LIZ JACKSON: But did you know the family here yourself?

 MAN: I know them, I know them.

LIZ JACKSON: So you know the family Mohamed Atta?

MAN: Yes, I live here.

LIZ JACKSON: Yeah. And his dad. You knew them, yes?

MAN: I know him.

LIZ JACKSON: And did you ever think that he might do something like this?

MAN: No one can tell you anything about him.

LIZ JACKSON: Why is that? Why?

 MAN: He was a normal one.

LIZ JACKSON: A normal boy?

MAN: Like any other.

LIZ JACKSON: Like any Egyptian boy? But he did something that no other Egyptian boy has done.

MAN: You are sure?

LIZ JACKSON: Do you believe he did?

MAN: I don’t believe.

LIZ JACKSON: Our translator Hanadi and I met up with one of Atta’s schoolmates in a cafe nearby. He recalls him as a studious teenager with no really close friends and not interested in girls.

ATTA’S SCHOOLMATE: He’d just come to school go back home and study. That’s how he was. He used to ask questions in class and go up to the teacher afterwards to ask more questions. While we would wait impatiently for the bell to ring to go home. His only goal was to succeed and be top of the class.

LIZ JACKSON: When we approached Mohamed Atta’s father, he was angry and fed up with the media. He said he’d only talk if we paid US$25,000 to the Palestinian intifada. Without that, if we continued filming, he’d break the camera.

He insists that his son was not involved in the terrorist attack and has told the media he believes the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was behind it. The week we arrived in Cairo was the same week the United States commenced the bombing of Afghanistan.

At the El-Azhar mosque, the Friday prayers go quietly. But at the end, the anger erupts.

CROWD SHOUTS: There is only one God. Zionists are the enemy of God. Down with America!

MAN 2: This is the only way to express our feelings towards what’s going on all over the world. It is a war against Islam and Bush expressed that. When he said it’s going to be a new crusade, it is a war against Islam.

LIZ JACKSON: Inside, the crowd is being addressed by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest and largest Islamist group in Egypt.

BROTHERHOOD MEMBER: Jihad is our path and death in the name of God is our destiny. There is no other way.

LIZ JACKSON: The banner reads, "Osama bin Laden protects the weak." The Muslim Brothers have a history of terrorism but in recent decades, they have consistently denounced the use of violence. They remain a potent force in the revival of Islamic activism and for that, the organisation has been banned.

But individual Muslim brothers, like Esam El Arian, can speak their mind up to a point.

DR ESAM EL ARIAN, MUSLIM BROTHER: ” and to declare our anger at American sanctions and continuous aggression. The message is, "Stop this war. "President Bush, stop this crazy war." That is the main message.

LIZ JACKSON: But your government supports this war.

DR ESAM EL ARIAN: No, it is under pressure. Our government and Arab governments and Islamic governments are under American pressure.

LIZ JACKSON: Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, the Muslim Brothers made a major push into the universities. One of their strongholds was the engineering faculty of Cairo University. In 1985, Mohamed Atta enrolled as a student.

DR ROBERT SPRINGBORG, DIRECTOR, AMERICAN RESEARCH CENTER, EGYPT: And so Mohamed Atta grew up in an environment on the campus, Cairo University, where the Islamic activists really held sway in political organisations. And, no doubt, much of his political maturation, er, occurred during that time.

LIZ JACKSON: Mohamed Atta’s classmates remember him arriving at Cairo University, naive and keen to study architecture in the faculty of engineering. There was no hint of the radical politics that would lead him to become a man who would kill and die for Islam. Do you remember the first time that you met him?

MOHAMED MOKHTAR EL RAFEI: The first time was the first day of university. And he was excited. We were, very pleasant because we ? we entered our dream university and our dream faculty. Faculty of engineering is the top-ranked faculty here. Cairo University is the top-ranked university here in Egypt. We were excited. That’s it. By the way, Mohamed ? I remember him completely in the form of child. He has a child ? child feelings. Er, innocent. Er, virgin. Smiling and laughing and he ? he likes life. He’s a very delicate person. Sorry, I’m going to cry about him. He was a very nice person. Really. This is Mohammed what I knew.

 Walid Khairy was also an architecture student. He was the photographer in their group.

 LIZ JACKSON:This is a class photo, is it?

WALID KHAIRY: When we all reach ? arrived to Cairo. There’s Mohamed there.

LIZ JACKSON: Mohammed Atta was not a close friend. Mohamed joined in when the group had parties ? this one, a fancy dress. Everyone came as a prisoner with numbers on their chests. Mohamed was religious but no more than others in the class.

MOHAMED MOKHTAR EL RAFEI: He were praying with us. Keeping to pray in Friday. As normal as any other person.

LIZ JACKSON: Atta was a good, hardworking student but not outstanding. His colleagues say they were all far too busy studying to get involved in the Islamist revival that surrounded them at the time. Many of those who were have since been arrested. So you heard about it but you didn’t want to be part of it or ?

 MOHAMED MOKHTAR EL RAFEI: Yes, just heard. I remember we saw demonstration moving from the university. And all what we did, that we moved to the window sill, and we sit for a few minutes to watch. Only watch. We were completely being under pressure from duties, tasks, homeworks.

LIZ JACKSON: At the end of their degrees, the students went on field trips together. But once they graduated in 1990, his former classmates saw little of Mohamed. There were impressed to hear in 1992 that he was going to study in Germany.

MOHAMED MOKHTAR EL RAFEI: Well, good. Bravo. Any chance for any person all over the world, if there is any chance to develop his career, to develop his academic background, I should shake his hand and say, "Bravo".

DR ROBERT SPRINGBORG: Well, Mohamed Atta did very well for himself, as a matter of fact. He was a high-performance student, he was given a scholarship. He was able to study in Germany. This is the dream of so many young Egyptians. There are so many talented ones for whom this dream is only that, and he realised it.

LIZ JACKSON: Mohamed Atta left Cairo in 1992, aged 24. He would never return here to live. Something would radically change him in Hamburg. It’s the beginning of the new semester at the Technical University of Hamburg.

The university has organised a function to welcome the latest batch of foreign students to the campus. One in four of their students come from overseas. The university is hoping that September 11 will not make a dent in their enrolments because this is the university where Mohamed Atta came to study urban planning in the engineering faculty.

PROF. DITTMAR MACHULE, DEAN, FACULTY OF ENGINEERING: He was in a simple way a very normal foreign student. But the special thing was he was very polite, very interested, very intellectual. He argumented very well, and he was interested in all things. And the difference to other students from foreign countries, to other Muslim students was that he was very religious. He prayed as it was necessary and he interrupted discussion to pray in the corner, and this was, let me say, the only special thing. He was a normal student, smiling sometimes, not laughing very much.Was somewhat serious. Somewhat serious.

VOLKER HAUTH: It was a strange world for him, a strange language, strange daily life for a religious-orientated person.

LIZ JACKSON: Volker Hauth is a Christian. He’s one of the very few German students who got to know Mohamed Atta well. They met in 1993 and kept in touch over the next three years. Did you feel close to him?

VOLKER HAUTH: Yes.

LIZ JACKSON: What do you think was the bond? What was it that made you feel close to him?

VOLKER HAUTH: My religious orientation is not as strict as his orientation, his religious orientation was. But, I think .the interest in religious ideas, my interest in religious ideas, was some kind of bridge, to his religious opinions and to his religious practice.

LIZ JACKSON: While Mohamed was interested in his studies, there was little of what Hamburg had to offer outside the university that had much appeal. His lifestyle was austere.

VOLKER HAUTH: I think freedom and the possibility to tell your opinion openly was of great interest for him, or it was of big interest for him. But all these ‘goods’ of the Western world, like you told me ? cars, girls, motorcycles or things like that ? he was not interested in.

LIZ JACKSON: Television, movies?

VOLKER HAUTH: I don’t know if he had a TV set. No, I don’t think so. And I don’t remember him going to the movies.

LIZ JACKSON: Ever?

VOLKER HAUTH: I can’t remember.

LIZ JACKSON: Music?

VOLKER HAUTH: Music, yes, specific ? or I asked him about music because I like listening to music and I like playing music, and he told me for Muslims it’s not allowed to listen to music because music may have the same sense like drugs.

LIZ JACKSON: Hamburg is a city that displays all the freedoms the West has to offer, right in your face.

DR ROBERT SPRINGBORG: I think when an individual such as Mohamed Atta goes to the West he’s a fish out of sea to some extent. He’s surrounded by seculars. He lived in Hamburg, the famous Reeperbahn, the prostitute district of Hamburg, very close to the technical university there. So he saw all of the licentiousness of the West, and very commonly, this experience causes young Muslim men to become much more traditional, much more fundamentalist. And so I expect that in his case, it did the same.

LIZ JACKSON: Ralph Bodenstein met up with Mohamed Atta and Volker Hauth in 1994. He now lives in Beirut. They’d all chosen to specialise in the problems of urban planning in developing countries and took a three-month trip together back to Atta’s home town of Cairo in 1995.

It was clear that Mohamed had changed since the days when he accepted that his own sister did not wear the hijab. He could now see even women who wore the veil as immodest.

RALPH BODENSTEIN: What happened was that he would see, like, young women, or women wearing an hijab, and Volker and me, for instance, we would realise it’s looking good, actually, how they do it ? it’s nice actually. It makes them beautiful. Then we was, like, say yes. Or he would criticise them because he was saying they would not wear this hijab properly because they would ? ..they would choose certain colours which were too chic and they would, like, wear it, or wind it, in a way around their hair that would make them even more attractive. And so that was not the way it was supposed to be.

LIZ JACKSON: Atta and his two German student colleagues had come to write a report, assessing the renovation work on the old city gates of Cairo. The government plans involved clearing out run-down houses and factories where poor people lived and worked. Atta had a passionate interest in the preservation of Islamic sites, but in a way that took account of the social issues involved.

RALPH BODENSTEIN: There are many poor people in Egypt, especially in Cairo. And he was interested in finding ways to give them a better life or to organise the city and the space in a way ” and also the social structure ? in a way that these people would do better, actually.

LIZ JACKSON: And how did he feel the government was dealing with those issues?

RALPH BODENSTEIN: The government was dealing it in terms of self-interest. I mean, the government was dealing it in terms of profit, which was the state profit in tourism, which was very important.

LIZ JACKSON: The political climate in the 1990s was tense. Islamist groups had been providing social services to the poor and making good political ground by doing so. The government reacted with mass arrests, seeing their growing strength as a threat. There are still around 15,000 Islamic activists in Egyptian jails. Some are extremists, most are not. Mohamed told his friends that he feared if he returned to Cairo he, too, would be criminalised.

VOLKER HAUTH: He told me about the daily practice of the government to criminalise people of opposite opinions. Egyptian and especially the Egyptian president Mubarak tries to give the impression that Egypt is a democracy ? is a free democratic country, in the Western sense of democracy and freedom. But Mohamed told me that it was not possible to give or to ? to give or to tell open oppositional opinion.

LIZ JACKSON: Mohammed felt that, in any event, his prospects for work as a city planner were bleak. The economy is too weak to employ all the graduates flooding the job market and cronyism is rife.

RALPH BODENSTEIN: He wished and hoped that he might find such work in Cairo, but he was sceptical about it ? several times ? about the possibilities of really changing things in Egypt and finding a good and sensible work.

LIZ JACKSON: Because of ? ?

RALPH BODENSTEIN: Well, because of ? if you are critical of certain persons or certain critical circumstances, if you do know this and that person, you will never get this sort of job.

LIZ JACKSON: Neither Ralph nor Volker say that Mohamed was specifically hostile to America. But he did resent the cultural and political dominance of the West and the threat that posed to Islam. Do you think that he resented the way that Western culture, for the most part, does not understand Islam?

RALPH BODENSTEIN: Yes. I mean, he was very explicit about that. I mean, they deliberately did not want to understand.

VOLKER HAUTH: We spoke about that, yes. The industrial nations do not only export cars or tanks or things like that. They do not only export rubbish. They also export their way of living. And it’s quite opposite to the traditional way of living in an Islamic country or in an Arab country.

LIZ JACKSON: What made him most passionate?

RALPH BODENSTEIN: At that time, I remember there were two things I remember made him passionate. One was actually the ongoing war in Yugoslavia ? the Bosnian war especially, which he considered a war of one population against the Muslim part of the population. And he didn’t understand why there was no help by the so-called international community to prevent this murdering from going on. And this he was always linking to actually the thing, the war going on or the process going on in Israel and Palestine, which he was very critical of.

LIZ JACKSON: At the end of the project, the three students returned to Hamburg to write up their report. It was regarded as excellent. After this, they drifted apart. The last time Ralph or Volker saw Mohamed it was in this street, sometime in 1996, 1997.

But Mohamed Atta would soon acquire two new friends ? Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah. Marwan al-Shehhi is believed to have piloted United Airlines Flight 175 ? the second plane to crash into the World Trade Centre. Ziad Jarrah was on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. The three young men shared a flat in a suburb favoured by Turkish migrants.

The local shopkeeper noticed them because they were almost always together, and because of their clothes. Atta had abandoned his Western style of dress.

SHOP OWNER: They used to walk past here in their strange clothes which made them stand out. One wore a white kaftan and white turkish trousers, the other two wore black.

 LIZ JACKSON: Their neighbours at Number 54 Marienstrasse say the men were polite but distant and had a lot of visitors to the flat. They’d see the shoes stacked up at the door.

EX NEIGHBOUR: They always had a lot of male visitors. Never women. Lots of people came to see them. At least four or five people every day.

LIZ JACKSON: The German police are focusing on people who’ve been at the Marienstrasse flat.

CHRISTOPH HOLSTEIN, SPOKESMAN, INTERIOR MINISTRY, HAMBURG: Because we think that Marienstrasse is a very central point in the whole thing, we want to ” of course, we want to talk to the people who have been there before.

LIZ JACKSON: So that flat is seen as, in a sense, the base of the terrorist cell.

CHRISTOPH HOLSTEIN: Yeah.

LIZ JACKSON: So anybody who stayed at that flat for any period of time over the relevant years is regarded as great interest?

CHRISTOPH HOLSTEIN: Yeah. We feel that it might have been the base for the terrorist attacks themselves, but we can only know when the investigation is stopped.

LIZ JACKSON: Throughout this period, Mohamed Atta remained enrolled at the university. But from the middle of 1997 to late 1998 he was nowhere to be seen. Intelligence sources are reported as saying they have evidence that this is when he went to Afghanistan for training with Osama bin Laden.

PROF. DITTMAR MACHULE: And when he came back, as well as I remember, he was ? he had changed. He had a beard. Not this long beard, as they have, the Taliban ? no, no ? as they wrote in the newspapers. No ? he had a very, very careful shaved beard, like that.

LIZ JACKSON: Mohamed Atta came back to write his diploma thesis on the Syrian town of Aleppo. Its theme was close to his heart ? how to preserve the Islamic character of cities in the face of modernisation. Professor Machule was impressed and marked the thesis highly. For his oral examination, he gave Mohamed Atta the top possible mark. The professor had by then known Atta for seven years and could see that he’d changed.

PROF. DITTMAR MACHULE: He was, looking back, very, very serious. He didn’t smile, as well as I remember. And he was working hard ? very, very hard ” and made his masters thesis very quick, consequently, and I was glad on that.

LIZ JACKSON: The professor remembers there was a final embarrassing moment when Atta finished the course in November 1999.

PROF. DITTMAR MACHULE: I went to him and said, "Hello, Mohamed. I’m glad. Congratulations. You are diploma, yeah? You have finished." And the colleague of mine ? lady ? wanted to shake hands too. But Mohamed refused. "No! Please understand me. No!" Like this. And she did not know something that somebody won’t shake hands with a woman.

LIZ JACKSON: It was now time for Mohamed Atta to leave Hamburg behind. Before he left, he had already written his will. It was witnessed by two men who went to Friday prayers at the same small mosque as Mohamed Atta, tucked away in one of the seedier areas of Hamburg. It’s one of the few mosques where the prayers are conducted in Arabic.

The will has been translated by the FBI, and includes the following instructions. "I do not want a pregnant woman or a person who is unclean to come and say goodbye to me. I do not want any woman to come to my grave at all, during my funeral or any occasion thereafter."

DR JEROLD POST, PSYCHIATRIST: In extremely orthodox Islam, even the touch of a woman’s hand is judged to be impure and to defile the pure Islamic male.

LIZ JACKSON: Dr Jerrold Post is a psychiatrist and a world-ranking authority on the personality of terrorists. He’s a consultant to the FBI.

DR JEROLD POST: Everything he gives voice to is described and prescribed in the Koran on the one hand, but the emphasis does suggest an almost purer than the pure aspect about him.

LIZ JACKSON: On June 3, 2000, Mohamed Atta entered the United States travelling as a tourist. He was not on any security list. He surfaced in the south-west of Florida in the seaside town of Venice. His two friends from Hamburg, Marwan Al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, joined him. They were here for a purpose. Florida is known internationally as the cheapest place in the world to learn to fly.

There are numerous aviation schools catering for foreign students. Within six weeks, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi had enrolled at Huffman Aviation. Atta had shaved off his beard.

RUDY DEKKERS, PRESIDENT, HUFFMAN AVIATION: In the five months they were here, they were absolutely low-profile. They clothed themselves like we all do ? jeans and sneakers. There was nothing else. My personal feeling was Atta was an asshole, first-class, and Al-Shehhi was a very nice, likable person. He had fun. He was laughing. He took the jokes we were talking about. This is a male environmental, so we talk about girls, planes. But Atta was never socialising.

LIZ JACKSON: Rudi Dekkers is the owner of Huffman Aviation. Dan Pursell was his chief flight instructor at the time. Both Atta and Al-Shehhi spent over 250 hours in the air over the next five months, flying almost daily. Atta had already clocked up some hours at another flying school.

DAN PURSELL, FORMER CHIEF INSTRUCTOR, HUFFMAN AVIATION: He was an average pilot ? at the onset. He improved greatly. I don’t have the records ’cause they’ve been seized but his progress went on and he became a pretty good aviator. Mr Al-Shehhi, he did the same. We pride ourselves here on turning out pilots that are ready to go to work.

LIZ JACKSON: Anne Greaves flew the same plane as Mohamed Atta. She was fulfilling a lifelong dream ? learning to fly. Every day for three months, she’d pass over the logbooks on the tarmac.

ANNE GREAVES: When you came down from a flying lesson you’d be very excited, you’d want to share some information, etc. You never had that feeling with Mohamed Atta, definitely not. Because I can see him striding towards me, towards the aircraft, and the thing that struck me was that he was that he had a terribly set expression on his face. Totally unemotionless. Cold eyes. I love watching people generally. Um, and it is that that struck me. That he seemed to have a sort of fixed purposeful expression on his face almost as though he was hypnotised, in a way. There was not a flicker of a smile, or of a recognition.

RUDY DEKKERS: Cold. No life in his face. No expression in his face. If I am happy, I smile. When I’m angry, I look angry. This guy had just a cold face.

LIZ JACKSON: After leaving Huffman Aviation, Mohamed Atta spent the following months travelling around the country covering thousands of kilometres, flying and driving rental cars, having face-to-face meetings with other members of the hijack teams. It now appears that Atta was coordinating the task ahead.

BRAD WARRICK, WARRICK’S RENT-A-CAR: In 32 days that he rented the car, he put about 3,000 miles on altogether, which is a lot of miles. He was polite. He always paid his bill on time. Returned the cars clean ? never damaged or trashed the cars at all. I mean, he was a good customer in that respect.

LIZ JACKSON: Atta is also known to have travelled extensively between the United States and Europe and within Europe itself, making him the suspected bridge behind the hijackers and Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda. Atta and Al-Shehhi also used their time to upgrade their aviation skills.

They spent $1,500 at Sim Centre Inc. in Miami using flight simulators to get the feel of flying large commercial jets. You can key in your destination, in this case New York, and practise your manoeuvres. In these last months, Atta and Al-Shehhi were rarely seen apart.

DR JERROLD M. POST: The close companionship with Al-Shehhi is really quite interesting, and sometimes one can see a circumstance where two faltering individuals use themselves to reassure themselves of the certainty and justice of their cause.

LIZ JACKSON: With three days left to go, the pair spent their last Friday night out on the town in Shuckums bar, Miami, with a friend. It’s a cheap dive.

TONY AMOS, BAR MANAGER: There were three gentlemen that came in that day. Two gentlemen sat ? actually where you’re sitting right now and the other gentle ? the third gentleman, Mohamed Atta, was sitting at the other end of the bar and he was playing video games.

LIZ JACKSON: Tony Amos was the manager on the night and says, as the evening progressed, Marwan Al-Shehhi got agitated and drunk.

TONY AMOS: And he pulled out a wad of cash and he put it on the bar and he said, "I’m an airline pilot." So I just took it at face value. I mean, he had been drinking, I found out that him and the other gentleman had five rounds each. Mohamed Atta, he was just drinking cranberry juice. He’d get up once in a while, come over to ? who I found out was this Marwan, was his cousin or claimed to be related in some way, and he would just maybe say something in his ear and then go back to the other end of the bar and just continue playing the video game. And he did that for four hours.

LIZ JACKSON: That weekend, Mohamed Atta headed north to Portland, Maine. Al-Shehhi returned their hire car on the Sunday afternoon.

BRAD WARRICK: In the glove box I found a small piece of paper stuck to a bank ATM slip and on that piece of paper was a name, address and a date of birth of a young man that turned up to be on the manifest of the airplane that flew into the Pentagon.

LIZ JACKSON: On Monday, 10 September, Mohamed Atta checked into the Comfort Inn in south Portland for the last night of his life. It was a short drive from the airport, but before turning in, there were still matters to attend to. At 8:41, Atta was filmed at an ATM machine with Abdulaziz Al-Omari, one of the hijack team who’d be on the same plane as Atta.

At 9:15 they were photographed buying petrol at the Jet Port gas station a few blocks away. The last time Atta was caught on film that night was at a WalMart store where he could be seen moving around the aisles for about 20 minutes. According to notes that the FBI say they found in Atta’s bag, the hijackers had a 4-page set of instructions about how to get through their final night on Earth.

Apart from chilling reminders like check that your knife is sharp, it tells the young men to pray and "be happy, optimistic and calm "because you are heading for a deed that God loves and will accept. "This will be the day, God willing, "you will spend with the women of paradise."

At 5:45am on 11 September, Atta passed through airport security in Portland on his way to Boston airport. At Boston, he boarded American Airlines flight 11. At 8:45, it crashed into the side of the first of the Twin Towers. The last call Atta made on his mobile phone was just before take-off to his friend Al-Shehhi who was on-board the second plane.

DR ROBERT SPRINGBORG: Clearly, this was a very well planned exercise and effectively carried out. So it suggests not madness so much as sort of a diabolical intent. A sort of an evil genius.

MOHAMED SID-AHMED, POLITICAL ANALYST, AL-AHRAM NEWSPAPER: It’s not easy to plan your death in such cold blood. That is super human. It’s not human. But it proves how deep the frustration is. It proves that we have not been able to achieve a world where everybody feels at home in it. It proves that people play the game of death because they can’t afford ? they don’t get the possibility of playing the game of life.

DR JERROLD M. POST: But it would seem that he took on this cause as the most meaningful thing in his life, and it gave his life meaning and satisfaction. And as he planned to go to paradise along with his brothers on this mission, that was the fulfilment of his destiny.

LIZ JACKSON: What is disturbing is that there is so little in Mohamed Atta’s early life that marks him out from thousands of other frustrated and embittered young men. And he went on to commit the worst terrorist crime in history. Even in that, he was not alone. It would be naive to think that this will be the end.

Police Stopped Two Hijackers In Days Leading Up To Attacks

http://www-tech.mit.edu/V121/N67/terror.67w.html

Police Stopped Two Hijackers In Days Leading Up To Attacks

By Manuel Roig-Franzia and Patricia Davis
THE WASHINGTON POST — One of the hijackers aboard the plane that crashed into the Pentagon was stopped for speeding within a few miles of the military headquarters six weeks before the attack, police confirmed Tuesday.

Hani Hanjour, who is believed to have piloted the hijacked plane into the Pentagon, was ticketed Aug. 1 for driving 55 mph in a 30 mph zone in the 1800 block of South George Mason Drive, Arlington, Va., police said.

The revelation came on the same day that Maryland State Police released a videotape of a trooper pulling over another of the hijackers, Ziad Samir Jarrah, in Maryland two days before the attacks.

Hanjour, Jarrah and five other hijackers fraudulently obtained Virginia identification cards, federal officials say.

Hanjour was driving a beige Chrysler van with New Jersey license plates when Arlington police pulled him over at 3:19 p.m. Hanjour presented a Florida driver’s license that indicated that he lived in Miramar, Fla., though other records show he had a New York address.

“If (the officer) has a crystal ball and he could look forward into time, it would have been a good catch,” said Detective Jim Page, an Arlington police spokesman.

Three weeks after the stop, Hanjour mailed in a money order to pay a $70 fine and $30 in court costs, Arlington General District Court Clerk Kimberly Reazey said Tuesday.

More is known about Jarrah’s traffic stop because it was videotaped by a camera mounted in a Maryland state trooper’s patrol car. Jarrah’s voice cannot be heard nor can his face be seen on the eight-minute videotape.

The tape began with the shimmering glow of the headlights on Jarrah’s rented red 2001 Mitsubishi Gallant as he pulled to the side of Interstate 95 at 12:05 a.m. on Sept. 9 in Cecil County.

A country music crooner could be heard on the patrol car’s stereo as Trooper Joseph Catalano called a dispatcher with the car’s New Jersey license plate: LJE87L. Seconds later, Catalano came into the frame, striding up to the idling car, swinging a flashlight. Passing trucks rumble as Catalano, a trooper for three years, opened the passenger side door, asked, “How are you doing”” and requested Jarrah’s driver’s license.

A copy of Jarrah’s speeding ticket shows that his driver’s license stated that he lived in Springfield, Va., in the 6600 block of Quicksilver Drive. The ticket was found after the attacks in the glove compartment of his car at Newark International Airport, State Police Superintendent David Mitchell said. The ticket and the videotape were released after a public records request by The Washington Post and other media organizations.


This story was published on Wednesday, January 9, 2002.

The Age of Malarkey: Comments on Bryant-Atta meeting

June 12, 2002 

THE AGE OF MALARKEY
In the post-9/11 era, the real is surreal ? or is that vice-versa?

by Justin Raimondo

http://www.antiwar.com/justin/j061202.html 

In an earlier column, I theorized that when the hijackers rammed those planes into the World Trade Center, they must’ve torn a hole in the space-time continuum, opening the door to another dimension – the Bizarro World – an alternate universe where everything is grotesquely inverted. But now it seems that the Great Inversion may have occurred far earlier, well before the hijackers succeeded in their hellish plot. The news that Mohamed Atta and friends paid a visit to the Department of Agriculture in order to apply for a government loan – after all, terrorism on the scale he imagined didn’t come cheap – goes waaaay beyond bizarre, all the way to phantasmagoric. How else can we describe Johnelle Bryant’s story of her close encounter with Atta, in which the terrorist mastermind walked in demanding a $650,000 government loan to fulfill his “immigrant’s dream” and start a crop-dusting business?

“He wanted to finance a twin-engine six-passenger aircraft and remove the seats. He said he was an engineer, and he wanted to build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting.”

According to Bryant, a 16-year veteran of the department, her weird run-in with Atta occurred “sometime between the end of April and the middle of May 2000,” and there were several aspects of the interview that made it, uh, memorable – although it’s only now that she decided to report it. Bryant tells us that, initially, Atta refused to even speak with her, disdaining her as “but a female.” After she assured him that she was, indeed, in charge, he relented, but still kept insulting her. But that didn’t stop the ever-helpful Bryant from trying to help him in any way possible. After he explained his “immigrant’s dream,” Bryant told him about the application process, and he became “very agitated.” It seems that Atta, the devilishly clever ringleader of the most successful terrorist plot in modern times, “thought the loan would be in cash, and that he would have no trouble obtaining it to purchase an aircraft.” If this expectation seems slightly puzzling, then Atta’s crazed behavior during the interview seems calculated to draw attention to himself as a dangerous nutball. At one point, he noted that the building seemed to lack security. Bryant says he pointed at the safe behind her desk, and

“He asked me what would prevent him from going behind my desk and cutting my throat and making off with the millions of dollars in that safe.”

As to why Bryant didn’t call security – such as it was – then and there is beyond me. Instead, she explained that the safe contained no money, the Department of Agriculture is not a bank – oh, and by the way, I’m “trained in karate.” After this little dust-up, however, all was forgiven, apparently, and they got back down to business. Bryant tells us he asked questions about how he could get training, and whether his travel plans – “I think he said he needed to go to Madrid, and somewhere in Germany, and then there was a third country” – would interfere with the application process. Bryant turned down Atta’s application – not because he said scary things, or because he had “scary eyes,” black and intense, but on the grounds that, as a foreign national, he “didn’t meet the basic eligibility requirements.” Which just goes to show that you can appear to be a homicidal maniac, and still get a government grant, provided you’re a citizen of this great country. Isn’t America wonderful? Don’t let anybody tell you different.

Oh, but here’s my favorite part of this ABC News “exclusive”:

“Being turned down for the loan altered the hijackers’ plans. According to law enforcement officials, packing twin-engine planes with explosive chemicals, making it a flying bomb, had been the terrorists’ plan since the mid-1990s. When Atta reported to his group that he could not get a loan to buy smaller planes, the plan was switched to hijacking passenger jets, according to what Abu Zabaydah, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, has told American interrogators since his capture.

 “So in the fall of 2000, the hijackers who had been learning to fly small planes began to seek simulator training in the large jets they would fly into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.”

Get outta here! So now they’re telling us that the fabulously wealthy Osama bin Laden, with all the resources of a worldwide terrorist empire at his disposal, was too cheap to put up a mere $650 thousand! Given all the long-range planning and additional resources he poured into the preparations for the 9/11 attacks, this hardly seems possible. Even more unbelievable is the idea that the hijackers had been counting on that government loan to finance their plans, and, when they didn’t get it, had to radically shift course. What a load of malarkey! If true, that would have to mean that, on 9/11, myriad agencies of the US government were outfoxed by terrorists who are total retards.

While we’re on the subject of total retards – Bryant also tells us how, before leaving, Atta became “fixated” on a photo of Washington, D.C., as seen from the air, hanging on the wall:

“‘He pulled out a wad of cash,’ she said, ‘and started throwing money on my desk. He wanted that picture really bad.’

 “Bryant indicated that the picture was not for sale, and he threw more money down.

 “‘His look on his face became very bitter at that point,’ Bryant remembers. ‘I believe he said, ‘How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it,’ like the cities in his country had been destroyed?'”

Oh, and which country is that? There is considerable controversy over Atta’s nationality, and the mystery has yet to be cleared up as far as I can tell, but most speculation places him somewhere in North Africa: possibly Egyptian, or Algerian. We know he studied architecture in Cairo. Only one North African country has had its capital city “attacked” by the US, and that is Libya, in 1986, when Tripoli was bombed – but the city was hardly “destroyed.” Atta’s exit speech is the kind of extravagant touch one might expect in a cheap paperback thriller: indeed, this whole narrative has a pulp-novelistic feel to it, like bad art imitating life. Conveniently, Atta also launched into a rant about Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and “boasted about the role they would play one day.” Of the latter, according to Bryant, “he said this man would someday be known as the world’s greatest leader.”

It’s stories like this that make one wonder if the Office of Strategic Influence – remember them – really disbanded after all. Or was that just their way of strategically influencing us? The only believable aspect of this tall tale is Bryant’s claim of complete ignorance:

“I didn’t know who Osama bin Laden was – He could have been a character on Star Wars for all I knew.”

That I believe. As for the rest of it?!

The rest of it we have on the word of Abu Zabaydah, who is supposed to be a “top lieutenant” of bin Laden’s ” and also the source of the information that led to the capture of the so-called “dirty bomber,” Jose Padilla, who calls himself “Abdullah al Muhajir”. According to government officials, Jose-Abdullah was supposed to obtain weapons-grade uranium, somehow, from a university, and then go out and rig up a “dirty bomb.” Gee, he must be some kind of scientific genius, the Einstein of world terrorism – but is he?

No way, Jose.

Jose-Abdullah is a street punk whose knowledge of the scientific method is limited to calculating the impact of a crowbar on the back of somebody’s skull. Citing court documents, John Kass of the Chicago Tribune describes the young terrorist’s early years:

“His career started with a knifing in an alley. By then, he’d joined a gang with a threatening name, something like the Maniac Latin Psychos or the Psycho Latin Maniacs. Padilla began his career as a juvenile, with a knife and a baseball bat in an alley off 16th Street and Kedvale Avenue in August 1985. The victim, Elio Evangelista, had the misfortune to carry some cash that Padilla and a friend wanted for themselves.”

Here is what we know about the alleged “dirty bomber“: This is a Puerto Rican kid, born in Brooklyn, who becomes a little gangbanger when the family moves to Chicago. A series of arrests follows his release from juvenile hall, and several confrontations with authorities in South Florida, where he moved in 1990, paint a portrait of an erratic nobody headed for oblivion. His behavior leading up to his arrest and imprisonment in Florida can only be described as psychopathic: he fired a revolver at another driver in what is being called an incident of “road rage,” and then reached for his gun as the officers came to his house to arrest him. He spent a year in the Broward county jail, and supposedly converted to Islam only after being released, according to the Miami Herald.

Then, suddenly, he disappeared only to turn up in the terrorist training camp of Osama bin Laden somewhere in the wilds of Pakistan and/or Afghanistan. According to deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz:

“He researched nuclear weapons and received training in wiring explosives while in Pakistan, and he was instructed to return to the United States to conduct reconnaissance operations for al Qaeda.”

Did Jose-Abdullah even graduate from high school? Somehow, I doubt it. But we’re expected to believe that he “researched nuclear weapons”! Yeah, right. So a baseball-wielding street punk is suddenly transformed into the terrorist equivalent of Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller all rolled into one? Okay, so you don’t have to be a genius to detonate a “dirty” nuclear bomb – but surely it takes something a little above the level of street smarts. So Jose-Abdullah was just supposed to walk into a university, somewhere, and cop some weapons-grade uranium – no doubt they’d be real impressed with his credentials. Hey, the Psycho Latin Maniacs – it sure beats the heck out of Harvard. Naturally, it’s a complete coincidence that this great triumph of interagency cooperation comes at a time when our besieged law enforcement agencies – not just discredited since 9/11, but utterly disgraced — most needs a “victory.” As USA Today put it:

“Some U.S. officials described Al Muhajir as a relatively minor would-be terrorist. They suggested that the FBI and CIA, which have come under criticism in recent weeks for failing to uncover the Sept. 11 plot, were trumpeting a success story to fend off criticism.”

And of course, Attorney General John Ashcroft’s dramatic announcement had nothing to do with the commencement of the much-heralded congressional investigation into 9/11, and the new focus on the events leading up to that fateful day.

We are living in the Age of Malarkey, an era where no tale is considered too tall but that the authorities won’t try it out on the American people. The government has become like that mildly sadistic camp counselor who gets a charge out of scaring his young charges half to death with gruesome “ghost stories” told around a campfire – or, more accurately, like some prison guard who tries to whip his charges into line by threatening them with being put in “the hole.” Things could get worse. That’s the core message we’re supposed to heed, with this addendum: and they will, if you don’t shut up and do as you’re told.

Reading about the Dirty Bomber and Atta’s visit to the Department of Agriculture, I keep hearing the voice of Rod Serling somewhere in the background:

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears, and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call”.”

The Malarkey Zone!

As for me, I don’t believe a word of it.

 

Xymphora’s comment on the meeting between Johnelle Bryant and Mohammed Atta

Xymphora’s comment on the meeting between Johnelle Bryant and Mohammed Atta

Sunday, June 09, 2002
http://xymphora.blogspot.com/2002/06/mohamed-atta-apparently-visited-u.html 

Mohamed Atta apparently visited a U. S. government office (Department of Agriculture) to apply for a $650,000 loan to buy a cropdusting airplane. An interesting point is that he is supposed to have visited the office in the spring of 2000, about 17 months before September 11, 2001, i. e., the end of April (or perhaps May), but he is officially supposed to have arrived in the United States in June 2000! While discussing this doomed mission with the loan officer who turned him down because it did not make sense, Atta made many odd statements, all of which are an obvious attempt to leave the impression that he was really and truly a crazed fundamentalist Islamic terrorist. He lays it on so thick, I don’t know how he managed to keep from laughing:

    1. He almost refused to deal with her, because she is a woman.
  • He admired a picture of Washington, D. C. that she had hanging on the wall of her office to a ridiculous degree, pointing specifically to the White House and the Pentagon, and then offered to buy it with theatrical flourish by throwing a wad of money down on the desk. When she refused to sell it to him she recounts: “I believe he said, ‘How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it’ like the cities in his country had been destroyed?” This is very weird, as Atta is supposed to come from Egypt, where cities haven’t been destroyed for a long time.

 

  • He gave her evil, terrorist looks with his ‘very scary’ black eyes.

 

  • She said he referred to a safe in her office and she recounts: “He asked me what would prevent him from going behind my desk and cutting my throat and making off with the millions of dollars in that safe.”

 

  • He talked of the massive size of the chemical tank he wanted to install, filling the whole inside of the plane except for the pilot’s seat.

 

  • He became ‘very agitated’ when he found out that there was an application process and she presumably wouldn’t just hand him $650,000 in cash there and then.

 

  • He asked her about security at the World Trade Center and what she knew of Phoenix, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles, and was particularly interested in open-topped Texas Stadium.

 

  • He mentioned Osama bin Laden, who she had never heard of, and said that bin Laden “would someday be known as the world’s greatest leader.”


Of course, seeing as he was in the United States on a student visa, how he ever thought he would be entitled to such a loan is beyond belief. He knew he wasn’t allowed to stay to ever be able to use the airplane for any plausibly legitimate purpose. Even if he mistakenly thought he could get away with this, what was his reasoning for sending three other terrorists to the same office on the much the same mission? In one case, he put on glasses as a disguise and pretended to be the accountant of one of the other hijacker-applicants, another obvious attempt to draw attention to himself. The whole thing must have sounded like a Monty Python sketch (it reminds me of the Dead Parrot sketch when Michael Palin puts on the fake mustache). The ridiculous overacting left the bureaucrat completely unsuspicious. I imagine if he had asked her if it would be OK for him to fill the plane full of explosives and fly it into the World Trade Center, she would have replied that she would strongly object to that as blowing up the collateral would be a breach of one of the terms of his loan agreement. If this isn’t some kind of hoax, what we have here is another example of Atta creating his ‘legend’, filling out his terrorist personal identity before a witness who would surely remember him. Notice again that he appears to have no fear that this bureaucrat will report him before September 11 and end the terrorist project he has spent so much work on. One question: why has it taken this long for this story to come out when she is supposed to have informed the authorities about the incident shortly after September 11?

Twin towers hijacker ‘sought US loan’

BBC. Friday, 7 June, 2002, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2031563.stm

Twin towers hijacker ‘sought US loan’

Mohammad Atta, the suspected leader of the World Trade Center hijackers, tried to borrow money from the US Government to buy a plane, a civil servant has revealed.

Johnelle Bryant, a loan officer at the Department of Agriculture, told ABC News that Atta wanted $650,000 to buy and modify a crop-dusting plane in May 2000.

Atta asked Ms Bryant for $650,000

When Atta was rejected for the loan, al-Qaeda switched plans from crashing small planes packed with explosives into buildings to hijacking passenger jets, according to reports of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, one of the group’s alleged leaders.

Ms Bryant gave an extensive interview for the first time to the American TV network, hoping her story would serve as a warning, nearly nine months after some 3,000 people were killed in the attacks on New York and Washington.

She said she rejected Atta’s application because it did not make sense and because he was not a US citizen.

Not suspicious

She directed him to other agencies and a bank and was not suspicious enough to report the contact to federal authorities.

“He wanted to finance a twin-engine, six-passenger aircraft and remove the seats,” she told the network.

“And he said he was an engineer, and he wanted to build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting.”

Atta has been regarded as the ringleader of 19 Arab men – members of Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda – who hijacked four US passenger planes and smashed three of them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Picture atta

Atta wanted an aerial photograph showing the White House and Pentagon

Security discussed

Ms Bryant told ABC that she and Atta discussed al-Qaeda and Bin Laden during his visit to her office in Homestead, Florida, and he asked her about security at the World Trade Center and what she knew of Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles.

She said she thought she was just helping a new immigrant learn about her country.

“How could somebody be that evil, be that close to me and I didn’t recognise it?” she asked.

Atta spent more than an hour with Ms Bryant, though he did not wish to deal with her at first, saying she was “but a woman”.

She said he asked about US landmarks and asked to buy an aerial photograph of Washington on her office wall.

“He pulled out a wad of cash… and started throwing money on my desk. He wanted that picture really bad,” Ms Bryant told ABC.

“He asked about the Pentagon and the White House and I pointed them out.”

Atta also talked of Bin Laden. “He said this man would someday be known as the world’s greatest leader,” Ms Bryant said.

“I didn’t know who Osama Bin Laden was… he could have been a character on Star Wars for all I knew.”

She contacted authorities after recognising Atta in news reports after he piloted the first plane into the World Trade Center.