The Atta Mystery
Double agent or multiple Attas?
by Elias Davidsson
Mohamed Atta has been designated by the U.S. government and later by a German court as the pilot of flight AA11 that allegedly crashed on the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, a crash designated as a suicide terrorist operation.He is also claimed to be the leader of the group of 19 alleged hijackers who mounted the attacks of 9/11.The question examined in the present essay is whether the person who went by the name of Mohamed Atta in the United States was the same person who had formerly studied town planning in Germany and originated in Egypt, or whether he was an impersonator (doubleganger) of the former.
For those who do not wish to dwell upon the details, we provide our conclusions hereforth. In our examination of the role played by Mohamed Atta in what we designate as a the Legend of 9/11, we found the following:
1.It is highly likely that the person who went by the name Mohamed Atta in the United States was an impersonator (or doubleganger) of Mohamed el-Amir, the Egyptian urban planning student who resided in Hamburg, Germany.The impersonator was essentially playing a script written by U.S. intelligence, destined to leave a trail of evidence, such as pursuing flight training, and allegedly travelling over the entire the United States in the search of appropriate targets for attacks.It is highly improbable that this impersonator had the slighest inkling of the real purpose of his actions.
2.It is, in addition, possible that Mohamed el-Amir, the Egyptian urban planning student, served in Germany as a part-time informant or operative for an intelligence agency, a role that would not, however, interfere with his studies and religious beliefs.
Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta is the full name of a person who was born on September 1, 1968 in Egypt, studied urban planning in Hamburg, Germany, and allegedly travelled to the United States in June 2000 in order to prepare the attacks of 9/11.His friends in Hamburg knew him as Mohamed el-Amir, not as Mohamed Atta.
Observers initially believed that el-Amir and Mohamed Atta were one and the same person leading a double life.The Guardian, for example, wrote early on:
He repeatedly switched names, nationalities and personalities. If in Egypt, and later in the US, he was Mohamed Atta, then at the Technical University of Harburg1, he was Mohamed el-Amir. For the university authorities, he was an Egyptian, yet for his landlord, as for the US authorities, he was from the United Arab Emirates. And while it is not hard to see Atta, whose face gazes out from the passport photograph released by the FBI, as that of the mass murderer of Manhattan, el-Amir was a shy, considerate man who endeared himself to Western acquaintances. Such indeed was the gulf between the two that some people, notably his father, insisted last week that Mohamed Atta’s identity must have been stolen by the hijackers’ leader.2
Yet, numerous indices suggest that this might not have been the case. As will be shown below, it is possible that Mohamed el-Amir was impersonated in the United States by another person. Readers should keep in mind that claims by persons confronted with a photograph of someone they believe to have previously seen, are notoriously unreliable. Such unreliability can, however, be deliberately factored into the selection of impersonators that look physically similar to those they are supposed to impersonate.Testimonies of people who claim to have seen that person could, in such cases, be either adduced as concrete evidence or dismissed as unreliable. Morphing technology, in addition, permits to fabricate from photographs of two distinct individuals a single composite photograph that resembles to both persons.3
At the outset it is important to recall that the U.S. authorities have not produced any concrete evidence to prove that “Mohamed Atta” boarded any of the aircraft that crashed on 9/11. If no “Mohamed Atta” boarded Flight AA11, as officially claimed, the question arises what was the role of that person who left a long trail of travel, hotel registrations, credit card transactions in the United States and was reported to have been seen by numerous people. The present essay attempts, therefore, to examine the hypothesis that someone impersonated Mohamed el-Amir, an urban planning student in Germany, who was born in Egypt.
We will use the name Mohamed Atta for the person who went by that name in the United States and Mohamed el-Amir for the urban planning student who lived in the 1990s in Hamburg, Germany.
1.Pious Muslim or Hardcore Playboy?
All persons who knew Mohamed el-Amir in Hamburg described him as a strict Muslim who would never touch alcohol, prayed five times a day and did not shake hands with women.
Ralph Bodenstein, a German urban planner, said
The Mohamed I know was not a terrorist. But the photo they show in the press, that is the person, that is the same person I knew.He was a very complex person. On the one hand, he was a very religious person. He was growing a beard, he had just come back from a small hajj.4 He did pray five times a day. On the other hand, he was very full of idealism and he was a humanist. He was very much interested in social work.The person I knew then is not a person who could do what he is said to do now.5
Volker Hauth, who knew el-Amir well during the years he studied in Hamburg, and accompanied him on several trips to the Middle East, said Mohamed’s faith was central to his life:
The religious convictions of both of us – his Islamic and mine Protestant – were a kind of bonding for us. In Germany at that time, there were a lot of students from East Germany with no religion, and this was something difficult for Mohamed.6
Author McDermott provides compelling evidence that Mohamed el-Amir was not only a genuine Muslim believer but that his personality flourished only in within a Muslim environment:
“On a side trip to Damascus (…) Hauth went to a mosque with Amir. Hauth was a devout Protestant and the two of them talked about religion often, but Hauth had never seen Amir in religious circumstances. At the mosque, [Hauth] was surprised to see Amir leading prayers, Amir was self-assured, self-confident, and diplomatic. It was a revelation for Hauth, who knew the dour, introverted Amir from Hamburg. Here he was a different person – looseer, more talkative, animated, at times almost playful. It was as if he had been released, like “a fish in water” Hauth said.Amir even made tentative advances to a woman he met in Aleppo”7
From the onset of their friendship, el-Amir was apparently troubled by what he saw as social injustice and the inequitable distribution of wealth in the world, Hauth said:
We didn’t speak much about America but about intercultural conflicts in Egypt, where the Western and Islamic worlds come together. He didn’t believe in fighting injustice with injustice, at least when I knew him.8
According to McDermott, el-Amir told Hauth that he eventually wanted to return to Egypt to work as a planner but was afraid “of being criminalized for his religious belief.”9
After 9/11, U.S. media published numerous reports that Mohamed Atta, the alleged pilot of Flight AA11, had frequented bars, drank alcohol and consorted with prostitutes, both in the United States and the Philippines. The FBI reported that Atta flew several times to Las Vegas, self-designated as The Entertaintment Capital of the World and alternately called Sin City because of its tolerance of the sex industry, but did not provide any explanation for his trips.
According to a number of credible sources, Atta actually lived for a few weeks in 2001 with a former stripper and even consumed drugs. Some witnesses mentioned that he dressed like a dandy and even bore jewelry.Such conduct would be strictly contrary to Islam. Unless these reports are fabricated, they allow only two distinct conclusions: Either they describe a person with a split personality, who acted like a genuine Muslim in Germany and engaged in a depraved lifestyle in the United States; or they describe two separate persons who might resemble each other physically.
A few days before 9/11, two men identified by eyewitnesses as Atta and Alshehhi were seen as heavily drinking alcohol at Shuckum’s Oyster Barb in Hollywood, Florida.
Tony Amos, Shuckums’ manager said to Associated Press on September 12, 2001 that the “two men”, one of whom he recognized as Atta, had each consumed several drinks on September 7, 2001 and had given the bartender a hard time. Amos added: “The guy Mohamed was drunk, his voice was slurred and he had a thick accent.”10 Bartender Patricia Idrissi said to St. Petersburg Times that the men were “wasted” when they entered the bar. She reportedly directed them to a nearby Chinese restaurant. They later returned and Atta ordered five rum and Cokes.11 According to Cox News Service, they entered the bar, already wasted, at 4:00 p.m. on Friday (September 7) or on the next day (Saturday, September 8).12
According to the Miami Herald of September 13, 2001, Atta, Alshehhi and a third unidentified person entered the bar at 3:00 p.m. Two FBI agents, who visited Shuckum’s already on the evening of September 11(!), showed bartender Patricia Idrissi photographs of two Middle Eastern men. She immediately recognized one as a customer who had given her a hard time. Idrissi said that after arguing about their bill the man pulled out a wad of $100 and $50 bills, paid the tab and left her a $3 tip. The bar employees said FBI agents told them at least one of the men was from Pakistan and that passenger manifests from the aircraft that crashed on 9/11 showed these men were on one of the hijacked planes that took off from Boston.13
According to The Guardian of September 16, 2001, Atta spent Friday afternoon (September 7) drinking with al-Shehri (sic) and a third man at Shuckum’s.14 According to The Guardian’s account, Patricia Idrissi remembered that one of them had gone off to play a video machine at one end of the restaurant while Atta and al-Shehri (sic) sat drinking and arguing. Al-Shehri (sic) drank rum and coke; Atta knocked back five Stolichnaya vodkas with orange juice. When it came to pay Atta complained about their $48 bill and argued with the manager. “You think I can’t pay my bill?” Atta shouted. “I am a pilot for American Airlines. I can pay my fucking bill.” Then he reportedly peeled out a note from a thick wad of $50 and $100 bills, leaving a $2 tip.
How did Tony Amos know that the two men were Atta and al Shehhi? According to the St. Petersburg Times and other newspapers, FBI agents arrived at Shuckum’s “soon after the attack”, a formulation which would place their visit within the day of the attack. It was never explained by anyone why the FBI choose to interview employees of this particular bar, and that merely hours after the attacks. The newspaper disclosed that the FBI agents arrived there with pictures of several Middle Eastern men and asked Amos if he recognized them. He couldn’t believe it, writes the St. Petersburg Times. They had been right here, not a foot from him, and he instinctively wondered: Was there something I should have done. Amos is then quoted, acknowledging indirectly that the people who were in his bar had indeed been those accused of having hijacked and piloted two of the aircraft of 9/11:
There was a certain amount of frustration. There was guilt…But I talked to some of the firefighters, and they made me feel better. They were like, ‘Man, there’s nothing you could do, how could you have known?’
According to the Associated Press article15, Amos said, “FBI agents showed photos of two men to restaurant employees Tuesday night (September 11, 2001). The photos had signatures on the bottom.”He said he identified the photo of a man whose first name was signed Mohamed who had told him he was a pilot with American Airlines.
In another account of this episode, Atta “played video games” and the other two, one of whom was designated as Shehhi, “had about five drinks each”.Amos, designated there as “the manager” is reported saying that it was Shehhi, and not Atta, who “pulled out a wad of cash and put it on the bar table and said, ‘There is no money issue. I am an airline pilot’.”16
According to the BBC of September 13, 2001, FBI agents “questioned employees at a bar in Hollywood, Florida, where Mr Atta sometimes went drinking.”17This is the only report that suggests Atta had previously visited that bar in order to have drinks. According to St. Petersburg Times of the same day,18 a bar manager in Hollywood told FBI agents he saw “the two men” (Atta and Al Shehi) drinking heavily last week. Tony Amos, the night manager at Shuckums told the Palm Beach Post that Atta argued with him about his tab. According to bartender Patricia Idrissi, Atta said: “I’m a pilot for American Airlines and I can pay my bill”. She added: “They were wasted.”
Among the documents sent by the FBI to the 9/11 Commission and released in 2009, we found three FD-302 reports relating to the Shuckum’s episode. The three reports are significantly at variance with interviews conducted by media reporters and at variance with each other.All three FBI reports cover interviews conducted at Shuckum’s on the very day of the attacks by unidentified FBI special agents. All three employees questioned by the FBI are reported to have been shown photographs of Atta and Marwan Alshehhi. The reports are neiter identified by unique serial numbers, as should have been the case, nor by the time of day of the interview, making it impossible to refer to them by a unique identifier.We will simply refer to these three reports as “first”, “second” and “third”.
In the “first” of these reports19, a female unidentified employee of Shuckum’s, after being shown the photographs of Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, said she “did not recognize Alshehhi, however she stated Atta was in Shuckum’s on Wednesday, September 5, 2001.” As these reports are not verbatim transcriptions, we do not know what questions were asked of the employee, nor what she actually said.It is, however, noteworthy that the report does not mention Atta or Alshehhi drinking alcohol or making a fuss about the bill.This omission suggests that either journalists had invented the testimony of named Shuckum’s employees or that the FBI, “sanitized” their report by deleting testimony that might have threatened the official account on 9/11.
According to the second report20, a female unidentified employee of Shuckum’s said she “did not recognize Atta (but] did recognize Alshehhi and stated Alshehhi was in the restaurant with another man on Thursday, September 6, 2001 (…) between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.” She also allegedly stated that Alshehhi “sat at the end of the bar, did not speak English well and was very rude. Alshehhi complained about his bill, paid in cash and left. [The interviewee] heard Alshehhi state they were going to a Chinese restaurant.”Here, too, it is not mentioned for what they paid.In this account they are said to have paid in cash.
The third report21 covers an interview with a male unidentified employee of Shuckum’s, who “recognized Alshehhi as a patron of Shuckum’s on or about Thursday, September 6, 2001.” The interviewee stated that Alshehhi “was accompanied by another male of middle eastern descent.” He described Alshehhi “as being confrontational and was arguing with the bar tender.” The interviewee “did not recognize [the photograph of] Atta.”
In the Timeline of October 11, 2001 issued by FBI Miami(based on 302, Serial 1058), the episode at Shuckum’s is described thus:
Mohamed Atta was identified by (…), waitress, as being present [on September 5, 2001] at Shuckum’s Raw Bar, Hollywood, Florida,where he played a video game for three hours.22
Here again, no mention is made of drinking.
The news that Atta had drank alcohol days before he allegedly perpetrated a martyrdom operation in the name of Islam, were clearly embarrassing for the official legend. With time, the story of the Shuckum’s binge changed. Later media stories had Atta only drinking “cranberry juice” or“fruit juice” at Shuckum’s On September 28, 2001, for example, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune told the following the story:
Atta went to a bar in Hollywood four days before the attack. He drank fruit juice while his two companions got loaded23.
Apart from the above attempt to sanitize the story, we note that both the FBI and mass media did not question the identity of the person who visited Shuckum’s. There was no attempt to suggest that this person was somebody else than Mohamed Atta.
At Longboat Key
A local paper at Longboat Key, Florida, entitled The Longboat Observer, reported on November 21, 2001 that bartender Darlene Sievers at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites at Longboat Key, Fla., had seen Atta four days before 9/11 drink rum and coke at the bar.24 She said she remembered his face because of the sizeable tip he left her. Atta gave her a $20 bill for a $4 drink and let her keep the change.She said she reported her encounter with Atta to the FBI on September 27, 2001, after she saw Atta’s picture in the media.A waiter in the same restaurant, Frank Boyal, also remembered Atta and his companion. Mark Bean, Holiday Inn’s assistant food and beverage director, remembered Atta’s companion, Alshehhi, after he saw the pictures of the alleged hijackers on television.Askedby reporters whether the FBI had interviewed Beam and Seavers, FBI Special Agent Sara Oates said she ”cannot confirm or deny that.” Darlene Sievers confirmed to author Daniel Hopsicker these stories. The episode of Atta and Alsehhi at Longboat Key was echoed in great detail by the St. Petersburg Times of July 4, 2004.25 She said to the journalist of the Petersburg Times: ”[the FBI] called me twice and did spend some time out at the Holiday Inn – I felt they were taking it seriously”, although she says she never heard anthing more.Sievers remained ”convinced” that one of the men was Atta: ”I can remember people’s drinks and I’ll never forget those piercing black eyes”, she said. While releasing similar interviews (albeit heavily redacted), such as those conducted at Shuckum’s and mentioned above, the FBI did not release the 302-reports on its interviews of Darlene Sievers and of other employees of Holiday Inn.
In the Philippines
According to the New York Times of October 5, 2001,Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, spent time in the Philippines in various visits between 1998 and 2000.26 They stayed at a popular resort hotel, drank whiskey with Philippines bargirls, dined at a restaurant that specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine and visited at least one of the local flight schools.
Gina Marcelo, a former waitress at the Woodland Park Resort Hotel, said Alshehhi threw a party with six or seven Arab friends at the hotel:
They drank Johnnie Walker Black Label whiskey and mineral water. They barbecued shrimp and onions. They came in big vehicles, and they had a lot of money. They all had girlfriends…[but] they never tipped.If they did, I would not remember them so well.27
Another person who recognized Atta from photos was Ferdinand Abad, who was working there as a security guard in mid-1999.He remembered Atta asking at what time he should wait outside the hotel for a van to take him to the Angeles City Flying Club. Still another person who remembered Atta was Trudis Dago, manager of the Jerusalem Restaurant in Angeles City. He said Atta “would never smile and would never talk to anyone except his friend. I knew this face when I saw it in the paper”, she said.28
While focussing here on Atta’s alleged consumption of alcohol, the stories placing Atta and Alshehhi in the Philippines are actually far longer and better substantiated than what might appear from the above short paragraphs.We treat these stories in greater detail in a later sub-section of this Chapter.
Prof. Machule’s evaluation
According to the university tutor of Mohamed el-Amir, Prof. Dittmar Machule of Hamburg, Germany,
[h]e didn’t drink alcohol. Mohamed El-Amir didn’t drink alcohol and I would put my hand in the fire that this Mohamed El-Amir I know will never taste or touch alcohol. I do not know the name Mohamed Atta. I know (sic) it after the 11th of September when they destroyed the Trade Center but Mohamed El-Amir till now I would swear and put my hand in the fire that he will not touch alcohol. He refused a glass where somebody drank a beer because it smells something of beer.
(b)Consorting with prostitutes
Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi were seen at Sunrise 251, a bar in Palm Beach, Florida. They spent there $1,000 in 45 minutes on Krug and Perrier-Jouet champagne. Atta was with a tall busty brunette in her late twenties; Alshehhi was with a shortish blonde. Both women were known locally as regular companions of high-rollers.29 Atta reportedly spent $200 to $300 on lap dances in the Pink Pony strip club in Florida.
Victoria Brocoy, a chambermaid at the Woodland Park Resort Hotel in the Philippines also recalledAtta: “Many times I saw him let a girl go at the gate in the morning. It was always a different girl.”30
Some witnesses describe Atta as possibly doing drugs as well. The owner of a unit of apartments where Atta reportedly lived with some other Middle Eastern men in late 2000 says these men smoked a strange tobacco, which smelled like marijuana.31Atta’s presumed lover Amanda Keller told author Hopsicker that Atta snorted cocaine. Here is her account, as it appears in Hopsicker’s book:
So, on February 25, 2001 we went to Key West for 3 days…It was me, Mohamed, Peter, Stephan and Linda. Linda knew the owner (of the newly-rented house) and told me she was a stripper…We went to Key West, and [Mohamed] took this long, out-of-the-way route. He was really familiar with Florida. He knew a back way to Ft. Lauderdale on the way back. He drove to Daytona Beach and Naples and Fort Myers all the time. He always rented cars out of Tampa. A red Pontiac, a green Pontiac and a white one, all Grand Ams. I slept most of the way, he and Linda stayed awake…Linda instantly latched onto him, at Vonnie and Tony’s, when we went to move his stuff into Vonnie’s place. She had black hair, mid-twenties, said she was a stripper in Sarasota. Her and Mohamed acted like they knew each other. On the car ride down they acted like they were old friends…We rented three different rooms in Key West. In one room nobody slept. It was where they put their flight bags. Then they locked the room down. Peter and Stephan slept in one room. And me, Mohamed and Linda slept in the same room.But nothing happened, no threesomes, cause I’m not a Lesbian.32
And then Amanda said something about the vacant room:
They were drinking the whole time we were there. And they were doing drugs, but not in front of me. They would go into the locked down room where no one slept, saying they needed to look at their manuals, and when they came back you could tell their jaws were locked, and they started chewing gum like there was no tomorrow.They didn’t do drugs in front of me until after I had met everyone back at the apartment in Venice, at the Sentinel Apartments. Once I had met everyone there they felt comfortable with me and pulled out the coke.33
Amanda also explained that “they” always had enough supplies of cocaine. Atta, apparently, had dealings with Arne Kruithof and his school. Amanda Keller says that Florida Flight Training Center, Kruithof’s school, is where Atta would go to replenish his cocaine stash:
These guys had money flowing out their ass. They never seemed to run out of money. And they had massive supplies of cocaine,. Whenever they’d run out, they’d go over to the flight school. I followed them one day with Sabrina (Timothy’s sister from Hamburg) to see where they were going, and saw them go into Florida Flight Training.34
(d)Dressing like a dandy
That’s how Mohamed el-Amir dressed, as described in McDermott’s book:
He almost always wore the same clothes: cotton slacks and wool sweaters, in particular a brown sweater-vest his mother had made for him, and a brown leather jacket in winter.35
Several USDA employees in Florida identified Atta to the FBI, and recalled that he wore Tommy Hilfiger clothes and a lot of cologne, according to the FBI version of events provided to Robert Epling, president ofthe Community Bank of Florida.36
Flight instructor Bob Gaff, 50, who worked at Huffman Aviation, in Venice, Florida, and was clad in a T-shirt and jeans, said to a reporter: “You see how we’re all dressed? This guy [Atta] used to show up in leather shoes, shined shoes, dress slacks, silk shirts, all the time.”37
Tom and Renee Adorna, owners of the Pelican Alley Restaurant in Nokomis, just a block from where Atta and Alshehhi had apparently lived previously, also recalled thatAtta, Marwan Alshehhi and a third unidentified person had been in their restraurant about six weeks before 9/11. The reason they remembered those clients is that they were arguing loudly about big money and pounding on the table. The Adornas thought these were mafiosi. Renee told author Hopsicker that two newspapers came by and interviewed them, but not the FBI. She added:
“There were three of them, and they all looked of the Egyptian persuasion. Dark skin, dark hair. They were dressed in Florida-type shirts, you know, the silk with the pattern. And they were all wearing lots of jewelry… Lots of jewelry.”38
(e)Living with an ex-stripper
The Venice Gondolier, a local newspaper published in Venice (Florida) reported on September 14, 2001, thatAtta, 33, and Marwan Alshehhi, 23, and four other Middle Eastern flight school students had “lived at the Sandpiper Apartments, unit 26, in Venice until earlier this year.” The paper quotes Paula Grapentine, Atta’s next-door neighbor as “immediately recogniz[ing]” his face, which she apparently saw in the media.
On the same day, Charlotte Sun published an interview with the North Port residents Tony and Vonnie LaConca, who had on the previous day received a visit by the FBI to ask about a certain Mohamed to whom the couple had rented their Agress Avenue home.39They described that Mohamed to the newspaper as 25 years old, 5 feet 10, with a “dark, perfect” skin and “very polite”. According to the LaConca, this Mohamed “was associated with a local woman believed to be Amanda Keller”.While purporting not to know the full name of the person to whom they rented their home, it stretches credulity that someone would rent a home to person whose only known identity would be “Mohamed”.In any case the LaConcas certainly knew his name from the cheque he paid for his rent, a document that has not been yet produced in court.40They also informed the paper that this Mohamed was training at Huffman Aviation.
Roughly a week later, on September 22, 2001, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune published a detailed report in which Paula Grapentine’s husband Charles, manager of Sandpiper apartments, was quoted as saying that he remembers seeing Atta at the complex for about three weeks in April , living in the apartment of Amanda Keller.41 In a telephone interview late Friday, September 21, Keller said she had met Atta through a friend and let him stay in her apartment with her and her then-boyfriend Garrett Metts, because she felt sorry for him.She also said authorities told her not to say anything at all about Atta. ”I can’t really discuss anything,” she said. ”I’m afraid I’ll get in trouble.” Her mother, contacted by the paper, also remembered Atta, whom she said she did not like.
The very next day, the same newspaper published a report42 retracting the earlier story. According to the new report ”investigators have [now] identified a fifth man of Middle Eastern descent who trained to fly in Venice but they don’t know if he was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks because they can’t find him.”That man, also designated as Mohamed, had – according to the new story – stayed at Amanda Keller’s apartment complex in April, but was not Mohamed Atta. Investigators said they were “unsure whether [the other Mohamed] was among the 19 men who hijacked jets” on 9/11.Neither Ms. Keller nor the FBI would reveal that man’s full name. In an interview at her mother’s house, Keller wouldn’t talk about the man who stayed on her couch.43
The retraction suggests that the former story was too embarrassing for the U.S. government and that huge pressure had been wrought on the newspaper and on Amanda Keller to change the story.The fact that Amanda Keller mentioned she was warned by the authorities not to say anything at all about Atta and expressed the fear to “get in trouble” if she did, indicates that the person with whom she had lived was indeed a certain Mohamed Atta. If that person had been someone entirely different, there would have been no need to ask her to keep silent and for her to fear for her own safety.
Author Daniel Hopsicker, who says he spent two years researching Atta’s tribulations in Florida, attempted to follow up the above claims and counter-claims and searched for Amanda Keller. Afterfinding her finally somewhere in the United States, he obtained her agreement for an interview, which he taped and posted on the internet. He also wrote a book covering his research in Florida, including statements made by Ms. Keller.44 Not contenting himself with Ms. Keller’s claims, Hopsicker provides in his book testimonies from other, independent, sources, including former neighbors of Ms. Keller and Atta, including the Grapentines, confirming that they had indeed lived together for a short while. Apparently Amanda knew Atta as Mohamed Arajaki.45One of these witnesses is Stephanie Frederickson, a resident at the Sandpiper Apartments, who remembered Keller and Atta:
Amanda moved in next door first, saying she had come from Orange Park. Then one day in the middle of March  she brought home Atta….Amanda said to me, ‘I’d like you to meet my friend Mohamed Atta. He’s from France.’ I looked at her to see if she was joking, but I guess she wasn’t.
A few years later, in 2006, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune again published a report,46 intended again to demolish the ”myth” according to which Atta had lived with Amanda Keller. The report was mainly a repeat of the article published on September 23, 2001. In the new article, Amanda Keller, now described as a ”former Venice stripper”, claims she had lied to Daniel Hopsicker and that the person she had lived with was another flight student, not Atta.
More details given by Amanda Keller to author Hopsicker actually buttress the case that her temporary friend was not Mohamed el-Amir.For example, she told Hopsicker that Mohamed had a gold nacklace with a figure on it representing Palestine.Mohamed reportedly told her that his father was a pilot and that he went to private school in Lebanon.He told her about a girl he had dated in France with whom he had a son who was at the time of the interview nine years old.47She also said that her friend Mohamed could talk not only Arabic, English and German, but also Hebrew and French.She one day discovered that he possessed flight licenses from dozens of countries.That person was certainly not Mohamed el-Amir.He could, however, have been Mohamed Atta, the impersonator, posing in his stint with Amanda Keller as Mohamed Arajaki.
FBI and 9/11 Commission kept silent on the conflicting reports surrounding Amanda Keller. She was not, apparently, interviewed by the 9/11 Commission. One would presume that had her testimony to Daniel Hopsicker been a lie, she would have been publicly ridiculed.
One blogger (dilbert_g)had this to say (Aug. 7, 2006):
One of the more striking aspects of “The Amanda Keller Story” by Daniel Hopsicker is the complete lack of media attention, despite a very juicy story, and regardless what parts of the story are fact, rumor, or fantasy. Certainly everyone knows that bad taste and irresponsible rumor does not present any moral barrier to our media. There are many lurid TV shows in the US (and Britain), including everything from Montel and Springer and Oprah to the Nightly News. That none of these has shown the slightest interest in “The Terrorists Stripper-Prostitute Girlfriend” despite the huge entertainment and titillation value, speaks volumes about how much more important it is to keep certain facts from the wider public domain, than the profit potential of large viewership.
If Ms. Keller’s video interview was intended as part of a disinformation campaign, one would have to ask whose interest would have been served by demonstrating that Atta was not the fanatic Muslim he was supposed to be, but a real playboy. The almost total media silence regarding the Amanda Keller interview shows that what she revealed was considered far too damaging for the official myth on Mohamed Atta. The claim according to which Ms. Keller had given the interview to Daniel Hopsicker in order to attain fame or to enrich herself, has never been proved. This claim is, in addition, implausible because had Ms. Keller sought fame or money, she would not give herexclusive interview to an unknown, free-lance, investigator, such as Hopsicker. As mentioned by the blogger above, major media and tabloids did not show the slighest interest in covering the Atta-Keller story, in spite of its puzzling and titillating character. Far greater interests prompted corporate media to suppress this story.
2.Mohamed El-Amir v.Mohamed Atta (character traits)
Those who knew Mohamed el-Amir in Hamburg used the following attributes to describe him: Reserved,introvert, polite, intelligent, very nice.Almost all who mentioned anything about the character of Mohamed Atta in the United States described him as an unpleasant, arrogant and obnoxious man.Could it be the same person?
(a)El-Amir’s gentle and respectful character
Helga Rake, one of the partners at Plankontor, Hamburg, where el-Amir worked as a drafter, remembers him as “introverted and very reserved”, but also as “very conscientious”.48Professor Dittmar Machule, who supervised Mohamedfs urban planning thesis was interviewed many times about his acquaintance with Mohamed. In one of the first interviews, published on September 15, 2001, he said about Mohamed:
He was a very nice young man, polite, very religious, and with highly developed critical faculties, alert and observant.49
In a later interview on 18 October 2001,50he said:
He was a serious intellectual, interested. Polite. Helpful.
There was nothing like passion. No, no there was, let me say rational, not with the heart. It was more thinking, discussing what is good, what is right, what is the best for the future. What is sustainability for the future.
He was smart. Not bodyguard type. He was more a girl looking type…very small, very carefully calm behaviour. Not this exact acting man but let me say more smooth than hard. But his eyes are always interested. His eyes, his eyes and his mouth I remember the best became (sic) I’m looking in the eyes of the people…In the last period his eyes had been somehow darkened is what I remember. Not that I feel something else but the eyes expressed that he has problems. That he is under pressure…
Another person who knew el-Amir was one of his teachers, Alptekin Özdemir, a Turk who has lectured at the university for 15 years and helps advise the foreign students there. He said to the New York Times that he saw no signs that Mr. Atta was “a fanatical Muslim”.What struck Mr. Özdemir most were Mr. Atta’s good manners and respect,51
Ralph Bodenstein, who studied urban planning together with el-Amir at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg, was interviewed at length by ABC, Australia. He said that Atta had a „very obvious strong sense of [social] justice“ and “he was a serious and calm person“52When he saw Mohammed’s photo in the newspaper he thought that it was a mistake. He said to the interviewer: “[H]ow come this person I knew and which I would never expected to do such a thing could now be linked to this attack.”Bodenstein clearly had difficulties to reconcile his memories ofel-Amir with the person who committed mass-murder on 9/11:
I think it’s difficult to really come to terms with it because the Mohamed I knew would not have done it so he must have changed a lot afterwards and I have no idea because I had no contact with him, what happened to him and when exactly.53
Another character trait mentioned by people who knew el-Amir early on, was his deference to authority. According to McDermott, el-Amir’s boss, Jörg Lewin, at Plankontor in Hamburg said that el-Amir
did what he was told and did it with extraordinary single-mindedness. Although already a trained architect and a prospective city planner, Amir – in four years at the company – never once offered an opinion of the plans he was asked to illustrate. He was assigned to make maps; he made maps.54
This description was corroborated by another partner in this company, Helga Rake, who called el-Amir kleinteilig,55 a German term meaning being excessively concerned with small details but overlooking the big picture, in short a person following orders without reflecting upon their ultimate meaning.
A German couple who originally brought el-Amir to Hamburg agreed to be interviewed under the condition that their name won’t be published. The interviewer wrote:
The couple’s anguish over their efforts to bring Atta to Hamburg has been so severe that the woman sought psychological counseling. Far from having an obsession with America or preaching violence, Atta advocated peaceful solutions for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. „He said weapons were not the way to solve problems“, the wife said forcefully. „He said you should use words, not weapons. That is still clear in my ear. That tells me that later he was changed.“ Even now, the couple can hardly believe that the serious young man they knew turned into a mass murderer.56
Abdullah Bozkurt, 59, a dealer who knew el-Amir from the open-air car market on Hamburg’s Feld Street, where both traded, said:
He made such a friendly impression. He easily got in contact with everybody, was always smiling and never in a bad mood.57
Bechir Bejaoui, a former friend of el-Amir, declared under oath in a deposition made at the German Federal Criminal Agency in Hamburg on October 5, 2001, that el-Amir was “like a soft girl (friendly, pleasant, mild) (…) so delicate and reasonable. He was very calm (…) He was never aggressive. He was, as I said, always delicate and relaxed and friendly.”58
Fellow student Martin Ebert said about el-Amir, “I don’t think it was possible to have a fight with him.” Another classmate, Harmut Kaiser, said it was hard to draw el-Amir into political discussions in class, even if politics is relevant to the subject under discussion: “He wasn’t a guy who acted like he wanted to change the world―unlike a lot of other students in the group.”59Ebert also said that for those teachers who knew well their subject, el-Amir showed a respect “bordering on awe.”60
(b) Mohamed Atta’s obnoxious and arrogant character
In an almost total contradiction to el Amir’s genteel character traits, Mohamed Atta was widely regarded as obnoxious and arrogant.
Rudy Dekkers, President of Huffman Aviation,Atta’s flight school in Venice, Florida, said about him: “He was very arrogant, his last name started with Atta and that is probably attitude — he had a bad attitude and we just didn’t like him.”61
Atta and Al Shehhi applied to enroll at Jones Aviation in Sarasota, Florida, about 20 miles north of Venice. According to the instructor at Jones, the two were aggressive, rude, and sometimes even fought with him to take over the controls during their training flights.62 Gary Jones, the vice president of the school, later states, “We told them we wouldn’t teach them anymore. We told them, one, they couldn’t speak English and, two, they had bad attitudes. They wouldn’t listen to what the instructors had to instruct.”63 The two then return to Huffman Aviation to continue their training.
Drucilla Voss, Atta’s first Florida landlady, said that one day Atta had “walked up to [her] and hissed in her ear, ‘It must be nice to sleep all day and do what you want to do.’ The [Voss] couple ordered the men out that night.”64 Ann Cook of the Publix deli in Venice, where Atta ”regularly bought sandwiches” said she remembered Atta as a silent man whose stare could lift the hairs on your neck: “Just looking at him, you knew he was nasty.”65
James Lester, 50, who operated crop-dusters from Belle Glade airport, 83 miles northwest of Miami, told to the Miami Herald that “33-year-old Atta visited the small airstrip here with several groups of men as recently as last month [August 2001]. The FBI showed me [Atta’s] photo,” said Lester, who remembered at least two encounters with Atta — once in March when he drove up in a green van with two other people, and again in August when he flew into the airport in a single-engine Cessna…”The reason why I recognized him was because he was always walking behind me, being real persistent in asking those questions.” He behaved in a clearly obnoxious manner. In an AP report of September 25, 2001 he said: “I recognized [Atta] because he stayed on my feet all the time. I just about had to push him away from me.”66
Danny Whitener, a salvage-car dealer, at Copperhill (Tenn.) said to the Washington Post that he remembers clearly having met Atta in March 2001. He said he told so to the FBI.67 He said his visitor, an out-of-town pilot who landed at the Copperhill airport, called himself “Mo” and showed particular interest in a chemical plant he had just flown over.Whitener said he told the pilot the tanks at that plant were empty. According to another interview with Whitener, Atta ”was just persistent about the chemical company”: “I told him the tanks were empty. He came back and said ‘Don’t tell me that. What about all the . . . (rail) tanker cars (surrounding the tanks)?’ This guy was just arrogant.”68 According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Whitener said Atta questioned him in an “aggressive manner” and “became angry and accused Mr. Whitener of lying”. Atta also asked about a nearby dam and two nearby nuclear power plants.69
Pharmacist Gregg Chatterton, owner of Huber Discount (or Healthmart) Drugs in Delray Beach, Florida, told journalists that he was approached by two men—later identified as Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi—after observing them spending a suspiciously long time in the skin care aisle of his drugstore. “My hands. They’re itching and they’re burning,” said Atta. Chatterton explained: “Both [of Atta’s] hands were red from the wrist down. If you filled your sink with bleach and stuck your hands in there for six hours, they would come out red, and that is what they looked like.”Chatterton asked Atta if he had done any gardening. Atta “was very rude and just pooh-poohed me. He said: ‘I don’t garden’.70 After recommending a particular lotion, Chatterton was about to turn away when Atta ”slapped an intimidating hand against the druggist’s chest.” It stopped him cold. ”My friend,” Atta barked, motioning to al-Shehhi, ”He’s got a cough.” Chatterton gave Alshehhi a bottle of Robitussin DM. Chatterton remembered the pair when the FBI came calling a few weeks later. He said, ”When somebody touches you like that, you remember that customer.”71 Chatterton described the two men as ”well dressed and well groomed” but very rude. ”It was like meeting Hitler,” he said of Atta.72
Paula Grapentine, of Venice, Florida, said aboutAtta: “He came to talk about something and said, ‘I don’t talk to women and you’ve supposed to look down when you talk to me.’”Whileel-Amir was known in Hamburg as a fundamentalist Muslim who refrained from shaking the hands with women,73 he was not known to have been rude to women. Was his alleged impersonator perhaps overplaying his role?
Cathy Meinhart, who was one the women who served at the Outlook, a bar in Venice, where Atta and Alshehhi are said to spent “almost every night” drinking beer, said that Atta was gruff and aloof, frequently expressing disapproval of the presence of women servers behind the bar.But al-Shehhi, she said, was friendly and jovial.74
In an interview with Australian ABC, Rudi Dekkers claims having much disliked Atta when he was at Huffman. He will say he thought Atta was “very arrogant,” and that “My personal feeling was Atta was an asshole first class… I just didn’t like the guy… Sometimes you have that impression from when you meet people in the field and that was my first impression.”75
3.Atta seen simultaneously at different locations
Numerous individuals claim to have seen Atta at various locations at the same time. Even FBI documents contradict each other about his presence at particular locations at a particular time.These contradictory reports have not been resolved by the FBI or by the 9/11 Commission.They do suggest, however, that there could have been more than one person tasked with impersonatingel-Amir.
A particulary glaring example of such contradictory reports concerns Friday, September 7, 2001.
Florida, 7 September 2001
According to a document presented at the Moussaoui trial,76 a ”wire transfer from Al Shehhi’s and Atta’s account [was made] on Sep. 7  at 15:58.”It is not indicated who made the transfer, only that it was made from their account. At that time they were, however, seen drinking heavily at Shuckum’s (see above)
According to another document presented at the Moussaoui trial,77 Al Shehhi ”made on Sep. 7  at 16:56 in Deerfield Beach an ATM withdrawal from Saeed Al Ghamdi’s account and was taken on video.”Deerfield Beach is located 20-25 miles away from the Shuckum’s bar where they were drinking at that time. No one appears to have seen that video recording.
According to FBI’s timeline of Atta, he departed from Hollywood-Fort Lauderdale airport on September 7, 2001 with Flight 2719 and flew to Baltimore, Md.78 According to the Department of Transportation’s BTS (now RITA) site, that particular flight was scheduled for departure at 3:15 PM. At that time, Atta and al-Shehhi were sighted at Shuckum’s bar engaged in heavy drinking. However, according to another FBI timeline, Atta departed Ft. Lauderdale by US Airways flight 2698, which left at 6:30 a.m. and arrived in Baltimore at 9:03 a.m.79According to the timeline, Atta had booked on September 5, a one-way seat for himself on US Air flight 2698 not to Baltimore, but to Boston80. According to another timeline of Atta, compiled by the Texas Service Center of the INS, Atta and Marwan Alshehhi checked out of the Panther Inn in Deerfield Beach, Florida, on September 9, 2001.If Atta had departed Florida on September 7, he could not have checked out from a Florida hotel on September 9, unless he had returned to Florida.
According to FBI document dated 21 September 2001,81 reporting an investigation in Hollywood, Florida, an unidentified person was interviewed at his residence by ”agents”. The interviewed person, is said to have played in a local band at a Hollywood, Fl. venue on the evening of September 7, 2001.The interviewee said he observed between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00. a.m a Middle Eastern man in the bar, whom he later identified through media reports as Atta. The interviewee said he remembered Atta because the man stood out, carrying a standard VHS style video camera and was pestering several bar patrons by constantly videotaping them without consent. On more than one occasion the interviewee said he asked the man to step away from the band. The interviewee mentioned to the FBI agents another person (or other persons) who had also positively identified the strangely behaving man as Atta. At that time, FBI timelines placed Atta either in Boston or in Baltimore (see previous paragraph).
According to another FBI document, compiled by an unidentified Special Agent on September 12, 200182, an unidentified person – later identified by reporters as Wynn Errico, owner of Wynn Motor Co. in North Lauderdale83 – was interviewed on September 12, 2001 at a location, later identified as his office. Errico stated that on September 7, 2001, Atta ”sold [him] a 1989 Red color Pontiac Grand Prix to his business.”Errico ”obtained a photo identification from Atta, which he believed was a Florida driver’s license.”Atta was paid $800 for the vehicle. He was paid with a company check.Errico said he then drove Atta to a nearby bank he uses so that Atta could cash the check. Atta took the Florida license plate off the car and took it with him.According to Errico, Atta stated that he was leaving the country.Errico said that Atta was expecting someone to pick him up.Atta later departed the vicinity of the lot and the Errico did not see who picked him up or how he left.Errico stated that on September 8, 2001, the vehicle was sold to an unnamed person.
According to another FBI document84, an unidentified person (probably Wynn Errico), was interviewed by an unidentified Special Agent on September 17, 2001 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who recalled that a ”customer named Mohamed Atta (…) had come into his business in the early afternoon of September 7, 2001, wearing grey pants, red shirt and glasses. Atta attempted to sell (…) a red 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix with approximately 80,000 miles” for $1,800. According to the interviewee, Atta told him that the vehicle had new tires and air conditioning and argued with him about 20 to 30 minutes.85The interviewee told Atta that he wouldn’t pay more than $800 for the vehicle.He sent Atta ”down the street” to another person (whose name was equally redacted) who ”was afraid to say anything for fear of losing his job.” The interviewee ”positively” identified Mohamed Atta from a photograph provided by agents. His mechanic, who was present when his boss talked with Mohamed Atta, was also interviewed by agents. He told them that he walked out of the office and observed a white Dodge Caravan, occupied by 3 males of middle eastern descent, in the parking lot. One of them told him that they were waiting for a friend. The mechanic ”positively identified” the front seat passenger of the Dodge Caravan as Wail M. Al Shehri from a photograph provided by agents. He also ”positively identified”Atta, as the person his boss was arguing with.
It is not clear whether the person interviewed on September 12, was the same as the one interviewed on September 17.The stories do not seem to confirm each other.
Apart from the glaring discrepancies between and incongruities within the above reports, it is puzzling that a person allegedly preparing to kill himself would bother to sell his car and haggle about the price four days before “entering paradise”, as the 9/11 legend tells us.
In an FBI document (JICI, April 19, 2002) a timeline for Atta is included. According to an entry of September 7, 2001, Atta, Hani Hanjour and possibly additional Middle Eastern males were observed at Kinkos, Laurel, MD, photocopying passports, cutting and pasting.86 The source for this information is given as FBI Baltimore (video surveillance was retrieved showing Atta and other individuals).
According to a September 7, 2001 entry of the FBI Miami Timeline, Atta is said to have departed Ft. Lauderdale at 6:30 AM and arrived to Baltimore at 9:03 AM.87 However, in another entry for September 7, 2001, Atta is said to have attempted to sell his red Grand Prix before leaving Florida.88 In documents cited above, his car sale occurred in the early afternoon of that day.In yet another entry,Atta was identified at the Octopus Garden Hollywood, Florida on September 7, 2001 using a VHS-tape style video camera, presumably the same episode reported above.89 Surprisingly, the Timeline indicates that Atta sold his car for $800 on the following day, September 8, 2001 (at Sun Auto Leasing and Sales).90 Obviously, these entries contradict each other:A person cannot be at two locations at the same time.
Atta inspected on Canadian-American border
According to a supervisor of the INS office in Buffalo, a man by the name of Mohammad Atta, born on March 21, 1968 may have applied for entry to the U.S. at the Massena point of entry on November 26, 2000 from Canada. He presented a Canadian passport and was accompanied by a Pakistani citizen.As he did not have a valid driver’s license, he was issued a citation and had to present himself at court to pay a fine.According to the report by the INS, the FBI did not conclusively determine whether this person had any links to the events of 9/11.91
While refraining from drawing any conclusions from this episode, we note that Mohamed el-Amir was also born in 1968, that a certain Mohamed Atta was sighted in Toronto, Canada, and that the FBI was unwilling to state whether this man had something to do with 9/11. Was here again a person, whose main task was to leave evidence of Atta’s presence at various locations, for the case that such evidence might be useful for the future 9/11 legend?
On September 22, 2001, the Miami Herald reported:
INS documents, matched against an FBI alert given to German police, show two men named Mohamed Atta [arrive] in Miami on January 10 , each offering different destination addresses to INS agents, one in Nokomis, near Venice, the other at a Coral Springs condo. He (they?) is admitted, despite having overstayed his previous visa by a month. The double entry could be a paperwork error, or confusion over a visa extension. It could be Atta arrived in Miami, flew to another country like the Bahamas, and returned the same day. Or it could be that two men somehow cleared immigration with the same name using the same passport number.”92
Germany March 2001
According to the Wall Street Journal of October 16, 2001, citing German police,Atta and Marwan Alshehhi “returned to Germany in March  and cleared out their old Hamburg apartment.” This bit of news was also reported earlier by the St. Petersburg Times who put the clearance of the Hamburg apartment at exactly March 11, 2001.93
In that story, no eyewitnesses are mentioned.The FBI did not mention in any of its timelines that Atta and Alshehhi had returned to Hamburg after leaving for the United States.On what base were these reported published?
Germany, April 2001
Atta was apparently sighted in Hamburg in April 2001. Karl-Heinz Horst, a German taxi driver who recognized Mr. Atta’s face from television reports after Sept. 11, says he had in April 2001 driven three passengers about 400 miles, from Furth, in southern Germany, to Hamburg in the north. During the long ride, one of the passengers said in English that he was a war veteran from Afghanistan. According to Mr. Horst,Atta met the taxi in Hamburg and paid the $500 bill in cash.94There is, however, no record that any Atta traveled from the United States to Germany in April 2001.
Germany, June or July 2001
Atta was again apparently sighted in Hamburg in June or July, 2001. At least two witnesses from Hamburg’s technical university (FH-H)told German federal police (BKA) that they saw Atta and Alshehhi in June or July 2001 in the ground-floor workshops of the architecture department.95 The head of the workshop, Mr. Thomas Kniephoff, witnessed them on at least two occasions with a scale model, measuring approximately 3ft square, of what he believes was the Pentagon. Kniephoff told the BKA that the two men were joined by a third, unnamed person, whom he believed to be a current student at the university. He suspected that the model had been built elsewhere on the site and had been brought to the workshop for Atta to inspect.96
Petra Louis, 32, an architecture student, also told the BKA she had seen them. “I saw both Atta and al-Shehhi here in the workshop with a white model of the Pentagon,” she said. “What caught my eye was the way they were both wandering around, obviously looking for someone.”97She said “she could distinctly remember Atta and al-Shehhi.”98 She did not explain how she could remember them, for they did not previously study at that university (FH) but at the technical university of Harburg (TU).Were Atta and Alshehhi trying to make themselves conspicuous at that location?
Investigations conducted by German police regarding this unexpected visit did not yield any results. This visit would, however, fit into a pattern followed by Atta the impersonator in the United States, namely that oflaying down a trail of evidence that would later flesh out the official legend of mass-murderer Mohamed Atta.
Florida’s West Coast, August-September 2001
The FBI has flatly denied that Atta had returned to Venice after departing from there in December 2000. This was also what Rudy Dekkers, the president of Huffman Aviation, had told reporters and the 9/11 Commission.Yet, there are witnesses who provided evidence to the contrary.
Brad Warwick of Warrick Rent-A-Car in Pompano Beach, Fla., said that Atta called him from Venice, Fla. in late August or in early September 2001, to say that the oil light had flickered on.When he returned the car Sept. 9, 2001 – two days before the attacks – Atta reminded him about the oil light. Warwick says he knew Atta was calling from Venice, because he saw the calling number on his phone. The Stipulation filed by the Government in the U.S.A. v. Zacarias Moussaoui trial, also states that “Mohammed (sic) Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi [had] rented a white Ford Escort from Warrick’s, in Pompano Beach, Florida,” on August 29, 2001 and that the “car was returned on September 9, 2001.”99
Hopsicker reports that Becky Cover, an employee in the deli of Publix supermarket a mile from the Venice airport, saw Atta just one week before 9/11:
I was on the phone with my mother-in-law when they started showing pictures of three different guys on TV. Atta was one of them. And immediately I recognized the faces and I told my husband then, ‘My God, those are the three guys. They were just in the store a week ago. The week before they were in the store. They got subs.100
We found no evidence that Becky Cover was interviewed by the FBI or by the 9/11 Commission in order to verify her story.
Atta was also sighted by various people at the home of FBI informant Abdussattar Shaikh in Los Angeles, widely known for having hosted two of the alleged 9/11 hijackers. The Associated Press reported, “Neighbors of a man who rented rooms to two suspects in the 9/11 terror attacks say they saw Mohamed Atta… Marna Adair said… that the polite, clean-shaven Atta was frequently at the home of Abdussattar Shaikh between August and early December of 2000. Another neighbor, Deborah Fortner, remembered that Atta “was the one that was scary. He’s got these piercing eyes. That’s something you never forget about him.“ Atta wore Western clothes and drove a red car, neighbors said. He was often cheerful and had no complaints when one neighbor briefly blocked the driveway one day while pouring concrete.”101 Another article referred to Atta as a ”regular visitor.”102 But these early reports appear to have been forgotten by the media and the Congressional inquiry. Shaikh has denied Atta visited the house and said his neighbors are mistaken.
The murky role played by informant Abdussattar Shaikh, as a liaison between the Saudi government and the alleged hijackers has been widely reported, including in a book by Senator Bob Graham, who had unsuccessfully tried to interview this man.The FBI, incidentally, never denied that Shaikh was their informant, with whom two of the alleged 19 hijackers had lived, but refused categorically to allow the 9/11 Commission or any Congress members to interview him. The FBI did not mention, it is own timeline, that Atta had visited Shaikh’s home.
“Investigators have received hundreds of calls from Portland, Maine, residents who claim to have spotted Atta several times earlier in the year, the Portland Press Herald reported last month.”103 “There were other reported sightings, too, including a worker at Micucci’s Grocery on India Street who is convinced he saw Atta in late August ; former state Rep. Herb Adams, who believes he saw Atta at the Big Apple convenience store on Park Street this summer; and an employee at the Convention and Visitors Bureau on Commercial Street, who reported seeing two men she believed to be Atta and Alomari (…) There were other reported sightings in Portland, too, including a worker at Micucci’s Grocery on India Street who is convinced he saw Atta in late August “104 “There were sightings all over,” (Portland Police Chief Michael) Chitwood said. “At the library, the Chamber of Commerce. There was a report that they were seen in the old port drinking.105
New York City, September 10, 2001
According to CNN of May 22, 2002, the FBI had found credit card receipts that appear to placeMohamed Atta in Manhattan on September 10, 2001.106In order to explain this finding, ”[o]fficials speculate Atta may have been in New York on September 10 to make a final visit to the World Trade Center to program the towers” location into a global positioning system.” It was not revealed what Atta had purchased with his credit card.The unidentified source of CNN also said that Atta ”may have been accompanied to Manhattan on September 10 by Abdulaziz Alomari.”
Similar information was also published that same day by New York Daily News, suggesting a common source (the FBI) for this information.107 It’s not clear how long Atta was in Manhattan before the attack. The source would not discuss the credit card transactions here except to say they took place in Manhattan.108
According to these news, there was no question in the mind of investigators that Atta had been in New York on September 10, 2001. The only question was why he was there.Yet, this finding stands in contradiction to the official timeline placing Atta in Boston both on that day and on the previous day.
4. Atta sighted in the U.S. prior to his official arrival date
According to the official timeline established by the FBI and endorsed by the 9/11 Commission109,Atta arrived into the United States for the first time on June 3, 2000.
Yet in April or May 2000, a person who presented himself as Mohamed Atta visited loan officer Johnelle Bryant at the Florida Department of Agriculture in order to seek a loan of $650,000 with which he wanted to finance the purchase of a crop-dusting plane.After 9/11 she discovered who her visitor had been and contacted the FBI. In June 2002 she finally decided, against the desire of her agency, to „go public“ with her story and was interviewed by top journalist Brian Ross on national TV. Her extraordinary story is related and analysed elsewhere. For the present purpose we retain the following facts: Ms. Bryant’s guest (a) insisted that his name was Mohamed Atta; (b) met Johnelle Bryant before „Mohamed Atta“ officially entered into the United States; (c) said he came originally from Egypt and had moved to Afghanistan; (d) said he had studied in Germany; (e) said he admired Osama bin Laden and wanted to recruit U.S. members for Al Qaeda; and (f) attempted to leave a sinister impression on her.Unless Johnelle Bryant was inventing her story – and we have no reason to believe so -her account leaves hardly any alternative to the conclusion that her visitor attempted to impersonate Mohamed el-Amir and leave behind a legend.
A timeline established by FBI Miami on October 11, 2001 pertaining to South Florida,110 confirms that a person by the name of Mohamed Atta had indeed ”appeared at the United States Dept. of Agriculture” in April 2000 (approx. date) and ”approached Johnell (sic) Bryant, the Farm Loan Manager, to obtain a loan to buy a six-passenger, twin-engine airplane that he wanted to convert into a crop-dusting plane.”The timeline has been released with 9/11 Commission documents as Team 7, Box 20. The entry in the timeline mentioning Atta’s visit to Bryant refers to FBI document 302, Serial 9165. The FBI has denied a FOIA request to release this document, invoking privacy considerations.
Atta was also sighted in Portland in April 2000. According to the Portland Press Herald, Spruce Whited, head of security at the Portland public library, said he first saw a man he is convinced was Atta in April 2000. He said the man came to the library several times, using the computers. “I only recognized him because he’d been here a few times,” he said.111 Apparently he did not only see Atta, but also Alshehhi: ”I remember seeing (Atta) in the spring of 2000. I have a vague memory of a second one who turned out to be (Atta’s) cousin.”112”Whited said no investigators have asked to look at the library’s computers. He said the FBI had not interviewed him.”113 Kathy Barry, a reference librarian at the same library, also reported seeing Atta, whose photograph has been distributed widely through the media since the Sept. 11 attacks. ”It was either him or his twin brother”, Barry said.114
Further evidence regarding Atta’s presence in the United States prior to June 3, 2000, was presented in context of the Able Danger issue.
5.Cover-up by the FBI
(a)Suppressing evidence of Atta’s 2001 sojourn in Venice, Florida
According to the official account, Atta spent five to six months in Venice, Florida, training at Huffman Aviation. Yet on the official FBI website, Venice is not mentioned at all as one of the locations where Atta had resided.115The 9/11 Commission, equally, suppresses the fact that Atta lived in Venice at any time.The FBI timeline about Atta does not mention that he returned to Venice, Florida, after leaving the area in December 2000.116 The reason for suppressing this evidence can only be conjectured: It might be related either to his stint with Amanda Keller, which would further undermine the notion that he was a fundamentalist Muslim, and/or relate to the true roleAtta is suspected to have played at Huffman Aviation, a dubious outfit connected to drug smuggling and covert operations.117
Stephanie Frederickson of the Sandpiper Apartments in Venice, Florida, who saw Atta when he lived in Venice, told author Hopsicker, that she and other residents had been harassed and intimidated by the FBI, in an effort to keep them from mentioning this fact to reporters:
The question they (the FBI) asked was always the same. You aren’t saying anything to anybody, are you?At first, right after the attack, they told me I must have been mistaken in my identification. Or they would insinuate that I was lying. Finally they stopped trying to get me to change my story, and just stopped by once a week to make sure I hadn’t been talking to anyone.118
Another person complaining about FBI efforts to intimidate him was ex-marine Charles Grapentine of the Sandpiper Apartments in Venice, Florida. According to Hopsicker the FBI was “positively frosty, especially on the subject of talking to reporters.” Here is what Grapentine told Hopsicker:
They called me a liar, and told me to keep my mouth shut. Nobody likes to hear that; that they didn’t see something they know they saw.119
An unnamed employee of Vonnie LaConca’s cleaning company allegedly had a contact with Atta “less than a week before the attack” of 9/11.120 According to LaConca, her employee spent three days withAtta, Amanda Keller and other unnamed German friends in a “continuous party” at Key West. Vonnie LaConca said she “learned the former employee made telephone contact with Mohamed last week”, that is few days before 9/11. The identity of that employee was never revealed. The FBI has kept mum about her existence.
Knowing of no reason why the abovementioned persons or Daniel Hopsicker would invent these stories, the plausible explanation is that the FBI did not want these persons to talk about Atta’s presence in Venice, because his co-habitation with Amanda Keller would reveal his decidedly un-islamic character.
(b) Suppressing photographic and video evidence of Atta in the U.S.
While the following photo of Atta waspublicized on September 13, 2001 and has almost become an icon of a cold, sinister, mass murderer, it is not clear where and when this photograph was made and by whom.
More puzzling is the fact that the U.S. authorities have not released any photograph or video recording of Atta known to have been made while he dwelt in the United States.
(a) Atta and Alshehhi cashed a check for $8,000 on April 4, 2001 in Virginia, “as evidenced by (…) bank surveillance camera shot of Atta”.121 The footage was never shown.
(b) The FBI Chronology of Atta covering the period August 16, 2001 – September 11, 2001 and released at the Moussaoui Trial122 mentions that a video exists of Atta and Al-Omari checking in at US Air at Portland Airport on the morning of 9/11.This recording was never shown.
(c) Atta was also a member at L.A. Fitness on University Drive in Coral Springs and worked out at the upscale gym for about two months, an employee said. FBI agents visited the fitness center north of Royal Palm Boulevard twice this week and removed Atta’s picture from the club’s membership computer, said employee José Serraz.123 The picture was never released.
(d) According to the FBI Miami Timeline, videotapes showing Atta and possibly of Alshehhi on May 31, 2001 were provided by Budget Rent-a-Car.124 The videotapes were never shown.
(e) According to the JICI report of April 19, 2002, a bank surveillance recording exists of Alomari and Atta conducting transactions at Bank Atlantic, Deerfield, Florida, on September 5, 2001. The recording has never been shown.125
6.Ziad Jarrah was never seen with el-Amir in the United States
El-Amir was an acquaintance ofZiad Jarrah in Hamburg, Germany.Although they did not study in the same school, they spent much time together in a closed circle of Muslim friends.According to a video released in 2006, they are claimed to have participated in a common suicide video. It remains, therefore, a mystery why there is no evidence that they ever encountered each other in the tiny airport of the sleepy town Venice, Florida, where they allegedly spent over four months training at adjacent flight schools.
That they never met at Venice, Florida, is highly surprising because students from both flight schools would often meet together in the local bars in the evenings and socialize. It is highly unlikely that in such a small community of flight students no one would try to introduce to each other two students known to have come from Hamburg, Germany, or ask them whether they knew each other. The claim that they deliberately avoided each other in order not to raise suspicions can be dismissed in the view of the fact that both used their “real names”. Furthermore, Mohamed Atta’s conduct, as presented in these pages, does not indicate that he attempted to stay “below the radar” when he was in the United States. On the contrary.
There is hard evidence that Ziad Jarrah enrolled at Arne Kruithof’s Florida Flight Training Center in Venice, Florida, a few hundred yards from Huffman Aviation, where Mohamed Atta – whoever he was – had enrolled.Ziad Jarrah even invited his fiancée, Aysel Senguen, from Germany to visit him at Venice, presented her to his friends, and had photographs taken of them at that location.What is not at all certain, is whether el-Amir had at all travelled to the United States, let alone to Venice, Florida.
We have previously noted that the FBI has failed to explain what prompted Atta to chose especially Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida for his flight training, rather any of several thousandaviation schools in the United States. There is no evidence that el-Amir knew about or contacted Huffman Aviation while he was in Germany.
The fact that their ways never crossed at the small Venice airport for over four months, and more generally during Ziad’s stay in the United States, can be only plausibly explained by the fact that el-Amir was not the flight student who enrolled in Venice, Florida, under the name Mohamed Atta.
Another story appears to corroborate this conclusion.
A former friend of el-Amir, interviewed by the FBI“initially discounted the post-9/11 reports of [his friend’s] involvement because he had known Atta by the name of Elamir and because the reports claimed Atta to have spent time in Florida. (He) believed that, had [his friend] actually been in Florida, he would have contacted him…[He] also recalled hearing from Atta’s sister that Atta was in Syria.12
7. Atta was already a pilot by July 2000
Rudy Dekkers, mentioned above, said Atta had already a flight log when he came to him. He stated that “he believed Atta and Alshehhi had previously attended another aviation school, so both had some piloting experience. He said they presented their logbooks when applying at Huffman to show proof of previous flight hours.”127 Amanda Keller, Atta’s girl-friend, told to author Hopsicker that Atta had pilot licenses from numerous countries, supporting thereby Dekkers’ testimony.
There is no evidence, however, that el-Amir, who was busy studying town planning in Hamburg, had at any time received flight training. According to his father, he was even afraid of flying.
8. Atta was trained in a U.S. military facility
A bizarre story appeared in the Washington Post, suggesting the Mohamed Atta had been trained in a U.S. military facility:
“Two of 19 suspects named by the FBI, Saeed Alghamdi and Ahmed Alghamdi, have the same names as men listed at a housing facility for foreign military trainees at Pensacola. Two others, Hamza Alghamdi and Ahmed Alnami, have names similar to individuals listed in public records as using the same address inside the base…In addition, a man named Saeed Alghamdi graduated from the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, while men with the same names as two other hijackers, Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari, appear as graduates of the U.S. International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and the Aerospace Medical School at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, respectively.”
USA Today quoted Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Ken McClellan, as saying that a man named Mohamed Atta had once attended the International Officer’s School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.”128
The first denial appeared in the Boston Globe: “Some of the FBI suspects had names similar to those used by foreign alumni of U.S. military courses,” said the Air Force in a statement. „Discrepancies in their biographical data…indicate we are probably not talking about the same people.”
Daniel Hopsicker’s attempt to find out
Author Hopsicker reports129 that he decided to call the Pentagon and get some reaction.He recounts having spoken to a Major in the Air Force‘s Public Affairs Office “who had been involved, she said, in crafting and disseminating the original Pentagon denial to the press.“
She explained: “Biographically, they’re not the same people…Some of the ages are twenty years off.”
Hopsicker’s account continues:
„Some of the ages“? Could she be, perhaps, just a little more precise?No answer.Let’s make this real simple, he said “We were only asking about one of the seven purported terrorists reported to have received military training in the U.S.Mohamed Atta.” Was she saying that the age of the ‘Mohamed Atta’ who had attended the Air Force’s International Officer’s School at Maxwell Air Force Base was different than that of ‘terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta’?
Not exactly, she admitted. She could not confirm that -in this specific instance – they had different ages. What she could do was once again deny that the International Officer’s School attendee named Mohamed Atta had been the Mohamed Atta who piloted a passenger plane into the World Trade Center.
However, she could offer no specifics for her assertion, and repeatedly declined requests for biographical details about the Mohamed Atta who had trained at Maxwell Air Force Base. None of this kept her from shamelessly soldiering on. “Mohamed is a very common name,” she said.
It was indeed, we told her, making one final effort. We said we would be happy to help the Pentagon’s investigative effort, especially since they were busy with other concerns. We offered to take it upon ourselves to track down the Mohamed Atta who had attended the Air Force’s International Officer’s School to confirm, once and for all, that he was not the Mohamed Atta said to have flown a jetliner into the side of a skyscraper in Manhattan.
All she had to do was tell us where the Mohamed Atta who had attended International Officer’s School at Maxell AFB was from.We would take it from there. Solve the mystery at no cost.
“I don’t think you’re going to get that information,” the spokeswoman stated flatly.
Still, we pressed her again, and probably to the point of rudeness, to provide a few lonely specifics, and we were rewarded when she finally said, in exasperation: “I do not have to authority to tell you who attended which schools.”
It was hard to read this as anything other than a back-handed confirmation. When she said that she didn’t have the authority, the clear implication was that someone else does… Somewhere in the Defense Department. a list exists with the names of September 11 terrorists who received training at U.S. military facilities.She just didn’t have the authority to release it. End of story.
And as to corroborate Atta’s presence at the Maxwell Air Force Base, Hopsicker cites someone who worked on Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, the former wife of a CIA pilot:
I have a girlfriend who recognized Mohamed Atta. She met him at a party at the Officer’s Club. The reason she swears it was him here is because she didn’t just meet him and say hello. After she met him she went around and introduced him to the people that were with her. So she knows it was him.Saudis were a highly visible presence at Maxwell Air Force Base, she said. “There were a lot of them living in an upscale complex in Montgomery. They had to get all of them out of there.They were all gone the day after the attack.”
The 9/11 Commission showed no interest in finding out whether the alleged hijackers had studied in secure military facilities in the United States.
1Harburg is a section of the city of Hamburg in North Germany
2John Hooper, The shy, caring, deadly fanatic, The Guardian, September 23, 2001, at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/sep/23/september11.education (last visited January 2, 2011)
3Spanish MP’s photo used for Osama Bin Laden poster, BBC, January 16, 2010, athttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8463657.stm (last visited 5.10.2011); see also http://www.faceresearch.org/demos/average (last visited 5.10.2011)
10Ken Thomas, Feds investigating possible terrorist-attack links in Florida, Associated Press, September 12, 2001, http://web.archive.org/web/20030402060235/www.nctimes.net/news/2001/20010912/10103.html (last visited 5.10.2011)
11Barry Klein, Wes Allison et al, FBI seizes records of students at flight schools, St. Peterburg Times, September 13, 2001, http://www.sptimes.com/News/091301/Worldandnation/FBI_seizes_records_of.shtml. It is to be noted that the story changed over time. In later reports, such as by The Washington Post of September 16, 2001, Atta was nolonger reported to have drunk alcool but cranberry juice!It appears someone had felt that the original story would undermine the neat official legend of Atta as a devout, and even fanatic, Muslim.
13Daniel de Vise, Curtis Morgan and Manny Garcia,On Terror’s Trail: Five Florida Men Were Among The Suspects They Were Listed Aboard Planes in N.Y. Crashes, The Miami Herald, September 13, 2001, Final Edition (perhaps they conflated Pakistan with Afghanistan- E.D.)
14Ed Vulliamy et al,When our world changed forever, The Guardian (U.K.) September 16, 2001, athttp://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/sep/16/news.september11 (last visited December 25, 2010)
23Chris Davis, Hijacker with cold stare hated mission of blending in, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 28, 2001. Author’s document #423.The original article cannot be anymore located in the newspaper’sonline archives.
41Earle Kimel, Fourth terrorist suspect may have ties to Venice ties, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 22, 2001 (Author’s document #423). According toFTR #516 (Interview with Daniel Hopsicker about the Venice, FL Cover-Up, July 5, 2005)„newspaper articles about Atta’s activities in Venice are being removed from the Lexis-Nexis database used by journalists world-wide.” at http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-516-interview-with-daniel-hopsicker-about-the-venice-fl-cover-up/ (last visited December 26, 2010)
46Heather Allen, ‚Lover’: Amanda Keller, Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Florida), September 10, 2006, at http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article”AID=/20060910/NEWS/609100466/1007/BUSINESS&tc=ar (last visited December 26, 2010)
49Peter Finn, Suspects Used German Rental As Headquarters, The Washington Post, September 15, 2001, at http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A34506-2001Sep14¬Found=true (last visited December 26, 2010)
52at http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/atta/interviews/bodenstein.htm (last visited December 27, 2010)
57Peter Finn, Suspects Used German Rental As Headquarters, The Washington Post, September 15, 2001, at http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A34506-2001Sep14¬Found=true (last visited December 26, 2010)
61Interview of Quentin McDermott with Rudy Dekkers, ABC Australia, October 21, 2001. Transcript. At http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/atta/interviews/dekkers.htm(last visited December 27, 2010)
63Stephen J. Hedges and Jeff Zeleny, Hijacker eluded security net, Chicago Tribune, September 16, 2001, athttp://web.archive.org/web/20020208020010/http://chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0109160297sep16.story((last visited 5.10.2011) Author’s document #434
64Chris Davis, Hijacker with cold stare hated mission of blending in, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 28, 2001. Author’s document #423.The article cannot anymore be found at the newspaper online archive.
67James V. Grimaldi and Guy Gugliotta, Chemical Plants Feared as Targets, The Washington Post, December 16, 2001, at http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A49430-2001Dec15(last visited December 27, 2010)
68Joel Engelhardt,From terrorist to spy, Atta’s mission was extensive. The Palm Beach Post, October 29, 2001, at http://www.ctcintl.com/10292001.shtml (last visited December, 27, 2010)
70Roger Simon, Anthrax Nation, U.S. News & World Report, October 28, 2001 athttp://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/011105/archive_019478_print.htm (last visited 5.10.2011) Author’s document #435
71Thomas C. Tobin, Florida: Terror’s Launching Pad, St. Petersburg Times, September 1, 2002, athttp://www.sptimes.com/2002/09/01/911/Florida__terror_s_lau.shtml (last visited 5.10.2011) Author’s document #436. According to the Los Angeles Times of October 13, 2001, „the second man tapped himself on the chestg, not on the chest of the pharmacist. In the L.A. Times report it was not explained why Chatterton remembered this event.
75Interview with Rudi Dekkers, president of Huffman Aviation by Quentin McDermott, A Mission to Die For, ABC Australia, October 21, 2001, athttp://www.abc.net.au/4corners/atta/interviews/dekkers.htm (last visited 5.10.2011)
78Chronology of events for hijackers, Mohamed Atta,Exhibit Nr. OG00020.2. p. 2 Moussaui Trial, at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notablecases/moussaoui/exhibits/prosecution/OG00020-02.pdf (last visited December 27, 2010)
85According to Wynn Errico, interviewed by the Sun-Sentinel (supra) „three men in a white minivan accompanied [Atta] and waited for about 45 minutes“ while Atta and Errico were haggling about the price.
92 Curtis Morgan, David Kidwell and Oscar Corall, State a natural for training, blending into the communities, The Miami Herald, September 22, 2001, athttp://web.archive.org/web/20010922164519/www.miami.com/herald/special/news/worldtrade/digdocs/000518.htm.
93Sydney P. Freedberg, The trail of the terrorists, St. Petersburg Times, September 27, 2001, athttp://www.sptimes.com/News/092701/news_pf/Worldandnation/The_trail_of_the_terr.shtml(last visited January 22, 2011)
95The Road to Ground Zero, Part Five: A Trail of Missed Opportunities, The Sunday Times, February 3, 2002, at http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/2002/sundaytimes020302.html (last visited December 27, 2010) Author’s Document # 346)
98Herbert Gude, Pentagon aus Pappe, Focus Magazin, March 3, 2002, athttp://www.focus.de/politik/deutschland/terror-pentagon-aus-pappe_aid_203727.html (last visited 5.10.2011)
106Susan Candiotti, Source: Records suggest Atta in NYC on Sept. 10, CNN, May 22, 2002, at http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/05/22/hijack.paper.trail/ (last visited January 2, 2011)
107Greg B. Smith, Hijacker in City Sept. 10 Used Navigation Tool to Pinpoint WTC Site, New York Daily News, May 22, 2002, cached at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/687502/posts?page=69
115The FBI Releases 19 Photographs of Individuals Believed to be the Hijackers of the Four Airliners that Crashed on September 11, 2001, September 27, 2001, at http://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/the-fbi-releases-19-photographs-of-individuals-believed-to-be-the-hijackers (last visited December 29, 2010)
117Hopsicker, supra n. 38.Hopsicker unearthed numerous facts about the murky nature of Huffman Aviation, a flight school apparently „protected from above“.Mentioning these facts here would unnecessarily encumber our study.
123Jonathan King, Vicky Agnew and Nancy Othón, Suspects trained at S. Florida gyms before terror attacks, Sun-Sentinel, November 5, 2001, athttp://web.archive.org/web/20011105010455/http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-culprits919.story (last visited December 27, 2010) Author’s document #347
127The Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Contacts with Two September 11 Terrorists, Office of the Inspector General, May 20, 2002, Chapter Four, athttp://www.justice.gov/oig/special/0205/chapter4.htm (last visited January 2, 2011)