Thanksgiving at Ground Zero

Thanksgiving at Ground Zero

Every now and then, Americans are reminded of the true meaning of Thanksgiving. For Guy Taylor, it began the morning of Sept. 11, as he sat at his desk at the New York Board of Trade at Four World Trade Center.

Every now and then, Americans are reminded of the true meaning of Thanksgiving. For Guy Taylor, it began the morning of Sept. 11, as he sat at his desk at the New York Board of Trade at Four World Trade Center.

Taylor heard a sound, which started as a loud hum and quickly grew in intensity. Soon “it sounded like a jet plane was coming down the hall,” said the Clarksdale, Miss., native and current director of public relations for NYBOT.

Moments later a thunderous explosion literally rippled the skin on Taylor’s arms. Taylor, a bachelor whose parents own farmland around Clarksdale, rushed to the window facing Church Street.

“It looked like it was snowing,” Taylor said of the millions of pieces of paper and debris descending upon the street.

Taylor’s first thoughts were that a jetliner had strayed off course or that terrorists had launched a missile from a boat in New York Harbor.

Thanksgiving at Ground Zero

He did know that whatever happened was close, scant feet from NYBOT facilities, which house several commodity exchanges (including the New York Cotton Exchange). Within moments of the blast, Mark Fichtel, NYBOT president, ran from office to office telling everyone in no uncertain terms, “Get out of the building!”

Taylor obliged, leaving behind his cell phone, laptop computer, a blue suit coat and perhaps a more innocent view of life. He headed toward the stairs for the eight-story descent to the street.

At the ground floor, the building’s security force had formed a human barricade in front of all exit doors. “I think they were afraid something was going to fall on us if we went outside,” Taylor said.

But the security officers’ precaution soon gave way to reason and the resolve of the crowd as Taylor and others quickly shuffled through the revolving doors to the street.

Taylor didn’t turn around to measure the carnage at the World Trade Center (and did not want to speak of the terrible things that others saw there). He just ran, thinking any missile might have contained deadly nerve gas or another chemical agent.

As Taylor scrambled across Church Street, he instinctively grabbed a piece of paper floating by. It was a news release from a public relations office in the doomed tower, probably written by someone who held a job similar to his. He saved it.

He ran past a bus that had crashed into a lamp pole on Church Street and a taxi cab abandoned in the middle of the street with its doors open and windows blown out.

Clear of the blast site, Taylor’s first thought was to let loved ones know he was alive, but the lines were six-deep at pay telephones. When he saw a group of businessmen collecting their breaths on a street corner, he asked to borrow a cell phone. Taylor called everyone he could as news media helicopters gathered overhead.

Taylor’s dismay deepened when he learned that two hijacked jet planes had been flown into the twin towers at the WTC and suspected that more attacks may be imminent. He was surprised to see a lone taxi in the street, fully operational and waiting for a fare. “I got in and told him to head north, but to avoid the Empire State Building and the United Nations.”

Thanksgiving at Ground Zero

He arrived home safely, but nonetheless stunned at how an ordinary Manhattan morning had turned so deadly, so quickly and so close to home.

Taylor also knew that his life’s priorities had changed. “I realized how important my family and God were to me,” he said.

Taylor and the nearly 2,000 other NYBOT employees had little time to grieve for friends and colleagues lost in the attack. Millions of people, as well as a number of competing exchanges, were waiting to see how NYBOT, which handles $300 billion in total contract value annually, would respond to the calamity. Most were hoping for the best, a handful undoubtedly wishing for the worst.

So Taylor and his co-workers dealt with the tragedy the only way they knew — they went back to work.

“We had a three-phase plan,” Taylor said. “One, we wanted to get into our backup facility in Long Island City, Queens, and get it operational as quickly as possible.”

Some staffers wasted no time at all. “People who barely escaped the WTC with their lives went directly to the backup facility in Queens and started setting up because they knew that’s what they needed to do.”

By then, it was obvious that the NYBOT facility at the WTC had been severely damaged by the collapsing towers. In fact, the facade of the building was all that was standing. Later, a demolition ball brought it down.

Unknown to most people at the time, $650 million in gold and silver was being kept in a special vault four floors beneath Four World Trade Center. The gold and silver were recently recovered.

Over the next few days, Taylor and Fichtel appeared on numerous television shows and radio programs, talking about the exchange’s efforts to resume normal operations.

“We probably could have been up and running by Thursday (Sept. 13),” said Charles Falk, NYBOT chairman. “But there were problems with some of our clearing members.”

Instead, NYBOT waited and held a mock trading session at the new facility on Saturday, Sept. 15, to work out any kinks.

“We really didn’t have a lot of time to try to trade,” Taylor said of the mock session. “It was more of an orientation. It was very emotional for everybody. It was the first time we had seen each other since the attack. I saw a lot of guys hugging.”

Taylor said that the new phone system in the facility was not quite able to handle the volume of calls that morning which “crashed the system.”

“We called Mayor Giuliani and he had an army transport plane from Texas bring in a new switch,” Taylor said.

The first day of real trading commenced on Monday, Sept. 17. A month later, futures and options trading at the new facility had reached seasonally normal and even higher levels, according to Taylor.

The cost of moving into the new space was estimated at $2.5 million to $3 million.

In phase two, NYBOT plans to expand the dimensions of the current building, which is one-fourth the size of the WTC facility, and return to more-normal operating hours. The WTC facility had 13 pits that supported four- to five-hour daily trading schedules. Each commodity at the backup facility currently trades on two pits for one and a half hours a day.

That expansion is now under way.

The last phase is for NYBOT to move into a permanent facility as soon as possible. And there is good reason. NYBOT reports that at least one foreign exchange has indicated that it will try to take advantage of the current emergency by attempting to transfer NYBOT’s role as world price-setter in coffee, sugar, cocoa, cotton and orange juice to its own financial center.

NYBOT estimates the cost of a new facility, plus the cost of expanding the backup facility, at around $142 million. While NYBOT had insurance for certain elements of the loss at WTC, the policy does not come close to covering the full cost of establishing a new permanent facility and of outfitting temporary facilities.

Taylor noted that NYBOT is seeking financial assistance from local, state and federal governments as it rebuilds.

By November, the terror of Sept. 11 had still not subsided for Taylor, who says he has had very little rest. “Things aren’t the same anymore, not just for me, but for the country.”

And the anthrax scare, especially since exposures have been reported in New York, “is keeping everyone on edge. Our mail is scanned and the guy who delivers mail wears gloves and a mask and is prepared on what to keep an eye out for.”

Taylor planned a family reunion in October with his parents, Walter and Word, who have homes in both Oxford, Miss., and Gulfport, Miss., sister Missie and brothers Will, Buddy and Clint.

The family also planned to be together this Thanksgiving. Certainly, the gathering will have special meaning.

“Our family has been through a lot recently,” he said. “It’s tough to hear my family members explain their feelings, that they were trying to deal with the fact that I might be gone.”

What’s he going to do when he sees his family for the first time since Sept. 11? “I’m going to be overwhelmed by the sense of gratitude and thankfulness,” he said. “But I’m not really sure how it’s going to hit me. I think it’s going to sweep me away.”

Who Bombed the U.S. World Trade Center? — 1993

Who Bombed the U.S. World Trade Center? — 1993

Growing Evidence Points to Role of FBI Operative

We are publishing this incisive and pioneering analysis written eleven years ago by Ralph Schoenman pertaining to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Schoenman correctly identifies the support provided by the Clinton Administration to the al Qaeda network at a time when Al Qaeda, and more specifically Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman was being accused of  masterminding the 1993 WTC bombing.

The article is of particular importance in relation to the current debate on 9/11.

The 1993 WTC bombing is heralded by the Bush Administration as one of the earlier Al Qaeda attacks on the Homeland. Since 9/11, the 1993 WTC bombing has become part of “the 9/11 legend” which describes Al Qaeda as “an outside enemy,” when the evidence amply confirms that Al Qaeda remains to this date a US sponsored “intelligence asset.”

In the words of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (April 2004) at the 9/11 Commission:  

“The terrorist threat to our Nation did not emerge on September 11th, 2001. Long before that day, radical, freedom-hating terrorists declared war on America and on the civilized world. The attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, the hijacking of the Achille Lauro in 1985, the rise of al-Qaida and the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the attacks on American installations in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, the East Africa embassy bombings of 1998, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, these and other atrocities were part of a sustained, systematic campaign to spread devastation and chaos and to murder innocent Americans.” (See complete transcript of her testimony at (http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/RIC404A.html )

It should also be mentioned that at the time of the 1993 WTC bombing, the Clinton Administration and al Qaeda were actively collaborating in joint military operations in Bosnia, as confirmed by an official congressional report emanating from the Republican Party.

Who Bombed the U.S. World Trade Center? — 1993

The alleged terrorist Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman was sentenced as the mastermind behind the 1993 WTC bombings and subsequently convicted to life imprisonment. In a bitter irony, the same individual Omar Abdul Rahman was identified in a 1997 Report of the Republican Party Policy Committee of the US Senate as collaborating with Clinton officials in bringing in weapons and Mujahideen into Bosnia:

In other words, the Republican party confirms that Omar Abdul Rahman and Al Qaeda were US sponsored “intelligence assets”. Needless to say, when Bill Clinton, appeared before the 9/11 Commission (April 2004),these links between US officials and Al Qaeda in Bosnia and Kosovo were not raised.  

Michel Chossudovsky, 23 April 2004

Simultaneous with the detonation of an explosive bomb at the World Trade Center in New York on February 26 of this year (1993), FBI investigators were en route to New York.

“Even as office workers were trying to pry their way out of stalled elevators or stagger down smoky stairwells in the wake of a devastating explosion last Friday,” wrote Ronald J. Ostrow and Robin Wright (Los Angeles Times, March 3, 1993), under the headline “U.S. Tackling Blast Probe on Unprecedented Scale,” “a special team of men and women were leaving FBI headquarters here for the next flight to New York.”

Not only the FBI was so prompt. “Thousands of people and dozens of agencies here and abroad sprang into action. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything bigger, except maybe the Kennedy Assassination,’ said one counter terrorism official.”

Officials declared that the vast scale of their “investigation” notwithstanding, “it will take several months (emphasis added) before the forensic aspects are completed,” if only because the bombing “could,” according to CIA analyst Graham Fuller, “be an operational decision dating back a year that doesn’t have any relationship with immediate events” (Ibid.).

The ink wasn’t dry on the press release before the discovery of the alleged culprit in the bombing was announced by these same agencies within hours of their prior declaration, evincing investigative skills that eclipsed any heretofore in evidence. How was this accomplished?

A REFUND AND A CAR FRAGMENT

“He wanted his money back,” begins a story by Ralph Blumenthal under the subheading, “Insistence on a Refund for a Van Led to the Arrest of Blast Suspect” (New York Times, March 5, 1993). Mohammed A. Salameh had returned three times to a Ryder Truck Rental dealer in Jersey City requesting a refund of the $400 cash deposit he had placed on a yellow Ford Econoline van that, he stated, had been stolen the night preceding the explosion.

How then had the authorities linked Salameh’s request to the World Trade Center? It seemed unlikely, “(b)ecause the huge bomb had cored the garage with a crater spanning several parking levels, much of the vital evidence,” reported The New York Times in the very story implicating Salameh, “including what remained of the vehicle suspected of delivering the bomb, was … buried under tons of rubble at the bottom.”

Who Bombed the U.S. World Trade Center? — 1993

There appeared to be no possibility of recovering anything of use for a very long time, given the force of the blast. “Top officials, including James M. Fox, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York office, and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, despaired of being able to reach evidence because of the unstable and unsafe conditions underground.

Nonetheless, agents of the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) suddenly came forward with “yellow pieces of a vehicle that appeared to been blown apart with particular ferocity. One of the fragments carried a part identification number.”

This discovery supposedly occurred on the Sunday morning following the Friday blast. By the same afternoon, the FBI had identified the presumptive source of the explosion, describing the vehicle as “a model 350 Ford Econoline van, color yellow,” tracing it to Ryder Truck Rental (one of the largest lease chains in the United States) and then to a specific Ryder dealership on the property of Rockview Auto Sales, a used-car lot in a section of Jersey City not far from the apartment of Salameh and from the walk-up mosque of a blind Egyptian cleric named Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman. To date, the fragment bearing the serial number has not been produced.

Salameh’s biography was distributed instantly to the media, replete with claimed political sympathies and associations going back years. “Suspect Tied to Islamic Fundamentalist Sect” was the subheading of The New York Times story (Ibid.) whose account of the “evidence” and Salameh’s arraigment without bail before Judge Richard Owen of Federal District Court in Manhattan was breathless, “concluding a tumultuous day in a case that has drawn national attention and … statements by President Clinton, the Governors of New York and New Jersey and other officials.”

White House spokesperson George Stephanopoulos confirmed the arrest. Acting Attorney General Stuart M. Gerson followed Stephanopoulos, declaiming, “It’s a remarkable day in the history of the FBI.”

DISARRAY AND CONTRADICTORY SIGNALS

Federal and city field operatives seemed less than pleased by the Washington announcements. “the unusual statements virtually preempted announcements by the federal and local investigators in New York working on the case and touched off a flap of angry recriminations. The arrest’s timing brought on another bitter dispute. City law-enforcement officials, bristling for days over what they called news leaks by federal officials, said a New York Newsday report, tracing the van to a rental agency in Jersey City, had forced a premature arrest.” Nonetheless, “there was no indication that the newspaper was asked to withhold the article.”

The disarray amongst high ranking officials and the contradictory signals regarding the release of politically charged declarations was a tell-tale sign that there were central features of the events about which government officials were seriously concerned and that the authorities wished to conceal.

The New York Times noted that at the Stephanopoulos press conference, Acting Attorney General Gerson became disturbed when asked about the motivations for the bombing. “I don’t know the answer to that,” he replied, adding, “and I wouldn’t tell you if I did” (Ibid.), a cryptic reply echoed by FBI Director William Sessions.

The New York Times article was less reticent. Salameh was linked to Sheikh Rahman, to “several radical groups that make up the Egyptian branch of Islamic Jihad,” through the Sheikh to “the 1982 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat.” To a Brooklyn mosque, Farouq Majid, “noted by investigators in the 1990 assassination of Rabbi Mier Kahane,” and to El Sayyid A. Nosair, who had been charged with and acquitted of the 1990 Kahane slaying.

Salameh, days after the bombing, was thus connected in the press to “a wide array of contacts and associations with terrorist organizations.” By March 9, The New York Times published a photo of Salameh alongside Nosair at the time of his acquittal of the earlier assassination of Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League and a virulently anti-Arab legislator in Israel.

The authorities “pursued a dizzying array of clues and lessons on fronts raging from Jersey City, N.J., to Brooklyn and to the Mideast.” A new “major suspect” was announced, Ibrahim El-Gabrowny, who was said to have ties to Salameh Nosair and was described as “a leading official of a Brooklyn mosque frequented by Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman.”

Who Bombed the U.S. World Trade Center? — 1993

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

A New Jersey storage locker was uncovered, containing “chemicals used for explosives,” which the authorities “seized and detonated,” a strange way to handle incriminating evidence. Two other apartments were discovered in which “‘other chemicals and electronic equipment were found … linked to Mr. Salameh and others through aliases as well as witness accounts, officials said.” (Ibid.)

The authorities were seeking to depict a group of conspirators who had attempted to blow up a skyscraper in Manhattan and then left their various apartments without removing the chemicals, wire or bomb paraphernalia employed in the enterprise. Indeed, it was difficult to understand why they would leave this evidence in so many disparate places.

The explanation was instructive in its scarcely concealed racism. “‘One search is leading to another,” said one ranking investigator. ‘But these are nomadic people. While it may lie in the culture, they bounce from place to place. All different people sleep there and stop there, stay a short time, then leave.’” (Ibid)

Several reporters, however, raised the obvious problem with the official scenario. “After five days of frantic activity since Mr. Salameh’s arrest, investigators admit puzzlement over two key questions: the method and the motive. Why, they have asked, “would anyone planning a car-bomb attack lease a vehicle in their own name — as the federal complaint contends Mr. Salameh to have done — even if he planned to claim later that the vehicle had been stolen from him and he had returned on three separate occasions to the rental office to demand a $400 refund?”

“And even if the van had been totally obliterated, officials reason, would not Mr. Salameh’s theft report have attracted attention, at some point leading investigators to him and his same group of associates they are now studying?”

The New York Times acknowledges that “such enigmas caused local investigators to “dismiss Mr. Salameh as perhaps a patsy for others, someone who may have been duped into carrying out the attack and taking the blame.”

It soon emerged that the very people who worked at the Ryder rental office which rented the van to Salameh were FBI operatives. “The trap was set for Salameh by FBI agents disguised as employees of the rental outlet. They dickered with Salameh over the deposit, giving him $200 in a partial refund. He was then arrested at a bus stop near the agency”(Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1993).

How then did they conclude that Salameh was directly engaged in the planning, fabrication of the explosives and implementation of the plan? James Fox, Assistant FBI Director in charge of the New York office, informed journalists that the critical piece of evidence was “a telephone number listed on the rental agreement. … Investigators traced the number to an apartment in Jersey City where they found a letter addressed to Salameh as well as the tools and electronic equipment that indicated the presence in this apartment of a bomb maker.”

This then was the pivotal evidence leading to the implication of Salameh. In whose name was the telephone number on the rental agreement listed, and who had rented the apartment in Jersey City?

SOMEONE LONG MONITORED BY THE FBI

Both the telephone number and the apartment were listed (on the rental agreement for the Ryder Truck alleged to have contained the explosives), and indeed, the apartment had been rented by “a woman identified as Josie Hadas” (Ibid.). Her name was flaunted, almost as a signal, “the latest name on the mailbox was Josie Hadas… who moved into the apartment before Christmas” (Los Angeles Times, March 7, 1993).

It was during her occupancy of this apartment that the chemicals and bomb components were supposedly stored there. Salameh, moreover, was being “handled” by mysterious others whose relationship to the crucial evidence would become important.

“The authorities say several associates of Mr. Salameh who may have been involved in the bombing have dropped out of sight. … One of the people being sought for questioning is an unidentified man who accompanied Mr. Salameh on two visits to the rental agency. Another is Josie Hadas, whose name was listed for a telephone at an apartment at 34 Kensington Avenue in Jersey City” (New York Times, March 8, 1993). The name placed on the rental agreement as a reference was Josie Hadas.

Under the heading “Possible Tampering by Agent,” New York Times reporter Joseph B. Treaster writes, “in a bizarre twist that could potentially complicate the prosecution of the bombers …[f]ederal officials were investigating a report that an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tampered with some evidence … substituting her name for that of an investigator from another agency. … John O’Brien, a spokesman for the firearms Bureau, acknowledged that one of the bureau’s agents was being questioned. … James M. Fox, the head of the FBI investigation, would not comment on the inquiry about the agent and the evidence”(Ibid.).

“Sources,” however, now disclosed to the press that Salameh had been closely monitored by the FBI “long before the bombing occurred. He was … listed in the FBI’s computerized terrorism information system.” Officials refused to confirm that “the suspect’s mail had been intercepted or that he had been subjected to physical surveillance, electronic intercepts or other investigative techniques.”

Suddenly, the person who was supposedly brought to light because of his fortuitous request for a refund on the van which carried the bomb, emerged as someone long monitored by the FBI and other agencies. Indeed, the authorities now claimed that “the arrest came as the result of one of the largest investigations in the nation’s history.”

ISRAELIS’ ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE

Who then was the woman in whose name the telephone and apartment were listed and where the incriminating evidence was “found?” Josie or Guzie Hadas was not unknown. The International Herald Tribune (March 8, 1993) quoted FBI spokesman Joe Valiquette’s familiar response to their reporter’s query about the role of Hadas in the Israeli secret service, Mossad: “Even if it were true, we wouldn’t tell you anyway.”

The London Periodical Impact (March 12, 1993 and April 8, 1993) revealed, in an article titled “Who Bombed the World Trade Center,” that on February 26, the day the bomb exploded, an Israeli intelligence group sent an urgent communiqué over a telephone access computer network about the event. The communiqué was picked up when it was discovered accidentally on a confidential government “information base” known in the Israeli intelligence community as “Matara,” an official source of classified data pertaining to intelligence and security matters.

Either leaked or accessed by news sources, the communiqué states that Israeli Intelligence had advance knowledge of the timing and target of the World Trade Center bombing and that it would be attributed to “known activists from the Occupied Territories.”

Three days after the bombing, “Anne,” an Israeli operative of the Shin Bet, Israel’s FBI, was cited by journalists in Israel “boasting of Israeli Intelligence capabilities.” She stated that Israel had advance knowledge of the bombing, confirming the communiqué disclosed on Matara.

The next day, an Israeli Defense Force spokesperson responded to a direct question from a Jerusalem reporter concerning Israeli governmental involvement in the bombing of the world Trade Center.

The Jerusalem journalist (whose name will be protected here) told Irfan Mirza, the author of the Impact articles, how he had confirmed that “Israeli intelligence knows more about the bombings than they are ever going to disclose at this time.”

Who Bombed the U.S. World Trade Center? — 1993

This author discussed the data with journalist Lorraine Mirza, who confirmed that Irfan Mirza’s investigation led to bomb threats which were taped. He has left London. On March 6, an article in the London Times confirmed that “Israeli intelligence has detailed information” about the World Trade Center bombing, adding that “the FBI has given no explanation as to why Israel has not come forward to the U.S. authorities with information.”

Zafar Bangas, editor of Crescent International, an Ontario, Canada-based journal conversant in Islamic politics and one of the most widely read newspapers in the Muslim world, confirmed to this author that Guzie (Josie) Hadas was long-established as a Mossad operative. She had penetrated Islameic circles in New York, as had another intelligence operative, Emad Ali Salem, a colonel in Egyptian intelligence.

Bangas confirmed investigative work of Irfan Mirza concerning the role of Emad Ali Salem. It was he who rented the van in the name of Mohammad Salameh, purchased and disseminated chemical and bomb materials in various apartments and who tipped his employers, the FBI, as to his handiwork.

The serial number released by the ATF after, supposedly, coming upon a metal fragment, nominally buried under five stories and tons of debris, came from “undercover operative, Emad Ali Salem” (Ibid.). Salameh had attempted to report the theft of the van rented in his name previous to the bombing of the World Trade Center. Despite the public impact of the explosion, Salameh, unaware of the significance of the van, showed up asking for the return of the deposit.

ROLE OF EMAD ALI SALEM

On June 24, the FBI arrested eight Muslims alleged to have plotted a series of bombings which would have dwarfed in global impact the bombing of the World Trade Center.

According to the authorities, the detainees — all linked to Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman — had advanced plans to bomb the United Nations, the New York headquarters of the FBI, and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels. Some reports also mention the Statue of Liberty. Assassinations of New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato and United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali were in advanced preparation.

The pre-dawn raids, which resulted in the arrest of the plotters, followed months of surveillance. Within hours of the arrests, FBI agents seized documents and tapes from the Sheikh’s residence. Among those arrested was Mahmoud Abouhalima, now declared a suspect, as well, in the World Trade Center bombing.

The Dallas publication, Muslim World Monitor, disclosed on July 4 that Emad Ali Salem was an Egyptian intelligence officer who had entered the milieu of the followers of Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman at the behest of the FBI. He was in attendance at the trial of El Sayyid Nosair, accused in the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, and he offered his services as a bodyguard of the Sheikh.

Salem was “wired” throughout his association with the Muslim followers of the Sheikh. “A high-ranking former Egyptian intelligence officer, he was the informant who provided the FBI with taped conversations and all other evidence” used in the World Trade Center arrests and those of June 24. (Ibid.)

Salem worked with other informants for the FBI, including Mahmoud Zaki Zakhary, who had been reporting regularly to the FBI since January 10, 1990. Between the two, the U.S. intelligence authorities knew every residence, office and meeting which occurred between the Sheikh and his followers for a period of three and a half years.

As Muslim World Monitor explained, “Salem…had them under surveillance long before the February 26 blast took place.” He was the source of “plans” to blow up the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the United Nations, other targets and the assassinations. “He has played the role, “concludes the Muslim World Monitor “of agent provocateur.”

Defense lawyers for the eight accused assert that their clients were entrapped in schemes of which they were unaware and were subjected to proposals by Salem himself. “Salem was wired before, after and during every meeting. It is known that Salem was involved in the initial discussions, provided the safe houses in which bombs were allegedly manufactured, helped purchase the firearms and other materials that were to be used in the attacks.” (Ibid.)

From the time of the El Sayyid Nosair trial, Salem was forever “brashly talking about violent actions and trying to incite people to do ‘crazy things.’ “These “things” were proposed after prior discussion with high-level intelligence authorities in the United States.

SALEM’S TRIAL

Under the headline “New York Trial in Rabbi’s Death Planted an Explosive Seed,” the Los Angeles Times (July 4, 1993) confirms the information in the Muslim press with remarkable sangfroid. It cites the role of a “decorated former Egyptian military officer” for the emergence of “a clandestine cell of terrorists who conspired to set off the World Trade Center bomb blast, plotted an unparalleled wave of attacks on U.S. landmarks and political figures and shattered America’s image of invulnerability to terrorism.”

The “trail’ left by Salem “led from those courthouse steps to the dramatic raid June 24 on a makeshift bomb factory in Queens, zigzags through militant mosques, rural shooting ranges and seedy safehouses.”

It emerges that “critical evidence had been overlooked” by U.S. authorities, even though it was provided to them by “the still-mysterious cooperation of a stranger with Egyptian military medals.”

Salem became close to El Sayyid Nosair before the assassination of Meir Kahane, assisting him with finding lodgings and other services. After the assassination of Kahane, Chief of Detectives Joseph Borelli “shrugged off questions about the political implications of the assault.” Yet, in a police raid of Nosair’s rented house in Cliffside Park, N.J., they “discovered manuals for building bombs. They found photos of the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building and the Washington Monument and a text advocating terrorists strikes on American soil.”

A senior investigator called this collection of documents “a road map” to the World Trade Center. This and attendant documents concerning bombings and assassinations “sat” in police and FBI hands, “untranslated in about 50 storage boxes.”

Thus, the FBI had all the documents concerning putative plans to blow up the World Trade Center and all the documents concerning like plans for the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and other targets as early as 1990.

By late summer 1992, “federal investigators … had reports that militant Muslims were scheming to assassinate the Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali.” Their principal informant, Emad Ali Salem, “kept pictures of torture victims among his family albums.”

Their informant had arranged “by mid-February, the massive chemical bomb that would kill six and injure more than 1000 at the Trade Center, brewed in barrels hidden in the Jersey City storage unit.” All these arrangements were reported by a wired Salem.

“Meanwhile, stored in boxes in an FBI locker, … were the documents that would help unravel a plot to blow up the United Nations, the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the Empire State Building and the Washington Monument.”

EXTRAORDINARY ADMISSION

This extraordinary admission that the FBI had advance plans and the full documentation of where to find everyone and everything was blithely reported. Only after the detonation of the bomb in the World Trade Center did “the FBI finally open the boxes.” They had been receiving regular reports from “the man they called ‘the Colonel,’ [who] wore a hidden microphone as he moved the inner circle. … There … federal agents heard first-hand as another plot evolved,” one promulgated by their own operative and the rationale for the arrests of June 24.

All the while that the U.S. has sounded the alarm about “Muslim Fundamentalist terror,” it has funded the Islamic Fundamentalist group in Afghanistan led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who has received to date $3.3 billion in official U.S. aid administered by the CIA. Many of the figures in the Muslim movement in the U.S., including those accused of involvement in the World Trade Center bombing, were among those who organized the sending of CIA arms and funds to Hekmatyar. (See “Late For Work,” Prevailing Winds #1.)

The U.S. rulers are terrorizing the American people with operations of their own authorship, deployed as a rationale for “maintaining vast military budgets for devastating assaults upon Iraq, Somalia and targets now on the Pentagon drawing board.

Most of WTC Down Payment to Be Returned

Most of WTC Down Payment to Be Returned

Under a pending agreement, a developer and two investors will get back most of their original $124 million investment to lease the World Trade Center just six weeks before a terrorist attack destroyed the twin towers.

Developer Larry Silverstein and investors Lloyd Goldman and Joseph Cayre are nearing a deal that would give them about $98 million back from that investment, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The deal also would allow Silverstein to retain control of rebuilding the office space at the site in lower Manhattan, the Times said.

It was the largest real estate deal in New York history when Silverstein and his partners paid the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about $800 million in fees and down payments for a 99-year lease. They agreed to pay about $120 million in rent per year.

Most of WTC Down Payment to Be Returned

Of that $800 million, Silverstein put up about $14 million, Goldman and Cayre provided about $110 million, and about $127 million came from Westfield America, which operated the shopping mall at the trade center, the Times said. The GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp. lent Silverstein $563 million.

Silverstein and the Port Authority have agreed to buy out Westfield America, the newspaper said. Silverstein will use insurance payments he has received to repay GMAC, which would then turn over $130 million in escrow and $98 million in reserve to Silverstein, the Times said.

The $130 million would be used for rebuilding and the $98 million would be returned to Silverstein and his investors, the Times said.

“We are very close to an agreement with all the parties,” Greg Trevor, a Port Authority spokesman, told the Times.

A spokesman for Silverstein declined to comment. GMAC issued a statement saying the deal is still subject to approval by Westfield and bondholders.

Workday Minnesota

Workday Minnesota

Fire Fighters excluded from 9/11 testimony

The independent commission probing the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington decided not to hear from the worker group that lost more lives than anyone else to the terrorists: The Fire Fighters.

Speaking as the 9/11 panel heard New York officials discuss communications, wrong instructions and other problems that beset rescue workers that fatal day, IAFF President Harold Schaitberger called the city’s response “lip service” or worse.

Workday Minnesota

Of the 3,000 people killed by the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon, 343 were New York Fire Fighters, all members of Schaitberger’s union.

“Since no Fire Fighters were asked to speak, all the people of New York will hear is the opinion of politicians and people who work for politicians” and who are offering an inadequate, at best, future communications system, he added.

While Fire Fighters “will show up and fight” the next attack, they’ll be ill-equipped to do so–due to Bush budget cuts–and unable to effectively communicate, costing lives, he added. Schaitberger called that “a formula for disaster.”

I-Team: Illegal Strip Searches at Reagan National?

I-Team: Illegal Strip Searches at Reagan National?

NEW ALLEGATIONS TONIGHT ABOUT ILLEGAL STRIP SEARCHES TAKING PLACE INSIDE REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT.

ON MONDAY, THE I-TEAM UNCOVERED CHARGES OF SERIOUS SECURITY LAPSES THERE AND NOW, WE’RE HEARING ABOUT SOME DISTURBING INCIDENTS RELATED TO PASSENGER SCREENING.

ANDREA MCCARREN JOINS US WITH MORE ON THE STORY.

Andrea McCarren  on-set:
IN TSA JARGON, THEY’RE CALLED PRIVATE SCREENINGS. THAT’S WHEN A PASSENGER WHO SETS OFF AN ALARM IS TAKEN TO ANOTHER LOCATION AND CHECKED MORE THOROUGHLY FOR WEAPONS OR EXPLOSIVES.

BUT WE’VE NOW LEARNED ABOUT SOME PRIVATE SCREENINGS THAT APPARENTLY WENT TOO FAR.

Story:
TSA Employee: “I couldn’t imagine my sister or my mother going through that process. I was so upset.”

AGAIN AND AGAIN, TSA EMPLOYEES AT REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT -INCLUDING SUPERVISORS-TOLD US THAT PASSENGERS WERE ASKED TO REMOVE THEIR CLOTHING AND EXPOSE THEIR PRIVATE PARTS DURING SECURITY SCREENINGS…A CLEAR VIOLATION OF TSA’S OWN INTERNAL GUIDELINES… OBTAINED BY THE I-TEAM.

TSA Employee: “The look on their face would almost give you the sense that they felt like they were in a sense being raped. In a sense, being victimized and to a certain extent, they were. “

TSA Employee: “That really incensed me that someone felt that they could just put on some gloves and they could just violate someone to that degree.”

I-Team: Illegal Strip Searches at Reagan National?

TSA Employee: “They actually had the passenger remove the clothing that covered the sensitive area and perform a duck walk to see if something would fall out.” 

IN FACT, SOME OF THOSE SO-CALLED PRIVATE SCREENINGS WERE ALLEGEDLY CONDUCTED IN A VERY PUBLIC PLACE: THIS STAIRWELL…ACCESSIBLE TO OTHER PASSENGERS AND AIRPORT EMPLOYEES.

TSA Employee: “The private screenings were conducted right in that stairwell”

Andrea McCarren: Isn’t that an inappropriate place to be searched?

TSA Employee: “That’s a very inappropriate place to be searched.”

TSA EMPLOYEES SAY AFTER THEY COMPLAINED, THE SCREENINGS WERE MOVED INTO THIS MANAGERS’ OFFICE… WHERE THEY ALLEGE, UNSUSPECTING PASSENGERS WERE EITHER VIDEOTAPED OR MONITORED ON CLOSED CIRCUIT TELEVISION.

TSA Employee: I couldn’t believe it! I said is that a camera up there? And they said yeah.

Andrea McCarren: Do you think the women being strip searched had any idea they were being videotaped? TSA Employee: Absolutely not

A TSA OFFICIAL INSISTS THE CAMERA WAS COVERED UP AND EVEN DEACTIVATED… A FACT SEVERAL EMPLOYEES DISPUTE.

Andrea McCarren: You saw a light go on in that camera? TSA Employee: “Right.”

SOME TSA EMPLOYEES ALSO ALLEGE THAT THE PASSENGERS SELECTED FOR ADDITIONAL SCREENING WERE OFTEN DETERMINED WELL BEFORE THEY REACHED THE MAGNETOMETERS.
Andrea McCarren: “You’re saying a FEMA (website – news) le passenger would be stopped for additional screening not because she set off an alarm but because of her breast size?”

TSA Employee: “Absolutely, Yes”

I-Team: Illegal Strip Searches at Reagan National?

IN FACT, SHE SAYS SOME SCREENERS EVEN -INTENTIONALLY- SET OFF MAGNETOMETERS BY KICKING THEM. 

TSA Employee: “It leaves supervisors in a very bad spot because if the manager’s enjoying it, then how are you going to tell him to stop them from doing it?”

Mark Hatfield, TSA Spokesman: “The rules are non-negotiable and they apply to everybody.”

TSA SPOKESMAN MARK HATFIELD.

Mark Hatfield, TSA Spokesman: “In terms of a violation or a criminal act, something that violates civil rights or the privacy of an individual, there’s zero tolerance for that. And we’ll get to the bottom of that and root out the individuals.”

SOME FEMALE PASSENGERS FEAR IT’S ALL PART OF A GROWING TREND TOWARD MORE AGGRESSIVE SCREENING.

Woman #1: “Sometimes they overdo it. I’ve been almost stripped, practically.”

Woman #2: “You’re sort of treated like a criminal.”

Woman #3: “I was like, whoah! You can’t do that and the supervisor who I had been objecting to was standing right there and he said yes, we can.”

TSA Employee: “It’s very upsetting to see this happen and there are a lot of screeners that took his job thinking that they could do something good and many of them have quit and many of them are talking about quitting now.”

Andrea McCarren on-set:
SO, WHO INVESTIGATES COMPLAINTS ABOUT TSA SCREENINGS? WELL, THE TSA DOES! THROUGH THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, WE’VE REQUESTED ALL OF THE PASSENGER COMPLAINTS ABOUT SCREENINGS AT NATIONAL AIRPORT AND WILL REPORT BACK ONCE WE HAVE THAT INFORMATION.

REPORTING LIVE FOR THE I-TEAM, ANDREA MCCARREN, ABC7 NEWS.

The Tragic Timeline

The Tragic Timeline

Tuesday September 11, 2001 is a date that will go down in history for the brutal terrorist attacks in America. Here we have drawn together the key moments to make a complete diary of that terrible day.

7.59 a.m. A glorious morning when American Airlines Flight 11 takes off from Boston’s Logan Airport for Los Angeles.

8:01 a.m. United Airlines Flight 93 leaves from Newark International bound for San Francisco.

8:10 a.m. American Airlines Flight 77 leaves Washington’s Dulles Airport going to Los Angeles.

8:14 a.m. United Airlines Flight 175 leaves Logan Airport for Los Angeles.

Some time into the flight a stewardess makes a distress call to her firm’s flight operations centre and says passengers are being stabbed. She gives the seat number of a hijacker.

8:28 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 makes an unexpected hard left turn, heading over New York. Captain John Ogonowski or his co-pilot press a button allowing air traffic controllers to hear the cockpit conversation.

“Don’t do anything foolish,” a man says. “You’re not going to get hurt. We have more planes, we have other planes.”

The Tragic Timeline

8:45 a.m. A hijacked passenger jet, American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, Massachusetts, crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center, tearing a gaping hole in the building and setting it afire.

9:03 a.m.: A second hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center and explodes. Both buildings are burning.

9:17 a.m.: The Federal Aviation Administration shuts down all New York City area airports.

9:21 a.m.: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey orders all bridges and tunnels in the New York area closed.

9:30 a.m.: President Bush, speaking in Sarasota, Florida, says the country has suffered an “apparent terrorist attack.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alerts the US military air defence command that an airliner is heading toward the Pentagon. Two F-16 fighter jets are scrambled from Virginia’s Langley Air Force Base, 130 miles away.

9:40 a.m.: The FAA halts all flight operations at U.S. airports, the first time in U.S. history that air traffic nationwide has been halted.

9:43 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon, sending up a huge plume of smoke. Evacuation begins immediately.

9:45 a.m.: The White House evacuates.

9:57 a.m.: Bush departs from Florida.

9.58 a.m. On Flight 93, some passengers, learning of the other crashes, realise the hijackers plan to turn their plane into another flying bomb and decide to tackle them.

10:05 a.m.: The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses, plummeting into the streets below. A massive cloud of dust and debris forms and slowly drifts away from the building.

10:08 a.m.: Secret Service agents armed with automatic rifles are deployed into Lafayette Park across from the White House.

10:10 a.m.: A portion of the Pentagon collapses.

10:10 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 93, also hijacked, crashes in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh.

10:13 a.m.: The United Nations building evacuates, including 4,700 people from the headquarters building and 7,000 total from UNICEF and U.N. development programs.

10:22 a.m.: In Washington, the State and Justice departments are evacuated, along with the World Bank.

10:24 a.m.: The FAA reports that all inbound transatlantic aircraft flying into the United States are being diverted to Canada.

10:28 a.m.: The World Trade Center’s north tower collapses from the top down as if it were being peeled apart, releasing a tremendous cloud of debris and smoke.

10:45 a.m.: All federal office buildings in Washington are evacuated.

10.46 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell cuts short his trip to Latin America to return to the United States.

10.48 a.m.: Police confirm the plane crash in Pennsylvania.

10:53 a.m.: New York’s primary elections, scheduled for Tuesday, are postponed.

10:54 a.m.: Israel evacuates all diplomatic missions.

10:57 a.m.: New York Gov. George Pataki says all state government offices are closed.

11:02 a.m.: New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urges New Yorkers to stay at home and orders an evacuation of the area south of Canal Street.

11:16 a.m.: CNN reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing emergency-response teams in a precautionary move.

11:18 a.m.: American Airlines reports it has lost two aircraft. American Flight 11, a Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles, had 81 passengers and 11 crew aboard. Flight 77, a Boeing 757 en route from Washington’s Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles, had 58 passengers and six crew members aboard. Flight 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.

11:26 a.m.: United Airlines reports that United Flight 93, en route from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, California, has crashed in Pennsylvania. The airline also says that it is “deeply concerned” about United Flight 175.

11:59 a.m.: United Airlines confirms that Flight 175, from Boston to Los Angeles, has crashed with 56 passengers and nine crew members aboard. It hit the World Trade Center’s south tower.

12:04 p.m.: Los Angeles International Airport, the destination of three of the crashed airplanes, is evacuated.

12:15 p.m: San Francisco International Airport is evacuated and shut down. The airport was the destination of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania.

12:15 p.m.: The Immigration and Naturalization Service says U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico are on the highest state of alert, but no decision has been made about closing borders.

12:30 p.m.: The FAA says 50 flights are in U.S. airspace, but none are reporting any problems.

The Tragic Timeline

1:04 p.m.: Bush, speaking from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, says that all appropriate security measures are being taken, including putting the U.S. military on high alert worldwide. He asks for prayers for those killed or wounded in the attacks and says, “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.”

1:27 p.m.: A state of emergency is declared by the city of Washington.

1:44 p.m.: The Pentagon says five warships and two aircraft carriers will leave the U.S. Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia, to protect the East Coast from further attack and to reduce the number of ships in port. The two carriers, the USS George Washington and the USS John F. Kennedy, are headed for the New York coast. The other ships headed to sea are frigates and guided missile destroyers capable of shooting down aircraft.

1:48 p.m.: Bush leaves Barksdale Air Force Base aboard Air Force One and flies to an Air Force base in Nebraska.

2 p.m.: Senior FBI sources tell CNN they are working on the assumption that the four airplanes that crashed were hijacked as part of a terrorist attack.

2:30 p.m.: The FAA announces there will be no U.S. commercial air traffic until noon EDT Wednesday at the earliest.

2:49 p.m.: At a news conference, Giuliani says that subway and bus service are partially restored in New York City. Asked about the number of people killed, Giuliani says, “I don’t think we want to speculate about that — more than any of us can bear.”

3:55 p.m.: Karen Hughes, a White House counselor, says the president is at an undisclosed location, later revealed to be Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, and is conducting a National Security Council meeting by phone. Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice are in a secure facility at the White House. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is at the Pentagon.

3:55 p.m.: Giuliani now says the number of critically injured in New York City is up to 200 with 2,100 total injuries reported.

4 p.m: CNN National Security Correspondent David Ensor reports that U.S. officials say there are “good indications” that Saudi militant Osama bin Laden, suspected of coordinating the bombings of two U.S. embassies in 1998, is involved in the attacks, based on “new and specific” information developed since the attacks.

4:06 p.m.: California Gov. Gray Davis dispatches urban search-and-rescue teams to New York.

4:10 p.m.: Building 7 of the World Trade Center complex is reported on fire.

4:20 p.m.: U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says he was “not surprised there was an attack (but) was surprised at the specificity.” He says he was “shocked at what actually happened — the extent of it.”

4:25 p.m.: The American Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange say they will remain closed Wednesday.

4:30 p.m.: The president leaves Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska aboard Air Force One to return to Washington.

5:15 p.m.: CNN Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports fires are still burning in part of the Pentagon. No death figures have been released yet.

5:20 p.m.: The 47-story Building 7 of the World Trade Center complex collapses. The evacuated building is damaged when the twin towers across the street collapse earlier in the day. Other nearby buildings in the area remain ablaze.

5:30 p.m.: CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King reports that U.S. officials say the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania could have been headed for one of three possible targets: Camp David, the White House or the U.S. Capitol building.

6 p.m.: Explosions are heard in Kabul, Afghanistan, hours after terrorist attacks targeted financial and military centers in the United States. The attacks occurred at 2:30 a.m. local time. Afghanistan is believed to be where bin Laden, who U.S. officials say is possibly behind Tuesday’s deadly attacks, is located. U.S. officials say later that the United States had no involvement in the incident whatsoever. The attack is credited to the Northern Alliance, a group fighting the Taliban in the country’s ongoing civil war.

6:10 p.m.:Giuliani urges New Yorkers to stay home Wednesday if they can.

6:40 p.m.: Rumsfeld, the U.S. defense secretary, holds a news conference in the Pentagon, noting the building is operational. “It will be in business tomorrow,” he says.

6:54 p.m.: Bush arrives back at the White House aboard Marine One and is scheduled to address the nation at 8:30 p.m. The president earlier landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland with a three-fighter jet escort. CNN’s King reports Laura Bush arrived earlier by motorcade from a “secure location.”

7:17 p.m.: U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft says the FBI is setting up a Web site for tips on the attacks: www.ifccfbi.gov. He also says family and friends of possible victims can leave contact information at 800-331-0075.

7:02 p.m.: CNN’s Paula Zahn reports the Marriott Hotel near the World Trade Center is on the verge of collapse and says some New York bridges are now open to outbound traffic.

7:45 p.m.: The New York Police Department says that at least 78 officers are missing. The city also says that as many as half of the first 400 firefighters on the scene were killed.

8:30 p.m.: President Bush addresses the nation, saying “thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil” and asks for prayers for the families and friends of Tuesday’s victims. “These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve,” he says. The president says the U.S. government will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed the acts and those who harbor them. He adds that government offices in Washington are reopening for essential personnel Tuesday night and for all workers Wednesday.

9:22 p.m.: CNN’s McIntyre reports the fire at the Pentagon is still burning and is considered contained but not under control.

9:57 p.m.: Giuliani says New York City schools will be closed Wednesday and no more volunteers are needed for Tuesday evening’s rescue efforts. He says there is hope that there are still people alive in rubble. He also says that power is out on the westside of Manhattan and that health department tests show there are no airborne chemical agents about which to worry.

10:49 p.m.: CNN Congressional Correspondent Jonathan Karl reports that Attorney General Ashcroft told members of Congress that there were three to five hijackers on each plane armed only with knives.

10:56 p.m: CNN’s Zahn reports that New York City police believe there are people alive in buildings near the World Trade Center.

11:54 p.m.: CNN Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno reports that a government official told him there was an open microphone on one of the hijacked planes and that sounds of discussion and “duress” were heard. Sesno also reports a source says law enforcement has “credible” information and leads and is confident about the investigation.

Company helps 9/11 probe after losing one of its own

Company helps 9/11 probe after losing one of its own

TEWKSBURY, Mass. — Like many businesses, Avid Technology Inc. lost one of its own in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Douglas Gowell, the company’s director of new business development, was traveling to Los Angeles to promote a new product when Flight 175 slammed into the World Trade Center.

Avid employees struggled to cope with the loss of their co-worker and the frustration they felt over the attacks. But unlike most other companies, Avid was in a position to help.

The company loaned the FBI digital editing equipment that allowed investigators to enhance and sharpen video images of two of the hijackers taken hours before the attacks.

One of the images showed lead hijacker Mohamed Atta and another one of the hijackers, Abdulaziz Alomari, passing through a security checkpoint at the Portland, Maine, airport at 5:45 a.m. on Sept. 11. Hours later, they were at Logan International Airport in Boston.

In the weeks after the attacks, the airport image of Atta was shown repeatedly on televisions around the world.

Company helps 9/11 probe after losing one of its own

Investigators used the enhanced images to retrace the hijackers’ steps in Portland. Surveillance cameras filmed the pair at an automated teller machine, a gas station and a Wal-Mart store. The FBI released the images to the public, generating many tips from Portland residents who saw the pair the day before the attacks.

“They did a terrific job of enhancing some of the poor quality images we had of (the hijackers),” said Charles Prouty, special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office.

“It was a very critical part of the investigation,” Prouty said. “We still, even to this day, can’t say for sure why they were in Portland, but their training manual said, ‘Don’t come together, come from different directions to minimize the chance of detection.”‘

Earlier this year, Prouty presented the FBI’s Exceptional Public Service Award to Avid for its assistance in the investigation.

“We, like everybody else, wanted to be able to do something,” said Chief Executive David Krall. “We were fortunate enough to be in a position where we could use our technology.”

Avid’s computer-based editing products are used to make films, television news videos and music recordings. The company has won an Oscar, Emmy and a Grammy.

Its forensic video products are used by more than 50 state, local and federal law enforcement agencies across the country. “dTective,” the video-editing system developed by Avid and Ocean Systems of Burtonsville, Md., is used to stabilize shaky images, isolate images from multi-camera surveillance systems and adjust lighting to make sharper images.

Company helps 9/11 probe after losing one of its own

The system was used last year in the case of Nathaniel Brazill, a 13-year-old Florida boy charged with killing his teacher.

The system was able to take time-lapsed video and turn it into real-time video, allowing the jury to see the boy’s true gait and how long he pointed the gun at his teacher, said Grant Fredericks, Avid’s manager of video forensic solutions.

During his trial, Brazill insisted that he only meant to scare the teacher and that the gun went off accidentally.

But the enhanced surveillance video showed the boy holding the gun for more than 10 seconds and pointing it at the teacher for four seconds more. He was convicted of second-degree murder.

“It was a multiplexed camera at the school, with a number of cameras recording to a single videotape,” Fredericks said. “The difficulty was that the local police did not have the tools to view that videotape.”

Avid employees will mark the anniversary of Sept. 11 by observing a moment of silence in memory of their colleague, Doug Gowell, 52.

Last week, the company installed a plaque for Gowell. Outside the company’s headquarters, employees planted a tree for Gowell. At the foot of the tree is an American flag, with a wreath of yellow roses around a picture of a cross.

Exercise Jump-Starts Response to Attacks

Exercise Jump-Starts Response to Attacks

Sept. 11, 2001: “American 11 heavy, Boston Center. Your transponder appears to be inoperative. Please recycle. . . . American 11 heavy, how do you read Boston Center? Over.

“Watch supervisor, I have a possible hijack of American 11 heavy. Recommend notifying Norad.”

At 8:40 a.m. EDT, Tech. Sgt. Jeremy W. Powell of North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (Norad) Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) in Rome, N.Y., took the first call from Boston Center. He notified NEADS commander Col. Robert K. Marr, Jr., of a possible hijacked airliner, American Airlines Flight 11.

“Part of the exercise?” the colonel wondered. No; this is a real-world event, he was told. Several days into a semiannual exercise known as Vigilant Guardian, NEADS was fully staffed, its key officers and enlisted supervisors already manning the operations center “battle cab.”

In retrospect, the exercise would prove to be a serendipitous enabler of a rapid military response to terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Senior officers involved in Vigilant Guardian were manning Norad command centers throughout the U.S. and Canada, available to make immediate decisions.

Marr ordered two F-15 fighters sitting alert at Otis Air National Guard (ANG) Base, Mass., to “battle stations.” “The fighters were cocked and loaded, and even had extra gas on board,” he recalled.

Marr called Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold, commander of the Continental U.S. Norad Region (Conar), at Tyndall AFB, Fla., told him about the suspected hijacked aircraft and suggested interceptors be scrambled. Arnold, who also heads the 1st Air Force for Air Combat Command, was in his Air Operations Center preparing for another day of the exercise.

“I told him to scramble; we’ll get clearances later,” Arnold said. His instincts to act first and get permission later were typical of U.S. and Canadian commanders that day. On Sept. 11, the normal scramble-approval procedure was for an FAA official to contact the National Military Command Center (NMCC) and request Pentagon air support. Someone in the NMCC would call Norad’s command center and ask about availability of aircraft, then seek approval from the Defense Secretary–Donald H. Rumsfeld–to launch fighters.

Lt. Col. Timothy (Duff) Duffy, a 102 Fighter Wing (FW) F-15 pilot at Otis ANGB, had already heard about the suspected hijacking, thanks to a phone call from the FAA’s Boston Approach Control. He had the call transferred to the unit’s command post, grabbed Maj. Daniel (Nasty)Nash, his wingman, and started suiting up. Another officer told Duffy, “This looks like the real thing.”

“Halfway to the jets, we got ‘battle stations,’ and I briefed Nasty on the information I had about the American Airlines flight,” Duffy said. “About 4-5 min. later, we got the scramble order and took off.”

Also an airline pilot, Duffy had a bad feeling about the suspected hijacking; something didn’t feel right. Consequently, he jammed the F-15’s throttles into afterburner and the two-ship formation devoured the 153 mi. to New York City at supersonic speeds. “It just seemed wrong. I just wanted to get there. I was in full-blower all the way,” he said.

Exercise Jump-Starts Response to Attacks

Unknown to Duffy, Nash and every commander being notified at the time, American Flight 11 had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) about the time both F-15s were taking off. America’s terrorist nightmare had begun.

Almost simultaneous with Marr’s call to Arnold at Conar, the same hijack notification was being passed by phone to a Norad command center deep inside Cheyenne Mountain near Colorado Springs, and the joint FAA/ Defense Dept. Air Traffic Services Cell (ATSC) colocated with the FAA’s ATC System Command Center in Herndon, Va. (AW&ST Dec. 17, 2001, p. 96).

“NEADS instantly ordered the scramble, then called me to get Cinc [Norad commander-in-chief] approval for it,” said Capt. Michael H. Jellinek, a Canadian Forces (Navy) officer serving as Norad command director that morning. He’s also director of plans, requirements and readiness at Norad’s Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. Fortunately, Maj. Gen. Eric A. Findley, another Canadian and Norad’s director of operations, was already in the mountain for the Vigilant Guardian exercise. He quickly approved the fighters’ launch.

Back at the NEADS Operations Center, identification technicians were sorting thousands of green dots on their radar scopes, looking for American Flight 11. Since terrorists had turned off the Boeing 767’s transponder, FAA controllers could only tell NEADS technicians where the flight had last been seen. The NEADS radar screens showed “primary” or “skin-paint” returns, the raw radar pulses reflected from an aircraft’s surface.

Ironically, FAA officials only a few months earlier had tried to dispense with “primary” radars altogether, opting to rely solely on transponder returns as a way to save money. Norad had emphatically rejected the proposal. Still, on Sept. 11, Norad’s radars were spread around the periphery of the U.S., looking outward for potential invaders. Inside U.S. borders, very few radars were feeding NEADS scopes.

In essence, technicians were half-blind, trying to separate hijacked airliners from thousands of skin-paint returns. At the time, more than 4,000 aircraft were airborne over the nation, most in the northeast sector, which monitors half a million square miles of airspace.

“We were trying to determine which [radar return] was him. But we couldn’t get what we needed just from our scopes,” said MSgt. Maureen Dooley, a noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of NEADS’ identification technicians. She and other troops were constantly on the phone with the FAA, airlines and others, looking for clues. “If we could get good last-known-positions and tail numbers, that would help the fighters pick out the right aircraft.”

“The biggest task was maintaining track continuity,” echoed Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Lamarche, NCOIC of the air surveillance section. Later, his team thought they had spotted a fifth hijacked aircraft. “This fifth guy made an abrupt turn toward a major city–but it was OK. He was told to land there. It sure had our hearts going and adrenaline pumping. We didn’t know what he was doing.”

Marr capsulized the tense moments: “The NEADS battle managers get the last known location, estimate [Flight AA11’s] speed and find a green dot that’s not identified. Almost as soon as it’s discovered, it disappears. It’s 8:46 a.m. A shocked airman rushes from the computer maintenance room saying, ‘CNN is reporting that the World Trade Center has been hit by an airliner.’ There are no other missing aircraft. As we watch the TV, another airliner shows up on the screen, aimed for the second tower [9:02 a.m.]. The shocking reality becomes apparent. This is no longer ‘an accident.’ New York City is under attack.”

Flying supersonically, the F-15s were still 8 min. from Manhattan when United Airlines Flight 175 smashed into the WTC’s south tower. “Huntress,” the NEADS weapons control center, had told Duffy his hijacked target was over John F. Kennedy International Airport. He hadn’t heard about the United aircraft yet.

“The second time I asked for bogey dope [location of AA11], Huntress told me the second aircraft had just hit the WTC. I was shocked . . . and I looked up to see the towers burning,” Duffy said. He asked for clarification of their mission, but was met with considerable confusion.

Exercise Jump-Starts Response to Attacks

In Norad’s command center, “a bunch of things started happening at once,” Jellinek said. “We initiated an Air Threat Conference [call]. We were getting information about other possible hijackings.” Telephone links were established with the NMCC, Canada’s equivalent command center, Strategic Command, theater Cincs and federal emergency-response agencies. At one time or another, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld and key military officers were heard on the open line.

Confusion was rampant, but officers and enlisted troops immediately reverted to their professional roles, trying to sort rumor from fact. Findley and his senior staff in the Norad Battle Management Center told each air defense sector to “generate, generate, generate” sorties–get as many fighters in the air as possible.

AT THE TIME, NORAD had 20 fighters on armed alert throughout the North American continent. Only 14 were in the continental U.S. at seven bases; the rest were in Alaska and Canada. Within 18 hr., 300 fighters would be on alert at 26 locations.

Calls from fighter units also started pouring into Norad and sector operations centers, asking, “What can we do to help?” At Syracuse, N.Y., an ANG commander told Marr, “Give me 10 min. and I can give you hot guns. Give me 30 min. and I’ll have heat-seeker [missiles]. Give me an hour and I can give you slammers [Amraams].”

Marr replied, “I want it all.” NEADS controllers put F-16s at Langley AFB, Va., on battle-stations alert at 9:09 a.m., prepared to back up the F-15s over New York. But the FAA command center then reported 11 aircraft either not in communication with FAA facilities, or flying unexpected routes. At 9:24, the Langley-based alert F-16s were scrambled and airborne in 6 min., headed for Washington.

By 9:26 a.m., the FAA command center stopped all departures nationwide. At 9:41, American Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, elevating tension levels even further. NEADS’ Sr. Airman Stacia Rountree, an identification technician, said, “We had three aircraft down and the possibility of others hijacked. We had to think outside the box,” making up procedures on the fly. Before the day ended, 21 aircraft across the U.S. had been handled as “tracks of interest.”

“We didn’t know how many more there were. . . . Are there five? Six? The only way we could tell was to implement Scatana–sanitize the airspace. Get everybody down,” said Lt. Col. William E. Glover, Jr., chief of Norad’s air defense operations.

Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, Norad commander-in-chief, was in the Cheyenne Mountain battle center by then. He and his staff suggested, via an open command link, implementing a limited version of Scatana–a federal plan designed to take emergency control of all domestic air traffic and navigation aids. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta immediately concurred and gave the order to get all aircraft on the ground as soon as possible. That action probably saved many lives, but without unnecessary, paralyzing restrictions of a full Scatana order.

Mineta’s decision–and the military recommendation that triggered it–may have been prompted by a few airline pilots reporting terrorists on the radio, talking about other hijacked aircraft. American Flight 77 had hit the Pentagon, and United Flight 93 was being tracked, heading for Chicago or Cleveland, then Washington, prompting the F-16s’ scramble.

“We had all of our armed fighters in the air, but needed more,” Marr said. Every unit in the northeastern U.S. was loading F-16s, F-15s and A-10s with any armament available, then being directed to combat air patrols (CAPs) over major cities. Soon, Navy F/A-18s, F-14s and E-2Cs–some from two carriers steaming off the East Coast–were flying CAP and surveillance missions over major cities. Ultimately, Navy P-3s and USAF/ ANG C-130s would be pressed into service, using their normal radars to search for intruders.

At Norad, Glover phoned Arnold, telling him Vice President Cheney had given the authorization to shoot down any threatening aircraft in order to save lives on the ground. “We created a free-fire zone over the nation’s capital,” Arnold said. “Anyone airborne who did not immediately turn away from the center of town, or who did not land, could be shot down.”

When someone–possibly President Bush–ordered the military to a Force Protection Condition Delta wartime posture, Norad commanders ordered massive steel doors be closed, “shutting down Cheyenne Mountain for real,” the first time in its 43-year history, an officer said. The FBI had warned that a flight originating in San Diego might be hijacked and headed for a target in Colorado. Another rumor referred to a Ryder rental truck full of explosives and driven by “Arab-looking men” targeting the mountain.

“It didn’t make sense, but those phone calls were happening,” Glover said. Every rumor was treated as a potential threat.

OVER NEW YORK, Duffy and Nash requested that a Maine-based ANG KC-135 tanker–assigned to support 102 FW training missions that morning–be positioned at 20,000 ft. above Kennedy airport. “Then, we worked on intercepting and visually identifying nearly everything that was in the air for the next five hours,” Duffy said.

“I treated this as a combat hop from the moment I saw the towers burning, and that made it easier to deal with . . . actions we might have to take,” he added.

Duffy estimated the F-15s intercepted and escorted about 100 aircraft, including emergency, military and news helicopters, plus dozens of private pilots who were unaware of the attacks. Some had seen the smoke over New York and decided to investigate. Nash said the F-15s flew “low-and-slow” to intercept helicopters flying at 500 ft.

When the KC-135 exhausted its fuel load and had to depart, a KC-10 arrived to support the F-15s. Another two Eagles from Otis ANGB joined the first two, flying CAP over New York. Duffy and Nash were directly over the north WTC tower when it collapsed. When they finally returned to Otis, they had been on CAP about 5.5 hr.

Above Washington, F-16s flown by crews of the 119th FW from Fargo, N.D.–which had been pulling Norad alert duty at Langley AFB–were prepared to shoot down United 93, if it came toward the capital city. Instead, passengers rushed the terrorists, causing the Boeing 757 to crash in southwestern Pennsylvania.

MAJ. PHILIP J. MCCARTHY, a weapons controller at NEADS, located an AWACS crew in the southeastern U.S. on a training mission and arranged to reposition it in the Northeast. “We wanted D.C. as the primary area for AWACS, but also wanted him to look into New York,” he said. In the confusion of the all-aircraft-grounding, someone told the AWACS to go back to Tinker AFB, Okla., its home base, but McCarthy was able to convince the crew to stay.

At the Herndon ATSC, Col. John Czabaranek and a growing staff of USAF Reserves–many reported, unasked, to help with the crisis–had become a critical communications node, shuttling information among the FAA, Norad, air defense sectors, the White House, Secret Service and other agencies. During the day, ATSC helped organize fighter escorts for Bush’s Air Force One. The President was in Sarasota, Fla., when the attacks occurred, but was quickly taken to Barksdale AFB, La., then to Offutt AFB, Neb.

At one point, the Secret Service wanted to get Bush into Cheyenne Mountain, protected by tons of granite, yet well-connected to his staff. However, advisers convinced him that he should “remain visible to the public,” an officer said.

“We received tasking from the Secret Service . . . to follow the President and protect him,” Conar commander Arnold said in Lockheed Martin’s Code One magazine. “We were not told where Air Force One was going. We were told just to follow the President. We scrambled available airplanes from Tyndall and then from Ellington [AFB] near Houston, Tex. . . . We maintained AWACS overhead the whole route.”

Late in the day, after NEADS confirmed a suspected hijacked airliner from Madrid, Spain, had turned around and was on the ground, Air Force One was cleared to return Bush to Washington. NEADS and the Herndon cell also organized fighter escorts for Attorney General John Ashcroft and other national leaders when deemed necessary.

WHILE ALL MILITARY units responded quickly and professionally on Sept. 11, “citizen soldiers” were typically first on the scene. Air National Guard and Reserve units were called initially, simply because many of them were easier to contact without going through a long, tortuous chain of command. Since then, outmoded procedures have been altered to ensure faster reactions from all units.

“The responsiveness of the Air National Guard [and other] units called into action–and how quickly they all came to the defense of the United States–was phenomenal,” said Col. Clark F. Speicher, NEADS vice commander. “Within a couple of hours, many of these units went from normal training to generating armed combat air patrols over many U.S. cities. There may have been a lot of different [armament] configurations out there, but so what.” Fighters typically carried Aim-9, Aim-7 or Amraam missiles, and 20-mm. ammunition.

NY Daily Half of Victims IDd

NY Daily Half of Victims IDd

The medical examiner’s office passed the halfway mark in identifying the World Trade Center dead yesterday, as the number of victims verified by remains reached 1,401.

The bleak but encouraging milestone came a day before the one-year anniversary of the disaster that killed 2,801 and generated the largest and most prolonged forensics effort in U.S. history.

“We hope to get to 2,000 [victims identified], and when we get there, we won’t stop,” said Dr. Charles Hirsch, the city’s chief medical examiner. He spoke yesterday at his office at the morgue, where more than 50 file drawers labeled “RM DM,” for Reported Missing/Disaster Manhattan, hold information about the victims.

“After we exhaust the limits of current science, if something new or better comes along, we’ll do that. We’ll never give up,” Hirsch said.

A year later, the quest to identify those who died in the calamity carries on in a clinical sphere of groundbreaking science.

And it continues in the agony defined yesterday in the faces of three relatives who visited the huge white tent outside the office, on E. 30th St., where 16 refrigerated trailers hold the remains recovered from Ground Zero and the Fresh Kills landfill.

The three walked among the artificial flower wreaths and flickering votive candles placed near the white trucks that serve as mausoleums. The concrete-floored tent is called Memorial Park.

Mass of bodies

The forensic effort began with the surreal: a stunning number of bodies and parts of bodies brought to the medical examiner’s office in the immediate aftermath of the destruction to confirm their identities for official annals and tormented families.

At first, victims’ remains were identified by viewing a photograph of the body or through X-rays, dental records and fingerprints, and by factoring in a distinctive wedding ring or a prominent scar – techniques relying on the human eye.

NY Daily Half of Victims IDd

A total of 293 intact bodies were found, and recovery workers unearthed hundreds of parts each day. As time went on, the remains found were smaller and smaller – fragments of flesh, pieces of bone.

The identification process moved quickly to microscopes and computers as forensic specialists used DNA, and several laboratories across the nation joined the undertaking.

This month, a new DNA technique may be employed, one that can identify remains by just the tiniest snip of the genetic code.

The new technology, which relies on single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, has been used for medical purposes, but this would be its first use for forensic analysis, Hirsch said. His staff is still validating the test.

“When we started doing this, the intelligence infrastructure to do what we have to do did not exist,” Hirsch said.

The technique would be used on about 5,000 remains from which only partial DNA could be extracted because of decomposition.

The unidentified remains that will be retested – and hundreds of identified remains that survivors have not retrieved – are being methodically heat-dried so they will be preserved for the additional five months needed to complete the testing.

Experts from Kenyon International Emergency Services in Houston, which specializes in search and recovery of remains and personal effects in airline disasters, are working in a roped-off area in the white tent.

Kenyon was enlisted after the Flight 587 crash in November, when a few remains did not yield DNA. Its experts started the drying process with those and has since moved on to the World Trade Center cases.

20,000 DNA tests

By the numbers alone, the task has been formidable.

DNA extractions were done on every one of the 19,906 remains, and 4,735 of those have been identified. As many as 200 remains have been linked to a single person.

The 1,401 people identified include 45 of those aboard the hijacked planes – 33 from Flight 11, which struck the north tower, and 12 from Flight 175, which hit the south tower.

Using DNA alone, 673 people were identified. Using dental records only, 187 were identified; fingerprints only, 71; photo identification, 16; miscellaneous X-rays, 45.

There have been as many as 10 identifications a day; some days there are none. About 150 people still work around the clock in the sixth-floor lab to run the DNA samples for matches.

They will be working today, as relatives mourn in the tent outside because they still can’t go to a cemetery.

Flight School Says FBI Trailed Suspect Prior To Hijackings

Flight School Says FBI Trailed Suspect Prior To Hijackings

FBI Director Robert Mueller continued to insist yesterday that federal authorities had no reason to suspect Islamic extremists were training at US flight schools before last week’s suicide hijackings, even as more evidence surfaced raising questions about those assertions.

The vice president of a flight school in Oklahoma told The Boston Globe yesterday that three weeks before Tuesday’s suicide hijackings, FBI agents interviewed him about a suspected terrorist who had trained at the school.

Dale Davis, the vice president of Airman Flight School in Norman, Okla., said FBI agents showed up at the facility asking questions about Zacarias Moussaoui, who was arrested in Minnesota last month after he tried to get flight simulator lessons on flying a commercial-size jet.

In addition, Davis said that FBI agents visited his flight school two years ago to ask questions about a former student who had been identified by federal authorities as an associate of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born dissident who is the prime suspect in organizing last week’s hijackings.

Davis also said that two of the men who hijacked two flights out of Boston’s Logan Airport last week, including Mohamed Atta, who investigators believe was the ringleader of the Boston hijackings, had visited the Norman flight school last year before deciding to attend one in Florida.

At a Washington briefing yesterday, Mueller repeated his assertion, first made Friday, that federal authorities had no inkling that terrorists were using US flight schools to acquire the training they needed to take the controls of commercial airline rs as they did on Tuesday.

”There were no warning signs that I’m aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country,” he said.

But the Globe reported Saturday that federal authorities have known for at least three years that two associates of bin Laden had trained in the United States as airline pilots.

The link between the Al-Qaeda terror group, allegedly led by bin Laden, and US flight schools emerged earlier this year at the trial of four men charged with the 1998 bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. At that trial, during which FBI agents were called as witnesses, an associate of bin Laden testified that he went to a flight school in Texas.

Prosecutors introduced evidence that a second associate of bin Laden, Ihab Ali Nawawi, had trained at Airman Flight School, as did Moussaoui, who is now being held in New York for questioning on suspicion that he is an associate of the hijackers.

In a telephone interview, Davis confirmed that the FBI had suspicions about Moussaoui at least three weeks before last week’s disaster.

The questions FBI agents posed to him appeared to be about whether Moussaoui could have been a terrorist, Davis said, including whether the alleged Algerian militant had ever made any ”extreme comments” about the United States.

When asked why they were inquiring about Moussaoui, Davis said, the agents replied that ”he had done something very bad.”

Davis said FBI agents had visited his school just two years earlier to inquire about Ihab Ali Nawawi, who took flight training there in 1993 and was later charged in connection with the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Africa, which were blamed on bin Laden’s group.

Davis also confirmed that Atta and another suspected hijacker, Marwan al-Shehhi, visited Airman Flight School, staying overnight at the school’s dormitory in the nearby Sooner Inn, before deciding to train at another facility.

”They did a school visit in July of 2000 but went elsewhere for whatever reason,” Davis said.

The Los Angeles Times yesterday quoted an unidentified federal official saying that Moussaoui asked only for lessons on ”steering, not landing” and cheered when he watched a news account of the suicide hijackings at the jail in Minnesota where he h as been held since last month.

Two other suspects being held for questioning in New York, Aybu Ali Khan and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, who had been living in New Jersey, were taken into custody on a train in Fort Worth, Texas, and arrested after police found they were carrying box cu tters similar to those used by some of the hijackers. Investigators believe the hijackers in Tuesday’s attack used box cutters because the tool’s plastic handle would not set off metal detectors at airport security checkpoints.

While authorities have not identified a fourth suspect being interrogated in New York, CNN yesterday said that the man is a doctor from San Antonio, and that Azmath and Khan may have been heading to his home there to hide. CNN said the man attended t he same flight school in Arizona as one of the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.

A neighbor told The New York Times that one of the four men who lived in the apartment that Khan and Azmath listed as their home worked for the Saudi consulate in New York. That represents another lead for investigators, who already believe that the hijackers exploited Saudi connections to gain access to the United States and go about their business without attracting undue law enforcement attention.

Flight School Says FBI Trailed Suspect Prior To Hijackings

The Globe reported Friday that some of the hijackers had used affiliations with Saudi Arabia, the United States’ staunchest Arab ally, to gain access to the United States and flight schools with less scrutiny from US authorities.

Most of the terrorists who commandeered the four planes last week trained at flight schools in Florida, gaining the aeronautics training they later used to kill thousands. According to flight instructors, foreign students with Saudi backing receive only cursory inspection by the US State Department before they are granted visas to come here.

Investigators in Boston, meanwhile, have identified a third car believed to have been used by the 10 men who hijacked two planes out of Logan International Airport. The car was found parked at Logan Airport and was rented from a local Dollar Rent a C ar franchise.

Previously, investigators had identified two cars rented from the Boston office of Alamo Rent a Car. One of the cars was found in a Logan parking lot, while the other had been left in Portland, Maine, by two suspected terrorists before they boarded a flight they allegedly used to connect with the doomed American Airlines Flight 11. Investigators believe the car found in Portland was used by Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari, who sat next to Atta in the business class section of Flight 11.

An FBI report first obtained by Der Spiegel shows that when agents went through one of Atta’s bags, which did not make the transfer from a connecting flight from Portland, Maine, they found airline uniforms.

Investigators are trying to determine if Atta or any of his associates used the uniforms to gain access to areas of Logan Airport that would normally be secure, sources said. They are also trying to determine if the uniforms were connected to a break -in last April at the Hotel Nazionale in central Rome, in which two American Airlines pilots said they were robbed of their uniforms, badges, and airport access badges.

Investigators say they are still examining whether the hijackers had inside help among ground staff at Logan Airport, even though it appears they simply carried on the box-cutters and other knifelike objects they apparently used to take control of the planes.

FBI agents continue to show an interest in the Flagship Wharf condominium complex, where bin Laden’s brother owns six luxury units. Some members of the bin Laden family live in the building, and Boston Police have maintained a full-time guard detail there since Wednesday.

Bin Laden is estranged from his family, which has denounced his extremist views, but police are worried that the family or its property could face the sort of vigilante violence that has been visited on many Muslims and their businesses acr oss the United States since the suicide hijackings.

Sharon Grancey, the head of the Flagship Wharf condo association, declined to comment. But a resident said the FBI has visited the complex several times since last Tuesday.

”They’ve been in and out of the building,” said the resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

CBS News reported that a federal grand jury has been empaneled in New York to investigate the suicide hijackings. The grand jury will sit in suburban White Plains because the federal court in Lower Manhattan is still closed because of the attack.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said yesterday that associates of the hijackers may still be in the United States.

Ashcroft’s warning in part explained why it took several days for most airports, and even longer for Boston’s Logan Airport, to open last week after Tuesday’s suicide hijackings.

Ashcroft made his remarks during a briefing in Washington as he sought congressional support for a package of new antiterrorism legislation, and as FBI agents interrogated the four men in custody in New York.

Also yesterday, Mueller acknowledged that the investigation is being hampered by a lack of investigators who speak Arabic.

”We have had a language shortage for a period of time,” he said. ” I don’t think it would be just the FBI. I think it’s a number of federal agencies.”

The FBI director refused to say how many people have been arrested in the probe.

”There are a number of material witness warrants that have been issued. They are sealed in most cases, and I cannot give you direct numbers,” Mueller said.

But he spoke of the enormous scope of the probe, saying that the FBI has had 47,000 tips received over the Internet, while a telephone hotline has produced 7,800 tips. He said that the FBI’s field offices have generated an additional 26,000 leads.

Mueller said there were 500 investigators at FBI headquarters in Washington, representing 32 federal, state, and local agencies, running down all of the tips and leads.

Mueller said that 49 people who have been stopped and questioned in the course of the investigation have been detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.