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Edition 5LTHU 20 SEP 2001, Page 3
Suicide hijackers hid behind stolen Arab identities;
America at war: New York agony;
Terror in new York
DOMINIC KENNEDY; OVERSEAS
Five of the hijackers were using stolen identities, and investigators are
studying the possibility that the entire suicide squad consisted of impostors.
Details are emerging of the killers' humdrum final weeks in the US suburbs -
joining gyms, eating pizzas and visiting an "adult video" store.
But the more the FBI learns about the dead men, the less likely it seems that
the list of suspects derived from the passenger manifests of the aircraft can
be accurate. Many of them seem to have adopted the personas of real-life
commercial and military pilots.
In Saudi Arabia, five of the alleged hijackers have emerged, alive, innocent
and astonished to see their names and photographs appearing on satellite
"The name is my name and the birth date is the same as mine, but I am not the
one who bombed the World Trade Centre in New York," Abdulaziz Alomari told the
London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. Mr Alomari, 28, interviewed in Riyadh,
said that he had left the United States in April 2000 and was in the Saudi
capital during the suicide attacks in New York and Washington. The US-educated
engineer had reported to police that his passport was stolen when his flat in
Denver, Colorado, was burgled in 1995.
A Saudi diplomat formerly based in Washington, Ahmed al-Shehri, told
al-Eqtisadiah newspaper that details of one of the hijackers matched his son,
Waleed. The young man, a pilot with Saudi Arabian Airlines who graduated four
years ago from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, is living in
Another Saudi pilot, Said Hussein al-Ghamdi, whose photograph was broadcast on
CNN when it portrayed him as a hijacker, is living in Tunis.
Bogus identities have long formed part of Osama bin Laden's armoury. A man
given a jail sentence of 240 years for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade
Centre is known to the American authorities as Ramzi Yousef, a Kuwaiti who
studied at Swansea Institute of Higher Education. His lecturers insist, after
seeing photographs of the man in a top-security jail, that he is not their
former student. The real Mr Yousef was killed at the end of the Gulf War.
One suspected associate of the hijackers questioned by police in America uses
the name Nikos Makrakis, but the real Mr Makrakis is a Greek nightclub singer
whose passport was stolen from his car when he went for a swim in Loutsa this
Doubts are emerging about the identities of other named hijackers. In the
United Arab Emirates, relatives and neighbours of Marwan al-Shehhi, suspected
of flying the second aircraft into the towers, said the man they knew could not
have carried out such a devastating act. Mr al-Shehhi, who last spoke to his
family two months ago, lost his passport and a replacement was issued on
December 26, 1999.
The family of Ziad al-Jarrah, an alcohol-drinking Lebanese partygoer, deny he
could have been the fanatical Muslim hijacker whose aircraft crashed in
Mohammed Atta's father, a Cairo lawyer, was certain his son, who feared
flying, was not the pilot of the first aircraft to crash into the World Trade
Centre, as news organisations have suggested.
Alarming reports claimed that three of the hijackers -Saeed al-Ghamdi, Ahmed
al-Mani and Ahmed al-Ghamdi -had learned to fly at the Naval Air Station in
Pensacola, Florida, known as the "Cradle of US Naval Aviation".
But it has emerged that none of these were among the hijackers. Investigators
are checking whether they were just men with similar names, or if the hijackers
deliberately posed as the military pilots.
The theft of identities from international commercial pilots may explain why
some countries are discovering records showing that people with these names
frequently entered their countries. The Philippines Government was astonished
to learn that a Saeed al-Ghamdi had visited Manila 15 times. An Ahmed al Ghamdi
came to the capital 13 times and left on September 10, a day before a man with
the same name crashed into the World Trade Centre.
The lives of the hijackers are being pieced together by FBI agents. Two of the
gang, including the impostor Saeed al-Ghamdi, spent their final weeks in a flat
in Delray Racquet Club, Delray Beach, Florida, where neighbours said it sounded
like they were playing marbles late at night.
Five of the men lived in suburban Maryland, where Hani Hanjour and Majed Moqed
were pictured by a surveillance camera, in casual clothes. Moqed visited an
adult video shop a few times, buying nothing. "He was acting strangely. He
looked nervous," the manager said.
Two of the hijackers lived in the Valencia Motel in Laurel, refusing to let
the housekeeper enter their room to change the linen. They opened the door
slightly to swap dirty towels for clean ones. The men ate at a pizza
restauarant, but were described as "stand-offish".
They went to Gold's Gym, paying with cash. They exercised quietly, using
weight-training and resis-tance machines. When they enrolled, the receptionist
asked if their Arabic names had English translations. Hanjour said: "My name
means warrior." Actually, it means "content".
Special Note from WantToKnow.info: The individuals mentioned above were later officially established in the 9/11 Commission Report as the 9/11 hijackers, even though they had confirmed their photographs and that they are still alive. To verify this startling information, see the 9/11 Commission Report webpage at http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report_Ch7.htm. Go to the graphic slightly over half way down the page. For a BBC article which further confirms these allegations and has photos of the men in question, click here. And for lots more reliable, verifiable information, don't miss our 9/11 Information Center.
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