Hijackers' e-mails sifted for
clues Computer messages were sent uncoded
By Kevin Johnson
WASHINGTON -- Federal authorities
believe that some of the 19 hijackers involved in the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks were using computers in all-night Kinko's
stores and cybercafes in South Florida to coordinate their
activities in the weeks before the assaults.
Investigators have amassed what they described as a
''substantial'' amount of e-mail traffic among the hijackers.
Some of the messages were exchanged in a mix of English and
None of the communications, authorities said Sunday,
involved the use of encryption or other code to disguise the
contents of the messages.
At least two laptop computers seized in the United States
were being examined closely by investigators. They hope to
determine whether the machines contained information that
could help identify associates of the hijackers in this
country or provide leads about future terrorist attacks, a
senior law enforcement official said.
The disclosure appeared to be further evidence that the
hijackers felt free to conduct their business in the open
without much fear they would be discovered.
Late last month, law enforcement officials said they
believed that the hijackers or their associates did extensive
scouting missions on various airline routes before settling on
flights originating in Boston, Newark, N.J., and Washington.
Investigators said they believe that the hijackers selected
the four flights they commandeered Sept. 11 because passenger
loads generally were light and the fuel tanks on the jets, all
on transcontinental routes, were full.
Official interest in the hijackers' methods of
communication comes as the largest criminal investigation in
U.S. history continues to widen. The attacks left nearly 6,000
people dead or missing.