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Fbi names 19 { September 15 2001 }

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   http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34152-2001Sep14.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34152-2001Sep14.html

FBI Names 19 Men as Hijackers
Some Lived in U.S. For Several Years

By Dan Eggen and Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, September 15, 2001; Page A01


The 19 men named yesterday as hijackers in Tuesday's suicidal assaults may have worked in separate teams that together included seven trained pilots, nine men with ties to Saudi Arabia and a dozen who had lived in Florida, according to public records and acquaintances of the hijackers.

The roster of terrorists, issued by the Justice Department, reveals where the hijackers of four doomed aircraft had lived and prepared their attacks -- showing for the first time that several were based, at least for a while, in Southern California.

Some of the hijackers had been in the United States for years and seem to have immersed themselves in ordinary American life -- patronizing local stores, tending gardens, letting their children find neighborhood playmates.

But public records appear to show no trace of more than half the men. There is no evidence that they used credit cards, registered cars or had phone numbers, suggesting that they may have arrived in the country more recently or lived here furtively.

Authorities hope that by publicly releasing the suspected hijackers' names, they will generate more clues about who was behind the audacious plot, who may have assisted in the attacks and whether other strikes were planned or might be imminent.

Officials also announced yesterday that they were seeking more than 100 others for questioning in the probe, dubbed PENTTBOM, as the hunt for possible conspirators continued to widen around the globe.

Those names were transmitted yesterday to police departments, airports and other law enforcement agencies throughout the United States as "individuals the FBI would like to talk to because they believe they have information that could be helpful to the investigation," according to Attorney General John D. Ashcroft.

The names could include people who helped stage the well-planned assaults, which required a coordinated deployment of pilots and accomplices to take over occupied commercial jetliners and fly them into their targets simultaneously.

More than 5,000 people, including all 19 hijackers, may have been killed when two aircraft slammed into the World Trade Center, one hit the Pentagon and another crashed in the western Pennsylvania countryside.

During the first days of the probe, 4,000 FBI agents have questioned hundreds of people who knew or had connections with the suspected terrorists, and have seized automobiles, personal computers and records from flight schools in Florida and other states that they used for training.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said yesterday that investigators have issued "hundreds of subpoenas" and have served more than 30 search warrants.

Officials made their first arrest in the case yesterday, detaining a man in New York as a material witness in the case. The Associated Press reported last night that he was the same man who had been detained Thursday at John F. Kennedy International Airport on suspicion of having a false pilot's license. Other detentions and searches continued in the United States and around the world.

In Canada, immigration authorities were preparing to turn over a man to the FBI who had been detained in Toronto since Tuesday, according to officials and press reports. Cpl. Benoit Desjardins of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the man was held when he arrived on a flight that had been diverted after the World Trade Center attacks, and that authorities found "materials of interest, including photos and a flight jacket."

One of the photos shows the man dressed in a flight jacket against a fake backdrop of the World Trade Center, according to Canadian press reports that quoted unnamed government officials. He also had a Palestinian Authority travel document identifying him as an aircraft maintenance engineer at the Gaza airport, the reports said.

Philippine officials said three men with Omani passports may have been making a bomb to be used against the U.S. Embassy in Manila before they left the country in haste Sunday. The surname used by the men, Al-Sheihhi, was similar to the names of three hijackers identified by the FBI yesterday, and Philippine investigators said traces of explosives were found in their hotel room.

In Chicago, Midway Airport was shut down just before 2 p.m. yesterday after Chicago police detained three people, officials said. The airport was closed for several hours and then reopened when the men were released.

In Florida, two passengers from a Carnival cruise ship were taken into custody by the U.S. Coast Guard as their vessel returned to Miami and were turned over to immigration and FBI officials for questioning. One of the men turned out to be a fugitive wanted for a terrorist act outside the United States, one U.S. official said.

The FBI alerted officials in Richmond and Atlanta yesterday that terrorists may have had plans for attacks there. But FBI officials said later in the day that the source of the information, an acquaintance of one of the hijackers, was "not credible" and had flunked a polygraph test.

Officials at ATC Flight Training in Fort Washington, Md., said that FBI agents arrived yesterday to get their database of students and people who had made inquiries about flight training in the past few years.

Last night, the FBI said it located the cockpit voice recorder beneath 12 feet of dirt in the wreckage crater for United Airlines Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pa., and sent it to the National Transportation Safety Board for analysis. Investigators previously located that airplane's other "black box," the flight data recorder.

Earlier yesterday, Mueller said investigators "have not received anything" from the voice recorder recovered from Pentagon crash site, and Justice officials said the box had apparently been damaged.

The hijacking probe is focused on New York and its New Jersey suburbs, Los Angeles and Phoenix, and, particularly, Hollywood, Delray Beach and other towns in Florida, where many of the hijackers apparently lived.

The geographic distribution of the suspected terrorists, evident from the information released by the Justice Department, indicates that they may have operated as relatively autonomous groups -- some based in Florida and others who divided their time between the New York area and Southern California.

But there are suggestions they may have interacted. FBI officials said they believed Hani Hanjour, who boarded American Flight 11, which originated in Boston and slammed into the World Trade Center, had spent time in Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego. But he also may have lived in Florida.

A couple who live at the same address where, records suggest, Hanjour lived in Hollywood, Fla., said yesterday afternoon they had just spoken with federal investigators.

"As soon as we saw his name on TV, I called the FBI," said the woman, Susan Khalil. "I'm so upset." Several of the hijackers named yesterday were licensed to fly large aircraft, and at least two had told acquaintances that they were pilots for Saudi Airlines, according to interviews. At least five had received aviation training in the United States.

"The fact that there were a number of individuals that happened to have received training at flight schools here is news, quite obviously," Mueller said. "If we had understood that to be the case, we would have -- perhaps one could have averted this."

Two were in the country on visas, while another was last known to have lived in the United Arab Emirates, the FBI said.

Intriguingly, the conspiracy may have included a plan to ensure the greatest likelihood of success for the first plane that took off Tuesday morning and the first to crash -- Flight 11. Four of the hijackers on that flight are known to have had pilot's licenses, compared with one known pilot apiece on each of the other flights.

In a few instances, the names released yesterday provide fresh details of the connections among the hijackers. Ahmed Alghamdi, who is believed to have died on United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, which plowed into the World Trade Center's South Tower, appears to have stayed in the same apartment complex for seven months in 1997 as Waleed Alshehri. Alshehri was aboard the American Airlines flight that crashed into the North Tower.

The list of hijackers reveals that more of them were trained pilots than previously known. The FBI said that Hani Hanjour was aboard American Airlines Flight 77 from Dulles, which crashed into the Pentagon. Federal records show that a Hani Hanjoor obtained a commercial pilot's license in April 1999 with a rating to fly commercial jets.

Approximately nine of the 19 alleged hijackers named by the FBI have some ties to Saudi Arabia. One of the men on American Flight 11, Waleed Alshehri, is believed to have been the son of a Saudi diplomat who worked at the embassy here during the mid-1990s.

Mohammed Atta, a hijacker on that flight who was trained as a pilot, was born in the United Arab Emirates, but a Saudi passport issued to him was found in a rental car left at Boston's Logan Airport.

Also on that plane was Abdulaziz Alomari, who listed his address in federal aviation records as Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, and Wail Alshehri, who held an international driver's license that was based on his Saudi license.

There is no indication that the Saudi government had any role in the bombings or any knowledge of them beforehand.

Osama bin Laden, the multimillionaire scion of one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest families who is the prime suspect behind the terrorist plot, has for years called for the overthrow of Saudi Arabia's royal family and was expelled from that country a decade ago because of his radical views.



2001 The Washington Post Company


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