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Despite earlier denials, terrorists in the September. 11 attacks received training at secure US military bases, a Defense Department spokesman admitted in an interview Friday.
Three days after the WTC disaster, Newsweek, the Washington Post and the Knight Ridder newspapers reported claims that five of the terrorist hijackers in the September 11 attacks received training at secure US military installations during the 1990s. The reports also claimed three of the terrorists had listed their address as the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, and had participated in military exchange programs for foreign officers at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida.
In an interview with a reporter questioning the vaguely-worded September 16 Pentagon denial, the Defense Department spokesman was asked to explain the particulars of fuzzy statements in which officials said "name matches may not necessarily mean the students were the hijackers," and that discrepancies in biographical data indicate "we are probably not talking about the same people." (Italics added.)
Pressed repeatedly to provide specifics, the spokesperson finally admitted, "I do not have the authority to tell you who (which terrorists) attended which schools."
So it appears certain that at least some of the previous denials have been rendered inoperative, and that a list exists in the Defense Department which names September 11 terrorists who received training at US military facilities, a list the Pentagon is in no hurry to make public. This admission has significant import.
Consider: Foreign nationals training at secure US facilities do so almost solely at the behest of governments considered friendly to the United States.
Gaining admittance to the International Officer's School at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery -- which terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta was reported to have attended -- would have required Atta to be someone well-connected with a friendly Arab government. (For the record, the spokesperson denied that the International Officer's School attendee named Mohamed Atta is the same Mohamed Atta who piloted a passenger plane into the WTC, while repeatedly declining requests for biographical details about a second Arab pilot with the same name as the terrorist.)
Take the (online) resume of someone who indisputably did attend the US Air Force's International Officers School, for example, as an illustration of just how connected these foreign nationals must be.
Colonel and Staff Pilot Mohammed Ahmed Hamel Al Qubaisi is currently a Defense Military Naval & Air Attache at the United Arab Emirates Embassy US embassy, after previous stints in his country's Embassy & Security Division as Chief of Intelligence, and in the UAE's Security Division/Air Force Intelligence & Security Directorate Security Officer/Air Force Intelligence & Security Directorate.
Arab Emirate-wise, International Officer's School graduate Al Qubaisi is a homeland-security kind of guy.
A former Navy pilot quoted in Newsweek's September 15 report stated that during his years on the Pensacola base, "we always, always, always trained other countries' pilots. When I was there two decades ago, it was Iranians. The shah was in power. Whoever the country du jour is, that's whose pilots we train."
The "country du jour" at US military installations during the 1990s, according to numerous reports, was Saudi Arabia. Newsweek's prematurely "discredited" report, for example, states that according to a Pentagon source at least two of the terrorists trained at U.S. military facilities were former Saudi Air Force pilots. Mohammed Atta had a Saudi passport, early reports also indicated. Waleed Alshehri and Marwan Alsherhri had been living in Saudi Arabia before they arrived in Florida to train for their missions.
Alleged associates had listed Saudi Arabian Airlines' post office box in the Saudi city of Jeddah as their home address on their commercial pilots' licenses. And some of the pilots had licenses indicating they were sponsored or employed by Saudi Arabian Airlines, owned by the Saudi government.
Then, too, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told Washington 10 days before the September 11 terror attacks that US policy towards the Arab-Israeli conflict had become untenable. And the October 12 Times of London reports that the White House is frustrated with the lack of help from Saudi Arabia in freezing Osama bin Laden's assets and tracking those behind the September 11 hijackings, and that the Saudi regime has so far refused to clamp down on the assets of bin Laden or other al-Qaeda figures, despite repeated requests from Washington.
This official admission -- that the "Terrorist 19" have suspicious connections that are still-unexplored -- puts even more of a spotlight on the two Dutch-owned flight schools in Venice, Florida which were the initial "port of entry" for terrorist pilots inducted into the US flight training program.
The Two Venice Dutch Boys
There are over 200 flight schools in Florida. Every terrorist pilot chose one of the two in Venice, Florida. The two Venice flight schools were the terrorists' American beachhead.
Rudi Dekkers' Huffman Aviation was the terrorist's Omaha Beach.
What made these two schools so popular with the terrorist cadre?
Some flight schools may be slightly more equal than others, as it happens...
"Some schools are authorized by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to issue highly coveted I-20M immigration forms that help foreign students acquire visas to enter the United States as vocational students," read one early report about the Florida flight schools.
Guess who had one of those "highly-coveted" "vocational status" visas?
Mohammed Atta, the alleged mastermind of the most vicious terrorist attack in the history of the world...
Guess who gave it to him? Rudi Dekkers' flight school, Huffman Aviation.
Under the glare of TV lights on the apron of the Venice airport the day after the tragedy, Dekkers denied any responsibility for the terrorists' student visas, saying "foreign students must apply through Immigration and Naturalization Services," which he believes performs background checks.
"We send them the paperwork and they go to their embassies," said Dekkers. But Richard Nyren, a British classmate of the terrorist pilots in Venice, had told reporters at the same time that it's not all that easy to get a student visa, even with the help of the school.
How did Mohamed Atta happen to get so "lucky" in the mangrove swamps of Southwest Florida?
He got his "highly-coveted" I-20M immigration because "some" schools are authorized by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to issue them.
Not "all" schools. "Some" schools. Schools like Rudi Dekkers' Huffman Aviation.
The question is: what made Dekker's school so special?
In a wire service report three days after the WTC disaster, Dekkers was quoted saying, "I can tell you that there's definitely some flaws in the system." It has been one of his few completely truthful statements.
Fact: Some of the terrorists had enough 'juice,' enough access, to have gained admittance to training at secure US military facilities. That argues official government complicity -- leaving aside exactly which government for the moment -- at a level the current FBI investigation has not even hinted at.
So far, the investigation conducted around the world since September 11 has resulted in a finger being pointed directly at an obscure outfit most people had never even heard of, and their Taliban backers. Did Al Qaeda and the Taliban bring down the World Trade Center towers all by themselves?
Or should the FBI's investigators be looking at other, larger groups and even nations?
When the FBI was actively looking for "international networks" which assisted and harbored the terrorists, were any suspects overlooked? Were any protected from scrutiny?
Were Rudi Dekker and Arne Kruithof acting as "cut-outs" for a US intelligence operation at the Venice, Florida airport? Were they "funneling" Arab pilots into further pilot training?
If the past 40 years of American history serves as any guide, we will very likely never know.
Daniel Hopsicker is the author of Barry and 'the Boys'. This article first appeared on the madcowprod.com website