Rudi dekkers taken down
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9/11: The German Connection
17 months later, Rudi Dekkers gets taken downtown
VENICE, FL—March 20
by Daniel Hopsicker
A year-long MadCowMorningNews investigation has uncovered evidence that at least seven of Mohamed Atta's closest associates in Florida during the year leading up to the 9/11 attack were not Arab, but German.
The names of the seven, all pilots, have not surfaced in any press accounts of Atta's stay in the U.S., nor has their existence been mentioned or alluded to in official statements.
Traveling with Atta, or meeting him around the state, Atta's German friends appeared to share a relationship with him of long-standing, according to eyewitnesses, dating back to his days in Hamburg.
The meetings, in places like Key West and Miami, were apparently very serious business; when they returned, said someone who was there, Atta and his German associates "always came back glum."
Only one of the seven is still in the U.S.; five live in Germany or Switzerland.
The seventh, with whom Atta reportedly traveled extensively, has a criminal record in Germany, and today lives in Saudi Arabia.
The identities of the seven German nationals were pieced together from information gleaned in interviews with Atta's one-time American girlfriend, corroborated by independent aviation sources in Venice and Naples, FL.
From what has been learned so far, the backgrounds of Atta's German associates seem strikingly similar to that of another German national, Andreas Strassmeir, whose possible relationship with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was in the news a decade ago. Strassmeir was at one point named in a lawsuit by families of the victims as a "US federal informant with material knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing."
Strassmeir's father was once a top aide to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl; Atta's German friends are all children of the German elite.
"Glum's the word"
But before delving further into Atta's German connections, there were two other related developments in Florida last week.
In the first, the former owner of the terror flight school in Venice, FL., Rudi Dekkers, was arrested last week on a single count of felony fraud, and booked into the Collier County Jail in Naples FL.
As the MadCowMorningNews has been reporting, suspicious and often illegal activities were commonplace occurrences at Dekkers-owned flight schools at the same time the schools were training a veritable "Who's Who" of Hamburg cadre terrorists.
Now the arrest of the controversial Dutch national comes amid indications from authorities that Federal agencies involved in the 9/11 investigation are taking a closer look at Dekker's business activities in Florida during the past decade, fueling speculation he might become the first non-Arab charged in a wider 9/11 conspiracy than has so-far been revealed.
Despite settling his lawsuit with former partner Wally Hilliard, Rudi Dekker's legal woes may be just beginning, said State's Attorney Jonathon Greene.
Being forced to pose for a new mug shot is just the latest in a series of reversals suffered recently by the Venice "Magic Dutch Boy," so-called because he is one of two Dutch nationals who owned flight schools at the Venice Airport which each--by apparent freak coincidence--ended up training terrorists to fly.
Dekkers also recently lost his battle for control of Huffman Aviation. Last week its sale to new owners was ratified by the Venice City Council in a unanimous voice vote, amid questions about who had been responsible for approving Dekker's lease at the Venice airport in the first place.
Then, too, Dekker's helicopter crashed recently, while he was en route to a showdown meeting with partner Wally Hilliard over control of Huffman Aviation.
In another apparent 'freak coincidence,' the owner of the second Dutch-owned flight school at the Venice Airport, Arne Kruithof, has also recently suffered a near-fatal aviation mishap. His happened last summer, when his plane fell from a hundred feet in the air onto the runway of the Venice Airport.
It appears as if both Dekkers and Kruithof would be well-advised to stay away from open windows.
Atta's German buddies
The German element arrived in Florida with "Wolfgang" in 1996. Prior to arriving in Naples he was associated with an organization called "The Flying Club of Munich."
"Wolfgang showed up from Munich in the mid 1990s and immediately began operating a flight school illegally," stated an aviation source in Naples. "He’s half Swiss, half German."
Wolfgang was instrumental in bringing another of Atta's German associates to Florida, a pilot named "Stephan," who we were to learn has done jail time in Germany, was on parole there when he came to the U.S., and recently spent a year in Gundogdu, Turkey.
While regular German flight students struggle to obtain the necessary visas, Wolfgang and Stephan had inside connections which smoothed their progress.
“Sometimes it makes me mad that a criminal gets preference," stated one German national flight instructor in Naples with obvious bitterness.
"Wolfgang signed off on Stephan’s books, and Stephan also got in on a fraudulent business investor’s visa."
"Wolfgang was in his thirties," says Amanda Keller, who lived with Atta during March and April of 2001. "He and Wolfgang were very tight, they went everywhere together. When he came into the picture they were together all the time."
"Him and Wolfgang drove around in the red convertible," Keller remembers. "Their favorite place to eat was Hooters in Sarasota. They got kicked out for grabbing a waitress's boobs."
Keller also states that Atta always spoke German with Wolfgang, directly contradicting the testimony of Rudi Dekkers, who told a Congressional Committee that when he addressed him in German, Atta had merely looked at him strangely.
What this is all about
Less than 24 hours after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks the world's eyes were riveted on Florida’s Gulf Coast, where FBI agents swarmed the peaceful retirement community of Venice.
Authorities said the tiny airport there had served as a secret terrorist training site, teaching three of the four pilots involved in the Sept. 11attack to fly.
Since then, authorities have had strikingly little to say about Venice.
The last related development last week was the reported ‘outrage’ over 9/11 that Florida Sen. Bob Graham said prompted to join the Democratic presidential sweepstakes last week.
The 66-year-old Graham—who recently had heart surgery—has toyed with the idea of running for years, but says he always lacked “fire in the belly,” until, he says, FBI and CIA failures inspired his White House run.
Graham told NEWSWEEK, his experience last year overseeing a joint House-Senate inquiry into the events of 9-11 left him outraged by the intelligence and law-enforcement failures discovered by the inquiry—most of which, he charges, are still being suppressed by the Bush administration.
The inquiry’s 400-page report can’t be publicly released because the administration won’t declassify key portions. Graham says the report documents far more miscues by the FBI and CIA than have been publicly revealed, as well as leads that remain unpursued which point to “facilitation” of the hijackers by a “sovereign nation.” “There’s been a cover-up of this,” Graham said.
NEWSWEEK says its sources say the unnamed country is Saudi Arabia.
That may prove partly correct. But there are few--if any--Saudis named "Wolfgang."
Newsweek should keep digging.