Able Danger, Mohamed Atta and Ali Mohammed

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Mohamed Atta and Ali Mohammed


The reason why the Bush Administration worked so bury information about Able Danger are not clear. It was a sophisticated data-mining project designed to gather information about Al Qaeda. Discussion of the findings of the Able Danger project lead to consideration of how much the US knew about Atta and other terrorists before 911. At the very least, it is a picture of incredible incompetence. But some of the evidence could be used to raise questions about what else was being hid. This piece will focus on what was known about Ali Mohamed, who was convicted for involvement with the 1998 embassy bombings and Mohamed Atta. Ali Mohammed is relevant because he was connected to the 1993 bombing and the embassy bombings of 1998. There is clear evidence that he was connected to the F.B.I., and at least briefly to the C.I.A.. 

Republicans spun the story as an illustration of the failures of the Clinton administration. They noted that the Clinton Pentagon failed to act on information about these terrorists. James Woolsey, former C.I.A. director and neocon who detested Clinton, worked closely with Pa. Republican Congressman Curt Weldon to give the story a strong anti-Clinton spin. Weldon claimed before the House that Shaffer and civilian contractor James D. Smith told him the Able Danger project had warned the Navy not to refuel the Cole in Yemen in 2000. Former F.B.I. director Louis Freeh has used Able Danger this to sell his book, claiming the Clintons kept him from hunting Al Qaeda. But the fact was that Able Danger was shut down under Bush, and no one has said that Able Danger had stopped tracking Al Qaeda cells outside the US before the project ceased operation. Freeh, has never explained why three good leads within his agency were quashed or why he did not stand by John O”Neill, the best terrorist hunter we have had to date Freeh’s greatest failure was not acting on information that it had about the Al Qaeda cell in Brooklyn.

The F.B.I. knew a great deal about the Brooklyn cell, which was involved in the 1993 bombing. It was led by the blind sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman. The cell’s chief trainer was Ali Mohamed, a former Egyptian army officer who had taught Green Berets at Fort Bragg.

Khalid al-Mihdar, mastermind of the attack on the Cole was protected by the C.I.A.. The agency did not provide the F.B.I. with the information it had about him or his travels. Nor did it tell the F.B.I. anti-terrorism unit what it knew about an Al Qaeda meeting in Malasia. It did give the director of the F.B.I. regular updates on the meeting. Great efforts were made to hide evidence of Saudi money getting to al Mihdar while he was in San Diego, and it is believed that that was contained in the 28 redacted pages of the Congressional Report on 9/11
Ali Mohammed

The strange relationship of the F.B.I. and Ali Mohammed raises many questions. The F.B.I. has a thick file on the target shooting activities of Ali Mohammed and other men from his mosque at Calverton. They apparently went shooting after mosque services in Brooklyn. According to Investigators Tom Hennigan and Peter Lance, he was a triple agent, loyal in the end to Al Qaeda. If they were wrong, the other reasonable conclusion was that the F.B.I. was somehow complicit in his dangerous activities. A somewhat similar situation existed in relationship to Mohammed Atta. Various government agencies knew quite a bit about Atta’s doings. It seems to come down to a matter of incredible incompetence or some degree of complicity.

Ali Mohamed had been the chief security advisor to Osama bin Laden and had trained the terrorist leaders’s security detail. He worked briefly for the C.I.A. in the early eighties. The agency claims it found him unreliable and placed him on a watch list to prevent entry to the United States. Yet he obtained a visa, according to one account through a secret C.I.A. program, and became a US citizen in 1986. At Fort Bragg, he was an instructor in Islamic culture. While there, he frequently traveled to New York, where he trained young Muslims in the use of explosive and fire arms. His student bled the head off Rabbi Meyer Kahane. The chief of NYPD detectives said it was a lone gunman even though some of his men had gathered enough evidence, including target practice photographs, to conclude otherwise. The F.B.I. quickly embraced the long gunman explanation.

Another became involved in a scheme to blow up the United Nations. A third student was convicted in the plot to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993. He also spent time training Islamic fighters in Afghanistan and the C.I.A. has 1989 footage of him training terrorists. It is also known he taught them how to seize an airplane. Ali was detained in a Canadian airport in 1993 when he was found to be carrying two fake Saudi passports. He was released after Royal Canadian Mounted Police called his American handler, John Zent.(Toronto Globe and Mail, 11/22/01)]

In the 1990s, he did surveillance on the US consulate in Nairobi, Kenya and other places in north Africa. One wonders how he explained his frequent absences to his F.B.I. employers and whether they ever doubted his explanations. . In 1993 the Royal Canadian Police detained him, and the F.B.I. secured his release. He went on to Kenya to photograph the US embassy there. The 9/11 report ( page 68) bluntly states that he led those who plotted to attack the embassy in Kenya

In 1989, Ali Mohamed settled in California where he soon helped Ayman al-Zawahiri raise money. Again, in 1994 he helped al Zawahiri. His neighbors were certain he was an intermediary between the C.I.A. and the Afghan rebels , arranging for the movement of arms. By the 1990s, he infiltrated the F.B.I. and became involved in its super-secret Division Five. The agency admitted using him but claimed it was just to track down illegal immigrants, and it did not admit linking him with terrorists. At that time, he somehow obtained the complete list of unindicted coconspirators, which included himself, and faxed it to bin Laden. The F.B.I. held him on a John Doe warrant for 9 months to keep him away from the press and prevent his testimony in the trial of the 1993 bombers. His name came up frequently in the trial and defense lawyers demanded that he be produced as a witness because they knew he worked for the F.B.I. and perhaps also the C.I.A.. In 1996, he was helping Al Qaeda move from Sudan to Afghanistan. Yet, in the late 1990s, he was also in some kind of F.B.I. custody for considerable periods.

As late as 2000, he worked in the bureau’s Sacramento office, was briefly detained after that, and then released. Then he was indicted for his role in the 1998 embassy bombings and entered a guilty plea. The people who produced the National Geographic special on him claim that after 9/11 he was able to explain to federal interviewers all the ins and outs of the 9/11 plot CBS reported in October, 2001 that he was “awaiting sentencing,”
but he then disappeared from the federal criminal justice system.

The Ali Mohammed story becomes even more interesting when it is considered that the F.B.I. had an informer in that Brooklyn cell. Email Salem, a former Egyptian army major was the F.B.I. informer and had warned that some sort of attack was coming, but the F.B.I. claimed Salem was driven off July, 1992 because he refused to testify or wear a wire.

The F.B.I. had blind Shiekh Dr. Omar Abdel- Rahman in its sights, and Salem was a trusted member of his circle, known as al Gamma Isiamiya. Abdel-Rahman was a known enemy of the United States who was let into the country under the cover of national security. There was some unknown reason for him to be here, in Brooklyn. He was on the State Department’s watch list but was still given a tourist visa and green card.

Special agent Nancy Floyd recruited the former Salem and tried to protect him. His meetings with the F.B.I. began in November, 1991. A month later, he was urging the Brooklyn cell to become more militant. According to Peter Lance, who has provided much reliable evidence on 9/11, Carson Dunbar, her supervisor, did not trust her and he ordered her in August 1992 to have no more contact with him. She was subjected to an interminable internal investigation because she technically revealed a meaningless piece of information. All that time, she was shunned by many colleagues, denied promotion or transfer. At one point the agency planted stories that she was sleeping with her asset. With her out of t he way, and Salem being pretty muched shelved by the agency, the F.B.I. missed a golden opportunity to stop the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. This is pretty much the conventional account of what happened.

However, Salem’s many taped conversations with the F.B.I. show that his relationship with the agency deepened. With Floyd out of the way, her superiors took over dealings with Salem, who was a trusted member of the circle of the Abdel- Rahman. Although it is illegal, it appears that the F.B.I. recruited Salem as an agent provocateur. He became a key source of information in the investigtion of the men who were accused of bombing the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993. He did not testify in the first trial but did in the second. The original plan was to involve the potential terrorists in building pipe bombs with fake gun powder, but an F.B.I. supervisor later had them use real gun powder. After the blast, Salem wanted to complain to F.B.I. headquarters about what had happen3ed but was dissuaded by his handler. Ralph Blumenthal wrote in the New York Times, “Law-enforcementofficials were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer [Emad Salem, a former lieutenant colonel in the Egyptian Army] said after the blast,”

For a man reluctant to wear a wire, Salem soon learned to use the wire the agency gave him against the F.B.I. itself. The transcripts of the recordings make it unclear if the F.B.I. used him or if he used the F.B.I.. The problem is that the recordings are selective. They show that an F.B.I. supervisor told him to use real explosives. The taped conversation with handler John Anticev make it clear that Salem was using federal money to build the pipe bombs. When the bombs were built, Salem is on tape telling the F.B.I. that the time had come to arrest the Islamic extremists. Nothing was done. We don’t know what that meant. Was he to go along and carry real explosives or was he doing more than that? He is heard on the tape acknowledging that the F.B.I. helped him construct a bomb and that the DA was involved? Why did they go that far? The tapes also show that Floyd had more contact with Salem than once thought as they discussed their mutual anguish about failing to head off the bombing. The recordings also make it clear that he was coached as to what not to say in court as revelation of some matters would result in the case against the Islamic extremists being thrown out.

Salem revealed the existence of the tapes at a news conference and was subsequently paid $ 1 million for his cooperation and silence about some things. Andrew C. McCarthy, an assistant federal prosecutor, turned over some of the many tapes to Judge Michael B. Mukasey and judged that others were being retained until they could be screened for’security and other issues.”

William Kuntsler, attorney for the accused, argued that the whole conspiracy was originated by Salem, who was prompted by the agency. The government refused to acknowledge that Salem was a long term informant. It was acknowledged that the F.B.I. knew about his claims of a plot to blow up the WTC but was put off by his demands for money.

A little less is known about Mohammed Atta’s activities than about those of Ali Mohamed, but it is clear that even without information from Able Danger, the government had enough information to keep tabs on him. Moreover, it is clear that the F.B.I. had knowledge of the movements of Atta and two others in Venice, Florida before 9-11. In addition, two Al Qaeda terrorists were tailed in San Diego by the F.B.I.. They resided there with a known F.B.I. asset, “Professor” Abdussattar Shaikh . The alleged professor had a bogus degree and taught at a mail order university that no longer existed. The bureau forbade agent Stephen Butler from telling t he 9/11 Commission of his frustration that his superiors would do nothing about these two subjects, Hazmi and Midhar.

The “professor” was really an Indian named Abdussattar Chhipa. He was asso C.I.A.ted with Sam Koutchesfahani, an Iran exile and arms dealer, who was busy illegally bringing people from the Middle East into the US. The Iranian was also an F.B.I. informant. The two helped the immigrants acquire false documents and diplomas from the mail-order universities in the area.

For almost four years, while he was in Germany, Atta was employed by a foundation run by the German and US governments – Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft. He was an instructor in an exchange program , and did some work for it in Aleppo, Damascus, and Cairo. The US part of the program was overseen by the State Department but ranking private citizens such as David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger were also involved. He also attended the Technical University at Hamburg, and German federal police ( BKA) investigated him for minor drug crimes.

According to a September 24, 2001 article in the German intelligence magazine Focus, German security people were watching and listening to the Hamburg cell in 1998 and 1999, and it is not unreasonable to assume their information was shared with the C.I.A.. In 1999, the C.I.A. attempted to recruit one member of that cell, Mamoun Darhazanli. There is evidence that he visited the Philippines in 1999, but there is no clear evidence that the Germans knew this. The American agency started following Atta in January of 2000 and found that he was buying dangerous chemicals in Frankfurt. On May 18, 2000, he obtained a visa in Berlin and arrived in New Jersey on June 3, 2000. There is some evidence that he had been in the US before, and there is clear evidence that he and Marwan Alshehhi visited the Philippines in 1999. Several months later, while in Florida, he received $100,000 from an agent under the control of General Mahmoud Ahmad, head of the Pakistani intelligence service. This man was in Washington on September 10, 2001. Oddly, Dr. Rice denied seeing him while he was in the city, and the White House transcript of the press conference said the part of the question about him was inaudible. The Federal Press Service’s transcript referred to him by his title as head of the ISI , Pakistan ‘s press service.

In all, they probably received $325,000 from Pakistani intelligence. About $175,000 more came from unknown sources. Atta was attending a flight school at Huffman Avaiation in Venice, but he had previously attend two others. He and Marwan each paid $28,000 for instruction, but there were many places where instruction would cost a great deal less. The school did not offer instructions in operating commer C.I.A.l jet liners.

He was a licensed pilot already and was given the privileges of an instructor. He may have even gone on some drug runs for them. It was known that he had business dealings with men who flew in from Germany to see him. It is also known that twelve other hijackers had lived somewhere near those two flight schools at one time or other. Atta lived across the street from the Venice Airport, sharing an apartment for two months with Amanda Keller. Later the tenants were told by the F.B.I. to say nothing about this. Told to keep quiet, Amanda disappeared for a time.

The DEA confiscated and auctioned a private jet owned by one of the owners of the school. The agency found 43 pounds of heroin. No action was ever taken against the owner Wally Hilliard, a 70 year old born-again retired Midwesterner health insurance executive whose firm’s motto was “Fight Sin, Hate Communism, and Back the Pack.” The DEA did not arrest the pilot even though he had refused to give them his cell phone. The co-pilot, Michael Francis Bassington, was not arrested and and mayb have been a DEA agent. He was unnamed in court documents. Hilliard was a long time asso C.I.A.te of Adnan Khashoggi and was involved in Oryx Investments with him. However, the DEA also believed Bassington was somehow tied to the Alfonso Bowe Smuggling Group. Bassington was also involve ed in a military procurement scandal Guyana. Bassington was close to fellow pilot Wolfgang Bohringer, whom Mohammed Atta called “my brother.” Daniel Hopsicker, an investigative reporter who has revealed much about the C.I.A.’s uses of the Venice , Florida airstrip, claims that Bassington was involved in helping the Sinsaloa drug Cartel in Mexico acquire 100 planes, many of whuch had belonged to the C.I.A. and C.I.A. contractors.
Two of the planes thus acquired were involved in moving drugs. One, a DC 9 painted to resemble a Homeland Security plane was seized in a small Yucaqtan airport on September 30, 2008. On board were 5.5 tons of cocaine. The second was a Gulfstream ii, which had been used in rendition flights, crashed on September 24, 2007 and was carrying a little less than 4 tons of cocaine. Both flights originated in Saint Petersburg-Clearwater, and both were owed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the Mexican drug lord.

Hilliard obtained the jet from the same people who provided Barry Seal with jets when he was working for the C.I.A., bringing drugs into Mena, Arkansas.( Richard Ben-Veniste of the 9/11 Commission had been Seal’s lawyer.) The same jet had made 39 weekly milk runs to Venezuela before the DEA acted. It would appear that Hilliard was running a charter service for drug dealers. There is evidence that the Venice police and Sarasota County Drug Interdiction officers had been warned to leave Dekkers and Hilliard alone.

Several hours after the attack, the F.B.I. had employees of Huffman Aviation under surveillance. A former Huffman executive said that a car full of agents was parked outside his house by the middle of the afternoon. He said they bugged his telephone and pressured him to clam up, and not tell the press what he knew. His theory was that Atta and others were double agents. Without admitting to drug trafficking, he said “I gleaned early on that the operation I was working for had government protection.” Others made the same comment. He refused to say anymore adding “I’ve got a family to worry about.” Others who had some information were to say the same thing. Dekkers once sold a structurally damaged plane, and was turned in to the FAA by someone who wanted to prevent the sale. Some ribs were crushed and there were dents on the front of a wing. The FAA did nothing to prevent the sale, which some took to be a sign that Dekkers had government protection.

The unnamed executive could have been onto something. It was widely known that Osama bin Laden controlled the Afghanistan drug business and that he was looking into becoming involved in Latin American drug operations. It would make sense to place people in the Hilliard operation. Hilliard had been making illegal trips to Cuba and spreading around Presidential Rolex watches. He said he was doing church work. He could have been seeking Cuban help in the drug trade. Some of Mohammed Atta’s German friends in Florida had criminal connection. One of his Florida friends was flying for an o0logarch tied to the Russian mob who had great wealth and power in Czechoslovakia. It all sounds a bit like the strange interrelationships Sibel Edmonds was prevented from discussing.

Some thought Hilliard was some sort of intelligence agent. His partner in a number of ventures was the shadowy Mark Shubin, who was said to have worked for both the KGB and C.I.A.. His father was a KGB colonel, and he spent some time in the Jamaican military and was said to have ties to the Russian mob. Shubin was in business with Kenneth Good who was largely responsible for the Silverado Savings and Loan collapse. Good was a Bush family retainer and close to Neil Bush, who was somehow connected to the Silverado collapse. Bush and Good were also involved in a Venezuelan oil deal, but Bush had neglected to tell Silverado investigators about this.

The school’s operator and nominal co-owner was Rudi Dekkers, a native of Holland who owed his government $3,000,000. Dekker had been in Naples and built a record for not paying his bills, they he moved to Venice and bought Huffman Aviation on behalf of Hilliard. A former Huffman executive said it was clear their drug trade had government protection. Hilliard also operated an air carrier which was used and endorsed by Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush. For some reason Hilliard loaned Jerry Falwell $1 million.

There was a second flight school at that airport owned by another native of Holland, Arne Kruithof. The two Hollanders bought flight schools within months of one another. Altogether, eight terrorists trained at the two schools operated by the Hollanders. Other airlines operated out of that airport, including one known C.I.A. company, Caribe Air, and the little known, Bratannia Aviation which was to obtain a multi-million dollar contract to maintain the Lynchburg, Va. Airport. Lynchburg authorities were urged to do due dilligence before giving Hilliard the contract but they rushed ahead without doing so. No doubt Jerry Falwell, who owed Hilliard money, put in a good word. But some speculate that the C.I.A. intervened to help Dekkers and Hilliard. Hilliard tried to collect some of the money from Falwell’s account, who tried to hide partial repayments. He said Falwell cleared the account every month, simply taking the cash and putting it somewhere else. Financier Jackson Stevens tired o Falwell’s non payment and foreclosedd on the north campus of Falwell’s Liberty University.

Pilots at Venice for the various firms moonlighted by doing missionary flights at night for religions groups like Pat Robertson’s Operation Hope.. Mark Mikarts, Mohammed Atta’s flight instructor, flew for Agape Flights, a fundamentalist missionary outfit that sent supplies to a man in Haiti accused of plotting a coup against the Aristide regime. Agape in turn, was tied to the Summer Institute of Linguistics, which the Latin American press says is a C.I.A. financed organization designed to use fundamentalist Christianity to break down indigenous cultures and remove barriers to natural resource exploitation.

Dekkers claimed he did not know her, but they both used Pascal Schreier, a German, to recruit Arab students. From the time Dekkers came to Venice in 1999 Arab students were frequenting the school in significant numbers. Dekkers and Hilliard had been in business together before, paid too much for the flight school, and had apparently lost millions in their ventures. Money was not their problem. They had an odd habit of conducting private conversations inside a plane that was in a building.

At first, the F.B.I.’s biography of Atta did not mention his stay in Venice. Three of the four hijacker pilots trained at two Venice schools, and many other Arabs gravitated there for training. Venice authorities think there was a fifth terrorist studying at Huffman, but they cannot prove it. The day after the attack, the F.B.I. seized all the police records as well as the flight school records and put them aboard a C-130 at the Sarasota airport. Around 2 AM on September 12, according to Venice policemen, the flight school records were spirited away in two Ryder trucks that went to the Sarasota Airport, where Jeb Bush and a Florida Air National Guard C-130 were waiting.

Dekkers tried to minimize the time Atta was at the flight school and claim that he barely knew him. He swore before Congress that he never saw Atta again after December, 2002. For some reason, Dekkers tried to deny that Atta stayed in Venice after getting his multi-engine license in December, 2000, and a New York Times reporter tried to spike a story about the Atta’s third residence there in the Sandpiper. Atta and Marwan trained at an airport in Charlotte County in January and February and then returned to Huffman for a third time. There were at least 17 Arabs being trained in that county, and the F.B.I. was to seize all records relating to their training. Five of the hijackers received training of one sort or other at US military installations in the 1990s, and three of them received pilots training at the Pensacola Naval Station.

On one occasion, Dekkers said Atta was a terrible person, an incompetent pilot who left school December 20, 2000 and did not return.. Others claim Atta was there in 2001 and that he and the operator were friendly. In August, two of the other hijackers were with Atta, and Atta’s attorney father visited from Egypt. The three younger men were said to hire a Yellow Cab in the evenings which was driven by a retired Navy Seal, who left soon after they left Venice. Another driver reported that the two were on very friendly terms and that they shared a cab to a Sarasota night spot in August, 2001. Atta was apparently a hard drinker, did drugs, and he sometimes partied with pilots most probably tied to C.I.A. operations. He had an American girlfriend who was an exotic dancer, and he seems to have had a brief relationship with a stripper. This does not conform to the official story that he was a strict and observant Muslim fundamentalist. On September 8, 2001 he was two companions in a Ft. Lauderdale bar named Shuckums, where he got wasted and called out “F**k God.”Atta was also known to gamble and mix with ladies of the night, but he was not the only terrorist who was not a strict Muslim.

Atta developed ties with Makram Chams, a Lebanese who ran a convenience store and was a co-owner of a floating casino called Vegas-in-Venice. There are indications that th is casino was used for the laundering of drug money, and funds could have come through it for 9/11. After that terrible event, Chams simply disappeared.

Four terrorists lived above a strip club called “Lance” in Wayne, New Jersey. They were Lebanese pilot Ziad Jarrah and three Saudi musclemen, Ahmed al-Haznawi, Ahmed al-Nami, and Saeed al-Ghamdi Probably because the were portrayed as religious fanatics, the F.B.I. confiscated the security tapes showing them in the club. Videotapes of a nearby video store patronized b y the hijackers and the Mossad agents tailing them were also seized, and later telephone numbers of the store patrons disappeared in a strange robbery.

The F.B.I. showed up at Shuckums’ bar in Venice eight hours after his plane hit the World Trade Center. For some reason, the F.B.I. asked all kinds of questions about him in places other than Venice, where he spent much of his time. The F.B.I. also asked a few questions in Venice, and agent talked to a flight school executive four hours after the planes struck. However, the bulk of the investigation there was left to the state Department of Law Enforcement.

On January 24, 2003 Ruddi Dekers had to splash down his helecopter into the Caloosahatchee River near downtown Fort Myers. Something had gone wrong, and before the flight he was worried that something bad could happen to him. Earlier, Arne Kruithof and two others barely survived a crash on 26, 2002. The plane nose dived after a diufficult take-off from the Venice airport. Deekkers was later arrested for fraud.

Mohammed el-Amir Atta insists his son was not involved in 9/11. Unable to accept what appears to have happened,has said that his son telephoned him on September 12, 2001. Almost a year later, he was sticking to his story, saying his son was in hiding.

“Following the lead of the F.B.I., the 9-11 commission did not discuss the schools. The F.B.I. has repeatedly said that Atta left the school in late 2000. At the Moussaoui trial, clear evidence was produced that Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi were still there and flying in February, 2001 and that the F.B.I. knew all about it. Moreover, they violated airpark rules by taking off at night and were observed by a watchman and the police, who conducted the flight school. The F.B.I. subsequently interviewed a Huffman administrator about the incident. Yet, another administrator told a Congressional panel under oath that the school had no knowledge of the two men after December 24, 2000.The Knight Rider papers, the Washington Post, and Newsweek reported a week after 9-11 that five of the hijackers had been trained at US military facilities at one time or another. This did not involve Atta’s brief employment much earlier in Hamburg, before he experienced a religious conversion in Egypt. It was said that Atta was at the International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. Abdulaziz Alomari was at the Areospace Medical School in Texas .The Sarasota Herald-Times discovered that Atta lived for more than two months at the Sandpiper Apartments in Venice in March and April of 2001 with a part-time stripper and lingerie model. She reported that the F.B.I. urged her to keep quiet. Florida records show that Atta became a business partner of chief Morrocan military attache Colonel Ahmed Arara and another man in business venture of some sort. The attache could have been related to highjacker Mohammed Araras.

Soon after 9-11, F.B.I. agents were in Venice asking questions that made it clear they knew about Atta’s movements there. The nature mof their questioning activities strongly suggests they were very much aware of Atta’s presence there before 9-11. They questioned another cabbie about their nocturnal rides with the other driver. They seized a pharmacy’s security tape for the day Atta and his father were there and excised that part of the tape. It develops in an odd coincidence that the woman who helped one of the hijackers find an apartment was the wife of Michael Irish, the senior National Enquirer editor who received an anthrax letter. Irish also used that aifield.

There were rumors that the flight schools had a C.I.A. connection, and that their records were removed on September 12, 2001. The limited action taken after the biggest drug seizure in central Florida history led to speculation about some kind of a protected drug trade. For years there have been rumors about C.I.A. and DIA drug trading; and those who have written about this have had their careers ruined. There will probably never be enough evidence to prove why the Pentagon did not want to move against Atta and now claims it knew nothing about him. One employee said Atta and others moved on to a school in Pompano Beach to learn to fly big jets via simulator. He added that he did not think this approach could be successful. Fired F.B.I. translator Sibel Edmunds was asked if she came across evidence that there was any evidence of a connection between drug trading and 9-11. She said, “The 9/11 terror plot intersected with the activities of a drug trafficking network of international scope, in ways that form a “crystal clear” picture of what was going on.@ As she came to understand how tight federal gag order placed upon her was, she later answered this question with a “nondenial-denial.” Don”t look for solid answers anytime soon. Daniel Hopsiocker, who has long investigated the Venice flight school attended by Atta, ties the seized a hereoin shipment found in the plane of one of the co-owners of the school. Puzzling over why the plane was seized but the politically connected owner was never touched, he concluded that someone with great influence in DC was buying drugs from Osama bin Laden. We know Al Qaeda sells drugs, but that connection is just a guess. It has also been suggested that he had been involved in a protected heroin smuggling operation and that this accounts for the Pentagon’s reluctance to pursue him earlier. Given the history of that airport, it is far more likely that the C.I.A. was moving drugs through it.