Hijackers came from U.S.-friendly Arab states

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Hijackers came from U.S.-friendly Arab states By MATT KELLEY Associated Press

WASHINGTON (4:46 p.m. EDT) -- Most came from Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, two of the Arab countries most friendly to the United States.

They said they were pilots, or airplane mechanics, or students, or tourists. Many claimed to work for Saudi Arabian Airlines, a government air carrier.

They betrayed not a word to their neighbors about what drove their suicide missions: commandeering airliners and flying them into two of America's most treasured landmarks.

"They didn't talk to anyone about anything at all," said Azzan Ali, a fellow student at a Florida flight school of two men named by the FBI as hijackers.

The FBI on Friday released names of the 19 men it identified as the hijackers of the four planes used in the attacks.

Some of the men left little trace of their time in America. Others stayed for years, taking flight classes, buying cars, moving from apartments to boarding houses to rented homes.

Several clustered around Mohamed Atta, a square-jawed 33-year-old pilot who ended up on the first plane to smash into New York's World Trade Center.

Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, 23, trained as pilots together in Florida and stayed together in the home of a former flight school worker in the summer of last year. Those who came across them said they called each other "cousin" -- the two are believed to be from the United Arab Emirates -- and kept to themselves.

Al-Shehhi was in the United States on a tourist visa. Like Atta, he had a federal pilot's license.

Atta and Al-Shehhi also were together in Hamburg, Germany. Authorities there say they were part of an extremist group that planned attacks against high-profile American targets. The two also took classes at a technical school there.

Ziad Jarrahi had a pilot's license listing a Hamburg address. Jarrahi was on United Airlines Flight 93, a plane hijacked from a Newark, N.J., to San Francisco route that crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

When it came time for their fateful flights, Atta and Al-Shehhi split up. Al-Shehhi was on United Flight 175, the plane which hit the second World Trade Center tower. The plane carrying Atta hit the first.

Authorities believe Atta flew from Portland, Maine, to Boston on Tuesday morning with another hijacker, Abdulaziz Alomari.

Alomari also took flight training in Florida. He told his landlord that he was a Saudi Arabian Airlines pilot getting more training at FlightSafety International, the flight school in Vero Beach where John F. Kennedy Jr. trained. A federal pilot's license for an Abdulrahman Saeed Alomari lists the airline's address in Saudi Arabia.

"I can't confirm there was any link between any of these individuals and Saudi Arabian Airlines," airline spokesman Thomas Quinn said. "There's been no indication to this office that these individuals were our employees."

Neighbors say Alomari was a family man. Living with him in the $1,400- a-month home were his wife and four school-age children. Neighbor Jim Smith said he noticed that when school started last month, Alomari's wife and children were gone. Alomari moved out on Sept. 3.

He told his landlord he was going home.

With Atta on the first plane was Waleed M. Alshehri, 25. Records show he had been in the United States since at least 1994, when he got a Social Security number and a Florida driver's license. In 1997, he graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida with a commercial pilot's training degree; he also has a commercial pilot's license.

Alshehri gave birthdates from 1974 to 1979 on various documents. Records show he lived in several different apartments in a complex in Daytona Beach, Fla., where Embry-Riddle is based. He also may have lived for a time at a boarding house in Vienna, Va., a Washington suburb.

FBI agents interviewed current tenants at the house, which is about three blocks from the Central Intelligence Agency's headquarters.

Abdul Latif Darab, a native of Afghanistan who has lived in the United States since 1982, said he told the FBI that Alshehri had not lived at the address for at least the past 14 months.

Darab said learned from the landlord that Alshehri was from Saudi Arabia. "He told the landlord he was going back home and that his father was a Saudi diplomat," Darab said.

Another hijacker who may have had a commercial pilot's license was Hani Hanjour, who was aboard the American Airlines flight which slammed into the Pentagon. Federal records show a Hani Hanjoor got a commercial pilot's license in 1999, listing a Saudi Arabian address.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 14, 2001



Altogether now (some may be aliases):

Mohamed Atta; Khalid Al-Midhar; Marwan Al Shehhi; Fayez Ahmed; Saeed Alghamdi; Mohald Alshehri; Hamza Alghamdi; Ahmed Alghamdi; Waleed M. Alshehri; Wail Alshehri; Abdulaziz Alomari; Satam Al Suqami; Majed Moqed; Nawaq Alhamzi; Salem Alhamzi; Hani Hanjour; Ahmed Alhaznawi; Ahmed Alnami and Ziad Jarrahi.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), September 14, 2001.

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