Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up in F

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up in F

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:21 pm

by Daniel Hopsicker
© 2004 by Daniel Hopsicker



For Rita & Norman Reilly, whose love & kindness form an enduring legacy ...

"One of the most disturbing moments of our time in South West Florida came when we sat down with two local law enforcement officials who could be considered fairly typical Southern Sheriffs, both of whom ventured the opinion that -- based on what they had witnessed of a 40-year long history of CIA-connected covert operations in their area -- they believed that the CIA was somehow involved in, if not responsible for, the World Trade Center attacks."


"Frankly, we can't differentiate between terrorism and organized crime and drug dealing." -- Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff to a Senate Banking Committee hearing about the terrorists' money trail.

-- Welcome to Terrorland, by Daniel Hopsicker

Table of Contents:

With Appreciation
Inside & Back Cover
1. Welcome to Venice
2. The Attempt to Assassinate George W. Bush
3. No Sniggering Allowed
4. The 'Third Landlord'
5. Enamored of Mohamed
6. Looking for Amanda
7. Mohamed Atta's Secret World
8. Mohamed Atta, Cyber-terrorist
9. The Secret History: Atta in Flight School
10. 23 Missing Helicopters
11. 'Saudi Prince' Mohamed Atta?
12. The Saudi Cover
13. "Evil in Our Own Backyard"
14. The Venice 'Magic Dutch Boys'
15. Chalk & Cheese
16. "Rudi the Crook"
17. Secretary's Day
18. A Bastard Nazi, a Flaming Gay Man & Jackson Stephens
19. A Lear Too Far
20. Wally World
21. Living with Mohamed
22. They're Trying to Kill the Magic Dutch Boys
23. Anatomy of a Cover-up
24. "Gunrunners, Drug Smugglers & Suitcase Salesmen"
25. The European Connection
26. Think. It Ain't Illegal Yet
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Re: Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:23 pm

With Appreciation

This book could not have been written without the support of friends and the kindness of strangers.

During a time when our country's "free press" has been mostly missing in action, being a 'dissident journalist' is well nigh impossible without the encouragement and assistance of people who are determined that the truth not be silenced.

I want to thank first of all my family: my Mom and Norman, who believed in me when I couldn't buy a thrill in the major media (I still can't); and my sister Carol, brother David, and brother-in-law Bob, for assistance above and beyond the call of duty.

To my friend and colleague Kris Millegan, whose good humor and steady hand are a major reason this book exists, and to Ed Bishop, whose graphic design has made the front cover pleasing on the eyes, I remain in your debt.

A huge and humble 'thank you' to Lois Battuello, a brilliant and indefatigable researcher whose knowledge and assistance buoyed me up when I felt like sinking like a stone, and kept me going through the niggling harassments designed to stall my efforts.

To my good friend Dr. David Stern, whose Deep Politics website was an early inspiration to those of us who saw the promise of the Internet to keep the Truth alive in a world of media whitewash, I owe a debt of friendship and gratitude.

I salute the courage of the people of the aviation community in Venice and Southwest Florida, and of local law enforcement there as well, who testified to what they saw and heard. And I salute the fortitude of the eyewitnesses who raised their voices despite the warnings and intimidation of the FBI, and defied the most un-American official conspiracy of silence they attempted to enforce.

Your example has been an inspiration, and has re-affirmed what it means to be a citizen of a country sometimes called The Last Best Hope, which is that, quite simply:

Real Americans won't be silenced.

September 11, 2001
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Re: Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:26 pm

Inside Cover


Venice Flying Service
Huffman Aviation
Stop Dreaming
Start Flying

Venice, Florida, where three of the four terrorist pilots learned to fly, is the biggest September 11 crime scene that wasn't reduced to rubble. Yet it has received no serious scrutiny for what it might reveal about the nature of the terrorist conspiracy that resulted in the 9-11 attack. Until now ...

Investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker went searching in Venice for evidence that Mohamed Atta and his Hamburg cadre received outside help while they were in the U.S. -- as authorities initially stated -- from a shadowy 'global network,' or even from foreign governments.

What he found was a massive FBI-led cover-up-in-progress in Florida, seemingly designed to conceal the true story of what had been going on in Venice Florida while Mohamed Atta and his Hamburg cadre conspirators made sit their 'home away from home' for a year and a half.

This book is packed with stunning revelations:

• The attempt on the life of President George W. Bush on the morning of the 9-11 attack at his hotel in Sarasota, Florida
• Mohamed Atta's American girlfriend, Amanda Keller, intimidated into silence by the FBI.
• Atta's meeting in Key West with two German men who flew in just to see him, during a booze-and-drug-filled three day weekend.
• Secretive financier Wally Hilliard of Naples, Florida, whose money bankrolled an operation which brought literally hundreds of Arab flight students -- many of them bin Laden operatives -- to Florida
• Numerous eyewitnesses in Florida intimidated into silence by the FBI and discouraged from talking with reporters about what they saw, because what they saw and heard seriously contracts the 'official story' about the identity and activities of Atta and the other members of the terrorist conspiracy during their time in the U.S.
• The hidden criminal history of CIA asset Rudi Dekkers, the man responsible for disseminating to virtually every TV news program in America what will shortly become the 'official story' about the activities of the terrorist conspiracy in Florida.
• The history of narcotics trafficking through the two airports Atta frequented, and their use for over 40 years in covert operations of the U.S. Government

Welcome to TerrorLand uncovers evidence proving that, far from being merely negligent or asleep at the switch, the CIA was not only aware that hundreds of Arab "student pilots" had been flooding into Florida, but was actually running the operation.

Daniel Hopsicker is the author of Barry & 'the boys' -- The CIA the Bob and America's Secret History, called "the definitive text on the subject" by at least one veteran of the Mena operation during Iran Contra. His investigative reporting appears in the MadCow Morning News [www.madcowprod.com] and probes into why, in the words of one famous Southern lawman: "Things ain't always been jes' right 'round here."

Mohamed Atta, alleged terrorist pilot of the first plane to hit the Twin Towers.

Marwan Al-Shehhi, alleged terrorist pilot of the second plane to hit the Twin Towers.

Siad Al-Jarrah, alleged terrorist pilot of the plane that "crashed" in Pennsylvania.

Wally Hilliard


Back Cover


What ARE they hiding down in Venice, Florida?

Welcome to Terrorland delves into this question and reveals the shocking results of a two-year investigation.

This is the story of Mohamed Atta, a black-hearted psychopath, in Florida, a pirate's paradise. If either had been different, September 11th might never have happened.

Rudi Dekker was having trouble paying his flight school rent on time for six months in a row before 9-11, yet he was able to pay a $50,000 judgment a month after the 9-11 attack.

Mohamed Atta's American girlfriend speaks about Atta for the first time: the sex, the drugs, the drinking, and the meetings in Florida with Swiss and German nationals whose names have never before been revealed.

This restaurant, a half-block from Atta's rented house in Venice, was the scene of an altercation between Atta & Marwan over money just a week before the attack. The waitress thought they were Mob.

"Hopsicker's reporting should already be as famous as that of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein."

"The outrageous truth about the life of 9-11's terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta doesn't come from America's National Commission of Inquiry, or the thousands of warrants issued by the FBI, or from cable news-channels or any other major media source, but from this book, the work of investigative reporter Daniel Hopsicker." -- Mathias Broeckers, author of the best-selling German book "Facts Forgeries and the Suppressed Evidence of 9/11"

The Lear jet of Huffman Aviation's secretive financier, was seized by the DEA with 43 pounds of heroin onboard, during the same month, July 2000, that Mohamed Atta began flying lessons at his school.

Who's Protecting the Magic Dutch Boys?

These two Dutch nationals provided cover for the covert operation going on in Venice while also giving Atta, Marwan and Siad Al-Jarrah flight lessons.

It was to Arne Kruithof's Florida Flight Training Center, a block away from Huffman Aviation, where Amanda saw Atta go to refill his cocaine stash.

Rudi Dekker has been convicted of a massive fraud in which one Dutch policeman said Rudi "was a spider in the center of a web of fraud."
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Re: Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:26 pm


One day while fumbling through my morning routine two years ago, I happened to glance at the Today Show while making coffee, and watched a Boeing 767 cross the sky, right over Katie Couric's shoulder in the monitor above the news desk, and explode into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

It was the most surreal event ever seen on this planet. Minutes later, I was among the untold millions worldwide watching human beings hanging out of 100th story windows.

And then they began to jump.

Tiny human figures, barely visible, wavered through the smoke on the upper floors. They were specks against the gleaming superstructure as they fell, bathed in the light of a late summer morning in New York.

U.S.. networks soon cut away -- on the pretext that it was just too horrible to air -- as the figures began dropping in groups of two's and three's from their perches and falling into the canyons below. But you only needed to see one body fall to feel a gut-wrenching anguish tear at your stomach.

Many, we learned later, jumped holding hands. And all I remember thinking was: "Those poor people."

Given the rate of falling bodies, something like 125 miles per hour, someone calculated that before they hit the pavement they had been falling for eight or nine seconds.

It must have seemed an eternity. Minutes earlier, some of them had been stirring 'sweet and lo' and 'non-dairy coffee whitener' into their mugs before heading to their desks.

And now this.

A fireman looked into the camera of the two French brothers shooting a documentary that morning (later aired on CBS) and asked "How bad does it have to be before jumping out a 100th story window seems like the better alternative?"

If you fall from a great height you're dead before you hit the ground, I read somewhere, because your heart stops. Although I want to, somehow I find that hard to believe.

I have an unforgettable image of a man dangling out a window on an upper story, being shot from a camera a long distance away, so you couldn't see his face distinctly in the wavering haze. He was still dressed in summer clothes, wearing white pants.

He was soon to be dead. I was grateful not to see a close-up of his face that would show whether he already knew it. He was someone just like me, except I was sitting at home sipping coffee and he was getting ready to leap to his death.

Two years later the memory remains indelible. Later someone posted still shots on the Internet capturing an image of a man in white pants hurtling past the building on his way down.

It was him.

At some point soon thereafter I discovered in myself a burning desire to understand how this had come to pass.


Here's the purpose of this book:

Those who saw innocent people slaughtered owe an obligation to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Justice, vengeance, a duty to our dead -- call it what you will, it demands adherence to a simple progression. Identify the people responsible, find them, and bring them to justice -- all of them -- even ones with non-Arab names, should any be found.

We owe it to them. Its a sacred duty which is somehow part of what being human means. If I were murdered in cold blood, I'd want someone to do it for me.

But there's a problem. Let me put it bluntly: Our government has not told us the truth about what happened. Nor do they appear to be committed to tracking down and punishing everyone responsible. Individuals in the U.S. Government possess an agenda that differs from this one, it has become painfully clear.

This discovery was almost as searing and painful as the black day itself. In the aftermath of the attack, we learned -- and in short order -- that we the people were to be kept in the dark about the most momentous event of the still-young 21st Century, just as we have for the last half of the 20th Century.

To date, the American people have still not been briefed about what happened that day, and why. We didn't hear the cockpit recordings. We didn't see pictures of the terrorists boarding the planes. We weren't told how they managed to get on-board.

We haven't been told why, afterwards, the FBI as if by magic knew the identity of the terrorists' ringleader almost immediately.

'We the people' weren't shown evidence that would prove the government's contentions beyond a reasonable doubt. When it came to answering questions about the attack, the message the government delivered to the people was: "You're not cleared for that information."

Never in this nation's history -- at least never in living memory -- has the flow of information from government to press and public been shut down so quickly and comprehensively. Washington, the place from which America's 'official story' emanates, went into almost total information blackout. Some people found themselves reading Pravda.

Overnight, the Bush Administration laid down an across-the-board and centralized control of the public's right to know.

In the wake of the 9/11 attack, officials in Washington promised explanations. They reneged. Secretary of State Powell promised a 'white paper.'

We're still waiting.

It was left to British Prime Minister Tony Blair to present the prosecution's case against Bin Laden, and he sketched out the Cliff Notes version of the evidence. Tony Blair said, "Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization with ties to a global network."

That made sense. The idea that Mohamed Atta and his henchmen needed help from an international organization while they were in the U.S. was easy to understand.

Logistical support is difficult to arrange from caves.

But what kind of global network? Blair didn't say. Blair's 'global network' remained elusive, unnamed, shadowy, and undefined. Several weeks later the FBI denied that this 'global network' existed, and proposed instead a 'Lone Cadre Theory' which became the operative assumption in their investigation.

"The 19 hijackers who carried out the worst act of terror ever to occur on U.S. soil worked with little outside help as a single, integrated group," the Washington Post reported. "As more of the conspiracy becomes understood, government sources now say that the investigation so far suggests the 19 had "no major help" in the United States."

"The FBI investigation into the plot is preliminary, and the conspiracy's precise nature probably will not be understood for years," the paper said.

If it is a conspiracy whose precise nature won't be understood for years, we wondered, how can the FBI already know the terrorists had received no outside help?

The FBI, of course, has spent several decades living down their 'lone gunman' theory of the JFK assassination. Perhaps this is why their 'lone cadre' theory has not been widely accepted. An Agency with a marked preference for lone (nut) gunmen was floating a 'lone cadre' trial balloon.

Atta's cadre was a lone cadre. Acting alone, at least while in the U.S. There was no one else involved. No Higher Ups.

Tony Blair's global network statements had been rendered in operative, without explanation, by the FBI.

Think nineteen 'lone gunmen.' A squadron of Lee Harvey Oswald's. Think Watergate. Whitewater. Kennedy.

Think 'cover up.'


Through it all, no one in the major media -- America's vaunted free press -- looked askance. For anyone who has lived through this country's recent history, there was an unmistakable and familiar feeling in the air ...

Another cover-up was descending like a blanket of fog.

Was it plausible that the 9/11 terrorist conspiracy, presumably launched by Al Qaeda, brought down the World Trade Center without outside assistance?

During those brief moments when the FBI was, presumably, looking for international networks which may have assisted the terrorists, were any organizations protected from scrutiny?

The September 11th attack is fast becoming one of the biggest mysteries in American history. Worse, even the pretense of respect for the "public's right to know" has now been discarded.

After the Kennedy Assassination, for example, the government at least felt obliged to appoint an independent investigation, and quickly. Forget for a moment that the Warren Commission was stacked with political hacks; at least the forms of representative democracy were respected.

Forty years ago, in the supposed 'bad old days' of official secrecy, before we moved into the sunlight of our more "enlightened" times, the government at least told the American public where supposed assassin Oswald had been living at a secret base in Japan, in Russia, New Orleans, Mexico City, Dallas ...

Now even that bit of noblesse oblige is a thing of the past, because they're lying to us about when Atta arrived in the U.S. and where he spent his time while he was here.

Worse, nineteen months after the attack the independent 9/11 investigation had still not gotten underway. Bush Administration spokesmen like Vice President Cheney fiercely lobbied Congress in an attempt to prevent any independent investigation at all.

The Bush Administration was successful -- not in capturing bin Laden -- but in thwarting the creation of an Independent Commission for over a year.

On the 9/11 investigation, the Bush Administration adopted the same strategy they scorned when Clinton used it during the Monica debacle:

"Deny. Deny. Deny."

Then, in a gesture that must have been designed to display his capacity for irony, Bush named Henry Kissinger to head the 9/11 commission.


In our post-modern global village filled with 24-hour news channels, we know far less about the life of Mohamed Atta than we did forty years ago about Lee Harvey Oswald.

Why is that?

One plausible explanation is that there has been a government-imposed media blackout. One of history's greatest crimes has gone without serious public examination or investigation.

Given the immensity of the tragedy, we find this reluctance to investigate more than inappropriate ...

It's suspicious. What are they trying to hide?


Late in a 2-year long investigation in Venice into the training of the terrorist hijackers, our suspicions were confirmed by the Chairman of the Congressional Intelligence Committee which investigated 9/11, Senator Bob Graham.

"Frankly, there is a piece of information which is still classified which I consider to be the most important information that's come to the attention of the joint committee," Graham said on CBS's Face the Nation.

"I was surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the terrorists in the United States."

"We hope that it will be declassified. I think it is an important part of our judgments as to where our greatest threats are and what steps we need to do to protect the American people here at home," Graham said.

His Republican co-chair, Senator Richard Shelby, indicated that the unease was bipartisan. "Time is not on our side," Shelby said. "You know, we were told that there would be cooperation in this investigation, and I question that. I think that most of the information that our staff has been able to get that is real meaningful has had to be extracted piece by piece."

"There is explosive information that has not been publicly released. I think there are some bombshells out there," said Shelby. "I know that."

Pressed for detail, Graham told reporters, "Most of that information is classified, I think overly- classified ... It will become public at some point when it's turned over to the National Archives, but that's 20 or 30 years from now."


To remain a Republic, a representative democracy, Americans should hear the truth a lot sooner than that.

We should hear it now.


One reason for the widespread distrust of the official explanation of the 9/11 attack -- there are dozens -- is the truly shocking fact that the FBI never finished its 9/11 investigation.

Less than a month after putting a 4,000-man FBI task force on the case, President Bush called off the FBI's investigation into the 9/11 terrorist conspiracy, on the pretext that the manpower was needed to fight the anthrax threat, then in the headlines daily.

When the anthrax scare was over, however, the FBI did not go back to finish its 9/11 investigation. After announcing their massive presence on the case, we never heard from the FBI in any meaningful way again.

Nor was any report ever issued to the American people of their findings, even though Bush Administration spokesmen like Secretary of State Powell promised they would.

There is one small ray of hope. After Dallas, it took twenty years before polls showed a majority of Americans no longer believed the official story of a lone gunman in the Kennedy Assassination.

But there is already a pervasive and widespread skepticism about the official explanation for the 9/11 attack. The skepticism is visible everywhere ... except, strangely enough, in our national media.

Lily Tomlin said it best: "No matter how cynical I get," she said. "I just can't keep up."


"Time is not on our side," said Republican Senator Shelby.

The same sentiment was put poignantly a few years back, at the launch of George magazine. Its founder, JFK Jr, was asked if he would use his new magazine to investigate his father's murder.

No, he said. Too much time had passed.

"Time," he said, "is the great enemy of the truth."

He was right.


The memory of 3,000 dead people commands us to do the best we can to find the truth about how it is they came to die on September 11, 2001. Today the clear task in front of us is to deconstruct the 'official story' about the 9/11 attack in as close to 'real time' as possible. In the absence of a free press, the job becomes more difficult.

Although there are a dozen burning questions about 9/11 worthy of book-length investigation, we chose to focus on just one.

Mohamed Atta in Florida. Who. What. When. Where. Why.

We did it because we have not received an explanation we find satisfactory from our government. In fact, it appears as if they think we don't deserve one.

Nor have the supposed perpetrators been brought to justice.

"When people at Ground Zero cheered President Bush as he stood amid the still-smoldering ruins ... they weren't cheering for 'regime change in Iraq,"' wrote Maureen Dowd in the New York Times.

"They wanted the head of Osama bin Laden."

We still haven't gotten it, as least as of this writing. We thought bringing Osama bin Laden to justice was our whole objective in Afghanistan. Apparently we were mistaken.

The actions of CIA and American military commanders in Afghanistan, as reported in the New York Times, do not reflect an emphasis on rigorous pursuit of Osama bin Laden, even when he was right there to be had.

In a September 30, 2002 front page article ("10-month Afghan Mystery: Is Bin Laden Dead or Alive?") the Times reported that people who were on the ground in Afghanistan during the siege of Tora Bora believe U.S. commanders did not act with anything like the zeal you'd expect from people whose mission was hunting down America's Most Wanted Man.

American forces in Afghanistan, the Times reported, "have not been helped by the suspicion here at Tora Bora, where bin Laden was all but trapped, that indecisiveness on the part of American commanders, or perhaps reluctance to risk casualties, may have helped him (bin Laden) escape."

"If (bin Laden) fled to Pakistan," the article continues, "he did so over snow-choked mountain trails that were not blocked by American or other allied troops until after the bombing -- an oversight that some of the allies point to as having squandered the best opportunity of the war to snare America's most wanted man."

"Within weeks high-ranking British officers were saying privately that American commanders had vetoed a proposal to guard the high-altitude trails, arguing that the risks of a firefight, in deep snow, gusting winds and low-slung clouds, were too high," said the Times.

"Similar accounts abound among Afghan commanders who provided the troops stationed on the Tora Bora foothills -- on the north side of the mountains, facing the Afghan city of Jalalabad," continued the Times story. "Those troops played a blocking role that left the Qaeda fugitives only one escape route, to the south, over the mountains to Pakistan."

One Afghan commander told of pleading with Special Forces officers to block the trails to Pakistan. "Their attitude was, 'we must kill the enemy, but we must remain absolutely safe," said warlord Hajji Zaher. "This is crazy."

We were incredulous. Low-slung clouds? The snow was too deep?

It seems inconceivable that America's Special Forces would have backed down or insisted on remaining absolutely safe in a fight to capture the leader of the forces that attacked America on 9/11 and took 3000 innocent lives.

An order to 'stand down,' if one was given, must have come from above.

So incompetence in the failure to bring to justice the chief criminal in the 9/11 attack is not the worst possible scenario we will be forced to consider. The worst possible scenario supported by available facts would be that the failure of U.S. commanders to capture Osama bin Laden may have been willful.


Two years ago 3,000 of our number perished in gruesome and horrible ways. It seems clear that if we want to know the truth about that otherwise unremarkable September morning, we will to have to find it ourselves.

The only thing I can think of worse than having to watch people dropping out of windows 100 stories above Manhattan, is having to watch it and then having your own government lie to you about who did it and why.

I can't tell you I know why they're lying.

But in the coming pages I believe I can prove they are.
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Re: Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:27 pm


This is the story of Mohamed Atta, a black-hearted psychopath, in Florida, a pirate's paradise. If either had been different, September 11th might never have happened.

We started with two simple questions: Why Atta? Why Florida? Except to point out his cold stare and unfriendly manner, little attention has been paid to the personality of Mohamed Atta, the man authorities quickly dubbed the 'terrorist ringleader.' 'J-Lo and Ben' receive more in-depth coverage in a week than the man who engineered the murder of 3,000 people.

Based on the accounts of eyewitnesses to Atta's actions in Florida, we discovered that Atta exhibited behavior that can only be described as psychotic. In fact, far from deserving the heroic mantle placed on his shoulders by Arab radicals, self-respecting Islamic fundamentalists should be ashamed that he sprang from their number.

Mohamed Atta wasn't a hero. He was a psychopath.

Before illustrating why Atta richly deserves that label, we want to first take a look at the 'Florida as pirate's paradise' part of our equation. What attractions were there in the Sunshine State that made it the Hamburg cadre's overwhelming choice for 'home away from home?'

Something has been struggling to emerge into our national consciousness concerning the physical location of most of the terrorist conspiracy's activities in the U.S. Mohamed Atta and his inner circle were in Florida while pursuing their murderous designs. The plot was masterminded from Florida.

What to make of this choice? Although media attention kept pointing away from the state -- to Phoenix, San Diego, and Minneapolis -- 14 of the 19 hijackers voted with their feet and hung their terrorist shingle out in a state which has been governed since 1999, it must be said, by the current President's brother.

With an entire continent seemingly at: their disposal, the terrorists chose Florida to be their American beachhead, and then base.

Why did Mohamed Atta, a man described by many who met him as a really 'natty dresser' lead his cadre from a bustling European metropolis with an internationally-famous red light district to a retirement community in a place where the only "action" involves senior citizens lining up for the early bird special?

It's an odd choice. It's not as if Florida reminded young Arab men from desert kingdoms of the trackless wastes back home. The state that made Don Johnson, Elian Gonzalez and pink flamingos famous is as far from being a desert kingdom as it gets.

There's the weather, for one. While a mecca for northerners during winter, Florida in early July, when the FBI says Atta arrived in Venice, is a steamy place. Even the natives head north until it cools off.

"Florida," wrote one early Spanish explorer, "is full of bogs and poisonous fruits, barren, and the very worst country that is warmed by the sun."

Some people will tell you not much has changed.

Yet 14 of the 19 hijackers based themselves in the Sunshine State. And since 15 of the 19 terrorist hijackers were Saudi, the story of the terrorist conspiracy is, perforce, a story about Saudis in Florida.


The conspiracy which took down the World Trade Center is a story about young Arab men practicing 'touch and go's' at obscure Florida airports, like the one in Venice, and checking in and out of hotels in Florida destination resorts like Orlando.

In the weeks after Sept. 11 the nation began to ask questions of Florida. Television commentators spoke of a "Florida curse." In truth, strange news had been emanating from that steamy world for some time.

The connection between Florida and most of the hijackers in the deadly attacks had state leaders questioning whether the Sunshine State had become a haven for international terrorists, where the world's nefarious characters feel free to congregate in a modern-day Casablanca.

"First we couldn't count the votes. Now we're hosting terrorists," said one state lawmaker.

"My God, Florida is always involved in these things," said Oscar Westerfield, a retired FBI official who specialized in foreign counter-intelligence and is now a security consultant in Tampa. Florida Governor Jeb Bush disagreed. After the attack, Governor Bush defended the flight schools as "victims of fanatics."

After moving to Venice, we received a missive from someone who minced no words in his explanation for the attractions of Florida to the terrorists:

"You reside in a druggie mobbed-up state that also houses a lot of foreign unfriendlies with ties to various international bad guys, is run by a Bush, and where people become alligator bait and get lost in the swamps quite frequently," wrote our friend. "Additionally, there seems to be a major overload of paramilitary types floating in."

If you think that sounds extreme, listen to what one of the state's own senators had to say. Florida long has been "a lair for spies and now terrorists," said U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in the Sept. 14, 2001 Orlando Sentinel Tribune.

Graham said: "Florida itself is a significant cross roads of international intrigue and clandestine collection."

What Graham is referring to is explained in a conversation between two lawyers outside the federal courthouse in Miami, one local and one from Washington.

"You know the most wonderful thing about Miami is its location," said the local lawyer.

"What do you mean?" the visitor asked.

"It's so close to the United States."


So while Mohamed Atta and Florida are a surrealistic pair, they also make a certain sense together. He always drove a Pontiac Grand Am, in a rainbow of colors. Atta was an Arab Don Johnson, starring in his own Miami Vice, and he looked and sounded, said eyewitness Brad Warrick of Pompano Beach, who rented several cars to Atta, ''as if he'd been in this country for a long time."

Atta and his cadre of terrorists lived in Florida, drank in Florida, and stuffed $20 bills down stripper's g-strings in skin joints all up and down the state.

And they learned to fly in Florida, too, mostly in the tiny town of Venice. It made nary a ripple when news first surfaced, though only briefly, that three of the four terrorist pilots learned to fly in a retirement community on Florida's Gulf Coast.

Mohamed Atta and sidekick and bodyguard Marwan Al-Shehhi were the ones identified as having been flight students there. Then it was reported -- in a strangely muted tone for what was big news -- that others of the terrorists had been in Venice as well, including Siad Jarrah, said to have been at the controls of the plane that went down in western Pennsylvania.

Three of the four 9/11 pilots learned to fly at two flight schools at the tiny Venice Airport. A terrorist trifecta out at the Venice Airport. Venice, Florida is the biggest 9/11 crime scene that wasn't reduced to rubble. But it hasn't been treated that way. And no one has offered any reason why.

Both flight schools were owned by Dutch nationals. Both had been recently purchased, at about the same time. A year later terrorists began to arrive, in numbers greater than we have so far been told. All of this must be just a freak coincidence, according to the FBI.

We call it their "Magic Dutch Boy Theory."

How had the FBI known the exact identities of the hijackers less than 24 hours after the attack? If their files had been so readily in hand, why hadn't they apprehended them before they killed thousands? And when conscientious FBI agents did try to raise alarms about known Al Qaeda sympathizers at U.S. flight schools, why were they ignored?

The only answer ever given by the FBI to why the terrorists came to the U.S. to learn to fly was 'because flight training is cheaper in the U.S."

But Atta and Marwan ended up paying more than double what flight training costs elsewhere, according to aviation experts. So price was apparently not the object. And besides, in Florida alone there are over 200 flight schools.

What inducements led them to the two in Venice?

Flight school owner Rudi Dekkers inadvertently released paperwork showing that Atta and sidekick Marwan Al-Shehhi paid $28,000 each for what the chief flight instructor at a nearby flight school, Tom Hamersley of Jones Aviation, explained to us was available at his school -- as well as dozens of others -- for a fraction of this price.

Were the inflated prices Atta and his minions paid some kind of 'terrorist surcharge?'

As days and then weeks passed with no word as to why so many terrorists had been in Venice, we grew increasingly suspicious.

The ugly truth was that there had been no official explanation for why terrorists beat a path from the Baltic Sea to Florida's Gulf Coast.

Was it that no one knew? Or was it that they did?


Venice, Florida, is an unlikely center of intrigue. But the Venice Airport, set beside an unsuspecting population of golf-playing retirees, is another story, we discovered. It has a history as a free-booting port of call for an international cast of Lear jet-setting rogues, spies, villains and terrorists.

Most of the key terrorists had Venice connections. Hamburg cadre member Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a candidate for 20th hijacker, was on his way to Venice until he was denied a visa.

Ramzi's replacement as the so-called 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, we discovered, had also been in Venice, with Arne Kruithof, one of the two Dutch national flight school owners.

Kruithof told a local aviation executive he'd been grilled for two days at the Sarasota Courthouse about his connections to Moussaoui, by an Assistant Attorney General from the Justice Department accompanied by top-level officials from the FBI, in town taking depositions from potential witnesses in Moussaoui's upcoming trial.

Even if it stopped right there, wouldn't it seem Venice would be fertile soil for investigative journalists looking for "behind the scenes" reports about the terrorist conspiracy's activities?

Yet when we rolled into town two months after the attack, we didn't find ourselves rubbing elbows with Mike Wallace or Bob Woodward at Clock's Restaurant downtown. And we weren't tripping over clusters of hard-drinking journalists at the bar at the Crow's Nest on the Gulf.

In fact, there were no investigative reporters nosing around in Venice. Speculation about why the terrorists found a tiny retirement community on Florida's Gulf Coast so congenial to their plans has not been voiced in the major media.

We find this more than passing strange.


But then, we knew quite a bit about Venice before we got there, since our parents have had a winter house there since retiring almost 25 years ago. The family gets together there almost yearly for a few days of quality 'family time' in the balmy Gulf breezes. Because of this personal history we began to doubt the official explanation, or lack of same ...

Venice is on Florida's sleepy Gulf Coast, sandwiched among the better-heeled resorts of Naples, Sanibel Island, Boca Grande -- a Bush family favorite -- and Sarasota, home to Katherine Harris.

Popular pastimes include shuffleboard, golf, and leafing through magazines in doctors' waiting rooms. Restaurant traffic peaks at 6 p.m. Crosswalks allow extra time to get across the street, and have that beep feature in case you can't see.

The town's claim to fame -- till now -- was that every year Venice hosts the "Shark's Tooth and Seafood Festival," said to be a unique event showcasing "the shark tooth capital of the world."

When it comes to shark teeth, all that can be said is that they don't get many people real excited. The gee-gaw shops lining Venice's main drag get tourists in with the shark's teeth, and move them on to something else. Those few who go wild for sharks' teeth suffer, we think, from a paucity of imagination, and have altogether too much time on their hands.

Venice's real distinction is that it has the second oldest population in the entire United States. The median age is 69. Local advertising skews towards wheelchairs, home health care, funeral directors, specialist physicians, and estate planning. Commercials for "The Clapper" play in heavy rotation.

So by billing itself as the shark tooth capital of the world, the city fathers may just be putting their best foot forward, because there's no cachet in being known as "the assisted living capital of the world."

Despite the elderly population, one thing felt familiar to Atta when he got to Venice, oddly enough. When he was a student at Technical University in Hamburg studying -- supposedly -- urban architecture and planning, he hung out at a place called Sharky's Billiard Bar. After moving to Venice he hung out at a restaurant and bar just across from the Venice Airport, also called Sharky's.

Small world.

Although Dekkers testified he hadn't seen Atta in many months, Atta was seen at the Venice Sharky's just two weeks before 9/11 meeting with the flight school owner.

Stuck in the sweltering middle of nowhere, 30 miles of mangrove swamps from the nearest real town, a retirement community of overwhelmingly white people does not appear to have much to offer healthy 30-something men, even if they were terrorists.

And it doesn't seem like an ideal place to hide an operation comprising several dozen dark-skinned foreign nationals.

So, why did young men choose to spend their final year on the planet in a town where handicapped parking spaces at the supermarket fill up fast? Why would healthy young men gravitate toward a retirement community anywhere? 'Cuz it ain't Hamburg. There's no red light district, unless you count the traffic signal downtown.

One possible answer is that bivouacking in Venice was someone else's decision. But of course, if Mohamed Atta and his Hamburg cadre didn't just wander in Rudi Dekker's flight school door, we have an entirely different story than our government has so far been telling.


When we rolled into Venice two months after 9/11 the town was quiet on the surface, but jittery underneath, a discovery made after being pulled over by the local Venice Police twice on our first day in town. In 25 years of visiting the parents we don't remember even seeing a cop.

The Venice Airport was under around the clock 24-7 surveillance. A police cruiser roved the perimeter. Although this stretched the resources of a small department, there seemed no reasonable explanation for it. Were local officials expecting the terrorists to make a vengeful return appearance? More likely, the terrorist would be sending a postcard saying "Thanks for the help! Wish you were here!"

It made no sense. Later on we learned that all three of the top city officials filed for concealed weapon's permits at about the same time. It still didn't make sense, but now it seemed more serious. On each of the two occasions we were pulled over, we identified ourselves as a visiting journalist, and since neither stop resulted in a ticket, but just a friendly wave, we concluded they were some kind of local law enforcement custom. A 'meet and greet.'

On the second occasion, we asked the officer if it would be prudent to pay a courtesy call on the police chief. He allowed that it might. So we did, stopping at the new police headquarters to say hello. And we're glad we did, because the sergeant on duty proved congenial, which gave us a chance to ask a few questions about Rudi Dekkers, the owner of Huffman Aviation, who had been everywhere on television during the days after the attack.

It was a simple question, really. We wanted to know if Dekkers had any local 'priors.' But it made Sergeant Marty Treanor sigh. Then he started to say something, thought better of it, and sighed again.

He said he couldn't tell us if Dekkers had been in any trouble in Venice, because all of his files were gone.


"The FBI took all our files, everything. They loaded the files right outside this window," said Treanor, indicating a parking lot outside the station, "into two Ryder trucks, then drove them right onto a C-130 military cargo plane at the Sarasota airport, which took off for Washington with Jeb Bush aboard."

We will come back to visit the question of the Governor of Florida's national security responsibilities. The important point was that taking files was a lot different than copying them. The FBI wasn't taking any chances.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Venice City Manager George Hunt said to reporters, "It's really just coincidence that terrorists chose such a place (as Venice) to be their training ground for the unspeakable."

Was that true? Determining whether it was or not would be complicated by the fact that the FBI had dutifully confiscated anything that looked remotely like evidence.

What the FBI was doing with it is still anybody's guess.

Our suspicions that there was something wrong with the official story would grow steadily. But the first indication we had that they might be correct came in that first encounter with local law enforcement. The police spokesman seemed troubled that he lacked the ability to respond to questions about the possible criminal background of flight school owner Rudi Dekkers.

It sounded as if he would have liked to. He sounded none too happy about the fact that all police files pertinent to 9/11 were gone. At the time we wrote it off as just stepped-on toes, a little resentment by local law enforcement when they were brushed aside by federal agents.

But maybe it was something more.

After a week in Venice we realized in some horror that the terrorists had been flying right over our parent's house several miles east of the airport. There were lots of them flying at one time, too, apparently, in virtual squadrons, according to the local Venice Gondolier, in a story written while Atta was at the Venice Airport.

The City Council heard numerous complaints from residents, upset about student pilots taking off at the Venice Municipal Airport and flying low right over their homes, as each circled the Airport, and practiced landings, again and again, in a maneuver called a 'touch and go.'

One local resident, Walter Fife, a clearly indignant fellow, told the Council he had counted 90 student flights over his house in a two hour period. There were, he figured, about 15 planes flying overhead six times each.

Fifteen planes. A terrorist squadron. Bin Laden Air.

When Fife's wife Gerda contacted Huffman Aviation, reported the Gondolier, an employee there suggested the Fifes could move out if the noise bothered them.

The City Council took no action, not even to reprimand the Huffman employees for being rude to Walter Fife's wife Gerda, although we bet they wouldn't like it if somebody was talking trash to their mom.

Huffman Aviation had some juice in Venice.

Unraveling the connection between the terrorists and the unlikely place to which they flocked became our major endeavor. It would take more than a year before any answers became clear.

On the other hand, the answer to our second question -- why Atta? -- came all at once after we had finally been successful in a months-long quest to track down Mohamed Atta's erstwhile American girlfriend, who wasn't eager to be found.

We learned from her what it was about Mohamed Atta that made him uniquely qualified to fly into a skyscraper without flinching.

Our search for the terrorist ringleader's girlfriend is fully covered later. For now, we'll just say that after a lengthy process of digging we found the young woman named Amanda Keller who local news accounts stated had lived for a short time with Mohamed Atta.

When she 'hooked-up' with Atta, Amanda Keller was a willowy 20 year-old 'lingerie model' and stripper with spiky pink hair. She worked nights for an escort service called Fantasies & Lingerie which catered to a mixed crowd of politicians, judges, high-rollers and socialites of both sexes, just down the street from Cheetah's, a strip club Atta was known to frequent in nearby Sarasota.

Amanda was Mohamed Atta's live-in girlfriend in Venice for more than two months. And while the full story of her experience awaits a later chapter, one supremely horrific experience should be brought up now, because it clearly shows Atta to have been someone capable of driving a Boeing 767 airliner into tons of steel and glass.

The two went out almost every night, during their brief time together, Amanda told us, to clubs like Area 51 and Margarita Maggie's in Sarasota. They were, as she described it, part of a whole scene. "When we went out we would meet pilots from Africa, Germany, and there were always lots of Arabs," she said.

But, the good times didn't last long, and after just two months, Amanda was ready to move on. But instead of clueing him in during a quiet dinner in a restaurant somewhere, she dumped him in a humiliatingly public fashion, in a night club where they were partying with a bunch of Atta's friends.

Amanda met a good-looking long-haired party animal who she noticed dancing bare-chested near her. We'll let her tell the story...

"We were at Margarita Maggie's in Sarasota near the Quay," she began. "Angelina, Olivia, Timothy, Juergen, Sabrina, Mohamed, Wolfgang ... they were all there."

"And Mohamed, like a dumb-ass, was standing on top of a speaker dancing. The man could not dance to save his life, he was real stiff, just kind of shaking, doing that old 'Roxbury head bob' thing, you know? He embarrassed me instantly when we got there, and I pretended I didn't know him," Amanda said.

"I was dancing onstage, because onstage the guys can't come up and dance with the girls. I was up there with a whole bunch of other girls and Angelina. And this cute guy was dancing right below us, and the light was hitting him, and he had this long beautiful hair, and he looked at me, and I got real embarrassed."

The 'cute guy's name was Garret, we heard.

"I had seen Angelina hug him earlier in the night, and I said to her, 'You've got to introduce me to him.' Mohamed was just a few feet away watching, and I didn't give a damn," she said.

"And we finally started dancing and he handed me his shirt, and Mohamed got really pissed. He (Garret) wrapped his shirt around my legs and was dirty dancing with me, and he slid me down off the stage and began brushing his lips against mine, and kissed me," she said.

"Mohamed came over and tapped me on my shoulder, and I said, 'What the hell do you want?' And he said, 'What are you doing?"' she said, mocking Atta's apparently British-accented English.

"And I said, 'I'm dancing!' Garret walked over to get himself a beer, and Mohamed said, 'I'm leaving."'

"And I said, 'See ya.' And he said, 'When are you leaving?"'

"And I said 'Whenever I feel like it!"'

He asked me about Garret, saying, 'Who's that?"'

"And I said, 'I guess he's the new one.' And I stayed until the club closed."

That night Amanda went home with her new beau. Things were never the same between her and Atta again.

"The day I stopped liking him," she mused aloud, "was when I saw him for the first time out at the pool, wearing a lime-green Speedo. He had a flank-y ass."

A lime-green Speedo, when we thought about it, was one of those perfect details that make sense instantly. It was the shock of recognition: that's exactly the kind of Euro-trash look someone like Atta would affect.

Mohamed Atta in a lime-green speedo at the pool, revealing a flank-y ass.

There's nothing exceptional in this story ... so far. Another half-sad, half-comical 'hook-up' gone wrong. But events now began to spin out of control. Although Atta's money paid the rent, the apartment lease was in her name, Amanda explained. One night soon after meeting Garret, the 'hot new guy', she brought him back to the apartment. She told Atta he could deal with it. He could move out. Or he could check with the landlord.

The hot new guy was sleeping over. The hot new guy was in the 'big bed.' Atta was on the couch. After discussing what she should do with the apartment house manager, who corroborated her story, Amanda Keller unceremoniously dumped Atta's three suitcases and Gold's gym bag onto the parking lot underneath their second floor apartment, and called him a cab.

"He told me he'd get even with me," she says. "He said: 'You will be sorry for this!'"

One week later she found out what he had meant, upon returning from a long night at the escort service to the apartment that was now hers alone.

Amanda kept a pet dog, and several cats as well, one of whom had just had a litter, she informed us haltingly. There were six adorable kittens. But when she opened the door to her apartment, she didn't hear any kitten noises, which was strange ...

And then she hit the overhead light. Voice cracking with emotion, she told us what she saw: there were dead kittens -- no, pieces of dead kittens, kitten parts -- strewn all over her living room.

We asked her to repeat what she was saying, mainly because we couldn't believe what we were hearing.

She walked through it again. "I came home from work, after breakfast with Page (a co-worker), and then went down to the beach to talk for a while, so it was about 9 a.m. when I walked into my apartment," she stated.

"She (the mother cat) had had a litter of six, and only one survived. The mother cat was dead, gutted on my kitchen table. And there were little baby cat parts all over the place."

"The only ones to survive were my little dog, that hid under the couch, and my Siamese, who sat on top of the fridge behind the cookie jar. There were dead kittens with their heads cut off, little body parts everywhere, I saw little baby legs and everything. It was awful. My friend, Page, had to clean it up. I couldn't do it."

In an apartment directly across the street from the Venice Airport, an American girl who had spurned Mohamed Atta was stepping around kitten parts. She moved out that same day and never returned.

Numerous descriptions of Atta have painted him as menacing, dark, glaring, sometimes just wooden. We heard speculation, from people who had been in his presence in Venice, that he looked as if he might have been brainwashed, not that anyone in town had ever seen anyone who had been brainwashed, but he looked the way they thought somebody in that condition might look.

But after listening to Amanda Keller's story, corroborated by eminently-credible witnesses in coming pages, we're confident we got the answer to one of our big questions about the 9/11 attack: why Mohamed Atta had been the one chosen to commit one of history's most unspeakable crimes.

It was because he could he was capable of it. Not merely capable, but seemingly perfect for the job.

Mohamed Atta was a psychopath. A Kitten Killer.

We're in Jeffrey Dahmer territory here.

While the FBI's phony chronology of Mohamed Atta will be explored later, it's worth noting that the events just described took place in Venice fully four months after the FBI says Atta left town.

The FBI has said nothing at all about his numerous appearances in Venice after finishing flight training at Huffman in December 2000.

We don't know why. Perhaps if they admitted Atta had been in Venice a lot more than they'd told us, they would have to answer questions about what he was doing while he was there that authorities would prefer not to see raised.

Questions that might open up what legendary Southern Senator William Fulbright once called 'an endless can of worms.' Fulbright was speaking about the Bay of Pigs invasion.

But he might just as well have been describing the 9/11 cover-up in Florida.


When we finally tracked her down, Amanda Keller displayed the reluctance to talk about her brush with history we soon discovered was common among people who had been contacted by the FBI after 9/11.

Reporters had camped out on her doorstep in the days after the attack in a vain attempt to get her to talk. She told them that authorities had told her not to say anything. And then she disappeared, going into seclusion in a place where she had every right to think she would never be found.

Until she told us her story, after we finally managed to show up on her doorstep, she had spoken just eleven words to reporters, which sum up 'the way things were' in southwest Florida in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack.

"I can't really discuss anything," Amanda Keller told reporters.

"I'm afraid I'll get in trouble."
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Re: Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:28 pm


Two hours before terrorist hijackers began crashing airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, four Arab men in a white van pulled up to the guard gate of the hotel where George W. Bush was spending the night, the Colony Beach Resort Hotel on Longboat Key in Sarasota, Florida, and launched an attempt to assassinate the President of the United States.

The attempted assassination had very likely been coordinated by terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta, just then passing through airport security 1000 miles away in Portland, Maine.

Several days before Bush's arrival in Sarasota, according to eye-witnesses, Atta had been meeting with co-conspirators at a Holiday Inn barely two miles down the beach from the hotel where Bush would be staying.

Two hours before the assassination attempt was launched, Secret Service agents guarding the President in Sarasota received a dramatic predawn warning of an imminent threat.

That two years later Americans have been told nothing about these events illustrates both how seriously U.S. officials took the attempt, and how far they have been willing to go to keep a tight rein on information. Whoever said "the first casualty of war is the truth," said a mouthful.

We discovered the assassination attempt while sifting through local news coverage in the aftermath of the attack, acting on a friend's cynical dictum that the only real news you get when something big happens is in the first 24 hours, before the cover up is put in place.

We had been scrutinizing news accounts from the confusing early hours and days following the 9/11 attack. We were looking for big news stories that inexplicably and immediately died, without explanation or follow up.

It's called 'suppressed news,' and we hoped to discover a few nuggets. But we didn't just find nuggets. We found boulders.

Amazing things were happening in Sarasota during the pre-dawn hours before September 11th, events which we discovered had surfaced briefly in news reports before disappearing, never to be heard from again.

We did our job by piecing together two separate news reports from Sarasota -- one a local television newscast, the other a town newspaper -- that together lead to the inescapable conclusion that during the intrigue which was swirling in Sarasota before dawn that day, terrorists were looking to kill George W Bush.

The first report stated that a pre-dawn warning of imminent attack had been delivered to President Bush's Secret Service detail in Sarasota, and aired on the Sarasota ABC affiliate's evening newscast.

"The warning of imminent danger was delivered in the middle of the night to Secret Service agents in Sarasota guarding the President," reported Monica Yadov of ABC's Sarasota affiliate, "and it came exactly four hours and thirty-eight minutes before Mohamed Atta flew an airliner into the World Trade Center."

The second story is a chilling eyewitness account of the attempted assassination in progress. It came from the Longboat Observer, which literally covers the waterfront in upscale Longboat Key, where Bush spent the night before the attack.

"At about 6 a.m. September 11, Longboat Key Fire Marshall Carroll Mooneyhan was at the front desk of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort as Bush prepared for his morning jog. From that vantage point, Mooneyhan overheard a strange exchange between a Colony receptionist and security guard," the paper reported.

"A van occupied by men of Middle Eastern descent had pulled up to the Colony stating they had a 'poolside' interview with the president, Mooneyhan said."

Neither of the two reporters knew of the other's report. But both had covered different angles of the same story ... a concerted attempt by four Arab men posing as journalists to gain access to President George W. Bush at 6 a.m. on the morning of September 11th, for the purpose of ending his life.


Here's how it went down:

Zainlabdeen Omer, a Middle Eastern native residing in Sarasota, contacted Sarasota police in the middle of the night to tell them a friend of his, who had made violent threats against President Bush in the past, had just shown up -- and unexpectedly -- in Sarasota, ABC's Yadov reported.

The man who Omer warned authorities about was identified in the Sarasota police report of the incident only as 'Ghandi.'

Omer said 'Ghandi' told him he was in town to get a friend out of jail ... But Omer had heard 'Ghandi' make violent remarks about Bush in the past, and since the President was in Sarasota at the same time, Omer feared his friend might be in Sarasota to kill the President.

The warning was initially given to the Sarasota police, who called in the Secret Service. Within hours Secret Service agents were searching an apartment in Sarasota.

Turns out, Omer was right. They arrested three men, all from the Sudan, and took them in for interrogation. The questioning lasted, according to one of the three, Fathel Rahman Orner, for ten hours.

"The police came and arrested me and three other people," Fathel Rahman explained in the ABC interview. Rahman said he couldn't help the Secret Service.

"So you know nothing about the President coming to Sarasota?" asked Yadov.

"I know nothing," he replied. "I know nothing about Osama bin Laden, nothing like that."

Moving quickly, the Secret Service next swooped down on a local beauty supply store, whose owner had been fingered by Omer as being a close associate of 'Ghandi.'

The owner of a liquor store next door watched as agents raided the place. "Very shortly after the World Trade Center attack, we noticed four or five agents swarm the building next door," explained Greg Breslich, owner of North Trail Liquors in Sarasota.

"We always thought there was something strange about that establishment. We saw a lot of people go in there, but never saw anyone come out carrying any beauty supplies."

Agents detained and questioned the owner of the beauty supply store, a Muslim named Hakim. Hakim, too, had disturbing information for the Secret Service about Ghandi, reported Yadov.

He told agents Ghandi was a member of the SPLA, or Sudanese People's Liberation Army, a Christian and animist guerrilla group fighting the fundamentalist Muslim government in Sudan.

Whoa! Sarasota, Florida, seems a little far afield for sub-Saharan freedom fighters. What could they have been doing there? Pricing retirement real estate?

Maybe they had been receiving covert training in the swamps, which is a southwest Florida tradition. Bay of Pigs invaders stormed the beaches here practicing for Cuba, a local Sheriff told us.

And why would operatives of a guerrilla organization fighting against a government of Islamic fundamentalists closely allied with Osama bin Laden want to assassinate, of all people, George W. Bush? It didn't make sense.

But once you admit the possibility that there exist sub-Saharan Christian animist guerrilla fighters in whitebread Sarasota, Florida, anything seems possible.

We were able to confirm much of ABC reporter Monica Yadov's account. The arrest of the Sudanese men made national wire service reports on the day after the attack. The Associated Press said the Secret Service interrogated four Sudanese men in Sarasota after getting a tip that the men intended to harm President Bush during his visit to the city.

But the men taken into custody had been released, and the incident found to be "unrelated" to the attacks, said the AP story. The Secret Service also dismissed the report, saying the warning was "coincidental" to September 11.

The Special Agent in charge of the Presidential detail in Sarasota told reporter Yadov that the President was never in any danger, and the connection to the SPLA, and the warning that the Secret Service got before the terrorist attack, was all "just a coincidence."

For good measure the FBI weighed in, pooh-poohing the story to reporters asking about the significance of the warning. In the vague and wary way government spokespeople seem to have patented, FBI spokesman Sarah Oakes said, "Nationwide the FBI has received over 200,000 such tips, with more than 5,000 of the tips coming into the Tampa office alone."

The explanation would have to do. No one would have anything more to say. Another mystery averted by your friends in public service. When your credibility as an agency has already been shredded, as the FBI's has, there's not much left to lose. Their denial made no sense, but it served to stop further investigation into the predawn warning.

Stopped it on a dime.

Until reporter Yadov went looking for Hakim, the owner of the raided beauty supply store, and discovered that Hakim's beauty supply store wasn't there anymore. Hakim was missing, too. He left in something of a hurry after being released by the Secret Service, Yadov learned. Gone. No one knew where.

And Hakim wasn't the only witness to disappear in Sarasota. Zainelabdeen Omer was missing too. The man whose warning of imminent havoc had been right on the money was now unavailable for comment. He quit his job and left town, just ahead of reporter's questions.

Hakim and Omer joined the swelling ranks of 9/11 Missing Witnesses. We like to think of them as just all being on vacation together somewhere, maybe on an Island of Lost Witnesses.

Some of Omer's friends could still be found, however.

One told Yadov: "Omer got in a lot of trouble with the law. All I know is he can't leave town."

"So you think he's still somewhere around?" she asked.

On camera, Omer's friend shrugs and says, "Should be. If he's still alive."

It's a chilling moment. If Omer's still alive? Why wouldn't he be?

Where are the missing Sudanese men today?

The Secret Service doesn't know. Yadov checked with the INS. Was Omer being detained? The INS wouldn't say.

Their responses sounded a little cavalier, especially from people who take very seriously their job of protecting the President, unless by being part of a deliberate cover-up they thought they were protecting the President. But two years later?

But if it was a cover-up, how could you tell? One sure way, we figured, would be to look for signs of witness intimidation. If authorities were actively discouraging people with firsthand knowledge from talking, then you can be pretty sure that something's rotten in the state of Denmark. Or Florida.

Was there evidence of witness intimidation? Yes ... The eyewitness to the incident at the front gate of Bush's hotel who came forward, Carroll Mooneyhan, was a Longboat Key Fire Marshal. He had been milling in the lobby of the Colony Beach Resort at 6 a.m. along with Secret Service agents waiting to accompany Bush on his morning run.

When reporter Shay Sullivan of the Longboat Observer interviewed him about what he'd seen, Mooneyhan probably didn't know enough to dummy up. He was local. He was honest. He was a fireman. So he talked.

And even though reporter Sullivan knew nothing about Yadov's corroborating report of an earlier predawn warning, the savvy reporter immediately suspected that Mooneyhan had witnessed a foiled assassination attempt.

Mooneyhan told the Observer that he had been waiting at the front desk in the lobby of the hotel when a white van arrived at the hotel's guard gate carrying four Middle Eastern men.

The men in the van identified themselves as a television news crew with an appointment with the President, claiming they had a 'poolside' interview scheduled with Bush after his morning run. They even asked for a Secret Service agent by name, Mooneyhan said.

Secret Service agents at the guard station told the men to contact the President's public relations office in Washington D.C. to schedule an interview. They turned the four Arab men away, but they let them go. "In light of the attacks, Mooneyhan wonders if what he witnessed is related to the events of September 11," reported the paper.

So did the FBI. Sort of.

"That's very strange," an unnamed agent with the Sarasota field office of the FBI said, when informed what happened. Sullivan wrote, "He said he would direct agents to look into the matter."

The FBI's blase reaction wasn't enough to put Sullivan off the story, however. He noticed that the ploy used to attempt to gain access to Bush had been used, and successfully, just two days earlier by bin Laden operatives to murder the Taliban's biggest foe.

Two Arab men pretending to be journalists arrived to conduct an interview with charismatic Northern Alliance leader Shah Massoud on September 9th in Afghanistan. They used the ruse to gain an audience with the legendary guerrilla leader, who fought against the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan in the 1980's, and was now leading the resistance against Taliban rule.

Massoud Khalili, a Northern Alliance leader who was there, said:

"Shah Massoud said, 'O.K. Let's film."'

Then the 'journalists' blew themselves up, killing Massoud, One of the two 'journalists' detonated a bomb hidden inside their television camera, killing their intended target and themselves.

The blast almost claimed his life as well, said Khalili. "I was screaming and then again I saw the noise from the camera. Then I saw the hand of Commander pushing me back and I was unconscious. I'll never forget the face of my friend stained with blood," he told CNN.

The Northern Alliance immediately said it had evidence that Massoud's assassination was the work of bin Laden ... but not just Osama bin Laden. Many, like Massoud's companion Khalili, thought bin Laden had outside help as well.

"One thing we believe is that it was a global network of Osama plus some others who killed Commander Massoud. I believe they also said it was a global network of Qaeda and others who brought this catastrophe in New York," Khalili said.

There's that 'global network' again.

Based on eyewitness accounts, the Sarasota assassination attempt was probably coordinated by Mohamed Atta himself, reported the Observer: "If three eyewitnesses are correct, terrorist hijacker Mohamed Atta came to the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites -- Longboat Key September 7th -- the day the media announced President George W. Bush would be coming to the area September 11 to speak at a Sarasota school. Atta may have been there to meet a second hijacker, Marwan Al-Shehhi."

A waiter at the Holiday Inn, Frank Boyal, said while he was there Atta didn't stray far from the bar, the paper reported. Atta and his companion had both ordered the hotel's $18.95 "Surf and Turf" buffet.

"They were just here," he said. "I remember the face."

When we visited the Holiday Inn Hotel, the bartender at the hotel pub, Darlene Sieverts, confirmed for us that Atta had most definitely been there ... "Mohamed Atta sat right on that bar stool you're sitting on now, drinking rum and coke," she stated. "But I didn't have any real interaction with him. A bartender can tell when a customer doesn't want to talk, and he didn't."

"About fifteen minutes after he arrived he was joined by a second man, who indicated that he didn't speak English when I asked what he'd like to drink," she continued.

"The second man motioned for Atta to intercede, but instead of ordering something for him Atta asked for the bill. He left a $20 bill to cover a $4 tab."

Seiverts recollections were echoed by other hotel employees, who remembered seeing Atta dining in the hotel restaurant with a second man.

In Sarasota, just a few days before the attack, Mark Bean, the hotel's assistant food and beverage director, identified the second man as Marwan Al-Shehhi.


One need only compare what we've just learned about the fateful morning of September 11th with what was reported to have happened to begin to understand how complete the 9/11 information embargo has been.

The AP story, for example, made no mention of a van filled with Middle Eastern men attempting to gain access to the President as Bush was leaving for his morning jog.

They also neglected to report the predawn warning of an imminent attack. Instead, media accounts of that morning at the Colony Beach Resort sound much like this one, from the London Telegraph: "Bush awoke in the magnificent surroundings of the Colony Beach Resort on Longboat Key ... on the morning of his 234th day in office, with a light, warm breeze slipping in from the ocean. After breakfast, Bush led his Secret Service crew on a four-mile run around the nearby Sarasota golf links," reported the paper.

"On his return to the Colony, the President showered, changed into a lightweight, dark blue suit, and, still glowing from the morning's exertion, sat down for the first routine intelligence briefing of the day. It was 8 am."

We'll stop there, because it doesn't get any better. Although we learn that Mr. Bush was wearing a lightweight dark blue suit they spare us the detail that he had been a target for assassination.


In light of what happened in Sarasota that morning, the true beginning of what we know as the 9/11 Attack was probably Shah Massoud's assassination in Afghanistan on September 9th. Had the white van with four Arab men, the 'TV crew,' gotten close enough to Bush, his fate would have been the same as Massoud's.

That same morning, about 8 a.m., a Longboat Key resident standing on the Sarasota bay front waiting to watch the Presidential motorcade go by noticed something unusual for Sarasota ... a dilapidated van.

Inside the van, he told police, were "two men of Middle Eastern descent screaming out the windows 'Down with Bush' and raising their fists in the air."

What the shocked Sarasota resident probably witnessed was the frustration of men stopped tantalizingly short of eternal access to more virgins than you can shake a stick at.


When we finally reached him by phone, Carroll Mooneyhan, the fire captain who saw the launch of a quickly hushed-up assassination attempt on the life of George W Bush, told us:

"I was visited by the CIA and the Secret Service after 9/11. I have a career to think about. I have to be careful what I say."

And that was the last we heard from him.
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Re: Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:28 pm


If people 'with careers to think about' were being pressured into keeping silent about something as serious as an assassination attempt on the President, what else might authorities be covering up?

Try: "almost anything." And then delete "almost."

When we began interviewing eyewitnesses to Mohamed Atta's sojourn in Florida -- what historians call primary sources -- we were soon in the midst of a major 'anomaly' in the official story. There was a problem in the FBI's timeline about when Atta first arrived in the U.S. to set up his terrorist HQ.

The FBI states Mohamed Atta landed in America on June 3, 2000.

We interviewed a good dozen credible eyewitnesses who could tell them they were wrong. Didn't they know that?

They did. The logic is inescapable ... if we knew it, we had to figure that they knew it as well. After all, they had a massive 4,000- man investigation team. They could put 3,999 more investigators on the street than we could.

They interviewed the same people we did, and heard the same things we heard. So the FBI was not wrong on Atta's timeline by accident. They were not making what could be considered honest mistakes. They were lying.

Things were worse than we'd imagined. How much worse became clear when we began to compare the truth as we found it with the official story of Atta's activities and movements.

From a number of sources, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, we compiled the reported milestones in the FBI's chronology of Atta's time in the U.S. Let's start with the official story as recounted in Time magazine, (Oct. 8, 01):

"On June 3, 2000, he (Atta) arrived in Newark, N.J., from Prague with a six-month tourist visa. Within a month, Atta and Al-Shehhi signed up for flight training at Huffman Aviation International in Venice, Fla."

That's simple enough. What the FBI says happened next was reported in the Sept. 23, 2001 Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel:

"South Florida became Atta's home for almost 14 months. Al-Shehhi traveled with him. They lived in Nokomis (next to Venice) a southwest Florida suburb, as they learned to fly small airplanes at Huffman Aviation from July to November 2000. That December, they apparently moved to southeast Florida as Atta shelled out about $1,500 for him and Al-Shehhi to gain six hours in a jet simulator at SimCenter in Opa-Locka."

Okay, we think we've got the FBI's story, which goes like this: Atta arrives in the U.S. in early June, begins flight training at Huffman in Venice in July, then leaves Venice in December and moves gratefully on to the jazzier precincts of the Miami area.

It is a simple, straight-forward timeline. Just for safety's sake, let's hear it one more time, in the sworn testimony of Huffman Aviation's Rudi Dekkers -- the colorful and controversial Dutch national whose numerous post-9/11 TV appearances made him a minor celebrity -- before the House Judiciary Committee.

"On July 1st, 2000," Dekkers testified, reading from a prepared statement, "Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi arrived at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida to inquire about taking flying lessons. "


"After a description was given about our flying school, they said they would let us know what they would decide about the flying lessons. On July 3rd, 2000, Atta and Al-Shehhi came back to Huffman Aviation to sign up for lessons" said Dekkers.

"On December 24th, 2000, Atta and Al-Shehhi rented a Warrior from Huffman Aviation for a flight ... one to two days later Atta and Al-Shehhi returned to Huffman Aviation to make final payments on their outstanding bills. Because they were not taking any more flying lessons, they were asked to leave the facility due to their bad attitudes and not being liked by staff and clients alike. Huffman never heard about or from them again."


The official story, we can say with confidence, is that after getting their pilot licenses Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi left Venice forever by Christmas of the year 2000.

In the remaining eight months and 11 days before the attack, the FBI's chronology leans heavily, though not exclusively, on Miami-area locations:

Atta is living in an apartment in Hollywood, and then another in Coral Springs. He abandons a stalled private plane on a runway in Miami, purchases global-positioning devices in Fort Lauderdale, trains on a sophisticated full-motion simulator in Opa-Locka. He rents single-engine planes in Belle Glade, at the Palm Beach County Airport, and in Gwinnett County, Georgia.

He consults a pharmacist in Delray Beach, hangs out at Shuckum's Raw Bar in Hollywood, gets a traffic ticket in Broward County, and has frequent meetings in Paterson, New Jersey.

He flies commercial from Fort Lauderdale to Boston. From Boston to New York, to Prague, back to Newark, from Newark to Fort Lauderdale, then to Madrid from Miami, to Las Vegas and back.

While far from comprehensive, this run-down clearly illustrates the official story about Atta, which is that after December of 2000, he is never in Venice. When the FBI speaks of him, the word "Venice" does not pass their lips.


Two weeks after the attack the FBI released photographs and brief bios of the hijackers along with a "request for the public's assistance in obtaining more information about these individuals."

Their bio on Atta omits any reference to Venice: "Mohamed Atta. Possible Egyptian national. Date of birth used: Sept. 1, 1968. Possible residences in Hollywood, Fla.; Coral Springs, Fla.; and Hamburg, Germany. Believed to be a pilot."

This is beyond strange. The six months Atta was in Venice comprises roughly half of the time he was in the U.S., according to the FBI's own calculations. Yet there's no mention of Venice in his official FBI bio.

If you saw Atta in a supermarket in Ft. Lauderdale the FBI would like to hear from you, since they list Atta living in Hollywood and Coral Springs residences.

But if you were calling the FBI with a hot tip on seeing Atta huddled in conference with somebody in Venice, apparently they already knew all they needed to know about that, thanks.

The FBI's attempt at misdirection is obvious. This is a big clue that whatever they're covering up about Venice is big enough for them to doctor Atta's entire story to hide it.

All the FBI would have to do to learn that their chronology -- the basic tool of investigators -- was off by miles would have been to talk to some witnesses in Venice, as we did, or even just read the local newspapers. Because the local newspapers of record in Venice and environs had simply done their job, and reported what credible eyewitnesses told them about their encounters with the terrorists.

They didn't know they were in areas deemed 'sensitive.' They were like the fire chief on Longboat Key who'd blurted out what he'd seen because he wasn't 'clued-in' enough to keep his mouth shut. They were local, thank god.

By interviewing dozens of eyewitnesses -- often before the FBI got to them -- these newspapers performed an invaluable public service. They reported the eyewitness testimony of people who had first-hand knowledge about Mohamed Atta and his terrorist cadre.

For that, future historians will be grateful, even as we are.


Worse for the FBl, these witnesses stories corroborate each other in ways that definitely give them the ring of truth. Unwittingly, local people saw things that gave them possession of what's been called 'inconvenient knowledge.'

What is inconvenient knowledge? Here's a quick example: if you had been in Dealey Plaza when Kennedy was shot, and happened to notice Lee Harvey Oswald standing right beside you on the curb chomping on a chili dog while the motorcade went by, you would have seen something tremendously inconvenient. Even if you didn't want it, you would have inconvenient knowledge.

Just seeing something, though, only constitutes 'possession.' What they treat far more seriously is seeing something and then talking, to, say, a reporter. This is 'possession with intent to distribute,' a more serious crime. Under certain circumstances, it can occasionally prove physically harmful.

But consider this: if your inconvenient knowledge contains information hot enough to affect the destiny of the Western World, you could be in trouble even if you don't talk. Because how do "they" know you won't someday snigger inappropriately at the mention of Lee Harvey Oswald, and drop a hint. Something like, "That Oswald boy sure does love his chili dog!"

At a bare minimum you would find it necessary to refrain at all costs from ever mentioning the name 'Oswald' in a sentence containing the words 'chili dog.'

But inconvenient knowledge is nothing to make jokes about. Just ask those already in our story who unwittingly came into possession of some. Life can change real fast, as Zainlabeen Omer, and his buddy Hakim, wherever they are, undoubtedly understand.

Things can happen.


When Mohamed Atta and his sidekick Marwan came to Venice, they first lived with a Huffman Aviation employee named Charlie Voss. They'd needed someplace to stay when they got into town, Voss told reporters.


Later, flight school owner Rudi Dekkers testified to Congress that he gave the terrorist duo Charlie's number, an act of 'kindness' for which Charlie apparently still holds a grudge.

Voss gave a stilted statement to reporters on his doorstep on the day after the attack, that sounds like something a Justice Dept. attorney wrote down for him and made him repeat until he had it memorized.

"FBI agents informed me there were two individuals that might have crossed our paths who were students at Huffman Aviation, my employer, and the FBI told me they were involved in yesterday's tragedy," Voss said.

The 'two individuals' who 'might have crossed Charlie's path,' Atta and Marwan, lived with the Vosses for just a week, and quickly wore out their welcome. They were asked to move when the Vosses grew tired of remarks they were making which Charlie's wife Drucilla characterized as "arrogant" and "sarcastic."

"The ringleader, Atta, he creeped me out," Drucilla told reporters. "I made them leave."

Atta and Al-Shehhi then signed a 6-momh lease with Steve Kona, a member of the Venice Fire Department, renting a small two-bedroom house on Laurel Drive in Nokomis just north of Venice, where they lived from July through December, 2000.

Since the attack the house has become something of a tourist attraction. To avoid any identification with the hijackers who once lived there, the current occupants have an American flag flying outside all day. Every day.

In an interview six months after the attack, landlord Kona told us, "I just maintained the grass over there in the summer; they actually dealt with the rental agency for the rent each month, but I would see them occasionally when I was over there mowing."

Like many who knew them, Kona spoke of liking the bear-like Marwan, often described as being friendly and accessible ...

"Actually, Atta kept kind of secluded. His cousin, I talked to him a couple of times. He was friendly, but Mohamed Atta, no, I never spoke with him the six months he was there."


Kona was clear about the time period during which Atta and Marwan had rented from him: the same July through December time period when they are said to have been at Huffman Avi atlon.

"They rented it just for that six months, about the same amount of time they were here for their pilots training. And then they left," Kona said.

According to the FBI, that's just about the whole Venice story. A week with the Vosses, then six months in a pink two-bedroom house in Nokomis. Over and out. On to Miami, right?

Not so fast.

Charlie Voss and Steve Kona were not Mohamed Atta's only two landlords in Venice. The terrorists had a third landlord there as well. And when this individual stepped forward alarm bells must have gone off all over FBI Headquarters in Washington.

Start with this account in the Venice Gondolier three days after the attack, headlined: "FLIGHT SCHOOL MAY HAVE CHARGED SUSPECTED TERRORISTS EXTRA RENT."

The gist of the account was that Huffman Aviation had rented an apartment for $550 a month, and then turned around and sublet it to students at an outrageously high markup.

It was hard to muster indignation over the terrorists being victims of rent-gouging. But the story also contained information which matter-of-factly destroys pretty much the entire edifice of the FBI's official story.

"Two men suspected of terrorizing the heart of America this week resided in a Venice apartment earlier this year," said the paper.

"While attending flight school at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Mohamed Atta, 33, and Marwan Al-Shehhi, 23, lived with four other Middle Eastern students near Venice Airport at Sandpiper Apartments. The six Middle Eastern men shared a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in unit 26, said Charles Grapentine, manager of the apartments."

Atta had a third landlord in Venice. That same day the Charlotte Sun-Herald reported essentially the same thing.

This was one landlord too many for the FBI's official story.


And it had the same basic effect on the FBI that reports of a 'second gunman' had 40 years earlier. But alas for the official story, and the FBI, there was a list of witnesses -- an inconveniently long one -- who knew first-hand that the terrorist ringleader had lived at the Sandpiper Apartments.

For one, there's Amanda herself, after we'd located her. "I found the Sandpiper," she told us, "met Charlie, thought he was really nice. Mohamed used a check to pay for it. The name on the check was Mohamed Arajaki, the name he said was his. The FBI told me they found bank accounts of his all over under numerous different names."

Then there was the couple that managed the Sandpiper Apartments. Charley Grapentine and his wife Paula never had any doubt who their tenant had been. When she saw it on TV, Paula immediately recognized Atta, said the Gondolier:

"Paula Grapentine immediately recognized the face of a suspected terrorist who may have trained for the World Trade Center attacks at Huffman Aviation in Venice. He was her next-door neighbor. They lived at the Sandpiper Apartments, unit 26, in Venice until earlier this year."

Even the postman confirmed the identification, as did the tenants next door to Atta and Amanda's apartment. None doubted that the terrorist ringleader had been in their midst. As it turns out, Mohamed and Amanda had been anything but an inconspicuous duo.

Atta lived at the Sandpiper 'earlier this year,' reported the Gondolier, meaning of course earlier than the September 14, 2001 date of the story. Maybe you see the problem.

At the time these eyewitnesses say Atta was at the Sandpiper, the FBI says he was no longer in Venice. The Grapentines, and the other Sandpiper Apartment eye-witnesses, were about to discover the consequences of possessing 'inconvenient knowledge.'


Although at least two other newspapers covered the story, reporter Earle Kimel made it his own in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, owned by the New York Times. In the aftermath of 9/11, Kimel had understandably focused on the local angle. The terrorists in Venice was a huge story for a sleepy little town. If it hadn't been so heartbreakingly-tragic, it might have felt like Christmas to reporters there.

As Venice was discovered to be increasingly important to the story of the terrorist conspiracy, the headlines over the paper's reports changed to reflect it, going from: "FBI LINKS THIRD TERRORIST TO VENICE;" to "FOURTH TERRORIST SUSPECT MAY HAVE TIES TO VENICE;" to: "FIFTH PILOT TRAINEE VANISHES."

In his initial account of Atta's third Venice landlords, Kimel recapped what the FBI had released about Atta's stay in Venice. And right away he noticed a huge discrepancy between local eye-witnesses and the official account:

"Voss and his wife, Dru, asked the pair to leave after less than a week. The two men lived in a Nokomis rental home from July 2000 to January 2001, according to the home's owner. Huffman flight instructors have said they believe Atta left the area shortly after receiving his pilot's certification."

"However, Atta may have been in Venice as recently as April. Charles Grapentine, the manager of Sandpiper Apartments on Airport Avenue in Venice, said he remembers seeing Atta at the complex for about three weeks in April. He said Atta was living in the apartment of Amanda Keller."


When we finally found Amanda Keller, one of the first things she said was how distressed she had been when she learned that her former landlord had talked to the press. "When I saw Charlie talking in the newspaper I knew they were going to jump all over him. I thought, 'Charlie, no. Can't you just wait?"'

Kimel's story was where we first learned that terrorist ringleader Atta had an American girlfriend while in Venice. Somewhere out there was a girl named Amanda Keller, who undoubtedly had one whale of a story to tell.


News accounts of Atta's stay at the Sandpiper don't just stray from the FBI's account. They flatly contradicted it.

After just weeks in Southwest Florida, we had the chilling feel ing that someone -- or something -- big was being hidden down in the mangrove swamps of Southwest Florida ...

Something in Venice.

When we showed up at the Sandpiper Apartments, over six months after the attack, we learned we were in luck.

The shock had begun to wear off, and the FBI agents had stopped coming around. After climbing the stairs to unit 26, Atta and Amanda's second floor apartment, we knocked on their next-door neighbor's door.

Stephanie Frederickson was home. She invited us in.

And she talked.
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Re: Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:28 pm


40 years ago, the worst nightmare for the Warren Commission was that someone would walk through the door with proof for the 'second gunman' theory. A 'second gunman' was to be avoided at all costs, because what if someone had seen a 'third gunman?' This was something they were going to nip right in the bud.

News of Atta's 'third landlord' in Venice was treated in the exact same way. A 'third landlord' brought unwanted attention to the role of the Venice Airport in the terrorist conspiracy, and there was an enormous can of worms there, waiting to be opened.

The Venice Airport is a string of nondescript buildings and hangars running for several blocks down one side of Airport Avenue just before it dead-ends at Casperson Beach on the Gulf of Mexico.

Across the street is the Sandpiper Apartments, a drab two-story stucco building, next door to the equally-colorless Lemon Bay Apartments, also maintained by the same management.

When we arrived at the Sandpiper we made a beeline up the stairs to unit 26, Atta and Amanda's unit. It certainly looked normal. Nothing to indicate that a mass murderer had walked through that door, or walked down those steps.

When we stopped at the apartment next door, Stephanie Frederickson, a pleasant-looking 50 year- old housewife, answered, smiled as we told her why we'd come, and invited us inside.

Stephanie Frederickson is nobody's idea of a 'conspiracy theorist.' She cares during the day for the baby of a friend needing help. She had not sought publicity, nor had she spoken to the press. And a good thing too. From what she told us, she clearly believes she would have been in trouble if she had.

We were soon sharing iced tea while she told us what had happened at the complex after the attack. The only interruption came when the baby she was caring for, a sparkling-eyed little girl, woke up from her nap.

In the first few days after the attack, all of the local newspapers in the Venice area -- the Sarasota Herald Tribune, Charlotte Sun, and Venice Gondolier -- reported that Mohamed Atta had lived at the Sandpiper Apartments.

The Sandpiper, Stephanie explained, had been home to a transient tenant population which included an ever-changing roster of foreign pilot trainees learning to fly at the twin flight schools across the street, Huffman Aviation and the Florida Flight Training Center. Many of the tenants who were flight school students were Arab, along with sizable Dutch and German contingents.

All had come to learn to fly, supposedly, in the single engine trainers speckling the tarmac across the street. We say 'supposedly' because we will soon hear that Mohamed Atta already possessed pilot's licenses -- from a half dozen nations -- when he arrived in the U.S., ostensibly to learn to fly. So just 'what all' Atta was doing while he was a flight student was not yet clear.

Atta's stay at the Sandpiper was a small part of local news coverage. No particular emphasis was placed on it. The local papers were full of stories about unsuspecting townspeople who discovered, to their shock and disbelief, that 'their paths had crossed' with the terrorists.

Several accounts quoted landlord Charles Grapentine saying Atta had been living in his apartment building, with Amanda Keller in April, in apartment 26 on the second floor. Atta was also said to have been close to a group of six Middle Eastern men who had been renting a downstairs apartment.

One of the men in the downstairs apartment had been positively identified as Atta's 'sidekick' Marwan Al-Shehhi, who was in fact his bodyguard. So the public record -- the public record in Venice anyway -- was clear.

Somehow though the news of Atta at the Sandpiper wasn't included with those of the other two Venice landlords: Steve Kona, owner of the house the terrorist duo rented for six months, and Charlie Voss, the Huffman employee, with whom they lived for a week.

Why was that? If reports of Atta living at the Sandpiper were any less credible than the others, local newspapers wouldn't have carried them. They weren't lacking for stories about terrorist sightings. Atta had been seen all over town. He dressed "in khakis and polo shirts." He seemed "fairly quiet and aloof."

"The only thing I can tell you about him is he drank Bud Light," said a waitress at the Charlotte County Airport.

Becky Cover worked in the deli of Publix supermarket a mile from the airport. "I was on the phone with my mother-in-law when they started showing pictures of three different guys on TV. Atta was one of them. And immediately I recognized the faces and I told my husband then, "My God, those are the three guys. They were just in the store a week ago. The week before they were in the store. They got subs."

Becky says the terrorist pilots were in Venice just one week before the attack. They got subs. This is, of course, inconvenient knowledge, and would not be music to the FBI's ears.

Like a number of other witnesses, Becky mentioned the terrorist ringleader's malevolent presence. She said that Atta "didn't speak, just stood and glowered."

"I didn't like the way he just stared at you," she told us. "It would have been different if they would have talked to you like you were a normal person, like 'hi, how are you today.' But he just stood back and just glared at you with his dark eyes."

Few people we spoke with who had met Atta were surprised it had been him piloting a plane in the attack. No one said what you usually hear, which is, 'Oh no. Not him. It couldn't be.'


No national newspaper picked up the reports of Atta living at the Sandpiper. One paper, the New York Times, even sent a reporter who made persistent attempts to spike it, winning him the enmity of Sandpiper residents, including Stephanie Frederickson, who knew different.

During our afternoon at the Sandpiper with Stephanie Frederickson and Charley and Paula Grapentine, we learned that even before the Sept. 11th attack, Mohamed Atta had stuck out in a way that made him hard to forget.

"He was very unfriendly," said Paula Grapentine. "He wouldn't talk to women."

Atta stopped by the Grapentine's apartment one time to discuss something regarding the complex, Paula stated.

"He came to talk about something and said, 'I don't talk to women and you're supposed to look down when you talk to me,"' Grapentine recalled.

"He treated women like they were under him."

We heard the same complaint from neighbor Stephanie Frederickson, who confirmed the Grapentine's account. Atta and Amanda lived next-door for several months, she explained, and he was no picnic as a neighbor.

What she really wanted to talk about, though, was how she, and other building residents like the Grapentine's, had been harassed and intimidated by agents of the FBI, in an effort to keep them from talking to reporters.

"The question they (the FBI) asked was always the same," said Frederickson. "You aren't saying anything to anybody, are you?"

"At first, right after the attack, they told me I must have been mistaken in my identification. Or they would insinuate that I was lying. Finally they stopped trying to get me to change my story, and just stopped by once a week to make sure I hadn't been talking to anyone. Who was I going to tell?"

She shrugs. "Most everyone around here already knew."

Frederickson said a New York Times reporter to whom she spoke accused her of making it up. He urged her to stop talking about it.

What makes this strange is that the reporter need only have read his own local newspaper to learn the story of Atta's American girlfriend had been confirmed by a number of witnesses.

A competent and intelligent grown woman, Stephanie Frederickson knows what she saw. She resented the FBI agents heavy-handed and repeated assertions to the contrary. And she wanted us to know about it.

Real Americans won't be silenced.

"Amanda moved in next door first, saying she had come from Orange Park (near Jacksonville)," Frederickson began. "Then one day in the middle of March she brought home Atta. She had only been here for a short time before he showed up, just a couple of weeks."

"She told us she met him at the bar at the 44th Aero, across the street at the airport, which was remodeling at the time and not really re-opened yet, but the bar was still doing business."

"Amanda said to me, 'I'd like you to meet my friend Mohamed Atta. He's from France.' I looked at her to see if she was joking, but I guess she wasn't," stated Frederickson.

"Later when I saw her alone I asked her if she realized that Mohamed Atta wasn't really a French name, and that he was definitely not French. She looked at me like I was nuts. I didn't know if she really believed he was French, but it was clear to me that he wasn't."

When she arrived at the Sandpiper Apartments with Mohamed Atta in tow, Amanda Keller was a good-looking, sexy twenty-year-old with pink hair living a fast life. She is still remembered fondly by some in Venice.

But when we first heard she thought Atta was French, however, we concluded that she was perhaps not the sharpest knife in the drawer. This may have been a little hasty; after we met her we discovered that Atta spoke fluent French.

Atta and Amanda's brief relationship was troubled, Frederickson said. While Atta's cheesy taste for infidel flesh is well-known, when it came to his own girlfriend he apparently balked at sharing glimpses of it with others.

This created difficulties, since his girlfriend was a 'lingerie model,' and it became something of an issue for the couple.

"That's when she started dressing really slutty, and dyeing her hair pink," Frederickson said. "She wasn't going to let herself be controlled by him."

The more we heard about Mohamed Atta, the more his image as an Islamic fundamentalist began to crumble. An Islamic fundamentalist who shacks up with women with pink hair fits no definition of 'Islamic fundamentalist' we've come across.

Pink hair doesn't seem Wahabbi.

But perhaps Atta wasn't who we've been told us he was ... Considering the bombshell Stephanie Frederickson casually dropped into our conversation, between burpings of the baby. We already knew that Atta was a Kitten Killer.

Now we learned he beat his girlfriend too.

"There were a couple of times he beat her up that I know about," Frederickson said, "mostly over the slutty way she dressed to go to meet her escort service clients. Her hair was always done up in a half dozen funky colors and she always dressed ... well, you know, like a hooker," said Stephanie.

"'Fantasies & Lace' would send a car and driver to get Amanda," she said. "And I would hear the driver and Atta arguing out on the balcony. Atta didn't want her to leave."

"The third time it happened -- the third time he beat her up -- she put him out," states Frederickson. "She threw his two suitcases, and a blue Gold's gym bag which he always carried around with him over the balcony railing onto the driveway in front of the apartments, and called a cab to come get him."


Frederickson was glad to see him go.

"He was a really nasty guy," she says. "He had no patience, and seemed mad at the world. One day, I remember, it was raining out, and I left my apartment at the same time he came out of his. He didn't have a car that day, for some reason, so I offered him a ride."

"He got furious, and shouted at me, 'You do not speak to me unless I speak to you first!"

"I said get over yourself, bub," she said. "You're in America now."

"Atta said, 'American women are all bitches.' I told him the least he could do was thank me for offering him a ride."

Apartment manager Charlie Grapentine, a grizzled former marine in his early 60's, remembers when Amanda performed her informal eviction. Later we learn from Amanda that she sought his counsel first, on what to do about the unworkable arrangement.

Amanda's name was on the lease.

Grapentine told her to kick him out.

"Atta always carried a fanny pack around his waist," Grapentine said. "I remember Amanda once telling him that she needed some new clothes, and he reached in and peeled off a few hundreds from a thick roll of cash he had stuffed inside the fanny pack."

The FBI did not receive apartment manager Grapentine's recollections any more warmly than they had those of Stephanie Frederickson.

In fact, says Grapentine, the FBI was positively frosty, especially on the subject of talking to reporters.

"They called me a liar, and told me to keep my mouth shut," states the ex-marine grimly. "Nobody likes to hear that; that they didn't see something they know they saw."

Frederickson and Grapentine, both still angry, felt their personal integrity had been attacked. The FBI, more concerned with squelching the story, apparently didn't mind stepping on a few toes in the process.

What did they think the attraction was between Atta and Amanda?


"Atta and his crew were always flush with lots and lots of money," Stephanie replied promptly.

"Those guys were all really party animals."

Although the six Arab men at the Sandpiper may have had money to burn, their living accommodations didn't reflect it.

"I lived next door to Amanda and Atta on the second floor, but then moved downstairs to my father's apartment to help him, because he had had surgery and couldn't climb stairs any longer," says Frederickson.

She remembered some of the crew of Middle Eastern men who took over her old apartment ... like 'Sid,' a nice gentlemen with a red car. Sid was Siad Jarrah, she later learned. And the big guy named 'Mahmouti' was probably Marwan Al-Shehhi. He lived in Nokomis, where he had a cousin, Sara, a pharmacist.

"Atta's pals took my old apartment. One time I stuck my head in, and there were at least eight of them living in a small two-bedroom place, with sleeping bags spread out everywhere.

The student pilots living at the Sandpiper and hanging out with Mohammed Atta hadn't all been Arab, she said. 'Pierre' came looking for a bride. 'Patrick' came from Holland.


The one subject we were getting nowhere with was Amanda's current whereabouts. She had gone to ground. No one knew where. We checked bars we learned she had been known to frequent, and former employers. We learned nothing.

Amanda Keller was another witness who had disappeared.

We tried to track down the man she left the Sarasota nightclub with the night she broke up with Atta, Garret Metts.

"Garret was a dark-haired guy, a good-looking little shit," remembered Stephanie.

Unfortunately, Garret was now dead. Killed in a car accident. His brother, who remembered Amanda, gave us the names of several of her girlfriends, and we began looking for them.

The reason for our urgency was that it was clear after interviewing Charlie Grapentine and Stephanie Frederickson the FBI had been extremely anxious to suppress news of Amanda Keller and Mohamed Atta's dalliance.


There must have been a reason.

One of the things which puzzled us was why Amanda hadn't sold her story to a tabloid. A girl who makes her living as a "lingerie model" could probably use the money. Certainly the tabloids would go nuts to get her story.

"Terrorist's Girlfriend Bares All!" would sell a lot of papers in the check-out line. Why hadn't she? Was something preventing her? Or someone?

We found a clue on the 1-year anniversary of the attack, filed by the Associated Press. The headline said it all: "One year later, 19 hijackers still a tangle of mystery and contradiction."

We thought: is that on purpose?


While Atta had been living at the Sandpiper Apartments, apartment manager Paula Grapentine told reporters, he had "a lot of visitors."

The building's owner, Vicky Keyser, told authorities that the students smoked a strange tobacco which smelled like marijuana. This will be by no means the last reference to drugs we will come across in connection with the terrorist conspiracy.

It was clear the FBI didn't want the public to know that Mohamed Atta returned -- or maybe even remained -- in the Venice area after receiving his multi-engine commercial pilot's license on December 21, 2000.

Maybe it would open up that 'endless can of worms' Senator Fulbright talked about. This notion received some support when we discovered another local news account about Mohamed Atta and Amanda Keller, one we'd missed, because it didn't come from Venice, but from North Port, the next town southeast of Venice ...

According to witnesses there, interviewed in the Charlotte Sun Herald Atta and Amanda engaged in a very un-Islamic three-day drug-and booze-fueled party in Key West.

At the time of the party weekend, late February, 2001, Atta was living in a rented house in North Port that he and six other Middle Eastern men rented in early January and left in early March, after being evicted.

Far from leaving Venice, Florida, forever in December, Mohamed Atta had still been in the immediate vicinity, in North Port, in January and February 2001, and then in Venice with Amanda during March and April.

What had he been doing there? And why was the FBI lying?
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Re: Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:29 pm


Mohamed Atta's three-day binge in Key West made the news -- the local news, at least -- in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack, before disappearing without a trace, down the rabbit hole, never to be heard again.

This is, once again, extremely strange. It wasn't that it's not newsworthy. In the land of 'Entertainment Tonight,' the sheer salaciousness of the tale should have guaranteed that every national reporter younger than Sam Donaldson would be beating it down to the Keys on the double.

But they weren't.


Back in the early days after the tragedy -- when authorities couldn't use the name "Mohamed Atta" without the appellation "Islamic fundamentalist" in front of it -- the story of Atta in Key West might have made a big difference.

In little things. Like notions of who had attacked us, and why.

The idea that the 9/11 attack stemmed directly from fanatic Islamic fundamentalism might have been 'rendered inoperative' if Attas hi-jinks in the Keys had surfaced, for the very good reason that Islamic fundamentalists don't do coke in hotel rooms in Key West.

The story of Atta's trip to Key West broke in the Charlotte Sun-Herald; where reporter Elaine Allen-Emrich's account offered revealing insights into the nature and workings of the terrorist conspiracy's operations in the U.S.

"Hunt for terrorists reaches North Port," read the headline in the paper, which covers Venice, North Port, and Port Charlotte. "As authorities continue to dig through the rubble in Tuesday's terrorist attacks, agents were digging through North Port to find one of the many missing pieces to the puzzle of who declared war on the United States and why."

FBI agents were combing the town of North Port two days after the attack, said the paper, looking for North Port landlords Tony and Vonnie LaConca, who had rented their Agress Avenue home to "someone whom authorities think may be connected with Tuesday's attacks. Agents questioned the couple for two hours concerning a man they knew only as 'Mohamed."'

This is not strictly true. The LaConcas knew the man's full name, or at least the full name he gave them. It was on the check he used to pay for his rent. Unless you're Elvis or Madonna, banks make you use your whole name on your checks.

It wasn't true, but it was definitely useful. We have already seen that when the FBI doesn't want the public to know an individual's true identity, they give him one name. 'Ghandi. 'Hakim.' Now 'Mohamed.'

It's a crock.

Mohamed "was associated with a local woman believed to be Amanda Keller, a local restaurant manager," the Sun reported.

LaConca told the FBI that Keller had "dishwater-blond hair, was big-boned and freckled, and seemed to be very enamored of Mohamed."

The FBI was looking for Keller for additional questioning, said the paper, "but she might be missing."

"While talking to Keller and Mohamed, the couple learned he had a pilot's license to charter small planes of four to six people and was going to school at Huffman Aviation in Venice to train for a commercial pilot's license," said the Sun.

Sounds like Mohamed Atta. The paper felt on safe ground mentioning it. "Huffman was the school that enrolled Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, both identified as suspects in the hijacked jet assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon."

The LaConcas told agents the man was about 25, 5 feet 10 inches, 160 pounds, had "dark, perfect" skin, and was clean cut and very polite. "He was a very handsome guy," Vonnie LaConca told reporters. "He had beautiful, unblemished skin."

Mohamed Atta's black heart did not always manage to conceal his good looks, apparently. He also looks younger than thirty-three, even in the mug shot picture we've all seen a million times.

"Mohamed was associated with a local woman believed to be Amanda Keller, a local restaurant manager, LaConca said. The FBI is looking for Keller for additional questioning, but she might be missing."

"Keller, who allegedly met Mohamed while working at Papa John's Pizza in Venice, told the couple she would translate because Mohamed spoke limited English," the story continued.

"She said he was French/Canadian. She told the LaConcas that he was not a U.S. citizen. A Papa John's employee confirmed that Keller was a manager there, but has not been to work for some time."

This is further confirmation of Amanda Keller's relationship with Mohamed Atta, and also confirmation of Stephanie Frederickson's account that Amanda thought Atta was French.

Keller was a restaurant manager when she met Atta, she will tell us later. Before she switched to a more lucrative line of work, she managed the local Papa John's. And it is there she first met Atta, which is why -- two days after the attack -- the FBI was looking for Amanda Keller ...

"In an effort to locate Keller, agents accompanied Tony LaConca to the North Port Police Department to pick up a February 25 police report in which Keller had called police about harassing cell phone calls."

"According to the police report, after Keller called police about the calls, a computer check was conducted and showed an outstanding warrant from Marion County on a worthless check charge," the story said.

"Mohamed bailed her out of South County Jail," Vonnie LaConca said. "We told agents this because we thought they (FBI) might be able to get his last name from the reports."

Mohamed had used a check to bail her out of jail, Amanda will tell us. She knew him as Mohamed Arajaki, which was also the name on the check. "The FBI told me they found bank accounts of his all over in numerous different names," Keller stated.

'This is a written paper trail,' would be the FBI's thinking on the matter. 'It will be made to go away.' Barring extraordinary circumstances, we predict that neither check will ever see the light of day.

The only request Atta made to the couple, reported the paper, was that they provide him a desk in which he could do his aviation homework.

"He didn't even care if the house had a bed, all he wanted was a desk," said Tony LaConca.

Here is where our story begins to get up close and personal.

Let's go 'backstage,' for the 'behind the scenes' look at Mohamed Atta's wild life that would have been aired already, if not for wartime censorship.

Although he was in this country for -- at least -- the 14 months the FBI says and probably much longer, we haven't heard any personal accounts from Americans who knew Atta.

Read on, for reasons why not!

Reporter Allen-Emrich's account said Mohamed Atta and his American girlfriend Amanda Keller had partied for three days straight in a very un-Islamic drug and booze-fueled binge in Key West.

The LaConcas told her they learned this from a then-employee of Vonnie Laconca's cleaning company. "After meeting Mohamed and Keller on Feb. 21, the former employee joined the couple on an adventure to Key West the following day," said the paper. "They were gone for three days," said Tony LaConca. "They didn't sleep -- it was a continuous party."

LaConca said Mohamed footed the entire bill for the weekend, including buying Keller and the unnamed employee new clothes, alcohol, drugs and hotel stay.

However, the couple said, Mohamed did not have a job.

"The two girls were introduced to two men from Germany that they said were Mohamed's friends," Tony LaConca continued. "I thought it was strange, because Mohamed didn't appear to be French-Canadian or German."

Atta was meeting "two men from Germany" in Key West, who we will later learn flew in solely to meet him. This is the first hint we have gotten that all of Mohamed Atta's associates don't face East five times every day.

Who were these Germans? Part of Tony Blair's 'global network?' The story says nothing more about them. We will learn later who the men are from Amanda herself.

The LaConcas told the paper that the FBI tried to locate and interview Vonnie's employee who'd gone on the jaunt. She goes nameless in the story. Nameless witnesses must be even more dangerous to the official story than one-named ones.

Whatever her true identity -- and this is really interesting -- she was, according to the Sun-Herald "uncooperative to the agent."

Maybe it was because she had kept in touch with Mohamed ...

"However, Vonnie learned the former employee made telephone contact with Mohamed last week," the paper said.

This is big news. A deliberately-unnamed woman had received a phone call from Mohamed Atta less than a week before the attack.

Were any confidences exchanged? We wanted to ask. Unfortunately, she's gone. No one knows where.

Maybe the Island of Lost Witnesses.

We're also dying to know more about Mohamed Atta's two German friends in Key West. Sun- Herald reporter Elaine Allen-Emrich apparently felt the same way ...

"The FBI in Tampa would neither confirm nor deny that any agents were interviewing people in the North Port area," she reported. "Asked for more information about Atta's wild weekend, an FBI spokesperson identified only as 'Pam' said, "We recommend that you check in with CNN for current information. Any press statements can be found on televised stations like CNN."

The discovery that an American girl was romantically involved ("very enamored of Mohamed") with the terrorist ringleader makes Amanda Keller an extremely important witness to the terrorist conspiracy's activities. We went looking for Amanda.

We didn't feel like checking in with CNN.
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Re: Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:29 pm


Our first stop in the search for Amanda was at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune's local Venice bureau, where reporter Earle Kimel helped break the story of Atta's American squeeze.

We asked him if he had any clue about what had happened to her. Was she just a reluctant witness? Or had she been frightened into silence? Kimel knew a bit about recalcitrant witnesses; he'd found some strippers who had danced for Atta in a Sarasota strip joint, for example, but then encountered resistance from the strip joint's management when he wanted to ask them a few questions.

Their response was to throw him out of the club.

"A dancer at the Cheetah Lounge in Sarasota also reported seeing one of the alleged terrorists (Atta) at the strip club," Kimel reported. "Several other Cheetah employees, shown pictures of the men who trained in Venice, said they looked somewhat familiar ... A club manager escorted a Herald-Tribune reporter out of the club shortly afterward, saying the Cheetah had no comment."

Maybe the manager didn't want publicity. But probably he didn't want his girls to talk because he'd been 'clued-in' on the need for secrecy. Whether the strippers had knowledge about Atta was fast-becoming rhetorical.

Kimel said he had no idea where Amanda Keller was currently. He thought she'd left town, wished us luck in finding her, and with a weak smile let us know that if we did find her, he had a few questions he'd like answered, too.

Our next stop was "Fantasies & Lingerie," where Amanda had worked as a private dancer. Like Cheetah's, it's just down the street from the Sarasota Airport.

It turned out to be a locked-down facility in a run-down strip mall. No windows. One door. Locked.

The only access was though an intercom.

The manager told us to go away. He had no employees named 'Amanda.' No, he would not come out.


Kimel's second story about Atta and Amanda included a brief phone interview he'd done with her. She was speaking to him from her mother's house in the northern Florida town of Lady Lake, said the article.

"In a telephone interview late Friday, Keller said she met Atta through a friend and let him stay in the apartment with her and her then-boyfriend, Garret Metts, because she felt sorry for him. She said authorities told her not to say anything at all about Atta," reported Kimel.

Garret Metts is, or was, the 'hot guy' Amanda met in a Sarasota nightclub while with Atta.

Kimel's account contained the eleven words, she said before lapsing into silence. "I can't really discuss anything," she told him. "I'm afraid I'll get in trouble."

Amanda's mother had met Atta, too. "Keller's mother, Susan Payne of Lady Lake, remembered Atta," Kimel reported.

"I didn't like him; he just seemed strange," she said.

We eventually lost count of the number of eyewitnesses who told reporters Atta 'creeped them out.'

Atta dressed in a casual yuppie fashion, said Amanda's mother.

Her daughter told her he mostly kept to himself. Amanda had taken him in because he said he had nowhere to stay, she said.

"'Stray dogs, stray cats, stray people, she was always taught to help anybody out when they needed help," Payne said.'

A real humanitarian, we're sure, concerned with children and every living thing. But since she'd also been, if only briefly, the girlfriend of a man with the blood of 3,000 innocent human beings on his hands, somebody should have been asserting the people's right to know here.

But: it's strange. Nobody did.


We went looking for Garret Metts, the 'studly' boyfriend for whom Amanda dumped Atta, only to discover he had been killed the previous summer in a car accident.

We visited his last known address, a modest two bedroom ranch house in South Venice. There we met Garret's younger brother, who remembered Amanda well ... When your older brother's dating a stripper with pink-to-orange to-dyed blond hair, he let us understand, you tend to pay attention.

Amanda and Atta even lived briefly, he said, with Garret's family.

We checked the neighbors, and discovered several who knew all about Amanda Keller and Mohamed Atta.

In fact, one neighbor said that the lady across the street still had Atta's dog. From her description, we recognized that she must be talking about the little dog who survived Atta's kitten-killing spree by hiding under a couch.

Garret's brother passed on the names of some of Amanda's girl friends: Olivia. Angelina. Page. They used to hang out together at a bar called Crawdad's on the Intracoastal Canal, which wends through Venice.

We were puzzled when we couldn't find Crawdad's listed in the phone book. Then we learned it had closed a year ago, and the owners had moved on to open a new place called The Big Easy.

On the chance that the clientele of Crawdad's had followed the owners to their new place, we stopped by. And although it was only late afternoon the bar was busy already, filled with a mix of prosperous-looking older men sipping whiskey, catered to by an attractive young wait staff, busy killing the hour between five and six. One young waitress, we noticed, had something shiny sticking out of her tongue ... A diamond stud.

We thought: These could be Amanda's people.

We struck up a conversation at the bar, and several beers later had made contact with a blond woman in her twenties named Laurie, who had known Amanda.

The only problem was, she didn't: want to talk about her. She gave as her reason for protecting her friend:

"Who wants to be known as a terrorists girlfriend?"

It made a certain sense. Still, privacy concerns in matters pertaining to 9/11 seem clearly outweighed in the search for the killers of 3,000 people.

So we drove up to Lady Lake, a smallish town tucked into the hill country of northern Florida. We thought we'd try to get in touch with Amanda's mother, Susan Payne. But the house had been abandoned. There was broken glass all over the driveway. Susan Payne had died months ago, a neighbor told us. Another daughter, Tammy, had moved away.

On a sweltering hot August: day that seemed to come right out of the movie "Body Heat" we visited Amanda's former residences in the Venice area. We found another house where she had lived, this one on Manasota Key, near North Port. But it too was vacant. Then, in Port Charlotte, just to the south of North Port, we pulled up to another of Amanda's former residences and got lucky ...

A man was mowing the lawn in front of the house. He knew Amanda, sure. His stepson had lived with Amanda two years ago, he said. He appeared not to have much use for either. He and his wife, the stepson's mother, were raising the stepson's two children. The stepson was something of an 'unfit parent.'

He couldn't: tell us where the stepson was, but he knew he was no longer with Amanda. The stepson's living arrangements were currently fluid.


We re-grouped. It was time to review what we had already learned. We re-read news accounts, and in the process discovered another story about Amanda and Atta, that had come out a week after the initial flurry of reports.

We were amazed at what it contained ... The Sarasota Herald-Tribune was reversing itself, though not through a retraction.

Amanda Keller had not lived with Mohamed Atta, the paper now reported, but with another Mohamed.

A Mohamed who had somehow previously escaped mention.


The headline offered a clue to the contortions somebody was going through to offer this news to the world. The paper, as we've seen, was counting the ever-increasing number of terrorists said to have passed through Venice in its headlines ...

They were up to five: 'FIFTH PILOT TRAINEE VANISHES.' "Mohammed" slept on her couch, a Venice woman says."

"Investigators have identified a fifth man of Middle Eastern descent who trained to fly in Venice, but they don't know if he was involved in the September 11 attacks because they can't find him. He told the people he lived with in Venice earlier this year that he was moving to Paris," the paper reported.

"The man, known as Mohammed, stayed at Amanda Keller's unit in the Sandpiper Apartment complex on Airport Avenue in April. Authorities would not release the man's full name, and Keller would not divulge it, citing instructions from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement."

There had been a fifth terrorist pilot in Venice, authorities were now asserting. By itself that is not too surprising; there may have been dozens.

His name was Mohammed, with an extra 'm' in the middle.

Strangely, enough, the similarities between him and the terrorist ringleader didn't end with their similar names. The two Mohameds shared a lot of characteristics ...

Like Atta -- who, as we've seen, told Amanda he was French -- this new Mohamed also had a French Connection, of sorts ... He said he was moving to Paris.

Also like Atta, this 'other Mohamed' had an 'icky' personality. "He would leer," Tammy Payne, Keller's sister, told reporters, "God was he creepy."

This other Mohamed's chief -- and apparently only -- salient characteristic seemed to be that he was not the Mohamed whose last name was Atta.

"Investigators recently asked Keller about the man because his name appeared on a list of flight students at Venice area flight schools," said the story. "They aren't sure whether he was among the 19 men who hijacked the jets that crashed into the Pentagon, the World Trade Center towers and in rural Pennsylvania. But his training in Venice and his disappearance have attracted their attention because of four other men who authorities say trained in Venice to prepare for the attacks."

So, there was a second terrorist named Mohamed in Venice. But authorities wouldn't release his full name. Amanda Keller told reporters she wouldn't either. This second Mohamed had vanished without a trace. But despite their vagueness on his identity, whereabouts, chronology, and participation in the 9/11 attack, authorities knew one thing about him to an absolute dead certainty:

He wasn't the terrorist ringleader.

It hadn't been Mohamed Atta waking up to pink hairs on his pillow in the morning ... It was this other Mohamed.

Even for a cover story, this one seemed a little thin. For an outright lie, it looked pretty bald. But -- and here's the point -- it didn't have to be fully thought out. It was for local consumption. It put to bed rumors about Mohamed Atta's American girlfriend. The local paper didn't question further.

It was the way things were in Florida after the 9/11 attack.


There had been some initial confusion, authorities admitted. But Amanda Keller herself was now available to clear it up.

"Keller said comments attributed to her in the Herald Tribune on Saturday, saying that Atta lived in her apartment, were wrong. She said that it was this unidentified fifth man, also named Mohamed, that stayed in her home."

"In an interview at her mother's house, Keller wouldn't talk about the man who stayed on her couch. But: she did say the attention she's received from police and the media has been unwelcome."

As a lingerie model, Amanda was probably quite capable of dealing with unwanted attention.

What to make of this Fifth Pilot Theory? We found the whole story strange.

Was it plausible that someone-actually, a half-dozen people -- had mistaken the man with the 1,000-yard stare whose picture had been seen everywhere around the world ... for someone else?

We thought a big clue was that the New York Times-owned Sarasota Herald-Tribune had pulled Earle Kimel, who'd discovered the connection, off the story.

Were there any other crucial 9/ 11 witnesses who had conspicuously changed their stories? As a matter of fact, there were. In fact, there were several striking examples right in -- where else? -- Florida.


Shuckum's is a dive bar in Ft. Lauderdale with the requisite nautical theme, complete with life-size shark mounted on an ocean-colored wall. Mohamed Atta and two of his henchmen were drinking heavily there six nights before the attack, reported Time, Newsweek and wire service stories reprinted worldwide.

The networks all had correspondents 'go live' from Shuckums.

FBI Agents had shown up at Shuckums just 12 hours after the attack. They showed employees -- especially manager Tony Amos and bartender Patricia Idrissi -- photos of two men.

Bartender Idrissi says FBI agents told her "they were on the plane and passed away."

"We were able to recognize both gentlemen," Amos told reporters. He identified a man in a photo bearing the name Mohamed underneath, who, along with two other men, had each consumed at least several drinks.

The guy, Mohamed, was drunk, Amos said.

The two and another man "got wasted" in his place, he said, downing "chicken wings and cranberry juice, Stolichnaya and orange juice, and Captain Morgan's spiced rum and Coke."

"Atta drank Stoli vodka for three straight hours," remembered bartender Idrissi. "The guy, Mohamed, was drunk. They were wasted."

Idrissi said the men told her they wanted to eat but didn't like what was on the menu, so she sent them to a Chinese restaurant a few doors down. They were very rude, she said.

They didn't want to pay the bill. When asked if they could afford the $48 bar tab, Atta's face had darkened. He pulled out a thick roll. 'You think I can't pay? I'm a pilot for American Airlines. I can pay my fucking bill."'

"Atta and two of his buddies seem to have gone out for a farewell bender at a seafood bar called Shuckums," Newsweek reported.

"Atta drank five Stoli-and-fruit-juices, while one of the others drank rum and Coke. For once, Atta and his friends became agitated, shouting curse words in Arabic, reportedly including a particularly blasphemous one that roughly translates as "F-k God."

Time magazine put it this way: "It was at: Shuckums, on Sept. 8, that Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi did some pre-mass murder tippling. Atta drank vodka and orange juice, while Al-Shehhi preferred rum and cokes, five drinks apiece."

One eyewitness interviewed at Shuckum's described Atta as having something more than just an eerie presence.

"He was just kind of strange, because he was just staring," the woman told Brian Ross on NBC. "And every time I'd walk in and out, he had the same look on his face, so God knows what was going through his mind. Now I guess we know what was going through his mind. He had a very intense-looking face, very intense-looking eyes."

Along with other reports of heavy drinking which were surfacing, the report was at odds with the portrait -- the official story -- that was beginning to emerge of the terrorist ringleader, raising questions about whether Atta was really a fanatic and puritanical Islamic fundamentalist? Wahhabi desert dweller -- or just a guy who knows the importance of Stoli's authentic Russian heritage when you're letting the night unfold. Were they sure he was Islamic Fundamentalist?

Maybe Atta was Islamic Stolichnaya.

Then a witness's conspicuous retraction came to the rescue of the official story. Night manager Amos changed his story. Mohamed Atta drank nothing stronger than cranberry juice that evening at Shuckum's Bar, Tony Amos now said.

He was sitting quietly by himself. It had been Atta's companion Marwan and a third man that did all the drinking.

Case closed.

Everyone by this time had seen the brooding mug shot of Mohamed Atta, complete with unnerving icy stare. Is it at all plausible that Atta could be mistaken for someone else? For the teddy bear, Marwan?

We wanted to ask Tony Amos. But when we stopped at Shuckum's we discovered that neither he nor bartender Idrissi were there any longer. No one knew where they'd gone. The current bartender, before she realized she said too much, indicated their leave-taking had been somehow 9/11 related.

Amos and Idrissi had purchased tickets to the Island of Lost Witnesses. Hopefully round trip.


A week later, when the Los Angeles Times mentioned the night at Shuckum's in a story on the terrorist's final days, the reports of heavy drinking were gone. The story didn't even mention it:

"That same night (Sept 7) down the coast in Florida, Atta and Al-Shehhi went to Shuckums sports bar in Hollywood along with a still unidentified third man. The owner, Tony Amos, says Atta sat quietly by himself and drank cranberry juice and played a video game, while Al-Shehhi and the other customer tossed back mixed drinks and argued."

Why did the restaurant manager change his story? We read carefully through the detailed early accounts of the incident, and were left -- as we suspect: you are -- with a startling conclusion.

The manager's retraction was coerced, because the two employees' initial remembrances of the encounter were just too full of vivid details. Amos says they had chicken wings and Stoli, Capt. Morgan's Spiced Rum and Coke. He said Mohamed was drunk, his voice was slurred. Bartender Idrissi recalls how many drinks (5) each downed, and said Atta paid her with a $100 bill from a thick wad, but left only a $3 tip.

Bartenders remember things like that.

Stories of the terrorist ringleader's two-fisted drinking habits -- we will be hearing more -- lead inevitably to doubts about an official narrative which insisted that the villains who attacked defenseless civilians and broke the hearts of Americans were cave-dwelling religious fanatics who had been cast out of their own society.

Well what if they weren't?


After all, its not as if the Shuckum's story was the only drinking incident, there were many. The London Sunday Mail to cite just one example, reported Atta and Al-Shehhi spent a thousand dollars in 45 minutes on Krug and Perrier-Jouet champagne at a Palm Beach bar called 251 Sunrise.

Marwan was with a short blonde, said the paper, while Atta was with a six foot tall busty brunette in her late twenties. This has the ring of truth. Sidekicks don't get to pick first. The Mail reported both of the women were known locally as "regular companions of high-rollers."

Are there Islamic fundamentalist high-rollers?

If the truth can be so easily manipulated as the incident at Shuckum's seems to show, then 'inconvenient knowledge' about the hijackers might contain information that would force a reappraisal of just who, in fact, our enemy was.

What remained were sanitized reports, like the Sept. 22 Washington Post:

"The Friday night before the attacks, Atta and two other men -- one of them another suspected hijacker, Marwan Al-Shehhi -- spent 3 1/2 hours at a sports bar in Hollywood, Fla., called Shuckums. Atta played video games, a pursuit out of line with fundamentalist beliefs. But the manager on duty that night has said that he doesn't recall seeing Atta drink alcohol."

Were we witnessing evidence of a federal 'clean-up crew' in action? Were they 'scrubbing down' Florida and sanitizing the public record of inconvenient knowledge?

We knew one thing. We still wanted to find Amanda Keller.

Because the 'Fifth Pilot' was the 'Unknown Terrorist.' His entire existence, for the record, consisted of his stay with Amanda. There were no follow-up stories about him.

No "Fifth Pilot Identified" headlines.

Even his name remained a mystery. He was Mohamed No Last Name. He went totally unmentioned in later in-depth news accounts about the Hamburg cadre's key members.

He was The Man Who Was Not There.

After serving the purpose of disabusing the public of the notion that Mohamed Atta had lived with Amanda Keller in March and April of 2001, he retired from earthly existence, was immediately forgotten, and has never been mentioned again by the press or by authorities.

Except for Amanda Keller saying so in her retraction, there was absolutely no evidence that he had ever existed at all. And yet this transparent ruse was somehow strangely successful in keeping the press from going after the story.

The part that really hurts is not so much that they take us for fools and get away with it ... It's that they might be right.

We made a new rule of thumb: "When the FBI identifies someone with only one name, don't believe anything they say."


And we continued to search for Amanda Keller, and finally got the break we'd been hoping for. On our third or fourth phone call to the police chief of Lady Lake seeking information on Amanda and her family, he turned us over to 'Debbie,' the department's detective in charge of juvenile and child welfare cases.

Debbie already knew quite a bit about Amanda. She had known her and her family, as well. Police had been called out to their place regularly. They had been involved in a lot of 'domestics.'

Despite being only 21, Amanda Keller had two children, Debbie stated. She divorced from the children's father. He had had her "Baker-acted," which meant she was declared a threat to herself, and not a fit parent. There had been a court fight, the result of which was that Steve Keller, the father, won custody of the two toddlers.

Amanda had had drinking and drug problems. For that matter, so had her husband. Amanda's mother, Susan Payne died three months after September 11, sometime in December. After attending her funeral, Amanda "abducted her two children from the parent with lawful custodial care and fled the state," Debbie stated.

She took her children to a maternal aunt's house in a large Midwestern state, and turned herself in to state authorities there. Custodial arrangements were now being worked out jointly by the two states.

Amanda was working to put her life together, Debbie told us. She was sober. She was in a stable living environment. Amanda's aunt was involved. She and her husband had been two immature kids with babies, she said.

"Amanda had absolutely no parenting skills at the time, and she was from a family where there were no parenting skills."

The situation was being monitored, Debbie stated. Would we like the aunt's phone number?

We made an unsuccessful attempt to sound nonchalant.

Yes, please, we replied. That would be nice.
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