Transcript of Johnelle Bryant Interview

Government loan officer Johnelle Bryant says she was face to face with Mohamed Atta, believed to be the ringleader of the Sept. 11 hijackers, for hours as he requested money apparently intended to finance a terrorist plot. Here are excerpts of Brian Ross' interview with Bryant.

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

I'm a formal manager at, for a farm service agency. It's a agency, part of the United States Department of Agriculture. And my main office is located in Homestead, Florida. But my servicing area includes: Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County, and, and Monroe County.

BRIAN ROSS:

And, and what is it you do actually. Is it like a, a bank sort of, or?

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

It's similar. Only, it's guaranteed, it's government financed loans for agriculture, for farming, type operations. We make real estate operating loans.

BRIAN ROSS:

And so, it's open to any American Citizen to come, and?

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

Yes, sir. As long as they are farmers, and they do have experience farming. And they're family-size farmers. And they're unable to obtain credit elsewhere.

BRIAN ROSS:

And how long have you been at the office in, in Homestead?

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

Two years. I started in Homestead, January of 2000. But I have been with my agency for 16 years.

BRIAN ROSS:

And, when did you first meet someone who you say is Mohamed Atta? What happened?

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

I met him somewhere between the end of April, around the third week of April to the third week of May of 2000.

BRIAN ROSS:

Somewhere in that…

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

Somewhere in that general area. I can't pinpoint it down any more than that.

BRIAN ROSS:

And tell me what happened?

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

He came to my agency to finance an aircraft. A, a crop-duster.

BRIAN ROSS:

That's what he told you.

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

That's what he told me. Yes, sir.

BRIAN ROSS: What, what'd he say?

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

It, it wasn't actually a crop-duster in itself that he was wanting to finance. He wanted to finance a twin-engine, six-passenger aircraft, that he could use as both a charter flights, and remove the, the seats. And he said he was an engineer, and he wanted to build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft, and take up every available square inch of the aircraft, except for where the pilot would be sitting. And run the spray nozzles along the wind span. And use it as both a crop-duster plane, and as a charter plane.

BRIAN ROSS: And when he came, did he, what name did he give you?

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

Mohamed Atta. And I was taking notes. We typically take notes of a, it's considered an initial applicant interview. And while taking notes, I, I wrote his name down. And I spelled it A-T-T-A-H, and he told me, "No, A-T-T-A, as in 'Atta boy!'"

BRIAN ROSS:

Atta boy.

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

Atta boy.

BRIAN ROSS:

And did he tell you where he lived?

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

Yes. We, we, actually discussed his background and what he was doing in the United States.

BRIAN ROSS:

What, what'd he say?

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

Before we really started talking about the loan.

BRIAN ROSS:

Mm-hmm.

JOHNELLE BRYANT:

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