Jan. 24, 2008 -- Today a Minnesota flight instructor is being rewarded by the U.S. government for his vigilance in the form of $5 million.
In August 2001, the instructor knew something was suspicious about Zacarias Moussaoui the day he met him, so he urged his bosses to alert the FBI. Moussaoui was taking private flight classes and was soon arrested on immigration charges. He later pleaded guilty to having a role in the 9/11 attacks and is the only person to face trial in the U.S. for the attack.
A closed ceremony was held today at the State Department to present the reward, attended by State Department, FBI and Justice Department officials.
The payout is part of the State Department's Rewards for Justice program, which pays cash to those who provide information on the whereabouts of terrorists.
During Moussaoui's trial the instructor, who testified publicly in March 2006, said Moussaoui immediately raised eyebrows after paying $6,800 of his tuition in $100 bills.
Moussaoui also stood out for his interest in flying the giant Boeing 747 from London to New York despite limited flying experience. Moussaoui was also only interested in how to fly the jumbo jet, but was not interested in takeoffs or landings.
Other students had at least 600 hours of flight time, however,another instructor testified that Moussaoui only logged 50 hours in the air and was still unable to perform basic functions. "He was not a very good pilot," that instructor said.