-- Feds Outline Moussaoui Link to 9/11 Hijacker
W A S H I N G T O N, Sept 24 — Federal prosecutors today detailed for the first time the evidence they saidlinks Zacarias Moussaoui to one of the hijackers who carriedout last year's Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
In court documents filed to support their request to playthe cockpit voice recording from the hijacked plane thatcrashed in Pennsylvania last year, prosecutors said they couldprove the identity of one the hijackers, Ziad Jarrah, by hisvoice on the tape.
They said they could also link Jarrah to Moussaoui.
Jarrah was believed to have been the pilot and one of fourmen involved in the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93,which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after passengersapparently tried to intervene to stop the hijacking.
Some U.S. officials have said Moussaoui, a Frenchman ofMoroccan descent who was being held on immigration charges onSept. 11, was meant to be the 20th hijacker. Flight 93 had onlyfour hijackers while the other three hijacked planes had five.
Prosecutors said the voices on the recording would helpwitnesses identify the Flight 93 hijackers, including Jarrah.They said they could link Jarrah to Moussaoui because theyfound one of Jarrah's business cards in the rubble inPennsylvania with a phone number written on back. Phone recordsshowed Moussaoui had called that number, they said.
"Jarrah's role as a hijacker on Flight 93 is important tothe government's evidence linking defendant [Moussaoui] to theconspiracy because a telephone number that defendant calledduring the conspiracy was scrawled on a business card belongingto Jarrah, which was found at the crash site in Pennsylvania,"prosecutors wrote in the filing to the court.
The filing was made in response to a request by U.S.District Judge Leonie Brinkema, who said earlier this month therecordings appeared to have marginal value as evidence andposed the danger of unfair prejudice to Moussaoui.
It was unclear whether the explanation given by theprosecution would be enough to prove the relevance of playingthe recordings in open court.
Moussaoui, who is representing himself, has a team oflawyers on standby who contend that playing the recording incourt would be "highly inflammatory." The 34-year-old Frenchman has been charged with six countsof conspiracy in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks. Four ofthe charges carry the death penalty.
He has denied being a part of the hijackings, but admittedto being a member of al Qaeda. The United States blames Osamabin Laden and his al Qaeda network for the attacks that killedabout 3,000 people.
Prosecutors said the cockpit voice recordings of Flight 93and ExecuJet 956, which tracked Flight 93 for some time beforeit crashed, offer key evidence for their case.
"Simply put, there is be no better evidence [sic] of thehijacking than the actual words of the hijackers during thecourse of the hijacking," they wrote.
Prosecutors rejected the defense arguments, saying therecordings offer evidence that directly substantiates some ofthe acts alleged in the indictment. For example, they can beused to help explain the methods used to hijack the planes andto show the ultimate intended targets.
"[T]he violent acts depicted on the CVRs [recordings]assist the jury in determining the means the hijackers used toovertake the crew and passengers, a fact that may be criticalin putting into context some of the evidence regarding thedefendant's conduct," they wrote.
The prosecutors also plan to use the recordings to showthat the airplane that crashed in Pennsylvania was forced downand was actually destined for a target in Washington.
FBI Knew About Bin Laden Associates' Flight Training in U.S.
W A S H I N G T O N, Sept 24 — Before the Sept. 11, 2001,attacks, FBI officials in New York knew that several associatesof Osama bin Laden had trained at U.S. flight schools, butbelieved the al Qaeda leader needed pilots to transport goodsin Afghanistan, a congressional investigator said today.
The FBI leadership essentially ignored a memo from an FBIagent in Phoenix on July 10, 2001, outlining his concerns thata coordinated effort was under way by Saudi-born extremist binLaden to send students to the United States for flighttraining, congressional investigators conducting an inquiryinto Sept. 11 found.
The so-called Phoenix memo was written by FBI agent KennethWilliams, who testified from behind a screen at the jointhearing of the House and Senateintelligence committees. Williams was not identified by name,but his testimony made clear he had authored the memo.
The memo noted that an "inordinate number of individuals ofinvestigative interest" were attending flight training inArizona, and speculated that it was part of an effort toestablish a group in civil aviation that would be in a positionto conduct terrorist activity in the future, Eleanor Hill,staff director of the joint inquiry, told the hearing.
The memo "did not raise any alarms" at FBI headquarters,where officials found it to be "speculative" and that nofollow-up action was warranted, Hill said.
At least three FBI agents in New York saw the Phoenix memo,but told the joint inquiry they were aware that Middle Easternmen frequently came to the United States for flight trainingbecause it was considered the best and most reasonably priced.
"A communication noting that Middle Eastern men with tiesto Osama bin Laden were receiving flight training in the UnitedStates would not necessarily be considered particularlyalarming because New York personnel knew that individualsconnected to al Qaeda had previously received flight trainingin the United States," Hill said.
"The commonly held view at the FBI prior to Sept. 11was that bin Laden needed pilots to operate aircraft he hadpurchased in the United States to move men and material."
Two FBI agents from Oklahoma City visited Airman FlightSchool in Norman, Okla., on Aug. 23, 2001, less than a monthbefore the attacks, to ask about Zacarias Moussaoui.
One of those agents two years earlier, in September 1999,had been assigned a lead to visit a flight school about someoneidentified as bin Laden's personal pilot who had receivedflight training at Airman Flight School.
The agent told congressional investigators he did notremember that lead two years later when checking on Moussaoui.
Lawmakers have cited the Phoenix memo as a missed clueleading up to the Sept. 11 attacks, in which hijacked planeswere crashed into sites in New York, Washington andPennsylvania, killing more than 3,000 people.
Williams, its author, did not condemn the actions of FBIheadquarters but instead lashed out at Congress for revealinghis identity and making him a possible terrorist target.
"I do not consider myself a whistle-blower," he said. "I amnot afraid of the FBI, but am very concerned about al Qaeda andwhat they may want to do to me and my family. Sadly, I canthank the United States Congress for my current situation."
The Phoenix memo was not the first time the FBI becameconcerned about citizens of Middle Eastern countries studyingaviation in the United States, Hill said.
The FBI's chief pilot in Oklahoma City drafted a memo in1998 expressing concern about the number of Middle Easternflight students there "and his belief that they could beplanning a terrorist attack."
Also in 1998, the FBI received reports that a "terroristorganization" planned to bring students to the United States tostudy aviation and one of its members frequently expressed anintent to target U.S. civil aviation, Hill said.
Another "terrorist organization" in 1999 allegedly wantedto do the same thing, triggering a request from FBIheadquarters to investigate and determine the level of threat,she said. Those reports did not directly relate to al Qaeda.
"Our inquiry found that given the lack ofinformation-sharing across units in FBI headquarters, personnelwho saw the Phoenix memo had no knowledge of any of these priorinstances involving other terrorist groups," Hill said.
The Phoenix memo did not name any of the Sept. 11hijackers, but the FBI now believes one of those named in itwas connected to Hani Hanjour, who is believed to have pilotedone of the hijacked planes, Hill said.
Lawmakers have criticized the FBI for not connecting thePhoenix memo with the August 2001 arrest of Moussaoui, whoraised suspicions at a Minnesota flight school. Moussaoui isnow charged with conspiracy in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Staged Attack at N.Y. Nuclear Plant Draws Protest
W H I T E P L A I N S, N.Y., Sept. 24 — A phony crisis at the Indian Point 2nuclear power plant drew real protesters today, with thesign-toting demonstrators complaining that the facility's existingevacuation plan was insufficient.
The fake emergency staged today was done for the benefit offederal officials, who came to Westchester County to determine ifthe plant's emergency drill was handled properly.
Scores of observers from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission andthe Federal Emergency Management Agency were on hand to evaluateand grade the actions of plant workers and county officials.
"We're going to wait until it's finished to see how it went,"said James Lee Witt, the former FEMA chief, who is evaluatingnuclear safety in New York for Gov. George Pataki.
Although the entire event was staged, the folks involved weretaking things seriously.
"There was real tension there," said state Assemblyman RichardBrodsky, a critic who was allowed to observe the drill at a mockcontrol room inside the plant in Buchanan.
Officials from the counties of Westchester, Rockland, Putnam andOrange, plus New York state, gathered at emergency operationscenters for the drill.
The plant workers and local officials faced escalating"problems" as a fake power outage forced a shutdown of thereactor. Eventually, officials were forced to deal with a phonyleak of radioactive water into the plant's containment building. At one point, a state spokeswoman appeared to address erroneousmedia reports about the event that never took place, adding to thesurreal feeling.
A general emergency — the highest level of nuclear danger — wasdeclared. In turn, a series of phony announcement about schoolevacuations, the closing of the Hudson River and mass transitsuspensions followed.
Thirteen areas closest to the plant were ordered "evacuated"during the drill, although no one actually went anywhere. But therest of the people in the 10-mile zone surrounding the plant wereunaffected by the drill.
At a press center set up at the Westchester County Airport, fakereporters mingled with real ones, asking questions about the bogusproblem at the plant and the evacuations.
Outside the press center, about two dozen real demonstratorscarried umbrellas and signs that read "We're not covered" — illustrating their contention that any evacuation plan should covermore than the 10-mile radius around the plant.
— The Associated Press
Feds Order Fingerprints From More Middle Easterners
W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 24 — A program that requires registration offoreign visitors from some countries in the Middle East and NorthAfrica is being expanded to include men from Saudi Arabia, a U.S.ally and the home country of 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers.
An Immigration and Naturalization Service memo obtained by TheAssociated Press directs immigration inspectors registering aliensto include men, ages 16 to 45, from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan andYemen, starting Oct. 1.
A Saudi foreign policy adviser, Adel Al-Jubeir, noted thatnationals of other countries could also be subject to registrationand Saudis were not being especially singled out.
The Justice Department already had begun registering visitorsfrom Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Libya on the anniversary of theterrorist attacks. As part of the registration, the foreigners arerequired to provide fingerprints, photographs and details aboutplans in the United States.
"It is imperative that the officers remain vigilant and verifythe age of all males from these three countries in order toidentify properly those who are subject to special registration,"says the Sept. 5 memo, sent by Johnny Williams, the INS' head offield operations.
The memo was sent to INS offices to explain how to implement theJustice Department policy known as the National Security Entry-ExitRegistration System.
Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden said she could notcomment on the internal INS document. But, she said, "Saudi Arabiais an ally in the war on terrorism and they are not treated asstate sponsors of terrorism in our enforcement efforts."
James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said theregistrations should be done at consulates, not at ports of entrywhere the process will create long waits and three lines — one forcitizens, one for noncitizens and one for Arab-Americans.
Registration is required on arrival to and departure from theUnited States. The foreigners also must be interviewed at an INSoffice for stays of more than 30 days and notify the INS within 10days of any change of residence, employment or academicinstitution.
The memo says inspectors also can register visitors for nationalsecurity reasons who they determine are worth monitoring. The memosays inspectors should consider whether the visitor has made anunexplained trip to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, North Korea,Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan,Indonesia or Malaysia or the visitor's explanation for the triplacks credibility.
Among other things, inspectors will be told to considerregistering foreign visitors who previously overstayed a U.S. visaor whose behavior, demeanor or answers indicate that the person maybe a security threat, the memo says.
The additional scrutiny for Saudi nationals follows introductionof stricter rules for Saudis who apply for visas to the UnitedStates. The visa paperwork formerly handled by travel agents nowrequires interviews at consular offices. The scrutiny also comes asPresident Bush tries to build support for a U.S. attack on Iraq,for which Saudi Arabia has said it will not allow use of itsterritory unless the attack is under U.N. auspices.
Rep. George Gekas, R-Pa., chairman of the House Judiciaryimmigration subcommittee, said the registration program seeks toweed out people that Saudi Arabia and other countries are arrestingand cracking down on.
"It's a natural extension of what is already occurring withrespect to the war on terrorism, which is separate and apart fromour relationships with the governments that are involved in thisnew round of alien registration," Gekas said.
— The Associated Press
Cargo Ship Released After Search of Danish-Flagged Container
N E W A R K, N.J., Sept. 24 — A search of a Danish-flagged container shipand its cargo by federal, state and local agencies at the PortNewark/Elizabeth Marine Terminal turned up nothing hazardous,authorities said.
The operation was led by the U.S. Coast Guard, which would notdisclose what prompted the search for "security reasons," PettyOfficer Megan Casey said today.
The search of the Mayview Maersk began about midday Monday. Theship was released at 9 p.m., Casey said.
Among the agencies involved were the U.S. Customs Service andPort Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Earlier this month, federal inspectors searched another ship inthe Port Newark/Elizabeth terminal. The M/V Palermo Senator, a708-foot container ship registered out of Liberia, was clearedafter authorities determined it posed no threat.
The Palermo Senator had been ordered six miles offshore afterradioactivity was detected in a container. The low-levelradioactivity was later determined to originate from ceramic tilethat was part of the ship's cargo. It was harmless and naturallyoccurring, authorities said.
— The Associated Press
Visitors Flock to Memorial Containing Remnants of 9/11 Crash Sites
E A S T L A KE, Ohio, Sept. 24 — More than 100 visitors a day are visitinga monument in this Lake Erie city that contains remnants of each ofthe Sept. 11 attacks crash sites.
The "Never Forget" monument is made of twisted steel beamsfrom the World Trade Center, a few bits of granite from thePentagon, and a tuft of wild field grass from Shanksville, Pa.
A Sept. 11 memorial service drew more than 2,000 people, butcity workers and officials have been stunned to see the pilgrimagepersist.
"This brings out something from inside me that I usually keephidden away. It's difficult to touch it and realize how peoplesuffered," Rose Zadel of Parma told The Plain Dealer while takingphotographs of the memorial last week.
"It saddens me and it angers me all at once."
Eastlake is believed to have the only Ohio monument thatmemorializes the Sept. 11 attacks with a piece from each site.
"You have to come here. It's almost compulsory — you feel youowe it to them," said Calvin Potts of Mentor, who brought threeKentucky relatives to the monument last week. "This is hitting meharder than when I went to Ground Zero in June."
Eastlake Mayor Dan DiLiberto said it was his trip to the WorldTrade Center site this summer that spurred him to create thememorial.
"The idea was to make something that people could touch,something they could connect with, and they have," he said. "ButI never expected them to keep coming like this."
The memorial is in a municipal back yard already home to thecity's "Boulevard of 500 Flags" flapping on all sides, an"eternal flame" commemorating the 1996 arrival of the Olympictorch and various veterans memorials.
Many of the visitors this week came to the memorial just to takepictures.
Zadel plans to use her black-and-white images for a computerizedmemorial to those who died in the attacks. Others snapped images totake home as mementos.
Dozens of others have left tokens behind: dozens of flowerbouquets are cleared away each morning by city workers.
Workers leave the rest: "In God We Trust" bumper stickers, amilitary jacket, a "Never Forget" T-shirt soaked from overnightrain, snuffed-out candles and handwritten cards and poems alllining the brick border.
"I'm glad to be here and to see it because I've got somecamaraderie, some connection with those men who died," saidretired Cleveland firefighter Ed Modic of Fairview Park. "Thosemen gave up their lives like a fireman sometimes has to do."
— The Associated Press