Zacarias Moussaoui: "Please
Teach Me to Steer This Commercial Jetliner. Forget About Takeoffs and
October 7, 2001
Please evaluate the following
- February, 2001: a
33 year-old French citizen of Moroccan descent, Zacarias Moussaoui,
enters the United States
- March-May: Moussaoui receives 57 hours of
flying lessons from an Oklahoma flight school, but leaves without
enough training to receive a pilot's license
- May: Moussaoui
contacts a Minnesota flying academy about training on a jet
simulator. He says he wants to become familiar with big jets and
- August 13: Moussaoui's
$8,300 training course begins. He is only interested in learning how
to make turns in the large commercial aircraft, and shows no interest
in learning how to take off or land. He also asks about flying
over New York air space.
- shortly thereafter: an
alarmed instructor from the flight school contacts the Minneapolis
office of the FBI to report Moussaoui's suspicious behavior
- August 17: Moussaoui
is arrested on immigration charges and his computer
seized. He immediately and consistently thereafter refuses to
cooperate with law enforcement officials.
- sometime between
August 17-27: The
FBI issues a "trace," requesting information on Moussaoui
from friendly foreign governments.
- August 27: in
response to that request, a French intelligence agency warns the FBI
that Moussaoui has "Islamic extremist beliefs," has
connections to an Algerian terrorist group, and may have traveled to
- shortly thereafter: FBI
agents from the Minneapolis office ask their Washington, D.C.
headquarters to seek a special warrant, under the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act, to search Moussaoui's computer and telephone records
- later: top FBI
and Department of Justice officials turn down the request
- again: the
Minneapolis agents try another route legal route to gain access to
Moussaoui's computer and telephone records, but are again rebuffed
- sometime before
September 11: a counter-terrorism panel, including among its
members officials from the FBI and the CIA, is "unable to
determine" whether Moussaoui is a threat
New York Times, October 6, 2001; Newsweek online report]
If I had submitted the above
scenario as a screenplay, it would have been laughed at as
First is the stupidity of
Moussaoui in making it obvious from the outset that he had no interest in
landings and takeoffs.
Second is the repeated lack
of putting two and two together by the various groups of higher-level
Officials now believe that
Moussaoui was meant to be the fifth hijacker on Flight 93, which crashed in
Pennsylvania. Only Flight 93 had a four-man hijacking team, instead of
the five hijackers who were on each of the other three flights.
One would assume that once
suspicion was focused on him, Moussaoui was dropped from the terrorists'
plans and they decided to go ahead with only four hijackers on Flight 93.
Concerning the investigators,
one official stated: “The question being asked here is if they put two and
two together, they could have gotten a lot more information about the guy—if
not stopped the hijacking.”
A good possibility, don't you