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FBI checking crop-dusting planes and pilots, still worried about possible terror use
Associated Press ^ | 4-22-04 | CURT ANDERSON

Posted on 04/22/2004 12:28:33 PM PDT by Oldeconomybuyer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI has questioned more than 3,000 pilots and aircraft owners, most of them in the past year, amid persistent concerns that terrorists might use crop-dusting planes to mount a biological or chemical attack, newly released documents show.

The interviews have not produced any arrests, according to a senior law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity, but have resulted in terrorism investigations that are still under way.

The effort, outlined in documents submitted to the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, is more extensive than previously disclosed and underscores how seriously the threat is viewed by U.S. authorities. [snip] Most of the crop-duster interviews were conducted after the March 2003 start of the war in Iraq, which triggered new concerns about terrorists acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction. The law enforcement official who described the initiative, known as the Agricultural Aviation Threat Project, said it was continuing.


(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: cbw; cropduster; cropdusters; cropdusting; fbi; moussaoui; terrorism; wmd

1 posted on 04/22/2004 12:28:34 PM PDT by Oldeconomybuyer
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
9/11 Suspect Moussaoui Checked University of Minnesota's Crop-Dusting Program (Cropduster Alert) St. Paul Pioneer Press August 9, 2002

Barely two weeks before his arrest outside an Eagan hotel, Zacarias Moussaoui inquired about the University of Minnesota's crop-dusting program, a move suggesting the terror suspect might have considered staying in the state for a year or more.

Moussaoui e-mailed the university's Crookston, Minn., campus on July 31, 2001, seeking information on a "short course you offer to become a crop duster (6 month, 1 years max.)"

Moussaoui made a fleeting reference to the e-mail in a court filing late last month in Alexandria, Va., where he is awaiting trial on six federal charges, including conspiracy to commit air piracy and conspiring to kill Americans. Four of the charges could carry the death penalty.

The importance of Moussaoui's interest in the program is open to interpretation. His motion attempts to cast doubt on his involvement in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


The 34-year-old French citizen is the only person charged in connection with last year's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. Jury selection in his trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 30.

In the e-mail, Moussaoui said that he was in the United States working toward a commercial pilot's license and that he hoped someday to start a crop-dusting business in Morocco or France. His message also asked for advice on setting up such a business.

"I am interested to know what type of aircraft, material, equipment, something in detail, a kind of business plan," he wrote.

Larry Leake, director of the university's agricultural aviation program, didn't pay much attention to the note. The writer, who identified himself only as "Zacarias," was looking for a much shorter course than the university's two- and four-year programs.

"We didn't have what he was looking for," Leake said, "so I just sort of disregarded it." ...Immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, federal agents talked to Leake as part of their nationwide canvassing of flight schools. The e-mail never came up, because Leake didn't know whom it was from until agents discovered Leake's name in a notebook or computer file of Moussaoui's. When agents contacted Leake a second time, he provided a copy of the e-mail.

Leake said he hasn't given much thought since to the message, even as Moussaoui became a central figure in the government's Sept. 11 investigation.

"I haven't heard anything since I sent (federal agents) that note. The FBI hasn't talked to me once," he said.

Moussaoui used the same e-mail account and screen name he used when corresponding with Airman Flight School in Norman, Okla., in the fall of 2000. He arrived at that school in February 2001 and logged nearly 60 hours of flight time but never flew solo and left after two months without earning a license.

He arrived in Minnesota about Aug. 12 to train on a 747-400 jet simulator owned by Northwest Airlines and administered by Pan Am International Flight Academy in Eagan.

Flight-school officials have said that Moussaoui was unqualified for the training he requested. They also described him as unusually insistent on learning how to steer a jetliner in the air rather than how to take off and land. His behavior prompted a school official to contact the FBI and Moussaoui was taken into custody Aug. 15, before logging any simulator time. ...

2 posted on 04/22/2004 12:38:57 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: okie01; Persephone Kore; Prince Charles; Allan; Grampa Dave; genefromjersey; lainie; piasa; ...
3 posted on 04/22/2004 12:40:25 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: Shermy
I go to ping you...and whaddoIget?

A ping from you...

4 posted on 04/22/2004 12:41:15 PM PDT by okie01 ( Congress isn't for the morally halt and the mentally lame.)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
5 posted on 04/22/2004 12:42:50 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
I still think this and blowing up subways are the biggest threats.
6 posted on 04/22/2004 12:43:59 PM PDT by Monty22
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
My honest opinion about this is that small aircraft outfits all over the USA have been hyper-alert to who's flying since 911. That's not to say that stealthy operators couldn't possibly slip by them and get their hands on a properly outfitted cropdusting aircraft, but I think the odds are quite small. The flyboy crowd are some of the best people around for vigilance and acute observation skills. Like I say, somebody could slip by them, but I don't expect it to happen, really.

Bad actors with terrorist intent are going to have to get their aircraft up in the air totally independent of the small aircraft industry if they expect to be undetected.

7 posted on 04/22/2004 12:44:23 PM PDT by beckett
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
Maybe they should talk to Ben-Veniste and his buddies...

If Ben-Veniste client Truman Arnold's business dealings with terror flight school owner Wally Hilliard come under scrutiny in the 9/11 probe, the slick Washington lawyer may find himself involved in a major national scandal from two different sides.

Rest of the Story Here

8 posted on 04/22/2004 12:52:42 PM PDT by ravingnutter
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To: Aeronaut
More on agricultural applicators; any of them on the GA pinglist?
9 posted on 04/22/2004 12:56:32 PM PDT by FreedomFlynnie (Your tagline here, for just pennies a day!)
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To: FreedomFlynnie; Tijeras_Slim; FireTrack; Pukin Dog; citabria; B Knotts; kilowhskey; cyphergirl; ...

10 posted on 04/22/2004 12:57:37 PM PDT by Aeronaut (The proper response to gay marriage is laughter.)
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To: beckett
There is an armored Ayers cropduster that went missing in the Caribbean. It was used for drug crop eradication, and was modded for long-distance ferrying by using the chemical tanks for fuel. It could be anywhere from Panama to the Arctic and reach the U.S.
11 posted on 04/22/2004 12:58:29 PM PDT by eno_ (Freedom Lite - it's almost worth defending)
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To: Shermy
I know Larry Leake, and I think he's sharp enough to figure out in a hurry if an applicant is legit or not. Mousowie (intentionally misspelled as a sign of disrespect) wouldn't have lasted a month in the program.
12 posted on 04/22/2004 1:02:58 PM PDT by Aeronaut (The proper response to gay marriage is laughter.)
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To: ravingnutter
A silly piece. Nothing in it makes sense and the reader is condescended to for not being "in the know." That is the very definition of conspiracy nut literature.
13 posted on 04/22/2004 1:17:04 PM PDT by beckett
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To: Shermy
You and your ping list have sitting on top of a lot stories that just don't go away. This one is back and the Oil for Food Scam is just about on the talking head scene.
14 posted on 04/22/2004 1:49:53 PM PDT by Grampa Dave (Question: "When does a Lying Lunatic Lib like Woodward or al Querry stop lying?!")
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To: Doctor Stochastic
15 posted on 04/22/2004 2:01:55 PM PDT by lowbridge ("You are an American. You are my brother. I would die for you." -Kurdish Sergeant)
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To: lowbridge
But he didn't spray the guy.
16 posted on 04/22/2004 2:15:45 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: beckett
More info for you from mainstream sources, you silly person, you ... : )

Flight school owner accused of unauthorized flights - Associated Press

State files charges against flight school owner - Herald Tribune

FBI seizes records of students at flight schools - St. Petersburg Times

17 posted on 04/22/2004 2:34:20 PM PDT by ravingnutter
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