Skip to comments.Man linked to World Trade Center plane crash studied at Daytona Beach's ERAU
Posted on 09/13/2001 5:07:25 AM PDT by RedBloodedAmerican
DAYTONA BEACH -- FBI agents are targeting an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University graduate and trained pilot thought to be involved in the hijacking of one of the airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center, sources said Wednesday.
More on the investigation Government investigation focuses on bin Laden; police check whether hijackers entered from Canada Feds investigating possible terrorist-attack links in Florida FBI team storms Boston hotel searching for suspects; three reported detained and released Bin Laden said to have network with global reach FBI looks at bin Laden's strong ties to Boston FBI looking to Internet for terrorism clues Pursuit of terrorists and those who give them sanctuary focuses on Pakistan, Afghanistan U.S. is a good place for terrorists to get flight training Trade Center crashes pose unique survival test for airliners black boxes Airline security experts: Security decisions often undermined by profit motives
Two sources close to the investigation said Waleed Al Shehri, 25, was listed as a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11 and has become a focus of the FBI's expanding investigation in Florida.
The American Airlines plane took off from Boston for Los Angeles with 81 passengers and 11 crew members, and was the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.
The FBI first contacted ERAU security officials late Tuesday or early Wednesday, said university spokeswoman Lisa Ledewitz. The FBI gave the university a list of names to check in its database to determine if any were students, alumni, employees or former employees, she said.
Another source who has seen the list said Al Shehri's name is on it. Al Shehri graduated from ERAU in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical science, the university's commercial pilot training degree, and is listed as having a commercial pilot's license.
The source would not say if the list contains the name of anyone else with a connection to the private university or Daytona Beach. Officials at ERAU, which trains a quarter of the nation's commercial pilots, were continuing to check names Wednesday night for the FBI.
"We are in contact with the FBI. They have been on campus. We are fully cooperating," Ledewitz said.
FBI agents blanketed Daytona Beach in search of clues about Al Shehri, interviewing people Tuesday night and Wednesday. Law enforcement officers have visited several apartment complexes in the Daytona Beach area looking for Arabic-speaking young men, either current or former students at Embry-Riddle.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University spokesperson Lisa Ledewitz speaks before numerous members of the local and national news media on Wednesday regarding the possible connection between ERAU and the terrorist attacks in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. Federal investigators are gathering information they hope will help them determine how the terrorist attacks were devised and their scope, as well as the identities of people who weren't on the fateful flights but who helped plan them.
Residents of the Anatole apartments, 1690 Dunn Ave., said six to 10 police cars descended on the complex Tuesday night and went door to door asking questions. Al Shehri lived in the apartments from 1995 to 1998, records show.
Wednesday afternoon, Port Orange police and other investigators questioned officials at Ocean Oaks Apartments, 1645 Dunlawton Ave., Port Orange, about a possible link to ERAU students who may be connected to the attacks.
Apartment workers said a former ERAU student had lived at the apartment complex but was evicted a few months ago. Police would not give out the person's name or nationality, except to say he had been cleared as a suspect.
Also cleared Wednesday was the owner of a maroon Camaro, which had been searched for explosives and impounded by FBI agents, Daytona Beach police spokesman Sgt. Al Tolley said. The car was returned to Ali Mohammed Aldarmaki, 20, a former Embry-Riddle student, who left the school in June.
A man who identified himself as an FBI agent questioned a worker at Airport Storage, adjacent to the airport grounds, for about 45 minutes and picked up paperwork Wednesday morning. Neither the agent nor the office worker would comment.
Two law enforcement officers said FBI agents and police were concentrating their efforts on locating people who may have been affiliated with Al Shehri, who is suspected of being a party to the hijacking of the Boston plane.
ERAU spokeswoman Ledewitz confirmed Waleed A. Al Shehri graduated from Embry-Riddle in 1997 with a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical science. The university did not have a middle name for Al Shehri in its records, she said.
She did not specify the month Al Shehri graduated. But News-Journal reports from 1997 indicate he received the degree Dec. 13, 1997.
University officials said they could not release any other information because they did not want to impede the FBI investigation.
"We take our lead from the FBI and we are waiting for more information from them," Ledewitz said.
The university required the FBI to follow "appropriate procedures" under federal student confidentially laws, she said.
"We can't just hand over the information, whatever we choose. There must be a subpoena," Ledewitz said.
Records show Al Shehri lived at the Dunn Avenue apartment complex until 1998. Six months later, his address showed up at a Vienna, Va., location. A search of a pilot database also showed a Waleed Ahmed Al-Shehri from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
No one could be reached by phone at his Virginia address Wednesday. Neighbor Beth Stenger, who lives three doors away, said a dozen Arabic men live in the house and she did not personally know Al Shehri.
Added Vienna police Capt. Johnny Price, "I do know that Waleed Al Shehri did live in our city, but we have absolutely no other information on him."
Al Shehri's possible involvement in the hijacking may draw attention to the screening process for international students attending flight schools, such as ERAU.
Foreign students who come to the United States to attend college typically come on a student visa, a U.S. State Department official said. To get a student visa, the student would have to present documentation showing he or she is eligible for a visa and proving an ability to pay tuition and living expenses.
An employee at the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate in the foreign country interviews the student and checks the documentation, the official said. There are times when student visas are denied because of a student's associations or criminal history.
As a student at ERAU, Al Shehri may have had access to a Boeing 737 simulator, used to train commercial pilots. The university installed the simulator in July 1997 and Al Shehri graduated in December 1997. The university no longer has the simulator.
A retired commercial airline pilot said someone trained in a 737 simulator could fly the Boeing 767 airliner that crashed into the World Trade Center.
Embry-Riddle considers itself a "victim" in the tragedy because it's likely one or more of the commercial pilots who died received training through the university, Ledewitz said. University officials were still checking their records to determine if any of the American or United airlines pilots had attended ERAU.
Prosecute those involved, close the school, level the buildings, turn the rest of the assets over to the victims, erect an American Holocaust museum on the site.
I think this is very difficult because it may not be an entire nation that did this, as in WWI, II or Pearl Harbor. So how do you get ALL those responsible without wasting time, and also not wiping out an entire people.
May God grant our Military wisdom.
On another note, ERAU does take students who are enlisted personnel in military regimes in Countries such as Libya, Iran, Iraq...they pay the students way thru ERAU and the graduate returns to work for that particular Govt.
Shall ERAU be tried for treason?
I have several friends who are airline pilots. They have all told me that flying an airliner is easy.
One of them called me to ask how long my laptop battery lasted. I told him I plugged it into the cigarette lighter. He said, "There is no cigarette lighter in the cockpit of a 757." I asked,"You play with your computer while flying an airliner?" He said, "There isn't any thing else to do."
I have been told several times the only hard part of flying an airliner is landing it. On a small prop plane your rear end is at most 6 to 10 feet above the ground when the wheels touch down. In an airliner the pilots bottom is 60 to 90 feet in the air, depending on the airliner. I have been told that once you master the sight picture of the high landing height, flying an airliner is a piece of cake.
Another airliner pilot told me it was harder to fly a Piper Cub than it was a 737. The 737 has a slight delay in control response, but that is quickly mastered in minutes. He said a 737 is very stable. A Piper Cub bounces all over the sky. He said flying Cub is like trying to guide a cork on rough seas. The wind has far less effect on a heavy airliner.
I used to let my daugher fly my plane when she was 10 years old. I would be PIC in the right seat so it was legal. She had zero problems. My son soloed at 16. He could fly a plane solo before he could drive a car by himself. He wrecked my cars... He never wrecked my planes. Come to think of it, my Daughter wrecked several cars and never put a dent on the plane either.
Flying a plane is not all that hard.
A former pilot with Afghanistan's national airliner has reportedly said he helped train 14 Islamic militants to fly civilian aircraft.
The London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper quotes the pilot, now in Afghanistan, as saying some of the trainees had European passports,. They left Afghanistan nearly one year ago after completing their training.
The newspaper didn't say if the trainees were among the hijackers who slammed commercial aircraft into the Pentagon in Washington and the World Trade Centre in New York on Tuesday.
The trainees were reportedly Pakistanis, Afghans and Arab nationals.
However, you can learn to fly and become capable enough to take over the control - enough to fly it into a building - by using a desktop sim alone, such as FS2000. A 5 year old can fly a 757.
Everything is weapon if you know how to use it as such. It is easy to kill with a sharpend pencil. Should we outlaw writing and try teachers for treason?
I saw this posted at the linked website and thought it is a good point to make
And if the teacher were of a sect, religion, group, cult, country - whatever - that opposes America and the teacher was trained by Americans who knew their background, and knew the teacher would return to their Govt where they may turn on us with the training we provided, and the teacher attacked Americans with the training they recieved, then you tell me.
The analogy sucks, IMO.
Define treason as stated in our Founding documents.
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