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Mark Steyn -- Mohammed Atta and his federal loan officer
National Post (Toronto) ^ | June 10, 2002 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 06/11/2002 6:08:11 AM PDT by Clive

Mohammed Atta and his federal loan officer
No matter how dumb he was, officialdom was always dumber

When last in this space, 10 days ago, I was writing about whether political correctness kills. This was apropos the 9/11 nutters: "Everything they did stuck out. But it didn't matter. Because the more they stuck out, the more everyone who mattered was trained to look the other way."

I didn't know the half of it. The other day, Johnelle Bryant, an official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, gave an interview to ABC News in which she revealed that Mohammed Atta and three other September 11th terrorists had visited her Florida office seeking government loans.

America, it seems, came this close to having the World Trade Center incinerated at the taxpayers' expense.

Mr. Atta swung by in May, 2000, and Ms. Bryant remembers quite a bit about it. "At first," she says, "he refused to speak with me," on the grounds that she was, in his words, "but a female." After he'd reiterated the point, she pulled rank: "I told him that if he was interested in getting a farm-service agency loan in my servicing area, then he would need to deal with me." Throughout the hour-long interview, he continued to dismiss her as "but a female."

Ms. Bryant says the applicant was asking for $650,000 to start a crop-dusting business. His plan was to buy a six-seater twin-prop and then remove the seats. "He wanted to build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting."

Hmm.

When she explained that his application would have to be processed, Mr. Atta became "very agitated." He'd apparently been expecting to leave the office with cash in hand. "He asked me," recalls Ms. Bryant, "what would prevent him from going behind my desk and cutting my throat and making off with the millions of dollars in that safe." Try this with your Royal Bank loan officer -- I find it works every time. But Ms. Bryant replied politely that there was no money in the safe because loans are never given in cash, and also that she was trained in karate.

His fiendish plan stymied at every turn, Mr. Atta then spotted an aerial view of Washington hanging on the wall behind her. He told her he particularly liked the way it got all the famous landmarks of the city in one convenient picture, pointing specifically to the Pentagon and the White House. "He pulled out a wad of cash," says Ms. Bryant, "and started throwing money on my desk. He wanted that picture really bad."

She told him it wasn't for sale, but he only tossed more dough at her. "His look on his face became very bitter at that point," Ms. Bryant remembers. "He said, 'How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it,' like the cities in his country had been destroyed?"

Hmm.

Mr. Atta then moved on to other prominent landmarks in other American cities, and enquired about security at the World Trade Center. Ms. Bryant had a Dallas Cowboys souvenir on her desk, and he asked her about their spectacular stadium and, specifically, the "hole in the roof."

At that point, the chit-chat turned to Mr. Atta's own country, which he claimed was Afghanistan. "He mentioned Osama bin Laden," she says. "He could have been a character on Star Wars for all I knew." So Mr. Atta helpfully explained that this bin Laden guy "would someday be known as the world's greatest leader."

Alas, the interview ended badly from the terrorists' point of view when Ms. Bryant informed her visitor that the loan program is for farm-based projects and a crop-dusting business did not qualify.

A few weeks later, another September 11th killer showed up, Marwan al- Shehhi, seeking half-a-million bucks supposedly to buy a sugar-cane farm. Accompanying him was Mr. Atta, but he was cunningly disguised with a pair of glasses and claiming to be someone else entirely, attending in his capacity as Mr. al-Shehhi's accountant. Sportingly, Ms. Bryant went along with the wheeze. I'm reminded of the time my sister tried to wangle her boyfriend a day off work. She called up the receptionist and, adopting a fake accent, told her that she was the dentist's secretary and he needed to come in immediately for critical dental work. "My God, that's terrible," said the receptionist. "I'll tell him at once." She then buzzed through to the boyfriend: "Stewart, Karen just called pretending to be the dentist's secretary. Do you think she needs to see a doctor?"

But Ms. Bryant didn't think Mr. Atta was sick. The safe-breaking, the throat- slitting, the fake specs ... why, he was just being charmingly multicultural! "I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from," she says. "I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could." Unfortunately, his imaginative business plan for a crop-duster capable of crop-dusting Texas was frustrated by the unduly onerous restrictions and bureaucratic torpor of the USDA program. By late summer, Mr. Atta and his chums had concluded the government was never going to buy them their own twin-props and they'd have to make do with the aircraft that were already up there. So they switched their flight training courses from small planes to large jet simulators, and told their instructors to skip all that takeoff and landing stuff.

Ms. Bryant has come forward now because she thinks "it's very vital that the Americans realize that when these people come to the United States, they don't have a big 'T' on their forehead." No, indeed. In some cases, they have a big "T-E-R-R-O-R-I-S-T" flashing in neon off the end of their nose. Ten days ago, I pointed out that these fellows made virtually no effort to blend in. They weren't in "deep cover," they were barely covered at all. Atta was the brains of the operation, and he did a marginally better job of it than Leslie Nielsen would have. His one great insight into Western culture was his assumption that he could get a government grant to take out the Pentagon. Yet no matter how dumb he was, officialdom was always dumber

"If they watch this interview and they see the type of questions that Atta asked me," Ms. Bryant told ABC News, "then perhaps they will recognize a terrorist, and make the call that I didn't make." Meanwhile, here are some signs to look for:

1) He threatens to cut your throat.

2) He talks about the destruction of prominent landmarks.

3) He enquires about security at said landmarks.

4) He hails Osama bin Laden as a great leader.

There'll be more of these stories, tales of men virtually screaming their intentions but up against a culture sensitivity-trained into a coma. A stump- toothed Appalachian mountain man would get slung out on his ear if he was that misogynist and abusive in a government office. In a Hollywood movie, the guy refusing to deal with the little lady and demanding to see the real boss would be a sexist Republican Congressman. In the new motion-picture blockbuster The Sum Of All Fears, the Islamic terrorists of Tom Clancy's novel have been replaced with neo-Nazis -- a safe villain that won't offend our delicate multicultural sensibilities.

The good news is we're up against idiots. The bad news is we're also up against the suppler idiocies of current Western orthodoxy. Thus, the U.S. government's new plans to photograph and fingerprint visitors from countries "believed to harbour terrorists" have already been attacked by Mary Robinson, the UN Human Rights honcho who's never met an Arab dictator she didn't like. Islamists want to kill us in the name of Islam. Regrettable, but there it is. If we pretend otherwise, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Canadian Islamic Congress and the Islamic Society of Britain might be nice to us. But, speaking personally, I can't say I care. If Islamic lobby groups throughout the Western world really want to hitch their star to a bunch of psychopathic morons, good luck to them. It's a free country. Hey, we'll even give you a government grant to tell us how racist we are.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: marksteynlist
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1 posted on 06/11/2002 6:08:12 AM PDT by Clive
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To: Pokey78
-
2 posted on 06/11/2002 6:09:10 AM PDT by Clive
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To: Clive
I don't know whether to laugh or to strangle somebody.
3 posted on 06/11/2002 6:13:38 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: Clive
Thanks for this story.
I had heard references to it on the radio, but it's chilling to see it described in print.

Documentation that our bureaucracy is manned by morons, albeit it educated morons...

4 posted on 06/11/2002 6:14:15 AM PDT by Publius6961
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To: Tijeras_Slim
There is a sort of "Alice in Wonderland" quality to it.
5 posted on 06/11/2002 6:16:12 AM PDT by Clive
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To: Clive
Absolutely amazing! Steyn hit it on the head. As usual.
6 posted on 06/11/2002 6:16:14 AM PDT by Dudoight
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To: Clive
bump, this one deserves it.
7 posted on 06/11/2002 6:19:31 AM PDT by tet68
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To: Clive
Proof that we are not only at war with the Islamists but also the Liberalists.
8 posted on 06/11/2002 6:24:48 AM PDT by hang 'em
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To: Clive
Unbelievable.

If this loan officer refused the loan based on this guys behavior, she would have probably lost her job for it too and been called a racist.

9 posted on 06/11/2002 6:30:08 AM PDT by Grig
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To: Clive
I am speechless.....PC will be the death of this country.
10 posted on 06/11/2002 6:30:24 AM PDT by Aggie Mama
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To: Clive
There was an Islamist who began a not-so-subtle threats campaign right here on FR several days after 9/11 (he and another cohort sent myself and some others private Freepmail).

Unfortunately, the bonehead had his "private" email address prominently listed in his profile, which was readily traced to his name, address, and place of business in California.

These Islamists are diabolical, barbaric, savage, and determined, but they don't seem to possess large IQs.

11 posted on 06/11/2002 6:39:34 AM PDT by angkor
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To: Clive
"Kick Me - Please" bump
12 posted on 06/11/2002 6:40:51 AM PDT by tictoc
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To: Clive
The good news is we're up against idiots

.....The Bad news is that we're protected and governed by idiots!

Atta could have had a tatoo on his forehead that said, "on 9/11/02 I will crash a jet into the WTC building", and this utter buracratical moron still wouldn't have noticed anything. On the plus side, she's still employed and probably granting loans helping muslims startup more crop dusting services!

13 posted on 06/11/2002 6:45:38 AM PDT by Bommer
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To: Clive
This IS a joke, isn't it?? Isn't it?? Please tell me it's a joke -- this COULD NOT have happened. Someone PLEEAASSE confirm?
14 posted on 06/11/2002 6:46:31 AM PDT by WL-law
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To: Clive; rdavis84
There'll be more of these stories, tales of men virtually screaming their intentions but up against a culture sensitivity-trained into a coma.

tried & true. worked for oswald in new orleans & mcveigh at waco.

15 posted on 06/11/2002 6:48:42 AM PDT by thinden
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To: Clive
what would prevent him from going behind my desk and cutting my throat ... Ms. Bryant replied politely that .. she was trained in karate.

So sorry, Ms. Bryant, honey, your "karate" is worthless while seated, and hardly useful in a counterattack against a surprise vicious knife attack to the neck, even if you weren't seated.

16 posted on 06/11/2002 6:50:37 AM PDT by bvw
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To: Clive
Has anyone determined WHY these guys needed a loan to pull off these schemes? All published reports indicate that money was never a problem.
17 posted on 06/11/2002 6:52:46 AM PDT by MrMatt
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To: Clive
my daughter is a university financial aid officer and she says the number of illegals receiving a full $30,000 ticket is huge and sanctioned by Dept of Educ rules that dictate looking the other way
18 posted on 06/11/2002 6:54:38 AM PDT by chemainus
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To: angkor
they don't seem to possess large IQs.

Yep. Who else but an idiot would belong to a religion that won't let a man take a drink?

19 posted on 06/11/2002 7:05:00 AM PDT by Big Bunyip
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To: Dudoight
Steyn hit it on the head. As usual.

He always does, doesn't he? I've been expecting this story to pop up on FR, and Steyn's version is the perfect one.

This air-headed bureaucrat's story illustrates some of the biggest weaknesses in our pitifully flacid society ... political correctness, sensitivity training, diversity, affirmative action/job-quota hiring.

20 posted on 06/11/2002 7:08:04 AM PDT by iconoclast
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To: Clive
" A stump- toothed Appalachian mountain man would get slung out on his ear

Actually, a regular white guy in a plaid shirt would have been hauled into jail for harrassing a Gov't. employee.

21 posted on 06/11/2002 7:10:11 AM PDT by Crowcreek
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To: chemainus;Joe Montana;Uncle Bill;Fred Mertz
Bump!!!!!
22 posted on 06/11/2002 7:18:29 AM PDT by Donald Stone
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To: Clive
Mr. Atta swung by in May, 2000, and Ms. Bryant remembers quite a bit about it. "At first," she says, "he refused to speak with me," on the grounds that she was, in his words, "but a female." After he'd reiterated the point, she pulled rank: "I told him that if he was interested in getting a farm-service agency loan in my servicing area, then he would need to deal with me." Throughout the hour-long interview, he continued to dismiss her as "but a female."

What is WITH this woman? The first time he tried that line on me I would have told him "Fine, go back to the END of the line and take your chances that a man will be available when you get to the front again".

And when he made the remark about slashing throats I would have had him thrown out.

I repeat, what's WITH these people? They seem willing to endure any amount of abuse while they're giving away OUR MONEY to non-citizens; do they get a commission or something?

23 posted on 06/11/2002 7:19:09 AM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: chemainus
This needs to change. Has anyone heard a politician saying this is a bad idea, or supporting it? The universities like it because it gets them money. Someone needs to pull the plug on this one. Why should American taxpayers support even well meaning foreign students, let alone those who are out to destroy us? Next town meeting with my congressman, I think I'll do a little research and then bring this up.
24 posted on 06/11/2002 7:19:10 AM PDT by 3AngelaD
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To: Clive, monkeyshine, ipaq2000, Lent, veronica, Sabramerican, beowolf, Nachum, BenF, angelo, bosto
If you want on or off me Israel/MidEast ping list please let me know. Via Freepmail is best way.............
25 posted on 06/11/2002 7:20:56 AM PDT by dennisw
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To: hellinahandcart
When he made the remark about cutting throats, I would have taken it as a threat, pushed the panic button under my desk and started screaming for security. If the USDA moron had done those things, perhaps he would have been arrested and detained, and perhaps history would have been changed. The woman is not only stupid, but culpable.
26 posted on 06/11/2002 7:22:21 AM PDT by 3AngelaD
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To: Clive
Why do I believe that this woman made up huge parts of this story in order to get her 15 minutes?
27 posted on 06/11/2002 7:25:39 AM PDT by Alouette
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To: Tijeras_Slim
"I don't know whether to laugh or to strangle somebody."

Hmmmm, you could do both at the same time. Try out my evil laugh and see how it fits. Bwwwuuaaaaahahahahahahhaaaaaaaaa! Pretty good, huh?;^)

28 posted on 06/11/2002 7:27:47 AM PDT by Kermit
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To: Tijeras_Slim
a culture sensitivity-trained into a coma
29 posted on 06/11/2002 7:38:47 AM PDT by philosofy123
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To: Alouette
I had a similar feeling. It is difficult to think that this guy was that stupid, and this lady was that dumb!
30 posted on 06/11/2002 7:40:56 AM PDT by philosofy123
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To: Clive
bump
31 posted on 06/11/2002 7:45:36 AM PDT by KSCITYBOY
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To: Clive
There is a sort of "Alice in Wonderland" quality to it.

You are so cultured.

I was thinking “The Three Stooges” with that fat lady they always abused as the loan official.

The clever disguise was the clincher.

32 posted on 06/11/2002 7:52:35 AM PDT by dead
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To: Clive
The sad thing is if she attempted to report this to the FBI even today someone would politely take a message and then file it in a kook file.
33 posted on 06/11/2002 7:54:59 AM PDT by VRWC_minion
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To: MrMatt
Has anyone determined WHY these guys needed a loan to pull off these schemes? All published reports indicate that money was never a problem.

I honestly believe they were going for “style points” with that idea.

Getting the government to buy the planes would have added such a “Stupid America!” panache to the whole effort.

34 posted on 06/11/2002 7:56:01 AM PDT by dead
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To: MrMatt
Has anyone determined WHY these guys needed a loan to pull off these schemes?

But money transfered would be traced back to its source. A federal loan would circumvent the need to hide the money trail and increase secrecy.

35 posted on 06/11/2002 7:57:22 AM PDT by VRWC_minion
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To: Clive
Rainbow Bump!

36 posted on 06/11/2002 7:59:27 AM PDT by Phlap
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To: Clive
they don't have a big 'T' on their forehead

No?
He mentioned al Qaeda
He mentioned Osama bin Laden
He boasted about the role that they would one day play
He refused to speak with Bryant, called her "but a female" in disgust.
He asked what would prevent him from cutting Bryant's throat.
He asked what would prevent him from stealing money from her safe.
He asked "How would America like it if another country destroyed Washington, DC
like the cities in his country had been destroyed?"
He asked about security specifically for the World Trade Center
He said bin Laden "would someday be known as the world's greatest leader."

"I didn't know who Osama bin Laden was - He could have been a character
on Star Wars for all I knew."

I guess ignorance is no barrier to getting a job with the US govt.

"I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from"

Multicultural PC groupthink!

The terrorists may not have a "T" on their forehead,
but bureaucrats sure should have a "B" on theirs.
37 posted on 06/11/2002 7:59:42 AM PDT by My Identity
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To: Clive
Great article. Expresses eloquently the vague impressions I got when I originally read this woman's account.
38 posted on 06/11/2002 7:59:47 AM PDT by Sloth
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To: dead
I honestly believe they were going for “style points” with that idea.

You nailed it, bro.

39 posted on 06/11/2002 8:00:02 AM PDT by Snake65
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To: dead; Clive
The clever disguise was the clincher.

But the Absolute best place to hide something FRom the most people is right out in the open where everyone can see it.

[Just ask any KKKlinton or Lee Kwan Yew!]

40 posted on 06/11/2002 8:20:50 AM PDT by Brian Allen
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To: Clive
"Yet no matter how dumb he was, officialdom was always dumber"

BTTT!!!

41 posted on 06/11/2002 8:29:17 AM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: texasbluebell
BUMP
42 posted on 06/11/2002 8:30:42 AM PDT by Publius6961
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To: Clive; Howlin; Riley1992; Miss Marple; deport; Dane; sinkspur; steve; kattracks; JohnHuang2...
Thanks!

Ping for the MSPL.

43 posted on 06/11/2002 8:34:03 AM PDT by Pokey78
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To: chemainus
my daughter is a university financial aid officer and she says the number of illegals receiving a full $30,000 ticket is huge and sanctioned by Dept of Educ rules that dictate looking the other way

And this is what chaps my hide, not only are these illegals getting a free ride, but our own US kids are having to face much stiffer competition getting into college because so many foreign students are getting what seems to be first priority. It's an increasingly difficult situation for American kids, having to jump through hoops. The past few years have been unbelievable in terms of the college application process.

44 posted on 06/11/2002 8:35:48 AM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: Clive
Unbelievable. He threatens to cut her throat, and she's concerned with making his "cultural leap" easier. Why wasn't she yelling for security to get him thrown out? Absolutely unfrickin' believable. "He's just trying to fit in..." I am so stunned by this attitude.
45 posted on 06/11/2002 8:37:22 AM PDT by .38sw
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To: 3AngelaD
Please see post #44 too!
46 posted on 06/11/2002 8:39:37 AM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: Clive
What do you suppose would have happened if they had gotten the loan? Their method of choice appears to have been the crop duster. Doesn't this give some weight to the anthrax mailings being done by Muslim Terrorists?
47 posted on 06/11/2002 8:43:45 AM PDT by Mr. Peabody
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To: chemainus
my daughter is a university financial aid officer and she says the number of illegals receiving a full $30,000 ticket is huge and sanctioned by Dept of Educ rules that dictate looking the other way

Not that it’s my neck to stick out, but it sounds like your daughter is in a prime postion to document and go public with these facts.

48 posted on 06/11/2002 8:45:06 AM PDT by dead
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To: Clive

49 posted on 06/11/2002 8:46:15 AM PDT by Avoiding_Sulla
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To: Clive

Johnelle Bryant

50 posted on 06/11/2002 8:47:19 AM PDT by r9etb
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