Skip to comments.FBI searches Palm Beach County ex-home of Saudi family
Posted on 01/22/2003 2:30:57 AM PST by Ranger
FBI agents Tuesday night searched the former home of a Saudi family, who a neighbor said had enrolled an adult son in a nearby flight training school and had left ''in a hurry'' two days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
State records and neighbors in the upscale neighborhood in Greenacres, which is just southwest of West Palm Beach, identified the head of the family as Mohamad Almasri, 57.
According to state records, others who lived at the house were Madawi Almasri, 26; Turki Ma Almasri, 22; and Afaf I. Arif, 47.
Neighbors said Almasri lived at the home with his wife, a son and daughter in their late teens or early 20s, and a younger son and daughter.
Several agents, some in white biohazard suits, arrived Tuesday afternoon at the home at 1606 Doral Dr. in Fairway Isles, a gated community, neighbors said.
Into the night, agents went in and out of the home, carrying plastic and paper bags, and dug up parts of the front yard.
Neighbors said they saw the agents carrying what appeared to be metal detectors.
A pickup hauling a large metal trailer was backed up to the front door.
Miami FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said Tuesday night that the agents were acting on a search warrant. She would not say what they were looking for or might have found or whether there was any link to the ongoing national terrorist investigations.
At least 12 of the 19 terrorists who hijacked jets on Sept. 11 had addresses showing they once lived in Palm Beach County.
Lisa Dickerson, Martha Ruth's daughter, said she watched Mohamad Almasri hustle his family into their car on Sept. 9, 2000. She said that a few days after the attacks, when news reports began focusing on possible connections between the terrorists and the nearby Lantana airport, she called a special national FBI hot line.
''It was just the way he put them in,'' Dickerson said. ``It happened so fast.''
Martha Ruth, Dickerson's mother, said the home has been empty ever since, although she recalled briefly seeing Almasri or the adult son in the home a few days or weeks after the family's abrupt departure. Neighbors said they also grew suspicious when the grass in the yard became overgrown and cars normally out front were gone.
Neighbors said homeowners association officers tried to track down the family without result, and that at one association meeting in the last year, at least one family reported they had been talking to the FBI and local police.
Neighbors milled Tuesday night behind yellow crime scene tape that stretched in front of the home and across Doral Drive to the front yard of Rodney Lamarca. Lamarca said Almasri told him he was an engineer.
Lamaraca said the FBI had searched the home about two weeks ago. He did not know if that had been the agency's first visit.
''Now they are back like gangbusters,'' Lamarca said. ``They must have found something.''
Lamarca said homeowner association president Dave Remsen told him FBI agents had said they removed a computer and disks. Remsen told him FBI agents said the family packed up so quickly that food was left on the table.
Lamarca said last week he saw the FBI use tools to unlock a car that had been sitting in the garage. ''I didn't know it was there,'' Lamarca said.
Martha Ruth said the Almasri family bought the house about two years ago and came in the summer, telling her they were taking a vacation from their home in Saudi Arabia.
''They introduced themselves to me and they were very friendly neighbors,'' said Ruth, a retired private-duty nurse. ``I didn't even know their last name.''
Ruth said she was told the couple's son, Turki, 22, was attending one of the three flight schools at the nearby Lantana airport. Palm Beach Flight Training owner Marian Smith said Turki had not trained there.
Kemper Aviation manager David Allison said he would not have access to records until the morning. Officials at Chandelle Aviation said they would check Tuesday night but did not call back.
Owen Gassaway, Jr., who runs the commercial operation at the Lantana airport, said he keeps photographs and names of all suspected terrorists that the FBI has asked airports and flight schools to monitor.
He said he checked them Tuesday night and ``nothing matched.''
Michigan records show Mohamad Almasri as the registered agent for two corporations based in Dearborn, Mich. The Detroit suburb has the largest Arab-American population in the United States, according to the Arab-American Anti-Defamation League.
A Mohamad Almasri contacted in Dearborn said he is not the Florida Almasri and that he is not connectedto the Dearborn corporations.
***An Interesting Discussion on FREEREPUBLIC.com regarding a www.opinion.TELEGRAPH.co.uk article by Sean O'Neill: "HAMZA ACCUSED OF TRYING TO SET UP TERRORIST CELL" (TELEGRAPH.co.uk ARTICLE SNIPPET: "Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, the imam of Finsbury Park mosque, stands accused in the United States of attempting to establish a terrorist cell there to "engage in violent global jihad". Hamza, 45, is the key figure in a federal grand jury investigation in Seattle which accuses him of being a terrorist recruiter and names one of his followers as an al-Qa'eda agent in the US. James Ujaama, a black Muslim activist, faces trial later this year on charges of trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon.") (January 22, 2003)
NY POST.com: "CHILLING RICIN TWIST" by Niles Lathem (ARTICLE SNIPPET: "WASHINGTON - The terrorists arrested in Europe for planning to carry out attacks there with ricin are part of the vicious Algerian network behind the millennium bomb plots in the United States, sources say. U.S. officials are monitoring the recent arrests in Britain and France amid concern that the "Algerian wing" of Osama bin Laden's terror empire has been activated for assassinations and biological and chemical attacks in America and Europe.") (January 20, 2003)
Several agents, some in white biohazard suits, arrived Tuesday afternoon at the home at 1606 Doral Dr. in Fairway Isles, a gated community, neighbors said. Into the night, agents went in and out of the home, carrying plastic and paper bags, and dug up parts of the front yard.
My guess is this will be the smoking gun for Iraq--the anthrax. Note the connection here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/826855/posts?page=151#158
I think they should watch every man named Akbar or Mohammed.... :)
Take out your telephone book
and see how many people have the surnames:
"English", "England", "Ireland", "Wales", "French"
Several hundred in mine.
The name tells you nothing.
SEPTEMBER 3, 2001 : (UAE CONTACT NUMBER WAS USED TO TRANSFER MONEY TO BIN AL-SHIBH : ATTA, MOUSSAUI, AL-MARRI) The UAE number used by Atta and Ali Salem Kahlah Al-Marri was by an unidentified individual for a transfer of money to Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh, an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal indictment against Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker now in custody in Virginia. -court affidavit- according to a -document filed in federal court in Peoria, IL via Peoria's Journal Star - "FBI Agents Say Phone Records Link Illinois Student to Sept. 11 Terrorists, " By Mike Robinson, AP, Published: Mar 20, 2002
SEPTEMBER 4, 2001 (911 HIJACKER ATTA SENDS FEDEX, USES SAME UAE CONTACT NUMBER AS AL-MARRI) According to court documents, Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta sent a FedEx package from the US to the UAE on Sept. 4 and gave the UAE phone number, the same one used by Illinois student Ali Salem Kahlah al Marri, as a contact point for the recipient. - according to a -document filed in federal court in Peoria, IL via Peoria's Journal Star - "FBI Agents Say Phone Records Link Illinois Student to Sept. 11 Terrorists, " By Mike Robinson, AP, Published: Mar 20, 2002
SEPTEMBER 4, 2001 : (ISRAEL, SUICIDE BOMBING) Haneviim Street in Jerusalem; no Israelis killed.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2001 : (ATTA) Atta brought back a blue 1996 Chevrolet Corsica he had rented back on August 15th after driving it 1,915 miles. He extended the rental until Sept. 9, when it was brought back by al Shehhri. - LA Times but not from original site "Hijacker Shuttled in and out of U.S. on Visas issued by Consulates" By CRAIG PYES, PATRICK J. McDONNELL and WILLIAM C. REMPEL, Los AngelesTimes la-atta.html
SEPTEMBER 5, 2001 : (NORTHERN IRELAND SCHOOL BOMBING) Northern Ireland- blast at a school injures policemen. Three Protestant militants were arrested on suspicion of throwing a bomb on Wednesday that injured two police officers guarding Catholic children, aged between four and 11.
SEPTEMBER 6, 2001 : (ROYAL CAYMAN ISLANDS, AFGHANS) Mr. Banks passed the letter to Acting Chief Secretary Donovan Ebanks on 6th September. There had been numerous complaints about the continued presence of the Afghans in the Cayman Islands, and Mr. Ebanks also considered this to be speculative.
SEPTEMBER 2001, a few days before 9/11: (DELAWARE, KHAN TOOK VIDEO FOOTAGE OF WTC, POWER PLANT INQUIRY IN NJ) Another case involves a Pakistani man who took video footage of the WTC a few days before the Sept. 11 attacks. Raza Nasir Khan was accused by federal agents in Wilmington, Del., of being an illegal immigrant who possessed firearms, documents show. A BATF affidavit alleged the Pakistani man requested maps of a hunting area near a rural Salem County, N.J., nuclear power plant and had a handheld global positioning system device. A search of his home found four long guns and one handgun. Khan told authorities he visited the WTC a few days before the attacks and shot videos, the documents said.The magistrate who ordered Khan held said she didn't see any connection to terrorism. In fact, few of the hundreds of pages of supporting documents provided to Congress mentioned a connection with the Sept. 11 attacks.
SEPTEMBER 7, 2001 : (ATTA, AL SHEHHI, LONGBOAT KEY, FL) Atta and al-Shehhi sighting, Longboat Key, FL, two blocks from where Bush would be staying on Sept 10, 2001 http://www.longboatobserver.com/showarticle.asp?ai=2172
SEPTEMBER 9, 2001 : (ISRAEL, SUICIDE BOMBING) Nahariya train station; three killed.
SEPTEMBER 9, 2001 : (ISRAEL, SUICIDE BOMBING) Car at Beit Lid Junction; no Israelis killed.
SEPTEMBER 9, 2001 Sunday : (FLORIDA : AL-SHEHHI CHECKS OUT OF THE PANTHER MOTEL IN DEERFIELD BEACH) : Al-Shehhi checks out of the Panther Motel without taking a three-ring binder full of handwritten notes, an English-German dictionary, an airplane fuel tester, a protractor, tote bag, aircraft manuals, maps and books, motel owner Surma said. Surma said that he kept many of the items from the room that had been occupied by Al-Shehhi - "More arrests coming, U.S. says : So far, 25 people arrested for immigration violations are being questioned by federal investigators in connection with Tuesday's attacks," © St. Petersburg Times, published September 16, 2001 - Information from Cox News Service, Associated Press, Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune was used in this report. cache http://www.sptimes.com/News/091601/Worldandnation/More_arrests_coming__.shtml. , current page , http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:HBTXAfMKTmsC:www.sptimes.com/News/091601/Worldandnation/More_arrests_coming__.shtml+%22Mohammed+Jaweed+Azmath+%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
SEPTEMBER 9, 2001 : (FLORIDA : AL SHEHHI RETURNS THE CAR ATTA RENTED) Al- Shehhi brought back the same blue 1996 Chevrolet Corsica Atta had extended the rental on a few days before to Warrick's in Pompano Beach, FL. Al-Shehhi brought it back with an additional 1,035 miles on it. - LA Times but not from original site "Hijacker Shuttled in and out of U.S. on Visas issued by Consulates" By CRAIG PYES, PATRICK J. McDONNELL and WILLIAM C. REMPEL, Los AngelesTimes
SEPTEMBER 9, 2001 : (ATTA, ALOMARI, MASSACHUSSETTS) Records show that Mohammed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari rented a blue Nissan at an Alamo office in Boston on Sunday, Sept. 9. ny-usport182469421nov18.story-coll=ny-nationalnews-headlines
SEPTEMBER 9, 2001 : Northern Alliance Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud is wounded in a suicide bombing, allegedly by al-Qaeda operatives. Massoud dies from his wounds several days later.
SEPTEMBER 9, 2001 : (MASSOUD ASSASSINATION) Two men posing as journalists, one carrying a passport in the name of Karim Touzani, detonated a hidden bomb as they interviewed Afghanistan's Northern Alliance leader Massoud. The legendary Afghan commander was mortally wounded. Two days later came the suicide attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
SEPTEMER 9, 2001: (FLORIDA : ALMASRI FAMILY HURRIEDLY LEAVES GREENACRES HOME)
No. This won't interest the media unless someone reports
that Steve Hatfill was once spotted nearby.
What I can't understand is why they needed biohazard suits.
Didn't the FBI tell us the anthrax came from a domestic terrorist??
I still think so. Our friendly neighborhood radical Islamist terrorists don't pull such silly, juvenile (and ultimately, harmless) pranks like the silly Anthrax "attacks."
When they do something, it's done with style, it's well-planned, and it is much more effective.
If and when they ever take it into their heads to stage a "bio-attack," I think thousands will die, not just four or five.
1. Who paid the rent/mortgage on the place for the last year? Did the dishes just sit there for a year and newspapers collect in the front yard since Sept 01? Further if they had a car, they probably had a drivers license and it sounds like 2 kids in local schools.
2. Why is the FBI making the connection now or in the last 2 weeks (took PC out 2 weeks ago)? My guess its related to either the raid on the UK mosque about a week ago or to information coming from the raid on the latest doctor's house in Pakistan about 3 weeks ago. There was a reference to his sons' having lived in Florida but the articles at the time gave no further specifics.
3. If they were tipped off on Sept. 9 and fled, then tip may have come by electronic communication from Afgh/Pak, Hamburg or directly from the hijackers. Does anyone know when and from where the anthrax was mailed?
The neighbors called the FBI hotline with their suspicions, which seem obvious and very well-founded, within a few days of 9/11/01.
For sixteen months, nothing happens.
Finally, the FBI swoops down and busts the house on 1/21/03.
This chronology raises two questions:
1. Is the FBI finally responding to the hotline tip? If so, what in heaven's name took them so long?
2. Or are they responding to some new evidence, otherwise obtained? In which case, why did they ignore the hotline call?
After all, a residence occupied by an Arab family, with a son involved in flight training at Lantana, hastily vacated on 9/9/01 and left unoccupied for sixteen months is an inviting investigative target.
In other words, this raid is just as suspicions as the long-delayed combing over of the nearby AMI building -- almost a year after it was sealed.
"Lamaraca said the FBI had searched the home about two weeks ago."
But only two weeks ago...
And they hurried right over (16 months later.)
What local papers??
Do you have a link??
This is the first I have heard of this!!
Perhaps waiting to see who might come to recover whatever was buried?
Thanks Aristeides for the information. I learned something new today. That is a very good question you posed. Maybe it's a Saudi-Egyptian family? Or....
It's a trying-to-be-ironic reference to the AMI germ attack in Florida, possibly from a package with items including a "weird" love letter to Jennifer Lopez. Some speculation, naturally, that the mailer was a sicko about her.
Anyway, that's a round-about way of saying I may remember the earliest anthrax news better than most due to the timeline I was constructing. Here are some salient facts about the first attacks:
In addition to the fact that the earliest reports indicated the AMA letter arrived there about three days BEFORE the 9/11 attacks, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that it and at least one other anthrax letter were never recovered. The one sent to Dan Rather was not recovered. His assistant opened it, later discarded it, and only afterward did she contract cutaneous anthrax.
Sorry, got interrupted in my reply to you. To continue:
Based on the memories of AMA employees, the AMA letter was postmarked at a post office in south Florida. The recovered letters to New York and Washington were postmarked in New Jersey. Because the AMA letter was never recovered, there has been some speculation by authorities and the media that the AMA employees were mistaken, and that it also may have been mailed from New Jersey.
Later reports also ignored the fact that AMA employees recalled that the letter arrived before 9/11. Because there was approximately a three-week gap between when they thought the letter arrived and the gentleman who died first reported being sick, authorities and the media have claimed they were mistaken not only about the postmark, but the date the letter arrived. However, I remember reports that there was a postal facility in south Florida that tested positive for traces of anthrax back when all this first started. And roughly three weeks is well within the known range of incubation periods for anthrax infections.
In addition to the facts stated above, TWO 9/11 hijackers presented themselves with skin problems to health care professionals in south Florida in the weeks leading up to the attacks. One was treated for a black skin lesion in by a doctor who is certain it was an anthrax infection. Another went to a pharmacist asking for a skin cream that might help his hands, which were very inflamed.
And let's not forget the "coincidence" that Atta and another hijacker rented an apartment through the rental agent wife of the head of AMA. Atta and several of the other hijackers were living in south Florida and taking flying lessons within a couple of miles of the AMA building.
Granted, all of the above is "only" circumstantial. But how many "coincidences" does it take to weave a pretty convincing case? Last year, we heard a lot about the government's supposed failure to connect some vague "dots." Well, we don't have dots here, we've got boulders, and still the media and FBI don't seem to be connecting them.
And the Boca Raton post office was subsequently found to be contaminated with anthrax spores. No outlying mailboxes were found to be contaminated. Thus, suggesting that the offending piece was deposited in a mail slot at the post office itself.
Irrespective of the date of postmarks on any of the letters, none of them needed to pass through a canceling machine in order to get inserted into the postal mail processing system.
A letter carrier at the Staten Island post office was, in fact, arrested for involvement with the fellows who first tried to knock down the WTC with bombs.
Mail can "get lost" quite readily, particularly when it is single-piece rate First-Class letter mail! I provided detailed information concerning how letters mailed in Florida could get cancelled in New Jersey, and vice versa in numerous threads in FreeRepublic from November 2001 onward. If curious just search for "Anthrax".
I had proposed the letters were mailed on September 7 or 8, in Boca Raton, through the simple expedient of dropping them in letter mail collection boxes in the area. This family disappeared on 9/9. They had ample opportunity to mail the letters as proposed.
Isn't that worth a donation?
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It is in the breaking news sidebar!
Jan 22, 2003
Agents again refused to say why they searched the abandoned home, which Palm Beach County property records show is owned by Mohammed and Afaf Almasri. The search warrant authorizing the raid was sealed by a judge. FBI and Justice Department officials in Washington also declined comment Wednesday.
Agents could be seen digging holes in the backyard and scanning it with metal detectors. They removed dozens of brown boxes and bags of evidence and removed a silver Mitsubishi Mirage with a flat tire from the garage.
State records show that the car was registered to the Almasris' 22-year-old son, Turki, whom neighbors say had been taking flying lessons before the family left. At least 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the 2001 attacks had ties to Florida, with some seeking flight training here.
Kristina Daddio said the family left hurriedly on Sept. 9, 2001, when a white minivan pulled into the driveway. The family quickly loaded their suitcases and drove off, she said.
"We were wondering why they were rushing. It was so not in keeping with their normal behavior," Daddio said. "These people are very pristine and proper."
Daddio said the family typically spent six months a year in the suburban neighborhood eight miles southwest of West Palm Beach and the other half the year in Saudi Arabia. Daddio said the family typically told them when they were leaving and when they were returning home.
Daddio and another neighbor, Rodney Lamarca, said they became suspicious after the terrorist attacks and called an FBI hot line to report their concern.
"I'm a little disappointed that it took so long. But I really want them to resolve this. Is this something or is this nothing?" Lamarca said.
Neighbors said that after the family left, no one kept the home and the grass grew as high as bushes. Daddio said her husband would mow the lawn when it got out of control.
"There is much ado about something over there," Daddio said.
This story can be found at: http://ap.tbo.com/ap/florida/MGASR64W9BD.html
Jan 22, 2003
Rudi Dekkers, owner of Huffman Aviation and president of Dekkers Aviation Group, is charged with felony fraud. If convicted, Dekkers could face five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The criminal complaint is being processed and a warrant will soon be issued for Dekker's arrest, said assistant state attorney Jonathan Greene.
"I don't want to be arrested," Dekkers told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. "I have never done anything in my life that commands criminal attention."
Two of the 9-11 hijackers, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, took flight lessons at Huffman Aviation in Venice, 70 miles south of Tampa. They obtained multi-engine commercial licenses on December 21, 2000.
Dekkers is now accused of failing to repay a $200,000 loan from business partner Kenneth Jossart. Dekkers signed a promissory note Jan. 15, 2002, to repay the loan.
As president of Dekkers Aviation Group, Dekkers mortgaged a building to secure the loan. But the building's lease with the city was filed under Huffman Aviation. No lien could be recorded against the property because Dekkers Aviation had no legal interest in it.
Dekkers sold the building in August, but hasn't repaid the loan, according to police records.
"If there was some mistake in the agreements, it would have made sense that (Dekkers) just paid the money back," Green said. "But he didn't. The loan has never been repaid. That's the bottom line."
This story can be found at: http://ap.tbo.com/ap/florida/MGA10TC4ABD.html