- HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters)
- Before carrying out their plot to hijack four passenger planes, the Sept.
11 pilots diligently wired back surplus money they no longer needed, an
FBI agent told a court Tuesday.
- FBI special agent Matthew Walsh, 33, gave a broad overview
of the U.S. investigation into last year's attack during his testimony
at the trial in Hamburg of Mounir El Motassadeq, the first suspected Sept.
11 conspirator to stand trial.
- Walsh told how a stewardess on the first flight headed
for the World Trade Center in New York called in details of the hijack
shortly before the crash, the first of four that killed a total of about
- "On the telephone she said she saw these people
stabbing a passenger as well as other flight crew," he said. "The
passenger in 10B had stabbed the passenger in front of him. She thought
the passenger was already dead."
- "I believe he had his throat cut," he said.
"She also stated it was very hard to breathe, so we assume that mace
or another gas was used."
- The ringleader of the attacks, Mohamed Atta and two other
pilots lived in the northern German port city of Hamburg during the 1990s.
Moroccan student Motassadeq is charged with serving as the paymaster of
the al Qaeda cell based in Hamburg which is accused of masterminding the
- Walsh told the court that the suspected pilot of the
second plane into the World Trade Center, Marwan Al Shehhi, received more
than $10,000 in cash transfers from Ramzi Bin Al-Shaibah, an ex-Hamburg
resident who is suspected of playing a major role in the plot and is now
in U.S. custody.
- Another man in the United Arab Emirates transferred about
$110,000 to an account in Florida that several of the hijackers used, the
FBI agent said.
- In the end, the plotters apparently had funds left over.
"In the days leading up to September 11 it seems that the hijackers
were returning the money they no longer needed," Walsh said.
- UAE authorities have previously said three hijackers
sent $15,000 back before the 2001 attack.
- FLIGHT SCHOOL
- The FBI contacted every flight school in the United States
as part of its biggest investigation ever and researched all of the passengers
on the plane to seek common links, Walsh said.
- "On the whole all the hijackers as students were
reserved and kept to themselves, rarely spoke to anyone else including
teachers," he said. "They were not widely known, at least these
four, as being good pilots."
- "After Atta and Al Shehhi had gotten their licenses
for propeller planes, they went to a simulation center where they practiced
flying large jet aircraft," Walsh said. "Instructors who taught
those sessions said they were only interested in turns and approaches."
- The plotters also went on several flights in preparation.
- "They took several trips across country from New
York, Boston and Washington out to California. On all these trips they
used the same type of aircraft that was used on September 11," Walsh
- During the testimony, Motassadeq mostly listened quietly,
taking notes from time to time.
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