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News reports claim that 4,000 dual U.S./Israeli citizens who worked at the WTC did not show up for work on the fateful day

Several people implicated by U.S. authorities of being on aircraft involved in attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C., have come forward in different locations around the Middle East to proclaim their innocence.

In another twist to the attack saga, news reports claim that 4,000 Israelis who worked at the WTC did not show up for work on the fateful day as they had been alerted by the Israeli authorities.

Three Saudi pilots, who U.S. authorities described as suicide hijackers in the September 11 attacks, said they could have not carried out the "mission" as they are alive.

Abdulaziz Al Omari, mistakenly identified as one of the 19 men who took part in last week's suicide attacks in New York and Washington, told the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat that he was at work with the Saudi Telecommunications Authority in Riyadh when the attacks took place.

He said his original passport had been stolen in Denver, Colorado, in 1995 and that he had been issued a travel document from the Saudi embassy in Washington on which he returned to Saudi Arabia. He was given a replacement passport in Riyadh on December 31, 1995, the paper reported.

"I travelled to America to study engineering at Denver University, Colorado, in 1993, then returned to Saudi Arabia in 1995 and got back to the U.S. on january 11, 1996, to resume my studies. I graduated in April, 2000, and returned to Riyadh to join the electricity authority. Later I moved to the Saudi Communication Authority. I am an engineer who has no idea of how to fly a plane," Al Omari told the newspaper.

Saeed Hussain Gharamallah Al Ghamedi, a Saudi pilot whose photo was flashed by CNN® on Monday, September 17, as one of the suspects reportedly involved in the crash of a hijacked airliner in Pennsylvania, told Asharq Al Awsat that he is living in Tunisia.

"I have been in Tunis for the past 10 months on a training course to fly Airbus 320 aircraft along with 22 other colleagues from Saudi Arabian Airlines," he told the paper on the phone from the Tunisian capital.

U.S. authorities said he was believed to have hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania apparently before reaching its intended terror target in Washington.

When asked about how the FBI got his photograph, Al Ghamedi said it might have been obtained from 'Flight Safety', an aviation school where he had trained in Florida between 1998 and 1999.
He told the paper that he had returned to the U.S. for six weeks' training in August, 2000.
Meanwhile, Beirut-based Al Manar Satellite TV reported that 4,000 Israelis who worked in the World Trade Centre in New York did not report to work on Tuesday, September 11, following an alert from Israeli authorities.

"U.S. officials are suspicious about the absence of these workers and are questioning how they knew about the attacks before they took place," the television channel stated in a report quoted by the Arabic daily Al Ittihad

In another development, Five Israelis who had worked for a New Jersey-based company are being held by U.S. authorities for what the FBI describes as "puzzling behaviour" following the terror attack on the WTC last week. The five are expected to be deported sometime soon, Al Ittihad reported.

The newspaper quoted Ahmed Al Taibi, an Arab Knesset member, as saying that political sources in Tel Aviv were discussing these reports behind closed doors.

"They were taking pictures of the attack scene in New York hours after the incident while laughing and dancing. They were reported to the FBI who arrested them," he said.

Al Taibi questioned the U.S. media's ignoring of the report which was admitted by Israeli officials. He pointed out the dual standards of the U.S. media which highlighted marginal incidents of some Palestinians showing happiness over the attacks, in a bid to accuse the Palestinian people of committing these attacks.

Meanwhile, a Saudi diplomat who worked in Washington has denied the involvement of his son in last week's attacks, saying he is alive and well, the daily Al Iqtissadia reported yesterday.

Ahmad Balghaith Abdulla Al Shehri said his son, Waleed Al Shehri, was not a passenger on the hijacked planes and is working as a pilot with Saudi Arabian Airlines, the newspaper reported.
The father, who works at the foreign ministry in Riyadh, said his son carries the same name and has the same age as in the information released by the FBI.

Waleed Al Shehri lived in Florida and Virginia in the United States where he graduated as a pilot.
The father said he himself was posted at the Saudi embassy in Washington for five years before moving to the Saudi consulate in Bombay, India, in 1998, where Waleed lived with him.

On Sunday, the father of Waleed and Wail Mohammad Al Shehri, listed as suspects by the FBI, said he lost track of his sons 10 months ago when they left their home in southern Saudi Arabia for the holy city of Madinah.

He said Wail, 21, was mentally ill and had gone to Madinah for treatment by a cleric, accompanied by his older brother Waleed.

The publication of names of Saudi suspects has created confusion in the kingdom where people normally trace their names back to their family clan or tribes, meaning many people bear similar names.

The father of another suspect, Ahmad Abdullah Al Naimi, told Al Watan daily his son interrupted his studies and disappeared about 15 months ago, but he said he was not certain that the suspect on the FBI list was his son.

Source: Gulf News©



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