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
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
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.