Sunday, June 09, 2002

Mohamed Atta apparently visited a U. S. government office (Department of Agriculture) to apply for a $650,000 loan to buy a cropdusting airplane. An interesting point is that he is supposed to have visited the office in the spring of 2000, about 17 months before September 11, 2001, i. e., the end of April (or perhaps May), but he is officially supposed to have arrived in the United States in June 2000! While discussing this doomed mission with the loan officer who turned him down because it did not make sense, Atta made many odd statements, all of which are an obvious attempt to leave the impression that he was really and truly a crazed fundamentalist Islamic terrorist. He lays it on so thick, I don't know how he managed to keep from laughing:

  1. He almost refused to deal with her, because she is a woman.

  2. He admired a picture of Washington, D. C. that she had hanging on the wall of her office to a ridiculous degree, pointing specifically to the White House and the Pentagon, and then offered to buy it with theatrical flourish by throwing a wad of money down on the desk. When she refused to sell it to him she recounts: "I believe 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?" This is very weird, as Atta is supposed to come from Egypt, where cities haven't been destroyed for a long time.

  3. He gave her evil, terrorist looks with his 'very scary' black eyes.

  4. She said he referred to a safe in her office and she recounts: "He asked me what would prevent him from going behind my desk and cutting my throat and making off with the millions of dollars in that safe."

  5. He talked of the massive size of the chemical tank he wanted to install, filling the whole inside of the plane except for the pilot's seat.

  6. He became 'very agitated' when he found out that there was an application process and she presumably wouldn't just hand him $650,000 in cash there and then.

  7. He asked her about security at the World Trade Center and what she knew of Phoenix, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles, and was particularly interested in open-topped Texas Stadium.

  8. He mentioned Osama bin Laden, who she had never heard of, and said that bin Laden "would someday be known as the world's greatest leader."

Of course, seeing as he was in the United States on a student visa, how he ever thought he would be entitled to such a loan is beyond belief. He knew he wasn't allowed to stay to ever be able to use the airplane for any plausibly legitimate purpose. Even if he mistakenly thought he could get away with this, what was his reasoning for sending three other terrorists to the same office on the much the same mission? In one case, he put on glasses as a disguise and pretended to be the accountant of one of the other hijacker-applicants, another obvious attempt to draw attention to himself. The whole thing must have sounded like a Monty Python sketch (it reminds me of the Dead Parrot sketch when Michael Palin puts on the fake mustache). The ridiculous overacting left the bureaucrat completely unsuspicious. I imagine if he had asked her if it would be OK for him to fill the plane full of explosives and fly it into the World Trade Center, she would have replied that she would strongly object to that as blowing up the collateral would be a breach of one of the terms of his loan agreement. If this isn't some kind of hoax, what we have here is another example of Atta creating his 'legend', filling out his terrorist personal identity before a witness who would surely remember him. Notice again that he appears to have no fear that this bureaucrat will report him before September 11 and end the terrorist project he has spent so much work on. One question: why has it taken this long for this story to come out when she is supposed to have informed the authorities about the incident shortly after September 11?