Friday, July 26, 2002

I've now examined the lives of Mohamed Atta (also here and here and here), Saeed Alghamdi, Waleed Alshehri, and Ziad Samir Jarrah (not to mention Ali Mohamed and Zacarias Moussaoui, and comments on general problems with the hijacking group). It is notable that at least the hijackers who called themselves 'Saeed Alghamdi' and 'Waleed Alshehri' were using stolen identities, and I strongly suspect that the identities of Atta and Jarrah were stolen as well. The most unusual cases are the two brothers, Waleed and Wael Alshehri, and their childhood friend, Saeed Alghamdi. We know that at least Waleed Alshehri and Saeed Alghamdi became pilots and are still alive, and therefore had their identities stolen to be used by the hijackers on September 11. How was this possible? How would the people who stole the identities know which ones to steal, and how would they know that these identities were of Saudi pilots of middle-class background who knew each other as children? There would have to be a database of young men of middle-class Saudi background, possibly even including information on those who knew each other in childhood. This data would have to be cross-checked against a database of Saudi pilots, and further cross-checked against a list of Saudi pilots studying or planning to study in the United States (probably using a database of U. S. visas). The names of Waleed Alshehri and Saeed Alghamdi would have popped out. It would then be easy to steal their identification papers while they studied in the United States, and assign these identities to operatives who would then build composite identifications based on the stolen identifications, leaving a U. S. paper trail with driver's licenses, credit cards, various run-ins with authorities (the run-ins are probably not an accident), and associating together with others in the group of operatives in a public way. I suspect that there exists a whole library of stolen identifications that could be used for differing situations (in other words, it is possible that these identifications weren't stolen to order, but were on the shelf ready to be used as needed - talk about 'sleeper cells'!). To construct these identities, one would need to have access to both Saudi and U. S. databases. Do you think al-Qaeda could have done this?