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Hijacker tried to get loan to buy airplane

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    Hijacker tried to get loan to buy airplane

    Hijacker tried to get loan to buy airplane

    MIAMI (AP) — A U.S. Department of Agriculture official says terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta tried to get a $650,000 government loan to buy a small airplane, telling her he intended to outfit it with a large chemical tank.

    Johnell Bryant, a loan officer at a USDA office in south Florida, said Atta visited her in the spring of 2000, about 17 months before the Sept. 11 attacks, saying he had just arrived from Afghanistan and hoped to get his pilot's license and buy a plane to use for charter flights and for crop-dusting.

    "He wanted to finance a twin-engine six-passenger aircraft and remove the seats," Bryant told ABC's World News Tonight in an interview broadcast Thursday. "He said he was an engineer, and he wanted to build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting."

    Bryant could not be reached Thursday night by The Associated Press; a home phone number could not be located. She told ABC the interview was against the wishes of her bosses. ABC says she passed a lie detector examination.

    Bryant said Atta used his real name when she interviewed him.

    "I spelled it A-T-T-A-H, and he told me, 'No, A-T-T-A, as in "Atta boy!"' Bryant said.

    She said she rejected Atta for a loan because he was not a U.S. citizen. Before he left, Atta tried to buy a panoramic photograph of Washington, D.C., that hung on her office wall. He pointed specifically to the White House and Pentagon and called the photo "one of the prettiest" he had ever seen of the capital.

    "He pulled out a wad of cash," she said. "He wanted that picture really bad."

    Bryant said when she explained the picture was a gift from her former colleagues, Atta threw more money down.

    "His look on his face became very bitter at that point," Bryant said. "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?"

    She also remembers Atta mentioning al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, saying bin Laden "would someday be known as the world's greatest leader."

    "I didn't know who Osama bin Laden was. He could have been a character on Star Wars for all I knew," Bryant said.

    After that meeting, Atta and other members of his group began taking flying lessons. He is believed to have been piloting one of the planes that struck the World Trade Center.

    Bryant said she never reported the incident before Sept. 11, saying there is no way she or anyone else could have detected Atta was a terrorist.

    "Should I have picked up the telephone and called someone? You can't ask me that more often than I have asked myself that, "Bryant said. "I don't know how I could possibly expect myself to have recognized what that man was. And yet sometimes I haven't forgiven myself."

    Shortly after Sept. 11, Bryant recognized Atta's photo and alerted authorities. A federal law enforcement official told the AP that Bryant's information had contributed to an FBI warning about possible terrorist use of crop dusters.
    "I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them." -Isaac Asimov

    Just goes to show you the general lack of knowledge of world events by the American general public, and the false sense of security that most US Citizens felt. And I firmly believe that it will be the cause of many more deaths of innocent Americans in the weeks/months/years to come.
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      After Muhammad Atta dropped so many 'hints', its bizzare that this woman didn't feel suspicious in any way at all over this guy!

      Very strange indeed!

      Well, I don't know about America, but before Sept 11, I would say everyone here who watches tv has heard about Osama Bin Laden for the last few years on this side of the pond.


        OBL was the first thing outta my mouth when I say WTC1 on fire. The lack of knowledge, as I said, was and is amazing.
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          Atta boy!!

          One minute he's all relaxed and calm and the next he turns demented and starts going on about destroying Amerikkkan cities?

          Me smells poo-poo in this story.
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            And why are all these stories just coming out now?

            Maybe this woman just wanted a bit of fame and be on tv by contriving a story?

            Who knows?

            And is it not strange for someone planning the biggest attack on American soil to drop hints to a government worker about what he intended to do?


              I have no idea about why this story is just coming out now. I'd like to know that one too.

              As far as the govt official goes, the US Department of Agriculture is concerned with farming type stuff. It's doubtful that thoughts of possible terrorism would even enter their mindset.
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                Common sense usually has a tendency to prevail.

                Well, sometimes, anyway.....


                  I'll agree that it usually SHOULD prevail. In just about everything, tho, we see a big discrepancy between what should happen and what does happen.
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