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Context of '1996-August 2000: Ahmed Alghamdi and Other Hijackers Reportedly Connected to US Military Base'

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After 9/11, there will be media accounts suggesting some of the 9/11 hijackers trained at US military bases (see September 15-17, 2001). According to these accounts, four of the hijackers trained at Pensacola Naval Air Station, a base that trains many foreign nationals. One neighbor will claim that Ahmed Alghamdi lived in Pensacola until about August 2000. This neighbor will claim that Alghamdi appeared to be part of a group of Arab men who often gathered at the Fountains apartment complex near the University of West Florida. She will recount, “People would come and knock on the doors. We might see three or four, and they were always men. It was always in the evening. The traffic in and out, although it was sporadic, was constant every evening. They would go and knock, and then it would be a little while and someone would look out the window to see who it was, like they were being very cautious. Not your normal coming to the door and opening it.” (Firestone and Canedy 9/15/2001) It is not known when Alghamdi is first seen in Pensacola. However, he uses the address of a housing facility for foreign military trainees located inside the base on drivers’ licenses issued in 1996 and 1998. Saeed Alghamdi and Ahmed Alnami also list the same address as Ahmed Alghamdi on their drivers license and car registrations between 1996 and 1998. Other records connect Hamza Alghamdi to that same address. However, the Pensacola News Journal reports that “The news articles caution that there are slight discrepancies between the FBI list of suspected hijackers and the military training records, either in the spellings of their names or in their birth dates. They also raise the possibility that the hijackers stole the identities of military trainees.” (Gugliotta 9/16/2001; Wheeler, Streater, and Graybiel 9/17/2001) It is unclear if these people were the 9/11 hijackers or just others with similar names. The US military has never definitively denied that they were the hijackers, and the media lost interest in the story a couple of weeks after 9/11.

A military report released this year describes the “Joint Vision 2010” program, a series of “analyses, war games, studies, experiments, and exercises” which are “investigating new operational concepts, doctrines, and organizational approaches that will enable US forces to maintain full spectrum dominance of the battlespace well into the 21st century.” “The Air Force has begun a series of war games entitled Global Engagement at the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.” The same report mentions that the military is working on a “variety of new imaging and signals intelligence sensors, currently in advanced stages of development, deployed aboard the Global Hawk, DarkStar, and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)…” (US Department of Defense 1998) Global Hawk is a technology that enables pilotless flight and has been functioning since at least early 1997. (US Department of Defense 2/20/1997) While it may be mere coincidence, “Air Force spokesman Colonel Ken McClellan said a man named Mohamed Atta—which the FBI has identified as one of the five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11—had once attended the International Officer’s School at Maxwell/Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.” But he adds that “there [was] discrepancies in the biographical data” (mainly the birth date) and that “it may just be a case of mistaken identity” (see also 1996-August 2000 and September 15-17, 2001) (Radelat 9/17/2001; Radelat and Madden 9/20/2001)

Ahmed Alhaznawi.Ahmed Alhaznawi. [Source: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division]Several of the Saudis accused of taking part in 9/11 will later be reported to leave home around this time:
bullet Wail and Waleed Alshehri: spring 2000; (Sunday Times (London) 1/27/2002; Sennott 3/3/2002; Saudi Information Agency 9/11/2002)
bullet Ahmed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, and Ahmed Alhaznawi, as well as candidate hijacker Saeed Abdullah Saeed Alghamdi: spring 2000. (Sunday Times (London) 1/27/2002; Sennott 3/3/2002; Saudi Information Agency 9/11/2002)
bullet Salem Alhazmi: spring 2000; (Khashoggi 9/20/2001; Saudi Information Agency 9/11/2002)
bullet Ahmed Alnami: 2000. (Khashoggi 9/20/2001; Saudi Information Agency 9/11/2002)
bullet Mohand Alshehri: More than a year before the attacks. (Khashoggi 9/20/2001)

Wail Alshehri.Wail Alshehri. [Source: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division]After 9/11, various media will report that a sort of ceremony is held before some of the Saudi hijackers depart for Afghanistan. According to the Boston Globe and the Daily Telegraph, the gathering is at the Seqeley mosque in Khamis Mushayt in the spring of 2000. It is led by Wail Alshehri and attended by Waleed Alshehri, Ahmed Alnami, and Saeed Alghamdi, who swear “an oath commit themselves to jihad.” (Sennott 3/3/2002; Lamb 9/15/2002) The Sunday Times agrees the gathering was led by Wail Alshehri, but says it was attended by five other people whose identities it is unable to ascertain. It speculates they may include Waleed Alshehri, Ahmed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, and Ahmed Alhaznawi. (Sunday Times (London) 1/27/2002)

A series of articles suggests that at least six of the 9/11 hijackers trained at US military bases. (New York Times 9/15/2001; Wehrfritz, Skipp, and Barry 9/15/2001; Gugliotta 9/16/2001)
bullet Three of the alleged hijackers—Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Alghamdi, and Saeed Alghamdi—are revealed as having listed the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, as their permanent address on their driver’s licenses and car registrations, between 1996 and 1998. According to military records, the three used 10 Radford Boulevard as their address. This is a base roadway where residences for foreign-military flight trainees are located. Hamza Alghamdi was also connected to the Pensacola base (see 1996-August 2000). (Wehrfritz, Skipp, and Barry 9/15/2001; Gugliotta 9/16/2001; Wheeler, Streater, and Graybiel 9/17/2001)
bullet Air Force spokesman Colonel Ken McClellan states that Saeed Alghamdi also attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. The Washington Post and Time magazine say he graduated from the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. (It is unclear whether Alghamdi therefore attended both Defense Language Institutes, or if this is simply a reporting error.) (Gugliotta 9/16/2001; Radelat 9/17/2001; Cloud 9/24/2001)
bullet According to a high-ranking Pentagon official, another alleged hijacker was a former Saudi Air Force pilot who may have received training in strategy and tactics at the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. (Schrader and Richter 9/15/2001; Wehrfritz, Skipp, and Barry 9/15/2001)
bullet A further hijacker—also said to be a former Saudi Air Force pilot—may have been given language instruction at Lackland Air Force Base. (Schrader and Richter 9/15/2001; Wehrfritz, Skipp, and Barry 9/15/2001)
bullet A man called Abdulaziz Alomari (the same name as one of the suspected Flight 11 hijackers) attended Brooks Air Force Base Aerospace Medical School in San Antonio, Texas. (Gugliotta 9/16/2001; Radelat 9/17/2001)
bullet Ken McClellan says a man with the name Mohamed Atta once attended the US International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama (see 1998). (Gugliotta 9/16/2001; Radelat 9/17/2001)
According to Newsweek, it is not unusual for foreign nationals to train at US military facilities. A former Navy pilot tells the magazine that during his years at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, “we always, always, always trained other countries’ pilots. When I was there two decades ago, it was Iranians. The shah was in power. Whoever the country du jour is, that’s whose pilots we train.” Newsweek adds that the “US has a long-standing agreement with Saudi Arabia… to train pilots for its National Guard.” (Wehrfritz, Skipp, and Barry 9/15/2001) The media stops looking into the hijackers’ possible US military connections after the Air Force makes a less than definitive statement, saying, “Some of the FBI suspects had names similar to those used by foreign alumni of US military courses. However discrepancies in their biographical data, such as birth dates 20 years off, indicate we are probably not talking about the same people.” (Gugliotta 9/16/2001)


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