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Profile: Arne Kruithof
Arne Kruithof was a participant or observer in the following events:
Future 9/11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah allegedly tries to get his flight school in Florida to help hijacker associate Ramzi bin al-Shibh obtain a US visa. Bin al-Shibh wants to come to the US to train as a pilot, supposedly so he can be the fourth pilot in the 9/11 plot, but he has been having trouble getting a US visa (see May 17, 2000-May 2001). Sometime between June 28 and December 2000, when he is training at the Florida Flight Training Center (FFTC) in Venice, Florida, Jarrah gets to be friends with Arne Kruithof, the owner of the school. Kruithof will later recall that Jarrah “told me that he knew somebody who was also interested in getting a commercial pilot license.… He said his name was Ramzi something.… When I found out that [Ramzi’s] English was poor, we referred him to a language school through which he tried to obtain a visa.… When I asked Ziad why, if he knew, his visa was denied, he said, ‘No, I do not know that.’ We did then make a few phone calls, but nobody could tell us anything.” [Fouda and Fielding, 2003, pp. 132] Bin al-Shibh wires the school a $2,200 deposit in August 2000 in anticipation of getting the visa, but he never gets it. [US Congress, 9/26/2002; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 225]
Arne Kruithof. [Source: History Channel]According to some accounts, while he is taking lessons at Florida Flight Training Center (FFTC) in Venice, alleged 9/11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah appears an unlikely terrorist. Arne Kruithof, the school’s owner, later says Jarrah is “not just nice, but he had qualities you look for in a dear friend, someone you trust.” [Longman, 2002, pp. 92] He will tell the 9/11 Commission that Jarrah is “polite and easy to deal with,” and does not show “any hostility to the United States or to the West.” [9/11 Commission, 4/12/2004] Kruithof says Jarrah “would even offer to put out the trash cans at night, which no one else did,” and later remembers him “bringing me a six-pack of beer at home when I hurt my knee one time and sitting for hours on my sofa chatting.” Unlike other Middle Eastern students, Jarrah never seems uncomfortable or disapproving of the school’s receptionists, who wear skimpy skirts and tiny t-shirts. [Corbin, 2003, pp. 155] Furthermore, Jarrah drinks alcohol, having one or two beers, “but not three.” According to Kruithof, who later insists Jarrah’s demeanor was “not faked,” the school’s “entire staff does not believe that he had bad intentions,” and Jarrah “was a friend to all of us.” However, fellow flight student Thorsten Biermann, who rooms with Jarrah for six weeks, describes him as “introverted, a loner, he kept his distance.” Biermann will describe one occasion flying with Jarrah on a round-trip to Fort Lauderdale where, on the return, Jarrah insisted on both flying and manning the radio, and twice ignored Biermann’s pleas to refuel when the weather worsened. Biermann says: “I decided I did not want to fly with him anymore, and everyone I knew who flew with him felt the same way. It was as if he needed control.” Biermann will also say that Jarrah avoids pork and, contrary to what Kruithof claims, does not drink alcohol, even when they go to bars together. [New York Times, 9/23/2001; Los Angeles Times, 10/23/2001; Longman, 2002, pp. 91-92]
Ziad Jarrah standing next to a Cessna in Florida. [Source: National Geographic]9/11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah is said to obtain a commercial pilot’s license around this time by flight school owner Arne Kruithof, although neither the FBI nor any other official body will confirm this. Jarrah obtained a private pilot’s license from Florida Flight Training Center (FFTC) (see (June 28-December 2000)) in 2000 and then spent a few hours on Boeing simulators later in 2000 (see December 15, 2000-January 8, 2001). FFTC owner Kruithof will later say that he was told Jarrah obtained a commercial license: “He was supposed to come back and finish his commercial pilot license, but he did not. Later, I found out that he did it somewhere else.” However, there is no mention of where he may have obtained such additional training. [Fouda and Fielding, 2003, pp. 133]
The crash of Arne Kruithof’s plane at Venice Municipal Airport. [Source: Public domain]Within the space of seven months, the owners of two Venice, Florida flight schools attended by several of the alleged 9/11 suicide pilots are separately in serious air accidents. On June 26, 2002, Arne Kruithof, whose Florida Flight Training Center was attended by Ziad Jarrah, survives a crash at the Venice Municipal Airport. He is a passenger in a twin-engine plane, which suddenly pulls to the left when about 50 feet off the runway and the pilot is unable to regain control. All the passengers are uninjured, but the plane is damaged extensively. [Venice Gondolier Sun, 6/29/2002] On January 24, 2003, Rudi Dekkers, whose Huffman Aviation was attended by Marwan Alshehhi and Mohamed Atta, crashes his helicopter. He is flying to work early in the morning for a meeting with a competitor, to sell his flight school to them. Ten minutes after takeoff, his engine cuts out and he crashes into a river. He is rescued from the ice-cold water by a friend and fellow helicopter pilot who pulls him to shore. He arrives in Venice later in the day, and is able to proceed with the sale of Huffman Aviation. Two days earlier, the Associated Press had announced that Dekkers was to be arrested on felony fraud charges (see August 23, 2001-April 2004). [Associated Press, 1/22/2003; Associated Press, 1/24/2003; Venice Gondolier Sun, 1/25/2003; Naples Daily News, 1/25/2003; Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 1/28/2003] In 2011, Dekkers will say that he is convinced someone tried to kill him, although he doesn’t know who. “The fuel lines were cut.” [Miami Herald, 5/5/2011]
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