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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Government Releases Photos

Aired September 27, 2001 - 17:03   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: About three hours ago a fascinating press conference in Washington. The attorney general, John Ashcroft, helped release photos of the 19 people that the government has identified as the suspected hijackers. He says the move is quote, "another step in the investigation." To Washington now and CNN's Eileen O'Connor with more on this now. Hello, Eileen.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill. Well that is a step designed to jog people's memory and hopefully lead to some more leads on potential helpers, or potential associates of the suspected hijackers. On American Airline flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, the photos that they released, that is the flight that crashed into the first World Trade Center, the north tower.

They show five hijackers, two key players, three that look to be mere foot soldiers: Wail and Waleed al Sheri (ph) are said to be brothers. Their father, according to the Saudi press, says Wail had psychological problems and went to the holy place in Medina to ask clerics for help. It was thought they went to help fight the war in Chechnya, but perhaps they were recruited for this mission instead.

Satam al Sakhami (ph) very young from the United Arab Emirates, lived in Boyton Beach near other hijackers. Prime among them though, possibly the pilot, Mohamed Atta. Studied in Hamburg, Germany with two of the pilots of other flights. According to sources at one point was observed meeting with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague although it may have been unrelated to these attacks.

In a car he rented in Boston drove to Portland, Maine, along with fellow hijacker, Abdul Aziz al Omari, another key player. There they caught a commuter flight back to Boston. In that car it was found a handwritten note in Arabic, several pages, some rules of engagement for all these hijackers, so to speak.

Now, on United Airlines flight 175, that is the one that hit the second tower of the World Trade Center. Again at least one key player, several other bit players, like Fayez Banihammad, also said to be, in the Saudi press, to be the son of a school principal. His family said he left two years ago, telling them he was going to join an Islamic relief organization.

They have had one phone call since. Mohand Alshehri, Ahmed and Hamza Alghamdi, all live very near each other in Delray Beach in Florida, some say as recently as the 9th of September. Now, they purchased their tickets to Boston through the Internet and they used a post office box as an address. A key player on this flight, probably the pilot Marwan Al-Shehhi. Studied in Hamberg, Germany with Atta. Attended the same flight school at the Venice Airport in Florida with Atta and lived with Atta in Coral Springs, Florida.

Now on another flight, American Airlines Flight 77, one person, clearly a foot soldier, Majed Mooed, a Yemeni with a Virginia license. He listed as his address, one of a man that is now thought to be in custody for helping him and others fraudulently attain Virginia drivers license.

There were more people who might have taken flying lessons on this flight. Only one, though, appears a pilot, Nawaf Alhazmi, a man they believe to be his brother, Salem, and Khalid Almihdar, all lived together in San Diego. Thought to be devout, where they say they went to a local college, though few saw them study, they may have studied flying there and in Arizona, with the pilot, Hani Hanjour.

Now, Hani Hanjour seems to be the only person who was actually a pilot on this airplane. They do believe that he had some flight training in Arizona, as well as perhaps in San Diego. Again, he briefly wanted more training there but his instructors said he was a poor student.

Hanjour even tried to brush up his skills recently near Washington, D.C. in Bowie, Maryland, asking to rent a plane. He was refused. Those at the field said he wasn't good enough. On flight 93, finally, the one that crashed in Pennsylvania, after investigators believe passengers wrestled with the hijackers for control of that plane, investigators say they wonder if there should have been a fifth hijacker there, there were only four, perhaps someone who was already in custody.

Three of the hijackers on this flight appear to have had no flight training, but they spent a lot of time together in Florida, living very close to each other. Ahmed Alnami and Saeed Alghamdi living together in DelRay Beach condo. Close by, Ahmed al Haznawi and probably the pilot, Ziad Jarrah.

Jarrah got his license in Hamburg where he studied at a technical university there and associated again with Mohamad Atta. Atta appears to be very much, Bill, a ring leader in all of this -- Bill.

HEMMER: And Eileen, I want to get to Kelly Wallace quickly here at the White House, but before I let you go, John Ashcroft today said they had 100,000 tips thus far. Is there any way to gauge, or measure which tips they are chasing given the vast amount that have come in?

O'CONNOR: They are chasing the ones that, to them, seem most promising, and how they determine that is by doing document checks, looking if those tips lead them to places where perhaps the hijackers were living, or close to associates of the hijackers. Those are ones that they are following first.

HEMMER: OK, Eileen, thank you. Eileen O'Connor, live in Washington.

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