Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Dulles Video: Four of Five Hijackers Triggered Metal Detectors 

From the AP wire, courtesy of Zemblan patriots J.M. and J.D.:
Surveillance video from Washington Dulles International Airport the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, shows four of the five hijackers being pulled aside to undergo additional scrutiny after setting off metal detectors but then permitted to board the fateful flight that crashed into the Pentagon.

The video shows an airport screener hand-checking the baggage of one hijacker, Nawaf al-Hazmi, for traces of explosives before letting him continue onto American Airlines Flight 77 with his brother, Salem, a fellow hijacker.

The disclosure of the video comes one day before the release of the final report by the Sept. 11 commission, which is expected to include a detailed accounting of the events that day . . . .

The video shows hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Majed Moqed, each dressed conservatively in slacks and collared shirts, setting off metal-detectors as they pass through security. Moqed set off a second alarm, and a screener manually checked him with a handheld metal detector.

The pair were known to travel together previously and had paid cash to purchase their tickets aboard Flight 77 on Sept. 5, 2001, at the American Airlines counter at Baltimore's airport.

Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi had been known to be associated with al-Qaida since early 1999 by the National Security Agency, and were put on a terrorism watch list on Aug. 24, 2001.

Only Hani Hanjour, believed to have been the hijacker who piloted Flight 77, did not set off a metal detector as he passed through Dulles security that morning, according to the video.

Moments after Hanjour passed alone through the security checkpoint, wearing dark slacks and a short-sleeved shirt, the final two hijackers, the al-Hazmi brothers, walked through the checkpoint.

Nawaf al-Hazmi, described by investigators as the right-hand accomplice of hijacker-planner Mohammed Atta, set off two metal-detectors, and a screener manually checked him with a handheld device . . . .

The Associated Press obtained the video from the Motley Rice law firm, which is representing some survivors' families who are suing the airlines and security industry over their actions in the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Even after setting off these alarms, the airlines and security screeners failed to examine the hijackings' baggage, as required by federal regulations and industry mandated standards, or discover the weapons they would use in their attack," lawyer Ron Motley said.

Elaine Teague, one of the family members suing over the death of her 31-year-old daughter, Sandra, said she had previously been shown the footage by the FBI. But the terrorists' faces had been digitally disguised.

Teague said she was surprised at how relaxed security was, given that airlines had received three warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration. One such warning, issued in June 2001, cited "unconfirmed reports that American interests may be the target of a terrorist threat from extremist groups."
UPDATE: The Washington Post says that the report of the 9/11 Commission, to be released Thursday, mentions ten missed opportunities to avert the 9/11 tragedies -- four under Clinton, six under Bush.

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