Featured Stories

9-11 lead hijacker, Mohamed Atta, lived and learned to fly in Palm Beach County

Sept 11 Attacks Secret Files
FILE- In this Sept. 11, 2001 file photo from airport surveillance tape released Sept. 19, 2001, two men, identified by authorities as suspected hijackers Mohamed Atta, right, and Abdulaziz Alomari, center, pass through airport security at Portland International Jetport before boarding a commuter flight to Boston for American Airlines Flight 11 which was one two jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center. The government is preparing to release a once-classified chapter of a congressional report about the attacks of Sept. 11, that questions whether Saudi nationals who helped the hijackers with things like finding apartments and opening bank accounts knew what they were planning. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday July 15, 2016, that the release of the 28-page chapter is “imminent.” (AP Photo/Portland Police Department, File)

With the 20th anniversary of 9-11 coming up in days and the over-throw of the Afghanistan government by the Taliban, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the ring leader of the hijackers, Mohamad Atta who lived and learned to fly right here in Palm Beach County. In fact he was my neighbor living in the Delray Beach Racquet Club. You know, there’s always a south Florida connection.
In the late 1990s, Atta is believed to have trained at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. Hopefully, al Qaeda will not establish itself back in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan now that the Taliban have taken over.

Mohamed Atta Florida driver’s license photo

33-year-old Atta used his own name to book a ticket for September 11, unlike some of the other hijackers who used stolen identities to confuse authorities and impugn flight schools and other individuals who had no relationship to any of the 19 terrorists. Atta is believed to have flown American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center and Al-Shehhi United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower.

In the summer before the 9-11 terror attacks, 12 of the 19 hijackers who commandeered and crashed four jetliners, killing nearly 3,000 people, lived in or had connections to Palm Beach County. Nearly the entire crew of the two jets that brought down the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center were running around Palm Beach County.

Florida is the focal point of the U.S. billion-dollar flight-school industry. Flight schools in the sunshine state train as many as a sixth of all pilots in the country. Florida flight schools have an international reputation for being the most affordable in the world. There are estimated to be 200 flight schools in Florida.

Listen to Full Rigor Podcast here.

Episode 121: Mohamed Atta was my neighbor