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.
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.
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