Zacarias Moussaoui, dubbed the "20th hijacker" by federal prosecutors, would have been released from federal custody before the 9-11 attacks if not for the heroic persistence of field agents in the FBI's Minneapolis office. Agent Coleen Rowley and members of her FBI team carried on a running fight with top FBI and Justice Department officials who tried to stop the Minnesota investigation and prevented a search of his laptop computer until after his fellow conspirators crashed their hijacked planes on September 11.
Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, was arrested by the local FBI agents after investigating a tip from Minnesota flight school operators who were suspicious over the nature of his requests for training on a 747 simulator. He has admitted to being a member of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist group, but denies that he was part of the 9-11 conspiracy. His trial has been delayed by his erratic behavior and numerous appeals.
There are many important, unanswered questions concerning Moussaoui. For instance: Why have federal officials pointedly ignored publicly available facts showing that most of the $64,000 he received from al-Qaeda sources was spent in the Oklahoma City area, where he attended the Airman Flight School in nearby Norman and had tics to a top suspect in the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City's Murrah Building? The largest chunk of Moussaoui's funds, $35,000, was provided by al-Qaeda paymaster Yazid Sufaat, one of the principal hosts of the secret al-Qaeda planning meeting for 9-11 in Malaysia. Moussaoui, according to federal authorities, was operating under the direction of al-Qaeda mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who met in the Philippines with his nephew, World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef, during the same time period that Yousef was meeting with Terry Nichols.
September 11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah's ticket (United Airlines Flight 93) was purchased from a computer terminal at Oklahoma University in Norman. Moussaoui was a frequent visitor to the OU campus, worked out at the OU gym and recruited OU student Hussain Al-Attas. September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, a member of al-Qaeda's cell in Hamburg, Germany, visited the same Norman, Oklahoma, flight school that Moussaoui attended.
Fellow Hamburg Cell hijacker Marwan Al-Shehhi also came to the Oklahoma City area, where he got a speeding ticket in 2001. According to the testimony of the owner of a small motel in Oklahoma City, Moussaoui, Atta and Al-Shehhi all came to his motel together to rent a room about six weeks prior to the 9-11 attacks. Six years earlier, Oklahoma City bombing conspirators Timothy McVeigh and Nichols also were guests at the same motel, along with several Middle Eastern men, weeks prior to the OKC bombing.
Terrorist, Informant or Agent Provocateur?
Perhaps the most important and purposely neglected "coincidence" concerning Moussaoui is his connection to convicted felon Melvin Lattimore, a convert to Islam who now goes by the name Majahid Abdulquaadir Menepta. The unwillingness of federal authorities to hold Lattimore/Menepta as a 9-11 suspect in the case is stunning. Equally stunning is the fact that he was never arrested as a suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing. Here are some key facts concerning Menepta tying him to the biggest terrorist events in U.S. history:
* Lattimore/Menepta's credit card was used to help finance the 1993 World Trade Center bombing directed by Ramzi Yousef.
* Federal ATF Agent Jeffrey Whitney has testified in court that one day after the Oklahoma City bombing, an FBI informant told FBI superiors that Menepta should be considered a top suspect in the Oklahoma attack.
* Several employees at Travelers Aid, one block from the Murrah Building, identified Menepta as entering the Travelers Aid office with three other men the day before the Oklahoma City bombing. Two of the men accompanying Menepta were …