9/11 Contradictions: Mohamed Atta’s Mitsubishi and His Luggage
by Dr. David Ray Griffin
At the core of the official story about 9/11 is the claim that the four airliners that crashed that day had been taken over by a band of al-Qaeda hijackers led by Mohamed Atta. No proof was ever provided for this claim. But various kinds of evidence have been offered, the most important of which was reportedly found in Atta’s luggage after the attacks. The materials in this luggage were said to confirm the suspicion that the planes had been hijacked by Atta and fellow Muslims. As Joel Achenbach wrote in a Washington Post story on September 16, 2001:
This discovery was clearly very helpful in making the case against Atta and al-Qaeda.
But why was Atta’s luggage there to be discovered? Achenbach said: “Officials believe that Atta and [Abdul] Alomari rented a car in Boston, drove to Portland, Maine, and took a room Monday night at the Comfort Inn ... They then flew on a short flight Tuesday morning from Portland to Boston, changing to Flight 11.”
But why did Atta’s luggage not make it on to Flight 11? A 9/11 staff statement suggested that it was a tight connection, saying: “The Portland detour almost prevented Atta and Omari from making Flight 11 out of Boston. In fact, the luggage they checked in Portland failed to make it onto the plane” (Staff Statement No. 16, June 16, 2004). When The 9/11 Commission Report appeared the following month, however, this suggestion was missing. Indeed, the Commission, after saying that “Atta and Omari arrived in Boston at 6:45,” added that “American Airlines Flight 11 [was] scheduled to depart at 7:45” (9/11 Commission Report [henceforth 9/11CR], 1-2).
If there was almost an hour for the luggage to be transferred, why was it left behind? We might suppose that the ground crew was careless. American Airlines reported, however, that “Atta was the only passenger among the 81 aboard American Flight 11 whose luggage didn't make the flight” (Paul Sperry, WorldNetDaily.com, September 11, 2002).
There was, moreover, even a bigger mystery: Why did Atta, if he was already in Boston on September 10, take the trip to Portland and stay overnight, thereby necessitating the early morning commuter flight? If the commuter flight had been delayed by an hour, Atta and al-Omari would have missed the connection. There would have been only three hijackers to take control of Flight 11. Atta, moreover, was reportedly the designated pilot for this flight and also the ringleader of the whole operation, which, after years of planning, he might have had to call off.
Why he would have made such a risky trip has never been explained. A year after the attacks, FBI Director Robert Mueller, testifying to the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11, said:
Two years later, the 9/11 Commission wrote: “No physical, documentary, or analytical evidence provides a convincing explanation of why Atta and Omari drove to Portland, Maine, from Boston on the morning of September 10, only to return to Logan on Flight 5930 on the morning of September 11” (9/11CR 451n1).
We have, therefore, two mysteries. Why would Atta have risked the trip to Portland? And why did his luggage fail to get loaded onto Flight 11? My book entitled 9/11 Contradictions is about contradictions, not mysteries. Clues to these mysteries, however, can be found by exploring a full-fledged contradiction: the fact that the Atta-to-Portland story contradicts stories that appeared in the press in the first days after 9/11.
The Original Story: Boston and the Bukharis
According to the official account, as we have seen, Atta drove to Portland in a blue Nissan Altima, then flew on the morning of September 11 from Portland to the Boston airport, where the incriminating materials were found in his luggage later that day. In the first few days after 9/11, however, the story was very different.
On September 12, a CNN report distinguished between Atta and the men who flew from Portland to Boston.
Another CNN report that same day stated that the incriminating materials were found in a car at the Boston airport and, while discussing the Nissan found at the Portland airport, did not connect it to Atta:
On the next day, September 13, CNN named the Bukharis as the renters of the Nissan and said that the car found at Boston, now identified as a Mitsubishi, was rented by Atta:
Another CNN report that same day said that law enforcement authorities were led to the Bukhari brothers by documents connected to the Nissan (“Hijack Suspect Detained, Cooperating with FBI”).
A Problem Emerges
However, that same day (September 13), CNN issued a correction (“Feds Think They’ve Identified Some Hijackers”), pointing out that neither of the Bukharis had died on 9/11: Ameer had died the year before and Adnan was still alive. CNN apologized for the “misinformation,” which had been “[b]ased on information from multiple law enforcement sources.”
However, this discovery did not immediately lead to a complete change of story. For example, the next day (September 14), CNN said: “A Mitsubishi sedan [Atta] rented was found at Boston's Logan Airport. Arabic language materials were found in the car” (Mike Fish, “Fla. Flight Schools May Have Trained Hijackers”).
The Emergence of the Final Story
That same day, however, the story began to change more drastically. An Associated Press report, referring to “two suspects in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center,” said:
Suddenly, the Nissan Altima had been driven to Portland by Atta and his companion, who had then flown back to Boston the next morning. But the transition to what would become the accepted narrative was not yet complete. The incriminating materials were still found in a rental car left at Logan -- although this car was now said to have been rented by unnamed “additional suspects,” not by Atta.
The complete transition was made on September 16, in the aforementioned Washington Post article by Joel Achenbach, which had the incriminating evidence found in Atta’s luggage.
This new story was soon fleshed out with various details, including physical evidence that Atta and al-Omari had been in Portland the night before the attacks. One article said:
The Mysteries and the Contradiction
This new story solved a problem created by the discovery that the Bukharis had not died on 9/11 -- how to explain why a rental car left at the Portland airport could have led authorities to two of the hijackers. This solution, however, created the mystery of why Atta would have taken this trip plus the problem of explaining the well-reported fact that incriminating materials had been found at Logan Airport. This latter problem was solved by saying that they were found in Atta’s luggage, which did not make it onto Flight 11. But this solution created, in turn, the mystery as to why Atta’s luggage failed to make the flight. The main problem facing the new story, however, is simply the fact that it is a new story, which radically contradicts what the authorities had said the first few days.
The 9/11 Commission dealt with this contradiction by simply ignoring it. It did not mention the early reports that the Nissan left at the Portland airport had documents leading the FBI to Adnan and Ameer Bukhari, that the Bukharis had taken the early morning flight from Portland to Boston, that the FBI was led to Atta (along with Marwan al-Shehhi) by information found in a Mitsubishi left at Boston’s Logan Airport, or that this Mitsubishi was where the treasure trove of information was found. It instead simply told the new story as if it had been the story all along.
Congress and the press need to ask why this contradiction exists and why the 9/11 Commission ignored it.
About the writer:
This essay is the third in a series of articles written by Dr. David Ray Griffin for The Canadian. This particular one is an abbreviated version of Chapter 16 of Dr. Griffin's 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press (Northampton: Olive Branch, March, 2008).
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