March 27, 2006

Zacarias Moussaoui and the Fifth Plane

In a federal court in Virginia today, Zacarias Moussaoui (better rendered as Zakariyah Musawi) claimed that he was not the missing "20th hijacker" from the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Virginia. Flight 93, which crashed after the passengers attempted to regain control of the hijacked aircraft, carried only four hijackers - the plan was for each of the four aircraft to have two pilots and three "security" men.

As early as April 2005, Moussaoui claimed that he was not the missing man from Flight 93, but was to be on a fifth aircraft. Although many of those in the terrorism analysis business dismissed the claim, he did reveal one thing a year ago that caught my attention. He attended a flight school for training on the Boeing 747 aircraft. He also said he was planning to attack the White House. Most analysts believe that Flight 93 was destined for the U.S. Capitol.

The four aircraft hijacked for the attacks on September 11 were Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft - these aircraft have an almost identical cockpit, but it is markedly different than that of the much larger 747 on which Moussaoui trained. If Moussaoui was to be on board Flight 93, why train to fly a 747? Further, if he was to be on Flight 93, he didn't need to know how to fly at all - it already had two pilots. They lacked a muscle man to control the passengers.

I was always under the impression that Muhammad Al-Qahtani, a Saudi in U.S. custody at Guantanamo, was to be the fifth man on the Flight 93. Al-Qahtani was muscle, not a pilot. He was refused entry into the United States just before the attacks.

Why would Moussaoui lie about this? Admitted participation in either role still puts him in jeopardy of the death penalty. If there was there a fifth crew, we are missing four participants. Who are they and where are they?