Daily Trust (Abuja)

24 September 2001

Morocco: Dead Saudi Hijack Suspect Resurfaces, Denies Involvement

A Saudi Arabian aircraft pilot who was named as one of five suspects on board one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Centre, has turned up alive and well in Morocco. The man, Waleed Al-Shehri, has told Saudi journalists in Casablanca that he had nothing to do with the attacks on New York and Washington, and had been in Morocco at the time. The FBI named five men with Arab names that they say were responsible for deliberately crashing American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center. One of those five names was Waleed Al-Shehri, a Saudi pilot who had trained in the United States. His photograph was released by the FBI, and has been shown in newspapers and on television around the world. That same Mr Al-Shehri has turned up in Morocco, proving clearly that he was not a member of the suicide attack. He told Saudi journalists in Casablanca that he has contacted both the Saudi and American authorities to advise them that he had nothing to do with the attack.

He acknowledges that he attended flight training school at Dayton Beach in the United States, and is indeed the same Waleed Al-Shehri to whom the FBI has been referring. But, he says, he left the United States in September last year, and became a pilot with Saudi Arabian Airlines, and is currently on a further training course in Morocco. He says he was in Marrekesh when the attack took place. Mr. Al-Shehri's case is not the first in which there has been apparent confusion as to the identities of the hijackers who commandeered the four planes on 11 September. Mr. Al-Shehri said the American authorities, which apologised for the misunderstanding, have now interviewed him.

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