Plato may have been correct when he said, “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” but apparently that does not apply to flight instruction. At least not according to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
No one believed for a moment that any hijacked airline pilot would fly a fuel-laden Boeing into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, even with a gun to his or her head. So it was assumed from the beginning that hijackers had to fly them, and the hijackers had to be trained pilots.
The image of mature “sleeper” hijack pilots living in Florida with their wives and children is a false one. What The New York Times described as “a remarkable set of circumstances” led the FBI, local investigators and news media to all but convict several men as hijackers, when in fact they are innocent, alive and well, in some cases having returned to their native countries before the attacks. The U.S.
“To be honest, I had a problem with Atta the first time I talked to him. I didn’t like his personality,” Rudy Dekkers, president and owner of Venice, Fla.-based Huffman Aviation International, said of suspected World Trade Center terrorist Mohamed Atta. “But what are you going to do? I’m going to deny someone flight training because I don’t personally like him?”