Tuesday, January 2, 2007


One of the more interesting aspects of the hijackers’ adventures in the US was their fondness for that tangle of airports, Air Force bases, flight training schools, sleepy retirement towns, Cuban exiles, drug smuggling, secret CIA operations and theme parks we call Florida. Florida is widely believed to be less an actual state than a CIA-front company and, recently, private playground of the Bush family; now to its list of exports has been added suicide hijackers. We’ve already seen that three of the hijackers may have trained in Pensacola, and the Bukhari-Alomari circle of Saudi pilots in Vero Beach, but we’ve hardly even touched on Florida’s three most famous terrorist trainees, Ziad Jarrah, Marwan Alshehhi and Mohammed Atta.

Here is where I start to feel like I’ve entered the swoon-headed world of convoluted and slippery conspiracy theories that feel like an octopus wrestling match. I could scarcely believe it when I realized it was again back to Florida; where Bush became President, back to Florida where bush became the new post-9-11 president, back to Florida where, we found out, three of the four pilots had prepared for the act that enabled that transformation.

All of this, the Florida connection with all the defining moments of the Bush presidency, was overseen by the President’s own brother, Governor John Ellis “Jeb” Bush; from brother to terrorist to brother and back again, in a too-tight Gordian knot. The knot tightened on September 10th as President Bush paid a visit to Governor Bush on the eve of the attack. It tightened again the next morning as the Florida-trained hijackers attacked New York and Washington, and yet again around four AM on September 12th; with a speed bordering on pre-cognition, federal authorities in Florida had descended on the flight school in Venice, less than twenty miles from where the President had been less than twenty hours before. They confiscated and relocated computers and “boxes of records” to Washington, personally escorted by Governor Bush, after the sun rose, to his brother’s people in Washington. The attack was nearly a day old when the two brothers presumably met again over these files. [1]

By the next day, investigators looking at actual evidence were following other concrete leads to Florida; the BBC reported that Mohammed Atta’s rental car, left in Boston, led authorities to his own and Marwan Alshehhi’s homes in Coral Springs. [2] The two had been taking simulator lessons near there. Soon the story blew up – it turns out that three of the four suicide pilots had also received their initial flight training at two adjacent flight schools at the Venice airport, both opened shortly before the hijackers arrived in town.

“What’s been going on in Florida?” This is a central question of investigative reporter Daniel Hopsicker, who has unofficially dubbed the state “Terrorland.” Hopsicker has credentials; he’s a former producer of Wall Street Week (PBS), former executive producer, Global Business (NBC), former investigative reporter for NBC News. [3] i.e. – he’s an establishment guy, so I automatically distrust him somewhat. But more recently he’s been the author of such “conspiranoid” books as Barry and the Boys and, more recently, Welcome to Terrorland. Hopsicker also lives in Venice, Florida, where three of the 9-11 pilots (Atta, Alshehhi, and Jarrah) got their initial flight training. He has looked closely at the flight schools at the venice Airport. where he seems to have a lot of connections in the aviation community (but his sources, knowledgeable though they seem, usually remain anonymous).

Hopsicker has a lot to say about the schools in question, their operators, and their allegedly vast (but factually spindly) connections behind the scenes to Saudi and Venezuelan elites. His material is extremely speculative, sometimes drawing together numerous current conspiracy theories with phrases like “might this have something to do with…” Venice-area journalist John Patten also noted Hopsicker’s “almost pure speculation about recent and current events. The dots are there, and admittedly these are some darned peculiar dots, but Hopsicker is unable to connect them,” or at least to demonstrate to the rest of us precisely how he connected them. Sometimes, Patten wrote, Hopsicker's writings are “akin to grasping for straws from another dimension.” But, he noted:

“[T]he other side of that coin is that it is possible that Hopsicker is absolutely right. Just because someone is paranoid doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't something around worth being paranoid about. Mohamed Atta did live here. So did Marwan Al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah. They did receive flight training here. They did participate in the events of September 11, 2001. Those last four sentences alone should be enough to make the most sensible, well-grounded person more than a little paranoid.” [4]

For starters, and more concretely, there are the Dutch owners of the Venice flight schools themselves. Hopsicker and some of his anonymous sources call these men, Rudi Dekkers and Arne Kruithof, “the Magic Dutch Boys.” One of Hopsicker’s sources pointed out that the Dutch invasion at the Venice airport in mid-1999 was “just about the time the terrorist pilots moved into town and began their lessons,” which apparently actually began a year later, in early July 2000. [5] “Two Dutch boys buying adjacent flight schools which shortly thereafter get 'overrun’ by terrorists is one damn Dutch boy too many,” a “law enforcement source” told Hopsicker. “Its untidy.” [6]

Hopsicker put his big picture as “Mohammed Atta and his terrorist cadre’s flight training in this country was part of a so-far unacknowledged U.S. government intelligence operation which had ultimately tragic consequences for thousands of civilians on September 11.” [7] I'm a little vague on his exact case, but seems to involve Atta at least being a covert CIA assett involved in drug-running operations, though some of this is based on Atta's alleged girlfriend Amanda Keller, who has since declared her testimony was all a lie. Anyway, Hopsicker does not specify why these same assest/whatever then got so out of hand and were not prevented from carrying out their monstrous attack. From the perspective of Shadow 9/11, it seems an obvious possibility that this alleged CIA operation did not go awry, but exactly as planned - it gave plausible credibility to the Patsies' ability to take the blame - if they'd actually meant to be pilots, of course, they'd've studied harder, but close enough. They took leaasons. Hopsicker, perhaps prudently, never makes such a claim outright, focusing on endless speculative detective work which does make fascinating reading.

[1] Hopsicker, Daniel. “INS Deporting ‘Magic Dutch Boy’ Rudi Dekkers.” Mad Cow Morning News. December 4, 2002. Accessed October 26, 2004 at:
[2] “Evidence trails lead to Florida.” BBC News. September 13, 2001. Accessed October 30, 2004 at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1542153.stm
[3], [4] Patten, John. “Death in Venice? Local conspiracy theorist Dan Hopsicker weaves a twisted web of intrigue in the wake of September 11.” Last revised June 6, 2002. Copied October 26, 2004 from: http://www.venfl.com/features/hopsicker.htm
[5] Ahmed, Nafeez. The ar on Freedom. page 101
[6] Hopsicker, Daniel. “Was the CIA running a terrorist flight school?” Online Journal. Oct 19, 2001.
22 March 2004 Accessed December 2, 2004 at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/HOP403A.html
[7] See [6]. Page 101

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