Newsweek Story: Alleged Hijackers May Have Trained at U.S. Military Bases

         Full Story to Appear in Newsweek's Next Issue on Newsstands
           Monday, Sept. 17 and Originally Available on the Web Site

             By George Wehrfritz, Catharine Skipp and John Barry

    NEW YORK, Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. military sources have given the
FBI information that suggests five of the alleged hijackers of the planes that
were used in Tuesday's terror attacks received training at secure U.S.
military installations in the 1990s.
    (Photo: )
    Three of the alleged hijackers listed their address on drivers licenses
and car registrations as the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla. -- known as
the "Cradle of U.S. Navy Aviation," according to a high-ranking U.S. Navy
    Another of the alleged hijackers may have been trained in strategy and
tactics at the Air War College in Montgomery, Ala., said another high-ranking
Pentagon official.  The fifth man may have received language instruction at
Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tex.  Both were former Saudi Air Force
pilots who had come to the United States, according to the Pentagon source.
    But there are slight discrepancies between the military training records
and the official FBI list of suspected hijackers -- either in the spellings of
their names or with their birthdates.  One military source said it is possible
that the hijackers may have stolen the identities of the foreign nationals who
studied at the U.S. installations.
    The five men were on a list of 19 people identified as hijackers by the
FBI on Friday.  The three foreign nationals training in Pensacola appear to be
Saeed Alghamdi and Ahmad Alnami, who were among the four men who allegedly
commandeered United Airlines Flight 93.  That flight crashed into rural
Pennsylvania.  The third man who may have trained in Pensacola, Ahmed
Alghamdi, allegedly helped highjack United Airlines Flight 75, which hit the
south tower of the World Trade Center.
    Military records show that the three used as their address 10 Radford
Boulevard, a base roadway on which residences for foreign-military flight
trainees are located.  In March 1997, Saeed Alghamdi listed the address to
register a 1998 Oldsmobile; five months later he used it again to register a
second vehicle, a late model Buick.  Drivers licenses thought to have been
issued to the other two suspects in 1996 and 1998 list the barracks as their
    NEWSWEEK visited the base early Saturday morning, where military police
confirmed that the address housed foreign military flight trainees but denied
access past front barricades.  A base public-information officer and the
base's duty officer both said that information about the three students had
been turned over to the FBI.
    It is not unusual for foreign nationals to train at U.S. military
facilities.  A former Navy pilot told NEWSWEEK that during his years on the
base, "we always, always, always trained other countries' pilots.  When I was
there two decades ago, it was Iranians.  The shah was in power.  Whoever the
country du jour is, that's whose pilots we train."
    Candidates begin with "an officer's equivalent of boot camp," he said.
"Then they would put them through flight training."  The U.S. has a
long-standing agreement with Saudi Arabia -- a key ally in the 1990-91 gulf
war -- to train pilots for its National Guard.  Candidates are trained in air
combat on several Army and Navy bases.  Training is paid for by Saudi Arabia.

                 (Article originally posted at .)
                 (now available at

SOURCE  Newsweek