U.S. Trains Sept. 11 Terrorists in Venice, FL
The Venice, Florida airfield where Mohamed Atta and his terrorist cadre learned to fly has a long history of being used as a training base for paramilitary operations by federal authorities. Venice Airport, now notorious for two Dutch-owned flight schools which trained three of the four terrorist pilots in the Sept. 11 attack, has been utilized in covert U.S. operations since the earliest days of the Cold War, according to a top local law enforcement official. "Venice was even targeted by the Soviet Union in the event of nuclear war, because of the military nature of certain activities taking place at the Airport."
Venice Airport Used for Covert Ops
What they're hiding down in Venice, Florida
"First we couldn't count votes. Now we're training terrorists."
--Florida law-enforcement official involved in 9/11 probe.
by Daniel Hopsicker
October 9--world exclusive
The airfield where Mohamed Atta and his terrorist cadre learned to fly has a long history of being used as a training base for paramilitary operations by federal authorities, the MadCowMorningNews has learned exclusively.
The Venice Airport, now notorious for two Dutch-owned flight schools which trained three of the four terrorist pilots in the Sept. 11 attack, has been utilized in covert U.S. operations since the earliest days of the Cold War, according to a top local law enforcement official.
"Venice was even targeted by the Soviet Union in the event of nuclear war, because of the military nature of certain activities taking place at the Airport," the official said.
During the Vietnam War pilots were trained in Venice for the paramilitary operations of CIA-proprietary Air America, stated the official. So too were bush pilots, a decade-and-a-half later, during the conflicts in Central and South America during the Iran-Contra era.
The federal activity continues to this day.
"It's not unusual to see a military Blackhawk helicopter touch down at the Venice Airport in the middle of the night," stated the official, who requested anonymity, "and then take off again thirty seconds later, after dropping off its cargo or passengers."
"Or you look up and all of a sudden there's 5000 soldiers from the 101st Airborne landing and taking off. Strange things have been going on out there for a long time."
What they're hiding down in Venice, Florida is that Mohamed Atta came to be there at the behest of the people responsible for these operations.
"Spooks, Saudis, Raytheon... and Venice"
Since most of the hijackers used Florida as their home base while they were in this country, and since 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, a big part of the story of the terrorist conspiracy that attacked America is, perforce, a story about "Saudis in Florida."
And the company's name that kept coming up again and again in connection with stories of Saudis in Florida is that of major U.S. defense contractor Raytheon.
As recently as July, for example, Raytheon and the U.S. Air Force tested a new air to air missile at the Venice Airport, designed to help create a ground-based air defense system for Homeland Defense, as well as at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida.
We had already heard a curious story about Raytheon and Tyndall AFB, after a former resident of the Florida Panhandle alerted us to a curious visit that took place there in April of 1999, when Raytheon sponsored a delegation of seven Saudi defense officials, led by Saudi Prince Turki bin Bandar, to Tyndall AFB.
"The Prince told me they were at Tyndall to get a helicopter repaired that President Roosevelt had given his father, who had been the Saudi king during World War II," stated hotel proprietor Peggy Wood.
"When the delegation first arrived, they asked to speak to whoever was in charge, and they wouldn't believe me when I told them that I was," Wood recalls. "'Women don't run businesses,' they told me."
A Saudi delegation led by a Saudi Prince had indeed spent several weeks at Tyndall AFB, we confirmed with the owner of the Driftwood Inn in nearby Mexico Beach, where they stayed. And one of the members of the delegation staying at her beachside inn, Peggy Wood told us, was a Major Mohammed Al-Ghamdi.
Shortly after the 9/11 attack a man with that same name was taken into custody in Miami by the FBI.
The Al-Ghamdi's of Saudi Arabia
Is the Mohammed al-Ghamdi suspected of taking part in the 9/11 plot the same man who visited Tyndall AFB with Saudi Royalty Turki bin Bandar?
"Good luck finding out," said one local source. "They don't want facts like the Saudi-Al-Qaeda connection made known, or that companies like Raytheon have been playing both sides of the fence."
"I took a friend of mine from Finland over to Tyndall AFB one time," the source continued. "We both flew the F15 simulator. How many Saudi's do you reckon got flying time on that simulator over the years? Anyone who is a guest at Tyndall even foreigners can go in and fly the jet simulator's. Our national security has been a joke for the last few years."
The "Al-Ghamdi" name is prominent in the terrorist conspiracy. Three of the 19 hijackers were named Al-Ghamdi. Moreover two of those three Al-Ghamdi's listed the Pensacola Naval Air Station, known as the "Cradle of U.S. Navy Aviation," as their home address on their driver's licenses, reported NEWSWEEK
In a never-retracted story last Sept 15, 2001, which nonetheless died an immediate death, NEWSWEEK reported, "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."
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."
Saeed Alghamdi had also, stated NEWSWEEK, attended the Defense Language Institute at Presidio of Monterrey in California. So the Al-Ghamdi family is apparently very well connected, in the U.S. as well as in Saudi Arabia.
And it turns out there is a fifth Al-Ghamdi associated with the September 11th attack on America. In the most-aired Osama video, where he salaams a crippled Sheikh, the crippled Sheikh's name is Sheikh Al-Ghamdi.
"There's an elephant in the living room. Ignore it."
Just who are all these Al-Ghamdi's? The name belongs, we learned, to one of the most important and influential tribes in Saudi Arabia.
According to the Washington Post's Sept 11th anniversary recap, after the Hamburg cadre left Germany to train in Bin Laden's Afghanistan terror camps in 1999 "the first place in Afghanistan that the new arrivals were taken was a guesthouse in Kandahar, called the Al-Ghumad House, after the Saudi Al-Ghamdi tribe."
At least four other men named Al-Ghamdi have shown up on records at Huffman Aviation, the flight school in Florida where Alghamdi was said by the FBI to have trained, the Post reported.
Rudi Dekker's Huffman Aviation trained more than two hundred potential terrorist pilots with the surname Alghamdi, stated the article.
Hundreds of former flight students who took lessons in Venice are now under scrutiny by federal authorities, one investigator told us.
All of which brings up one crucial question which no one in authority has been willing to even address, let alone answer: "Whose idea was it to train thousands of young Arab men to learn to fly?"
Sarasota County is Jeb Country.
They didn't go just anywhere to learn to fly. They came, most of them, to Florida.
The two Venice 'Magic Dutch Boys' have been walking, as it turns out, a familiar path... The Venice Airport was built by the U.S. government in the early 1940s as a flight training facility during World War II. Since then the Feds have had not just a significant but predominant role at the airport, according to some local officials.
Venice Florida is an otherwise unexceptional retirement community sandwiched on Florida's Gulf Coast between the well-heeled resort (and Bush family retreat) of Boca Grande and Sarasota, home of local girl-making-good Katherine Harris.
Lessons that emerged from the Cocaine Scandals in Mena Arkansas during Bill Clinton's term included the no-brainer notion that if you wanted to be able to act with impunity and, say, get away with murder, having the state's coroner in your hip pocket was clearly a good place to start.
In Sarasota County, where Venice is located, Republicans occupy 41 of the 42 elected offices.
According to local law enforcement who loaded the records from Huffman Aviation and Florida Flight Training Center aboard a C-130 at Sarasota International Airport the day after September 11th, when it flew out Jeb Bush was aboard.
The accumulating evidence in Venice of official and so-far unacknowledged complicity in the presence in the U.S. of Mohamed Atta and his terrorist cadre is a far more important issue than the proposed focus for the upcoming independent 9/11 investigation: "blunders and missed signals" by the CIA and FBI.
One person in Venice seems particularly unconcerned. Said Rudi Dekkers recently, about his sudden notoriety:
"At the beginning, it was bad. We had some death threats. Now, basically, all we hear is good news. People come up and say, 'Aren't you the guy who owns Huffman Aviation?' And they shake hands with me."
Lily Tomlin said it best. "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up."
Daniel Hopsicker is the author of Barry & 'the boys: The CIA, the Mob and America's Secret History.
address: MadCow Morning News
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