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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 19:56 GMT
An unlikely suicide pilot
Site of Pennsylvania air crash
No-one survived the crash in Pennsylvania
American investigators say Ziad Samir Jarrah was part of a cell of alleged al-Qaeda members responsible for the 11 September terror attacks on America.

He was named as the pilot of United Airlines Flight 93 which crashed in Pennsylvania, allegedly en route for a suicide attack on the White House.


He was so normal ... his personality and life bore no relation to the kind of things that happened

Samir Jarrah, father

According to the FBI, two of the three other men aboard Flight 93 - Ahmed Alhaznawi, Ahmed Alnami and Saeed Algahamdi - lived with Jarrah at the same apartment in Hamburg in Germany while attending university during the 1990s.

Jarrah was also in the same Florida flying school as the man who has been named as the hijackers' ringleader, Mohammed Atta, allegedly at the controls of Flight 11, which hit the north tower of the World Trade Center.

'Good, kind boy'

Investigators say these connections are more than enough evidence to prove Jarrah's guilt

But friends and family from his native Lebanon are baffled that Jarrah has been named as a suspect, and have repeatedly proclaimed his innocence.

Ziad Jarrah with his mother (R)
Relatives say Jarrah could never have been involved

"He was a good, kind boy," Jarrah's father Samir told the British Independent on Sunday newspaper only five days after the attacks.

Jarrah, aged 26, was born in Almarj, Lebanon to a wealthy family. After leaving school his affluent roots meant he was able to enrol at technical universities in Germany - first at Greifswald and later at Hamburg - on a student visa.

His friends and family describe Jarrah as a happy young man, with little interest in religion.

His uncle Jamal told the Independent on Sunday: "He was so normal ... his personality and life bore no relation to the kind of things that happened."

Questions

But FBI investigators believe there is much Jarrah kept from his family. Eighteen months before the terror attacks, Jarrah 'vanished' for five weeks.

His Turkish girlfriend reported the disappearance, and allegedly expressed fears to Jarrah's family that he had gone to Afghanistan.

After he resurfaced, Jarrah apparently told his family that he had simply been moving from his first university in Greifswald to Hamburg, and had not been in contact with his girlfriend.

In early September this year, Jarrah's father sent his son $2,000 (1,400), apparently to pay fees at the Miami aeronautical school where Ziad was studying.

Investigators, however, believe the money may well have been used to pay for air tickets for Jarrah and the other hijackers aboard the fateful flight to California.

See also:

12 Dec 01 | Americas
France to assist terror suspect
12 Dec 01 | Europe
Germany bans 21 Muslim groups
11 Dec 01 | Americas
America's first accused
11 Dec 01 | Americas
Terror investigation switches focus
11 Dec 01 | Europe
Looking for European al-Qaeda
14 Sep 01 | Europe
FBI 'ignored leads'
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