By Dan Christensen and Robbyn Swan, BrowardBulldog.org
A woman who identified herself as the wife of Mohamed Atta, the 9/11 hijack leader, appeared at the Broward County Courthouse the same day the terrorists struck seeking to clear up Atta’s traffic record.
FBI agents later took Atta’s court file into evidence, and interviewed the window clerk who spoke with his “wife,” according to officials at the Broward court clerk’s office.
It is not publicly known if the agents ever identified Atta’s “wife” or located her for questioning.
There are no reports that Atta, an Egyptian, ever married.
A spokesman for the FBI in Miami declined to talk about the matter late last week.
“No further information is being released at this time,” said James P. Marshall.
Although it is well known that several of the mostly Saudi 9/11 hijackers lived in South Florida and that Atta received a traffic ticket in west Broward, the courthouse appearance has not previously been reported by the news media.
The FBI disclosed it, however, in a once secret chronology of Atta and the other hijackers of American Airlines Flight #11 – the plane that hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center eleven years ago on Tuesday.
“A woman claiming to be Atta’s wife arrived at Broward County Courthouse on 9/11/01 and attempted to clear his record,” the document says without elaboration.
ATTA’S TRAFFIC INFRACTIONS
That day 19 al-Qaeda terrorists, including Atta, used four hijacked jetliners to kill nearly 3,000 people in coordinated suicide attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. One plane crashed in Pennsylvania before it could reach its target in the nation’s capital.
According to the 9/11 Commission report, Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, the hijacker-pilot of the United Airlines jet that slammed into the World Trade Center’s South Tower, moved into an apartment at 10001 W. Atlantic Blvd. in Coral Springs on April 11, 2001.
On April 26, at 11 p.m., Atta was driving a red, 1989 Grand Prix when he was stopped by deputies manning a Broward Sheriff’s traffic checkpoint in the 6800 block of University Drive in Tamarac. He presented an international driver’s license, the 9/11 report says, but was nevertheless given a citation for driving without a valid license – a criminal violation.
Atta was ordered to appear May 28 at Broward’s West Satellite Courthouse on Pine Island Road in Plantation. Atta failed to appear, and a week later a warrant was issued for his arrest.
On May 2, Atta and Ziad Jarrah, the hijacker later at the controls of United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed into a Pennsylvania field amid a passenger uprising, went to the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Lauderdale Lakes to obtain licenses.
Law enforcement missed a chance to arrest Atta two month later when he was stopped for speeding by a Delray Beach policeman in a residential neighborhood in the 700 block of Lindell Boulevard. The officer was unaware of the Broward warrant, and Atta got off with a warning.
The state finally suspended Atta’s license on August 23.
Broward Clerk’s supervisor Renea Gaskin was on duty at the courthouse when Atta’s “wife” appeared, apparently minutes before Atta piloted American 11 into the World Trade Center.
“She stated that she was his wife and wanted to take care of any outstanding tickets,” said Gaskin. “I remember her being dressed in Arab garb.”
The woman went away without getting what she wanted. The citation required a mandatory court appearance by Atta.
The woman actually spoke to another clerk who left the office years ago. Gaskin and others there can only remember her first name, Crystal.
Broward Clerk of Courts Howard Forman said the courthouse was shut down a few hours later amid the ensuing confusion and fear.
The Justice Department publicly identified Atta and the other hijackers two days after the attacks. The news set off a shockwave at the clerk’s office.
“It was like ‘Oh my God, It’s his wife! She was just in here to take care of his ticket.’ We were shocked,” Gaskin recalled.
The FBI arrived quickly. Crystal was interviewed. Atta’s file was obtained by Special Agent Theresa Ann Harris, said clerk supervisor Mary Mossey.
Atta is long dead, but the case against him is alive at the courthouse where it is officially classified as “pending.”
A warrant is also outstanding for Atta’s arrest.
“No one closed it,” said Mossey.
Robbyn Swan is co-author, with Anthony Summers, of The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 & Osama bin Laden, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.