Here a brief presentation of the surprising contradictions of several alleged hijackers concerning their language skills. Besides their location and their physical appearance this parameter seems important in order to conclude if there have been doubles or not. (I base this on the assumption that it is difficult to fake a fluent English without accent if one originally had a strong accent and could barely speak English).
Atta spoke German almost without any accent.
For his English:
Brad Warrick who rented Atta a car and met him twice said:
``He had very little accent and acted like he was a businessman.
"He seemed to be a businessman," Mr. Warrick said. "His driver's license and insurance matched up to a Florida address, he had a credit card, he spoke very good English, and he carried a briefcase. He seemed pretty friendly."
New York Times, 9/14/01 b
In general his English is described as good or quite good.
Marian Smith who rented Atta a Piper in middle of August
Whitener at Gwinnett County Airport who once talked to him.
But on the other hand we have also an Atta in Shuckums on September 7 who is clearly described as having a “thick accent”.
Can he be the same?
We have the change of Atta in North Port seen by his landlords.
At first Amanda Keller has to translate for him (I assume he must have talked in French! As she didn’t understand German and certainly not Arab. Therefore a real language genius!) and he “spoke limited English”. Then he comes back from a party and spoke “good English”!
Besides Shuckums we have another case where Atta is supposed to have spoken with a heavy accent: The voice talking to the passengers on AA 11.
It’s usually described “as heavily accented” or “thickly accented”.
Could this be
Mohand Al Shehhi:
A real language genius.
All agree that he spoke German almost fluently. This is already an achievement as he only came to Germany as an adult.
But he also spoke “ good English, with either no or only a slight accent, said Diane Surma.”
Dekkers and Voss judge that his English (like Atta’s!) "not totally good but not bad."
(Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/13/01)
and “quite good ».
We can reconcile more or less these two statements but what to make of this judgement by Steve Kona who rented a home to Atta and Al Shehhi in Nokomis :
'Come in and get out of the heat.' So I went in and he offered me,
in broken English,
'Would you like something to eat?' He
could understand me perfectly well.
News Press, 9/14/01
Nawaf Al Hazmi:
All accounts agree that one of the central figure of 911 lacked any knowledge of English.
His English was describe as “sketchy”, “he spoke a little”, he was suggested to learn English, “he spoke not much if any English”
Only there is one exception:
When he was caught speeding on April 1, 2001.
“He said the driver was short and spoke English well , but he can't recall anything that was said.”
Daily Oklahomian, 1/20/02
Strange, only the case that sounds much like voluntarily leaving trails he appears completely different.
His German was almost without accent.
I don’t have much on Jarrah’s English yet. The only judgement on his English is the statement:
“Jarrah attended Christian schools, graduating from a French high school, where he became fluent in French and English.”
Jarrah is believed to have tried to talk to the passengers. There the English is described as “broken” or “with heavy accent” or “thickly accented”.
Waleed Al Shehri:
In the article on Embry-Riddle I’ve casted doubts already that the official Waleed has actually anything to do with the “real” one eg apparently he stayed in the US since 1995 and not only since a few month.
“Their elder brothers had travelled to America and spoke good English.”
(Sunday Times, 1/27/02)
This is apparently a mix up with the diplomat son and it can’t be the official pair that lived in a remote area of Saudi-Arabia.
Paul Thompson had this on Waleed (I’ve no article on my harddisk so far to verify it)
This is bizarre. Not only does he speak fluent German, but by all accounts he speaks very fluent English. Yet the FBI says he's merely 21 years old on 9/11 (his age varies, but they seem to have settled on that number), and had never left his remote provice of Asir, Saudi Arabia until going to Mecca not long before going to the US.
aboard AA 11?
We have the following statements:
Ms. Sweeney repeated. Calmly, she gave him the seat locations of three of the hijackers: 9D, 9G and 10B. She said they were all of Middle Eastern descent, and one spoke English very well.
All four were Middle Eastern, Sweeney told Woodward. Three of them, she said, were sitting in business class, and "one spoke English very well."
Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01
At 8:38, Ong told Gonzalez that the plane was flying erratically again. Around this time Sweeney told Woodward that the hijackers were Middle Easterners, naming three of their seat numbers. One spoke very little English and one spoke excellent English. The hijackers had gained entry to the cockpit, and she did not know how.
Al Suqami was the one that spoke “very little English”
According to the given seats rest only Al Omari and Atta. (It’sobvious I think that the judgement of speaking excellent English can’t be referring to the one which seat she doesn’t indicate).
We know from Portland that Al Omari spoke very bad English so we can assume that it must have been Atta who is the one with the excellent English.
Stressing the contrast to the one in Shuckums.
And seriously challenging the claim that it was Atta who tried to talk to the passengers.
This is it for the moment. I’ll continue to work on it. Interesting to note is still Moqed who apparently always did the talking when around with Hanjour as Hani’s English was too bad. So here we have somebody coming from a remote corner of Saudi-Arabia and doing the talking while somebody inside the states for long doesn’t manage a straight sentence….
People for whom I’ve found a judgement so far:
Al Omari couldn’t barely speak English.
Salem Al Hazmi no word (problems with the control at Dulles)
Al Suqami didn’t speak very good at all according to Madeleine Sweeney.
Fayed claimed that he can’t speak English and asked a hotel clerk to help him fill out the formulas.
Al Mihdhar: spoke barely English