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1997-July 2001: Hanjour Associate Wanted for FBI Investigation Before 9/11 But Not Put on Watch List
Hijacker Hani Hanjour begins associating with an unnamed individual who is later mentioned in FBI agent Ken Williams’ famous “Phoenix memo” (see July 10, 2001). Hanjour and this individual train at flight schools in Arizona (see October 1996-December 1997; 1998). Several flight instructors later note the two were associates and may have carpooled together. They are known to share the same airplane on one occasion in 1999, and are at the school together on other occasions. The unnamed individual leaves the US in April 2000. In May 2001, the FBI attempts to investigate this person, but after finding out that he has left the US, the FBI declines to open a formal investigation. The person’s name is not placed on a watch list, so the FBI is unaware that the person returns in June and stays in the US for another month. By this time, this person is an experienced flight instructor who is certified to fly Boeing 737s. The FBI speculates the person may return to evaluate Hanjour’s flying skills or provide final training before 9/11. There is considerable circumstantial evidence placing this person near Hanjour in July 2001. [US Congress, 7/24/2003 pdf file] This unnamed individual may well be Lofti Raissi, as several details match him perfectly. For instance, Raissi is a flight instructor who left the US in April 2000, has been accused of sharing an airplane with Hanjour in 1999, and has been accused of being with Hanjour in July 2001. [Guardian, 1/31/2002] Raissi will be arrested in Britain after 9/11 and accused of training Hanjour and other hijackers how to fly, but the case against him will collapse in April 2002. He will be released and many of the allegations against him will be withdrawn (see September 21, 2001). No media accounts have been reported that Raissi was mentioned in the Phoenix memo or wanted for an FBI investigation before 9/11.
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