Mohammed Atta

CAMERA is frequently questioned about the veracity of urban legends circulating on the internet and elsewhere. The following is an example of one of the many rumors that have surfaced since September 11, 2001. For more on urban myths, check out

Mohammed Atta, a ringleader of the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks, had been held and then released by the Israelis in 1986.

Subject: FW: In Case You Didn’t Know Terrorist pilot Mohammad Atta blew up a bus in Israel in 1986.

The Israelis captured, tried and imprisoned him. As part of the Oslo agreement with the Palestinians in 1993, Israel had to agree to release so-call “political prisoners.” However, the Israelis would not release any with blood on their hands. The American President at the time, Bill Clinton, and his Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, "insisted" that all prisoners be released. Thus Mohammad Atta was freed and eventually thanked the US by flying an airplane into Tower One of the World Trade Center. This was reported by many of the American TV networks at the time that the terrorists were first identified. It was censored in the US from all later reports. If you agree that the American public must be made aware of this fact, pass this on.

According to a Nov. 7, 2001 Jerusalem Post article, the Israeli Justice Ministry said there is no connection between pilot Mohammed Atta who flew a passenger jet into the World Trade Center and a Palestinian with a similar name who was once extradited to Israel for blowing up a bus in the West Bank (“Justice Ministry: WTC bomber was never held in Israel”).

The rumor is apparently based on the fact that in 1990 the United States extradited to Israel a Palestinian Mahmoud Abed Atta to face charges in the April 1986 murder of a bus driver, the Post reported. The man was eventually freed on technicalities, and his whereabouts are unknown today. “That man, a Palestinian born in Ramallah, was 36 years old at the time and would be 47 today. The terrorist pilot the FBI identified as Mohammed Atta was just 33 years old and an Egyptian,” the article stated.

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