El-Atriss hearing transcripts released

Secret Courts | Feature | June 30, 2003

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El-Atriss hearing transcripts released

  • Records from the bail hearing of a man who sold false identification to two September 11 hijackers suggest that he may have additional terrorist connections.

June 30, 2003 -- Sealed transcripts from the bail hearing of Mohammed el-Atriss, the man who admittedly sold false driver's licenses to two September 11 hijackers, were released last Tuesday in Paterson, N.J. Information disclosed during the hearing suggests el-Atriss may have had additional terrorist connections, but he denies these accusations.

Superior Court Judge Marilyn Clark originally sealed the hearing and its transcripts. After six news organizations filed a request to unseal the transcripts, Clark granted the motion on June 3.

The transcripts reveal that a business partner of el-Atriss had been classified as a terrorist by the FBI. However, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie told The Washington Post that the man was not classified as a terrorist, but he was the subject of a terrorism-related FBI investigation in 1996.

Other information revealed during the hearing also could link el-Atriss to terrorists. Detective Fred Ernst of the Passaic County Sheriff's Office said that a list of the 19 hijackers with some names underlined and circled and a faxed transmission sent from an aircraft parts manufacturer during the course of their investigation were found at el-Atriss' desk.

According a The New York Times report, el-Atriss and his attorney held a news conference in which they refuted every point made during the hearing. El-Atriss was quoted in The Washington Post as saying he may sue county authorities for their mistreatment of him.

El-Atriss was never charged with any offense suggesting a connection to the events of September 11.

Although officials from the Passaic County Sheriff's Office refused to comment on the validity of the testimony, Sheriff Jerry Speziale issued a statement saying that the sheriff's department acted properly and that the transcripts should speak for themselves, the Times reported.

According to The Associated Press, el-Atriss was given five years probation and fined $15,000 for selling false documents. He admitted to selling such documents to Khalid Almihdhar and Abdulaziz Alomari, who were, respectively, on the planes that crashed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

(In re Release of Sealed Transcripts in the Matter of Mohammed M. El-Atriss; Media counsel: Louis Pashman, Pashman Stein P.C., Hackensack, N.J.) -- EH


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