Potential hijacker turned back in Orlando

Washington Post:

"A month before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, U.S. Customs officials at an airport in Orlando refused entry to a young Saudi man who authorities now suspect may have been arriving to meet Mohamed Atta, leader of the suicide hijacking plot, government sources said yesterday.

"The man, identified only as 'al Qahtani,' attempted to enter the United States in early August 2001, officials said, but was turned back by Customs officials, who grew suspicious when he said he planned to visit friends in this country but could not name them.

"In the months after the strikes, authorities discovered that Atta had placed an overseas call from the Orlando airport at the time al Qahtani was being detained there.

"Al Qahtani was later taken prisoner in Pakistan or Afghanistan and is now in the U.S. Naval prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, officials said."

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