by Mark H. Gaffney
July 9, 2009
from GlobalResearch Website
The evidence was crucial because it undermined the official explanation that Hani Hanjour crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon at high speed after executing an extremely difficult top gun maneuver.
But to understand how all of this played out,
let us review the case in bite-size pieces...
There, the records remained under lock and key
for four and a half years, until last January when NARA released a fraction
of the total for public viewing. Each day, more of the released files are
scanned and posted on the Internet, making them readily accessible. Although
most of the newly-released documents are of little interest, the files I
will discuss in this article contain important new information.
The Washington Post, for example, interviewed aviation experts who stated that the plane allegedly piloted by Hani Hanjour [AA Flight 77] had been flown,
Yet, strangely, when other journalists investigated Hani Hanjour they found a trail of clues indicating he was a novice pilot, wholly incapable of executing a top gun maneuver and a successful suicide attack in a Boeing 757.
By early 2003 this independent research was a
matter of public record, which created a serious problem for the 9/11
Even so, Hani Hanjour’s aptitude for learning appears to have been rather limited. Although he resided in the US for about 38 months over a ten-year period that ended on 9/11, Hanjour never learned to speak or write English, a telling observation about his capacity for learning.
As we will discover, he actually flunked a
written test for a driver’s license just weeks before 9/11.
Duncan K.M. Hastie, owner of the school,
described Hanjour as “a weak student” who was “wasting our resources.”
Hastie refused to let Hanjour come back.
Rejected by CRM, Hanjour enrolled at nearby Sawyer Aviation, also located in the Phoenix area. Wes Fults, a former instructor at Sawyer, later described it as the school of last resort.
Fults remembers training Hanjour, whom he describes as “a neophyte.”
He says Hani “got overwhelmed with the instruments” in the school’s flight simulator.
I must emphasize to the reader, I am not making
this up. Other accounts by Newsday, the New York Times, as well as the FOX
network, all confirm that Hani Hanjour was at best a novice pilot.
According to a June 2002 story in the Dallas Morning News, Hanjour was certified in April 1999 as an “Airplane Multi-Engine Land/Commercial Pilot” by Daryl Strong, one of the FAA’s 20,000 designated pilot examiners.
Although an FAA official later defended the agency’s policy of using private contractors, a critic, Heather Awsumb, took issue with it. Awsumb is a spokesperson for the Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS) Union, which represents more than 11,000 FAA and Defense Department employees.
She pointed out that the FAA does not have anywhere near enough staff to oversee its 20,000 designated inspectors, all of whom have a financial interest in certifying as many pilots as possible. It seems that Hanjour evaded the language requirement by finding an examiner willing to ignore the rule.
Later, Hanjour’s horrible English prompted one flight school, Jet Tech, to question the authenticity of his FAA-approved pilot’s license. Jet Tech was another school in the Phoenix area where Hanjour sought continuing instruction.
Peggy Chevrette, operation manager at Jet Tech, later told FOX News:
She explained that Hanjour’s English was so bad
it took him five hours to complete an oral exam that normally should have
taken about two.
The 737 instructor concluded his evaluation with a final entry:
The 9/11 Commission Report fails to discuss or even mention this negative written evaluation, even while presenting Hanjour’s substandard performance in a Boeing 737 simulator as sufficient evidence that Hanjour could fly a Boeing 757, an even larger plane! 
The wording of the final report succeeds in
giving this impression, however dubious, even while obscuring the facts: an
amazing achievement of propaganda.
This surprised Chevrette because it was a violation of FAA rules.
Evidently, the inspector also sat in on a class with Hanjour.
FOX News was unable to reach John Anthony for comment, but FAA spokesperson Laura Brown defended the FAA employee.
This is true enough. The Jet Tech staff never suspected that Hani Hanjour was a terrorist.
According to Marilyn Ladner, vice-president Pan Am International, the company that owned Jet Tech,
Although Pan Am dissolved its Jet Tech operation shortly after 9/11, a former employee who knew Hanjour expressed amazement,
But the record also shows the same pattern described above. For example, on May 29, 2001 Hanjour rented a plane at a small airport in Teterboro, New Jersey and flew “the Hudson Tour,” accompanied by a flight instructor.
However, the next day, when Hanjour returned for a repeat flight the same instructor,
The 9/11 Commission Report actually cites
this incident, but in a context that diminishes its significance.
During three such flights over two days in a single-engine Cessna 172, instructors Sheri Baxter and Ben Conner observed what others had before them. Hanjour had trouble controlling and landing the aircraft. Afterward, Baxter interviewed Hanjour extensively about his flight training and experience, and also reviewed his flight log, which documented 600 hours of flight time.
On this basis she and Conner declined to approve a current license rating until Hanjour returned for more training. On their recommendation, Freeway’s chief instructor Marcel Bernard refused to rent Hanjour a plane. Notice, this was less than a month before 9/11. When I reached Bernard by phone he confirmed the details of the story by Newsday.
So did Ben Conner when I spoke with him.
Conner also emphasized that the issue was not simply Hanjour's poor English.
It was everything, i.e., his general ineptitude.
Strangely, however, another passage (in a footnote) describes Hanjour as “the [al Qaeda] operation’s most experienced pilot,” suggesting that the commission had a mixed opinion about Hanjour.
In the end the official investigation evidently
interpreted Hanjour’s FAA license as sufficient proof that he had
“persevered” in overcoming his issues. The word “persevered”
is straight out of the report.
It is notable that The 9/11 Commission Report fails to mention the negative written evaluation by Hanjour’s Jet Tech flight instructor. The omission is serious because a glance at the timeline shows that Hanjour’s 5-6 weeks of training at Jet Tech occurred in February-March 2001, that is, after he had already earned his FAA license. Perseverance obviously was not enough.
The instructor’s negative evaluation was based on Hanjour’s actual skill-set at the time, license or no license. Nor does the final report so much as mention Hanjour’s test flight at Freeway airport, or the fact that he failed it. These are telling omissions. Obviously, the commission screened out testimony that conflicted with the official narrative of what happened on that terrible day. However, this is not the full story.
As we are about to learn, the recently released
9/11 files have raised disturbing new questions.
Once again Hanjour attempted to rent a plane, and again he was asked to go up with an instructor for a flight evaluation to confirm his flight skills. The plane was the same: a Cessna 172. Yet, on this occasion Hanjour passed with flying colors and, later, this other instructor gave testimony to the commission that turned out to be crucial.
The final report mentions the instructor’s name only once in a brief endnote buried at the back of the report.
The note states:
The note gives a name, Eddie Shalev, but no other information about him. Indeed, his identity remained a mystery until January 2009, when NARA released the 9/11 files.
Nonetheless, David Ray Griffin had already identified the key questions in his 2008 book The New Pearl Harbor Revisited.
These are important questions because the two assessments of Hani Hanjour’s flight skills are so radically different that both cannot be correct.
The evaluations, made just days apart, are
contradictory, hence, mutually exclusive; which raises the disturbing
possibility that someone could be lying.
The file includes a timeline and evidently was compiled to document the government’s case against Hanjour. I learned about it from a source on the commission, a staffer who insisted to me in an email that it authenticates Hani Hanjour’s flight training. At a glance it appears to do that. However, on closer examination the file is much less impressive and I have to wonder if the staffer actually studied it.
As we will see, the document not only falls
short of confirming Hanjour’s flight skills, it shows signs of having been
“enhanced” to obscure the record.
It is also important to realize that even if
Hanjour had mastered the controls of a Boeing 737, this would not have
qualified him to execute a high-speed suicide crash in a Boeing 757, a
significantly larger and less maneuverable aircraft. Such is the view of
commercial pilots who fly these planes every day.
As Marshall put it:
Marshall speculates that the hijackers may have received advanced flight lessons from Arabic-speaking instructors at a secret desert base somewhere in Arizona or Nevada, possibly arranged by complicit Saudi diplomats, or by members of the Saudi royal family.
This is why Hanjour’s inability to pass a test
flight evaluation at Freeway airport just weeks before 9/11 is so
significant: It tends to rule out Marshall’s theory of advanced instruction.
The effect creates the appearance of more extensive instruction than actually occurred. Even so, the enhancement is transparently obvious. Imagine the reaction of a potential employer if you or I engaged in this dubious practice in a resume. On closer examination, another reason for padding the record is also obvious.
Enhancement tends to obscure Hanjour’s tendency
to jump around from school to school and his inability to finish anything he
When I specifically asked Marcel Bernard about this he denied the fact and emphasized that Hanjour’s test flights included no lessons and were strictly for the purpose of evaluation.
The FBI should have known as much because after
9/11 Bernard and his two flight instructors notified the FBI about Hanjour’s
visit and were subsequently interviewed by FBI agents. The file also
conspicuously fails to mention that Hanjour flunked his test flight
evaluation! Whether through incompetence or deception, the FBI failed on
every point to state the facts correctly.
On August 2, 2001, according to the timeline,
Hanjour showed up at the Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in
Arlington, where he flunked a standard written test for a Virginia driver’s
license. The fact is astonishing and ought to make us wonder how Hanjour
ever managed to acquire his previous Arizona driver’s license issued in 1991
and his Florida license issued in 1996, let alone master the controls of a
Two days later, Hanjour returned to the bank,
this time accompanied by an unidentified male, and made another unsuccessful
attempt to withdraw $4900.
How likely is it that a man who was unable to
remember his own pin number, and who just weeks before 9/11 flunked a simple
test for a driver’s license, could have executed a top gun maneuver in a
commercial airliner? The odds, I would submit, are approximately zero.
This suggests that as of August 20 Hanjour did not yet know the date of the planned attack, either because he had not been briefed or because the date had not yet been selected. By the end of the month, however, the die was cast. On August 31 Hanjour and another “middle-eastern male” purchased one-way tickets for AA Flight 77 from a New Jersey travel agent. The date of departure: September 11, 2001.
Yet, given Hanjour’s level of skill, one has to
wonder what the waif from Taif believed was supposed to happen on that
The 9/11 Commission Report makes no
mention of the incident at Freeway airport, nor does it discuss Eddie Shalev,
other than alluding to Hanjour’s certification flight in a brief endnote.
This is curious, since it now appears that Shalev’s testimony was crucial.
By telling the commission what it was predisposed to hear, Shalev gave the
official investigation an excuse to ignore the preponderance of evidence,
which pointed to the unthinkable.
His identity remained unknown for more than seven years, but was finally revealed in one of the files released in January 2009 by the National Archives. The document, labeled a “Memorandum for the Record,” is a summary of the April 2004 interview with Eddie Shalev conducted by commission staffer Quinn John Tamm.
The document confirms that Shalev went on record:
It is noteworthy that Tamm also spoke with Freeway instructors Sheri Baxter and Ben Conner, as revealed by yet another recently-released document.
Although I was unable to reach Tamm or Baxter
for comment, I did talk with Conner, who confirmed the conversation.
Conner says he fully expected to testify before the commission. Perhaps not
surprisingly, the call never came.
The file states that,
The memorandum raises disturbing questions.
Consider the staffer’s strange choice of words in describing Shalev’s employment.
It is curious that the charter service subsequently went out of business.
But the most important question is:
Real people have known addresses. But the current whereabouts of Eddie Shalev is unknown.
As reported by David Griffin, a 2007 search of the national telephone directory, plus Google searches by research librarian Elizabeth Woodworth, turned up no trace of him. A LexisNexis search by Matthew Everett also came up dry.
Recent searches by Woodworth and myself indicate that an "Eddy Shalev" resided in Rockville, Maryland as recently as 2007. However, the associated phone number is no longer in service. The 9/11 memorandum raises the possibility that Shalev may have returned to Israel. Clearly, the man needs to be found, subpoenaed and made to testify under oath before a new investigation, even if this necessitates extradition.
Quinn John Tamm and the two Freeway instructors,
Sheri Baxter and Ben Conner, should also be subpoenaed. All are key
witnesses and obvious starting points for a new 9/11 investigation.
But 9/11 investigators must not be turned aside. We must follow the trail of evidence, regardless. Should it lead into a dark wood, we must resolve to go there; and if it takes us to the gates of hell, so be it. When our search obtains a certain critical mass, momentum will shift decisively in our favor.
Public support for a new 9/11 investigation will become irresistible.
The light of truth will do the rest...