Retired lawyer Mohammed al-Amir Atta has had three years to hone the attacking style he's adopted as a defense against what he maintains are spurious charges that his son was the lead Sept. 11 hijacker. \nThe attacks were a Jewish conspiracy carried out by the Israeli intelligence service, not a plot by Islamic extremists including his son, the elder Atta declared in an interview. Moreover, he added, the US deserved the devastating result because of its anti-Arab policies. \nStill, Atta is unwilling to answer direct questions about his son, as became apparent when he's asked about a large photograph on his living room wall showing his son relaxed, so unlike the somber passport photo broadcast around the world after Sept. 11, 2001. \n"Sons are dear," is all he will say. \nAtta no longer claims his son is still alive, even though he once said his son had called him the day after the attack from an undisclosed destination. \nThe younger Mohammed Atta was named in FBI and congressional reports as the suicide pilot of the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center and the leader of the 19 Arabs who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks. \nIn a videotape months after the attacks, al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden himself described the 33-year-old Atta as being "in charge of the group" that struck the US. \nToday, the elder Atta and many Arabs place the blame for terrorism on what they say are the conditions that fuel militants' anger, not on the militants themselves. \n"No nation has done as much evil in the world as America did, and you do not expect God to punish it?" he asked. \n"If a Palestinian flies a plane and strikes the White House and kills [US President George W.] Bush, his wife and his daughters, he will go to heaven," Atta said. "So will any Muslim who defends his faith." \nDespite his religious rhetoric, Atta smokes and has decorated his apartment with statues of Buddha, actions few devout Muslims would accept. \nGamal Sultan, a former leader of Egypt's militant Islamic Jihad group and editor of the Cairo-based Islamic weekly al-Manar, said Sept. 11 could be attributed to the grievances built up by US backing for Israel and for despotic Arab regimes. \n"Arabs and Muslims are angry at America because of its unflinching support to the Zionist entity and to their own dictators," he said, adding the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq launched after Sept. 11 proved that the US had not absorbed this lesson. \nOther Arab opinion-makers, though, have said it is Arabs and Muslims who need to draw lessons from terrorism. \nOne official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he discovered in studying the younger Atta's life that when the future terrorist was studying engineering at Cairo University in the late 1980s, he was dating and drinking alcohol, activities devout Muslims avoid. The official said the younger Atta was either brainwashed later by bin Laden, or he pulled off an extraordinary deception. \nThe elder Atta refused to discuss his son's background except to insist that he had raised him to be a good Muslim. \n"Muslims should not accept injustice and half solutions," he said. "Islam said fight those who fight you."
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big