News from Beirut September 15  2001   ...Search

Suspected pilot hijacker of Pennsylvania flight was Lebanese: security

BEIRUT, Sept 15 (AFP) - One of the 19 suspects the FBI believes helped carry out this week's terrorist attacks on the United States, Ziad Samir Jarrah, was a Lebanese national and was in the country this week, Lebanon's security service confirmed Saturday. The security services also said in a statement that Jarrah had studied aeronautical engineering in Hamburg, north Germany, confirming information provided earlier in the day by Germany's federal prosecutor.

Jarrah, in a phone call from the United States, told his parents that he intended to continue his studies in the country, the statement said, without giving the date of the call. His parents, who live in Marj, on the eastern Bekaa plains, had been sending him 1,500 dollars a month, it added. His uncle, Jamal Jarrah, denied to AFP that his nephew was involved in Tuesday's hijacking of four commerical airliners, two of which ploughed into New York's World Trade Center and a third into the Pentagon in Washington.

The FBI believes Jarrah helped hijack and pilot a fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 that left Newark, New Jersey for San Francisco and went down in Stony Creek Township, Pennsylvania. "If it's true he was aboard one of those planes, it must have been as an ordinary passenger, since Ziad was not an Islamist. He goes out and lives like everyone and he was living with his fiancee," his uncle said.

Jarrah, he added, came to Lebanon in February to see his father who had to undergo open-heart surgery. Another person close to Jarrah earlier told AFP the 25-year-old had "talked with his father by telephone from Florida four hours before the attacks." "Ziad, who lived in Germany for four years, where he studied aeronautical engineering, talked normally during the conversation," said the person, who requested they not be named.

"He has not called again since the attacks," they said, adding that Jarrah's father has tried to raise the possibility his son's passport was stolen and used by someone else to board the plane. Germany's federal prosecutor identified Jarrah Saturday as one of three suspects in the US attacks who had lived in an apartment in Hamburg.

It said that he had also lived for a while in Bochum, in western Germany,  and that he was aboard the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Jarrah had left Germany in June 2000 to attend two different flight schools in Florida in the United States, the prosecutor said in a statement. All the FBI's suspects in the hijacked airliner attacks are presumed dead.

Lebanese patriarch to dedicate Sunday Mass to US terror victims

BEIRUT, Sept 15 (AFP) - The patriarch of the Maronite church, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, will dedicate Mass Sunday to the victims of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, the church said. The mass will be held in the church of the Maronite patriarchy in Bkerke, to the north of Beirut, a church statement said Saturday.

Separately, some 200 activists from the Free Patriotic Current lit candles Friday night and prayed for the souls of the victims of the suicide attacks that targeted the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. The FPC supports General Michel Aoun, who lives in exile in France.

Aoun supporters also observed a minute's silence in front of the Church of the Ascension in Dbayeh to the north of Beirut, not far from the US embassy. Demonstrators carried banners that said "the Lebanese people are for freedom and against terrorism" and "good will conquer evil."

The US embassy said Saturday it had closed its book of condolences after "several hundred visitors signed the register over 48 hours, with many offering flowers and blood donations." The new US ambassador, Vincent Battle, said he had received "a large number of telephone calls, faxes and e-mails," over the attacks in the US.


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