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FTR #482 Interview with Daniel Hopsicker

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Introduction: The first of Mr. Emory’s interviews with the heroic investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker, this broadcast explores aspects of the 9/11 conspiracy in Florida. Hopsicker’s investigation of Mohamed Atta’s activities in the Sunshine State, where—along with other 9/11 hijackers—Atta was “learning to fly” yielded information indicating that Atta (already a very experienced pilot) and his associates were part of a global criminal network. Furthermore, it appears that the Florida aviation schools at which they trained were part of protected, intelligence community drug smuggling operations.

Although Mr. Emory is not of the opinion that the CIA (which appears to have been running some of the drug operations with which Atta and company were associated) was “behind” 9/11, it is apparent that some of the attackers gained immunity from arrest and investigation by functioning within these sacrosanct networks. These networks were part of the Fifth Column, referred to throughout these programs–a Fifth Column that involves decisive elements inside the GOP and Bush milieu.

In addition to Atta’s “trainer” Rudi Dekkers of Huffman Aviation, another Dutch national (Arne Kruithof) also operated a school at which some of the 9/11 hijackers were trained. In turn, Dekkers’ operations were basically fronts for the activities of Wally Hilliard, a man with what Mr. Emory refers to as “more connections than a switchboard.” Dekkers was beyond the law. The milieu of which he was a part appears to be part of the Underground Reich. Atta’s milieu was German, and the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft sponsored Atta’s activities in Germany.

Program Highlights Include: News accounts of the training of some of the 9/11 hijackers at secure U.S. military installations; legal threats against the German publisher of Welcome to Terrorland; Iran-Contra drug smuggling networks operating in the Venice (Florida) area; links between these Iran-Contra networks and the milieu of Atta in Florida; Discussion of the relocation of some of the Florida operations to Lynchburg; links between the Lynchburg operation and evangelist Jerry Falwell.

1. The discussion begins with a quote that sums up the network through which the hijackers infiltrated the United States. “ . . . Lurking just beneath the surface of American life, it seemed, was massive corruption on an unheard of scale, presided over by modern-day Untouchables, members of an organization—a global network—operating well outside the law. And getting away with it.”
(Welcome to Terrorland Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up in Florida; by Daniel Hopsicker; Madcow Press [HC]; Copyright 2004 by Daniel Hopsicker; ISBN 0-9706591-6-4; p. 229.) [4]

2. Among the frequently overlooked aspects of the 9/11 investigation is a group of media reports that emerged in the aftermath of the attacks maintaining that some of the hijackers (including Atta) had received training at secure U.S. military bases. “ . . . Atta had learned at U.S. military facilities, we discovered. As many as seven of the hijackers were in this country at the invitation of the U.S. Government. Keeping this knowledge secret has been an objective of the cover-up currently in progress. On the Saturday following the Tuesday attack, the Los Angeles Times broke the story in a long article on their front page . . . ‘A defense official said two of the hijackers were former Saudi fighter pilots,’ reported the paper, ‘who had studied in exchange programs at the Defense Language School at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.’” (Ibid.; p. 135.)

3. “The story went wide the next day, Sunday, September 15th. Newsweek, the Washington Post and the Miami Herald all reported as many as seven of the terrorist hijackers in the September 11th attacks received training at secure U.S. military installations. ‘Two of 19 suspects named by the FBI, Saeed Alghamdi and Ahmed Alghamdi, have the same names as men listed at a housing facility for foreign military trainees at Pensacola. Two others, Hamza Alghamdi and Ahmed Alnami, have names similar to individuals listed in public records as using the same address inside the base,’ the Washington Post reported.” (Ibid.; pp. 135-136.)

4. “In addition, a man named Saeed Alghamdi graduated from the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, while men with the same names as two other hijackers, Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari, appear as graduates of the U.S. International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and the Aerospace Medical School at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, respectively,’ the Post said.” (Ibid.; p. 136.)

5. “According to the Post, seven of the suspected hijackers had been in the U.S. receiving military training. Newsweek said U.S. military officials gave the FBI information suggesting that five of the alleged hijackers received training in the 1990’s at secure U.S. military installations. Three of them listed their address on driver licenses and car registrations as an address on the base of the Pensacola Naval Air Station which houses foreign-military flight trainees. ‘Pentagon Spokesman, Colonel Ken McClellan, said a man named Mohamed Atta had once attended the International Officers school at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama,’ reported USA Today.” (Idem.)

6. Next, the discussion highlights the fact that—according to Atta’s former girlfriend Amanda Keller—Atta and many of his associates were already licensed pilots, some of them in more than one country. “Amanda had noticed discrepancies in Atta’s ‘flight student’ cover story. Mohamed wanted his commercial license really bad, she said. But that never made any sense to her. ‘It doesn’t make any sense because he was allowed to fly students at that airport . . . He was allowed to fly new students. He flew to Tampa with Timothy. But Timothy was flying and Mohamed was in the co-pilot’s seat, telling Timothy what to do, just like an instructor.’” (Ibid.; pp. 281-282.)

7. “ ‘Timothy,’ we later discovered, is Timothy Hupfeld, a German friend of Atta’s from Hamburg, about whom we have heard nothing from the major media. Timothy had a sister, Sabrina, who was close to Atta as well. Amanda had a nickname for Timothy Hupfeld. She called him the ‘Ice Man,’ she said. He reminded her of Val Kilmer in “Top Gun”. All of Atta’s friends already had pilot licenses from other countries, she said. [Emphasis added.]” (Ibid.; p. 282.)

8. “ ‘This is what I don’t understand,’ she continued. ‘He (Mohamed) said he was a student, yet he was allowed to fly other students, he was allowed to go off on his own, and he had the privileges of an instructor, which is why Mohamed didn’t fly the plane when I went up (to Tampa) with him, he just sat there and told (Timothy) what to do.’ This is crucial information. It clearly indicates that the government and media have not come anywhere close to clean about the status of Mohamed Atta in the United States.” (Idem.)

9. Timothy Hupfeld is representative of the majority of Atta’s associates in the United States—European, particularly German [5].

10. A fascinating and important detail concerning the hijackers is the fact

that Yeslam bin Laden’s SICO subsidiary trained its pilots at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida!! Huffman is the school at which Atta and company were “trained.” Although he denies it, there are profound indications that Yeslam and SICO are involved with the activities of Al Qaeda. “ . . . Swiss police questioned Yeslam [bin Laden] because one of his companies, Avcon Air Charter, had offered flight training to clients at the Venice flight school attended by some of the hijackers. As a result of what Le Monde called ‘a still unexplained coincidence,’ the pilots of Yeslam bin Laden’s company trained at Huffman Aviation in Florida, the paper stated. ‘I didn’t chose that flight school,’ Yeslam protested. ‘I don’t have contact with my half-brother since over 20 years ago.’” (Ibid.; p. 178.)

11. “Swiss magazine L’Hebdo reported that Swiss federal inspectors were seeking information on the activities of several bin Laden family companies, including Geneva-based Saudi Investment Company, a financial clearinghouse for the family’s international investments, and Avcon Business Jets SA, which owned a fleet of private jets which it leased to clients. . . .” (Idem.)

12. Next, the discussion highlights the “Magic Dutch Boys”—Rudi Dekkers and Arne Kruithof. It was at the Florida flight schools of these two Dutchmen (including Huffman Aviation) that a number of the hijackers, including Mohamed Atta, trained. These men were able to break virtually every rule of business and aviation, and yet they appeared to be altogether untouchable. For example, Dekkers was never able to pay his rent at the Venice airport on time (until 9/11), and was able to continue in business and even begin an airline with Wally Hilliard (his apparent godfather and someone we will deal with below.) Dekkers was able to violate FAA regulations on the maintenance of aircraft with apparent impunity. Kruithof enjoyed similar blessings.

13. Rudi Dekkers (of Huffman Aviation) worked for Wally Hilliard, the apparent Godfather of Dekkers’ Venice operations. The next topic of discussion is the fact that a Lear Jet belonging to Hilliard was busted with 43 pounds of heroin on board. “Less than three weeks after Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi began flying lessons on July 6, 2000, a Lear jet belonging to the true owner of Huffman Aviation, financier Wallace J. Hilliard, 70, of Naples, Florida, was seized by Federal Agents at the Orlando Executive Airport after they discovered 43-pounds of heroin onboard. In the drug trade, 43-pounds of heroin is known as ‘heavy weight.’” (Ibid.; p. 245.)

14. The following passage gives some indication of the extent to which Dekkers, Hilliard and company were able to flaunt every conceivable business and FAA regulation with impunity. In addition, this passage fleshes out detail about the heroin bust of Hilliard’s Lear Jet. “We first learned of the heroin seizure during an interview with John Villada, an aviation executive in Naples who was intimately associated with Dekkers’ and Hilliard’s various aviation businesses. He managed the firm’s dozen or so jets, he told us, and he, too, had been shocked and amazed at the casual and arrogant way the two men dealt with various federal officials and agencies, like the FAA. Dekkers forged Villada’s signature on a repair order, he told us, stating required repair work on the helicopter had been completed. When he discovered it, Villada said, he was legally compelled to report the violation to the FAA.” (Ibid.; pp. 245-246.)

15. An indication of the extent to which Dekkers, Hilliard and company were protected in their criminal operations: “ ‘When Rudi was reported to the FAA for violations, an FAA guy came out and sat us down and said: ‘I suggest you back out of this.’ I couldn’t believe it. I called the FAA to report a violation and was warned to leave him alone.’ Villada dropped a bombshell. ‘After Wally’s plane was impounded with the heroin and his pilots had machine guns stuck in their faces, the DEA came to visit our maintenance facility and Wally shouted out to me—right in front of the DEA guy—‘Make sure all the heroin and cocaine gets hidden!’” (Ibid.; p. 246.)

16. The pilot of Hilliard’s jet when the heroin bust took place was a fellow named Diego Levine-Texar, who appears to have high-level protection similar to that enjoyed by Dekkers and Hilliard. “ . . . Like Dekkers and Wally, Diego Levine-Texar had a ‘hall pass’ from the FAA, which might explain his casual attitude while being busted. ‘One time in Miami, Diego got busted because he had no pilot’s license,’ related a Naples aviation insider. ‘He was a terrific pilot, but he just hadn’t ever bothered to get his license. He should have been in trouble. But he said, ‘the FAA lost my file,’ and—as a courtesy!—the FAA administered a 4-hour test on the spot and let him go on his way.’ Diego had some juice.” (Ibid.; p. 250.)

17. “What we heard about Diego: He flies a huge Gulfstream jet that looks like the interior of a Ritz Carlton Hotel . . . His father owns a big furniture manufacturing plant in Venezuela . . . Diego was trying to buy a Cheyenne (airplane) for the Venezuelan Air Force . . . Diego’s day job was chief pilot for Venezuela’s Air Force One. When he wasn’t arrested flying Hilliard’s Lear jet, was it just dumb luck? That’s too absurd. No, what we are looking at is protected drug trafficking. CIA-approved. Probably dressed up as a ‘controlled delivery.’ No wonder information about him was considered ‘sensitive.’ Whoever he was, Diego Levine was no amateur free-lancer. Diego’s calls to the FAA got promptly returned. Diego is ‘home team.’” (Ibid.; pp. 250-251.)

18. Next, the discussion turns to this operation’s apparent branching off to the Lynchburg, Virginia area. Britannia Aviation (run by Paul Martens) had operated out of Venice Airport (home to Dekkers’ Huffman Aviation.) Britannia moved to Lynchburg, where the circumstances surrounding its establishment there raised questions among the city’s residents. In the passages that follow, there are some hints as to the nature of Hilliard’s and Dekkers’ protection: “ . . . Someone behind the scenes had been pulling strings in Virginia to win a government contract for a company housed in a hangar at Huffman Aviation in Venice. Nobody in Virginia could figure out why. And that’s when the CIA’s links to Rudi Dekkers and Wally Hilliard finally began to come into focus. At a Lynchburg City Council hearing on the dispute, we learned there had been vocal objections from local aviation observers baffled at why a company with no qualifications was being awarded a contract over a much better-qualified local Lynchburg aviation company for a large regional maintenance facility designed for major carriers.” (Ibid.; pp. 315-316.)

19. “ ‘It was as if someone with a learner’s permit from the DMV got picked to drive Richard Petty’s car at Daytona,’ explained one Lynchburg aviation executive. ‘It made absolutely no business sense that anyone could see.’ Ah, we thought. Maybe we can help here. We had begun to feel comfortable in the mysterious but increasingly familiar realm of things which make ‘absolutely no business sense.’” (Ibid.; p. 316.)

20. “When Britannia was chosen for the contract in Lynchburg, local Lynchburg news reports on the controversy questioned why the tiny unknown firm from Venice [Paul Martens’ Britannia Aviation] was being shoe-horned in at the Lynchburg Airport. ‘Some commission members were concerned that they hadn’t seen details of Britannia’s bid until this past Wednesday, and that the company’s un-audited finances weren’t given to commission

ers until some had asked for it,’ the Lynchburg News and Advance reported. . .” (Idem.)

21. “ . . . If ever there was a transparent dummy ‘front’ company Britannia Aviation was it. It didn’t even possess the necessary FAA license to perform the aircraft maintenance services for which it had just been contracted. Yet it had been chosen over a respected and successful local Lynchburg company which boasted a multi-million dollar balance sheet and more than 40 employees. No one knew anything about Britannia Aviation, other than that it had been housed at Huffman Aviation. Still, the airport manager, who had recently moved over from the FAA, greased the way for the company, and the City Fathers of Lynchburg agreed. Out at the Lynchburg Airport, everyone wanted to know what gave Britannia its ‘stroke’ with government officials.” (Ibid.; pp. 316-317.)

22. Among the beneficiaries of Wally Hilliard’s operations in Lynchburg was the Reverend Jerry Falwell. Falwell later established a missionary organization that flew around the world. One wonders if that operation might have had some other purposes. “ . . . Our suspicions grew when we discovered one reason Britannia was able to move so smoothly from Venice to Lynchburg, Huffman Aviation’s shadowy financier, Wally Hilliard, loaned Jerry Falwell a million bucks which the televangelist has shown no indication of repaying. Only a cynic would suggest Falwell may have spread some of the money around town. But then, a million bucks does buy a lot of ‘looking the other way.’” (Ibid.; p. 322.)

23. “ . . . So one day, we wandered in to see Paul Martens—unannounced of course, as he would never have spoken to us otherwise—at his office in a Huffman Aviation hangar at the Venice Airport. Martens refused to comment on the reports of covert influences having been responsible for winning the Lynchburg contract. He was just an honest British businessman, he protested. He had ties to Lynchburg, Virginia. He met his wife there, while she was a student at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, he said. Her father had been a pastor for the Reverend Falwell. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 320.)

24. In the aftermath of 9/11, there were a number of flights evacuating Saudi nationals (including some who were implicated in Al Qaeda-related activity.) Available evidence suggests that one of Hilliard’s Lear Jets was used in their evacuation. “The Tampa Tribune report offered tantalizing glimpses of privilege accorded Saudi nationals denied to American citizens. We figured the evacuation of the Saudis to have been accomplished through the CIA, and tried to track down the owner of the Lear in question. Since the plane took off from a private hanger at Raytheon Airport Services in Tampa, we contacted them first.” (Ibid.; p. 154.)

25. “Raytheon is a major defense-intelligence industry player which spent the past decade expanding, purchasing notorious E-Systems and then merging with Hughes Electronics’ defense operations (Hughes Aircraft). When we asked who had owned the Lear that took off from their facility that morning, we learned that Catch-22 is still alive and well. Raytheon said we would have to ask the owner of the plane to tell Raytheon they could tell us who owned the plane. . . .” (Ibid.; pp. 154-155.)

26. “ . . . Later a knowledgeable aviation source told us that the Lear jet in question had come from a Naples, Florida charter service. ‘Wally Hilliard owns the only charter Lear service in southwest Florida,’ said the source. ‘If a Lear was flying that day, it would have been his.’ Hilliard is the financier who purchased Huffman Aviation for Rudi Dekkers, and it had been the terrorist’s American beachhead. So not only had Hilliard financed the operation which trained Mohamed Atta and assorted other members of his terrorist cadre to fly, but he apparently also owned a Lear jet used to extricate Saudis from the Raytheon facility in Tampa. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 155.)

27. The environment in which the Magic Dutch Boys and their Godfather Hilliard operated (and through which the 9/11 hijackers were infiltrated into the United States) was the same Florida intelligence environment so familiar to veteran listeners from discussion of the Iran-Contra scandal. This same Florida/Caribbean/Central America environment had been a hotbed of covert action since the Bay of Pigs and the anti-Castro activities of the early 1960’s. The activities highlighted in Daniel Hopsicker’s marvelous book are part of the extension of that environment. A passage about Frank Moss—one of the Iran-Contra related drug smugglers who operated in the Charlotte County area—should serve to underscore the extent to which the activities chronicled in Welcome to Terrorland are, as Yogi Berra said “Déjà vu all over again.” “ . . . Moss had been under investigation for narcotics offenses since 1979, it turned out, by no less than ten different law enforcement agencies. But America is the land of the second chance, and thus Moss was one of the first pilots chosen to fly Contra supply missions. He was there at the inception of the ‘contra cocaine’ business run with the tacit approval of shadowy government figures like then-CIA Director Bill Casey.” (Ibid.; p. 124.)

28. “Moss also regularly dropped duffel bags—military issue, natch—filled with contra cocaine onto the Louisiana ‘farm’ of Barry Seal, the biggest drug smuggler in American history, according to the U.S. Government. Besides being big in the drug business, Seal was a life-long CIA operative, something which quickly became ‘inconvenient knowledge’ during Iran Contra. . . .” (Idem.)

29. “ . . . Both Charlotte County Airport, and Venice 40 miles to the north were unlikely hotbeds of covert activity, and it is no doubt just another ‘freak coincidence’ that Barry Seal’s Iran Contra buddies have their fingerprints all over operations at two tiny airports frequented by the terrorists. Still, Atta had hung out in both places. . . What was up with that?” (Idem.)

30. The broadcast concludes with discussion of the suspicious air crashes that almost claimed the lives of both of the “Magic Dutch Boys” some time after the 9/11 attacks, conducted by some of the pilots from their school.