Thursday, 29 May 2003

9/11: The American Connection

New scandal spotlights terror flight school's hidden ties

In the absence of the government “white paper” promised by Secretary of State Colin Powell in the wake of the 9/11 attack, it was left to British Prime Minister Tony Blair to release a “summary of evidence” making the case against Osama Bin Laden.

Blair said: “Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization with ties to a global network."


A controversy over the sudden closing of a flight school in Orlando in early March reveals a hidden connection between the bankruptcy in Orlando and the secretive organization which ran Huffman Aviation in Venice, the unacknowledged home base of Mohamed Atta and his Hamburg cadre during almost their entire time in the U.S.

The investigation into the disappearance of millions of dollars which students had been forced to pre-pay in tuition has led to 70-year old Wallace J. Hilliard of Naples, FL, the shadowy financier whose purchase of Huffman in partnership with Dutch national Rudi Dekkers, currently awaiting trial on felony fraud, set in motion a chain of events culminating in two former students piloting Boeing 767's into the World Trade Center Towers.

When 21-year-old Tiffany Traynor moved from Michigan to Central Florida last year to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an airline pilot at the Airline Training Academy (ATA) in Orlando, the last thing she expected was to lose $75,000 and have her career placed on hold when the school closed without warning and its owners dropped out of sight.

But that’s what happened to her, and 300 other fledgling pilots whose career dreams were dashed by the loss of millions they had pre-paid the school in tuition for training they will never receive.

In the blink of an eye, bright futures turned bleak, as 20-yr-old students were suddenly left with $100,000 student loans to pay off and nothing to show for it.

Individual losses were so large because the Airline Training Academy, owned and run by the family of retired Delta pilot Jim Williams, followed the unusual practice of forcing students to pre-pay, in full, for training.

It appears in hindsight that the Williams family was thinking ahead.

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