Politics & Policy

A Nightline Fantasia

Transcript from ABC News's Nightline with Ted Koppel, September 15, 2001

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appears in the May 3, 2004, issue of National Review.

TED KOPPEL: “And so then what happened?”

MOHAMED ATTA: “Well, Mr. Koppel, as I was boarding the plane, or should I say, trying to board the plane, a uniformed officer took me aside . . .”

TED KOPPEL: “Just you?”

MOHAMED ATTA: “No, no. That’s the thing. It wasn’t just me. It was me and a guy named Abdulaziz Alomari, a guy named al-Shehri . . . and a couple of other guys. I mean, do you get it? Do you see what’s going on here?”

TED KOPPEL: “Mr. Atta, if I may, it seems that what you’re saying here . . .”

MOHAMED ATTA: “It’s all in our lawsuit.”

TED KOPPEL: “If I may, sir, it seems that what you’re saying here is that the government systematically profiled you and your associates . . .”

MOHAMED ATTA: “My associates? Mr. Koppel, I didn’t know all of the gentlemen they detained. Oh, one or two I knew from around, you know, Hamburg and Kabul and flight school. But we were nodding, hey-how-are-you friends. Not close. I wouldn’t say close.”

TED KOPPEL: “In any case, sir, the essence, if I may, of your complaint, if I may call it that, is that the FAA, acting on a directive from the intelligence branch of the federal government, detained several Arab men and prevented them from boarding their flights?”

MOHAMED ATTA: “Yes. That is correct, Mr. Koppel. And that’s racism. Racism and racial profiling and it’s illegal and we’re suing for damages.”

TED KOPPEL: “You and . . .”

MOHAMED ATTA: “The other gentlemen who were detained for racial reasons. We were pulled out of line, searched, our possessions were confiscated . . .”

TED KOPPEL: “These would be the famous box cutters?”

MOHAMED ATTA: “We’re not allowed to cut boxes, I guess. Not in Bush’s America, I guess. Not with Bushitler in charge!”

TED KOPPEL: “Sir . . .”

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