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Sources: Suspected terrorist leader was wired funds through Pakistan

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As much as $100,000 was wired in the past year from Pakistan to Mohamed Atta, the suspected leader of the terrorist hijackings, CNN has been told by law enforcement sources.

Pakistan is a common conduit for money going in and out of Afghanistan, home to Islamic militant Osama bin Laden, the leading suspect in the attacks. But at this point it's not known exactly where the funds may have originated.

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Sources said the wire transfers from Pakistan were sent to Atta through two banks in Florida. Then, Atta allegedly would obtain money orders -- a few thousand dollars at a time -- to distribute to others involved in the plot in the months before the hijackings.

Atta lived in Florida much of that time. He took flight training on the west coast of Florida in the summer of 2000, and then rented a series of apartments in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area this year.

Meanwhile, sources in the Middle East confirm that Atta and two other men wired more than $15,000 back to the United Arab Emirates just before the attacks -- what may have been leftover cash from the terrorism funds.

The money went to a man who flew out of Dubai for Karachi, Pakistan, on September 11 -- the day of the attack.

Atta sent $5,000, according to the sources. His Florida roommate, Marwan Al-shehhi, wired $5,400. A third man, Waleed Alshehri, sent slightly more than $5,200.

The FBI has listed all three as being aboard the two planes hijacked in Boston and flown into the World Trade Center. Atta and Al-shehhi are thought to have been the pilots on those two jetliners.

Officials in the United Arab Emirates have identified the recipient of those wire transfers as Mustapha Ahmad Al-Hawsawi. They are investigating whether he may have any ties to Al Qaeda, the terror network headed by bin Laden.

The transfers took place September 8 and 9 -- only a couple days before the hijackings.

In Punta Gorda, Florida, the owner of The Shipping Post told CNN that Atta and one unidentified associate came into her store several times between mid-July and mid-August and purchased money orders on at least two occasions.

"He was very cold," said Jeanne Waldorf. "Most people are friendly and cordial, and he certainly was not."

Waldorf did not recall the total value of the money orders, but said they were made out in denominations of $100 and $200. She said the men paid cash for the money orders, and she had no idea where the orders were eventually sent. She said the men had visited her store between two and six times.

Atta attended an aviation school in Venice, Florida, which is just north of Punta Gorda.

From CNN Correspondents Susan Candiotti in Washington, Rym Brahimi in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and CNN Producer Rich Phillips in Miami.



 
 
 
 


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