Skip to main content /TRANSCRIPTS



Maryland State Police Release Videotape of Traffic Stop of One of Hijackers

Aired January 8, 2002 - 11:00   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Maryland state police are releasing a videotape of a traffic stop of one of the hijackers. This traffic stop took place two days before September 11th. The news conference is due to begin at any moment. and when it does, in Baltimore, Maryland, we will go back to that scene live.

Meanwhile, let's bring in our Jonathan Aiken, who's been helping us cover this story.

Jonathan, as far as you know, we know it's a traffic stop, what does this tape show?

JONATHAN AIKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are told that this tape is about eight minutes long, Daryn, and that it's going to show a routine traffic stop in Cecil County, Maryland, which is in northeastern Maryland, not far from the border of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware. In this stop, the hijackers, Ziad Zamir Jarrah, is stopped by a police officer for speeding on I-95. That part of Interstate 95, north of Baltimore, and south of the Pennsylvania line, is a rural area. People who drive it often know that it is a speedtrap where people can pick up a lot of speed. It is an open highway. We are told that the traffic stop came around midnight, on Sunday, September 9th on I-95. He was given a ticket, and that ticket was found in the glove compartment of a rental car that was discovered at Newark Airport on September 11th, Newark being the originating city for flight 93.

Flight 93, the United flight that was destined for San Francisco and ended up crashing in a field in rural Somerset, Pennsylvania. We are told, Daryn, that this is your traditional dashboard video that police cars show. If you've ever watched "Cops" on television, then you no doubt have seen very much what we are about to look at this morning.

We are told there is not a great deal of conversation between the officer and the driver. You'll hear some yeses and. A routine traffic stop. The officer had no idea who he was stopping and what this man's later intent was going to be.

KAGAN: Well, I guess, that's just in anticipation of it, Jonathan, what's going to be so frustrating, it's just another turn of saying, what if, and how close law enforcement officials might have come to at least tripping over a clue of what was being planned and in stopping this in some by.

AIKEN: Oh, yes, this whole thing is filled with would-of, could- haves, should-haves. But the bottom line, this particular individual, Ziad Zamir Jarrah, like many of the other hijackers on September 11th, were in the United States legally. Some of them may have overstayed their visas. Some of them have been potentially eventually arrested on visa charges had the police ever been known to look for them, but since they were legally in the United States, their names are were not on any kind of watchlist. So local law enforcement agencies, including the Maryland state police, really didn't have any idea who they were stopping or why.

Looks like it is under way.

KAGAN: Yes, looks like it's about to begin, so let's go ahead and listen in -- Baltimore, Maryland.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... on September 9th on the JFK Highway. Joining us today or Colonel David B. Mitchell, superintendent of state police, assistant special agent in charge of the Maryland/Delaware division of the FBI, Mike Clemmens (ph) and trooper first class Joseph Cadalano of the JFK Highway Barracks -- Colonel Mitchell.

COL. DAVID B. MITCHELL, MARYLAND STATE POLICE: Glenn (ph), thank you. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Recently information was made public concerning one of the terrorist hijackers who was stopped on interstate 95 by a Maryland state trooper prior to the attacks, subsequently several requests were received for the videotape of the traffic stop under the Maryland Public Information Act. After further review of the issue and discussion with the Maryland Delaware division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, I have decided to release the in-car camera videotape and information about this traffic stop.

It was minutes after midnight on the morning of September 9th, 2001, when Maryland state trooper Joseph M. Cadalano of JFK highway Barracks was working radar on interstate 95. He was stationary, monitoring northbound traffic at the 95-mile mark crossover in Cecil County. He observed a car enter his radar beam and register a speed of 90 miles per hour in a posted 65-mile per hour zone. After the car passed, trooper Cadalano pulled out and activated his emergency lights on his marked patrol car, and stopped the vehicle, a red 2001 Mitsubishi Galant.

After calling in the stop, trooper Cadalano approached the car and found it to be occupied by a man identified on his Virginia driver's license as Ziad Zamir Jarrah. His license listed an address of 6601 Quicksilver drive in Springfield, Virginia. Trooper Cadalano asked the driver if he still lived at the address. Jarrah nodded, and responded yes. The registration showed that the car was owned by the Garden State car rental company at the Newark, New Jersey International Airport.

Trooper Cadalano returned to his patrol car and wrote a citation for exceeding the posted speed limit, 90, in a 65-mile per hour posted zone, which carries a fine of $270. He returned to Jarrah and explained the citation to him. Jarrah signed the citation and accepted his two copies. Trooper Cadalano told him that he was free to go. Jarrah said nothing at all during the second contact. Trooper Cadalano observed that Jarrah was extremely calm and cooperative throughout the entire traffic stop, and both times that our trooper approached the vehicle, he scanned the interior. The inside was very clean. There were no books, or maps, or personal items or luggage in the passenger area of the vehicle. There was nothing evident to the trooper that gave any hint of what Jarrah was about to be involved in.

Officials in New Jersey found Jarrah's vehicle at the Newark New Jersey International Airport following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th. In the glove box, they found the citation issued by our trooper. Contact was made from New Jersey to the Maryland/Delaware division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and agents there subsequently contacted us in the Maryland state police. We immediately retrieved the videotape, copies of the citations. We talked with trooper Cadalano, and all information was turned over to FBI agents from the Maryland/Delaware division.

At this time, I will play the videotape of the traffic stop and then take any questions that you may have.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is 5'9", 1990. 10-63, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) its number. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Robert. 300802, 237731, 6'2", 231, chosen address (ph) in (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

That's correct.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 96 north, New Jersey, Lincoln, John, Edward, 87, L Lincoln. He's in a red Mitsubishi.

How are you doing today? You're being recorded. We stopped you because you were going 90 in a 65.

Can I see your license and registration, please?

You still live in Springfield, on Quicksilver Drive? You still live on Quicksilver Drive?

OK, I'll be right with you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 771 (ph) standby.

10-22 traffic stop at 82 southbound.



KAGAN: Just to come in here and remind you of what we are watching, this is a tape made September 9th just after midnight by the Maryland state police. It might look like an average traffic stop along I-95, which it would be except the motorist pulled over was Ziad Jarrah, one of the men believed to be one of the hijackers onboard United flight 93, just two days late every. That's the flight that was going from Newark to San Francisco and crashed in a Pennsylvania field. He was pulled over for speeding, a ticket for $270. We are going to watch the tape this traffic stop take place. And as you will see, the state trooper let Jarrah go after writing him up a ticket.

We are going to watch the tape as Maryland police continue to play it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, sir, 90 miles an hour in a 65 zone is a $270 fine. I need your signature down here at the bottom. The blue copy is a self-addressed envelope. Use a check or money order to mail it in. If do you so, you have to do it within 15 days. All your payment options are on the back of the white copy here. There is your information. You are free to go.


QUESTION: Was there a break down somewhere in the sharing of the information? Did the federal government know that Mr. Jarrah was a potentially dangerous person? And if so, where was the breakdown, if they knew that information, why did the state police not have it?

MITCHELL: It is my understanding that there was no list that Mr. Jarrah was on that could have been made available to the Maryland state police. With us here is the assistant special agent in charge of the Maryland/Delaware office, special agent Mike Clemmens, who can comment further on that.

MIKE CLEMMENS: Colonel Mitchell is entirely correct. On the evening of 9-9, when Jarrah was stopped on I-95, he was not on the radar screen of any federal agency, and he was actually here, as I'm told, legally, under a multiple entry visa that was good through 2005.

QUESTION: I have a follow-up question. Did a so-called -- we have heard a lot about an FBI terrorist watchlist. Did even such a list exist before 9-11?

CLEMMENS: No, ma'am, not that I'm aware of, not within the FBI. As far as the list as it became available subsequent to 9-11, obviously there are a great many individuals who are subjects of investigations, ongoing investigations, and those individuals are known to investigators who are working on terrorist matters.

But broadly, as we have come to know, no. QUESTION: He wasn't on a list, because no list existed before 9- 11?

CLEMMENS: Not the kind of list that was compiled subsequent to 9-11. Obviously, there are a great of many people who are of interest to the greatest intelligence communities and criminal investigative agencies. But the type of list that was compiled subsequent to 9-11, to the best of my knowledge, did not exist in that form prior to 9-11.

QUESTION: So he was not known to have been a collaborator of -- there was no way that the United States government, as far as you know, that had this name on any database, any watchlist, anything at all, completely unknown to the U.S. government on the night this traffic stop occurred?

CLEMMENS: Not that I'm aware of it.

QUESTION: If the FBI or other government agencies wasn't interested in talking a hypothetical and have you that information, there was an arrest warrant, what could or would your trooper have done?

MITCHELL: Well, obviously, if we come upon information with regard to someone that we have temporarily detained, that they might be wanted. If there is an arrest warrant that's been issued, if there is a hold for investigative detention, if there is an immediate notification requirement, we would carry all of those requests out. Routinely our tags are checked on a traffic stop without question. So the tag on this vehicle was checked stolen, and there was no return on it being a stolen vehicle. There was no information that -- or circumstances, as you can see, that would lead us to believe that we should inquire further about this man's identity, or we simply would have.

QUESTION: Can we hear from the trooper about this...

MITCHELL: Sure. Do you have a specific question, yes.

QUESTION: Before we hear from from the trooper, what changed in terms of procedure since 9/11. In other words, if a stop like this were to occur this morning, how would anything he handled differently, if so.

MITCHELL: I don't believe anything would have been handled any differently. We carry out our duties and responsibilities here in the Maryland state police, obviously with great pride and with professionalism, as you saw demonstrated on the videotape.

If there are circumstances that come about during a contact that lead into articulable reasonable suspicion or would give us probable cause to believe a crime is being committed in our presence, we will check further. We routinely do that in the Maryland state police. We stop people everyday that are wanted, that are in stolen vehicles. We'll see the contraband, or see evidence of a crime, we will see and find guns, or they are simply wanted for some reason. We routinely make many, many arrests based on a traffic stop. Such was not the case here. I can't think of anything that we would do differently than what trooper Cadalano did, and we are very proud of his actions on this night.

QUESTION: Did that Virginia license turn out to be fraudulent, or was it only the license?

MITCHELL: I will have to ask mike about that.

We understand it was legitimate. It was photo ID. And our trooper believed it to be legitimate at the time of the traffic stop.

QUESTION: Since the creation of the list following 9-11, has anything changed about the information sharing between the federal agencies and state and local law enforcement agencies?

MITCHELL: Some things have changed, obviously, since September 11th. There is a lot more information with regard it what happened on September 11th. As we know, some of the folks believed to have been involved in the attack on the World Trade Center, and at the Pentagon and in the plane that tragically went into the ground in Pennsylvania in fact lived here in the state of Maryland. The information sharing that we have with the FBI with federal authorities is excellent, it always has been excellent, and it continues to be excellent today.


QUESTION: We missed that on the tape. There is no routine running of the name of through the data base at all.

MITCHELL: Only the running of the tag when we call it out.

QUESTION: So if you had another encounter of this sort today, and even if the person was on the watchlist, or whatever it's called, you wouldn't know until later.

MITCHELL: Well, we wouldn't know unless we ran the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) number or ran the name. We do not routinely run every name of every person stopped through NCIC miles and all of the other databases out there.

QUESTION: Under the circumstances now, where you say we are going to run names?

MITCHELL: Well, we certainly do, when we have reason to believe that we need to check further on a traffic stop. As you heard on this particular night, a little after midnight on JFK Highway on Interstate 95, it was quite busy. We are limited by our resources, and we certainly have the discretion that I entrust to every one of our troopers. We checked people wanted and then find in fact they are. Sometimes we don't. We try not to prolong a traffic stop more than what's reasonable and necessary. And we're at the beck and call, if you will, of systems, if we check every name. And without any reason to believe someone might be wanted or there might be information that we need to know about, we don't run every name of every person we stop, nor am I aware of any department our size that does. QUESTION: Colonel, say a trooper pulls over a motorist, a young man, happens to be of Middle Eastern descent or happens to be of Middle Eastern appearance or has an Arabic-sounding name, are there are there guidelines, or any kind of procedures that troopers are advised to follow in stops such as that.

MITCHELL: Absolutely not. That would be profiling.


QUESTION: There has been a lot made on a proposal here in Maryland to fingerprint and even retina scan in the future on Maryland licenses. Could something like this have helped in this situation or not?

MITCHELL: No, not without -- I think that to insure that the application is not fraudulent, and so that -- and the personnel could follow-up on an investigation, that could be helpful to dissuade fraudulent production, if you will, of driver's licenses. We, in our state, have not encountered some of the troubles that, frankly, other states have. I know that Ann Farrell (ph), our administrator of the MVA, along with Pikari (ph), of MDOT, have great interest in this. Proposals are being made to strengthen what's already a strong system. But obviously, we don't have a retina scan in the cruiser, nor do we have the ability to transmit fingerprints from the car, although that technology is available.

No, it would not have helped, because There was no -- there were -- as you saw in the traffic stop, there were no circumstances to lead us to question the gentleman more than what we already did. Now, if there are reasons to question someone further, obviously, more information the better, but in terms of a fraudulent driver's license, we would not have had the wherewithal or the means to check that.

KAGAN: We have been listening to a news conference with the Maryland state police. They just played us a videotape of a videotape of a motor stop, a speeding stop that was done September 9th, two days before the hijackings that took place September 11th. What was different about this motorist stopped, was one of the alleged hijackers from United flight 93, Ziad Jarrah, pulled over for doing 90 miles an hour in a 65-mile an hour zone. He was given a speeding ticket. He was described as calm and cooperative; the speeding ticket for $270, and then let go.

As our Jonathan Aiken was saying before, a lot of could-ofs, would-ofs, should-haves coming in here, but Jonathan, as we are listening to the conference and the questions and answers that followed, watching the tape, it sounds like Maryland state police say, we do everything right, and we do everything the same even today. It is not our job to catch potential hijackers that are in this country legally.

AIKEN: That's true, Daryn. Here is an analogy, what about if you or I were stopped by Maryland state police on I-95 three days before either of us had committed a crime. The trooper pulling us over wouldn't know what our future actions would be. Our names wouldn't appear on a government list, because no such list existed. So this poor trooper, Joseph Cadalano, probably had the same feeling in his stomach later as a lot of us have now watching it, gee, what if? What would have happened? Looks like a pretty...

KAGAN: In fact, that that trooper is speaking right to now, so let's listen to ahead and listen in to what he has to say.


TROOPER JOSEPH CADALANO, MARYLAND STATE POLICE: But like I said, he was calm, cooperative, like a regular routine traffic stop.

QUESTION: How did you feel when you heard about this?

CADALANO: About stopping the individual?

CADALANO: Like I said, it was regular, routine traffic stop. No different than any other stop for me that evening.

QUESTION: When did you realize that he was one of the men involved in September 11th?

CADALANO: September 13th, I believe, I was informed.

QUESTION: What was your reaction when you figured out this guy was one of the terrorists?

CADALANO: I was -- well, it doesn't surprise me as much -- interstate 95 is a corridor, and there is a lot of volume up and down the roads.

QUESTION: From a personal standpoint, emotionally, how do you feel now knowing what the outcome was?

CADALANO: I would rather not get into my personal emotions. It is strictly on the job, and I would rather keep it professional.

MITCHELL: It is tough. It is tough to watch a traffic stop and say, if only. But the facts just weren't there. The reasons for further inquiry were not produced. I think what we see on this videotape is consistent with what we have been told all along about folks involved in this incident, that they integrated themselves into society here in America, gave no rise to suspicion. In fact, information is being produced now through intelligence shows that was very clear instruction given to them. Do not give rise to my suspicion about what you do here. And as we can see, as the tape demonstrates, there was no rise given to this man's identity beyond which that we would find on a routine traffic stop.

QUESTION: Colonel, in terms of his (UNINTELLIGIBLE), he had a valid visa, but concerning immigration status, do your troopers, when they are making a traffic stop, can they check if someone is obviously of foreign descent? Can they check whether they are citizen, whether they are on visa, what kind of visa they're on, whether they're valid? Do you have any way to do that? MITCHELL: Yes, we can check to see if information is in the National Crime Information Center, through -- that is housed and managed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We can check through, Miles -- we can check through other databases to see if when we enter a person's name and date of birth or other information we may have, a Social Security number, if there is a return on that. That may be from INS, that might be from the FBI, it might be from DEA, it might be from another department here in Maryland, and then we would digest what that information is and react accordingly.

QUESTION: But at this point, is there any database that is specifically for immigration violation?

MITCHELL: No. No, there is no specific information on that. My understanding is that INS sends that information to NCIC to see if somebody is wanted. You know, if information leads us to believe that someone is in country unlawfully, we certainly do check that, and we will check that.

QUESTION: Agent Clemmens, Major O'Mally has suggested there has not been good information sharing, at least between the FBI and the city. Is the relationship with information sharing the same between the city and -- or the FBI and the state as it is with the city?

CLEMMENS: Absolutely. The relationship between the FBI is consistent with all state and local agencies here in the state of Maryland and in the state of Delaware, as well as with our federal partners on this effort. We have many partners, all of whom are working very diligently to fight the terrorism fight, and we share all of the information available to us equally with all our partners in this effort.

QUESTION: What did you do with the man's name when he was pulled over?

MITCHELL: With his name?


MITCHELL: Used it to write a ticket, verified the name on the driver's license and the photo ID with a person behind the car. We do that routinely, by looking at someone, checking the photo ID to insure that that is the person who is on the driver's license, and we use that to write a citations.

Routinely, when we call in, and you heard, M-4, the car number, the trooper Cadalano was that particular evening, he called out with the tag numbers, the Virginia tag, routinely that's run stolen, it's checked, and there was no return on that tag as being stolen. The information checked out between the rental agreement and the driver's license. The citation was issued, and Jarrah was released to go.

QUESTION: But his name was never checked on NCIC or any of these other databases that you were talking about.

MITCHELL: That's correct. There was no reason it check the name. We don't routinely check the name on every traffic stop.

QUESTION: Do you think you should? Is it possible?

MITCHELL: Is it possible, yes, it's possible. It's also possible that we can't get a return on the name because the system is down or whatever, which then calls into question whether or not we are holding or detaining people unreasonably. I believe that we should not do that.

KAGAN: We have been listening once again to the news conference with the Maryland State Police as they talk about the videotape that they just shared with us, showing, it was September 9th, and it Ziad Jarrah pulled over for a routine traffic stop, going 90 miles in a 65- mile-per-hour zone. Turns out two days later Ziad Jarrah, believed to be one of the hijackers onboard United flight 93, bringing up questions as to why he wasn't stopped. It turns out, there was nothing unusual about this traffic stop that would have warranted anything more than the ticket that was given out and the $270 fine.

We got to hear also from the trooper Joseph Cadalano. He is the Maryland state trooper who pulled over Jarrah, and he was asked, you know, what do you think, and he basically said, I think I did what I was supposed to do, I pulled him over somebody who was speeding and I gave him a ticket.

Now we're going to pull up parts of that tape in case you missed it. One thing that is remarkable about the tape, is you actually get to hear the voice of Jarrah. This is just, once again, two days before this hijacking took place.

The first thing we are going to listen to is when the traffic stop first happened. and listen in to the state trooper and Ziad Jarrah.

Let's listen in.


CADALANO: How are you doing today? You're being recorded. We stopped you because you were going 90 in a 65.

Can I see your license and registration, please?

You still live in Springfield, on Quicksilver Drive? You still live on Quicksilver Drive?

OK, I'll be right with you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 771 (ph) standby.

10-22 traffic stop at 82 southbound.

CADALANO: Negative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Report. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, sir, 90 miles an hour in a 65 zone is a $270 fine. I need your signature down here at the bottom. The blue copy is a self-addressed envelope. Use a check or money order to mail it in. If do you so, you have to do it within 15 days. All your payment options are on the back of the white copy here.

There is your information. You are free to go.


KAGAN: We oversold that one a little bit. I don't know if you are able to hear Ziad Jarrah's voice. But he is indeed inside of that Red Mitsubishi Galant, a 2001 model, a red car. Trooper Cadalano just handing over the ticket, and as you heard, $270, a fine, Jonathan Aiken, we can assume will never be paid, given what happened two days later.

AIKEN: Probably not.

And something else to I want bring up, just for the sake of context too, Daryn, you heard Colonel Mitchell of the state police talk several times to questions. What if this name, what if an Arab or Middle Eastern name, a driver of the Middle Eastern extraction or appearance were to be stopped for a traffic ticket today, would you treat him any differently, and he snapped back his answer. His answer no, that would be profiling. Maryland has had a history of accusations on the part of African-Americans, that state police have been extremely aggressive between Washington and New York, and especially in the Maryland part of this, pulling drivers over who are African-American, and taking some time, as they give them speeding tickets or search their vehicles.

We should add, Daryn, that the state police vehicles that were in these barracks, the JFK barracks, so they cover Cecil County, Maryland, all of those state police vehicles were equipped with dashboard video cameras specifically because of the allegations of racial profiling.

So if Ziad Zamir Jarrah were stopped somewhere south of Cecil County, on I-95, we might never have seen this tape, not that it sheds a tremendous amount of light, but it is certainly is interesting to at in hindsight.

We can tell you, too, you talk about hindsight, you know, and what a harsh light it toss look at this in. Had trooper Cadalano known who he has pulling over, a pilot known to be one of the key organizers of an Al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany. Among his friends, Mohammed Atta and Marwin Al Shea (ph), both men apparently acting as suicide pilots on September 11th. We know about Ziad Jarrah, that he was 27, Lebanese by birth. He had a pilot's license in Germany in July of 2000, a pilot's license that expired in January of 2001.

And not long after that, he went to the United States and enrolled in some pilot training schools around Fort Lauderdale, Florida. KAGAN: Jonathan, we really appreciate you putting the racial- profiling context in terms of Maryland and what has taken place in that state before. It is also interesting in light of an article in "The Washington Post" this morning that talks about 6,000 men of Arab or Muslim descent missing who are here on expired visas, and the government will really look for those people. That would not have been the case with this man, because as you pointed out Ziad Jarrah was in this country legally, and there were really no red flags for the state trooper to pull him over and do any more than give him the speeding ticket.

AIKEN: Not at all. The only red flag the state police officer would be looking for is as he looked at the vehicle, was there any contraband in it? Were they any firearms, open cans of alcohol or liquor? Was there any marijuana, smell of drugs, or indication of any drugs in the car. Was he driving erratically? Was the car stolen? None of those things checked out. And so as far as the trooper was concerned, this guy had a lead foot on I-95, and that's what the only thing that he hit him with, was a fine for doing 25 over the limit.

KAGAN: Did his job.

And, you know, on September 9th, 2001, there is no way any of us could have imagined what we were in store for two days later, and that it would change our whole on the world.

Jonathan Aiken, thanks for piping in as we watched that videotape.

AIKEN: Sure.




Back to the top