Tuesday, January 25


A number of questions come to mind with respect to the developing story out of San Antonio, Texas, on the four Chinese nationals who were being illegally flown into the United States by a Mexican national.

Is Hamid Afzal an American citizen or a "resident alien" of Syrian birth? He must be one or the other to legally register an aircraft with the FAA; and were early reports that his 3-year registration had elapsed on the Cessna aircraft he co-owns correct, as we now know he's been running a flight school in San Antonio called Alpha Tango Flying Service and the pilot involved was a regular client? Does he just run the school or is he also its owner? If the latter, does he have partners? On flights to and from Mexico, in which a Mexican national is renting/leasing an aircraft from an American-based company, what paperwork is required to do so legally, was such paperwork completed properly and on file, and what kind of paper trail exists on this Mexican national's use of aircraft owned by Mr. Afzal?

This story, albeit dated, is worth a read, as it reports (i.e., purports) the following:

Let us remember that 5 years ago, the Syrian Abdul Hakim Murad was convicted of a plot to crash a suicide plane into CIA headquarters. The man received flight training at Alpha Tango Flying Services in San Antonio, Texas. The flight school is owned by the Syrian Hamid Afzal.

The story also claims that:

After the 11 of September attack, Syria sent more than 20 persons (Syrian and Lebanese) to the United States to learn how to fly small planes. In fact, according to the FBI, one of Osama Bin Laden's personal pilot was a flight-school instructor at Ed Boardman Aviation School at Fort Worth Meacham International Airport in Texas. To this airport, 14 Syrians arrived to this school early October 2001 to learn how to fly. From the published reports, four of the seven schools at Meacham are owned and run by Middle Eastern men, most of them from Syria or Lebanon.

Other "students" arrived to the U.S.A. before the 11th of September attacks to learn how to fly. Many arrived in 1998 and went to schools in Texas where they learned how to fly small planes. Apparently, different sources, both independent and U.S. governmental, indicate that one of the Syrian-Bin Laden plan was to fly small engine planes with chemical bombs and to crash them into nuclear sites such as the Pantex nuclear-bomb facility in Amarillo, Texas. The same reports indicate that the French-Arab Zaccaria Moussaoui, received flight training at schools just north of Fort Worth in Oklahoma.

This "Washington Post" story is also worth a read, as it makes reference to a "San Antonio Express-News" report on Hamid Afzal and his flight-training school in San Antonio, Alpha Tango Flying Service.

Key information continues to be sketchy, although Homeland Security appears to be doing its best now to defuse the story. My gut tells me, however, that's there is more to follow, kind of like Paul Harvey's rest of the story ...