MYSTERY WIRE — Las Vegas was just one of thousands of towns and cities affected by the 9/11 attacks, but it also appeared to play a role in the days leading up to September 11, 2001.
In the official 9/11 report from Congress, Las Vegas is mentioned fourteen times.
According to the report, after the Pentagon and World Trade Center were struck, a Delta flight from Boston to Las Vegas was believed to be hijacked. The report ended up being false. It was just one of many planes thought to be hijacked that morning.
On July 31, 2001, hijacker Waleed Shehri traveled to San Francisco from Boston with a layover in Las Vegas. The report states he may have been checking out the flight as a possible target. Shehri traveled alone in first class on the same type of aircraft he would later help hijack on 9/11.
More of the eventual hijackers also stopped in Las Vegas in the days before the attack.
Marwan al Shehhi flew to Las Vegas in late May. He traveled from New York to Las Vegas with a stop in San Francisco.
Ziad Jarrah came in early June. His flight was coming from Baltimore to Las Vegas and made a stop in Los Angeles.
Mohamed Atta was in Las Vegas at the end of June. His flight was from Boston to Las Vegas.
Each hijacker traveled first class on the same type of aircraft they would overtake on 9/11. The flights with stops in Las Vegas were said to have been surveillance flights where the hijackers were becoming familiar with their plans.
Two other hijackers, Nawaf al Hazmi and Hani Hnajour also took flights with stops in Las Vegas. None of these flights resulted in overnight stays.
In August, the report states four of the hijackers communicated and were assigned into four hijacking teams. Then, before the attacks, three of the hijackers who made stops in Las Vegas, once again purchased tickets for another set of surveillance flights.
Again they would each fly first class on the same type of aircraft they would later hijack, with flights that connected to Las Vegas.
During this time, Atta flew himself to Las Vegas as did Hanii Hanjour, and Nawaf al Hazmi. All three stayed in Las Vegas on August 13 and 14.
This was different from the F.B.I. report that listed five hijackers coming to Las vegas instead of six.
Mohamed Atta did rent a room at the Econo Lodge Motel on Las Vegas Boulevard, near the Stratosphere. Atta was also seen at several other spots, including an internet cafe near UNLV, and a local strip club.
In the years after the attack, Las Vegas would again make headlines when a terrorist-linked video prominently showing the Las Vegas strip was found online.
The Las Vegas law enforcement community also came together to build and operate what’s known as the fusion center. This joint venture brings local, state and federal authorities all under one roof to look for, investigate, and stop threats in the Las Vegas area.