- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001

The owner of a Laurel motel yesterday said he rented rooms to men the FBI has identified as hijackers in last week's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Suresh Patel, who owns the Pin-Del Motel on Washington Boulevard in Laurel, said Nawaq Alhamzi paid him $32.19 cash for one night's stay on Sept. 1.
Alhamzi was on board American Airlines Flight 77, which smashed into the Pentagon, killing 64 persons on board and 124 in the military headquarters. He has listed addresses in San Diego, and Fort Lee and Wayne, N.J.
Mr. Patel said Alhamzi stayed in Room 7 with another man he could not identify and the two arrived without a vehicle. He said Alhamzi provided identification that listed his place of residence as New Jersey.
Mr. Patel also rented a room to Ziad Jarrahi on Aug. 27.
Jarrahi was on board United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in western Pennsylvania after being hijacked. He was a student at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg, Germany. German authorities believe Jarrah and Mohammed Atta were part of a terrorist group formed in Hamburg at the beginning of this year to attack high-profile U.S. targets.
Mr. Patel said Jarrahi paid for three nights in advance with a credit card in his own name but left the day after he checked in. Mr. Patel recalled nothing else out of the ordinary about either guest.
The news comes a day after reports that all five of the terrorist hijackers aboard Flight 77 had spent time in the Maryland suburb 20 miles northeast of the District before the hijackings.
The president of Gold's Gym, Gene LaMott, said yesterday that the five worked out several times in the Greenbelt gym between Sept. 2 and Sept. 6. They all paid in cash, he said, adding the men were "just like typical college students."
Two of the hijackers, Khalid Midhar and Majed Moqed, reportedly paid cash when they traveled to Baltimore-Washington International Airport on Sept. 5 to pick up plane tickets they had booked through the American Airlines Web site.
Another hijacker, Hani Hanjour, tried to lease a plane from Freeway Airport in Bowie just weeks before the attack.
"About five weeks ago, he took three different flights with us," said Marcel Bernard, the school's chief flight instructor. "We said no because we weren't confident with his flight experience. … After that he split and we didn't see him again."
Instructors at the school called the FBI when they saw Hanjour's name on the list of people on board Flight 77. The FBI questioned flight instructors at the airport several times last week and again on Monday.
Mr. Bernard said the FBI on Monday asked the flight instructors to hand over all of the airport's flight simulation technology.
Meanwhile, another lead being pursued by FBI agents involves Moataz Hallak, 41, a part-time teacher at the Islamic Community Center of Laurel. Mr. Hallak's attorney, Stanley L. Cohen, said agents told him they want to speak with his client because they believe he may have had prior knowledge of the attacks a claim Mr. Cohen dismisses.
"They are making hysteria," the attorney said. "History teaches me that the FBI sullies lots of people when it investigates things like this. I can't speak for other people I can only speak for Moataz, and there's nothing there."
In 1997 and 1998, Mr. Hallak was called to testify twice before a federal grand jury in New York about the bombing of U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania that killed 224.
He was never indicted, but during a 1999 hearing on the bombings prosecutors said the cleric had "served as a contact" between members of the Osama bin Laden organization, which is believed to have sponsored last Tuesday's terrorist acts.
Jerry Seper contributed to this report.

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