- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2003

Captured al Qaeda paymaster Mustafa Ahmad al-Hisawi, taken into custody in Pakistan with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the terrorist network's operations chief, played a pivotal role in financing the September 11 attacks on the United States, authorities said yesterday.
U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement officials said al-Hisawi wired substantial sums of money beginning in June 2000 mainly for flight training and living expenses from banks in the United Arab Emirates to several of the 19 hijackers who killed more than 3,000 people.
"It wasn't immediately clear to Pakistani or U.S. authorities that one of the men taken into custody during the Saturday raid was al-Hisawi, but it turned out to be quite a bonus," a senior U.S. official said. "He is a key player and figured heavily in the September 11 attacks."
Al-Hisawi and Mohammed, described by Attorney General John Ashcroft as the "mastermind" of the September 11 suicide strikes, were arrested by Pakistan's security forces in a pre-dawn raid Saturday at a house in Rawalpindi, near the capital, Islamabad.
Authorities have identified al-Hisawi as the primary source of funding for the September 11 hijackers, using the United Arab Emirates as his base of operations to take advantage of loose banking regulations. He was believed to have disappeared in Karachi, using the city's large population of Islamic militants for cover.
In addition to the September 11 attacks, Mohammed has been linked to the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, an attack on the USS Cole in Yemen's harbor, a scheme in the Philippines to blow up 12 U.S. airliners over the Pacific Ocean, an attempt by Richard C. Reid to blow up an airliner with explosives in his shoes, and bombings in Indonesia and at a synagogue in Tunisia.
He also was identified as the man who cut the throat of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl on tape.
Al-Hisawi and Mohammed are believed to be at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, where they are undergoing extensive questioning by the CIA and FBI.
The officials said al-Hisawi used cash deposits at a Standard Chartered Bank branch in Dubai to establish a checking account and obtain credit cards that eventually were used by the hijackers and Zacarias Moussaoui, who faces trial in Virginia as a co-conspirator in the September 11 attacks.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars routed by al-Hisawi to the hijackers and to Moussaoui, the officials said, were used to pay for flight lessons, airline travel to and from the United States, commercial airline flights in this country, car rentals, equipment purchases, lodging, an antenna for a Global Positioning System device, schematics for 757 cockpit instrument diagrams, and knives in Zurich and Oklahoma City.
Also sent to the hijackers and to Moussaoui, the officials said, was cash typically $5,000 wire transfers. Much of the money was deposited into U.S. banks, and was withdrawn from automated teller machines when needed.
The officials said the first transfers of money from the United Arab Emirates went in June 2000 to Marwan Al-Shehhi and Mohamed Atta, two of the September 11 hijackers.
Atta, believed to be the hijackers' ringleader, has been identified as the pilot aboard American Airlines Flight 11, which was crashed into the World Trade Center's north tower. Al-Shehhi was identified as the pilot aboard United Airlines Flight 175, which hit the center's south tower.
Records show that on June 29, 2000, a total of $4,790 was wired from a person identified as "Mustafa Ahmed" in the United Arab Emirates to Al-Shehhi, who opened a joint account in his and Atta's name at the Florida SunTrust bank. That summer, according to the records, $109,440 was deposited into the joint account.
A year later, the officials said, al-Hisawi shipped ATM and debit cards drawn on a bank account in Dubai to Fayez Rashid Ahmed in Florida, which later were used to obtain cash to reserve tickets for the hijackers on flights scheduled for September 11. Ahmed has been identified as one of the hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 175.
Three days before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the officials said, Al-Shehhi and Atta wired $12,860 to "Mustafa Ahmed" in Dubai. Al-Hisawi also is suspected of financing al Qaeda activities in Germany before the suicide strikes.

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