Three terrorists trained as pilots in Boca Raton - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Three terrorists trained as pilots in Boca Raton

BOCA RATON, FL (WFLX) - The men who carried out those unforgettable attacks for months made their home right here in South Florida: Participating in several flight lessons at local airports and living in the shadows of the Americans they despised.

After the 9-11 attacks the city of Boca Raton became a vital part in piecing together the events leading up to the attacks.

A former mayor of Boca Raton is now a Palm Beach County Commissioner.

He says as news of Bin Laden's killing came across the wires, he could only remember the days following the 9-11 attacks -- when the city, he was elected to lead, became part of the biggest FBI investigation in the history of the United States.

This is the image that has been burned into the minds of millions of Americans, the Pearl Harbor of the millennium,9/11.

"The next day, I started to receive calls the FBI was investigating terrorists in our community."

It was 2001 when current Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams was elected mayor of Boca Raton, just months a city that became a stopping point for Al Qaeda terrorists, Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, three of the 19 terrorist trained to kill Americans.

"It was astounding because obviously all of us Americans were glued to the events that unfolded on 9/11, it was a shock," says Commissioner Abrams.

The three hi-jacker pilots undertook flight training school in South Florida. Even practicing on planes at the Lantana airport.

The men frequented Boca Raton's public library for its Internet service which was possibly used as a means of communication with other hi-jackers and the central unifying leader Osama Bin Ladin.

"It's been a long ten years everyone hoped we would not lost sight of the mastermind behind the attacks and continue pursuing him."

The news of Bin Laden's killing reached Abrahams this morning.

Like Americans around the world he shared in the feeling of relief and jubilation. "It was a scary time and then it's equally relieving now."

Abrams says just days after the photos of the terrorist were released he realized his connection to one of them was much more than just through his city but also his haircut. "They went to my very own barber a week before they went on their terrorist rampage."

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