FBI agent testifies in trial of Moroccan in Germany

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

HAMBURG, Germany -- The hijackers on the first plane to hit the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11 terror attacks may have used Mace or some other chemical spray to subdue passengers and crew, an FBI agent testified Tuesday.

The hijackers also slit the throat of one passenger and stabbed two crewmembers, the agent told a German court, citing a telephone call from a flight attendant soon after the hijacking began.

FBI special agent Matthew Walsh was testifying at the trial of Mounir el Motassadeq, a 28-year-old Moroccan accused of providing logistical support to the Hamburg-based al-Qaida cell from which some of the hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks came.

Walsh said that in her phone call to airline authorities on the ground, a flight attendant on board American Airlines Flight 11 "stated that it was very hard to breathe. So we assumed that some sort of Mace or other gas was used."

The attendant also said the hijackers had stabbed several people. She said "the passenger in 10B had stabbed a passenger in the seat in front of him, and she thought the passenger was already dead," Walsh said.

The attendant said two other flight attendants were also stabbed, one slightly and the other more seriously hurt, Walsh said.

Walsh's testimony appeared to reveal new details about the seizure of Flight 11. An FBI affidavit unsealed in the months after the attacks had said only that a flight attendant on board the jet out of Boston had used a cell phone to tell an airline employee at Logan International Airport that several men in the area of rows 9 and 10 were armed with knives and had wounded other passengers and were hijacking the plane.

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