The U.S. Justice Department has released the names of 19 persons who investigators believe hijacked the four commercial airliners that were used in Tuesday's terrorist attacks. All 19 have names that would indicate they are of Middle Eastern origin. Authorities are seeking more information from anyone who may have known the suspects.
In a joint news conference with U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft Friday, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller said continuing investigation has produced the name of another hijack suspect. "When we spoke to you yesterday we had 18 individuals who we believed were the hijackers," said Mr. Mueller. "We now have a 19th that our investigation has disclosed was probably one of the hijackers on that plane that left Dulles [airport]. Consequently, continuous investigation updates our confidence, or level of confidence, degree of confidence, in assuring that the person who actually was on the plane is associated with the name."
Mr. Mueller said authorities are still questioning associates of the 19 people believed to have carried out the attack in the hope of finding more leads. Attorney General Ashcroft said the FBI has a list of 100 people who may have information that could be helpful. That list has been distributed to other law enforcement agencies. The Attorney General appealed for public help in the investigation, asking that anyone with information about the 19 men on the list contact the FBI hotline.
FBI Director Mueller said the so-called black boxes, flight data and cockpit voice recorders, have been recovered for the plane that crashed into the Pentagon Tuesday, but he declined to reveal anything about information obtained from the recorders.
The FBI currently has 4,000 agents working on the case, backed by another 3,000 support employees. Police departments across the nation and in several foreign nations are also helping in the investigation.