FBI investigators have found a letter left behind by hijackers involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which they say contained instructions about how the attacks were to be carried out.
Attorney General John Ashcroft says the letter, written in Arabic, contained Islamic prayers along with a checklist of things the hijackers were supposed to do. "This letter is clear evidence linking the hijackers on the three separate flights on September 11," Mr. Ashcroft said.
The four-page document was found in the luggage of suspected Egyptian hijacker Mohamed Atta, which never made it on to the plane that eventually flew into one of the World Trade Center's twin towers.
A second copy was found in a vehicle parked at Dulles airport outside Washington - the airport where the attack on the Pentagon originated. A third was recovered from wreckage in Pennsylvania where another hijacked airliner crashed. "It's a disturbing and shocking view into the mindsets of these terrorists," Mr. Ashcroft said. "The letter provides instructions to the terrorists to be carried out both prior and during their terrorist attacks."
Investigators have not said who wrote the letter. But those who have seen it say its Arabic translation exhorts the hijackers to crave death and to steel their will with prayer before the mission, an apparent reference to the September 11 hijackings.
The FBI has already released photographs of the 19 suspected hijackers, hoping the public will recognize any one of them and provide new clues in the case.
Not only is Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network the focus of the investigation, but FBI Director Robert Mueller says so are what he calls "a series of networks across the world." Nearly 500 people are now under arrest or detention in connection with case.