3 terrorists trained as pilots in South Florida

Boca Raton became part of investigation

BOCA RATON, Fla. - The men who carried out the terror attacks on September 11th made their home in South Florida for months. They took part in several flight lessons at local airports, and lived 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 where he was elected became part of the biggest FBI investigation in the history of the United States.

Falling twin towers are images that have 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," says Commissioner Steve Abrams.

It was 2001 when current Palm Beach County Commissioner Abrams, was elected mayor of Boca Raton, just months before the city became a stopping point for al Qaeda terrorists, Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah; three of the nineteen terrorists 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 Abrams.

The three men undertook flight training at a 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 may have possibly been used as a means of communication with other terrorists or the central unifying leader, Osama bin Laden.

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

The news of bin Laden's killing reached Abrams Monday morning.

Like many 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," he stated.

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," said Abrams.

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