AR-OnlinePosted Monday, November 12, 2001
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CONTINUING our efforts to assist historians to investigate and understand the Real History of the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001, we are reproducing the text of the letter said to have been written by the principal attacker, Mohammed Atta; several copies are alleged to have been found in various locations. Eric Mueller of Texas, one of our number, has prepared the first improved translation of the document. Mueller will be talking about this document at our Cincinnati 2002 symposium on the September 11 attacks. We invite Arabists fluent in the language to assist in modifying and expanding this, to generate an immaculate translation and interpretation of this important letter. We also invite academics to put pressure on the FBI to release facsimiles of the opening page or pages, which appear to have been withheld. A clear copy of these four pages can also be seen on the FBI website.

The Atta Letter

The first page of the letter. For a pdf. download of full-size facsimiles of the entire text, so far as yet released by the FBI click the image (390k).

Translation of letter


Eric Mueller writes:

I'M ENCLOSING with this letter a pdf file of the copy of the Arabic pages as sent to me by the Dallas Morning News in late September. The paper contacted me on the afternoon of September 28 to say that the FBI was soon going to release the remaining part of the letter that they had allegedly recovered from the hijacker's luggage in Boston airport. Unusually for the FBI, they were to release it untranslated. The Dallas Morning News wondered if I could undertake a translation and I agreed.

Two or three hours into the project, however, I called the editor and told her that it was taking longer than I had expected. She had already got an inkling of the content of the document, and I suspect that, inasmuch as it lacked any blood curdling passages about butchering the infidels, they were no longer interested in publishing the letter or even any major sections of it. I therefore wrapped up my work on it more quickly, simply summarizing the text rather than looking up and verifying the unattributed Qur'anic quotations and pondering each blur and smudge.

I translated much of the text. As I said last night, these four pages, numbered with western numerals (which we rather confusingly call "Arabic"!) were evidently hand-numbered and issued by the FBI separately from earlier pages. These pages do not begin with the standard Islamic opening, "In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Mercigiving," and clearly are not the beginning of the document. I inquired of the Dallas Morning News about earlier pages, but they never responded. I admit I have not ploughed through the FBI website either; perhaps the beginning page(s) is/are there.

Twin TGowersEvidently Robert Fisk wrote his critique in the Independent [London] before seeing the text even of the section I went through. This text seems authentically Islamic and I suspect it is genuine. To my knowledge no English-language newspaper translated even any complete section of the text on these pages; all confined themselves to quoting odd lines or phrases.

Much of the confusion, inconsistency and doubtful readings of this text came, I think, from poor translations, or rather oral interpretation sessions where a native speaker would try to explain to a reporter or agent what the text meant.

I personally find the document very moving. It, like the attacks of 11 September, must be "read" in the context of the entire modern history of the Middle East.

Relevant items on this website:

David Irving: Radical's Diary, October 1, 2001
Article by Robert Fisk on the letter, in The Independent
Translation of letter

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