Atta's father denies son's involvement in hijackings - SJM, 9-19-01

Sometimes shouting, sometimes crying, sometimes shaking his head, Mohamed al-Amir Atta said Tuesday that his son and namesake was a shy man who could not possibly have sent a hijacked jet slicing through the first World Trade Center tower.
"Mohamed. Oh God! He is so decent, so shy and tender," said the father, a 65-year-old retired lawyer. "He was so gentle. I used to tell him, 'Toughen up, boy!'"
Mr. Atta stood on the barren concrete doorstep of his 11th-floor Cairo apartment today, alternating between rage at the picture being painted of his son as one of the attack's ringleaders and pride that his boy had done well abroad after graduating with average marks in architecture from Cairo University's Faculty of Engineering.
The FBI has identified the 33-year-old son of Atta as one of the hijackers. He has been traced to at least two flying schools in Florida in the 14 months before last week's attack.
The elder Atta laced his conversation with fierce attacks against the United States, a "tyrant nation" that he blasted repeatedly for supporting Israel and for moral contagions like adultery and same-sex marriage.
Some of his son's university friends in Germany have described Mohamed Atta as a sharply intelligent, strict, serious man who seemed to retreat socially, seeking solace from religion.
The elder Atta said he never encouraged his children to be social, even avoiding the incessant contact between relatives so common in Egypt. Neighbors in their slightly tattered, middle-class neighborhood in Giza, just off the road to the Pyramids, confirmed that family members rarely said more than hello.
"We keep our doors closed, and that is why my two daughters and my son are academically and morally excellent," Atta said.

Egyptian man denies son's involvement in hijackings - SJM, 9-19-01


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