Last night, ABC's 20/20 aired a segment featuring an interview with Elie Assaad, the undercover operative who was working for the FBI to infiltrate a Miami-area mosque where agents believed terrorist plots were being hatched. In the interview (video hasn't been posted yet), Assaad tells of being suspicious of 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta but being ordered by supervisors against pursuing that lead, which would have meant spending a lot of time in Broward County.
After the jump, photographs and screen grabs of Broward locations where Atta and his co-conspirators spent the months before the attack.
In April 2001, Atta rented a unit at the Tara Gardens condo in Coral Springs, pictured above, looking from Atlantic Boulevard.
A builder of the adjacent condo complex, who also apparently acted as a property supervisor, today updated his first-person story about having lived in close proximity to Atta and other 9/11 attackers. Howard Melamed writes:
Tara Gardens, a 38 Condominium rental complex, was and still is commonly used as a temporary home for Coral Springs residents. Many residents at that time used it while their new home was under construction and late as usual. Tara Gardens was (and could still be) the only place in Coral Springs allowing you to rent by the week or month at a time. Cash counts. No questions asked. The perfect place in a bedroom sleepy community like ours. The perfect place for a terrorist to blend in. Everyone renting was in transit.
Atta was a chain smoker. He was often seen by the tenants smoking in the parking lot. I might have seen him there as well. I would often tell one particular tenant to move their car off of the Tara II parking area near the swimming pool. Maybe it was him. Maybe I towed his car. A Malibu.
Looking west from Federal Highway, that's the block that includes 1818 Jackson Street near downtown Hollywood, a rented apartment that Atta gave as a forwarding address and where he or other terrorists are thought to have lived between May and June of 2001.
That's the entrance from Dixie Highway to the Pompano Beach industrial complex home to Warrick Rent-a-Car when in August and September 2001 Atta rented cars on three occasions. Each time, he returned them with lots of miles, probably because he'd been driving to Boston to help fellow terrorists case Logan International Airport. He returned the last car on September 9.
On September 7, Atta and other attackers enjoyed a rowdy happy hour at Shuckum's Oyster Bar, pictured above at the space it used to occupy at the southwest corner of Federal Highway and Young Circle. There have been different accounts of how the conspirators acted on that day -- some of which say Atta was drunk on Stoli and cursing God.