The claim:

The first breakthrough came for investigators within hours of the attack when a motorist contacted them to say he had been involved in a squabble with some Arabs in the car park of Boston's Logan Airport, from where two of the planes were hijacked.

Police found a car contained flight manuals in Arabic, instructional videotapes on how to fly a large plane, a copy of the Koran, and a fuel calculator guide.

It was rented by a man called Mohamed Atta, a 33-year-old United Arab Emirates passport holder, three days ago in Boca Raton, Florida. He had given an address in Florida. He was named on the passenger list for United flight 175 from Boston, which was the second plane to hit the World Trade Centre.

Source of claim:


I ask because I always remembered that one of the early reports back at the time was an odd claim about finding a copy of the Koran, and a fuel calculator and a guide to flying a plane. Though when I first heard the story the version was one which claimed that the items had been found in a misdirected item of luggage.

While some might take the newspaper here alone as a credible source I'm asking about this because this appears to barely be mentioned anywhere else.

Googling ["fuel calculator" "Mohamed Atta"] appears to yield only 6 google hits and most are conspiracy sites.

Given how much ink has been spilled about the event it seems odd that this isn't mentioned elsewhere.

1 Answer 1


you are finding few hits in your search because the original sources used the phrase "fuel consumption calculator" and didn't know the name of the person.

See the 9/12/2001 Boston Globe article Boston arm of terrorist group being sought :

Some clues may have been a copy of the Koran, an instructional videotape on flying commercial airliners, and a fuel consumption calculator in a pair of bags that did not make it onto the doomed American Airlines Flight 11 that left Boston at 7:59 a.m. yesterday and crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers an hour later.

The bags belonged to a man with an Arabic name who investigators believe was one of the hijackers. He got on Flight 11 after flying into Logan from Portland, Maine, but his bags missed the connection.

So rather than in a car, these were items in luggage that didn't get onto the plane.

There is a much more detailed explanation in Unraveling 9-11 was in the bags:

Atta and Alomari's luggage turned out to contain a number of telling items, including correspondence from the university Atta attended in Egypt; Alomari's international driver's license and passport; a videocassette for a Boeing 757 flight simulator; and [a] folding knife and pepper spray, presumably extra weapons the conspirators decided they didn't need.

And according to the 9/13/2001 Harvard Crimson article FBI Raids Boston

Federal authorities also seized a white Mitsubishi in the garage at Logan Airport that had been rented at an Alamo office just off the airport, said Cheryl Budd, senior vice president for corporate communications for Alamo’s parent company.

Federal investigators confirmed the car contained Arabic-language flight training manuals, and The Boston Globe reported that authorities also found two bags belonging to one of the suspect’s—containing an instructional video on flying commercial airliners, a fuel consumption calculator and a copy of the Koran—that did not make a connecting flight.

So the version in the OP is blurring together two separate findings:

  1. two bags ... containing an instructional video on flying commercial airliners, a fuel consumption calculator and a copy of the Koran—that did not make a connecting flight, and

  2. Arabic-language flight training manuals found in a rental vehicle

The statement in the OP "It was rented by a man called Mohamed Atta" is incorrect. It was:

Mitsubishi Mirage (white) rented by Wail Al Shehri using Debit Credit Card 401 1 8060 7082 6374 (Wail & Waleed Al Shehri's account) License: YGU - 4417 (VA) VIN: JA3AY2CX1U050049,

according to this source and this source. Atta rented a different Mitsubishi in July, but the car involve in the squabble was rented by Wail Al Shehri.

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