Posted at 8:18 a.m. EDT Sunday, September 16, 2001
Duffel bag had plane manuals
BY CHARLES SAVAGE
One day after two
Arab men checked out of a Deerfield Beach motel last week, owner
Richard Surma found a duffel bag in the Dumpster.
Inside: Boeing 757
manuals, FAA flight path maps for the East Coast, a flight map
protractor, three Ju-Jitsu martial arts books, an English-German
dictionary and a three-ring binder full of handwritten notes.
Surma, owner of
the Panther Motel, kept what he wanted and threw out what seemed
useless, including the notes out of the binder. The garbage men carted
A day later, hijacked jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside.
One of the two men
who stayed in the room was Marwan Al-Shehhi, now identified as one of
the terrorist pilots who crashed into the World Trade Center.
Surma and his
wife, Diane, had already cleaned the room, puzzling over a box cutter
they found in a dresser of Room 12, where the Arab men had stayed
between Aug. 26 and Sept. 9. Then, on Tuesday, their
television filled with pictures of the terrorist attack. His wife
remembered the duffel bag. Early Wednesday morning, she flagged down a
sheriff's deputy to show him the items.
``His jaw dropped,'' Richard Surma said.
Within hours, the
FBI had descended on the small A1A hotel at 715 S. Ocean Drive, dusting
the room for fingerprints and interviewing guests. They stayed for two
days, carting away what the Surmas had not thrown out as well as bed
covers from the room.
The two men were
in their 20s and were quiet and polite, the Surmas said. Only
Al-Shehhi, who filled out the registration card, gave his name.
Al-Shehhi said the
other man was either his cousin or brother. They drove a blue
Chevrolet, gave a Hollywood post office box as their permanent address,
and paid the $250 a week rent in cash up front.
At one point
during their stay, Al-Shehhi ``was right there talking to me in the
laundry room,'' Diana Surma said. ``I could have kicked him in the
[butt], locked the door and called the FBI if I had known who he was.''
Herald staff writer Larry Lebowitz contributed to this report.