General John Ashcroft
FBI Director Robert Mueller
Department of Justice
September 14, 2001
2:43 P.M. EDT
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: The director of the FBI and I just returned from a memorial
service at the National Cathedral and wanted to take this time to give you a
report in regard to these matters.
Today the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a list of 19 individuals
who have been identified as hijackers aboard the four airliners that crashed
on Tuesday. The FBI requests that anyone who may have information about these
individuals, even though these individuals are presumed to be dead -- anyone
with information about these individuals immediately contact an FBI field office
or call the toll-free hotline. The toll-free hotline, as you know, is 1-866-483-
5137 -- 1-866-483-5137.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also forwarded a list of more than
100 names to numerous law enforcement organizations. These are the names of
individuals the FBI would like to talk to because we believe they may have
information that could be helpful to the investigation. The organizations
that we have submitted these names to include the Federal Aviation Administration,
the airlines, FBI field offices, about 18,000 police departments across America,
the U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Customs Service. Now, the nature of this
list is that it would be changing constantly as people are either removed
from it or added to it.
But we believe that the individuals on the list may have information that
could be helpful to us in our efforts.
I want to take this moment to extend our appreciation to state and local
law enforcement organizations that have cooperated with this investigation,
have acted responsibly, and have been very helpful to us. Their dedication
and swift action has been essential to the progress of the investigation.
I'm pleased now to call upon the director to give you some more information.
MR. MUELLER: Before we answer questions, I thought I would fill you in on
the extent of the investigation to date.
As of today, we have 4,000 special -- FBI special agents who are working
on the case in various offices around the country and on various aspects of
the investigation, and we have 3,000 support employees also on the investigation.
Twenty FBI legat offices are running down leads overseas, and all 56 FBI offices
around the country are engaged in the investigation. We have conference calls
several times a day to make certain that everything is being coordinated appropriately.
To date, we have had more than 36,000 total leads. Of those, over 30,000
have come in off the Internet, 3,800 have been received on the FBI hot line,
and another 2,400 have been generated through the various field offices.
As you well know and have picked up, we've conducted hundreds of interviews
around the country. We've served over 30 search warrants in various places.
Hundreds of subpoenas have been issued, and we have, in the course of seizing
some of those search -- those -- executing some of those search warrants,
we have seized computers, other documentary information that are following
One other point I'd make before we respond to questions, and that is that
we have dispatched to -- sent to the various major airports FBI agents, teams
of FBI agents, to assist in quickly resolving any incidents that may come
up when passengers are -- a passenger or passengers are attempting to board
an aircraft or obtain a ticket and there's some question raised, so we can
minimize the inconvenience to the person who may well be stopped and also
swiftly resolve the issue.
And with that, I believe we're happy to take whatever questions you might
QUESTION: Director, have you obtained -- have you obtained under seal or otherwise
any fugitive-from-justice warrants, in other words, leveled any kind of charges
against anyone in this investigation?
MR. MUELLER: Well, if it were under seal, I probably couldn't tell you. But
I can say that there have been no FBI arrests at this time. Any detentions
that have occurred have been pursuant to immigration holds where an individual's
been out of status.
QUESTION: Director, the list of hijackers, have they been connected to organizations
connected to bin Laden?
MR. MUELLER: I can't get into the details of that.
QUESTION: Director --
QUESTION: Director, did it astonish you that --
MR. MUELLER: Sorry. We'll take one and then two. Yes, sorry.
QUESTION: Did it just astonish you that they trained -- all their training came from
the U.S., there were so many of them trained as pilots and that they lived
in the open, they weren't hiding their identities? Does any of that astonish
you or shock you?
MR. MUELLER: Well, the tragedies quite clearly astonish and shock me and
the country. The fact that there were a number of individuals that happened
to have received training at flight schools here is news, quite obviously.
If we had understood that to be the case, we would have -- perhaps one could
have averted this. But beyond that, I and I think everybody else is just astonished
at the extent of the tragedy as a result of what happened last Tuesday.
QUESTION: Director, there were two people removed from a flight last night, I guess
it was New York. And those two people's names appeared on a (watch list ?)
How did they get on -- how were they able to board if their names were on
MR. MUELLER: All I can tell you that that was pursuant to a watch list other
than those names were pursuant -- were on the watch list for reasons not related
to this investigation.
QUESTION: Mr. Mueller, on the list of the hijackers, two quick questions. One is
there are several shared last names. Were many of them related to one another?
And the second question is, Del Ray Beach and Hollywood, Florida, seem to
be very common residences. Do you know whether those were like bases of operation
for these men?
MR. MUELLER: I can't -- we are still -- while we have the names for the manifest
and are still pursuing investigations of those names to try to document and
absolutely be certain that the person that went down with the plane fits with
the name on the manifest, the further association of the names we're still
QUESTION: Director, what can you tell us about --
QUESTION: And the Del Ray Beach --
MR. MUELLER: All I can say, that there are a number of places in the country,
without specifying any particular place,
where we have conducted a number of interviews and several search warrants
-- executed several search warrants.
QUESTION: What can you tell us about a D.C. Police all-points bulletin being put
out about a silver or gray minivan that may be
carrying a chemical weapon?
MR. MUELLER: I can't tell you anything about that.
QUESTION: What have you learned from the cockpit voice recorder and from the flight
data recorders of the two planes?
MR. MUELLER: They're currently over at the NTSB, and I think the question
should be directed to the NTSB on those at this instant.
QUESTION: But they referred us to you.
MR. MUELLER: As of this moment, we have not learned or received anything
off those recorders. Well, actually, I should say, we have not received anything
off the voice data recorder. There is a -- that recorder, which is other than
the voice data recorder at the Pentagon that we picked up, and we did receive
information off that.
QUESTION: What did that tell you about that flight, about its path?
MR. MUELLER: I can't get into that now, sir.
QUESTION: (Off mike) -- but what confidence do you have the names on the list are
actually the people who were on the plane, as opposed to aliases or stolen
identities? Do you have a level of confidence there yet?
MR. MUELLER: There -- I think we have a fairly high level of confidence,
but, as you -- when we spoke to you yesterday we had 18 individuals who we
believed were the hijackers. We now have a 19th that our investigation has
disclosed was probably one of the hijackers on that plane that left Dulles.
And consequently, continuous investigation updates our confidence, or level
of confidence, degree of confidence, in assuring that the person who actually
was on the plane is associated with the name.
QUESTION: Have you identified any suspects or individuals who you believe still are
at large who may have been the leaders or masterminds of this conspiracy?
MR. MUELLER: I'm sorry, what --
QUESTION: Have you identified any suspects who are -- you believe are still at large
in the United States, who were the masterminds or leaders of this conspiracy?
MR. MUELLER: I cannot get into the details of the investigation. Suffice
it to say, if we believe that there is somebody in the United States who is
associated with this conspiracy and we had evidence upon which to base a charge,
we would have and would level that charge.
QUESTION: Robert, can you say anything about the immigration status of the 19? Are
any of them out of legal status?
MR. MUELLER: I think we -- I believe we tried to provide some of those visa
details on the listing that we provided to you.
I can say that some of them were out of status, yes. I'm not certain how
many or which names -- or which individuals whose names appeared on the manifest
and we believe to be a hijacker, was out of status.
QUESTION: It's common for the FBI to name a case agent on a big case. Have you guys
done that on this one?
MR. MUELLER: The investigation is being run by Tom Pickard out of headquarters
here, with Dale Watson and numerous other, I would say, "senior"
FBI agents assisting in various capacities.
QUESTION: And the name of the investigation, sir? Has the investigation been given
a name, and what is it?
MR. MUELLER: PENTBOMB --
QUESTION: I'm sorry --
MR. MUELLER: PENTBOMB -- P-E-N-T-B-O-M-B.
QUESTION: Can you address the issue of intelligence failure? You didn't know anything
about any of these guys, we still don't know a lot about them. What --
ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: That was the last question. Thank you.