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Report: Hijackers gave US banks fake data

WASHINGTON, July 10 (UPI) -- The Sept. 11 hijackers opened 35 bank accounts in the United States using fake Social Security numbers, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

The banks did not verify the authenticity of any of the numbers, the Times quoted Dennis Lormel, head of the FBI unit that is investigating how the Sept. 11 plot was financed, as saying.

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Using these accounts, the hijackers moved hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Middle East to the United States more than a year before the attacks on New York and Washington.

Lormel said banks now paid more attention to applications.

"That is one of the lessons learned from Sept. 11," he said.

The hijackers relied mainly on 14 accounts in SunTrust Banks, he told the Times. More than $300,000 was moved through the accounts, which were opened in Florida under the names of many of the hijackers.

The Times said, however, the hijackers had access to at least $500,000.

Lormel said one of the first signs of the large cash flow dated to 2000. He said records showed that $100,000 was credited to some of the hijackers' accounts, including that of Mohammad Atta.

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The money had been traced to the United Arab Emirates, Lormel said, adding he believed it was sent by Mustafa Ahmed al Hisawi, suspected of being Osama bin Laden's money manager.

Bin Laden's al Qaida network is believed to have masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks.

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