The story of the “magic” passeports found on 9/11 is so unbelievable that an unidentified former high-level intelligence official claimed that “[w]hatever trail was left was left deliberately – for the FBI to chase.” (New Yorker, 8 October 2001). Nevertheless, a recent French documentary about the story of the FBI from its beginning to the 2000s gave us some interesting details about how one of these “magic” passeports was found, the one of Satam Al Suqami, (the passport had sometimes be mistakenly referred to as belonging to Atta, not Al Suqami), found a few blocks from the World Trade Center. Interviewed during this documentary, FBI agent Dan Coleman explains that the passeport was not found by any agent on the WTC site, but, incredibly, that it had been given to a detective by a mysterious man who “ran off” after it.having handed the passeport.
Here is the transcript of the interview : …first day we had the passport of Satam al-Suqami. That was given to a New York City detective from the fifth precinct that was down there, trying to talk to people as they were coming out to the buildings. And it was handed him [but] by the time he looked up again, the guy who had handed it to him [had] run off, you know, which made sense. And that passport was given to a detective on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. So, by that evening we had it, the detective Marty Mann, from a detective of fifth precinct had given it to him and it was bagged up, and you know. But it was also — we realized by then, because we’d gotten some communication back with headquarters that this was the passport of one of the people that headquarters had identified as one of the 19 probable hijackers. We couldn’t have done any of that, because basically, the 212 telephone exchange, the building that housed the exchange was on fire and was… didn’t work anymore.