German Friend of Mohamed Atta -- CIA Agent?
Terror alert in South Pacific
Nov 14, 2006
A low level terror alert is in force in the South Pacific.
The FBI is on the trail of a man with alleged links to one of the September 11 masterminds after he tried to set up a pilot training school on a remote island, bordering US territory. That is despite the island having no airport or telephones.
The isolated Kiribati islands are grappling with being catapulted into the world of terrorism.
"It's absolutely gut wrenching frightening," says Fanning Island resident Chuck Corbett.
The man causing the alarm is Wolfgang Bohringer, who sailed into Kiribati's Fanning Island a year ago.
On board, along with his Slovenian girlfriend, was a proposal to set up a resort and flight school on the island.
Kiribati President Anote Tong says there are serious communication problems on the island and Bohringer was going to help out.
"We have an old airfield that needs redoing and part of the proposal is he would do it, he would provide air services," Tong says.
But for local residents like Corbett, who spent months with Bohringer, things did not add up.
"One particular night he laid out seven passports on the table. I recall one being from Ireland, from the Bahamas, one from Grenada, India, the US, Germany and one other one," Corbett says.
Then there was the cash and lots of it.
"I would offer to go shopping for him," says Corbett. "He would always give me a $100 bill. Once it was seven $100 bills and they were always crisp and neat."
But the alarm bells really started ringing when Bohringer told islanders he was in contact with Mohammed Atta, the architect of September 11.
The pair mixed frequently as Bohringer had owned a flight school beside the airfield where the 9/11 hijackers trained.
That information led Kiribati authorities to investigate.
"The check was carried out and we received information there was maybe a little more to the proposal than appeared to be," says Tong.
The FBI thought so too. When Bohringer realised officials were on to him he sailed off, leaving his girlfriend behind.
The joint terrorism task force has now joined the FBI investigation into Bohringer.
One agent ONE News spoke to confirmed that Bohringer is a person of interest and they are very keen to find out where he is.
They want answers to why Bohringer would set up a flight school using DC3s on an island bordering US waters.
The Kiribati government is now calling for the US, New Zealand and Australia to help them with security.
"I'm sure it may be part of a grand plan that even we cannot imagine. But we would never contribute to a programme that would... have the intent of violence," says Tong.
For now, the FBI is continuing its search for the mysterious Wolfgang Bohringer and his cash laden yacht.
Source: One News -- New Zealand Public-owned Television
Watch ViDEO: Terror alert in South Pacific (2:44)