A Brooklyn pol falsely claimed that several of the 9-11 hijackers lived in Bay Ridge before crashing planes into the World Trade Center. State Sen. Martin Golden (R–Bay Ridge) made the bogus statement while defending President Trump’s immigration ban on WNYC on Thursday.
“A number of them that drove the planes into the — 9-11 — into the building at World Trade Center that killed 3,000 Americans — are you ready for this? They were in this community, they lived here in Bay Ridge, they were visiting in this community,” Golden told host Brian Lehrer.
That number is zero, according to official reports, and Golden sounds a lot like a certain White House advisor who invented a terror attack on U.S. soil while also defending the President’s ban, according to a local immigration activist.
“That’s completely a lie. He’s like New York’s Kellyanne Conway, and we don’t need anyone like that,” said native Bay Ridgite Murad Awawdeh, who also heads the Muslim Democratic Club of New York. “For him to make a statement like that — he’s peddling fear.”
A rep from Golden’s office later said the senator had mixed up the deadliest attack on American soil, in which 2,996 people died, with the World Trade Center’s 1993 bombing that killed six.
“He didn’t make it up, he mis-spoke,” said chief of staff John Quaglione. “When he said ‘9-11,’ he was thinking ‘World Trade Center bombing,’ but it didn’t come out. He had his incidents mixed up.”
Only one of the six men convicted in the 1993 bombing, Mahmud Abouhalima, lived in Bay Ridge, according to a New York Times account following bombing.
The Bay Ridge portion of Golden’s district is home to the borough’s largest concentration of Muslims, and Arabs constitute the neighborhood’s second-largest ethnic group, according to census data.
9-11’s tenuous ties to Brooklyn
The 600-page 9/11 Commission Report meticulously traces the 19 hijackers as they crisscrossed the U.S. in the months leading up to the attacks, but it does not mention any living in Brooklyn, let alone Bay Ridge.
A few media accounts that emerged in the days after the tragedy tenuously connecting two hijackers to the borough.
An anonymous Justice Department source told the Associated Press in 2001 that Mohamed Atta, who flew American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, entered the U.S. via New Jersey in 2000, briefly stayed in a Brooklyn hotel before moving to the Bronx and then Florida for flight school.
Pilot Ziad Jarrah, who crashed United Flight 93 into a Pennsylvania field en route to the nation’s capitol, has an even murkier tie to the borough. His name appears on a lease for an unspecified Brooklyn apartment between 1995 and 1996, according to a 2001 Boston Globe article, which says landlords confirmed a photo of Jarrah, but the hijacker’s family said he was living in Beirut.
Jarrah — a native of Lebanon, which is not on the President’s travel ban — first showed signs of radicalization in late 1996 while attending university in Germany, and he trained to fly planes in Florida, according to the 9/11 Commission’s report, which makes no mention of Jarrah ever living in Brooklyn.
Golden’s claim may be bogus, but the cop-turned-legislator is stoking real fear among Bay Ridge’s Muslims, Awawdeh said.
“We don’t need more incitement — especially in Bay Ridge, especially with the ‘Muslim ban’ that was put in place,” he said. “And someone who’s a former law-enforcement agent who’s doing crazy s—, that should unsettle anyone.”