Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jose Melendez-Perez: What's the Story?

I just read this story and I'm wondering why I hadn't read about this guy before...

"Joint Terrorism Task Force Agent Jose Melendez-Perez, an American hero who arguably prevented an attack on the nation’s capitol on September 11, 2001, sits in political purgatory.

Melendez-Perez was an immigration inspector conducting secondary screenings at Orlando International Airport when Jose prevented the would-be 20th hijacker, Mohamed al-Kahtani, from gaining admittance to the United States. And because he rejected Kahtani, United Airlines Flight 93 was short-handed on 9/11—a fact several members of the 9/11 Commission say helped ensure that the flight did not reach its intended target—the capitol dome.

As he boarded his return flight to London, Kahtani turned around, caught Jose’s eye, and said, “I’ll be back.” Jose remembered that moment when the planes struck the Twin Towers on the morning of September 11.

Kahtani was later apprehended after fighting alongside the jihadists surrounding Osama bin Laden at the battle at Tora Bora. He was shipped to Guantanamo Bay. The 9/11 Commission determined that while Melendez-Perez was interrogating Kahtani, Mohammed Atta was waiting to pick up the young Saudi. And because the immigration inspector rejected Kahtani, United Airlines Flight 93 was short-handed on 9/11. It was the only aircraft hijacked by four terrorists, not five..." (source)

It seems that Melendez-Perez took his company car home a day that he was having car trouble. During that night the car was broken into and his possessions were stolen. Among those possessions was his firearm. He has been removed from his position for the Administrative (not criminal) investigation as to why he had a company car (not even the firearm being stolen!)

So the article asks the next logical question:

"Is there more to the story? Some kind of bureaucratic payback, perhaps?

This is quite a burden for a man who has 44 years of service to the federal government—26.5 of them in the military. He also has a son currently stationed in Afghanistan. Jose is 64 years old and will turn 65 in January.

And it’s not the way to treat a hero—one who has an anti-terrorism award named after him..."

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