A Terrorist Amongst Us: 9/11 Ringleader Mohamed Atta was a Coral Springs Resident


By: Howard Melamed

At 8:50 am on September 11, 2001, I was at home.  Being late as usual in getting out of the house, I was listening to the Howard Stern show on the radio when he announced that the a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.  I immediately turned on the television and glued my eyes to the screen.  The shape of the hole in the building was unmistakably caused by an airplane, and being a structural engineer I knew what that meant. The odds of a plane that large hitting the building by accident was impossible to calculate.  Then while watching further, after 9 am I witnessed the 2nd plane hitting the other tower.

We were under attack.

Mohamed Atta Drivers License

Mohamed Atta Drivers License

All of our lives changed on 9/11. Incredibly, the guy that masterminded all of the murders turned out to be living in South Florida. 6 blocks from my house in Tara Gardens at 10001 Atlantic Boulevard. I know the address well. I was the builder for Tara II, 10101 Atlantic Boulevard, the development right beside it.

Our city was terrorized knowing that he had lived amongst us. No one suspected. No one would even think that anyone would be capable of such destruction.  From right under our noses, the unthinkable became a reality.

On April 11, 2001 Egyptian hijacker and Islamic terrorist Mohamed Atta rented unit # 122  a lower floor condo-apartment  at Tara Gardens for $840 per month from Simon Cayouette, the manager.   The specific owner of the condominium was Jean-Luc Sambault of Mercier Quebec, Canada.

One of the other terrorists, Malwan Al Shahahhi, was staying with Atta and was seen often in the laundry room of the condo washing his clothes.

Front entrance to Tara Gardens. Atta's room was in the front on the right side of the building

Front entrance to Tara Gardens. Atta’s room was in the front on the right side of the building

Tara Gardens, a 38-unit condominium rental complex, was and still is commonly used as a temporary home for Coral Springs residents.  Many residents at that time used it while their new home was under construction and late as usual.  Tara Gardens was (and could still be)  the only place in Coral Springs that allowed you to rent by the week or month.  Cash counts.  No questions asked.  The perfect place in a sleepy bedroom community like ours.  The perfect place for a terrorist to blend in. Everyone renting was in transit.

Atta was a chain smoker.  He was often seen by the tenants smoking in the parking lot. I might have seen him there as well. I would often tell one particular tenant to move their car off of the Tara II parking area near the swimming pool.  Maybe it was him. Maybe I towed his car, a Malibu.

Some time in April, Atta was stopped by a Broward County Sheriff deputy  and given a ticket for operating without a valid license. He was supposed to show up in court on April 26. He didn’t.  On May 1, a criminal citation was issued for his failure to appear.

Despite the recorded criminal offense, on May 2, Atta went to the Lauderdale Lakes office of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Vehicles on Oakland Park boulevard. He was able to get a Florida Drivers License.  Quite interestingly, he could not have had the proper documentation to receive a Florida License, since he did not  possess a green card. Only his student visa existed.  It was renewed by INS on March 2002.  Our FDHSV gave him a license anyway. Who else has our state government given drivers licenses to? Who is minding the store?

The timeline indicates that he moved into his apartment in Coral Springs sometime in mid-June.  From June to September, while he crossed the country and the ocean planning out the attack, he spent some time in the apartment.  We might have even showed him our ‘Coral Springs Hospitality’ as he was here on July 4th, no doubt hearing and seeing our fireworks display.

Other Coral Springs residents  claim to have seen him exercising at L.A. Fitness.  He made friends with his neighbors who described him to reporters afterwards as being ‘a nice guy’.

Carmen Paddila lived on the 2nd floor directly above him. She said  a few weeks before 9/11  she attended a party with Atta at Lakeview Village, an apartment complex adjacent to Tara Gardens. On September 7, Atta went to Hollywood and had drinks with the other hijackers at Schukum’s Bar.  He returned to sleep in Coral Springs.

On September 8th, he woke up and headed out to Fort Lauderdale Airport and flew to Maryland to meet the other hijackers.  As he drove down Atlantic Boulevard in either direction,  I wonder if he was smiling at the fact that no one noticed him. He left our city untouched.

He had bigger plans.

On September 11 2001, at the Worlds Trade Center in New York and more than 1,067 miles from Coral Springs, he murdered 3,000 people. Atta was one of the ringleaders of the September 11 attacks and served as the hijacker-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, crashing the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Since then, our City officials have never really talked about the fact that Atta lived here.  Our police did not set up special forces  to deal with terrorism.   In fact, nothing any different has been done since Atta lived here.  I am sure you can still get a drivers license pretty quickly, even if you have a record against you.

No one in Coral Springs talks about Atta living here.  They are all living in a world of denial. The magnitude of 9/11 cannot be understood by us.

There is no plaque on the apartment at Tara Gardens, and no flowers to remember the victims of 9/11 there.  Our memorials are carefully planned by the city and staged in a way that government likes to do things. Full of speeches. ‘Lest we forget’ they will say.

The case against Atta for not appearing in Broward County court is still “OPEN” as of this day. Why has Broward County Courts not closed this file? Are they expecting him to suddenly appear at the court house and pay the fine? Perhaps they decided that they can still collect the fine by serving him in Hell.

Can someone just close this case, get it off the records?  I am quite sure that every once in a while, some bureaucrat is sitting in their office reviewing it. “Hmmm….Mohamed Atta.  Where have I heard that name before?” No sense closing this file. Maybe we’ll catch him when a police officer pulls him over for a speeding ticket’. Bureaucracy at its best I suppose.   Our judicial system let him get away.  If only we were that smart. The  terrorists certainly are.

About Howard Melamed

avatar Howard Melamed is a long-time resident of Coral Springs. He is a civil engineer and CEO of CellAntenna Corporation which has been located in Coral Springs since 1992. He serves on the City of Coral Springs Economic Development Advisory Committee and is the editor of Coralsprings.com.


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  • Matt McLaughlin

    The Crusades killed Muslims? The Crusades killed everybody especially at their arrival into Jerusalem. The torture of heretics and forced conversion in the Inquisition? The Inquisition had more to do with Conversos (Secret Jews) and New Christians who were targeted because of their close relationship to the Jewish community, many of whom were Jews in all but their name. Outright non-Christians were hardly the issue. (Incidentally, James A. Michener in his book, ” Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections” states that what was happening in Germany at the time of the Spanish Inquisition was much worse.)
    As for the discontent found with the Arabs today, religion aside, can it be due to events all within the last 100 years? Lawrence of Arabia and the Arabs harassed the Turks in Arabia. By 1918, the Arabs had cut off Medina, and were able to play a major part in General Allenby’s final campaigns in Palestine (ending 730+ years of Muslim rule over Jerusalem) and in Syria, taking Damascus themselves. Lawrence resigned at the end of the campaign, in rightful indignation over the mistreatment of the Arabs by the British. Lawrence stated, “…not being a perfect fool, I could see that if we won the war, the promises to the Arabs were dead paper. Had I been an honorable Adviser, I would have sent my men home and not let them risk their lives for such stuff. Yet the Arab inspiration was our main tool in winning the Eastern war. So I assured them that England kept her word in letter and spirit… but, of course… I was continually bitter and ashamed”. Religion?
    Zoom ahead to WWII and after, where the denial of Arab self-determination continued. Hitler and the Axis Powers, as well as Stalin and the Allies rejected attempts for Arab determination. That’s not forgotten and is a motivator for discont with the west, today. The Zionist nation established in May 1948 represents a Western buttress in Southwest Asia that was aided in creation by Joseph Stalin, a killer of at least 2 million Muslims. Confusingly for many world-wide, the Atlantic Charter ignored the lack of application of those same Atlantic ideals to the Palestinian (and Irish) issues.
    I don’t expect Arab determination to be denied this century. Soon is the 100th anniversary the Balfour Declaration.The Declaration was not debated in either of the Houses of British Parliament and was never approved by the British legislature.

  • Abunchofbullshit

    “I don’t expect Arab determination to be denied this century”; we better tie our heads on then!!

  • jhkilroy

    ummmmm , according to michael moore it was all an ‘ inside job ‘ ….. according to rosie odonell steel doesnt burn either….. ‘ inside job ‘ ….. what do these two aholes have in common ? thats right they are democrats.

    • Just My Opinion

      No, they are extremist. They don’t share the ideals of the moderate democrat and I don’t care to be considered in the same boat with them. Thank you.