Police Discount Teen Pilot's Claims Al-Qaida Tried to Recruit Him, Planned to Bomb Super Bowl


by Vickie Chachere, Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - The 15-year-old boy who crashed a stolen plane into a skyscraper left a note saying that al-Qaida terrorists had tried to recruit him. But police said Wednesday there was no truth to the claim.

Charles Bishop was killed when the single-engine Cessna slammed into the 28th floor of the Bank of America Plaza on Jan. 5. His family has disputed authorities' belief that his note was a suicide note and said the boy had never shown signs of depression or other emotional troubles.

In a police report issued Wednesday, investigators concluded that the crash "appears to have been an intentional act" on the boy's part.

The police report drew no conclusions about what might have motivated Bishop, but said investigators found no evidence to support the claims he made in his two-page, handwritten note, found in his flight bag. They said the crash was suicide, not an act of terrorism.

"Every aspect was exhaustively investigated to ensure there were no other persons involved or it was anything more than what it is, which is a suicide," police spokesman Joe Durkin said.

The boy's mother, Julia Bishop, issued a statement saying: "Charles Bishop's family is unbearably saddened by his obvious loss of touch with reality." She asked the media to allow the family to "grieve in peace and privacy."

In the note released Wednesday, the boy wrote: "I have prepared this statement in regards to the terrorist acts I am about to commit." A line was drawn through the word "terrorists," as if to scratch it out.

"This is an operation done by me only. I had no other help, although, I am acting on their behalf."

Bishop wrote that Osama bin Laden was "absolutely justified in the terror he has caused on 9-11. He has brought a mighty nation to its knees. God blesses him and the others who helped make September 11th happen."

"Al-Qaida and other organizations have met with me several times to discuss the option of me joining. I didn't," Bishop wrote.

He said the United States would have to face the consequences for actions against the Palestinian people and Iraq.

"You will pay - God help you - and I will make you pay," the note read.

Bishop ended the note with a warning that bin Laden planned to blow up the Super Bowl with a nuclear bomb he said was left over from the 1967 Mideast war.

That scenario resembles the plot of the 1991 Tom Clancy novel "The Sum of All Fears," and Bishop's mother said following the crash that he read "all the Tom Clancy books."

The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Bishop's death a suicide based on the information it received from law enforcement.

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