Waleed M. Alshehri was one of the terrorists who hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston and crashed it into the north tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Immediately following the attacks, it was widely reported he resided for a short time in a rented home in the 500 block of Orrin Street in Vienna.
“The FBI on Friday named Waleed Alshehri as one of the men who hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 … his most recent addresses were listed as Orlando and Daytona Beach, Fla. But he lived briefly in Vienna before then,” said a Sept. 14, 2001, Associated Press report.
“Ahmed Alghamdi — who was aboard United Airlines Flight 175, the other flight out of Boston that was the second to hit the World Trade Center — lived at the same Vienna address, according to the FBI,” according to a Sept. 16, 2001, report in Florida’s Palm Beach Post.
In both of these reports, it is mentioned Diane Albritton, a neighbor who lived across the street from where both terrorists allegedly resided, had contacted the CIA two years earlier about “suspicious” activity she witnessed there. Nothing was done about it.
“Diane Allbritton is my mother,” said Mark Gilleo, 43, an author and Seven Corners resident who this week released a book based on the strange events surrounding his mother and the Vienna neighborhood in which he grew up.
Although the book, “Love Thy Neighbor,” is a work of fiction, it has a very real back story.
The book centers around a terrorist cell that is activated while a graduate student is home helping his mother after the loss of his father.
“I graduated from Madison High School and went to [George Mason University],” Gilleo said. “I went to Japan for a few years to teach English and that’s where I was when my mother made the call to the CIA in 1999.”
According to Gilleo, his mother reported seeing “strange men of seemingly of Middle-Eastern descent using their cell phones in the yard; bringing briefcases in and out of the home; having meetings in the middle of the night; and a constant flow of young Middle-Eastern men who stayed for long periods of time at the home without introducing themselves to anyone in the neighborhood.”
According to Gilleo, after the 9/11 attacks the FBI interviewed his mother and she told them of her call to the CIA years earlier.
“The CIA claimed to have no record of the call,” Gilleo said.
Emails seeking comment from the CIA were not returned.
According to FBI spokeswoman Lindsay Godwin, the FBI did investigate the suspected terrorist home in Vienna.
“We investigated that address,” she said. “But our information shows no conclusive proof that any 9/11 hijackers lived there at any point.”
But Gilleo is sticking to his story.
“You can still find legitimate media reports online that list that address for two of the 9/11 terrorists,” he said.
Having grown up across the street from the suspected home, Gilleo said he knew the children of the rental home’s owner, one of whom invited him into the home in 2003.
“The basement of the house was sectioned off into many small separate rooms and there were multiple mini-kitchens,” he said. “It certainly gave me lots of ideas for my book.”
In the book, fictional graduate student Clark Hayden discovers the terrorist cell and learns about their plans, encountering secret government operations, plots involving deadly chemicals and the mysterious disappearance of innocent neighbors.
“Love Thy Neighbor” was a semi-finalist in the William Faulkner-Wisdom creative writing competition, and has a lot of local flavor. The book was released on March 27 and is published by The Story Plant in Stamford, Conn. It is available online through major book retailers.
“I want to remind people that this is a work of fiction,” Gilleo said. “But it was inspired by very real events.”