The suspected ringleader of last week’s terrorist assault came close to missing his American Airlines flight out of Boston and showed up at the gate perspiring, says an American Airlines employee at Logan International Airport.

The gate agent who checked in Mohamed Atta and gave him his boarding pass told the FBI that she remembers him showing up for Flight 11 late, his face covered with sweat, the source says.

“The girl that checked Atta said he was sweating bullets, that he was running late,” the employee said. “His forehead was drenched.”

Sometime after 6 a.m. on Sept. 11, Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari, both believed to be trained pilots, boarded a US Airways flight at the Portland International Jetport in Maine and then made the American Flight 11 connection in Boston.

But the US Airways flight was delayed. And when it arrived at Logan, Atta had to make a long jog from the US Airways terminal, which is at the opposite end of the American terminal, to the American ticket counter, where he apparently checked a bag. (He reportedly had purchased his ticket online.) Security video at Portland’s Jetport shows Atta carrying a bag on his shoulder. Alomari is not shown with a bag.

At the baggage check-in, the source says, Atta ran into another snag.

“The ticket agent said that when she went to do the security questions on him – you know, ‘Have you left your bags unattended at any time’ – he claimed he didn’t understand because he didn’t speak English,” the American employee said. “So she called the supervisor to help.

“But of course, he couldn’t interpret because we have no one who speaks Arabic on site – I mean, who does?” she continued. “So the supervisor said to send him down [to the gate], because it was getting close to departure.”

Atta, 33, then rushed to the security checkpoint and down the concourse – about a five-minute jog – to the gate, where he showed up perspiring, the source says. He showed up alone, the four other terrorists having checked in earlier.

Flight 11 left the gate at 7:45 a.m. It hit the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:48 a.m.

Curiously, the three other Arab hijackers aboard Flight 11 drove to Logan, while Atta and Alomari reportedly arrived in Boston the previous Sunday, drove back to Portland and then flew again to Boston.

The moves baffle authorities, not only because they almost caused at least Atta – the suspected leader – to miss his flight, but because they exposed Alomari and him to additional airport security checks.

They also cast doubt on the widely held belief that the assault was flawlessly planned and coordinated.

“The nitwit,” said the American employee of Atta. “You know, they’d been planning it for five years, and he’s running late for the flight.”

She says the gate agent who checked in Atta has been so distraught that she requested to be the agent that worked the gate on Saturday when American resumed flights out of Logan.

“She wanted to get right back into it because she didn’t sleep for the whole week, you know, because she checked them all in and then waved goodbye to the captain,” the employee said. “I mean, that can do a number on you.”

In another development, the employee confirmed reports that the terrorists on Flight 11 sprayed passengers with mace or pepper spray. She says one of the terrorists seated in the last row of the business class section pulled back the curtain and sprayed the noxious gas in the direction of passengers in coach, apparently to disable them and discourage them from trying to stop the hijacking.

She says two of the hijackers sat in first class – seats 1G and 1H – and three sat in business class. Atta sat in seat 8D.

An American spokeswoman in Dallas would not comment on the developments, stressing that all American employees have been ordered not to talk to the press.

Read WorldNetDaily’s extensive coverage of the terrorist attacks on America.

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