The Secret Life of Mahmud the Red

How an immigrant cabdriver from Egypt became an alleged ringleader of the gang that planted the powerful bomb at the World Trade Center

It was 4 o'clock on a cold, neon-lit morning in New Jersey last Feb. 26 when a yellow Ryder rental van pulled into a Jersey City service station. A blue Honda sedan was right behind it. The attendants were more alert than usual at that hour because the station had recently been robbed. But these customers wanted only gas. The Honda's driver, a tall, red-haired, freckled man, paid for both vehicles with a $50 bill. A curious attendant tried to peer into the van. The driver, a younger, wiry man with a full beard, suddenly hopped out and planted himself in...

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