Key witness: 'I had to prove myself' after Sept. 11

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An intense exchange just moments ago as Tony Rezko lawyer Joseph Duffy asks major witness Ali Ata (above, right) about Sept. 11, 2001.

After the terrorist attacks, FBI agents visited Ata at his then employer, Nalco Company, and interviewed him. Ata's last name was similar to the most notorious of the Sept. 11 high-jackers, Mohamed Atta.

"And you had nothing to do with that," Duffy asked.
Ata's face changed. “Come on, Mr. Duffy, let’s not go there,” Ata said, looking down.
Duffy said he wasn't going there and quickly got to his point -- that Nalco, a water and chemical treatment plant, gave him a retirement package right after the attacks.
Ata left his job, which he said was devastating to himself and his family, Ata said.
Ata, who had a net worth of $12 million in2004, wanted a state position to help rebuild himself.
"I felt I needed to maybe prove myself again through a position,” Ata said.

"You didn’t need your state job to pay the bills?" Duffy had asked Ata earlier. "I did not."
"Your state job had nothing to do with money, did it sir?" Duffy asked
Ata: "No it did not."
Duffy tried to portray Ata as having a sense of pride to be the highest-ranking Muslim in the Blagojevich administration when he acted as the Executive Director of the Illinois Finance Authority from 2004-2005.
"One of the ways to get redemption was through a state position, is that fair? " Duffy asked.
"That’s fair," Ata said.
"On a personal level sir, it was a goal of yours, you wanted to have the highest position in the Blago administration in the Muslim community?" Duffy asked.
“I said that the position at that time was the highest position,” Ata said.
"This was the reason you were working so hard to get a state position, wasn’t it?" Duffy asked.
"That was one of the reasons," Ata said.

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Natasha Korecki

Natasha Korecki is the Federal Courts Reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, covering federal news, corruption investigations and trials.

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This page contains a single entry by Natasha Korecki published on May 2, 2008 9:52 AM.

Rezko trial: 'He was being watched' was the previous entry in this blog.

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