Documents left behind by hijackers yield a "a shocking and disturbing view into the mindsets" of the 19 men who crashed four commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and rural Pennsylvania, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Friday.
Read the full text of the document here.
According to Ashcroft, a five-page document handwritten in Arabic was discovered in the bags of Mohamed Atta, a man suspected of organizing the attacks and being on the airliner that barreled into the World Trade Center.
The attorney general, who said investigators have arrested or detained more than 480 people in connection with the attacks, released the document in the original Arabic. He described it as a series of instructions for conduct before and during the flights.
Ashcroft also said the document made several religious references, which he characterized as "a stark reminder of how these hijackers grossly perverted the Islamic faith to justify their terroristic acts."
A translation of the document offered by The New York Times revealed that it is a sort of mission guide divided into three sections: "The Last Night," "The Second Step," and "The Third Phase." Each section provides advice about what the hijackers should be thinking, doing and praying before the attack, on the way to the airport and while boarding the airplane.
The directives in the document range from practical reminders ("Shave excess hair from the body and wear cologne"; "Check your weapon before you leave and long before you leave") to spiritual advice ("Remember God constantly").
The text starkly address the fear the men might have been feeling, encouraging them to think about the paradise awaiting them after completion of the suicide mission.
According to the translation, the document says "Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty, and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, 'Come hither, friend of God.' They have dressed in their most beautiful clothing."
"Do not seem confused or show signs of nervous tension," reads the translated text. "Be happy, optimistic calm because you are heading for a deed that God loves and will accept [as a good deed]."
The manual says that the follower should pray as he sets foot on the plane and again as he sits down, remembering "that this is a battle for the sake of God."
And for the moments just before impact, the document contains this message: "When the hour of reality approaches, the zero hour ... wholeheartedly welcome death for the sake of God. Always be remembering God. Either end your life while praying, seconds before the target, or make your last words: 'There is no God but God, Muhammad is His messenger.'"
The first four pages of both documents are handwritten on large paper and relate some basic Islamic history about the prophet taking on infidels, according to the Times. They also contain supplications such as, "Oh Lord, take your anger out on them [the enemy] and we ask You to protect us from their evils."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.