The hijackers in the September 11 attacks were 19 men affiliated with al-Qaeda. 15 of the 19 were citizens of Saudi Arabia, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one from Lebanon, and one from Egypt. The hijackers were organized into four teams, each led by a pilot-trained hijacker with three or four "muscle hijackers," who were trained to help subdue the pilots, passengers, and crew.
The first hijackers to arrive in the United States were Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who settled in San Diego County, California, in January 2000. They were followed by three hijacker-pilots, Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah in mid-2000 to undertake flight training in South Florida. The fourth hijacker-pilot, Hani Hanjour, arrived in San Diego in December 2000. The rest of the "muscle hijackers" arrived in early- and mid-2001.
As for the pilots who would go on to participate in the attacks, three of them were original members of the Hamburg cell (Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah). Following their training at al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, they were chosen by Bin Laden and al-Qaeda's military wing due to their extensive knowledge of western culture and language skills, increasing the mission's operational security and its chances for success. The fourth intended pilot, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a member of the Hamburg cell, was also chosen to participate in the attacks yet was unable to obtain a visa for entry into the United States. He was later replaced by Hani Hanjour, a Saudi national.
Mihdhar and Hazmi were also potential pilot hijackers, but did not do well in their initial pilot lessons in San Diego. Both were kept on as "muscle" hijackers, who would help overpower the passengers and crew and allow the pilot hijackers to take control of the flights. In addition to Mihdhar and Hazmi, thirteen other muscle hijackers were selected in late 2000 or early 2001. All were from Saudi Arabia, with the exception of Fayez Banihammad, who was from the United Arab Emirates.
|Mohamed Atta||33||Egypt||American Airlines Flight 11|
|Abdulaziz al-Omari||22||Saudi Arabia|
|Marwan al-Shehhi||23||UAE||United Airlines Flight 175|
|Mohand al-Shehri||22||Saudi Arabia|
|Hani Hanjour||29||American Airlines Flight 77|
|Ziad Jarrah||26||Lebanon||United Airlines Flight 93|
|Ahmed al-Haznawi||20||Saudi Arabia|
|United Arab Emirates|
Bold letters note the hijackers who piloted the planes.
Two flight attendants called the American Airlines reservation desk during the hijacking. Betty Ong reported that "the five hijackers had come from first-class seats: 2A, 2B, 9A, 9C and 9B." Flight attendant Amy Sweeney called a flight services manager at Logan Airport in Boston and described them as Middle Eastern. She gave the staff the seat numbers and they pulled up the ticket and credit card information of the hijackers, identifying Mohamed Atta.
We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you'll be okay. We are returning to the airport.
Nobody move. Everything will be okay. If you try to make any moves, you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.
Nobody move please. We are going back to the airport. Don't try to make any stupid moves.
A United Airlines mechanic was called by a flight attendant who stated the crew had been murdered and the plane hijacked.
Two hijackers, Hani Hanjour and Majed Moqed were identified by clerks as having bought single, first-class tickets for Flight 77 from Advance Travel Service in Totowa, New Jersey with $1,842.25 in cash. Renee May, a flight attendant on Flight 77, used a cell phone to call her mother in Las Vegas. She said her flight was being hijacked by six individuals who had moved them to the rear of the plane. Unlike the other flights, there was no report of stabbings or bomb threats. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, it is possible that pilots were not stabbed to death and were sent to the rear of the plane. One of the hijackers, most likely Hanjour, announced on the intercom that the flight had been hijacked. Passenger Barbara Olson called her husband, Theodore Olson, the Solicitor General of the United States, stating the flight had been hijacked and the hijackers had knives and box cutters. Two of the passengers had been on the FBI's terrorist-alert list: Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.
Spoken messages (from Ziad Jarrah) intended for passengers were broadcast over the air traffic control system, presumably by mistake:
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain. Please sit down. Keep remaining sitting(sic). We have a bomb on board. So sit.
Uh, this is the captain. Would like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb on board and are going back to the airport and to have our demands met. Please remain quiet.
Before the attacks, FBI agent Robert Wright, Jr. had written vigorous criticisms of FBI's alleged incompetence in investigating terrorists residing within the United States. Wright was part of the Bureau's Chicago counter-terrorism task force and involved in project Vulgar Betrayal, which was linked to Yasin al-Qadi.
According to James Bamford, the NSA had picked up communications of al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi back in 1999, but had been hampered by internal bureaucratic conflicts between itself and the CIA and did not do a full analysis of the information it passed on to the agency. For example, it only passed on the first names, Nawaf and Khalid.
Bamford also claims that the CIA's Alec Station (a unit assigned to bin Laden) knew that al-Mihdhar was planning to come to New York as far back as January 2000. Doug Miller, one of three FBI agents working inside the CIA station, tried to send a message (a CIR) to the FBI to alert them about this, so they could put al-Mihdhar on a watch list. His CIA boss, Tom Wilshire, deputy station chief, allegedly denied permission to Miller. Miller asked his associate Mark Rossini for advice; Rossini pressed Wilshire's deputy but was rebuffed also.
Bamford also claims that al-Mihdhar and Hazmi wound up living with Abdussattar Shaikh for a time to save money. Shaikh was, coincidentally, an FBI informant, but since they never acted suspiciously around him, he never reported them. The CIA Bangkok station told Alec Station that Hazmi had gone to Los Angeles. None of this information made it back to the FBI headquarters.
Within minutes of the attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened the largest FBI investigation in United States history, operation PENTTBOM. The suspects were identified within 72 hours because few made any attempt to disguise their names on flight and credit card records. They were also among the few non-U.S. citizens and nearly the only passengers with Arabic names on their flights, enabling the FBI to identify them using such details as dates of birth, known or possible residences, visa status, and specific identification of the suspected pilots. On September 27, 2001, the FBI released photos of the 19 hijackers, along with information about many of their possible nationalities and aliases. The suspected hijackers were from Saudi Arabia (fifteen hijackers), United Arab Emirates (two hijackers), Lebanon (one hijacker) and Egypt (one hijacker).
The passport of Satam al-Suqami was reportedly recovered "a few blocks from where the World Trade Center's twin towers once stood"; a passerby picked it up and gave it to a NYPD detective shortly before the towers collapsed. The passports of two other hijackers, Ziad Jarrah and Saeed al-Ghamdi, were recovered from the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, and a fourth passport, that of Abdulaziz al-Omari was recovered from luggage that did not make it onto American Airlines Flight 11.
According to the 9/11 Commission Report, 26 al-Qaeda terrorist conspirators sought to enter the United States to carry out a suicide mission. In the end, the FBI reported that there were 19 hijackers in all: five on three of the flights, and four on the fourth. On September 14, three days after the attacks, the FBI announced the names of 19 persons. After a controversy about an earlier remark, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated in May 2009 that the 9/11 Commission found that none of the hijackers entered the United States through Canada.
Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour, attended the Dar al-Hijrah Falls Church, Virginia, Islamic Center where the Imam Anwar al-Awlaki preached, in early April 2001. Through interviews with the FBI, it was discovered that Awlaki had previously met Nawaf al-Hazmi several times while the two lived in San Diego. At the time, Hazmi was living with Khalid al-Mihdhar, another 9/11 hijacker. The hijackers of the same plane often had very strong ties as many of them attended school together or lived together prior to the attacks
Soon after the attacks and before the FBI had released the pictures of all the hijackers, several reports claimed some of the men named as hijackers on 9/11 were alive and had their identities stolen.
Abdussattar Shaikh' (ar عبد الستار شيخ) was an asset of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office from May 14, 1994, to July 2003, who was called "The FBI's Best Chance to Uncover September 11th Before it Happened" by the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.In 2000, two of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, moved in with Shaikh in Lemon Grove, California. However, Shaikh did not provide his FBI contact Steven Butler with any information about the two; Butler claims that the names Nawaf and Khalid were only mentioned in casual conversation as two students who had rented rooms from him, and that once Shaikh had cut a phone call short stating that "Khalid's in the room".
Butler later asked Shaikh for their surnames, but was not given them. He was not told they were pursuing flight training and that the students were non-political and have done nothing to arouse suspicion. The CIA had not provided names to the FBI which could have prevented 9-11.
"They were nice, but not what you call extroverted people" Shaikh told The San Diego Union-Tribune after the attacks. Still, he told reporters he bonded with Alhazmi, helping him open a bank account and place a personal ad on the World Wide Web. "He told me that he wanted to marry a Mexican girl," Shaikh told the Los Angeles Times. "The problem was that he didn't know any Spanish. So I taught him a few Spanish phrases."
The FBI has aroused suspicion of its own for claiming that he was a retired professor of English at San Diego State University (SDSU) and Vice President for International Projects at American Commonwealth University (ACU). However it turned out that SDSU had no records of ever staffing him, and ACU was merely a scam, a diploma mill, started by retired Air Force General William Lyon.Abu Bara al Yemeni
According to the 9-11 Commission Report, Abu Bara al Yemeni was a citizen of Yemen who was slated to participate in al Qaeda's attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.
Abu Bara al Yemeni did not end up participating in the 9-11 attacks because he was not able to get a visa to travel to the United States.
In April 2011, the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks published formerly secret Joint Task Force Guantanamo detainee assessments.
The assessment for Abd al-Rahman Abdu Abu Aghayth Sulayman listed his stay in a Kandahar guesthouse operated by Abu Suhaib al Taize, as a justification for his detention.
The assessment said Abu Suhaib al Taize was an alias for Abu Bara al-Taizi, whose real name was Zuhail Abdo Anam Said al Sharabi.Ahmed Siddiqui (terrorist)
Ahmed Siddiqui is a citizen of Germany who is suspected of ties to terrorism.
Siddiqui was captured in July 2010, and held in the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, where he was reported to have confessed to a role in a plot to plant bombs in European cities. He was reported to have confessed that he was just one of 45 conspirators in the bomb plot. All the plotters were reported to hold European passports.
ABC News reports that Siddiqui had been under surveillance in Germany since 1997.
He attended the al Quds mosque in Hamburg -- the same mosque as Mohammed Atta and other hijackers in the September 11 attacks. He had worked as a cleaner at Hamburg International Airport.
According to ABC German authorities.
closed the mosque, based on information from his confessions.
Der Spiegel reports that Siddiqui traveled to Pakistan's Tribal Agencies in March 2009, with his Indonesia wife, his brother, and another couple.Der Spiegel reports he confessed to membership in the Islamic Movement for Uzbekistan.
A second German suspect, Rami Makanesi, is reported to have confirmed portions of Siddiqui's confession.Pakistan's Daily Times
reports Siddiqui had been living in the Mir Ali area prior to traveling to Afghanistan prior to his capture.Ahmed al-Ghamdi
Ahmed Salah Said al-Ghamdi (Arabic: احمد صلاة سعيد الغامدي, Aḥmad Ṣalāt Sa‘īd al-Ghāmdī, also transliterated as Alghamdi) (July 2, 1979 – September 11, 2001) was one of five hijackers of United Airlines Flight 175 as part of the September 11 attacks.Ghamdi was born in Saudi Arabia in 1979. He dropped out of school to fight in Chechnya and was probably sent to train in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan where he would be chosen by Osama bin Laden to participate in the terrorist attacks in America.
He arrived in the United States in May 2001 on a tourist visa and helped plan out how the attacks would take place. On September 11, 2001, he boarded United Airlines Flight 175 and assisted in the hijacking of the plane so that lead hijacker and trained pilot Marwan al-Shehhi could take over the plane and crash it into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, as part of the coordinated attacks.Ain al-Yaqeen
Ain al Yaqeen (Heart of the Matter in English) is an Arabic news magazine published weekly, focusing on political topics.Fahim Ahmad
Fahim Ahmad (born August 10, 1984) is one of 11 people convicted in the 2006 Toronto terrorism case. He was a ringleader in the group. He was 21 years old at the time of arrest, and married with two children.Fayez
Fayez is an Arabic given name for males. People named Fayez include:
Fayez Bandar, Kuwaiti footballer
Fayez Banihammad, one of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks
Fayez Sarofim, Coptic Egyptian American fund manager
Fayez al-Tarawneh, former Prime Minister of JordanFayez Banihammad
Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan al-Qadi Banihammad (Arabic: فايز راشد احمد حسن القاضي بني حماد, Fāyaz Rāshid Aḥmad Ḥassan al-Qāḍī Banī Ḥammad) (March 19, 1977 – September 11, 2001) was one of five hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 175 as part of the September 11 attacks.
Born in the United Arab Emirates, Banihammad left his family to pursue relief work. Using the Visa Express program, Banihammad obtained a U.S. tourist visa.
Banihammad arrived in the United States in June 2001. On September 11, 2001, Banihammad boarded United Airlines Flight 175 and participated in the hijacking of the plane, so it could be flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.Habbush letter
The Habbush letter, or Habbush memo, is a handwritten message dated July 1, 2001, which appears to show a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq's government. It purports to be a direct communication between the head of Iraqi Intelligence, General Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, to Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, outlining mission training which Mohamed Atta, one of the organizers of the September 11 attacks, supposedly received in Iraq. The letter also claims that Hussein accepted a shipment from Niger, an apparent reference to an alleged uranium acquisition attempt that U.S. President George W. Bush cited in his January 2003 State of the Union address.
The authenticity of the letter has been disputed since it was first made public in December 2003. In 2008, journalist Ron Suskind claimed that it was a forgery created by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), under the direction of the White House. Two of Suskind's sources denied having knowledge of anyone in their chain of command ordering the forging the letter. John Conyers, Chairman of the United States House Committee on the Judiciary, released a report into the allegations in 2009, in which he concluded that "the Administration figures who ordered and authored the apparent forgery ... remain unidentified".Hamza al-Ghamdi
Hamza al-Ghamdi (Arabic: حمزة الغامدي, Ḥamzah al-Ghāmdī, also transliterated as Alghamdi) (November 18, 1980 – September 11, 2001) was one of five hijackers of United Airlines Flight 175 as part of the September 11 attacks.
Born in Saudi Arabia, Hamza left his family to fight in Chechnya and was probably sent to al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan where he was chosen to participate in the 9/11 attacks.
He arrived in the United States in May 2001 on a tourist visa. On September 11, 2001, Hamza boarded United Airlines Flight 175 and hijacked the plane along with four other terrorists so that the plane could be crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.Majed Moqed
Majed Mashaan Ghanem Moqed (Arabic: ماجد مشعان موقد, Mājad Mashaʼān Mūqad; also transliterated as Moqued) (June 18, 1977 – September 11, 2001) was one of five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77 as part of the September 11 attacks.
A Saudi, Moqed was studying law at a university in Saudi Arabia before joining Al-Qaeda in 1999 and being chosen to participate in the 9/11 attacks. He arrived in the United States in May 2001 and helped with the planning of how the attacks would be carried out.
On September 11, 2001, Moqed boarded American Airlines Flight 77 and assisted in the hijacking of the plane so that it could be crashed into the Pentagon.Mohand al-Shehri
Mohand Muhammed Fayiz al-Shehri (Arabic: مهند الشهري, Muhand ash-Shehrī; also transliterated as Alshehri) (May 7, 1979 – September 11, 2001) was one of five hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 175 as part of the September 11 attacks. Despite his name, he was not related to Wail al-Shehri nor Waleed al-Shehri, brothers who boarded American Airlines Flight 11 to hijack it as part of the attacks.
A Saudi, Shehri was a former college student who dropped out after failing his courses. He later left his home to fight in Chechnya in 2000, but was probably diverted to Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. It was during that time that he would be chosen to take part in the attacks in America. He received a U.S. student visa in October 2000.
Shehri arrived in the United States in May 2001. On September 11, 2001, Shehri boarded United Airlines Flight 175 and assisted in its hijacking so that it could be flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.Mounir el-Motassadeq
Mounir el-Motassadeq (Arabic: منير المتصدق; born April 3, 1974) was convicted by a German court of being a member of al-Qaeda and of assisting some of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks. He was initially convicted of involvement in the attack, but his sentence was set aside on appeal, then reinstated on further appeal. On 8 January 2007, he was sentenced to serve 15 years by the court of Hanseatisches Oberlandesgericht, Hamburg, because of 246 counts of accessory to murder in coincidence with membership in a terrorist organisation. On 15 October 2018, el-Motassadeq was deported to Morocco after serving his sentence.Osama bin Laden bodyguards
American officials have reported that the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had numerous bodyguards. They reported that the detainees held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp included at least 30 of Bin Laden's bodyguards.How long Osama bin Laden had known an individual before he would trust him to be a bodyguard has been a topic of debate. According to Steve Coll, in his book Ghost Wars,
Bin Laden practiced intensive operational security. He was wary of telephones. He allowed no Afghans into his personal bodyguard, only Arabs he had known and trusted for many years.
Historian Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, has pointed out that many of those Guantanamo analysts characterized as Osama bin Laden bodyguards had only been in Afghanistan for weeks.
According to Graeme Steven and Rohan Gunaratna, in Counterterrorism: A Reference Handbook, Ali Mohammad, formerly a captain in the Egyptian army, who became an American citizen and a sergeant in the US Special Forces, provided the initial training to the early cohort of Osama bin Laden's bodyguards.One source of the allegations was Guantanamo captive Mohammed al Qahtani.
Al Qahtani was believed to be one of the 20 hijackers. The DoD acknowledges he was subjected to "extended interrogation techniques, including two months of sleep-deprivation". Other sources described his treatment as torture. After this, he is reported to have denounced 30 other Guantanamo captives as being bodyguards of Osama Bin Laden.On April 23, 2010, Benjamin Weiser, writing in The New York Times, reported that a newly released 52-page interrogation summary, published during Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani's civilian trial, revealed new details about the life of an Osama Bin Laden bodyguard.
According to Weiser, the interrogation summary asserted that Ghailani said he was told Bin Laden had personally requested he agree to serve as one of his bodyguards; that he was asked twice to be a bodyguard; and that he did not believe bin Laden had actually personally requested him.
According to Weiser the interrogation summary asserted Ghailani had served as a bodyguard for approximately one year, and he was one of approximately fifteen bodyguards.
According to Weiser the interrogation summary asserted that Ghailani was armed with an AK-47, and that during that year he spoke with Bin Laden numerous times.
According to Weiser the interrogation summary asserted that Ghailani and several other individuals who served with him as bodyguards were among those who later became hijackers in the September 11 attacks.Robert Fuller (FBI)
Robert Fuller is an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who has worked in counter-terrorism. He has questioned suspected terrorists, been a handler of informants in the U.S., and testified in both federal court and Guantanamo military commission trials.Saeed al-Ghamdi
Saeed Abdallah Ali Sulayman al-Ghamdi (Arabic: سعيد الغامدي, Sa'īd al-Ghāmdī) (November 21, 1979 – September 11, 2001) was one of four hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93 as part of the September 11 attacks.
Born in Saudi Arabia, Ghamdi left his home to fight in Chechnya after dropping out of college, but was reported to have diverted to Afghanistan to train in an al-Qaeda camp. It was reported he was chosen by Osama bin Laden to participate in terrorist attacks in the United States and arrived in the U.S. in June 2001. During his stay in the U.S., he quietly settled in Florida, planning out how the attacks would commence and training on flight simulators.On September 11, 2001, he boarded United 93 and assisted in the hijacking of the plane, which was crashed into a field in the control of hijacker-pilot Ziad Jarrah in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the passengers attempted to retake control of the plane in an uprising.Springfield Town Center
Springfield Town Center is a shopping center in Springfield, Virginia. It opened in 1973 as Springfield Mall, an enclosed shopping mall, which closed on June 30, 2012 as part of a multimillion-dollar redevelopment plan to turn it into a multifaceted "Town Center"-style shopping center with a main indoor area similar to the nearby Tysons Corner Center and Dulles Town Center, while transforming the exterior into a pedestrian friendly environment with restaurants with cafe style outdoor seating and entrances. It is located at the intersection of Interstate 95 and Franconia Road (Route 644), which is part of the Springfield Interchange, 1/4 mile north of Franconia-Springfield Parkway (State Route 289) and the Franconia-Springfield Metro station. The mall reopened on October 17, 2014 following its two-year renovation.
Original anchors were Lansburgh's (later E.J. Korvette), Garfinckel's (later Sports Authority), J.C. Penney, and Montgomery Ward (later Target). Macy's was added in 1991. The mall was notable for having one of the top two performing locations of the Time Out chain of amusement arcades, which featured in its "mall rat" culture during the 1980s golden age of arcades.Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited the JCPenney store at the mall on November 11, 1985, during their famous American tour. However, the mall's fortunes declined in the 1990s and 2000s. Its DMV office was where Hani Hanjour and Khalid al-Mihdhar, two of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks, illegally obtained state identification. The mall also experienced two gang-related stabbings in 2005, a fatal shooting in December 2007, and a fatal carjacking in September 2008.One of the largest malls in Northern Virginia, it was owned and operated by Vornado Realty Trust. In 2005, Vornado purchased an option valued at $36 million to buy the mall from the previous owners Franconia Two LP. In early 2006, Vornado purchased the mall for an additional $80 million along with plans to redevelop.In March 2012, Vornado announced plans to close all but the three anchor stores starting on July 1, ahead of the two-year renovation and redevelopment, which is part of a decade-long plan intended to turn the Mall and its surrounding area into the new Springfield Town Center. Springfield Town Center re-opened as scheduled on October 17, 2014.In March 2014, Vornado announced plans to sell Springfield Town Center to Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust for $465 million, with the deal slated to close in March 2015. In late 2015, Dave and Buster's, a popular family owned entertainment and sportsbar opened.The Way of the World (book)
The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism is a 2008 non-fiction book by Ron Suskind, claiming various actions and policies of the George W. Bush administration. Most notably, it alleges that the Bush administration ordered the forgery of the Habbush letter to implicate Iraq as having ties to al Qaeda and the hijackers in the September 11 attacks. All these claims have been strenuously denied by the White House and all parties involved. The book, published on August 5, 2008, by Harper, met mixed reviews but received considerable media attention and created controversy.Vehicles of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks
Several vehicles were used by the hijackers of the September 11 attacks. Reports by the FBI and other agencies and press accounts provide details of some of these automobiles.
Hijackers in the September 11 attacks
|American Airlines Flight 11|
|United Airlines Flight 175|
|American Airlines Flight 77|
|United Airlines Flight 93|
|20th hijacker suspects|