Ramzi bin al-Shibh (Arabic: رمزي بن الشيبة, Ramzī bin ash-Shībah; also transliterated as bin al-Shaibah) (born May 1, 1972) is a Yemeni citizen being held by the U.S. as an enemy combatant detainee at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He is accused of being a "key facilitator for the September 11 attacks" in 2001 in the United States.
In the mid-1990s, bin al-Shibh moved as a student to Hamburg, Germany, where he allegedly became close friends with Mohamed Atta, Ziad Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi. Together, they are suspected of forming the Hamburg cell and becoming central perpetrators of the September 11 attacks. He was the only one of the four who failed to obtain a U.S. visa; he is accused of acting as an intermediary for the hijackers in the United States, by wiring money and passing on information from key al-Qaeda figures. After the attacks, bin al-Shibh was the first to be publicly identified by the U.S. as the "20th hijacker", of whom there have been several more possible candidates.
Bin al-Shibh has been in United States custody since he was captured on 11 September 2002 in Karachi, Pakistan. He was held by the CIA in black sites in Morocco before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2006. Finally charged in 2008 before a military commission, he and several others suspected in the 9/11 attacks went to trial beginning in May 2012.
|Ramzi bin al-Shibh|
FBI photo of al-Shibh
|Born|| May 1, 1972 
Ghayl Bawazir, Eastern Yemen
|Detained at||CIA black sites, Guantanamo|
|Charge(s)||Charged before a military commission in 2008; trial started in October 2012|
|Ramzi bin al-Shibh|
|Years of service||1990s–2002|
AQ officer and communicator War in North-West PakistanAfghan civil war
Ramzi bin al-Shibh was born in Hadhramaut province in Yemen. When he was young, his family moved to a working-class neighborhood in the capital, Sana'a. In 1987, his father died. He was cared for by his older brother, Ahmed, and his mother.
Bin al-Shibh applied for a U.S. visa in 1995, but his request was denied. He went to Germany, where he requested political asylum, claiming that he was a political refugee from Sudan. He lived in Hamburg until 1997, when the judge refused his asylum request.
Bin al-Shibh returned to the Hadramaut region of Yemen. A short while later he received a German visa under his real name. While he was in Germany, bin al-Shibh used the name Ramzi Omar. In 1997, bin al-Shibh met Mohamed Atta at a mosque; he was the leader of the Hamburg cell. For two years, Atta and bin al-Shibh were roommates in Germany.
Original plans for the 9/11 attacks called for bin al-Shibh to be one of the hijacker pilots, along with three other members of the Hamburg cell, including Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah. From Hamburg, bin al-Shibh applied to take flight training in the United States. At that time, he also applied to Aviation Language Services, which provides language training for student pilots. Bin al-Shibh applied for an entry visa to the United States, four times, and was refused each time. He made visa applications in Germany on May 17, 2000, and again in June, on September 16, and October 25, 2000.
According to the 9/11 Commission, this refusal of a visa was motivated by general concern by U.S. officials at the time that people from Yemen, which was struggling economically, would illegally overstay their visit and seek work in the United States. His friend, Zakariyah Essabar, was also denied visas. After failing to gain a visa to enter the United States, bin al-Shibh took on a "coordinator" role in the plot, serving as a link between Atta in the United States and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Afghanistan.
According to the al-Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda's documentary, Top Secret: The Road to September 11, three weeks prior to the attacks, Saeed al-Ghamdi is believed to have used the name "Abdul Rahman" to message bin al-Shibh online (who was posing as a girlfriend), writing:
"The first semester commences in three weeks. Two high schools and two universities. ... This summer will surely be hot ...19 certificates for private education and four exams. Regards to the professor. Goodbye."
This was said to be a reference to two military targets and two civilian, and 19 hijackers.
Bin al-Shibh later said that Mohamed Atta had phoned him on the morning of August 29.
"He said, 'A friend of mine gave me a puzzle and I want you to help me out.' I said to him, 'Is this the time for puzzles, Mohamed?' He said, 'Yes, I know, but no one else but you could help me.' He said, 'Two sticks, a dash and cake with a stick down. What is it?' I said, 'Did you wake me up just to tell me this?' As it turns out, two sticks is the number 11. A dash is a dash. And cake with a stick down is the number nine. And that was September 11."
In August 2001, bin al-Shibh sent approximately $14,000 to Zacarias Moussaoui, using the alias Ahad Sabet, a few days after receiving transfer of $15,000 from Hashim Abdulrahman in the United Arab Emirates.
Bin al-Shibh was the first to be publicly identified by the United States as the "20th hijacker," someone who was thought to have been tasked to fill out the single missing slot among the four terrorist five-person teams. This spot was never filled. United Flight 93 had four hijackers, not five, which is believed in part to have led to the success of the passenger revolt. The passengers likely caused the crash of the plane near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
After January 14, 2002, bin al-Shibh was featured among five suspected al-Qaeda members on videos delivering what United States Attorney General John Ashcroft described as "martyrdom messages from suicide terrorists." NBC News said that the five videos had been recorded after the September 11 attacks.
On September 8, 2006, al-Qaeda released a video that shows Osama bin Laden and some of the 9/11 hijackers. The tape identifies bin al-Shibh as the "coordinator of the 9/11 attacks" in its English subtitles. The video shows bin al-Shibh and other hijackers training in kickboxing, as well as disarming and concealing weapons at a terrorist training camp in or near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
On January 17, 2002, the FBI published the first Most Wanted Terrorists Seeking Information list (now known as the FBI's "Seeking Information - War on Terrorism" list). They identified the five wanted terrorists, about whom little was known but who were suspected of plotting additional terrorist attacks in martyrdom operations. (see current version displaying photos of five terrorists on the remaining martyrdom videos FBI list, as of June 2006) Ramzi bin al-Shibh was one of the four men among the five whose names were known.
The other three are still featured in compiled video clips, in order of appearance, Muhammad Sa'id Ali Hasan, Abd al-Rahim, and Khalid Ibn Muhammad al-Juhani. The fifth was identified a week later as Abderraouf Jdey, alias Al-Rauf bin al-Habib bin Yousef al-Jiddi.
Ashcroft said the five videotapes, shown by the FBI without sound, had been recovered from the rubble of the home of Mohammad Atef outside Kabul, Afghanistan. Ashcroft called upon people worldwide to help "identify, locate and incapacitate terrorists who are suspected of planning additional attacks against innocent civilians." The sound was left out to guard against the possibility that the messages contained signals for other terrorists. Ashcroft added that an analysis of the audio suggested "the men may be trained and prepared to commit future suicide terrorist acts." Ashcroft said not much was known about any of them except bin al-Shibh.
Bin al-Shibh was captured in Pakistan on September 11, 2002, after a gun battle in Karachi with the Pakistani ISI and the CIA's Special Activities Division. On September 14, 2002, he was transferred to the United States. CIA agents transported him by extraordinary rendition to a secret black site in Morocco for interrogation. The CIA admitted in August 2010 that it has video tapes of these interrogations.
His profile was removed from the FBI Seeking Information wanted list by October 17, 2002. Bin al-Shibh was held by the U.S. at an undisclosed CIA-led location until September 2006. On September 6, 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush announced that bin al-Shibh and thirteen other CIA-held, high-value detainees had been transferred to Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
Bin al-Shibh is also wanted by German courts; he had shared a Hamburg apartment with Mohamed Atta, the suspected ringleader of the September 11 hijackers. In 2005, the USA denied a German request for bin al-Shibh's extradition. In an earlier extradition and trial, Abdelghani Mzoudi, a 9/11 suspect, was acquitted of German charges.
A three-page-long Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Ramzi bin al-Shibh on February 8, 2007 for a Combatant Status Review Tribunal. The transcript of his hearing was eight pages long. It said that he chose not to attend his Tribunal, held March 9, 2007. The first two pages of the transcript were consumed with the Tribunal's officers swearing oaths, and the reading out of the Tribunal mandate and authority.
The Tribunal's President called on the captive's Personal Representative to explain his efforts to explain the captive's right to be present at his Tribunal.
|February 9, 2007||
|February 13, 2007||
|February 16, 2007||
|March 5, 2007||
The allegations prepared for the first 558 captives whose status was examined by Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT), between August 2004 and January 2005, were broken into two sections: those that established a connection to terrorism, and those that established hostile activity. The allegations were numbered, and were generally only one or two sentences in length.
The allegations against Ramzi bin al-Shibh are as follows:
The Department of Defense announced on August 9, 2007 that all fourteen of the "high-value detainees" who had been transferred to Guantanamo from the CIA's black sites, had been officially classified as "enemy combatants". Although judges Peter Brownback and Keith J. Allred had ruled two months earlier that only "illegal enemy combatants" could face military commissions, the Department of Defense waived the qualifier and said that all fourteen men could now face charges before Guantanamo military commissions.
On June 12, 2008 the United States Supreme Court ruled, in Boumediene v. Bush (2008), that detainees had the right to access the federal court system in habeas challenges to their detention. It ruled that the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which had restricted their exercise of habeas corpus outside the military commission system, was unconstitutional in this respect. The first 22 captives who had pending habeas petitions in 2006 when the Act was passed, were allowed to re-initiate their petitions in August 2008. Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh's habeas corpus petition was filed August 29, 2008. He had been assigned a military defense lawyer, Navy Lieutenant Commander Kevin Bogucki.
Bin al-Shibh and four other captives classified as high value detainees (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, Ammar al-Baluchi and Walid Bin Attash) were charged in Guantanamo military commissions in Spring 2008. The men triggered controversy when they announced that they did not want US-appointed attorneys and they planned to boycott their commissions. The military commissions, as authorized by President George W. Bush, did not permit suspects to forgo legal representation, to act as their own attorneys, or to boycott their commissions. The commissions authorized by the Military Commissions Act of 2006, did authorize suspects to serve as their own attorneys.
The other four men eventually agreed to attend their commissions. Bin al-Shibh, however, has continued to refuse to attend. His appointed attorneys had expressed concern about him and his state of mental health. The top-secret location of Camp 7, where the high-value detainees are held, had been off limits to military attorneys. The individual detainees are hooded when they travel from the camp to their commission hearings.
Suzanne Lachelier offered to wear a hood in order to be taken to him, but the camp authorities initially refused. She finally gained approval in 2008 to visit al-Shibh, together with her co-counsel. They traveled in a windowless van, which was used to transport prisoners. She was the first defense lawyer to visit Camp 7.
The judge presiding over the commission's pre-trial motions ordered bin al-Shibh and Mustafa al-Hawsawi to undergo mental competency hearings. On December 8, 2008, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told the judge that he and the other four men who had been indicted wished to confess and plead guilty; however, the plea would be delayed until after the competency hearings for bin al-Shibh and Hawsawi. All five men wanted to make their pleas together.
On May 17, 2010, Saba News reported that Ramzi Al-Shaibah, and four other Yemenis would face charges in the summer of 2010. Two other Yemenis to face charges were: Walid Bin Atash and Abdul Rahim Al-Nasheri. Saba News did not name the fourth and fifth individuals.
In 2011, the lawyers of Bin al-Shibh argued that he may be unfit to stand trial and participate in his own defense. They have asked that the proceedings against him and his four co-accused be stayed until his mental state is determined. They say he has been prescribed psychotropic drugs of the sort that are used to treat schizophrenia. Bin al-Shibh claims that he is mentally fit, has denounced his lawyers, and says that he wants to represent himself before the commissions.
In October 2012, the US began the trials of al-Shibh and the other four 9/11 defendants.
On January 31, 2014, Carol Rosenberg, reporting in the Miami Herald, wrote that Pohl had to delay al-Shibh's trial again, because the panel of three military psychiatrists who tried to determine whether he was mentally competent to stand trial had not been able to reach a conclusion. Al-Shibh had not been prepared to answer the doctor's questions.
The U.S. will start in this summer trying five Yemeni detainees at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay in Cuba including Ramzi Al-Shaibah, Walid Bin Atash and Abdul Rahim Al-Nasheri, the September 26 website has reported.
A military mental health board has told the 9/11 trial judge that it couldn’t evaluate the competency of an accused Sept. 11 plotter, two defense lawyers said Friday, casting doubt on resumption of hearings next month at Guantánamo.
Ramzi Binalshibh, said to have been the main intermediary between the hijackers and leaders of al-Qaida;
FBI and military interrogators who began work with the suspects in late 2006 called themselves the "Clean Team," and set as their goal collecting of virtually the same information the CIA had obtained from five of the six through duress at secret prisons.