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Satam al-Suqami
150px
Born Satam al-Suqami
June 28, 1976(1976-06-28)
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Died September 11, 2001 (aged 25)
World Trade Center

A law student, Satam Muhammed Abdel al-Suqami (Saṭām as-Suqāmī) (June 28, 1976September 11, 2001), was one of five men named by the FBI as hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11 in the September 11 attacks. He was one of the 15 hijackers that were from Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi, al-Suqami had been a law student until he was recruit into Al-Qaeda along with Majed Moqed, another hijacker, and traveled to Afghanistan. He arrived in the United States in April 2001. On September 11, 2001, al-Suqami boarded American Airlines Flight 11 and participated in the hijacking of the plane so that it could be crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center as part of the coordinated attacks.

History Edit

A native of Riyadh, al-Suqami was a law student at the Template:Wikipedialink. While there he joined a (possible) former roommate named Majed Moqed in training for al-Qaida at Khalden, a large training facility near Kabul that was run by Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. In November 2000, the two flew into Iran from Bahrain together.

The FBI says al-Suqami first arrived in the U.S. on April 23, 2001, with a visa that allowed him to remain in the country until May 21. However, at least five residents of the Spanish Trace Apartments claim to recognize the photographs of both al-Suqami and Salem al-Hazmi as living in the San Antonio complex earlier in 2001. Interestingly however, these residents and several others who claim to have known the hijackers, claim that the FBI photographs of al-Suqami and al-Hazmi are reversed.[1] Other reports conflictingly suggested that al-Suqami was staying with Waleed al-Shehri in Hollywood, Florida and rented a black Toyota Corolla from Alamo Rent-A-Car agency.

On May 19, al-Suqami and Waleed al-Shehri took a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport, Bahamas where they had reservations at the Princess Resort. Lacking proper documentation however, they were stopped upon landing, and returned to Florida the same day and rented a red Kia Rio from Avis Rent-A-Car agency.[2]

He was one of nine hijackers to open a SunTrust bank account with a cash deposit around June 2001, and on July 3 he was issued a Florida State Identification Card. Around this time, he also used his Saudi license to gain a Florida drivers' license bearing the same home address as Wail al-Shehri. (A Homing Inn in Boynton Beach). Despite this, the 9/11 Commission claims that al-Suqami was the only hijacker to not have any US identification.

During the summer, al-Suqami and both Wail and Waleed al-Shehri purchased one month passes to a Boynton Beach gym owned by Jim Woolard. (Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi also reportedly trained at a gym[which?] owned by Woolard, in Delray Beach.)

Known as Azmi during the preparations,[3] al-Suqami was called one of the "muscle" hijackers, who were not expected to act as pilots. CIA director George Tenet later said that they "probably were told little more than that they were headed for a suicide mission inside the United States."[4]

Since the attacks, al-Suqami and Ahmed al-Ghamdi have both been tied to Boston cab driver Nabil al-Marabh, whom the FBI claimed was a Saudi follower of Osama bin Laden, through financial records.[citation needed]


Attack Edit

File:Satam al-Suqami VISA.jpg

On September 10, 2001, al-Suqami shared a room at the Milner Hotel in Boston with three of the Flight 175 hijackers, Marwan al-Shehhi, Fayez Banihammad, and Mohand al-Shehri. At the hotel, one of them called around for prostitutes, but eventually canceled, possibly based on finances.[citation needed]

On the day of the attacks, al-Suqami checked in at the flight desk[which?] using his Saudi passport, and boarded American Airlines Flight 11. At Logan International Airport, he was selected by CAPPS,[5] which required his checked bags to undergo extra screening for explosives and involved no extra screening at the passenger security checkpoint.[6]

An FAA memo, circulated in February 2002, claimed that al-Suqami shot passenger Daniel M. Lewin (Seat 9B), co-founder of Akamai Technologies and a former member of the Israeli Sayeret Matkal, for attempting to foil the hijacking. While based on the frantic phonecall received from a stewardess of the flight, the report has been a matter of some controversy, since both the FAA and FBI have strongly denied the presence of firearms smuggled aboard. It is now believed that al-Suqami stabbed Lewin as he attempted to intervene in the hijacking.

Al-Suqami's passport was found by a passerby, reportedly in the vicinity of Template:Wikipedialink,[7] before the towers collapsed.[8] (This was mistakenly reported by many news outlets to be Mohamed Atta's passport.) A columnist for The Guardian expressed incredulity about the authenticity of this report,[9] questioning whether a paper passport could survive the inferno unsinged when the plane's black boxes were never found. According to testimony before the [[9/11 Commission] by lead counsel Susan Ginsburg, his passport had been "manipulated in a fraudulent manner in ways that have been associated with al Qaeda."[8] Passports belonging to Ziad Jarrah and Saeed al Ghamdi were found at the crash site of United Airlines flight 93 as well as an airphone.[10]

TimelineEdit

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Pre 2001Edit

1980s and 1990s: Most 9/11 Hijackers Have Middle-Class Backgrounds Edit

After 9/11, some in Western countries will say that one of the root causes of the attacks is poverty and assume that the hijackers must have been poor. However, most of them are middle class and have relatively comfortable upbringings. The editor of Al Watan, a Saudi Arabian daily, will call them “middle class adventurers” rather than Islamist fundamentalist ideologues. [11][BOSTON GLOBE, 3/3/2002] The social situation of the families of Satam al Suqami, Ahmed Alghamdi, Saeed Alghamdi, and Khaled Almihdhar is unknown. However, Almihdhar is from a distinguished family that traces its lineage back to the prophet Mohammed. [12][WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 379]


Late 1990s: Many Hijackers Attend University in Saudi Arabia and Elsewhere Edit

At least ten of the alleged hijackers attend various universities in Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Egypt. However, most of them drop out, and apparently only three, Mohamed Atta, Abdulaziz Alomari, and Wail Alshehri, graduate. The 9/11 Commission will comment, “Several of the muscle hijackers seem to have been recruited through contacts at local universities and mosques.” According to the 9/11 Commission, Satam Al Suqami has little education.[13] [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 232] However, the Saudi Information Agency will say he attends the King Saud University in Riyadh with Majed Moqed. [14][SAUDI INFORMATION AGENCY, 9/11/2002]

(1998): Two Saudi 9/11 Hijackers Nonreligious and Drink Alcohol Edit

1998[citation needed] According to the 9/11 Commission, two of the alleged Saudi 9/11 hijackers, Satam Al Suqami and Salem Alhazmi, appear “unconcerned with religion and, contrary to Islamic law, [are] known to drink alcohol.” In addition, they both have minor criminal offence records. However, Salem Alhazmi’s father will later remember that Salem “stopped drinking and started attending mosque regularly three months before he disappeared.”[15] [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 232-3, 524]

August 11, 1998-September 24, 2000: 9/11 Hijacker Al Suqami Frequently Travels around Middle East and Asia Edit

On August 11, 1998, 9/11 hijacker Satam Al Suqami is issued a Saudi Arabian passport.[16] [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 29 ] This passport will allegedly be discovered in the wreckage of the 9/11 attacks in New York (see After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001), allowing investigators an unusually detailed glimpse into the movements of one of the hijackers. While a majority of the hijackers seem to have traveled little prior to coming to the US, Al Suqami travels widely:

November 5, 1998: He enters and departs Jordan, enters Syria. 
November 11, 1998: departs Syria; enters and departs Jordan. 
November 12, 1998: enters Saudi Arabia. 
February 19, 1999: enters Saudi Arabia. 
February 24, 1999: enters and departs Jordan; enters Syria. 
February 25, 1999: departs Saudi Arabia. 
March 7, 1999: departs Syria. 
March 8, 1999: enters Jordan. 
May 13, 1999: departs Bahrain. 
May 15, 1999: enters Saudi Arabia. 
January 18, 2000: enters United Arab Emirates (UAE). 
April 4, 2000: enters UAE. 
April 6, 2000: departs UAE. 
April 7, 2000: enters Egypt. 
April 18, 2000: departs Oman, enters UAE. 
July 11, 2000: departs Egypt. 
July 12, 2000: enters Malaysia.{subst:news}} [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 33, 37-39, 42, 59-62, 75 ]

On September 24, 2000, Al Suqami enters Turkey and stays there for most of the next six months (see September 24, 2000-April 1, 2001). Then he will travel to Malaysia again before finally flying to the US. The above records are obviously incomplete as there are sometimes records of him leaving a country without entering it or vice versa. His travels to Afghanistan and Pakistan are also not mentioned, as there was probably an effort to keep them out of his passport. In 2007, al-Qaeda leader Luai Sakra will claim that Al Suqami was not just another hijacker but led a group of the hijackers. The release of Al Suqami’s passport records in 2008 will help corroborate that claim..  [LONDON TIMES, 11/25/2007]

1999-2000: Some 9/11 Hijackers Reportedly Fail in Attempt to Enter Chechnya from Turkey Edit

Under interrogation after 9/11, al-Qaeda manager Khallad bin Attash will indicate that some of the 9/11 hijackers try to get to the conflict in Chechnya from Turkey, but are not able to do so because the Turkey-Georgia border is closed.

In Turkey, they stay in guesthouses in places such as Istanbul and Ankara. Turkish intelligence has been aware that militants often transit Turkey for some time, but there are no reports saying that the hijackers are monitored at this time (see 1996). The militants then decide to travel to Afghanistan and perhaps try to enter Chechnya again later.

In this context bin Attash mentions the names of Saeed Alghamdi, Satam al Suqami, Waleed and Wail Alshehri, Abdulaziz Alomari, Ahmed Alnami, Hamza Alghamdi, Salem Alhazmi, and Majed Moqed.

Ahmed Alghamdi and Saeed Alghamdi also have documentation suggesting travel to a Russian republic. However, the reliability of evidence obtained during the interrogations of figures like bin Attash is questionable due to the unreliable methods used to extract it (see June 16, 2004).[17]

Some of the lead hijackers transit Turkey (see Late November-Early December 1999). There are also reports that some of the hijackers tell family and friends in Saudi Arabia that they intend to fight in Chechnya, and it appears that some, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi, may actually see combat there (see 1996-December 2000).


Late 1999-2000: Alleged CIA Informant Said to Train Six 9/11 Hijackers in Turkey Edit

In 2007, the London Times will report that imprisoned al-Qaeda leader Luai Sakra claims that he trained six of the 9/11 hijackers in Turkey. Sakra allegedly had links to the CIA and Syrian intelligence before 9/11 (see 2000 and September 10, 2001) and also allegedly was in contact with 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta before 9/11 (see September 2000-July 24, 2001).

According to Sakra’s account, Sakra established a training and support network for radical militants in Turkey in the mid-1990s. In the Yalova mountain resort area between the cities of Bursa and Istanbul, he trained many militants heading to fight in Chechnya and elsewhere. Sakra worked with al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida to provide forged documents enabling trainees to travel to Afghanistan and elsewhere after their training was over.

According to Sakra’s lawyer, in late 1999, 9/11 hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, Saeed Alghamdi, and Nawaf Alhazmi undertook Sakra’s training program. They had been planning to go to fight in Chechnya, but Sakra recommended them to Zubaida and they went to Zubaida’s training camp in Afghanistan instead.

Hijackers Majed Moqed and Satam Al Suqami also later trained with Sakra in Turkey. Sakra alleges Moqed and Al Suqami were hand-picked by al-Qaeda leaders for the 9/11 plot. Sakra claims that at one point the entire group were arrested by police in Yalova, Turkey, after their presence raised suspicions. They were interrogated for a day but released because no evidence of wrongdoing could be shown.[18]

In early 2006, Sakra made the claim that he had helped some of the 9/11 hijackers near Bursa, but he did not give specifics. [19]

While Sakra’s account cannot be corroborated, it does fit with details given in the 9/11 Commission’s final report. According to that report, after 9/11, captured al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash claimed that a number of militants trying to go to Chechnya in 1999 were unable to get there and stayed at al-Qaeda guesthouses in Turkey instead, where they were to wait to make another attempt to enter Chechnya in the summer of 2000, but they ended up going to Afghanistan instead. Bin Attash mentions nine hijackers who may have been trying to get to Chechnya in this fashion, including all the ones mentioned by Sakra.[20] The 9/11 Commission report also mentions that most of the “muscle” hijackers trained at the Al Farooq camp, except for Al Suqami and Moqed, who trained at the Khaldan camp. [21] Also, in early 2008, an FBI document will be released that shows Al Suqami spent almost six months in Turkey, helping to corroborate Sakra’s claims (see Late 1999-2000).

2000: Hijackers Obtain US Visas Edit

The 19 hijackers apply and receive a total of 23 visas at five different posts from November 1997 through June 2001. The fifteen Saudi hijackers apply for their visas in their home country. Four at the embassy in Riyadh: Hamza Alghamdi (10/17/2000), Mohand Alshehri (10/23/2000), Majed Moqed (11/20/2000) and Satam Al Suqami (11/21/2000).

Summer 2000: Some 9/11 Hijackers Allegedly Work as Airport Security Staff in Afghanistan Edit

Under interrogation after 9/11, al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash will claim he met some of the 9/11 hijackers at Kandahar airport in Afghanistan in the summer of 2000. Although he will not be able to recall all of them, he will say the group includes Satam Al Suqami, Waleed and Wail Alshehri, Abdulaziz Alomari, Hamza Alghamdi, Salem Alhazmi, and Majed Moqed.

He will say he was closest to Saeed Alghamdi, whom he convinced to become a martyr and whom he asked to recruit a friend, Ahmed Alghamdi, to the same cause. However, doubts will later be expressed about the reliability of such statements from prisoners like bin Attash, due to the methods used to obtain them (see June 16, 2004) [22]

Al-Qaeda’s division of passports and host country issues is based at the airport and it alters passports, visas and identification cards. Some people involved in the plot will later be reported to have altered travel documents (see July 23, 2001).[23]

9/11 hijacker Ahmed Alnami and would-be hijacker Mushabib al-Hamlan are also said to be at the same Kandahar camp, Al Farooq, and are assigned to guard the airport. [24]

By the late 1990s, the Kandahar airport will become the main logistics lifeline for al-Qaeda and the Taliban to the outside world. One Ariana pilot[who?] will later recall, “I would see Arabs with [satellite] phones walking around the terminal, in touch with the Taliban at the highest levels.” On one occasion, he sees Taliban ruler Mullah Omar meeting in the middle of the airport with a rebel leader from Tajikistan, surrounded by aides. “There they were, cross-legged on their mats, chattering into cell phones.” [25] At this time, the Kandahar airport is being mainly used by Ariana Airlines, which has been completely co-opted by al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and aircraft companies controlled by international arms dealer Victor Bout (see 1998).

September 24, 2000-April 1, 2001: Hijacker Al Suqami Spends Almost Half a Year in Turkey, Apparently Training for 9/11 Plot Edit

According to his passport records, on September 24, 2000, hijacker Satam Al Suqami enters Turkey, via Istanbul. He leaves on November 2, 2000, stopping by Qatar, Bahrain, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, and then returns to Istanbul, Turkey, on November 26. He leaves Turkey again on April 1, 2001, traveling to Malaysia. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 91, 100, 104 ; FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 106-107, 131 ] Al-Qaeda leader Luai Sakra will later allege that Al Suqami received extensive al-Qaeda training in Turkey, near Istanbul, around this time with five other hijackers. He will say Al Suqami and hijacker Majed Moqed arrive later than another four of the hijackers, but overlap with them (see Late 1999-2000). An FBI document detailing Al Suqami’s travels will be released in 2008, several months after Sakra makes his claims, thus helping to corroborate them. [LONDON TIMES, 11/25/2007]

Between October 2000 and September 10, 2001: British Banking Company Profiles Fifteen 9/11 Hijackers as High-Risk Likely Terrorists Edit

Global Objectives, a British banking compliance company, identifies fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers as high-risk people and establishes profiles for them. The hijackers are regarded as high-risk for loans because they are linked to Osama bin Laden, suspected terrorists, or associates of terrorists. The list of high-risk people maintained by Global Objectives is available to dozens of banks and the hijackers’ files contain their dates and places of birth, aliases, and associates. It is unclear which fifteen hijackers are considered high-risk. It is also unknown if any Western intelligence agencies access this database before 9/11. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 2/21/2002] According to the 9/11 Commission, US intelligence is only aware of three of the 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi, and Khalid Almihdhar, before the attacks. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 181-2] However, media reports will suggest US intelligence agencies may have been aware of another six: Ziad Jarrah (see January 30, 2000); Marwan Alshhehi (see March 1999 and January-February 2000); Mohamed Atta (see January-May 2000 and January-February 2000); and Ahmed Alghamdi, Satam al Suqami, and Hamza Alghamdi (see September 2000 and Spring 2001).

November 21, 2000: 9/11 Hijacker Receives US Visa, Consular Officer Apparently Later Has False Memory of Interview Edit

Elizabeth Colton (left) may have issued Satam al Suqami’s US visa. [Source: US Department of State/FBI] Future 9/11 hijacker Satam al Suqami obtains a US visa from the American embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Al Suqami has traveled extensively around Asia in recent years (see November 5, 1998-September 24, 2000) and uses a passport that has fraudulent travel stamps that will later be associated with al-Qaeda, but this is apparently not noticed. The application is incomplete, as al Suqami does not give the name and address of his current employer. The consular officer who issues the visa will later tell the House Committee on Government Reform that al Suqami was interviewed and will recall details of the interview: The reason for the interview is because al Suqami gives his occupation as “dealer,” which Saudis often use to mean businessman, and several questions are asked, including who is paying for his trip. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 16, 38 ] The officer will repeat this claim to the State Department’s inspector general, adding that she specifically remembers the interview, has a photographic memory, and recalls al Suqami’s photo. [OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL (US DEPARTMENT OF STATE), 2/6/2003] However, the officer will say that notes are always taken during interviews and there are no such notes on al Suqami’s application. The 9/11 Commission will say that this raises “the possibility that the officer’s memory of having conducted the interview was false.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 16 ] The officer’s identity is unknown, although she may well be Elizabeth Colton. The 9/11 Commission’s Terrorist Travel monograph will say that, before joining the State Department, the officer had interviwed the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 49, 62 ] Colton has previously been chief of Newsweek’s bureau in Cairo, Egypt, where the Blind Sheikh lived before immigrating to the US (see December 15, 1986-1989). [CONSULATE GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES, DUBAI, UAE, 8/2007] She has also met other notable personalities in the Middle East, such as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. [STATE MAGAZINE, 11/2000] A State Department inspector general memo of an interview of the officer will say that she helped develop the Visa Express program introduced in Saudi Arabia in May and June of 2001 (see May 2001). [OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL (US DEPARTMENT OF STATE), 2/6/2003] The Visa Express manual will list Colton as the program’s Riyadh contact. [EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES, RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA, 6/2001]

November 25, 2000: Two 9/11 Hijackers Fly to Iran Edit

9/11 hijackers Satam Al Suqami and Majed Moqed fly from Bahrain to Tehran, Iran. Shortly before, they had entered Bahrain from Saudi Arabia, after obtaining US visas there. Suqami continues to Istanbul, Turkey. Moqed’s final destination is not known definitely, but al-Qaeda operative Luai Sakra will say that Moqed arrives with Al Suqami in Turkey for training (see Late 1999-2000), so presumably he takes the same flight as Al Suqami. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 107 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 34 ] The 9/11 Commission will mention this flight in a section dealing with possible co-operation between Iran, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda on travel issues—Iran was allegedly allowing al-Qaeda operatives to pass through Iran on their way to and from Afghanistan without stamping their passports (see October 8-13, 2000, After October 12, 2000, and Mid-November, 2000)—but no there are no direct links between this flight and Iranian operatives. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 240-1]

Jan-Aug 2001Edit

January-June 2001: 9/11 Hijackers Pass Through Britain for Training or Fundraising Edit

Ahmed Alnami in prayer. [Source: Spiegel TV] Eleven of the 9/11 hijackers stay in or pass through Britain, according to the British Home Secretary and top investigators. Most are in Britain between April and June, just passing through from Dubai, United Arab Emirates (see April 22-June 27, 2001). However, investigators suspect some stay in Britain for training and fundraising (see June 2001). The eleven are Satam Al Suqami, Waleed Alshehri, Majed Moqed, Ahmed al-Ghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, Ahmed Alnami, Mohand Alshehri, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Wail Alshehri, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, and Saeed Alghamdi. Ahmed Alghamdi was one of several that should have been “instantly ‘red-flagged’ by British intelligence,” because of his links to Raed Hijazi, a suspected ally of bin Laden being held in Jordan on charges of conspiring to destroy holy sites. Apparently, the investigation concludes that other “muscle” hijackers and leaders like Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi did not pass through Britain at this time. [LONDON TIMES, 9/26/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/27/2001; BBC, 9/28/2001; SUNDAY HERALD (GLASGOW), 9/30/2001] However, police will investigate whether Atta visited Britain in 1999 and 2000, together with some Algerians. [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/30/2001] The London Times will also write, “Officials hope that the inquiries in Britain will disclose the true identities of the suicide team. Some are known to have arrived in Britain using false passports and fake identities that they kept for the hijack.” [LONDON TIMES, 9/26/2001]

February 2001: Two Hijackers Seen Living in San Antonio with Swapped Identities Edit

At least six people with no connections to one another later claim they recognize hijackers Satam Al Suqami and Salem Alhazmi living in San Antonio, Texas, until this month. The management of an apartment building says the two men abandoned their leases at about this time, and some apartment residents recognize them. However, all the witnesses say that Suqami was going by Alhazmi’s name, and vice versa! [KENS 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS (SAN ANTONIO), 10/1/2001] One pilot shop employee recognizes Alhazmi as a frequent visitor to the store and interested in a 757 or 767 handbook, though he also says Alhazmi used Suqami’s name. [KENS 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS (SAN ANTONIO), 10/3/2001] The apartment-leasing agent also recalls a Ziad Jarrah who once lived there in June 2001 and looked the same as the hijacker. [SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 9/22/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/22/2001] Local FBI confirm that a Salem Alhazmi attended the nearby Alpha Tango Flight School and lived in that apartment building, but they say he is a different Salem Alhazmi who is still alive and living in Saudi Arabia. [KENS 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS (SAN ANTONIO), 10/4/2001] However, that “Salem Alhazmi” says he has never been to the US and has proven to the authorities that he did not leave Saudi Arabia in the two years prior to 9/11. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/20/2001] The FBI does not explain Satam Al Suqami’s presence. Neither hijacker is supposed to have arrived in the US before April 2001.

Spring 2001: US Customs Investigate Three Hijackers Before 9/11 Edit

In the wake of the foiled al-Qaeda plot to blow up hotels in Jordan during the millennium celebrations, Jordan gives tips to the US that launch a Customs investigation into one of the plotters, Raed Hijazi, and his US connections. “Customs agents for months traced money flowing from several Boston banks to banks overseas, where officials believe the funds were intended for bin Laden’s network.” In September and October 2000, Jordanian officials gave US investigators evidence of financial transactions connecting Raed Hijazi, Nabil al-Marabh, and future 9/11 hijacker Hamza Alghamdi (see September 2000; October 2000). By spring 2001, Custom agents further connect al-Marabh and Hijazi to financial deals with future 9/11 hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi and Satam Al Suqami. The Washington Post will later note, “These various connections not only suggest that investigators are probing ties between bin Laden and the hijackers, but also that federal authorities knew about some of those associations long before the bombings.” [WASHINGTON POST, 9/21/2001] It appears that the money flowed from al-Marabh to Alghamdi and Al Suqami. [COX NEWS SERVICE, 10/16/2001; ABC NEWS 7 (CHICAGO), 1/31/2002] While accounts of these connections to Alghamdi and Al Suqami will be widely reported in the media in the months after 9/11, a Customs Service spokesman will say he can neither confirm nor deny the existence of the inquiry. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/18/2001] It appears that the two hijackers are not put on any kind of watch list and are not stopped when they arrive in the US on April 23, 2001, and May 2, 2001, respectively (see April 23-June 29, 2001). British newspapers will note that Alghamdi was one of several hijackers who should have been “instantly ‘red-flagged’ by British intelligence” but in fact is not when he passes through Britain sometime in early 2001 (see January-June 2001). The 9/11 Commission Final Report will fail to mention the Customs investigation and will give no hint that these hijackers’ names were known in the US before 9/11. Entity Tags: Satam Al Suqami, Raed Hijazi, 9/11 Commission, Nabil al-Marabh, US Customs Service, Jordan, Ahmed Alghamdi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

March 2001: Some 9/11 Hijackers Record Videos in Afghanistan Pledging Martyrdom

Stills from martyr videos recorded in March 2001. From top to bottom: Ahmed Alhaznawi, Abdulaziz Alomari, Saeed Alghamdi, Wail Alshehri, and Hamza Alghamdi. The backgrounds were digitally inserted later. [Source: Al-Jazeera] Supposedly, all 13 of the “muscle” hijackers record a farewell video before leaving training in Kandahar, Afghanistan, around this time. [CBS NEWS, 10/9/2002] Several will be released after 9/11. A video of Ahmed Alhaznawi will be shown by the Al Jazeera television network in April 2002. In it, he pledges to give his life to “martyrdom” and swears to send a “bloodied message” to Americans by attacking them in their “heartland.” [GUARDIAN, 4/16/2002] In September 2002, Al Jazeera will show a similar farewell video of Abdulaziz Alomari made around the same time. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/9/2002] Alomari states, “I am writing this with my full conscience and I am writing this in expectation of the end, which is near… God praise everybody who trained and helped me, namely the leader Sheik Osama bin Laden.” [WASHINGTON POST, 9/11/2002] Saeed Alghamdi’s video will be released in September 2003, and Wail Alshehri and Hamza Alghamdi’s videos will be released in September 2006 (see September 7, 2006). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/7/2006]

April 1-May 27, 2001: Additional 9/11 Hijackers Spend Time in Malaysia Edit

Two of the 9/11 hijackers travel to Malaysia and spend some time there. Satam al Suqami arrives on April 1 and stays there for just under two weeks, before traveling to the United Arab Emirates. Abdulaziz Alomari arrives on May 7 and spends three weeks there, before departing for the same destination. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 42, 50 ] There are no reports about what Alomari and al Suqami do in Malaysia or who they meet. Lead hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar visit Malaysia before 9/11 and meet other extremists there (see January 5-8, 2000), as does Zacarias Moussaoui (see September-October 2000). Almihdhar again visits Malaysia in the summer of 2001 (see June 2001), and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, an associate of the plot leaders, travels there in June 2001. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 243-4]

April 11-June 28, 2001: 9/11 ‘Muscle’ Hijackers Arrive in Dubai on Way to US =Edit

The muscle hijackers arrive in Dubai on their way to the US (see April 23-June 29, 2001):

April 12: Satam al Suqami arrives in the United Arab Emirates from Malaysia (see April 1-May 27, 2001); 

The hijackers typically remain in Dubai for a few weeks before moving on to the US (see April 23-June 29, 2001). While in Dubai the hijackers purchase traveler’s checks.

[US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 44-48 ] 

In addition, Wail Alshehri obtains an international driving permit in Sharjah on June 5. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 47 ] Some of these hijackers are assisted by plot facilitator Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi (see Early-Late June, 2001). It is not clear who helps the others, although Dubai-based Ali Abdul Aziz Ali previously assisted some of the hijackers (see June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000), and Saeed Sheikh, who has Dubai connections, may also assist some of them (see Early August 2001). In addition, Victor Bout, an arms dealer who flies shipments for al-Qaeda and the Taliban through the UAE, is based in Sharjah (see Mid-1996-October 2001).

April 22-June 27, 2001: Some Hijackers Transit London on Way to US, One or More Apparently on British Watch List Edit

Some of the “muscle hijackers” transit London when traveling between Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and the US (see April 11-June 28, 2001 and April 23-June 29, 2001):

Satam al Suqami and Waleed Alshehri leave Dubai on April 22, change planes in London, and arrive in Orlando the next day. 

[US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 42-50 ] There are also some reports that some of the hijackers spend more time in Britain (see January-June 2001 and June 2001). Ahmed Alghamdi is later said to have been on a British watch list and the Sunday Herald will say that he should have been “instantly ‘red-flagged’ by British intelligence” as he passed through Britain. Alghamdi was linked by the FBI to Raed Hijazi, an associate of Osama bin Laden in prison in Jordan for plotting a bombing campaign there, so the British may have watchlisted him based on information from the US. Two other hijackers that may have been on the British watch list are Satam al Suqami and Hamza Alghamdi, who were investigated by US customs together with Ahmed Alghamdi. If Ahmed Alghamdi was watchlisted based on US information, the names of the other two hijackers may have been passed to the British along with his name. Al Suqami and Ahmed Alghamdi are connected to both Hijazi and one of his associates, Nabil al-Marabh, and are reported to be under investigation, starting between autumn 2000 and spring 2001, by US customs and the FBI (see September 2000, Spring 2001 and September 11, 2001). A British intelligence source will say: “There is no way that MI5 and MI6 should have missed these guys. Britain has a history of having Islamic extremists in the country. We should have been watching them.” [SUNDAY HERALD (GLASGOW), 9/30/2001] Alghamdi appears to have been questioned about bin Laden after arriving in the US from London, but he is not stopped from entering the country (see May 2, 2001). According to The Times, the identities of some of the men are in question: “Officials hope that the inquiries in Britain will disclose the true identities of the suicide team. Some are known to have arrived in Britain using false passports and fake identities that they kept for the hijack. There are serious question marks over the identities of at least four of the visitors to Britain.” [LONDON TIMES, 9/26/2001]

April 23 2001: 9/11 ‘Muscle’ Hijackers Arrive in US at This Time or Earlier Edit

The 13 hijackers commonly known as the “muscle” allegedly first arrive in the US. The muscle provides the brute force meant to control the hijacked passengers and protect the pilots. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/30/2001] Yet, according to the 9/11 Commission, these men “were not physically imposing,” with the majority of them between 5 feet 5 and 5 feet 7 tall, “and slender in build.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/16/2004, PP. 8] According to FBI Director Mueller, they all pass through Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and their travel was probably coordinated from abroad by Khalid Almihdhar. [US CONGRESS, 9/26/2002] However, some information contradicts their official arrival dates:

April 23: Waleed Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami arrive in Orlando, Florida. Suqami in fact arrived before February 2001. A man named Waleed Alshehri lived with a man named Ahmed Alghamdi in Virginia and Florida between 1997 and 2000. However, it is not clear whether they were the hijackers or just people with the same name (see 1999). [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/20/2001] 

After entering the US (or, perhaps, reentering), the hijackers arriving at Miami and Orlando airports settle in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area along with Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, and Ziad Jarrah. The hijackers, arriving in New York and Virginia, settle in the Paterson, New Jersey, area along with Nawaf Alhazmi and Hani Hanjour. [US CONGRESS, 9/26/2002] Note the FBI’s early conclusion that 11 of these muscle men “did not know they were on a suicide mission.” [OBSERVER, 10/14/2001] CIA Director Tenet’s later claim that they “probably were told little more than that they were headed for a suicide mission inside the United States” [US CONGRESS, 6/18/2002] and reports that they did not know the exact details of the 9/11 plot until shortly before the attack [CBS NEWS, 10/9/2002] are contradicted by video confessions made by all of them in March 2001 (see March 2001).

August 2001: Nurse Witnesses Hijackers at Rehab Clinic Owned by Convicted Felon; Fired After 9/11 for Speaking to FBI Edit

Eileen Luongo. [Source: CNN] A nurse at a drug rehabilitation clinic in a suburb of Miami allegedly witnesses several 9/11 hijackers using one of the clinic’s computers. Eileen Luongo, the director of nursing at the Seawinds Healthcare Services in Miami Shores, sees Mohamed Atta at the center in May. In August, she claims, she sees three other alleged 9/11 hijackers there: Marwan Alshehhi, Satam Al Suqami, and Waleed Alshehri. She spends 45 minutes with them after they come into her office to write a letter on a computer. She says, “They just came in like they knew where they were going and they had been there before.” Luongo later says she wondered if the men were acquaintances of the center’s Egyptian owner, Mohammed Ibrahim, or his relatives. [MIAMI HERALD, 11/29/2001; CNN, 11/30/2001; FOX NEWS, 12/7/2001] Ibrahim, according to the Miami New Times, is a “convicted felon and charming con man,” who, despite a dubious past, “remains remarkably unhindered by legal considerations and is constantly acquiring properties and embarking on new business ventures.” Since autumn 2000, unknown armed men have occasionally been witnessed showing up at Seawinds, such as a Cuban man who drove up and said to a member of staff, “Tell your boss I’m gonna kill him if he doesn’t pay me.” Furthermore, according to its former medical director Dr. Evan Zimmer, the clinic does not have the necessary licenses for the treatments it administers. [MIAMI NEW TIMES, 2/22/2001] Ibrahim is deported from the US in June 2001 and Seawinds will close three months later. After seeing photos of the suspected hijackers in a newspaper in late September 2001, Eileen Luongo will contact the FBI and report her encounters with four of them. Agents will meet her at Fort Lauderdale Hospital, where she works part-time. FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela says Luongo’s information provides “credible leads we needed to follow up on.” Yet immediately after she meets the agents, Luongo will be fired for doing so. At the time, the hospital will be under investigation by the FBI itself for possible health care fraud. [MIAMI HERALD, 11/29/2001; CNN, 11/30/2001; CNN, 11/30/2001]

May 1, 2001: 9/11 Hijackers Open More Florida Bank Accounts Edit

The 9/11 hijackers open nine new SunTrust bank accounts in Florida. One is opened by hijacker pilot Ziad Jarrah, the others by the newly arrived hijackers:

Satam Al Suqami and Waleed Alshehri open a joint account on May 1 with a $9,000 deposit; [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 136 ] 
[US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 3, 19 ] Many of the hijackers also obtain Florida driver’s licenses and ID cards at the same time (see April 12-September 7, 2001).

May 6-September 6, 2001: Some Hijackers Work Out at Gyms, Some Merely Hang Out Edit

The hijackers work out at various gyms, presumably getting in shape for the hijacking. Ziad Jarrah appears to train intensively from May to August, and Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi also take exercising very seriously. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/20/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/23/2001] However, these three are presumably pilots who would need the training the least. For instance, Jarrah’s trainer says, “If he wasn’t one of the pilots, he would have done quite well in thwarting the passengers from attacking.” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/20/2001] From September 2-6, Flight 77 hijackers Hani Hanjour, Majed Moqed, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi show up several times at a Gold’s Gym in Greenbelt, Maryland, signing the register with their real names and paying in cash. According to a Gold’s regional manager, they “seemed not to really know what they were doing” when using the weight machines. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/19/2001; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/20/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/21/2001; NEWSDAY, 9/23/2001] Three others—Waleed Alshehri, Wail Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami— “simply clustered around a small circuit of machines, never asking for help and, according to a trainer, never pushing any weights. ‘You know, I don’t actually remember them ever doing anything… They would just stand around and watch people.’” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/23/2001] Those three also had a one month membership in Florida—whether they ever actually worked out there is unknown. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/20/2001]

May 16, 2001: Two 9/11 Hijackers Refused Entry to Bahamas; US Immigration Mistakenly Thinks They Have Left US Edit

Waleed Alshehri. [Source: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division] 9/11 hijackers Satam Al Suqami and Waleed Alshehri attempt to enter the Bahamas, but are refused entry because they do not have visas. They fly from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Freeport, Bahamas, where they have a hotel reservation for three nights, but are turned away by the local authorities and have to return to the US. The 9/11 Commission will speculate that the trip is an unsuccessful attempt to extend Al Suqami’s visa, which is due to expire within days (see May 20, 2001). However, as they are refused entry to the Bahamas, they are regarded as never having left the US and Al Suqami is not given an extension to his permitted length of stay when he returns to Florida. Alshehri is stopped by US customs during pre-clearance in the Bahamas, but he is not searched and his luggage is not X-rayed; the inspection lasts one minute. There is an error regarding Alshehri’s port of departure on his INS record which indicates that he leaves from Fall River, Massachusetts, not Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The two hand over their departure records when they leave, but, since they do not enter the Bahamas, they do not receive new arrival records when they return to the US. This causes INS records to incorrectly indicate that the two are outside the country from this date until 9/11. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 23, 41 ]

May 20, 2001: Hijacker Overstays US Visa Edit

9/11 hijacker Satam Al Suqami becomes an illegal overstay on this day. He entered the US on April 23 (see April 23-June 29, 2001) and was allowed to stay for 30 days, so, according to the 9/11 Commission, his permission to remain in the US expires on this day. He remains in illegal status until 9/11. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 8, 21, 23 ] Both Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi also overstayed their visas (see January 10, 2001 and January 11-18, 2001). At least one more of the hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar, lied on his visa application form, meaning he was in the US illegally (see August 29, 2001).

July 3, 2001: 9/11 Hijacker Possibly Obtains Florida ID Card; 9/11 Commission Will Dispute This Edit

According to the St. Petersburg Times, 9/11 hijacker Satam Al Suqami obtains a Florida ID card on this day. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/16/2001] However, the 9/11 Commission will make no mention of this card and will say that Al Suqami was the sole hijacker not to obtain US identification. Al Suqami’s passport will be found on the day of 9/11 near the World Trade Center, before it collapses (see After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). The Commission will give this lack of US identification as the reason Al Suqami took his passport on his final flight, enabling it to be found. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 8, 33 ] The article in the St. Petersburg Times saying that Al Suqami gets the ID card on this day will contain some errors regarding some of the other hijackers. For example, it will evidently confuse hijacker Abdulaziz Alomari with a man with a similar name who also lived in Florida. However, even though it will be published only five days after 9/11, the article will contain details which indicate the information it contains about Al Suqami may well be correct:

It gives Al Suqami’s middle initials as “MA,” and this is correct: his middle names were Mohamed al-Rahman; 
It says his previous driver’s license was issued in Saudi Arabia and he is a Saudi; 
It says the ID card was issued around the same time several of the other Florida-based hijackers obtained similar cards. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/16/2001; US DISTRICT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006] For example, Wail Alshehri obtained a Florida ID card on the same day, and two days previously Hamza Alghamdi obtained a Florida driver’s license and Mohand Alshehri obtained a Florida ID card (see April 12-September 7, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 27 ]

August 16, 2001: Moussaoui’s Belongings Possess Information Sufficient to Roll Up 9/11 Plot Edit

After Zacarias Moussaoui is arrested, the FBI wishes to search his possessions (see August 16, 2001 and August 23-27, 2001). According to a presentation made by FBI agent Aaron Zebley at Moussaoui’s trial, the belongings are sufficient to potentially connect Moussaoui to eleven of the 9/11 hijackers: Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Ziad Jarrah, Hani Hanjour, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Fayez Banihammad, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Hamza Alghamdi, Satam Al Suqami, and Waleed Alshehri. The connections would be made, for example, through Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who spoke with Moussaoui on the telephone and wired him money (see July 29, 2001-August 3, 2001), and who was linked to three of the hijacker pilots from their time in Germany together (see November 1, 1998-February 2001). Bin al-Shibh also received money from Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, who was connected to hijacker Fayez Ahmed Banihammad (see June 25, 2001). [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006] Moussaoui’s notebook contained two recognizable control numbers for the Western Union wire transfers from bin al-Shibh and, according to McClatchy newspapers, a check on these numbers “would probably have uncovered other wires in the preceding days” to bin al-Shibh from al-Hawsawi. [MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS, 9/11/2007] The discovery of the eleven hijackers could potentially have led to the discovery of some or all of the remaining eight plot members, as they were brothers (Wail and Waleed Alshehri, Nawaf and Salem Alhazmi), opened bank accounts together (see May 1-July 18, 2001 and June 27-August 23, 2001), lived together (see March 2001-September 1, 2001), obtained identity documents together (see April 12-September 7, 2001 and August 1-2, 2001), arrived in the US together (see April 23-June 29, 2001), and booked tickets on the same four flights on 9/11 (see August 25-September 5, 2001).

August 16-September 10, 2001: Hijackers Make Series of Deposits to Bank Accounts Edit

Several deposits are made to the hijackers’ accounts. Details are available for some of the deposits for eleven of the nineteen hijackers: Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Ziad Jarrah, Hani Hanjour, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Ahmed Alhazmawi, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Hamza Alghamdi, Waleed Alshehri, and Satam Al Suqami. Over $40,000 is deposited in their accounts, much in cash. The largest amounts deposited in one day occur on August 24, when $8,000 is split equally between Hamza Alghamdi’s account and a joint account of Atta and Alshehhi, and September 5, when a total of $9,650 is split between Banihammad’s and Hamza Alghamdi’s accounts, and the joint Atta/Alshehhi account. The smallest deposit is $120, paid into Khalid Almihdhar’s First Union National Bank account on September 9. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] Although it is impossible to trace the exact origins of the deposits, possible sources include withdrawals from other hijackers’ bank accounts, cash and traveler’s checks brought in by the hijackers in the spring/early summer (see January 15, 2000-August 2001), car sales, and money distributed by Atta, who reportedly received around $100,000 in early August (see Early August 2001, Summer 2001 and

August 28: Hijackers Spend Over $30,000 on 9/11 Tickets Edit

All the hijackers book their flights for 9/11, using their apparent real names. The total cost of the tickets is in excess of $30,000:

August 28: Waleed Alshehri purchases a ticket for Satam Al Suqami for American Airlines flight 11 in person from the company’s counter at Fort Lauderdale Airport. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 73 ] 

At least five tickets are one way only. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/18/2001] There are numerous connections between the hijackers booked on the four flights by this point:

Hijackers on different 9/11 flights arrived in the US on the same plane. For example, Salem Alhazmi (Flight 77) arrived with Abdulaziz Alomari (Flight 11), and Fayez Ahmed Banihammad (Flight 175) arrived with Saeed Alghamdi (Flight 93) (see April 23-June 29, 2001); 
Hijackers from different planes open bank accounts together (see May 1-July 18, 2001 and June 27-August 23, 2001); and 
The hijackers obtain identity documents together (see April 12-September 7, 2001 and August 1-2, 2001). 

Six hijackers also provide the same phone number and three use the same address. [MIAMI HERALD, 9/22/2001]

September 2001Edit

September 7-11, 2001: Some 9/11 Hijackers Sleep with ProstitutesEdit

In the days before the attacks, some of the hijackers (including Waleed Alshehri and/or Wail Alshehri) apparently sleep with prostitutes in Boston hotel rooms, or at least try to do so. A driver working at an “escort service” used by the hijackers claims he regularly drove prostitutes to a relative of bin Laden about once a week until 9/11, when the relative disappeared. Bin Laden has several relatives in the Boston area, most or all of whom returned to Saudi Arabia right after 9/11. [BOSTON HERALD, 10/10/2001] On September 7, two female escorts are sent to “Arab men” in the Park Inn, Boston. One of the escorts will later say that a photo of Satam Al Suqami looks “very familiar.” [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 264 ] On September 10, four other hijackers in Boston (Marwan Alshehhi, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Mohand Alshehri, and Satam Al Suqami) call around to find prostitutes to sleep with on their last night alive, but in the end decline. Says one official, “It was going to be really expensive and they couldn’t come to a consensus on price, so that was the end of it… Either they thought it was too extravagant [over $400] or they did not have enough money left.” [BOSTON GLOBE, 10/10/2001]

Before September 11, 2001: Hijackers Drink Alcohol and Watch Strip Shows, Especially towards Eve of Attacks Edit

A number of the hijackers apparently drink alcohol heavily in bars, sleep with prostitutes, and watch strip shows in the US in the months and especially the days leading up to 9/11.

Several hijackers reportedly patronize the Nardone’s Go-Go Bar in Elizabeth, New Jersey. They are even seen there on the weekend before 9/11. [BOSTON HERALD, 10/10/2001; WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/16/2001] 

Temple University in Philadelphia professor Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub will later comment: “It is incomprehensible that a person could drink and go to a strip bar one night, then kill themselves the next day in the name of Islam.… People who would kill themselves for their faith would come from very strict Islamic ideology. Something here does not add up.” [SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL, 9/16/2001]

(6:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Hijackers Cause Trouble at Logan Airport; Have Flight Training Manuals in Car Edit

Flight 11 hijackers Waleed Alshehri, Wail Alshehri, and Satam Al Suqami arrive at Boston’s Logan Airport in a rental car, which they park in the airport’s central parking lot. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 5 ] According to the News of the World, a man who arrives at Logan at “about 6:30 a.m.” for an early flight, has an argument with several Middle Eastern men over a parking space, before moving on. Some early press reports say his confrontation is with five men. [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/13/2001; ABC NEWS, 9/14/2001; NEWS OF THE WORLD, 9/16/2001] However, the 9/11 Commission will later describe the incident differently. It says there are just three Middle Eastern men, and the man ends up parked next to them. One of them opens his car door to get out then spends time “fiddling with his things,” thus trapping the man in his car. Eventually he has to force his way out, but the Middle Eastern men are completely unresponsive to him, saying nothing. The man will report the incident to authorities after hearing of the attacks. However, whether he identifies the men as Flight 11 hijackers is unstated. The hijackers’ car, which is associated with either Wail or Waleed Alshehri, will be found in the lot later in the day of 9/11. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 85 ] Inside the car, a Mitsubishi sedan rented from National Rental Car, are found Arabic-language flight training manuals. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/12/2001; BOSTON HERALD, 9/12/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/13/2001]

(6:45 a.m.-7:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Three Flight 11 Hijackers Selected for Additional Screening When They Pass through Airport Security Edit

During this period, all five Flight 11 hijackers check in at Boston’s Logan Airport and board their plane, bound for Los Angeles. The FAA has a program in place called the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS), which is designed to identify those passengers most likely requiring additional scrutiny by airport security (see (6:20 a.m.-7:48 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Ticket records will show that CAPPS selects three of the Flight 11 hijackers at Logan: Since Waleed Alshehri checks no bags his selection has no consequences; Wail Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami have their bags scanned for explosives, but are not stopped. All five hijackers would need to pass through a security checkpoint to reach the departure gate for their flight. Each would have been screened as they walked through a metal detector calibrated to detect items with at least the metal content of a small-caliber handgun. If they’d set this off, they would have been screened with a handheld metal detector. An X-ray machine would have screened their carry-on luggage. However, Logan Airport has no video surveillance of its security checkpoints (see 1991-2000), so there is no documentary evidence of exactly when they pass through them, or if alarms are triggered. According to the 9/11 Commission, none of the checkpoint supervisors later recall seeing any of the Flights 11 hijackers, or report anything suspicious having occurred. [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/27/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 1-2; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/26/2004, PP. 5-6 ] However, a WorldNetDaily article will claim that some Logan staff members recall seeing Mohamed Atta (see (6:50 a.m.-7:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WORLDNETDAILY, 9/21/2001] The Boston Globe will later comment, “aviation specialists have said it is unlikely that more rigorous attention to existing rules would have thwarted the 10 hijackers who boarded two jets at Logan on Sept. 11. At the time, the knives and box-cutters they were carrying were permitted.” [BOSTON GLOBE, 10/17/2001]

(7:00 a.m.-7:45 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Computer Screening Program Selects Some Hijackers; Fails to Stop Them Edit

Sometime during this period, the hijackers pass through airport security checkpoints at the various airports. The FAA has a screening program in place called the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS). CAPPS automatically targets passengers for additional screening based on suspicious behavior such as buying one-way tickets or paying with cash. If a passenger is selected, their bags are thoroughly screened for explosives, but their bodies are not searched. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/28/2004] CAPPS selects three of the five Flight 11 hijackers. Since Waleed Alshehri checked no bags, his selection had no consequences. Wail Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami have their bags scanned for explosives, but are not stopped. No Flight 175 hijackers are selected. Only Ahmad Alhaznawi is selected from Flight 93. His bag is screened for explosives, but he is not stopped. The 9/11 Commission later concludes that Alhaznawi and Ahmed Alnami, also headed to Flight 93, have suspicious indicators and that they could have been linked to al-Qaeda upon inspection, but it has not been explained why or how. [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/27/2004; BALTIMORE SUN, 1/27/2004]

(8:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Israeli Special-Ops Passenger Possibly Shot or Stabbed by Hijackers Edit

An FAA memo written on the evening of 9/11, and later leaked, will suggest that a man on Flight 11 is shot and killed by a gun before the plane crashes into the World Trade Center. The “Executive Summary,” based on information relayed by a flight attendant to the American Airlines Operation Center, states “that a passenger located in seat 10B [Satam Al Suqami] shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B [Daniel Lewin] at 9:20 a.m.” (Note that since Flight 11 crashes at 8:46, the time must be a typographical error, probably meaning 8:20). A report in Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on September 17 will identify Lewin as a former member of the Israel Defense Force Sayeret Matkal, Israel’s most successful Special Operations unit. [UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 3/6/2002] Sayeret Matkal is a deep penetration unit that has been involved in assassinations, the theft of foreign signals intelligence materials, and the theft and destruction of foreign nuclear weaponry. It is best known for the 1976 rescue of 106 passengers at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. [NEW YORKER, 10/29/2001] Lewin founded Akamai, a successful computer company, and his connections to Sayeret Matkal will remain hidden until the gun story becomes known. [GUARDIAN, 9/15/2001] FAA and American Airline officials will later deny the gun story and suggest that Lewin is probably stabbed to death instead. [WASHINGTON POST, 3/2/2002; UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 3/6/2002] Officials assert that the leaked document was a “first draft,” and subsequently corrected, but decline to release the final draft, calling it “protected information.” However, an FAA official present when the memo is drafted will dispute the FAA’s claim, asserting that “[t]he document was reviewed for accuracy by a number of people in the room, including myself and a couple of managers of the operations center.” [WORLDNETDAILY, 3/7/2002] This unnamed official is probably Bogdan Dzakovic, a leader of the FAA’s “red team” conducting covert security inspections. He will later tell the 9/11 Commission: “There are serious indications that the FAA deceived the public about what happened on 9/11. On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, I was working in one of the FAA operations centers collecting information on details of what happened during the hijacking. We received information that a firearm was used on one of the hijacked aircraft.… That evening the administrator of FAA requested an executive summary covering the day’s activities, and this information about a gun was included in the summary. Days later, without any explanation or questioning of the summary’s author, the administrator publicly announced that no guns had been used in the hijacking. Several months passed when the press re-surfaced this issue. FAA’s initial response was that no so such executive summary existed. Later, when confronted with the document, FAA admitted the executive summary existed, but denied its accuracy. Sometime later I learned that another operations center also received a report that a firearm was used.… There were also reports of a possible explosive threatened on a flight.” [CBS NEWS, 2/25/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 5/22/2003; VILLAGE VOICE, 2/8/2005] Entity Tags: American Airlines, Bogdan Dzakovic, Satam Al Suqami, Sayeret Matkal, Daniel Lewin, Federal Aviation Administration Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Before 8:26 a.m. September 11, 2001: Hijackers Identified by Seat Locations Edit

Having been told by flight attendant Amy Sweeney the seat locations of three hijackers (see 8:22 a.m. September 11, 2001), American Airlines Flight service manager Michael Woodward orders a colleague at Boston’s Logan Airport to look up those seat locations on the reservations computer. The names, addresses, phone numbers, and credit cards of these hijackers are quickly identified: Abdulaziz Alomari is in 9G, Mohamed Atta is in 9D, and Satam Al Suqami is in 10B. 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey notes that from this information, American Airlines officials monitoring the call would probably have known or assumed right away that the hijacking was connected to al-Qaeda. [ABC NEWS, 7/18/2002; NEW YORK OBSERVER, 2/15/2004]

After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001: Hijacker’s Passport Allegedly Found near World Trade Center Edit

The passport of hijacker Satam Al Suqami is reportedly found a few blocks from the World Trade Center. [ABC NEWS, 9/12/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/16/2001; ABC NEWS, 9/16/2001] Barry Mawn, the director of the FBI’s New York office, will say that police and the FBI find it during a “grid search” of the area. [CNN, 9/18/2001] However a senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission will later claim the passport is actually discovered by a passerby and given to a New York City Police Department detective, “shortly before the World Trade Center towers collapsed.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004] The Guardian will comment, “The idea that Mohamed Atta’s passport had escaped from that inferno unsinged [tests] the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI’s crackdown on terrorism.” (Note that, as in this Guardian account, the passport will frequently be mistakenly referred to as Atta’s passport.) [GUARDIAN, 3/19/2002]

September 11, 2001: Existing Files on Hijackers Enables Investigation to Start Within Hours of Attacks Edit

One day after 9/11, the New York Times will report that FBI agents in Florida investigating the hijackers quickly “descended on flight schools, neighborhoods and restaurants in pursuit of leads.” At one flight school, “students said investigators were there within hours of Tuesday’s attacks.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/13/2001] Also on September 12, the Times will report, “Authorities said they had also identified accomplices in several cities who had helped plan and execute Tuesday’s attacks. Officials said they knew who these people were and important biographical details about many of them. They prepared biographies of each identified member of the hijack teams, and began tracing the recent movements of the men.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/13/2001] In September 2002, 9/11 victim’s relative Kristen Breitweiser, testifying before the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, will cite these news reports and will ask, “How did the FBI know exactly where to go only a few hours after the attacks? How did they know which neighborhoods, which flight schools and which restaurants to investigate so soon in the case?… How are complete biographies of the terrorists, and their accomplices, created in such short time? Did our intelligence agencies already have open files on these men? Were they already investigating them? Could the attacks of September 11th been prevented?” [US CONGRESS, 9/18/2002] In at least some cases, it appears that US intelligence did quickly access existing files on the hijackers. The Washington Post reports, “In the hours after Tuesday’s bombings, investigators searched their files on [Satam] Al Suqami and [Ahmed] Alghamdi, noted the pair’s ties to [Nabil] al-Marabh and launched a hunt for him.” A top Customs official claims that by checking flight manifests and comparing them with other information such as watch lists, he is able to determine the names of all 19 hijackers by 11:00 a.m.(see (11:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 9/21/2001]

After September 2001Edit

October 21, 2002: 13 Hijackers Were Never Interviewed by US Consular Officials Edit

The General Accounting Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, releases a report asserting that at least 13 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were never interviewed by US consular officials before being granted visas to enter the US. This contradicts previous assurances from the State Department that 12 of the hijackers had been interviewed. It also found that, for 15 hijackers whose applications could be found, none had filled in the documents properly. Records for four other hijackers (the four non-Saudis, i.e., Ziad Jarrah, Mohamed Atta, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, and Marwan Al Shehhi) could not be checked because they were accidentally destroyed. [NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE, 10/21/2002; UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, 10/21/2002 ; WASHINGTON POST, 10/22/2002] The State Department maintains that visa procedures were properly followed. In December 2002, Senators Jon Kyl (R) and Pat Roberts (R) state in a chapter of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry that “if State Department personnel had merely followed the law and not granted non-immigrant visas to 15 of the 19 hijackers in Saudi Arabia… 9/11 would not have happened.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/19/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. PP. 653-673 ]

March 2004: CIA Finds 9/11 Hijackers Used 364 Aliases and Name Variants Edit

After investigating the 9/11 hijackers, the CIA finds that the 19 operatives used a total of 364 aliases, including different spellings of their own names and noms de guerre. Although some examples are made public, the full list is not disclosed. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 1, 5 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] However, an FBI timeline of hijacker movements made public in 2008 will mention some of the aliases. For example:

Hani Hanjour and Ahmed Alghamdi rent a New Jersey apartment using the names Hany Saleh and Ahmed Saleh. (Saleh is Hanjour’s middle name.) [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 144, 205 ] 
Fayez Ahmed Banihammad uses the aliases Abu Dhabi Banihammad and Fayey Rashid Ahmed. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 167, 174 ] 
Nawaf Alhazmi uses the aliases Nawaf Alharbi and Nawaf Alzmi Alhazmi. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 60 ; FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 248 ] 
Mohamed Atta frequently likes to use variants of the name El Sayed, for instance calling himself Awaid Elsayed and even Hamburg Elsayed. Marwan Alshehhi also uses the Elsayed alias. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 125, 126 ] 
When Majed Moqed flies into the US on May 2, 2001, the name Mashaanmoged Mayed is on the flight manifest. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 139 ] 

In contrast to this, many reports emphasize that the hijackers usually used their own names. For example, the 9/11 Commission will say, “The hijackers opened accounts in their own names, using passports and other identification documents.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 22 ] In addition, a Commission staffer will tell UPI: “They did not need fake passports. The plotters all used their own passports to get into the country and once here, used US-issued ID documents whenever possible.” [UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 8/17/2005]

August 21, 2004: 9/11 Commission Confused Over Hijackers’ ID Documents Edit

The 9/11 Commission attempts to make a list of all identity documents obtained by the hijackers, but its account, contained mostly in its Terrorist Travel Monograph, may be incomplete:

The Commission says several of the hijackers obtained USA ID cards in the summer of 2001 (see (July-August 2001)), although at least one, and possibly more of the cards is fake, and this is not mentioned by the Commission. According to it, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Abdulaziz Alomari obtained their cards on July 10. However, the Commission gives conflicting dates for Salem Alhazmi, Majed Moqed, and Ahmed Alghamdi. For example, in one place it says Alghamdi got his card in July and in another it says he got it in August. At least one card, that of Khalid Almihdhar, is fake and ID forger Mohamed el-Atriss will be arrested after 9/11 and sentenced to jail for forging IDs for the hijackers (see (July-August 2001) and November 2002-June 2003). The Commission further says that the Alhazmi brothers’ cards were “found in the rubble at the Pentagon,” citing a US Secret Service report. Although an image of a damaged USA ID card belonging to Nawaf Alhazmi will be produced as evidence at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, according to the 9/11 Commission Salem Alhazmi was unable to produce any photo ID when checking in for his flight on 9/11 (see (7:25 a.m.-7:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001), so it is unclear how his card came to be at the Pentagon. In addition, in the Commission’s Terrorist Travel Monograph, the mention of Salem Alhazmi’s card in the list of hijackers’ ID will be followed by a reference to an endnote. However, this endnote is missing; [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 27-29, 31-32, 34-44 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006] 
FBI Director Robert Mueller will later say that the six hijackers who obtained USA ID cards plus Mohamed Atta obtained unspecified identification cards in Paterson, New Jersey (see July 2001). However, it is unclear whether this statement refers to the USA ID cards, or a different set of ID cards not mentioned by the 9/11 Commission; 
The Commission will say that Satam Al Suqami did not obtain any ID document in the US, which is why he had to take his passport on his final flight. The passport was found shortly after the plane he was traveling on hit the WTC (see After 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 27-29, 31-32, 34-44 ] However, Florida media reported a man named Satam Al Suqami obtained a Florida ID card on July 3, 2001, around the same time as several other hijackers obtained similar cards; [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/16/2001] 
Ahmed Alhaznawi had a Florida’s driver’s license and two duplicates. Although the Commission mentions the original license and second duplicate, it does not mention the first one, issued on July 24, 2004. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/14/2001; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 28, 32, 33 ]

References Edit

  1. Joe Conger (January 10, 2001). "2 hijackers identified as former S.A. residents". mysanantonio.com. "At least five sources tell KENS 5, two of the men, Satam M.A. Al Suqami and Salem Alhazmi, lived at the Spanish Trace Apartments on the North Side earlier this year" 
  2. "911 Commission Report, section 7.4 'Final Strategies and Tactics', page 241". 
  3. Videotape of recorded will of Abdulaziz al-Omari and others
  4. "Sept. 11 Hijacker Made Test Flights". CBS. October 9, 2002. 
  5. "9/11 Commission Report (Chapter 1)". July 2004. 
  6. "The Aviation Security System and the 9/11 Attacks - Staff Statement No. 3" (PDF). 9/11 Commission. 
  7. "Ashcroft says more attacks may be planned". CNN. September 18, 2001. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 9/11 Commission hearings, January 26, 2004, Opening staff statement, Susan Ginsburg
  9. Karpf, Anne (March 19, 2002). "Uncle Sam's lucky finds". London: The Guardian. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  10. http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/09/remembering_september_11th.html#photo14
  11. . 
  12. . 
  13. . 
  14. . 
  15. . 
  16. . 
  17. 9/11 Commission Report,26 July 2004,Page 233
  18. [LONDON TIMES, 11/25/2007]
  19. [WASHINGTON POST, 2/20/2006]
  20. 9/11 Commission Report,26 July 2004,Page 233
  21. 9/11 Commission Report,26 July 2004,Page 234
  22. 9/11 Commission Report,26 July 2004,Page 233, Page 234
  23. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 56 ]
  24. 9/11 Commission Report,26 July 2004,Page 526
  25. [FARAH AND BRAUN, 2007, PP. 140]

External links Edit

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