We are told the nineteen hijackers were fanatical extremist Muslims bent on punishing America’s decadence and Godlessness – that their whole mission was inspired and driven by radical Islam fundamentalism – but eyewitness statements, credit card payments and bills show that during the weeks before the attacks, the men believed to be the hijackers drank heavily, cursed, took cocaine, ate pork (forbidden to Muslims), frequented lap dance clubs, hired prostitutes, dated white girls and bought pornography.
And while it is certain that some terrorist leaders would have very much liked to attack the World Trade Center and other targets at that time, and may even have been planning to do so (see 7 – US foreknowledge), it is also clear that the identities and motives of those who finally appear to have done it are impossible to pin down.
All the hijackers were identified within hours of the attacks, beginning with ‘ringleader’ Mohammed Atta, whose suitcases were found at Logan airport – coincidentally the only pieces of luggage that didn’t make it onto the flight. They contained a handheld electronic flight computer, a procedures manual for Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, two videotapes about the aircraft, a slide-rule flight calculator, a copy of the Koran, Atta’s passport, his will, his international driver’s license, a religious cassette tape, airline uniforms, a letter of recommendation, education related documentation and a letter to the other hijackers on how to mentally prepare for the hijacking – a letter which demonstrates surprising unfamiliarity with Islam. In rental cars, apartments, mosques and bars used by the hijackers, a wealth of indicators to their presences was found, including more flight manuals, martial arts manuals, left-behind Korans, credit cards, bills, receipts, flight logs, flight maps, business cards and much more. Two of the hijackers had deliberately left two duffel bags full of clues at a mosque with a note reading ‘gift for the brothers’. The hijackers had apparently paid for even small purchases like pizza with credit cards; virtually every move they’d made in the last few weeks could be tracked. The New Yorker quoted a former high-level intelligence official as saying: “Whatever trail was left was left deliberately—for the FBI to chase”. However, beyond these obvious clues, the accused hijackers left no paper trail. The FBI could not find a support network for the group and admit they have no proof that they planned the attacks.
Yet it appears almost certain that some, if not all, of the hijackers led double lives – literally.
Mohammed Atta was described by his father as painfully shy, afraid of women, and a sufferer of severe travel sickness when he flew. Colleagues at the planning consultancy he worked at in Hamburg described him as introverted and very reserved, and said he prayed regularly in the office, in line with Muslim law. Yet in April and May 2000, an employee of the US Department of Agriculture describes a very strange and alarming exchange with him about a loan for a crop dusting plane, in which he talked about Afghanistan, al Qaeda and bin Laden, asked about security at the WTC and other US landmarks, asked to buy the aerial photograph of Washington hanging on her wall, and talked about slitting her throat, stealing money and flying planes into buildings. This meeting took place a month before Atta officially entered the United States, and does not appear in the official reports, which insist “There were no slip-ups. Discipline never broke down. They gave no hint to those around them what they were about”. In fact, there are reports of Atta being in the US several times before the date given as his first. Atta apparently used different names at different times, and registered himself as Egyptian in some countries and as a United Arab Emirates national in others. Often, reports show him in two places at once, or entering the US twice in the same day. Eyewitnesses in Venice, Florida, where Atta learned to fly, directly contradict the FBI’s account of his last movements. Overall it is hard to ignore the evidence that Mohammed Atta, the accused hijacker, appears to have been not one person but two. Atta’s father insists his son called him, terrified for his life, on September 13th 2001 and then went into hiding. In a 2005 interview he declared that his son had been assassinated by MOSSAD.
Accounts tell of two Ziad Jarrahs as well; one in New York (who matches the photo of the alleged hijacker) and one still at home with his family (the family of the alleged hijacker) in Lebanon – and there are further accounts of him being in two places at once. Ziad had recently told his girlfriend he wanted to have children soon and sent her a farewell letter and apology the day before the attacks – but made an error in the address, and it was returned to the US, raising questions as to whether it was he that sent it at all. Descriptions of Jarrah’s personality, like Atta’s, vary wildly.
Three more of the hijackers are reported to have been on both the east and west coasts at once on certain days in early September, and others were seen in the US before the time the FBI asserts that they did.
On literally dozens of occasions, the nineteen hijackers managed to get US visas without standard interviews and despite obvious lies, errors, omissions or suspicious indicators on their application forms and passports, violated their immigration statuses but were still able to re-enter the US, overstayed their visas but were still able to re-enter the US, and were able to get passports despite being on watch lists (see Sept 2000 – Sept 2001). Mohammed Atta, Nawaf Alhazmi and Ziad Jarrah all had contact with the police in the last few months before the attacks, but their illegal visa statuses and watch list presences were apparently not noticed. A blind eye was turned when Atta and Alshehhi abandoned a stalled plane at an airport and took no responsibility, and Israeli agents investigating the same pair in Florida were deported. Jarrah was detained by UAE authorities after a time in Afghanistan, but US agents told them to let him go and promised to monitor him.
Furthermore, three of the hijackers – Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar – were known al Qaeda veterans with links to the 1998 embassy bombings and foiled Millenium plots, were tracked by Saudi officials since at least this date, and were tracked by the CIA to an al Qaeda summit where the 9/11 plot was discussed in December 1999, and into America in the summer of 2001. The hijackers also interacted with fourteen individuals investigated by the FBI before 9/11, including four currently under investigation when the hijackers met with them. Yet apparently none of them were being watched. Almihdhar was on a NSA (National Security Agency) watch list since January 2000 and was placed on an INS and customs watch list and had his visa revoked, but officials were told not to detain him. It is impossible that none of these men were being watched.
Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar were also Saudi agents, who lived with an FBI informant in the US and travelled freely in America with the full knowledge and protection of the CIA. The White House and the FBI blocked 9/11 Commission interviews with the FBI informant who sheltered them. Saudi involvement with the attacks is not explored in any official accounts, and in fact was censored from the Congressional report (see 13 – Foreign connections).
Some credit cards used by the hijackers were still used in the US after 9/11. For instance, a credit card jointly owned by Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi was used twice on September 15. This is FBI information. This investigative report backs the claim up, swears that the user of the card was Marwan Alshehhi himself, who was supposed to be dead, and traces the credit cards used by the hijackers directly to the US government.
Several of the hijackers received training at US military bases. Several others received training from Luai Sakra, al Qaeda’s fifth-in-command – and a CIA informant, according to Turkish intelligence. When the FBI tracked one of the hijacker’s flight tickets to a computer in Oklahoma University, they found that it was a white American man who had bought it.
Rudi Dekkers, the owner of Huffman Aviation, the flight school where alleged 9/11 hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi trained at (and himself a highly suspicious character), said he never saw Atta and Alshehhi pray when they were at his flight school, and that the voice purported to be Atta’s from the alleged cockpit voice recorder didn’t sound at all like Atta’s to him. Dekkers was one of two Dutch nationals to buy flight schools at the same airport in the same year, and both received an influx of Middle-Eastern students shortly afterwards. Ziad Jarrah trained at the other school. The two Dutchmen claimed not to have known each other previously, but mutual acquaintances refute this. Dekkers had no aviation background and no money, but appears to have been funded by Wallace Hilliard, who also had business at the airport. In July 2000, the same month the hijackers began their training at Huffman, Hilliard’s lear jet was seized with 43 pounds of cocaine aboard, in the biggest drug seizure in central Florida history. No-one was ever prosecuted for the crime. As it happens, the CIA was operating a proprietory air carrier company, ‘Caribe Air’, out of the same airport at the same time, and their maintenance firm Brittania was awarded a huge sum of money in the form of a maintenance contract to an airport hundreds of miles away. Brittania, which operated out of one of Rudi Dekkers’ hangars, was not licensed for aircraft maintenance, had only two employees, no corporate history, and was worth less than $750. (For sources, see Daniel Hopsicker’s research below.)
Flight 77 hijackers Nawaf and Salem Alhazmi, and Flight 175 hijackers Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Mohand Alshehri and Hamza Alghamdi had continuation tickets to continue their journeys on the day of the attacks from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Flight 93 hijacker Ahmed Alhaznawi had a ticket to continue from San Francisco to San Diego, and Ziad Jarrah had a ticket to continue to Las Vegas. Hamza Alghamdi also had tickets to fly back to Saudi Arabia on the 20th September.
See also 18 – The novice pilots.
SPECULATION ALERT: There appear three possibilities when it comes to the hijackers, who left more than enough obvious clues that they were indeed planning to fly planes into the buildings, but appeared to live double lives and be incapable of actually carrying out the attacks as they happened. (1) They planned the operation, with or without the help/intervention of covert US insiders, but were themselves hijacked by the real, more capable, perpetrators, (2) they merely played the parts of potential hijackers, to effectively frame themselves or their stolen identities, (3) they were al Qaeda operatives on an al Qaeda mission, with a massive misunderstanding of their own religion and some very confused motives, who were able to succeed despite their ineptitude and trail of clues only by a long and miraculous series of lucky breaks, superhuman feats and intelligence/security failures. You decide.
Further information and sources: