United Airlines Flight 175 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Logan International Airport, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Los Angeles International Airport, in Los Angeles, California. On September 11, 2001, the Boeing 767–200 operating the route was hijacked by five al-Qaeda terrorists and was deliberately crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing all 65 people aboard and an unconfirmed number in the building’s impact zone.
Approximately thirty minutes into the flight, the hijackers forcibly breached the cockpit and overpowered the pilot and first officer, allowing lead hijacker and trained pilot Marwan al-Shehhi to take over the controls. Unlike Flight 11, which turned its transponder off, the aircraft’s transponder was visible on New York Center’s radar, and the aircraft deviated from the assigned flight path for four minutes before air traffic controllers noticed these changes at 08:51 EDT. They made several unsuccessful attempts to contact the cockpit. Unknown to the hijackers, several passengers and crew aboard made phone calls from the plane to family members and provided information about the hijackers and injuries suffered by passengers and crew.
The aircraft crashed into Tower Two (the South Tower) of the World Trade Center at 09:03. The Flight 175 hijacking was coordinated with that of American Airlines Flight 11, which struck the top of Tower One (the North Tower) 17 minutes earlier. The crash of Flight 175 into the South Tower was the only impact seen live on television around the world as it happened. The impact and subsequent fire caused the South Tower to collapse 56 minutes after the crash, resulting in hundreds of additional casualties. During the recovery effort at the World Trade Center site, workers recovered and identified remains from Flight 175 victims, but many other body fragments could not be identified.
UA 175’s flight path from Boston to New York City on September 11, 2001.
Flight 175 explodes after hitting the South Tower.
N612UA, the hijacked aircraft, in 1999.
The flight was operated with a Boeing 767–200, registration number N612UA, built and delivered in 1983, with capacity of 168 passengers (10 in first class, 32 in business class, and 126 in economy class). On the day of the attacks, the flight carried only 56 passengers and 9 crew members, which represented a 33 percent load factor — well below the average load factor of 49 percent in the three months preceding September 11.
Passengers and crew (excluding hijackers)
The nine crew members included Captain Victor Saracini, First Officer Michael Horrocks, and flight attendants Robert Fangman, Amy Jarret, Amy King, Kathryn Laborie, Alfred Marchand, Michael Tarrou, and Alicia Titus. Excluding the hijackers, the passengers on the flight included 35 men, 12 women, and three children who were all under the age of 5, and included Garnet “Ace” Bailey, the director of pro scouting for the Los Angeles Kings and a former National Hockey League player.
Hamza al-Ghamdi and Ahmed al-Ghamdi checked out of their hotel and called a taxi to take them to Logan International Airport. They arrived at the United Airlines counter in Terminal C at 06:20 Eastern Time and Ahmed al-Ghamdi checked in two bags. Both hijackers indicated they wanted to purchase tickets, though they already had paper tickets. They had trouble answering the standard security questions, so the counter agent repeated the questions very slowly until the men gave the correct answers. Hijacker pilot Marwan al-Shehhi checked in a single bag at 06:45, and the other remaining hijackers, Fayez Banihammad and Mohand al-Shehri, checked in at 06:53. Banihammad checked two bags. None of the hijackers were selected for extra scrutiny by the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS).
Shehhi and the other hijackers boarded Flight 175 between 07:23 and 07:28. Banihammad boarded first and sat in first class seat 2A, while Mohand al-Shehri was in seat 2B. At 07:27, Shehhi and Ahmed al-Ghamdi boarded, and sat in business class seats 6C and 9D, respectively. A minute later, Hamza al-Ghamdi boarded, and sat in 9C.
The flight was scheduled to depart at 08:00 for Los Angeles. Fifty-one passengers and the five hijackers boarded the 767 through Terminal C’s Gate 19. The plane pushed back at 07:58 and took off at 08:14 from runway 9, about the same time Flight 11 was hijacked. By 08:33, the aircraft reached cruising altitude of 31,000 feet, which is the point when cabin service would normally begin. At 08:37, air traffic controllers asked the pilots of Flight 175 whether they could see American Airlines Flight 11. The crew responded that Flight 11 was at 29,000 feet, and controllers ordered Flight 175 to turn and avoid the aircraft. The pilots declared that they had heard a suspicious transmission from Flight 11 upon takeoff. “Sounds like someone keyed the mic and said everyone stay in your seats”, the flight crew reported. This was the last transmission from Flight 175.
It is estimated that Flight 175 was hijacked between 08:42 and 08:46, while Flight 11 was just minutes away from hitting the North Tower. According to Flight 175: As the World Watched, it is believed that hijackers Fayez Banihammad and Mohand al-Shehri forcibly entered the cockpit and killed the pilots while Hamza al-Ghamdi and Ahmed al-Ghamdi started moving passengers and crew to the back of the aircraft. The first operational evidence that something was abnormal on Flight 175 came at 08:47, when the plane’s transponder signal changed twice within the span of one minute, and the aircraft began deviating from its assigned course. However, the air traffic controller in charge of the flight did not notice until minutes later at 08:51. Unlike Flight 11, which had turned its transponder off, Flight 175’s flight data could still be properly monitored. Also, at 08:51, Flight 175 changed altitude. Over the next three minutes, the controller made five unsuccessful attempts to contact Flight 175 and worked to move other aircraft in the vicinity away from Flight 175.
At around this time, the flight had a near midair collision with Delta Air Lines Flight 2315, flying from Hartford to Tampa, reportedly missing the plane by only 300 feet (90 m), as air traffic controller Dave Bottiglia frantically tried to tell the Delta pilot to take evasive action. Bottiglia was the first person in the control center to realize that Flight 175 was hijacked when he gave directions for a turn. Flight 175 did not respond, instead accelerating and heading toward the Delta plane. The controller commanded the Delta pilot, “Take any evasive action necessary. We have an airplane that we don’t know what he’s doing. Any action at all.” Moments before Flight 175 crashed, it avoided another near collision with Midwest Express Flight 7, which was flying from Milwaukee to New York.
At 08:55, a supervisor at the New York Air Traffic Control Center notified the center’s operations manager of the Flight 175 hijacking, and Dave Bottiglia, who was handling both Flight 11 and Flight 175, noted, “we might have a hijack over here, two of them.” At 08:58, the plane was over New Jersey at 28,500 feet, heading toward New York City. In the five minutes from approximately 08:58 when Shehhi completed the final turn toward New York City until the moment of impact, the plane was in a sustained power dive, descending more than 24,000 feet in 5 minutes 4 seconds, for an average rate of over 5,000 feet per minute. New York Center air traffic controller Dave Bottiglia reported he and his colleagues “were counting down the altitudes, and they were descending, right at the end, at 10,000 feet per minute. That is absolutely unheard of for a commercial jet.”
Flight attendant Robert Fangman, as well as two passengers (Peter Hanson and Brian David Sweeney), made phone calls from GTE airphones in the rear of the aircraft. Airphone records also indicate that Garnet Bailey made four phone call attempts, trying to reach his wife.
Fangman called a United Airlines office in San Francisco at 08:52, and spoke with Marc Policastro. Fangman reported the hijacking and said that the hijackers were likely flying the plane. He also said that both pilots were dead and that a flight attendant was stabbed. After a minute and 15 seconds, Fangman’s call was disconnected. Policastro subsequently made attempts to contact the aircraft’s cockpit using the Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) message system.
Brian David Sweeney tried calling his wife, Julie, at 08:58, but ended up leaving a message, telling her that the plane had been hijacked. He then called his parents at 9:00 a.m. and spoke with his mother, Louise. Sweeney told his mother about the hijacking and mentioned that passengers were considering storming the cockpit and taking control of the aircraft.
‘Jules, this is Brian listen, I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked. If things don’t go well, and it’s not looking good, I just want you to know I absolutely love you, I want you to do good, go have good times, same to my parents and everybody, and I just totally love you, and I’ll see you when you get there. Bye, babe. I hope I call you.’ -Brian Sweeney’s voicemail to his wife ❤️
At 08:52, Peter Hanson called his father, Lee Hanson, in Easton, Connecticut, telling him of the hijacking. Hanson was traveling with his wife, Sue, and their 2½-year-old daughter, Christine. The family was originally seated in Row 19, in seats C, D, and E; however, Peter placed the call to his father from seat 30E. Speaking softly, Hanson said that the hijackers had commandeered the cockpit, that a flight attendant had been stabbed, and that possibly someone else in the front of the aircraft had been killed. He also said that the plane was flying erratically. Hanson asked his father to contact United Airlines, but Lee could not get through and instead called the police.
Peter Hanson made a second phone call to his father at 09:00:
It’s getting bad, Dad. A stewardess was stabbed. They seem to have knives and Mace. They said they have a bomb. It’s getting very bad on the plane. The plane is making jerky movements. I don’t think the pilot is flying the plane. I think we are going down. I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building. Don’t worry, Dad. If it happens, it’ll be very fast … Oh my God … oh my God, oh my God.
As the call abruptly ended, Hanson’s father heard a woman screaming.
The Hanson family
At 09:01, two minutes before impact as Flight 175 continued its descent into Lower Manhattan, the New York Center alerted another nearby Air Traffic Facility responsible for low-flying aircraft, which was able to monitor the aircraft’s path over New Jersey, and then over Staten Island and Upper New York Bay in its final moments. (Flight 175 came in from the southwest, apparently heading for the Empire State Building, but turned right, then left into the South Tower.)
At exactly 9:03:02, Flight 175 crashed nose-first into the southern façade of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, at a speed of approximately 590 mph (950 km/h, 264 m/s, or 513 knots) and striking between floors 77 and 85 with approximately 10,000 U.S. gallons (38,000 L; 8,300 imp gal) of jet fuel on board. The youngest person on Flight 175 was 2½-year-old Christine Hanson of Groton, Massachusetts, and the oldest was 80-year-old Dorothy DeAraujo of Long Beach, California. Hundreds more were killed within the tower and from its ensuing explosion, fires, and eventual collapse. It is estimated that 637 people were killed instantly or trapped at and above the floors of impact in the South Tower.
Based on the position of the aircraft from eyewitness statements and video footage, the aircraft was in a banking left turn in its final moments, as it appeared that the plane might have otherwise missed the building or merely scraped it with its wing. Upon crashing, the plane was banked left. Those who were on the left side of the plane would, therefore, have had a clear view of the towers approaching, with one burning, until the final moment of the flight.
By the time Flight 175 struck the South Tower, multiple media organizations were already covering the crash of Flight 11, which had hit the North Tower 17 minutes earlier. The image of Flight 175’s crash was thus caught on video from multiple vantage points on live television and amateur video, while approximately 100 cameras captured Flight 175 in photographs before it crashed. Video footage of the crash was replayed numerous times in news broadcasts on the day of the attacks and in the following days, before major news networks put restrictions on use of the footage.
After the plane penetrated through the tower, part of the plane’s landing gear and fuselage came out the north side of the tower and crashed through the roof and two of the floors of 45–47 Park Place, between West Broadway and Church Street, 600 feet (180 meters) north of the former World Trade Center. Three floor beams of the top floor of the building were destroyed, causing major structural damage.
|Piece of fuselage on the roof of 5 World Trade Center||Airplane engine parts from Flight 175||Panel S-2 of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum’s South Pool, one of three on which the names of victims from Flight 175 are inscribed|
Marwan Yousef Mohamed Rashid Lekrab al-Shehhi (23) (9 May 1978 – 11 September 2001) was the hijacker-pilot of United Airlines Flight 175, crashing the plane into the South Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the September 11 attacks.
Al-Shehhi was a student from the United Arab Emirates who moved to Germany in 1996 and soon became close friends with Mohamed Atta, Ziad Jarrah and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, forming the Hamburg cell. Together, after pledging their lives to martyrdom, they became the leaders of the September 11 attacks. In late 1999, al-Shehhi, Atta, Jarrah, and bin al-Shibh traveled to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and met with Osama bin Laden who recruited the four Hamburg cell members for the attacks in the United States. He arrived in the United States in May 2000, one month before Atta. They both trained in Florida at Huffman Aviation, receiving their commercial pilot licenses in December 2000 from the FAA.
Al-Shehhi spent his time making preparations for the attack itself, such as meeting with crucial planners abroad, assisting with the arrival of hijackers aboard the other flights, and travelling on surveillance flights determining details on how the hijacking would take place. On September 9, 2001, he traveled from Florida to Boston, where he stayed at the Milner Hotel until September 11. After boarding United Airlines Flight 175 at Logan International Airport, al-Shehhi and 4 other hijackers waited 30 minutes into the flight to make their attack, which then allowed al-Shehhi to take over control as pilot, and at 9:03 a.m., 17 minutes after Mohamed Atta crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower, 23-year-old al-Shehhi crashed the Boeing 767 into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He was the youngest hijacker-pilot to participate in the attacks. The impact of the Boeing 767 operating as United 175 into the South Tower was seen live on television as it happened. At 9:59 a.m., after 56 minutes of burning, the 110-story skyscraper collapsed, killing hundreds of people, including around 900 office workers and first responders.
Al-Shehhi was born in Ras al-Khaimah, on 9 May 1978, in the United Arab Emirates, to a Muslim cleric who died in 1997 and an Egyptian mother. Described as a quiet and devout Muslim, details about al-Shehhi’s life in the UAE, however, are difficult to acquire. According to an October 2001 article in the New York Times, “If residents of Mr. Shehhi’s hometown had heard of him before now, they were certainly not telling strangers. Four hours spent in the community yielded no address and no one — policemen, firemen, pedestrians or local officials — who did anything more than shrug at the mention of his name.”
After graduating from high school in 1995, al-Shehhi enlisted in the Emirati military and received a half a year of basic training before he was admitted into a military scholarship program that allowed him to continue his education in Germany. Upon arriving in Germany in April 1996, al-Shehhi moved into an apartment, which he shared with three other scholarship students for two months before boarding with a local German family. Several months later, he moved into his own apartment. Those who knew him described al-Shehhi as a very religious and friendly individual who wore western clothes and sometimes rented cars for trips to Berlin, France, and the Netherlands.
While in Germany, al-Shehhi enrolled in the University of Bonn after completing a German course. He left Germany in June 1997 to attend to problems at home although the university forbade him. In early 1998, al-Shehhi transferred to the Technical University of Hamburg. A poor student, al-Shehhi was directed by the Scholarship program administrators to repeat a semester of his studies back in Bonn beginning in August 1998. Al-Shehhi did not enroll back at Bonn until January 1999 and continued to struggle with his studies. By July 1999, Marwan returned to Hamburg to study shipbuilding.
After moving to Hamburg in 1998, al-Shehhi helped form the Hamburg cell with Mohamed Atta and Ramzi bin al-Shibh. There, his views became more and more radical. They met three or four times a week to discuss anti-American feelings and plot possible attacks. When someone asked why he and Atta never laughed, al-Shehhi retorted, “How can you laugh when people are dying in Palestine?”
On 9 October 1999, Marwan al-Shehhi was filmed at Said Bahaji’s wedding in Germany with other 9/11 hijackers including Ziad Jarrah.
In late 1999, al-Shehhi, Atta, Ziad Jarrah, Said Bahaji, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh decided to travel to Chechnya to fight against the Russians, but were convinced by Khalid al-Masri and Mohamedou Ould Slahi at the last minute to change their plans. They instead traveled to Afghanistan to meet with Osama bin Laden and trained for terrorist attacks. Immediately afterwards, Atta, al-Shehhi, and Jarrah reported their passports stolen, possibly to erase travel visas to Afghanistan. After their training, the hijackers began to attempt to hide their radicalism. al-Shehhi shaved his beard and seemed to his old friends like he had become less religious. After the attacks, a librarian in Hamburg reported that al-Shehhi boasted to her “There will be thousands of dead. You will think of me … You will see, in America something is going to happen. There will be many people killed.”
Al-Shehhi returned to Germany in March 2000, and began to learn to fly airplanes. Ammar al-Baluchi, one of the most important 9/11 financial organizers, bought a Boeing 747 flight simulator program using al-Shehhi’s credit card. Eventually they decided that German flight schools would not work for them, and they decided to train in the United States.
In the United States
Flight education and preparation
Al-Shehhi was the first of the Hamburg group to leave for the United States. He arrived in Newark, New Jersey on 29 May 2000. Atta joined him the next month, and the two began to search for flight schools. Al-Shehhi posed as a body guard of Atta, who was also posing as a “Saudi Arabian royal family member” while the two of them took flying lessons in Venice, Florida. They logged hundreds of hours on a Boeing 727 flight simulator. They received their licenses by December 2000. Their expenses were paid for by Ali Abdul Aziz Ali. On either 26 or 27 December, Atta and Marwan abandoned a Piper Cherokee that had stalled on the runway of Miami International Airport. On 29 December, Atta and Marwan went to the Opa-Locka Airport and practiced on a Boeing 727 simulator. Al-Shehhi began to take “surveillance flights” in the summer of 2001, watching the operations of flight crews and making final preparations.
Travels in early 2001
Ziad Jarrah, Atta, and al-Shehhi, having progressed in their training, all took foreign trips during the holiday period of 2000-2001. When Atta returned to Florida, al-Shehhi left for Morocco, traveling to Casablanca in mid-January 2001. al-Shehhi’s family, concerned about not having heard from him, reported him missing to the UAE government. The UAE embassy in turn contacted the Hamburg police and a UAE representative tried to find him in Germany, visiting mosques and al-Shehhi’s last address in Hamburg. After learning that his family was looking for him, al-Shehhi telephoned them on 20 January and said he was living and studying in Hamburg. The UAE government then told the Hamburg police they could call off the search.
Atta and al-Shehhi both encountered some difficulty reentering the United States, on 10 January and 19 January, respectively. As neither had presented a student visa, both of them had to persuade INS inspectors that they should be admitted so that they could continue their flight training. Neither operative had any problem clearing customs. After returning to Florida from their trips, Atta and al-Shehhi visited Georgia, staying briefly in Norcross and Decatur, and renting a single-engine plane to fly with an instructor in Lawrenceville. By 19 February, Atta and al-Shehhi were in Virginia. They had rented a mailbox in Virginia Beach, cashed a check, and then promptly returned to Georgia, staying in Stone Mountain. In mid-March, Ziad Jarrah was in Georgia as well, staying in Decatur. At the end of the month, Jarrah left the United States again and visited Sengün in Germany for two weeks. In early April, Atta and al-Shehhi returned to Virginia Beach and closed the mailbox they had opened in February.
Atta and al-Shehhi returned to Virginia Beach from their travels in Georgia, making their way to a large Dar Al-Hijrah mosque, sometime in early April. They were joined there by 9/11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour who had moved out of San Diego and Arizona after living in or visiting Abdussattar Shaikh’s house, where Khalid al-Mihdhar also stayed. In January, the mosque had recently hired the same imam Anwar al-Awlaki with whom Hazmi had spent time at the Rabat mosque in San Diego. He remembered Hazmi from San Diego but denied having contact with Hazmi or Hanjour in Virginia. Atta and al-Shehhi returned to Florida and moved into an apartment in Coral Springs. Atta stayed in Florida, awaiting the arrival of the first muscle hijackers. Al-Shehhi, on the other hand, bought a ticket to Cairo and flew there from Miami on 18 April. Al-Shehhi met with Atta’s father, who stated in a post-9/11 interview that al-Shehhi wanted to pick up Atta’s international driver’s license and some money.
Al-Shehhi returned to Miami on 2 May. That day, Atta and Jarrah were together, about 30 miles to the north, visiting a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, to get Florida driver’s licenses. In mid-July 2001, some of the hijackers and members of the Hamburg cell gathered near Salou, Spain, for a period of a few days up to a couple of weeks. Since hotel records are sparse during some of that time, it is thought that they may have spent considerable time in and around safe houses related to the al-Qaeda leader in Spain, Imad Yarkas. After 9/11, Spanish investigators followed the trails backwards, and the events they uncovered were chronicled in the Spanish nationwide newspaper El País. Witnesses told Spanish investigators they saw a man who resembled al-Shehhi on 17 July 2001 at the Universal Studios Port Aventura theme park next to Salou, Spain. The visitor, who was accompanied by two men, inquired about rides at the customer service counter. Witnesses indicated these companions resembled Ziad Jarrah, the later pilot on United Airlines Flight 93, and Said Bahaji, a then 26-year-old German-Moroccan member of the al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg. Back in Germany, it had been Bahaji’s 1999 wedding during which al-Shehhi was filmed. Other witnesses elsewhere had pointed out Bahaji from photos, as one of the men they saw in Spain. But Bahaji bore a resemblance in appearance to Atta, who was traced to the same areas in Spain via hotel and travel records.
On 23 August, the Israeli Mossad reportedly gave al-Shehhi’s name to the CIA as part of a list of 19 names they said were planning an attack in the near future. Only four of the names are known for certain, including al-Shehhi; Nawaf al-Hazmi, Mohamed Atta, and Khalid al-Mihdhar.
On 26 August, Marwan signed into the Panther Motel in Deerfield Beach, Florida, paying US$500, saying he wanted to stay until 2 September, and listing a Mailboxes Etc. as his permanent address. His register entry indicated that he was driving a blue Chevrolet Malibu, assumed to be the one rented by Atta two weeks prior, and manager Richard Surma said that he bent rules to allow Marwan to have another man as an overnight guest. On 28 August, Marwan went to the Miami International Airport, accompanied by an unknown man, where he purchased his ticket for Flight 175. On 9 September, the motel manager, cleaning the room that al-Shehhi had vacated, found a bag containing a German/English dictionary, a protractor, flight manuals and local airport listings. Another employee later reported finding a box cutter.
According to librarian Kathleen Hensmen, Wail al-Shehri and Waleed al-Shehri used Internet access at Delray Beach Public Library in August 2001, where they may have been looking at information on crop dusting. They reportedly left the library with a third middle-eastern man, thought to be Marwan al-Shehhi, whom Hensmen claimed asked her for the name of a local restaurant. Staff at Shuckum’s Oyster Pub and Seafood Grill in Hollywood, Florida claimed they recognized both Atta and Marwan as two of the people who had been at the restaurant on either 7 or 8 September. While there are varying stories about Atta’s activities, all sources indicate that al-Shehhi drank rum and coke while talking to the others. On 9 September, they flew to Boston. The next day, al-Shehhi and three of the other hijackers, Fayez Banihammad, Mohand al-Shehri, and Satam al-Suqami, shared a room at the Milner Hotel in Boston.
Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan al-Qadi Banihammad (24) (March 19, 1977 – September 11, 2001)
Born in the United Arab Emirates, Banihammad left his family to pursue relief work. Using the Visa Express program, Banihammad obtained a U.S. tourist visa. Banihammad arrived in the United States in June 2001. On September 11, 2001, Banihammad boarded United Airlines Flight 175 and participated in the hijacking of the plane, so it could be flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Banihammad was from Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates and was born to Muhammad Fayez Banihammad, a school principal. Banihammad typically went by the name “Ahmed”.
Fayez (Ahmed) told his parents, while spending time in ‘Asir, that he hoped to find work with the International Islamic Relief Organization. He only contacted his parents once after that. He is believed to have visited the Philippines for three days from October 17–20, 2000.
Banihammad, together with Saeed al-Ghamdi, gained entry to the US via the Visa Express program. Upon later review of his application, it was noticed that he had not listed an occupation or reason for visit, and when asked where he would be living in the country, simply wrote No. However, he still received the visa.
Before the pair arrived in Orlando, Florida on June 27, 2001, Banihammad had opened a bank account in the UAE to which $30,000 was deposited by unknown parties only two days before his arrival. He opened another account with SunTrust Banks in Orlando several days after his arrival, becoming one of nine hijackers to open an account with the bank.
Known as Abu Ahmed al-Imaraati during the preparations, the 9/11 Commission noted: “He appears to have played a unique role among the muscle hijackers because of his work with one of the plot’s financial facilitators, Mustafa al-Hawsawi.” On July 18, Banihammad gave Mustafa power-of-attorney over his Dubai bank account, and Mustafa reportedly mailed him a VISA and bank card.
Possibly a licensed pilot, a man with his name was registered as having trained at the Spartan Aeronautics School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, although the school denies that he ever attended, indicating a possible case of mistaken identity.
Fayez Banihammad purchased both his and Mohand al-Shehri’s one-way first class tickets for United Airlines Flight 175 online on August 27 or 29, charging the $4464.50 to a Visa card from Mustafa al-Hawsawi, listing both of their addresses as a Mail Boxes Etc. in Delray Beach. This was not the same postal box used by Hamza and Ahmed al-Ghamdi who purchased their tickets for the same flight a day later with another Mailboxes Etc. postal box in Delray Beach, although both groups listed the same phone number.
Staying in the Milner Hotel from September 8–10, Banihammad asked a hotel clerk to fill out the registration card for the room, citing his poor English. On September 10, 2001, he shared a room with four hijackers; Mohand al-Shehri, Marwan al-Shehhi and Satam al-Suqami at the Milner Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts.
On September 11, Banihammad boarded Flight 175, he sat in seat 2A, adjacent to Shehri. About a half an hour into the flight, the plane was hijacked and subsequently flown into the south tower of the World Trade Center.
Hamza al-Ghamdi (20) (November 18, 1980 – September 11, 2001)
Born in Saudi Arabia, Hamza left his family to fight in Chechnya and was probably sent to al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan where he was chosen to participate in the 9/11 attacks. He arrived in the United States in May 2001 on a tourist visa. On September 11, 2001, Hamza boarded United Airlines Flight 175 and hijacked the plane along with four other terrorists so that the plane could be crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Some reports say that Hamza left his home to fight in Chechnya against the Russians in early 2000. (Other reports say he left in January 2001.) He called home several times until late 2001, saying he was in Chechnya.
Known as Julaybeeb during the preparations, Hamza traveled to the United Arab Emirates some time in late 2000, where he purchased traveler’s cheques presumed to have been paid for by Mustafa al-Hawsawi. Five other hijackers also passed through the UAE and purchased traveller’s cheques, including Majed Moqed, Saeed al-Ghamdi, Wail al-Shehri, Ahmed al-Haznawi and Ahmed al-Nami. In January 2001, Ghamdi rented a post office box in Delray Beach, Florida with another hijacker, Mohand al-Shehri. According to FBI director Robert Mueller and the 9/11 Commission however, Hamza did not first enter the United States until a London flight on May 28 with Mohand and Abdulaziz al-Omari. In March 2001, Ghamdi was filmed in a farewell video that was aired on al Jazeera. In the video, many future 9/11 hijackers swear to become martyrs, although no details of the plot are revealed. Ghamdi does not speak in the film, but is seen studying maps and flight manuals. He was one of 9 hijackers to open a SunTrust bank account with a cash deposit around June 2001. Ghamdi also applied for and received a Florida driver’s license on June 27, 2001. In the next two months, he obtained two duplicate licenses simply by filling out change-of-address forms. Five other suspected hijackers also received duplicate Florida licenses in 2001, and others had licenses in different states. Some have speculated that this was to allow multiple people to use the same identity.
Ghamdi purchased his own eTicket for Flight 175 on August 29, using his Visa card. The FBI also claimed that he also purchased an eTicket for a “Flight 7950” from Los Angeles to San Francisco, although it does not give the projected date of flight. On August 30, Hamza bought his brother, Ahmed al-Ghamdi an identical eTicket for Flight 175 and bought them each one-way tickets on an AirTran flight on September 7, from Fort Lauderdale to Boston. However, Ghamdi instead went with Mohand al-Shehri to Newark, New Jersey on $139.75 tickets purchased from the Mile High Travel agency in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Hamza and Ahmed al-Ghamdi stayed at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On September 8 they checked out of the hotel, and moved into the Days Hotel on Soldiers Field Road in Brighton, Boston, Massachusetts where they remained up until the attacks.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Hamza left the hotel with Ahmed al-Ghamdi. The two men shared a taxicab to get to Logan International Airport, where they boarded Flight 175. Hamza and Ahmed pushed the passengers and crew to the back of the plane while Fayez Banihammad and al-Shehri killed the pilots Victor Saracini and Michael Horrocks allowing al-Shehhi to take control of the plane.
Ahmed Salah Said al-Ghamdi (22) (July 2, 1979 – September 11, 2001)
Ghamdi was born in Saudi Arabia in 1979. He dropped out of school to fight in Chechnya and was probably sent to train in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan where he would be chosen by Osama bin Laden to participate in the terrorist attacks in America. He arrived in the United States in May 2001 on a tourist visa and helped plan out how the attacks would take place. On September 11, 2001, he boarded United Airlines Flight 175 and assisted in the hijacking of the plane so that lead hijacker and trained pilot Marwan al-Shehhi could take over the plane and crash it into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, as part of the coordinated attacks.
An Imam, Ghamdi was from the al Bahah Province of Saudi Arabia, a province in the south west of Saudi Arabia. It is the capital of Al Bahah Province nestled between the resorts of Mecca and Abha, Al Bahah is one of the Kingdom’s prime tourist attractions. Ghamdi shared the same tribal affiliation with fellow hijackers Saeed al-Ghamdi, Hamza al-Ghamdi, and Ahmed al-Haznawi. This group is noted as being some of the more religiously observant of the hijackers, and they are thought to have met each other some time in 1999. Known as al-Jaraah al-Ghamdi during the preparations, the only one of the hijackers to use a variation on his own name, Ghamdi quit school to fight in Chechnya against the Russians in 2000, and received a US Visa on September 3 of that year. In November, both he and Salem al-Hazmi flew to Beirut, though on separate flights and at different times. Ghamdi flew on the same flight as a senior Hezbollah operative, although the 9/11 Commission could find no evidence that either knew the other. His family claims to have last seen him in December. In March 2001, Ghamdi is reported to have met with a Jordanian who has been charged with providing false identification to at least 50 illegal aliens. Hijackers Majed Moqed, Hani Hanjour, and Nawaf al-Hazmi are reported to have met with him at the same time. Inexplicably, this is more than a month before Ghamdi first arrived in the United States, according to the FBI and the 9/11 Commission. On May 2, Ghamdi arrived in the U.S. with fellow-hijacker Moqed, on a student visa. He listed the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida as his permanent address on his driver’s license. He and Moqed moved in with Hani Hanjour and Nawaf al-Hazmi in Falls Church, Virginia. All four later moved into an apartment in Paterson, New Jersey. He called his parents in July 2001, but did not mention being in the United States.
Hamza al-Ghamdi purchased Ahmed’s ticket online for United Airlines Flight 175 on August 29 or August 30, after buying his own. He listed a Mail Boxes Etc. address for Ahmed. Hamza and Ahmed al-Ghamdi stayed at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On September 8, they checked out of the hotel, and moved into the Days Hotel on Soldiers Field Road in Brighton, where they remained up until the day of the attacks.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Ahmed left the hotel with Hamza, the two of them sharing a taxicab to get to Logan International Airport. There, Ghamdi showed his Virginia ID Card as identification, and boarded Flight 175 where he sat the furthest back of the hijackers, in seat 9D, helped to hijack it, and assisted as the plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Ahmed and Hamza al-Ghamdi pushed the passengers and crew to the back of the plane while Fayez Banihammad and Mohand al-Shehri killed the pilots Victor Saracini and Michael Horrocks allowing Marwan al-Shehhi to take control of the plane.
Mohand Muhammed Fayiz al-Shehri (22) (May 7, 1979 – September 11, 2001)
Despite his name, he was not related to Wail al-Shehri nor Waleed al-Shehri, brothers who boarded American Airlines Flight 11 to hijack it as part of the attacks. A Saudi, Shehri was a former college student who dropped out after failing his courses. He later left his home to fight in Chechnya in 2000, but was probably diverted to Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. It was during that time that he would be chosen to take part in the attacks in America. He received a U.S. student visa in October 2000. Shehri arrived in the United States in May 2001. On September 11, 2001, Shehri boarded United Airlines Flight 175 and assisted in its hijacking so that it could be flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Born 1979, Shehri was one of five hijackers to come from the ‘Asir province of Saudi Arabia, the others being Ahmed al-Nami, Abdulaziz al-Omari and Waleed and Wail al-Shehri, two brothers unrelated to Mohand. According to Arab News, Shehri went to fight in Chechnya in early 2000, where he may have met Hamza al-Ghamdi. On October 23, Mohand applied for a US B-1/B-2 visa in Jeddah. Other than an error on his school’s address the application was not suspicious and he was not interviewed before being granted the visa. Hamza and Mohand flew together from Iran into Kuwait that October. Three months later the pair rented a post office box in Delray Beach, Florida, where someone with the same name signed up to use the public library’s computers. According to FBI director Robert Mueller and the 9/11 Commission, however, Shehri did not first enter the United States until a London or Dubai flight on May 28 with Hamza and Abdulaziz al-Omari. He was one of nine hijackers to open a SunTrust bank account with a cash deposit around June 2001, and on July 2 gained a Florida State ID Card. Mohand occasionally trained on simulators at the FlightSafety Aviation School in Vero Beach, Florida together with Abdulaziz al-Omari and Saeed al-Ghamdi.
Fayez Banihammad purchased both his and Mohand’s one-way first class tickets for United Airlines Flight 175 online on August 27 or 29, charging the $4,464.50 to a Visa card from Mustafa al Hawsawi, listing their addresses both as a Mail Boxes Etc. in Delray Beach. This was not the same postal box used by Hamza and Ahmed al-Ghamdi, who purchased their tickets for the same flight a day later, with another Mailboxes Etc. postal box in Delray Beach, although both groups listed the same phone number. On September 7, he flew from Fort Lauderdale to Newark, New Jersey with Hamza al-Ghamdi on $139.75 tickets purchased from the Mile High Travel agency in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. On September 10, 2001, he shared a room with four hijackers; Fayez Banihammad, Marwan al-Shehhi and Satam al-Suqami at the Milner Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. On September 11, Shehri boarded Flight 175, and he sat next to Banihammad.