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The 10 Terrorists Who Blew Up the Twin Towers

Updated on January 18, 2017

On September 9, 2001, just a year into the controversial presidency of George W. Bush, 10 Middle Eastern men affiliated to the terrorist organization al Qaeda hijacked two Boeing 767s jets filled with passengers and slammed them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. The terrorist attack was watched live on television by millions of people around the world as there was a gap of 17 minutes between the two strikes. With the total collapse of the two towers resulting in the death of nearly 3,000 people, including everyone aboard the two aircraft, this became the most atrocious single act of terrorism in history.

Who were these 10 men who became the most infamous terrorists in the world overnight? Here is a brief introduction to each of them:

1. Mohamed Atta (Hijacker-Pilot, American Airlines Flight 11):

Born in Egypt on September 1, 1968, Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta was one of the ringleaders of 9/11. He was the hijacker-pilot who crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Atta graduated in architecture from Cairo University and moved to Germany where he studied at the Technical University of Hamburg. While in Hamburg, he got involved with al-Quds Mosque and formed the Hamburg Cell with some radicals. He went to Afghanistan in 1999 and 2000 and met Osama bin Laden and was recruited for the attack. He arrived in the USA in 2000 and, with Marwan al-Shehhi (below), joined the Accelerated Pilot Program at the Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida. In July 2001, he went to Spain to exchange information and finalize the attack. In August 2001, he carried out surveillance flights to plan the details of the attack.

2. Waleed al-Shehri (Hijacker, American Airlines Flight 11)

Born in Saudi Arabia on December 20, 1978, Waleed Mohammed al-Shehri was one of the five terrorists who hijacked American Airlines Flight 11. He was a student until he went to Medina with his mentally ill older brother Wail al-Shehri (below) in 2000. There he and Wail were apparently indoctrinated into radical Islam, after which he left school and went to fight in Chechnya. But soon he made his way to Afghanistan where he fought for the Taliban. It was there that he was recruited for the 9/11 attack. He arrived in the USA on tourist visa in April 2001.

3. Wail al-Shehri (Hijacker, American Airlines Flight 11)

Born in Saudi Arabia on July 31, 1973, Wail Mohammed al-Shehri was one of the five terrorists who hijacked American Airlines Flight 11. He was a teacher in an elementary school in Khamis Mushait in the Asir region of Saudi Arabia. In early 2000, he went to Medina accompanied by his younger brother Waleed al-Shehri (above) to seek treatment for his mental illness. In March 2000, he went to Afghanistan where he joined his younger brother Waleed in an al-Qaeda training camp. After he was recruited for the 9/11 attack, he returned to Saudi Arabia to obtain a passport and the arrived in the USA in June 2001.

4. Abdulaziz al-Omari (Hijacker, American Airlines Flight 11)

Born in Saudi Arabia on May 28, 1979, Abdulaziz al-Omari was a one of the five terrorists who hijacked American Airlines Flight 11. He was an airport security guard and imam with an ostensibly clean record when he was recruited for the 9/11 attack. He arrived in the USA in June 2001 on a tourist visa, which he had obtained though the Visa Express program.

5. Satam al-Suqami (American Airlines Flight 11)

Born in Saudi Arabia on September 11, 2001, Satam Muhammed Abdel Rahman al-Suqami was one of the five terrorists who hijacked American Airline Flight 11. He was a law students until went to fight for the Taliban in Afghanistan, where he was recruited for the 9/11 attack. He arrived in the USA in April 2001.

6. Marwan al-Shehhi (Hijacker-Pilot, United Airlines Flight 175)

Born in the United Arab Emirates on May 9, 1978, Marwan Yousef Mohamed Rashid Lekrab al-Shehhi was the hijacker-pilot who crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He was a student in UAE. After he moved to Hamburg, Germany in 1996, he became close with Mohamed Atta and some other radicals and formed the Hamburg Cell. In 1999, he went to Afghanistan to join a terrorist training camp, where he met Osama bin Laden and was recruited for the 9/11 attack. He arrived in the USA in May 200 and, with Mohamed Atta, joined the Accelerated Pilot Program at the Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida. He spent the rest of his time planning the attack and making surveillances.

7. Mohand al-Shehri (Hijacker, United Airlines Flight 175)

Born in Saudi Arabia on August 17, 1979, Mohand Muhammed Fayiz al-Shehri was one of the five terrorists who hijacked United Airlines Flight 175. He was a college student who had failed and dropped out. In 2000, he went to fight in Chechnya. After spending some time in there, he made his way to an al-Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan, where he was recruited for the 9/11 attack. He then returned to his home country and obtained a US student visa in October 2000. He arrived in May 2001 to prepare for the attack.

8. Hamza al-Ghamdi (Hijacker, United Airlines Flight 175)

Born in Saudi Arabia on November 18, 1980, Hamza al-Ghamdi was one of the five terrorists who hijacked United Airlines Flight 175. It is not clear what he did before he went to fight in Chechnya. At his age, he was probably a student. From there, he found his way to al-Qaeda terrorist camps in Afghanistan, where he was recruited by Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attack. He arrived in the USA in May 2001 in preparation for the attack.

9. Ahmed al-Ghamdi (Hijacker, United Airlines Flight 175):

Born in Saudi Arabia on July 2, 1979, Ahmed Salah Said al-Ghamdi was one of the five terrorists who hijacked United Airlines Flight 175. He was a student who dropped out to go to fight in Chechnya. He then went to Afghanistan and joined al-Qaeda terrorist camps, where he was recruited by Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attack. He arrived in the USA in May 2001 on a tourist visa to prepare for the attack.

7. Fayez Banihammad (Hijacker, United Airlines Flight 175)

Born in the United Arab Emirates on March 19, 1977, Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan al-Qadi Banihammad was one of the five terrorists who hijacked United Airlines Flight 175. Until he was recruited for the 9/11 attack, he was a relief worker in UAE. He arrived in the USA in June 2001 using a tourist visa he had obtained trough the Visa Express program.

It must be said here that one man's villain is another man's hero and vice versa. Reviled in most of the world as terrorists, these 10 men are celebrated as heroes and martyrs by al-Qaeda supporters and Muslim fundamentalists in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Muslim world. Hopefully, with the killing of their leader Osama bin Laden, there will not no more such attacks.

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      Enzo 2 years ago

      I am so upset...I have been locked out of my own acuncot because of two step verification. I disabled it several times before on the same device, however, it always seems to ask for the codes which would be sent via text. The problems I have now are: my phone number has changed because of a recent move (didn't remember to update my Google info when I moved); my tablet device needed to have default settings reset for another issue with my bank and wiped out cache, passwords, etc.; and I have had my acuncot for a long enough time that I could not recall when I opened it or remember who I email frequently because I mainly use it as a source for incoming newsletters, tradeshows, company updates,etc.; why can't there be a more relevant way to properly confirm that I am the true acuncot holder? I have a vast array of personal things stored including drive docs, calendar, and other things I use each day not to mention contacts! There has to be more sensitivity for myself and others in a similar situation. It's very insulting to chase around the world of internet for answers, help, suggestions...and your company staff has been very rude to say I am screwed, no one can help, and that I need to open a new acuncot! Does anyone suggest a good hacker??? What shall I do?

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      Howard Schneider 2 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Very interesting and informative mini biographies of these 9/11 terrorists, Michael. We need to get to know the origins of these people better to know how to deal with this world wide scourge.