Distortion of Fact, by Andrew Burfield

Claims 1-10


Claim No:    1        2        3        4        5        6        7        8        9        10        Front Page


1.   The omission of evidence that at least six of the alleged hijackers — including Waleed al-Shehri, said by the Commission probably to have stabbed a flight attendant on Flight 11 before it crashed into the North Tower of the WTC — are still alive (19-20).


The Report claims that all of the nineteen alleged hijackers are dead, and died during the attacks.  The first chapter of the Report We Have Some Planes (pg.1-46) identifies the hijackers and allocates them amongst the four hijacked flights as follows:


American Airlines Flight 11

Mohamed Atta

Abdul Aziz al Omari

Satam al Suqami

Wail al Shehri

Waleed al Shehri


United Airlines Flight 175

Marwan al Shehhi

Fayez Banihammad

Mohand al Shehri

Ahmed al Ghamdi

Hamza al Ghamdi


American Airlines Flight 77

Khalid al Mihdhar

Majed Moqed

Hani Hanjour

Nawaf al Hazmi

Salem al Hazmi


United Airlines Flight 93

Saeed al Ghamdi

Ahmed al Nami

Ahmad al Haznawi

Ziad Jarrah


The Report further claims:


At 8:46:40, American 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.  All on board, along with an unknown number of people in the tower, were killed instantly. (pg.7)


At 9:03:11, United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center.  All on board, along with an unknown number of people in the tower, were killed instantly. (pg.8)


At 9:37:46, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, travelling at approximately 530 miles per hour.  All on board, as well as many civilian and military personnel in the building, were killed. (pg.10)


With the sounds of the passengers counterattack continuing, the aircraft [United 93] plowed into an empty field in Shankesville, Pennsylvania, at 580 miles per hour, about 20 minutes’ flying time from Washington, D.C.(pg.14)


For the purposes of this paper I have made the assumption that the Commission do not believe anyone on board United 93 survived the impact described above.



The claim inherent in the allegations is that at least six of the alleged hijackers are still alive.



These claims originate in the days immediately after September 11, 2001 as the FBI began what would become the largest criminal investigation in the agency’s history.


On September 14th the FBI released a list with the names of nineteen middle-eastern men they believed were the hijackers.







These were:


American Airlines Flight 11

Mohamed Atta

Abdulaziz Alomari

Waleed M Al Shehri

Satam Al Suqami

Wail Al Shehri


United Airlines Flight 175

Marwan Al Shehhi

Fayez Ahmed

Mohald Al Shehri

Hamza Alghamdi

Ahmed Al Ghamdi


American Airlines Flight 77

Khalid Al-Midhar

Majed Moqed

Nawaq Alhamzi

Salem Alhamzi

Hani Hanjour


United Airlines Flight 93

Ahmed Alhaznawi

Ahmed Alnami

Ziad Jarrahi

Saeed Alghamdi


Of the nineteen listed, five have slightly different names or spelling than those listed in the Report.


The first media reports of alleged hijackers being alive appeared on 23rd September.


The BBC reported:




Another of the men named by the FBI as a hijacker in the suicide attacks on Washington and New York has turned up alive and well.

The identities of four of the 19 suspects accused of having carried out the attacks are now in doubt.


The BBC identifies the following:


Waleed Al Shehri – A pilot from Saudi Arabia

Abdulaziz Al Omari – An engineer from Saudi Arabia

Abdulaziz Al Omari – A pilot from Saudi Arabia

Saeed Alghamdi – Interviewed by London-based Arabic newspaper

Khalid Al Midhar – May also be alive


On 27th October 2006 the BBC issued a statement in their Editors blog, stating that the initial allegations in their 2001 article were a result of mistaken identity.





A Telegraph article, also of 23rd September 2001, cites four individuals who claim the hijackers stole their identities.




This article cites the Saudi engineer from the BBC article; Abdulaziz Al-Omari.  It also cites Saeed Al-Ghamdi and indicates he is also a pilot from Saudi Arabia.  The article further cites two other hijackers; Salem Al-Hamzi (worker at Yanbu Industrial City, Saudi Arabia) and Ahmed Al-Nami (administrator for Saudi Arabian Airlines, Saudi Arabia).


Momentarily ignoring variations of spelling, this gives a total of seven individuals claiming identity as six of the alleged hijackers.


It is important to note that these articles were written based on a preliminary name-only list of hijackers.  An official list of the hijackers – with photographs – was released on 27th September.


On the 6th of February 2002 Saudi Arabia officially acknowledged that 15 of the 19 hijackers were their citizens, as reported by USA Today:


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia acknowledged for the first time that 15 of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackers were Saudi citizens, but said Wednesday that the oil-rich kingdom bears no responsibility for their actions.





Eight of the nineteen hijackers have, at various times, been identified as being alive by the media.  A detailed investigation of each individual claim follows.



Abdulaziz Al Omari

This allegation arose from the BBC articled quoted previously.  In this article the Al Omari cited is an engineer with Saudi Telecoms.  He claimed his passport was lost whilst studying in Denver, USA.  A second man with the same name is cited in the same BBC article.  He claimed to be a pilot with Saudi Arabian Airlines.


Obviously, if two individuals are claiming to be the same hijacker, there has been confusion.  Either one, or both of them are in error.


Once photos were released of the hijackers it became obvious that Al Omari the engineer was an entirely different person to Al Omari the hijacker.


However that still left Al Omari the Saudi Airlines pilot.  On 16th September 2001 CNN broadcast Al Omari the pilot’s photo, identifying him as the pilot of AA11.  However, the FBI quickly determined that Mohamed Atta was the pilot of AA11, not Al Omari the hijacker.


The CNN have since apologised to Al Omari for this confusion, and conducted an interview with him.  In the interview and from his September 16 photograph it is clear he is not the Al Omari presented in photographs issued by the FBI on 27th September.


So what about Al Omari the hijacker?  According to Saudi Information Agency, Al Omari the hijacker was 23; much younger than either of the other Al Omaris.  He studied religion at university, where he befriended a number of clerics.  In December 2000 he left for Afghanistan where he trained in Kandahar and fought alongside the Taliban.





Ahmed Al-Nami

This allegation arose from the Telegraph article, and identifies a 33yr old administrative supervisor with Saudi Arabian Airlines based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


However the profile for Al-Nami the hijacker is very different.  Like Al Omari, he was young and also trained at a religious university.  According to his friends and family, in 1999 he started to become highly religious, so much so that his family feared he had bipolar disorder.  In December 2000 he left on a trip to Mecca.  His family never saw him again, although they received a phone call from him in June 2001.  It is believed that we went to Afghanistan to train in Kandahar, just like Al Omari.





Khalid Al Mihdhar

This allegation arises in the BBC article, where it is speculated he “might be alive”.


A Saudi computer programmer called Khalid Al-Mihammadi claimed in September 2001 that the photo initially released by the FBI was him.  However the article that released this information also revealed that the FBI initially released two alternative names - Khalid Al Mihdhar and Khalid Al-Mihammadi – with different photographs for each.  Which means Al-Mihammadi the computer programmer is not Al Mihdhar the hijacker.


Indeed, Khalid Al Mihdhar the hijacker was an Al Qaeda veteran.  In 1995 he travelled to Bosnia with fellow 9/11 Hijacker Nawaf al Hazmi to join the Bosnian Muslims in their war against the Bosnian Serbs.  After this he travelled to Afghanistan where he joined Al Qaeda and fought against the Afghan Northern Alliance.  According to his family, in 1998 he fought in Chechnya.





Mohammed Atta

The allegation that Atta is still alive originates from his father.  His father’s story has changed dramatically over time, making his assertions unreliable.  Here’s some highlights:


Mohamed al-Amir Atta first talked to the media in an interview for the New York Times on the 19th of September, 2001.



In this interview Atta Senior denies his son was involved in the attacks.


"Mohamed. Oh God! He is so decent, so shy and tender," said the father, a 65-year-old retired lawyer. "He was so gentle. I used to tell him, 'Toughen up, boy!'"

Mr. Atta stood on the barren concrete doorstep of his 11th-floor Cairo apartment today, alternating between rage at the picture being painted of his son as one of the attack's ringleaders and pride that his boy had done well abroad after graduating with average marks in architecture from Cairo University's Faculty of Engineering.


Atta’s father also makes a number of other claims throughout the interview:


-He called the USA a “Tyrant Nation”, criticising it for supporting Israel, and for moral contagions such as adultery and same-sex marriage.

-He said he believed his son had gone to the USA for further education.

-He said that his son may have been murdered, and his documents stolen.

-He said his son had last been in Egypt a year ago (late 2000).

-He said someone like Mossad had the capacity to plan the attacks, but not his son.

-He said he was sure his son was still alive, and that his son was afraid of flying.



Atta Senior next appears in a 24th September interview for Newsweek.




-Upon opening the door for the journalist he immediately declared that Mossad killed his son.

-He then lectured on Mossad and its “ugly history”, concluding that they kidnapped his son and stole his identity.

-In this interview he claims that his son called him during the day of 12 September (night of 11/12th in New York) and that at the time he knew nothing of the attacks.  He asserts that Mossad forced his son to make the phone call “to cause controversy”.  It is worth noting that he makes no mention of this phone call in his earlier interview with the New York Times.

-Atta Senior claims in this interview that he last saw his son in October 1999 – a full year removed from what he claimed in the previous interview.  He states that his son then returned to his studies in Germany, calling once a month.

-In this interview he claims he always assumed Atta was calling from Germany, and that he had no knowledge his son had ever been to the USA.  This also is a direct contradiction of his earlier claims.



The next interview would come from the Guardian on September 2nd 2002, reporting an interview with the German Bild am Sonntag newspaper.




In this interview his story changes again.  He claims that Atta is still alive, and in hiding from US Intelligence Agents so that they don’t kill him.

Rather than blame 9/11 on Mossad, this time Atta Senior blames it on “American Christians”.


He also expressed a fear that the US would try to poison him.  He reiterated his previous claim that his son had called him on the 12th, stating that it had been around midday (0500 EDT).  He also recounted his return home on the night of the 12th (midday EDT).  His daughter called him, arrived at the house, and told him to turn on his television.  At this point he first sees news footage of the aircraft hitting the towers and his son’s photo.



Two years later, in an Associated Press interview on the 3rd anniversary of the attacks, Atta Senior first blames Mossad for the attacks, and then God (as punishment for the USA’s evil).  He proposes that a Palestinian who rams an aircraft into the White House killing President George Bush and his family will go to heaven. 





Perhaps the article that is most damning of Atta Senior is an interview from October 2004 with the Egyptian Magazine “EgyptToday”.




This time around he declares that “without stopping to think about it” he knew 9/11 was carried out by Mossad and “American right-wing extremists the neoconservatives”.

After declaring that no one has presented any facts to demonstrate that his son and Osama Bin Laden carried out the attacks, Atta Senior then proceeds to offer some “facts” of his own:

-4,000 Jewish workers at the WTC did not turn up on 9/11

-101 businessmen were supposed to be on AA11 on 9/11 but did not board and did not cancel their tickets.

-On 10 September the FBI recorded two US Congressmen calling two separate newspapers with the message “It’s zero-hour.  The game starts tomorrow.”

-On the morning of 9/11 the pilot of AA11 (John Ogonowski) handed two workers at Boston Airport a video tape explaining the plan for the attacks.

-Japanese Intelligence published a report with details of the four pilots of the hijacked flights, all of whom were American, had served in the Vietnam War, and belonged to secret Christian societies.

-Jewish owners of stocks of the Airlines and Insurance companies involved in 9/11 sold their stock for high prices on 1st September in Europe, repurchasing them on 17th September once prices crashed.

Atta Senior points out that initially Islamic Terrorists were blamed for the Oklahoma City Bombing.  He claims that Timothy McVeigh’s last words were “Revenge will come in September”.

He further claims that “four or six Israelis” videotaped the crashes in Manhattan, standing in the middle of the street, singing in Hebrew, and dancing in a circle at the moment of the attack.  He alleges they were videoing the aircraft when it was a mere speck in the sky, thus indicating they knew where it would be coming from.



A final interview was conducted with a CNN producer in July, 2005.




This interview was two weeks after the July 7 bombings in London, and Atta senior expresses his desire to see more of such attacks.  He predicts that 9/11 and the July Bombings are the beginning of what will be a 50 year religious war in which there will be more fighters like his son.


This is a significant divergence from earlier claims.  Previously he had asserted that his son was not political and not especially religious.  Now he asserts that his son was a fighter in a 50 year religious war.


He cursed Arab and Muslim leaders who condemned the London Bombings as traitors and non-Muslims, and expressed his desire to encourage more attacks.  When CNN asked permission to conduct another interview he demanded $5,000 which he said he would use to fund another attack like the London Bombings.


CNN declined.



As we can see, Mohammed Atta’s father cannot be considered a reliable source.  His story continuously changes, is self-contradicting, and he is clearly heavily biased in the subject matters at hand.  He is also clearly poorly informed regarding 9/11 – every single one of the claims he makes in the EgyptToday interview is totally false.


Other records of Atta’s life paint a very different picture.  His fellow students in Germany recall him abruptly changing after a long trip away (which video evidence indicates was a trip to Afghanistan).  He came back very religious, political, and wearing a beard.  As the leader of the 19 hijackers, Atta spent much longer in the USA than most of the conspirators, and records of his movements – including a traffic violation, financial transactions, and purchases with a credit card in his name, leave a very solid evidence trail that supports the official version of events.





Saeed al-Ghamdi

Again it is the BBC article of 23 September that identifies al-Ghamdi as alive.  According to their report a London-based Arabic newspaper called Asharq Al Awsat interviewed him after the attacks.  The Telegraph article of the same day expanded on this reference.


According to their story, as with Al Omari, al-Ghamdi was a Saudi pilot.  As with Al Omari, his picture was broadcast on CNN to the world.  Saeed claims he was in Tunis at the time with 20 other students learning to fly the Airbus A320.


Like Al Omari, al-Ghamdi had previously studied at the same Florida flight school that some of the hijackers used.  A clear pattern arises.  Just as with Al Omari, the photograph released by the FBI on 27th September was not al-Ghamdi the pilot.


The Germany newspaper Der Spiegel investigated some of the hijacker-alive claims, and interviewed Mohammed Samman – the reporter who talked to al-Ghamdi the Saudi pilot.  Samman was happy to confirm that the al-Ghamdi in the FBI’s suspect photographs issued on 27 September was not the pilot he had talked to.


But what of al-Ghamdi the hijacker?


According to a Boston Globe article of March 2002, al-Ghamdi and three other 9/11 Hijackers from the same area of Saudi Arabia (Wael and Walid Alshehri and Ahmed Alnami) met at the Al Farouq training camp in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  The same Al Qaeda camp where other 9/11 hijackers trained.  In 2000 these four hijackers, including al-Ghamdi, dedicated themselves to Jihad in a Saudi mosque, according to local clerics and friends.




In March 2001 al-Ghamdi appeared in an Al Qaeda “farewell” video broadcast on Al Jazeera.  In the video he is seen studying flight maps and training manuals, and declares the USA “the enemy”.  He appears in the video with other 9/11 hijackers.



Salem Al-Hamzi

Al-Hamzi is one of two sets of brothers amongst the 9/11 Hijackers.  The doubt over his identity arises from the Telegraph article, where it cites a petrochemical worker from the Yanbu Industrial City in Saudi Arabia.  However Al-Hamzi the worker is a different age to Al-Hamzi the alleged hijacker, has never been to the USA (the FBI cited Al-Hamzi the hijacker’s residence as in New Jersey), and perhaps most odd of all, makes no mention of the accusations laid against his presumably also innocent brother Nawaf.  Could it be this particular Al-Hamzi doesn’t have a brother called Nawaf, and is, indeed, an entirely different person?


The Saudi Information Agency seems to be talking about an entirely different Al-Hamzi.  According to them, the two Al-Hamzi brothers were from Makkah, and left Saudi Arabia in March 2000 to train at the same Kandahar camp where the other alleged hijackers trained.  Sound familiar?





Wail and Waleed Al-Shehri

There’s no less than three claims to the identity of the second pair of brothers to take part in the 9/11 hijacking.  The first , Waleed Al-Shehri, appeared in the BBC article previously mentioned, and was a pilot in Casablanca.  He denied having a brother called Wail, or knowing anyone in his family called Wail.  His claim is that a friend saw his photo, however this story appeared before the FBI released the photographs.  We can trace this photograph back to the same CNN news broadcast in which many other hijackers were displayed with photographs of entirely innocent men.


Al-Shehri the pilot also trained at the school in Florida where others such as Al-Omari trained.  Further confirmation came from the investigation conducted by Der Spiegel.  In their article they claim the pilot from Morocco was not called Waleed Al-Shehri at all, but Walid Al-Shri; the mistake appears to be a result of the transliteration of his Arabic name.


Another claim was that the two brothers were sons of a Saudi diplomat based in Bombay.  The diplomat in question was identified as Ahmed Al-Shehri, and these claims arose in Saudi media shortly after the attacks.


The Boston Globe contacted Ahmed Al-Shehri on 15 September and asked him about the two brothers.  His response was less than compelling.




''I have no idea. Maybe,'' said al-Shehri, who worked as an attache at the Saudi embassy in Washington until 1996. ''How do I know? We have a half-million Shehris in Saudi Arabia.''


A day later, in a 16 September article, the Washington Post reports that Ahmed Al-Shehri denied the two alleged hijackers were his sons.




The FBI identified Waleed as Waleed M Al-Shehri, and this single often-excluded middle initial may hold the answer.  In Saudi Arabian naming tradition, the last name refers to the tribal name, sometimes including hundreds of thousands of members, as demonstrated by Al-Shehri the diplomat.  The middle name for men is usually taken from the father.  In the case of Ahmen Al-Shehri, a son called Waleed would have the middle initial A – for Ahmed.


As it happened another man called Muhammad Ali Al-Shehri claimed to be the father of the two hijackers.  He hadn’t seen his sons since December 2000.




In a further NBC interview a living brother of the hijackers – Saleh – stated that he felt his brothers were dead and had been brainwashed.


In a Telegraph article a cousin of the brothers claimed that after a trip to Medina in 1999 they changed, growing beards, becoming very religious, and shunning their former friends.




The Saudi Information Agency profile on the brothers indicates that they were religious, and left Saudi Arabia to train at Al Qaeda’s Kandahar camp in Afghanistan.







This certainly accounts for the claims from living people that they were the suspects named.  However this doesn’t of course mean the hijackers are indeed dead.


In the wake of the attacks an extensive FBI investigation was conducted.  Given the suicidal nature of the attacks, the hijackers were not especially concerned about hiding their tracks, and as such the investigation uncovered a substantial amount of evidence implicating the nineteen hijackers.  The tickets for the flights were registered in their names, and video surveillance captured the hijackers of AA11, UA175, and AA77 as they passed through airport security.  There was no video surveillance at the security gate for UA93.


Calls from passengers and crew on each of the four flights identified the hijackers as middle-eastern, and on some flights their seat numbers were identified.  The nineteen hijackers are the only people on any of the four flights with Arabic names.


Some of this evidence was presented in the case of United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui at the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia.




A further trail of evidence puts all of the 9/11 hijackers through Al Qaeda’s training camp in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as previously discussed.


Lastly, martyr videos for many of the hijackers exist which depict their targets behind them.


These have been assembled into a comprehensive series of videos which present compelling evidence that Al Qaeda and the nineteen hijackers did indeed carry out the attacks.


The series is titled “The Usual Suspects”


Part One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu6pZ6BPSuo

Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBa252lC4uA

Part Three: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ighjUx7H03I

Part Four: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfuZFU39XKI


There is substantial evidence to support the contention that the nineteen named hijackers were indeed responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and died that day.  The evidence supporting the contention that they are still alive is weak, and close investigation reveals that those who came forward as the hijackers were simple cases of mistaken identity.



The inherent claim that at least six of the hijackers are still alive is rejected.



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