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  • Claim: The passport of Satam al-Suqami couldn’t have survived the inferno and collapse. It was found in a grid search and it was in too good a condition.

Discussed here:

In Brief:
Some reports have falsely claimed this was Atta’s passport. The passport never went through the inferno and collapse. A passerby in a suit picked it up and gave it to a NYPD detective Yuk H. Chin shortly before the World Trade Center towers collapsed. WTC 2 collapsed only shortly thereafter. Mr. Chin gave the passport further to the FBI on 9/11.

Lots of things from the planes ended up on the streets below before the collapses. Amongst them was a hijacker’s passport.

On September 18th a CNN report stated the following:

“Police and the FBI completed a grid search of area streets near the site of the World Trade Center looking for clues, said Barry Mawn, director of New York's FBI office. The searchers found several clues, he said, but would not elaborate. Last week, a passport belonging to one of the hijackers was found in the vicinity of Vesey Street, near the World Trade Center.”

The report first talked about a grid search, then in the next sentence it mentioned that the passport was found last week. This has lead to a false conclusion, that a grid search produced the passport finding.

  • Claim: Several of the hijackers are reported to be alive.

Discussed here:


In Brief: The story was first reported by the BBC and several other news agencies in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. BBC updated their story in 2006. The update clearly states:

“The story, written in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, was about confusion at the time surrounding the names and identities of some of the hijackers. We later reported on the list of hijackers, thereby superseding the earlier report. The confusion over names and identities we reported back in 2001 may have arisen because these were common Arabic and Islamic names.”

The FBI and the 9/11 commission have confirmed, that the hijackers responsible for the attacks have been positively identified. There has been no issue of doubt raised by further reviews to the hijackers identities.

Further confirmation into hijackers identities was recovered during the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad. A computer hard drive seized during the capture contained the names of the hijackers, photographs of 19 individuals identified as the 9/11 hijackers, biographies of several of the hijackers, images of passports, pilot names, code names, targets, three letters from Osama Bin Laden and so on.

If the alive theories were true, it would be easy to just go and interview them. This has not been done, but the issue has been avoided giving many excuses. This claim is still alive, the hijackers are not.

  • Claim: The hijackers outwitted the most highly sophisticated military defence in the world. It could not have been possible without help, NORAD stand down order and distracting war games.
Discussed here:

In Brief:
North America is surrounded by an area called the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is responsible for the intercept of aircraft inside the ADIZ. All preparations were made only concerning aircraft entering the USA from outside its borders.
Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and Transport Canada handle the ADIZ clearances, so a request for intercept from one of these agencies precedes any action by NORAD against civilian aircraft. NORAD do not directly monitor air traffic inside the ADIZ themselves.

None of the aircraft hijacked on September 11 entered the ADIZ zone surrounding North America. The hijackings took place inside continental USA. Prior to September 11, there was no formal system in place for military intercepts of civilian aircraft outside the ADIZ. From 1991 to 2001 only one military intercept occurred over continental USA airspace, the Payne Stewart flight. The intercept took 81 minutes and the aircraft transponder remained on at all times.

All four aircraft hijacked on September 11 had their transponders turned off. In order to identify the hijacked aircraft, Air Traffic Controllers had to first cross-reference all of the aircraft appearing on the secondary radar screen with their correlating reading on the primary screen. This is an enormous task.

Failure by NORAD to intercept the hijacked planes on 9/11 was not caused by any orders. It was a result of enormous workload, lack of preparation against attacks from inside continental USA, complicated operating procedures and lack of time.

The exercises occurring on September 11 that involved NORAD were “Vigilant Guardian” and “Global Guardian”.

These were command post exercises. This means that all the battle positions that are normally not filled were filled. It was a rapid transition from an exercise into a real world situation. When the first reports of a hijacking were given, a rapid clarification was made with the words “is this real-world or exercise?” Once this clarification had been made, the exercises posed no further hindrance to NORAD’s response. The exercises actually enhanced the response, since all staff positions were already filled.

Special thanks to Andrew Burfield for his extensive NORAD analysis.

  • Claim: The names of the hijackers do not appear on the passenger manifests.
Discussed here:

In Brief:
The hijackers do not appear on the victim lists put together by CNN. Those were not the official passenger manifests. CNN specifically states that the hijackers are not included.

But Boston Globe obtained passenger manifests of the flights that departed from Boston only a few days after the attacks. The hijackers are included there. The official and complete passenger manifests of all flights were released as part of the Moussaoui trial. They do include every hijacker and their seat positions.
  • Claim: The hijackers couldn’t have flown the planes into their targets.
Discussed here:

In Brief: The manoeuvres required of the hijackers were within their capabilities, they were performed without any degree of finesse and resulted in damage to the targets only after desperate overmanoeuvring of the planes.

They were not expert pilots, but they had some extensive training with simulators and smaller planes. Landing a plane is difficult. Flying it into something is much easier. They had the skills to do that. For example, an amateur pilot in Holland was able to hit Pentagon 3/3 times, when he tried it with a simulator.
  • Claim: The hijackers were from a cave. They couldn’t have pulled this through.
Discussed here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Participants_in_the_September_11%2C_2001_ attacks

In Brief: Mohamed Atta, the pilot of flight 11, came from a middle-class household in Egypt. In Hamburg, Germany, he earned his master's degree in architecture.

Marwan al-Shehhi, the pilot of flight 175, was from the United Arab Emirates and had joined the UAE army. Later when in Germany, he enrolled in a university with a military scholarship.

Hani Hanjour, the pilot of the Pentagon plane, was a son of a businessman in Saudi Arabia. He first arrived to USA already in 1991.

Ziad Jarrah, the pilot of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, was a son of an industrious, wealthy family in Beirut. Jarrah moved to Germany and studied aerospace engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg.

15 other hijackers joined the pilots aboard the four airplanes. All but one were from Saudi Arabia, most were from families headed by tradesmen and civil servants, well-off, but not wealthy.

As for the planners, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed completed a degree in mechanical engineering in 1986. Osama Bin Laden earned a degree in civil engineering in 1979.

Caves do not describe these people.
  • Claim: There were no hijackers involved.
Discussed here:

In Brief:
The hijackers and their identities have not been in any doubt since late 2001. The known identities have survived many reviews. And these people were really on board the planes.

In New York City, medical examiners used DNA that FBI had collected from tiny traces of skin on the steering wheels of vehicles hired by the hijackers and from hair samples recovered from their hotel rooms to match body parts with three of the 10 hijackers who crashed there. The enormous destruction of the towers has made further identifications impossible, only 58% of all WTC victims have been identified.

In the Pentagon and Pennsylvania cases, nine genetic profiles that matched no known victims were presumed to be hijacker remains. All the people on board the planes are known, all the people at the crash sites are known. There is no question that the 9 remaining people are the hijackers.

We have official manifests that include the hijackers. We have multiple telephone calls that confirm the existence of the hijackers. We have security camera images that show the hijackers. We have DNA identification of several of them. We have 9 extra people besides identified victims at two crash sites.

There were hijackers involved.

  • Claim: The hijackers were not even devoted followers of Islam. They enjoyed drinking and lap dances.
Discussed here:

In Brief:

At first, it must be said that the reliability of these behaviour statements is in question. In some reports the identification of the actual hijackers is questionable, while in other reports the description of the very same event varies from source to source.

Nonetheless, while this kind of behaviour seems rather suspicious, a deeper look reveals that terrorists do not always act like one would expect.

Different sources report the following:

“Ziad Jarrah came from a secular Muslim family that was easygoing -- the men drank whiskey and the women wore short skirts about town and bikinis at the beach.”

“Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was a frequent visitor to Manila's red light district, including its karaoke bars and mirrored go-go clubs, where he introduced himself to women as a wealthy businessman from Qatar.”

“They must have assumed that the purifying nature of their approaching martyrdom gave them some sort of cosmic dispensation.”

"Their sense of dispensation was derived directly from the idea that they were engaged in jihad (holy struggle). Now you know, in jihad there are certain liberties allowed. I believe they took the liberty of making their own interpretation of these dispensations or liberties granted to the one making jihad."

It would seem, that so-called errant western behaviour does not exclusively mean that you cannot be a terrorist at the same time. Their suicide mission might be interpreted as a purifying event, making their earlier behaviour less damaging. And you have to keep in mind, that Islamic Law condemns the killing of innocent civilians. They were not following the strict rules of their religion there either.


Recommended reading concerning the hijackers for the interested: