Fayez Banihammad

Fayez Banihammad was one of the so-called “muscle hijackers” of United Airlines Flight 175, flown into the World Trade Center’s south tower as the second of the four 9/11 plane hijackings.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 4; 435, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. Born in the United Arab Emirates, Banihammad was the only non-Saudi muscle hijacker.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 525, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. As a muscle hijacker, Banihammad helped to storm the cockpit and keep passengers under controlNational Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 227, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. so that the hijacker-pilot, Marwan al-Shehhi, could take control of the plane. The flight’s five hijackers reportedly used pepper spray, knives, and the threat of a bomb to carry out the hijacking, during which they killed the aircraft’s two pilots and stabbed members of the flight crew.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 7, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf.

Fayez Banihammad was born in Khawr Fakkan, in the United Arab Emirates. Little is known about his early life, but according to a CIA report, he was married and had a child.National Security Archive, “The Plot and the Plotters,” Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Report, June 1, 2003, 40, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/368989/2003-06-01-11-september-the-plot-and-the.pdf. His father reportedly claimed that in 1999, Banihammad said he would be leaving to join the International Islamic Relief Organization, a charity with links to al-Qaeda.Molouk Y. Ba-Isa and Saud Al-Towaim, “Another Saudi ‘hijacker’ turns up in Tunis,” Arab News, October 1, 2001, https://web.archive.org/web/20030208094526/http://www.arabnews.com/Article.asp?ID=9454&ArY=2001&ArM=10&ArD=1;
“Treasury Designates Director, Branches of Charity Bankrolling Al Qaida Network,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, August 3, 2006, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/hp45.aspx;
Matthew Levitt, “Charitable and Humanitarian Organizations in the Network of International Terrorist Financing,” The Washington Institute, August 1, 2002, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/charitable-and-humanitarian-organizations-in-the-network-of-international-t.
He presumably traveled to Afghanistan during this time, where the hijackers volunteered to be suicide attackers in 2000 after hearing Osama bin Laden’s speeches.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 232-33, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. The hijackers underwent basic training in weaponry use at al-Faruq, an al-Qaeda training camp near Kandahar in Afghanistan. All of the hijackers volunteered for suicide missions.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 234, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf.

After completing their basic training sometime in 2000, the muscle hijackers were instructed to return to their home countries and acquire new passports, although it is unclear if Banihammad returned to the United Arab Emirates at this time, given that he obtained his passport the following year.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 234-5, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. According to the 9/11 Commission, the so-called “muscle hijackers” returned to Afghanistan for special training in late 2000 or early 2001, where they learned to conduct hijackings.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 235-6, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. All of the muscle hijackers were personally chosen by bin Laden during this time, after which they committed to carrying out a suicide operation and filmed a so-called “martyrdom video.”National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 235, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. Banihammad received his passport in the United Arab Emirates on June 13, 2001, and his U.S. visa five days later, on June 18.Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 02 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 158, 161, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-02-of-02/.

According to the 9/11 Commission, Banihammad played a “unique role” among the muscle hijackers because of his work with Mustafa al Hawsawi, a financier of the 9/11 attacks.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 231, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. On June 25, 2001, Banihammad opened a bank account in the United Arab Emirates in which he deposited roughly $30,000 used for ATM and credit card withdrawals during his time in the United States.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 237, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. He helped Hawsawi to open an account at the same bank, giving him $3,000, and granted Hawsawi power of attorney over his own account so that Hawsawi could later forward him the bank card.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 527, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf.

Banihammad arrived in the United States on June 27, 2001. He flew from Dubai to Florida via London alongside another 9/11 muscle hijacker, Saeed al Ghamdi, arriving in Orlando. Banihammad ultimately lived with several other hijackers at a variety of motels and apartments in southern Florida in the subsequent months.Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 01 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 54, 87, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-01-of-02/. Records show that he rented a mailbox,Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 02 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 174, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-02-of-02/. opened a bank account,Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 02 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 188, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-02-of-02/. obtained a Florida state identification card,Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 02 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 182, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-02-of-02/. and even joined a gym.Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 02 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 223, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-02-of-02/.

On August 27, Banihammad purchased tickets for United Airlines Flight 175, bound from Boston to San Francisco, for himself and fellow muscle hijacker Mohand al Shehri.Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 02 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 238, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-02-of-02/. On September 8, Banihammad and Shehri flew together from Ft. Lauderdale to Boston, via Atlanta,Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 02 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 266, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-02-of-02/. checking into a hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, later that day, where they would stay until the morning of September 11.Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 02 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 267, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-02-of-02/.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Fayez Banihammad and the four other hijackers of United Airlines Flight 175 checked in for the flight, scheduled to depart at 8:00 a.m., at Boston Logan International Airport. Some of the flight’s hijackers could not understand the standard security questions asked by the ticket agent and had to go over them slowly until they were able to give what the 9/11 Commission called the “routine, reassuring answers.” They ultimately passed through airport security and are believed to have boarded the flight sometime between 7:23 and 7:28 a.m. without issue. Fayez Bannihamad sat in seat 2A, next to fellow hijacker Mohand al Shehri in seat 2B.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 2, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. United Airlines Flight 175, bound for San Francisco, departed from the ground at 8:14 a.m., just as the hijackers began their assault on American Airlines Flight 11.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 4, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf.

The plane hijacking on United Airlines Flight 175 began sometime between 8:42 and 8:46 a.m. According to reports from passengers and flight attendants who made calls before the plane crashed, the hijackers used pepper spray, knives, and the threat of a bomb to carry out the hijacking. They killed the plane’s two pilots, stabbed members of the flight crew, and forced the passengers to move to the back of the plane so that the hijacker-pilot, Marwan al-Shehhi, could enter the cockpit and take control of the aircraft.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 7, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. At 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center, instantly killing everyone on board and an unknown number of people in the tower.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 8, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. The 9/11 attacks—including attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the thwarted attack headed for the White House or Capitol—left nearly 3,000 people dead in the single deadliest attack in U.S. history.National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton. 2004. The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. (Washington, D.C.): 7, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf.

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