Mohand al Shehri

Mohand al Shehri 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. As a muscle hijacker, Shehri 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.

Mohand al Shehri was from Tanumah, Saudi Arabia,National Security Archive, “The Plot and the Plotters,” Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Report, June 1, 2003, 43, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/368989/2003-06-01-11-september-the-plot-and-the.pdf. a town in the Saudi Arabia’s impoverished Asir province.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, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf
Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 01 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 2, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-01-of-02/.
Little is known about his early life, but according to a CIA report, he began studies at the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University’s branch in Abha in 1997 before going to study at a university in Riyadh. Shehri only remained in Riyadh for a short time, as he reportedly failed his university exams there.National Security Archive, “The Plot and the Plotters,” Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Report, June 1, 2003, 43, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/368989/2003-06-01-11-september-the-plot-and-the.pdf. According to the 9/11 Commission, his father said that he had failed his exams because he was making frequent trips to al Qassim, a region at the core of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi Islamic movement in Saudi Arabia where two other 9/11 hijackers may have been radicalized.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.): 233, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf.

The 9/11 Commission reports that most of the Saudi muscle hijackers began to break with their families in 1999 or 2000, and that some claimed that they intended to wage violent jihad against Russian forces in Chechnya.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. A CIA report claims that Shehri left home in late 1999,National Security Archive, “The Plot and the Plotters,” Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Report, June 1, 2003, 43, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/368989/2003-06-01-11-september-the-plot-and-the.pdf. and records show that he was issued a passport in November of 1999 in Riyadh.Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 01 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 49, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-01-of-02/. Shehri reportedly contacted his family in early 2000 to inform them that he was in a refugee camp in Ingushetia, a Russian republic neighboring Chechnya.National Security Archive, “The Plot and the Plotters,” Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Report, June 1, 2003, 43, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/368989/2003-06-01-11-september-the-plot-and-the.pdf. However, as Shehri was not one of the hijackers found to actually have documentation suggesting that they traveled to Russia, it is likely that this was a pretext for his travels to Afghanistan. Many of the hijackers reportedly intended to travel to Russia but were instead diverted to Afghanistan, where they volunteered to be suicide attackers 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 his basic training sometime in 2000,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. Shehri returned to Saudi Arabia, where he received a U.S. visa in Riyadh on October 23, 2000.National Security Archive, “The Plot and the Plotters,” Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Report, June 1, 2003, 43, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/368989/2003-06-01-11-september-the-plot-and-the.pdf. That month, he also took a flight from Iran to Kuwait alongside another 9/11 muscle hijacker, Hamza al Ghamdi, on a trip whose purpose may have been to seek support from Hezbollah officials, according to the 9/11 Commission.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.): 240, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. Shehri left Saudi Arabia permanently in November of 2000.National Security Archive, “The Plot and the Plotters,” Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Report, June 1, 2003, 43, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/368989/2003-06-01-11-september-the-plot-and-the.pdf. On November 20, 2000, records show that Shehri took a flight from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, and on November 21, a flight from Bahrain to the United Arab Emirates.Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 01 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 105, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-01-of-02/.

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, 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. Shehri reportedly kept in contact with his family until the spring of 2001, but never returned home after his departure in 1999.National Security Archive, “The Plot and the Plotters,” Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Report, June 1, 2003, 43, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/368989/2003-06-01-11-september-the-plot-and-the.pdf.

Shehri arrived in the United States on May 28, 2001. He flew from Dubai to Miami, Florida, through London, alongside two other future 9/11 muscle hijackers: Hamza al Ghamdi and Ahmed al Nami.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.): 528, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf. The hijackers stayed 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 opened a bank account,Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 02 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 152, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-02-of-02/. obtained a Florida state ID card,National Security Archive, “The Plot and the Plotters,” Central Intelligence Agency Intelligence Report, June 1, 2003, 43, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/368989/2003-06-01-11-september-the-plot-and-the.pdf;
Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 02 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 175, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-02-of-02/.
and ran errands at Kinko’s.Federal Bureau of Investigation, “9/11 Chronology Part 02 of 02,” accessed July 7, 2017, 187, https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-02-of-02/.

On August 27, fellow muscle hijacker Fayez Banihammad purchased tickets for United Airlines Flight 175, bound from Boston to San Francisco, for himself and 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, Shehri and Banihammad 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, Mohand al Shehri and the four other hijackers of United Airlines Flight 175 checked in for the flight, scheduled to depart at 8:00 a.m., sat 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. Mohand al Shehri sat in seat 2B, next to fellow hijacker Fayez Banihammad in seat 2A.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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