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Hani Hanjour
Born Hani Saleh Hanjour (in Arabic: هاني صالح حنجور)
August 30, 1972(1972-08-30)
Ta'if, Saudi Arabia
Died September 11, 2001 (aged 29)
The Pentagon, Arlington County, VA

A pilot who had lived intermittently in the United States for ten years, Hani Saleh Hanjour, (Arabic: هاني صالح حنجور‎, Hānī Ṣalāt Ḥanjūr) (30 August 1972 – 11 September 2001) was one of five men named by the FBI as hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77 in the September 11 attacks. The FBI believes that he piloted the plane and crashed it into The Pentagon. Hanjour is largely considered to have been among the most conservative and religiously observant of the hijackers.



Hanjour was the fourth of seven children, born to a food-supply businessman in Ta'if, Saudi Arabia. During his youth he suggested he may drop out of school to become a flight attendant, although his brother Abulrahman discouraged this route, and tried to help him focus on his studies.


Early 1990s

A young Hanjour

Hani Hanjour may have visited the United States as early as 1990 to visit a brother in Tucson,[1] though the earliest official record of Hanjour in the United States is from 1991. Hanjour's brother Abulrahman arranged a Tucson, Arizona, apartment for Hanjour to live in, and helped him apply to an eight-week program to study English at the University of Arizona. Hanjour arrived in Tucson for the English language program on October 3, 1991. Hanjour stayed in Arizona until February 1992, when he returned to Saudi Arabia.[2] Hanjour was the only hijacker to live in the United States prior to any intentions for a large-scale attack, and was not a part of the Hamburg cell in Germany. He spent the next five years in Ta'if, helping the family manage a lemon and date farm. In 1996, he traveled briefly to Afghanistan to work with a relief agency.

In 1996, Hanjour decided to return to the United States, and again asked his brother for help. Abulrahman asked family friends, Susan and Adnan Khalil, if they would be willing to put up Hani as a favour to him. They agreed, although they had since moved from Tucson to Miramar, Florida. Hanjour obtained a visa in March 1996 and arrived in the United States on April 2, 1996.[3] He lived for a month in Miramar, where the Khalils provided accommodations for him.[4] After the attacks, the Khalils would recall that they had been struck by how unlike Abulrahman he was, devoutly religious, whereas his brother had been fond of parties and drinking.

In April 1996, Hanjour moved in with a host family in Oakland, California where he enrolled in intensive English studies at Holy Names College, and attended a single class at Sierra Academy of Aeronautics before withdrawing, citing financial worries about the $35,000 cost. Leaving Oakland in September and moving to Phoenix, Arizona, Hanjour paid $4,800 for lessons at CRM Flight Cockpit Resource Management in Scottsdale. He received poor marks from instructor Duncan Hastie, and left the school frustrated, compounded with the fact his recent Visa application had been denied.

Hanjour is recorded re-entering the United States on November 16, 1997. He made a brief side trip to Florida, before returning to Phoenix where he shared an apartment with Bandar al-Hazmi. In December, he again attended CRM Flight Cockpit Resource Management, though left after a few weeks training.


Hanjour was still living with Bandar in January, and the two of them both took flying lessons at Arizona Aviation, where Hanjour eventually earned his commercial pilot rating.

After moving out of Bandar's place, Hanjour lived in several apartments in Tempe, Mesa and Phoenix, and enrolled in flight simulator classes at the Sawyer School of Aviation where he made only three or four visits. Lotfi Raissi would begin taking lessons at the same school a month after Hanjour quit, part of what piqued the FBI's interest in Raissi.

In February, financial records showed that Hanjour had taken a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada.

An FBI informant named Aukai Collins claims he told the FBI about Hanjour's activities during 1998, giving them Hanjour's name and phone number, and warning them that more and more foreign-born Muslims seem to be taking flying lessons. The FBI admits it paid Collins to monitor the Islamic and Arab communities in Phoenix at the time, but denies Collins told them anything about Hanjour.[5][6] In August 1998, Hanjour requested to rent a small plane at Freeway Airport in Bowie, Maryland. However, after three practice flights with an overseer, it was decided that he was not capable enough to allow him to rent.


Hanjour's bank records indicate that he travelled to Ontario, Canada in March 1999 for an unknown reason.

Hanjour gained his FAA commercial pilot certificate in April 1999, but was unable to get a job as a pilot after he returned to his native Saudi Arabia, and told his family he was heading to the United Arab Emirates to find work. He took an international flight out of New York on April 28, but it is not known where he went. Within two weeks however, bank withdrawals were again made in Arizona, indicating he had returned.


In May 2000, a third person accompanied Salem al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar to Sorbi's Flying Club where he waited on the ground as they took a flight lesson. It has been theorized this may have been Hanjour.

In September Hanjour again sent his $110 registration to Holy Names College in Oakland, California to continue his English studies. He also applied for another U.S. Student Visa. Although he was accepted, after the attacks, it would be reported that his Visa application was 'suspicious'. Granted a F-1 student visa in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, September 2000, he failed to reveal that he had previously traveled to the U.S. He never turned up for classes, and when the school contacted its Saudi representative, he reported that he could not find Hanjour either.

On December 5, Hanjour opened a CitiBank account in Deira, Dubai. On the 8th Hanjour is recorded flying into Cincinnati, Ohio and is thought to be later meeting with Nawaf al-Hazmi in San Diego.


Hanjour came back to San Diego in December 2000, frequently visiting Abdussattar Shaikh's house, which was shared with Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. During this time Hanjour may have visited the San Diego Zoo in February, as a security guard recalls having to page his name to reclaim a lost briefcase containing cash and Arabic documents and later recognised his photograph. Shortly afterwards, the three hijackers moved out of Shaikh's house to Falls Church, Virginia.

An FBI-released photo

Holy Names College ELS Language Center said Hanjour reached a level of proficiency sufficient to “survive very well in the English language”. However, in January 2001, Arizona JetTech flight school managers reported him to the FAA at least five times because his English was inadequate for the commercial pilot’s certificate he had already obtained. It took him five hours to complete an oral exam meant to last just two hours, said Peggy Chevrette. Hanjour failed UA English classes with a 0.26 GPA and a JetTech manager said “He could not fly at all.” His FAA certificate had become invalid late in 1999 when he failed to take a mandatory medical examination. In February, Hanjour began advanced simulator training.

He moved to Virginia with al-Hazmi, and attended sermons of Anwar Al-Awlaki, the new Imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in the metropolitan Washington, DC area, who al-Hazmi had met with in San Diego.[7][8] When police raided the Hamburg, Germany, apartment of Ramzi Binalshibh (the "20th hijacker") while investigating the 9/11 attacks, his telephone number was found among Binalshibh's personal contact information.[9]

On May 2, two new roommates joined them in Virginia: Moqed and Ahmed al-Ghamdi, both of whom had just flown in to the United States.

In San Diego, Hanjour and al-Hazmi had met Eyad Alrababah, a Jordanian later charged with document fraud; they had told him that they were looking for an apartment to rent. Alrababah had initially tried finding an apartment for them in Paterson, New Jersey, but without success. He then suggested they all go together to look at apartments in Fairfield, Connecticut. On May 8, Alrababah, Hanjour, al-Hazmi, Moqed and al-Ghamdi traveled to Fairfield to look for housing. While there, they also called several local flight schools. They then travelled briefly to Paterson to look at that area as well. Rababah has contended that, after this trip, he never saw any of the men again.[10]

Sometime at the end of May 2001, Hanjour rented a one-bedroom apartment in Paterson, New Jersey. He lived there with at least one roommate and was visited by several other hijackers, including Mohamed Atta al Sayed. During his time in New Jersey, he and Al-Hazmi rented 3 different cars including a sedan in June that Hanjour cosigned with the alias "Hani Saleh Hassan". He later made his last phone call to his family back in Saudi Arabia, during which he claimed to be phoning from a payphone in the United Arab Emirates, where he was supposedly still working.

Hanjour, along with at least five other future hijackers, is thought to have traveled to Las Vegas several times in the summer of 2001, where they reportedly drank alcohol, gambled, and practiced other forms of vice.[11]

On August 1, Hanjour and Almihdhar returned to Falls Church to obtain fraudulent documentation at a 7-11 store where an illegal side business operated for such a service. There they met Luis Martinez-Flores, himself also an illegal immigrant, who agreed to help them for a $100 fee. They drove together to a DMV office at a mall in nearby Springfield, Virginia, where Martinez-Flores gave them a false address in Falls Church to use, and signed legal forms attesting that they lived there. Hanjour and Almihdhar were then granted state identity cards. (Martinez-Flores was later sentenced to 21 months in prison for aiding them, and giving false testimony to police).[12]

On that same day, Hanjour was stopped by police for driving a Toyota Corolla 55 mph in a 30 mph zone in Arlington, Virginia, for which he paid the $70 fine.

Moqed and Hanjour

Employees at Advance Travel Service in Totowa, New Jersey later claimed that Moqed and Hanjour had both purchased tickets there. They claimed that Hanjour spoke very little English, and Moqed did most of the speaking. Hanjour requested a seat in the front row of the airplane. Their credit card failed to authorize, and after being told the agency didn't accept personal checks, the pair left to withdraw cash. They returned shortly afterwards and paid the $1842.25 total in cash.[1] This claim is in contradiction to other claims that Hanjour never had a ticket for the flight at all.

Hanjour began making cross-country flights in August to test security, and tried to rent a small Cessna 172 plane from Freeway Airport in Maryland, though he was declined after exhibiting poor flying skills.[13] He moved out of his New Jersey apartment on September 1, and was photographed four days later using an ATM with fellow hijacker Majed Moqed in Laurel, Maryland, where all five Flight 77 hijackers had purchased a 1-week membership in a local Gold's Gym, there Hanjour claimed that his first name translated as warrior when a gym employee asked if there was an English translation of their Arabic names. (Hani actually translates as "contented")

On September 10, 2001, Hanjour, al-Mihdhar, and al-Hazmi checked into the Marriott Residence Inn in Herndon, Virginia where Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen, a prominent Saudi government official, was staying. No evidence was ever uncovered that they had met, or knew of each other's presence.[14]


Right foreground: possibly Hanjour.
Hanjour, seen in the security tapes

On September 11, 2001, Hani Hanjour boarded American Airlines Flight 77 at 7:35 am. Some earlier reports stated he may not have had a ticket or appeared on any manifest,[15] however he is listed on the flight manifest as 1B[16][17] and reported to have bought a single, first-class ticket from Advance Travel Service in Totowa, N.J. In the security tape footage released in 2004, Hanjour appears to walk through the metal detector without setting it off, the only hijacker to do so. There is a controversy over whether or not the security tapes indeed show him, since the man claimed to be him seems significantly heavier than Hanjour, has kept his beard (which the hijackers all reportedly shaved off the night before), and has a different style of hair. However, in another report from NBC, a different person is identified and shown as Hanjour who does seem to match his profile. The Moussaoui trial also showed footage, identifying Hanjour as wearing the white shirt matching the same person as in the NBC report.

The flight was scheduled to depart at 08:10, but ended up departing 10 minutes late from Gate D26 at Dulles.[18] The last normal radio communications from the aircraft to air traffic control occurred at 08:50:51.[19] At 08:54, Flight 77 began to deviate from its normal, assigned flight path and turned south,[20] and then hijackers set the flight's autopilot heading for Washington, D.C.[21] Passenger Barbara Olson called her husband, United States Solicitor General Ted Olson, and reported that the plane had been hijacked and that the assailants had box cutters and knives.[20][22] At 09:37, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west facade of the Pentagon, killing all 64 aboard (including the hijackers), along with 125 on the ground in the Pentagon.[23] In the recovery process at the Pentagon, remains of all five Flight 77 hijackers were identified through a process of elimination, as not matching any DNA samples for the victims, and put into custody of the FBI.[24][25]

In the initial report given by the FBI on September 14, 2001 the names of the hijackers were released for the first time; Hanjour was not originally listed as a suspect, but "Mosear Caned" instead. The FBI later corrected the list.


After the attacks, Hanjour's family said they could not believe he had been involved, and stating that he had phoned them just eight hours prior to the hijackings.[26]

See also


  1. ^ "For Agent in Phoenix, the Cause of Many Frustrations Extended to His Own Office". The New York Times. 2002-06-19.  
  2. ^ "Statement for the Record - FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III". Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry. September 26, 2002.  
  3. ^ "Staff Monograph on 9/11 and Terrorist Travel" (PDF). 9/11 Commission. 2004.  
  4. ^ Chen, David W. (2001-09-18). "Man Traveled Across U.S. In His Quest to Be a Pilot". The New York Times.  
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Imam Anwar Al Awlaki - A Leader in Need;, November 8, 2006, accessed June 7, 2007
  8. ^ Sherwell, Philip, and Spillius, Alex, "Fort Hood shooting: Texas army killer linked to September 11 terrorists; Major Nidal Malik Hasan worshipped at a mosque led by a radical imam said to be a "spiritual adviser" to three of the hijackers who attacked America on Sept 11, 2001," Daily Telegraph, November 7, 2009, accessed November 12, 2009
  9. ^ Al-Haj, Ahmed, and Abu-Nasr, Donna, "US imam who communicated with Fort Hood suspect wanted in Yemen on terror suspicions," Associated Press, November 11, 2009, accessed November 12, 2009
  10. ^ The 9/11 Commission Report, page 230
  11. ^ Agents of terror leave their mark on Sin City / Las Vegas workers recall the men they can't forget
  12. ^ "Hijackers' helper faces two years max", Timothy P. Carney, Human Events, December 24, 2001
  13. ^ Olson, Bradley (Sep. 9, 2006). "Md. was among last stops for hijackers". Baltimore Sun.,0,4147527.story. Retrieved July 7, 2009.  
  14. ^ Schmidt, Susan (2003-10-02). "Spreading Saudi Fundamentalism in U.S.: Network of Wahhabi Mosques, Schools, Web Sites Probed by FBI" (html). The Washington Post, Page A01. Retrieved 2009-12-23.  
  15. ^
  16. ^ Official Manifests
  17. ^ The Passengers
  18. ^ "Staff Monograph on the "Four Flights and Civil Aviation Security"" (PDF). National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. September 2005. Retrieved 2008-08-14.  
  19. ^ Gregor, Joseph A. (2001-12-21). "ATC Report American Airlines Flight 77" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 2008-06-01.  
  20. ^ a b "9/11 Commission Report" (PDF). National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. 2004. pp. 1–13. Retrieved 2008-09-30.  
  21. ^ O’Callaghan, John; Bower, Daniel (2002-02-13). "Study of Autopilot, Navigation Equipment, and Fuel Consumption Activity Based on United Airlines Flight 93 and American Airlines Flight 77 Digital Flight Data Recorder Information" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 2008-06-01.  
  22. ^ Johnson, Glen (2001-11-23). "Probe reconstructs horror, calculated attacks on planes". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-06-01.  
  23. ^ "American Airlines Flight 77 FDR Report" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. 2002-01-31. Retrieved 2008-06-02.  
  24. ^ "Remains Of 9 Sept. 11 Hijackers Held". CBS News. 2002-08-17. Retrieved 2008-09-30.  
  25. ^ Edson, S.M., et al. (January 2004). "Naming the Dead - Confronting the Realities of Rapid Identification of Degraded Skeletal Remains" (PDF). Forensic Science Review 16(1). Retrieved 2008-09-30.  
  26. ^ Hijacker list raises more questions

External links


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