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Nawaf M. S. al-Hazmi[1]
Born Nawaf al-Hazmi
(Arabic: نواف الحازمي‎)
August 9, 1976(1976-08-09)[2]
Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Died September 11, 2001 (aged 25)
The Pentagon, Arlington, VA
Relatives Salem al-Hazmi (brother)

Nawaf al-Hazmi (Arabic: نواف الحازمي‎, Nawāf al-Ḥāzmī; also known as Rabia al-Makki[3]; August 9, 1976 – September 11, 2001) was one of five terrorists named by FBI as hijackers of American Airlines flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon in the September 11 attack.

He was initially dismissed as a "muscle hijacker" following the attacks, but was later revealed to have played a larger role in the operational planning than previously believed.[4]

His younger brother, Salem al-Hazmi, was another hijacker aboard the same flight.

Contents

Background

Nawaf was born in Mecca in Saudi Arabia to Muhammad Salim al-Hazmi, a grocer. He traveled to Afghanistan as a teenager in 1993. CNN's preliminary report following the attacks claimed that an unnamed acquaintance relayed "He told me once that his father had tried to kill him when he was a child. He never told me why, but he had a long knife scar on his forearm", and claimed that his older brother was a police chief in Jizan.

In 1995, he and his childhood friend, Khalid al-Mihdhar, joined a group that went to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims in the Bosnian War.[5] Afterwards, Nawaf returned to Afghanistan along with his brother Salem, and Mihdhar. In Afghanistan, they fought alongside the Taliban against the Afghan Northern Alliance, and joined up with Al-Qaeda. Nawaf al-Hazmi also fought alongside Chechnyans sometime around 1998, possibly with his brother and Mihdhar, and returned to Saudi Arabia in early 1999.

Selected for the 9/11 plot

Osama bin Laden held Hazmi and Mihdhar in high respect, with their experience fighting during the 1990s in Bosnia and elsewhere. Al-Qaeda later referred to Hazmi as Mihdhar's "Second- in-command".[6] When Bin Laden committed to the "planes operation" plot in spring 1999, Bin Laden personally selected Hazmi and Mihdhar to be involved in the plot as pilot hijackers. In addition to Hazmi and Mihdhar, two Yemenis were selected for a southeast Asia component of the plot, which was later scrapped for being too difficult to coordinated with the operations in the United States. Known as Rabi'ah al-Makki during the preparations,[6] Hazmi had been so eager to participate in operations within the United States, he already had a U.S. visa when Bin Laden selected him.[5] Hazmi obtained a B-1/B-2 tourist visa on April 3, 1999 from the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, using a new passport he acquired a few weeks earlier. Hazmi's passport did have indicators of Al-Qaeda association, but immigration inspectors were not trained to look for those.[7]

In the autumn of 1999, these four attended the Mes Aynak training camp in Afghanistan, which provided advanced training. Hazmi went with the two Yemenis, Tawfiq bin Attash (Khallad) and Abu Bara al Yemeni, to Karachi, Pakistan where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the plot's coordinator, instructed him on western culture, travel, as well as taught some basic English phrases. Mihdhar did not go with him to Karachi, but instead left for Yemen. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed then sent Hazmi and the other men to Malaysia for a meeting. Before leaving for Malaysia, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed doctored Hazmi's Saudi passport in order to conceal his travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and make it appear that Hazmi had come to Malaysia from Saudi Arabia via Dubai.[5]

After the attacks, the Associated Press would re-publish a "bizarre" story by the Cody Enterprise that quoted witnesses stating that Nawaf entered the United States during the autumn of 1999, crossing along the Canadian border as one of two men delivering skylights to the local high school in Cody, Wyoming. Leaving the city 45 minutes later with the remaining cardboard boxes, the men allegedly asked "how to get to Florida."[8][9]

Malaysia summit

Based on information uncovered by the FBI in the 1998 United States embassy bombings case, the National Security Agency (NSA) began tracking the communications of Mihdhar's father-in-law Ahmad Muhammad Ali al-Hada, who was facilitating al-Qaeda communications, in 1999. Authorities also became aware of Hazmi, as a friend and associate of Mihdhar. Saudi Intelligence was also aware that Hazmi was associated with Al-Qaeda, and associated with the 1998 African embassy bombings and attempts to smuggle arms into the kingdom in 1997. He also said that he revealed this to the CIA, saying "What we told them was these people were on our watch list from previous activities of al-Qaeda, in both the ." The CIA strongly denies having received any such warning.[10]

In late 1999 the NSA informed the CIA of an upcoming meeting in Malaysia, which Hada mentioned would involve "Khalid", "Nawaf", and "Salem".[11] On January 5, Hazmi arrived in Kuala Lumpur, where he met up with Mihdhar, Attash, and Abu Bara. The group was in Malaysia to meet with Hambali for the 2000 Al Qaeda Summit, during which key details of the attacks may have been arranged. At this time, there was an East Asia component to the September 11 attacks plot, but Bin Laden later canceled it for being too difficult to coordinate with operations in the United States.[5] Ramzi Binalshibh was also at the summit, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed possibly attended the summit.[12][13] In Malaysia, the group stayed with Yazid Sufaat, a local member of Jemaah Islamiyah, who provided accommodations at request of Hambali.[5] Both Mihdhar and Hazmi were secretly photographed at the meeting by Malaysian authorities, who provided surveillance at the request of the CIA. Malaysian authorities reported that Mihdhar spoke at length with Tawfiq bin Attash, one of the Yemenis, and others who were later involved in the USS Cole bombing.[11] Hazmi and Mihdhar also met with Fahad al-Quso, who was later involved in the USS Cole bombing.[13] After the meeting, Mihdhar and Hazmi traveled to Bangkok in Thailand on January 8, and left a week later on January 15 to travel to the United States.[14]

In the U.S.

Enters the United States with al-Mihdhar

Between February and May 2000, Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi lived at the Parkwood Apartments complex in Clairemont Mesa, San Diego

On January 15, 2000, Hazmi and Mihdhar arrived together at Los Angeles International Airport from Bangkok, and were admitted for a six-month period.[7] Immediately after entering the country, Nawaf and al-Mihdhar met Omar al-Bayoumi in an airport restaurant. Al-Bayoumi claims he was merely being charitable in helping the two seemingly out-of-place Muslims to move to San Diego where he helped them find an apartment near his own, co-signed their lease, and gave them $1500 to help pay their rent.[15]

While in San Diego, witnesses told the FBI he and al-Mindhar had a close relationship with Anwar Al Awlaki, an imam who served as their spiritual advisor.[16] Authorities say the two regularly attended the Masjid Ar-Ribat al-Islami mosque Al-Awlaki led in San Diego, and Al-Awlaki had many closed-door meetings with them, which led investigators to believe Al-Awlaki knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance. Al-Hazmi got a recommendation from the mosque for a job at a nearby Texaco station and car wash, a business whose former owner, a Muslim, was known to help young men in need of work. For a month, Al-Hazmi worked there two days a week, vacuuming and drying cars.[17]

Anwar al-Awlaki

In the beginning of February 2000, Mihdhar and Hazmi rented an apartment at the Parkwood Apartments, a 175-unit complex in the Clairemont Mesa section of San Diego, near the Balboa Drive Mosque. In February, Mihdhar purchased a used 1988 Toyota Corolla.[14] While living at the Parkwood Apartments, neighbors thought that Mihdhar and Hazmi were odd. Months passed without them getting any furniture for the apartment. Instead, the men slept on mattresses on the floor, yet they carried briefcases, were frequently on their mobile phones, and were occasionally picked up by a limousine.[18] After the attacks, their neighbors told the media that the pair constantly played flight simulator games.[19] Residents said a total of four men spent time together at Parkwood, playing in the pool like children.

On April 4, 2000, Hazmi took a one-hour introductory flight lesson at the National Air College in San Diego. Both Mihdhar and Hazmi took flight lessons in May 2000 at the Sorbi Flying Club, located at Montgomery Field in San Diego. On May 5, Hazmi and Mihdhar took a lesson for one hour, and additional lessons on May 10 at the Sorbi Flying Club, with Hazmi flying an aircraft for 30 minutes.[14] However, their English skills were very poor, and they did not do well with flight lessons.[18] The first day that they showed up, they told instructors that they wanted to learn how to fly Boeings.[20] Mihdhar and Hazmi raised some suspicion when they offered extra money to their flight instructor, Richard Garza, if he would train them to fly jets. Suspicious of the two men, Garza refused the offer but did not report them to authorities.[18] Garza described the two men as "impatient students" who "wanted to learn to fly jets, specifically Boeings."[21]

Adel Rafeea received a wire transfer of $5000, on April 18, from Ali Abdul Aziz Ali in the UAE, which he later claimed was money Nawaf had asked him to accept on his behalf.[22]

At the end of May 2000, Hazmi and Mihdhar moved out of Parkwood Apartments, and moved to nearby Lemon Grove, California. At this time, Mihdhar transferred his vehicle's registration to Hazmi, and he left San Diego on June 10, 2000. Mihdhar returned to Yemen, which angered Khalid Sheikeh Mohammed, who did not want Hazmi to be left alone in California.

On July 12, 2000, Hazmi filed for an extension of his visa, which was due to expire. His visa was extended until January 2001, though Hazmi never filed any further requests to extend it beyond that.[7]

In September, Nawaf and al-Mihdhdar both moved into the house of FBI informant Abdussattar Shaikh, although he did not report the pair as suspicious.[23][24] Al-Mihdhar is believed to have left the apartment in early October, less than two weeks before the USS Cole Bombing. Nawaf continued living with Shaikh until December.

Hani Hanjour arrived in San Diego in early December 2000, joining Hazmi, but they soon left for Phoenix, Arizona where Hanjour could take refresher flight training. On December 12, Hanjour and Hazmi signed a lease for an apartment in the Indian Springs Village complex in Mesa, Arizona.[14]

2001

In 2001, al-Hazmi and Hanjour moved to Falls Church, Virginia. Eventually two other hijackers, Ahmed al-Ghamdi and Majed Moqed, moved in with them.

Al-Awlaki headed east and served as Imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in the metropolitan Washington, DC area starting in January 2001.[25] Shortly after this his sermons were attended by three of the 9/11 hijackers (the new one being Hanjour).[26][27] The September 11 Commission concluded that two of the hijackers "reportedly respected Awlaki as a religious figure".[28] 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.[29][30]

On April 1, 2001, Oklahoma police officer C. L. Parkins pulled al-Hazmi over for speeding in a Chevrolet Impala , and issued him an additional citation together totaling $138. A routine inspection of his California drivers license turned up no warrants or alerts.[31]

On May 1, 2001, al-Hazmi reported to police that men tried to take his wallet outside his Fairfax, Virginia residence, but before the county officer left, al-Hazmi signed a "statement of release" indicating he did not want the incident investigated. On June 30, his car was involved in a minor traffic accident on the east-bound George Washington Bridge.

On June 25, 2001, Hazmi obtained a drivers' license in Florida, providing an address in Delray Beach, Florida,[32] and he obtained a USA ID card on July 10. On August 2, Hazmi also obtained a Virginia drivers' license, and made a request for it to be reissued on September 7.[7]

Al-Hazmi, along with at least five other future hijackers, traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada at least six times in the Summer of 2001. They reportedly drank alcohol, gambled, and paid strippers to perform lap dances for them.[33]

Throughout the summer, al-Hazmi met with leader Mohammad Atta to discuss the status of the operation of a monthly basis.[4]

On August 23, Israeli Mossad reportedly gives his name to the CIA as part of a list of 19 names they say are planning an attack in the near future. Only four of the names are known for certain - Nawaf, Atta, Marwan and al-Mihdhar.[34][35] On the same day, he is added to an INS watch list, together with al-Mihdhar to prevent entry into the U.S.

An internal review after 9/11 found that "everything was done [to find them] that could have been done." But the search does not appear to have been particularly aggressive. A national motor vehicle index was reportedly checked, but al-Hazmi's speeding ticket was not detected for some reason. The FBI did not search credit card databases, bank account databases, or car registration, all of which would had positive results. Al-Hazmi was even listed in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book, but this too was not searched until after the attacks.[24][31][36][36][37][38]

On August 27, brothers Nawaf and Salem purchased flight tickets through Travelocity.com using Nawaf's visa card.[39]

On September 1, Nawaf registered Room #7 at the Pin-Del Motel in Laurel, Maryland. On the registration, he listed his drivers license number as 3402142-D, and gave a New York hotel as his permanent residence. Ziad Jarrah had checked into the hotel on August 27.[40][41]

Attacks

Nawaf and al-Mihdhar purchased their 9/11 plane tickets online using a credit card with their real names. This raised no red flags, since the FAA had not been informed that the two were on a terrorist watchlist.[42][43]

On September 10, 2001, Hanjour, al-Mihdhar, and Nawaf checked into the Marriott Residence Inn in Herndon, Virginia where Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen, a prominent Saudi government official, was staying - although no evidence was ever uncovered that they had met, or knew of each other's presence.[44]

The flight was scheduled to depart at 08:10, but ended up departing 10 minutes late from Gate D26 at Dulles.[45] The last normal radio communications from the aircraft to air traffic control occurred at 08:50:51.[46] At 08:54, Flight 77 began to deviate from its normal, assigned flight path and turned south,[47] and then hijackers set the flight's autopilot heading for Washington, D.C.[48] 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.[47][49] 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.[50]

Aftermath

Nawaf al-Hazmi's 1988 blue Toyota Corolla was found on the next day in Dulles International Airport's hourly parking lot. Inside the vehicle, authorities found a letter written by Mohamed Atta, maps of Washington, D.C. and New York City, a cashier's check made out to a Phoenix flight school, four drawings of a Boeing 757 cockpit, a box cutter, and a page with notes and phone numbers.[51]

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. Forensics teams confirmed that it seemed two of the hijackers were brothers, based on their DNA similarities.[52][53]

Several weeks after the attacks, a Las Vegas Days Inn employee went to the FBI and stated that she recognized al-Hazmi's photographs from the media as being a man she had met at the hotel, who had asked for details on hotels near Los Angeles. She admitted that he never gave his name.[8]

Timeline in America

Late in 2005, Army Lt. Col. Kevin Shaffer and Congressman Curt Weldon alleged that the Defense Department data mining project Able Danger had kept Nawaf, Khalid al-Mihdhar, Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi all under surveillance as Al-Qaeda agents.

  • January 15, 2000: Al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar arrive in Los Angeles from Bangkok, Thailand.
  • February 2000: Al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar move to San Diego.
  • Autumn 2000: Al-Hamzi works at a gas station while living in San Diego.
  • March 2001: Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour move from Phoenix to Falls Church, Virginia.
  • Mid-March 2001: Nawaf al-Hazmi, Ahmed Alghamdi, Majed Moqed, and Hani Hanjour stay for four days in the Fairfield Motor Inn, Fairfield, Connecticut. They meet with Eyad Alrababah, a Palestinian who may have provided false identification documents.

References

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