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Hani Hanjour
Born Hani Saleh Hanjour
August 30, 1972(1972-08-30)
Ta’if, Saudi Arabia
Died September 11, 2001 (aged 29)
The Pentagon

Hani Saleh Hasan Hanjour, (Hānī Ṣalāt Ḥanjūr) (30 August 1972 – 11 September 2001) was the hijacker-pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which struck The Pentagon in the September 11 attacks. Born and raised in the western Saudi Arabia city of Ta’if, Hanjour was the most religious among his siblings. According to Hanjour's brother, he worked for a relief agency in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, after the Soviets had withdrawn.[1]

Hanjour first came to the United States in 1991, enrolling at the University of Arizona, where he studied English for a few months. He returned to the United States in 1996, studying English in California then began taking flying lessons in Arizona. He received his commercial pilot certificate in 1999, and went back to his native Saudi Arabia hoping but unable to find a job as a commercial pilot. Hanjour became increasingly devout, and disappeared in late 1999 and early 2000. According to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Osama bin Laden or Mohammed Atef identified Hanjour at an Afghanistan training camp as a trained pilot and selected him to participate in the September 11 attacks. 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 December 2000, Hanjour arrived in the United States. He joined up with Nawaf al-Hazmi in San Diego, and they immediately left for Arizona where Hanjour took refresher pilot training. In April 2001, they relocated to Falls Church, Virginia and then Paterson, New Jersey in late May where Hanjour took additional flight training. Hanjour returned to the Washington DC area on September 2, 2001, checking into a motel in Laurel, Maryland. On September 11, 2001, Hanjour boarded American Airlines Flight 77, piloted the plane into The Pentagon, after his team of hijackers helped subdue the pilots and crew, as part of the September 11 attacks. The crash killed all 64 passengers on board the aircraft and 125 people in the Pentagon.


Hanjour was the fourth of seven children, born to a food-supply businessman in Ta’if, Saudi Arabia, located near Mecca. During his youth, Hanjour wanted to 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. Among his siblings, Hanjour was the most religious, regularly praying and attending mosque.[2]

According to his eldest brother, Hanjour traveled to Afghanistan in the late 1980s as a teenager to participate in the conflict against the Soviet Union. The Soviets had already withdrawn by the time he arrived in the country and he instead worked for a relief agency.[1]

Early 1990s[]


A young Hanjour

Hanjour first came to the United States in 1991 to study English at the University of Arizona's Center for English as a Second Language. Hanjour's eldest brother Abdulrahman helped him apply to the eight-week program, and found a room in Tucson, Arizona for Hanjour near the Islamic Center of Tucson. Hanjour arrived for the English language program on October 3, 1991, and stayed until early February 1992, when he returned to Saudi Arabia.[3]

Over the next five years, Hanjour remained in Saudi Arabia, helping the family manage a lemon and date farm near Ta'if.[2] His family often reminded Hanjour that he was getting past the age where he ought to get married and start a family, but Hanjour insisted he wanted to settle down more. While in Saudi Arabia, Hanjour applied for a job with Saudi Arabian Airlines, but was turned down due to poor grades. The airline told him they would consider him if obtained a commercial pilot's license in the United States.[4]


In April 1996, Hanjour returned to the United States, staying with family friends, Susan and Adnan Khalil, in Miramar, Florida for a month before heading to Oakland, California to study English and attend flight school.[5][notes 1] Hanjour was admitted to the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics, but before beginning flight training, the academy arranged for Hanjour to take intensive English courses at Holy Names College in Oakland. The flight school also arranged for Hanjour to stay with a host family, with whom he moved in with on May 20, 2006.[6][5] Hanjour completed the English program in August, and in early September 1996, he attended a single day of ground school courses at the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics before withdrawing, citing financial worries about the $35,000 cost.

Hanjour left Oakland in September and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, paying $4,800 for lessons at CRM Flight Cockpit Resource Management in Scottsdale. Receiving poor marks, Hanjour dropped out of flight school,[2] and returned to Saudi Arabia at the end of November 1996.[7]

Late 1990s[]

Hanjour re-entered the United States on November 16, 1997,[8] taking additional English courses in Florida, then returning to Phoenix where he shared an apartment with Bandar al-Hazmi.[4] In December, he resumed training at CRM Flight Cockpit Resource Management for a few weeks, before pursuing training at Arizona Aviation.[9]

Bandar al-Hazmi and Hanjour stayed in Arizona, continued taking flight lessons Arizona Aviation throughout 1998 and early 1999. After moving out of Bandar's place in March, Hanjour lived in several apartments in Tempe, Mesa and Phoenix.[10] In February, financial records showed that Hanjour had taken a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada.[11] In addition to flight training at Arizona Aviation, Hanjour enrolled in flight simulator classes at the Sawyer School of Aviation where he made only three or four visits.[2] 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.

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.[12][13]

Hanjour gained his FAA commercial pilot certificate in April 1999, getting a "satisfactory" rating from the examiner.[14] Hanjour's bank records indicate that he travelled to Ontario, Canada in March 1999 for an unknown reason.[citation needed]

He traveled to Saudi Arabia to get a job working with Saudi Arabian Airlines as a commercial pilot but was rejected by a civil aviation school in Jeddah. His brother, Yasser, relayed that Hanjour, frustrated, "turned his attention toward religious texts and cassette tapes of militant Islamic preachers."[15] He told his family in late 1999 he was heading to the United Arab Emirates Wikipedia.png to find work. However, it is likely that he headed to Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.


In May 2000, a third person accompanied Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid 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 Wikipedia.png 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.

File:Hani Hanjour.jpg

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 in Mesa Arizona.

He moved to Virginia with al-Hazmi, and attended sermons of Anwar Al-Awlaki, the same newly appointed Imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in the metropolitan Washington, DC area who al-Hazmi had met with in San Diego.[16][17] On April 4, 2001, Hanjour asked to forward his utility deposit to 3159 Row Street Falls Church VA, which was same address as the mosque. The FBI summary does not list a Virginia address for Hanjour during this period.[18]

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.[19]

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.[1]

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. 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.[20]

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).[21]

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

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.[2] 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 plane from Freeway Airport in Maryland; though he was declined after exhibiting difficulty controlling and landing a single-engine Cessna 172.[22] 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.[23]


File:Dulles Hanjour.jpg

Right foreground: possibly Hanjour.

On September 11, 2001, Hani Hanjour arrived at the passenger security checkpoint at 7:35 am, en route to board American Airlines Flight 77.[24] Some earlier reports stated he may not have had a ticket or appeared on any manifest,[25] however he was documented by the 9/11 Commission as having been assigned to seat 1B in first class,[26] and reported to have bought a single first-class ticket from Advance Travel Service in Totowa, N.J.[27] 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.[citation needed]

The flight was scheduled to depart at 08:10, but ended up departing 10 minutes late from Gate D26 at Dulles.[28] The last normal radio communications from the aircraft to air traffic control occurred at 08:50:51.[29] At 08:54, Flight 77 began to deviate from its normal, assigned flight path and turned south,[30] and then hijackers set the flight's autopilot heading for Washington, D.C.[31] 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.[30][32] At 09:37, Hanjour crashed the Boeing 757 into the west facade of the Pentagon, killing all 64 aboard (including the hijackers), along with 125 on the ground in the Pentagon.[33] 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.[34][35]

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.[citation needed]


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.[36]

See also[]

  • Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Chapter 7 – The Attack Looms". The 9/11 Commission Report. The 9/11 Commission. 2004. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Goldstein, Amy; Lena H. Sun and George Lardner Jr. (2001-10-15). "Hanjour a Study in Paradox, Suspect's Brother: 'We Thought He Liked the USA'". The Washington Post. p. A01. 
  3. "Statement for the Record - FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III". Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry. Federation of American Scientists (FAS). 2002-09-26. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Fainaru, Steve; Alia Ibrahim (2002-09-10). "Mysterious Trip to Flight 77 Cockpit; Suicide Pilot's Conversion to Radical Islam Remains Obscure". The Washington Post: pp. A17. Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Chen, David W. (2001-09-18). "Man Traveled Across U.S. In His Quest to Be a Pilot". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  6. FBI Hijackers' Timeline
  7. Federal Bureau of Investigation (2008-02-04). "Hijackers' Timeline" (PDF). NEFA Foundation. pp. 12. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  8. Federal Bureau of Investigation (2008-02-04). "Hijackers' Timeline" (PDF). NEFA Foundation. pp. 14. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  9. Federal Bureau of Investigation (2008-02-04). "Hijackers' Timeline" (PDF). NEFA Foundation. pp. 15. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  10. FBI Hijackers' Timeline, p. 16—41
  11. FBI Hijackers' Timeline, p. 18
  14. Yardley, Jim; Thomas, Jo (2002-06-19). "For Agent in Phoenix, the Cause of Many Frustrations Extended to His Own Office". The New York Times. Retrieved May 4, 2010. 
  15. The Boston Globe. 
  16. Imam Anwar Al Awlaki - A Leader in Need;, November 8, 2006, accessed June 7, 2007
  17. 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
  18. [1] FBI Summary
  19. 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
  20. Fagan, Kevin (October 4, 2001). "Agents of terror leave their mark on Sin City / Las Vegas workers recall the men they can't forget". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  21. "Hijackers' helper faces two years max", Timothy P. Carney, Human Events, December 24, 2001
  22. Frank, Thomas (September 23, 2001). "Tracing Trail Of Hijackers". Newsday. Archived from the original on 2002-04-05. Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
  23. Schmidt, Susan (2003-10-02). "Spreading Saudi Fundamentalism in U.S.: Network of Wahhabi Mosques, Schools, Web Sites Probed by FBI". The Washington Post, Page A01. Retrieved 2009-12-23. 
  24. 9/11 Commission (2004). "Notes". 9/11 Commission Report. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  25. "Four Planes, Four Coordinated Teams". The Washington Post. September 20, 2001. Retrieved May 4, 2010. 
  26. ""We Have Some Planes"". 9/11 Commission Report.. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. 2004. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  27. Johnson, Glen (November 23, 2001). "Probe reconstructs horror, calculated attacks on planes". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  28. "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. 
  29. Gregor, Joseph A. (2001-12-21). "ATC Report American Airlines Flight 77" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  30. 30.0 30.1 "9/11 Commission Report" (PDF). National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. 2004. pp. 1–13. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  31. 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. 
  32. Johnson, Glen (2001-11-23). "Probe reconstructs horror, calculated attacks on planes". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  33. "American Airlines Flight 77 FDR Report" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. 2002-01-31. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  34. "Remains Of 9 Sept. 11 Hijackers Held". CBS News. 2002-08-17. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  35. 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. 
  36. Hijacker list raises more questions


Main article: Hani Hanjour:Timeline


External links[]

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