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Ziad Jarrah

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Ziad Samir Jarrah
image:Young jarrah.jpg
Born May 11, 1975
Mazraa, Lebanon
Died September 11, 2001
Shanksville, Pennsylvania, United States

Ziad Samir Jarrah (Arabic: ???? ???? ????)(11 May 197511 September 2001), was named by the FBI as being the pilot of the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 as part of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was believed to have taken over as the pilot of the aircraft and made an unsuccessful attempt to crash the plane into either the White House or the U.S. Capitol, although the release of the cockpit transcript revealed that Saeed al-Ghamdi had in fact been flying, and the claim of Jarrah's participation has been the subject of much controversy.

There are many variations on his name, including Ziad Samir Al-Jarrah, Zaid Jarrahi, Ziad Jarrah Jarrat, and, in Robert Baer's See No Evil (2002), Ziyad Samir Jarrah. After a wealthy and secular upbringing, Jarrah became involved in the September 11 attacks in college. Unique among the hijackers, he had a girlfriend and was close to his family. There are disputes concerning whether or not Jarrah was actually on Flight 93, although the 9/11 Commission concluded that his was not a case of mistaken identity.



Early life

This photograph of Ziad Jarrah was released by the FBI in the days following the attack.
This photograph of Ziad Jarrah was released by the FBI in the days following the attack.

Jarrah was born in Mazraa, Lebanon, to a wealthy family. His parents were nominally Muslim Sunnis, although they lived a secular lifestyle. When he was seven years old, Israel invaded southern Lebanon, a fact he referred to later in life. His parents sent him to a Catholic private school in Beirut called La Sagesse, where he volunteered at a camp for disabled children and helped run an anti-drug program. His academic success to this point was mediocre, and his parents arranged for private tutors in mathematics, physics and chemistry.

He remained close to his family; he was apparently the only 9/11 hijacker to have close family ties, including with his uncle Assem Omar Jarrah whose work permit would later be found in the wreckage with Ziad's passport. In his childhood, he had always wanted to fly planes, but his family discouraged this. "I stopped him from being a pilot," his father told the Wall Street Journal a week after the attacks. "I only have one son and I was afraid that he would crash."

This is the text of a 1998 eMail from Aysel Sengun to Ziad Jarrah
This is the text of a 1998 eMail from Aysel Sengun to Ziad Jarrah

In the spring of 1996, Jarrah moved to Germany with his cousin Salim to take a course in German at the University of Greifswald to receive a certificate needed for foreigners who do not speak German to study in Germany. While sharing an apartment with his cousin, he reportedly attended discos and beach parties, and his attendance at the mosque fell off. He met Aysel SengŁn, a Turkish woman studying dentistry, and the two became good friends. They dated on and off for the remainder of his life and lived together briefly, vexing his more religious friends, and celebrating an unofficial wedding on April 1, 1999.

In 1997, Jarrah left Greifswald and instead began studying aerospace engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg, while working at a Volkswagen paint shop in nearby Wolfsburg. While in Hamburg, he rented an apartment from Rosemarie Canel, who would paint a portrait of him that he would bring back as a gift for his mother that December.[1]

Jarrah is claimed to have become an associate of the Hamburg cell, although he never seems to have lived with the others, and cannot be confirmed to have ever known them.

Training in Afghanistan

A still from the wedding video, Jarrah is seen in the centre wearing glasses
A still from the wedding video, Jarrah is seen in the centre wearing glasses

In late 1999, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, Jarrah, Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Said Bahaji, and Ramzi Binalshibh decided to travel to Chechnya to fight against the Russians. They were convinced by Khalid al-Masri and Mohamedou Ould Slahi at the last minute to change their plans, and instead traveled to Afghanistan to meet with Osama bin Laden and train for terrorist attacks. They were told they were on a highly secret mission, and were instructed to return to Germany and enroll in flight school. This account is provided solely from the testimony of captured al-Qaeda member Ramzi Binalshibh. In October of 1999 Ziad Jarrah was filmed at Said Bahaji's wedding with other 9/11 hijackers, including Marwan al-Shehhi.[2]

In early 2000, Jarrah shaved his beard and began to act more secular, according to SengŁn. Many of the future hijackers attempted to hide their radicalism and blend in with the population. Jarrah then reported his passport stolen in February of 2000 and received a duplicate, just as hijackers Atta and al-Shehhi had done the previous month.

Jarrah dropped out of college and began looking at flight schools, as instructed in Afghanistan. He claimed that this was to fulfill his childhood dream of being a pilot. After looking in several countries, he decided that none of the flight schools in Europe was sufficient, and at the advice of a childhood friend, he prepared to move to the United States.

In the United States

Jarrah's May 21st 2000 Student Visa
Jarrah's May 21st 2000 Student Visa

Jarrah apparently entered the country on seven separate occasions, more than any other hijacker.

On May 21, 2000, he was issued a student visa to the United States. On June 27, 2000 he came to the U.S. for the first time, arriving in Atlanta, Georgia on a flight from Munich. He then travelled to Florida to attend a flight school. Many of his classmates remember him fondly, describing him as kind and trustworthy, and remember him drinking beer occasionally.

He was enrolled for six months, from June 2000 to January 15, 2001. Jarrah was unique among the hijackers in that he did not live with any other hijackers, but rather lived with a German student named Thorsten Biermann. Biermann did not observe Jarrah acting particularly religious or overtly political. Jarrah occasionally flew back to Germany to visit his girlfriend, and called or e-mailed her nearly every day.

Jarrah at a Florida flight school in 2000
Jarrah at a Florida flight school in 2000

Jarrah had obtained his license to fly small planes, and began training to fly large jets late in 2000. He flew to Beirut to visit his family, and then to Germany to visit his girlfriend SengŁn. He brought her back to the United States for a ten-day visit, and she even attended a flight school session with him. In mid-January of 2001, he again flew to Beirut to visit his father, who was to have open-heart surgery. He then visited his girlfriend SengŁn in Germany and came back to the United States again. His behavior was markedly different from the other hijackers, who broke off all familial and romantic relations.

On his way back to the U.S., he passed through the UAE where he was initially reported as having been interviewed by authorities at the request of the CIA, although the CIA has since denied the claim, and the 9/11 Commission report does not mention it.[3]

UAE records show that Jarrah mentioned having been in Afghanistan, the only hijacker to have done so. The time he reportedly spent in Afghanistan, however, coincides with the same time he is believed to have been attending flight school in Florida. This has further fuelled claims that there may have been a case of identity theft.

In April 2001, Jarrah rented an apartment at 1816 Harding in Hollywood, Florida.

Us1 software showing Jarrah's membership
Us1 software showing Jarrah's membership

On May 6, Jarrah registered for a two-month membership at the Us1 Fitness Gym in Dania Beach, Florida – he would later renew his membership for two more months, and eventually paid either $500 or $1000 to have 20 lessons in close-quarters combat with Bert Rodriguez.[4][5]

He was one of 9 hijackers to open a SunTrust bank account with a cash deposit around June 2001. Sometime in that month it's believed that Ahmed al-Haznawi who arrived on June 8, moved in with Jarrah, who got a new apartment at 4641 Bougainvilla in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, after both men gave the landlord photocopies of their German passports, which he later turned over to the FBI.[6]

On June 25, Jarrah took al-Haznawi to Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on the advice of his landlord Charles Lisa. al-Haznawi was treated by Dr. Christos Tsonas, who gave him antibiotics for a small gash on his left calf. While he told staff that he had bumped into a suitcase,[7] the media briefly reported it as a sign of cutaneous anthrax hoping to show a link to the 2001 anthrax attacks, although the FBI later addressed the rumors stating that "Exhaustive testing did not support that anthrax was present anywhere the hijackers had been".[8]

In mid July 2001, some of the hijackers and members of the Hamburg cell gathered near Salou, Spain, for a period of a few days up to a couple of weeks. Since hotel records are sparse during some of that time, it is thought that they may have spent considerable time in and around safe houses related to the al-Qaeda leader in Spain, Imad Yarkas. After 9/11, Spanish investigators followed the trails backwards, and the events they uncovered were chronicled in the Spanish nationwide newspaper El PaŪs. Witnesses told Spanish investigators they saw a man who resembled Marwan al-Shehhi on July 17, 2001 at the Universal Studios Port Aventura theme park next to Salou, Spain. The visitor, who was accompanied by two men, inquired about rides at the customer service counter. Witnesses indicated these companions resembled Ziad Jarrah, and Said Bahaji, a then 26-year-old German-Moroccan member of the al-Qaida cell in Hamburg. Back in Germany, it had been Bahaji's 1999 wedding during which Jarrah was filmed. Other witnesses elsewhere had pointed out Bahaji from photos, as one of the men they saw in Spain. But Bahaji also bore a resemblance in appearance to Mohamed Atta, who was traced to the same areas in Spain through his hotel and travel records.

In late July, Jarrah flew to Germany and again met with his fiancee Aysel, the last time she saw him. He arrived back in the United States on August 5, though other sources indicate that he wrote his pilot's test on August 2nd, having missed his sister's wedding to do so.[9] On August 27 he checked into a Laurel, Maryland motel, only a mile away from the Valencia where 4 other hijackers were staying.[10]

On September 7, all four of Flight 93 hijackers flew from Fort Lauderdale to Newark International Airport aboard Spirit Airlines. Jarrah and al-Haznawi both received their one-way tickets on September 5.[11]

On September 9,In the early morning hours, he was driving over the speed limit in Maryland.He got pulled over and received a $200 ticket. Jarrah phoned his parents, mentioning that he had received the money order they'd sent five days earlier. He told them he intended to see them on September 22 for his cousin's wedding, and that he had bought a new suit for the occasion. His landlady later confirmed that Jarrah had shown off the suit to her days earlier.

On September 10, Jarrah sent a letter to his girlfriend, widely interpreted as a suicide note. The note contained the phrases "I have done what I had to do" and "You should be very proud, it is an honor, and you will see the result, and everyone will be happy." Because of an error in the address, the letter was returned to the United States where it was discovered. Some have disputed whether the letter was a suicide note, since it referred to future meetings and the package also contained references to scuba diving instructions.[12][13]

According to one source, Jarrah had set up a large mock cockpit made of cardboard boxes in his apartment just before the attacks.[14]

The attack

Charred passport found among the wreckage of Flight 93
Charred passport found among the wreckage of Flight 93

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Ziad Jarrah boarded United Airlines Flight 93 without incident, and sat in a first-class seat near the cockpit. Due to the flight's delay, the pilot and crew were notified of the previous hijackings that day, and were told to be on the alert. Within minutes, Flight 93 was hijacked as well. Jarrah is suspected of being the pilot, and a voice heard by air traffic control telling passengers to remain seated is reported to be Jarrah's. At 9:39 AM, Jarrah announced, "Uh, this is the captain. Would like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb on board and are going back to the airport, and to have our demands [unintelligible]. Please remain quiet." over the radio.[15]

At least two of the cellphone calls made by passengers indicate that all the hijackers they saw were wearing red bandanas, and indicated that one of the men had tied a box around his torso, and claimed there was a bomb inside - it is not known which hijacker this was.

Passengers on the plane heard through phone calls the fates of the other hijacked planes. They realized they had to take the cockpit back from the terrorists or their plane too would be used as a missile. A passenger uprising foiled the terrorist's plans, but failed to save the plane. According to the August 8, 2003 analysis of the plane's cockpit recordings by the United States investigators, a crowd of passengers tried to break into the cockpit. To try to knock them off balance, Jarrah rolled the plane to the left and right. When this failed, he then pitched the nose forward and back. Nevertheless, the passengers continued their assault on the cockpit door. They used a service trolley as a battering ram and began to destroy the cockpit door. Finally, presumably as the door was giving way, Jarrah was told by a fellow hijacker to crash into the Pennsylvania farmland rather than cede control of the plane. In response, he turned the plane upside down and began his descent. United 93 crashed, at 580 miles per hour (933 km/h), into a reclaimed strip mine at the edge of the woods in Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:03:11, 125 miles (200 km) from Washington, D.C. All aboard died.

After 9/11, Jarrah's girlfriend SengŁn filed a missing person report in Bochum.

Possible mistaken identity

The sudden cropping of the lease has lead some to speculate that the surname was originally spelled differently
The sudden cropping of the lease has lead some to speculate that the surname was originally spelled differently

From March 1995 to February 1996, while Ziad Jarrah was still supposedly still living in Lebanon and visiting his family frequently, somebody of the same name rented an apartment together with a 'Ihassan Jarrah' on East Third Street in Brooklyn, New York. The landlords and other tenants of the 3-apartment complex claimed that it was the same Ziad Jarrah in the FBI photographs, and that he often carried a camera.

Jarrah's personality, background, and activities were not consistent with the other hijackers. He seemed apolitical and irreligious throughout his life, and he was the only hijacker to maintain close ties to his family. He spoke frequently with his very secular Turkish girlfriend Aysel SengŁn, and never mentioned the plot or any of the other hijackers to her. He reportedly seemed calm and friendly in the days before the attacks.

Robert Baer, an ex-CIA case officer, reported a September 2002 meeting in Beirut with "a relative" of Jarrah who says: "I'm not sure Ziyad is really dead. Maybe someone stole his identity. Or maybe he was drugged and someone flew the plane from the ground by remote control. I don't believe Ziyad could do this."[16]

Authority Inconsistencies

On October 23, 2001, John Ashcroft claimed that Jarrah had shared a Hamburg apartment with Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, though the Los Angeles Times then announced that none of Jarrah's three apartments in Hamburg had been remotely connected with any of the other hijackers.

The FBI and German authorities had initially reported that Jarrah attended another school in Hamburg, that two other hijackers attended, but after Jarrah's family brought out his documentation showing he was enrolled in, and attending classes at, the University of Applied Sciences, the FBI conceded that he had never been there.

There were also inconsistencies with Jarrah's supposed locations. When Jarrah was questioned on January 30, 2001, he admitted to having been to Afghanistan and Pakistan. But the Florida flight school where Jarrah had been studying says he was in school there until January 15, 2001. Either one of these reports is inaccurate, or two people claimed to be the same person. The 9/11 Commission Report sheds no light on this discrepancy.

Jarrah's family in Lebanon claims that he was an innocent passenger on the plane or that possibly his is a case of mistaken identity and that he was not even on the plane. Two days before the hijacking, Jarrah called and told his family he would be coming home for a cousin's wedding. "It makes no sense," his uncle Jamal claimed. "He said he had even bought a new suit for the occasion.", a purchase which his landlady also remembered.[17]

The hijacker that day signed his name as "Zaid Jarrahi", a form his family claims he never used.[citation needed] Further, the passengers on the plane all reported three hijackers, though it is possible that Jarrah slipped into the cockpit unnoticed during the commotion.

The 9/11 Commission concluded that Jarrah was present and behind the controls of the plane when it crashed in an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. They do not give any credence to the idea that Jarrah was not the pilot. Certainly, Jarrah has not been seen since the attacks.

DNA fingerprinting would settle the controversy, as fragmentary remains of all the hijackers have been found. Jarrah's family has indicated they would be willing to provide DNA samples to US researchers, but the FBI has shown no interest thus far.



September 11th Hijackers
Flight 11: Mohamed Atta, Satam al-Suqami, Waleed al-Shehri, Wail al-Shehri, Abdulaziz al-Omari

Flight 175: Marwan al-Shehhi, Fayez Banihammad, Mohand al-Shehri, Hamza al-Ghamdi, Ahmed al-Ghamdi

Flight 77: Hani Hanjour, Khalid al-Mihdhar, Majed Moqed, Nawaf al-Hazmi, Salem al-Hazmi

Flight 93: Ziad Jarrah, Ahmed al-Nami, Saeed al-Ghamdi, Ahmed al-Haznawi

Suspected 20th Hijackers: Ramzi Binalshibh, Mohamed al-Kahtani, Zacarias Moussaoui, Mushabib al-Hamlan, Zakariya Essabar, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Tawfiq bin Attash

Wrongly Accused: Lotfi Raissi, Amer Kamfar, Ameer Bukhari, Adnan Bukhari, Abdul al-Omari

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