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Abdulaziz al-Omari

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Abdulaziz al-Omari
عبد العزيز العُمري
Abdulaziz al-Omari

(1979-05-28)28 May 1979
Died11 September 2001(2001-09-11) (aged 22)
Cause of deathSuicide by plane crash (September 11 attacks)
NationalitySaudi Arabian

Abdulaziz al-Omari (Arabic: عبد العزيز العُمري, ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-ʿUmarī, also transliterated as Alomari or al-Umari; 28 May 1979[1] – 11 September 2001) was a Saudi terrorist who was one of five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11 as part of the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Prior to the attacks, al-Omari was an imam at his mosque in Saudi Arabia's al-Qassim province. He arrived in the United States in June 2001 on a tourist visa, obtained through the Visa Express program. On September 11, 2001, al-Omari boarded American Airlines Flight 11 and assisted in the hijacking of the plane, which was crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, as part of the coordinated attacks.

Early life and career[edit]

Abdulaziz al-Omari was from the poor Saudi Arabian province of Asir, along with his fellow hijackers in the September 11 attacks, brothers Wail and Waleed al-Shehri.[2] It is alleged he graduated with honors from high school.[3] He attained a degree from Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University, got married, and had a daughter briefly before the attacks.[2][3] He taught as an imam at his mosque in al-Qassim province, which was the "heartland" of Wahhabism, a strict form of Islam. At the mosque, which experts refer to as a "terrorist factory", he was possibly taught by the radical cleric Sulayman al Alwan.[2]

According to Walid bin Attash, al-Omari was one of a group of future hijackers who provided security at Kandahar airport after their basic training at an al-Qaeda camp. During the 2000 Al Qaeda Summit in Kuala Lumpur, American authorities state that immigration records show that a person named Abdulaziz al-Omari was visiting the country, although they say they are not sure that this was the same person.[citation needed]

September 11 attacks[edit]


Early 2001[edit]

al-Omari eventually became involved in the planning for the September 11 attacks on the United States, an idea formulated by Osama bin Laden. The attacks involved hijacking commercial airplanes and crashing them into buildings; al-Omari would hijack American Airlines Flight 11, which would crash into the World Trade Center in New York City.[4][5] At the time of the hijacking, al-Omari was 22.[6] In the autumn of 2001, after the attacks, al Jazeera television broadcast a tape they claim was made by him. The speaker made a farewell suicide video. In it he read, "I am writing this with my full conscience and I am writing this in expectation of the end, which is near... God praise everybody who trained and helped me, namely the leader Sheikh Osama bin Laden."[7]

al-Omari and hijacker Salem al-Hazmi entered the United States through a Dubai flight on June 29, 2001, landing in New York City.[8] al-Omari had used the controversial Visa Express program to gain entry.[4] The two were probably picked up by Salem's brother, Nawaf al-Hazmi, on the 30th; this is assumed because of a recorded traffic accident by Nawaf on George Washington Bridge that day.[9] al-Omari likely stayed with several other hijackers in Paterson, New Jersey (where he rented a mailbox[10]), before moving to his own place in Vero Beach, Florida. On his rental agreement form for that house, al-Omari gave two license-plates authorized to park in his space, one of which was registered to Mohamed Atta,[11] the attacks' mastermind.[4] al-Omari obtained a fake United States ID card from All Services Plus in Passaic County, New Jersey, which was in the business of selling fake documents; another was given to Khalid al-Mihdhar.[12] The employee who gave them the IDs claimed he had no idea they were "anything more [than ordinary] customers".[10] Atta bought tickets for Flight 11 for himself and al-Omari on August 28. On September 6, al-Omari and fellow hijacker Satam al-Suqami flew from Florida to Boston to stay at the Park Inn Hotel.[13]

September 10[edit]

On September 10, 2001, Atta picked up al-Omari from the Park Inn Hotel, and the two drove to South Portland, Maine, in a rented Nissan Altima.[4][14] Some sources state there is no evidence as to why they went to Portland,[4][6] whereas ABC News says it was a last-minute decision by Atta to stagger the Flight 11 hijackers' entrances into Logan International Airport on the 11th.[13] Multiple people have claimed to see Atta and other hijackers in Portland that summer, but the FBI has found no evidence of this.[6] On the 10th, Atta and al-Omari purchased a room (233) at the town's Comfort Inn. They did not ask for a wake-up call. Their luggage included a folding knife, "a videocassette [about] a Boeing 757 flight simulator, pepper spray, Atta’s will, [and Atta's] handwritten instructions to his 18 fellow hijackers"; American Airlines Flight 11 was a Boeing 767.[4][6]

al-Omari (foreground) and Atta (background) at an ATM in South Portland, Maine at 8:41 p.m. on September 10, 2001
al-Omari (center) and Atta (right) at Portland International Jetport on the morning of September 11

They stayed in their hotel room for two hours, until 8 p.m., when al-Omari made a four-minute phone call from a nearby Pizza Hut's pay phone to a phone belonging to Marwan al-Shehhi, who would hijack United Airlines Flight 175. Five minutes later, at a restaurant named Pizzeria Uno, the two withdrew $80 from an ATM. They then drove back to the Pizza Hut, where a second pay phone call was placed at 8:50. They decided to go to Walmart, but got lost and went to a gas station to ask for directions. In a video recorded at the gas station, Atta has a piece of paper in his hand and shows it to al-Omari, and then they leave. At the Walmart, the two purchased a six-volt battery converter for an unknown reason. Staff of the Walmart said that weeks earlier, Atta had bought a box cutter there, but this is uncorroborated. The two then returned to the Comfort Inn, where they stayed for hours.[4][6]

Day of the attacks[edit]

At 5:33 a.m. on September 11, al-Omari and Atta checked out of the hotel. al-Omari made another cash withdrawal at the Pizzeria Uno ATM, and then the two went to Portland International Jetport. At around 5:40, the two spoke with a ticket agent, who raised no suspicions about them. Both men boarded their flight, which landed in Logan International Airport at 6:45. Eight other hijackers were waiting at the airport.[4][6][15] It is unknown why this connecting flight through Portland happened, especially because the two almost missed their flight at Logan.[9] Their flight, American 11, was supposed to fly to Los Angeles.[4]

Atta and al-Omari then boarded Flight 11 with fellow hijackers Satam al-Suqami, Wail al-Shehri, and Waleed al-Shehri. The other hijackers at the airport went on United Airlines Flight 175.[4] al-Omari's passport, which would identify him as a hijacker to investigators later, was in the two men's aforementioned luggage; this luggage was accidentally left at Portland International Airport, failing to make it onto the connecting flight to Logan.[2][9] The two men probably decided they did not need the luggage's folding knife and pepper spray in their attacks.[9] Atta and al-Omari had seats next to each other in first class, row 8, on Flight 11. The flight left the Logan runway at 7:59.[6] The hijackers took over the plane starting at 8:14, when multiple passengers were maced and stabbed.[16] Atta then commanded the plane's controls,[6] and at 8:37, the plane began a rapid descent.[16] At 8:46, it was crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower, and everyone onboard was killed.[6] Floors 93 to 99 were impacted, and many inside died.[16]


Controversy over the identity of al-Omari erupted shortly after the attacks. At first, the FBI had named Abdul Rahman al-Omari, a pilot for Saudi Arabian Airlines, as the pilot of Flight 11.[17] It was quickly shown that this person was still alive, and the FBI issued an apology.[18] It was also quickly determined that Mohamed Atta was the pilot among the hijackers. The FBI then named Abdulaziz al-Omari as a hijacker.

A man with the same name as those given by the FBI turned up alive in Saudi Arabia, saying that he had studied at the University of Denver and his passport was stolen there in 1995. The name, origin, birth date, and occupation were released by the FBI, but the picture was not of him. "I couldn't believe it when the FBI put me on their list", he said. "They gave my name and my date of birth, but I am not a suicide bomber. I am here. I am alive. I have no idea how to fly a plane. I had nothing to do with this."[19][20][21]

The FBI gave a press conference on October 5, 2001, where they gave details regarding Atta and the real al-Omari's movements on September 10 and 11.[14][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ John J. Lumpkin. "Abdul Aziz al Omari". Globalsecurity.org. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "9/11 anniversary: Who were the September 11th attackers and what are the links with the new Taliban regime?". Sky News. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  3. ^ a b "Trump's false claim that the 9/11 hijackers' wives 'knew exactly what was going to happen' - The Washington Post". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Maine's connection to 9/11 endures". spectrumlocalnews.com. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  5. ^ "September 11 attacks | History, Summary, Location, Timeline, Casualties, & Facts | Britannica". www.britannica.com. 25 April 2024. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "20 years later, they're haunted by their encounters with 9/11 hijackers". Press Herald. 5 September 2021. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  7. ^ Unger, Craig (19 March 2004). House of Bush, House of Saud. Simon and Schuster. p. 230. ISBN 9780743266239. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Statement of Robert S. Mueller: Joint Investigation Into September 11: (published September 26, 2002)". Fas.org. Archived from the original on 3 January 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d "9/11 commission staff statement No. 16". NBC News. 16 June 2004. Retrieved 21 June 2024.
  10. ^ a b Kelly, Mike. "9/11 hijackers were 'hiding in plain sight' before the 2001 attacks. How did they do it?". USA TODAY. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  11. ^ FBI Affidavit: Page 11 Archived 2007-03-18 at the Wayback Machine ABC
  12. ^ Miller, Jonathan (8 March 2003). "A Plea Deal, Then Freedom, in Terror Case Where Prosecutors Kept Evidence a Secret". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
  13. ^ a b News, A. B. C. "While America Slept: The True Story of 9/11". ABC News. Retrieved 21 June 2024. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  14. ^ a b Captain, The CaptainThe (11 September 2023). "A Chilling Look Back 22 Years Later: Tracing the Path of the 9/11 Hijackers Through Maine". 102.9 WBLM. Retrieved 21 June 2024.
  15. ^ "10 years after 9/11, spotlight finds Scarborough man who faced terrorists suspicious, less 'politically correct'". Lewiston Sun Journal. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  16. ^ a b c "9/11: The terror attacks on the US - minute by minute". Sky News. Retrieved 28 April 2024.
  17. ^ Terhune, Chad; Pinkston, Will; Blackmon, Douglas A. (20 September 2010). "Media Mistook Four Saudi Pilots For Hijackers in U.S. Attacks". WSJ. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  18. ^ Candiotti, Susan (21 September 2001). "America's New War: Tracking the Terrorists". CNN. Time Warner Company. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  19. ^ Sack, Kevin (16 September 2001). "AFTER THE ATTACKS: MISSED CUES; Saudi May Have Been Suspected in Error, Officials Say". The New York Times. p. 7. Archived from the original on 19 December 2005. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  20. ^ Fisk, Robert (24 June 2004). "Suicide hijacker' is an airline pilot alive and well in Jeddah". Independent. Archived from the original on 24 June 2004. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Middle East | Hijack 'suspects' alive and well". BBC News. BBC. 23 September 2001. Archived from the original on 30 July 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  22. ^ "Boston Division Seeks Assistance". FBI. 5 October 2001. Retrieved 20 June 2024.

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