THE TWO ZIAD JARRAHS
Ziad Jarrah was in the two different places at the same time on more than one occasion
By Paul Thompson
August 24, 2002, updated September 9, 2002
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Part 1: 1979 - 2000
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Part 5: Jan. 2002 - present
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Ziad Jarrah is one of the best known of the 19 9/11 hijackers. What most people don't know, however, is that there were actually two Ziad Jarrahs: the one raised in Lebanon and whose picture has been widely circulated by the FBI, and the one who actually flew on Flight 93. The evidence of two is undeniable, and amazingly, we even have pictures of the second Jarrah.
The Other Ziad Jarrah
In 1995, a person named Ziad Jarrah rented an apartment in a three-family house on East Third Street in Brooklyn, New York. [Among the Heroes by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 90] Landlords there identified his photograph as being the same as that of the 9/11 hijacker. A Brooklyn apartment lease from March 1995 until February 1996 bears Ziad Jarrah's name. [Boston Globe, 9/25/01] "Another man named Ihassan Jarrah lived with Ziad, drove a livery cab and paid the eight-hundred-dollar monthly rent. The men were quiet, well-mannered, said hello and good-bye. Ziad Jarrah carried a camera and told his landlords that he was a photographer. He would disappear for a few days on occasion, then reappear. Sometimes a woman who appeared to be a prostitute arrived with one of the men. 'Me and my brother used to crack jokes that they were terrorists,' said Jason Matos, a construction worker who lived in a basement there, and whose mother owned the house." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 90]
The only problem with the above is that the real Ziad Jarrah, twenty years old at the time, was actually still in his home country of Lebanon. He was studying in a Catholic school in Beirut, and was in frequent contact with the rest of his family. His parents drove him home to be with the family nearly every weekend, and they were in frequent contact by telephone as well. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] Not until April 1996 did he leave Lebanon for the first time, to study in Germany. [Boston Globe, 9/25/01] His family believes that the New York lease proves that there were two Jarrahs. [CNN, 9/18/01]
But this is not the only incontrovertible proof of this second, almost identical looking Ziad Jarrah.
On January 30, 2001, another man whose name was also Ziad Jarrah, was questioned for several hours at the Dubai International Airport, in the United Arab Emirates. This was done at the request of the CIA, for "suspected involvement in terrorist activities." The CIA notified local officials that he would be arriving from Pakistan on his way back to Europe, and they wanted to know where he had been in Afghanistan and how long he had been there. [CNN, 8/1/02] During the questioning, the man "divulged that he had spent the previous 'two months and five days' in Pakistan and Afghanistan -- the only known acknowledgment of an Afghan visit by any of the hijackers -- and that he was returning to Florida..." [Chicago Tribune, 12/13/01] It was later reported that "investigators have confirmed that Jarrah had spent at least three weeks in January 2001 at an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan." [CNN, 8/1/02] US officials were informed of the results of the interrogation before Jarrah left the airport. "UAE and European intelligence sources told CNN that the questioning of Jarrah fits a pattern of a CIA operation begun in 1999 to track suspected al-Qaeda operatives who were traveling through the United Arab Emirates." He was then permitted to leave, eventually going to the US. This story was confirmed by numerous UAE, US and European officials. No one has denied that he passed through Dubai on this date, but the CIA has not admitted to ever having ordered his questioning. [CNN, 8/1/02]
The only problem with this story is that the real Jarrah was somewhere else at the time. The Florida Flight Training Center, the flight school where Jarrah had been studying for the previous six months, said he was in school there until January 15. His family claimed he arrived in Lebanon to visit on January 26, five days before he supposedly passed through Dubai. His father had just undergone open-heart surgery, and Jarrah visited him every day in the hospital, for over a week. Pointing out this incident, his uncle Jamal Jarrah asked, "How could he be in two places at one time?" Furthermore, the family claims the longest Jarrah has ever gone without phoning them is ten days, back in 1997. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 101-102] How could he have maintained such contact in Afghanistan, the second poorest country on Earth, with virtually no communication network?
These two examples are just the most glaring clues of many that someone was posing as Ziad Jarrah for years. The story of Jarrah in New York in 1995 is truly amazing, because that would have happened presumably before the 9/11 plot was even conceived, and before Mohamed Atta or most of the other 9/11 terrorists even joined al-Qaeda. Additionally, it was before Jarrah had moved to Germany so he couldn't possibly have had come into contact with any al-Qaeda operatives yet. Yet, not only is there another Ziad Jarrah, but two looked similar enough for people in Brooklyn to confuse the two.
Incredibly, at least one photo exists that shows how similar the two Ziad Jarrahs
looked. The FBI says they recovered a semi-burnt passport photo of Jarrah in
the wreckage of Flight 93, in the Pennsylvania countryside. But is it really
Jarrah? Compare the shape of their heads. The head of the Lebanon-born Jarrah
has a much squarer top and is more elongated, while that of the other Jarrah
is a bit more rounded. Still, it's easy to see how they could be confused for
How can two Jarrahs be explained, and what does it mean?
A Pattern of Deception and Stolen Identities
Jarrah may not be the only 9/11 hijacker to have a secret doppelganger, and certainly there are problems with the identities of other hijackers. The evidence is often very clear that the identities of innocents were stolen by the hijackers. To mention some of the more obvious cases:
- Ahmed Alnami is still alive and working as an administrative
supervisor with Saudi Arabian Airlines, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. [Los
Angeles Times, 9/21/01] He had never lost his passport and found it "very
worrying" that his identity appeared to have been stolen. [Telegraph,
- Saeed Alghamdi is alive and learning how to fly airplanes in Tunisia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, BBC, 9/23/01] The Telegraph notes, "The FBI had published his personal details but with a photograph of somebody else, presumably a hijacker who had 'stolen' his identity. CNN, however, showed a picture of the real Mr. Alghamdi." [Telegraph, 9/23/01]
- Salem Alhazmi is alive and working at a petrochemical plant in Yanbou, Saudi Arabia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, Telegraph, 9/23/01] He says his passport was stolen by a pickpocket in Cairo three years ago. [Guardian, 9/21/01]
- Waleed Alshehri is alive and a pilot with Saudi Airlines, studying in Morocco. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, AP, 9/22/01] He acknowledges that he attended flight training school at Dayton Beach in the United States. [BBC, 9/23/01] He also says FBI photos of the terrorist are of him. [Daily Trust, 9/24/01]
- Abdulaziz Alomari is alive and working as a pilot for Saudi Arabian Airlines. [New York Times, 9/16/01, Independent, 9/17/01, BBC, 9/23/01] He claims that his passport was stolen when he was living in Denver in 1995. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] "They gave my name and my date of birth, but I am not a suicide bomber. I am here. I am alive." [Telegraph, 9/23/01]
- The BBC says, "There are suggestions that another
suspect, Khalid Almihdhar, may also be alive." [BBC,
9/23/01] The Guardian says he is believed to be alive, but investigators
are looking into three possibilities. Either his name was stolen for a hijacker
alias, or he allowed his name to be used so that US officials would think he
died, or he died in the crash. [Guardian,
9/21/01] Almihdhar is wanted for other terrorist acts, so it is not surprising
that he is still hard to reach. Three pictures of Almihdhar have been released,
two of one person and one of another (see photos on the right). [FBI,
2/12/02, Boston Globe, 9/27/01]
- No one claims that Hamza Alghamdi is still alive, but his family says the FBI photo "has no resemblance to him at all." [Washington Post, 9/25/01]
- There are three official pictures of Majed Moqed - one of them doesn't look at all like the other two (see the photos on the left, below). [FBI, 2/12/02, Boston Globe, 9/27/01]
- There are two official pictures of Ahmed Alhaznawi - they're of different people (see the two pictures near the bottom of this article).
On September 27, 2001, after all of these stories came out in the media, FBI Director Robert Mueller still could only state, "We are fairly certain of a number of them." [Sun Sentinel, 9/28/01] But since then the list of hijackers has not changed. On November 2, 2001, Mueller stated, "We at this point definitely know the 19 hijackers who were responsible,'' and claimed that they were sticking with the names and photos released in late September. [AP, 11/03/02] Yet in a number of cases, such as Ahmed Alnami and Waleed Alshehri, all the released pictures are clearly wrong!
It is clear that many - and perhaps all - of the hijackers were using stolen identities. This is not so surprising. "The primer that Osama bin Laden's organization gave to would-be terrorists included rules for an undercover member: Don't reveal your true name." [Miami Herald, 9/22/01] Yet over and over we hear of the 9/11 hijackers using their real names for everything, even buying their plane tickets in their supposed real names. "In the end, they left a curiously obvious trail -- from martial arts manuals, maps, a Koran, Internet and credit card fingerprints. Maybe they were sloppy, maybe they didn't care, maybe it was a gesture of contempt of a culture they considered weak and corrupt." [Miami Herald, 9/22/01] Why not consider that maybe it was done on purpose? The surprising thing is not that they used stolen identities: the surprise is that the FBI continues to believe in the false trail of evidence and the false identities.
The Demonization of Jarrah
Because the FBI refuses to admit the possibility that Jarrah's identity may
have been wrong, the real, Lebanese-born Jarrah has already been convicted in
the court of public opinion. Everything the mainstream media writes about him
assumes that he is guilty and tries to retroactively explain how he did what
he did. He needs to be turned into a monster, because presumably only a monster
could commit such a horrible act. Take for instance this description by New
York Times reporter Jere Longman:
"If there was any retrospect giveaway in Jarrah's face, it was in his halted smile, neither a smirk nor a grin of graciousness or delight, but a resolve on unforeseen circumstance. It resembled the pasty-murderer look that Lee Harvey Oswald had in his pursed lips of history altered." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 84]
Anyone can look at the picture of Jarrah here on the left, and see that his smile resembles Lee Harvey Oswald's no more than anyone else's. But anything that makes him look like an evil terrorist is accepted easily, and anything that conflicts with that image is only grudgingly accepted, if reported at all. Chances are many facts regarding Jarrah are as twisted as the description of his smile, but even through this biased filter reporters have found very little evidence to prove that Jarrah was a terrorist.
Said the Boston Globe: "Of all the dozens of mysteries still swirling around this month's devastating terrorist attacks, the life of alleged hijacker Jarrah has emerged as one of the more perplexing. From Lebanon to Germany to the United States, there are few clues as to why he would have joined a terrorist organization, much less commandeered an airplane in a suicidal mission that claimed dozens of innocent lives as well as his own." [Boston Globe, 9/25/01]
A report in the Los Angeles Times contended, "Little, if anything, is known about the personal lives of most of the suspects. Of the 19, only alleged organizer Mohamed Atta and Jarrah left behind a long trail of acquaintances. But family and friends say the Ziad Jarrah they knew exhibited none of the smoldering political resentments or cultural conservatism of Atta. Instead, they recall Jarrah as quiet, pampered, a little lazy and madly in love. How, they ask, do you convert a happy, intelligent young man with little religious or political conviction into a suicidal foot soldier in a holy war? With no answers, they are left to speculate that he was brainwashed or coerced." [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01]
Convicted by the FBI
One way to explain the Jarrah puzzle is to simply make false claims and invent
evidence against him. Authorities originally publicly claimed that Jarrah attended
the same school in Hamburg as Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi and other known
terrorists. Only after Jarrah's family provided documentation showing that Jarrah
had attended a different technical school, a claim confirmed by the school itself,
did the authorities back down from their assertion. [CNN,
9/18/01] On October 23, 2001, Ashcroft claimed that Jarrah lived in the
same apartment as Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi. [CNN,
10/25/01] On the same day, the Los Angeles Times showed that to be a lie:
"Federal authorities in Germany have withdrawn assertions that Jarrah at
one time lived at or frequented the Hamburg apartment rented by the three. 'He
never lived with the others. He had three different apartments during his time
in Hamburg, but none in common with any of the other suspects,' a senior German
official told The Times. 'The only information we have connecting the three
Hamburg suspects is the FBI's assertion that there is a connection... We have
come across absolutely no evidence of our own.'" [Los
Angeles Times, 10/23/01] Nonetheless, such claims continue to be made, despite
a lack of evidence. For instance, in May 2002, the New York Times claimed that
Jarrah was a frequent visitor to the apartment where Atta, Alshehhi and others
lived, without providing any evidence to back it up. [New
York Times, 5/1/02]
Another technique is to move the behavior of other hijackers onto Jarrah. For instance, compare this statement of Charles Lisa, a Florida landlord of Jarrah's, reported on September 15, 2001: "When they left I asked them for a forwarding address,'' Lisa said. "But Ahmed [Alhaznawi] just smiled at me and said 'I'll send you a postcard.''' [Miami Herald, 9/15/01] By September 23, Jarrah now said it: "I said, 'Ziad, you might have some money coming back at you. Where can I get a hold of you?' " Mr. Lisa recalled. "He said, 'I'll send you a postcard.'" [New York Times, 9/23/01]
In October 2001, New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh provided a rare, inside look at the 9/11 investigation: "Many of the investigators believe that some of the initial clues that were uncovered about the terrorists' identities and preparations, such as flight manuals, were meant to be found. A former high-level intelligence official told me, 'Whatever trail was left was left deliberatelyfor the FBI to chase.'" [New Yorker, 10/1/01] Nearly a year later, it appears those investigators who questioned the hijackers' cover identities have lost out, and the FBI has fallen hook, line and sinker for their cover stories. Some evidence tying Jarrah to the other terrorists may in fact have been falsified, as will be described below. Why the FBI would so strongly support the false identities of the 9/11 hijackers and let the real hijackers go free is a separate and much greater mystery that goes beyond the scope of this essay.
Upbringing in Lebanon
To fully understand the mystery of Ziad Jarrah and the tragedy of his stolen past, we need to look at the life of the real Ziad in closer detail.
Ziad Jarrah was born on May 11, 1975 into a wealthy family in the town of Almarj,
in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. He was the only son of father Samir, a local
government official, and mother Nasisa, a schoolteacher. He wanted for little.
"He loved sports, particularly swimming and basketball. He adored - and
was doted on by - his two sisters, Dania, now 29, and Nisren, 24." [Boston
Globe, 9/25/01] As a young man he rarely attended mosque on Fridays and
was indifferent to politics. [CBC,
10/10/01] His whole family is Muslim but not particularly devout. In fact,
believing education more important than religion, they sent their son to a series
of exclusive, Christian schools. As Ziad matured, he appeared neither political
nor religious. He drank alcohol and had girlfriends. ''No one in the family
has this kind of radical belief,'' said Jamal Jarrah. [Boston
At the time, Lebanon was engaged in a decades-long civil war. But "his family insists he was shielded from the hardships and showed no interest in politics. Jarrah attended Christian schools, graduating from a French high school, where he became fluent in French and English." [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] He took disabled kids camping and volunteered in an anti-drug program. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 85] A British journalist reported, "Everyone I spoke to in Almarj told me that Ziad was a happy, secular youth, that he never showed any interest in religion and never visited the mosque for prayers, that he liked women even if he was at times reserved and shy." [Independent, 9/16/01]
The Move to Germany
"He was not a good student. He hid his poor grades from his parents as much as possible, and when he couldn't hide them any longer and he confessed, Ziad's father arranged to have him tutored in math, physics and chemistry. Even then, Ziad flunked his high school finals. Two years later he was able to graduate from a public high school. In his teens he dreamed of becoming a pilot, but that seemed out of the question; his family decided that he should go overseas to get a solid education." [Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, by Der Spiegel editors, 2002, p. 246-7]
Ziad Jarrah moved to Greifswald, in the former East Germany, in April 1996. He went there with his cousin Salim, and they lived together for a year and a half. The Los Angeles Times called the two "more like twins than cousins" and they remained in close contact for the rest of Ziad's life. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01]
He needed to study German in Greifswald before he could start upon a career. "He was just a lovely, kind young man," recounted Gudrun Schimpfky of Greifswald's Arndt University, Jarrah's German teacher in a program that brought them together six to eight hours a day, five days a week. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01]
Girlfriend Aisel Senguen
While in Greifswald, he met fellow student Aisel Senguen. Soon they were dating - the beginning of a five year relationship that ended only with Jarrah's death. Senguen is from a Turkish family, and is described as very Western in her ways. [CBC, 10/10/01] They lived together when they were in the same town. "I used to criticize him for living with her. By our religion, this living together before marriage is not allowed," recalled Abdullah Al-Makhadi, a classmate of Senguen's at Greifswald. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] Needless to say, it is not common for Muslim suicidal terrorists to live with their girlfriends out of wedlock.
Looking back, people try to find any clue that might indicate that Jarrah had turned into a Muslim fanatic. One such clue frequently cited is that Senguen would later complain he grew more conservative and possessive. He wanted her to wear a head scarf, stop going to parties, and the like. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 89] But close friend Mahmoud Ali, who last spoke to Jarrah in July 2001, dismissed notions that this meant he had become a religious radical. "We Arab men are very jealous about our women, that's all," said Ali. "We try to tell them what to do, and they just ignore us." [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01]
Ali says that, in addition to calling his family frequently, Jarrah was in touch with Senguen nearly everyday. Like Senguen, he refuses to believe that Jarrah was a terrorist. "There is nothing in his character that would allow him to do this -- not from his past, not from his family, not from his country," Ali said. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01]
Training to Be an Engineer
In 1997 Jarrah registered at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg
to study aeronautical engineering, and aircraft construction and design. [CBC,
10/10/01] Apparently his parents didn't want him to be a pilot, so he chose
a related profession. He moved in with Rosemarie Canel, an elderly German lady
who remembered him as a quiet and courteous tenant who had few visitors and
spent his nights studying or watching TV. On weekends he would leave to stay
with Senguen, first in Greifswald and later in Bochum, where she moved in 1999
to study medicine. [Los
Angeles Times, 10/23/01] His landlady said of him, "He was such a bright
young man, totally European." [Inside 9-11: What Really Happened,
by Der Spiegel editors, 2002, p. 191] She liked him so much, she painted a portrait
of him, which he took home as a gift to his mother. [CBC,
10/10/01] Later, when she moved to another part of Hamburg, he moved with
her to the new location.
Who Did He Know?
Jere Longman alleged, "It was in Germany that his views seemed to harden into a kernel of hatred that would germinate in terrorism and suicidal martyrdom." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 87] But what is the evidence for this statement? 9/11 hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi were living in Hamburg at the same time, as were many other Muslim immigrants later accused of al-Qaeda connections. The key question is, did Jarrah meet them, and become converted to their cause somehow?
Zakariya Essabar, now believed to be an al-Qaeda terrorist with ties to Atta's cell, studied at the same university as Jarrah, and the two worked at the same car dealership in Hamburg as a school internship in the summer of 1998. [Washington Post, 10/23/01] The best evidence of that are claims of a photo that shows Jarrah at the 1999 wedding of a Said Bahaji. Bahaji was a fugitive known to espouse fanatic views, and who once roomed with hijackers Atta and Alshehhi. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] There supposedly is a photo where Ramzi Binalshibh, Zakariya Essabar, Bahaji, Marwan Alshehhi and Jarrah can be seen together. [Washington Post, 10/23/01] Supposedly, he shows up in a video from the wedding as well. [New York Times, 10/25/01] But we don't even know which Jarrah this is, or how well Jarrah knew these people. Neither the video nor the photograph has been made public. Finally, Jarrah's landlady Canel also claims that sometimes Jarrah would spend the night with friends in Harburg, the part of Hamburg where Atta and Alshehhi lived. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 89]
Certainly, it's likely that at some point he would have run into some al-Qaeda terrorists. There are about 80,000 Muslims in Hamburg, the vast majority of them Turkish. Only about five to six percent - 4,000 to 4,800 - are Arabic. Around 2,500 of the 80,000 are considered dangerous radicals, and only 270 of the radicals are considered Arabic or Iranian. [Boston Globe, 9/25/01, New York Times, 9/17/01] Terrorists like Essabar were studying at the same university. So it would have been surprising if the Arabic speaking Jarrah didn't come into contact with at least one of them.
Jarrah, the Terrorist?
But did he become one of them? German authorities believe Atta recruited him in 1999. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01] Did Jarrah show any signs by then of becoming radical? Where is the "kernel of hatred"?
Melih Demir, a fellow student at the university, was stunned at the accusation that Jarrah was a terrorist. "He was very happy all the time, making jokes. We could make jokes about him and ... I can't believe that he did something like this." [Sunday Herald, 9/23/01] Classmate Michael Gotzmann, who was in a study group with Jarrah, also had a hard time believing he was one of the hijackers. ''He never said anything bad about America,'' he told Der Spiegel magazine. ''To the contrary, he loved America, and said he always planned to go and study there.'' [Boston Globe, 9/25/01]
Gotzmann described Jarrah as devoutly Muslim but not rabid about his politics, a man who prayed five times a day but was open in his views and wanted to continue his studies in the United States. However, others don't see him as even that religious. Jarrah rarely attended Friday prayers and never prayed five times daily, said classmate Abdullah Al-Makhadi. "He was a weak Muslim, I must say." [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] Even a housemate and friend in Florida later said he never saw Jarrah pray. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01]
"Jarrah spoke of a debilitated Lebanon and how the Israelis had cut off the water supply to his native country." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 87] These are hardly radical positions, and in fact it would be pretty strange for any Lebanese person not to have some views on Lebanon's civil war and Israel's invasion of that country in the 1980s.
Jere Longman in his book conceded that other acquaintances in Germany agreed that Jarrah lacked radical political or religious views. Notwithstanding, he wrote, "This was consistent ... with the al-Qaeda training manual, which instructed its members to avoid provocative religious or political remarks." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 87] So, in other words, if he had radical views that means he was a terrorist, and if he didn't have radical views, that also means he was a terrorist!
"He is not known to ever have attended the Steindamm mosque that is the alleged meeting place of the other suspects and their purported associates from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network." His girlfriend Senguen said she never heard him mention the name Atta or anyone else from the FBI's list of suspects. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] His family contended that Jarrah and Senguen spoke nearly every day, and shared everything. Surely she would have noticed a phase between a political Jarrah and extremist Jarrah just cleverly pretending to be apolitical?
Jarrah Drops Out
Jarrah was apparently having trouble with his schooling - at best he was considered a mediocre student. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01] Salim Jarrah said he believed his cousin had decided to go to flight school because he simply did not want to invest the time required to earn a German doctorate in aviation engineering, which could take up to a decade. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] His landlady believed that by the summer of 1999 he was spending most of his time in the German city of Bochum with his girlfriend Senguen. In September 1999, he dropped out of school after attending only one class. [CBC, 10/10/01] Other reports contended it was in the middle of the semester. In any case, he told his friends that he was going to learn to fly in America - his dream since childhood. [Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, by Der Spiegel editors, 2002, p. 258]
What happened next is a matter of dispute. CNN reported, "Jarrah's family said he had spent some time in Afghanistan 18 months ago." [CNN, 9/18/01] Jere Longman said, "Some family members suspect he was in Pakistan or Afghanistan; others vehemently disagree and won't even admit he was ever out of touch." [Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, by Der Spiegel editors, 2002, p. 192] Note how his family must be wrong; they can't "admit" the "truth" that Jarrah went to Afghanistan.
The official story goes further, asserting that Jarrah had disappeared for up to five weeks (recall the family says they've never been out of touch more than 10 days). It alleges that the family was notified by Jarrah's girlfriend that she had heard he had gone to Afghanistan. The family then contacted friends in Peshawar on the Pakistani-Afghan border, the official story argues, and implored them to help get him to leave. But his father and other family members completely denied this story. [Independent, 9/16/01] They countered that the story was made up out of whole cloth. Said his uncle, "The rumor [that he went to Afghanistan] as I understand, sticks to Ziad, just to complete the story." [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 9/18/01] Attorney General John Ashcroft has claimed that all nineteen of the September 11 hijackers had trained in camps in Afghanistan [Ashcroft News Conference, 12/11/01] - so obviously there needs to be a story of Jarrah in Afghanistan.
Where's the Other Jarrah?
By this time another Jarrah could have been shadowing him. Perhaps he ran into some Muslim radicals in Hamburg and one of them noticed a striking similarity between both his name and face and that of the terrorist/ photographer Jarrah who lived in New York City back in 1995. Add the fact that he wanted to become a pilot. It would have been too good of an opportunity to pass up. Perhaps the names were close but not the same - the family can't understand why his name sometimes appears as Jarrahi, when he never spelled his name that way (his name on the flight manifest shows up as Jarrahi, which investigators say may be a typo [Boston Globe, 9/25/01]). It could be that this other Jarrah and/or others, were manipulating the real Jarrah to make sure his actions followed a certain pattern. The fake Jarrah probably was learning to copy the real Jarrah's behavior, skills and appearance.
In 1999, the presumably fake Ziad Jarrah got a pilot's license in Hamburg - the same license the real Jarrah would get in Florida later. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01] It's hard to see how the real Jarrah could have gotten this license without his girlfriend or family knowing, why he wouldn't have told them, and where he would have found the time. Later, when he began flight training on single engine aircraft in Florida, he certainly didn't have the skills to indicate he already had a license for flying a single engine aircraft. [Boston Globe, 9/25/01] FFTC owner Arne Kruithof explained: "We had to do more to get him ready than others ... His flight skills seemed to be a little bit out there." Even after 200 hours of flying, Kruithof could only charitably say, "He was a guy who needed some more." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 91] Other students at FFTC were so frightened of Jarrah's flying skills that they refused to be in a plane if he was at the controls. [Among the Heroes by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 92]
Some time around February 2000, he lost his passport while waiting for a visa
to go to the US. This was only two or three months after Atta and Alshehhi lost
their passports. [Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, by Der Spiegel editors,
2002, p. 257-258] Investigators say all three were trying to cleanse their travel
documents of visas that might arouse suspicion. [Los
Angeles Times, 10/23/01] Could it be that someone stole his passport, as
part of a trail of evidence designed to link him to the 9/11 attacks? Could
the fake Jarrah have even used the real Jarrah's missing passport to enter the
Jarrah's Move to Florida
The real Jarrah arrived in Atlanta on June 27, 2000. He was enrolled at the Florida Flight Training Center from June 2000 to January 15, 2001 [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 90-91] The fact that he studied in southern Florida, the same place where many other terrorist pilots studied, is not actually that surprising. Most foreign students who study flying in the US do so in southern Florida, where the cost of living is cheap and the weather and terrain are ideal to learn how to fly. Flight schools are so numerous in Florida that the state calls itself the "aviation state." [Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01] Many of these schools have 80% or more foreign students, and a number of them are advertised frequently in Hamburg. Samir Jarrah explained, "He had told me last year that he had a choice of courses in France or in America and it was me who told him to go to the States." [Independent, 9/16/01] Unfortunate choice for Ziad!
We know it was the real Jarrah studying in Florida because of what others say about him. Those who met Jarrah at the flight school also say they can't see him as a terrorist. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] "Our entire staff does not believe that he had bad intentions," FFTC President Arne Kruithof told the Los Angeles Times. "Let's put it this way: Everybody interviewed here on this guy was in shock, because he was a friend to all of us. I don't think there's anyone in the time that he was here that could say anything negative about him; on the contrary, he would help everybody," added Kruithof, who insisted that Jarrah's demeanor was "not faked." [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] "Not just nice, but he had qualities you look for in a dear friend, someone you trust," Kruithof said. Jarrah always looked him in the eye and offered a firm handshake and a friendly smile. [Among the Heroes by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 92]
Kruithof said Jarrah would have a beer or two, "but not three," and he made "seemingly benign" jokes about how fat and lazy Americans were (again, notice the desperation to find any evidence making him appear evil). He certainly could have been a more devout Muslim and turned down even one beer without drawing suspicion. Osama bin Laden would not let his men smoke cigarettes, and drinking alcohol would have led to banishment from the ranks of his al-Qaeda movement. [Independent, 9/16/01]
Jarrah roomed with three other men, including a twenty-three-year-old German flight student, Thorsten Biermann. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 91] Biermann found him to be "just a normal person, like anyone else." [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] Jarrah would sometimes talk to Biermann about Lebanon, speaking in German with almost no accent. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 92]
The other Ziad Jarrah must have also moved to Florida, and continued to shadow him. It has been claimed that while living with Biermann and others in Venice, Jarrah kept another apartment in Venice but didn't sleep in it. [Among the Heroes by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 92] This makes no sense at all unless the other Jarrah was living in the other apartment, leaving a double paper trail to puzzle investigators. Eyewitness accounts of him also vary. "Later, people would not even agree on how tall he was, or how heavy he was, whether he stood five foot eight or five foot eleven, whether he weighed one hundred seventy pounds or one hundred ninety." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 84]
Back to Lebanon
In mid-January 2001, Jarrah left the flight school, saying he was returning to Germany. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 93] (Note that he's already supposed to have been in Afghanistan since late November!) He returned to Lebanon for what would be his last time with his father, who underwent open-heart surgery. [CBC, 10/10/01]
"He looked after his dad and went to the hospital every day," recounted uncle Jamal. "He was so normal. His personality and his life bore no relation to the kind of things that happened." To prove the point, they released a video of Jarrah dancing at a wedding party; two stills are shown here (for the entire video, look at this website). Friends and relatives who saw him at this wedding strongly agree that "the ordinary person they knew -- reliable, responsible, witty, ambitious -- could never, never have been part of the diabolical terrorist attacks." [Sunday Herald, 9/23/01]
Again, it's hard to see a Muslim radical. Compare him to Atta, who wouldn't even listen to any form of music except prayer chants, much less dance.
He then visited his girlfriend in Bochum, Germany in March. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01]
Return to Florida
When he came back to Florida in April, he moved from Venice, on the west coast, to Hollywood, on the east, near Fort Lauderdale. He stayed in a Hollywood apartment until June 22. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 93] This is the same town Atta and Alshehhi lived in at the time, but no evidence ties Jarrah to either of them in Florida. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] Could they have been shadowing him, using others to befriend him and influence him?
It appears that his girlfriend may have visited him in Florida when he returned. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] That would hardly seem to be smart if he was hiding a great secret in Florida.
Martial Arts Training
Shortly after coming back to Florida, he began taking self-defense classes one mile from where he lived. It's not clear if this was the real Jarrah, or someone imitating him. One strange fact is that he told his trainer that he was from Saudi Arabia. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 94] There's no conceivable reason why he would do this - both before and after this, he told his landlords and other people that he met he was from Lebanon. Could this have been a truthful slip by the other Jarrah?
On the other hand, whoever it was, the person certainly acted like the real Jarrah. Bert Rodriguez, Jarrah's personal trainer from May to August, told the Associated Press that Jarrah was "the nicest guy in the world. Very humble, very soft-spoken." [AP, 9/21/01] "I liked the guy. He was very humble, very quiet and he didn't want to be in a situation where he would get picked on." [CBC, 10/10/01] The sessions ran for an hour, one on one between teacher and pupil. "He did his best but he was very timid," Rodriguez said. "You could have never told that he was in any way, shape or form a radical of any kind." [AP, 9/21/01] "You need a certain fire in you to commit certain acts. My sense of him was that he was more of a follower." [Sunday Herald, 9/23/01] That sounds like the real Jarrah, or at least a very good imitation. Did he have friends at the time who talked him into doing this seemingly harmless activity which only looks sinister in retrospect? If so, why would he have said he was from Saudi Arabia?
At different gyms, some other hijackers were also weight lifting and training, especially in early September. But were they actually training, thinking they would need the skills to survive in a matter of days, or were they just making a cover story? Three of them - Waleed Alshehri, Wail Alshehri and Satam al-Suqami - "simply clustered around a small circuit of machines, never asking for help and, according to a trainer, never pushing any weights. 'You know, I don't actually remember them ever doing anything,' said the trainer, Joe Farnoly. 'They would just stand around and watch people.'" [New York Times, 9/23/01]
Rodriguez also said that he noticed that Jarrah was practicing moves he was
learning on others, so he offered to give Jarrah a lesson to him and his friends
at a special rate. Jarrah declined, saying, "The guys are traveling."
[Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 97] Who would these guys
be, if this was the real Jarrah? Are they the same as the hijackers who refused
to push weights? It's very unclear who Jarrah's friends were at this time.
Enter Ahmed Alhaznawi
On June 22, Jarrah moved to an apartment in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea where his roommate was Ahmed Alhaznawi, another of the suspected 9/11 hijackers. [CBC, 10/10/01] "Alhaznawi was twenty and was from Saudi Arabia, the son of a mosque prayer leader. He reportedly trained in bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan and recruited two distant cousins, Ahmed and Hamza Alghamdi." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 98]
Jarrah had never previously been associated with Alhaznawi. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] Yet suddenly, "they seemed so inseparable that their landlord initially wondered whether they were lovers." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 98] Alhaznawi drove Jarrah's car, and took him to appointments. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01]
Was this the real Jarrah, or the impostor? From what his landlord Charles Lisa says, he still sounds like the same Jarrah. For instance, "He was too happy a man for a guy who knew he was going to die in the next ten days or so." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 97]
In June he traveled to Las Vegas. His uncle in Lebanon describes the trip as a gambling junket, but it also provides another possible vague connection with other hijackers. Atta, Alshehhi and three other suspects also made trips to Las Vegas between May and August. However, they don't appear to have been in Las Vegas at the same time as Jarrah. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01]
Jarrah Keeps Close Ties
In mid-July, Jarrah saw his Turkish girlfriend Senguen for what would be the last time. He returned to Florida in less than a week. Then Senguen went to Lebanon to attend Jarrah's sister's wedding and meet her future in-laws. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01]
The Independent noted that Jarrah did not attend, and accusingly questioned, "Too busy to bring his fiancée to meet his family? Busy doing what?" [Independent, 9/16/01] Busy with his studies, it turns out. Records show that Jarrah took his test for his pilot's license for a single engine aircraft on July 30 (which he passed), while the wedding was on August 2. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01]
The Time Grows Close
On August 17, Jarrah took a flight to test his proficiency at an airport in Fort Lauderdale. Five days later, investigators said Jarrah purchased diagrams of the cockpit instruments on a Boeing 757. He also came to possess flight manuals for Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 97-98] These are just a few of the examples of planted evidence, which date back to his time in Germany. The last time Jarrah's landlord in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea saw him was at the very end of August. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 99-100]
On August 27, Jarrah spent three nights in a hotel in a suburb outside Washington.
The same day he left, hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi checked into the same hotel. [Miami
Herald, 9/22/01] Two other hijackers stayed at a hotel about a mile away
between August 23 and 30.
On September 5, Ziad Jarrah and his apparent friend Ahmed Alhaznawi booked one-way tickets on a September 7 flight to Newark. [CBC, 10/10/01] Note that while he may have flown to Newark, no evidence has been released that he actually bought a ticket for the hijacked plane. His name (spelled Jarrahi) appears to have been on the flight manifest [Boston Globe, 9/25/01], but presumably that would be the other Jarrah, carrying the passport that had the picture showing the differently shaped head.
On September 9, 2001, Jarrah apparently stayed at the same hotel as hijacker
Marwan Alshehhi, also near Washington. [St.
Petersburg Times, 9/27/01]
On September 9, he made his final phone call to his family. He confirmed receipt of the money sent on the 4th. The family reported he was cheerful and normal. [CBC, 10/10/01]
Two Red Mitsubishis
Something else very curious happened on September 9. A state trooper stopped Jarrah's car in Maryland near the Delaware border after observing him driving 90 mph in a 65 mph zone a few minutes after midnight. The car was a red Mitsubishi. Jarrah had bought a red Mitsubishi in 2000 in Florida. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01] However, that was a 1991 Eclipse, and this Mitsubishi was a 2001 Galant. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 101] The vehicle stopped in Maryland was a rental car with New Jersey tags, rented near the Newark Airport. [CNN, 1/9/02] The driver was carrying a valid Virginia driver's license, which listed a Springfield, Virginia address. [Delaware News Journal, 1/9/02]
Did Jarrah just like red Mitsubishis so much that he wanted to rent the same kind of car he already had? Or was someone trying to imitate Jarrah but was unable to hide the fact that the car was a rental? Why a ticket at such a strange hour, and so close to September 11? Could it be that his double was trying to make sure records would show Jarrah was near Washington? Or was it the real Jarrah who had somehow been hoodwinked into coming north by his supposed friend Alhaznawi? If he went to Newark with Alhaznawi, why does he appear to have been alone when the car was stopped?
Perhaps Alhaznawi or someone else was manipulating Jarrah. It's striking that even at this late date no witnesses actually saw Jarrah with any of the hijackers, only in close proximity in time or location (with the exception of his rooming with Alhaznawi, if that was the real Jarrah who roomed with him and if the landlord can be believed). But whatever the case, it certainly appears that he didn't think he was going to die or be a wanted man anytime soon.
On his September 9 phone call to his family, he confirmed that he and his girlfriend would be in Beirut on September 22 for another family wedding -- this time Salim's younger sister. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] He said he had completed his studies, and would try to get a good job in Lebanon. [Al-Watan, 10/1/01] ''It makes no sense,'' says his uncle, who recalled, ''he said he had even bought a new suit for the occasion.'' [Boston Globe, 9/25/01] One might say Jarrah was simply lying, except that his landlord in Florida noticed that in June, Jarrah actually did drop off a new suit to be tailored. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 97]
Jarrah also confirmed to his family that he had received seven hundred dollars sent to him on top of his usual two-thousand-dollar monthly allowance. He had asked for the money for "fun." [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 102] People have pointed to this transfer of money as proof that he needed last-minute money for the terrorist attacks. But this makes no sense, because the terrorists had plenty of available money from other sources. A number of them even wired a total of $15,000 back to the United Arab Emirates around September 9, because they had more than they could spend. His family sees this transfer as evidence that he was planning a vacation before making his next career move.
The family had bought Jarrah a new Model 300 Mercedes-Benz on September 9. On the phone they joked that one of his sisters would take the car if he didn't come home soon enough. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 102] They also talked about his own wedding with Aisel planned for the following summer. [Sunday Herald, 9/23/01] The tragic ironies keep piling up. He had talked in recent months for the first time about not only getting married, but having a child. [Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, by Der Spiegel editors, 2002, p. 191] His father had also recently bought land for a mansion he planned to build for his son and daughter-in-law. [Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, by Der Spiegel editors, 2002, p. 249]
If Jarrah was planning on making himself a martyr, it's understandable that he might not be able to say that to his dearly loved family and girlfriend. But to lead them on with plans of marriage and children, saying he would be visiting within two weeks, letting them buy property and a car for him - it seems inexplicably sadistic and completely unnecessary. Clearly he had no idea he was about to die. These facts also raise the question of how al-Qaeda could have trusted such a man for such a vital mission, when the pull of wife, child, friends, and parents could have caused him to change his mind at any time.
He continued to call Senguen nearly every day, as he always did. [Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, by Der Spiegel editors, 2002, p. 191] Mahmoud Ali, the family friend, said Senguen called him on September 11 and told him that she had just spoken to Jarrah -- about an hour before he boarded United Flight 93 (stories that he called from the cockpit of Flight 93 are clearly exaggerations). She described the conversation as pleasant and normal, although it is unclear whether she knew he was flying that day. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] According to a CBC interview with his uncle, his family didn't have the faintest suspicion that Jarrah was being tied to the 9/11 attacks until they were told several days after September 11 (listen to the 22-minute interview here).
And then on September 11, he vanished. His girlfriend Senguen alerted the police a few days later, calling to report him missing. German federal police said they found a suitcase of ''airplane-related documents'' in her home (note how that is made to sound vaguely ominous, but of course someone training to be a pilot would have some "airplane-related documents"!). A few days after September 11, Senguen checked into a witness protection program and dropped out of sight, leaving many questions about Jarrah unanswered. She later called Jarrah's family and the FBI, and insisted that Jarrah was not acquainted with any of the other alleged hijackers, which presumably included Alhaznawi. [Boston Globe, 9/25/01]
The Work Permit
However, the story of Jarrah doesn't end there. A number of curious items have appeared since his death. In the Flight 93 wreckage, as explained previously, a half-burned copy of his passport was found. [CNN, 8/1/02] This is not that remarkable, since a lot of documents have been recovered from the wreckage. But what is remarkable is another document that was also found in the wreckage: an old German work permit of Jarrah's distant cousin, Assem Omar Jarrah. Why on earth would Jarrah have been carrying this document with him at all - what possible use could it have except as scratch paper? Yet because of this document, German weekly Der Spiegel claimed that investigators had discovered the records of the former East German Stassi secret service, showing that Assem served with the Libyan secret service and collaborated with Palestinian terrorist mastermind Abu Nidal in the 1980s. If this is true, and Ziad Jarrah really was a terrorist, then it would be even more inexplicable that he would be carrying documents exposing the illicit past of his distant cousin. [An-Nadar, 11/8/01]
A possible explanation for this rather odd event is that the real terrorists
were shadowing Jarrah and looked very closely into his life during the years
they monitored him. They somehow discovered that he had a distant cousin who
was connected to espionage or terrorism or at least that the Stassi had made
some claims to that effect. Assem Omar Jarrah did say he gave this work permit
to Ziad, but did not say when. [An-Nadar,
11/8/01] At some point, someone must have then stolen it from Ziad. And
finally, on or after September 11, someone must have planted it at the Flight
93 wreckage site, to make sure that investigators would discover this link.
The odds otherwise - that Jarrah had this useless document with him, that it
was one of the few possessions of his surviving the crash; and that his distant
cousin would turn out to have terrorist ties - must be astronomical.
The Lost Letter
In another surprise discovery, in early November a four-page letter written by Jarrah on September 10 to his girlfriend Aisel was found by US authorities. Presumably, it had been sent to the wrong address, and thus eventually returned to the US. [CNN, 1/9/02] Why Jarrah would suddenly forget the address of where his girlfriend had lived since early 1999 is not explained. Only a few quotes from this letter have been made public. He says, "I have done what I had to do," and "You should be very proud because this is an honor and in the end will bring happiness to everyone." This has been taken as proof that he knew he was going to be a martyr. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01]
But setting aside the possibility that the whole letter is a forgery, there is the possibility that these two sentences could have been taken out of context. He had just gotten his pilot's license - could he be talking about that? His father says, "Ziad wanted to become a pilot since he was five years old. He didn't care whether he would be a civilian or a military pilot. He was crazy about airplanes. The only books he ever borrowed from the library were about airplanes. I stopped him from being a pilot. I only have one son and I was afraid that he would crash." [Wall Street Journal, 9/18/01] It appears that Jarrah may have tricked his parents into thinking he was still studying to be an aeronautical engineer and would be continuing his classes in Hamburg after taking some aeronautical courses in the US. [Independent, 9/16/01, Wall Street Journal, 9/18/01] So this letter may have been a coming out of sorts - the sentences could easily refer to him revealing that he was following his dream to be a pilot over his father's wishes, something that in the end would make his family proud.
In any case, if it is a suicide letter, it's a strange one, because he also "talks of plans for a future meeting, as Jarrah tells her to 'hold on to what you have until we see each other again.'" Even stranger, the package also contained papers about Jarrah's flight training and scuba-diving instruction. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01] Scuba-diving lessons? More typical behavior of a terrorist and a martyr? The scuba diving could easily explain his "unexplained trips" to the nearby Bahamas, since there is good scuba diving there but none in the greater Miami area where he lived. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 2002, p. 91-92]
The Cockpit Voice Recorder
Though it hasn't been made public, the cockpit voice recorder for Flight 93
did survive. A few snippets were released; you can listen to them on this
website. Jarrah is said to have spoken English with a German accent. [Sunday
Herald, 9/23/01] He is also said to have been the pilot whose voice can
be heard in these recordings. Given his accent, it should be easy to determine
if the voice was his or not. His uncle Jamal explained, "'Ziad was not
a hijacker... To this day they have no proof Ziad was the pilot.' What about
the cockpit voice recorder? 'That's not Ziad's voice.' What about the good-bye
letter to Aisel, the kick-boxing lessons in Florida, the message on Atta's cell
phone? What about all the documents about death in martyrdom? 'Fabricated. False.
Inventions.' But why? 'The Americans shot down the plane, so they've got to
make it look hijacked.'" [Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, by
Der Spiegel editors, 2002, p. 247-8]
The Remains of Jarrah
Terrorist or dupe, was the real Jarrah actually on Flight 93? DNA remains would be able to answer that question. In December 2001, US officials announced that everyone on Flight 93 had been positively identified through their DNA, except for the four hijackers. Their remains are grouped by common DNA. Because they don't have any DNA to check them by, "The death certificates will list each as 'John Doe.'" [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/20/01] The other accused hijackers were all from Saudi Arabia, and virtually no information and certainly no DNA has yet come out for them. But Jarrah's family has said, "We are ready to cooperate with the authorities." [Independent, 9/16/01] They would like to know if their son was a terrorist and murderer. In mid-August 2002, a new report on the victims' remains noted the DNA still had not been checked, because "little attention has been paid to the terrorists' remains." [AP, 8/16/02]
As one reporter put it, Ziad Jarrah is "no neat fit into any conspiracy puzzle, with no clear motivation or any obvious ties to an identifiable organization." [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 9/18/01] Clearly the terrorists were brilliant in stealing identities and keeping their true identities hidden. Probably each case was slightly different, and with Jarrah they had the incredible luck of a look-alike with a similar name. The FBI investigators made their work easy. For instance, according to an FBI document given to German police, the FBI initially put Jarrah and the three other accused hijackers on the hijacker list simply because theirs were the only Arabic sounding names on the flight manifest. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] But still, the terrorists made mistakes. Numerous clues pointing to a doppelganger for Jarrah, including solid evidence that he was in two places at once on more than one occasion, has been ignored or brushed aside by the media and the FBI investigation. Until we get smart enough to see through the cover stories and stolen identities, we will never know who the real hijackers were, and never really understand what happened on September 11.