Ziad Jarrah

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Historical figures

Ziad Samir Jarrah
Born May 11, 1975
Mazraa, Lebanon
Died September 11, 2001
Shanksville, Pennsylvania, United States

Ziad Samir Jarrah (Arabic: زياد سمير جراح) ( May 11, 1975 — September 11, 2001), was the pilot of the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, part of the September 11, 2001 attacks. He is believed to have taken over as the pilot of the aircraft and made an unsuccessful attempt to crash the plane into the U.S. Capitol.

There are many variations on his name, including Ziad Samir Al-Jarrah, Zaid Jarrahi, Ziad Jarrah Jarrat, and Ziyad Samir Jarrah. After a wealthy and secular upbringing, Jarrah became involved in the planning for the September 11 attacks in college. Unique among the hijackers, he had a girlfriend and was close to his family. There have been some questions as to whether or not Jarrah was actually on Flight 93 and whether he was a hijacker; the 9/11 Commission concluded, however, that his was not a case of mistaken identity and that he had indeed piloted the plane. In October 2006, an al-Qaeda video was released showing Jarrah and Mohammed Atta recording their wills in January 2000 in Osama Bin Laden's Tarnak Farm base near Kandahar.


Early life

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

From 1995 to 1996, while Ziad Jarrah was living in Lebanon according to his family, somebody of the same name rented an apartment in Brooklyn, New York. The landlords claimed it was the same Ziad Jarrah as in the FBI photographs.

In the spring of 1996, Jarrah moved to Germany with his cousin Salim. They were there to take a certificate course in German at the University of Greifswald required of foreigners studying in Germany who do not speak the language. 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 Sengün, 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, which vexed his more religious friends, and celebrated 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.

The 9/11 Commission Report states that Jarrah was a member of the Hamburg cell, along with Atta and the others. He did not live with any of the others, however, and can only be confirmed to have met with any of them in Hamburg on a single occasion: that of Said Bahaji's wedding at the al-Quds Mosque. The closeness of his connections with the others is not known.

Training in Afghanistan

In late 1999, Jarrah, Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Said Bahaji, and Ramzi Binalshibh decided to travel to Chechnya to fight Russian soldiers. Khalid al-Masri and Mohamedou Ould Slahi convinced them at the last minute to travel instead 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. In October of 1999 Ziad Jarrah was filmed at Said Bahaji's wedding with other 9/11 hijackers, including Marwan al-Shehhi.

In 2006 a video surfaced showing Jarah, still bearded, reading his will in January 2000 along with Mohammed Atta.. Not long after this, Jarrah shaved his beard and began to act more secular, according to Sengün. Many of the future hijackers attempted to hide their radicalism and blend in with the population. Jarrah 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. 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 were sufficient, and at the advice of a childhood friend, he prepared to move to the United States.

In the United States

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

Jarrah apparently entered the United States 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 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 Sengün. 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 Sengün in Germany and came back to the United States again. His behaviour 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, according to the country's officials, where he was initially reported as having been interviewed by authorities on January 30, 2001, at the request of the CIA. He allegedly admitted to having been to Afghanistan and Pakistan, although the CIA has since denied the claim and the 9/11 Commission report does not mention it. The Florida flight school where Jarrah had been studying also said he was in school there until January 15, 2001.

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. 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. Jarrah rented a new apartment in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea after both men gave the landlord photocopies of their German passports, which he later turned over to the FBI.

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, 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".

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 País. 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 girlfriend, the last time she saw him. He reportedly arrived back in the United States on August 5, though other sources indicate that he wrote his pilot's test on August 2, having missed his sister's wedding to do so. On August 27 he checked into a Laurel, Maryland motel, only a mile away from the Valencia where 4 other hijackers were staying. On September 7 all four of Flight 93 hijackers flew from Fort Lauderdale to Newark International Airport aboard Spirit Airlines.

On September 9, in the early morning, Jarrah was pulled over for speeding in Maryland 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 honour, 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.

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

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.

The 9/11 Commission stated that Jarrah was the pilot. The flight transcript, however, might indicate that Saeed al-Ghamdi, who also trained in flight simulators, could have been the pilot or a co-pilot. Two of the hijackers are heard calling the pilot "Saeed".

The pilot's voice was heard by air traffic control telling passengers to remain seated. At 9:39 AM, the pilot 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.

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, the pilot 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 the pilot 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 September 11, Jarrah's girlfriend Sengün filed a missing person report in Bochum. Jarrah became a suspect as FBI agents found a "Ziad Jarrahi" in the flight manifest (the additional i at the end a possible misspelling).

Mistaken identity claims

There have been claims that Jarrah was not a hijacker or that he was not present on the plane and his identity was stolen. It has been pointed out that he had a deviating profile from the other hijackers and that the passengers reported three and not four hijackers. However, the October 2006 emergence of a "martyrdom" video shot on January 18, 2000 along with Mohammad Atta has cast heavy doubt on such claims.

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, family and friends claimed that Jarrah did not exhibit the same "smoldering political resentments" or "cultural conservatism" as Mohammed Atta. He was not raised with a background of religious conviction and did not hold to an obviously conservative lifestyle. Personnel at the flight school Jarrah attended described him as "a normal person". Jarrah called his family two days, and his girfriend Aysel Sengün three hours, before boarding United 93; Sengün described the conversation as "pleasant" and "normal". She also claimed that he never mentioned any names of the other hijackers. In his call two days before the attack, Jarrah 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." Jarrah's family in Lebanon claimed in September 2001 that he was an innocent passenger on the plane.

On October 23, 2001, John Ashcroft claimed that Jarrah had shared a Hamburg apartment with Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, though German authorities that same day told the Los Angeles Times that they had no evidence that any of Jarrah's three apartments in Hamburg had been connected with the other hijackers. One high-ranking German police official stated "The only information we have connecting the three Hamburg suspects is the FBI's assertion that there is a connection." In October 2006, however, a video surfaced showing Atta and Jarrah together in Afghanistan, clearly connecting Jarrah to the members of the Hamburg cell. Jarrah also appears in a wedding video with other hijackers at a Mosque in Hamburg.

The 9/11 Commission concluded that Jarrah was a hijacker on the plane when it crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The Commission does not give any credence to the idea that Jarrah was not aboard the plane, and no government or credible investigating agency has come forward questioning that conclusion. Also, there have been no reports of Jarrah being seen alive since the attacks.

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