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There are disputes about several identities. Flight 11's Mohamed Atta and Satam Al Suqami appear to have used their real names, but there has been confusion over the names of other men on the flight. Two brothers called Wail and Waleed Alshehri have been missing from their home in the southern part of Saudi Arabia for several months, and their families reportedly identified hijacker photographs. Another Waleed Alshehri, son of a Saudi diplomat, is alive in Morocco and working for the Saudi airlines. A man using the name Abdul Alomari, born Dec. 24, 1972, is listed on the passenger manifest of Flight 11. But someone called Abdulaziz Alomari who shares that birth date is alive and well in Riyadh. Last week he told a newspaper that in 1995, when he was studying engineering at the University of Denver, his passport was stolen.
Part of the difficulty in sorting out the identities is that names like Alshehri are as common in Saudi Arabia as Smith is in the U.S. Hence Saudi authorities are pressing U.S. investigators for middle names and dates of birth. Still, using the FBI's list of names, Saudi newspapers have tracked down the families of most of the suspected hijackers. The reporters have found that relatives often haven't seen the men in several months or more. The kingdom's Daily Arab News reported last week that at least five of the hijackers told their families several months ago that they were going on jihad. Four months ago, Hamza Alghamdi, 20, one of the men who torpedoed Flight 175 into 2 World Trade Center, called his parents and asked for their prayers and forgiveness.
WHAT ABOUT THIS "20TH HIJACKER"?
Some investigators wonder whether the four flights were supposed to have five hijackers apiece. (The plane that went down in Pennsylvania had only four.) They speculate that Zacarias Moussaoui might have missed his date with infamy.
Moussaoui was arrested Aug. 17 after an instructor at Pan Am International Flight Academy's facility in Eagan, Minn., became suspicious of his request for use of the flight simulator. Moussaoui reportedly showed keen interest in mid-air navigation--and utter indifference to the landing sequence. His instructor then alerted the FBI, and Moussaoui was arrested on immigration charges. It turned out that he has long been suspected in his native France of involvement in terrorist organizations, and the French had been seeking his extradition before Sept. 11.
According to French press reports of interviews with his mother, Moussaoui led a secular childhood near the southern city of Narbonne. In 1990, however, the arrival of a female cousin--a former student of the Islamic Brotherhood in Rabat--marked the change in his life that would ultimately lead him to his U.S. jail cell. Vexed at the wild ways of her son and unhappy about her niece's fundamentalist opinions, Moussaoui's mother invited the pair to leave--which they did, eventually settling down in Montpellier. There, the young woman began introducing her cousin to acquaintances in the Islamic community. They soon convinced Moussaoui to start a new life as a devout Muslim.