Saeed al-Ghamdi

Saeed al-Ghamdi
سعيد الغامدي
Saeed Abdallah Ali Sulayman al-Ghamdi

(1979-11-21)November 21, 1979
Al Bahah Province, Saudi Arabia
DiedSeptember 11, 2001(2001-09-11) (aged 21)
Cause of deathPlane crash
NationalitySaudi Arabian

Saeed Abdallah Ali Sulayman al-Ghamdi (Arabic: سعيد الغامدي‎, Sa'īd al-Ghāmdī) (November 21, 1979 – September 11, 2001) was one of four hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93 as part of the September 11 attacks.

Born in Saudi Arabia, al-Ghamdi left his home to fight in Chechnya after dropping out of college, but was reported to have diverted to Afghanistan to train in an al-Qaeda camp. It was reported he was chosen by Osama bin Laden to participate in terrorist attacks in the United States and arrived in the U.S. in June 2001. During his stay in the U.S., he quietly settled in Florida, planning out how the attacks would commence and training on flight simulators.[1]

On September 11, 2001, he boarded United 93 and assisted in the hijacking of the plane, which was diverted toward Washington D.C. under the control of lead hijacker and trained pilot Ziad Jarrah so that Jarrah could crash the plane into either the U.S. Capitol or the White House, as part of the coordinated attacks. The plane instead crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, after the passengers attempted to retake control of the plane in an uprising.

Early life and education


Saeed al-Ghamdi was from the al Bahah province of Saudi Arabia, and shared the same tribal affiliation with fellow hijackers Ahmed al-Ghamdi, Hamza al-Ghamdi, and Ahmed al-Haznawi, although he was not related to either al-Ghamdi. He may have been in contact with the two al-Ghamdi's and al-Haznawi as early as 1999.[2] This group is noted as being some of the more religiously observant of the hijackers. al-Ghamdi spent time in al Qasim province, Saudi Arabia where he transferred to college but soon dropped out and ceased contact with his family. While there he probably associated with the radical Saudi cleric named Sulayman al-Alwan as several other future hijackers had.[2]

Saeed al-Ghamdi in al-Qaeda's base

Al-Ghamdi later headed to Chechnya to participate in the conflict against the Russians. At this time, Chechen fighters were turning away additional foreigners, many of whom ended up in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan to train and await entry to Chechnya. Saeed ended up at the Al Farouq training camp, where he met Ahmed al-Nami, and the brothers Wail and Waleed al-Shehri. The four reportedly pledge themselves to Jihad in the Spring of 2000, in a ceremony presided over by Wail Al-Shehri—who had dubbed himself Abu Mossaeb al-Janubi after one of Muhammad's companions.[3]

Photos of Saeed al-Ghamdi in al-Qaeda's base

Saeed Al-Ghamdi was known to Tawfiq bin Attash who is thought to have convinced him to become a martyr. Al-Ghamdi was at that time working as a security guard at Kandahar airport along with Waleed al-Shehri.

Some time late in 2000, al-Ghamdi traveled to the United Arab Emirates, where he purchased traveler's cheques presumed to have been paid for by Mustafa al-Hawsawi. Five other hijackers also passed through the UAE and purchased travellers cheques, including Majed Moqed, Wail al-Shehri, Hamza al-Ghamdi, Ahmed al-Haznawi and Ahmed al-Nami.

On November 13, 2000, another Saeed al-Ghamdi[4] tried to obtain a visa to enter the United States, but was declined. Although the 9/11 Commission makes mention of him, there is no evidence he was associated with the hijackers.

In March 2001, al-Ghamdi was filmed in a farewell video that was later aired on al-Jazeera. In the video, many future 9/11 hijackers swear to become martyrs, although no details of the plot are revealed. al-Ghamdi referred to America as "the enemy", and is seen studying maps and flight manuals.[5]

In the United States

On June 12, 2001, Saeed al-Ghamdi applied for and received a second two-year US B-1/B-2 (tourist/business) visa in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His application was submitted by a local travel agency and processed through Visa Express, a controversial US visa program in Saudi Arabia which was discontinued the following year.[6]

Arriving in the U.S. on June 27, 2001, with Fayez Banihammad, Saeed shared an apartment with Ahmed al-Nami in Delray Beach, Florida. Oddly, he listed the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, as his permanent address on his driver's license. He was one of 9 hijackers to open a SunTrust bank account with a cash deposit around June 2001.

According to al-Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda's documentary Top Secret: The Road to September 11, three weeks prior to the attacks, Saeed is believed to have used the name 'Abdul Rahman' to send a message to Ramzi bin al-Shibh (who was posing as a girlfriend) online, in which he wrote

The first semester commences in three weeks. Two high schools and two universities. ... This summer will surely be hot ...19 certificates for private education and four exams. Regards to the professor. Goodbye.[N 1]

— Saeed al-Ghamdi, August 2001.[7]

On September 7, all four of Flight 93 hijackers flew from Fort Lauderdale to Newark International Airport aboard Spirit Airlines.


Visa page from Saeed al-Ghamdi's Kingdom of Saudi Arabia passport recovered from the United Airlines Flight 93 crash site

On the morning of September 11, 2001, al-Ghamdi boarded United Airlines Flight 93 without incident. 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.

At least two of the cell phone calls made by passengers indicate that all the hijackers they saw were wearing red bandanas. The calls also 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.

The flight transcript suggests that at least two hijackers were in the cockpit. Ziad Jarrah was identified as the pilot and is heard calling another hijacker "Saeed",[8] indicating that al-Ghamdi, who also trained in flight simulators, was helping Jarrah with the controls.[9][10]

Passengers on the plane heard through phone calls the fates of the other hijacked planes. A passenger uprising resulted in the plane crashing into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing everyone aboard.

Mistaken identity allegations

On September 23, 2001, before the FBI had released the pictures of the hijackers, the BBC and The Daily Telegraph reported that a Saudi Airlines pilot named Saeed al-Ghamdi was furious that a name on the hijacker's list released by the FBI matched his own. CNN also showed a picture of the "living" al-Ghamdi as the hijacker. The man claimed CNN likely got his picture from a Flight Safety flying school in Florida he attended.[11][12] Der Spiegel later investigated the claims of "living" hijackers by the BBC and discovered them to be cases of mistaken identity.[13]

In June 2005 the Saudi government released a list (see al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) of 36 wanted (and alive) terrorists, one of whom was Salih Sa'id Al Batih al-Ghamdi. 9/11 conspiracy theorists quickly confused him with the hijacker Saeed al-Ghamdi.[14]

He has been portrayed by Iraqi actor Lewis Alsamari in United 93 and Shawn Ahmed in Flight 93.

See also


  1. ^ This was said to be a reference to two military/governmental targets and two civilian, nineteen hijackers, four planes.


  1. ^ MacKinnon, Colin (3 October 2006). Morning Spy, Evening Spy: A Novel. New York City: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1-4299-9357-9.
  2. ^ a b The 9/11 Commission Report (PDF) (Report). Washington DC: United States Government Printing Office. July 22, 2004. pp. 231–33. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 9, 2010.
  3. ^ Sennott, Charles M. (March 3, 2002). "Before oath to jihad, drifting and boredom". Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts: Boston Globe Partners L.P. Archived from the original on August 30, 2008.
  4. ^ Saeed Abdullah al-Ghamdi.
  5. ^ Cooperative Research Archived 2003-11-21 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Staff Monograph on 9/11 and Terrorist Travel" (PDF). 9/11 Commission. 2004. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2004-09-23. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  7. ^ "Al-Jazeera offers accounts of 9/11 planning". Cable News Network. Time Warner. September 12, 2002. Archived from the original on February 20, 2006. Retrieved February 20, 2006.
  8. ^ Flight 93 Cockpit Transcript at Wikisource
  9. ^ Hirschkorn, Phil (April 12, 2006). "On tape, passengers heard trying to retake cockpit: 9/11 jury relives final minutes of hijacked United Flight 93". Archived from the original on November 16, 2016. Retrieved February 7, 2017. Jarrah or another hijacker in the cockpit, Saeed al-Ghamdi, a Saudi, switches off the transponder that enables air traffic controllers to track the plane. "This green knob?" one of the hijackers asks the other in Arabic. "Yes, that's the one."
  10. ^ Relevant page of Wikisource transcript where Saeed is said twice
  11. ^ "Hijack 'suspects' alive and well". BBC News. BBC. 23 September 2001. Archived from the original on 2018-12-06. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  12. ^ Harrison, David (23 September 2001). "Revealed: the men with stolen identities". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2003-01-19. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Panoply of the Absurd". Spiegel Online. September 8, 2003. Archived from the original on 2012-05-24. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  14. ^ al Kinani, Majid; Al-Zaydi, Mshari (29 June 2005). "Saudi Arabia issues New list of wanted "terrorist" suspects, Asharq Al-Awsat Exclusive: Al Qaedas in Saudi Arabias new leader is a Moroccan National". Asharq Al-Awsat. Archived from the original on 6 July 2005. Retrieved 7 December 2018.

External links

Media related to Saeed al-Ghamdi at Wikimedia Commons

Media files used on this page

Flag of the United States.svg
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: PD
United93CrashSite May06.jpg
(c) JoeyBLS at English Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5
This photo was taken in May 2006 in Shanksville, PA at the site of the United 93 crash that took place on September 11, 2001.
Author/Creator: Unknown authorUnknown author, Licence: Copyrighted free use
Saeed al-Ghamdi
Saeed's I-94 form. Source: INS
Saeed's Customs declaration
Saeed al-GhamdiPass Visa.jpg
Saeed al-Ghamdi Visa recovered from the United Airlines Flight 93 crash site.
Saeed al-Ghamdi Visa recovered from the United Airlines Flight 93 crash site.
Saeed AlGhamdi in Alqaeda's base.jpg
Author/Creator: Unknown authorUnknown author, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Saeed AlGhamdi in Alqaeda's base
Photos of Saeed Alghamdi in AlQaeda's base.jpg
Author/Creator: Unknown authorUnknown author, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Photos of Saeed Alghamdi in AlQaeda's base