Khalid al-Mihdhar

Khalid al-Mihdhar
Khalid al-mihdhar 2.jpg
Native name
خالد المحضار
Born
Khalid Muhammad Abdallah al-Mihdhar

(1975-05-16)May 16, 1975
DiedSeptember 11, 2001(2001-09-11) (aged 26)
Known forSeptember 11 attacks
Spouse(s)Hoda al-Hada
Children2 daughters
RelativesAhmed al-Darbi (brother-in-law)

Khalid Muhammad Abdallah al-Mihdhar (Arabic: خالد المحضار‎, Khālid al-Miḥḍār; also transliterated as Almihdhar) (May 16, 1975[a] – September 11, 2001) was a Saudi Arabian terrorist. He was one of the five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, which was flown into the Pentagon as part of the September 11 attacks.

Mihdhar was born in Saudi Arabia and fought with the Bosnian mujahideen during the Bosnian War of the 1990s. In early 1999, he traveled to Afghanistan where, as an experienced and respected jihadist, he was selected by Osama bin Laden to participate in the attacks. Mihdhar arrived in California with fellow hijacker Nawaf al-Hazmi in January 2000, after traveling to Malaysia for the Kuala Lumpur al-Qaeda Summit. At this point, the CIA was aware of Mihdhar, and he was photographed in Malaysia with another al-Qaeda member who was involved in the USS Cole bombing. The CIA did not inform the FBI when it learned that Mihdhar and Hazmi had entered the United States, and Mihdhar was not placed on any watchlists until late August 2001.

Upon arriving in San Diego County, California, Mihdhar and Hazmi were to train as pilots, but spoke English poorly and did not do well with flight lessons. In June 2000, Mihdhar left the United States for Yemen, leaving Hazmi behind in San Diego. Mihdhar spent some time in Afghanistan in early 2001 and returned to the United States in early July 2001. He stayed in New Jersey in July and August, before arriving in the Washington, D.C. area at the beginning of September.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Mihdhar boarded American Airlines Flight 77, which was hijacked approximately 30 minutes after take off. The plane was deliberately crashed into the Pentagon, killing all 64 people aboard the flight, along with 125 on the ground.

Background

Al-Mihdhar was born on May 16, 1975, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia to a prominent family, related to the Quraysh tribe of Mecca.[2] Little is known about his life before the age of 20, when he and childhood friend Nawaf al-Hazmi went to Bosnia and Herzegovina to fight with the mujahideen in the Bosnian War.[3][4] After the war, Mihdhar and Hazmi went to Afghanistan where they fought alongside the Taliban against the Northern Alliance,[5] and al-Qaeda would later dub Hazmi his "second in command".[2] In 1997, Mihdhar told his family that he was leaving to fight in Chechnya,[6] though it is not certain that he actually went to Chechnya.[7] The same year, both men attracted the attention of Saudi Intelligence, who believed they were involved in arms smuggling, and the following year they were eyed as possible collaborators in the 1998 United States embassy bombings in East Africa after it emerged that Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-Owhali had given the FBI the phone number of Mihdhar's father-in-law; 967-1-200578, which turned out to be a key communications hub for al-Qaeda militants, and eventually tipped off the Americans about the upcoming Kuala Lumpur al-Qaeda Summit.[8][9]

In the late 1990s, Mihdhar married Hoda al-Hada, who was the sister of a comrade from Yemen, and they had two daughters.[5] Through marriage, Mihdhar was related to a number of individuals involved with al-Qaeda in some way. Mihdhar's father-in-law, Ahmad Mohammad Ali al-Hada, helped facilitate al-Qaeda communications in Yemen,[10][11] and in late 2001, Mihdhar's brother-in-law, Ahmed al-Darbi, was captured in Azerbaijan and sent to Guantanamo Bay on charges of supporting a plot to bomb ships in the Strait of Hormuz.[12][13]

Selection for the attacks

In Spring 1999, al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden committed to support the 9/11 attacks plot, which was largely organized by prominent al-Qaeda member Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Mihdhar and Hazmi were among the first group of participants selected for the operation, along with Tawfiq bin Attash and Abu Bara al Yemeni, al-Qaeda members from Yemen. Mihdhar, who had spent time in al-Qaeda camps in the 1990s, was known and highly regarded by Bin Laden.[7] Mihdhar was so eager to participate in jihad operations in the United States that he had already obtained a one-year B-1/B-2 (tourist/business) multiple-entry visa from the consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on April 7, 1999, one day after obtaining a new passport.[3][14] Mihdhar listed the Los Angeles Sheraton as his intended destination.[15]

Once selected, Mihdhar and Hazmi were sent to the Mes Aynak training camp in Afghanistan. In late 1999, Hazmi, Attash and Yemeni went to Karachi, Pakistan to see Mohammed, who instructed them on Western culture and travel; however, Mihdhar did not go to Karachi, instead returning to Yemen.[3] He was known as Sinaan during the preparations.[2]

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