Trail of a Terrorist

The Use of Fake Documents and Student Visas in the September 11, 2001 Attacks
home
the millenium plot
canada: safe haven?
fake passports
discussion

Washington, D.C.
Federal investigators now believe that some of the suspected hijackers entered the United States using stolen Saudi Arabian passports that had doctored photos. A Saudi Arabian man has surfaced with the same name as one of the hijackers, and he claims his passport was stolen while he was attending university in Denver, Colo.

Virginia
Several of the suicide hijackers took a trip to Virginia in order to obtain driver's licenses (which they would need to board an airplane). They took advantage of a loophole in Virginia law that allows one to establish residency by obtaining an affidavit from a notary public. Hijackers were able to purchase documents saying they were residents of Virginia.

Chicago
Nabil al-Marabh is believed to be one of Osama bin Laden's key operatives in North America and was arrested after a nationwide manhunt. He is facing questioning on the Sept. 11 attacks. He had driver's licenses from several states, including a recently acquired license to transport hazardous materials. Further investigation revealed that al-Marabh had been detained at the U.S.-Canada border on June 27, 2001, with a fake Canadian passport. But instead of being arrested, he was simply sent back to Canada, where the authorities arrested him and then released him after a lawyer promised he would return for a hearing.

Detroit
Three Arab men were arrested at the apartment of Nabil al-Marabh shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. In the apartment, investigators found false immigration documents, a stolen passport and Social Security card, and licenses to transport hazardous materials, along with sketches of aircraft and airport security badges.

London
Habib Zacarias Moussaoui is the suspected 20th hijacker. But he was in jail on Sept. 11, 2001, having been been arrested weeks earlier in the U.S. on a visa violation after a flight school in Minnesota reported he was acting suspiciously. The U.S. Embassy in London had granted Moussaoui a student visa to the U.S., even though he was already on a French watch list of suspected Islamic extremists.

Oakland, CA
Hani Hanjour, believed to be one of the pilots in the suicide hijackings, was admitted into the U.S. on Dec. 8, 2000, on a student visa that he obtained after being accepted at the ELS Language Centers on the campus of Holy Names College in Oakland, Calif. He never appeared for class and is thought to have been the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.

home + introduction + inside the plot + canada: a safe haven? + crossing the border
links & readings + join the discussion + video excerpt
tapes & transcripts + press reaction + credits + frontline privacy policy
frontline + pbs online + wgbh

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

Losing IraqJuly 29th

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS