On This Day In History: December 8th 2000 9/11 Hijacker Hani Hanjour Came to San Diego: He Met With Fellow Hijackers, But Did He Meet FBI Informant As Well?
Abel Ashes 12/08/2010
On this day in San Diego history in the year 2000 9/11 hijacker Hani Hanjour arrived in San Diego from Dubai via Paris and Cincinnati. He is believed to have spent only a few days in San Diego with fellow 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar before moving on to Arizona. It’s possible that he spent time in San Diego earlier in the year as well.
Hani Hanjour, who is believed to have been the hijacker/pilot who flew American Airlines flight 77 into The Pentagon on 9/11, reportedly accompanied San Diego based 9/11 hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar toMontgomery Field where the two sought flight lessons. Hani Hanjour, on the other hand had already obtained a commercial pilot’s license way back inApril of 1999.
According to a September 30th 2001 story in the Chicago Tribune one ofAbdussattar Shaikh‘s neighbors believed that a man who Shaikh introduced him to as a “friend” was Hani Hanjour. Abdusattar Shaikh is awell respected local San Diego Muslim leader originally from India who was recruited by the FBI as an informant in May of 1994. He rented a room in his Lemon Grove home to San Diego based 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar while working undercover for the FBI. Heclaimed to have had no reason to suspect Alhazmi and Almihdhar were involved in terrorist activities and that if he had suspected as much he would have told his FBI handler Steven Butler.
In the September 2002 issue of San Diego Magazine he is quoted as saying, “It’s troublesome to me that authorities apparently knew something was going to happen, and that they knew who these two men were. I read now that the CIA and the FBI were already looking for Mr. Al-Mihdhar and Mr. Alhazmi, both of whom lived in my house. I had no idea. Believe me, if I had known they were on some sort of terrorist list, I would have immediately informed authorities. I’ve lived in this country 42 years. What happened last year was horrible, and I hope and pray nothing like that ever happens again.”
In the same article he was referred to as “cofounder of the Islamic Center of San Diego in Clairemont and a retired San Diego State University English teacher.” This was not the only article to erroneously report that Abdussattar Shaikh was a retired SDSU professor. Later the San Diego Union-Tribune issued a correction stating that, “Muslim leader Abdussattar Shaikh was misidentified as a retired San Diego State University professor in a story Sunday. In fact, he is a retired educator who taught at Mesa and Miramar colleges and American Commonwealth University in San Diego. The Union-Tribune regrets the error.”
Abdussattar Shaikh’s FBI handler Steven Butler claimed that Shaikh told him that he did have two men staying at his house in Lemon Grove by the names “Nawaf” and “Khalid”. Butler claims that when he later asked for more information about the pair Shaikh told him that Almihdhar and Alhazmi were good young men who were not involved in politics and who were in the U.S. legally in order to attend school and that he refused to give Butler their last names. Shaikh apparently also did not tell Butler that Almihdhar and Alhazmi were attending flight school.
A number of Shaikh’s neighbors in Lemon grove also claimed that 9/11 “lead hijacker” Mohamed Atta visited Abdusattar Shaikh’s home several times between August and December of 2000. Shaikh claimed that he never met Mohamed Atta and that he never met Hani Hanjour, but the FBI, while allegedly unsure about whether Shaikh and Atta met, is apparently all but certain that FBI informant Abdussattar Shaikh and 9/11 hijacker Hani Hanjour met at least once. The FBI does not believe that Abdussattar Shaikh was involved the 9/11 plot. An October 11, 2002 article in The Washington Post titled “9/11 Panel Discusses Informant: FBI Handling of Man Who lived With Hijackers at Issue” reported that the FBI tried to prevent both FBI Agent Steven Butler and FBI informant Abdussattar Shaikh from testifying before the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry in 2002. In the end Butler did testify, buy Shaikh did not.
It appears likely, but not certain that 9/11 Hani Hanjour and FBI informant Abdussattar Shaikh did meet while Hanjour was visiting fellow 9/11 hijackers Almihdahar and Alhazmi in San Diego from December 8th through December 12th. In either case Hani Hanjour and Nawaf Alhazmi both moved to the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, Arizona on December 12, 2000. They both continued flight training in Arizona. Later in March of 2001 Hanjour and Alhazmi moved together to Falls Church, Virginia and began attending sermons at Dar al Hijrah mosque led by imam Anwar Al Aulaqi (now often spelled “al-Awlaki” , who had previously led a mosque in San Diego attended by Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. Imam Al Aulaqi had been investigated for ties to terrorism back in the year 2000. He heldclosed door meetings with Alhazmi and Almihdhar in San Diego and his phone number was found in 9/11 coordinator Ramzi bin al-Shibh‘s apartment.
Al Aulaqi, a dual U.S./Yemeni citizen originally from Las Cruces, New Mexico is now one of the most wanted men on the planet. He is top al-Qaeda recruiter considered so dangerous that President Obama has approved Al Aulaqi for “targeted killing”, also known as assassination.
It is this writer’s opinion that the complicated and confusing activities of the various hijackers and their associates with FBI informants such as San Diegan Abdussattar Shaikh and his San Diego FBI Agent handler Steven Butler, not to mention double-agents such as Ali Mohamed who worked for the FBI and al-Qaeda simultaneously and previously worked for the CIA and the Green Berets and his FBI Agent handler John Zent go to show that if we truly want to be safe from terrorism intelligence reform, particularly when it comes to the rules regarding the handling of undercover operatives and confidential informants must be reformed.