9/11 Sixteen Years Later: Who Were The Terrorists That Planned The Attack?

In 1996, 1993 World Trade Center mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed visited Osama Bin Laden with a plan to take down the towers once and for all: with passenger jet airliners.

My career is primarily in dealing with security connected to the realm of terrorists. I’ve spent many working hours with intelligence on Islamic jihad both past and present. History is important to me in understanding 9/11 and how the terrorists networked to make it happen. The unfortunate part of 9/11 is the non thinking talkers get most media attention with claims of “The U.S. middle east policy caused the attack” or other mentally insufficient claims.

Below, I threw together some snapshots of the main primary people involved in planning and executing the terrorist attack. I tried to include some interesting notes on these terrorists that aren’t widely known when I talk with people on 9/11. (Note: while Osama Bin Laden helped with planning the attack, he will not be notated because he is the most talked about)


Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: 9/11 mastermind and helped plan 1993 WTC Bombing. Obtained degree in North Carolina in the late 1980’s. Visited “Hamburg Cell” multiple times after hand picking them for 9/11. Was at the Kuala Lumpur al-Qaeda Summit in January 2000. The summit was became known as the CIA intelligence meltdown because it is where 9/11 and bombing of the USS Cole was planned.


(Clockwise: Ziad Jarrah, Ramzi bin Al-Shibh, Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi) Most famous of the 9/11 hijackers known as the “Hamburg Cell”. Originally were going to go fight in Chechnya then martyr themselves in Israel. Their Islamic radicalism was based on hatred of Israel/Jews. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed hand-picked them in Afghanistan while they were training at Osama Bin Laden camps. All 3 at various points almost quit the mission because of home-sickness. Al-Shibh did not gain access into U.S. and currently at Gitmo.


Khalid al-Mihdhar & Nawaf al-Hazmi: First 9/11 hijackers to enter the U.S. Attended Kuala Lumpur al-Qaeda Summit and few days later flew to San Diego, CA. In early 20’s and spent almost all their teenage years on battlefield in Chechyna. Their background became famous in the debate on immigration. Barely knew any english or had any travel history when they arrived at customs. Never had been in a “Western Society” before arriving in San Diego. Hand picked by Osama Bin Laden for 9/11.


Anwar al-Awlaki: Was in San Diego when first two 9/11 hijackers arrived and helped faciliatate their movement. American born and was killed by a drone strike. Numerous contacts within federal government as a “go to” speaker on “Muslim Issues”. Worked with terrorist groups since mid 1990’s. Known for running violently run mosques across the U.S. His phone number was found in the “Hamburg Cell” apartment in Germany after 9/11 attacks. Gave speech for Plainfield, IN based ISNA six weeks before 9/11 attack. Department of Defense hired him to give “Muslim” talk for private group at Pentagon two months after 9/11. FBI was tracking him during this time.



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