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Hani Hanjour

Hani Hanjour (August 13, 1972 - September 11, 2001) was the Saudi Arabian hijacker-pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, crashing the plane into the Pentagon as part of the September 11 attacks.

Hanjour first came to the United States in 1991, enrolling at the University of Arizona, where he studied English for a few months before returning to Saudi Arabia early the next year.[citation needed] This was prior to any intentions for a large-scale attack.[citation needed] He came back to the United States in 1996, studying English in California before he began taking flying lessons in Arizona. He received his commercial pilot certificate in 1999, and went back to his native Saudi Arabia to find a job as a commercial pilot. Hanjour applied to civil aviation school in Jeddah, but was turned down. Frustrated, his views of Islam became increasingly radical. Hanjour left his family in late 1999, telling them that he would be traveling to the United Arab Emirates to find work. According to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Osama bin Laden or Mohammed Atef identified Hanjour at an Afghanistan training camp as a trained pilot and selected him to participate in the September 11 attacks.

Hanjour arrived back in the United States in December 2000. He joined up with Nawaf al-Hazmi in San Diego, and they immediately left for Arizona where Hanjour took refresher pilot training. In April 2001, they relocated to Falls Church, Virginia and then Paterson, New Jersey in late May where Hanjour took additional flight training.

Hanjour returned to the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area on September 2, 2001, checking into a motel in Laurel, Maryland. On September 11, 2001, Hanjour boarded American Airlines Flight 77, took control of the aircraft after his team of hijackers helped subdue the pilots, passengers, and crew, and flew the plane into the Pentagon as part of the September 11 attacks. The crash killed all 64 passengers on board the aircraft and 125 people in the Pentagon.

Attacks

On September 11, 2001, Hani Hanjour arrived at the passenger security checkpoint at 7:35 am, en route to board American Airlines Flight 77. Some earlier reports stated he may not have had a ticket or appeared on any manifest, however he was documented by the 9/11 Commission as having been assigned to seat 1B in first class, and reported to have bought a single first-class ticket from Advance Travel Service in Totowa, N.J. In the security tape footage released in 2004, Hanjour appears to walk through the metal detector without setting it off.

The flight was scheduled to depart at 8:10, but ended up departing 10 minutes late from Gate D26 at Dulles. The last normal radio communications from the aircraft to air traffic control occurred at 08:50:51. At 08:54, Flight 77 began to deviate from its normal, assigned flight path and turned south, and then hijackers set the flight's autopilot heading for Washington, D.C. Passenger Barbara Olson called her husband, United States Solicitor General Ted Olson, and reported that the plane had been hijacked and that the assailants had box cutters and knives. Using the flight intercom, Hanjour announced the flight was hijacked. As Flight 77 was 5 miles (8.0 km) west-southeast of the Pentagon, it made a 330-degree turn. At the end of the turn, it was descending through 2,200 feet (670 m), pointed toward the Pentagon and downtown Washington. Hanjour advanced the throttles to maximum power and dove towards the Pentagon at a speed of over 850 km/h. At 09:37:46, Hanjour crashed the Boeing 757 into the west facade of the Pentagon, killing all 64 aboard (including the hijackers), along with 125 on the ground in the Pentagon. While level above the ground and seconds from the crash, the airplane's wings knocked over light poles and its right engine smashed into a power generator, creating a smoke trail seconds before smashing into the Pentagon. In the recovery process at the Pentagon, remains of all five Flight 77 hijackers were identified through a process of elimination, as not matching any DNA samples for the victims, and put into custody of the FBI.

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