Khalid al-Mihdhar (May 16, 1975 - September 11, 2001) was one of 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 in the Bosnian War during 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, 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 2001, before arriving in the Washington, D.C. area at the beginning of September 2001.
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.
On September 10, 2001, Mihdhar and the other hijackers checked into the Marriott Residence Inn in Herndon, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport. Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen, a prominent Saudi government official, was staying at the same hotel that night, although there is no evidence that they met or knew of each other's presence.
At 06:22 on September 11, 2001, the group checked out of the hotel and headed to Dulles airport. At 07:15, Mihdhar and Moqed checked in at the American Airlines ticket counter and arrived at the passenger security checkpoint at 07:20. Both men set off the metal detector and were put through secondary screening. Security video footage later released shows that Moqed was wanded, but the screener did not identify what set off the alarm, and both Moqed and Mihdhar were able to proceed without further hindrance. Mihdhar was also selected by the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS), which involved extra screening of his luggage; however, because Mihdhar did not check any luggage, this had no effect. By 07:50, Mihdhar and the other hijackers, carrying knives and box cutters, had made it through the airport security checkpoint and boarded Flight 77 to Los Angeles. Mihdhar was seated in seat 12B, next to Moqed.
The flight was scheduled to depart from Gate D26 at 08:10 but was delayed by 10 minutes. The last routine radio communication from the plane to air traffic control occurred at 08:50:51. At 08:54, Flight 77 deviated from its assigned flight path and began to turn south, at which point the hijackers set the flight's autopilot setting for Washington, D.C. Passenger Barbara Olson called her husband, United States Solicitor General Ted Olson, and reported that the plane had been hijacked. At 09:37:45, Flight 77 crashed into the west facade of the Pentagon, killing all 64 people aboard, along with 125 in the Pentagon. In the recovery process, remains of the five hijackers were identified through process of elimination, since their DNA did not match any from the victims, and put into the custody of the FBI.