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Context of 'Spring 2000: Al-Qaeda Recruits Future 9/11 Hijackers in Saudi Arabia'

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Abdulaziz Alomari, from a video apparently made in spring 2001.Abdulaziz Alomari, from a video apparently made in spring 2001. [Source: As Sahab]Two of the alleged 9/11 hijackers, Abdulaziz Alomari and Ahmed Alnami, are apparently radicalized by the education system in Saudi Arabia. Abdulaziz Alomari is an Islamic law graduate (see Late 1990s) and serves as a prayer leader at his mosque. At university in Qassim Province, he studies under radical cleric Sulayman al-Alwan. The 9/11 Commission will say that al-Alwan’s mosque is “known among moderate clerics as a ‘terrorist factory.’ The Province is at the very heart of the strict Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia.” Al-Alwan is reportedly spiritual advisor to al-Qaeda logistics manager Abu Zubaida and is in telephone contact with Hamed al-Sulami, an associate of Hani Hanjour (see July 10, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 232-3, 521] Ahmed Alnami leads a carefree life until 1999, but then becomes more pious after returning from a Saudi-government sponsored training camp, growing a beard and shunning his old friends. He reportedly sings the call to prayer at the al-Basra mosque in the city of Abha and, occasionally, another mosque in Khamis Mushayt, a nearby town where some of the other hijackers live. [Arab News, 9/19/2001; Arab News, 9/20/2001; Boston Globe, 3/3/2002] He is also reported to be a prayer leader in Abha. [Washington Post, 9/25/2001; Independent, 9/27/2001; Saudi Information Agency, 9/11/2002] However, after 9/11 his father will say that he “practiced religion like most of us do.” [ABC News, 3/15/2002]

Entity Tags: Abdulaziz Alomari, Ahmed Alnami

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Abdulaziz Alomari attended a “terrorist factory” in Saudi Arabia.Abdulaziz Alomari attended a “terrorist factory” in Saudi Arabia. [Source: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division]After 9/11, US investigators will find evidence that there is an active branch of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, and will believe it recruits most of the Saudi hijackers there. [Washington Post, 10/17/2001] The 9/11 Commission will comment: “Like many other al-Qaeda operatives, the Saudis who eventually became the muscle hijackers were targeted for recruitment outside Afghanistan—probably in Saudi Arabia itself. Al-Qaeda recruiters, certain clerics, and—in a few cases—family members probably all played a role in spotting potential candidates. Several of the muscle hijackers seem to have been recruited through contacts at local universities and mosques. According to the head of one of the training camps in Afghanistan, some were chosen by unnamed Saudi Sheikhs who had contacts with al-Qaeda. Abdulaziz Alomari, for example, is believed to have been a student of radical Saudi cleric Sulayman al-Alwan. His mosque, which is located in al Qassim Province, is known among the more moderate clerics as a ‘terrorist factory.’ The province is at the very heart of the strict Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 232-3] Dr. Ali al-Mosa, a Saudi academic from Asir Province, will later say that a cleric known as Sheikh al-Hawashi, who runs a mosque in Khamis Mushayt, is also instrumental in recruiting the hijackers: “Sheikh al-Hawashi was the evil father of the whole thing here. He was the one behind it all and he is still there—he knew five of the kids and he was praying with them.” When Asir is visited by Australian journalist Paul McGeough in 2002, Sheikh al-Hawashi will still be preaching and Dr. al-Mosa will comment: “He has been here for 25 years and he’s very popular.” [Sydney Morning Herald, 10/5/2002]

Entity Tags: Paul McGeough, Sheikh al-Hawashi, Sulayman al-Alwan, Ali al-Mosa, Abdulaziz Alomari

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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