Abdulaziz al-Omari still alive?
On the 14th September 2001, the FBI named "Abdulaziz Alomari" as a suspect in the hijacking of American Airlines. They included very brief details about him, but no photograph as of yet:
However, within a few days there were questions about this identification, which even today are used as evidence that al-Omari is "still alive". One commonly quoted story comes from the BBC, released on September 23rd:
Two people claiming to be al-Omari proves only that there was confusion over names. At least one of them must be wrong: why not both? To demonstrate the point, the BBC use a photo that's clearly of a different individual.
A 9-11 Commission document included further pictures of the Denver student al-Omari, again confirming he's a different person.
There is more to the story, however. Here's an interview the "still alive" al-Omari conducted with UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph:
This is more useful, as he says the FBI provided both his name and birth date. Could this just be coincidence? Possibly, although as we've seen, the FBI did provide two birth dates in their first hijacker list. The other information provided suggests his birth date is most likely to be December 24, 1972, making him 20 when he first arrived at Denver University.
The problem with this is that the FBI-named Abdulaziz al-Omari always seems to use the later 1979 birth date. Here's his visa application as published in National Review, for instance.
A document released to the Moussaoui trial additionally says al-Omari supported his application using Saudi Arabia passport #C165015, including a birth date of 28th May 1979. (Source)
We've yet to discover any document where the FBI al-Omari has used the 1972 birth date, in fact. Which probably isn't surprising, because although looks can be deceiving, we'd say he appears more likely to be 22 than 28.
What seems to have happened here is that Abdulaziz al-Omari appeared on the Flight 11 manifest as Abdulrahman al-Omari (Abdulrahman being one of his names). The FBI have worked back through public and immigration records, looking for Abdulrahman al-Omari's, and highlighting any that might be of interest: people who left or arrived in the US at certain times, had travelled to particular places according to passport records, were associated with individuals known to the FBI, whatever it might be. In doing this they've uncovered one individual, the alleged hijacker, with his 1979 birth date. They've also pulled out another individual with a 1972 birth date, and both dates made it into the September 14th lists. He has come forward to say he wasn't involved, and that helps to make the picture clearer, but it doesn't demonstrate that there wasn't a real, younger al-Omari on Flight 11 that day.
"Just speculation"? Far from it. Here's a quote taken from a story run only five days afer the attacks:
The issue of mistaken identity was conceded long, long ago.
By way of confirmation, a Saudi Information Agency report offered a background on an "AbdulAziz AbdulRahman AlOmari" who they say had traveled to Afghanistan, fought with the Taliban, and was involved in the attacks:
Meanwhile Abdulrahman al-Omari, the pilot, came forward after a photo of him was shown on CNN. As you can see, he bears no resemblance to the alleged hijacker as shown in the September 27th FBI photo list.
We ran a background check on the name, which associated him with the following addresses:
The man who lived here was linked to Saudi Airlines, then. But he wasn't Abdulaziz al-Omari, who isn't recorded as living at those addresses, and was not a pilot. These are clearly two different men.
Look at the details of this story, then, and they don’t come close to proving that the al-Omari named by the FBI is still alive. And final confirmation arrived in 2002. First, when Saudi Arabia finally accepted that the named suspects were actually involved.
And second, when Al Jazeera played an al-Qaeda tape showing some of the hijackers, including al-Omari, who threatened the US and praised bin Laden.