No hijackers on the passenger manifests

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The FBI told us that the 9/11 flights were taken over by 19 hijackers, each group having a replacement pilot, who then aimed to fly their plane into a given target. But one common objection to this is that the hijackers didn't appear on the passenger manifests for those flights, and therefore weren't on the planes at all. There are several arguments put forward to support this, and we'll examine the main ones here.

The CNN passenger lists

Soon after 9/11 CNN published lists of the passengers on each of the 9/11 flights. David Ray Griffin comments on them here:

The problem here is that the CNN lists were not a manifest. The can be seen from the URL used by Dr Griffin, which tells us it's a "victims" list (that URL is now dead, web archive version here). Is it really surprising that suspected hijackers wouldn't be included? We'd say not, and a moment spent at the CNN site confirms this as true. Visit the main Memorial page, click "about this site", and on 11th July 2007 we read this text:

So "those identified by federal authorities as the hijackers are not included". Note also that the list came from press reports, not directly from the airlines. This is not an official manifest.

Partial lists

When pointing out the unofficial nature of the CNN list we've frequently been asked how this came about. Why did CNN have to cobble together a list in this way, rather than get the details direct from the airlines?

Of course this is just an attempt to shift the goalposts. The reality is that the CNN lists are not official manifests, as claimed by Dr Griffin and many others, and so cannot be used to support the "no hijackers on the manifests" claims. Our ability to explain this (or not) doesn't affect that point.

Still, look at what the airlines say and there’s an obvious answer. Here's a UAL press release:

And this is what American Airlines had to say:

It seems that both airlines were contacting the families of people on their flights, and not releasing names of passengers until the families gave permission. This might be quickly given for their own staff and passengers who were US citizens, for instance, but locating the family of alleged Flight 175 pilot Marwan al-Shehhi, for instance, wasn't going to be nearly as easy. Not least because the hijackers seemed to use each others details as contact numbers and addresses, meaning these couldn't be used to get in touch with relatives. And so the hijackers were always less likely to appear in the early lists.

Boston Globe list

It's rarely mentioned by 9/11 truthers, but one newspaper did obtain and reproduce what they said was the manifest of Flight 11.

Text of that Boston Globe article here.

And here is that manifest, which does indeed show the hijackers:

Flight 11 Manifest.gif

The only issue we noticed here is the image refers to Abdulraham Alomari, rather than Abdulaziz. However we discovered an article showing this as a middle name, so perhaps that's where the confusion has arisen.

Terry McDermott

The Boston Globe published the only complete manifest of which we're aware, however journalist and author Terry McDermott reports that he obtained passenger lists from the FBI while researching a book, and they did contain the hijackers names. We obtained copies, and while the names are abbreviated, and 6 passenger names are curiously missing, all the hijackers appear to be included (see this page for more).

David Ray Griffin has commented on these documents:

So why didn't the FBI cite them as evidence? They already produced a Flash applet containing the full passenger lists. Where's the need for anything more? And does anyone really believe that if they did, those arguing this point would suddenly change their minds?

Why did the documents use Jarrah instead of Jarrahi? Dr Griffin is presumably referring to this Boston Globe comment:

But this is oddly qualified - "a possible misspelling" - and we were unable to find any other stories saying a Jarrahi was on the manifest. In fact a story a week earlier in the Boston Herald, said the precise opposite: that Jarrahi was the name given by the FBI, but Jarrah was how he appeared on the passenger list:


Two contradictory reports. On what basis can anyone choose the first, over the second?

Why the confusion, then? It's certainly true that the FBI used the name Jarrahi in their first hijacker list on September 14, but that doesn't mean it appeared on the manifest. The September 27th list described him like this:

The FBI found several possible spellings of his name. Who's to say they would definitely choose the manifest version in the list of the 14th? Perhaps they sourced the name from some other document. In any event, the press reports conflict here and do not clearly indicate that Jarrah appeared as Jarrahi on the manifest, therefore they cannot be used to invalidate Terry McDermott's passenger lists.

9-11 Commission records

The 2009 release of the 9/11 Commission records has so far produced the manifests for Flight 175 and Flight 93. These appear to be the same lists that Terry McDermott passed to us, only with the previously missing passengers included, and so that's a strong indication that his lists for Flight 11 and Flight 77 are also correct.

Both include the hijackers.

Moussaoui exhibits

A Moussaoui trial exhibit in the form of a Flash applet provided the passenger names and seats for all four flights. The source file is 27 MB in size, but we've taken screen grabs of the relevant sections here:

The names and seating positions match with the earlier documentation, and once again the hijackers are included.

Teresa E. Rizzuto

An FBI document found in the 9/11 Commission's files reports that "United Airlines General Manager of Customer Service Teresa A. Rizzuto" gave an FBI agent "Thirty-eight 38 airline boarding passes used by passengers to board United Airlines flight ninety-three 93 on 09/11/2001". The names on those boarding passes are listed, and they include the hijackers.

One of these, the boarding card of Ziad Jarrah, apparently emerged on a NARA blog:


Apparent photocopies/ faxes of the full set are available here.

Thomas Olmsted

The one remaining substantive objection to the hijackers actually being on the planes comes from Thomas Olmsted, "an ex Naval line officer and a psychiatrist in private practice in New Orleans". The first part of his article explains.

This article has been frequently quoted as evidence that the named hijackers were not on Flight 77, however closer examination shows it does nothing of the kind. The problems start with Olmsted's apparent assumption that his "autopsy list" is somehow equivalent to a passenger manifest, a complete list of everyone onboard. The cover letter Olmsted receives tells us exactly what it is: "the names of 58 victims of AA Flight 77 that were identified here at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology" (AFIP). That is all.

Olmsted foia.png

And of course once you read that sentence, it's also obvious that Olmsted's claim that "no Arabs wound up on the morgue slab" is also entirely unsupported. All the document tells us is that these are the people who were identified by the AFIP. It doesn't discuss people who were not identified, or might have been identified elsewhere. By way of an example, 2-year-old Dana Falkenberg is also not included on Olmsted's list. Does this show she wasn’t on the plane? No, just that no identifiable remains were recovered. Therefore the list is demonstrably incomplete, even without the issue of the hijackers.

What’s more, accounts elsewhere explain that the hijackers bodies were recovered, and provide details on why they weren’t on the list.

The bodies were identified through DNA samples, and only the passengers relatives came forward to provide them (at least, initially). Obviously, this means the list of people identified by this process will contain the passengers only, no hijackers, and there's nothing mysterious about that at all.

Olmsted's other issues are based mainly around online victim lists. He tells us that "there were no Arabic sounding names on any of the flight manifests of the planes that “crashed” on that day", for instance: this is true of the CNN victims list, but as we've seen, that's not a manifest and CNN said the alleged hijackers were left off. It also ignores the real manifest published by the Boston Globe that did include their names.

We're also told that "three ADDITIONAL people not listed by American Airlines sneaked in". All Olmsted does here is show that the CNN victim list contained some errors, something we knew already. His own list does not conflict with any aspect of the official account, and isn't in any sense evidence that the alleged hijackers weren't on board Flight 77.

David Ray Griffin

Dr Griffin has recently introduced further arguments in an article titled "Was America Attacked by Muslims on 9/11?"

Let's consider each of these in turn.

The CNN list

Robert Bonner, Dr Griffin points out, told the 9/11 Commission that he'd seen a list "that essentially identified the 19 probable hijackers" by 11:00 AM on 9/11. Dr Griffin questions this because "the initial FBI list, as reported by CNN on September 13 and 14, contained only 18 names.80 Why would that be if 19 men had already been identified on 9/11?".

But Dr Griffin has already answered this point in Bonner's quotes. He says the initial list identified "probable" hijackers only. Bonner tells us that "in fact, they turned out to be, based upon further follow-up in detailed investigation, to be the 19" - further investigations were carried out to determine how many hijackers there were, and so it's no surprise that an accurate figure couldn't be provided until these were complete. But when they were finished, on September 14th, a full list of 19 was released. There's no contradiction here, and no evidence that hijackers weren't on the manifests.

Names were replaced

Dr Griffin next tells us that hijacker names were "replaced" from the original list, and this means therefore that they cannot have been identified from the manifest:

The argument appears to run something like this. The FBI briefly investigated the Bukharis (for example), suspecting their involvement. This means the Bukhari's must have been on the manifest, nor Waleed and Wail al-Shehri. Therefore the claim that the hijackers had been correctly identified by 11:00 AM on 9/11 must be incorrect.

If we're reading that properly, then the flaw is obvious. The fact that the Bukharis were investigated doesn't mean their name appeared on the manifest. Why could they not have briefly considered the possibility that the passengers booked as Waleed and Wail al-Shehri were actually the Bukharis? The FBI couldn't immediately be sure that the names provided by the hijackers were their real ones, and so would follow whatever lines of enquiry that came up. It's no surprise that there were initial mistakes (in fact this supports the idea that it was a real investigation, rather than simply everyone following a preplanned script).

Further, we've already seen the manifest for Flight 11, as published in the Boston Globe. This was reportedly obtained on September 13th, while the Bukhari's were under investigation, yet as we can see they don't appear on the manifest, while Wail and Waleed al-Shehri do:

Flight 11 Manifest.gif

Dr Griffin's reasoning is no more convincing elsewhere. The "Mosear Caned" name come from "a list of the names of the 18 suspected hijackers" that they "managed to grab", for instance, then read out. It wasn't an official FBI release. And even if they considered a "Mosear Caned" as a possible suspect, that isn't evidence that the name appeared on a passenger manifest, and it does not contradict Robert Bonner's statement.

Publicly released manifests

Dr Griffin concludes with the old argument that "the passenger manifests that were released to the public included no names of any of the 19 alleged hijackers and, in fact, no Middle Eastern names whatsoever". He refers his readers to the CNN lists formerly at (link now dead, web archive version here), but as we've seen above, these are victims lists compiled from press reports. They are not official manifests, and CNN themselves say the suspected hijackers have been intentionally omitted: the absence of their names is evidence of CNN's editorial policy and nothing more.


The argument that there were no hijackers on the passenger manifests relies primarily on misrepresenting partial lists of victims as complete manifests, then, while ignoring the actual manifests that are out there (or just claiming that "they're all faked").

For example, the Boston Globe said they obtained manifests for Flight 11 and 175 within a few days of the attacks. Only one was published, but this did include the hijackers.

Subsequently passenger lists were passed to Terry McDermott. These contained some anomalies (missing passengers on the UAL flights) but the hijackers once again appeared.

The manifests were released publicly at the Moussaoui trials. These matched the previous copies, and included the hijackers.

The 2008 release of the 9/11 Commission records has produced their copies of two of the manifests, which again match previous versions, and have the hijackers present.

And we also have a record showing that "United Airlines General Manager of Customer Service Teresa A. Rizzuto" passed the Flight 93 boarding passes to the FBI. The list in the FBI report shows the hijackers present, as do copies of the passes themselves.

In reality, then, there's not a single manifest that excludes the hijackers. Not one. And we have real manifests and passenger lists from more than one source that do include the hijackers. It could be argued that the manifests were hacked, and names on a list don't really prove that those people got on the plane, but the idea that "the hijackers don't appear on the passenger manifests" simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny. They do: it's time to move on to more important arguments.