|Ramzi bin al-Shibh|
|Born||1 May 1972|
Ghayl Bawazir, South Yemen
|Detained at||CIA black sites, Guantanamo|
|Charge(s)||Charged before a military commission in 2008; trial started in October 2012|
Ramzi bin al-Shibh
|Other names||Abu Ubaidah|
|Service/|| Al-Qaeda central |
|Years of service||1990s–2002|
|Rank||AQ officer and communicator Afghan civil war|
Ramzi Mohammed Abdullah bin al-Shibh (Arabic: رمزي محمد عبد الله بن الشيبة, romanized: Ramzī Muḥammad Abd Allāh bin al-Shībh; born 1 May 1972) is a Yemeni citizen currently being held by the U.S. as an enemy combatant detainee at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He is accused of being a "key facilitator for the September 11 attacks" in 2001 in the United States.
In the mid-1990s, bin al-Shibh moved as a student to Hamburg, Germany, where he allegedly became close friends with Mohamed Atta, Ziad Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi. Together, they are suspected of forming the Hamburg cell and becoming central perpetrators of the September 11 attacks. He was the only one of the four who failed to obtain a U.S. visa; he is accused of acting as an intermediary for the hijackers in the United States, by wiring money and passing on information from key al-Qaeda figures. After the attacks, bin al-Shibh was the first to be publicly identified by the U.S. as the "20th hijacker", for whom there have been several more possible candidates.
Bin al-Shibh has been in United States custody since he was captured on 11 September 2002, in Karachi, Pakistan. He was held by the CIA in black sites in Morocco before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2006. Finally charged in 2008 before a military commission, he and several others suspected in the 9/11 attacks went to trial beginning in May 2012. In August 2023 a U.S. military judge ruled him too psychologically damaged to defend himself after CIA torture.
Ramzi bin al-Shibh was born 1 May 1972 in Hadhramaut province in Yemen. When he was young, his family moved to a working-class neighborhood in the capital, Sana'a. In 1987, his father died. He was cared for by his older brother, Ahmed, and his mother.
Bin al-Shibh applied for a U.S. visa in 1995, but his request was denied. He instead went to Germany, where he requested political asylum, claiming that he was a political refugee from Sudan. He lived in Hamburg until 1997, when a judge refused his asylum request.
Bin al-Shibh returned to the Hadramaut region of Yemen. A short while later he received a German visa under his real name. While he was in Germany, bin al-Shibh used the name Ramzi Omar. In 1997, bin al-Shibh met Mohamed Atta at a mosque; he was the leader of the Hamburg cell. For two years, Atta and bin al-Shibh were roommates in Germany.
Al Qaeda training
Attempts to come to the United States
Original plans for the 9/11 attacks called for bin al-Shibh to be one of the hijacker pilots, along with three other members of the Hamburg cell, including Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah. From Hamburg, bin al-Shibh applied to take flight training in the United States. At that time, he also applied to Aviation Language Services, which provides language training for student pilots. Bin al-Shibh applied four times for an entry visa to the United States and was refused each time. He made visa applications in Germany on May 17, 2000, and again in June, on September 16, and October 25, 2000.
According to the 9/11 Commission, this refusal of a visa was motivated by general concern by U.S. officials at the time that people from Yemen, which was struggling economically, would illegally overstay their visit and seek work in the United States. His friend, Zakariyah Essabar, was also denied visas. After failing to gain a visa to enter the United States, bin al-Shibh took on a "coordinator" role in the plot, serving as a link between Atta in the United States and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Afghanistan.
Connections to 9/11 attacks
According to the Al Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda's documentary, Top Secret: The Road to September 11, three weeks prior to the attacks, Saeed al-Ghamdi is believed to have used the name "Abdul Rahman" to message bin al-Shibh online (who was posing as a girlfriend), writing:
The first semester commences in three weeks. Two high schools and two universities. ... This summer will surely be hot ...19 certificates for private education and four exams. Regards to the professor. Goodbye.
This was said to be a reference to two military/governmental targets and two civilian targets, 19 hijackers and 4 hijacked planes.
Bin al-Shibh later said that Mohamed Atta had phoned him on the morning of August 29.
He said, 'A friend of mine gave me a puzzle and I want you to help me out.' I said to him, 'Is this the time for puzzles, Mohamed?' He said, 'Yes, I know, but no one else but you could help me.' He said, 'Two sticks, a dash and cake with a stick down. What is it?' I said, 'Did you wake me up just to tell me this?' As it turns out, two sticks is the number 11. A dash is a dash. And cake with a stick down is the number nine. And that was September 11.
In August 2001, bin al-Shibh sent approximately $14,000 to Zacarias Moussaoui, using the alias Ahad Sabet, a few days after receiving transfer of $15,000 from Hashim Abdulrahman in the United Arab Emirates.
Bin al-Shibh was the first to be publicly identified by the United States as the "20th hijacker," someone who was thought to have been tasked to fill out the single missing slot among the four terrorist five-person teams. This spot was never filled. United Airlines Flight 93 had four hijackers, not five, which is believed in part to have led to the success of the passenger revolt — the crash of the plane near Shanksville, Pennsylvania was likely caused by the passengers.
After 14 January 2002, bin al-Shibh was featured among five suspected al-Qaeda members on videos delivering what United States Attorney General John Ashcroft described as "martyrdom messages from suicide terrorists." NBC News said that the five videos had been recorded after the September 11 attacks.
Ashcroft said the five videotapes, shown by the FBI without sound, had been recovered from the rubble of the home of Mohammad Atef outside Kabul, Afghanistan. Ashcroft called upon people worldwide to help "identify, locate and incapacitate terrorists who are suspected of planning additional attacks against innocent civilians." The sound was left out to guard against the possibility that the messages contained signals for other terrorists. Ashcroft added that an analysis of the audio suggested "the men may be trained and prepared to commit future suicide terrorist acts." Ashcroft said not much was known about any of them except bin al-Shibh. The other three are still featured in compiled video clips, in order of appearance, Muhammad Sa'id Ali Hasan, Abd al-Rahim, and Khalid Ibn Muhammad al-Juhani. The fifth was identified a week later as Abderraouf Jdey, alias Al-Rauf bin al-Habib bin Yousef al-Jiddi.
On 8 September 2006, al-Qaeda released a video that shows Osama bin Laden and some of the 9/11 hijackers. The tape identifies bin al-Shibh as the "coordinator of the 9/11 attacks" in its English subtitles. The video shows bin al-Shibh and other hijackers training in kickboxing, as well as disarming and concealing weapons at a terrorist training camp in or near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
FBI Most Wanted Terrorist List
On 17 January 2002, the FBI published the first Most Wanted Terrorists Seeking Information list (now known as the FBI Seeking Information – Terrorism list). They identified the five wanted terrorists, about whom little was known but who were suspected of plotting additional terrorist attacks in martyrdom operations. (see current version displaying photos of five terrorists on the remaining martyrdom videos FBI list, as of June 2006) Ramzi bin al-Shibh was one of the four men among the five whose names were known.
Capture and detention
Bin al-Shibh was captured in Pakistan on September 11, 2002, after a gun battle in Karachi with the Pakistani ISI and the CIA's Special Activities Division. On September 14, 2002, he was transferred to the United States. CIA officers transported him by extraordinary rendition to a secret black site in Morocco for interrogation. The CIA admitted in August 2010 that it has video tapes of these interrogations.
His profile was removed from the FBI Seeking Information wanted list by October 17, 2002. Bin al-Shibh was held by the U.S. at an undisclosed CIA-led location until September 2006. On September 6, 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush announced that bin al-Shibh and thirteen other CIA-held, high-value detainees had been transferred to Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
Bin al-Shibh is also wanted by German courts; he had shared a Hamburg apartment with Mohamed Atta, the suspected ringleader of the September 11 hijackers. In 2005, the USA denied a German request for bin al-Shibh's extradition. In an earlier extradition and trial, Abdelghani Mzoudi, a 9/11 suspect, was acquitted of German charges.
Combatant Status Review Tribunal
A three-page-long Summary of Evidence memo was prepared for Ramzi bin al-Shibh on 8 February 2007, for a Combatant Status Review Tribunal. The transcript of his hearing was eight pages long. It said that he chose not to attend his Tribunal, held March 9, 2007. The first two pages of the transcript were consumed with the Tribunal's officers swearing oaths, and the reading out of the Tribunal mandate and authority.
Personal Representative interviews with the captive
The Tribunal's President called on the captive's Personal Representative to explain his efforts to explain the captive's right to be present at his Tribunal.
|9 February 2007||
|13 February 2007||
|16 February 2007||
|5 March 2007||
The allegations prepared for the first 558 captives whose status was examined by Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT), between August 2004 and January 2005, were broken into two sections: those that established a connection to terrorism, and those that established hostile activity. The allegations were numbered, and were generally only one or two sentences in length.
The allegations against Ramzi bin al-Shibh are as follows:
On the morning of 11 September 2001, four airliners traveling over the United States were hijacked. The flights hijacked were: American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77, and United Airlines Flight 93. At approximately 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, resulting in the collapse of the tower at approximately 10:25 a.m. At approximately 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, resulting in the collapse of the tower at approximately 9:55 a.m. At approximately 9:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the southwest side of the Pentagon in Arlington Virginia. At approximately 10:03 a.m. United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Stoney Creek Township Pennsylvania. These crashed and subsequent damage to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon resulted in the deaths of 2972 persons in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
According to court transcripts and evidence from United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui, the detainee was closely associated with three of the hijackers responsible for the "9/11" attacks, Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, while they lived in Hamburg during the late 1990s and early 2000. The detainee, Atta and Shehhi are known to have lived at or frequented a particular address during the same time period, 54 Marienstrasse, Hamburg, Germany 21073.
Airline and immigration records indicate that, from November 1999 through February 2000, the detainee, Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah all traveled from Germany to Pakistan.
Sayf al-Adl is a senior al Qaeda military commander with a long-term relationship with Usama bin Laden; Sayf al-Adl's role in the organization has been as a trainer, military leader, and key member of Usama bin Laden's security detail.
The diary of Sayf al-Adl was recovered during a raid in Saudi Arabia in 2004. The diary details the detainee's involvement in the 11 September 2001 terrorist plot and subsequent attack. The detainee is listed as a "highly professional jihadist" along with "9/11 hijackers", Mohamed Atta and Ziad Jarrah. The diary states that the three were briefed on an operation involving aircraft by Abu Hafs, a senior al Qaida planner. The detainee, Mohamed Atta, and Ziad Jarrah subsequently met with Usama bin Laden about the plan. Following the meeting, al Qaida began arrangements for the detainee, Mohamed Atta and Ziad Jarrah to receive pilot training. The detainee handled administrative details for the "9/11 hijackers" while they were in the United States, and the detainee served as an al Qaida Europe-based liaison.
The detainee was identified in a video tape of potential suicide operatives.
The detainee attempted to obtain a United States visa on four occasions from May 2000 to November 2000 for the purpose of attending flight school in the United States. Each application was rejected by [sic] United States Department of State.
The detainee attempted to enroll in the Florida Flight Training School, where 9/11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah was a student. The detainee put down a 2,350 United States dollars [sic] deposit for flight training.
Ziad Jarrah repeatedly attempted to assist the detainee's travel to the United States and enrollment in the Florida flight-training center.
The detainee attempted to enroll at the [sic] Florida-based aviation language school.
in June 2002, the detainee was personally interviewed by Yosri Fouda, an investigative journalist for Al-Jazeera television. The interview took place over the course of 48 hours in Karachi, Pakistan. Also present at the meeting was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a senior al Qaida planner. Fouda conducted the interview in person with both the detainee and KSM. The detainee and KSM detailed how the 9/11 attacks were planned and executed during the course of the interview. KSM identified the detainee as the coordinator of the 9/11 attacks. The detainee displayed items he claimed were "souvenirs" of the 9/11 attacks. The items included: an air navigation map of the American eastern seaboard, flight simulator CD-Roms and Boeing manuals and a flight instruction book the detainee claimed had 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta's handwritten notes. The detainee stated Mohamed Atta left them in the Hamburg, Germany, apartment he shared with the detainee. The detainee stated that he later met with Atta in July, 2001 in Madrid, Spain, to finalize the operational details of the 9/11 plot. The detainee stated he received a phone call on 29 August 2001 from Atta that gave the date for the 9/11 attacks. After learning this, the detainee ordered active al Qaida cells in Europe and elsewhere to evacuate and then he fled to Pakistan.
An unsigned letter found at the detainee's point of capture, and addressed to the detainee, asks follow on questions related to the detainee's Al-Jazeera interview detailing the 9/11 attacks.
An article from the London Sunday Times published on 8 September 2002 listed excerpts from a 112-page document entitled "The Reality of the New Crusaders' War". The detainee passed the document to Al-Jazeera Yosri Fouda with a request for the document to be translated into English and entered into the Library of Congress. According to the London Sunday Times the document is al Qaida's written attempt to justify the 9/11 attacks through Islamic teaching.
The London Sunday Times article published on 8 September 2002 listed excerpts from "The Reality of the New Crusaders' War" which contained statements from Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and Usama bin Laden which encourages jihad in service of the ousted Taliban regime.
The detainee was captured in a safe house. Items also recovered at the safe house at the time of the detainee's capture were high explosives, sheet explosives, a large quantity of improvised detonation devices, passports for Usama bin Laden's family members, a handwritten note to a senior al Qaida operative, identification cards for a senior al Qaida operative, identification cards for Ahmed al-Haznawi, a 9/11 hijacker, and contact information for several known al Qaida operatives.
Documents captured in a raid of a separate al Qaida safe house were identical to documents captured along with the detainee. The documents included training manuals, security information and combat related subjects.
Letters and personal effect of a senior al Qaida operative were discovered in the safe house where the detainee was arrested.
Letters found at the detainee's point of capture detailed a plan to egress Pakistan with forged identification. This plan was in conjunction with a senior al Qaida operative.
A letter captured on an al Qaida courier detailed a senior al Qaida operative's instructions to the detainee to identify operatives to send to the United States or United Kingdom.
The detainee wired approximately 15,000 United States dollars to Zacharias Moussaoui while Moussaoui was enrolled in pilot training.
The Department of Defense announced on August 9, 2007 that all fourteen of the "high-value detainees" who had been transferred to Guantanamo from the CIA's black sites, had been officially classified as "enemy combatants". Although judges Peter Brownback and Keith J. Allred had ruled two months earlier that only "illegal enemy combatants" could face military commissions, the Department of Defense waived the qualifier and said that all fourteen men could now face charges before Guantanamo military commissions.
On 12 June 2008, the United States Supreme Court ruled, in Boumediene v. Bush (2008), that detainees had the right to access the federal court system in habeas challenges to their detention. It ruled that the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which had restricted their exercise of habeas corpus outside the military commission system, was unconstitutional in this respect. The first 22 captives who had pending habeas petitions in 2006 when the Act was passed, were allowed to re-initiate their petitions in August 2008.
Guantanamo military commission
Bin al-Shibh and four other captives classified as high value detainees (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, Ammar al-Baluchi and Walid Bin Attash) were charged in Guantanamo military commissions in Spring 2008. The men triggered controversy when they announced that they did not want US-appointed attorneys and they planned to boycott their commissions. The military commissions, as authorized by President George W. Bush, did not permit suspects to forgo legal representation, to act as their own attorneys, or to boycott their commissions. The commissions authorized by the Military Commissions Act of 2006, did authorize suspects to serve as their own attorneys.
The other four men eventually agreed to attend their commissions. Bin al-Shibh, however, has continued to refuse to attend. His appointed attorneys had expressed concern about him and his state of mental health. The top-secret location of Camp 7, where the high-value detainees are held, had been off limits to military attorneys. The individual detainees are hooded when they travel from the camp to their commission hearings.
Suzanne Lachelier, one of the attorneys and a reserve officer in the Judge Advocate General Corps, offered to wear a hood, in order to be taken to him when the camp authorities initially refused her examination of the prison. She finally gained approval from the military commission judge to see the prison in the autumn of 2008. To get to the prison, Lachelier and her co-counsel, Rich Federico, were taken in a windowless van that was used to transport detainees. They were the first defense lawyers to visit Camp 7.
The judge presiding over the commission's pre-trial motions ordered bin al-Shibh and Mustafa al-Hawsawi to undergo mental competency hearings. On December 8, 2008, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told the judge that he, along with the other four men who had been indicted, wished to confess and plead guilty; however, they wished to delay their plea until after the competency hearings of bin al-Shibh and Hawsawi, because all five men wanted to make their pleas together.
On 17 May 2010, Saba News reported that Ramzi Al-Shaibah, and four other Yemenis would face charges in the summer of 2010. Two other Yemenis to face charges were: Walid Bin Atash and Abdul Rahim Al-Nasheri. Saba News did not name the fourth and fifth individuals.
In 2011, the lawyers of Bin al-Shibh argued that he may be unfit to stand trial and participate in his own defense. They have asked that the proceedings against him and his four co-accused be stayed until his mental state is determined. They say he has been prescribed psychotropic drugs of the sort that are used to treat schizophrenia. Bin al-Shibh claims that he is mentally fit, has denounced his lawyers, and says that he wants to represent himself before the commissions.
In October 2012, the US began the trials of al-Shibh and the other four 9/11 defendants.
On 31 January 2014, Carol Rosenberg, reporting in the Miami Herald, wrote that Pohl had to delay al-Shibh's trial again, because the panel of three military psychiatrists who tried to determine whether he was mentally competent to stand trial had not been able to reach a conclusion. Al-Shibh had not been prepared to answer the doctor's questions.
On 24 August 2023 Al-Shibh was declared unfit to stand trial by a US tribunal due to his mental state, after lawyers argued 'CIA torture made him delusional and psychotic'.
- "9/11 Commission Report, Chapter 5". National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. 2004.
- JTF GTMO Detainee Profile Department of Defense
- Indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui, with supporting conspirators, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Mustafa al-Hawsawi. Filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
- "Detainee Biographies" (PDF). Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 1, 2009. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
- He was captured after a gun battle in Karachi with the Pakistani ISI and the CIA's Special Activities Division a year after the attacks.
- Rosenberg, Carol (August 25, 2023). "Man Accused in 9/11 Plot Is Not Fit to Face Trial, Board Says". The New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2023.
- McDermott, Terry (2005). Perfect Soldiers. Harper. p. 39.
- McDermott, Terry (2005). Perfect Soldiers. Harper. p. 41.
- McDermott, Terry (2005). Perfect Soldiers. Harper. p. 42.
- "Ramzi Binalshibh: al-Qaeda suspect". BBC. September 14, 2002.
- McDermott, Terry (2005). Perfect Soldiers. Harper. ISBN 9780060584702.
- Zacarias Moussauoi v. the United States, trial testimony on March 7, 2006.
- Indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui, with supporting conspirators, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Mustafa al-Hawsawi. Filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
- "Al-Jazeera reporter speaks on terrorist plans". Lateline / ABC (Australia). September 30, 2002. Archived from the original on November 12, 2007. Retrieved March 25, 2007.
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They depict, the videotapes depict young men delivering what appear to be martyrdom messages from suicide terrorists.
- Popkin, Jim (October 2, 2006). "Video showing Atta, bin Laden is unearthed". NBC News. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
- FBI Seeking Information - War on Terrorism, Martyrdom Messages/video Seeking Information Alert Archived August 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, VIDEO 2 minutes 11 seconds, mpg (29.1 mb)
- FBI Seeking Information - War on Terrorism, Martyrdom Messages/video Seeking Information Alert, VIDEO 2 minutes 11 seconds, rm (229 kb - stream)
- FBI Seeking Information - War on Terrorism, Martyrdom Messages/video Seeking Information Alert Archived August 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, VIDEO 2 minutes 11 seconds, asf (371 kb - stream)
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- Martyrdom Messages/video, Seeking Information Alert Archived August 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine video clips published by the FBI January 17, 2002, and photos of remaining 5 terrorists, FBI archival after September 2002
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- "Binalshibh to go to third country for questioning". CNN. September 17, 2002.
- FBI Seeking Information archive, Internet Archive Wayback Machine, October 17, 2002
- Margot Williams (November 3, 2008). "Guantanamo Docket: Ramzi Bin al Shibh". New York Times.
- "Verbatim Transcript of Open Session CSRT Hearing for ISN 10013" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. March 9, 2007. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
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- Sergeant Sara Wood (June 4, 2007). "Charges Dismissed Against Canadian at Guantanamo". Department of Defense. Retrieved June 7, 2007.
- Sergeant (June 4, 2007). "Judge Dismisses Charges Against Second Guantanamo Detainee". Department of Defense. Retrieved June 7, 2007.
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"U.S. to try five Yemeni Gitmo detainees". Saba News. May 17, 2010. Archived from the original on May 18, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
The U.S. will start in this summer trying five Yemeni detainees at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay in Cuba including Ramzi Al-Shaibah, Walid Bin Atash and Abdul Rahim Al-Nasheri, the September 26 website has reported.
- "Ramzi bin al-Shibh", Human Rights Watch, 31 May 2011
- Carol Rosenberg (January 31, 2014). "Alleged 9/11 conspirator stymies mental-health board". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014.
A military mental health board has told the 9/11 trial judge that it couldn't evaluate the competency of an accused Sept. 11 plotter, two defense lawyers said Friday, casting doubt on resumption of hearings next month at Guantánamo.
- "Pentagon charges 6 in 9-11 attacks: Death penalty will be sought against alleged mastermind, others". NBC News. February 11, 2008. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
Ramzi Binalshibh, said to have been the main intermediary between the hijackers and leaders of al-Qaida
- Josh White; Dan Eggen; Joby Warrick (February 11, 2008). "'Clean team' interrogated 9-11 suspects: Agency tried non-coercive techniques to protect case against six detainees". MSNBC. Archived from the original on February 13, 2008. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
FBI and military interrogators who began work with the suspects in late 2006 called themselves the "Clean Team," and set as their goal collecting of virtually the same information the CIA had obtained from five of the six through duress at secret prisons.
- Shane, Scott (June 22, 2008). "Inside a 9/11 Mastermind's Interrogation". New York Times. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved June 23, 2008.