Ramzi Binalshibh

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Ramzi Binalshibh (1972-), also transliterated Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, a Yemeni, is a High Value Detainee at Guantanamo Bay detention camp, who was captured in Karachi, Pakistan on September 11, 2002. [1] On May 8, 2008, a U.S. Military Commission announced the government intended to try him, along with four other co-defendants, for charges related to the 9-11 attack.[2]


Born in Ghayl Bawazir, Yemen in 1972, and finding a religious identity at age 12, he fought in the Yemeni civil war in 1994. His family came from Amad, in Hamadraut Province, where bin Laden's father had grown up. He won a scholarship to a college in Bonn. [3]

He twice tried to emigrate to the U.S., and then went to Germany under an assumed name, claiming to be Sudanese, and requested political asylum, which was denied. (Among the names he has used are Abu Ubaydah, Umar Muhammad Abdallah Ba Amar, Ramzi Mohamed Abdellah Omar and Ahad Sabet.) Returning to Yemen, he obtained a student visa under his true name, and went back to Germany in 1997, meeting Mohammed Atta and other members of the Hamburg Cell there.

He was apparently radicalized there, when he began to speak of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. But he had a reputation of being outgoing and polite. [4] Through family connections, he arranged their travel to Afghanistan in 1999. They met bin Laden and pledged allegiance; he was designated as one of the suicide hijackers.


He interviewed potential members of the inner circle, including Shadi Adalla as a bodyguard.

Returning to Germany in early 2000, he was unable to obtain a visa to travel to the United States. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed named Binalshibh as his main assistant in the "Planes Operation" due to his knowledge of the details of the plot. Mohammed Atta, who flew the first hijacked aircraft, American Airlines Flight 11, was named as "emir" of the group and Nawafal Hazmi was selected as Atta's "deputy." Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gave Atta full authority to make operational decisions in the United States; Binalshibh was KSM's staff assistant.[2]

Before the attack, he was the primary communications intermediary between al-Qaeda leadership and the hijackers. In January and July 2001, he met with Atta in Europe for detailed briefings. In addition, he made travel plans and transferred funds for the hijackers and also for Zacharias Moussaoui.[5]

In August, Atta told him the attack date, which he gave to KSM, and, a week before the attack, left for Afghanistan, arriving several days after 9/11. When the U.S. defeated the Taliban in late 2001, he moved to Karachi to work with KSM.

At the time of his capture, he was primarily working on the Heathrow attacks and had recruited four Saudis.

Captivity and prosecution

After his capture, he was in Central Intelligence Agency custody at an undisclosed location, but eventually transferred to Guantanamo. He told the Red Cross that he had been transferred at least eight times, the second being in Afghanistan, and that he had been subjected to forced shaving of body hair.

He arrived at Guantanamo in 2007. After a court decision allowed him to place a habeas corpus petition, he did so on August 29, 2008. He declined to participate in the Combatant Status Review Tribunal or other proceedings.

On December 8, 2008, he and the other four co-defendants offered to plead guilty, but withdrew the confession when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed learned he might not be executed if there were no jury trial; at least some desired martyrdom. At the end of the hearing, he said he wanted "to send my greetings to Osama bin Laden and reaffirm my allegiance. I hope the jihad will continue and strike the heart of America with all kinds of weapons of mass destruction."[6]


  1. ICRC Report on the Treatment of 14 "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody, International Committee of the Red Cross, February 14, 2007
  2. 2.0 2.1 Office of Military Commissions (May 8, 2008), Referred Charges
  3. Steve Coll (2004), Ghost Wars: the Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, Penguin, pp. 471-473
  4. "Ramzi Binalshibh", Globalsecurity
  5. High Value Detainee Biographies, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  6. Peter Finn (December 9, 2008), "Five 9/11 Suspects Offer to Confess But Proposal Is Pulled Over Death Penalty Issue", Washington Post