Atta, Mohammad (1968–2001)

Photos of a stone-faced Mohammad Atta are now emblematic of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the Twin Towers of the U.S. World Trade Center. As the eldest (age 33) and most educated (MA, 1999) of the 19 suicide bombers, Atta is credited with coordinating the attacks, which were conceived by Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad on behalf of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (d. 2011). At 8:46 a.m., Atta flew the hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, thereby awakening Americans to the specter of Islamic terrorism. The three other attacks followed within minutes. Thousands died.

Mohammad el-Amir Atta was born into comfortable circumstances. His father was an Egyptian lawyer committed to a superior ...

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