Another problem in the official account is that, although we are told that four or five of the alleged hijackers were on each of the four flights, no proof of this claim has been provided. The story, of course, is that they did not force their way onto the planes but were regular, ticketed passengers. If so, their names should be on the flight manifests. But the flight manifests that have been released contain neither the names of the alleged hijackers nor any other Arab names...
There are several arguments used to advance the “no hijackers on the passenger manifests” case, but they’re not nearly as definitive as their proponents like to pretend. David Ray Griffin’s assertion above, for instance, is footnoted with this explanation:
The flight manifest for AA 11 that was published by CNN can be seen at www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/trade.center/victims/AA11.victims.html. The manifests for the other flights can be located by simply changing that part of the URL. The manifest for UA 93, for example, is at www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/trade.center/victims/ua93.victims.html .
There’s an obvious clue here in the URL, which tells us it’s a “victims” list. Is it really surprising that the suspected hijackers wouldn’t be included? And in fact if you look on the site you’ll find CNN specifically say those names have been left out.
Further, the CNN lists aren’t an official manifest anyway. They were compiled from press reports, not names obtained directly from the airlines. We’ve more on this here.
When we’ve made this point, a common response has been: why? Why did CNN have to cobble together a list in this way, why didn’t they get the details direct from the airlines? Look at what one of the airlines says, though, and there’s an obvious answer: a UAL press release says that “At the request of the victims' families, a number of names have been withheld from release”. The same press release does list many passenger names, however (see here or here).
If the airlines wanted to contact family members before releasing names, then this would also explain why the hijackers details would be held back. It would plainly take longer to get in touch with citizens of other countries, than the families of Americans.
At least one newspaper reported that it had obtained the manifests from the two planes hijacked from Boston, though, and the hijackers did appear on the lists. They even printed their seat numbers. See the details here.
This early release of information tends to be ignored, though, in favour of other evidence showing “no Arab names on the passenger lists”. One commonly-quoted example was produced by Thomas Olmsted, who filed a Freedom of Information Act Request for the names of the Flight 77 victims. A list eventually arrived which did not include the names of hijackers, which he claimed indicated that they were not aboard (see an article here). But he’s wrong. Here’s why.
Olmsted also tries to compare his list with the CNN list to show there are inconsistencies. And that doesn’t stand up, either.
Further, 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. Read more details and see the full lists here.
And the complete passenger lists have subsequently been released as part of an exhibit at the Moussaoui trial, where a Flash applet details exactly who sat where, who made phone calls, and more. We’ve uploaded it to this page, though beware, in total these are more than 15MB in size so you’ll need a broadband connection.
Anyway, if you just want to see the lists without waiting around, or you don’t have the Flash player installed anyway, then try this page of images instead.