Who was on the 9/11 planes? There are lists of passengers online, but they’re not all accurate (some are actually very inaccurate), and very few include the alleged hijackers. None of the lists have an official stamp of approval, either, which has in itself led to many theories. Maybe the hijackers were never on board, for instance. Maybe most of the passengers don’t even exist.
We don’t actually subscribe to these ideas, but without any official documentation it’s hard to prove a point, one way or the other. Which is why we were very interested to see a photo of what looked like a passenger manifest in the Terry McDermott book, Perfect Soldiers. We emailed the author, and he said yes: apparently these were amongst a bunch of investigative files he obtained from the FBI while researching his book. 24 hours later we had copies, too. So what would they tell us?
One immediately obvious point is that our lists show the alleged hijackers on each of the four planes. Another indication that the “hijackers weren’t on the manifests” claims are false.
Of course that, alone, will be enough for some to claim the documents are fake. And because we obtained them indirectly, there’s no way to prove otherwise: we believe McDermott is an entirely trustworthy source, but there’s no telling what happened before the documents reached him.
It’s worth bearing in mind that these aren’t the only reported documents to show alleged hijackers on the planes, though. The Boston Globe published the seat numbers of the suspects on the two planes hijacked locally to them, and provided the complete seating plan for Flight 11. These lists do nothing more than confirm what we already knew.
Further, these documents actually raise additional questions of their own. In particular, Mark Bingham is not included on the Flight 93 list, and there are five passengers missing from the Flight 175 list. See the individual lists for more.
There are technical complications, too. The documents originated as a fax, which has then been scanned, and finally saved in JPEG format. Every step has reduced print quality, and in some cases it’s now, well, rubbish. In addition, one name is missing completely (it was left off the bottom of one page, or the start of the next), and two others can just barely be deciphered.
Another issue arises from the document content. Although they provide passenger names, the lists used fixed fields, so (for instance) only the initial 5 letters of a person’s first name are printed. This surely wouldn’t be the case in a full manifest... Would it? So perhaps what we have is a lower value document, printed output from some other system.
These would seem to make unlikely fakes, then, but now you can decide for yourself. Download the documents themselves by clicking here (7 JPEGs in a ZIP file, 3.5MB), or peruse the text versions here:
(Or do both, actually. It took much retyping to build those lists, and the chances are at least some errors have slipped through. You need the originals to hand, just as a crosscheck).