Wail Al-Shehri is still alive, according to an LA Times report.
A man by the same name is a pilot whose father is a Saudi diplomat in Bombay. "I personally talked to both father and son today," [said Gaafar Allagany, head of the Saudi Embassy's information center.]
A man "with the same name"? Don't we need a little more proof than that? Especially when the source is the "head of the Saudi Embassy's information center". After all, these stories came out immediately after 9/11, as the world held its breath waiting to see what America might do. There was considerable incentive for Saudi Arabia to find reasons to say no, this wasn't Saudi citizens, it's all a terrible mistake.
Unfortunately other Saudi reports tell a very different, and much more incriminating story.
Wail (Wael) Mohamed Al-Shehri: 25, a physical education teacher at an elementary school in the Kamis Mushayat airbase. He was born in Annams city and lived in Um Saraar neighborhood in Khamis Mushayet city, which is part of Aseer region. Wael frequented Al-Seqley mosque in the city where he was recruited into Ben Laden Saudi network. He left Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan via Pakistan approximately in March 2000 with his younger brother Waleed and Ahmed AlNami. A group of Saudi youth left from that mosque to join what they presumed Chechen fighters against Russian forces. In Afghanistan he trained in Al-Farooq camp in Khandhar on hand-to-hand combat, bomb making, and poison mixing. Osama Ben Laden used the camp to train his followers.
After 9 month training in Afghanistan he returned to Saudi Arabia in December 2000, then to the United States. A friend of Wael suggested on September 9th that a big surprise would emanate from Aseer region. On the 11th he proclaimed that Wael took part in the attack. He made the comments on the popular chat board http://web.archive.org/web/20031026101720/http://www.alsaha.com, which quickly removed the comments. The Site is believed to be used by Saudi interior ministry to monitor public opinion. The surprise was that most of the 9/11 attackers came from Aseer region.
And there's another problem. If Wail and his brother are still alive, then why were their family saying they had disappeared before 9/11?
The brothers' pictures matched those released by the FBI, the Arab News reported. Their father, Mohammed Ali Asgley Al Shehri, a businessman, told Al Watan that his son Wael, 25, had psychological problems and had gone to Medina in December with his brother Waleed, 21, to seek help from religious officials for this problem. He said that they did not return from the trip and that he had not heard from them since...
The paper cited sources close to the family as saying that both men had become very religious before disappearing and had spoken of joining Muslim fighters in Chechnya. The sources said the brothers spoke limited English.
And why are the Saudi family giving interviews about this not pointing out that the al Shehri brothers are alive?
Al-Shihri, (Waleed M. al-Shehri's father) says his son has been missing since for 10 months prior to September of 2001  (http://web.archive.org/web/20020929001039/www.arabnews.com/Article.asp?ID=9424&ArY=2001&ArM=9&ArD=17)
Similarly, here’s part of the transcript from “Sand storm”, a Dateline NBC programme aired on September 25th 2002, where the reporter John Hockenberry interviewed a surviving Al Shehri brother.
Prince KHALID: They didn't actually think that their sons were able to do such terrible action. But they also believe that they have been deceived. I mean, their children have been deceived.
HOCKENBERRY: (Voiceover) Khalid al-Faisal is governor of Asir Province. A third of the Saudi hijackers grew up here...
...in Khamais Mushait, Saudi Arabia, where it is believed five of the hijackers grew up and were recruited, we finally met Saleh, a brother of Wail and Waleed Alshehri, both on Flight 11.
HOCKENBERRY: Do you think that Waleed and Wail, your brothers, were capable of being a part of this operation?
SALEH: (Through translator) In my judgment, impossible. I know them; I know their behavior.
HOCKENBERRY: What if it is true? What would you say?
SALEH: (Through translator) If that is true we have to be realistic and accept the tragedy...
HOCKENBERRY: It appears that your brother found something else to do, be part
SALEH: (Through translator) I don't know. It is very difficult to imagine that. It is difficult because the time was very short. There was not enough time for him to be trained to fly a plane. Furthermore, he didn't know English...
HOCKENBERRY: Do you believe they're dead in your heart?
SALEH: For me? Yes...
HOCKENBERRY: (Voiceover) Saleh's truth bears no resemblance to the official line from the Saudi royals, that the hijackers were religious zealots seeking revenge for the Palestinians.
(Saleh talking to reporter; Palestinians mourning victims)
HOCKENBERRY: Were your two brothers religious?
SALEH: (Through translator) No. Not in the way one might imagine.
HOCKENBERRY: But your brothers didn't march in the streets and work day and night to free the Palestinians did they?
HOCKENBERRY: No. Did they talk about getting US military troops out of the kingdom? No? So it looks like your two brothers were brainwashed.
HOCKENBERRY: (Voiceover) There is this famous video of Osama bin Laden talking about how some people on the airplanes in New York and Washington did not even know that they were going to die...
(Video of bin Laden)
HOCKENBERRY: ...had no idea that this was a suicide mission. Is it possible that Waleed and Wail were on a plane not knowing what was to happen?
SALEH: (Through translator) It is possible. They were still immature.
HOCKENBERRY: It is possible.
[Apologies, I normally like to give references, but as this isn’t available online then you’ll just have to take my word that it’s accurate. If you’d rather not, then obtain a transcript of the programme yourself from Burrelles transcript service ( http://www.burrellesluce.com/ ), but expect to pay $15 - $20)
Based on this, it might be possible to make a case that they weren’t “the right sort of people to be involved”. It’s also noticeable that the earlier story says they were “very religious”, while this interview that they weren’t religious “in the way one might imagine”. Perhaps there’s a story in that, although it could also just be family denial. Not least because another report based on the comments of a “cousin” seems very different:
"They were ordinary guys, then they changed," said one of their cousins. "It's not unusual here for a man to change overnight from being carefree to being religious. It was a kind of Islamic awakening. They heard sermons from people who came back from jihad in Afghanistan."
The brothers disappeared for two or three months in 1999, travelling to Medina. "When they came back they were different," said their cousin. "They had grown beards and were deeply religious. They had their own group of people and had become very secretive."
In December 2000 they disappeared again, this time to Afghanistan with Al-Nami and Al-Ghamdi. The next the family heard of them was reading their names among the hijackers.
"When we read their names we were very proud because the black hand of Americans are in everything," said their cousin. "I don't think my cousins were exploited. I think they did it out of their own convictions."
What is plain, though, is that the brothers aren’t alive (at least, as far as the family know), so that aspect of the story looks like another case of mistaken identity to us.
In addition, we have for example this witness report, placing Wail Alshehri together with Waleed in a Florida library:
Florida reference librarian Kathleen Hensmen remembers Wail and Waleed Alshehri's summer 2001 visit to the Delray Beach Public Library. Ms. Hensmen tells me she found them "very courteous, very friendly," though "they just sat at one computer, and they were staring at me, and I didn't understand why."
Marwan al-Shehhi arrived later that evening, Ms. Hensmen says. "He didn't ask for a computer," but wondered: "Can you recommend a good restaurant?" Ms. Hensmen, a newcomer, couldn't help. But "a group of 'we nice Americans' who were sitting around said, 'Oh, I can recommend restaurants to you.' "
"When their pictures were published in the Miami Herald, that's when I broke down and cried," Ms. Hensmen says. "I lost it, knowing what they had done, and how we were so friendly toward them."
Note that she identified them based on the press photos, suggesting these were not of other, uninvolved individuals.
And if any further confirmation was needed, it came in late 2006 with the release of the Al Qaeda video “Knowledge is for Acting Upon - The Manhattan Raid”, which included footage of “Wail al-Shihri” talking about the importance of Jihad, and captioned him as “One of the Martrys of the Manhattan Raid” (click for the video, 1.42 MB XviD AVI):
This does appear to be the same individual who appeared in the FBI photo, another indication that their identification is correct.