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Marwan al Shehhi
Marwan al Shehhi was born on May 9, 1978, in Ras al Khaimah, the United
Arab Emirates. His father, who died in 1997, was a prayer leader at the local
mosque. After graduating from high school in 1995, Shehhi joined the Emi-
rati military and received half a year of basic training before gaining admis-
sion to a military scholarship program that would fund his continued study in
Shehhi first entered Germany in April 1996. After sharing an apartment in
Bonn for two months with three other scholarship students, Shehhi moved in
with a German family, with whom he resided for several months before mov-
ing into his own apartment. During this period, he came across as very reli-
gious, praying five times a day. Friends also remember him as convivial and "a
regular guy," wearing Western clothes and occasionally renting cars for trips to
Berlin, France, and the Netherlands.
As a student, Shehhi was less than a success. Upon completing a course in
German, he enrolled at the University of Bonn in a program for technical,
mathematical, and scientific studies. In June 1997, he requested a leave from his
studies, citing the need to attend to unspecified "problems" in his home coun-
try.Although the university denied his request, Shehhi left anyway, and conse-
quently was compelled to repeat the first semester of his studies. In addition to
having academic difficulties at this time, Shehhi appeared to become more
extreme in the practice of his faith; for example, he specifically avoided restau-
rants that cooked with or served alcohol. In late 1997, he applied for permis-
sion to complete his course work in Hamburg, a request apparently motivated
by his desire to join Atta and Binalshibh. Just how and when the three of them
first met remains unclear, although they seemed to know each other already
when Shehhi relocated to Hamburg in early 1998.Atta and Binalshibh moved
into his apartment in April.
The transfer to Hamburg did not help Shehhi's academic progress; he was
directed by the scholarship program administrators at the Emirati embassy to
repeat his second semester starting in August 1998, but back in Bonn. Shehhi
initially flouted this directive, however, and did not reenroll at the University
of Bonn until the following January, barely passing his course there. By the end
of July 1999, he had returned to Hamburg, applying to study shipbuilding at
the Technical University and, more significantly, residing once again with Atta
and Binalshibh, in an apartment at 54 Marienstrasse.
After Shehhi moved in with Atta and Binalshibh, his evolution toward
Islamic fundamentalism became more pronounced. A fellow Emirati student
who came to Hamburg to visit Shehhi noticed he no longer lived as comfort-
ably as before. Shehhi now occupied an old apartment with a roommate, had
no television, and wore inexpensive clothes.When asked why he was living so
frugally, Shehhi responded that he was living the way the Prophet had lived.
Similarly, when someone asked why he and Atta never laughed, Shehhi
retorted,"How can you laugh when people are dying in Palestine?"
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