Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta (محمد محمد الأمير عوض السيد عطا, Muḥammad ‘Aṭṭa as-Sayyid) (September 1, 1968 - September 11, 2001) was one of the masterminds and the ringleader of the September 11 attacks who served as the hijacker-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, crashing the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the coordinated attacks.
Born in 1968 in a small town in Egypt's Nile Delta, Atta moved with his family to the Abdeen section of Cairo at the age of 10. Atta studied architecture at Cairo University, graduating in 1990, and continued his studies in Hamburg, Germany at the Technical University of Hamburg. In Hamburg, Atta became involved with the al-Quds Mosque, where he met Marwan al-Shehhi, Ramzi Binalshibh, and Ziad Jarrah, together forming the Hamburg cell. Atta disappeared from Germany for periods of time, spending some time in Afghanistan, including several months in late 1999 and early 2000 when he met Osama bin Laden and other top Al-Qaeda leaders. Atta and the other Hamburg cell members were recruited by Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for the "planes operation" in the United States. Atta returned to Hamburg in February 2000, and began inquiring about flight training in the United States.
Atta arrived in the United States, together with Marwan al-Shehhi, in June 2000. Both ended up in south Florida at Huffman Aviation where they entered the Accelerated Pilot Program. Atta and al-Shehhi obtained instrument ratings in November 2000, and continued training on simulators and flight training. Beginning in May 2001, Atta assisted with the arrival of the muscle hijackers. In July 2001, Atta traveled to Spain where he met with Binalshibh to exchange information and finalize the plot. In August, Atta traveled on surveillance flights to determine details on how the attacks could be carried out.