The Hamburg Cell (2004)



Director:  Antonia Bird. 

Starring:  Karim Salah (Ziad Jarrah), Maral Kamel (Mohammed Atta), Agni Scott (Aysel), Omar Berdouni (Ramzi bin al Shibh), Adnan Maral (Marwan Shehhi), Kamel Boutros (Mohammed Atta), Tamer Doghem (Zacarias Moussaoui), Khalid Laith (Abdul Aziz AlOmari), Nasser Memarzia (Assem), Omar El-Saeidi (Said al Ghamdi), Bassem Breish (Yasser), Mark Clifton (Flight Simulation Instructor), Navd Akhavan (Salim), Joel Kirby (FBI Agent), Clayton Nemrow (Pan Am Instructor).


A Lebanese dental student falls in with Muslim extremists who eventually carry out the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  The movie follows the events up to the actual 9-11 attacks themselves. 


Spoiler Warning:  below is the summary of the entire movie. 

The action primarily follows Ziad Jarrah from Lebannon and his Turkish girlfriend Aysel.

September 11, 2001.  Ziad is calling Aysel for the last time.

The time switches to five years earlier.  Greifswald Student College, Greifswald, Germany.  Zaid is eating at the student union with Salim.  Abu Mohammed arrives to talk about the importance of the Islamic faith.  No, Zaid has not been saying his prayers. 

Ziad meets with Aysel.  She tells him that it takes from 5 to 6 years of study to become a dentist.  Ziad gets a job in a pizza restaurant with his cousin. 

Hamburg, Germany.  Mohammed Atta is part of the Hamburg cell.  Al Quds Mosque, Hamburg.  Ramzi bin al Shibh is also a member of the Hamburg Cell.  The Cell discusses how terrible the modern world is because its people have forgotten God. 

Some months later.  In the Cell, Mohammed Haydar Zammar talks about the atrocities committed against the Muslims in the former Yugoslavia.  They talk about training for Jihad (holy war).  There are places to train, such as Afghanistan. 

Ziad begins to turn into an intolerant puritanical Muslim. 

1997-98.  Osama bin Laden delivers fatwa (i.e., a decree issued by a Muslim religious leader) against Jews and crusaders. 

Mohammed Atta and Ramzi bin al Shibh travel to Afghanistan.  Ziad moves to Hamburg and enrolls to study aeronautical engineering.  In the cell a dissenter is thrown out.  It is declared that martyrdom is not suicide.  Ziad declares "I want my life to count for something." 

German BFV agents have Zammar under surveillance.

1998 (7 August)  --  Al Qaeda bombs US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. 

1998 (20 August)  --  US strikes targets in Sudan and Afghanistan. 

President Bill Clinton talks about Bin Laden.  Atta says "The war has begun.  We will no longer be humiliated.  We will not be dominated."

Zammar announces that he is being followed.  He tells the members of the cell to move apartments and be cautious.

1998 (November)  --  Atta, bin al Shibh, Ziad and others move to 54 Marienstrasse, Hamburg-Harburg. 

Ziad asks Aysel to marry him.  She is doubtful.  She is worried about Ziad going on Jihad and dying within two years.  She makes him promise that he will not go on Jihad.  They marry.  But Ziad gets worse rather than better.  He tells Aysel that "I should be fighting in Cheznya."  Aysel says that she is sick of his puritanical attitude and her husband replies "I'm sick of you." 

1999 (late), Cairo, Egypt  --  Atta is back in Egypt.  He has just gotten his Masters Degree, but his father wants to know when he will get his Ph. D. like his sisters. 

1999 (November)  --  Ziad, bin al Shibh, Shedhi and Atta are in Afghanistan.  Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is Al Qaeda Director of Operations.  Ziad indicates that yes, he is ready for martyrdom.

It is time for members of the Cell to start learning how to fly planes.  They will be told in time about their mission. 

2000 (January 5), Kuala, Lumpur.  CIA arranges surveillance of Al Qaeda operatives.   

2000 (January 15)  -- Los Angeles International Airport.  CIA informed that al Hazmi is in the USA.  The cable is marked "Action required: none."

Ziad is gone for two months.  He did not tell his wife.  When he returns with peace offerings, she is mad and demands to know where he was.  He says "I can't tell you."  He tells her he is going to be a pilot. 

Ziad's uncle also wants to know where he has been.  He does not like the company Ziad has been keeping.  He says they are crazy.  He makes a good point when he says that Ziad has been deceiving his wife. 

Mohammed Atta comes to the USA.

2000 (July)  --  Florida Flight Training Center.  Ziad is getting flight training here.  He meets with Mohammed Atta.

2000 (December), Finsbury Parks, London  --  Zacarias Moussaoui is going to be one of the pilots for the upcoming missions. 

2001 (Janaury 5)  --  Aysel arrives in Florida to be with Ziad. 

2001 (January 10)  --  Mohammed Atta returns to Miami from Spain. His visa has expired and he is questioned.  When they learn he is in flight school, they let him leave. 

2001 (May)  --  Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is in the USA. 

Hani Hanjour takes video pictures of the Capitol Building. 

2001 (early summer)  --  the arrival of the hijackers' accomplices. 

2001 (July 4)  -- New York City.  Al Mihdhar, a known Al Qaeda operative, returns undetected to the US.

Intelligence summary for NSA Condoleezza Rice.  An attack is highly probable in the near future.

2001 (July 5)  -- Richard Clarke, counter-terrorism czar, briefing security agencies at the White House.  Something spectacular is going to happen.

2001 (July 16)  --  Tarragon, Spain.  Atta gets his targets.  He is instructed to only tell the pilots, no one else.

Ziad receives a text message "say goodbye to your wife."  He tells his wife that this will be the last time he will leave her. 

Memo from agent Kenneth J. Williams to FBI Headquarters warning of a congregation of Muslims at flight schools in Arizona that probably indicates some devious scheme. 

2001 (August 6)  --  President George W. Bush told that bin Laden is determined to strike in the USA. 

2001 (August 13)  --  the flight details are worked out with Atta in Las Vegas.

2001 (August 15)  --  Moussaoui is detained by immigration.

2001 (August 17)  --  interviews with Moussaoui are discontinued. 

2001 (August 23)  --  CIA analyst reports four Al Qaeda operatives are in the US.

2001 (September 9)  --  Ziad is in Newark, New Jersey. He talks to his father who promises Ziad a Mercedes for him and his wife for the upcoming "proper" marriage.

2001 (September 11)  --  the conspirators fly their planes into the Twin Towers in NYC and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.  Another plane is taken down by the revolting passengers in Pennsylvania. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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