17 September 2001 / 22 Rajab 1423

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  Al-Shihri says sons missing for 10 months
By Mutlaq Al-Buqami, Arab News Staff

RIYADH, 17 September — The father of two Saudi Arabian brothers suspected of hijacking one of the planes that smashed into the World Trade Center in New York is reported to have said that his sons had never behaved in a suspicious manner, although he admitted that one of them was mentally ill. Muhammad Ali Al-Shihri added that he did not know that his sons, Wael and Waleed, had traveled abroad, although he said that he had lost track of them some months ago.

Wael, 26, who had been working as a teacher, obtained extended leave without pay from his work to seek treatment for his apparent mental condition, then never returned, Al-Shihri said. The younger son Waleed, 24, a student at a local teacher training college, left to accompany his brother. “My son left Khamees Mushait in southern Saudi Arabia for the holy city of Madinah last Ramadan so that he could consult a religious man about the treatment of his mental illness,” he said.

The father cautioned that he was not certain the two men on the list of suspected hijackers released by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation Friday were in fact his sons. Their mother has not yet been informed that Wael and Waleed were assumed to be in the hijacked plane when it hit the towers. The FBI claims Waleed and Wael Al-Shihri were training to be pilots.

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