24 user 6 critic

The Hamburg Cell (2004)

A fictionalized account of the September 11 hijackers.



On Disc

at Amazon


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?



Cast overview, first billed only:
Maral Kamel ...
Mohammed Atta (as Kamel)
Aysel (as Agni Tsangaridou)
Ramzi bin al Shibh
Kamel Boutros ...
Mohammed Atta (as Kamel)
Tamer Doghem ...
Zacarias Moussaoui
Abdul Aziz AlOmari
Omar El-Saeidi ...
Said al Ghamdi
Mark Clifton ...
Flight Simulation Instructor
Salim (as Navíd Akhavan)
Joel Kirby ...
FBI Agent
Pan Am Instructor


Ziad Jarrah, a young Lebonese man from a good family goes to Germany to attend college and starts dating a Turkish girl named Aysel. Although not very religious and accustomed to Western ways, Ziad becomes "brothers" with some fundamentalist Muslims and is slowly drawn into becoming "a Good Muslim". Mohamed Atta and others instill Ziad with a hatred of Jews and "Infidels", which leads to a desire for Jihad and martyrdom. He moves to Hamburg to study aeronautical engineering, attends an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, and deceives his girlfriend and family about his involvement. He eventually attends flight school in Florida with Atta and others, waiting for and preparing for "the big wedding" (the 9/11 attack). Meanwhile, US government and law enforcement officials fail to act despite believing that a major terrorist attack is imminent, and despite noticing a number of suspicious persons involved in flight training. Written by TimeNTide

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War





| |

Release Date:

10 January 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A hamburgi sejt  »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the last scene, when one of the hijackers are getting ready to board the plane, we can see a "Emirates" Airbus A340 in the background. Ironically, Emirates only operates flights into JFK airport, New York and doesn't operate flights from/to any of the destinations which the real 9/11 hijackers boarded their aircraft from. See more »


Ziad Jarrah: [On a cell phone] I'm at the departure lounge.
Marwan Shehhi: Me too.
Ziad Jarrah: Our time has come at last...
See more »


Written by Nick Phillips
Performed by Boxsaga
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Passed under the radar
27 August 2004 | by See all my reviews

Understated docu-drama following the men who planned and carried out the attacks of 9/11

"When the world talks about the men who carried out this holy operation they will be talking about the men who changed the course of history," exclaims a senior Al Qaeda member in this fictional docu-drama from director Antonia Bird. Charting the planning and execution of the World Trade Center attacks by a handful of Muslim fundamentalists led by Mohamed Atta (Kamel), The Hamburg Cell is a devastatingly powerful work that puts faces and personalities to the men who carried out the attacks against the US on the fateful morning of September 11th.

Based on a wide range of documentary evidence, from court transcriptions to video footage, this simmering yet understated little movie focuses on Lebanese student Ziad Jarrah (Saleh) as he's transformed from rich-boy student at the University of Applied Science in Hamburg to jihadist hijacker of United Airlines flight 93 (which crashed en route to the White House shortly after simultaneous attacks struck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon).

It's a difficult journey. Immersing us in the secretive, clandestine world of these fundamentalists as they indoctrinate new recruits, train at terrorist camps in Afghanistan and learn to fly at an aviation school in Florida, Bird forces a disturbing intimacy with men destined to become mass murderers.

To humanise the terrorists, The Hamburg Cell deliberately focuses on Jarrah, the weakest link of the group, whose reservations about the jihadist cause are eventually swept away. Rather than styling him as some victim of brainwashing, screenwriters Ronan Bennett and Alice Pearman delicately suggest the powerful lure of infatuation with a self-justifying cause while never losing sight of the fact that, for the hijackers, the jihad is not a first strike on America, but a counter strike in an anti-Muslim war that is being waged throughout Bosnia, Chechnya, Indonesia, Iraq and Palestine.

Claustrophobically shot and making good use of CCTV and superimposed titles to give the sense of the covert nature of the cell's activities, Bird's film refuses to release us from our intimate experience of the jihadists' world. It's a strictly non-partisan film that adamantly refuses to moralise. That will undoubtedly cause significant controversy among those who would rather condemn these men as pure evil. Rather, what this intelligent drama asks us to do is recognise their motivation - not to judge them, but to address the injustices (in particular the Palestinian crisis) that drives such heinous and misguided actions.

Verdict Bravely understated, The Hamburg Cell makes a bold attempt to humanise the terrorists behind the events of 9/11. Its studied detachment on such an emotive issue is impressive.

17 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 24 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

'Black Panther' Star Winston Duke and Guillermo del Toro

Black Panther star Winston Duke takes us behind the scenes of Marvel's record-breaking movie, and Guillermo del Toro reminisces about Pan's Labyrinth's past Oscar success.

Watch the show