Mohamed Atta was born to a middle-class family in Egypt; his father is an attorney. He was educated as an urban planner in Egypt and, later, Germany.
He was radicalized in Germany in the mid-1990s.
Toward his friends there, he was charismatic, intelligent, and intolerant of dissent. Towards others, he was described as abrasive.
In 1995, he tried to organize a Muslim student association in Hamburg; in the fall of 1997 he joined a working group at Quds mosque there, aimed at bridging the gap between Muslims and Christians.
He became anti-Semitic and anti-American, claiming a global Jewish movement in New York City controlled world finance and media. He would also claim Saddam Hussein was a U.S. stooge set up to give the United States the pretext of invading the Middle East.
He joined the 9-11 plot when he traveled to Afghanistan in 1999.1
He was reportedly trained in document forgery.1
His whereabouts in February and March 1998 are uncertain. It has been speculated he went to Afghanistan during this time, but captured al-Qaeda figures say he did not.1
1 The 9-11 Commission Final Report. July 22, 2004. Chapter 5.3.