Born in Saudi Arabia, Shehri had been a student until he accompanied his mentally ill brother to Medina. He later went to fight in Chechnya along with his brother Wail, but was redirected to Afghanistan, where he was recruited for the attacks.
Shehri arrived in the United States in April 2001 on a tourist visa. On September 11, 2001, Waleed along with his brother, Wail, boarded American Airlines Flight 11 and was one of five that helped hijack it, so that Mohamed Atta could fly the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Studying to become a teacher like his brother, Wail, Waleed al-Shehri was from 'Asir province, a poor region in southwestern Saudi Arabia that borders Yemen. Since Shehri's family adhered to the Wahhabi school of Islam, he grew up in a very conservative household. His family did not have satellite television or internet and he was forbidden to play music or have contact with girls until he was old enough for an arranged marriage.
Early media accounts said that Waleed had earned his pilot's certificate at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1997. However, after a short investigation, Embry-Riddle was discovered to have not had any involvement in the flight training of the terrorists. A former student shared the same name as one of the hijackers, but the student, who is still alive, had no connections to al-Qaeda.
Waleed left his studies to accompany his brother's leave of absence after Wail complained of a mental symptom that had caused him grief, telling their father that he intended to seek aid from a religious healer in Medina.
The brothers arrived at the Al Farouq training camp in Afghanistan, where they met Ahmed al-Nami and Saeed al-Ghamdi. Before arriving at Al-Farouq, the four reportedly pledged themselves to jihad in Spring 2000, in a ceremony presided over by Wail, who had dubbed himself Abu Mossaeb al-Janubi after one of Muhammad's companions.
Waleed later served in the security forces at Kandahar International Airport with Saeed al-Ghamdi. After being selected for the operation, he trained with the other hijackers at al-Matar complex under Abu Turab al-Urduni.
Waleed returned to Saudi Arabia with his brother in the fall of 2000 so they could obtain clean passports and U.S. visas, which they did on 3 October and 24 October 2000, respectively.
Locals reported that he and his brother disappeared from Khamis Mushayt in the south of Saudi Arabia in December 2000.
In mid-November, 2000, the 9/11 Commission believes that three of the future muscle hijackers, Wail al Shehri, Waleed al Shehri, and Ahmed al-Nami, all of whom had obtained their U.S. visas in late October, traveled in a group from Saudi Arabia to Beirut and then onward to Iran where they could travel through to Afghanistan without getting their passports stamped. This probably followed their return to Saudi Arabia to get "clean" passports. An associate of a senior Hezbollah operative is thought to have been on the same flight, although this may have been a coincidence.
After training, he would have moved to a safehouse in Karachi, Pakistan before travelling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). From the UAE, the muscle hijackers came to the U.S. between April and June 2001. Waleed may have arrived in the U.S. on 23 April 2001. Some sources report that Shehri "at times" stayed at lead hijacker Mohamed Atta's apartment in Hamburg, Germany at some period between 1998 and 2001. Others place him with Zacarias Moussaoui in London.
Ramzi bin al-Shibh says that Osama bin Laden had given a message to Waleed al Shehri for conveyance to Mohamed Atta earlier that spring, indicating that bin Laden preferred to attack the White House instead of the Capitol.
On May 4, 2001, he applied for and received a Florida driver's license. The next day, he filled out a change-of-address form to receive a duplicate license. Five other suspected hijackers also received duplicate Florida licenses in 2001. Some have speculated that this was to allow multiple persons to use the same identity. On 19 May 2001, Shehri and Satam al-Suqami flew from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport, Bahamas, where they had reservations at the Bahamas Princess Resort where Shehri and Suqami rented two cars, a black Buick Regal and a gray Ford Taurus. The two were turned away by Bahamian officials on arrival, however, because they lacked visas; they returned to Florida that same day. The 9/11 Commission felt that they likely took this trip to renew Suqami's immigration status, as Suqami's legal stay in the United States ended on 21 May 2001.
He was one of nine hijackers to open a SunTrust bank account with a cash deposit around June 2001. While living in Boynton, neighbors reported that he seemed to be an enthusiastic fan of the Florida Marlins.
On July 16, 2001, both Wail and Waleed were staying at a hotel in Salou, Spain where they were visited by Mohamed Atta. On July 30, Shehri traveled alone from Fort Lauderdale to Boston. He flew to San Francisco the next day, where he stayed one night before returning via Las Vegas.
According to librarian Kathleen Hensmen, Wail and Waleed al-Shehri used the Internet access at Delray Beach Public Library in August 2001, where they may have been looking at information on crop dusting; they reportedly left the library with a third Middle Eastern man thought to be Marwan al-Shehhi, who Hensmen said asked her for the name of a local restaurant.
On September 5, 2001, Wail and Waleed al Shehri traveled together on Delta Air Lines Flight 2462 from Fort Lauderdale to Boston. Wail checked in together with Waleed at the Park Inn Hotel in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts on 5 September 2001, staying in room 432. Abdulaziz al-Omari, may have also spent a night at the Park Inn before leaving with Mohamed Atta for Portland, Maine on 10 September 2001. When they checked out, the Shehri brothers may have left a discarded sheet of instructions on how to fly a transcontinental jetliner in their hotel room.
Waleed al-Shehri, his brother Wail, and Abdulaziz al-Omari arrived together at Logan Airport at 06:45 on the morning of September 11, 2001, having left their Ford Focus rental car in the airport parking facility. Upon check-in, Wail al-Shehri was selected by the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS), as was his brother Waleed, and Flight 11 hijacker Satam al-Suqami. Mohamed Atta, the pilot hijacker on Flight 11 had also been selected in Portland. Being selected by CAPPS meant that their checked baggage were subject to extra screening. As the CAPPS was only for luggage, the three hijackers did not undergo any extra scrutiny at the passenger security checkpoint. One of the five Globe Aviation security-screeners on-duty later reported that either Wail or Waleed had been using a crutch when they passed through security - and that the crutch had been X-rayed as per regulations.
By 7:40 a.m., all five hijackers were aboard the flight, which was scheduled to depart at 7:45 a.m. Wail and Waleed al-Shehri sat together in first class in seats 2A and 2B respectively. The aircraft taxied away from Gate 26 and departed Logan International Airport at 7:59 a.m. from runway 4R after a 14-minute delay. The hijacking of Flight 11 began at approximately 08:14, which is when the pilot stopped responding to air traffic control. Once the hijacking began, the brothers are suspected of having stabbed two flight attendants. At 08:46:40, Mohamed Atta deliberately crashed Flight 11 into the northern facade of the North Tower (Tower 1) of the World Trade Center. The damage caused to the North Tower destroyed any means of escape from above the impact zone, trapping 1,344 people. The North Tower collapsed at 10:28, after burning for 102 minutes.
On September 23, 2001 BBC News reported that al-Shehri was "alive and well" in Casablanca, Morocco, and was talking to multiple media organizations; however, due to confusion over the man's identity, and editorial concerns over conspiracy theories, BBC News later modified the September 23 report by inserting "A man called ... " BBC News considers the September 23 report superseded by an October 5, 2001 report that lists Waleed as one of the alleged hijackers believed by the FBI to be responsible for the September 11 attacks.
Waleed and Wail were both reported to have been initially found, in error, by a Saudi newspaper editor as the sons of Ahmed Alshehri, a senior Saudi diplomat stationed in Bombay, India. On September 16, 2001, the diplomat Ahmed Alshehri denied that he was the father of the two hijackers. Wail claims he did attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida — but was the victim of mistaken identity, since he used that training to secure his current position with a Moroccan airline company. Saudi Arabia has confirmed his story, and suggested he was the victim of identity theft.
Muhammad Ali al-Shehri, the Shehri brothers' true father, was identified prior to September 17, 2001, and told Arab News that he had not heard from his sons in ten months prior to September 2001. An ABC News story in March 2002 repeated this, and during a report entitled "A Saudi Apology" for Dateline NBC on August 25, 2002, NBC reporter John Hockenberry traveled to 'Asir, where he interviewed the third brother, Salah, who agreed that his two brothers were dead and claimed they had been "brainwashed".
Furthermore, another article explains that the pilot who lives in Casablanca was named Walid al-Shri (not Waleed M. al-Shehri) and that much of the BBC information regarding "alive" hijackers was incorrect according to the same sources used by BBC. In September 2007, a video recording of his last testament was released to mark the 6th anniversary of the attacks.