INFORMATION THAT SHOULD HAVE SHOWN WHAT KIND OF ATTACK AL-QAEDA WOULD MAKE
By Paul Thompson
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Part 1: 1979 - 2000
Part 2: Jan. 2001 - 9/11
Part 3: Day of 9/11
Part 4: 9/11 - Dec. 2001
Part 5: Jan. 2002 - present
|Day of 9/11
Bush on 9/11
This story is so complicated and long, I've tried to break it into threads of different colors to make it easier to digest, as well as the main page, the page for the day of September 11, and the abridged timeline.
Central Asian oil, Enron and the Afghanistan pipelines.
For a separate page of these entries only, click
Information that should have shown what kind of attack al-Qaeda would make. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
US preparing for a war with Afghanistan before 9/11, increasing control of Asia before and since. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Incompetence, bad luck, and/or obstruction of justice. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Suggestions of advanced knowledge that an attack would take place on or around 9/11. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Cover-up, lies, and/or contradictions. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Israeli "art student" spy ring, Israeli foreknowledge evidence. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Anthrax attacks and microbiologist deaths. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Pakistani ISI and/or opium drug connections. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Bin Laden family, Saudi Arabia corruption and support of terrorists, connections to Bush. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Erosion of civil liberties and erection of a police state. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
1993 (B): Bin Laden buys a jet from the US military in Arizona (the Pentagon approved the transaction). This aircraft is later used to transport missiles from Pakistan that kill American special forces in Somalia. He also has some of his followers begin training as pilots in US flight schools. These initial flight trainings come to nothing when details are later revealed in a court case about Operation Bojinka (see January 6, 1995). [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01]
1993 (C): An expert panel commissioned by the Pentagon postulates that an airplane could be used as a missile to bomb national landmarks. But the panel doesn't publish this idea in its report, Terror 2000. [Washington Post, 10/2/01] One of the authors of the report says. "We were told by the Department of Defense not to put it in... and I said, 'It's unclassified, everything is available.' And they said, 'We don't want it released, because you can't handle a crisis before it becomes a crisis. And no one is going to believe you.'" [ABC News, 2/20/02] However, in 1994 one of the panel's experts will write in Futurist magazine: "Targets such as the World Trade Center not only provide the requisite casualties but, because of their symbolic nature, provide more bang for the buck. In order to maximize their odds for success, terrorist groups will likely consider mounting multiple, simultaneous operations with the aim of overtaxing a government's ability to respond, as well as demonstrating their professionalism and reach." [Washington Post, 10/2/01]
January 20, 1993: Bill Clinton is inaugurated as president, replacing George Bush Sr. He remains president until 2001 (see January 21, 2001).
February 26, 1993: An attempt to blow up the WTC fails. Six people are killed in the misfired blast. Analysts later determine that had the terrorists not made a minor error in the placement of the bomb, both towers could have fallen and up to 50,000 people could have been killed. The attempt is organized by Ramzi Yousef, who has close ties to bin Laden. [Congressional Hearings, 2/24/98] The New York Times later reports on Emad Salem, an undercover agent who ends up being the key government witness in the trial against the bomber. Salem testifies that the FBI knew about the attack beforehand and told him they would thwart it by substituting a harmless powder for the explosives. However, this plan was called off by an FBI supervisor, and the bombing was not stopped. [New York Times, 10/28/93] Why did the FBI seemingly let the terrorists go ahead with the bombing? Others suspects are ineptly investigated before the bombing (see July 1990 and November 5, 1990). Several of the bombers were trained by the CIA to fight in the Afghan war, and the CIA later concludes in internal documents that it was "partly culpable" for this bombing attempt. [Independent, 11/1/98] Ahmad Ajaj, an associate of Yousef, may have been a mole for the Israeli Mossad, and the Mossad may have had advanced knowledge of the bombing (see September 1, 1992). US officials later state that the overall mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, is a close relative of Ramzi Yousef, [Independent, 6/6/02] probably his uncle. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] One of the attackers even left a message found by investigators stating, "Next time, it will be very precise." 9/11 can be seen as a completion of this failed attack. [AP, 9/30/01]
1994 (B): Coincidentally, three separate attacks this year involve hijacking airplanes to crash them into buildings. A disgruntled Federal Express worker tries to crash a DC-10 into a company building in Memphis but is overpowered by the crew. A lone pilot crashes a small plane onto the White House grounds, just missing the President's bedroom. An Air France flight is hijacked by a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda, with the aim of crashing it into the Eiffel Tower, but French Special Forces storm the plane before it takes off. [New York Times, 10/3/01]
December 12, 1994: Terrorist Ramzi Yousef attempts a trial run of Operation Bojinka (see January 6, 1995), planting a small bomb on a Philippine Airlines flight to Tokyo (he gets off on a stopover before the bomb is detonated). It explodes, killing one man, and would have caused the plane to crash if not for what were described as heroic efforts by the pilot. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
January 6, 1995: Philippine investigators uncover an al-Qaeda plot to assassinate the Pope that would take place when he visits the Philippines one week later. While investigating that, they also uncover Operation Bojinka, planned by the same people: 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef (see February 26, 1993) and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (see Early 1994-January 1995). [Independent, 6/6/02, Los Angeles Times, 6/24/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] FTW The plan is to explode 11 or 12 passenger planes over the Pacific Ocean simultaneously. [Agence France Presse, 12/8/01] If successful, up to 4,000 people would have been killed in planes flying to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, and New York. [Insight, 5/27/02] Operation Bojinka was scheduled to go forward just two weeks later on January 21. Apparently a plan was also found for a second phase of attacks. [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 124, Insight, 5/27/02] According to an investigator, in this phase, planes would be hijacked and flown into "key structures in the United States. The World Trade Center, the White House, the Pentagon, the Transamerican Tower, and the Sears Tower were among the prominent structures that had been identified in the plans that we had decoded." [Village Voice, 9/26/01] One pilot, Abdul Hakim Murad, who learned to fly in US flight schools, confesses that his role was to crash a plane into the CIA headquarters as part of this phase of attacks. [Washington Post, 9/23/01] An interrogation report from 1995 states: "[Murad] will hijack said aircraft, control its cockpit and dive it at the CIA headquarters. There will be no bomb or any explosive that he will use in its execution. It is simply a suicidal mission that he is very much willing to execute." [Insight, 5/27/02] A Philippine investigator said on the day of 9/11: "It's Bojinka." He later says: "We told the Americans everything about Bojinka. Why didn't they pay attention?" [Washington Post, 9/23/01] In an interview after 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will claim that the 9/11 attacks were a refinement and resurrection of Bojinka. [Australian, 9/9/02]
February 7, 1995: Terrorist Ramzi Yousef is arrested in Pakistan (see February 26, 1993 and January 6, 1995). The next day, as Yousef is flying over New York City on his way to a prison cell, an FBI agent says to Yousef, "You see the Trade Centers down there, they're still standing, aren't they?" Yousef responds, "They wouldn't be if I had enough money and enough explosives." [MSNBC, 9/23/01, The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/14/02, p. 135]
Spring 1995: In the wake of the uncovering of the Operation Bojinka plot, a letter written by the terrorists who planned the failed 1993 WTC bombing (see February 26, 1993) is found on a computer disk in the Philippines. This letter warns that future attacks would be more precise and they would continue to target the WTC if their demands were not met. This letter was never sent, but its contents are revealed in 1998 congressional testimony. [Congressional Hearings, 2/24/98] The Manila, Philippines police chief also reports discovering a statement from bin Laden around this time that although they failed to blow up the WTC in 1993, "on the second attempt they would be successful." [AFP, 9/13/01] Why wasn't security at the WTC noticeably improved after these revelations, or later?
April 3, 1995: Time magazine's cover story reports on the potential for terrorists to kill thousands in highly destructive acts. Senator Sam Nunn outlines a scenario in which terrorists destroy the US Capitol Building by crashing a radio controlled airplane into it. "Its not far-fetched," he says. His idea was taken from Tom Clancy's book Debt of Honour published in August 1994. [Time, 4/3/95] High-ranking al-Qaeda leaders later claim that Flight 93's target was the Capitol Building. [Guardian, 9/9/02]
November 13, 1995: Two truck bombs kill five Americans and two Indians in a US-operated Saudi National Guard training center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda is blamed for the attacks. [AP, 8/19/02] The attack changes US investigators' views of bin Laden from terrorist financier to terrorist leader. [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 150]
1996 (D): Having found a business card of a US flight school in the possession of Bojinka plotter Abdul Hakim Murad (see January 6, 1995), the FBI investigates the US flight schools Murad attended. [Washington Post, 9/23/01] He had trained at about 6 flight schools off and on, starting in 1990. Apparently they stop their investigation when they fail to find any other potential suspects (see May 18, 1998). [Insight, 5/27/02]
1996 (E): The CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center creates a special unit to focus specifically on bin Laden. About 10-15 individuals are assigned to the unit initially. This grows to about 35-40 by 9/11. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
January 1996: US intelligence gets information concerning a planned suicide attack by individuals connected with Shaykh Omar Adb al-Rahman and a key al-Qaeda operative. The plan is to fly from Afghanistan to the US and attack the White House. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
July 6-August 11, 1996: US officials identify crop-dusters and suicide flights as potential terrorist weapons that could threaten the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. They take steps to prevent any air attacks. Planes are banned from getting too close to Olympic events. During the games, Black Hawk helicopters and US Customs Service jets are deployed to intercept suspicious aircraft over the Olympic venues. Agents monitor crop-duster flights within hundreds of miles of downtown Atlanta. Law enforcement agents also fan out to regional airports throughout northern Georgia "to make sure nobody hijacked a small aircraft and tried to attack one of the venues," says Woody Johnson, the FBI agent in charge. [Chicago Tribune, 11/18/01]
August 1996: Bin Laden issues a public fatwa, or religious decree, authorizing attacks on Western military targets in the Arabian Peninsula. In previous years bin Laden was thought by some to be more of a financier of terrorist attacks than a terrorist himself, but this erases all doubts. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
October 1996 (B): US intelligence learn of an Iranian plot to hijack a Japanese plane over Israel and crash it into Tel Aviv. While the plot was never carried out, it is one more example of intelligence agencies being aware that planes could be used as suicide weapons. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
December 1997: CIA agent Robert Baer (see also August 2001 (G) and January 23, 2002), newly retired from the CIA and working as a terrorism consultant, meets a former police chief from the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. He learns how 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was sheltered from the FBI by the Qatari Interior Minister Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani (see January-May 1996). He passes this information to the CIA in early 1998, but the CIA takes no action against Qatar's al-Qaeda patrons. The ex-police chief also tells him that Mohammed is a key aide to bin Laden, and that based on Qatari intelligence, Mohammed "is going to hijack some planes." He passes this information to the CIA as well, but again the CIA doesn't seem interested, even when he tries again after 9/11. [UPI, 9/30/02, Vanity Fair, 2/02, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, Robert Baer, 2/02, pp. 270-271] Baer also tries to interest reporter Daniel Pearl in a story about Mohammed before 9/11, but Pearl is still working on it when he gets kidnapped and murdered (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). [UPI, 9/30/02] The ex-police chief later disappears, presumably kidnapped by Qatar. It has been speculated that the CIA turned on the source to protect its relationship with the Qatari government. [Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, Bill Gertz, pp. 55-58] It appears bin Laden visits Abdallah al-Thani in Qatar between the years 1996 and 2000. [ABC News, 2/7/03] Al-Thani continues to support al-Qaeda, providing Qatari passports and more than $1 million in funds. Even after 9/11, Mohammed is provided shelter in Qatar for two weeks in late 2001. [New York Times, 2/6/03] Yet the US still has not frozen al-Thani's assets or taken other action. Could the US have captured bin Laden if they paid more attention to Robert Baer's information?
1997 (C): FBI headquarters is concerned that an unnamed terrorist group would possibly use an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for terrorist attacks. The FBI and CIA become aware that this group had purchased a UAV. At the time, the agencies believed that the only reason to use this UAV would be for either reconnaissance or attack. There was more concern about the possibility of an attack outside the United States, for example, by flying a UAV into a US Embassy or a visiting US delegation. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
1998 (E): A son of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the al-Qaeda leader convicted in 1995 of conspiring to blow up tunnels and other New York City landmarks, is heard to say that the best way to free his father from a US prison might be to hijack an American plane and exchange the hostages. This is supposedly the most recent concrete hijacking report Bush hears in his August 2001 briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" (see August 6, 2001). [Washington Post, 5/17/02]
February 22, 1998: Bin Laden issues a fatwa, declaring it the religious duty of all Muslims "to kill the Americans and their allies - civilians and military ... in any country in which it is possible." [PBS Frontline, 2001, Sunday Herald, 9/16/01, complete text of the fatwa from al-Quds al-Arabi, 2/23/98] This is an expansion of an earlier fatwa issued in August 1996 (see August 1996).
May 18, 1998: An Oklahoma newspaper later reports that the FBI office in Oklahoma City sends a memo on this day warning that "large numbers of Middle Eastern males" are getting flight training in Oklahoma and could be planning terrorist attacks. [AP, 9/26/01, CNN, 9/18/01] This remarkable story seems to have been reported only by one Oklahoma daily. [NewsOK, 5/29/02, see the memo here] It appears this warning was not followed up. In 1999 it is learned that an al-Qaeda agent had studied flight training at the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma. Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi consider studying at the same school in 2000; Zacarias Moussaoui does study at the school in 2001 (see September 1999 (E)).
May 26, 1998: In a press conference from Afghanistan, bin Laden discusses "bringing the war home to America." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
June 1998 (C): US intelligence obtains information from several sources that bin Laden is considering attacks in the US, including Washington and New York. This information is given to senior US officials in July 1998. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
August 1998 (B): A CIA intelligence report asserts that Arab terrorists are planning to fly a bomb-laden aircraft from a foreign country into the WTC. The FBI and the FAA don't take the threat seriously because of the state of aviation in that unnamed country. Later, other intelligence information connects this group to al-Qaeda. [New York Times, 9/18/02, Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] An FBI spokesman says the report "was not ignored, it was thoroughly investigated by numerous agencies" and found to be unrelated to al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 9/19/02] The New York Times says the group is now believed to have "had ties to al-Qaeda." [New York Times, 9/18/02]
August 7, 1998: Terrorists bomb the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The bomb in Nairobi, Kenya kills 213 people, including 12 US nationals, and injures more than 4,500. The bomb in Dar es Salaam kills 11 and injures 85. The attack is blamed on al-Qaeda. [PBS Frontline, 2001]
Late August 1998: A captured member of the al-Qaeda cell that bombed the US embassy in Kenya tells an FBI agent about a conversation he had with his cell's leader. The leader told him that al-Qaeda was planning an attack on the US, but "Things are not ready yet. We don't have everything prepared." [USA Today, 8/29/02]
September 1998: US intelligence gives a memorandum to senior officials detailing al-Qaeda's infrastructure in the US. This includes the use of fronts for terrorist activities. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
September 1998 (B): US intelligence finds information that bin Ladens next operation could possibly involve crashing an aircraft loaded with explosives into a US airport. This information is provided to senior US officials. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02]
Autumn 1998: US intelligence hears of a bin Laden plot involving aircraft in the New York and Washington areas. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, New York Times, 9/18/02] No more details are known - was this the 9/11 plot, or something else?
October-November 1998: US intelligence learns that al-Qaeda is trying to establish a terrorist cell within the US. There are indications they might be trying to recruit US citizens. In the next month, there is information that a cell is attempting to recruit a group of five to seven young men from the US to travel to the Middle East for training. This is part of a plan to strike a US domestic target. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
October 8, 1998: The FAA issues the first of three warnings to the nation's airports and airlines urging a ''high degree of vigilance'' against threats to US civil aviation from al-Qaeda. It specifically warns against a possible terrorist hijacking ''at a metropolitan airport in the Eastern United States.'' The information is based on statements made by bin Laden and other Islamic leaders and intelligence information following the US cruise missile attacks in August. All three warnings came in late 1998, well before 9/11. [Boston Globe, 5/26/02] This report contradicts numerous later statements by US officials that the US never had any pre-9/11 specific threats inside the US or involving hijackings (for instance, see September 12, 2001 or May 16, 2002).
November 1998: US intelligence learns that a Turkish extremist group had planned a suicide attack. The conspirators, who were arrested, planned to crash an airplane packed with explosives into a famous tomb during a government ceremony. The Turkish press said the group had cooperated with bin Laden. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
November 4, 1998: The US formally charges bin Laden with the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and announce a record $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest. [PBS Frontline, 2001] Shortly thereafter, bin Laden allocates $9 million in reward money for each assassination of four top intelligence agency officers. It is later learned that the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, FBI Director and CIA Director are the targets. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, MSNBC, 9/18/02]
December 1, 1998: A US intelligence assessment: "[bin Laden] is actively planning against US targets... Multiple reports indicate [he] is keenly interested in striking the US on its own soil... al-Qaeda is recruiting operatives for attacks in the US but has not yet identified potential targets." Later in the month, a classified document signed by a senior US official states: "The intelligence community has strong indications that bin Laden intends to conduct or sponsor attacks inside the US." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02]
December 21, 1998: In a Time magazine cover story entitled "The Hunt for Osama," it is reported intelligence sources "have evidence that bin Laden may be planning his boldest move yet - a strike on Washington or possibly New York City in an eye-for-an-eye retaliation. 'We've hit his headquarters, now he hits ours,' says a State Department aide." [Time, 12/21/98]
1999 (C): MI6, the British intelligence agency, gives a secret report to liaison staff at the US embassy in London. The reports states that al-Qaeda has plans to use "commercial aircraft" in "unconventional ways", "possibly as flying bombs." [Sunday Times, 6/9/02]
1999 (D): The CIA finds an abandoned airstrip in Afghanistan, and makes plans to use it to evacuate a captured bin Laden, take agents in and out, and similar purposes. It is speculated that this is the same airstrip occupied and used as a base of operations early in the later Afghan war. [Washington Post, 12/19/01]
March 1999: US intelligence learns of plans by an al-Qaeda member who is also a US citizen, to fly a hang glider into the Egyptian Presidential Palace and then detonate the explosives he is carrying. The individual, who received hang glider training in the US, brings a hang glider back to Afghanistan, but various problems arise during the testing of the glider. This unnamed person is subsequently arrested and is in custody abroad. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
Spring 1999: US intelligence learns of a planned bin Laden attack on a US government facility in Washington (which facility has not been made public). [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, New York Times, 9/18/02]
June 1999 (B): In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and in a briefing to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staffers one month later, the chief of the CTC describes reports that bin Laden and his associates are planning attacks in the US. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
July 14, 1999: US government informant Randy Glass records a conversation at a dinner attended by him, illegal arms dealers Diaa Mohsen and Mohammed Malik (see June 12, 2001), a former Egyptian judge named Shireen Shawky, and ISI agent Rajaa Gulum Abbas, held at a restaurant within view of the WTC. FBI agents pretending to be restaurant customers sit at nearby tables. [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02, MSNBC, 8/2/02] Abbas says he wants to buy a whole shipload of weapons stolen from the US military to give to bin Laden. [Cox News, 8/2/02] Abbas points to the WTC and says, "Those towers are coming down." This ISI agent later makes two other references to an attack on the WTC. [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02, Cox News, 8/2/02, Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] Abbas also says, "Americans [are] the enemy," and, "We would have no problem with blowing up this entire restaurant because it is full of Americans." [MSNBC, 3/18/03] The meeting is secretly recorded, and parts are shown on television in 2003 (see also August 17, 1999). [MSNBC, 3/18/03 (B)]
September 1999 (C): A report prepared for US intelligence entitled the "Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism" is completed. It states: "Al-Qaeda's expected retaliation for the US cruise missile attack ... could take several forms of terrorist attack in the nation's capital. Al-Qaeda could detonate a Chechen-type building-buster bomb at a federal building. Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and Semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House. Whatever form an attack may take, bin Laden will most likely retaliate in a spectacular way." The report is by the National Intelligence Council, which advises the President and US intelligence on emerging threats. [AP, 4/18/02, read the complete report on-line] The Bush administration later claims to have never heard of this report until May 2002, despite the fact that it had been publicly posted on the internet since 1999, and "widely shared within the government" according to the New York Times. [CNN, 5/18/02, New York Times, 5/18/02]
September 1999 (D): US intelligence obtains information that bin Laden and others are planning a terrorist act in the US, possibly against specific landmarks in California and New York City. The reliability of the source is unknown. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
September 1999 (E): FBI agents visit the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma to investigate Ihab Ali, who attended the school in 1993 and was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya. [CNN, 10/16/01, Boston Globe, 9/18/01, Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] It's not known if those investigators were aware of a flight school warning given by the Oklahoma FBI in 1998 (see May 18, 1998). Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi later visit Airman in July 2000 but ultimately decide to train in Florida instead. [Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Zacarias Moussaoui takes flight lessons at Airman in 2001 (see February 23, 2001).
September 15, 1999: The first phase of the US Commission on National Security/21st Century, co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart (D) and Warren Rudman (R) is issued. It concludes: "America will be attacked by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction and Americans will lose their lives on American soil, possibly in large numbers" (see also January 31, 2001). [download the complete report here: USCNS Reports]
October 5, 1999: The highly respected Jane's Terrorism and Security Monitor reports that US intelligence is worried bin Laden is planned a major terrorist attack on US soil. They are said to be particularly concerned about some kind of attack on New York, and they have recommended stepped-up security at the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve. [NewsMax, 10/5/99]
December 14, 1999: Al-Qaeda terrorist Ahmed Ressam is arrested in Port Angeles, Washington, attempting to enter the US with components of explosive devices. 130 pounds of bomb-making chemicals and detonator components are found inside his rental car. He subsequently admits he planned to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on December 31, 1999. [New York Times, 12/30/01] This would have been part of a wave of attacks against US targets over the New Year's weekend (see also November 30, 1999 and January 3, 2000). He is later connected to al-Qaeda and convicted, but he still hasn't been formally sentenced. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, PBS Frontline 10/3/02]
December 31, 1999-January 1, 2000: The CIA expected five to 15 attacks against American targets around the world over the New Year's weekend, but none occur. [Time, 8/4/02] Since late 1999, there was intelligence that targets in Washington and New York would be attacked at this time. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] It's not clear who they warned or when, but if US intelligence thought terrorists were capable of so many simultaneous attacks then why (as was claimed after 9/11) have only a total of 14 fighters been at a state of highest readiness to defend the entire US since 1997?
2000 (B): At some point during this year, an FBI internal memo states that a Middle Eastern nation has been trying to purchase a flight simulator in violation of US restrictions. FBI refuses to disclose the date or details. [Los Angeles Times, 5/30/02] FTW
March 2000 (B): US intelligence obtains information about the types of targets that bin Ladens network might strike. The Statue of Liberty is specially mentioned, as are skyscrapers, ports, airports, and nuclear power plants. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
April 2000 (B): US intelligence learns about an alleged bin Laden plot to hijack a 747. The source is a "walk-in" to the FBIs Newark office who claims that he had been to a training camp in Pakistan where he learned hijacking techniques and received arms training. He also stated that he was supposed to meet five to six other individuals in the US who would also participate in the plot. They were instructed to use all necessary force to take over the plane because there would be pilots among the hijacking team. The plan was to fly the plane to Afghanistan, and if they would not make it there, that they were to blow up the plane. Although the individual passed an FBI polygraph, the FBI was never able to verify any aspect of his story or identify his contacts in the US. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
Late April-Mid-May 2000:
Atta reportedly has a very strange meeting with Johnelle Bryant of the US Department
of Agriculture (incidentally, one month before the official story claims he
arrived in the US for the first time). According to Bryant, in the meeting Atta
does all of the following:
1) He initially refuses to speak with one who is "but a female."
2) He asks her for a loan of $650,000 to buy and modify a crop-dusting plane.
3) He mentions that he wants to "build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting."
4) He uses his real name even as she takes notes, and makes sure she spells it correctly.
5) He says he has just arrived from Afghanistan.
6) He tells about his travel plans to Spain and Germany.
7) He expresses an interest in visiting New York.
8) He asks her about security at the WTC and other US landmarks.
9) He discusses al-Qaeda and its need for American membership.
10) He tells her bin Laden "would someday be known as the world's greatest leader."
11) He asks to buy the aerial photograph of Washington hanging on her Florida office wall, throwing increasingly large "wads of cash" at her when she refuses to sell it. [ABC News, 6/6/02]
12) After Bryant points out one of the buildings in the Washington photograph as her former place of employment, he asks her, "How would you like it if somebody flew an airplane into your friends' building?" [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/14/02, p. 270]
13) He asks her, "What would prevent [me] from going behind [your] desk and cutting [your] throat and making off with the millions of dollars" in the safe behind her.
14) He asks, "How would America like it if another country destroyed [Washington] and some of the monuments in it like the cities in [my] country had been destroyed?" (Atta supposedly comes from Egypt - what cities have been destroyed there in recent decades?)
15) He gets "very agitated" when he isn't given the money in cash on the spot.
Atta later tries to get the loan again from the same woman, this time "slightly disguised" by wearing glasses. Three other terrorists also attempt to get the same loan from Bryant, but all of them fail. Bryant turns them down because they don't meet the loan requirements, and fails to notify anyone about these strange encounters until after 9/11. Government officials not only confirm the account and say that Bryant passed a lie detector test, but elaborate that the account jibes with other information they have received from interrogating prisoners. Supposedly, failing to get the loan, the terrorists switched plans from using crop dusters to hijacking aircraft. [ABC News, 6/6/02, London Times, 6/8/02] Compare Atta's meeting with FBI Director Mueller's later testimony about the hijackers: "There were no slip-ups. Discipline never broke down. They gave no hint to those around them what they were about." [CNN, 9/28/02] Why would the terrorists have been depending on such a loan in the first place instead of just spending some of bin Laden's millions to buy the plane? Were the terrorists comically inept, and the US just as inept for not catching them, or is the story government propaganda? Could Atta (or someone impersonating him) have been trying to make himself conspicuous as part of a trail of false evidence? Why didn't Bryant report someone who threatened her with violence, and threatened terrorist acts?
April-May 2000: Around this time future 9/11 hijacker Marwan Alshehhi boasts of planning an attack to a Hamburg librarian. He says, "There will be thousands of dead. You will think of me." He also specifically mentions the WTC. [AFP, 8/29/02, New York Times, 8/29/02] "You will see," Alshehhi adds. "In America something is going to happen. There will be many people killed." [New York Times, 9/10/02] This "demonstrates that the members of the Hamburg cell were not quite as careful to keep secret their plans as had previously been thought. And it appears to bury for good the theory that the pilots were informed of their targets only hours before they took off. Not least, though, Marwan Alshehhi's boast provides a key element for the reconstruction of the plot - a date by which the terrorists had decided on their target." [Guardian, 8/30/02]
August 12, 2000: Italian intelligence successfully wiretap the al-Qaeda terrorist cell in Milan, Italy from late 1999 until summer 2001. [Boston Globe, 8/4/02] In a wiretapped conversation from this day, suspected Yemeni terrorist Abdulsalam Ali Abdulrahman tells wanted Egyptian terrorist Es Sayed about a massive strike against the enemies of Islam involving aircraft and the sky, a blow that "will be written about in all the newspapers of the world. This will be one of those strikes that will never be forgotten.... This is a terrifying thing. This is a thing that will spread from south to north, from east to west: The person who came up with this program is a madman from a madhouse, a madman but a genius." In another conversation, Abdulrahman tells Es Sayed: "I'm studying airplanes. I hope, God willing, that I can bring you a window or a piece of an airplane the next time we see each other." The comment is followed by laughter. Beginning in October 2000, FBI experts helped Italian police analyze the intercepts and warnings. Neither Italy nor the FBI understands their meaning until after 9/11, but apparently Italians understand enough to give the US an attack warning in March 2001 (see March 2001 (B)). [Los Angeles Times, 5/29/02, Guardian, 5/30/02, Washington Post, 5/31/02] FTW The Milan cell "is believed to have created a cottage industry in supplying false passports and other bogus documents." [Boston Globe, 8/4/02] If the hijackers were using false identities (see also January 24, 2001), could Abdulrahman, current whereabouts unknown, actually have been one of the 9/11 hijackers?
September 2000 (B): L'Houssaine Kherchtou arrives in the US to testify against other al-Qaeda agents. He reveals that from 1992 to 1995 he trained in Nairobi, Kenya to be a pilot for al-Qaeda. His training stopped when he left al-Qaeda in 1995 (see Late May 2001). [State Department, 2/22/01]
September 15-October 1, 2000: Olympics officials later reveal that "A fully loaded, fueled airliner crashing into the opening ceremony before a worldwide television audience at the Sydney Olympics was one of the greatest security fears for the Games." During the Olympics, Australia has six planes in the sky at all times ready to intercept any wayward aircraft. In fact, "IOC officials said the scenario of a plane crash during the opening ceremony was uppermost in their security planning at every Olympics since terrorists struck in Munich in 1972." Bin Laden was considered the number one threat. [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/20/01]
October 12, 2000: The USS Cole is bombed in the Aden, Yemen harbor by al-Qaeda terrorists. 17 US soldiers are killed. [ABC News, 10/13/00]
October 24-26, 2000: Pentagon officials carry out a "detailed" emergency drill based upon the crashing of a hijacked airliner into the Pentagon. [MDW News Service, 11/3/00, Mirror, 5/24/02] The Pentagon is such an obvious target that, "For years, staff at the Pentagon joked that they worked at "Ground Zero", the spot at which an incoming nuclear missile aimed at America's defenses would explode. There is even a snack bar of that name in the central courtyard of the five-sided building, America's most obvious military bullseye." [Telegraph, 9/16/01] After 9/11, a Pentagon spokesman will claim: "The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way, and I doubt prior to Tuesday's event, anyone would have expected anything like that here." [Newsday, 9/23/01] FTW
January 21, 2001: George Bush Jr. is inaugurated as the 43rd US President, replacing Clinton. The only major figure to permanently remain in office is CIA Director Tenet, appointed in 1997 and reputedly a long time friend of Bush Sr. FBI Director Louis Freeh stays on until June 2001.
January 24, 2001: On this day, Italian intelligence hear another interesting wiretapped conversation (see also August 12, 2000), this one between terrorists Es Sayed and Ben Soltane Adel, two member's of al-Qaeda's Milan cell. Adel asks, in reference to fake documents, "Will these work for the brothers who are going to the United States?" Sayed responds angrily, saying "Don't ever say those words again, not even joking!" "If it's necessary ... whatever place we may be, come up and talk in my ear, because these are very important things. You must know ... that this plan is very, very secret, as if you were protecting the security of the state." This is only one of many clues found from the Italian wiretaps and passed on to US intelligence in March 2001 (see March 2001 (B)). But they apparently are not properly understood until after 9/11. The Spanish government claims to have uncovered 9/11 clues from wiretaps as well (see August 27, 2001), and a priest was told of the 9/11 plot at an Italian wedding (see September 7, 2001), suggesting a surprising number of people in Europe may have had foreknowledge of 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 5/29/02] Adel is later arrested and convicted of belonging to a terrorist cell and Es Sayed fled to Afghanistan in July 2001. [Guardian, 5/30/02]
February 7, 2001: CIA Director Tenet warns Congress in open testimony that bin Laden and his global network remains ''the most immediate and serious threat" to US interests. "Since 1998 bin Laden has declared that all US citizens are legitimate targets," he says, adding that bin Laden ''is capable of planning multiple attacks with little or no warning." [AP, 2/7/01, Sunday Herald, 9/23/01]
February-July 2001: A trial is held in New York City for four defendants charged with involvement in the 1998 US embassy bombings. All are ultimately convicted. Testimony reveals that two bin Laden operatives had received pilot training in Texas and Oklahoma and another had been asked to take lessons. One bin Laden aide becomes a government witness and gives the FBI detailed information about a pilot training scheme. This new information does not lead to any new FBI investigations into the matter. [Washington Post, 9/23/01]
March 2001 (B): The Italian government gives the US information about possible attacks based on apartment wiretaps in the Italian city of Milan. [Fox News, 5/17/02] Presumably, the information includes a discussion between two al-Qaeda agents talking about a "very, very secret" plan to forge documents "for the brothers who are going to the United States" (see January 24, 2001). The warning may also have mentioned a wiretap the previous August involving one of the same people that discussed a massive strike against the enemies of Islam involving aircraft (see August 12, 2000). Two months later, wiretaps of the same Milan cell also reveal a plot to attack a summit of world leaders (see May 2001).
April 2001 (B): A source with terrorist connections speculates to US intelligence that "bin Laden would be interested in commercial pilots as potential terrorists." The source warns that the US should not focus only on embassy bombings, because terrorists are seeking "spectacular and traumatic" attacks, along the lines of the WTC bombing in 1993. Because the source was offering personal speculation and not hard information, the information is not disseminated widely. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, New York Times, 9/18/02]
April 2001 (C): Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, has been trying to get aid from the US, but his people are only allowed to meet with low level US officials. In an attempt to get his message across, he addresses the European Parliament: "If President Bush doesn't help us, these terrorists will damage the US and Europe very soon." [Time, 8/4/02]
April 18, 2001: The FAA sends a warning to US airlines that Middle Eastern terrorists could try to hijack or blow up a US plane and that carriers should "demonstrate a high degree of alertness." The warning stems from the April 6, 2001, conviction of Ahmed Ressam over a failed plot to blow up Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebrations. This warning expires on July 31, 2001. [AP, 5/18/02] This is one of 15 general warnings issued to airlines between January and August (the airlines have been getting an average of more than one warning a month for a long time), but this one is slightly more specific. [CNN, 3/02, CNN, 5/17/02] As one newspaper later reports, "there were so many that airline officials grew numb to them." [St. Petersburg Times, 9/23/02] The Bush administration officials have said the threats were so vague that they did not require tighter security. [AP, 5/18/02]
Late April-Mid-May 2000:
Atta reportedly has a very strange meeting with Johnelle Bryant of the US Department
of Agriculture (incidentally, one month before the official story claims he
arrived in the US for the first time). According to Bryant, in the meeting Atta
does all of the following:
1) he initially refuses to speak with one who is "but a female."
2) asks her for a loan of $650,000 to buy and modify a crop-dusting plane.
3) mentions that he wants to "build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting."
4) uses his real name even as she takes notes.
5) says he has just arrived from Afghanistan.
6) tells about his travel plans to Spain and Germany.
7) expresses an interest in visiting New York.
8) asks her about security at the WTC and other US landmarks.
9) discusses al-Qaeda and its need for American membership.
10) tells her bin Laden "would someday be known as the world's greatest leader."
11) asks to buy the aerial photograph of Washington hanging on her Florida office wall, throwing increasingly large "wads of cash" at her when she refuses to sell it.
12) asks her "what would prevent [Atta] from going behind [Bryant's] desk and cutting [her] throat and making off with the millions of dollars" in the safe behind her.
13) asks "How would America like it if another country destroyed [Washington] and some of the monuments in it like the cities in [my] country had been destroyed?" (Atta supposedly comes from Egypt - what cities have been destroyed there in recent decades?)
14) gets "very agitated" when he isn't given the money in cash on the spot.
Later Atta tries to get the loan again from the same woman, this time "slightly disguised" by wearing glasses. Three other terrorists also attempt to get the same loan from Bryant, but all of them fail. Bryant turns them down because they don't meet the loan requirements, and fails to notify anyone about these strange encounters until after 9/11. Government officials not only confirm the account and say that Bryant passed a lie detector test, but elaborate that the account jibes with other information they have received from interrogating prisoners. Supposedly, failing to get the loan, the terrorists switched plans from using crop dusters to hijacking aircraft. [ABC News, 6/6/02, London Times, 6/8/02] Why would the terrorists have been depending on such a loan in the first place instead of just spending some of bin Laden's millions to buy the plane? Were the terrorists comically inept, and the US just as inept for not catching them, or is the story government propaganda? Could Atta (or someone impersonating him) have been trying to make himself conspicuous as part of a trail of false evidence?
May 2001 (B): US intelligence obtains information that al-Qaeda is planning to infiltrate the US from Canada and carry out a terrorist operation using high explosives. The report doesn't say exactly where inside the US, or when, or how an attack might occur. Two months later, the information is shared with the FBI, the INS, US Customs Service, and the State Department, and is included in "a closely held intelligence report for senior government officials in August 2001" (apparently a reference to Bush's well-reported briefing - see August 6, 2001). [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02]
May 2001 (C): The Defense Department gains and shares information indicating that seven people associated with bin Laden have departed from various locations for Canada, Britain, and the US. This is around the time that most of the 19 hijackers enter the US - could those be some of the people referred to? The next month, the CIA learns that key operatives in al-Qaeda are disappearing while others are preparing for martyrdom. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02]
May 2001 (I): An Iranian in custody in New York City tells local police of a plot to attack the World Trade Center. No more details are known. [Fox News, 5/17/02]
May 2001 (J): US Medicine magazine later reports, "Though the Department of Defense had no capability in place to protect the Pentagon from an ersatz guided missile in the form of a hijacked 757 airliner, DoD [Department of Defense] medical personnel trained for exactly that scenario in May." The tri-Service DiLorenzo Health Care Clinic and the Air Force Flight Medicine Clinic train inside the Pentagon this month "to fine-tune their emergency preparedness." [US Medicine, 10/01]
May-July 2001: In a two month time period, the NSA reports "at least 33 communications indicating a possible, imminent terrorist attack." None of these reports provide any specific information on where, when, or how an attack might occur. These reports are widely disseminated to other intelligence agencies. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, MSNBC, 9/18/02] The NSA Director later claims that all of the warnings were red herrings. [NSA Director Congressional Testimony, 10/17/02]
May 29, 2001 (B): The State Department issues a overseas caution connected to the conviction of defendants found guilty of bombing the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. That warning says that "Americans citizens abroad may be the target of a terrorist threat from extremist groups" with links to bin Laden. The warning is reissued on June 22. [CNN, 6/23/01]
April 18, 2001 (B): The FAA sends a warning to US airlines that Middle Eastern terrorists could try to hijack or blow up a US plane and that carriers should "demonstrate a high degree of alertness." The warning stems from the April 6, 2001, conviction of Ahmed Ressam over a failed plot to blow up Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebrations. This warning expires on July 31, 2001. [AP, 5/18/02] This is one of 15 general warnings issued to airlines between January and August (the airlines have been getting an average of more than one warning a month for a long time), but this one is slightly more specific. [CNN, 3/02, CNN, 5/17/02] As one newspaper later reports, "there were so many that airline officials grew numb to them." [St. Petersburg Times, 9/23/02] The Bush administration officials have said the threats were so vague that they did not require tighter security. [AP, 5/18/02]
June 2001: The CIA provides senior US policy makers with a classified warning of a potential attack against US interests that is thought to be tied to Fourth of July celebrations in the US. [Sunday Herald, 9/23/01]
June 2001: German intelligence warns the CIA, Britain's MI6, and Israel's Mossad that Middle Eastern terrorists are planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack "American and Israeli symbols, which stand out." A later article quotes unnamed German intelligence sources who state the information was coming from Echelon surveillance technology, and that British intelligence had access to the same warnings. However, there were other informational sources, including specific information and hints given to, but not reported by, Western and Near Eastern news media six months before 9/11. [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 9/11/01, Washington Post, 9/14/01, Fox News, 5/17/02] FTW
June 2001 (B): US intelligence issues a terrorist threat advisory, warning US government agencies that there is a high probability of an imminent terrorist attack against US interests: "Sunni extremists associated with al-Qaeda are most likely to attempt spectacular attacks resulting in numerous casualties." The advisory mentions the Arabian Peninsula, Israel, and Italy as possible targets for an attack. Afterwards, intelligence information provided to senior US leaders continues to indicate that al-Qaeda expects near-term attacks to have dramatic consequences on governments or cause major casualties. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
June 2001 (I): US intelligence learns that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is interested in "sending terrorists to the United States" and planning to assist their activities once they arrive. The 9/11 Congressional inquiry says the significance of this is not understood at the time, and data collection efforts are not subsequently "targeted on information about [Mohammed] that might have helped understand al-Qaeda's plans and intentions." [Committee Findings, 12/11/02, Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02, USA Today, 12/12/02] The FBI has a $2 million reward for Mohammed at the time (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001). That summer, the NSA intercepts phone calls between Mohammed and Mohamed Atta, but apparently fails to pay attention (see Summer 2001), and on September 10, 2001, the US monitors a call from Atta to Mohammed in which Atta gets final approval for the 9/11 attacks, but this also doesn't lead to action (see September 10, 2001 (F)). In mid-2002, it is reported that "officials believe that given the warning signals available to the FBI in the summer of 2001, investigators correctly concentrated on the [USS] Cole investigation, rather than turning their attention to the possibility of a domestic attack." [New York Times, 6/9/02]
June 1-2, 2001: A multi-agency planning exercise sponsored by NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command, in charge of defending US airspace) involves the hypothetical scenario of a cruise missile launched by "a rogue (government) or somebody" from a barge off the East Coast. Bin Laden is pictured on the cover of the proposal for the exercise. [American Forces Press Service, 6/4/02] After 9/11, the government claims that this type of an attack was completely unexpected, and as a result it had only 14 fighters on standby to defend the entire US. [Newsday, 9/23/01]
June 4, 2001: At some point in 2000, three men claiming to be Afghans but using Pakistani passports enter the Cayman Islands, possibly illegally. [Miami Herald, 9/20/01] In late 2000, Cayman and British investigators begin a yearlong probe of these men which lasts until 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] They are overheard discussing hijacking attacks in New York City. On this day, they are taken into custody, questioned and released some time later. This information is forwarded to US intelligence. [Fox News, 5/17/02] In late August, a letter to a Cayman radio station will allege these same men are agents of bin Laden "organizing a major terrorist act against the US via an airline or airlines" (see August 29, 2001).
June 13, 2001: Egyptian President Hasni Mubarak claims that Egyptian intelligence discovers a "communiqué from bin Laden saying he wanted to assassinate George W. Bush and other G8 heads of state during their summit in Italy." The communiqué specifically mentions this would be done via "an airplane stuffed with explosives." The US and Italy are sent urgent warnings of this and the attack is apparently aborted (see July 20-22, 2001). [New York Times, 9/26/01] Mubarak claims that Egyptian intelligence officials informed American intelligence officers between March and May 2001 that an Egyptian agent had penetrated the bin Laden organization. Presumably this explains how Egypt is able to give the US these warnings (see also Late July 2001 (D) and August 30, 2001). [New York Times, 6/4/02]
June 23, 2001: Reuters reports that "Followers of exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden are planning a major attack on US and Israeli interests in the next two weeks." The report is based on the impression of a reporter who interviewed bin Laden and some of his followers two days earlier. This reporter is quoted as saying: "There is a major state of mobilization among the Osama bin Laden forces. It seems that there is a race of who will strike first. Will it be the United States or Osama bin Laden?" [Reuters, 6/23/01]
Mid-June 2001: A two-hour video tape of al-Qaeda terrorists training at an Afghanistan camp appears in Kuwait and subsequently makes its way to the internet. The tape shows bin Laden making threats against the US and terrorists attacking targets bearing US emblems. [Sunday Herald, 9/23/01]
June 26, 2001 (B): The State Department issues a worldwide caution warning American citizens of possible attacks. [CNN, 3/02]
June 28, 2001: CIA Director Tenet writes an intelligence summary for National Security Adviser Rice: "It is highly likely that a significant al-Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks." Rice will later claim that everyone was taken by complete surprise by the 9/11 attack (see May 16, 2002 (B)). [Washington Post, 5/17/02] This comes several days after a reporter visits bin Laden, and is given the impression that an attack will occur in the next two weeks. He isn't actually told that by anyone, but he is told by at least one bin Laden follower that "a severe blow is expected against USA and Israeli interests worldwide." [Pravda, 6/26/01]
Summer 2001 (C): Congressman Porter Goss (R), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, later says on the intelligence monitoring of terrorist groups: "the chatter level went way off the charts" around this time and stayed high until 9/11. Given his history as a CIA operative, presumably he was kept "in the know" to some extent. [Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02] A later Congressional report states: "Some individuals within the intelligence community have suggested that the increase in threat reporting was unprecedented, at least in terms of their own experience." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Two counter-terrorism officials [later describe] the alerts of this summer as "the most urgent in decades." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
July 2001: The CIA hears an individual who had recently been in Afghanistan say, "Everyone is talking about an impending attack." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02] The Telegraph later reports that "the idea of an attack on a skyscraper was discussed among [bin Laden's] supporters in Kabul." At some unspecified point before 9/11, a neighbor in Kabul saw diagrams showing a skyscraper attack in a house known as a "nerve center" for al-Qaeda activity. [Telegraph, 11/16/01] US soldiers will later find forged visas, altered passports, listings of Florida flight schools and registration papers for a flight simulator in al-Qaeda houses in Afghanistan. [New York Times, 12/6/01] Bin Laden bodyguard later claims that in May 2001 he hears bin Laden tell people in Afghanistan that the US would be hit with a terrorist attack, and thousands would die. [Guardian, 11/28/01] CIA Director Tenet later claims that the 9/11 plot was "in the heads of three or four people." [USA Today, 2/7/02] How many people in Afghanistan really knew of the 9/11 attack plans?
July 2001 (B): India gives the US general intelligence on possible terror attacks; details are not known. US government officials later confirm that Indian intelligence had information "that two Islamist radicals with ties to Osama bin Laden were discussing an attack on the White House," but apparently this particular information is not given to the US until two days after 9/11. [Fox News, 5/17/02]
Early July 2001: A briefing prepared for senior US government officials: "Based on a review of all-source reporting over the last five months, we believe that [bin Laden] will launch a significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning." As the weeks go by, intelligence information given to senior officials show that al-Qaeda continues to expect an imminent attack on US interests. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02]
July 1, 2001: Senators Dianne Feinstein (D) and Richard Shelby (R), both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, appear on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer", and warn of potential attacks by bin Laden. Says Feinstein: "One of the things that has begun to concern me very much as to whether we really have our house in order, intelligence staff have told me that there is a major probability of a terrorist incident within the next three months." [CNN, 3/02]
July 2, 2001 (B): The FBI issues a warning of possible al-Qaeda attacks on law enforcement agencies. The message states that "there are threats to be worried about overseas. While we cannot foresee attacks domestically, we cannot rule them out." [CNN, 3/02]
July 3, 2001: James Hatfield, author of an unflattering book on Bush called Fortunate Son, claims he has evidence al-Qaeda will try to assassinate Bush at the G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy (see July 20-22, 2001), possibly through a suicidal plane crash. This is the first public mention of the plot (see Mid-July 2001). Intelligence reports later confirm that such an attack was planned but aborted due to high security. What's unusual is that Hatfield adds: "German intelligence services have stated that bin Laden is covertly financing neo-Nazi skinhead groups throughout Europe to launch another terrorist attack at a high-profile American target." [Online Journal, 7/3/01] Two weeks later, Hatfield apparently commits suicide. However, there is widespread speculation that his death was payback for his revelation of Bush's cocaine use in the 1970s. [Salon, 7/20/01]
14, 1999: US government informant Randy Glass
records a conversation between some illegal arms dealers and ISI agents, held
at a restaurant within view of the WTC. R. G. Abbas, one of the ISI agents,
points to the WTC and says, "Those towers are coming
down." Abbas later makes other references to an attack on the WTC. Glass
passes these warnings on, but he claims "The complaints were ordered sanitized
by the highest levels of government." [WPBF
Channel 25, 8/5/02, New
York Observer, 10/1/01, Palm
Beach Post, 10/17/02] He is able to warn his
Senator Bob Graham and Graham admits being told the warning before 9/11, but
nothing is done about the warnings (see Early
August 2001). The head of the ISI not only knew
about the 9/11 attacks, but gave money to the 9/11 hijackers (see October
Mid-July 2001: US intelligence reports another spike in warnings (see June 13, 2001 for a previous warning) related to the July 20-22 G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy (see July 20-22, 2001). The reports include specific threats discovered by the head of Russia's Federal Bodyguard Service that al-Qaeda will try to kill Bush as he attends the summit. [CNN, 3/02] The reports are taken so seriously that Bush stays overnight on an aircraft carrier offshore, and other world leaders stay on a luxury ship. [CNN, 7/18/01] Two days before the summit begins, the BBC reports: "The huge force of officers and equipment which has been assembled to deal with unrest has been spurred on by a warning that supporters of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden might attempt an air attack on some of the world leaders present." [BBC, 7/18/01]
July 16, 2001: British spy agencies send a report to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other top officials warning that al-Qaeda is in "the final stages" of preparing a terrorist attack in the West. The prediction is "based on intelligence gleaned not just from MI6 and GCHQ but also from US agencies, including the CIA and the National Security Agency," which cooperate with the British. "The contents of the July 16 warning would have been passed to the Americans, Whitehall sources confirmed." The report states there is "an acute awareness" that the attack is "a very serious threat." [London Times, 6/14/02] This information could be from or in addition to a warning based on surveillance of al-Qaeda prisoner Khalid al-Fawwaz (see August 21, 2001). [Fox News, 5/17/02]
July 16, 2001 (B): A Village Voice reporter is told by a New York taxi driver, "You know, I am leaving the country and going home to Egypt sometime in late August or September. I have gotten e-mails from people I know saying that Osama bin Laden has planned big terrorist attacks for New York and Washington for that time. It will not be safe here then." He does in fact return to Egypt for that time period. The FBI isn't told about this lead until after 9/11. He is later interrogated by the FBI and released. He claims what he knew was known by many. [Village Voice, 9/25/02 (B)]
July 18, 2001: The FBI issues another warning to domestic law enforcement agencies about threats stemming from the convictions in the millennium bomb plot trial. The FAA also issues a warning, telling the airlines to "use the highest level of caution." [CNN, 3/02]
July 20-22, 2001: The G8 summit is held in Genoa, Italy. Acting on previous warnings that al-Qaeda would attempt to kill Bush and other leaders (see Mid-July 2001), Italy surrounds the summit with antiaircraft guns, keeps fighters in the air, and closes off local airspace to all planes. No attack occurs. US officials at the time state that the warnings were "unsubstantiated" but after 9/11 claim success in preventing an attack. Lying about Genoa keeps the public and the airlines uninformed about the seriousness of the current terrorist threat. [Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01] FTW
July 31, 2001: The FAA issues another warning to US airlines, citing no specific targets but saying "terror groups are known to be planning and training for hijackings, and we ask you therefore to use caution." These alerts had expired by 9/11. Note that pilots and flight attendants later claim they were never told about warnings such as these. The airlines also disagree about the content of pre-9/11 warnings generally. For instance, American Airlines states these warnings were "extremely general in nature and did not identify a specific threat or recommend any specific security enhancements." Like so many other things, the text of these warnings remain classified. [CNN, 3/02, Ananova, 5/17/02]
Late July 2001: The Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil learns that bin Laden is planning a "huge attack" on targets inside America. The attack is imminent, and will kill thousands. He learns this from Tahir Yildash, leader of the rebel Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which is allied with al-Qaeda at the time. Muttawakil sends an emissary to pass this information on to the US consul general, and another US official, "possibly from the intelligence services," also attends the meeting. The message is not taken very seriously; one source blames this on "warning fatigue" from too many warnings. Also, supposedly the emissary was from the Foreign Ministry, but didn't say the message came from Muttawakil himself. The emissary then takes the message to the Kabul offices of UNSMA, the political wing of the UN. They also fail to take the warning seriously. [Independent, 9/7/02, Reuters, 9/7/02] Isn't it ironic the US destroyed the Taliban, who tried to warn them of the attacks? Click here for more on this topic.
Late July 2001 (B): David Schippers, noted conservative Chicago lawyer and the House Judiciary Committee's chief investigator in the Clinton impeachment trial, claims two days after 9/11 that he had tried to warn federal authorities about plans to strike buildings in lower Manhattan. Schippers says, "I was trying to get people to listen to me because I had heard that the terrorists had set up a three-pronged attack:" an American airplane, the bombing of a federal building in the heartland and a massive attack in lower Manhattan, He tries contacting Attorney General John Ashcroft, the White House, and even the House managers with whom he had worked, but nobody returns his phone calls. "People thought I was crazy. What I was doing was I was calling everybody I knew telling them that this has happened," he says. "I'm telling you the more I see of the stuff that's coming out, if the FBI had even been awake they would have seen it." He also claims to know of ignored warnings about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and evidence that Middle Easterners were connected with that attack. [Indianapolis Star, 5/18/02] Other mainstream sources have apparently shied away from Schipper's story, but he has added details in an interview on the partisan Alex Jones Show. He claims that it is FBI agents in Chicago and Minnesota who first contact him and tell him that a terrorist attack is going to occur in lower Manhattan. A group of these agents now want to testify about what they know, but want legal protection from government retribution. [Alex Jones Show, 10/10/01]
Late July 2001 (C): Argentina's Jewish community receives warnings of a major terrorist attack against either the United States, Argentina or France from "a foreign intelligence source." The warning was then relayed to the Argentine security authorities. It was agreed to keep the warning secret in order to avoid panic while reinforcing security at Jewish sites in the country. Says a Jewish leader, "It was a concrete warning that an attack of major proportion would take place, and it came from a reliable intelligence source. And I understand the Americans were told about it." Argentina has a large Jewish community that has been bombed in the past, and has been an area of al-Qaeda activity. [Forward, 5/31/02]
Late July 2001 (D): CBS later has a brief mention in a long story on another topic: "Just days after Atta return[s] to the US from Spain, Egyptian intelligence in Cairo says it received a report from one of its operatives in Afghanistan that 20 al-Qaeda members had slipped into the US and four of them had received flight training on Cessnas. To the Egyptians, pilots of small planes didn't sound terribly alarming, but they [pass] on the message to the CIA anyway, fully expecting Washington to request information. The request never [comes]." [CBS, 10/9/02] This appears to be one of several accurate Egyptian warnings based on informants (see June 13, 2001 and August 30, 2001). Could Egypt have known the names of some or all of the hijackers? Given FBI agent Ken Williams' memo about flight schools a short time before (see July 10, 2001), shouldn't the US have investigated this closely instead of completely ignoring it?
Late summer 2001: Jordanian intelligence (the GID) makes a communications intercept deemed so important that King Abdullah's men relay it to Washington, probably through the CIA station in Amman. To make doubly sure the message gets through it is passed through an Arab intermediary to a German intelligence agent. The message states that a major attack, code named The Big Wedding, is planned inside the US and that aircraft will be used. "When it became clear that the information was embarrassing to Bush Administration officials and congressmen who at first denied that there had been any such warnings before September 11, senior Jordanian officials backed away from their earlier confirmations." Christian Science Monitor calls the story "confidently authenticated" even though Jordan has backed away from it. [International Herald Tribune, 5/21/02, Christian Science Monitor, 5/23/02] FTW
Late summer 2001 (B): US intelligence learns that an al-Qaeda operative is considering mounting terrorist operations in the US. There is no information on the timing or specific targets. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
August 2001 (C): The French magazine Maximale and the Moroccan newspaper al-Ittihad al-Ichtiraki later simultaneously report that a Moroccan agent named Hassan Dabou had penetrated al-Qaeda to the point of getting close to bin Laden by this time. Dabou claims he learns that bin Laden is "very disappointed" that the 1993 bombing had not toppled the WTC, and plans "large scale operations in New York in the summer or fall of 2001." Dabou is called to the US to report this information directly, and in so doing blows his cover, losing his ability to gather more intelligence. The International Herald Tribune later calls the story "not proved beyond a doubt" but intriguing, and asks the CIA to confirm or deny, which it has not done. [Agence France Presse, 11/22/01, International Herald Tribune, 5/21/02, London Times, 6/12/02] FTW
August 2001 (D): Russian President Putin warns the US that suicide pilots are training for attacks on US targets. [Fox News, 5/17/02] The head of Russian intelligence also later states, "We had clearly warned them" on several occasions, but they "did not pay the necessary attention." [Agence France-Presse, 9/16/01] A Russian newspaper on September 12, 2001 claims that "Russian Intelligence agents know the organizers and executors of these terrorist attacks. More than that, Moscow warned Washington about preparation to these actions a couple of weeks before they happened." Interestingly, the article claims that at least two of the terrorists were Muslim radicals from Uzbekistan. [Izvestia, 9/12/01, (the story currently on the Izvestia web site has been edited to delete a key paragraph, the link is to a translation of the original article from From the Wilderness)] FTW
August 2001 (E): The CIA issues a report warning the White House, Pentagon and Department of State that bin Laden is intent on launching a terrorist attack soon, possibly inside the US. [Sunday Herald, 9/23/01]
August 2001 (F): US intelligence learns of a plot to either bomb the US embassy in Nairobi from an airplane or crash an airplane into it. Two people who were reportedly acting on instructions from bin Laden met in October 2000 to discuss this plot. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
August 2001 (G): Former CIA agent Robert Baer (see December 1997 and January 23, 2002) is advising a prince in a Persian Gulf royal family, when a military associate of this prince passes information to him about a "spectacular terrorist operation" that will take place shortly. He is also given a computer record of around 600 secret al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The list includes 10 names that will be placed on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list after 9/11. He is also given evidence that a Saudi merchant family had funded the USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000), and that the Yemeni government is covering up information related to that bombing. At the military officer's request, he offers all this information to the Saudi Arabian government. But an aide to the Saudi defense minister, Prince Sultan, refuses to look at the list or to pass the names on (Sultan is later sued for his complicity in the 9/11 plot, see August 15, 2002). Baer also passes the information on to a senior CIA official and the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center, but there is no response or action. Large sections of Baer's book are blacked out, having been censored by the CIA. [Financial Times, 1/12/02, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, Robert Baer, 2/02, pp. 270-271, Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, Bill Gertz, pp. 55-58]
Early August 2001: Randy Glass, a former jewel thief turned government informant, later claims that he contacts the staff of Senator Bob Graham and Representative Robert Wexler and warns them of a plan to attack the WTC, but his warnings are ignored. Glass was a key informant in a sting operation involving ISI agents trying to illegally purchase sophisticated US military weaponry in return for cash and heroin (see June 12, 2001). Glass claims that before the sting operation ended in June 2001, one Pakistani operative named R. G. Abbas made three references to imminent plans to attack the WTC. In one meeting held in New York City in 1999, Abbas pointed to the WTC and said, "Those towers are coming down." Glass caught this meeting on tape (see July 14, 1999). In October 2002, Glass testifies under oath before a private session of the Congressional 9/11 inquiry. He states, "I told [the inquiry] I have specific evidence, and I can document it." Florida State Senator Ron Klein, who had dealings with Glass before 9/11, says he is surprised it took so many months for the US to listen to Glass: "Shame on us." [Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] Glass also told the media in early August that the case has "far greater ramifications than have so far been revealed," and "potentially, thousands of lives [are] at risk." [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/7/01] Senator Graham acknowledged that his office had contact with Glass before 9/11, and was told about a WTC attack: "I was concerned about that and a dozen other pieces of information which emanated from the summer of 2001." But Graham later says he was unaware of Glass's information until after 9/11. [Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] Why hasn't the US tried to extradite Abbas from Pakistan?
Early August 2001 (B): AP later reports that the "CIA had developed general information a month before the attacks that heightened concerns that bin Laden and his followers were increasingly determined to strike on US soil." A CIA official affirmed that: "There was something specific in early August that said to us that [bin Laden] was determined in striking on US soil." A major excuse given since 9/11 is that the Bush administration was focused on overseas attacks, and didn't expect a domestic attack (for instance see May 16, 2002). [AP, 10/3/01]
Early August 2001 (C): Britain gives the US another warning about an al-Qaeda attack. The previous British warning (see July 16, 2001) was vague as to method, but this warning specifies multiple airplane hijackings. This warning is included in Bush's briefing on August 6. [Sunday Herald, 5/19/02]
August 1, 2001: Actor James Woods, flying first class on an airplane, notices four Arabic-looking men, the only other people in the first class section. He concludes they are terrorists, acting very strangely (for instance, only talking in whispers). [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] He tells a stewardess, "I think this plane is going to be hijacked" adding, "I know how serious it is to say this." He conveys his worries to the pilots and is assured that the cockpit would be locked. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] The flight staff later notifies the FAA about these suspicious individuals. Though the government won't say, it is highly unlikely that any action is taken regarding the flight staff's worries. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] Woods isn't interviewed by the FBI about this until after 9/11. Woods says the FBI believes that all four men did take part in the 9/11 attacks, and the flight he was on was a practice flight for them. [O'Reilly Factor, 2/14/02] Woods believes one was Khalid Almihdhar and another was Hamza Alghamdi. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] The FBI later reports that this may have been one of a dozen test run flights starting as early as January. Flight attendants and passengers on other flights later recall men looking like the hijackers who took pictures of the cockpit aboard flights and/or took notes. [AP, 5/29/02] Given the number of test flights, did others alert authorities before 9/11? The FBI hasn't been able to find any evidence of hijackers on the flight manifest for Woods' flight. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] Were the hijackers using false identities?
August 1, 2001 (B): The FBI reissues a warning targeting overseas law enforcement agencies with the approaching third anniversary of the US embassy bombings in Africa. [CNN, 3/02]
August 6, 2001: President Bush receives classified intelligence briefings at his Crawford, Texas ranch indicating that bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. The memo read to him is titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US", and the entire memo focuses on the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the US. National Security Advisor Rice later claims the memo was "fuzzy and thin" and only 1 and a half pages long (his normal daily security briefings run two or three pages) but other accounts state it was 11 pages long. [Newsweek, 5/27/02, New York Times, 5/15/02, Die Zeit, 10/1/02] The contents have never been made public. However, a Congressional report later describes what is likely this memo (they call it "a closely held intelligence report for senior government officials" presented in early August 2001): it mentions "that members of al-Qaeda, including some US citizens, had resided in or traveled to the US for years and that the group apparently maintained a support structure here. The report cited uncorroborated information obtained in 1998 that Osama bin Laden wanted to hijack airplanes to gain the release of US-held extremists; FBI judgments about patterns of activity consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks and the number of bin Laden-related investigations underway; as well as information acquired in May 2001 that indicated a group of bin Laden supporters was planning attacks in the US with explosives." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Incredibly, the New York Times later reports that Bush "broke off from work early and spent most of the day fishing" (see also August 4-30, 2001). [New York Times, 5/25/02] FTW The existence of this memo is kept secret until May 2002 (see May 15, 2002). Could the exact timing of this memo be related to the British warning from a few days before (see Early August 2001 (C))?
August 8-15, 2001: At some point between these dates, Israel warns the US that an al-Qaeda attack is imminent. [Fox News, 5/17/02] Two high ranking agents from the Mossad come to Washington and warn the FBI and CIA that from 50 to 200 terrorists have slipped into the US and are planning "a major assault on the United States." They say indications point to a "large scale target", and that Americans would be "very vulnerable." They add there could be Iraqi connections to the al-Qaeda attack. [Telegraph, 9/16/01, Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01] The Los Angeles Times later retracts the story after a CIA spokesman says, "There was no such warning. Allegations that there was are complete and utter nonsense." [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] In light of later revelations of a Mossad spy ring trailing numerous Muslim terrorists in the US, it is easy to see that Mossad would have known this info. Could this be later disinformation by the Mossad to spin the spy ring story and blame Iraq for 9/11, or it is another smoking gun showing extensive US foreknowledge?
August 13-15, 2001:
Zacarias Moussaoui trains at the Pan Am International Flight School in Minneapolis,
Minnesota, where he pays $8,300 ($1500 by credit card and the remainder
in cash) to use a Boeing 474 Model 400 aircraft simulator. After just one day
of training most of the staff is suspicious that he's a terrorist. They discuss
"how much fuel [is] on board a 747-400 and how much damage that could cause
if it hit[s] anything." They call the FBI
with their concerns later that day. [New
York Times, 2/8/02, Senate
Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] They are
1) In contrast to all the other students at this high-level flight school, he has no aviation background, little previous training and no pilot's license. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02]
2) He wants to fly a 747 not because he plans to be a pilot, but as an "ego boosting thing." [New York Times, 10/18/02] Yet within hours of his arrival, it is clear he "was not some affluent joy-rider." [New York Times, 2/8/02]
3) He is "extremely" interested in the operation of the plane's doors and control panel. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] He also is very keen on learning the protocol for communicating with the flight tower despite having no plans to actually become a pilot. [New York Times, 2/8/02]
4) He is evasive and belligerent when asked about his background. When an instructor, who notes from his records that Moussaoui is from France, attempts to greet him in French, Moussaoui appears not to understand, saying that he had spent very little time in France and that he is from the Middle East. The instructor considers it odd that Moussaoui did not specify the Middle Eastern country. [Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune, 12/21/01; Washington Post, 1/2/02]
5) He tells a flight instructor he is not a Muslim, but the instructor senses he is lying, badly, about it. [New Yorker, 9/30/02]
6) He says he would "love" to fly a simulated flight from London to New York, raising fears he has plans to hijack such a flight. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] His original e-mail to the flight school similarly stated he wanted to be good enough to fly from London to New York. [New York Times, 2/8/02]
7) He pays for thousands of dollars in expenses from a large wad of cash. [New York Times, 2/8/02]
8) He seemed to be trying to pack a large amount of training in a short period of time for no apparent reason. [New York Times, 2/8/02]
9) He mostly practices flying in the air, not taking off or landing (although note that reports claiming he didn't want to take off or land at all appear to be an exaggeration). [New York Times, 2/8/02, Slate, 5/21/02, Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune, 12/21/01, New York Times, 5/22/02]
Failing to get much initial interest from the FBI, the flight instructor tells the FBI agents, "Do you realize how serious this is? This man wants training on a 747. A 747 fully loaded with fuel could be used as a weapon!" [New York Times, 2/8/02]
August 21, 2001: Walid Arkeh, a Jordanian serving time in a Florida prison, is interviewed by FBI agents after warning the government of an impending terrorist attack. He had been in a British jail from September 2000 to July 2001, and while there had befriended three inmates, Khalid al-Fawwaz, Adel Abdel Bary and Ibrahim Eidarous. US prosecutors charge that "the three men ran a London storefront that served as a cover for al-Qaeda operations and acted as a conduit for communications between bin Laden and his network." [Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] Al-Fawwaz was bin Laden's press agent in London, and bin Laden had called him over 200 times before al-Fawwaz was arrested in 1998. [Financial Times, 11/29/01, Sunday Times, 3/24/02] The other two had worked in the same office as al-Fawwaz. All three have been indicted as co-conspirators with bin Laden in the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998). Arkeh tells the FBI that he had learned from these three that "something big was going to happen in New York City," and that they had called the 1993 attack on the WTC "unfinished business." Tampa FBI agents determine that he had associated with these al-Qaeda agents, but nonetheless they don't believe him. According to Arkeh, one agent responds to his "something big" warning by saying: "Is that all you have? That's old news." The agents fail to learn more from him. On September 9, concerned that time is running out, a fellow prisoner tried to arrange a meeting, but nothing happens before 9/11. The Tampa FBI agents have a second interview with him hours after the 9/11 attacks, but even long after 9/11 they claim he cannot be believed. On January 6, 2002, the Tampa FBI issued a statement: "The information [was] vetted to FBI New York, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa Division and the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. All agreed the information provided by this individual was vague and unsubstantiated... Mr. Arkeh did not provide information that had any bearing on the FBI preventing September 11." [Orlando Sentinel, 1/6/02, Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] However, a different group of FBI agents interviews him later and finds his information is credible (see May 21-22, 2002). Click here for more on this topic.
August 22, 2001 (C): Walid Arkeh, a Jordanian serving time in a Florida prison, is interviewed by FBI agents after warning the government of an impending terrorist attack. He had been in a British jail a few months earlier, and while there had befriended three inmates, whom he identifies as Khalid al-Fawwaz, Adel Abdel Bary and Ibrahim Eidarous. All three have been indicted as co-conspirators with bin Laden in the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998). Arkeh tells the FBI that "something big was going to happen in New York City," and that they had called the 1993 attack on the WTC "unfinished business." The FBI later confirms the meeting and his connections to the three terrorists. After 9/11 Arkeh is whisked to an undisclosed location, where he presumably remains today, and his name and photo have been removed from the Department of Corrections website. [Orlando Sentinel, 1/6/02]
August 23, 2001: According to German newspapers, the Mossad gives the CIA a list of terrorists living in the US and say that they appear to be planning to carry out an attack in the near future. It is unknown if these are the 19 9/11 hijackers or if the number is a coincidence. However, four names on the list are known and are names of the 9/11 hijackers: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Marwan Alshehhi, and Mohamed Atta. [Die Zeit, 10/1/02, Der Spiegel, 10/1/02, BBC, 10/2/02, Haaretz, 10/3/02] The Mossad appears to have learned about this through its "art student" spy ring (see for instance, March 5, 2002). Yet apparently this warning and list are not treated as particularly urgent by the CIA and also not passed on to the FBI. It's not clear if this warning influenced the adding of Alhazmi and Almihdhar to a terrorism watch list on this same day, and if so, why only those two. [Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] Israel has denied that there were any Mossad agents in the US. [Haaretz, 10/3/02] The US has denied knowing about Atta before 9/11, despite other media reports to the contrary (see January-May 2000).
August 27, 2001: Spanish police tape a series of cryptic, coded phone calls from a caller in Britain using the codename "Shakur" to Barakat Yarkas (also known as Abu Dahdah), the leader of a Spanish al-Qaeda cell presumably visited by Atta (see July 8-19, 2001). A Spanish judge claims that a call by Shakur on this day shows foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. Shakur says that he is "giving classes" and that "in our classes, we have entered the field of aviation, and we have even cut the bird's throat." Another possible translation is: "We are even going to cut the eagle's throat," which would be a clearer metaphor for the US. [Observer, 11/25/01, Guardian, 2/14/02] In a Spanish indictment, the unknown Shakur is described as "a presumed member of the Sept. 11 suicide commandos." [International Herald Tribune, 11/21/01] The Spanish terrorist cell led by Yarkas was allegedly a hub of financing, recruitment and support services for al-Qaeda in Europe. Yarkas's phone number is later also found in the address book of Said Bahaji (see November 1, 1998-February 2001), and he had ties with Mohammed Haydar Zammar (see March 1997) and Mamoun Darkazanli (see Spring 2000) - all three are associates of Atta in Hamburg. [Los Angeles Times, 11/23/01] Yarkas also "reportedly met with bin Laden twice and was in close contact with" top deputy Muhammad Atef. [Washington Post, 11/19/01] On November 11, 2001, Yarkas and 10 other Spaniards are arrested and charged with al-Qaeda terrorist activity. [International Herald Tribune, 11/21/01]
August 29, 2001: Three men from either Pakistan or Afghanistan living in the Cayman Islands are briefly arrested in June 2001 for discussing hijacking attacks in New York City (see June 4, 2001). On this day, a Cayman Islands radio station receives an unsigned letter claiming these same three men are agents of bin Laden. The anonymous author warns that they "are organizing a major terrorist act against the US via an airline or airlines" (see the letter here and a Cayman government statement). The letter is forwarded to a Cayman government official on September 6, but no action is taken until after 9/11 and it isn't known when the US is informed. Many criminals and/or businesses use the Cayman Islands as a safe, no tax, no questions asked haven to keep their money. The author of the letter meets with the FBI shortly after 9/11, and claims his information was a "premonition of sorts." The three men are later arrested. Its unclear what has happened to them since their arrest. [Miami Herald, 9/20/01, Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01, MSNBC, 9/23/01, MSNBC, 9/23/01] FTW
August 30-September 4, 2001: According to Egyptian President Hasni Mubarak, Egyptian intelligence warns American officials that bin Laden's network is in the advanced stages of executing a significant operation against an American target, probably within the US. [AP, 12/7/01, New York Times, 6/4/02] He says he learned this information from an agent working inside al-Qaeda. US officials deny receiving any such warning from Egypt. [ABC News, 6/4/02]
Late August 2001 (B): In an interview with the London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi, bin Laden boasts that he is planning a "very, very big" and "unprecedented" strike against the US. The interview is not publicly released until after 9/11, however, so its unclear if US intelligence was aware of this before 9/11. [Independent, 9/17/01, ABC News, 9/12/01]
Late August 2001 (C): A Telegraph article later claims that Iraq leader Saddam Hussein puts his troops on their highest military alert since the Gulf War. A CIA official states that there was nothing obvious to warrant this move: "He was clearly expecting a massive attack and it leads you to wonder why." Hussein apparently made a number of other moves at the time suggesting foreknowledge and the article strongly suggests Iraqi complicity in the 9/11 attacks. [Telegraph, 9/23/01] Iraq will later be sued by 9/11 victims' relatives on the grounds that they had 9/11 foreknowledge but didn't warn the US (see September 4, 2002). Given Rumsfeld's early efforts to blame Iraq (see September 11, 2001 (V)) could such stories be early propaganda to justify a US attack on Iraq? Perhaps Iraq knew what might happen on 9/11 and worried they would be targeted in response?
Late August 2001 (D): French intelligence gives a general terrorist warning to the US; apparently its contents echo an Israeli warning from earlier in the month (see Mid-August 2001). [Fox News, 5/17/02]
Early September 2001 (B): The NSA intercepts "multiple phone calls from Abu Zubaida, bin Laden's chief of operations, to the United States." The timing and information contained in these intercepted phone calls has not been disclosed. [ABC News, 2/18/02] Shouldn't the US government have been able to determine who was being called, and find those people?
Early September 2001 (C): According to British inside sources, "shortly before September 11," bin Laden contacts an associate thought to be in Pakistan. The conversation refers to an incident that will take place in the US on, or around 9/11, and discusses possible repercussions. In another conversation, bin Laden contacts an associate thought to be in Afghanistan. They discuss the scale and effect of a forthcoming operation; bin Laden praises his colleague for his part in the planning. Neither conversation specifically mentions the WTC or Pentagon, but investigators have no doubt the 9/11 attacks were being discussed. The British government has obliquely made reference to these intercepts: "There is evidence of a very specific nature relating to the guilt of bin Laden and his associates that is too sensitive to release." These intercepts haven't been made public in Blair's presentation of al-Qaeda's guilt (see October 4, 2001 (B)) because "releasing full details could compromise the source or method of the intercepts." [Sunday Times, 10/7/01]
September 7, 2001: Father Jean-Marie Benjamin is told at a wedding in Todi, Italy of a plot to attack the US and Britain using hijacked airplanes as weapons. He isn't told time or place specifics. He immediately passes what he knows to a judge and several politicians. He states: "Although I am friendly with many Muslims, I wondered why they were telling me, specifically. I felt it my duty to inform the Italian government." Benjamin has been called "one of the West's most knowledgeable experts on the Muslim world." Two days after 9/11, he meets with the Italian Foreign Minister on this topic. He says he learned the attack on Britain failed at the last minute. [Zenit, 9/16/01] He has not revealed who told him this information, but could it have been a member of the al-Qaeda cell in Milan (see August 12, 2000 and January 24, 2001), which appears to have helped with the 9/11 attacks?
before September 11, 2001: Though the NSA specializes in intercepting communications, the CIA and FBI intercept as well. After 9/11, CIA and FBI officials discover messages with phrases like, "There is a big thing coming," "They're going to pay the price" and "We're ready to go." Supposedly, most or all of these intercepted messages were not analyzed until after 9/11. [Newsweek, 9/24/01] Does this mean that some of the hijackers or their assistants were under FBI or CIA surveillance before 9/11?
Before September 11, 2001 (D): The British MI6 and the CIA later claim "technical intelligence" - believed to be intercepted telephone conversations and electronic bank transfers - implicates al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef in the 9/11 attacks. It is believed Atef is one of the top operational planners of the attacks. It has not been revealed when the calls and transfers were intercepted or translated, who Atef is communicating with, or what exactly is said. [Sunday Times, 10/7/01] Atef is later killed in a US bombing raid (see November 15, 2001 (B)).
September 11, 2001 (G): The 9/11 attack: four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. At least 3,000 people are killed. A more detailed timeline focusing on the hours of this attack appears on a separate page. According to officials, the entire US is defended by only 14 fighters (two planes each in seven military bases). [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01] And "they no longer included any bases close to two obvious terrorist targets - Washington, DC, and New York City." A defense official says: "I don't think any of us envisioned an internal air threat by big aircraft. I don't know of anybody that ever thought through that." [Newsday, 9/23/01]
May 21-22, 2002: Walid Arkeh is a prisoner in Florida who claims to have told the FBI in August 2001 that al-Qaeda was likely to attack the WTC and other targets soon. At the time, his information was dismissed (see August 21, 2001). After 9/11, his warning is still not taken seriously by the local FBI, but on May 21 he is interviewed by a different group of FBI agents in New York City. They being asking him what three al-Qaeda prisoners he befriended had told him of the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998). When Arkeh mentions he has information about 9/11 that he told the FBI before 9/11, the agents are stunned. One says to him: "Let me tell you something. If you know what happened in New York, we are all in deep shit. We are in deep trouble." He tells them that these prisoners hinted that the WTC would be attacked, and targets in Washington were mentioned as well. However, they did not tell him a date or that airplanes would be used. The New York FBI later informs him that they found his information credible. [Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] Near the end of his prison sentence for dealing in stolen property and slapping his child, it appears Arkeh will be deported to Jordan despite a Responsible Cooperators Program promising visas to those who provided important terrorist information. It is unclear if even one person has been given rewards through this program. [Orlando Sentinel, 11/10/02, Orlando Sentinel, 1/11/03]
September 4, 2002: Over 1,400 relatives of 9/11 attack victims sue Iraq for more than $1 trillion, claiming there is evidence Iraq conspired with al-Qaeda on the 9/11 attacks. [CBS News, 9/5/02] One of the key pieces of evidence cited is an article in an small town Iraqi newspaper written by Naeem Abd Muhalhal on July 21, 2001. He describes bin Laden thinking "seriously, with the seriousness of the Bedouin of the desert, about the way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after he destroys the White House." He adds that bin Laden is "insisting very convincingly that he will strike America on the arm that is already hurting," which has been interpreted as a possible reference to the 1993 bombing of the WTC. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein apparently praised this writer on September 1, 2001. The lawsuit is based largely on the idea that "Iraqi officials were aware of plans to attack American landmarks," yet didn't warn their archenemy, the US. [AP, 9/4/02] Former CIA agent and terrorist consultant Robert Baer (see August 2001 (G)) is hired by the prosecuting legal team to find evidence of a meeting between Atta and Iraqi agents (see April 8, 2001 and September 19, 2001-October 20, 2002), but despite the help of the CIA, is unable find any evidence of such a meeting. [CBS, 12/8/02]