TIMELINE ENTRIES ABOUT HIJACKERS NAWAF ALHAZMI AND KHALID ALMIHDHAR

Other Sections of the Timeline:

The Complete Timeline parts 1 and 2 (excluding Day of 9/11)
The Abridged Timeline (a good place to start)
Introduction and credits, help needed, and links
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Articles
The Two Ziad Jarrahs
Sept. 11's Smoking Gun: The Many Faces of Saeed Sheikh
Alhazmi & Almihdhar: The Hijackers Who Should Have Been Caught
They Tried to Warn Us
Is There More to the Capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Than Meets the Eye?
An Interesting Day: George Bush Jr. on 9/11
The Failure to Defend the Skies on 9/11

Summaries

9/11 Paymaster Saeed Sheikh
9/11 Mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
ISI Director Mahmood Ahmed
Nabil al-Marabh
Would Be Hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui
Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar
Escape from Afghanistan
Foreign Intelligence Warnings
Randy Glass

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Part 1: 1979 - 2000
Part 2: Jan. 2001 - 9/11
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Part 4: 9/11 - Dec. 2001
Part 5: Jan. 2002 - present
Day of 9/11
Flight 11
Flight 175
Flight 77
Flight 93
Bush on 9/11

 

1996-December 2000 (EXCERPT): Thirteen of the hijackers disppeared for significant periods of time before the end of 2000:
1) Nawaf Alhazmi: The CIA says he was in the Bosnia conflict in the mid-1990s. [
CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02] He fought in Chechnya in 1996 [Observer, 9/23/01] and/or 1998. [Arab News, 9/20/01, ABC News, 1/9/02] He also visited Afghanistan before 1998 and swore loyalty to bin Laden. [CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02]
2) Khalid Almihdhar: The CIA says he was in the Bosnia conflict in the mid-1990s. [CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02] His family claims he left to fight in Chechnya in 1997. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02]
3) Salem Alhazmi: spent time in Chechnya with his brother Nawaf Alhazmi. [ABC News, 1/9/02]


Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi (left) and Khalid Almihdhar (right) in Saudi Arabia. [FBI]

November 1999:†Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar enter the US and begin living in San Diego [Washington Post, 9/30/01, San Diego Channel 10, 10/5/01, Newsweek, 6/2/02] (some reports have them in the US even earlier [Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01, Las Vegas Review Journal, 10/26/01]). Alhazmi's name is on an apartment lease beginning in November 1999. [Washington Post, 10/01] However, FBI Director Mueller has stated the two first arrived on January 15, 2000 after an important meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000), and many news reports concur. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/27/02] It has been reported however, that shortly before 9/11 the CIA determined the two were in Los Angeles around Jan 1, 2000, before the meeting. [AP, 9/21/02] In early 1999, the NSA intercepted communications mentioning the name Nawaf Alhazmi. [AP, 9/25/02] The NSA Director later states that by the time of the Malaysia meeting, the hijackers Nawaf, his brother Salem and Almihdhar were all to al-Qaeda, "in our sights," known to be associated with al-Qaeda "and we shared this information with the (intelligence) community." [Copley News, 10/17/02, NSA Director Congressional Testimony, 10/17/02] Shouldn't all three have been put on a terrorist watch list even before two of them first arrived in the US in November 1999?

November 1999 (B): As hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar enter the US for the first time (see November 1999), they are met at the Los Angeles International Airport by a Saudi man named Omar al-Bayoumi (see June 1998 (D)). Al-Bayoumi later claims that he didn't know Alhazmi and Almihdhar, but happens to overhear them speaking Arabic in the airport restaurant, introduces himself and begins helping them. He drives them to San Diego, arranges for them to live in an apartment a few doors away in the same apartment building, guarantees the lease and pays $1,550 in cash to cover the first two months rent. He also helps them open a bank account, obtain car insurance, get Social Security cards and call flight schools in Florida. [Newsweek, 11/24/02, Washington Post, 12/29/01, Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] Alhazmi and Almihdhar may have reimbursed al-Bayoumi for the rent money later the same day. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Al-Bayoumi is arrested after 9/11, but released after one week (see September 22, 2001). Some FBI officials later suggest that al-Bayoumi was an al-Qaeda agent, and the possibility that the Saudi government may have funded him creates headlines in November 2002 (see November 22, 2002). Note that there is some discrepancy as to when Alhazmi and Almihdhar first entered the US; most media report January 2000 (after an important al-Qaeda meeting that they attend in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000)), but some report November 1999 (for instance, Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02]). Since Alhazmi's name appears on a San Diego apartment lease in November 1999, it is hard to see how they could have arrived later than that. [Washington Post, 10/01]

December 1999 (B): A Yemeni safe house telephone monitored by the FBI and CIA (see Late 1998), reveals that there will be an important al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in January 2000, and that hijacker Khalid Almihdhar and an associate named Nawaf (hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi) will attend. [Newsweek, 6/2/02, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] During the next month, the CIA learns that Nawaf's last name is Alhazmi. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, New York Times, 9/21/02] On Almihdhar's way to Malaysia the CIA learns he has a multiple-entry visa for the US good until April 6, 2000 (apparently Alhazmi gets the same type of visa at the same time, but US intelligence does not learn this until later [Copley News, 10/17/02]). [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, New York Times, 9/21/02] Through the safe house connection the CIA knows Almihdhar is tied to al-Qaeda, and they know he can enter and leave the US at will, but they don't attempt to find him. Had they tried, they would have learned he was already living in the US (see November 1999).


Prince Bandar [Newsweek] (Pictures of his wife, Osama Basnan and Omar al-Bayoumi are not available)

December 4, 1999: Princess Haifa bint Faisal, the wife of Prince Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador to the US, begins sending monthly cashier's checks of between $2,000 and $3,500 (accounts differ) to Majeda Dweikat, the wife of Osama Basnan, a Saudi living in San Diego (see April 1998). Accounts also differ over when the checks were first sent (between November 1999 and about March 2000, a Saudi government spokesman has stated December 4 [Fox News, 11/23/02]). Basnan's wife signs many of the checks over to her friend Manal Bajadr, the wife of Omar al-Bayoumi. [Washington Times, 11/26/02, Newsweek, 11/22/02, Newsweek, 11/24/02, Guardian, 11/25/02] Basnan's wife received some checks while she was living in Baltimore, Maryland and Falls Church, Virginia. [Washington Post, 11/24/02] Falls Church is located outside Washington and near CIA headquarters. It is also where the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [WAMY] - a suspected terrorist organization - is located. Abdullah bin Laden (Osama's brother) was the US director of WAMY; he and his brother Omar lived in Falls Church at the same time as four of the 9/11 hijackers (see 1996). It is believed that al-Bayoumi helped 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar settle in San Diego (see November 1999 (B)), and it is later suggested that the money from the wife of the Saudi ambassador passes through these two as intermediaries and ultimately ends up in the hands of the two hijackers (see November 22, 2002). The payments from Princess Haifa continue until May 2002 and may total $51,000, or as much as $73,000. [MSNBC, 11/23/02, MSNBC, 11/27/02] While living in the San Diego area, al-Bayoumi and Basnan are heavily involved in relocating and offering financial support to Saudi immigrants in the community. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] In late 2002, Al-Bayoumi tells an Arabic-language newspaper in London that he did not pass any money along to the hijackers. [Washington Times, 12/04/02] Basnan is also described as an al-Qaeda sympathizer who called 9/11 "a wonderful, glorious day." [Newsweek, 11/22/02] However, Basnan has variously claimed to know al-Bayoumi, not know him at all or to know him only vaguely, [Arab News, 11/26/02, ABC, 11/26/02, ABC, 11/25/02, MSNBC, 11/27/02] but earlier reports say Basnan and his wife were "very good friends" of al-Bayoumi and his wife. Both couples lived at the Parkwood Apartments at the same time as the two hijackers; prior to that, the couples lived together in a different apartment complex. Also, the two wives were arrested for shoplifting together at a J. C. Penney in April 2001. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/22/02]


Attendees of the Malaysian meeting. From left to right top row: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Left to right bottom row: Hambali, Yazid Sufaat, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh. No pictures of bin Atash or Fahad al-Quso are available, the names of other participants have not been released.

January 5-8, 2000:†About a dozen of bin Laden's trusted followers hold a secret, "top-level al-Qaeda summit" in the city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. [CNN, 8/30/02, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/27/02] Plans for the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole (see October 12, 2000) and the 9/11 attacks are discussed. [USA Today, 2/12/02, CNN, 8/30/02] At the request of the CIA, the Malaysian secret service follows, photographs, and even videotapes these men, and then passes the information on to the US. However, the meeting is not wiretapped. [Newsweek, 6/2/02, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01, Observer, 10/7/01, CNN, 3/14/02, New Yorker, 1/14/02] Attendees of the meeting include:
1 and 2) Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar.
The CIA and FBI will later miss many opportunities to foil the 9/11 plot through these two hijackers and the knowledge of their presence at this meeting.
3) Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a top al-Qaeda leader and the alleged "mastermind" of the 9/11 attacks. [Independent, 6/6/02, CNN, 8/30/02] The US had known Mohammed was a major terrorist since the exposure of Operation Bojinka in 1995 (see January 6, 1995 and January-May 1996), and knew what he looked like, as can be seen from a 1998 wanted poster (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001). US officials have stated that they only realized the meeting was important in the summer of 2001, but the presence of Mohammed should have proved the meeting's importance. [Los Angeles Times, 2/2/02]
4) An Indonesian terrorist known as Hambali. He was the main financier of Operation Bojinka. [CNN, 8/30/02, CNN, 3/14/02] Philippine intelligence officials learned of Hambali's importance in 1995, but didn't track him down or share information about him. [CNN, 3/14/02]
5) Yazid Sufaat, a Malaysian man who owned the condominium where the meeting was held. [Newsweek, 6/2/02, Newsweek, 6/2/02] A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through Sufaat's presence at this meeting is later missed (see September-October 2000).
6) Fahad al-Quso, a top al-Qaeda operative. [Newsweek, 9/20/01] A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through al-Quso's presence at this meeting is later missed (see Early December 2000).
7) Tawifiq bin Atash, better known by his alias "Khallad." Bin Atash, a "trusted member of bin Laden’s inner circle," was in charge of bin Laden's bodyguards, and served as bin Laden's personal intermediary at least for the USS Cole attack. [Newsweek, 9/20/01] A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through bin Atash's presence at this meeting is later missed (see January 4, 2001).
8) Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who investigators believe was supposed to be the 20th hijacker, except he couldn't get a US visa. His presence at the meeting may not have been realized until after 9/11, despite a picture of him next to bin Atash, and even video footage of him. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, Time, 9/15/02 Die Zeit, 10/1/02, Newsweek, 11/26/01] One account says he was recognized at the time of the meeting, which makes it hard to understand why he wasn't tracked back to Germany. [
Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] Another possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through bin al-Shibh's presence at this meeting is later missed (see June 10, 2000). It appears bin al-Shibh and Almihdhar were directly involved in the attack on the USS Cole [Newsweek, 9/4/02, Washington Post, 7/14/02, Guardian, 10/15/01], so better surveillance or follow-up from this meeting should have prevented that attack as well.
9 and more?) Unnamed members of the Egyptian based Islamic Jihad were also known to have been at the meeting. [Cox News, 10/21/01] Islamic Jihad had merged with al-Qaeda in February 1998. [ABC News, 11/17/01]

January 15, 2000:†Shortly after the al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia, hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar fly from Bangkok, Thailand, to Los Angeles, California. [MSNBC, 12/11/01] The CIA tracks Alhazmi, but apparently doesn't realize Almihdhar is also on the plane. The US keeps a watch list database known as TIPOFF, with over 80,000 names of suspected terrorists as of late 2002. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02] The list is checked whenever someone enters or leaves the US. "The threshold for adding a name to TIPOFF is low," and even a "reasonable suspicion" that a person is connected with a terrorist group, warrants being added to the database. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Almihdhar and Alhazmi are important enough to have been mentioned to the CIA Director several times this month, but are not added to the watch list. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Furthermore, "astonishingly, the CIA ... [didn't] notify the FBI, which could have covertly tracked them to find out their mission." [Newsweek, 6/2/02]

January 15-August 2000:†Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar return to their apartment in San Diego, and live there openly. Hijacker Hani Hanjour joins them as a roommate in February 2000. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/21/01, San Diego Channel 10, 9/18/01] They use their real names on their rental agreement, [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] driver's licenses, Social Security cards and credit cards, [Newsweek, 6/2/02] car purchase, and bank account. Alhazmi is even listed in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, Newsweek, 6/2/02] Neighbors notice odd behavior: they have no furniture, they are constantly using cell phones on the balcony, constantly playing flight simulator games, keep to themselves, and strange cars and limousines pick them up for short rides in the middle of the night. [Washington Post, 9/30/01, Time, 9/24/01] Who were they meeting in these late night car rides, and for what purpose?

Mid-January 2000: Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi who has been living in the US for several years (see June 1998 (D)), throws a welcoming party for future 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in San Diego that introduces them to the local Muslim community. [Washington Post, 12/29/01] He also introduces hijacker Hani Hanjour to the community a short time later. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/14/02] One associate later says an al-Bayoumi party "was a big deal ... it meant that everyone accepted them without question." [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/25/01] This was only a small part of his assistance to the three hijackers (see November 1999 (B)). Why was he so friendly and helpful? Many people in San Diego who knew him believe he was a Saudi government spy, reporting on the activities of Saudi-born college students. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/14/02, Newsweek, 11/22/02]

March 5, 2000:†An unnamed nation tells the CIA that hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi had flown from the January meeting in Malaysia to Los Angeles (see January 5-8, 2000). [New York Times, 10/17/02] This confirms what the CIA already knows.†[CNN, 3/02] The CIA also learns that hijacker Khalid Almihdhar arrived in the US on the same flight. [Michael Rolince Testimony, 9/20/02] Yet again, CIA fails to put their names on a watch list, and fails to alert the FBI so they can be tracked. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] CIA Director Tenet later claims that "Nobody read that cable in the March timeframe." [New York Times, 10/17/02] Yet the Congressional inquiry report states that the day after the cable was received, "another overseas CIA station noted, in a cable to the bin Laden unit at CIA headquarters, that it had 'read with interest' the March cable, 'particularly the information that a member of this group traveled to the US...'" [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]

Spring 2000 (D): Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, while living in San Diego, contacts a "terrorist facility" in the Middle East that is under US surveillance (see January 15-August 2000). Intelligence agencies are aware of the call but don't understand its significance. [Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02, St. Petersburg Times, 12/12/02] Apparently his location is not known from the call, and some but not all of the information about the call is reported to other intelligence agencies. The name of the terrorist facility or organization has not been released. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 12/11/01] Could it be the safe house in Yemen that Almihdhar may have already called a few months earlier (see December 1999 (B))?

June 10, 2000: Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar flies from San Diego to Frankfurt, Germany. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Authorities later believe that Almihdhar visits Ramzi bin al-Shibh and bin al-Shibh's roommate Atta and other al-Qaeda members in bin al-Shibh's terrorist cell. But since the CIA fails to notify Germany about their suspicions of either Almihdhar or bin al-Shibh, both of whom were seen attending the al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000), German police fail to surveil them and a chance to uncover the 9/11 plot is missed. [Die Zeit, 10/1/02] Note that FBI Director Mueller and the Congressional inquiry into 9/11 claim that Almihdhar doesn't return to the US for over a year, despite obvious evidence to the contrary, even the claims of a landlord who lived with him for six weeks (see September-December 2000) [Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01], presumably because there are no INS records of his reentry. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]

September-December 2000: Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move to the house of Abdussattar Shaikh in San Diego. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16/01] Almihdhar leaves at the beginning of October to go overseas; Alhazmi stays till December. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16/01] Shaikh, a local Muslim leader, is later revealed to be a "tested" undercover "asset" working with the local FBI. Supposedly, he never told the FBI the hijackers' names. But the FBI concedes that a San Diego case agent appears to have been at least aware that Saudi visitors were renting rooms in the informant’s house, and on one occasion the case agent called the informant and was told he couldn't talk because "Khalid" was in the room. Newsweek says the connection between these two and the informant "has stunned some top counterterrorism officials." [Newsweek, 9/9/02] Neighbors claim that Atta is a frequent visitor, and Hani Hanjour visits as well. [Chicago Tribune, 9/30/01, AP, 9/29/01, Las Vegas Review Journal, 10/26/01, San Diego Channel 10, 9/27/01, San Diego Channel 10, 10/11/01] But Shaikh denies Atta's visits, the FBI never mentions them, and the media appears to have forgotten about them. [AP, 9/29/01] Echoing reports from their first apartment (see January 15-August 2000), neighbors witness strange late night visits with Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [AP, 9/16/01] For instance, one neighbor says, "There was always a series of cars driving up to the house late at night. Sometimes they were nice cars. Sometimes they had darkened windows. They'd stay about 10 minutes." [Time, 9/24/01]

September-December 2000: Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move to the house of Abdussattar Shaikh in San Diego. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16/01] Almihdhar leaves at the beginning of October to go overseas; Alhazmi stays till December. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16/01] Shaikh, a local Muslim leader, is later revealed to be a "tested" undercover "asset" working with the local FBI. Supposedly, he never told the FBI the hijackers' names. But the FBI concedes that a San Diego case agent appears to have been at least aware that Saudi visitors were renting rooms in the informant’s house, and on one occasion the case agent called the informant and was told he couldn't talk because "Khalid" was in the room. Newsweek says the connection between these two and the informant "has stunned some top counterterrorism officials." [Newsweek, 9/9/02] Neighbors claim that Atta is a frequent visitor, and Hani Hanjour visits as well. [Chicago Tribune, 9/30/01, AP, 9/29/01, Las Vegas Review Journal, 10/26/01, San Diego Channel 10, 9/27/01, San Diego Channel 10, 10/11/01] But Shaikh denies Atta's visits, the FBI never mentions them, and the media appears to have forgotten about them. [AP, 9/29/01] Echoing reports from their first apartment (see January 15-August 2000), neighbors witness strange late night visits with Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [AP, 9/16/01] For instance, one neighbor says, "There was always a series of cars driving up to the house late at night. Sometimes they were nice cars. Sometimes they had darkened windows. They'd stay about 10 minutes." [Time, 9/24/01]


Damage to the USS Cole. [US Navy]

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] The Prime Minister of Yemen at the time later claims that hijacker "Khalid Almihdhar was one of the Cole perpetrators, involved in preparations. He was in Yemen at the time and stayed after the Cole bombing for a while, then he left." [Guardian, 10/15/01] John O'Neill and his team of 200 hundred FBI investigators enter Yemen two days later, but are unable to accomplish much due to restrictions placed on them, and tensions with US Ambassador Barbara Bodine. All but about 50 investigators are forced to leave by the end of October. Even though O'Neill's boss visits and finds that Bodine is O'Neill's "only detractor," O'Neill and much of his team is forced to leave in November, and the investigation stalls without his personal relationships to top Yemeni officials. [New Yorker, 1/14/02, Sunday Times, 2/3/02, The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/14/02, p. 237] Increased security threats forces the reduced FBI team still in Yemen to withdraw altogether in June 2001. [PBS Frontline 10/3/02] The Sunday Times later notes, "The failure in Yemen may have blocked off lines of investigation that could have led directly to the terrorists preparing for September 11." [Sunday Times, 2/3/02]


John O'Neill (left) [FBI] and Barbara Bodine (right). In an ironic twist of fate, O'Neill would later die in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Early December 2000: Terrorist Fahad al-Quso is arrested by the government of Yemen. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02, PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] In addition to being involved in the USS Cole bombing, al-Quso was at the January 2000 Malaysian meeting with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see January 5-8, 2000). FBI head investigator John O'Neill feels al-Quso is holding back important information and wants him interrogated. But O'Neill had been kicked out of Yemen by his superiors a week or two before, and without his influential presence the Yemeni government won't allow an interrogation. Al-Quso is finally interrogated days after 9/11, and admits to meeting with Alhazmi and Almihdhar in January 2000. One investigator calls the missed opportunity of exposing the 9/11 plot through al-Quso's connections "mind-boggling." [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] There are pictures from the Malaysian meeting of al-Quso next to hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, but the CIA doesn't share the pictures with the FBI. [Newsweek, 9/20/01]

January 4, 2001: The FBI's investigation into the USS Cole bombing learns that terrorist Khallad bin Atash had been a principal planner of the bombing [AP, 9/21/02], and that two other participants in the bombing had delivered money to bin Atash at the time of the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000). The FBI shares this information with the CIA, and when CIA analysts reexamine pictures from the Malaysian meeting to learn more about this, they find a picture of him standing next to hijacker Khalid Almihdhar. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02,†Newsweek, 6/2/02] The CIA is aware that Almihdhar entered the US a year earlier, yet they don't attempt to find him. CNN later notes that at this point the CIA at least "could have put Alhazmi and Almihdhar and all others who attended the meeting in Malaysia on a watch list to be kept out of this country. It was not done." [CNN, 6/4/02] More incredibly, even bin Atash is not placed on the watch list at this time, despite being labeled as the principal planner of the Cole bombing. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02]

April 1, 2001:†Hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi is stopped by an Oklahoma policeman for speeding.†His license is run through a computer to check if there is a warrant for his arrest.†There is none, so he is given a ticket and sent on his way.†The CIA has known Alhazmi is a terrorist and possibly living in the US since March 2000 (see March 5, 2000), but has failed to share this knowledge with other agency. [Daily Oklahoman, 1/20/02, Newsweek, 6/2/02] He also has been in the country illegally since January 2001, but this also doesn't raise any flags. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]

May 2001 (H): The US introduces the "Visa Express" program in Saudi Arabia, which allows any Saudi Arabian to obtain visas through their travel agent instead of appearing at a consulate in person. An official later states, "The issuing officer has no idea whether the person applying for the visa is actually the person in the documents and application." [US News and World Report, 12/12/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] At the time, warnings of an attack against the US led by the Saudi Osama bin Laden are higher than they had ever been before - "off the charts" as one Senator later puts it. [Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02, Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Five hijackers - Khalid Almihdhar, Abdulaziz Alomari, Salem Alhazmi, Saeed Alghamdi, and Fayez Ahmed Banihammad - use Visa Express over the next month to enter the US. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] The widely criticized program is finally canceled in July 2002 (see July 19, 2002).

May-August 2001: A number of the hijackers make at least six trips to Las Vegas. It's probable they met here after doing practice runs on cross-country flights. At least Atta, Alshehhi, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ziad Jarrah, Khalid Almihdhar and Hani Hanjour were involved. All of these "fundamentalist" Muslims drink alcohol, gamble, and frequent strip clubs. They even have strippers perform lap dances for them. [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4/01, Newsweek, 10/15/01]

June 11, 2001: FBI agents from the New York office and Washington headquarters meet with CIA officials to discuss the USS Cole investigation. The FBI agents are shown photographs from the Malaysia meeting, including pictures of hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, but are not given copies (see January 5-8, 2000 and January 4, 2001). "The FBI agents recognized the men from the Cole investigation, but when they asked the CIA what they knew about the men, they were told that they didn't have clearance to share that information. It ended up in a shouting match." [ABC News, 8/16/02] A CIA official later admits that he knew more about Alhazmi and Almihdhar that he was willing to tell the FBI. The FBI agents don't receive the information they want about these two until after 9/11. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Two days after this meeting, Almihdhar has no trouble getting a new multiple reentry US visa. [US News and World Report, 12/12/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] CIA Director Tenet later claims, "Almihdhar was not who they were talking about in this meeting." When Senator Carl Levin (D) reads the following to Tenet, "The CIA analyst who attended the New York meeting acknowledged to the joint inquiry staff that he had seen the information regarding Almihdhar's US visa and Alhazmi's travel to the United States but he stated that he would not share information outside of the CIA unless he had authority to do so," Tenet claims that he talked to the same analyst and was told something completely different. [New York Times, 10/17/02]

July 13, 2001: With the threat of a new terrorist attack on the rise, the CIA has agents reexamine records in the search for new leads. A CIA cable is rediscovered showing that Khallad bin Atash had attended the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000 and January 4, 2001). The CIA official who finds it immediately e-mails the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC), saying bin Atash "is a major league killer, who orchestrated the Cole attack and possibly the Africa bombings." Yet bin Atash is still not put on a terrorist watch list. An FBI analyst assigned to the CTC is given the task to review all other CIA cables about the Malaysian meeting. It takes this analyst until August 21 - over five weeks later - to determine that two attendees of the meeting, hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, had entered the US on January 15, 2000, and that Almihdhar had reentered the US on July 4, 2001. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]

August 2001 (B): At least six 9/11 hijackers, including all of those that boarded Flight 77, live in Laurel, Maryland from about this time. They reportedly include Hani Hanjour, Majed Moqed, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi and Salem Alhazmi (though also see Early September 2001). Laurel, Maryland is home to a Muslim cleric named Moataz Al-Hallak who teaches at a local Islamic school and has been linked to bin Laden. He has testified three times before a grand jury investigating bin Laden. NSA expert James Bamford later states, "the terrorist cell that eventually took over the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon ended up living, working, planning and developing all their activities in Laurel, Maryland, which happens to be the home of the NSA. So they were actually living alongside NSA employees as they were plotting all these things." [Washington Post, 9/19/01, BBC, 6/21/02]

August 1-2, 2001: Hijackers Hani Hanjour and Khalid Almihdhar meet Luis Martinez-Flores, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, in a 7-Eleven parking lot in Fall Church, Virginia. He is paid $100 cash to Martinez-Flores accompany the two to a local Department of Motor Vehicles office and signs forms attesting to their permanent residence in Virginia. Given new state identity cards, the cards are used the next day to get Virginia identity cards for between five and seven additional hijackers, including Abdulaziz Alomari, Ahmed Alghamdi, Majed Moqed, and Salem Alhazmi. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01, Washington Post, 9/30/01, Wall Street Journal, 10/16/01]

August 22, 2001 (B):†Counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill quits the FBI. He says it's partly because of the recent power play against him, but also because of repeated obstruction of his investigations into al-Qaeda. [New Yorker, 1/14/02] In his last act, he signs papers ordering FBI investigators back to Yemen to resume the USS Cole investigation, now that Barbara Bodine is leaving as Ambassador (they arrive a couple days before 9/11) (see October 12, 2000). He never hears the CIA warning about hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar sent out just one day later. Because he fell out of favor a few months earlier, he also is never told about Ken Williams' flight school memo (see July 10, 2001), nor about the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui (see August 16, 2001) [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02], nor is he at a June meeting when the CIA revealed some of what it knew about Alhazmi and Almihdhar (see June 11, 2001). [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] The FBI New York office is eventually warned of Walid Arkeh's warning that the WTC would be attacked, but presumably not in time for O'Neill to hear it (see August 21, 2001). One can only wonder what the government's "most committed tracker of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network of terrorists" [New Yorker, 1/14/02] could have accomplished if he was aware of these things.

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 23, 2001 (C): The†CIA sends a cable to the State Department, INS, Customs Service, and FBI requesting that future hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar be put on the terrorism watch list. Since March 2000, if not earlier, the CIA had good reason to believe these two were al-Qaeda terrorists living in the US, but did nothing and told no other agency about it until now (see March 5, 2000). They are not be found in time, and both die in the 9/11 attacks.†FBI agents later state that if they been told about Almihdhar and Alhazmi sooner, "There's no question we could have tied all 19 hijackers together" given the frequent contact between these two and the other hijackers. [Newsweek, 6/2/02] The CIA also requests that Khallad bin Atash be added to the watch list - eight months after he was known to have been the main planner of the Cole bombing. One other attendee of the Malaysian meeting (see January 5-8, 2000) is also included, but that name remains confidential (could it be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11?). [New York Times, 9/21/02] The CIA later claims the request was labeled "immediate," the second most urgent category (the highest is reserved for things like declarations of war). [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01] The FBI denies that it was marked "immediate" and other agencies treated the request as a routine matter. [Los Angeles Times, 10/18/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]

August 23, 2001 (D): The FBI begins a search for hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in response to the CIA cable about them. The FBI later claims that they responded aggressively. An internal review after 9/11 found that "everything was done that could have been done" to find them. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01] However, even aside from a failed attempt to start a criminal investigation (see August 28, 2001) the search is halfhearted at best. As the Wall Street Journal later explains, the search "consisted of little more than entering their names in a nationwide law enforcement database that would have triggered red flags if they were taken into custody for some other reason." [Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01] A speeding ticket issued to Alhazmi the previous April is not detected. [Daily Oklahoman, 1/20/02]; nor is a recorded interaction between Alhazmi and local police in Fairfax, Virginia in May that could have led investigators to Alhazmi's East Coast apartment. [San Diego Union-Tribune,9/27/02] Even though the two were known to have entered the US through Los Angeles, driversí license records in California are not checked. The FBI also fails to check national credit card or bank account databases, and car registration. All of these would had positive results. Alhazmi's name was even in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book, listing the address where he and Almihdhar may have been living off and on until about September 9, 2001 (see Early September 2001). [Newsweek, 6/2/02, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01]

August 24, 2001 (B): Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar buys his 9/11 plane ticket on-line using a credit card; Nawaf Alhazmi does the same the next day. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] Both men had been put on a terrorist watch list on August 23. Procedures are in place for law enforcement agencies to share watch list information with airlines and airports and such sharing is common, but the FAA and the airlines are not notified, so the purchases raise no red flags.†[Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] An official later states that had the FAA been properly warned, "they should have been picked up in the reservation process." [Washington Post, 10/2/02]

August 28, 2001: A report is sent to the FBI's New York office recommending that an investigation be launched "to determine if [Khalid] Almihdhar is still in the United States." The New York office tries to convince FBI headquarters to open a criminal investigation, but are immediately turned down. The reason given is a "wall" between criminal and intelligence work - Almihdhar could not be tied to the Cole investigation without the inclusion of sensitive intelligence information. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] So instead of a criminal case, the New York office opens an "intelligence case", excluding all the "criminal case" investigators from the search. [FBI Agent Testimony, 9/20/02] One FBI agent expresses his frustration in an e-mail the next day, saying, "Whatever has happened to this - someday someone will die - and wall or not - the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain 'problems.' Let's hope the [FBI's] National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decisions then, especially since the biggest threat to us now, UBL [Usama bin Laden], is getting the most 'protection."' [New York Times, 9/21/02, FBI Agent Testimony, 9/20/02]

August 28, 2001 (B): The FBI contacts the State Department and the INS to find out hijacker Khalid Almihdhar's visa status. However neither agency is asked "to assist in locating the individuals, nor was any other information provided [that] would have indicated either a high priority or imminent danger." An INS official later states, "if [the INS] had been asked to locate the two suspected terrorists ... in late August on an urgent, emergency basis, it would have been able to run those names through its extensive database system and might have been able to locate them." The State Department says "it might have been able to locate the two suspected terrorists if it had been asked to do so." [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]

August 29, 2001 (B): The FBI learns that when hijacker Khalid Almihdhar arrived in the US on July 4, 2001, he indicated that he would be staying at a Marriott hotel in New York City. By September 5, an investigation of all New York area Marriot hotels turn up nothing. The FBI office in Los Angeles receives a request on 9/11 to check Sheraton Hotels in Los Angeles, because that where Almihdhar said he would be staying when he entered the country over a year and a half earlier. The search turns up nothing. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] The San Diego FBI office isn't notified about the search until September 12, and even then they are only provided with "sketchy" information. [Los Angeles Times, 9/16/01]

Early September 2001: The standard accounts place hijackers Hani Hanjour, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi on the East Coast without interruption in the weeks before the attacks. [New York Times, 11/6/01, CNN, 9/26/01, New York Times, 9/21/01, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01, AP, 9/21/01, Newsday, 9/23/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] However, neighbors at the San Diego apartment complex where the three lived are clear in their assertions that all three were there until days before 9/11. For instance, one article states, "Authorities believe Almihdhar, Hanjour and Alhazmi ... moved out a couple of days before the East Coast attacks." [San Diego Channel 10, 11/1/01] Ed Murray, a resident at the complex, said that all three "started moving out Saturday night -- and Sunday [September 9] they were gone." [San Diego Channel 10, 9/14/01, San Diego Channel 10, 9/20/01] This is the same day that Alhazmi is seen in an East Coast shopping mall. [CNN, 9/26/01] As with previous reports (see January 15-August 2000 and September-December 2000), neighbors also see them getting into strange cars late at night. A neighbor interviewed shortly after 9/11 said, "A week ago, I was coming home between 12 and 1 A.M. from a club. I saw a limo pick them up. It wasn't the first time. In this neighborhood you notice stuff like that. In the past couple of months, I have seen this happen at least two or three times." [Time, 9/24/01] Is one or the other account wrong, or could the identities of these hijackers have been used by more than one person simultaneously? If so, what happened to the ones that didn't board the hijacked planes? To add to the confusion, there have been reports that investigators think Almihdhar is still alive (see September 16-23, 2001) and the Chicago Tribune says of Alhazmi, Almihdhar and Hanjour: "The most basic of facts - the very names of the men - are uncertain. The FBI has said each used at least three aliases. 'It's not going to be a terrible surprise down the line if these are not their true names,' said Jeff Thurman, an FBI spokesman in San Diego." [Chicago Tribune, 9/30/01]

September 16-23, 2001 (EXCERPT):†Several reports appear in newspapers suggesting that many of the people the US says were hijackers killed in 9/11 are in fact still alive:


Three different pictures of Khalid Almihdhar. Which one does not belong? [FBI, 2/12/02, Boston Globe, 9/27/01]

7) On September 19, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. distributes a "special alert" to its member banks asking for information about the attackers. The list includes "Al-Midhar, Khalid. Alive." The Justice Department later calls this a "typo." [AP, 9/20/01, Cox News, 10/21/01] The BBC says: "There are suggestions that another suspect, Khalid Almihdhar, may also be alive." [BBC, 9/23/01] The Guardian says Almihdhar is believed to be alive, but investigators are looking into three possibilities. Either his name was stolen for a hijacker alias, or he allowed his name to be used so that US officials would think he died, or he died in the crash. [Guardian, 9/21/01] Almihdhar is wanted for other terrorist acts (see January 15, 2000), so it's not surprising he's still hard to find. There are three official pictures of Almihdhar - one of them doesn't look at all like the other two (see photos on left).
The Saudi government insists that five of the Saudis mentioned are still alive.†[New York Times, 9/21/01] On September 20, FBI Director Mueller says: "We have several others that are still in question. The investigation is ongoing, and I am not certain as to several of the others." [Newsday, 9/21/01]†On September 27, after all of these revelations, FBI Director Mueller states, "We are fairly certain of a number of them." [Sun Sentinel, 9/28/01] Could it be that the bodies (and sometimes faces) in question are correct, but the names were stolen? For instance, the Telegraph notes, "The FBI had published [Saeed Alghamdi's] personal details but with a photograph of somebody else, presumably a hijacker who had "stolen" his identity. CNN, however, showed a picture of the real Mr. Alghamdi." [Telegraph, 9/23/01] Police have even determined who sold at least two of the hijackers their fake ID's. [BBC, 8/1/02] On September 20, The London Times reported, "Five of the hijackers were using stolen identities, and investigators are studying the possibility that the entire suicide squad consisted of impostors." [London Times, 9/20/01] Briefly, the press took this story to heart. For instance, a story in the Observer on September 23 put the names of hijackers like Saeed Alghamdi in quotation marks. [Observer, 9/23/01] But the story died down after the initial reports, and it was hardly noticed when Mueller stated on November 2, 2001: "We at this point definitely know the 19 hijackers who were responsible,'' and claimed that they were sticking with the names and photos released in late September. [AP, 11/03/02] Yet many of the names and photos are known to be wrong.
Perhaps embarrassing facts would come out if we knew their real names, such as more terrorists who studied at military bases or were on watch lists?

March 2, 2002 (B): The Washington Post claims that nine of the 19 9/11 hijackers were selected for special security just prior to boarding for the 9/11 attack, including two who were singled out because of irregularities in their identification documents. "Six were chosen for extra scrutiny by a computerized screening system, prompting a sweep of their checked baggage for explosives or unauthorized weapons." [Washington Post, 3/2/02] None of the names selected for screening are given, but a different article makes clear that hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, on a watch list for international flights at the time (see August 23, 2001 (C)), are not selected. [Cox News, 10/21/01] It is later revealed that box cutters were illegal to bring on board airplanes at the time of 9/11. [AP, 11/11/02] If this is true, how did they get the box cutters on board, not to mention reports of illegal knives, bombs and chemical spray on two planes (for instance, see September 17, 2001 (C), July 18, 2002 and March 27, 2002)? Also, if all this is true, why have no photos of them boarding planes or interviews with security staff been released?


FBI and CIA officials talk about the Alhazmi and Almihdhar case behind screens to shield their identities from the general public. [New York Times]

June 4, 2002 (B): For the first time, Bush concedes that his intelligence agencies didn't do the best job: "In terms of whether or not the FBI and the CIA were communicating properly, I think it is clear that they weren't." [London Times, 6/5/02] However, in an address to the nation three days later, President Bush states, "Based on everything I've seen, I do not believe anyone could have prevented the horror of September the 11th." [Sydney Morning Herald, 6/8/02] Days earlier, Newsweek reports that the FBI have prepared a detailed chart showing how agents could have uncovered the terrorist plot if the CIA been told them what it knew about the hijackers Almihdhar and Alhazmi sooner. One FBI official says, "There's no question we could have tied all 19 hijackers together." [Newsweek, 6/2/02] FBI Director Mueller denies the existence of such a chart. Attorney General Ashcroft also says it is unlikely better intelligence could have stopped the attacks. [Washington Post, 6/3/02]

October 5, 2002: The New York Times reports that the FBI is refusing to allow Abdussattar Shaikh, the FBI informant who lived with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see September-December 2001), to testify before a Congressional inquiry. His local FBI contact is also not allowed to testify. The FBI claims the informer would have nothing interesting to say, but Congressional investigators are skeptical. The Justice Department also wants to learn more about the informant. [New York Times, 10/5/02] The local FBI contact, Steven Butler, testifies before a secret session the following week (see October 9, 2002); Shaikh apparently doesn't testify at all. [Washington Post, 10/11/02]

October 9, 2002: San Diego FBI agent Steven Butler reportedly gives "explosive" testimony to the 9/11 inquiry. Butler, recently retired, has been unable to speak to the media, but accounts of his testimony say he was the agent who managed Abdussattar Shaikh, an FBI informant who rented a room to hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see September-December 2000). Butler claims he might have uncovered a hint of the 9/11 plot if the CIA had provided the FBI with more information earlier about Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [New York Times, 11/23/02] Butler discloses that he had been monitoring a flow of Saudi Arabian money that wound up in the hands of two of the 9/11 hijackers, but his supervisors failed to take any action on the warnings. It is not known when Butler started investigating the money flow, or warned his supervisors. Some details of this Saudi money trail will cause headlines in November 2002 (see November 22, 2002). The FBI unsuccessfully tried to prevent Butler from testifying (see October 5, 2002). Despite the knowledge about the Saudi money trail involving Osama Basnan and Omar al-Bayoumi revealed at this time, Basnan is nonetheless deported to Saudi Arabia the next month, where he disappears (see August 22, 2002), and al-Bayoumi, who is living in Britain, disappears as well (see September 22, 2001).