TIMELINE ENTRIES ABOUT 9/11 MASTERMIND KHALID SHAIKH MOHAMMED

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
The latest update

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
Part 3: Day of 9/11
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

 

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed


Mohammed in a 1998 FBI wanted poster, quite possibly digitally altered to show him without a beard.

Early 1994-January 1995: 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed lives in the Philippines for a year, planning the Bojinka plot until the plot is exposed and he has to flee (see January 6, 1995). Police later say he lives a very expensive and non-religious lifestyle. He meets in karaoke bars and go-go clubs, dates go-go dancers, stays in four-star hotels, and takes scuba diving lessons. Once he rents a helicopter just to fly it past the window of a girlfriend's office in an attempt to impress her. This appears to be a pattern; for instance he has a big drinking party in 1998. [Los Angeles Times, 6/24/02] Officials believe his obvious access to large sums of money indicate that some larger network is backing him by this time. It has been suggested that Mohammed, a Pakistani, is able "to operate as he pleased in Pakistan" in the 1990s [Los Angeles Times, 6/24/02], and even is linked to the Pakistani ISI (see June 4, 2002). Could the ISI be backing him at this early date? His hedonistic time in the Philippines resembles reports of hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi in the Philippines (see 1998-2000). Mohammed returns to the Philippines occasionally, even being spotted there after 9/11. [Knight Ridder, 9/9/02] He almost gets caught while visiting an old girlfriend there in 1999, and fails in a second plot to kill the Pope when the Pope cancels his visit to the Philippines that year. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, London Times, 11/10/02] Does Mohammed meet the hijackers in the Philippines?


Ramzi Yousef. [BBC]

January 6, 1995: While investigating a possible assassination plan against the Pope, Philippine police uncover plans for Operation Bojinka, an al-Qaeda operation led by 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] 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] In this phase, planes would be hijacked and flown into civilian targets. The WTC, CIA headquarters, Pentagon and the Sears Tower are mentioned as specific targets. [Agence France Presse, 12/8/01] 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] Philippines Chief Police Superintendent Avelino Razon says there is "too much coincidence" between 9/11 and Bojinka. [Insight, 5/27/02] FTW

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, 8/02, 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?


Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, from a 1998 FBI wanted poster.

January-May 1996: In the months after uncovering Operation Bojinka in the Philippines (see January 6, 1995), nearly all of its major planners, including Ramzi Yousef, are found and arrested. The one exception is 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. He flees to Qatar in the Persian Gulf, where he lives openly using his real name, enjoying the patronage of Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani, Qatar's Interior Minister and a member of the royal family. [ABC News, 2/7/03] In January 1996, he is indicted in the US for his role in the 1993 WTC bombing, and in the same month the US determines his location in Qatar. FBI Director Louis Freeh sends a letter to the Qatari government asking for permission to send a team after him. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] One of Freeh's diplomatic notes states that Mohammed was involved in a conspiracy to "bomb US airliners" and is believed to be "in the process of manufacturing an explosive device." [New Yorker, 5/27/02] Qatar confirms that Mohammed is there and is making an explosive, but they delay in handing him over. After waiting several months, a high level meeting takes place in Washington to consider a commando raid to seize him. But the raid is deemed too risky, and another letter is sent to the Qatari government instead. One person at the meeting later states, "If we had gone in and nabbed this guy, or just cut his head off, the Qatari government would not have complained a bit. Everyone around the table for their own reasons refused to go after someone who fundamentally threatened American interests...." [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] Around May 1996, Mohammed's patron Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani makes sure that Mohammed and four others are given blank passports and a chance to escape. Qatar's police chief later says the other men include Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef, al-Qaeda's number two and number three leaders respectively (see also Late 1998 (E)). [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, ABC News, 2/7/03] In late 1997 former CIA agent Robert Baer learns how the Qataris helped Mohammed escape and passes the information to the CIA, but they appear uninterested (see December 1997). Bin Laden twice visits al-Thani in Qatar. [New York Times, 6/8/02, ABC News, 2/7/03] Does the US miss a chance to catch bin Laden by not caring about al-Thani? After leaving Qatar, Mohammed takes part in many terrorist acts (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001).


The 1998 reward poster for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. [FBI]

Mid-1996-September 11, 2001: After fleeing Qatar (see January-May 1996), 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed travels the world and plans many terror acts. He is apparently involved in the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998), the 2000 USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000) and other attacks. He previously was involved in the 1993 WTC bombing (see February 26, 1993) and the Bojinka plot (see January 6, 1995). [Time, 1/20/03] One US official says, "There is a clear operational link between him and the execution of most, if not all, of the al-Qaeda plots over the past five years." [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] He lives in Prague, Czech Republic, through much of 1997. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] By 1999 he is living in Germany and visiting with the hijackers there (see 1999 (K)). [New York Times, 9/22/02] Using 60 aliases and as many passports, he travels through Europe, Africa, the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia and South America, personally setting up al-Qaeda cells. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02, Time, 1/20/03] The US announces a $2 million reward for his capture in 1998. [New York Times, 6/5/02] But supposedly, US investigators only learn of Mohammed's large role in al-Qaeda after 9/11. [Committee Findings, 12/11/02, Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] However, one official says, "We have been after him for years, and to say that we weren't is just wrong. We had identified him as a major al-Qaeda operative before Sept. 11." [New York Times, 9/22/02] If reports are true that Mohammed is given protection by Pakistan (Early 1994-January 1995), and is possibly even an ISI agent (see June 4, 2002), doesn't that make Pakistan responsible for all of these terrorist acts?


Abdallah al-Thani [ABC News]

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 Mohammed 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?

1999 (K): 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed "repeatedly" visits Mohamed Atta and others in the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. [AP, 8/24/02] US and German officials say a number of sources place Mohammed at Atta's Hamburg apartment. It isn't clear when he visits or who he visits. [Los Angeles Times, 6/6/02, New York Times, 11/4/02] However, it would be logical that he at least visits Atta's housemate Ramzi bin al-Shibh, since investigators believe he is the "key contact between the pilots" and Mohammed. [Los Angeles Times, 1/27/03] Mohammed is living in Germany at the time. [New York Times, 9/22/02] German intelligence surveil the apartment in 1999 but apparently don't notice Mohammed (see November 1, 1998-February 2001). US investigators have been searching for Mohammed since 1996 (see January-May 1996), but apparently never tell the Germans what they know about him. [New York Times, 11/4/02] Even after 9/11, German investigators complain that US investigators don't tell them what they know about Mohammed living in Germany until they read it in the newspapers in June 2002. [New York Times, 6/11/02]


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]

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]

Summer 2001: Around this time, the NSA intercepts telephone conversations between 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Mohamed Atta, but apparently does not share the information with any other agencies. The FBI has a $2 million reward for Mohammed at the time (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001), while Atta is in charge of operations inside the US. [Knight Ridder, 6/6/02, Independent, 6/6/02] US intelligence learned in June 2001 that Mohammed was interested in sending terrorists to the US and supporting them there (see June 2001 (I)). Yet supposedly, the NSA either fails to translate these messages in a timely fashion or fails to understand the significance of what was translated. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 6/6/02] FTW While the contents of these discussions have never been released, doesn't it seem highly likely they were discussing 9/11 plans? Would the NSA fail to translate or properly analyze messages from one of the most wanted terrorists?

August 25, 2001: A supplemental Visa credit card on a "Mustafa Al-Hawsawi" bank account is issued in the name of Abdulrahman A. A. Al-Ghamdi, who the FBI says is an alias for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. The FBI believes this helps prove Mohammed is a superior to the 9/11 paymaster. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02, Houston Chronicle, 6/5/02] The identity of "Mustafa Al-Hawsawi" is highly contested, but may well be Saeed Sheikh (see September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002). Mohammed and Sheikh appear to work together in the kidnapping of reporter Daniel Pearl (see January 23, 2002).

September 10, 2001 (F): Mohamed Atta calls Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the operational planner of the 9/11 attacks, in Afghanistan. Mohammed gives final approval to Atta to launch the attacks. This call is monitored and translated by the US, though it isn't known how quickly that takes, and the specifics of the conversation haven't been released. [Independent, 9/15/02] The NSA had been intercepting calls between Mohammed and Atta for the past several months (see Summer 2001), and US intelligence had learned Mohammed was interested in sending terrorists to the US and supporting them there (see June 2001 (I)). Shouldn't Atta's location have been determined from these calls with a high-profile terrorist (just as bin Laden's location was determined in 1998 from his phone use (Early 1996-October 1998))?


Richard Reid.

December 22, 2001 (B): British citizen Richard Reid is arrested for allegedly trying to blow up a Miami-bound jet using explosives hidden in his shoe. [AP, 8/19/02] He later pleads guilty to all charges, and declares himself a follower of bin Laden. [CBS, 10/4/02] He may have ties to Pakistan. [Washington Post, 3/31/02] It is later believed that Reid and others in the shoe bomb plot reported directly to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. [CNN, 1/30/03] It has been suggested that Mohammed has ties to the ISI (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). It is also later suggested that Reid is a follower of Ali Gilani, a religious leader believed to be working with the ISI (see January 6, 2002).

January 23, 2002: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Pakistan while researching stories threatening to the ISI (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). [Guardian, 1/25/02, BBC, 7/5/02] He is later murdered (see January 31, 2002). FTW Saeed Sheikh is later convicted as the mastermind of the kidnap (see July 15, 2002), and though it appears he lured Pearl into being kidnapped beginning January 11, the actual kidnapping and murder of Pearl is done by others who remain at large. [Vanity Fair, 8/02, Wall Street Journal, 1/23/03] Both al-Qaeda and the ISI appear to be behind the kidnapping (see January 28, 2002 and February 5, 2002). The overall mastermind behind the kidnapping seems to be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, also mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. [Time, 1/26/03, CNN, 1/30/03] If Saeed assisted Mohammed in the kidnapping, that would appear to repeat their cooperation in the 9/11 attacks, and strengthen the argument that Mohammed is connected to both al-Qaeda and the ISI (see June 4, 2002).


Yosri Fouda.

April, June or August 2002: It is originally reported that Al Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda interviews 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 9/11 associate Ramzi bin al-Shibh at a secret location in Karachi, Pakistan in either June [London Times, 9/8/02] or August. [Guardian, 9/9/02] Details and audio footage of the interview come out between September 8-12, 2002. The video footage of the interview al-Qaeda promised to hand over is never given to Al Jazeera. [AP, 9/8/02] Both figures claim the 9/11 attacks were originally going to target nuclear reactors, but "decided against it for fear it would go out of control." Interviewer Fouda is stuck that Mohammed and bin al-Shibh remember only the hijackers' code names, and have trouble remembering their real names. [Australian, 9/9/02] Mohammed calls himself the head of al-Qaeda's military committee - the group that planned the targets for 9/11. These interviews "are the first full admission by senior figures from bin Laden's network that they carried out the September 11 attacks." [Sunday Times, 9/8/02] But the Financial Times has reported on Fouda's interview, "Analysts cited the crude editing of the tapes and the timing of the broadcasts as reasons to be suspicious about their authenticity. Dia Rashwan, an expert on Islamist movements at the Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies in Cairo, said: 'I have very serious doubts [about the authenticity of this tape]. It could have been a script written by the FBI.'" [Financial Times, 9/11/02] Mohammed is later reported to be arrested in June 2002 (see June 16, 2002), killed or arrested in September 2002 (see September 11, 2002), and then arrested in March 2003 (see March 1, 2003). After this last arrest, for the first time Fouda claims this interview took place in April, placing it safely before the first reports of Mohammed's capture. [Guardian, 3/4/03, Canada AM, 3/6/03] Bin al-Shibh also gets captured several days after Fouda's interview in broadcast (see September 11, 2002), and some reports say he is captured because this interview allows his voice to be identified. [CBS, 10/9/02, Observer, 9/15/02] As a result, Fouda has been accused of betraying al-Qaeda, and now fears for his life. [Independent, 9/17/02] As the Washington Post puts it: "Now al Jazeera is also subject to rumors of a conspiracy." [Washington Post, 9/15/02] Yet after being so reviled by al-Qaeda supporters, Fouda is later given a cassette said to be a bin Laden speech. [MSNBC, 11/18/02] Why would al-Qaeda have given such an exclusive to the man said to have betrayed them? US officials believe the voice on that cassette is "almost certainly" bin Laden, but one of the world's leading voice-recognition institutes said they were 95% certain the tape is a forgery. [BBC, 11/18/02, BBC, 11/29/02] Is it possible that Fouda has been working with the US to pass on anti-al-Qaeda propaganda, including the Mohammed and bin al-Shibh interview?

April 11, 2002 (C): A truck bomb kills 19 people in a Djerba, Tunisia, synagogue, most of them German tourists. It is later claimed that al-Qaeda is behind the attack, and that the suspected bomber speaks with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed by phone about three hours before the attack. [AP, 8/24/02]

June 4, 2002: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is publicly identified as the "mastermind" behind the 9/11 attacks. He is believed to have arranged the logistics while on the run in Germany, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 1996 he had been secretly indicted in the US for his role in Operation Bojinka (see January 6, 1995 and January-May 1996), and the US began offering a $2 million reward for his capture in 1998, which increased to $25 million in December 2001. [AP, 6/4/02, New York Times, 6/5/02] There are conflicting accounts on how much US investigators knew about Mohammed before 9/11 (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001). Mohammed is Pakistani (thought born in Kuwait [CBS, 6/5/02]) and a relative of Ramzi Yousef, the bomber of the WTC in 1993. [New York Times, 6/5/02] Though not widely reported, Josef Bodansky, the director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, says Mohammed also has ties to the ISI, and they had acted to shield him in the past. Bodansky claims Mohammed is the one who orders Pearl's murder (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). [UPI, 9/30/02] If the 9/11 mastermind has ties to the ISI, and Saeed Shaikh, an agent of the ISI, helped train the hijackers (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001) and wired money to the 9/11 hijackers on the orders of ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (see Early August 2001 (D)), and other ISI agents had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks in 1999 (see July 14, 1999), why has no mainstream media outlet ever suggested that the ISI could have been behind the 9/11 attacks? Mohammed is apparently captured in March 2003, if not earlier (see March 1, 2003).

June 16, 2002: In September 2002, articles appear in the Pakistani and Indian press suggesting that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is actually captured on this day. Supposedly he has been sent to the US, though the US and Pakistan deny the story and say Mohammed has not been captured at all. [Daily Times, 9/9/02, Times of India, 9/9/02, Economic Times, 9/10/02] If it happened, Mohammed may have been captured before an interview with Al Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda (see April, June or August 2002). It is later widely reported that Mohammed is captured in March 2003, but some reporters and experts doubt this, suggesting he was captured earlier (see March 1, 2003). He may also have been captured or killed in September 2002 (see September 11, 2002).

September 8-11, 2002: Details of an Al Jazeera interview with al-Qaeda leaders Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh are widely publicized. [London Times, 9/8/02, Australian, 9/9/02, Guardian, 9/9/02] But there are numerous doubts about this interview (see April, June or August 2002). The possibility has been raised that the broadcast of Ramzi bin al-Shibh's voice in the interview helps in his capture a few days later (see September 11, 2002). [CBS, 10/9/02, Observer, 9/15/02] Al Jazeera also broadcasts footage of hijacker Abdulaziz Alomari speaking against the US filmed in Afghanistan in early 2001 (see March 2001).


Apparently this is Ramzi bin al-Shibh being taken into custody. [AFP]

September 11, 2002: Would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh is arrested after a huge gunfight in Karachi, Pakistan, involving thousands of police. [Observer, 9/15/02] He is considered "a high-ranking operative for al-Qaeda and one of the few people still alive who know the inside details of the 9/11 plot." [New York Times, 9/13/02] 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed called bin al-Shibh "the coordinator of the Holy Tuesday [9/11] operation" in an interview aired days before (see September 8-11, 2002). Captured with him are approximately nine associates, as well as numerous computers, phones and other evidence. [Time, 9/15/02, New York Times, 9/13/02] There are conflicting claims that Mohammed is killed in the raid [Christian Science Monitor, 10/29/02, Asia Times, 10/30/02, Daily Telegraph, 3/4/03, Asia Times, 3/6/03], shot while escaping [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/2/03], someone who looks like him is killed, leading to initial misidentification [Time, 1/20/03], someone matching his general appearance is captured [AP, 9/16/02], or that he narrowly escapes capture and his young children are captured. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] It is widely reported that Mohammed is captured in March 2003, but some reporters and experts doubt this, suggesting he was captured earlier (see March 1, 2003).

September 18, 2002: The Congressional joint committee 9/11 inquiry hold its first public hearing. The committee believes that "a particular al-Qaeda leader may have been instrumental in the attacks" and US intelligence has known about this person since 1995. Tenet "has declined to declassify the information we developed [about this person] on the grounds that it could compromise intelligence sources and methods and that this consideration supersedes the American public’s interest in this particular area." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] A few days later, The New York Times reveals this leader to be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 9/22/02]


The US claims this is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed just after being captured. [AP]

March 1, 2003: 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is reportedly arrested in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. [AP, 3/1/03] He is reported arrested in a late night joint Pakistani and FBI raid that also captures Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi, said to be the main money man behind the 9/11 attacks. [MSNBC, 3/3/03] However, there are serious doubts that Mohammed or Al-Hawsawi (who might not even exist) were at the house when it was raided. Mohammed has previously been reported arrested or killed (see June 16, 2002 and September 11, 2002 and also this essay, Is There More to the Capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Than Meets the Eye?, for a detailed analysis of his capture).

March 10, 2003: the ISI shows what they claim is a video of Mohammed's capture (see March 1, 2003). But the video only adds to doubts about that capture, as it is openly questioned to be a forgery by the reporters who see it. [ABC, 3/11/03, Reuters, 3/11/03, PakNews, 3/11/03, Daily Times, 3/13/03] A Fox News reporter even says, "Foreign journalists looking at it laughed and said this is baloney, this is a reconstruction." [Fox News, 3/10/03]