THE COMPLETE 9/11 TIMELINE, PART 4: Sept. 11, 2001 - Dec. 2001
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. I've made separate pages for each thread, in addition to webpages with all the threads together.
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.
For simplicity's sake I don't always use the full names and jobs of some of the major people or organizations in this story. For instance, every time I say "bin Laden," I mean the terrorist Osama bin Laden, not one of his family members. I have standardized the spellings of the Islamic names, even within quotes. Al-Qaeda, for instance, can be spelled many ways, and the person known as Saeed Sheikh has too many name variations and spelling variations to count.
CIA: US Central Intelligence Agency
DEA: US Drug Enforcement Administration
FAA: US Federal Aviation Administration
FDA: US Food and Drug Administration
FBI: US Federal Bureau of Investigations
FEMA: US Federal Emergency Management Agency
ISI: Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani intelligence agency
Mossad: The Israeli intelligence agency
NORAD: US North American Aerospace Defense Command
NSA: US National Security Agency
SEC: US Security and Exchange Commission
Taliban: The rulers of Afghanistan, 1996 - 2001
WTC: World Trade Center
USAMRIID: US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
Ahmad: General Mahmud Ahmad, Director of the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency
Ashcroft: John Ashcroft, US Attorney General under Bush Jr.
Atta: Mohamed Atta, lead 9/11 hijacker
bin Laden: Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda terrorist organization
Bush: George Bush Jr., US President since January, 2001
Cheney: Richard "Dick" Cheney, US Vice President under Bush Jr.
Clinton: Bill Clinton, US President before Bush Jr.
Mueller: Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI since July, 2001
Musharraf: General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan since 1999
Powell: Colin Powell, US Secretary of State under Bush Jr.
Rice: Condaleezza Rice, US National Security Advisor under Bush Jr.
Rumsfeld: Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense
Saeed: Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh (and many variations thereof), ISI agent, al-Qaeda money man and supposed murderer of reporter Daniel Pearl
Tenet: George Tenet, Director of the CIA since 1997 under Clinton and remaining under Bush Jr.
There are many spellings and aliases - the names and spellings below are the versions preferred by the FBI. *= Some evidence suggests the identity of this person may be incorrect (see September 16-23, 2001).
American Airlines Flight 11
Waleed Alshehri, 22, from Saudi Arabia *
Wail Alshehri, 28, from Saudi Arabia, brother of Waleed Alshehri, had psychological problems *
Abdulaziz Alomari, 22, from Saudi Arabia *
Satam Al Suqami, 25, from Saudi Arabia
Mohamed Atta, 33, from Egypt (the likely pilot) *
United Airlines Flight 93
Saeed Alghamdi, 21, from Saudi Arabia (had flight training) *
Ahmed Alhaznawi, 20, from Saudi Arabia *
Ahmed Alnami, 23, from Saudi Arabia *
Ziad Jarrah, 26, from Lebanon (the likely pilot) *
United Airlines Flight 175
Ahmed Alghamdi, 22, from Saudi Arabia
Hamza Alghamdi, 20, from Saudi Arabia, brother of Ahmed Alghamdi *
Marwan Alshehhi, 23, from United Arab Emirates (the likely pilot) *
Mohand Alshehri, 22, from Saudi Arabia, possible cousin of Marwan Alshehhi and/or from the same extended family as Wail and Waleed Alshehri
Fayez Ahmed Banihammad (Alshehri), 24, from United Arab Emirates (had flight training)
American Airlines Flight 77
Khalid Almihdhar, 26, from Saudi Arabia (originally from Yemen, changed citizenship in 1996) *
Nawaf Alhazmi, 25, from Saudi Arabia
Salem Alhazmi, 20, from Saudi Arabia, brother of Nawaf Alhazmi *
Hani Hanjour, 29, from Saudi Arabia (the likely pilot)
Majed Moqed, 24, from Saudi Arabia *
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]
September 11, 2001
(H): At the time of the attacks, ISI Director
Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed is at a breakfast meeting at the Capitol with the chairmen
of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Senator Bob Graham (D) and
Representative Porter Goss (R) (Goss is a 10-year veteran of the CIA's clandestine
operations wing). The meeting is said to last at least until the second plane
hits the WTC. [Washington
Post, 5/18/02] Graham and Goss later co-head the joint House-Senate investigation
into the 9/11 attacks, which has made headlines for saying there was no "smoking
gun" of Bush knowledge before 9/11. [Washington
Post, 7/11/02] Note Senator Graham should have been aware of a report made
to his staff the previous month that one of Mahmood's subordinates had told
a US undercover agent that the WTC would be destroyed (see Early
August 2001). Evidence suggests Mahmood ordered that $100,000 be sent
to hijacker Mohamed Atta (see Early
August 2001 (D)). Also present at the meeting
were Senator John Kyl (R) and the Pakistani ambassador to the US, Maleeha Lodhi
(all or virtually all of the people in this meeting also met in Pakistan a few
weeks earlier (see August
28-30, 2001)). Senator Graham says of the
meeting: "We were talking about terrorism, specifically terrorism generated
from Afghanistan." The New York Times mentions bin Laden specifically was
being discussed. [Vero Beach
Press Journal, 9/12/01, Salon,
York Times, 6/3/02] The fact that these
people are meeting at the time of the attacks is a strange coincidence at the
very least. Was the topic of conversation just more coincidence? FTW
September 11, 2001 (I): At about 9:00 a.m., a strange incident occurs aboard United Airlines Flight 23, scheduled to fly from New York to Los Angeles. After boarding, the crew tells the passengers that the flight had been canceled. Three Middle Eastern men on board refuse to get off the plane. They argue with a member of the flight crew. Security is called, but before security arrives, the men escape. [CBS, 9/14/01] In June 2002, a Canadian general who is also deputy commander of NORAD refers to Flight 23 and states, "From our perception, we think our reaction on that day was sufficiently quick that we may well have precluded at least one other hijacking. We may not have. We don't know for sure." [Globe and Mail, 6/13/02] It may not be the only aborted hijacking that day (see September 19, 2001).
September 11, 2001 (J): Zacarias Moussaoui watches the 9/11 attack on TV inside a prison, where he is being held on immigration charges. He cheers the attacks. [BBC, 12/12/01] Within an hour of the attacks, the Minnesota FBI uses a memo written to FBI headquarters shortly after Moussaoui's arrest to ask permission from a judge for the search warrant they have been desperately seeking. Even after the attacks, FBI headquarters is still attempting to block the search of Moussaoui's computer, characterizing the WTC attacks as a mere coincidence with suspicions about Moussaoui (the person still trying to block the search is later promoted). [Time, 5/21/02] However, a federal judge approves the warrant that afternoon. [New Yorker, 9/30/02] Minnesota FBI agent Coleen Rowley notes that this very memo was previously deemed insufficient by FBI headquarters to get a search warrant, and the fact that they are immediately granted one when finally allowed to ask shows "the missing piece of probable cause was only the [FBI headquarters'] failure to appreciate that such an event could occur." [Time, 5/21/02] The search uncovers information suggesting Moussaoui may have been planning an attack using crop dusters, but it doesn't turn up any direct connection to the 9/11 hijackers. However, they find some German telephone numbers and the name "Ahad Sabet." The numbers allow them to determine the name is an alias for Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Atta's former roommate, and they find he wired Moussaoui money. They also find a document connecting Moussaoui with the Malaysian Yazid Sufaat, a lead that could have led to hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi (see September-October 2000). [New Yorker, 9/30/02, MSNBC, 12/11/01] Rowley later suggests that if they would had received the search warrant sooner, "There is at least some chance that ... may have limited the Sept. 11th attacks and resulting loss of life." [Time, 5/27/02]
September 11, 2001 (K): Two men, Syed Gul Mohammad Shah (using the alias Ayub Ali Khan) and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, are arrested on a train near Fort Worth, Texas, during a random drug check. They are found with $20,000 in cash, hair dye, and box cutters similar to those used in the 9/11 attacks. They also both had flight training. They had boarded Flight 679 in Newark, New Jersey, at 6:10 a.m., bound for San Antonio. [Washington Post, 9/20/01, Village Voice, 9/25/02] The flight was diverted to St. Louis after the WTC was hit. Shah and Azmath then took an Amtrak train headed to San Antonio. The FBI says no one else on the flight manifest is believed to be a potential hijacker. It is speculated that they were planning to meet Dr. al-Badr Alhazmi, who lived in San Antonio and was also arrested that day. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01, Washington Post, 9/29/01] It is also known that a $64,000 wire transfer by the two men to Pakistan in 1999 "has aroused authorities' suspicion." [Washington Post, 10/7/01] They appeared to be some of the most significant terrorists caught after 9/11. But on September 12, 2002, after nearly a year in solitary confinement, Azmath pleads guilty to one count of credit card fraud, and was released with time served. Shah is given a longer sentence for credit card fraud. [Village Voice, 9/25/02] Both are deported back to India around the end of 2002. [New York Times, 12/31/02, AP, 1/25/03] Both also claim to have been tortured, threatened, denied access to lawyers, and kept in solitary confinement for months (see also June 12, 2001, October 20, 2001). [AP, 1/25/03] Dr. Alhazmi is released after only two weeks. [San Antonio Express News, 10/1/01] Are they innocent, or has the government failed to prove their guilt?
September 11, 2001 (L): Within hours of the attacks, Florida governor and the President's brother Jeb Bush signs an executive order: "I hereby declare that a state of emergency exists in the State of Florida." This order is declared faster than any other state, even New York or Washington, DC, and carries much greater powers. [Jeb Bush Executive Order, 9/11/01] Did someone have an inkling of the many connections between the hijackers and Florida? (Note that the fact that Jeb Bush signed another emergency power order on September 7 isn't that damning, because orders similar to it are made regularly, since Florida is so hurricane prone.) [Jeb Bush Executive Order, 9/7/01]
September 11, 2001 (M): It is later revealed that only hours after the 9/11 attacks, a US "shadow government" is formed. Initially deployed "on the fly", executive directives on government continuity in the face of a crisis dating back to the Reagan administration are put into effect. Approximately 100 midlevel officials are moved to underground bunkers and stay there 24 hours a day. Officials rotate in and out on a 90-day cycle. When its existence is revealed, some controversy arises because of the exclusion of any Democrats from it. In fact, top Congressional Democrats had never even heard of it until journalists broke the story months later. [Washington Post, 3/1/02, CBS, 3/2/02]
September 11, 2001 (N): A few hours after the attacks, German intelligence intercepts a phone conversation between followers of bin Laden that leads the FBI to search frantically for two more teams of suicide hijackers, according to US and German officials. The Germans overhear the terrorists refer to "the 30 people traveling for the operation." The FBI scours flight manifests and any other clues for more conspirators still at large. [New York Times, 9/29/01] Two days later, authorities claim to have identified teams that total as many as 50 infiltrators who supported or carried out the strikes. About forty are accounted for as dead or in custody; ten are missing. They also believe a total of 27 suspected terrorists received some form of pilot training. This corresponds with many analyses that the attacks would have needed a large support network. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01] Even 50 may be a gross underestimate (see September 19, 2001). Yet so far, only one person, Moussaoui, has been identified and charged as an accomplice, and a report in October suggests no one else arrested has been connected to the 9/11 attacks (see October 20, 2001). What happened to the rest of the 40 or 50?
September 11, 2001 (O): A National Public Radio correspondent states: "I spoke with Congressman Ike Skelton – a Democrat from Missouri and a member of the Armed Services Committee – who said that just recently the director of the CIA warned that there could be an attack – an imminent attack – on the United States of this nature. So this is not entirely unexpected." [NPR, 9/11/01] This dramatically contradicts what CIA Director Tenet has told the American public.
September 11, 2001 (P): Senator Orrin Hatch (R) tells the Associated Press that the US government was monitoring bin Laden's communications electronically, and overheard two bin Laden aides celebrating the successful terrorist attack: "They have an intercept of some information that included people associated with bin Laden who acknowledged a couple of targets were hit." [AP, 9/12/01, ABC News, 9/12/01] Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld publicly denounces the report, not as untrue, but as an unauthorized release of classified information. [Department of Defense news briefing, 9/12/01] The head of the NSA explains the delay by saying bin Laden (living in a cave in Afghanistan) "has better technology" than the US ($30 billion annual intelligence budget). [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01] Why has the mainstream media not explored the implications that the CIA and FBI could monitor the private communications of al-Qaeda on the days up to and including 9/11?
September 11, 2001 (Q): Shortly after the suicide attacks, a source with intelligence connections tells Newsweek that US intelligence picks up communications among bin Laden associates relaying the message: "We've hit the targets." Its not clear if this was the same intercept Senator Hatch speaks of (see September 11, 2001 (P)), or an additional one. [Newsweek, 9/13/01]
September 11, 2001 (R): Explosives expert Van Romero says: "My opinion is, based on the videotapes, that after the airplanes hit the World Trade Center there were some explosive devices inside the buildings that caused the towers to collapse." The collapse of the buildings appears "too methodical" to be a chance result of airplanes colliding with the structures. [Albuquerque Journal, 9/11/01] However, Romero, who says he was on his way to the Pentagon to seek Pentagon research funding when the attack hit, reverses his stance 10 days later. [Albuquerque Journal, 9/21/01] Might his need for government funding have played a role in his change of heart?
September 11, 2001 (S): Two of Atta's bags from an early flight from Portland are not loaded onto Flight 11 and are discovered. They contain a handheld electronic flight computer, a simulator procedures manual for Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, two videotapes relating to "air tours" of the Boeing 757 and 747 aircraft, a slide-rule flight calculator, a copy of the Koran, Atta's passport, his international driver's license, a religious cassette tape, airline uniforms, a letter of recommendation, "education related documentation", a note to other hijackers on how to mentally prepare for the hijacking, and Atta's will (written in 1996). [AP, 10/5/01, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/15/01, Boston Globe, 9/18/01, Independent, 9/29/01, (see also an FBI affidavit that omits certain items, like the uniforms and the how-to note)] A New Yorker reporter later writes, "many of the investigators believe that some of the initial clues that were uncovered about the terrorists' identities and preparations, such as flight manuals, were meant to be found. A former high-level intelligence official told me, 'Whatever trail was left was left deliberately—for the FBI to chase.'" [New Yorker, 10/1/01] Why would Atta have brought his will onto a plane he knew would be destroyed? Why would the airline uniforms be where they couldn't be used in the hijacking? In fact, why bring anything at all unless it is to leave it behind and send a message? Atta checked his bags through to his final destination while at Portland, so how could he have known they would be left behind to be found?
September 11, 2001 (T): TV news coverage on 9/11 repeatedly shows images of Palestinians rejoicing over the 9/11 attack. According to Mark Crispin Miller, a Professor of Media Studies at New York University who investigated the issue, the footage was filmed during the funeral of nine people killed the day before by Israeli authorities. He said "to show it without explaining the background, and to show it over and over again is to make propaganda for the war machine and is irresponsible.'' [AFP, 9/18/01, Australian, 9/27/01]
September 11, 2001 (U): Later in the day, weapons are found planted on board three other US airplanes. A US official says of the hijackings: "These look like inside jobs." "Sources tell Time that US officials are investigating whether the hijackers had accomplices deep inside the airports' 'secure' areas." [Time, 9/22/01] Penetrating security doesn't appear to have been that difficult: Argenbright, the company in charge of security at all the airports used by the 9/11 hijackers, had virtually no security check on any of their employees, and even hired criminals and illegal immigrants. Security appears to have particularly abysmal at Boston's Logan Airport, even after 9/11. [CNN, 10/12/01, Boston Globe, 10/1/01] Could the reason that no footage of the hijackers boarding the planes they would hijack has been released be that the hijackers entered the airplanes via backdoors with the help of accomplices?
September 11, 2001 (V): Hours after the 9/11 attacks, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is given information that three of the names on the airplane passenger manifests are suspected al-Qaeda operatives. The notes he composes at the time are leaked nearly a year later. Rumsfeld writes he wants the "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL. [Usama bin Laden] Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not." [CBS, 9/4/02] He presents the idea to Bush the next day (see September 12, 2001 (F)). It is later revealed that shortly after 9/11, Rumsfeld sets up "a small team of defense officials outside regular intelligence channels to focus on unearthing details about Iraqi ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks." It has continued to sift "through much of the same databases available to government intelligence analysts but with the aim of spotlighting information the spy agencies have either overlooked or played down." [Washington Post, 10/25/02] Time will report in May 2002 that Defense Secretary "Rumsfeld has been so determined to find a rationale for an attack that on 10 separate occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking Iraq to the terror attacks of Sept. 11. The intelligence agency repeatedly came back empty-handed." [Time, 5/6/02] But while the CIA hasn't been helpful to Rumsfeld, one former senior official later says, "If it became known that [Rumsfeld] wanted [the Defense Intelligence Agency] to link the government of Tonga to 9/11, within a few months they would come up with sources who'd do it." [New Yorker, 12/16/02] Since the plan to defeat Iraq is planned despite a complete lack of evidence showing Iraqi involvement in 9/11 (see also September 17, 2001 (B)), how can any later evidence pointing to Iraq's complicity in 9/11 be trusted?
September 11, 2001 (W): Five Israelis are arrested for "puzzling behavior" related to the WTC attacks. They are arrested around 4:30 P.M. after having filmed the burning WTC from the roof of their company's building near Liberty State Park, then shouting in what was interpreted as cries of joy and mockery. They were spotted by a neighbor who called the police and the FBI. The police tracked them down in a van with the words "Urban Moving Systems" written on the side. [Bergen Record, 9/12/01, Ha'aretz, 9/17/01] One man was found with $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock, another had two passports on him, and a box cutter was found in the van. [ABC News, 6/21/02] Investigators say that "There are maps of the city in the car with certain places highlighted... It looked like they're hooked in with this. It looked like they knew what was going to happen." [Bergen Record, 9/12/01] One of these Israelis later says, "Our purpose was to document the event." [ABC News, 6/21/02] The FBI later concludes at least two are Mossad agents and that all were on a Mossad surveillance mission. The FBI interrogates them for weeks. [Forward, 3/15/02] They are held on immigration violation charges and released 71 days later. [ABC News, 6/21/02] Their names are later identified as Sivan and Paul Kurzberg, Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari and Yaron Shmuel. [Forward, 3/15/02]
September 11 , 2001 (X): An FAA memo written on the evening of 9/11 suggests a man on Flight 11 was shot and killed by a gun before the plane crashed into the WTC. [See the leaked FAA memo, originally posted at World Net Daily] The "Executive Summary," based on information relayed by a flight attendant to the American Airlines Operation Center, stated "that a passenger located in seat 10B shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B at 9:20 A.M [since Flight 11 crashed at 8:46, the time must be a typo, probably meaning 8:20]. The passenger killed was Daniel Lewin, shot by passenger Satam Al Suqami." The FAA claims that the document is a "first draft" and declines to release the final draft, calling it "protected information." A report in Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz on September 17 identifies Lewin as a former member of the Israel Defense Force Sayeret Matkal, Israel's most successful special-operations unit [UPI, 3/6/02]. Sayeret Matkal is a deep-penetration unit that has been involved in assassinations, the theft of foreign signals-intelligence materials, and the theft and destruction of foreign nuclear weaponry. Sayeret Matkal is best known for the 1976 rescue of 106 passengers at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. [New Yorker, 10/29/01] Officials later deny the gun story and suggest that Lewin was probably stabbed to death instead (which would still be very interesting). [UPI, 3/6/02, Washington Post, 3/2/02] Note that Lewin founded Akamai, a successful computer company, and his connections to Sayeret Mat'kal remained hidden until the gun story came to light. [Guardian, 9/15/01] Perhaps Lewin just happened to be there, and, with his past training, tried to be a hero and stop the hijack? What are the odds that an Israeli counter-terrorist expert would not only be on this hijacked flight, but also have terrorists sitting in the seats directly in front and behind him?
September 11, 2001 (Y): Some White House personnel, including Vice President Cheney's staff, are given Cipro, the anti-anthrax drug, and told to take it regularly on the evening after the attacks. [AP, 10/24/01] Judicial Watch later sues the Bush Administration to release documents showing who knew what and when, and why Presidential staff were protected while Senators, Congresspeople and others were not. [AP, 6/9/02] FTW
September 11, 2001 (Z): The Carlyle Group is a company closely associated with officials of the Bush and Reagan administrations, and has considerable ties to Saudi oil money, including ties to the bin Laden family (see September 27, 2001). Those ties are well illustrated by the fact that on this day the Carlyle Group is hosting a conference at a Washington hotel. Among the guests of honor is investor Shafig bin Laden, brother to Osama. [Observer, 6/16/02]
September 11, 2001 (AA): An unnamed, young, Middle Eastern man flying from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit is arrested after his plane is diverted to Toronto, Canada. He is apparently found to be carrying a flight jacket, Palestinian Authority travel documents, and a picture of himself in a flight crew uniform in front of a fake backdrop of the WTC. [Toronto Star, 9/15/01 (B), Toronto Sun, 9/15/01, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01 (B)] Apparently the man, who identifies himself as an aircraft maintenance engineer in Gaza, Palestine, was supposed to have arrived in the US a few days before but was delayed for unknown reasons. [CBS, 9/14/01] A second man was arrested a few days earlier while trying to enter Canada carrying a similar photo. He also possessed maps and directions to the WTC. Both men are soon handed to the US. [Toronto Star, 9/15/01 (B)] A similar picture of suspected Egyptian al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammad Zeki Majoub, arrested in Canada in June 2000, in front of a fake WTC backdrop was found in the luggage of one of the US hijackers. [AP, 3/1/01, Toronto Sun, 9/15/01] Canadian officials "believe the photos could be calling cards used by the terrorists to identify those involved in plotting the attacks." [Toronto Sun, 9/15/01] It is not known what has happened to these men since.
September 11, 2001 (BB): Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when asked what the 9/11 attacks mean for relations between the US and Israel, replies, "It's very good." Then he edited himself: "Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy." [New York Times, 9/12/01] A week later, the Village Voice states, "From national networks to small-town newspapers, the view that America's terrible taste of terrorism will finally do away with even modest calls for the restraint of Israel's military attacks on Palestinian towns has become an instant, unshakable axiom. ... Now, support for Israel in America is officially absolute, and Palestinians are cast once again as players in a global terrorist conspiracy." [Village Voice, 9/19/01]
September 11-13, 2001:
Investigators find a remarkable number of possessions left behind by the hijackers:
1) As previously mentioned (see September 11, 2001 (S)), two of Mohamed Atta's bags are found on 9/11 containing a handheld electronic flight computer, a simulator procedures manual for Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, two videotapes relating to "air tours" of the Boeing 757 and 747 aircraft, a slide-rule flight calculator, a copy of the Koran, Atta's passport, his will, his international driver's license, a religious cassette tape, airline uniforms, a letter of recommendation, "education related documentation" and a note to other hijackers on how to mentally prepare for the hijacking.
2) As previously mentioned (see September 11, 2001 (I)), Marwan Alshehhi's rental car is discovered at Boston's Logan airport containing an Arabic language flight manual, a pass giving access to restricted areas at the airport, documents containing a name on the passenger list of one of the flights, and the names of other suspects. Huffman Aviation, the name of the flight school where Atta and Alshehhi studied, is also found in the car. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01]
3) A car registered to Nawaf Alhazmi is found in Washington's Dulles Airport on September 12. Inside is a copy of Atta's letter to the other hijackers, a cashier's check made out to a flight school in Phoenix, four drawings of the cockpit of a 757 jet, a box cutter-type knife, maps of Washington and New York, and a page with notes and phone numbers. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01, Cox News, 10/21/01, Die Zeit, 10/1/02]
4) A rental car is found in a airport parking lot in Portland, Maine. Investigators are able to collect fingerprints and hair samples for DNA analysis. [Portland Press Herald, 10/14/01]
5) A Boston hotel room contains airplane and train schedules. [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/15/01]
6) FBI agents carry out numerous garbage bags of evidence from a Florida apartment where Saeed Alghamdi lived. [CNN, 9/17/01]
7) Two days before 9/11, a hotel owner in Deerfield Beach, Florida, finds a box cutter left in a hotel room used by Marwan Alshehhi and two unidentified men. The owner checks the nearby trash and finds a duffel bag containing Boeing 757 manuals, three illustrated martial arts books, an 8-inch stack of East Coast flight maps, a three-ring binder full of handwritten notes, an English-German dictionary, an airplane fuel tester, and a protractor. All the items are seized by the FBI when they are notified on September 12 (except the binder of notes, which the owner apparently threw away). [Miami Herald, 9/16/01, AP, 9/16/01]
8) In an apartment rented by Ziad Jarrah and Ahmed Alhaznawi, the FBI finds a notebook, videotape, and photocopies of their passports. [Miami Herald, 9/15/01]
9) In a bar the night before 9/11, after making predictions of a terrorist attack on America the next day (see September 10, 2001 (P)), terrorists leave a business card and a copy of the Koran at the bar. The FBI also recovers the credit card receipts from when they paid for their drinks and lap dances. [AP, 9/14/01]
10) A September 13 security sweep of Boston airport's parking garage uncovers items left behind by the hijackers: a box cutter, a pamphlet written in Arabic and a credit card. [Washington Post, 9/16/01]
11) A few hours after the attacks, suicide notes that some of the hijackers wrote to their parents are found in New York. Credit card receipts showing that some of the hijackers paid for flight training in the US are also found. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01]
12) A FedEx bill is found in a trash can at the Comfort Inn in Portland, Maine, where Atta stayed the night before 9/11. The bill leads to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, allowing investigators to determine most of the funding for 9/11 (see September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002). [Newsweek, 11/11/01, London Times, 12/1/01]
Their whereabouts can even be tracked by their pizza purchases. An expert points out: "Most people pay cash for pizza. These [hijackers] paid with a credit card. That was an odd thing." [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/3/02] "In the end, they left a curiously obvious trail -- from martial arts manuals, maps, a Koran, Internet and credit card fingerprints. Maybe they were sloppy, maybe they didn't care, maybe it was a gesture of contempt of a culture they considered weak and corrupt." [Miami Herald, 9/22/01] After having stealthily lived "under the radar" in the US for years, why would the hijackers suddenly fail to take the most elementary precautions and risk exposing the plot? Maybe the trail was deliberate, to establish a misleading trail and false identities? Note the New Yorker's quote of a former high-level intelligence official: "Whatever trail was left was left deliberately—for the FBI to chase." [New Yorker, 10/1/01]
September 11-16, 2001: ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, extending his Washington visit because of the 9/11 attacks (see September 4-11, 2001 and September 11, 2001 (H)) [Japan Economic Newswire, 9/17/01], meets with US officials and negotiates Pakistan's cooperation with the US against al-Qaeda. It is rumored that later in the day on 9/11 and again the next day, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visits Mahmood and offers him the choice: "Help us and breathe in the 21st century along with the international community or be prepared to live in the Stone Age." [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 9/12, LA Weekly, 11/9/01] Secretary of State Powell presents Mahmood seven demands as an ultimatum and Pakistan supposedly agrees to all seven. [Washington Post, 1/29/02] Mahmood also has meetings with Senator Joseph Biden (D), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Secretary of State Powell, regarding Pakistan's position. [Miami Herald, 9/16/01, New York Times, 9/13/01, Reuters, 9/13/01, Associated Press, 9/13/01] On September 13, the airport in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, is shut down for the day. A government official later says the airport had been closed because of threats made against Pakistans "strategic assets," but doesn't elaborate. The next day, Pakistan declares "unstinting" support for the US, and the airport is reopened. It is later suggested that Israel and India threatened to attack Pakistan and take control of its nuclear weapons if Pakistan didn't side with the US (see also September 14, 2001 (approx.)). [LA Weekly, 11/9/01] Was war with Pakistan narrowly averted? It is later reported that Mahmood's presence in Washington was a lucky blessing; one Western diplomat saying it "must have helped in a crisis situation when the US was clearly very, very angry." [Financial Times, 9/18/01] Was it luck he was there, or did Mahmood - later reported to have ordered $100,000 wired to the 9/11 hijackers (see Early August 2001 (D) and October 7, 2001) - know when the 9/11 attack would happen?
September 11-16, 2001 (B): Andrews
Air Force Base is 10 miles from Washington, DC, and Langley Air Force Base in
130 miles away. The official story is that there were no fighters at Andrews
so none took off from there to intercept the hijacked planes, but it takes a
few days for the media to come around to that point of view:
1) A few minutes after the Pentagon was hit, "fighter jets scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base..." [Denver Post, 9/11/01]
2) "It was after the attack on the Pentagon that the Air Force then decided to scramble F-16's out of the DC National Guard Andrews Air Force Base..." [NBC Nightly News, 9/11/01]
3) "Air defense around Washington is provided mainly by fighter planes from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland near the District of Columbia border. The D.C. Air National Guard is also based there and equipped with F-16 fighter planes, a National Guard spokesman said. But the fighters took to the skies over Washington only after the devastating attack on the Pentagon..." [San Diego Union Tribune, 9/12/01]
4) "Within minutes of the attack American forces around the world were put on one of their highest states of alert - Defcon 3, just two notches short of all-out war - and F-16's from Andrews Air Force Base were in the air over Washington DC." [Telegraph, 9/16/01]
5) "Andrews Air Force Base, home to Air Force One, is only 15 miles away from the Pentagon, but it had no fighters assigned to it." [USA Today, 9/16/01]
6) "The District of Columbia National Guard maintained fighter planes at Andrews Air Force Base, only about 15 miles from the Pentagon, but those planes were not on alert and not deployed." [USA Today, 9/16/01]
7) "... As part of its dual mission, the 113th provides capable and ready response forces for the District of Columbia in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency." "In the best tradition of the Marine Corps, a 'few good men and women' support two combat-ready reserve units at Andrews AFB." [DC Military website]
8) The District of Columbia Air National Guard website is changed shortly after 9/11. Previously its mission was "to provide combat units in the highest possible state of readiness." Afterwards, it was changed to read that the Guard has a "vision" to "provide peacetime command and control and administrative mission oversight to support customers, DCANG units, and NGB in achieving the highest levels of readiness." [DCANG Home Page (before and after the change)]
The official story is that fighters from Langley didn't arrive over Washington until 12 minutes after the Pentagon was struck, but witnesses see fighters well before then. [Newsday, 9/23/01, Denver Post, 9/11/01] One year later, a new article writes about Andrews extensively: "Within minutes of American Airlines Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon on Sept. 11, Air National Guard F-16's took off from [Andrews]." However, the article also claims that the Andrews fighters were not on alert, and so, of the first two to take off, one was partially armed and the other was unarmed. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02]
September 11, 2001-January 2002: After probably completing last-minute financial transactions with some 9/11 hijackers, Saeed Sheikh flies to Pakistan (see September 8-11 (C)). [Knight Ridder, 10/7/01] He meets with bin Laden in Afghanistan a few days later. [Washington Post, 2/18/02, London Times, 2/25/02, Guardian, 7/16/02] The US government claims Saeed fights for the Taliban in Afghanistan in September and October 2001. [CNN, 3/14/02] Some believe that after the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saeed acts as a go-between for the hiding bin Laden and the ISI. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] He also helps produce a video of a bin Laden interview. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] Sometime in October 2001 [Guardian, 7/16/02], he moves back to his home in Lahore, Pakistan, and lives there openly. He is frequently seen at local parties hosted by government leaders. In January 2002, he hosts a party to celebrate the birth of his newborn baby. [USA Today, 2/25/02, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] He stays in his well-known Lahore house with his new wife and baby until January 19, 2002 - four days before reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped (see January 23, 2002). [BBC, 7/16/02] He is also actively involved in numerous other terrorist acts (see October 1, 2001 (D), December 13, 2001 (C) and January 22, 2002).
September 12, 2001: The government's initial response to the 9/11 attacks is there was no evidence whatsoever that bin Laden planned an attack in the US. "There was a ton of stuff, but it all pointed to an attack abroad," says one official. Furthermore, in the 24 hours after the attack, investigators have been searching through "mountains of information," "but the vast electronic 'take' on bin Laden, said officials who requested anonymity, contained no hints of a pending terror campaign in the United States itself, no orders to subordinates, no electronic fund transfers, no reports from underlings on their surveillance of the airports in Boston, Newark and Washington." [Miami Herald, 9/12/01] These are obvious lies (for instance, see September 10, 2001 (K) and September 10, 2001 (L) for messages hinting at the attack). Recall also the title of Bush's briefing on August 6, 2001: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" (see May 15, 2002).
September 12, 2001 (B): Press
Secretary Ari Fleischer explains that Bush went to Nebraska because "There
was real and credible information that the White House and Air Force One were
targets." [Fleischer Press Briefing
transcript, 9/12/01] The next day, William Safire of the New York Times
writes, and Bush's Political Strategist Karl Rove confirms, that the secret
service believed "'Air Force One may be next,' and there was an ‘inside'
threat which 'may have broken the secret codes [showing a knowledge of Presidential
York Times, 9/13/01] By September 27, Fleischer
begins to backpedal on the claim that there were specific threats against Air
Force One and/or the President and new stories flatly contradict it. [Washington
Post, 9/27/01] Slate magazine gives their "Whopper of the Week"
award to Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer, and Vice President Cheney for the Air Force
One threat story. [Slate, 9/28/01]
If there was no threat, then why did Bush go to Nebraska on 9/11?
September 12, 2001 (C): A New York firefighter tells of his rescue work inside the WTC: "On the last trip up a bomb went off. We think there was bombs set in the building." [People, 9/12/01] There are many other witnesses who describe bombs. For instance, Teresa Veliz, who escaped from the 47th floor of the North Tower: "The flashlight led us into Borders bookstore, up an escalator and out to Church Street. There were explosions going off everywhere. I was convinced that there were bombs planted all over the place and someone was sitting at a control panel pushing detonator buttons. I was afraid to go down Church Street toward Broadway, but I had to do it. I ended up on Vesey Street. There was another explosion. And another. I didn't know where to run." [September 11: An Oral History, Dean E. Murphy, 2002, pp. 9-15]
September 12, 2001 (D): Billie Vincent, a former FAA security director, suggests the hijackers had inside help at the airports. "These people had to have the means to take control of the aircrafts. And that means they had to have weapons in order for those pilots to relinquish control. Think about it, they planned this thing out to the last detail for months. They are not going to take any risks at the front end. They knew they were going to be successful before they started... It's the only thing that really makes sense to me." [Miami Herald, 9/12/01] Since then, considerable evidence of inside help has emerged, including pre-planted weapons (for example, see September 19, 2001). Why has the FBI failed to see or report this? Could it lead to multi-billion dollar lawsuits against the airlines by relatives of the 9/11 victims?
September 12, 2001 (E): The passport of hijacker Satam Al Suqami is found a few blocks from the WTC. [ABC News, 9/12/01, AP, 9/16/01, ABC News, 9/16/01] What are the odds that this passport became separated from al Suqami or his luggage, and somehow escaped the fireball that consumed the airplane, then the collapse of the buildings? The Guardian says, "the idea that Atta's passport had escaped from that inferno unsinged [tests] the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI's crackdown on terrorism." [Guardian, 3/19/02] Note the passport did not belong to Atta, as is sometimes claimed.
September 12, 2001 (F):
Following his notes from the day before suggesting that 9/11 should be blamed
on Iraq and not just al-Qaeda (see September
11, 2001 (V)), Defense Secretary Rumsfeld proposes to President Bush
that Iraq should be "a principal target of the first round in the war against
terrorism." Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and others support
the idea. Bush and all of his advisors agree that Iraq should be attacked, but
they decide such an attack should wait. Secretary of State Powell says, "Public
opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible." [Washington
Post, 1/28/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03]
There is still no evidence suggesting Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks
(the first and only evidence, later refuted, comes around September 19, 2001
(see September 19, 2001-October
September 13, 2001: A Pentagon official, when asked if the US shot down Flight 93 (the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania), says "We have not ruled out that." This is one of many quotes from officials in the first days that fail to rule out that 93 was shot down. [ABC News, 9/13/01, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 9/14/01] On the same day, a flight controller in Nashua claims an F-16 fighter closely pursued Flight 93 until it crashed in Pennsylvania. "Although controllers don't have complete details of the Air Force's chase of the Boeing 757, they have learned the F-16 made 360-degree turns to remain close to the commercial jet. 'He must've seen the whole thing,' the employee said of the F-16 pilot's view of Flight 93's crash" (Flight controllers have been ordered not to speak publicly about 9/11, but somehow this slipped out). [AP, 9/13/01, Nashua Telegraph, 9/13/01] Cheney later tells the Washington Post that he had ordered a plane to shoot down Flight 93, and confirmed that order two more times as the distance between the fighter and the airliner grew closer. So, supposedly, when Flight 93 crashed, Bush had to ask, "Did we shoot it down or did it crash?" [Washington Post, 1/27/02] If the plane was shot down after the passengers had taken it over, would that have looked so bad that one might want to cover it up?
September 13, 2001 (B): The White House announces that there is "overwhelming evidence" that bin Laden is behind the attacks. [MSNBC, 9/13/01] Since we now know that numerous Mossad agents were caught on 9/11 and interrogated before this date (see September 11, 2001 (W)), isn't this a rush to judgment? And there are other possible culprits or coconspirators, such as the ISI.
September 13, 2001 (C): AP publishes a list of all the people on board the hijacked airlines. This follows an earlier list from CNN on 9/11. These lists are very curious, because the numbers don't appear to add up. Take for instance Flight 11. The list has 86 passengers on board, including five hijackers, plus 11 crew members, a total of 97. But there only were 92 people total on board the plane according to all accounts. The numbers only work if you subtract the five hijackers. The other plane lists all have too few names, by up to five people. [AP, 9/13/01 (B)] Too few can be explained by people who asked their names not to be released, but how does one explain too many? Another report suggests that several hijackers boarded Flight 11 with stolen crew uniforms. [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01]
September 13, 2001 (D): Investigators say they've found debris from the Flight 93 crash far from the main crash site. A second debris field centers around Indian Lake about three miles from the crash scene. More debris is found in New Baltimore, some eight miles away. Later in the day the investigators say all that debris was blown there. [CNN, 9/13/01] Another debris field is found at Indian Lake, six miles away, and human remains are found miles away. After all this is discovered, the FBI still "stresses" that "no evidence had surfaced" to support the idea that the plane was shot down. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/13/01] A half-ton piece of one of the engines is found 2,000 yards away from the main crash site. This was the single heaviest piece recovered from the crash. [Philadelphia Daily News, 12/28/01, Independent, 8/13/02] Days later, the FBI says the wide debris field was probably the result of the explosion on impact. The Independent nevertheless later cites the wide debris field as one of many reasons why widespread rumors remain that the plane was shot down. [Independent, 9/20/01]
September 13, 2001 (E): The FBI says there were 18 hijackers, and releases their names. [CNN, 9/13/01 (C)] The next day, it is revealed there is one more hijacker - Hani Hanjour. [CNN, 9/14/01, AP, 9/14/01] A few days later, it is reported that Hanjour's "name was not on the American Airlines manifest for [Flight 77] because he may not have had a ticket." [Washington Post, 9/16/01] How was Hanjour able to board Flight 77 if he didn't have his name on the manifest or a ticket? How can the FBI can be sure he was on the plane?
September 13-14, 2001: The two "black boxes" for Flight 93 are found. However, they are deemed severely damaged, and it isn't known if the data could be recovered. [Reuters, 9/13/01, BBC, 9/15/01] Months later, the FBI reveals they know the contents, but only release select quotes (see December 21, 2001). [CNN, 12/21/01]
September 13-19, 2001:
Members of bin Laden's family and important
Saudis are "driven or flown under FBI supervision to a secret assembly
point in Texas and then to Washington from where they left the country on a
private charter plane when airports reopened three days after the attacks."
The flights to Texas and Washington occur before the national air ban is lifted.
Times, 9/30/01] The Tampa Tribune reports that
on September 13, a Lear jet takes off from Tampa, Florida, carrying a Saudi
Arabian prince, the son of the Saudi defense minister Prince Sultan (see August
2001 (G), August 31,
2001, August 15,
2002), as well as the son of a Saudi army commander, and flies to Lexington,
Kentucky, where the Saudis own racehorses. They then fly a private 747 out of
the country. Multiple 747s with Arabic lettering on their sides are already
there, suggesting another secret assembly point. The Tampa flight left from
a private Raytheon hangar. [Tampa
Tribune, 10/5/01] (Raytheon's name keeps coming up in relation to 9/11 (for
instance, see September
25, 2001).) Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, helps move
the bin Laden family out of the US. [London
Times, 11/25/02] Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in a
9/11 lawsuit against many Saudis, points to the flights during the air ban as
evidence that Saudis are "protected by the Bush administration" because
of "oil." [Minneapolis
Star Tribune, 8/16/02] There
have been conflicting reports as to whether the FBI interviewed these people
before they left the country. Osama bin Laden's half brother,
Abdullah bin Laden, stated that even a month after 9/11 his only contact with
the FBI was a brief phone call. [Boston
Globe, 9/21/01, New
Yorker, 11/5/01] The existence of these flights during the air travel
ban is now usually referred to as an urban legend. [Snopes,
September 14, 2001 (approx.): According to Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker, a few days after 9/11 members of the elite Israeli counter-terrorism unit Sayeret Matkal arrive in the US and begin training with US Special Forces in a secret location. The two groups are developing contingency plans to attack Pakistan's military bases and remove its nuclear weapons if the Pakistani government or the nuclear weapons fall into the wrong hands. [New Yorker, 10/29/01] There may have been threats to enact this plan on September 13, 2001 (see September 11-16, 2001). The Japan Times later notes that this "threat to divest Pakistan of its 'crown jewels' was cleverly used by the US, first to force Musharraf to support its military campaign in Afghanistan, and then to warn would-be coup plotters against Musharraf." [Japan Times, 11/10/01] Note the curious connection between Sayeret Matkal and one of the 9/11 passengers on Flight 11 (see September 11, 2001 (X)).
September 14, 2001: Officials deny that Flight 93 was shot down (see September 13, 2001), but propose the theory that the hijackers had a bomb on board and blew up the plane. [Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 9/14/01] Later in the month, it is reported that the "FBI has determined from the on site investigation that no explosive was involved." [AP, 9/25/01] If there was a bomb, how did the hijackers get it through security? If there wasn't a bomb, how does one explain the eyewitness accounts?
September 14, 2001 (B): The two "black boxes" for Flight 77 are found. [PBS Newshour, 9/14/01] FBI Director Mueller will later say that the boxes provided altitude, speed, headings and other information, but the voice recorder contained "nothing useful." [CBS, 2/23/02]
September 14, 2001 (C): Officials admit that two planes were near Flight 93 when it crashed, which matches numerous eyewitness accounts. For instance, Dennis Decker says that immediately after hearing an explosion, "We looked up, we saw a midsized jet flying low and fast. It appeared to make a loop or part of a circle, and then it turned fast and headed out. If you were here to see it, you'd have no doubt. It was a jet plane, and it had to be flying real close when that 757 went down... If I was the FBI, I'd find out who was driving that plane." [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] Later the same day, the military says it can "neither confirm nor deny" the nearby planes. [Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 9/14/01] Then, two days later, they again claim there were two planes near, but that they were a military cargo plane and business jet, and neither had anything to do with the crash. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01] Supposedly, the business jet was requested to fly low over the crash site to help rescuers find the crash site, 25 minutes after all aircraft in the US had been ordered to land. But the story appears physically impossible since the FBI says this jet was at 37,000 feet and asked to descend to 5,000 feet. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] That would have taken many minutes for that kind of plane, and witnesses report seeing the plane flying very low even before the crash. [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] Another explanation of a farmer's plane 45 minutes later is put forth, but that also doesn't fit the time at all. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz states: "We responded awfully quickly, I might say, on Tuesday [9/11], and, in fact, we were already tracking in on that plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. I think it was the heroism of the passengers on board that brought it down. But the Air Force was in a position to do so if we had had to." [Department of Defense, 9/14/01] The next day, the Director of the Air National Guard denies that any plane was scrambled after Flight 93. [Seattle Times, 9/16/01] That in turn contradicts what Vice President Cheney will say later. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
September 14, 2001 (D): It is initially reported that Flight 93 is traveling fairly slowly when it crashed. "It slammed into the ground at a speed law enforcement authorities said might have approached 300 mph" [New York Times, 9/14/01] "Flight 93 slammed into the earth nose-first at over 200 mph, according to estimates by the National Transportation Safety Board and other experts." [Delaware News Journal, 9/16/01] However, by 2002 it is being reported that the plane crashed going nearly 600 mph. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 212] "It could have even broken the sound barrier for a while," says Hank Krakowski, director of flight operations control at United's system control center on Sept. 11. [New York Times, 3/27/02] The design limits of the plane are 287 mph below 10,000 feet. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 208]
September 14, 2001 (E): CBS News announces a new revelation: airplanes were scrambled before the Pentagon was hit, but they were scrambled from Langley Air Force Base - too far away to catch the plane in time. [CBS, 9/14/01] This comes after numerous officials, from the Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Myers in Congressional testimony to Vice President Cheney, state that the first planes were scrambled towards Washington only after the Pentagon was hit. [CBS News, 9/12/01, NBC Meet the Press, 9/16/01, General Myers' Senate confirmation hearing, 9/13/01] Four days later, the official NORAD timeline is changed to include this new discovery. [NORAD, 9/18/01] Which account is not true? Could the account have been changed to cover up embarrassing response delays?
September 14, 2001 (F): FBI Director Mueller describes reports that several of the hijackers had received flight training in the US as "news, quite obviously," adding: "If we had understood that to be the case, we would have -- perhaps one could have averted this." It is later discovered that contrary to Mueller's claims, the FBI had interviewed various flight school staffs about Middle Eastern terrorists on numerous occasions, from 1996 until a few weeks before 9/11 (see 1996, May 18, 1998, September 1999 (E), September 2000 (B), July 10, 2001, August 23, 2001). [Washington Post, 9/23/01, Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Three days later he says, "There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country." [Department of Justice transcript, 9/17/01] Slate magazine later contrasts this with numerous other contradictory statements and articles, and awards Mueller the "Whopper of the Week." [Slate, 5/17/02]
September 14, 2001 (G): The Director of the Air National Guard explains why jets failed to scramble towards the hijacked aircraft for so long. He says that before 1997, 100 bases defended the US, but since then the number was reduced to seven, with only two fighter planes at each base defending the entire country from external threats. [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01] However, numerous air force bases on the East Coast alone, including bases in Westfield, Massachusetts, Syracuse, New York, Hartford, Connecticut and Andrews, Virginia, claim they have battle ready fighters on alert 24 hours a day. All of these bases were better positioned to respond to the hijacker airplanes than the bases ultimately chosen. Some of these bases have websites that get changed after 9/11, erasing claims that they have battle-ready fighters on alert (for instance, see the [DCANG Home Page before and after the change]). In 1999, when golfer Payne Stewart's plane went off course, fighters were scrambled from four different bases (none of the official seven) and reached his plane in under 10 minutes. [ABC News, 10/25/99] There are numerous other examples of fighter scramblings since 1997 that seem to contradict the "only seven bases" story.
September 14, 2001 (H): Mayo Shattuck III resigns, effective immediately, as head of the Alex Brown unit of Deutschebank. No reason is given. Some speculate later this could have to do with the role of Deutschebank in the pre-9/11 purchase of put options (see September 6-10, 2001). Deutschebank is also one of the four banks most used by the bin Laden family. [New York Times, 9/15/01, Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01] FTW
September 14, 2001 (I): Some gruesome remains are discovered in the WTC ruins. Investigators find a pair of severed hands bound together with plastic handcuffs on a nearby building. They are believed to have belonged to a stewardess. [Newsday, 9/15/01] There are reports of whole rows of seats with passengers in them being found, as well as much of the cockpit of one of the planes, complete with the body of one of the hijackers, and the body of another stewardess, whose hands were tied with wire. [Ananova, 9/13/01, New York Times, 9/15/01] Yet, contradicting the claim that a hijacker's body was found, only in February 2003 are the remains of two hijackers identified (see Late February 2003). While all these bodies and plane parts are supposedly found, not one of the four black boxes for these two airplanes are ever found. A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman says: "It's extremely rare that we don't get the recorders back. I can't recall another domestic case in which we did not recover the recorders." [CBS, 2/23/02] The black boxes are considered "nearly indestructible," are placed in the safest parts of the aircraft, and are designed to survive impacts much greater than the WTC impact. They can withstand heat of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, and can withstand an impact of an incredible 3,400 G's. [ABC News, 9/17/01] Phone calls from two stewardesses on Flight 11 contradict the idea that stewardesses or anyone else had their hands tied, on that flight at least.
September 14, 2001 (J): The
Miami Herald reports, "Forty-five minutes. That's how long American Airlines
Flight 77 meandered through the air headed for the White House, its flight plan
abandoned, its radar beacon silent... Who was watching in those 45 minutes?
'That's a question that more and more people are going to ask,' said one controller
in Miami. 'What the hell went on here? Was anyone doing anything about it? Just
as a national defense thing, how are they able to fly around and no one go after
Herald, 9/14/01] In the year since this article
and a similar one in the Village Voice [Village
Voice, 9/13/01], there has been only one other US article questioning slow
fighter response times, and that article noted the strange lack of articles
on the topic. [Slate, 1/16/02]
However, some 9/11 victims' relatives continue to raise the issue (see August
13, 2002 and March
31, 2003). Why haven't "more and more people" in the media
September 14, 2001 (K): Dominick Suter, owner of the company Urban Moving Systems, flees the country to Israel. The FBI later tells ABC News that "Urban Moving may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence operation." Suter has been tied to the five Israeli agents caught filming the WTC attack. The FBI had questioned him around September 12, removing boxes of documents and a dozen computer hard drives. But when they returned a few days later, Suter is gone (see September 11, 2001 (W)). [Forward, 3/15/02, New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, 12/13/01, ABC News, 6/21/01]
September 14, 2001 (L): In interviews with the Boston Globe, flight instructors in Florida say that it was common for students with Saudi affiliations to enter the US with only cursory background checks and sometimes none. Some flight schools, including some of those attended by the hijackers, have exemptions that allow the schools to unilaterally issue paperwork that students can present at US embassies and consulates so they can obtain visas. Saudi Arabia is possibly the only Arab country with such an exemption. [Boston Globe, 9/14/01]
September 14, 2001 (M): Congress authorizes Bush to use all necessary military force against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, their sponsors, and those who protected them. [State Department, 12/26/01] In March 2003, Bush informs Congress that Iraq is being attacked for its support of 9/11, despite the lack of any evidence for such a connection (see March 20, 2003).
September 14, 2001 (N): Lawmakers emerging from briefings about the 9/11 attacks complain that they are being told virtually nothing. Says Senator John McCain (R), "We're learning more from CNN." Representative Neil Abercrombie (D), says, "You can't even begin to call these briefings." [Las Vegas Review Journal, 9/14/01] The Administration's obsession with 9/11 secrecy will lead to an FBI investigation into senators and congresspeople a year later (see August 2, 2002 (B)).
September 15, 2001: CIA Director Tenet briefs Bush "with a briefcase stuffed with top-secret documents and plans, in many respects the culmination of more than four years of work on Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda network and worldwide terrorism." In his briefing, Tenet advocates "a strategy to create 'a northern front, closing the safe haven [of Afghanistan].' His idea [is] that Afghan opposition forces, aided by the United States, would move first against the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, try to break the Taliban's grip on that city and open up the border with Uzbekistan. From there the campaign could move to other cities in the north..." Tenet also explains that CIA had begun working with a number of tribal leaders to stir up resistance in the south the previous year. In other words, the exact military strategy that eventually transpires had been prepared by the CIA over the past four years. Tenet then turns to a top secret document called the "Worldwide Attack Matrix," which describes covert operations in 80 countries that are either underway or now recommended. The actions range from routine propaganda to lethal covert action in preparation for military attacks. By comparison, the military, which is the normal planner of military campaigns, is caught relatively unprepared and defers to the CIA plans. [Washington Post, 1/31/02]
September 15, 2001 (B): The first reports of seat assignments for the hijackers on Flight 11 appear. But unlike other flights, accounts of where the hijackers sat vary widely. The first report says Wail Alshehri was in seat 2A, Waleed Alshehri in 2B, Mohamed Atta in 8D, Abdulaziz Alomari in 8G, and Satam Al Suqami in 10B. [ABC News, 9/15/01] The next day, it is reported Atta was in 8A and Alomari was in 8B. [Chicago Sun-Times, 9/16/01] The same day, it is reported that all five hijackers sat in row 8. [Portland Press Herald, 9/16/01] Flight attendant Amy Sweeney apparently telephoned the seat numbers of four of the hijackers before the plane crashed, but the exact numbers she gave have not been released. However, it is known the "numbers she gave were different from those registered in the hijackers' names." [BBC, 9/21/01] Another account suggests she said the hijackers were sitting in rows 9 and 10. [Portland Press Herald, 10/14/01] Another flight attendant, Betty Ong, also telephoned seat numbers, saying there were hijackers in seats 2A, 2B, 9A, and 9B. This is "slightly different" from Sweeney's numbers - with two hijackers in the second row instead of the 10th. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Why so much confusion, and why doesn't the US release the information needed to settle these discrepancies?
September 15-17, 2001: A series of articles suggest that at least seven of the 9/11 hijackers trained in US military bases. [New York Times, 9/15/01, Newsweek, 9/15/01] Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Alghamdi, and Saeed Alghamdi even listed the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida as their permanent address on their driver's licenses. [Pensacola News Journal, 9/17/01]. Hamza Alghamdi was also connected to the Pensacola base. [Washington Post, 9/16/01] A defense official confirms that Saeed Alghamdi is a former Saudi fighter pilot who attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01, Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] Abdulaziz Alomari attended Brooks Air Force Base Aerospace Medical School in San Antonio, Texas. [Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] A defense official confirms Atta is a former Saudi fighter pilot who graduated from the US International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01, Washington Post, 9/16/01] The media drops the story after the Air Force makes a not-very-definitive statement, saying that while the names are similar, "we are probably not talking about the same people." [Washington Post, 9/16/01] However, the military fails to provide any information about the individuals whose names supposedly match those of the alleged hijackers, making it impossible to confirm or refute the story.
September 15-November 1, 2001: Two of the largest war games in history take place during the buildup for war in Afghanistan. Both have been planned several years in advance. Operation Swift Sword 2, the biggest deployment of British troops since the Falklands War, sends 22,000 British troops to Oman, a country 200 miles from Pakistan. It runs from September 15 to October 26. [NewsAhead, 9/1/01] Meanwhile, 23,000 US troops take part in Operation Bright Star, from October 8 to November 1. In Egypt, they join 50,000 soldiers from Egypt, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Jordan and Kuwait for what is possibly the largest war game of all time. USA Today has an article called "War-games Troops May Join Real Fight" but it's unclear if that's what happened or not. [USA Today, 9/30/01] At the same time two US carrier battle groups arrive on station in the Gulf of Arabia just off the Pakistani coast. FTW Given other reports suggesting the US was planning a war in Afghanistan for mid-October, is all this troop movement towards Southwest Asia a coincidence?
September 15, 2001-April 6, 2002: On September 15, 2001, President Bush says of bin Laden: "If he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken." [Los Angeles Times, 9/16/01] Two days later, he says, "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'" [ABC News, 9/17/01] On December 28, 2001, a few weeks after the Afghanistan war ends, Bush says, "Our objective is more than bin Laden." [AP, 8/19/02] Bush's January 2002 State of the Union speech describes Iraq as part of an "axis of evil" and fails to mention bin Laden (see January 29, 2002). On March 8, 2002, Bush still vows: "We're going to find him." [Washington Post, 10/1/02] But only a few days later on March 13, Bush says, "He's a person who's now been marginalized.... I just don't spend that much time on him.... I truly am not that concerned about him." Instead, Bush is "deeply concerned about Iraq." [White House, 3/13/02] The rhetoric shift is complete when Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Myers states on April 6: "The goal has never been to get bin Laden." [Department of Defense, 4/6/02] In October 2002, the Washington Post notes that since March 2002, Bush has avoided mentioning bin Laden's name, even when asked about him directly. Bush sometimes uses questions about bin Laden to talk about Saddam Hussein instead. In late 2001, nearly two-thirds of Americans say the war on terrorism could not be called a success without bin Laden's death or capture. That number falls to 44 percent in a March 2002 poll, and the question has since been dropped. [Washington Post, 10/1/02] Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies, later points out: "There appears to be a real disconnect" between the US military's conquest of Afghanistan and "the earlier rhetoric of President Bush, which had focused on getting bin Laden." [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02]
Mid-September 2001: The Guardian later claims that Pakistani President Musharraf has a meeting of his 12 or 13 most senior officers. Musharraf proposes to support the US in the imminent war against the Taliban and bin Laden. Supposedly, four of his most senior generals oppose him outright in "a stunning display of disloyalty." The four are ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, Lt. Gen. Muzaffar Usmani, Lt. Gen. Jamshaid Gulzar Kiani, and Lt. Gen. Mohammad Aziz Khan. All four are removed from power over the next month (see October 7, 2001). If this meeting took place, it's hard to see when it could have happened, since the article states it happened "within days" of 9/11, but Mahmood was in the US until late September 16 (see September 11-16, 2001), then flew to Afghanistan for two days (see September 17-18 and 28, 2001), then possibly to Saudi Arabia (see September 19, 2001 (B)). [Guardian, 5/25/02] Why would Musharraf send Mahmood on important diplomatic missions even late in the month if he is so disloyal?
September 16, 2001: A report suggests the crash site of Flight 93 is being searched and recorded in 60 square-foot grids. [Delaware News Journal, 9/16/01] That's what the two forensic scientists in charge of the crash site wanted. They said doing so could help determine who was where when the plane crashed, and possibly how it crashed. However, almost a year later it comes out that that's not what actually happened. "The FBI overruled them, instead dividing the site into five large sectors. It would be too time-consuming to mark tight grids, and would serve no real investigative purpose, the bureau decided. There was no mystery to solve about the crash. Everybody knew what happened to the plane." [Among the Heroes, Jere Longman, 8/02, pp. 262-263] While the military may suggest there is no mystery, some articles have suggested the plane was shot down (for instance, see November 15, 2001 and August 13, 2002). Also, at the time of this decision, investigators were still considering the possibility a bomb may have destroyed the plane (see September 14, 2001).
September 16, 2001 (B): President Bush says, "Never (in) anybodys thought processes ... about how to protect America did we ever think that the evil doers would fly not one but four commercial aircraft into precious US targets... never." [NATO, 9/16/01] A month later, Paul Pillar, the former deputy director of the CIA's counter-terrorist center, says, "The idea of commandeering an aircraft and crashing it into the ground and causing high casualties, sure we've thought of it." [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01]
September 16, 2001 (C): Confirming earlier reports [Reuters, 9/13/01], bin Laden denies any involvement in the 9/11 attacks. In a statement to Al Jazeera, he states, "I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons." [CNN, 9/17/01] The US claims that he confesses his role in a role video message, but the contents of that video are highly disputed (see December 13, 2001 (B)).
September 16-23, 2001: Reports
appear in many newspapers suggesting that some of the people the US says were
9/11 hijackers are actually still alive:
1) Ahmed Alnami is still alive and working as an administrative supervisor with Saudi Arabian Airlines, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] He had never lost his passport and found it "very worrying" that his identity appeared to have been stolen. [Telegraph, 9/23/01] However, there is another Ahmed Alnami who is ten years younger, and appears to be dead, according to his father. [ABC News, 3/15/02]
2) Saeed Alghamdi is alive and flying airplanes in Tunisia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, Telegraph, 9/23/01, BBC, 9/23/01] He says he studied flight training in a Florida flight schools for parts of the years, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. [Arab News, 9/18/01]
3) Salem Alhazmi is alive and working at a petrochemical plant in Yanbou, Saudi Arabia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, Telegraph, 9/23/01] He says his passport was stolen by a pickpocket in Cairo three years ago and that pictures and details such as date of birth are of him. [Guardian, 9/21/01, Washington Post, 9/20/01, Saudi Gazette, 9/29/02]
4 and 5) The brothers Waleed M. Alshehri and Wail Alshehri are alive. A Saudi spokesman said, "This is a respectable family. I know his sons, and they're both alive." The father is a diplomat who has been stationed in the US and Bombay, India. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, Arab News, 9/19/01] There is a second pair of Saudi brothers named Wail and Waleed M. who may have been the real hijackers. Their father says they've been missing since December 2000. [ABC News, 3/15/02, Arab News, 9/17/01] The still living Waleed M. Alshehri is a pilot with Saudi Airlines, studying in Morocco. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, AP, 9/22/01] He acknowledges that he attended flight training school at Dayton Beach in the United States. [BBC, 9/23/01, Daily Trust, 9/24/01] He was interviewed by US officials in Morocco, and cleared of all charges against him (though apparently the FBI photos are still of him!). [Embry Riddle Aeronautical University press release, 9/21/01] The still living Wail Alshehri is also apparently a pilot. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] What are the odds that two Saudi terrorist brothers would find two other Saudi brothers with the same names who were pilots with one even training in Florida?
6) Abdulaziz Alomari is alive and working as a pilot for Saudi Arabian Airlines. [New York Times, 9/16/01, Independent, 9/17/01, BBC, 9/23/01] He claims that his passport was stolen in 1995 while he was living in Denver, Colorado. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] "They gave my name and my date of birth, but I am not a suicide bomber. I am here. I am alive." [Telegraph, 9/23/01, London Times, 9/20/01]
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).
8) Marwan Alshehhi may be alive in Morocco. [Saudi Gazette, 9/18/01, Khaleej Times, 9/20/01] Family and neighbors don't believe he took part in the attacks. [Reuters, 9/18/01]
9) Atta's father says he spoke to his son on the phone on September 12, 2001 (see September 19, 2001 (C)).
10) No one claims that Hamza Alghamdi is still alive, but his family says the FBI photo "has no resemblance to him at all" (on the other hand, Ahmed Alnami's family says his FBI picture is correct). [Washington Post, 9/25/01]
11) Majed Moqed was last seen by a friend in Saudi Arabia in 2000. This friend claims the FBI picture doesn't look like Moqed. [Arab News, 9/22/01] There are three official pictures of Majed Moqed - one of them doesn't look at all like the other two (see photos on below right).
12) The Saudi government has claimed Mohand Alshehri is alive and was not in the US on 9/11, but no more details are known. [AP, 9/29/01]
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?
September 17, 2001: Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R), who claims to have made many secret trips into Afghanistan and even fought with the mujaheddin, describes to Congress a missed opportunity to capture bin Laden. He claims that "a few years ago," he was contacted by someone he knew and trusted from the 1980s Afghan war, who claimed he could pinpoint bin Laden's location. Rohrabacher passed this information to the CIA, but found the informant wasn't contacted. After some weeks, Rohrabacher used his influence to set up a meeting with agents in the CIA, NSA and FBI. Yet even then the informant wasn't contacted, until weeks later in a "disinterested" way. Rohrabacher concludes "that our intelligence services knew about the location of bin Laden several times but were not permitted to attack him... because of decisions made by people higher up." [Speech to the House of Representatives, 9/17/01]
September 17, 2001 (B): President Bush signs a document marked "TOP SECRET" that outlines a plan for going to war in Afghanistan. The document also directs the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq. Two days after Bush signs the document, the Defense Policy Board - with Rumsfeld in attendance - meets at the Pentagon and animatedly discusses the importance of ousting Saddam Hussein (a policy Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, had advocated in 1996 for the goal of "rebuilding Zionism" (see 1996 (B)). Iraq secretly becomes a "central focus" of the US's counter-terrorism efforts over the next nine months, without much in the way of internal debate, public pronouncements or paper trail (see also September 2000, April 2001 (D) and September 11, 2001 (V)). [Washington Post, 1/12/02]
September 17, 2001 (C): A confidential FBI bulletin states a "badly damaged" commercially manufactured cigarette lighter with a concealed knife blade has been recovered at the Flight 93 crash scene. The knife was about two and three-fourths inches long, with a knife blade of about two and a half inches. [Los Angeles Times, 9/18/01] This is not a box cutter - why do investigators insist the hijackers used box cutters?
September 17, 2001 (D): Federal agents looking for Nabil al-Marabh at an old address fail to find him (see September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002), but they accidentally discover three other potential terrorists. They arrest Karim Koubriti, Ahmed Hannan, and Farouk Ali-Haimoud. They worked as dishwashers at the Detroit airport. Investigators believe they were casing the airport for possible security breaches. [Boston Globe, 11/15/02] In the apartment, the FBI discovers a day planner that includes notes about the "American base in Turkey," the "American Foreign Minister" and "Alia Airport" in Jordan. [Washington Post, 9/20/01] They believe the three were planning to assassinate ex-Defense Secretary William Cohen during a visit to Turkey. [AP, 11/17/01] A stash of false documents is also found, and all three have false passports, Social Security cards and immigration papers. [Boston Herald, 9/20/01, Boston Globe, 11/15/02] Fake documents linking al-Marabh and another terrorist named Yousef Hmimssa are also found [ABC 7, 1/31/02], as is videotaped surveillance of major tourist spots like Disneyland and the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. [Boston Globe, 11/15/02] Abel-Ilah Elmardoudi, the apparent ringleader of this group, is arrested in North Carolina in November 2002. All are to be tried on terrorist charges in 2003. [Boston Globe, 11/15/02]
September 17, 2001 (E): The New York Stock Exchange, closed since the 9/11 attacks, reopens. The economy slowly returns to normal. The attacks cause more than $20 billion in property damage to buildings in New York City and Washington. The work stoppage and other loss of economic output costs about another $47 billion, making the attacks the costliest man-made disaster in US history. [ABC News, 9/10/02]
September 17-18 and 28, 2001: On September 17, ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed heads a six-man delegation that visits Mullah Omar in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It is reported he is trying to convince Omar to extradite bin Laden or face an immediate US attack. [Press Trust of India, 9/17/01, Financial Times, 9/18/01, London Times, 9/18/01] Also in the delegation is Lt. Gen. Mohammad Aziz Khan, an ex-ISI official who appears to be one of Saeed Sheikh's contacts in the ISI (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001). [Press Trust of India, 9/17/01] On September 28, Ahmed returns to Afghanistan with a group of about 10 religious leaders. He talks with Mullah Omar, who again says he will not hand over bin Laden. [AFP, 9/28/01] A senior Taliban official later claims that on these trips Mahmood in fact urges Omar not to extradite bin Laden, but instead urges him to resist the US. [AP, 2/21/02, Time, 5/6/02] Another account claims Mahmood does "nothing as the visitors [pour] praise on Omar and [fails] to raise the issue" of bin Laden's extradition. [Knight Ridder, 11/3/01] Two Pakistani brigadier generals connected to the ISI also accompany Mahmood, and advise al-Qaeda to counter the coming US attack on Afghanistan by resorting to mountain guerrilla war. The advice is not followed. [Asia Times, 9/11/02] Other ISI officers also stay in Afghanistan to advise the Taliban (see Late September-November 2001).
September 18, 2001: The first anthrax letters are mailed out, two days after the anti-terrorism bill Patriot Act is first proposed. But the anthrax crisis won't begin until October 4 with the first confirmed sickness. [CNN, 11/18/01, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01] With only one week between 9/11 and the first mailing, doesn't it seem likely planning for the anthrax attacks began before 9/11 (see also before September 11, 2001)?
September 18, 2001 (B): The Justice Department publishes an interim regulation allowing non-citizens suspected of terrorism to be detained without charge for 48 hours or "an additional reasonable period of time" in the event of an "emergency or other extraordinary circumstance." [New York Times, 9/19/01 (C)] The new rule is used to hold hundreds indefinitely until the Patriot Act passes in October (see October 26, 2001), providing more solid grounds to hold non-citizens without charge.
19, 2001: The FBI claims that there were six
hijacking teams on the morning of 9/11. [New
York Times, 9/19/01, Guardian,
10/13/01] A different report claims investigators are privately saying eight.
9/25/01] But the reports below suggest there may have been as many as eight
aborted flights, leading to a potential total of 12 hijackings:
1) Knives of the same type used in the successful hijackings were found taped to the backs of fold-down trays on a Continental Airlines flight from Newark. [Guardian, 9/19/01]
2) The FBI is investigating American Airlines Flight 43, which left Boston about 8:10 a.m. bound for Los Angeles and was canceled minutes before takeoff due to a mechanical problem. [BBC, 9/18/01, Chicago Tribune, 9/18/01, Guardian, 9/19/01] Another version claims the flight left from Newark and made it as far as Cincinnati before being grounded in the nationwide air ban. [New York Times, 9/19/01]
3 and 4) Knives and box cutters were found on two separate canceled Delta Airlines planes later that day, one leaving Atlanta for Brussels and the other leaving from Boston. [Time, 9/22/01, Independent, 9/25/01]
5) On September 14, two knives were found on an Air Canada flight that would have flown to New York on 9/11 if not for the air ban. [CNN, 10/15/01]
6) Two men arrested on 9/11 may have lost their nerve on American Airlines Flight 1729 from Newark to San Antonio via Dallas that was scheduled to depart at 8:50, and was later forced to land in St. Louis. Alternately, they may have been planning an attack for September 15 (see September 11, 2001 (K)) [New York Times, 9/19/01]
7) There may have been an attempt to hijack United Airlines Flight 23 flying from Boston to Los Angeles around 9:00 a.m. Three Middle Eastern men angrily refused to get off the plane when it was canceled, then escaped security (see September 11, 2001 (I)).
8) Knives were found stashed in the seats on a plane due to leave Boston that was delayed due to technical problems and then canceled. [Guardian, 10/13/01] Note this might be the same as one of the Delta flights.
9) A box cutter knife was found under a seat cushion on American Airlines Flight 160, a 767 that would have flown from San Diego to New York on the morning of 9/11 but for the air ban. [Chicago Tribune, 9/23/01]
The FBI is said to be seeking a number of passengers who failed to board the same, rescheduled flights when the grounding order on commercial planes in the US was lifted. [BBC, 9/18/01] The Independent points out suspicions have been fueled "that staff at US airports may have played an active role in the conspiracy and helped the hijackers to circumvent airport security." They also note, "It is possible that at least some of the flights that have come under scrutiny were used as decoys, or as fallback targets." [Independent, 9/25/01] Doesn't all of this contradict the official story that the hijackers walked on board with their weapons, which were chosen because they were technically legal?
September 19, 2001 (B): According to the private intelligence service Intelligence Online, a secret meeting between fundamentalist supporters in Saudi Arabia and the ISI takes place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on this day. Crown Prince Abdullah, the defacto ruler of Saudi Arabia (see Late 1995), and Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, the new head of Saudi intelligence (see August 31, 2001), meet with Gen. Mohamed Youssef, head of the ISI's Afghanistan Section, and ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (just returning from discussions in Afghanistan (see September 17-18 and 28, 2001)). They agree "to the principle of trying to neutralize Osama Bin Laden in order to spare the Taliban regime and allow it to keep its hold on Afghanistan." There has been no confirmation that this meeting in fact took place, but if it did, its goals were unsuccessful. [Intelligence Online, 10/4/01] There may have been a similar meeting before 9/11 (see Summer 2001 (F)).
September 19, 2001 (C): Atta's father holds a press conference in Cairo and makes a number of surprising claims. He believes that the Mossad did the 9/11 attacks, and stole his son's identity. He claims that Atta was a mamas boy prone to airsickness, a dedicated architecture student who rarely mentioned politics, and a victim of an intricate framing. He says that Atta spoke to him on the phone on September 12 about "normal things," one day after he was supposed to be dead. Atta called his family about once a month, yet never told them he was in the US, continuing to say he was studying in Germany. Atta's family never saw him after 1999, and Atta canceled a trip in late 2000. His father even shows a picture of his son, claiming he looks similar but not the same as the terrorist Atta. [Newsweek, 9/24/01, New York Times, 9/19/01, Chicago Tribune, 9/20/01] He also says that the man pictured in published photos from an airport surveillance camera had a heavier build than his son. [Cairo Times, 9/20/01] A year later, he still believes his son is alive. [Guardian, 9/2/02]
September 19, 2001 (D): The first draft of what will later be called the Patriot Act is introduced to Congress. [Anti-Terrorism Act, 9/19/01] However, due to Congressional opposition of its broad powers, the act is revised and reintroduced on October 2 (see October 2, 2001 (B)). [Houston Chronicle, 10/7/01] Given that it normally takes months to prepare a large piece of legislation hundreds of pages long, was this act being prepared before 9/11?
September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002: Nabil al-Marabh is arrested on September 19, 2001 at an Illinois convenience store. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] He has an extensive history of criminal behavior and al-Qaeda connections (see 1989-May 2000, May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001, 2001 (C) and September 17, 2001 (D)), and was even being investigated for connections with two 9/11 hijackers before 9/11 (see Spring 2001 (B)). In early 2002, Canadian authorities call him "a senior al-Qaeda planner and money man who may have played a direct role in the Sept. 11 attacks." [Toronto Sun, 1/13/02] FBI investigators claim al-Marabh helped the hijackers get false IDs, and helped launder money for al-Qaeda. [ABC 7, 1/31/02] But the Canadian investigation is closed down by the end of 2001, supposedly due to a lack of funding. [Toronto Sun, 1/13/02] The US also decides not to charge al-Marabh on any terrorism related charge. Instead, on September 3, 2002, Nabil al-Marabh pleads guilty to illegally entering the US, and is sentenced to 8 months in prison. [Chicago Sun-Times, 9/5/02] Federal prosecutors then drop a warrant against him, clearing him to be deported to Syria. [AP, 1/29/03] Canada also isn't attempting to extradite al-Marabh for jumping bail in July 2001. [Southam Newspapers, 8/16/02] Federal prosecutors claim that "at this time" there is no evidence "of any involvement by [al-Marabh] in any terrorist organization," even though he has admitted to getting weapons training in Afghanistan. [Washington Post, 9/4/02] The judge says he cannot say "in good conscience" that he approves of the plea bargain worked out between the prosecution and defense, but he seems unable to stop it. He says, "Something about this case makes me feel uncomfortable. I just don't have a lot of information." The judge has a number of unanswered questions, such as how al-Marabh had $22,000 in cash and $25,000 worth of amber jewels on his possession when he was arrested, despite holding only a sporadic series of low-paying jobs. "These are the things that kind of bother me. It's kind of unusual, isn't it?" says the judge. [National Post, 9/4/02] The media fails to bring up all the previously reported connections between al-Marabh and al-Qaeda. It is instead suggested he is a victim of civil rights discrimination. [Toronto Star, 9/9/02] Are the US and Canada letting an important terrorist go free? Could this have to do with his boasts before 9/11 of ties to the FBI (see May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001)?
September 19, 2001-October
20, 2002: The coverage of whether a purported meeting between Atta and an
Iraqi spy named Ahmed al-Ani took place in Prague, Czech Republic (see April
8, 2001) has changed repeatedly over time (a Slate article also outlines
many of the twists and turns of this story [Slate,
1) September 19: It is first reported that a meeting took place; Atta is named later. [Los Angeles Times, 9/19/01, CNN, 10/11/01]
2) October 20: The story is denied. [New York Times, 10/20/01]
3) October 27: The story is confirmed. [New York Times, 10/27/01]
4) October 27: It is claimed Atta met with Iraqi agents four times in Prague, plus in Germany, Spain, and Italy. [London Times, 10/27/01]
5) November 12: Columnist William Safire calls the meeting an "undisputed fact." [New York Times, 11/12/01]
6) December 9: Vice President Cheney calls the meeting "pretty well confirmed." [Washington Post, 12/9/01]
7) December 16: The identities of both al-Ani and Atta are disputed. [New York Times, 12/16/01]
8) January 12, 2002: It is claimed at least two meetings took place, including one a year earlier. [Telegraph, 1/12/02]
9) February 6: It's reported that the meeting probably took place, but wasn't connected to the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 2/6/02]
10) March 15: Evidence for the meeting is considered between "slim" and "none." [Washington Post, 3/15/02]
11) March 18: William Safire strongly asserts the meeting took place. [New York Times, 3/18/02]
12) April 28 - May 2: The meeting is largely discredited. [Newsweek, 4/28/02, Washington Post, 5/1/02, New York Times, 5/2/02]
13) May 8: Some Czech officials continue to affirm the meeting took place. [Prague Post, 5/8/02]
14) May 9: William Safire refuses to give up the story, claiming a "protect-Saddam cabal" in the high levels of the US government is burying the story. [New York Times, 5/9/02]
15) July 15: The head of Czech foreign intelligence calls the meeting unproved and implausible. [Prague Post, 7/15/02]
16) August 2: With a war against Iraq growing more likely, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer suggests the meeting did happen, "despite deep doubts by the CIA and FBI." [Los Angeles Times, 8/2/02]
17) August 19: Newsweek states: "The sole evidence for the alleged meeting is the uncorroborated claim of a Czech informant." It claims that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is nonetheless pushing the FBI to have the meeting accepted as fact. [Newsweek, 8/19/02]
18) September 10: The Bush administration is no longer pushing the meeting. [Washington Post, 9/10/02]
19) September 17: Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld "accept reports from Czech diplomats" that the meeting took place. [USA Today, 9/17/02]
20) September 23: Newsweek reports that the CIA is resisting Pentagon demands to get pictures of the meeting from Iraqi exiles. One official says: "We do not shy away from evidence. But we also dont make it up." [Newsweek, 9/23/02]
21) October 6: Bush gives a big speech about why the US should attack Iraq. Slate notes if Bush had evidence linking Iraq to 9/11, "this was his last plausible chance to divulge it. He didn't." [Slate, 10/7/02]
22) A poll taken between October 2-6 shows 66% of Americans believe Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks (see also January 12, 2003). [Reuters, 10/10/02] On October 10, Congress passes a resolution authorizing Bush to declare war on Iraq. [AP, 10/11/02]
23) October 20: This story seemingly ends when Czech officials, including the President Vaclav Havel, conclusively deny the meeting, suggesting the entire story was made up by one unreliable source well after 9/11, and after stories in the press that Atta had traveled to Prague. It now appears Atta wasn't even in the Czech Republic during the month the meeting was supposed to have taken place. President Havel told Bush the meeting didn't happen "quietly some time earlier this year." [UPI, 10/20/02, New York Times, 10/21/02] Why did Bush wait to reveal this information until after the Congressional vote for war with Iraq? Considering the way this meeting has seemingly been used as a political football, how can other reporting on the 9/11 story be trusted? Even though the story is seemingly discredited, some "war hawks," such as Bush advisor Richard Perle, continue to maintain that the meeting took place. [CBS, 12/8/02]
September 20, 2001:
Bush announces the new cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security, to be led
by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. [AP,
8/19/02] Ridge later becomes secretary of a
new Homeland Security Department (see November
25, 2002). Accepting the
post, Ridge says, "Liberty is the most precious gift we offer our citizens."
Responding to this comment, the Village Voice opines, "Could
Tom Ridge have said anything scarier or more telling as he accepted the post
of homeland security czar? Trying to strike the bell of liberty, he sounds its
death knell, depicting government not as the agent of the people's will, but
as an imperious power with the authority to give us our democratic freedoms.
Which means, of course, that it can also take them away." [Village
September 20, 2001 (B): President Bush states: "Either you are with us, or you are against us. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." [White House, 9/20/01] Shortly thereafter, Bush says: "As far as the Saudi Arabians go, they've been nothing but cooperative," and "[Am] I pleased with the actions of Saudi Arabia? I am." However, several experts continue to claim Saudi Arabia is being "completely unsupportive" and is giving "zero cooperation" to the 9/11 investigation. Saudi Arabia refuses to help the US trace the names and other background information on the 15 Saudi hijackers. One former US official says, "They knew that once we started asking for a few traces the list would grow.... It's better to shut it down right away." [Los Angeles Times, 10/13/01, New Yorker, 10/16/01] The Saudi government continues to be uncooperative, and the US government continues to downplay this (see Early December 2001 (B), November 2002 and November 26, 2002).
September 20, 2001 (C): The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publicly publishes a letter to President Bush, advising him to quickly conquer Iraq (see also January 26, 1998). "Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism." They also demand that Iran and Syria cease all support of Hezbollah, and state that if they fail to do so, the US should "retaliate" against those two countries as well. The letter also praises Israel as "Americas staunchest ally against international terrorism." [PNAC, 9/20/01] The next day, the Los Angeles Times notes that there is an internal battle inside the Bush Administration about launching a war against Iraq. On one side are Secretary of State Powell and his allies, who argue that al-Qaeda needs to be defeated first. On the other side is the "string of Perles" - Richard Perle, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and their allies, who argue that Iraq shouldn't wait. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01 (C)] The latter side eventually wins the argument.
September 20, 2001 (D): Bush meets with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. [State Department, 12/26/01] According to a former British ambassador to Washington, Bush tells Blair he wants to attack Iraq immediately, but Blair convinces him that Afghanistan should be attacked first. [BBC, 4/3/03] While interesting in suggesting that Bush wanted to attack Iraq before there was any evidence connecting it to al-Qaeda, this account conflicts with evidence that the US had plans before 9/11 to attack Afghanistan by mid-October 2001 (see July 21, 2001 and September 9, 2001 (F)). This is the same day the Project for the New American Century publishes a letter urging Bush to attack Iraq immediately (see September 20, 2001 (C)).
September 21, 2001: A secret report to NATO allies says the US privately wants to hear allied views on "post-Taliban Afghanistan after the liberation of the country." However, the US is publicly claiming it has no intentions to overthrow the Taliban. [Guardian, 9/21/01] For instance, four days later, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer denies that military actions there are "designed to replace one regime with another." [State Department, 12/26/01]
September 21, 2001 (B): Lotfi Raissi, an Algerian pilot living in Britain, is arrested and accused of helping to train four of the hijackers. An FBI source says, "We believe he is by far the biggest find we have had so far. He is of crucial importance to us." [Las Vegas Review Journal, 9/29/01] However, in April 2002 a judge dismisses all charges against him. Raissi later says he will sue the British and American governments unless he is given a "widely publicized apology" for his months in prison and the assumption of "guilty until proven innocent." [Reuters, 8/14/02] US officials originally said, "They had video of him with Hani Hanjour, who allegedly piloted the plane that crashed into the Pentagon; records of phone conversations between the two men; evidence that they had flown a training plane together; and evidence that Raissi had met several of the hijackers in Las Vegas. It turned out, the British court found, that the video showed Raissi with his cousin, not Mr. Hanjour, that Raissi had mistakenly filled in his air training logbook and had never flown with Hanjour, and that Raissi and the hijackers were not in Las Vegas at the same time. The US authorities never presented any phone records showing conversations between Raissi and Hanjour. ... It appears that in this case the US authorities handed over all the information they had...." [Christian Science Monitor, 3/27/02] Did the US fabricate or exaggerate evidence in an attempt to get a conviction, and if so, what does this say about other facts about the hijackers and their associates?
September 21, 2001 (C): A published account of flight attendant Madeline Amy Sweeney's phone conversation from hijacked Flight 11 appears to contradict the official account. She reports four hijackers, not the official five, and the seat numbers she gave do not correspond with the ones in the official version. This discrepancy still has not been explained. A later, fuller account of her call adds even more curious details (see July 18, 2002). [BBC, 9/21/01]
September 21, 2001 (D): A report suggests: "Federal investigators may have video footage of the deadly terrorist attack on the Pentagon. A security camera atop a hotel close to the Pentagon may have captured dramatic footage of the hijacked Boeing 757 airliner as it slammed into the western wall of the Pentagon. Hotel employees sat watching the film in shock and horror several times before the FBI confiscated the video as part of its investigation. It may be the only available video of the attack. The Pentagon has told broadcast news reporters that its security cameras did not capture the crash. The attack occurred close to the Pentagon's heliport, an area that normally would be under 24-hour security surveillance, including video monitoring." [Gertz File, 9/21/01] In a later report, an employee at a gas station across the street from the Pentagon that services only military personnel says the gas station's security cameras should have recorded the moment of impact. However, he says, "I've never seen what the pictures looked like. The FBI was here within minutes and took the film." [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/11/01] A later release of five tiny and grainy images of the crash from a Pentagon security camera shows the government's claim that no security cameras captured the crash was untrue (see March 7, 2002). If there is nothing to hide about the Pentagon crash, why don't they release the footage of it?
September 21, 2001 (E): Congress approves a $15 billion federal aid package for the battered US airline industry, and sets up a government fund to compensate 9/11 victims' relatives. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/01] But relatives are only allowed to sue terrorists, and if they sue anyone else, they are not entitled to any compensation money (see also August 23, 2002). The law also limits the airlines' liability to the limits of their insurance coverage - around $1.5 billion per plane. [Los Angeles Times, 1/17/02] Nevertheless, many later sue important Saudi Arabians (see August 15, 2002) and the Port Authority, owner of the WTC (see September 10, 2002).
September 21 or 22, 2001: Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi citizen studying at Aston University Business School in Birmingham, Britain, is taken into custody by British authorities working with the FBI. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/27/01, Washington Post, 12/29/01] It has been claimed al-Bayoumi befriended hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in San Diego, California and helped them socially and financially (see November 1999 (B)) until moving to Britain two months before 9/11. [MSNBC, 11/27/02] During a search of al-Bayoumi's apartment (which includes ripping up the floorboards), the FBI finds the names and phone numbers of two employees of the Saudi embassy's Islamic Affairs Department. [Newsweek, 11/24/02] "There was a link there," a Justice Department official says, adding that the FBI interviewed the employees and "that was the end of that, in October or November of 2001." The official adds: "I don't know why he had those names." Nail al-Jubeir, chief spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington, says al-Bayoumi "called [the numbers] constantly." [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] At the time of the questioning, the FBI strongly suspects al-Bayoumi has financial connections to the Saudi royal family and may have given some of that money to the hijackers (see November 22, 2002). However, the FBI accepts his story that he met Alhazmi and Almihdhar by coincidence and he is "released after a week without charge." [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02, Newsweek, 11/24/02] British intelligence officials are frustrated that the FBI failed to give them information that would have enabled them to keep al-Bayoumi in custody longer then the seven days allowed under British anti-terrorism laws. [San Diego Channel 10, 10/25/01] Even FBI officials in San Diego appear to have not been told of al-Bayoumi's arrest by FBI officials in Britain until after he is released. British officials anonymously suggest al-Bayoumi must have turned informant because "giving financial aid to terrorists is a very serious offense and there is no way [the FBI] would have let him go scot-free." [Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] A San Diego FBI agent later secretly testifies that supervisors have failed to act on evidence connecting to a Saudi money trail (see October 9, 2002). Could this be part of what he is referring to? Al-Bayoumi returns to his studies at Aston and is still there two months later, and yet still is not rearrested. [Washington Post, 12/29/01] Another report says al-Bayoumi is living in Britain as of October 2002, [Newsweek, 10/29/02] but he disappears by the time he reenters the news a month later (see November 22, 2002). Al-Bayoumi's quick release is in sharp contrast to that of hundreds of US Muslims who are held anonymously for many months after 9/11 despite having no connections to terrorism of any kind (see October 20, 2001).
September 22, 2001-December 2001: Witnesses begin to report US military planes secretly landing at night in the Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The US, Tajik, and Uzbek governments initially deny that any US troops have been sent there. [Telegraph, 9/23/01, AP, 9/25/01 (D)] By October 5, witnesses say a "huge military buildup" has already occurred. [Telegraph, 10/4/01] On October 7, the US and Uzbekistan sign a secret agreement that reportedly is "a long-term commitment to advance security and regional stability." [Financial Times, 10/13/01] It is later reported that the US military bases here, "originally agreed as temporary and emergency expedients, are now permanent." [Guardian, 1/16/02] The US begins building a military base in the nearby country of Kyrgyzstan in December 2001. "There are no restrictions" in the agreement on what the US can do with this base, and it will be a "transportation hub" for the whole region. [New York Times, 1/9/02] The base is only 200 miles from China. [Christian Science Monitor, 1/17/02] The building of these bases is the culmination of efforts begun long before 9/11 (see 1998 (B), Early 2000, September 2000 (D) , and May 16, 2001).
September 23, 2001: European law enforcement experts claim that numerous links tie major Muslim terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, with international organized crime groups. For approximately the last decade, mutually benefiting strong ties have developed between the two groups. Organized crime launders an estimated $900 billion a year, some of it from terrorist groups. France's chief financial crime prosecutor: "The nerve center of war is money... Without money, terrorist networks do not exist. They can't finance their operations overseas or purchase arms." Terrorist groups are also deeply involved in the international narcotics trade. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/23/01]
September 23, 2001 (B): The first of many mainstream articles ridiculing 9/11 "conspiracy theories" is published (see also September 12, 2002). [Independent, 9/23/01] Early articles of this type generally deride Middle Eastern views blaming Israel. [AP, 10/3/01 (C), Washington Post, 10/13/01, Dallas Morning News, 11/19/01] Later articles mostly deride Western theories blaming Bush, and criticize the internet and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see April 11, 2002) for spreading these ideas. [Chicago Sun-Times, 2/8/02, ABC News, 4/17/02, Orlando Sentinel, 5/18/02, Toronto Sun, 5/19/02] The title of one article, "Conspiracy Nuts Feed On Calamity," expresses the general tone of these articles. [Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 5/22/02] An Ottawa Citizen article mockingly includes a Do-It-Yourself Conspiracy Theory section, where you can fill in the blanks for your own personal 9/11 theory. The article calls 9/11 conspiracy theories "delirious," "dangerous," and "viruses," while admitting that "it's true that some of the events surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks are hard to explain." [Ottawa Citizen, 9/1/02] Another article discredits theories that oil was a motive for the US to attack Afghanistan by interspersing them with theories that space aliens were behind the 9/11 attacks. [Telegraph, 9/5/02]
24, 2001: The US freezes the accounts of 27 individuals and organizations,
alleging that they had channeled money to al-Qaeda.
Included in the list is Mamoun Darkazanli (see September
20, 1998). US officials say Darkazanli took part in a 1996 attack on
government troops in Saudi Arabia. According to German investigators, Darkazanli
attended the wedding several years ago of Said Bahaji. [New
York Times, 9/29/01] The German government
also freezes accounts connected to Darkazanli on October 2, 2001. Both governments
suspect Darkazanli of providing financial and logistical support to the Hamburg
al-Qaeda cell. [AFP,
10/28/01] Shortly thereafter, Spanish police listening in to Barakat Yarkas'
telephone hear Yarkas warn the leader of a Syrian extremist organization that
Darkazanli has caught the "flu" going around. [Chicago
Tribune, 11/17/02] But despite Darkazanli's
obvious ties to terrorists, and although he is still openly living in Germany,
he has not been arrested.
September 24, 2001 (B): Fox News claims that up to 12 other Middle Eastern men dressed in pilot uniforms were on other flights scheduled to take off on the morning of 9/11. Hijackings on all these flights were foiled when an unexpected ban on new flights prevented them from taking off. An FBI source says they had been invited into the cockpits under the impression that they were guest pilots from other airlines. It is standard practice to give guest pilots the spare seat in the cockpit known as the jump seat (see November 23, 2001). [Fox News, 9/24/01] Flight 93's cockpit voice recording has apparently shown that "one of the four hijackers had been invited into the cockpit area before the flight took off." Many pilot uniforms had gone missing prior to 9/11 (see September 1, 2001 (approx.)). Atta was given a guided tour of Boston's Logan Airport the week before 9/11 when he turned up in a pilot uniform saying he was with Saudi Airlines. [Herald Sun, 9/25/01]
September 24, 2001-December
26, 2002: In 2000, the 9/11 hijackers receive money from a man using "Mustafa
Ahmed Al-Hisawi" and other aliases (see June
29, 2000-September 18, 2000). On September 8-11, 2001, the hijackers
send money to a man in the United Arab Emirates who uses the aliases "Mustafa
Ahmed," "Mustafa Ahmad," and "Ahamad Mustafa" (see
September 8-11, 2001).
Soon the media begins reporting on who this 9/11 "paymaster" is, but
his reported names and identities will continually change.
The media has sometimes made the obvious connection that the paymaster is the
British man Saeed Sheikh, a financial expert who studied at the London School
of Economics (see June 1993-October
1994), who undisputedly sent hijacker Mohamed Atta money the month before
(see Early August 2001 (D)),
was making frequent trips at the time to Dubai, where the money is sent, and
is also known to have trained the hijackers (see January
1, 2000-September 11, 2001). But the FBI
consistently deflects attention onto other possible explanations, with a highly
confusing series of names vaguely similar to Mustafa Ahmed or Saeed Sheikh.
Could they be ignoring the real Saeed because of his
connections to the Pakistani ISI?
1) September 24, 2001: Newsweek reports that the paymaster for the 9/11 attacks is someone named "Mustafa Ahmed." [Newsweek, 9/24/01] This refers to Mustafa Mahmoud Said Ahmed, an Egyptian al-Qaeda banker who was captured in Tanzania in 1998 then later released. [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/28/01, Newsday, 10/3/01]
2) October 1, 2001: It is reported that the real name of "Mustafa Mohamed Ahmad" is "Sheikh Saeed." [Guardian, 10/1/01] A few days later, CNN confirms that this "Sheik Syed" is the British man Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh rescued in 1999 (see December 24-31, 1999). [CNN, 10/6/01, CNN, 10/8/01] But starting on October 8, the story that ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed ordered Saeed to give Mohamed Atta $100,000 begins to break (see October 7, 2001). References to the 9/11 paymaster being the British Saeed Sheikh (and the connections to Mahmood) suddenly disappear from the Western media (with one exception [CNN, 10/28/01]).
3) October, 2001: Other articles continue to use "Mustafa Mohammed Ahmad" or "Shaykh Saiid" with no details of his identity, except for suggestions that he is Egyptian. There are numerous spelling variations and conflicting accounts over which name is the alias. [Evening Standard, 10/1/01, BBC, 10/1/01, Newsday, 10/3/01, AP, 10/6/01, Washington Post, 10/7/01, Sunday Times, 10/7/01, Knight Ridder, 10/9/01, New York Times, 10/15/01, Los Angeles Times, 10/20/01]
4) October 16, 2001: CNN reports that the 9/11 paymaster "Sheik Sayid" is mentioned in a May 2001 trial of al-Qaeda members. But this turns out to be a Kenyan named Sheik Sayyid el Masry. [CNN, 10/16/01, Trial Transcript, 2/20/01, Trial Transcript, 2/21/01]
5) November 11, 2001: The identity of 9/11 paymaster "Mustafa Ahmed" is suddenly no longer Egyptian, but is now a Saudi named Sa'd Al-Sharif who is said to be bin Laden's brother-in-law. [Newsweek, 11/11/01, United Nations, 3/8/01, AP, 12/18/01]
6) December 11, 2001: The federal indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui calls the 9/11 paymaster "Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi a/k/a 'Mustafa Ahmed,'" and gives him Sa'd's nationality and birthdate. [MSNBC, 12/11/01] Many articles begin adding "al-Hawsawi" to the Mustafa Ahmed name. [Washington Post, 12/13/01, Washington Post, 1/7/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02]
7) January 23, 2002: As new information is reported in India (see December 7, 2001), the media returns to the British Saeed Sheikh as the 9/11 paymaster. [Los Angeles Times, 1/23/02, Telegraph, 1/24/02, Independent, 1/24/02, Telegraph, 1/27/02] While his role in the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl is revealed on February 6, many articles connect him to 9/11, but many more do not (see February 6, 2002). Coverage of Saeed's 9/11 connections generally dies out by the time of his trial in July 2002 (see July 15, 2002).
8) June 4, 2002: Without explanation, the name "Shaikh Saiid al-Sharif" begins to be used for the 9/11 paymaster, presumably a combination of Saeed Sheikh and S'ad al-Sharif. [AP, 6/4/02, AP, 6/5/02, Independent, 9/15/02, AP, 9/26/02, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/15/02] Many of the old names continue to be used, however. [New York Times, 7/10/02, Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02, Washington Post, 9/11/02, Los Angeles Times, 12/24/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, Knight Ridder, 9/8/02, Knight Ridder, 9/9/02, Time, 8/4/02]
9) June 18, 2002: FBI Director Mueller testifies that the money sent in 2000 is sent by someone named "Ali Abdul Aziz Ali" but the money in 2001 is sent by "Shaikh Saiid al-Sharif." The "Aziz Ali" name has not been mentioned again by the press or FBI (outside of coverage of this testimony in September 2002). [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]
10) September 4, 2002: Newsweek says "Mustafa Ahmad Adin Al-Husawi," presumably Saudi, is a deputy to the Egyptian "Sayyid Shaikh Al-Sharif." But it adds he "remains almost a total mystery," and they're unsure of his name. [Newsweek, 9/4/02]
11) December 26, 2002: US officials now say there is no such person as Shaikh Saiid al-Sharif. Instead, he is probably a composite of three different people: "[Mustafa Ahmed] Al-Hisawi; Shaikh Saiid al-Masri, al-Qaeda's finance chief, and Saad al-Sharif, bin Laden's brother-in-law and a midlevel al-Qaeda financier." [AP, 12/26/02] Shaikh Saiid al-Masri is likely a reference the Kenyan Sheik Sayyid el Masry. Note that now al-Hisawi is the assistant to Shaikh Saiid, a flip from a few months before.
Saiid and/or al-Hisawi still haven't been added to the FBI's official most wanted lists. [London Times, 12/1/01, Wall Street Journal, 6/17/02, FBI Most Wanted Terrorists] Despite the confusion, the FBI isn't even seeking information about them. [FBI Seeking Information] Over a year after 9/11, the FBI's understanding of 9/11's financing is in disarray. Perhaps this is because they have yet to interrogate the real paymaster, Saeed Sheikh, who is sitting in a Pakistani prison. [Indian Express, 7/19/02]
September 25, 2001: As details of the passengers on the four hijacked flights emerge, some are shown to have curious connections to the defense company Raytheon, and possibly its Global Hawk pilotless aircraft program (see 1998 (D) and August 2001). Stanley Hall (Flight 77) was director of program management for Raytheon Electronics Warfare. One Raytheon colleague calls him "our dean of electronic warfare." [AP, 9/25/01] Peter Gay (Flight 11) was Raytheon's Vice President of Operations for Electronic Systems and had been on special assignment to a company office in El Segundo, Calif. [AP, 9/25/01] Raytheon's El Segundo's Electronic Systems division is one of two divisions making the Global Hawk. [ISR Journal, 3/02] Kenneth Waldie (Flight 11) was a senior quality control engineer for Raytheon's electronic systems. David Kovalcin (Flight 11) was a senior mechanical engineer for Raytheon's electronic systems. [CNN, 9/01] Herbert Homer (Flight 175) was a corporate executive working with the Department of Defense. [CNN, 9/01, Northeastern University Voice, 12/11/01] Raytheon employees with possible links to Global Hawk can be connected to three of the four flights? There may be more, since many of the passengers' jobs and personal information have remained anonymous. A surprising number of passengers, especially on Flight 77, have military connections. For instance, William E. Caswell was a Navy scientist whose work was so classified that his family knew very little about what he did each day. Says his mother, "You just learn not to ask questions." [Chicago Tribune, 9/16/01] Could these Raytheon employees have been on board to activate Global Hawk technology, or make sure it worked?
September 26, 2001: New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani bans all photographs at the WTC site, unless explicitly approved by the Police Commissioner. A statement said the ban was because the ruins were a crime scene. [AP, 9/27/01] Why can't people take any pictures of piles of rubble? This ban is apparently repealed some point in 2002.
September 26, 2001 (B): Press Secretary Ari Fleischer warns, "There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do...." [AP, 9/26/01 (C)] Fleischer was responding to comments made by Bill Maher, the host of the discussion/comedy show Politically Incorrect. Maher said the hijackers were not cowards but that it was cowardly for the US to launch cruise missiles on targets thousands of miles away. [New York Times, 9/28/01 (B)] Many advertisers and affiliate stations pull their support of the show in response. [Washington Post, 9/29/01 (B)] ABC cancels Maher's show at the end of its season because of the controversy. [Toronto Star, 6/26/02] Several journalists are fired around the same time for criticizing Bush. Fleischer's comments and the general chill on free speech are widely criticized by major newspapers (for instance, [New York Times, 9/29/01 (B), Washington Post, 9/29/01 (B), Dallas Morning News, 10/4/01].)
September 27, 2001: The Wall Street Journal notes that the bin Laden family could profit from the 9/11 attacks. They had invested in the Carlyle Group, a well-connected Washington merchant bank specializing in buyouts of defense and aerospace companies that had done very well since 9/11. The Carlyle Group is noted for its connections with George Bush Sr. and other members of his administration. The bin Ladens invested $2 million in Carlyle back in 1995, but the Wall Street Journal speculates that they have invested much more. [Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01] On October 27, 2001, the bin Laden family divests their known $2 million investment in light of bad publicity. However it isn't known what became of any additional investments they may have had in Carlyle. [Washington Post, 10/27/01]
September 27, 2001 (B): The Sydney Morning Herald discusses the connections between the CIA and Pakistan's ISI, and the ISI's long-standing control over the Taliban. Drugs are a big part of their operation: "opium cultivation and heroin production in Pakistan's northern tribal belt and adjoining Afghanistan were a vital offshoot of the ISI-CIA cooperation. It succeeded in turning some of the Soviet troops into addicts. Heroin sales in Europe and the US, carried out through an elaborate web of deception, transport networks, couriers and payoffs, offset the cost of the decade-long war in Afghanistan." [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/27/01]
September 28, 2001: The text of a handwritten, five-page document found in Atta's luggage is made public. [Complete text here: Observer, 9/30/01] The next day, the Independent strongly questions if the note is genuine. It points out the "note suggests an almost Christian view of what the hijackers might have felt" and is filled with "weird" comments that Muslims would never say, such as "the time of fun and waste is gone." If the note "is genuine, then the [hijackers] believed in a very exclusive version of Islam - or were surprisingly unfamiliar with their religion." [Independent, 9/29/01] Another copy of the document was discovered in a vehicle parked by a Flight 77 hijacker at Washington's Dulles airport. A third copy of essentially the same document was found in the wreckage of Flight 93. So the letter neatly ties most of the hijackers together. [CBS, 9/28/01] The Guardian says, "The finds are certainly very fortunate, though some might think them a little too fortunate." [Guardian, 10/1/01] Interestingly, an FBI affidavit of the contents of Atta's baggage written on September 14 and released on October 4 completely fails to mention the how-to letter. Is this an oversight, or is the letter a forgery?
September 29, 2001: $2.5 million in put options on American Airlines and United Airlines are reported unclaimed. This is likely the result of the suspension in trading on the New York Stock Exchange after the attacks which gave the SEC time to be waiting if the owners showed up to redeem their put options (see September 6-10, 2001). [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/29/01] FTW
September 29, 2001 (B): It is reported that Boston's Logan Airport doesn't have any video cameras in its terminals, gate areas or concourses. It is possibly the only major airport in the US to not have such cameras. The two other airports used by the hijackers to launch the 9/11 attacks had security cameras, but none of the footage has been released. [Boston Herald, 9/29/01] It was previously reported that FBI agents had "examined footage from dozens of cameras at the three airports where the terrorists boarded the aircraft." [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01]
September 29-30, 2001: Police in the Midwest stop six men carrying suspicious documents. They possess photos and descriptions of a nuclear power plant in Florida and the Trans-Alaska pipeline, and also have "box cutters and other equipment." All six have Israeli passports. They are let released the same day after their passports are shown to be valid, but before anyone interviews them. The FBI is reportedly furious about their release. [Miami Herald, 10/3/01, Knight Ridder, 10/31/01, London Times, 11/2/01] The six men may have been Mossad agents. In addition to snooping on the DEA and Muslim terrorists, some Mossad agents in the "art student" spy ring have been caught trying to break into military bases and other top secret facilities. [Salon, 5/7/02] Perhaps they were gathering information, not planning a hijack?
Late September 2001: Sibel Edmonds is hired as a Middle Eastern languages translator for the FBI. As she later tells CBS's 60 Minutes, she immediately encounters a pattern of deliberate failure in her translation department. Her boss says, "Let the documents pile up so we can show it and say that we need more translators and expand the department." She claims that if she wasn't slowing down enough, her supervisor would delete her work. Meanwhile, FBI agents working on the 9/11 investigation would call and ask for urgently needed translations. Senator Charles Grassley (R) says of her charges, "Shes credible and the reason I feel shes very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story." He points out that the speed of such translation might make the difference between a terrorist bombing succeeding or failing. [CBS, 10/25/02, New York Post, 10/26/02] In January 2002, FBI officials tell government auditors that translator shortages have resulted in "the accumulation of thousands of hours of audio tapes and pages" of untranslated material. [Washington Post, 6/19/02] Edmonds has a whistleblower lawsuit against the FBI for these and other charges (see March 22, 2002).
Late September-Early October 2001: According to a later Mirror article, leaders of Pakistan's two Islamic parties negotiate bin Laden's extradition to Pakistan to stand trial for the 9/11 attacks. Bin Laden would be held under house arrest in Peshawar and would face an international tribunal, which would decide whether to try him or hand him over to the US. According to reports in Pakistan (and the Telegraph), this plan has both bin Laden's approval and that of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. However, the plan is vetoed by Pakistan's president Musharraf who says he "could not guarantee bin Laden's safety." But it appears the US did not want the deal: a US official later says that "casting our objectives too narrowly" risked "a premature collapse of the international effort [to overthrow the Taliban] if by some lucky chance Mr. bin Laden was captured." [Mirror, 7/8/02]
Late September-November 2001: The ISI secretly assists the Taliban in its defense against a US-led attack. Between three and five ISI officers give military advice to the Taliban in late September (see also September 17-18 and 28, 2001). [Telegraph, 10/10/01] At least five key ISI operatives help the Taliban prepare defenses in Kandahar. None are later punished for this. [Time, 5/6/02] Secret advisors begin to withdraw in early October, but some stay on into November. [Knight Ridder, 11/3/01] Large convoys of rifles, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers for Taliban fighters cross the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan on October 8 and 12, just after US bombing of Afghanistan begins (see October 7, 2001 (B)) and after a supposed crackdown on ISI fundamentalists (see October 7, 2001). The Pakistani ISI secretly gives safe passage to these convoys, despite having promised the US in September that such assistance would immediately stop. [New York Times, 12/8/01] Secret ISI convoys of weapons and nonlethal supplies continue into November. [UPI, 11/1/01, Time, 5/6/02] An anonymous Western diplomat later states, "We did not fully understand the significance of Pakistan's role in propping up the Taliban until their guys withdrew and things went to hell fast for the Talibs." [New York Times, 12/8/01]
October 2001: A 70-page French intelligence report claims: "The financial network of bin Laden, as well as his network of investments, is similar to the network put in place in the 1980s by BCCI for its fraudulent operations, often with the same people (former directors and cadres of the bank and its affiliates, arms merchants, oil merchants, Saudi investors). The dominant trait of bin Laden's operations is that of a terrorist network backed up by a vast financial structure" (see Mid-1996-October 2001). The BCCI was the largest Muslim bank in the world before it collapsed in 1991 (see July 5, 1991). A senior US investigator later says US agencies are looking into the ties outlined by the French because "they just make so much sense, and so few people from BCCI ever went to jail. BCCI was the mother and father of terrorist financing operations." The report identifies dozens of companies and individuals who were involved with BCCI and were found to be dealing with bin Laden after the bank collapsed. Many went on to work in banks and charities identified by the US and others as supporting al-Qaeda. The role of Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz in supporting bin Laden is emphasized in the report (see April 1999). In 1995 bin Mahfouz paid a $225 million fine in a settlement with US prosecutors for his role in the BCCI scandal. [Washington Post, 2/17/02]
October 2001 (B): Reports this month indicate that many hijacker e-mails have been recovered. USA Today reports many unencrypted e-mails coordinating the 9/11 plans written by the hijackers in internet cafes have been recovered by investigators. [USA Today, 10/1/01] FBI sources say "hundreds of e-mails linked to the hijackers in English, Arabic and Urdu" have been recovered, with some messages including "operational details" of the attack. [Washington Post, 10/4/01] "A senior FBI official says investigators have obtained hundreds of e-mails in English and Arabic, reflecting discussions of the planned Sept. 11 hijackings." [Wall Street Journal, 10/16/01] However, in April 2002, FBI Director Mueller says no documentation of the 9/11 plot has been found (see April 19, 2002). By September 2002, the Chicago Tribune reports, "Of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of e-mails sent and received by the hijackers from public Internet terminals, none is known to have been recovered." [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02] The texts of some e-mails sent by Atta from Germany are published a few months later. [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03]
October 2001-September 2002: Nine Army linguists, including six trained to speak Arabic, are dismissed from the military's Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, because they are gay. At the same time, the military claims it is facing a critical shortage of translators and interpreters for the war on terrorism (see September 10, 2001 (L) for an example of an Arabic translation that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks). [AP, 11/14/02] The Miami Herald comments: "The message is unmistakable: We find gay people more frightening than Osama bin Laden, whose stated goal is our destruction." [Miami Herald, 11/22/02]
Early October 2001: The US begins using the Shahbaz air force base and other bases in Pakistan in their attacks against Afghanistan. [London Times, 10/15/01] However, because of public opposition in Pakistan to US support, it is falsely claimed the US is there for purely logistical and defensive purposes. Even six months later, the US won't confirm it is using the base for offensive operations. [Los Angeles, 3/6/03] Such bases in Pakistan become a link in a chain of US military outposts in Central Asia (see January 2002 (D)). Other countries also falsely maintain that such bases are not being used for military operations in Afghanistan. [Reuters, 12/28/01]
October 1, 2001: The New Yorker gives an inside look at the ongoing 9/11 investigation. "A number of intelligence officials have raised questions about Osama bin Laden's capabilities. 'This guy sits in a cave in Afghanistan and he's running this operation?' one CIA official asked. 'It's so huge. He couldn't have done it alone' A senior military officer told me that because of the visas and other documentation needed to infiltrate team members into the United States a major foreign intelligence service might also have been involved." [New Yorker, 10/1/01] These ideas run counter to the usual public statements by officials that bin Laden was the ultimate mastermind.
October 1, 2001 (B): The New York Times notes the "stepped up warnings on the spread of chemical and biological weapons" based on a number of statements from officials in the past few days. White House chief of staff Andrew Card: "I'm not trying to be an alarmist, but we know that these terrorist organizations, like al-Qaeda, run by Osama bin Laden and others, have probably found the means to use biological or chemical warfare." Representative Henry J. Hyde (R) says biological weapons "scare" him more than nuclear weapons because they can be brought into the country "rather easily." Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and others give similar warnings. Just three days later, anthrax attacks become big news (see October 4, 2001). [New York Times, 10/1/01]
October 1, 2001 (C): It is reported that "a worldwide hunt is under way for 14 young Muslims said to have been trained in secret to fly Boeing airliners at an air base in Afghanistan. A senior pilot for the Afghan state-owned airline Ariana has told how he and four colleagues were forced by the Taliban regime to train the men who are now thought to be hiding in Europe and the United States. The 14 men, seven of whom are said to speak fluent English, are described as "dedicated Muslim fanatics" who spoke of being involved in a holy war. They are thought to have left Afghanistan a year ago. All had close links with the Taliban and some had fought for the regime. [Evening Standard, 10/1/01] Could some of these have been the 9/11 hijackers? Al-Qaeda had effective control of the national airline Ariana (see Mid-1996-October 2001), so why would they need to train pilots in the US where they could get caught?
1, 2001 (D): A
suicide truck-bomb attack on the provincial parliamentary assembly in Indian-controlled
Kashmir leaves 36 dead. It appears that Saeed Sheikh and Aftab Ansari,
working with the ISI, are behind the attacks (see also Early
August 2001 (D)). [Vanity Fair,
Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] Indian intelligence claims that Pakistani President
Musharraf is later given a recording of a phone call between Jaish-e-Mohammad
leader Maulana Masood Azhar and ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed in which
Azhar allegedly reports the bombing is a "success." [UPI,
October 2, 2001: Days before the anthrax attacks begin, a strange letter is sent to a researcher in Fort Detrick, Maryland (USAMRIID). The letter is addressed to Dr. Ayaad Assaad, a Muslim anthrax researcher who was born in Egypt. The unsigned letter calls Assaad a "'potential terrorist,' with a grudge against the United States and the knowledge to wage biological warfare against his adopted country." This is the latest in a series of attacks against Assaad, which include anonymous long hateful poems about him in the early 1990s. Assaad was laid off in 1997. The author of the letter says he is a former colleague of Assaad. The letter seems like a not-very-subtle attempt to frame Assaad for the anthrax attacks about to come. The letter strongly suggests the attacks could have been by someone at USAMRIID with a long time grudge against Assaad. [Hartford Courant, 12/9/01, Salon, 1/26/02] Anthrax suspect Philip Zack later emerges as one (but not the only) coworker with such a grudge (see January 20, 2002).
October 2, 2001 (B): The "anti-terrorism" Patriot Act is introduced in Congress, but is not well received by all. [Patriot Act, 10/2/01] One day later, Senate Majority Leader and future anthrax target Tom Daschle (D) says he doubts the Senate will take up this bill in the one week timetable the administration wants. As head of the Senate, Daschle has great power to block or slow passage of the bill. Attorney General Ashcroft accuses Senate Democrats of dragging their feet. [Washington Post, 10/3/01] On October 4, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and future anthrax target Patrick Leahy (D) accuses the Bush administration of reneging on an agreement on the anti-terrorist bill. Leahy is in a key position to block or slow the bill. Some warn that "lawmakers are overlooking constitutional flaws in their rush to meet the administration's timetable." Two days later, Ashcroft complains about "the rather slow pace…over his request for law enforcement powers… Hard feelings remain." [Washington Post, 10/4/01] The anthrax letters to Daschle and Leahy are sent out on October 9 and difficulties in passing the Act continue (see October 9, 2001). Could Daschle and Leahy have been targeted by some person or entity who wanted to see the Patriot Act pass?
October 2, 2001 (C): A newspaper reveals that Atta kept an e-mail list so he could send out identical e-mails to everyone on the list. [Sun and Weekly Herald, 10/2/01, NBC 2, 4/24/02] What's intriguing is that several of the 40 or so names on the list appear to have been, or still are, employees of US defense contractors. [Online Journal, 4/24/02, note this is a very partisan website]
October 4, 2001: The first case of anthrax infection, in Florida, appears in the media. Letters containing anthrax continue to be received until October 19. After many false alarms, it turns out that only four letters contain real anthrax. They are sent to NBC, New York Post, Democratic Senator Daschle and Democratic Senator Leahy. There are a number of hoax letters however, likely sent by the same person to all the recipients of the real anthrax letters, plus to CBS, Fox News, New York Times, and the St. Petersberg Times. Eleven people are infected, five people die. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01]
October 4, 2001 (B): British Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly presents a paper containing evidence that al-Qaeda is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. [Los Angeles Times, 10/5/01, see the paper here: Los Angeles Times, 10/4/01] Secretary of State Powell and other US officials had promised on September 23 that the US would present a paper containing such evidence. [Los Angeles Times, 9/24/01] But the US paper is never released. Apparently, the British paper is meant to serve as a substitute. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] In the speech, Blair claims, "One of bin Laden's closest lieutenants has said clearly that he helped with the planning of the September 11 attacks and admitted the involvement of the al-Qaeda organization" and that "there is other intelligence, we cannot disclose, of an even more direct nature indicating guilt" of al-Qaeda in the attacks. [CNN 10/4/01, Time, 10/5/01] There has been no confirmation or details since of these claims. Even though most of the evidence in the British paper comes from the US, pre-attack warnings, such as the August 6, 2001 memo to Bush "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US," are not included (see August 6, 2001). In fact, Blair's paper states, "incorrectly, that no such information had been available before the attacks: 'After 11 September we learned that, not long before, bin Laden had indicated he was about to launch a major attack on America.'" [New Yorker, 5/27/02]
October 5, 2001: Contrary to popular belief, Afghanistan "has significant oil and gas deposits. During the Soviets' decade-long occupation of Afghanistan, Moscow estimated Afghanistan's proven and probable natural gas reserves at around five trillion cubic feet and production reached 275 million cubic feet per day in the mid-1970s." Nonstop war since has prevent further exploitation, but that soon changes. [Asia Times, 10/5/01] A later article suggests the country may also have as much copper as Chile, the world's largest producer, and significant deposits of coal, emeralds, tungsten, lead, zinc, uranium ore and more. Estimates of Afghanistan 's natural wealth may even be understated, because surveys were conducted decades ago, using less-advanced methods and covering limited territory. [Houston Chronicle, 12/23/01]
October 5, 2001 (B): 1,000 US soldiers are sent to the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan, which borders Afghanistan. [AP, 8/19/02]
October 7, 2001: ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed is replaced in the face of US pressure after links are discovered between him, Saeed Sheikh, and the funding of the 9/11 attacks. Mahmood instructed Saeed to transfer $100,000 into hijacker Mohamed Atta's bank account prior to 9/11 (see Early August 2001 (D) or June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000; it hasn't been reported which $100,000 money transfer this refers to). This is according to Indian intelligence, which claims the FBI has privately confirmed the story. [Press Trust of India, 10/8/01, Times of India, 10/9/01, India Today, 10/15/01, Daily Excelsior, 10/18/01] The story is not widely reported in Western countries, though it makes the Wall Street Journal. [Australian, 10/10/01, AFP, 10/10/01, Wall Street Journal, 10/10/01] It is reported in Pakistan as well. [Dawn, 10/8/01] The Northern Alliance also repeats the claim in late October. [FNS, 10/31/01] In Western countries, the usual explanation is that Mahmood is fired for being too close to the Taliban. [London Times, 10/9/01, Guardian, 10/9/01] The Times of India reports that Indian intelligence helped the FBI discover the link, and says: "A direct link between the ISI and the WTC attack could have enormous repercussions. The US cannot but suspect whether or not there were other senior Pakistani Army commanders who were in the know of things. Evidence of a larger conspiracy could shake US confidence in Pakistan's ability to participate in the anti-terrorism coalition." [Times of India, 10/9/01] There is evidence some ISI officers may have known of a plan to destroy the WTC as early as mid-1999 (see July 14, 1999). Two other ISI leaders, Lt. Gen. Mohammed Aziz Khan and Chief of General Staff Mohammed Yousuf, are sidelined on the same day as Mahmood. [Fox News, 10/8/01] Saeed had been working under Khan (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001). The firings are said to have purged the ISI of its fundamentalists. But according to one diplomat: "To remove the top two or three doesn't matter at all. The philosophy remains.... [The ISI is] a parallel government of its own. If you go through the officer list, almost all of the ISI regulars would say, of the Taliban, 'They are my boys.'" [New Yorker, 10/29/01] It is believed Mahmood has been living under virtual house arrest in Pakistan ever since (which would seem to imply more than just a difference of opinion over the Taliban), but no charges have been brought against him, and there is no evidence the US has asked to question him. [Asia Times, 1/5/02] He also has refused to speak to reporters since being fired [AP, 2/21/02], and outside India and Pakistan, the story has only been mentioned a couple times in the media since (see [Sunday Herald, 2/24/02, London Times, 4/21/02]). If Mahmood helped fund the 9/11 attacks, what did President Musharraf know about it?
October 7, 2001 (B): The US begins bombing Afghanistan. [MSNBC, 11/01] Note that shortly after 9/11 former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik claimed that in July 2001 he was told by senior US officials that a military action to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan would "take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest" (see July 21, 2001). Is it coincidence that the attacks begin exactly when the US said they would, months before 9/11?
October 7, 2001 (C): On this day, Zeljko E., a Kosovar Serb, enters a Hamburg, Germany police station and says he wants to turn himself in. He tells the police that he has robbed a business and stolen piles of paper written in Arabic, with the hopes of selling them. A friend of his told him that they relate to the 9/11 attacks. The 44 pounds of papers are translated and prove to be a "treasure trove." The documents come from Mamoun Darkazanli's files (see September 24, 2001), which appeared to be missing when police raided his apartment two days after 9/11. "It makes for a great story. A petty thief pilfers files containing critical information about the largest terrorist attack in history and dutifully turns them over to the police. [But German] agents do not buy this story for a minute; they suspect that some other secret service was trying to find a way of getting evidence into [their] hands. The question is, whose secret service?" Some German investigators suggest the CIA was responsible; there are also reports that the FBI illegally surveilled Darkazanli after 9/11. [Der Spiegel, 10/27/01, Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02, Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, 2/02, pp. 166-67] Did the CIA surveil or recruit Darkazanli before 9/11 after failing to get German investigators to do so (see December 1999 and Spring 2000), and then use this method to get information to the Germans in order to keep their illegal surveillance secret?
October 7, 2001 (D): It is reported that Mahrous bin Laden, brother to Osama, is currently manager of the Medina, Saudi Arabia branch of the bin Laden family company, the Binladin Group. In 1979, Binladin company trucks were used by 500 dissidents who seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest city. All the men who took part were later beheaded except Mahrous, who is eventually released from prison apparently because of the close ties between the bin Ladens and the Saudi royal family. The bin Laden family claims that no family members have any ties to terrorism except Osama. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01]
October 9, 2001: Senator Feingold (D) blocks an attempt to rush the USA Patriot Act to a vote with little debate and no opportunity for amendments. Feingold criticizes the bill as a threat to liberty. [AP, 10/10/01] One day earlier, in the story "Cracks in Bipartisanship Start to Show," the Washington Post reports, "Congress has lost some of the shock-induced unity with which it first responded to the [9/11] attacks." [Washington Post, 10/8/01] Also on October 9, identical anthrax letters are postmarked in Trenton, New Jersey, with lethal doses to Senators Daschle and Leahy. Inside both letters are the words: "Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is Great" (see October 15, 2001). [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01]
October 9, 2001 (B): US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin meets with the Pakistani oil minister. She is briefed on the gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan, across Afghanistan, to Pakistan, which appears to be revived "in view of recent geopolitical developments." [Frontier Post, 10/10/01] FTW
October 10, 2001: Mohammed Heikal, longtime Egyptian journalist, former government spokesman, and the "Arab world's foremost political commentator," expresses disbelief that bin Laden and al-Qaeda could have conducted the 9/11 attack without the US knowing. "Bin Laden has been under surveillance for years: every telephone call was monitored and al-Qaeda has been penetrated by American intelligence, Pakistani intelligence, Saudi intelligence, Egyptian intelligence. They could not have kept secret an operation that required such a degree of organization and sophistication." [Guardian, 10/10/01]
October 10, 2001 (B): The US government asks the major US TV networks to refrain from showing unedited video messages taped by Osama bin Laden. They agree. A Newsweek article is critical of the decision, pointing out "all but one [of these networks] are controlled by major conglomerates that have important pending business with the government." The article openly questions if the media is "doing too much of the government's bidding" in reporting on 9/11. Says one expert, "I'm not saying that everything is a horrible paranoid fantasy, but my sense is there's an implicit quid pro quo here. The industry seems to be saying to the administration, 'we're patriotic, we're supporting the war, we lost all of this advertising, now free us from [business] constraints.'" [Newsweek, 10/13/01]
October 10, 2001 (C): It is reported that Globe Aviation Services Corp., in charge of the baggage handlers for Flight 11 and all other American Airlines flights at Boston's Logan Airport, have been cleared of any wrongdoing. Globe Aviation supervisors claim that none of the employees working that day were in the US illegally. Supposedly, no weapons were detected, but a baggage handler for Globe Aviation and an American Airlines employee have told the FBI that one of the hijackers - believed to be either Wail or Waleed Alshehri - was carrying one wooden crutch under his arm when he boarded Flight 11. Crutches are apparently routinely scanned through X-ray machines. [Boston Globe, 10/10/01 (B)]
October 10-11, 2001: The
FBI allows the original batch of the Ames strain of anthrax to be destroyed,
making tracing the anthrax type more difficult. Suspicions
that the anthrax used in the letters was the Ames strain are confirmed on October
17. [New York Times, 11/9/01, South
Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01] What possible excuse can the FBI have for
allowing this destruction, especially when the Ames strain was already suspected?
October 11, 2001: "FBI investigators have officially concluded that 11 of the 19 terrorists who hijacked the aircraft on September 11 did not know they were on a suicide mission." "Unlike the eight 'lead' attackers, who were all trained pilots, they did not leave messages for friends and family indicating they knew their lives were over" nor did they have copies of Atta's final prayer note. Personal items found suggest the men thought they were taking part in a conventional hijacking and were preparing for the possibility of prison. [Observer, 10/14/01] This is later contradicted by video filmed in Afghanistan in March 2001 showing the 13 non-lead hijackers proclaiming their willingness to die on an upcoming suicide mission (see March 2001).
October 11, 2001 (B): The Ashcroft-led Justice Department takes over all terrorist prosecutions from the US Attorneys office in New York which has had a highly successful track record in prosecuting terrorist cases connected to bin Laden. [New York Times, 10/11/01] FTW
October 12, 2001: The US freezes the assets of 39 additional individuals and organizations connected to terrorism (see also September 24, 2001). Five of the names are al-Qaeda leaders on a list the United Nations published in March 8, 2001, with a recommendation that all nations freeze their assets (see March 8, 2001). Other countries froze assets of those on that list, but the US did not. "Members of Congress want to know why treasury officials charged with disrupting the finances of terrorists did not follow their lead." [AP, 10/12/01, Guardian, 10/13/01] The most detailed case is laid out against Saudi multimillionaire businessman Yassin al-Qadi (see December 5, 2002 and November 26, 2002). [Chicago Tribune, 10/14/01, Chicago Tribune, 10/29/01] Al-Qadi is "horrified and shocked" and offers to open his financial books to US investigators. [Chicago Tribune, 10/16/01] A US official claims a 1998 audit of Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank shows al-Qadi's Muwafaq Foundation funneled $3 million to bin Laden (see April 1999). [Chicago Tribune, 10/29/01] There have been several accusations that al-Qadi laundered money to fund Hamas [Chicago Tribune, 10/16/01, Chicago Tribune, 10/29/01], and an investigation into his al-Qaeda connections was canceled by higher-ups in the FBI in 1998 (see October 1998). Saudi Arabia also later freezes al-Qadi's accounts, an action the Saudis have taken against only three people, but he has yet to be charged or arrested by the Saudis or the US. [Newsweek, 12/6/02]
October 12, 2001 (B): Attorney General Ashcroft encourages federal agencies to deny requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In a memo to all government departments and agencies, he states, "When you carefully consider FOIA requests and decide to withhold records, in whole or in part, you can be assured that the Department of Justice will defend your decisions." This is a dramatic shift from the Clinton Administration, which instructed federal officials to grant all information requests unless there was "foreseeable harm" in doing so. [Washington Post, 12/2/02] The New York Times notes that while this policy was announced after 9/11, "it had been planned well before the attacks." [New York Times, 1/3/03]
October 14, 2001: The Boston Herald reports: "Three banks allegedly used by Osama bin Laden to distribute money to his global terrorism network have well-established ties to a prince in Saudi Arabia's royal family, several billionaire Saudi bankers, and the governments of Kuwait and Dubai. One of the banks, Al-Shamal Islamic Bank in the Sudan, was controlled directly by Osama bin Laden, according to a 1996 US State Department report." A regional expert states, "I think we underestimate bin Laden. He comes from the highest levels of Saudi society and he has supporters at all levels of Saudi Arabia." [Boston Herald, 10/14/01]
October 14, 2001 (B): Investigators of the anthrax attacks believe Iraq is the prime suspect. One CIA source says, "They aren't making this stuff in caves in Afghanistan. 'This is prima facie evidence of the involvement of a state intelligence agency. Maybe Iran has the capability. But it doesn't look likely politically. That leaves Iraq." [Observer, 10/14/01] However, this theory lasts only a few days. On October 20, the International Herald Tribune reports a new theory: "A disgruntled employee of a domestic laboratory that uses anthrax carried out the attacks." It also states investigators "have tentatively concluded that [the anthrax] is a domestic strain that bears no resemblance to strains that Russia and Iraq have turned into biological weapons." [International Herald Tribune, 10/20/01] However, in late 2002 with war against Iraq growing increasingly likely, the Iraq theory appears to make a comeback (see October 28, 2002).
October 15, 2001: Senator Daschle's office opens the letter mailed October 9, containing a lethal dose of anthrax. Senator Leahy's similar letter is misrouted to Virginia on October 12, and isn't discovered until November 17. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/8/01]
October 15, 2001 (B): The BBC says "Bush has pointed the finger at Osama bin Laden" for the anthrax attacks. Bush states, "There may be some possible link. We have no hard data yet, but it's clear that Mr. Bin Laden is an evil man." [BBC, 10/16/01]
October 15, 2001 (C): According to the Moscow Times, the Russian government sees the upcoming US conquest of Afghanistan as an attempt by the US to replace Russia as the dominant political force in Central Asia (see also June 2001 (D)), with the control of oil as a prominent motive: "While the bombardment of Afghanistan outwardly appears to hinge on issues of fundamentalism and American retribution, below the surface, lurks the prize of the energy-rich Caspian basin into which oil majors have invested billions of dollars. Ultimately, this war will set the boundaries of US and Russian influence in Central Asia - and determine the future of oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea." [Moscow Times, 10/15/01] The US later appears to gain military influence over Kazakhstan, the Central Asian country with the most resource wealth, and closest to the Russian heartland (see also December 19, 2001 and March 30, 2002).
October 16, 2001: "The Financial Services Authority - Britain's main financial regulator - has cleared bin Laden and his henchmen of insider trading. There has been a widespread suspicion that members of the al-Qaeda organization had cashed in on the US attacks, dumping airline, aerospace and insurance company shares before September 11th. The Authority says that after a thorough investigation it has found no hard evidence of any such deals in London." [Marketplace radio report, 10/17/01] On September 24, Belgium's Financial Minister claimed there were strong suspicions that British markets may have been used for 9/11-related inside trading (see Early September 2001 (L)). Similar investigations are apparently continuing over a year later in many other countries - how was Britain able to conclusively dispel the strong suspicions in only two weeks?
October 16, 2001 (B): The government releases flight control transcripts of three of the four hijacked planes (see the transcripts here: [New York Times, 9/16/01, New York Times, 9/16/01, New York Times, 9/16/01, New York Times, 9/16/01]). Strangely, Flight 93 is left out. Could it be to hide embarrassing details? For instance, are reports true that a hijacker was in the cockpit of Flight 93 before it even took off (see September 24, 2001 (B))? Yet even the three released transcripts are incomplete (for instance, Flight 77's ends at least 20 minutes before it crashes), and certain events that are part of the official story don't show up on these transcripts. What's the reason for secrecy?
October 16, 2001 (C): Two men, Moshe Elmakias and Ron Katar, are arrested after being found with a detailed video of the Sears Tower in Chicago. In addition, a woman named Ayelet Reisler is found with them, carrying conflicting identification information. They are arrested for illegal dumping, using a van with the name Moving Systems Incorporated. The video contains extensive zoom in shots of the Sears Tower; it is not known when the video was filmed. [Philadelphia Mercury, 10/18/01] Given the moving van cover (see September 11, 2001 (W) and [DEA report, 6/01]), and the Jewish names, it is likely these three are part of the Israeli spy ring. Could they have been videotaping the Sears Tower on 9/11 in the expectation that it would be hit by a plane? Had Flight 93 not been delayed 40 minutes on the runway and stayed on course, it would have been near Chicago at the same time as the other attacks, and it turned towards Washington 20 minutes after the FAA informed the military that the plane had been hijacked.
October 16-17, 2001: 28 congressional staffers test positive for anthrax. The Senate office buildings are shut down, followed by the House of Representatives. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/8/01]
October 18, 2001: Canada overrides Bayer's patent for Cipro and orders a million tablets of a generic version from another company. The US says it is not considering a similar move. Patent lawyers and politicians state that adjusting Bayer's patent to allow other companies to produce Cipro is perfectly legal and necessary. [New York Times, 10/19/01] The New York Times notes that the White House seems "so avidly to be siding with the rights of drug companies to make profits rather than with consumers worried about their access to the antibiotic Cipro," and points out huge recent contributions by Bayer to Republicans. [New York Times, 10/21/01]
October 18, 2001 (B): The Economist reports that the Taliban is dumping its stockpile of heroin into the market to pay for the war against the US. As a result, prices in Afghanistan have tumbled from $700 a kilo just before 9/11 to $100. This stockpile is worth about $1 billion in Pakistan, but between $40 billion and $80 billion on the streets of Europe. 70% of all the world's opium comes from Afghanistan. [Economist, 10/18/01]
October 19, 2001: US Special Forces begin ground attacks in Afghanistan. [MSNBC, 11/01] However, during the Afghanistan war, US ground soldiers are mainly employed as observers, liaisons, and spotters for air power to assist the Northern Alliance - not as direct combatants. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02]
October 20, 2001: The New York Times reports that, although 830 people have been arrested in the 9/11 terrorism investigation (a number that eventually reaches between 1,200 and 2,000 (see November 5, 2001 (B)), there is no evidence that anyone now in custody was a conspirator in the 9/11 attacks. Furthermore, "none of the nearly 100 people still being sought by the [FBI] is seen as a major suspect." Of all the people arrested, only four, Zacarias Moussaoui, Ayub Ali Khan, Mohammed Azmath, and Nabil al-Marabh, are likely connected to al-Qaeda. [New York Times, 10/21/01] Three of those are later cleared of ties to al-Qaeda. After being kept in solitary confinement for more than eight months without seeing a judge or being assigned a lawyer, al-Marabh pleads guilty to the minor charge of entering the United States illegally (see September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002). [CBC, 8/27/02, Washington Post, 6/12/02] On September 12, 2002, after a year in solitary confinement and four months before he was able to contact a lawyer, Mohammed Azmath pleads guilty to one count of credit card fraud, and is released with time served. Ayub Ali Khan, whose real name is apparently Syed Gul Mohammad Shah, is given a longer sentence for credit card fraud, but is released and deported by the end of 2002 (see September 11, 2001 (K)). [Village Voice, 9/25/02, New York Times, 12/31/02] By December 2002, only 6 are known to still be in custody, and none have been charged with any terrorist acts (see December 11, 2002 (D)). On September 24, 2001, Newsweek reported that "the FBI has privately estimated that more than 1,000 individuals - most of them foreign nationals - with suspected terrorist ties are currently living in the United States." [Newsweek, 9/24/01] With the exception of Moussaoui, who was arrested before 9/11, it appears not one person of the 1,200 arrested has been connected to al-Qaeda. What happened to the 1,000 or more terrorists?
October 21, 2001: The Bayer Corporation, holders of the US patent on the anthrax antibiotic Cipro, agrees with the US to reduce the price of Cipro in the US from $1.83 to 95 cents. Analysts say the price reduction will reduce Bayer's profit margin from 95% to 65%. This reduction applies only to sales to the US government, not sales to the public. [New York Times, 11/4/01] Bayer has allowed no other companies to produce or import Cipro into the US. Other countries with less stringent patent laws sell Cipro for 1/30th the US price, and have offered to import large quantities into the US. [New York Times, 10/21/01] Nevertheless, a class action suit by over one million Americans has been filed against Bayer and two other companies, alleging that Bayer has paid $200 million to two competitors to not make generic versions of Cipro. [Bayer lawsuit press release, 10/25/01] The profits from Cipro are considered a "lifesaver" for Bayer, which had been considering pulling out of pharmaceuticals altogether. [Guardian, 10/31/01]
October 23, 2001: The New York Times reports that health officials and experts believe numerous other drugs are as effective as Cipro in combating anthrax. "Several generic antibiotics, including doxycycline, a kind of tetracycline, and various penicillins, are also effective against the disease," and they all are in plentiful supply. [New York Times, 10/23/01] A 1997 Pentagon study of anthrax in rhesus monkeys showed the other drugs to be equally effective. But Cipro remains the only drug officially recommended by the FDA (see July 27, 2000). [New York Times, 10/21/01]
October 24, 2001: The House of Representatives passes the final version of the Patriot Act and other previously unpopular Bush projects: Alaska oil drilling, $25 billion in tax cuts for corporations, taps into Social Security funds and cuts in education. [CNN, 10/25/01] Republican Congressman Ron Paul states: "It's my understanding the bill wasn't printed before the vote - at least I couldn't get it. They played all kinds of games, kept the House in session all night, and it was a very complicated bill. Maybe a handful of staffers actually read it, but the bill definitely was not available to members before the vote." It is later found that only two copies of the bill were made available in the hours before its passage, and most House members admit they voted for the Act without actually reading it first. [Insight, 11/9/01] Two days later, the Senate passes the final version of the Patriot Act. Anthrax targets Senators Daschle and Leahy now support the bill. Bush signs it into law the same day (see October 26, 2001). [Fox News, 10/26/01] Were the anthrax attacks a deliberate plot to help pass the Patriot Act, and whip up public support?
October 25, 2001: Abdul Haq, a leader of the Afghani resistance to the Taliban, is killed. Four days earlier, he had secretly entered Afghanistan with a small force to try and raise rebellion (see also February 2001 (C) and Mid-August 2001 (B)), but was spotted by Taliban forces and surrounded. He called a supporter in the US, and then former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane called the CIA and asked for immediate assistance to help rescue Haq. A battle lasting up to twelve hours ensues. Haq's force is underarmed, since the CIA failed to provide him with weapons. [Sydney Morning Herald, 10/29/01] The CIA refuses to send in a helicopter to rescue him, saying the terrain is too rough. Haq's group claims they are next to a hilltop once used as a helicopter landing point. [Observer, 10/28/01, Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01 (B)] An unmanned surveillance aircraft eventually attacks a group of Taliban, but five hours after Haq has been captured. He is then executed by the Taliban. [Wall Street Journal, 11/2/01] Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA director of counter-terrorism, and others suggest that Haq's position was betrayed to the Taliban by the ISI. Haq was already an enemy of the ISI, who may have killed his family. [Village Voice, 10/26/01, USA Today, 10/31/01, Toronto Star, 11/5/01, Knight Ridder, 11/3/01] Haq "seemed the ideal candidate to lead an opposition alliance into Afghanistan to oust the ruling Taliban." [Observer, 10/28/01] Was Haq betrayed by the ISI and even the CIA because he was not pliable enough to be controlled?
October 26, 2001:
Bush signs the Patriot Act into law. Here are some of its provisions:
1) Non-citizens can be detained and deported if they provide "assistance" for lawful activities of any group the government chooses to call a terrorist organization. Under this provision the secretary of state can designate any group that has ever engaged in violent activity as a terrorist organization. Representative Patsy Mink notes that in theory supporters of Greenpeace could now be convicted for supporting terrorism. [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/12/01]
2) Immigrants can be detained indefinitely, even if they are found to not have any links to terrorism. They can be detained indefinitely for immigration violations or if the attorney general decides their activities pose a danger to national security. They never need to be given a trial or even a hearing on their status. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/0]
3) Internet service providers can be ordered to reveal the web sites and e-mail addresses that a suspect has communicated to or visited. The FBI need only inform a judge that the information is relevant to an investigation. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/02, Village Voice, 11/26/01]
4) It "lays the foundation for a domestic intelligence-gathering system of unprecedented scale and technological prowess." [Washington Post, 11/4/01] It allows the government to access confidential credit reports, school records, and other records, without consent or notification. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/02] All of this information can now be given to the CIA, in violation of the CIA's mandate prohibiting it from spying within the US. [Village Voice, 11/26/01]
5) Financial institutions are encouraged to disclose possible violations of law or "suspicious activities" by any client. The institution is prohibited from notifying the person involved that it made such a report. The term "suspicious" is not defined, so it is up to the financial institutions to determine when to send such a report.
6) Federal agents can easily obtain warrants to review a library patron's reading and computer habits (see also January 2002). [Village Voice, 2/22/02]
7) The government can refuse to reveal how evidence is collected against a suspected terrorist defendant. [Tampa Tribune, 4/6/03]
October 27, 2001: Suspected terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar (see March 1997) travels to Morocco. Not long after, perhaps in December, he is arrested by Moroccan police with US assistance. Though he is a German citizen and under investigation by Germany, German intelligence remain unaware of his arrest, and only learn about it from the newspapers in June 2002. He is sent to Syria, where there are formal charges against him. Supposedly, Zammar now claims he recruited Atta and others into the al-Qaeda Hamburg cell. [Washington Post, 6/19/02] It is widely suspected that the US arranged that Zammar be sent to Syria so he could be more thoroughly interrogated using torture. The Germans are angry that the US has been submitting questions for Zammar and learning answers from Syria, and haven't informed Germany of what they've learned. [Christian Science Monitor, 7/26/02, Telegraph, 6/20/02] Months after the story of Zammar's detention is made public, the Germans are still complaining that the US is not telling them much (see October 25, 2002).
October 27, 2001 (B): The US government no longer thinks bin Laden is behind the anthrax attacks: "Everything seems to lean toward a domestic source... Nothing seems to fit with an overseas terrorist type operation." The Washington Post suggests neo-Nazi groups are behind it. Not long after, the FBI releases a profile of the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks. He is suspected of being a lone, male domestic terrorist, with a scientific background and laboratory experience who could handle hazardous materials. [Washington Post, 10/27/01, St. Petersburg Times, 11/10/01] On the same day, the London Times claims that Atta was given a flask of anthrax by an Iraqi agent in April 2001, which then was used in the US anthrax attacks. [London Times, 10/27/01] However, US and Czech officials eventually conclude the meeting never even took place (see September 19, 2001-October 20, 2002).
October 27, 2001 (C): Furious government intelligence officials accuse the NSA of destroying data pertinent to the 9/11 investigation. They claim that possible leads aren't being followed because of the NSA lack of cooperation. [Boston Globe, 10/27/01]
October 31, 2001: The Justice Department issues a regulation that allows eavesdropping on attorney-client conversations in federal prisons wherever there is "reasonable suspicion ... to believe that a particular inmate may use communications with attorneys to further or facilitate acts of terrorism"; the regulation requires written notice to the inmate and attorney, "except in the case of prior court authorization." Officials no longer have to show probable cause or get a court order. The Los Angeles Times says the new policy is "sharply criticized by a broad array of lawyers and lawmakers." [Los Angeles Times, 11/10/01, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/12/01]
November 2001-February 5, 2002: A US grand jury secretly indicts Saeed Sheikh for his role in the 1994 kidnapping of an American (see June 1993-October 1994). The indictment is revealed in late February 2002. The US later claims it begins asking Pakistan for help in finding Saeed in late November. [AP, 2/26/02, Newsweek, 3/13/02] However, it is not until January 9, 2002 that Wendy Chamberlin, the US ambassador to Pakistan, officially asks the Pakistani government for help in arresting and extraditing Saeed. [AP, 2/24/02, CNN, 2/24/02, Los Angeles Times, 2/25/02] Saeed is seen partying with Pakistani government officials well into January 2002 (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001 and September 11, 2001-January 2002). The Los Angeles Times later notes that Saeed "move[s] about Pakistan without apparent impediments from authorities" up until February 5, when he is identified as a suspect in the Daniel Pearl kidnapping" (see February 5, 2002). [Los Angeles Times, 2/13/02] The London Times says, "It is inconceivable that the Pakistani authorities did not know where he was" before then. [London Times, 4/21/02] Why did the British become interested in Saeed shortly before 9/11 (see August-October 2001), and why was so little done to catch him afterward?
Early November 2001: It is later reported that many locals in Afghanistan witness a remarkable escape of al-Qaeda forces from Kabul around this time. One local businessman says: "We don't understand how they weren't all killed the night before because they came in a convoy of at least 1,000 cars and trucks. It was a very dark night, but it must have been easy for the American pilots to see the headlights. The main road was jammed from eight in the evening until three in the morning." This convoy was thought to have contained al-Qaeda's top officials. [London Times, 7/22/02] With all of the satellite imagery and intense focus on the Kabul area at the time, how could such a force have escaped the city unobserved by the US?
Early November 2001 (B): Starting in late October, US intelligence reports begin noting that al-Qaeda fighters and leaders are moving into and around the Afghanistan city of Jalalabad. By early November, bin Laden is there. Knight-Ridder newspapers report: "American intelligence analysts concluded that bin Laden and his retreating fighters were preparing to flee across the border. But the US Central Command, which was running the war, made no move to block their escape. 'It was obvious from at least early November that this area was to be the base for an exodus into Pakistan,' said one intelligence official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. 'All of this was known, and frankly we were amazed that nothing was done to prepare for it.'" The vast majority of leaders and fighters are eventually able to escape into Pakistan. [Knight-Ridder, 10/20/02]
November 1, 2001: Bush signs an Executive Order which limits public access to papers of all presidents since 1980. A 1978 law provided for the release of presidential papers 12 years after the president leaves office, so Reagan's papers would have been released next year. Reagan issued an order in 1989 that called for disclosure of most of his official papers 12 years after he left office but under the new executive order the papers can be kept secret even if the president in question wants them released. Bush Jr.'s father was Vice President during the Reagan administration. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/8/01] The Guardian notes that now Bush's "personal papers detailing the decision-making process in the current war on terrorism could remain secret in perpetuity." [Guardian, 11/2/01] In March 2001, Bush signed a temporary orders delaying the release of these papers for 90 days, and then signed for another 90 day delay before signing this order making the change permanent. [New York Times, 1/3/03]
November 5, 2001: The New Yorker points to evidence that the bin Laden family has generally not ostracized itself from bin Laden as is popularly believed (for instance, see [Newsweek, 10/15/01]), but retains close ties in some cases. The large bin Laden family owns and runs a $5 billion a year global corporation that includes the largest construction firm in the Islamic world. One counter-terrorism expert says, "There's obviously a lot of spin by the Saudi Binladin Group [the family corporation] to distinguish itself from Osama. I've been following the bin Ladens for years, and it's easy to say, 'We disown him.' Many in the family have. But blood is usually thicker than water." The article notes that neither the bin Laden family nor the Saudi royal family have publicly denounced bin Laden since 9/11. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
November 5, 2001 (B): The Justice Department announces that it has put 1,182 people into secret custody since 9/11. Most all of them are from the Middle East or South Asia. [New York Times, 8/3/02] After this it stops releasing new numbers, but human rights groups believe the total number could be as high as 2,000. [Independent, 2/26/02] Apparently this is roughly the peak for secret arrests, and eventually most are released, and none have been charged with any terrorist acts (see July 3, 2002 and December 11, 2002 (D)). Their names still have not been revealed (see August 2, 2002 (C)).
November 9, 2001: The Taliban abandon the strategic northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, allowing the Northern Alliance to take control. [AP, 8/19/02] The rest of Northern Afghanistan is abandoned by the Taliban in the next few days, except the city of Kunduz, to which most of the Taliban flee. Kunduz falls on November 25, but not before most of the thousands of fighters there are airlifted out (see Mid-November-November 25, 2001). [New Yorker, 1/21/02]
November 10, 2001: Telegraph reporter Christina Lamb is arrested and expelled from Pakistan by the ISI. She had been investigating the connections between the ISI and the Taliban. Reporter Daniel Pearl's investigations into the ISI (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002) will later result in his death (see January 31, 2002). [Telegraph, 11/11/01]
November 10, 2001 (B): In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Bush states: "We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th; malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists, themselves, away from the guilty." [White House, 11/1/01]
November 11, 2001: Saeed Sheikh is connected to Saudi charities that investigators believe secretly funnel millions of dollars to bin Laden's operatives. At this time, he is only known as Mustafa Ahmed, and incorrectly thought by some to be a Saudi. His name appeared shortly after 9/11 when Irish police raided the Dublin offices of the Islamic Relief Agency, a Saudi-backed charity previously linked to bin Laden's 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa. [Newsweek, 11/11/01]
November 12, 2001: The beginning of numerous mysterious
deaths of renowned microbiologists. A good place to start learning about this
is a Globe and Mail article, which calls these deaths a "tale only the
best conspiracy theorist could dream up" yet hard to explain [Globe
and Mail, 5/4/02] (The Memphis Flyer also provides a good overview, but
is much more speculative: [Memphis
Flyer, 3/7/02]). The first dead microbiologist is Dr. Benito Que, 52,
was "an expert in infectious diseases and cellular biology at the Miami
Medical School. Police originally suspected that he had been beaten on November
12 in a carjacking in the medical school's parking lot. Strangely enough, though,
his body showed no signs of a beating. Doctors then began to suspect a stroke."
and Mail, 5/4/02]
November 13, 2001: Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, falls to the Northern Alliance. The Taliban abandon the rest of the country over the next few weeks. [BBC, 11/13/01] As the New Yorker reports, "The initial American aim in Afghanistan had been not to eliminate the Taliban's presence there entirely but to undermine the regime and al-Qaeda while leaving intact so-called moderate Taliban elements that would play a role in a new postwar government. This would insure that Pakistan would not end up with a regime on its border dominated by the Northern Alliance." The surprisingly quick fall of Kabul ruins this plan. [New Yorker, 1/21/02]
November 13, 2001 (B): Bush issues an executive order authorizing the creation of military tribunals to try non-citizens alleged to be involved in international terrorism. The president will decide which defendants will be tried by military tribunals. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld will appoint each panel and set its rules and procedures, including the level of proof needed for a conviction. There is no provision for an appeal to US civil courts or international tribunals. Only the president or the secretary of defense has the authority to overturn a decision. [Washington Post, 11/14/01] Such military tribunals were in the Civil War and again in World War II. [CNN, 11/14/01] But experts say that while there is precedent, aspects of the order could be unconstitutional. [Los Angeles Times, 11/14/01] Additional procedural details are released in March 2002 that satisfy some critics, but others remain alarmed. [Los Angeles Times, 3/21/02, Village Voice, 3/25/02] The New York Times writes, "There is still no practical or legal justification for having the tribunals." The tribunals "still constitute a separate, inferior system of justice, shielded from independent judicial review." [New York Times, 3/22/02 (B)] A year after the order is issued, the Washington Post confirms that "the Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects - US citizens and non-citizens alike - may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system." [Washington Post, 12/1/02]
November 14, 2001: The Northern Alliance capture the Afghan city of Jalalabad. [Sydney Morning Herald, 11/14/01] That night, a convoy of 1,000 or more al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters escape from Jalalabad and reach the fortress of Tora Bora after hours of driving and then walking. Bin Laden is believed to be with them, riding in one of "several hundred cars" in the convoy. The US bombs the nearby Jalalabad airport, but apparently not the convoy. [Knight-Ridder, 10/20/02, Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02] As with an earlier convoy (see Early November 2001), how could the US not notice this target, especially given intense focus in the area at the time?
November 14-November 25, 2001: At the request of the Pakistani government, the US secretly allows rescue flights into the besieged Taliban stronghold of Kunduz, in Northern Afghanistan, to save Pakistanis fighting for the Taliban and bring them back to Pakistan. Pakistan's President "Musharraf won American support for the airlift by warning that the humiliation of losing hundreds - and perhaps thousands - of Pakistani Army men and intelligence operatives would jeopardize his political survival." [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Dozens of senior Pakistani military officers, including two generals, are flown out. [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] In addition, it is reported that the Pakistani government assists 50 trucks of foreign fighters to escape the town. [New York Times, 11/24/01] Many news articles at the time suggest an airlift is occurring (for instance, [Independent, 11/16/01, New York Times, 11/24/01, BBC, 11/26/01, Independent, 11/26/01, Guardian, 11/27/01, MSNBC, 11/29/01]), but a media controversy and wide coverage fails to develop. The US and Pakistani governments deny the existence of the airlift. [State Department, 11/16/01, New Yorker, 1/21/02] On December 2, when asked to assure that the US didn't allow such an airlift, Rumsfeld says, "Oh, you can be certain of that. We have not seen a single - to my knowledge, we have not seen a single airplane or helicopter go into Afghanistan in recent days or weeks and extract people and take them out of Afghanistan to any country, let alone Pakistan." [MSNBC, 12/2/01] Reporter Seymour Hersh believes that Rumsfeld must have given approval for the airlift. [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] But New Yorker magazine reports, "What was supposed to be a limited evacuation apparently slipped out of control and, as an unintended consequence, an unknown number of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters managed to join in the exodus." A CIA analyst says, "Many of the people they spirited away were in the Taliban leadership" who Pakistan wanted for future political negotiations. US intelligence was "supposed to have access to them, but it didn't happen," he says. According to Indian intelligence, airlifts grow particularly intense in the last three days before the city falls on November 25. Of the 8,000 remaining al-Qaeda, Pakistani, and Taliban, about 5,000 are airlifted out and 3,000 surrender. [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Hersh later claims that "maybe even some of Bin Laden's immediate family were flown out on the those evacuations." [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] Was the escape of al-Qaeda deliberate so the war against terrorism wouldn't end too soon?
November 15, 2001: For the first time, a major newspaper publishes an article strongly suggesting Flight 93 was shot down. The Philadelphia Daily News quotes numerous eyewitnesses who believe the plane was shot down. The FBI reported a half-ton piece of an engine was found "a considerable distance" from the main crash site. "That information is intriguing to shoot-down theory proponents, since the heat-seeking, air-to-air Sidewinder missiles aboard an F-16 would likely target one of the Boeing 757's two large engines." The article concludes, "No one has fully explained why the plane went down, or what exactly happened during an eight-minute gap from the time all cell phone calls from the plane stopped and the time it crashed." [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/01]
November 15, 2001 (B): Al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef is believed to have been killed in a US bombing raid on Afghanistan. Atef is considered al-Qaeda's military commander, and one of its top leaders. [State Department, 11/16/01, ABC News, 11/17/01] He is apparently the only top level al-Qaeda or Taliban leader killed or captured in the Afghan war.
Mid-November 2001: Ismail Khan, governor of Herat province and one of Afghanistan's most successful militia leaders, later claims that his troops and other Northern Alliance fighters held back at the request of the US from sweeping into Kandahar at this time. The reasoning was that the US didn't want the non-Pashtun Northern Alliance to conquer Pashtun areas. But Khan maintains "we could have captured all the Taliban and the al-Qaeda groups. We could have arrested Osama bin Laden with all of his supporters." [USA Today, 1/2/02] British newspapers at the time report bin Laden is surrounded in a 30-mile area, but the conquest of Kandahar takes weeks without the Northern Alliance and bin Laden slips away. [CNN, 11/18/01] Did the US not want the Northern Alliance to conquer this area in the hopes that a moderate version of the Taliban could remain in power (see November 13, 2001)?
November 16, 2001: Dead microbiologist: Dr. Don Wiley, 57, disappears during a business trip to Memphis, Tennessee. [Fox News, 11/24/01] He had just bought tickets to take his son to Graceland the following day. Police found his rental car on a bridge outside Memphis. His body was later found in the Mississippi River. Forensic experts said he may have had a dizzy spell and fallen off the bridge. Police will only say, "We began this investigation as a missing person investigation. From there it went to a more criminal bent." [CNN, 11/29/01] "Wiley is seen as one of the world's leading researchers of deadly viruses, including HIV and the Ebola virus." [CNN, 12/22/01] Wiley worked at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard University, and was an expert on the immune system's response to viral attacks. He was widely regarded as the nation's foremost expert in using special X-ray cameras and mathematical formulas to make high-resolution images of viruses. [Boston Globe, 12/21/01] The FBI is monitoring the investigation because of his research knowledge. [Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
November 16, 2001 (B): According to Newsweek, approximately 600 al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters escape Afghanistan on this day. Many senior leaders are in the group. They had walked a long trek from bombing in the Tora Bora region. There are two main routes out of the Tora Bora cave complex to Pakistan. The US bombed only one route, so the 600 escaped unattacked using the other route. Hundreds continue to use the escape route for weeks, generally unbothered by US bombing or Pakistani border guards (see Early December 2001). US officials later privately admit they lost a golden opportunity to close a trap. [Newsweek, 8/11/02] On the same day, the media reports that the US is studying routes bin Laden might use to escape Tora Bora [Los Angeles Times, 11/16/01], but the one escape route isn't closed, and apparently bin Laden and others escape into Pakistan using this route weeks later (see Early December 2001). High-ranking British officers will later privately complain that "American commanders had vetoed a proposal to guard the high-altitude trails, arguing that the risks of a firefight, in deep snow, gusting winds and low-slung clouds, were too high." [New York Times, 9/30/02]
November 18, 2001: Hijacker Ziad Jarrah wrote
a letter to his girlfriend shortly before 9/11, but made a mistake in the address,
allowing investigators to find it around this time. He writes, "I did what
I had to do, and you should be very proud of that... It is a great honor and
you will see the result, and everyone will be celebrating." [Observer,
11/18/01] Jarrah's relatives claim the letter is a fake designed to frame
him, and that he wouldn't have mistaken the address of the woman he'd been dating
for five years. [BBC,
11/19/01] At some point, part of Jarrah's passport was found in the wreckage
of Flight 93. [CNN,
8/1/02] This image of the burnt passport has been released, which you can
see here. However, it bears only
a vague resemblance to other pictures of
Jarrah. Could someone who looked vaguely like him have stolen his identity
(for other stolen identities, see September
November 20, 2001: The five Israelis arrested on 9/11 for videotaping the WTC attack and then cheering about it (see September 11, 2001 (W)) are released and return to Israel. Some of the men's names appeared in a US national intelligence database, and the FBI concluded that at least two of the men were working for the Mossad, according to ABC News. But the FBI says that none of them had any advanced knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, and they were released as part of a deal between the US and the Israel government. After their release they claim to have been tortured. [Forward, 3/15/02, ABC News, 6/21/02]
November 21, 2001: The Independent runs a story with the title: "Opium Farmers Rejoice at the Defeat of the Taliban." Massive opium planting is underway all across Afghanistan. [Independent, 11/21/01] Four days later, the Observer runs a story headlined, "Victorious Warlords Set To Open the Opium Floodgates." It states that farmers are being encouraged by warlords allied with the US to plant "as much opium as possible." [Observer, 11/25/01] FTW
November 21, 2001 (B): Dead microbiologist: World-class microbiologist and high-profile Russian defector Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, 64, dies of a stroke. Pasechnik, who defected to Britain in 1989, had played a huge role in the development of Russian biowarfare, heading a lab of 400 "with an unlimited budget" and "the best staff available." He says he succeeded in producing an aerosolized plague microbe that could survive outside the laboratory. He was connected to Britain's spy agency and recently had started his own company. "In the last few weeks of his life he had put his research on anthrax at the disposal of the [British] Government, in the light of the threat from bioterrorism." [London Times, 11/30/01, New York Times, 11/23/01, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
November 21, 2001 (C): The remains of all but one of the people on board Flight 77, including the hijackers, are identified. But the identities of the hijackers have still not been confirmed through their remains. [Washington Post, 11/21/01, Mercury, 1/11/02] Over a year later, the FBI still has not given DNA profiles to medical examiners so the hijacker remains can be identified (see Late February 2003). Strangely, the official story states there was a giant fireball on impact that not only destroyed the airplane but actually vaporized the metal. A rescue worker states: "The only way you could tell that an aircraft was inside was that we saw pieces of the nose gear. The devastation was horrific." [NFPA Journal, 11/1/01] Yet remains of every passenger but one was found?
November 21, 2001 (D):
Bush states, "Afghanistan is just the beginning on the war against terror.
There are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends, and there are
other nations willing to sponsor them. We will not be secure as a nation until
all of these threats are defeated. Across the world and across the years, we
will fight these evil ones, and we will win." [White
House, 11/21/01] A short time later, it is reported that "the US has
honed a hit list of countries to target for military action in rogue regions
across the globe where it believes terror cells flourish," including Iraq.
November 23, 2001: The Boston Globe writes a story that strongly suggests at least one hijacker was inside the cockpits on every flight before the 9/11 hijackings began. An airplane captain theorizes how they took control: ''The most likely scenarios are something that was swift, where the pilots couldn't have changed their transponder code and called the controllers. You think four times in one morning one of those crews would have done that. That means they had to be upon them before they could react.'' On practice flights before 9/11, the hijackers were able to repeatedly get into cockpits by various methods. Perhaps the most important method was jumpseating, which allows certified airline pilots to use a spare seat in the cockpit when none is available in the passenger cabin. Airlines reciprocate to help pilots get home or to the city of their originating flight. Officials say they do not believe any of the hijackers were jumpseating on 9/11 despite media reports to the contrary (see September 24, 2001 (B)). However, since 9/11 the FAA has banned the practice unless a pilot works for the airline in whose cockpit that person wants to ride. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Could jumpseating be ignored by investigators to save the airlines from losing large lawsuits?
November 23, 2001 (B): The Washington Post reports, "At least 60 young Israeli Jews have been arrested and detained around the country on immigration charges since the Sept. 11 attacks, many of them held on US government officials' invocation of national security." An INS official who requested anonymity says the use of the term "special interest" for Israelis being held in Cleveland, St. Louis and other places means the case in question is "related to the investigation of September 11th." [Washington Post, 11/23/01] Could this be more "art school" spy ring activity?
November 24, 2001: Three more dead microbiologists: A Swissair flight from Berlin to Zurich crashes during its landing approach; 22 are killed and nine survive. Among those killed are Dr. Yaakov Matzner, 54, dean of the Hebrew University school of medicine; Amiramp Eldor, 59, head of the haematology department at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and a world-recognized expert in blood clotting; and Avishai Berkman, 50, director of the Tel Aviv public health department and businessman. [CNN, 11/25/01, Swissair manifest, 11/24/01]
November 25, 2001: US troops land near the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, Afghanistan. [AP, 8/19/02] Apparently, as the noose tightens around Kandahar, new Afghanistan head Hamid Karzai makes a deal with the Taliban, giving them a general amnesty in return for surrender of the city. Taliban's leader Mullah Omar is allowed to escape "with dignity" as part of the deal. But the US says it won't abide by the deal and Karzai then says he won't let Omar go free after all. Taliban forces begin surrendering on December 7. [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/8/01] But Omar does escape.
November 25, 2001 (B): It is believed bin Laden makes a speech before a crowd of about 1,000 followers in the village of Milawa, Afghanistan. This village is on the route from Tora Bora to the Pakistani border, about eight to 10 hours by walking. In his last known public appearance, bin Laden encourages the followers to leave Afghanistan, so they could regroup and fight again. [Knight-Ridder, 10/20/02] It is believed he leaves the country a few days later (see Early December 2001). [Telegraph, 2/23/02]
November 28, 2001: A US Special Forces soldier stationed in Fayetteville, North Carolina later (anonymously) claims that the US has bin Laden pinned in a certain Tora Bora cave on this day, but fails to act. Special Forces soldiers sit by waiting for orders and watch two helicopters fly into the area where bin Laden was believed to be, load up passengers, and fly toward Pakistan. No other soldiers have come forward to corroborate the story, but bin Laden is widely believed to have been in the Tora Bora area at the time. [Fayetteville Observer, 8/2/02] Newsweek separately reports that many locals "claim that mysterious black helicopters swept in, flying low over the mountains at night, and scooped up al-Qaeda's top leaders." [Newsweek, 8/11/02] More incompetence, or a pattern of letting bin Laden escape? Perhaps just coincidentally, on the same day this story is reported, the media also reports a recent spate of strange deaths at the same military base in Fayetteville. Five soldiers and their wives have all died since June 2002 in apparent murder-suicides. At least three were Special Forces soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan. [Independent, 8/2/02] Could it be these soldiers knew too much about escapes and/or human rights atrocities?
November 28, 2001: The Financial Times estimates that the bin Laden family's business, the Saudi Binladin Group, is worth about $36 billion. Osama bin Laden inherited about $300 million at the age of 10 on the death of his father, but he may be worth much more today. While he spends large amounts each month supporting terror, he gets large amounts from rich Saudis every month to make up for the losses. [Financial Times, 11/28/01]
November 30, 2001: A report suggests that the strain of anthrax used in the attacks likely originated from USAMRIID and was shared with only a small number of other labs. USAMRIID gave it to Battelle Memorial Institute, in Columbus, Ohio; the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, in Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Defense Research Establishment Suffield, in Canada; the US Army Dugway Proving Ground, in Utah; and the Chemical Defense Establishment at Porton Down, Britain. These in turn sent it to seven more labs, for a total of a dozen. But only five labs total received the virulent form, and some of these may have received strains that were too old (it is known the anthrax used was two years old or less [New York Times, 6/23/02]). [Washington Post, 11/30/01]
Late November, 2001: Ironically, it appears that even as the US is allowing some Taliban to secretly fly out of Afghanistan (see November 14-25, 2001) it is allowing a brutal massacre of others. The Sunday Herald says, "It seems established, almost beyond doubt, that US soldiers oversaw and took part in horrific crimes against humanity," which resulted in the death of thousands of Taliban supporters who surrendered after Kunduz fell to the Northern Alliance. The documentary Massacre at Mazar exposes this news widely in Europe, but the massacre remains virtually unreported in the US. [Sunday Herald, 7/16/02]
2001: James Hauswirth, a retired Phoenix, Arizona FBI agent, writes a letter
to FBI Director Mueller, criticizing the priorities at the Phoenix FBI office.
"[Counter-terrorism] has always been the lowest priority
in the division; it still is the lowest priority in the division," even
though Arizona had been one of the first hubs for radical Muslim groups in the
US. The Phoenix FBI began investigating Muslim terrorists in 1994. A
number of the 9/11 hijackers lived or pass through Arizona, starting with Hani
Hanjour in 1990 (see 1990).
Hauswirth particularly criticizes that "[Ken] Williams,
regarded as the best terrorism agent in the office, had to interrupt his pre-Sept.
11 investigation of Middle Eastern flight students in order to spend six months
on a high-profile arson case. ... 'He fought it. ... Why take your best terrorism
investigator and put him on an arson case? He didn't have a choice.'" Williams
briefly began investigating Middle Eastern students at an Arizona flight school
in early 2000, but a series of difficulties including the arson case, prevented
him from continuing on that case until June 2001. A month later he wrote
a now-famous memo suggesting that terrorists might be training at US flight
schools (see July 10, 2001).
York Times, 6/19/02, Los Angeles Times,
Early December 2001: The Telegraph later reports on the battle for Tora Bora around this time: "In retrospect, and with the benefit of dozens of accounts from the participants, the battle for Tora Bora looks more like a grand charade." Eyewitnesses express shock that the US pinned in Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, thought to contain many high leaders, on three sides only, leaving the route to Pakistan open. An intelligence chief in Afghanistan's new government says: "The border with Pakistan was the key, but no one paid any attention to it. And there were plenty of landing areas for helicopters had the Americans acted decisively. Al-Qaeda escaped right out from under their feet." [Telegraph, 2/23/02] It is believed up to 2,000 were in the area when the battle began. The vast majority successfully flee, and only 21 al-Qaeda fighters are captured in the end. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02] The US relies on local forces "whose loyalty and enthusiasm were suspect from the start" to do most of the fighting. [Knight-Ridder, 10/20/02] Some of the local commanders drafted to help the US had ties to bin Laden going back to the 1980s. [New York Times, 9/30/02] These forces actually help al-Qaeda escape. An Afghan intelligence officer says he is astounded that Pentagon planners didn't consider the most obvious exit routes and put down light US infantry to block them. It is later widely believed that bin Laden escapes along one of these routes on November 30 or December 1, walking out with about four loyal followers. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02, Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02] Al-Qaeda's number two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, also escapes the area. [Knight-Ridder, 10/20/02] Is this part of a pattern of incompetence, or did the US want bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda leaders to escape?
Early December 2001 (B): Bush officials go to Saudi Arabia in a second attempt to get the Saudi government to cooperate with the 9/11 investigation. They have balked at freezing assets of organizations linked to bin Laden. Shortly thereafter, the Boston Herald runs a series of articles on the Saudis. Says an expert, "If there weren't all these other arrangements - arms deals and oil deals and consultancies - I don't think the US would stand for this lack of cooperation." Another expert states, "It's good old fashioned 'I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine.' You have former US officials, former presidents, aides to the current president, a long line of people who are tight with the Saudis... We are willing to basically ignore inconvenient truths that might otherwise cause our blood to boil." These deals are worth an incredible amount of money: one Washington Post reporter claims that US companies spent $200 billion on Saudi Arabia's defenses alone, and that was before 1993. [Boston Herald, 12/10/01, Boston Herald, 12/11/01, Frontline, 2/16/93] The Boston Herald notes that Saudi businessmen Khalid bin Mahfouz (see for instance 1988 and April 1999) and Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi (see November 22, 2002 (B)) have not had their accounts frozen (and they still have not, until present day, for instance [Scotsman, 8/12/02]) despite evidence that they gave money to bin Laden. They continue to do business with many US companies, and "continue to profit from their working relationship with America's own oil elite." [Boston Herald, 12/10/01]
Early December 2001 (C): Al-Qaeda leader Abu Qatada disappears, despite being under surveillance in Britain. He has been "described by some justice officials as the spiritual leader and possible puppet master of al-Qaeda's European networks." [Time, 7/7/02] Qatada had already been sentenced to death in abstentia in Jordan, and is wanted at the time by the US, Spain, France, and Algeria as well. [Guardian, 2/14/02] In October 2001, it was strongly suggested in the media that Qatada would soon be arrested for his known roles in al-Qaeda plots, but he was not. [London Times, 10/21/01] In November, while Qatada was still living openly in Britain, a Spanish judge expressed disbelief that Qatada hadn't been arrested already. Qatada has been connected to a Spanish al-Qaeda cell that may have met with Atta (see July 8-19, 2001). [Observer, 11/25/01] Time magazine will later claim that just before new anti-terrorism laws go into effect in Britain, Abu Qatada and his family are secretly moved to a safe house by the British government, where he is lodged, fed, and clothed by the government. "The deal is that Abu Qatada is deprived of contact with extremists in London and Europe but can't be arrested or expelled because no one officially knows where he is," says a source, whose claims were corroborated by French authorities. The British are doing this to avoid a "hot potato" trial. [Time, 7/7/02] A British official says, "We wouldn't give an awful lot of credence [to the story]." [Guardian, 7/8/02] Some French officials tell the press that Qatada was allowed to disappear because he is actually a British intelligence agent. [Observer, 2/24/02] Qatada is later arrested on October 23, 2002, in London. [London Times, 10/25/02] Was he on the run until his arrest or did the British secretly hold him until they were ready for a trial?
December 2, 2001: Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy - the biggest bankruptcy ever (that is, until WorldCom some months later). [BBC, 1/10/02] However, Enron reorganizes as a pipeline company, and it may yet complete its controversial Dabhol power plant (see October 18, 2002). [Houston Business Journal, 3/15/02]
December 4, 2001: Convicted drug lord and opium kingpin Ayub Afridi is released from prison and recruited by the US government to help establish control in Afghanistan by unifying various Pashtun warlords. The former opium smuggler was one of the CIA's leading assets in the Afghan war against the Russians. [Asia Times, 12/4/01] FTW
December 4, 2001 (B): Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the largest Islamic charity in the US, has its assets frozen by the Treasury Department (see September 5-8, 2001). [CNN, 12/4/01, Jerusalem Post, 12/5/01] Foundation offices in San Diego, California; Paterson, New Jersey; and Bridgeview, Illinois are also raided. [CNN, 12/4/01] Holy Land is represented by the powerful law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. Three partners at Akin, Gump are very close to President Bush: George R. Salem chaired Bush's 2000 campaign outreach to Arab-Americans; Barnett A. "Sandy" Kress was appointed by Bush as an "unpaid consultant" on education reform (he has an office in the White House); and James C. Langdon is one of Bush's closest Texas friends. The firm has also represented Khalid bin Mahfouz (see 1988 and April 1999) and his business partner Mohammed Hussain Al-Amoudi (see November 26, 2002). [Boston Herald, 12/11/01, Washington Post, 12/17/01]
December 6, 2001: In the wake of 9/11, Attorney General Ashcroft has prevented the FBI from investigating gun-purchase records to discover if any of the hundreds arrested or suspected had bought any guns. The White House supports him, saying they have no intention of changing the law to clarify the FBI's ability to search gun-purchase records. [CNN, 12/6/01, Guardian, 5/21/02] What about reports that a gun was possibly used on Flight 11 (see September 11, 2001 (X)) or Flight 93 (see March 27, 2002)?
December 6, 2001 (B): Speaking before a Senate committee, Attorney General Ashcroft says, "To those who pit Americans against immigrants, citizens against non-citizens, to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil." [CNN, 12/7/01]
December 7, 2001: Indian gangster Asif Raza Khan, terrorist associate of Saeed Sheikh and Aftab Ansari (see November 1994-December 1999), is shot dead by Indian police. Police claim he was trying to escape. [Los Angeles Times, 1/23/02] A month or two before he dies, Indian investigators record a confession of his involvement in a plot with Ansari and Saeed to send kidnapping profits to hijacker Mohamed Atta (Early August 2001 (D)). This information becomes public just before Saeed is suspected for kidnapping reporter Daniel Pearl (see January 23, 2002 and February 5, 2002). [Independent, 2/24/02, India Today, 2/25/02] Many in Ansari's Indian criminal network are arrested in October and November 2001, and confirm the money connection to Atta. [India Today, 2/14/02]
December 8, 2001: During a visit to Kazakhstan in Central Asia, Secretary of State Powell states that US oil companies are likely to invest $200 billion in Kazakhstan alone in the next five to 10 years. [New York Times, 12/15/01]
December 10, 2001: Dead microbiologist: "Dr. Robert Schwartz, 57, was stabbed and slashed with what police believe was a sword in his farmhouse in Leesberg, Va. His daughter, who identifies herself as a pagan high priestess, and three of her fellow pagans have been charged." [Globe and Mail, 5/4/02] All were part of what they called a coven, and interested in magic, fantasy and self-mutilation. The police have no motive as to why they would have wanted to kill Schwartz, who was a single parent and said to be very close to his children. Schwartz worked at Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology on DNA sequencing and pathogenic microorganisms. He was "a brilliant scientist who had a gift for explaining complex scientific subjects in simple language." [Washington Post, 12/12/01]
December 11, 2001: Zacarias Moussaoui is criminally indicted for his role in the 9/11 attacks. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death. [MSNBC, 12/11/01, AP, 12/12/01] Moussaoui has admitted to being a member of al-Qaeda, but while he has been involved in terrorist activity, many have expressed doubts that he had any involvement in the 9/11 plot (see September 5, 2002 and September 30, 2002).
December 12-15, 2001: Fox News broadcasts a remarkable series about the Israeli "art student" spy ring. The report mentions that at least 60 more Israelis have been detained or arrested since 9/11. "There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it." When a government source is asked if the Israeli spies knew about the 9/11 attacks before they happened, he responds "The principal question is 'how could they have not known?'" "Investigators within the DEA, INS and FBI have all told Fox News that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying ... is considered career suicide." A highly placed investigator says there are 'tie-ins' between the spy ring and 9/11. But when asked for details, he flatly refuses to describe them, saying, 'evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It's classified information.'" The report also reveals that Amdocs, an Israeli company, is recording virtually every phone call in the US and could be passing information on to the Israeli government (similar claims were first raised in 2000 [Insight, 5/29/00]). Fox News suggests they might be using this position to impede the 9/11 investigation. [Fox News, 12/12/01]
December 13, 2001: The US Army responds to a journalistic investigation and confirms that it has been making weapons grade anthrax in recent years, in violation of an international treaty. The US offensive biological weapons program was supposedly closed in 1969 when the US signed a biological weapons treaty. In 1998 scientists at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah turned small quantities of wet anthrax into powder. This weaponized anthrax appears to be very similar or identical to the anthrax used in the recent attacks. [Baltimore Sun, 12/13/01, New York Times, 12/13/01]
December 13, 2001 (B): The US releases a video of bin Laden that seems to confirm his role in the 9/11 attack. [Guardian, 12/13/01] However, a number of strange facts about this video soon emerge. For one, all previous videos had been made with the consent of bin Laden, and usually released to the Arabic TV channel Al Jazeera. This video was supposedly recorded without his knowledge, found in a house in Afghanistan, and then passed to the CIA by an unknown person or group. Experts point out that it would be possible to fake such a video. So many people doubt the video's authenticity that Bush soon makes a statement, saying it was "preposterous for anybody to think this tape was doctored. Those who contend it's a farce or a fake are hoping for the best about an evil man." Some observers point out that bin Laden is wearing a ring on his right hand. In previous films, he had worn no jewelry apart from a watch. [Guardian, 12/15/01] The German television show Monitor does an independent translation that questions the translation given by the Pentagon. Says Professor Gernot Rotter, scholar of Islamic and Arabic Studies at the University of Hamburg, "This tape is of such poor quality that many passages are unintelligible. And those that are intelligible have often been taken out of context, so that you can't use that as evidence. The American translators who listened to the tape and transcribed it obviously added things that they wanted to hear in many places." [Monitor, 12/20/01] But perhaps the best reason to think the video is not of bin Laden is to look at the video. The person in the video just plain doesn't look like him, especially in the nose. See the comparison on the right. Here also are comparisons of videos from before, during, and after: Al Jazeera, 10/01, Al Jazeera, 10/11/01, Dawn interview, 11/8/01, controversial video, late 11/01, Al Jazeera, 12/27/01. One answer may be that the video was of one of bin Laden's doubles. There are reports that he had from four to ten look-alike doubles at the time. [AFP, 10/7/01, London Times, 11/19/01]
December 13, 2001 (C): The Indian Parliament building in New Delhi is attacked by terrorists. Fourteen people, including the five attackers, are killed. India blames the Pakistani terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad for the attacks. Twelve days later, Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Jaish-e-Mohammad, is arrested by Pakistan and his group is banned. He is freed one year later (see December 14, 2002). [AFP, 12/25/01, Christian Science Monitor, 12/16/02] The Parliament attack leads to talk of war, even nuclear war, between Pakistan and India, until President Musharraf cracks down on terrorist groups in early January (see January 12, 2002). [Telegraph, 12/28/01, Wall Street Journal, 1/3/02, Guardian, 5/25/02] It appears that Saeed Sheikh and Aftab Ansari, working with the ISI, are also behind the attacks. [Vanity Fair, 8/02, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02]
December 14, 2001: Dead microbiologist: Nguyen Van Set, 44, dies in an airlock filled with nitrogen in his lab in Geelong, Australia. The lab had just been written up in the journal Nature for its work in genetic manipulation and DNA sequencing. Scientists there had created a virulent form of mousepox. "They realized that if similar genetic manipulation was carried out on smallpox, an unstoppable killer could be unleashed," according to Nature. [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/12/01, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
December 16, 2001: Fox News removes its series on the "art student" spy ring (see December 12-15, 2001) from its website after only two days, in response to pressure from the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and others (see for instance, [CAMERA, 12/12/01, CAMERA, 12/13/01]). CAMERA for instance, suggests the reporter "has something, personally, about Israel... Maybe he's very sympathetic to the Arab side." [Salon, 5/7/02] The head of the ADL calls the report "sinister dangerous innuendo which fuels anti-Semitism." [Forward, 12/21/01] Yet there doesn't appear to be any substance to these personal attacks (and Forward later reverses its stance on the spy ring [Forward, 3/15/02]). Fox News also never makes a formal repudiation or correction about the series. The contents of the series continues to be mostly ignored by the mainstream media, but it makes a big impact inside the US government. For instance, an internal DEA communiqué from December 18 mentions the Fox report by name, and warns of security breaches in telecommunications as described in the Fox report. [Salon, 5/7/02]
December 17, 2001: Northern Alliance forces declare that the battle of Tora Bora, with a ground assault begun on December 5, has been won. However, in retrospect, the battle is considered a failure because most of the enemy escapes (see Early December 2001). The Afghan war ends with the elimination of the last major pocket of Taliban/al-Qaeda resistance. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02]
December 19, 2001: Speaking
in Kazakhstan, US Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones states: "We
will not leave Central Asia after resolving the conflict [in Afghanistan]. We
want to support the Central Asian countries in their desire to reform their
societies as they supported us in the war against terrorism. These are not only
new but long-term relations" (see also January
2002 (D) and April
30, 2002). [BBC, 12/19/01] This
important change in official US policy is not actually reported in the US itself.
December 21, 2001: The FBI reveals that it knows what's on the Flight 93 black boxes (see September 13-14, 2001), but they won't release the transcript or audio recording. Families of the victims had requested to hear the cockpit voice recording, but the FBI says, "we do not believe that the horror captured on the cockpit voice recording will console them in any way." [CNN, 12/21/01] Accuracy in Media immediately submits a Freedom of Information Act request to have the transcript released, but the FBI turns it down because a release "could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings." The Philadelphia Daily News asks, "What enforcement proceedings?" and suggests the FBI may be covering up a shoot down of the plane. [Philadelphia Daily News, 12/28/01]
December 21, 2001 (B): The FBI is now investigating "whether potential profit from the sale of anthrax medications or cleanup efforts may have motivated" the anthrax attacks. Battelle, a company doing anthrax work for the CIA, is the one company most discussed in the article and is strongly featured in another. [Washington Post, 12/21/01, ABC, 12/20/01] The same day, the FBI says it is not investigating a former Battelle scientist in relation to an anthrax scare, contrary to national broadcast news reports. A US Senator further claims FBI Director Mueller told him "no one with or formerly with Battelle is a suspect." [Columbus Dispatch, 12/21/01] Is Bayer also under investigation (see October 21, 2001)?
December 22, 2001: Afghani Prime Minister Hamid Karzai and his transitional government takes power in Afghanistan. It was revealed a few weeks before that he had been a paid consultant for Unocal, as well as Deputy Foreign Minister for the Taliban. [Le Monde, 12/13/01, CNN, 12/22/01] FTW
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).
December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl writes stories about the ISI that will lead to his kidnapping (see January 23, 2002). On December 24, 2001, he reports about ties between the ISI and a Pakistani organization that was working on giving bin Laden nuclear secrets before 9/11. A few days later, he reports that the ISI supported terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad (see December 24-31, 1999) still has its office running and bank accounts working, even though President Musharraf claims to have banned the group. "If [Pearl] hadn't been on the ISI's radarscope before, he was now." [Vanity Fair, 8/02, Guardian, 7/16/02] He begins investigating links between shoe bomber Richard Reid and Pakistani militants (see December 22, 2001 (B)), and comes across connections to the ISI and a mysterious religious group called Al-Fuqra (see January 6, 2002). [Washington Post, 2/23/02] He also may be looking into the US training and backing of the ISI. [Gulf News, 3/25/02] He's writing another story on Dawood Ibrahim, a powerful terrorist and gangster protected by the ISI, and other Pakistani organized crime figures. [Newsweek, 2/4/02, Vanity Fair, 8/02] Former CIA agent Robert Baer (see December 1997 and August 2001 (G)) later claims to be working with Pearl on investigating 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (see December 1997). [UPI, 9/30/02] It is later suggested that Mohammed masterminds both Reid's shoe bomb attempt and the Pearl kidnapping (see January 22, 2003), and has connections to Pakistani gangsters and the ISI, so some of these explanations could fit together. [UPI, 9/30/02, Asia Times, 10/30/02, CNN, 1/30/03] Kidnapper Saeed will later say of Pearl, "because of his hyperactivity he caught our interest." [The News, 2/15/02]
December 24, 2001: The Guardian reports many in Afghanistan intelligence say former top Taliban officials are living openly in villas in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At least four top leaders who had been caught have been simply released. One intelligence source claims to know the exact location of many, and says they could be rounded up within hours. A former Taliban minister now working with the Northern Alliance also claims, "Some are living in luxury in fine houses, they are not hiding in holes. They could be in jail by tonight if the political will existed." The US claims it is working hard to find and catch these leaders. [Guardian, 12/24/01] Yet even a year later no more leaders have been caught in Afghanistan.
December 25, 2001: The New York Times reports that "some of the nation's leading structural engineers and fire-safety experts" believe the investigation into the collapse of the WTC is "inadequate", and "are calling for a new, independent and better-financed inquiry that could produce the kinds of conclusions vital for skyscrapers and future buildings nationwide." Experts critical of the investigation include "some of those people who are actually conducting it." They point out that the current team of 20 or so investigators has no subpoena power, inadequate financial support, little staff support, has been prevented from interviewing witnesses and frequently prevented from examining the disaster site, and has even been unable to obtain basic information like detailed blueprints of the buildings that collapsed. The decision to rapidly recycle the steel columns, beams and trusses from the WTC in the days immediately after 9/11 means definitive answers may never be known. [New York Times, 12/25/01] (Incredibly, some of the steel is being reforged into commemorative medallions selling for $30 apiece) [AP, 1/30/02]
December 30, 2001: The new Afghan Interior Minister Younis Qanooni claims that the ISI helped bin Laden escape from Afghanistan: "Undoubtedly they (ISI) knew what was going on." He claims that the ISI is still supporting bin Laden even if Pakistani president Musharraf isn't. [BBC, 12/30/01]