THE COMPLETE 9/11 TIMELINE, PART 1: 1979 - Dec. 2000
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 *
December 26, 1979: Soviet
forces invade Afghanistan. They will withdraw in 1989 after a brutal 10-year
war. It has been commonly believed that the invasion was unprovoked. But
in a 1998 interview, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security
Adviser, reveals that the CIA began destabilizing the pro-Soviet Afghan government
six months earlier, in a deliberate attempt to get the Soviets to invade and
have their own Vietnam-type costly war: "What is most important to the
history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some
stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold
war?" [Le Nouvel Observateur,
1/29/02] The US and Saudi Arabia give a huge amount of money (estimates
range up to $40 billion total for the war) to support the mujaheddin guerrilla
fighters opposing the Russians.
Most of the money is managed by the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency. [Nation,
Early 1980: Osama bin Laden begins providing financial, organizational, and engineering aid for the mujaheddin in Afghanistan, with the advice and support of the Saudi royal family. [New Yorker, 11/5/01] Some believe he was hand-picked for the job by Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabia's secret service. [Sunday Times, 8/25/02] Bin Laden has been considered a Turki protégé by some biographers. [New Yorker, 11/5/01] The Pakistani ISI wanted a Saudi prince as a public demonstration of the commitment of the Saudi royal family and as a way to ensure royal funds for the anti-Soviet forces. The agency failed to get royalty, but bin Laden, with his family's influential ties, was good enough for the ISI. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01]
October 1980: Salem bin Laden, Osama's oldest brother, is later described by a French secret intelligence report as one of the two closest friends of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd. As such, he often performs important missions for Saudi Arabia. The French report speculates that he is involved in secret Paris meetings between US and Iranian emissaries this month. Frontline, which published the French report, notes that such meetings have never been confirmed. Rumors of these meetings have been called the "October Surprise" and some have speculated Bush Sr. negotiated in these meetings a delay to the release of the US hostages in Iran, thus helping Ronald Reagan and Bush win the 1980 Presidential election. All of this is highly speculative, but if the French report is correct, it points to a long-standing connection of highly illegal behavior between the Bush and bin Laden families (see also Mid-1980s and 1988). [PBS Frontline, 2001]
1982-1991: Afghan opium production skyrockets from 250 tons in 1982 to 2,000 tons in 1991, coinciding with CIA support and funding of the mujaheddin. Alfred McCoy, a professor of Southeast Asian history at the University of Wisconsin, says US and Pakistani intelligence officials sanctioned the rebels' drug trafficking because of their fierce opposition to the Soviets: "If their local allies were involved in narcotics trafficking, it didn't trouble CIA. They were willing to keep working with people who were heavily involved in narcotics." For instance, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a rebel leader who received about half of all the CIA's covert weapons, was known to be a major heroin trafficker. The director of the CIA in Afghanistan claims later to be oblivious about the drug trade: "We found out about it later on." [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 9/30/01, Atlantic Monthly, 5/96]
1984: Bin Laden moves to Peshawar, a Pakistani town bordering Afghanistan, and is running a front organization for the mujaheddin known as Maktab al-Khidamar (MAK), funneling money, arms and fighters from the outside world into the Afghan war. [New Yorker, 1/24/00] "MAK was nurtured by Pakistan's state security services, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, the CIA's primary conduit for conducting the covert war against Moscow's occupation." [MSNBC, 8/24/98] He becomes closely tied to the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and greatly strengthens Hekmatyar's opium smuggling operations. [Le Monde, 9/14/01] Hekmatyar had ties with bin Laden, the CIA and drug running, and has also been called "an ISI stooge and creation" by the Wall Street Journal. [Asia Times, 11/15/01]
1984-1994: The US,
through USAID and the University of Nebraska, spends millions of dollars developing
and printing textbooks for Afghan schoolchildren. The textbooks are filled with
violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur
resistance to the Soviet occupation. For instance, children are taught to count
with illustrations showing tanks, missiles and land mines. Lacking any alternative,
millions of these textbooks are used long after 1994; the Taliban are still
using them in 2001. In 2002, the US started producing less violent versions
of the same books, which Bush says will have "respect for human dignity,
instead of indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry." Bush fails
to mention who created those earlier books. [Washington
Post, 3/23/02, CBC,
5/6/02] Since the war with Russia ended in 1989,
why did the US keep promoting Islamic radicalism another five years?
Mid-1980s: Salem bin Laden, Osama's oldest brother, is allegedly involved in the Iran-Contra affair. Quoting a French intelligence report posted by Frontline (see October 1980), The New Yorker reports, "During the nineteen-eighties, when the Reagan Administration secretly arranged for an estimated thirty-four million dollars to be funneled through Saudi Arabia to the Contras, in Nicaragua, Salem bin Laden aided in this cause, according to French intelligence." [New Yorker, 11/5/01, Frontline, 2001]
Mid-1980s (B): The ISI starts a special cell of agents who use profits from heroin production for covert actions "at the insistence of the CIA." "This cell promotes the cultivation of opium and the extraction of heroin in Pakistani territory as well as in the Afghan territory under mujaheddin control for being smuggled into the Soviet controlled areas, in order to turn the Soviet troops heroin addicts. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the ISI's heroin cell started using its network of refineries and smugglers for smuggling heroin to the Western countries and using the money as a supplement to its legitimate economy. But for these heroin dollars, Pakistan's legitimate economy must have collapsed many years ago." [Financial Times, Asian edition, 8/10/01] The ISI grows so powerful on this money, that Time magazine later states, "Even by the shadowy standards of spy agencies, the ISI is notorious. It is commonly branded 'a state within the state,' or Pakistan's 'invisible government.'" [Time, 5/6/02]
March 1985: The US decides to escalate the war in Afghanistan. The CIA, British MI6 and the ISI agree to launch guerrilla attacks from Afghanistan into then Soviet-controlled Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, attacking military installations, factories and storage depots within Soviet territory until the end of the war. The CIA also begins supporting the ISI in recruiting radical Muslims from around the world to come to Pakistan and fight with the Afghan mujaheddin. The CIA gives subversive literature and Korans to the ISI, who carry them into the Soviet Union. Eventually, around 35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic countries will fight with the Afghan mujaheddin. Tens of thousands more will study in the hundreds of new madrassas funded by the ISI and CIA in Pakistan. Their main logistical base is in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. [Washington Post, 7/19/92, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/01, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9/23/01, The Hindu, 9/27/01, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, Ahmed Rashid, 3/01] In the late 1980s, Pakistan's President Benazir Bhutto, feeling the mujaheddin network has grown too strong, tells President George Bush Sr., "You are creating a Frankenstein." But the warning goes unheeded. [Newsweek, 9/24/01] By 1993, the President of Pakistan tells Egyptian President Hasni Mubarak that Peshawar is under de facto control of the mujaheddin, and unsuccessfully asks for military help in reasserting Pakistani control over the city. Thousands of mujaheddin fighters return to their home countries after the war is over, and engage in countless acts of terrorism. One Western diplomat notes these thousands would never have been trained or united without US help, and says "The consequences for all of us are astronomical." [Atlantic Monthly, 5/96]
1986: The CIA, ISI and bin Laden work together to build the Khost tunnel complex in Afghanistan. This will be a major target of bombing and fighting in the US defeat of the Taliban in 2001. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/01, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9/23/01, The Hindu, 9/27/01, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, Ahmed Rashid, 3/01] It is reported before 9/11 that "bin Laden worked closely with Saudi, Pakistani and US intelligence services to recruit mujaheddin from many Muslim countries," but this hasn't been reported much since. [UPI, 6/14/01] A CIA spokesman will later claim, "For the record, you should know that the CIA never employed, paid, or maintained any relationship whatsoever with bin Laden." [Ananova, 10/31/01]
September 1987-March 1989: Michael Springmann, the head US consular official in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, later claims that he is "repeatedly told to issue visas to unqualified applicants." He turns them down, but is repeatedly overruled by superiors. Springmann loudly complains about the practice to numerous government offices, but no action is taken. He eventually is fired and the files he has kept on these applicants are destroyed. Springmann speculates that the issuing of visas to radical Islamic fighters continued until 9/11. He says he later learns that recruits from many countries fighting for bin Laden against Russia in Afghanistan were funneled through the Jeddah office to get visas to come to the US. They would then train for the Afghan war in the US. He says the Jeddah consulate was run by the CIA and staffed almost entirely by intelligence agents. Springmann suggests that this visa system may have continued until present day, and that the 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers getting their visas through Jeddah (see May 21, 2002 (C)) could have been a part of it (see also October 21, 2002 and October 23, 2002). [BBC, 11/6/01, AP, 7/17/02, Fox News, 7/18/02]
1988: Prior to this year, George Bush Jr. is a failed oil man. Three times friends and investors have bailed him out to keep him from going bankrupt. But in this year, the same year his father becomes President, some Saudis buy a portion of his small company, Harken, which has never worked outside of Texas. Later in the year, Harken wins a contract in the Persian Gulf and starts doing well financially. These transactions seem so suspicious that the Wall Street Journal in 1991 states it "raises the question of ... an effort to cozy up to a presidential son." Two major investors in Bush's company during this time are Salem bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's oldest brother, and Khaled bin Mahfouz. [Salon, 11/19/01, Intelligence Newsletter, 3/2/00] Khaled bin Mahfouz is a Saudi banker with a 20 percent stake in BCCI, a bank that will go bankrupt a few years later in the biggest corruption scandal in banking history (see July 5, 1991). In 1999 bin Mahfouz will be placed under house arrest in Saudi Arabia for contributions he gave to welfare organizations closely linked to bin Laden (see April 1999). Bin Mahfouz's sister is married to Osama bin Laden (see also August 13, 1996, Early December 2001 (B), December 4, 2001 (B), and November 26, 2002). [Washington Post, 2/17/02] In late 2002, Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in a 9/11 Saudi suit (see August 15, 2002), threatens that Bush, now President, "may find himself being deposed" in court for these financial ties to bin Mahfouz. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/16/02]
August 11, 1988: Bin Laden forms al-Qaeda this year (notes are later
found showing a meeting led by bin Laden on this day discussing "the establishment
of a new military group"). [AP,
August 12, 1988: The first media report appears about Echelon, a high-tech global electronic surveillance network between the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Governments deny that Echelon exists, but whistleblowers expose it. They claim it's being abused in many ways, including to spy on politicians domestically. Echelon is capable of "near total interception of international commercial and satellite communications," including taps into transoceanic cables, but it is "impossible for analysts to listen to all but a small fraction of the billions of telephone calls, and other signals which might contain 'significant' information." [New Statesman, 8/12/88] Understanding the information surveillance capabilities of Echelon is vital to determining what should have been known about 9/11.
1989-May 2000: Nabil al-Marabh moves to Boston in 1989 and apparently lives there as a taxi driver and al-Qaeda sleeper agent for the next ten years. [New York Times, 9/18/01, Boston Herald, 9/19/01] In 1992 he learns to use weapons in an Afghan al-Qaeda training camp with a terrorist named Raed Hijazi. [Chicago Sun-Times, 9/5/02] He and Hijazi live together and drive taxis at the same company in Boston for several years. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] A mutual friend at the same taxi company is later killed participating in a 1999 al-Qaeda terrorist attack. [Boston Herald, 9/19/01] Hijazi helps plan the USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000), and then participates in a failed attempt to bomb a hotel in Jordan (see November 30, 1999). In May 1999, the FBI approaches al-Marabh looking for Hijazi, but al-Marabh lies and says he doesn't know Hijazi. [Washington Post, 9/4/02] Hijazi is arrested in Syria in October 2000 and imprisoned in Jordan for his bomb attempt there. [Toronto Sun, 10/16/01] He begins to cooperate with investigators and identifies al-Marabh as a US al-Qaeda operative. [New York Times, 9/18/01] Terrorist Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999) gives evidence helping to prove that al-Marabh sent money to Hijazi for the Jordan bombing. [Toronto Sun, 11/16/01, ABC 7, 1/31/02] By February 1999, al-Marabh is driving taxis in Tampa, Florida while maintaining a cover of living in Boston. [Toronto Star, 10/26/01, ABC 7, 1/31/02] [New York Times, 9/18/01] He apparently lives in Tampa at least part time until February 200; investigators later wonder if he is an advance man for the Florida-based hijackers. [New York Times, 9/18/01, ABC 7, 1/31/02] Al-Marabh is living in Detroit by May 2000, though he maintains a Boston address until September 2000 (see May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001). [Boston Herald, 9/19/01] These connections with Hijazi lead to a US Customs investigation into al-Marabh in early 2001 that connects him with two of the 9/11 hijackers (see Spring 2001 (B)). Yet, despite all of these al-Qaeda connections and more, the US later decides there is no evidence that al-Marabh is a terrorist (see September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002).
January 20, 1989: George Bush Sr. is inaugurated as US president, replacing Ronald Reagan. He remains president until 1993 (see January 20, 1993). Many of the key members in his government later have important positions again when his son George Bush Jr. becomes president in 2001 (see January 21, 2001). For instance, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell later becomes Secretary of State, and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney later becomes Vice President.
February 15, 1989: Soviet forces withdraw from Afghanistan. Afghan Communists retain control of Kabul, the capital, until April 1992. [Washington Post, 7/19/92]
November 9, 1989: The Berlin Wall begins to fall in East Germany, signifying the end of the Soviet Union as a superpower. Just six days later, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell presents a new strategy document to President Bush Sr., proposing that the US shift from countering Soviet attempts at world dominance to ensuring US world dominance. Bush Sr. accepts this plan in a public speech, with slight modifications, on August 2, 1990, the same day Iraq begins invading Kuwait. In early 1992, Powell, counter to his usual public dove persona, tells congresspeople that the US requires "sufficient power" to "deter any challenger from ever dreaming of challenging us on the world stage." He says, "I want to be the bully on the block." Powell's early ideas of global hegemony will be formalized by others in a 1992 policy document (see March 8, 1992) and finally realized as policy when Bush Jr. becomes president in 2001. [Harper's, 10/02]
1990: Hani Hanjour enters the US, the first of the hijackers to do so. He takes an English course in Tuscon, Arizona. [Time, 9/24/01, Cox News, 10/15/01, New York Times, 6/19/02] However, the FBI claims Hanjour first arrived on October 3, 1991. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]
July 1990: Despite being on a terrorist watch list, radical Muslim leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman enters the US on a "much-disputed" tourist visa issued by an undercover CIA agent. [Village Voice, 3/30/93, Atlantic Monthly, 5/96] Abdul-Rahman was heavily involved with the CIA and ISI efforts to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan, and became famous traveling all over the world for five years recruiting new mujaheddin. But he never hid his prime goals, which were to overthrow the governments of the US and Egypt. [Atlantic Monthly, 5/96] He is "infamous throughout the Arab world for his alleged role in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat." Abdul-Rahman immediately begins setting up a terrorist network in the US. [Village Voice, 3/30/93] He is known to have befriended bin Laden while in Afghanistan, and bin Laden secretly pays Abdul-Rahman's US living expenses. [Atlantic Monthly, 5/96, ABC News, 8/16/02] Abdul-Rahman's ties to the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane in later 1990 is ignored (see November 5, 1990). As one FBI agent says in 1993, he is "hands-off.... It was no accident that the sheikh got a visa and that he's still in the country. He's here under the banner of national security, the State Department, the NSA, and the CIA." A very high-ranking Egyptian official says Abdul-Rahman continues to assist the CIA in recruiting new mujaheddin after moving to the US. This official says, "We begged America not to coddle the sheikh." Egyptian intelligence warns the US that Abdul-Rahman is planning new terrorist attacks, and on November 12, 1992, terrorists connected to him machine-gun a busload of Western tourists in Egypt. But still he lives freely in New York City. [Village Voice, 3/30/93] He is finally arrested in 1993 and convicted for assisting in the 1993 WTC bombing (see February 26, 1993). [Atlantic Monthly, 5/96]
November 5, 1990: An Egyptian American named El Sayyid Nosair assassinates controversial right-wing Zionist leader Rabbi Meir Kahane. Kahane's organization, the Jewish Defense League, was linked to dozens of bombings and was ranked by the FBI as the most lethal domestic terrorist group in the US at the time. Nosair is captured after a police shoot-out. An FBI informant says he saw Nosair meeting with Muslim leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman a few days before the attack (see July 1990), and possessions indicating a wider plot with additional targets are found. [Village Voice, 3/30/93] Incredibly, files found in his possession which give details of a terrorist cell, mention al-Qaeda, and discuss the destruction of tall US buildings, are not translated until years later. [ABC News, 8/16/02] Instead, within 12 hours of the assassination, New York police declare the assassination was the work of a "lone gunman" and they stick with that story. In his trial, prosecutors choose not to introduce his incriminating possessions as evidence, nor is his confession even mentioned, and an apparent "open-and-shut case" ends with his acquittal. However, he is sentenced to 22 years on other lesser charges. [Village Voice, 3/30/93] Bin Laden contributes to Nosair's defense fund. Many of those involved in Kahane's assassination later plan the 1993 WTC bombing (see February 26, 1993). As one FBI agent puts it, "The fact is that in 1990, myself and my detectives, we had in our office in handcuffs, the people who blew up the World Trade Center in '93. We were told to release them." [ABC News, 8/16/02]
1991: Future National Security Advisor Rice joins Chevron's board of directors, and works with Chevron until being picked as Bush's National Security Advisor in 2001. Chevron even names an oil tanker after her. Rice is hired for her expertise in Central Asia, and much of her job is spent arranging oil deals in the Central Asian region. Chevron also has massive investments there, which grow through the 1990s. [Salon, 11/19/01]
1991 (B): Bin Laden, having returned from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia and the family business in 1989, moves to Sudan. With a personal fortune of around $250 million (estimates range from $50 to $800 million [Miami Herald, 9/24/01]), he begins plotting terrorist attacks against the US. [New Yorker, 1/24/00]
1991-1995: According to a Dutch government report, the US military secretly breaks a United Nations arms embargo during the 1991-1995 Yugoslavia war by channeling arms through radical Muslim groups in an "Iran-Contra-style operation." US, Turkish and Iranian intelligence groups work with radical Muslims in what the Dutch report calls the "Croatian pipeline." Arms bought by Iran and Turkey and financed by Saudi Arabia are flown into Croatia. Mujaheddin fighters are also flown in. The US is "very closely involved" in the flagrant breach of the embargo, an embargo the US is in charge of monitoring. [Guardian, 4/22/02] Could bin Laden have had a secret deal with the US to jointly support the Bosnian Muslims, and in return the US didn't try to catch bin Laden? If so, did it last after 1995?
1991-1997: The Soviet Union collapses in 1991, creating many new nations in Central Asia. Major US oil companies, including ExxonMobil, Texaco, Unocal, BP Amoco, Shell and Enron, directly invest billions in these Central Asian nations, bribing heads of state to secure equity rights in the huge oil reserves in these regions. The oil companies commit to future direct investments in Kazakhstan of $35 billion. These companies face the problem however of having to pay exorbitant prices to Russia to use Russian pipelines to get the oil out. These oil fields have an estimated $6 trillion potential value. US companies own approximately 75% of the rights. [New Yorker, 7/9/01, Asia Times, 1/26/02] FTW
March 1991: Did bin Laden ever truly break with the US and the CIA? The strongest motive that he did comes from this time, which is also roughly when al-Qaeda first starts targeting US interests. Although the Gulf War against Iraq just ended, the US does not withdraw all of its soldiers from Saudi Arabia, but stations some 15,000-20,000 there permanently. [Nation, 2/15/99] In 1991, President Bush Sr. falsely claims that all US troops have withdrawn. [Guardian, 12/21/01] Their presence isn't admitted until 1995, and there has never been an official explanation as to why they are there. The Nation postulates that they are there to prevent a coup. Saudi Arabia has an incredible array of high-tech weaponry, but may lack the expertise to use it and local soldiers may have conflicting loyalties. In 1998, bin Laden will release a statement: "For more than seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples." [Nation, 2/15/99]
July 5, 1991: The Bank of England shuts down the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the largest Muslim bank in the world. Based in Pakistan, this bank financed numerous Muslim terrorist organizations and laundered money generated by illicit drug trafficking and other illegal activities, including arms trafficking. Bin Laden and many other terrorists had accounts there. [Detroit News, 9/30/01] One money-laundering expert claims, "BCCI did dirty work for every major terrorist service in the world." [Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02] American and British governments knew about all this yet kept the bank open for years. The ISI had major connections to the bank. But, as later State Department reports indicate, Pakistan remains a major drug trafficking and money-laundering center despite the bank's closing. [Detroit News, 9/30/01] The Washington Post claims, "The CIA used BCCI to funnel millions of dollars to the fighters battling the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan." A French intelligence report later suggests the BCCI network has been largely rebuilt by bin Laden (see October 2001). [Washington Post, 2/17/02] The ruling family of Abu Dhabi, the dominant emirate in the United Arab Emirates, owned 77 percent of the bank. [Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02] A network of drug, weapons and money laundering later develops between al-Qaeda, the Taliban, United Arab Emirates and Pakistan (see Mid-1996-October 2001). Is the ISI still connected to this ex-BCCI network? Is the CIA?
March 8, 1992:
The Defense Planning Guidance, "a blueprint for the department's spending
priorities in the aftermath of the first Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet
Union," is leaked to the New York Times. [New
York Times, 3/8/92, Newsday,
3/16/03] The paper causes controversy, because it hadn't yet been "scrubbed"
to replace candid language with euphemisms. [New
York Times, 3/10/92, New York Times, 3/11/92,
The document argues that the US dominates the world as sole superpower, and
to maintain that role it "must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential
competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." [New
York Times, 3/8/92, New York Times, 3/8/92
(B)] As the Observer summarizes it, "America's friends are potential
enemies. They must be in a state of dependence and seek solutions to their problems
in Washington." [Observer,
4/7/02] The document is mainly written by Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby,
who hold relatively low posts at the time, but under Bush Jr. become Deputy
Defense Secretary and Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, respectively.
3/16/03] The document conspicuously avoids mention of collective security
arrangements through the United Nations, instead suggesting the US "should
expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the
crisis being confronted." [New York Times,
3/8/92] It also calls for "punishing" or "threatening punishment"
against regional aggressors before they act. Interests to be defended pre-emptively
include "access to vital raw materials, primarily
Persian Gulf oil, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic
missiles, [and] threats to US citizens from terrorism." [Harper's,
10/02] Senator Lincoln Chafee (R), later says, "It is my opinion that
[Bush Jr.'s] plan for preemptive strikes was formed back at the end of the first
Bush administration with that 1992 report." [Newsday,
3/16/03] In response to the controversy, in May 1992 the US releases an
updated version of the document that stresses the US will work with the United
Nations and its allies (see also January
1993). [Washington Post, 5/24/92,
June 4, 1992: It is reported that the FBI is investigating the connections between James Bath and George Bush Jr. Bath is Salem bin Laden's official representative in the US. "Documents indicate that the Saudis were using Bath and their huge financial resources to influence US policy," since Bush Jr.'s father is president. Bush denies any connections to Saudi money. What became of this investigation is unclear. [Houston Chronicle, 6/4/92]
September 1, 1992: Terrorists Ahmad Ajaj and Ramzi Yousef enter the US together. Ajaj is arrested at Kennedy Airport in New York City. Ramzi Yousef is not arrested, and later masterminds the 1993 bombing of the WTC (see February 26, 1993). "The US government was pretty sure Ahmad Ajaj was a terrorist from the moment he stepped foot on US soil," because his "suitcases were stuffed with fake passports, fake IDs and a cheat sheet on how to lie to US immigration inspectors," plus "two handwritten notebooks filled with bomb recipes, six bomb-making manuals, four how-to videotapes concerning weaponry and an advanced guide to surveillance training." However, Ajaj is only charged with passport fraud, and serves a six-month sentence. From prison, Ajaj frequently calls Ramzi Yousef and others in the WTC bombing plot, but no one monitors or translates the calls until long after the bombing. [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01] An Israeli newsweekly later reports that the Palestinian Ajaj may have been a mole for the Israeli Mossad. The Village Voice has suggested that Ajaj may have had "advance knowledge of the World Trade Center bombing, which he shared with Mossad, and that Mossad, for whatever reason, kept the secret to itself." Ajaj was not just knowledgeable, but was involved in the planning of the bombing from his prison cell. [Village Voice, 8/3/93] Ajaj is released from prison three days after the WTC bombing, but is later rearrested and sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01] One of the manuals seized from Ajaj is horribly mistranslated for the trial. For instance, the title page is said to say "The Basic Rule," published in 1982, when in fact the title says "Al-Qaeda" (which means "the base" in English), published in 1989. Investigators later complain that a proper translation could have shown an early connection between al-Qaeda and the WTC bombing. [New York Times, 1/14/01]
December 1992: A bomb explodes in a hotel in Aden, Yemen, killing two tourists. US soldiers had just left the hotel for Somalia. Intelligence agents suspect this may be the first terrorist attack against the US connected to bin Laden. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01]
1993: Canadian police
arrest Ali Mohamed, a high ranking al-Qaeda figure. However, they release him
when the FBI says he is a US agent. [Globe
and Mail, 11/22/01] Mohamed, a former US Army sergeant, then will continue
to work for al-Qaeda for a number of years. He trains bin Laden's personal bodyguards
and trains a terrorist cell in Kenya that later blows up the US embassy there.
Meanwhile, at least between 1993 and 1997 he tells secrets to the FBI about
al-Qaeda's operations. He is arrested in late 1998 and subsequently convicted
of his role in the 1998 US embassy bombing in Kenya. [CNN,
10/30/98, Independent, 11/1/98]
Says a former Egyptian intelligence officer: "For five years he was moving
back and forth between the US and Afghanistan. It's impossible the CIA thought
he was going there as a tourist. If the CIA hadn't caught on to him, it should
be dissolved and its budget used for something worthwhile." [Wall
Street Journal, 11/26/01] Was Mohamed really playing the FBI and CIA
for fools, or was he a double agent inside al-Qaeda? If the latter, why couldn't
the US kill bin Laden in the 1990s if the head of his personal security was
secretly a US agent?
1993 (B): Bin Laden buys a jet from the US military in Arizona (the Pentagon approved the transaction). This aircraft is later used to transport missiles from Pakistan that kill American special forces in Somalia. He also has some of his followers begin training as pilots in US flight schools. These initial flight trainings come to nothing when details are later revealed in a court case about Operation Bojinka (see January 6, 1995). [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01]
1993 (C): An expert panel commissioned by the Pentagon postulates that an airplane could be used as a missile to bomb national landmarks. But the panel doesn't publish this idea in its report, Terror 2000. [Washington Post, 10/2/01] One of the authors of the report says. "We were told by the Department of Defense not to put it in... and I said, 'It's unclassified, everything is available.' And they said, 'We don't want it released, because you can't handle a crisis before it becomes a crisis. And no one is going to believe you.'" [ABC News, 2/20/02] However, in 1994 one of the panel's experts will write in Futurist magazine: "Targets such as the World Trade Center not only provide the requisite casualties but, because of their symbolic nature, provide more bang for the buck. In order to maximize their odds for success, terrorist groups will likely consider mounting multiple, simultaneous operations with the aim of overtaxing a government's ability to respond, as well as demonstrating their professionalism and reach." [Washington Post, 10/2/01]
January 1993: In his last days in office as Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney releases a document called Defense Strategy for the 1990s. It reasserts the plans for US global domination outlined in an earlier Pentagon policy paper (see March 8, 1992). [Harper's, 10/02] But because of Clinton's presidential victory, the implementation of these plans will have to wait until Bush Jr. becomes president in 2001 and Cheney becomes vice president. However, Cheney and others will continue to refine this vision of global domination through the Project for the New American Century think tank while they wait to reassume political power (see June 3, 1997 and September 2000).
January 20, 1993: Bill Clinton is inaugurated as president, replacing George Bush Sr. He remains president until 2001 (see January 21, 2001).
February 26, 1993: An attempt to blow up the WTC fails. Six people are killed in the misfired blast. Analysts later determine that had the terrorists not made a minor error in the placement of the bomb, both towers could have fallen and up to 50,000 people could have been killed. The attempt is organized by Ramzi Yousef, who has close ties to bin Laden. [Congressional Hearings, 2/24/98] The New York Times later reports on Emad Salem, an undercover agent who ends up being the key government witness in the trial against the bomber. Salem testifies that the FBI knew about the attack beforehand and told him they would thwart it by substituting a harmless powder for the explosives. However, this plan was called off by an FBI supervisor, and the bombing was not stopped. [New York Times, 10/28/93] Why did the FBI seemingly let the terrorists go ahead with the bombing? Others suspects are ineptly investigated before the bombing (see July 1990 and November 5, 1990). Several of the bombers were trained by the CIA to fight in the Afghan war, and the CIA later concludes in internal documents that it was "partly culpable" for this bombing attempt. [Independent, 11/1/98] Ahmad Ajaj, an associate of Yousef, may have been a mole for the Israeli Mossad, and the Mossad may have had advanced knowledge of the bombing (see September 1, 1992). US officials later state that the overall mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, is a close relative of Ramzi Yousef, [Independent, 6/6/02] probably his uncle. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] One of the attackers even left a message found by investigators stating, "Next time, it will be very precise." 9/11 can be seen as a completion of this failed attack. [AP, 9/30/01]
June 1993-October 1994: Saeed Sheikh, a brilliant British student at the London School of Economics, drops out of school and moves to his homeland of Pakistan to become a terrorist. Two months later, he begins training in Afghanistan at camps run by al-Qaeda and the Pakistani army. By mid-1994, he has become a terrorist instructor. In June 1994, he begins kidnapping Western tourists in India. In October 1994, he is captured after kidnapping three Britons and an American, and is put in a maximum-security prison (see November 1994-December 1999). The ISI pays for a lawyer to defend him. [Los Angeles Times, 2/9/02, Daily Mail, 7/16/02, Vanity Fair, 8/02] His supervisor for his terror work is an ISI officer named Ijaz Shah (see February 5, 2002). [Times of India, 3/12/02, Guardian, 7/16/02] Al-Qaeda and the ISI later rescue him from prison (see December 24-31, 1999) and he becomes a central figure in the financing of the 9/11 plot (see Early August 2001 (D)).
October 3-4, 1993: Eighteen US soldiers are attacked and killed in Mogadishu, Somalia, in a spontaneous gun battle (later the subject of the movie Black Hawk Down). A 1998 US indictment charges bin Laden and his followers with training the attackers. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] The link between bin Laden and the Somali killers of US soldiers appears to be Pakistani terrorist Maulana Masood Azhar. [Los Angeles Times, 2/25/02] Azhar is associated with Pakistan's ISI (see December 24-31, 1999), and the US has not publicly complained that he is a free man in Pakistan (see December 14, 2002).
November 1993: The Indian government gives approval for Enron's Dabhol power plant, located near Bombay on the west coast of India. Enron has invested $3 billion, the largest single foreign investment in India's history. Enron owns 65 percent of Dabhol. This liquefied natural gas powered plant is supposed to provide one-fifth of India's energy needs by 1997 [Asia Times, 1/81/01, Indian Express, 2/27/00] It is the largest gas-fired power plant in the world. Earlier in the year, the World Bank concludes that the plant is "not economically viable" and refuses to invest in it. [New York Times, 3/20/01] Enron apparently tries to make the plant financially viable by investing in gas fields in nearby Uzbekistan (see June 24, 1996), but it cannot get that gas to Dabhol without a gas pipeline through Afghanistan (see June 24, 1996 and June 1998 (B)). Construction of the plant is abandoned just before completion (see June 2001 (J)).
1994: Mohammed al-Khilewi,
the First Secretary at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations, defects and
seeks political asylum in the US. He brings with him 14,000 internal government
documents depicting the Saudi royal family's corruption, human-rights abuses,
and financial support for terrorists. He meets with two FBI agents and an Assistant
US Attorney. "We gave them a sampling of the
documents and put them on the table," says his lawyer, "but the agents
refused to accept them." [New
Yorker, 10/16/01] The documents include "details of the $7 billion
the Saudis gave to [Iraq leader] Saddam Hussein for his nuclear program -- the
first attempt to build an Islamic Bomb." But FBI agents were "ordered
not to accept evidence of Saudi criminal activity, even on US soil." [Best
Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03]
1994 (B): Coincidentally, three separate attacks this year involve hijacking airplanes to crash them into buildings. A disgruntled Federal Express worker tries to crash a DC-10 into a company building in Memphis but is overpowered by the crew. A lone pilot crashes a small plane onto the White House grounds, just missing the President's bedroom. An Air France flight is hijacked by a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda, with the aim of crashing it into the Eiffel Tower, but French Special Forces storm the plane before it takes off. [New York Times, 10/3/01]
Early 1994-January 1995: 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed lives in the Philippines for a year, planning the Bojinka plot until the plot is exposed and he has to flee (see January 6, 1995). Police later say he lives a very expensive and non-religious lifestyle. He meets in karaoke bars and go-go clubs, dates go-go dancers, stays in four-star hotels, and takes scuba diving lessons. Once he rents a helicopter just to fly it past the window of a girlfriend's office in an attempt to impress her. This appears to be a pattern; for instance he has a big drinking party in 1998. [Los Angeles Times, 6/24/02] Officials believe his obvious access to large sums of money indicate that some larger network is backing him by this time. [Los Angeles Times, 6/6/02] It has been suggested that Mohammed, a Pakistani, is able "to operate as he pleased in Pakistan" in the 1990s [Los Angeles Times, 6/24/02], and even is linked to the Pakistani ISI (see June 4, 2002). Could the ISI be backing him at this early date? His hedonistic time in the Philippines resembles reports of hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi in the Philippines (see 1998-2000). Mohammed returns to the Philippines occasionally, even being spotted there after 9/11. [Knight Ridder, 9/9/02] He almost gets caught while visiting an old girlfriend there in 1999, and fails in a second plot to kill the Pope when the Pope cancels his visit to the Philippines that year. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, London Times, 11/10/02] Does Mohammed meet the hijackers in the Philippines?
September 1994: Starting as Afghani exiles in Pakistan religious schools, the Taliban begin their conquest of Afghanistan. [MSNBC, 10/2/01] "The Taliban are widely alleged to be the creation of Pakistan's military intelligence [the ISI]. Experts say that explains the Taliban's swift military successes." [CNN, 10/5/96] Less often reported is that the CIA worked with the ISI to create the Taliban. A long-time regional expert with extensive CIA ties says: "I warned them that we were creating a monster." He adds that even years later, "The Taliban are not just recruits from 'madrassas' (Muslim theological schools) but are on the payroll of the ISI." [Times of India, 3/7/01] The same claim is made on CNN in February 2002. [CNN, 2/27/02] The Wall Street Journal will state in November 2001: "Despite their clean chins and pressed uniforms, the ISI men are as deeply fundamentalist as any bearded fanatic; the ISI created the Taliban as their own instrument and still supports it." [Asia Times, 11/15/01]
November 1994-December 1999: Saeed Sheikh is imprisoned in India for kidnapping Westerners (see June 1993-October 1994). While there, he meets another prisoner named Aftab Ansari. Ansari, an Indian gangster, will be released on bail near the end of 1999. [India Today, 2/25/02] Saeed also meets another prisoner named Asif Raza Khan, who also is released in 1999. [Rediff, 11/17/01] After Saeed is rescued from prison (see December 24-31, 1999), he works with Ansari and Khan to kidnap Indians and then uses some of the profits to fund the 9/11 attacks (see Early August 2001 (D)). [Frontline, 2/2/02, India Today, 2/14/02] Saeed also becomes good friends with prisoner Maulana Masood Azhar, a terrorist with al-Qaeda connections (see October 3-4, 1993). [Sunday Times, 4/21/02] Saeed will later commit further terrorist acts together with Azhar's group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (see for instance October 1, 2001 (D) and December 13, 2001). [Independent, 2/26/02]
December 12, 1994: Terrorist
Ramzi Yousef attempts a trial run of Operation Bojinka (see January
6, 1995), planting a small bomb on a Philippine Airlines flight to Tokyo
(he gets off on a stopover before the bomb is detonated). It explodes, killing
one man, and would have caused the plane to crash if not for what were described
as heroic efforts by the pilot. [Los
Angeles Times, 9/1/02, Senate
Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
1995: For the first time, though not the last, the government of Sudan offers the US all of its files on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The US turns down the offer. Bin Laden had been living in Sudan since 1991, because there were no visa requirements to live there. Sudan was monitoring him, collecting a "vast intelligence database on Osama bin Laden and more than 200 leading members of his al-Qaeda terrorist network... [The US was] offered thick files, with photographs and detailed biographies of many of his principal cadres, and vital information about al-Qaeda's financial interests in many parts of the globe." After 9/11, a US agent who has seen the files on bin Laden's men in Khartoum says some were "an inch and a half thick." [Guardian, 9/30/01]
1995-2001: After the Taliban takes control of the area around Kandahar, Afghanistan (see September 1994), prominent Persian Gulf state officials and businessmen, including high-ranking UAE and Saudi government ministers such as Saudi intelligence minister Prince Turki al-Faisal (see July 1998), frequently secretly fly into Kandahar on state and private jets for hunting expeditions. While there, some develop ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda and give them money. Bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar would sometimes participate in these hunting trips. Former US and Afghan officials suspect that the dignitaries' outbound jets may also have smuggled out al-Qaeda and Taliban cargo, just as smuggling was rampant on other airplanes flying out of the country (see Mid-1996-October 2001). [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01]
January 6, 1995: Philippine investigators uncover an al-Qaeda plot to assassinate the Pope that would take place when he visits the Philippines one week later. While investigating that, they also uncover Operation Bojinka, planned by the same people: 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef (see February 26, 1993) and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (see Early 1994-January 1995). [Independent, 6/6/02, Los Angeles Times, 6/24/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] FTW The plan is to explode 11 or 12 passenger planes over the Pacific Ocean simultaneously. [Agence France Presse, 12/8/01] If successful, up to 4,000 people would have been killed in planes flying to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, and New York. [Insight, 5/27/02] Operation Bojinka was scheduled to go forward just two weeks later on January 21. Apparently a plan was also found for a second phase of attacks. [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 124, Insight, 5/27/02] According to an investigator, in this phase, planes would be hijacked and flown into "key structures in the United States. The World Trade Center, the White House, the Pentagon, the Transamerican Tower, and the Sears Tower were among the prominent structures that had been identified in the plans that we had decoded." [Village Voice, 9/26/01] One pilot, Abdul Hakim Murad, who learned to fly in US flight schools, confesses that his role was to crash a plane into the CIA headquarters as part of this phase of attacks. [Washington Post, 9/23/01] An interrogation report from 1995 states: "[Murad] will hijack said aircraft, control its cockpit and dive it at the CIA headquarters. There will be no bomb or any explosive that he will use in its execution. It is simply a suicidal mission that he is very much willing to execute." [Insight, 5/27/02] A Philippine investigator said on the day of 9/11: "It's Bojinka." He later says: "We told the Americans everything about Bojinka. Why didn't they pay attention?" [Washington Post, 9/23/01] In an interview after 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will claim that the 9/11 attacks were a refinement and resurrection of Bojinka. [Australian, 9/9/02]
February 7, 1995: Terrorist Ramzi Yousef is arrested in Pakistan (see February 26, 1993 and January 6, 1995). The next day, as Yousef is flying over New York City on his way to a prison cell, an FBI agent says to Yousef, "You see the Trade Centers down there, they're still standing, aren't they?" Yousef responds, "They wouldn't be if I had enough money and enough explosives." [MSNBC, 9/23/01, The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 135]
March 1995: Belgian investigators find a CD-ROM of an al-Qaeda terrorist manual and begin translating it a few months later. Versions of the manual circulate widely and are seized by the police all over Europe. A former CIA official claims the CIA does not obtain a copy of the manual until the end of 1999: "The truth is, they missed for years the largest terrorist guide ever written." He blames CIA reluctance to scrutinize its support for the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s (see December 26, 1979 and March 1985). The CIA claims that the manual isn't that important, and that it had copies for years in any case (see also September 1, 1992). [New York Times, 1/14/01, CBS, 2/20/02]
March 1995-February 1996: A man named Ziad Jarrah rents an apartment in Brooklyn, New York. [Among the Heroes, Jere Longman, 2002, p. 90] The landlords later identify his photograph as being that of the 9/11 hijacker. A Brooklyn apartment lease bears Ziad Jarrah's name. [Boston Globe, 9/25/01] "Another man named Ihassan Jarrah lived with Ziad, drove a livery cab and paid the eight-hundred-dollar monthly rent. The men were quiet, well-mannered, said hello and good-bye. Ziad Jarrah carried a camera and told his landlords that he was a photographer. He would disappear for a few days on occasion, then reappear. Sometimes a woman who appeared to be a prostitute arrived with one of the men. 'Me and my brother used to crack jokes that they were terrorists,' said Jason Matos, a construction worker who lived in a basement there, and whose mother owned the house." [Among the Heroes, Jere Longman, 2002, p. 90] However, Ziad Jarrah is actually still in his home country of Lebanon at this time. He is studying in a Catholic school in Beirut, and is in frequent contact with the rest of his family. His parents drive him home to be with the family nearly every weekend, and they are in frequent contact by telephone as well. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] Not until April 1996 does Jarrah leave Lebanon for the first time, to study in Germany. [Boston Globe, 9/25/01] His family believes that the New York lease proves that there were two Jarrahs. [CNN, 9/18/01] This is not the only example of their Jarrah being in two places at the same time - see Late November 2000-January 30, 2001. Could Jarrah have had a doppelganger?
Spring 1995: In the wake of the uncovering of the Operation Bojinka plot, a letter written by the terrorists who planned the failed 1993 WTC bombing (see February 26, 1993) is found on a computer disk in the Philippines. This letter warns that future attacks would be more precise and they would continue to target the WTC if their demands were not met. This letter was never sent, but its contents are revealed in 1998 congressional testimony. [Congressional Hearings, 2/24/98] The Manila, Philippines police chief also reports discovering a statement from bin Laden around this time that although they failed to blow up the WTC in 1993, "on the second attempt they would be successful." [AFP, 9/13/01] Why wasn't security at the WTC noticeably improved after these revelations, or later?
April 3, 1995: Time magazine's cover story reports on the potential for terrorists to kill thousands in highly destructive acts. Senator Sam Nunn outlines a scenario in which terrorists destroy the US Capitol Building by crashing a radio controlled airplane into it. "Its not far-fetched," he says. His idea was taken from Tom Clancy's book Debt of Honour published in August 1994. [Time, 4/3/95] High-ranking al-Qaeda leaders later claim that Flight 93's target was the Capitol Building. [Guardian, 9/9/02]
October 21, 1995: The oil company Unocal signs a contract with Turkmenistan to export $8 billion worth of natural gas through a $3 billion pipeline which would go from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. Political considerations and pressures allow Unocal to edge out a more experienced Argentinean company for the contract. Henry Kissinger, a Unocal consultant, calls it "the triumph of hope over experience." [Washington Post, 10/5/98]
November 13, 1995: Two truck bombs kill five Americans and two Indians in a US-operated Saudi National Guard training center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda is blamed for the attacks. [AP, 8/19/02] The attack changes US investigators' views of bin Laden from terrorist financier to terrorist leader. [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 150]
Late 1995: King Fahd of Saudi Arabia suffers a severe stroke. Afterwards, he is able to sit in a chair and open his eyes, but little more. The resulting lack of leadership begins a behind-the-scenes struggle for power and leads to increased corruption. The situation continues to this day. Crown Prince Abdullah has been urging his fellow princes to address the problem of corruption in the kingdom - so far unsuccessfully. A former White House adviser says: "The only reason Fahd's being kept alive is so Abdullah can't become king." [New Yorker, 10/16/01]
1996: Al-Muqatila, a Libyan group that is actually the cover name of an al-Qaeda terrorist cell, tries to kill Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. Al-Qadhafi survives, but several terrorists and innocent bystanders are killed. [Dawn, 10/30/02] According to David Shayler, a member of the British intelligence agency MI5, and Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, authors of the controversial book The Forbidden Truth, the related British intelligence agency MI6 pays al-Qaeda the equivalent of $160,000 to help fund this assassination attempt. Shayler later goes to prison for revealing this information and the British press is banned from discussing the case. [New York Times, 8/5/98, Observer, 11/10/02] Well after the failed attempt, the British continue to support al-Muqatila - for instance, the group publishes a newsletter from a London office. [The Forbidden Truth, by Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, 5/02 edition, pp. 97-98] Anas al-Liby, a member of the Libyan al-Qaeda cell, is given political asylum in Britain and lives there until May 2000. He is now on the US's most wanted list, with a $25 million reward for his capture. [Observer, 11/10/02] The Forbidden Truth claims that even in 1998 Britain and the US aren't very interested in capturing bin Laden because of his assistance in plots like these (see April 15, 1998). The British government later attempts to censor their role in this assassination attempt (see November 5, 2002).
1996 (C): The Saudi Arabian government starts paying huge amounts of money to al-Qaeda, becoming its largest financial backer. It also gives money to other extremist groups throughout Asia. This money vastly increases the capability of al-Qaeda. [New Yorker, 10/16/01] Saudis agree to continue sponsoring bin Laden's network (see also May 1996 and July 1998). Says one US official, "'96 is the key year... Bin Laden hooked up to all the bad guys - it's like the Grand Alliance - and had a capability for conducting large-scale operations." The Saudi regime, he says, had "gone to the dark side." Electronic intercepts by the NSA "depict a regime increasingly corrupt, alienated from the country's religious rank and file, and so weakened and frightened that it has brokered its future by channeling hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to protection money to fundamentalist groups that wish to overthrow it." US officials later privately complain "that the Bush Administration, like the Clinton Administration, is refusing to confront this reality, even in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks." [New Yorker, 10/16/01]
1996 (D): Having found a business card of a US flight school in the possession of Bojinka plotter Abdul Hakim Murad (see January 6, 1995), the FBI investigates the US flight schools Murad attended. [Washington Post, 9/23/01] He had trained at about 6 flight schools off and on, starting in 1990. Apparently they stop their investigation when they fail to find any other potential suspects (see May 18, 1998). [Insight, 5/27/02]
Thirteen of the hijackers disappeared for significant periods of time before
the end of 2000:
1) Nawaf Alhazmi: The CIA says he was in the Bosnia conflict in the mid-1990s [CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02] He fought in Chechnya in 1996 [Observer, 9/23/01] and/or 1998. [Arab News, 9/20/01, ABC News, 1/9/02] He also visited Afghanistan before 1998 and swore loyalty to bin Laden. [CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02]
2) Khalid Almihdhar: The CIA says he was in the Bosnia conflict in the mid-1990s [CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02] His family claims he left to fight in Chechnya in 1997. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02]
3) Salem Alhazmi: spent time in Chechnya with his brother Nawaf Alhazmi. [ABC News, 1/9/02]
4) Ahmed Alhaznawi: left for Chechnya in 1999 [ABC News, 1/9/02], lost family contact in late 2000. [Arab News, 9/22/01]
5) Hamza Alghamdi: left for Chechnya in early 2000. [Independent, 9/27/01, [Washington Post, 9/25/01] Another report says he went there around January 2001. He called home several times until about June 2001, saying he was in Chechnya. [Arab News, 9/18/01]
6) Mohand Alshehri: went to fight in Chechnya in early 2000. [Arab News, 9/22/01]
7) Ahmed Alnami: left home in June 2000, called home once in June 2001 from an unnamed location. [Arab News, 9/19/01, Washington Post, 9/25/01]
8) Fayez Ahmed Banihammad: left home in July 2000 saying he wanted to participate in a holy war or do relief work. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01, Washington Post, 9/25/01] He called his parents one time since. [Arab News, 9/18/01]
9) Ahmed Alghamdi: left his studies to fight in Chechnya in 2000, last seen by his family in December 2000. He last called his parents in July 2001 but didn't mention being in the US. [Arab News, 9/18/01, Arab News, 9/20/01]
10) Waleed Alshehri: disappeared with Wail Alshehri in December 2000, spoke of fighting in Chechnya. [Washington Post, 9/25/01, Arab News, 9/18/01]
11) Wail Alshehri: had psychological problems, went with his brother to Mecca to seek help and both disappeared, spoke of fighting in Chechnya. [Washington Post, 9/25/01]
12) Majed Moqed: last seen by a friend in 2000 in Saudi Arabia, who said, "he had a plan to visit the United States to learn English." [Arab News, 9/22/01]
Clearly there is a pattern: 11 appear likely to have fought in Chechnya, and two others are known to have gone missing. It's possible that others have similar histories, but it's hard to tell because "almost nothing [is] known about some." [New York Times, 9/21/01] Furthermore, a colleague claims hijackers Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Ziad Jarrah and would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh wanted to fight in Chechnya but were told in early 2000 that they were needed elsewhere. [Washington Post, 10/23/02, Reuters, 10/29/02] Reuters has reported: "Western diplomats play down any Chechen involvement by al-Qaeda." [Reuters, 10/24/02] The Chechnya connection to the 9/11 plot has been hardly discussed; could this be because of political implications with Russia? Many of the FBI hijackers photos appear to be incorrect (see September 16-23, 2001). Could some hijackers have died fighting in Chechnya and had their identities used by someone else? If so, it might not be the first time this technique was used: former CIA director James Woolsey claims bin Laden agents murdered 12 men during the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, stole their paperwork, then used their identities for later plots such as the WTC bombing in 1993. [MSNBC, 9/27/01]
January 1996: US intelligence gets information concerning a planned suicide attack by individuals connected with Shaykh Omar Adb al-Rahman and a key al-Qaeda operative. The plan is to fly from Afghanistan to the US and attack the White House. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
January-May 1996: In the months after uncovering Operation Bojinka in the Philippines (see January 6, 1995), nearly all of its major planners, including Ramzi Yousef, are found and arrested. The one exception is 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. He flees to Qatar in the Persian Gulf, where he lives openly using his real name, enjoying the patronage of Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani, Qatar's Interior Minister and a member of the royal family. [ABC News, 2/7/03] In January 1996, he is indicted in the US for his role in the 1993 WTC bombing, and in the same month the US determines his location in Qatar. FBI Director Louis Freeh sends a letter to the Qatari government asking for permission to send a team after him. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] One of Freeh's diplomatic notes states that Mohammed was involved in a conspiracy to "bomb US airliners" and is believed to be "in the process of manufacturing an explosive device." [New Yorker, 5/27/02] Qatar confirms that Mohammed is there and is making an explosive, but they delay in handing him over. After waiting several months, a high level meeting takes place in Washington to consider a commando raid to seize him. But the raid is deemed too risky, and another letter is sent to the Qatari government instead. One person at the meeting later states, "If we had gone in and nabbed this guy, or just cut his head off, the Qatari government would not have complained a bit. Everyone around the table for their own reasons refused to go after someone who fundamentally threatened American interests...." [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] Around May 1996, Mohammed's patron Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani makes sure that Mohammed and four others are given blank passports and a chance to escape. Qatar's police chief later says the other men include Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef, al-Qaeda's number two and number three leaders respectively (see also Late 1998 (E)). [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, ABC News, 2/7/03] In late 1997 former CIA agent Robert Baer learns how the Qataris helped Mohammed escape and passes the information to the CIA, but they appear uninterested (see December 1997). Bin Laden twice visits al-Thani in Qatar. [New York Times, 6/8/02, ABC News, 2/7/03] Does the US miss a chance to catch bin Laden by not caring about al-Thani? After leaving Qatar, Mohammed takes part in many terrorist acts (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001).
Early 1996: The CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center creates a special unit to focus specifically on bin Laden. About 10-15 individuals are assigned to the unit initially. This grows to about 35-40 by 9/11. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] The unit is set up "largely because of evidence linking him to the 1993 bombing of the WTC." [Washington Post, 10/3/01 (C)]
Early 1996-October 1998: In early 1996, a friend gives bin Laden a satellite phone. The phone is used by both bin Laden and his military commander Muhammad Atef to direct al-Qaeda's operations. But its use is discontinued two months after a US missile strike against his camps (see August 20, 1998), when an unnamed senior official boasts that the US can track his movements through the use of the phone. [Sunday Times, 3/24/02, Senator Shelby Congressional Inquiry Report, 12/11/02] Records show "Britain was at the heart of the terrorist's planning for his worldwide campaign of murder and destruction," since 260 calls were made to 27 phone numbers in Britain. The other countries called were Yemen (over 200 calls), Sudan (131), Iran (106), Azerbaijan (67), Pakistan (59), Saudi Arabia (57), a ship in the Indian Ocean (13), US (6), Italy (6), Malaysia (4) and Senegal (2). "The most surprising omission is Iraq, with not a single call recorded." [Sunday Times, 3/24/02] Why weren't these calls used more aggressively to target bin Laden and the people he called?
March 1996: The US pressures Sudan to do something about bin Laden, who is based in that country. Sudan readily agrees, not wanting to be labeled a terrorist nation. Sudan's Minister of Defense engages in secret negotiations with the CIA in Washington. Sudan offers to extradite bin Laden to anywhere he might stand trial. The US decides not to take him because they apparently don't have enough evidence at the time to charge him with a crime. Saudi Arabia is discussed as a possibility, but the Saudi Arabian government doesn't want him, even though bin Laden has pledged to bring down the Saudi Arabian government. US officials turn down the offer, but insist that bin Laden leave the country for anywhere but Somalia. One US intelligence source in the region later states: "We kidnap minor drug czars and bring them back in burlap bags. Somebody didn't want this to happen." [Village Voice, 10/31/01, Washington Post, 10/3/01] Bin Laden leaves under pressure two months later (see May 18, 1996). CIA Director Tenet later denies Sudan made any offers to hand over bin Laden. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02]
April 1996: In continuing negotiations between the US and Sudan, the US again rejects Sudan's offer to turn over voluminous files about bin Laden and al-Qaeda (see 1995). Another American involved in the secret negotiations later says that the US could have used Sudan's offer to keep an eye on bin Laden, but that the efforts were blocked by another arm of the federal government. "I've never seen a brick wall like that before. Somebody let this slip up," he says. "We could have dismantled his operations and put a cage on top. It was not a matter of arresting bin Laden but of access to information. That's the story, and that's what could have prevented September 11. I knew it would come back to haunt us." [Village Voice, 10/31/01, Washington Post, 10/3/01] Around this time Sudan also offers their al-Qaeda intelligence to MI6, the British intelligence agency, and are also rebuffed. Sudan makes a standing offer: "If someone from MI6 comes to us and declares himself, the next day he can be in [the capital city] Khartoum." A Sudanese government source later adds, "We have been saying this for years." The offer is not taken up until after 9/11. [Guardian, 9/30/01]
May 1996: Reporter Greg Palast later claims that there is a meeting of Saudi billionaires at the Hotel Royale Monceau in Paris this month with the financial representative of al-Qaeda. "The Saudis, including a key Saudi prince joined by Muslim and non-Muslim gun traffickers, [meet] to determine who would pay how much to Osama. This [is] not so much an act of support but of protection -- a payoff to keep the mad bomber away from Saudi Arabia" (see also 1996 (C)). [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03] The 9/11 victims' relatives also site a "nonpublished French intelligence report" of this meeting in their lawsuit against important Saudis. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 8/16/02] Palast claims that the Saudi Sheikh Abdullah Bakhsh attends the meeting. Bakhsh also saved Bush Jr.'s Harken Oil from bankruptcy around 1990. The notorious Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi also attends the meeting. [Santa Fe New Mexican, 3/20/03, Democracy Now, 3/4/03] In a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner, Slate has claimed that Khashoggi is a "shadowy international arms merchant" who is "connected to every scandal of the past 40 years." Amongst other things, he was a major investor in BCCI and a key player in the Iran-Contra affair. [Slate, 12/4/00, Slate, 11/14/01, Slate, 3/12/03] Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz also apparently attends the meeting (though it could be a later meeting with Khashoggi in 1998). [Business Post, 10/7/01] Palast, noting that the French monitored the meeting, asks, "Since US intelligence was thus likely informed, the question becomes why didn't the government immediately move against the Saudis?" [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03] An apparent follow-up meeting occurs in 1998 (see July 1998).
May 18, 1996: Sudan expels bin Laden at the request of the US and Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden and al-Qaeda then move to Afghanistan, taking all of their money, resources and personnel. Bin Laden flies there in a C-130 transport plane with an entourage of about 150 men, women and children. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] The US knows in advance that bin Laden is going to Afghanistan, but does nothing to stop him. Elfatih Erwa, who, Sudan's minister of state for defense at the time, later says in an interview: "We warned [the US]. In Sudan, bin Laden and his money were under our control. But we knew that if he went to Afghanistan no one could control him. The US didn't care; they just didn't want him in Somalia. It's crazy." [Village Voice, 10/31/01, Washington Post, 10/3/01]
June 1996: Jamal al-Fadl, an al-Qaeda operative from al-Qaeda's first meeting in the late 1980s until 1995, tells the US everything he knows about al-Qaeda. "Before al-Fadl's debriefings, US intelligence had amassed thick files on bin Laden and his associates and contacts. But they'd had no idea how the many pieces fit together. 'Al-Fadl was the Rosetta Stone,' an official says. 'After al-Fadl, everything fell into place.'" [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, pp. 154-165] Yet the US will not take "bin Laden or al-Qaeda all that seriously" until after the bombing of US embassies in Africa in 1998. [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, pp. 213]
June 24, 1996: Uzbekistan signs a deal with Enron "that could lead to joint development of the Central Asian nation's potentially rich natural gas fields." [Houston Chronicle, 6/25/96] The $1.3 billion venture teams Enron with the state companies of Russian and Uzbekistan. [Houston Chronicle, 6/30/96] On July 8, 1996, the US government agrees to give $400 million to help Enron and an Uzbeki state company develop these natural gas fields. [Oil and Gas Journal, 7/8/96] However, the deal is later canceled when it becomes apparent a gas pipeline will not be built across Afghanistan, and there is no easy way to get the gas out of the region (see November 1993 and June 1998 (B)).
June 25, 1996: Explosions destroy the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American soldiers and wounding 500. [CNN, 6/26/96] Saudi officials later interrogate the suspects, declare them guilty, and execute them - without letting the FBI talk to them. [PBS Frontline, 2001, Irish Times, 11/19/01] Saudis blame the Hezbollah, the Iranian-influenced group, but US investigators still believe bin Laden was somehow involved (in June 2001 a US grand jury indicted 13 Saudis for the bombing). [Seattle Times, 10/29/01] Bin Laden admitted instigating the attacks in a 1998 interview. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] Ironically, the bin Laden family is later awarded the contract to rebuild the installation. [New Yorker, 11/5/01] In 1997, Canada catches one of the Khobar Tower attackers and extradites him to the US. But in 1999, he is shipped back to Saudi Arabia before he can reveal what he knows about al-Qaeda and the Saudis. One anonymous insider calls it, "Clinton's parting kiss to the Saudis." [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03]
Mid-1996-September 11, 2001: After fleeing Qatar (see January-May 1996), 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed travels the world and plans many terror acts. He is apparently involved in the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998), the 2000 USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000) and other attacks. He previously was involved in the 1993 WTC bombing (see February 26, 1993) and the Bojinka plot (see January 6, 1995). [Time, 1/20/03] One US official says, "There is a clear operational link between him and the execution of most, if not all, of the al-Qaeda plots over the past five years." [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] He lives in Prague, Czech Republic, through much of 1997. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] By 1999 he is living in Germany and visiting with the hijackers there (see 1999 (K)). [New York Times, 9/22/02] Using 60 aliases and as many passports, he travels through Europe, Africa, the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia and South America, personally setting up al-Qaeda cells. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02, Time, 1/20/03] The US announces a $2 million reward for his capture in 1998. [New York Times, 6/5/02] But supposedly, US investigators only learn of Mohammed's large role in al-Qaeda after 9/11. [Committee Findings, 12/11/02, Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] However, one official says, "We have been after him for years, and to say that we weren't is just wrong. We had identified him as a major al-Qaeda operative before Sept. 11." [New York Times, 9/22/02] If reports are true that Mohammed is given protection by Pakistan (Early 1994-January 1995), and is possibly even an ISI agent (see June 4, 2002), doesn't that make Pakistan responsible for all of these terrorist acts?
Mid-1996-October 2001: In 1996, Ariana Airlines, the national airline of Afghanistan, is essentially taken over by al-Qaeda and becomes the transportation for an illegal trade network. Passenger flights become few and erratic; instead the airline begins flying drugs, weapons, gold and personnel mostly between Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Pakistan. The Emirate of Sharjah, in the UAE, becomes a hub for al-Qaeda drug and arms smuggling. Typically "large quantities of drugs" would be flown from Kandahar, Afghanistan, to Sharjah, and large quantities of weapons would be flown back to Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01] About three to four flights a day would run the route. Many weapons come from Victor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer based in Sharjah (see October 1996). [Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02] Afghan taxes on opium production would be paid in gold, and then the gold bullion would be flown to Dubai, UAE, and laundered into cash. [Washington Post, 2/17/02] Taliban officials regularly provide terrorists with false papers identifying them as Ariana employees so they can move freely around the world. A former National Security Council official later claims the US is well aware at the time that al-Qaeda agents regularly fly on Ariana, but the US fails to act for several years. The US does press the UAE for tighter banking controls, but moves "delicately, not wanting to offend an ally in an already complicated relationship," and little changes by 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01] Much of the money for the 9/11 hijackers flows though these Sharjah channels (see June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000 and September 8-11, 2001 (C)). Could the 9/11 attacks have been stopped if the US pressed harder to shut down the Sharjah al-Qaeda money channels? There also are reports suggesting that Ariana Airlines might have been used to train Islamic militants as pilots (see October 1, 2001 (C)). The illegal behavior of Ariana helps cause the United Nations to impose sanctions against Afghanistan in 1999 (see November 14, 1999), but the sanctions lack teeth and don't stop the airline. A second round of sanctions finally stops foreign Ariana flights. But Ariana charter flights and other charter services keep the illegal network running (see January 19, 2001). Ariana and the network is finally largely destroyed in the October 2001 US bombing of Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01]
July 6-August 11, 1996: US officials identify crop-dusters and suicide flights as potential terrorist weapons that could threaten the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. They take steps to prevent any air attacks. Planes are banned from getting too close to Olympic events. During the games, Black Hawk helicopters and US Customs Service jets are deployed to intercept suspicious aircraft over the Olympic venues. Agents monitor crop-duster flights within hundreds of miles of downtown Atlanta. Law enforcement agents also fan out to regional airports throughout northern Georgia "to make sure nobody hijacked a small aircraft and tried to attack one of the venues," says Woody Johnson, the FBI agent in charge. [Chicago Tribune, 11/18/01]
July 7, 1996: The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, an Israeli think tank, publishes a paper entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." [Chicago Sun-Times, 3/6/03] The paper isn't much different from other Israeli right-wing papers at the time, except the authors: the lead writer is Richard Perle, now chairman of the Defense Policy Board in the US, and very influential with President Bush. Several of the other authors now hold key positions in Washington. The paper advises the new, right-wing Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu to make a complete break with the past by adopting a strategy "based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism ..." The first step would be the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. A war with Iraq would destabilize the entire Middle East, allowing governments in Syria, Iran, Lebanon and other countries to be replaced. "Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them," the paper concludes. [Guardian, 9/3/02, see the original paper here] Perle will be instrumental is moving Bush's US policy towards war with Iraq (see September 17, 2001 (B)).
August 1996: Bin Laden issues a public fatwa, or religious decree, authorizing attacks on Western military targets in the Arabian Peninsula. In previous years bin Laden was thought by some to be more of a financier of terrorist attacks than a terrorist himself, but this erases all doubts. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
August 13, 1996: Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia come to agreement with state companies in Turkmenistan and Russia to to build a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan, the agreement is finalized the next year (see October 27, 1997). [Unocal website, 8/13/96] The Boston Herald later reports that, "The prime force behind Delta Oil appears to be Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi" (see November 22, 2002 (B)) and that his business interests are "enmeshed" with those of Khalid bin Mahfouz (see for instance 1988 and April 1999). Together and separately, al-Amoudi and bin Mahfouz have become "partners with US firms in a series of ambitious oil development and pipeline projects in central and south Asia." [Boston Herald, 12/10/01] The two are later included in a secret United Nations list of financiers funding al-Qaeda (see November 26, 2002).
September 5, 1996: Terrorist Ramzi Yousef and two other defendants, Abdul Hakim Murad and Wali Khan Amin Shah, are convicted of crimes relating to Project Bojinka, a failed al-Qaeda plan Yousef devised that would have crashed 11 or 12 planes into buildings simultaneously (see January 1995). [CNN, 9/5/96] Many people, including some experts, have said that Yousef was convicted on September 11, 1996 (for instance, see [A Stunning Intelligence Failure, Paul Monk, 2002]), and this would explain why that date would be chosen in 2001, but that appears to be incorrect.
September 11, 1996: An FBI investigation into two relatives of bin Laden, begun in February 1996, is closed. The FBI wanted to learn more about Abdullah bin Laden, "because of his relationship with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [WAMY] - a suspected terrorist organization." [Guardian, 11/7/01] Abdullah was the US director of WAMY and lived with his brother Omar in Falls Church, Virginia, a town just outside Washington. The coding on the document, marked secret, indicates the case involved espionage, murder, and national security. WAMY has its offices at 5613 Leesburg Pike. Remarkably, it is later determined that four of the 9/11 hijackers lived at 5913 Leesburg Pike at the same time the two bin Laden brothers were there. WAMY has not been put on a list of terrorist organizations in the US, but it has been banned in Pakistan. A high-placed intelligence official tells the Guardian: "There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis. There were particular investigations that were effectively killed." An unnamed US source says to the BBC, "There is a hidden agenda at the very highest levels of our government." [BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01, Guardian, 11/7/01, see related leaked documents here] The Bosnian government later says a charity with Abdullah bin Laden on its board had channeled money to Chechen guerrillas (see also September 20, 2002 (C)), something that "is only possible because the Clinton CIA gave the wink and nod to WAMY and other groups who were aiding Bosnian guerrillas when they were fighting Serbia, a US-approved enemy." The investigation into WAMY is only restarted two days after 9/11, and after the bin Laden brothers have left the US. [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03] (Note that this Abdullah bin Laden is possibly bin Laden's cousin, not brother, and is apparently not the same as the Abdullah bin Laden who serves as the bin Laden family spokesman. [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03])
September 27, 1996: The Taliban conquer Kabul [AP, 8/19/02], establishing control over much of Afghanistan. A surge in the Taliban's military successes at this time is later attributed to an increase in direct military assistance from Pakistan's ISI. [New York Times, 12/8/01] The oil company Unocal is hopeful that the Taliban will stabilize Afghanistan, and allow its pipeline plans to go forward. In fact, "preliminary agreement [on the pipeline] was reached between the [Taliban and Unocal] long before the fall of Kabul. ... Oil industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America's, has been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced in its conquest of Afghanistan." [Telegraph, 10/11/96]
October 1996: Since 1992, Russian arms merchant Victor Bout has been selling weapons to Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, but this month he switches sides and begins selling weapons to the Taliban and al-Qaeda instead (see also Mid-1996-October 2001). [Guardian, 4/17/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02, Los Angeles Times, 5/17/02] The deal comes immediately after the Taliban captures Kabul and gains the upper hand in Afghanistan's civil war (see September 27, 1996). Bout formerly worked for the Russian KGB, and operates the world's largest private weapons transport network. Based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bout operates freely there until well after 9/11. The US becomes aware of Bout's widespread illegal weapons trading in Africa in 1995, and of his ties to the Taliban in 1996, but they fail to take effective action against him for years. [Los Angeles Times, 5/17/02] US pressure on the UAE in November 2000 to close down Bout's operations there is ignored. Press reports calling him "the merchant of death" also fail to pressure the UAE (for instance, [Financial Times, 6/10/00, Guardian, 12/23/00]). After President Bush is elected, it appears the US gives up trying to get Bout, until after 9/11. [Washington Post, 2/26/02, Guardian, 4/17/02] In one trade in 1996, Bout's company delivers at least 40 tons of Russian weapons to the Taliban, earning about $50 million. [Guardian, 2/16/02] Two intelligence agencies later confirm that Bout trades with the Taliban "on behalf of the Pakistan government." In late 2000, several Ukrainians sell 150 to 200 T-55 and T-62 tanks to the Taliban in a deal conducted by the ISI, and Bout helps fly the tanks to Afghanistan. [Montreal Gazette, 2/5/02] Bout moves to Russia in 2002. He is seemingly protected from prosecution by the Russian government, which in early 2002 claimed, "There are no grounds for believing that this Russian citizen has committed illegal acts." [Guardian, 4/17/02] The Guardian suggests that Bout may have worked with the CIA when he traded with the Northern Alliance, and this fact may be hampering current international efforts to catch him. [Guardian, 4/17/02]
October 1996 (B): US intelligence learn of an Iranian plot to hijack a Japanese plane over Israel and crash it into Tel Aviv. While the plot was never carried out, it is one more example of intelligence agencies being aware that planes could be used as suicide weapons. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
October 11, 1996: The Telegraph publishes an interesting article about pipeline politics in Afghanistan. Some quotes: "Behind the tribal clashes that have scarred Afghanistan lies one of the great prizes of the 21st century, the fabulous energy reserves of Central Asia." "'The deposits are huge,' said a diplomat from the region. ‘Kazakhstan alone may have more oil than Saudi Arabia. Turkmenistan is already known to have the fifth largest gas reserves in the world.'" [Telegraph, 10/11/96]
Late 1996: After moving the base of his operations to Afghanistan, bin Laden quickly establishes and maintains a major role in the opium drug trade. The money from opium is vital to keep the Taliban in power and fund bin Laden's terrorist network. Yoseff Bodansky, director of the congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare and author of a 1999 biography on bin Laden, says bin Laden takes a 15 percent cut of the drug trade money in exchange for protecting smugglers and laundering their profits. [Star Tribune, 9/30/01] A different estimate has bin Laden taking a cut of up to 10 percent of Afghanistan's drug trade by early 1999. This would give him a yearly income of up to $1 billion out of $6.5 to $10 billion in drug profits seen within Afghanistan each year. [Financial Times, 11/28/01]
1997: While the State Department listed bin Laden as a financier of terror in its 1996 survey of terrorism, al-Qaeda is not included on the 1997 official US list of terrorist organizations subject to various sanctions. They are finally listed in 1998. [New York Times, 12/30/01]
1997 (B): It is later claimed that the special CIA paramilitary teams start entering Afghanistan in this year. [Washington Post, 11/18/01]
1997 (C): FBI headquarters is concerned that an unnamed terrorist group would possibly use an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for terrorist attacks. The FBI and CIA become aware that this group had purchased a UAV. At the time, the agencies believed that the only reason to use this UAV would be for either reconnaissance or attack. There was more concern about the possibility of an attack outside the United States, for example, by flying a UAV into a US Embassy or a visiting US delegation. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
1997 or 1998: The Spanish newspaper El Mundo later reports, "According to several professors at the Valencia School of Medicine, some of whom are forensic experts, [Atta] was a student there in 1997 or 1998. Although he used another name then, they remember his face among the students that attended anatomy classes." It is also suggested that "years before, as a student he went to Tarragona. That would explain his last visit to Salou [(see July 8-19, 2001)], where he could have made contact with dormant cells..." [El Mundo, 9/30/01] If this is true, it would contradict Atta's presence as a student in Hamburg, Germany during this entire period. But there are other accounts of Atta seemingly being in two places at once (see 1998-2000, September 1999, Late April-Mid-May 2000, and Spring 2000).
February 12, 1997: The White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, led by Vice President Gore, issues its final report. [Gore Commission, 2/12/97] But the report has little practical effect: "Federal bureaucracy and airline lobbying slowed and weakened a set of safety improvements recommended by a presidential commission - including one that a top airline industry official now says might have prevented the Sept. 11 terror attacks." [Los Angeles Times, 10/6/01]
March 1997: An investigation of al-Qaeda contacts in Hamburg by the Constitutional Protection Agency, Germany's domestic intelligence service, begins at least by this time (Germany won't give details). [New York Times, 1/18/03] Telephone intercepts show that a German investigation into Mohammed Haydar Zammar (see November 1, 1998-February 2001 and October 27, 2001) is taking place this month. It is later believed that Zammar, a German of Syrian origin, was a part of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/03] He supposedly later claims he recruited Atta and others into the cell. [Washington Post, 6/19/02] Zammar had been identified a decade earlier by German authorities as a militant. He also made a number of trips to and from Afghanistan. [New York Times, 1/18/03] German intelligence was aware that he was personally invited to Afghanistan by bin Laden. [FAZ, 2/2/03] Spanish investigators say Zammar was a longtime associate of Barakat Yarkas, the alleged boss of Madrid, Spain's al-Qaeda cell (see August 27, 2001). Yarkas had Zammar's phone number in his address book and Zammar visited Yarkas in Madrid. [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/03] The investigation into Zammar is perhaps later dropped for lack of evidence, though it continues at least until September 1999 (see February 17, 1999). [AP, 6/22/02]
April 24, 1997: A package containing a petri dish mislabeled "anthracks" is received at the B'nai B'rith headquarters in Washington, DC. "The choice of B'nai B'rith probably was meant to suggest Arab terrorists, because the building had once been the target of an assault by Muslim gunmen." The dish did not contain anthrax but did contain bacillus cereus, a very close, non-toxic cousin of anthrax used by the US Defense Department. There are similarities to the later real anthrax attacks (see October 4, 2001), such as the misspelling "penacilin." In July 2002, B'nai B'rith claims the FBI still hasn't asked them about this hoax anthrax attack. [New York Times, 7/12/02]
June 3, 1997: The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think tank formed in the spring of 1997, issues its statement of principles. PNAC's stated aims: "to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests," to achieve "a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad," "to increase defense spending significantly," to challenge "regimes hostile to US interests and values," and to "accept America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles." [PNAC Principles, 6/3/97] These principles matter because they are signed by a group who will become "a rollcall of today's Bush inner circle." [Guardian, 2/26/03] ABC's Ted Koppel will later say PNAC's ideas have "been called a secret blueprint for US global domination" (see also January 26, 1998, September 2000, August 21, 2001 (B)). [ABC News, 3/5/03 (B)]
August 1997: The CIA creates a secret task force to monitor Central Asia's politics and gauge its wealth. Covert CIA officers, some well-trained petroleum engineers, travel through southern Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to sniff out potential oil reserves. [Time, 5/4/98]
October 1997: Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (see December 26, 1979) publishes a book in which he portrays the Eurasian landmass as the key to world power, and Central Asia with its vast oil reserves as the key to domination of Eurasia. He states that for the US to maintain its global primacy, it must prevent any possible adversary from controlling that region. He notes that, "The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported Americas engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor." Furthermore, because of popular resistance to US military expansionism, his ambitious Central Asian strategy could not be implemented "except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat." [The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, by Zbigniew Brzezinski, 10/97 (the link is to excerpts of the book from a From the Wilderness article)]
October 27, 1997: Halliburton, a company with future Vice President Cheney as CEO, announces a new agreement to provide technical services and drilling for Turkmenistan, a country in Central Asia. The press release also mentions that "Halliburton has been providing a variety of services in Turkmenistan for the past five years." On the same day, a consortium to build a pipeline through Afghanistan is formed. It's called CentGas, and the two main partners are Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia. [Halliburton press release, 10/27/97, CentGas press release, 10/27/97]
November 26, 1997: An industry newsletter reports that Saudi Arabia has abandoned plans to have open bids on a $2 billion power plant near Mecca, deciding that the government will build it instead. What's interesting is that one of the bids was made by a consortium of Enron, the Saudi Binladen Group (run by Osama's family), and Italy's Ansaldo Energia. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections, 1/22/98]
December 1997: CIA agent Robert Baer (see also August 2001 (G) and January 23, 2002), newly retired from the CIA and working as a terrorism consultant, meets a former police chief from the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. He learns how 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was sheltered from the FBI by the Qatari Interior Minister Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani (see January-May 1996). He passes this information to the CIA in early 1998, but the CIA takes no action against Qatar's al-Qaeda patrons. The ex-police chief also tells him that Mohammed is a key aide to bin Laden, and that based on Qatari intelligence, Mohammed "is going to hijack some planes." He passes this information to the CIA as well, but again the CIA doesn't seem interested, even when he tries again after 9/11. [UPI, 9/30/02, Vanity Fair, 2/02, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, Robert Baer, 2/02, pp. 270-271] Baer also tries to interest reporter Daniel Pearl in a story about Mohammed before 9/11, but Pearl is still working on it when he gets kidnapped and murdered (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). [UPI, 9/30/02] The ex-police chief later disappears, presumably kidnapped by Qatar. It has been speculated that the CIA turned on the source to protect its relationship with the Qatari government. [Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, Bill Gertz, pp. 55-58] It appears bin Laden visits Abdallah al-Thani in Qatar between the years 1996 and 2000. [ABC News, 2/7/03] Al-Thani continues to support al-Qaeda, providing Qatari passports and more than $1 million in funds. Even after 9/11, Mohammed is provided shelter in Qatar for two weeks in late 2001. [New York Times, 2/6/03] Yet the US still has not frozen al-Thani's assets or taken other action. Could the US have captured bin Laden if they paid more attention to Robert Baer's information?
December 4, 1997: Representatives of the Taliban are invited guests to the Texas headquarters of Unocal to negotiate their support for the pipeline. Future President Bush Jr. is Governor of Texas at the time. The Taliban appear to agree to a $2 billion pipeline deal, but will do the deal only if the US officially recognizes the Taliban regime. The Taliban meet with US officials, and the Telegraph reports that "the US government, which in the past has branded the Taliban's policies against women and children 'despicable,' appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to clinch the lucrative pipeline contract." A BBC regional correspondent says "the proposal to build a pipeline across Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from developing the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea." [BBC, 12/4/97, Telegraph, 12/14/97] FTW
December 14, 1997: It is reported that Unocal has hired the University of Nebraska to train 400 Afghani teachers, electricians, carpenters and pipefitters in anticipation of using them for their pipeline in Afghanistan. 150 students are already attending classes. [Telegraph, 12/14/97]
1998: According to later closed session congressional testimony by the heads of the CIA, FBI and NSA, al-Qaeda begins planning the 9/11 attacks in this year. [USA Today, 6/18/02] In a June 2002 interview, 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed also says the planning for the attacks begin at this time. [AP, 9/8/02] But it appears the targeting of the WTC and pilot training began even earlier. An al-Qaeda operative in Spain will later be found with videos filmed in 1997 of major US structures (including "innumerable takes from all distances and angles" of the WTC). There are numerous connections between Spain and the 9/11 hijackers, including an important meeting there in July 2001 (see July 8-19, 2001). [AP, 7/17/02] Hijacker Waleed Alshehri was living in Florida since 1995, started training for his commercial pilot training degree in 1996, and got his license in 1997. [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01, Boston Globe, 9/14/01] So the attack was probably planned even earlier, but the earlier it was planned, the worse the US looks for not catching it.
1998 (B): It is later revealed by Uzbekistan that Uzbekistan and the US have been conducting joint covert operations against Afghanistan's Taliban regime and bin Laden since at least before this year. [Times of India, 10/14/01, Washington Post, 10/14/01]
1998 (C): In response to the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am 747 over Scotland, the FAA creates "red teams" - small, secretive teams traveling to airports and attempting to foil their security systems. "In 1998, the red team completed extensive testing of screening checkpoints at a large number of domestic airports... We were successful in getting major weapons guns and bombs through screening checkpoints with relative ease, at least 85 percent of the time in most cases. At one airport, we had a 97 percent success rate in breaching the screening checkpoint." "The individuals who occupied the highest seats of authority in FAA were fully aware of this highly vulnerable state of aviation security and did nothing." [New York Times, 2/27/02] In 1999, the New York Port Authority and major airlines at Boston's Logan Airport - used twice on 9/11 - "were fined a total of $178,000 for at least 136 security violations over the previous two years. In the majority of incidents, screeners hired by the airlines for checkpoints in terminals routinely failed to detect test items, such as pipe bombs and guns." [AP, 9/12/01] Did the terrorists know which airports were most vulnerable, and take advantage of that knowledge?
1998 (D): A military report released this year describes a program called "Joint Vision 2010", a series of "analyses, wargames, studies, experiments, and exercises" which are "investigating new operational concepts, doctrines, and organizational approaches that will enable US forces to maintain full spectrum dominance of the battlespace well into the 21st century." "The Air Force has begun a series of wargames entitled Global Engagement at the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama." The same article mentions that the military is working on a "variety of new imaging and signals intelligence sensors, currently in advanced stages of development, deployed aboard the Global Hawk, DarkStar, and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)..." [Department of Defense Annual Report, 1998] What is the relevance of this? It may be complete coincidence, but "Air Force spokesman Col. Ken McClellan said a man named Mohamed Atta -- which the FBI has identified as one of the five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11 -- had once attended the International Officer's School at Maxwell/Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala." [Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] Global Hawk is a technology that enables pilotless flight and has been functioning since at least early 1997. [Department of Defense, 2/20/97] Some have claimed that Global Hawk technology was used to manipulate events on 9/11. Could Atta have taken part in wargames involving Global Hawk (see September 25, 2001)?
1998 (E): A son of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the al-Qaeda leader convicted in 1995 of conspiring to blow up tunnels and other New York City landmarks, is heard to say that the best way to free his father from a US prison might be to hijack an American plane and exchange the hostages. This is supposedly the most recent concrete hijacking report Bush hears in his August 2001 briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" (see August 6, 2001). [Washington Post, 5/17/02]
1998 (F): An American Muslim named Aukai Collins later says he was an FBI informant between 1996 and 1999, informing on the Muslim community in Phoenix, Arizona. For six months in 1998, he is a casual acquaintance of hijacker Hani Hanjour while Hanjour is taking flying lessons. [AP, 5/24/02] Collins sees nothing suspicious about Hanjour as an individual, but he tells the FBI about him because Hanjour appears to be part of a larger, organized group of Arabs taking flying lessons. [Fox News, 5/24/02] He says the FBI "knew everything about the guy," including his exact address, phone number and even what car he drove. The FBI denies Collins told them anything about Hanjour, and denies knowing about Hanjour before 9/11, though they acknowledge that they paid Collins to monitor the Islamic and Arab communities in Phoenix. [ABC News, 5/23/02] Collins later calls Hanjour a "hanky panky" hijacker: "He wasn't even moderately religious, let alone fanatically religious. And I knew for a fact that he wasn't part of al-Qaeda or any other Islamic organization; he couldn't even spell jihad in Arabic." [My Jihad: The True Story of an American Mujahid's Amazing Journey from Usama Bin Laden's Training Camps to Counterterrorism with the FBI and CIA, Aukai Collins, 6/02, p. 248]
1998 (G): Antoine Sfeir, a French Arab specialist, later claims that bin Laden was a CIA asset in the 1980s, and that the CIA maintains contact with bin Laden until this year. He says, "Those contacts didn't end after bin Laden moved to Afghanistan" (see May 18, 1996). He isn't surprised by reports of bin Laden meeting with the CIA in July 2001 (see July 12, 2001) because, "Until the last minute, CIA agents hoped bin Laden would return to US command, as was the case before 1998." [UPI, 11/1/01] The CIA denies ever having any kind of relationship with bin Laden (see 1986).
1998-2000: Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi live periodically in the town of Mabalacat, Philippines. They stay in the Woodland Resort hotel and apparently learn to fly planes at a nearby flight school. Philippine and US investigators have looked into these visits but haven't confirmed the hijackers' presence there. Locals, however, are certain they saw them frequently partying, drinking alcohol, sleeping with local women, and consorting with many other, unknown Arabs (most of whom disappear shortly before 9/11). For instance, according to a former waitress at the hotel, Alshehhi throws a party in December 1999 with six or seven Arab friends: "They rented the open area by the swimming pool for 1,000 pesos. They drank Johnnie Walker Black Label whiskey ... They came in big vehicles, and they had a lot of money. They all had girlfriends." Several employees recall Atta staying at the hotel during the summer of 1999, acting unfriendly and cheap. One hotel employee claims that most of the guests were Arab, and many took flying lessons at the nearby school. These witnesses claim the two used aliases, but the other Arabs referred to Atta as "Mohamed." [Manila Times, 10/2/01, International Herald Tribune, 10/5/01, AP, 9/28/01] Apparently, other hijackers and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed visit the Philippines during this time (see Early 1994-January 1995 and 2000-September 10, 2001). However, according to the official version of events, Atta and Alshehhi are in Hamburg, Germany during this time. Atta is still working on his thesis, which he completes in late 1999. [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 11/12/01]
January 26, 1998: The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publishes a letter to President Clinton, urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein because he is a "hazard" to "a significant portion of the world's supply of oil." In a foretaste of what eventually actually happens, the letter calls for the US to go to war alone, attacks the United Nations, and says the US should not be "crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council." The letter is signed by many who will later lead the 2003 Iraq war. 10 of the 18 signatories later join the Bush Administration, including (future) Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Undersecretaries of State John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, presidential adviser for the Middle East Elliott Abrams, and Bush's special Iraq envoy Zalmay Khalilzad (see also June 3, 1997, and September 2000). [Sunday Herald, 3/16/03, PNAC Letter, 1/26/98] Clinton does heavily bomb Iraq in late 1998, but the bombing doesn't last long and its long-term effect is the break off of United Nations weapons inspections. [New York Times, 3/22/03]
February 12, 1998: Unocal Vice President John J. Maresca - later to become a Special Ambassador to Afghanistan - testifies before the House of Representatives that until a single, unified, friendly government is in place in Afghanistan the trans-Afghani pipeline will not be built. He suggests that with a pipeline through Afghanistan, the Caspian basin could produce 20 percent of all the non-OPEC oil in the world by 2010. [House International Relations Committee testimony, 2/12/98] FTW
February 22, 1998: Bin Laden issues a fatwa, declaring it the religious duty of all Muslims "to kill the Americans and their allies - civilians and military ... in any country in which it is possible." [PBS Frontline, 2001, Sunday Herald, 9/16/01, complete text of the fatwa from al-Quds al-Arabi, 2/23/98] This is an expansion of an earlier fatwa issued in August 1996 (see August 1996).
Early 1998: Bill Richardson, the US Ambassador to the UN, meets Taliban officials in Kabul (all such meetings are technically illegal, because the US still officially recognizes the government the Taliban ousted as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan). US officials at the time call the oil and gas pipeline project a "fabulous opportunity" and are especially motivated by the "prospect of circumventing Iran, which offered another route for the pipeline." [Boston Globe, 9/20/01]
Spring 1998: Sources who know bin Laden later claim that bin Laden's mother has the first of two meetings with her son in Afghanistan. This trip was arranged by Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the head of Saudi intelligence. Turki was in charge of the "Afghanistan file" for Saudi Arabia, and had long-standing ties to bin Laden and the Taliban (see Early 1980). [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
April 1998: Osama Basnan, a Saudi living in California, later claims that he writes a letter at this time to Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar bin Sultan and his wife, Princess Haifa bint Faisal, asking for financial help because his wife, Majeda Dweikat, needs thyroid surgery. The Saudi embassy sends Basnan $15,000 and pays the surgical bill. However, University of California at San Diego hospital records say Basnan's wife wasn't treated until April 2000. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Basnan will later come under investigation for possibly using some of this money to support two of the 9/11 hijackers who arrive in San Diego at the end of 1999 (see November 1999 (B), September 22, 2001, November 22, 2002).
April 15, 1998: The first Interpol (international police) arrest warrant for bin Laden is issued by, of all countries, Libya. [Observer, 11/10/02] According to Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, authors of the controversial book The Forbidden Truth, British and US intelligence agencies play down the arrest warrant, and have the public version of the warrant stripped of important information, such as the summary of charges and the fact that Libya requested the warrant. At this point, no Western country has yet issued a warrant for bin Laden, even though he publicly called for attacks on Western targets beginning in 1996 (see 1996). The arrest warrant is issued for the murder in 1994 of two German anti-terrorism agents. Supposedly, Britain and the US aren't interested in catching bin Laden at this time due to his involvement with Britain in attempts to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi (see November 1996 and November 5, 2002). [The Forbidden Truth, by Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, 5/02 edition, pp. 97-98]
May 18, 1998: An Oklahoma newspaper later reports that the FBI office in Oklahoma City sends a memo on this day warning that "large numbers of Middle Eastern males" are getting flight training in Oklahoma and could be planning terrorist attacks. [AP, 9/26/01, CNN, 9/18/01] This remarkable story seems to have been reported only by one Oklahoma daily. [NewsOK, 5/29/02, see the memo here] It appears this warning was not followed up. In 1999 it is learned that an al-Qaeda agent had studied flight training at the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma. Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi consider studying at the same school in 2000; Zacarias Moussaoui does study at the school in 2001 (see September 1999 (E)).
May 26, 1998: In a press conference from Afghanistan, bin Laden discusses "bringing the war home to America." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
June 1998: Relations between Taliban head Mullah Omar and bin Laden grow tense, and Omar strikes a secret deal with the Saudis to expel bin Laden. Head of Saudi intelligence Prince Turki al-Faisal travels to Kandahar, Afghanistan and brokers the deal, but before it can be enacted, the US strikes Afghanistan in August, driving Omar and bin Laden back together. Prince Turki states that "the Taliban attitude changed 180 degrees," and that Omar was "absolutely rude" to him when he visited again in September. [Guardian, 11/5/01, London Times, 8/3/02] Note that reports of this meeting seemingly contradict reports of a different secret meeting a month later (see July 1998). Was bin Laden charmed by luck, or might the embassy bombings and/or the US missile attacks in response have been timed to help keep him in Afghanistan?
June 1998 (B): Enron's agreement to develop natural gas with the government of Uzbekistan is not renewed (see June 24, 1996). Enron closes its office there. The reason for the "failure of Enron's flagship project" is an inability to get the natural gas out of the region. Uzbekistan's production is "well below capacity" and only 10 percent of its production is being exported, all to other countries in the region. The hope was to use a pipeline through Afghanistan, but "Uzbekistan is extremely concerned at the growing strength of the Taliban and its potential impact on stability in Uzbekistan, making any future cooperation on a pipeline project which benefits the Taliban unlikely." A $12 billion pipeline through China is being considered as one solution, but that wouldn't be completed until the end of the next decade at the earliest. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections, 10/12/98]
June 1998 (C): US intelligence obtains information from several sources that bin Laden is considering attacks in the US, including Washington and New York. This information is given to senior US officials in July 1998. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
June 1998 (D): An unknown Saudi benefactor pays a Saudi named Saad Al-Habeeb to buy a building in San Diego, California for a new Kurdish community mosque. However, the $545,000 needed will only be given on the condition that a Saudi named Omar al-Bayoumi be installed as the building's maintenance manager with a private office at the mosque. Al-Bayoumi is later suspected of giving financial assistance to two of the 9/11 hijackers (see November 1999 (B) and November 22, 2002). After taking the job, al-Bayoumi keeps an erratic schedule. The people in the mosque eventually begin a move to replace al-Bayoumi, but he moves to Britain in May or June 2001 before this can happen. [Newsweek, 11/24/02, Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] Al-Bayoumi who "often gave parties and videotaped guests, was widely considered by Muslims [in San Diego] to be a Saudi government agent" (see Mid-January 2000). [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/14/02] "He was always watching [young Saudi college students], always checking up on them, literally following them around and then apparently reporting their activities back to Saudi Arabia," says Henry Bagadan, a Pakistani businessman who worships at the San Diego Islamic Center. [Newsweek, 11/24/02] An anonymous federal investigator states: "Al-Bayoumi came here, set everything up financially, set up the San Diego [terrorist] cell and set up the mosque." An international tax attorney notes that anyone handling business for a mosque or a church could set it up as a tax-exempt charitable organization "and it can easily be used for money laundering." [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/27/01, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/22/02] Until 1994, al-Bayoumi worked for the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation, headed by Prince Sultan, the father of US ambassador Prince Bandar. He told some people he received a monthly stipend from his former employer, a Saudi aviation company called Dallah Avco that has extensive ties to the same Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation. He told others that he was a student or a pilot and even claimed to be receiving monthly payments from "family in India" (despite being Saudi), but the explanations didn't seem credible. [Newsweek, 11/22/02, Newsweek, 11/24/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/27/01, Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] The FBI is investigating possible ties between Dallah Avco and al-Qaeda, [Newsweek, 10/29/02] and Saleh Abdullah Kamel, the billionaire owner of the company, is on a secret United Nations list of terror financiers (see November 26, 2002).
June 8, 1998: A US grand jury issues a sealed indictment charging bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders with conspiracy to attack the US. The indictment is publicly released on November 4, 1998. [PBS Frontline 10/3/02]
June 23, 1998: Future Vice President Cheney, working for the Halliburton energy company, states: "I can't think of a time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian. It's almost as if the opportunities have arisen overnight." The Caspian Sea is in Central Asia. [Cato Institute Library, Chicago Tribune, 8/10/00]
July 1998: According to documents exposed in a later lawsuit, a meeting takes place in Kandahar, Afghanistan, that leads to a secret deal between Saudi Arabia and the Taliban. Those present include Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabian intelligence (see also Early 1980 and Spring 1998), Taliban leaders, senior officers from the ISI, and bin Laden. Saudi Arabia agrees to give the Taliban and Pakistan "several hundred millions" of dollars, and in return bin Laden promises no attacks against Saudi Arabia. The Saudis also agree to ensure that requests for the extradition of al-Qaeda members will be blocked and promise to block demands by other countries that bin Laden's Afghan training camps will be closed down. Saudi Arabia had previously given money to the Taliban and bribe money to bin Laden (see 1996 (C)), but this ups the ante. [Sunday Times, 8/25/02] A few weeks after the meeting, Prince Turki sends 400 new pickup trucks to Afghanistan. At least $200 million follow. [Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9/23/01, New York Post, 8/25/02] Note that reports of this meeting seemingly contradict reports of a meeting the month before between Turki and the Taliban, in which the Taliban agreed to get rid of bin Laden (see June 1998).
July 7, 1998: Thieves snatch a passport from a car driven by a US tourist in Barcelona, Spain. The passport later finds its way into the hands of would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh. Bin al-Shibh allegedly uses the name on the passport in the summer of 2001 as he wires money to pay flight school tuition for Zacarias Moussaoui in Oklahoma. Investigators believe the movement of this passport shows connections between the 9/11 plotters in Germany and a support network in Spain, made up mostly by ethnic Syrians. "Investigators believe that the Syrians served as deep-cover mentors, recruiters, financiers and logistics providers for the hijackers - elite backup for an elite attack team" (see also 1998). [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/03] Atta twice travels to Spain, perhaps to make contact with members of this Spanish support team (see January 4, 2001 (B) and July 8-19, 2001).
August 1998: A German inquiry into Mounir El Motassadeq, an alleged member of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell with Atta, begins by this time. Though Germany won't reveal details, documents show that by this month Motassadeq is under surveillance. "The trail soon [leads] to most of the main [Hamburg] participants" in 9/11. On August 29, 1998, surveillance records Motassadeq and Mohamed Haydar Zammar, who had already been identified by police as a suspected extremist (see March 1997), meet at the Hamburg home of Said Bahaji, who is also under surveillance that same year (Bahaji will soon move into an apartment with Atta and other al-Qaeda members, see November 1, 1998-February 2001). German police monitor several other meetings between the Motassadeq and Zammar in the following months. [New York Times, 1/18/03] Motassadeq is later put on trial in Germany for participation in the 9/11 attacks (see August 29, 2002).
August 1998 (B): A CIA intelligence report asserts that Arab terrorists are planning to fly a bomb-laden aircraft from a foreign country into the WTC. The FBI and the FAA don't take the threat seriously because of the state of aviation in that unnamed country. Later, other intelligence information connects this group to al-Qaeda. [New York Times, 9/18/02, Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] An FBI spokesman says the report "was not ignored, it was thoroughly investigated by numerous agencies" and found to be unrelated to al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 9/19/02] The New York Times says the group is now believed to have "had ties to al-Qaeda." [New York Times, 9/18/02]
August 7, 1998: Terrorists bomb the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The bomb in Nairobi, Kenya kills 213 people, including 12 US nationals, and injures more than 4,500. The bomb in Dar es Salaam kills 11 and injures 85. The attack is blamed on al-Qaeda. [PBS Frontline, 2001]
August 9, 1998: The Northern Alliance capital of Afghanistan, Mazar-i-Sharif, is conquered by the Taliban. Military support of Pakistan's ISI plays a large role; there is even an intercept of an ISI officer stating, "My boys and I are riding into Mazar-i-Sharif." [New York Times, 12/8/01] This victory gives the Taliban control of 90% of Afghanistan, including the entire pipeline route. CentGas, the consortium behind the gas pipeline that would run through Afghanistan, is now "ready to proceed. Its main partners are the American oil firm Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia, plus Hyundai of South Korea, two Japanese companies, a Pakistani conglomerate and the Turkmen government." However, the pipeline cannot be financed unless the government is officially recognized. "Diplomatic sources said the Taliban's offensive was well prepared and deliberately scheduled two months ahead of the next UN meeting" to decide if the Taliban should be recognized. [Telegraph, 8/13/98]
August 20, 1998: The US fires 66 missiles at six training camps in Afghanistan and 13 missiles at a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan in retaliation for the US embassy bombings. [Washington Post, 10/3/01 (C)] The US makes clear the attacks are aimed at terrorists "not supported by any state'' despite obvious evidence to the contrary in Afghanistan. About 30 people are killed in the attacks, but no important al-Qaeda figures. [Observer, 8/23/98, New Yorker, 1/24/00] Suspected terrorist financiers Khalid bin Mahfouz (see April 1999) and Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi (see November 22, 2002 (B)) appear to have been the main investors in the Sudanese factory. However, "subsequent lab tests and court actions leave little doubt the El Shifa plant was producing only human and veterinary drugs." [Ottawa Citizen, 9/29/01] The US later unfreezes the bank accounts of the nominal factory owner and takes other actions indicating guilt, but admits no wrongdoing. It is later learned that of the six camps targeted in Afghanistan, only four were hit, and of those only one had connections to bin Laden. Two of the camps belong to the ISI, and five ISI officers and some twenty trainees are killed. Clinton says on TV that the missiles were aimed at a "gathering of key terrorist leaders", which turns out to have taken place a month earlier, in Pakistan. [Observer, 8/23/98, New Yorker, 1/24/00] Was intelligence really that bad, or was Clinton set up by his own intelligence agencies to fail, so he wouldn't try to attack bin Laden in the future, and thus deprive them of a war on terrorism?
August 24, 1998: The New York Times reports that the training camps recently attacked by the US (see August 20, 1998) were actually built years before by the US and its allies. The US and Saudi Arabia gave the Afghans between $6 billion and $40 billion to fight the Soviets in the 1980s (see December 26, 1979). Many of the people targeted by the Clinton missile attacks were actually trained and equipped by the CIA years before. [New York Times, 8/24/98]
Late August 1998: A captured member of the al-Qaeda cell that bombed the US embassy in Kenya tells an FBI agent about a conversation he had with his cell's leader. The leader told him that al-Qaeda was planning an attack on the US, but "Things are not ready yet. We don't have everything prepared." [USA Today, 8/29/02]
September 1998: US intelligence gives a memorandum to senior officials detailing al-Qaeda's infrastructure in the US. This includes the use of fronts for terrorist activities. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
September 1998 (B): US intelligence finds information that bin Ladens next operation could possibly involve crashing an aircraft loaded with explosives into a US airport. This information is provided to senior US officials. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02]
September 20, 1998: Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, an al-Qaeda terrorist from the United Arab Emirates connected to the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998), is arrested near Munich, Germany. [PBS Newshour, 9/30/98] In retrospect, it appears he was making one of many visits to the al-Qaeda cells in Germany. [The Base, Jane Corbin, 8/02, p. 147] US investigators later call him bin Laden's "right hand man." [New York Times, 9/29/01] However, the FBI is unwilling to brief their German counterparts on what they know about Salim and al-Qaeda, despite learning much that could have been useful as part of their investigation into the US embassy bombings. [The Base, Jane Corbin, 8/02, pp. 148-149] By the end of the year, German investigators learn that Salim had a Hamburg bank account. [New York Times, 9/29/01] The cosignatory on the account is businessman Mamoun Darkazanli (see September 24, 2001), whose home number had been programmed into Salim's cell phone. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] German authorities had begun to suspect Darkazanli of terrorist money laundering in 1996. Wadih El-Hage, a former personal secretary to bin Laden, is also arrested in the wake of the embassy bombings. El-Hage had created a number of shell companies as fronts for al-Qaeda terrorist activities, and one of these uses the address of Darkazanli's apartment. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] Darkazanli's phone number and Deutschebank account number are also found in El-Hage's address book. [CNN, 10/16/01] Based on these new connections, investigators ask a federal prosecutor for permission to open a formal investigation against Darkazanli. An investigation begins, at the insistence of the US, though Germany has claimed the request for the investigation was rejected (see December 1999). [AFP, 10/28/01, New York Times, 1/18/03] German investigators also learn of a connection between Salim and Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who is already identified by police as a suspected extremist (see March 1997). [AP, 6/22/02, New York Times, 1/18/03]
October 1998: FBI agents Robert Wright and John Vincent are tracking a terrorist cell in Chicago, but are told to simply follow suspects around town and file reports. The two agents believe some of the money used to finance the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998) leads back to Chicago and Saudi multimillionaire businessman Yassin al-Qadi (see also March 21, 2000 and October 12, 2002). Supervisors try, but temporarily fail, to halt the investigation into al-Qadi's possible terrorist connections. However, at this time, a supervisor prohibits Wright and Vincent from making any arrests connected to the bombings, or opening new criminal investigations. Even though they believe their case is growing stronger, in January 2001 Wright is told that the Chicago case is being closed and that "it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie" (see Late January 2001). Wright tells ABC: "Those dogs weren't sleeping, they were training, they were getting ready. ... September the 11th is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit. ... Absolutely no doubt about that." Chicago federal prosecutor Mark Flessner, also working on the case, says there "were powers bigger than I was in the Justice Department and within the FBI that simply were not going to let [the building of a criminal case] happen." Wright will write an internal FBI memo slamming the FBI in June 2001 (see June 9, 2001, and also May 30, 2002 and August 9, 2002 (C)). Al-Qadi is named in a March 2000 affidavit as a source of terrorist funds in Chicago. [ABC, 11/26/02, ABC, 12/19/02, ABC, 12/19/02 (B)] He is also on secret US and UN lists of major al-Qaeda financiers (see November 26, 2002). His charity, the Muwafaq Foundation, is allegedly an al-Qaeda front which transferred $820,000 to the Palestinian group Hamas through a Muslim foundation called the Quranic Literacy Institute; the date of the transfer has not been released. [CNN, 10/15/01] Al-Qadi says he shut down Muwafaq in 1996, but the charity has received money from the United Nations since then. [BBC, 10/20/01, CNN, 10/15/01]
October-November 1998: US intelligence learns that al-Qaeda is trying to establish a terrorist cell within the US. There are indications they might be trying to recruit US citizens. In the next month, there is information that a cell is attempting to recruit a group of five to seven young men from the US to travel to the Middle East for training. This is part of a plan to strike a US domestic target. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
October 8, 1998: The FAA issues the first of three warnings to the nation's airports and airlines urging a ''high degree of vigilance'' against threats to US civil aviation from al-Qaeda. It specifically warns against a possible terrorist hijacking ''at a metropolitan airport in the Eastern United States.'' The information is based on statements made by bin Laden and other Islamic leaders and intelligence information following the US cruise missile attacks in August. All three warnings came in late 1998, well before 9/11. [Boston Globe, 5/26/02] This report contradicts numerous later statements by US officials that the US never had any pre-9/11 specific threats inside the US or involving hijackings (for instance, see September 12, 2001 or May 16, 2002).
Autumn 1998: US intelligence hears of a bin Laden plot involving aircraft in the New York and Washington areas. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, New York Times, 9/18/02] No more details are known - was this the 9/11 plot, or something else?
November 1998: US intelligence learns that a Turkish extremist group had planned a suicide attack. The conspirators, who were arrested, planned to crash an airplane packed with explosives into a famous tomb during a government ceremony. The Turkish press said the group had cooperated with bin Laden. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
November 1998 (B): Former President George Bush Sr. meets with the bin Laden family on behalf of the Carlyle Group. The meeting takes place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This is one of two known meetings (see January 2000). [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01]
November 1, 1998-February 2001: Mohamed Atta and al-Qaeda terrorists Said Bahaji and Ramzi bin al-Shibh move into a four bedroom apartment at 54 Marienstrasse, in Hamburg, Germany and stay there until February 2001 (Atta is already mainly living in the US well before this time). Investigators believe this move marks the formation of their Hamburg al-Qaeda terrorist cell. [Los Angeles Times, 1/27/02, New York Times, 9/10/02] Up to six men at a time live at the apartment, including other al-Qaeda agents such as hijacker Marwan Alshehhi and cell member Zakariya Essabar. [New York Times, 9/15/01] During the 28 months Atta's name is on the apartment lease, 29 ethnically Middle Eastern or North African men register the apartment as their home address. [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/14/02, p. 256] From the very beginning, the apartment was officially under surveillance by German intelligence, because of investigations into businessman Mamoun Darkazanli that connect to Said Bahaji (see September 20, 1998 and December 1999). [Washington Post, 10/23/01] They also suspect connections between Bahaji and al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Haydar Zammar (see March 1997 and February 17, 1999). [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] Germans surveil the apartment off and on for months, and also wiretap Mounir El Motassadeq (see August 1998), an associate of the apartment-mates who is later put on trial for assisting the 9/11 plot (see August 29, 2002), but they don't find any indication of suspicious activity. [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02] Bahaji is directly surveilled at least for part of 1998, but German officials have not disclosed when the probe began or ended. That investigation is dropped for lack of evidence. [AP, 6/22/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] However, certainly investigators would have found evidence if they looked more thoroughly. For instance, Zammar, a talkative man who has trouble keeping secrets, is a frequent visitor to the many late night meetings there. [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/14/02, pp. 259-260] Another visitor later recalls Atta and others discussing attacking the US. [Knight Ridder, 9/9/02] 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is in Hamburg several times in 1999, and comes to the apartment (see 1999 (K)). But although there was a $2 million reward for Mohammed since 1998 (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001), the US apparently fails to tell Germany what it knows about him. [New York Times, 11/4/02, Newsweek, 9/4/02] Hijacker Waleed Alshehri also apparently stays there "at times." [Washington Post, 9/14/01, Washington Post, 9/16/01] The CIA also starts monitoring Atta while he is living at this apartment, and doesn't tell Germany of the surveillance (see January-May 2000). The German government originally claimed they knew little about the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell before 9/11, and said nothing directed them towards the Marienstrasse apartment, which is clearly incorrect. [Telegraph, 11/24/01]
November 4, 1998: The US formally charges bin Laden with the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and announce a record $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest. [PBS Frontline, 2001] Shortly thereafter, bin Laden allocates $9 million in reward money for each assassination of four top intelligence agency officers. Before 9/11 it is learned that the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, FBI Director and CIA Director are the targets. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, MSNBC, 9/18/02]
December 1, 1998: A US intelligence assessment: "[bin Laden] is actively planning against US targets... Multiple reports indicate [he] is keenly interested in striking the US on its own soil... al-Qaeda is recruiting operatives for attacks in the US but has not yet identified potential targets." Later in the month, a classified document signed by a senior US official states: "The intelligence community has strong indications that bin Laden intends to conduct or sponsor attacks inside the US." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02]
December 4, 1998: CIA Director Tenet issues a "declaration of war" on al-Qaeda, in a memorandum circulated in the intelligence community. This is 10 months after bin Laden's fatwa on the US, which is called a "de facto declaration of war" by a senior US official in 1999 (see February 22, 1998). Tenet says, "We must now enter a new phase in our effort against bin Laden ... each day we all acknowledge that retaliation is inevitable and that its scope may be far larger than we have previously experienced... We are at war... I want no resources or people spared in this efforts [sic], either inside CIA or the [larger intelligence] community." Yet a Congressional joint committee later finds that few FBI agents had ever heard of the declaration. Tenet's fervor did not "reach the level in the field that is critical so [FBI agents] know what their priorities are." And even as the counterterrorism budget continues to grow generally, there is no massive shift in budget or personnel until after 9/11. For example, the number of CIA personnel assigned to the Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC) stays roughly constant until 9/11 then nearly doubles from approximately 400 to approximately 800 in the wake of 9/11. The number of CTC analysts focusing on al-Qaeda rises from three in 1999 to five by 9/11. [New York Times, 9/18/02, Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
December 5, 1998: In the wake of the al-Qaeda US embassy attacks (see August 7, 1998), the US gives up on putting a pipeline through Afghanistan. Unocal announces its withdrawing from the CentGas pipeline consortium, and closing three of its four offices in Central Asia. A concern that Clinton will lose support among women voters for upholding the Taliban also plays a role in the cancellation. [New York Times, 12/5/98] FTW
December 21, 1998: In a Time magazine cover story entitled "The Hunt for Osama," it is reported intelligence sources "have evidence that bin Laden may be planning his boldest move yet - a strike on Washington or possibly New York City in an eye-for-an-eye retaliation. 'We've hit his headquarters, now he hits ours,' says a State Department aide." [Time, 12/21/98]
Late 1998: An al-Qaeda operative involved in the bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi is captured and interrogated by the FBI. The FBI learns of a safe house telephone number in Yemen, owned by bin Laden associate Ahmed Al-Hada, hijacker Khalid Almihdhar's father-in-law. [Newsweek, 6/2/02] US intelligence taps the phone line and learns the safe house is an al-Qaeda "logistics center" used by agents around the world to communicate with each other and plan attacks. [Newsweek, 6/2/02] It has been revealed that even bin Laden, from 1996 to 1998 (the two years he had a traced satellite phone), called the safe house dozens of times. [Sunday Times, 3/24/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] In late 1999 the phone line will lead the CIA to an important al-Qaeda "summit" in Malaysia. [Newsweek, 6/2/02] It appears al-Qaeda was still using the phone line until a government raid in February 2002. [CBS News, 2/13/02] What else was learned from this phone and why didn't monitoring of this phone expose the 9/11 attack?
Late 1998 (B): During the investigation of the 1998 embassy bombings, FBI counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill finds a memo by al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef on a computer. The memo shows that bin Laden's group has a keen interest in and detailed knowledge of negotiations between the Taliban and the US over an oil and gas pipeline through Afghanistan. Atef's analysis suggests that the Taliban are not sincere in wanting a pipeline, but are dragging out negotiations to keep Western powers at bay. [Salon, 6/5/02]
Late 1998 (C): FBI counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill and his team investigating the 1998 embassy bombings are repeatedly frustrated by the Saudi government. Guillaume Dasquié, one of the authors of Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, later tells the Village Voice: "We uncovered incredible things... Investigators would arrive to find that key witnesses they were about to interrogate had been beheaded the day before." [Village Voice, 1/2/02, Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, released 11/11/01 (the link is an excerpt containing Chapter 1)]
Late 1998 (D): President Clinton signs a directive authorizing the CIA to plan an assassination of bin Laden. The CIA draw up detailed profiles of bin Laden's daily routines, where he sleeps, and his travel arrangements. The assassination never happens, supposedly because of inadequate intelligence. But, as one officer later says, "you can keep setting the bar higher and higher, so that nothing ever gets done." An officer who helped draw up the plans says, "We were ready to move" but "we were not allowed to do it because of this stubborn policy of risk avoidance... It is a disgrace." [Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/16/01]
Late 1998 (E): Intelligence agents learn that Mohammed Atef (also known as Abu Hafs) - head of Islamic Jihad and one of the top three leaders of al-Qaeda [ABC News, 11/17/01], is staying in a particular hotel room in Khartoum, Sudan. White House officials ask that Atef be killed or captured and interrogated. The CIA puts the operation in the "too hard to do box," according to one former official. A plan is eventually made to seize him, but by then he has left the country. [New York Times, 12/30/01] Atef is considered a top planner of the 9/11 attacks (see Before September 11, 2001 (D)), and is later killed in a bombing raid (see November 15, 2001 (B)).
Late 1998 (F): The failed August 1998 US missile attack against bin Laden (see August 20, 1998) greatly elevates bin Laden's stature in the Muslim world. A US defense analyst later states, "I think that raid really helped elevate bin Laden's reputation in a big way, building him up in the Muslim world.... My sense is that because the attack was so limited and incompetent, we turned this guy into a folk hero." [Washington Post, 10/3/01] An Asia Times article published just prior to 9/11 suggests that because of the failed attack, "a very strong Muslim lobby emerge[s] to protect [bin Laden's] interests. This includes Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, as well as senior Pakistani generals. Prince Abdullah has good relations with bin Laden as both are disciples of slain Doctor Abdullah Azzam." [Asia Times, 8/22/01] In early 1999, Pakistani President Musharraf complains that by demonizing bin Laden, the US has turned him into a cult figure and hero. The US decides to play down the importance of bin Laden. [UPI, 6/14/01]
Late 1998-January 2001: The US permanently stations two submarines in the Indian Ocean, ready to hit al-Qaeda with cruise missiles on short notice. Six to ten hours advance warning is now needed to review the decision, program the cruise missiles and have them reach their target. On at least three occasions, spies in Afghanistan report bin Laden's location with information suggesting he would remain there for some time. Each time, Clinton approves the strike. Each time, CIA Director Tenet says the information is not reliable enough and the attack cannot go forward. [Washington Post, 12/19/01, New York Times, 12/30/01] The submarines are removed shortly after President Bush takes office (see Late January 2001 (B)).
1999: Zacarias Moussaoui, living in London, is observed by French intelligence making several trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan. French investigators later claim the British spy agency MI5 was alerted and requested to place Moussaoui under surveillance. The request appears to have been ignored. [Independent, 12/11/01]
1999 (B): The FBI creates its own unit to focus specifically on bin Laden, three years after the CIA created such a special unit. By 9/11, 17-19 people are working in this unit, out of over 11,000 FBI staff. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Why so late, and so few people?
1999 (C): MI6, the British intelligence agency, gives a secret report to liaison staff at the US embassy in London. The reports states that al-Qaeda has plans to use "commercial aircraft" in "unconventional ways", "possibly as flying bombs." [Sunday Times, 6/9/02]
1999 (D): The CIA finds an abandoned airstrip in Afghanistan, and makes plans to use it to evacuate a captured bin Laden, take agents in and out, and similar purposes. It is speculated that this is the same airstrip occupied and used as a base of operations early in the later Afghan war. [Washington Post, 12/19/01]
1999 (F): A joint project run by the CIA and NSA slips into Afghanistan and places listening devices within range of al-Qaeda's tactical radios. [Washington Post, 12/19/01] If all of al-Qaeda's communications was being monitored, why was bin Laden never captured or killed and apparently no hints of the 9/11 plot revealed?
1999 (G): Secretary of State Madeleine Albright repeatedly asks about having a "boots on the ground" option to kill bin Laden, using the elite Delta Force. Joint Chiefs of Staff head Shelton says he wants "nothing to do" with such an idea. He calls it naive, and ridicules it as "going Hollywood." [Washington Post, 12/19/01] Nonetheless, plans to have Delta Force members swoop into Afghanistan and grab bin Laden are eventually drawn up, but never used. [Time, 8/4/02]
1999 (H): Diane and John Albritton later say they call the CIA and police this year several times to report suspicious activity at a neighbor's home, but authorities fail to respond. [MSNBC, 9/23/01, New York Daily News, 9/15/01] Hijacker Waleed Alshehri is renting the house on Orrin Street in Vienna, Virginia at the time (three blocks from a CIA headquarters). [AP, 9/15/01] He makes his neighbors nervous. "There were always people coming and going," said Diane Albritton. "Arabic people. Some of them never uttered a word; I don't know if they spoke English. But they looked very focused. We thought they might be dealing drugs, or illegal immigrants." [New York Times, 9/15/01] Ahmed Alghamdi lived at the same address until July 2000. [Fox News, 6/6/02, World Net Daily, 9/14/01] Waleed Alshehri lived with Ahmed Alghamdi in Florida for seven months in 1997. [Telegraph, 9/20/01] Albritton says they observed a van parked outside the home at all hours of the day and night. A Middle-Eastern man appeared to be monitoring a scanner or radio inside the van. Another neighbor says, "We thought it was a drug house. All the cars parked on the street were new BMWs, new Mercedes. People were always walking around out front with cellphones." There were frequent wild parties, numerous complaints to authorities, and even a police report about a woman shooting a gun into the air during a party. [World Net Daily, 9/14/01, note that this is a highly partisan publication] Other neighbors also called the police about the house. [AP, 9/14/01] "Critics say [the case] could have made a difference [in stopping 9/11] had it been handled differently." Standard procedures require CIA to notify FBI of such domestic information. But FBI officials have not been able to find any record that the CIA shared the information. [Fox News, 6/6/02] FBI Director Mueller has said "the hijackers did all they could to stay below our radar." [Senate Judiciary Statement, 5/8/02] Does this sound like extremely religious "sleepers" successfully blending in?
1999 (I): CIA Director Tenet later claims that in this year, the CIA establishes a network of agents throughout Afghanistan and other countries aimed at capturing bin Laden and his deputies. [UPI, 10/17/02] Tenet states that by 9/11, "a map would show that these collection programs and human networks were in place in such numbers to nearly cover Afghanistan. This array meant that, when the military campaign to topple the Taliban and destroy al-Qaeda began [in October 2001], we were able to support it with an enormous body of information and a large stable of assets." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02]
1999 (J): The London Times later claims that British intelligence secretly offers 9/11 paymaster Saeed Sheikh, imprisoned in India (see November 1994-December 1999) for kidnapping Britons and Americans (see June 1993-October 1994), an amnesty and the ability to "live in London a free man" if he will reveal his links to al-Qaeda. He apparently refuses. [Daily Mail, 7/16/02, London Times, 7/16/02] Yet after he is rescued in a hostage swap deal (see December 24-31, 1999), the press reports that he, in fact, is freely able to return to Britain. [Press Trust of India, 1/3/00] He visits his parents there in 2000 and again in early 2001. [Vanity Fair, 8/02, BBC, 7/16/02, Telegraph, 7/16/02] He is not charged with kidnapping until well after 9/11 (see November 2001-February 5, 2002). Those kidnapped by Saeed call the government's decision not to try him a "disgrace" and "scandalous." [Press Trust of India, 1/3/00] The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review later suggests that not only is Saeed closely tied to both the ISI and al-Qaeda, but may also have been working for the CIA: "There are many in Musharraf's government who believe that Saeed Sheikh's power comes not from the ISI, but from his connections with our own CIA. The theory is that ... Saeed Sheikh was bought and paid for." [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] Did or does Saeed have some kind of deal with British or US intelligence?
1999 (K): 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed "repeatedly" visits Mohamed Atta and others in the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. [AP, 8/24/02] US and German officials say a number of sources place Mohammed at Atta's Hamburg apartment. It isn't clear when he visits or who he visits. [Los Angeles Times, 6/6/02, New York Times, 11/4/02] However, it would be logical that he at least visits Atta's housemate Ramzi bin al-Shibh, since investigators believe he is the "key contact between the pilots" and Mohammed. [Los Angeles Times, 1/27/03] Mohammed is living in Germany at the time. [New York Times, 9/22/02] German intelligence surveil the apartment in 1999 but apparently don't notice Mohammed (see November 1, 1998-February 2001). US investigators have been searching for Mohammed since 1996 (see January-May 1996), but apparently never tell the Germans what they know about him. [New York Times, 11/4/02] Even after 9/11, German investigators complain that US investigators don't tell them what they know about Mohammed living in Germany until they read it in the newspapers in June 2002. [New York Times, 6/11/02]
Early 1999: State Department counterterrorism coordinator Michael Sheehan writes a memo calling for a new approach in containing bin Laden. He urges a series of actions the US could take toward Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen to persuade them to help isolate al-Qaeda. He calls Pakistan the key country and urges that terrorism be made the central issue with them. He advises the US to work will all these countries to curb money laundering. However, a former official says Sheehan's plan lands "with a resounding thud." Pakistan continues to "feign cooperation but [does] little" about its support for the Taliban. [New York Times, 10/29/01]
February 1999: A classified report discusses responses to an anthrax attack through the mail. The report, precipitated by a series of false anthrax mailings, is written by William Patrick, inventor of the US anthrax weaponization process, under a CIA contract. [New York Times, 12/3/01] The report was commissioned by Steven Hatfill, a good friend of Patrick. [Baltimore Sun, 6/27/02] The report describes what the US military could do and what a terrorist might be able to achieve. [New York Times, 12/3/01] The similarities between what the report predicted and the anthrax attacks that eventually happen after 9/11 are startling. The BBC later suggests the "possibility that there was a secret CIA project to investigate methods of sending anthrax through the mail which went madly out of control" and that the anthrax attacker knew of this study or took part in it. The CIA and William Patrick deny the existence of this report, even though copies have been leaked to the media. [BBC, 3/14/02, Baltimore Sun, 6/27/02]
February 1999 (B): There is another hoax anthrax attack. A handful of envelopes with almost identical messages are sent to a combination of media and government targets including The Washington Post, NBC's Atlanta office, a post office in Columbus, Georgia (next to Fort Benning, an Army base), and the Old Executive Office Building in Washington. The letters contained fake anthrax powder. "That's interesting because as of 1997, US bio-defense scientists were working basically only with wet anthrax, while by 1999 some had experimented with making powders." The New York Times later suggests that Steven Hatfill could have been behind this attack and the one in 1997 (see April 24, 1997). [New York Times, 7/12/02] Could there be a connection between this hoax and a classified CIA report about sending anthrax through the mail released the same month (see February 1999)?
February 17, 1999: German intelligence is periodically tapping suspected al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar's telephone (see March 1997 and September 21, 1999), and on this day investigators hear a caller being told Zammar is at a meeting with "Mohamed, Ramzi and Said," and could be reached at the phone number of the Marienstrasse apartment where all three of them live. This refers to Mohamed Atta, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Said Bahaji. But apparently the German police fail to grasp its importance of these names, even though Said Bahaji is also under investigation (see November 1, 1998-February 2001). [AP, 6/22/02, New York Times, 1/18/03] Atta's last name is given as well. Agents check the phone number and confirm the street address, but it isn't known what they make of the information. [Der Spiegel, 2/3/03]
March 1999: US intelligence learns of plans by an al-Qaeda member who is also a US citizen, to fly a hang glider into the Egyptian Presidential Palace and then detonate the explosives he is carrying. The individual, who received hang glider training in the US, brings a hang glider back to Afghanistan, but various problems arise during the testing of the glider. This unnamed person is subsequently arrested and is in custody abroad. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
March 3, 1999: Andrew Krepinevich, Executive Director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities: "There appears to be general agreement concerning the need to transform the US military into a significantly different kind of force from that which emerged victorious from the Cold and Gulf Wars. Yet this verbal support has not been translated into a defense program supporting transformation ... the "critical mass" needed to effect it has not yet been achieved. One may conclude that, in the absence of a strong external shock to the United States - a latter-day 'Pearl Harbor' of sorts - surmounting the barriers to transformation will likely prove a long, arduous process." [CSBA, 3/5/99] This comment echoes other strategists who wait for a second Pearl Harbor to fulfill their visions (see October 1997 and September 2000).
April 1999: A Saudi government audit shows that five of Saudi Arabia's billionaires have been giving tens of millions of dollars to al-Qaeda. The audit shows that these businessmen transferred money from the National Commercial Bank to accounts of Islamic charities in London and banks in New York that serve as fronts for bin Laden. $3 million was diverted from a Saudi pension fund. [USA Today, 10/29/99] $2 billion of the bank's $21 billion is also found to be missing. The only action taken is that Khalid bin Mahfouz, founder of National Commercial Bank, Saudi Arabia's biggest bank, is placed under house arrest and majority control in the bank is bought out by the Saudi government. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/29/01] The Saudi government won't allow US officials to talk to bin Mahfouz, despite asking "at a very senior level." [Washington Post, 2/17/02] By 9/11, he is in a hospital and technically no longer under house arrest. The US has not frozen the accounts of bin Mahfouz, and he continues to engage in major oil deals with US corporations (see Early December 2001 (B)). Forbes Magazine claims his family fortune is worth more than $4 billion. [Boston Herald, 10/14/01, Boston Herald, 12/10/01] Bin Mahfouz had invested in George Bush Jr.'s businesses starting in 1988 (see 1988). He is later sued for his role in funding terrorism (see August 15, 2002).
April 1, 1999: Ziad Jarrah has an unofficial wedding with his girlfriend, Aisel Senguen. What's interesting is a photo apparently taken by Jarrah at the wedding, shown here. German intelligence found the photo several days after 9/11. An undercover agent was able to immediately identify 10 of the 18 men in the photo, as well as where it was taken: the prayer room of Hamburg's Al-Quds mosque. The informant was also able to identify which of them attended Mohamed Atta's study group. This informant knew even "seemingly trivial details" of some of the men, showing that "probably almost all members of the Hamburg terror cell" had been watched by German state intelligence since this time, if not before. The head of the state intelligence had previously maintained that they knew nothing of any of these men, and had no informant. [FAZ, 2/2/03]
Spring 1999: US intelligence learns of a planned bin Laden attack on a US government facility in Washington (which facility has not been made public). [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, New York Times, 9/18/02]
Spring 1999 (B): Randy Glass is a con artist turned government informant participating in a sting called Operation Diamondback. [Palm Beach Post, 9/29/01] He discusses an illegal weapons deal with an Egyptian American named Mohamed el Amir. In wiretapped conversations, Mohamed discusses the need to get false papers to disguise a shipment of illegal weapons. His brother, Dr. Magdy el Amir, has been a wealthy neurologist in Jersey City for the past twenty years. Two other weapons dealers later convicted in a sting operation involving Glass also lived in Jersey City, and both el Amirs admit knowing one of them, Diaa Mohsen (see June 12, 2001). Mohsen has been paid at least once by Dr. el Amir. In 1998, Congressman Ben Gilman was given a foreign intelligence report suggesting that Dr. el Amir owns an HMO that is secretly funded by bin Laden, and that money is being skimmed from the HMO to fund terrorist activities. The state of New Jersey later buys the HMO and determines that $15 million were unaccounted for and much of that has been diverted into hard-to-trace offshore bank accounts. However, investigators working with Glass are never given the report about Dr. el Amir. Both el Amirs have not been charged with any crime. Mohamed now lives in Egypt and Magdy continues to practice medicine in New Jersey. Glass's sting, which began in late 1998, will uncover many interesting leads before ending in June 2001 (see also July 14, 1999, Early August 2001 and August 2, 2002). [MSNBC, 8/2/02]
June 1999: Enron announces an agreement to build a $140 million power plant in the Gaza Strip. One of the major financers for the project comes from the Saudi Binladin Group, a company owned by Osama's family. This is the second attempted project between these two companies. 90% complete, the construction is halted because of Palestinian - Israeli violence and then Enron's bankruptcy. [Washington Post, 3/2/02]
June 1999 (B): In testimony before the Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence and in a briefing to House Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence staffers one month later, the chief of the CTC describes
reports that bin Laden and his associates are planning attacks in the US. [Senate
Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
July 1999-November 2000: Hijacker Marwan Alshehhi receives about $100,000 from an account in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates during this time. [Financial Times, 11/30/01, Newsweek, 12/2/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] The money is apparently sent by Mohamed Yousef Mohamed Alqusaidi, believed to be Alshehhi's brother. Alqusaidi had been sending money to Alshehhi in Germany since at least March 1998. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] It is not clear if this is money innocently sent by Alshehhi's rich Arab family or if it is money deliberately sent for terrorism. Much of the rest of the 9/11 funding also passes through Sharjah (see June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000, Early August 2001 (D) and September 8-11, 2001), a town at the center of illegal al-Qaeda business dealings (see Mid-1996-October 2001).
June 7, 1999: Bin Laden is added to FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" List. This is almost a year and a half after bin Laden's "declaration of war" against the US (see February 22, 1998) and about six months after the CIA's "declaration of war against al-Qaeda (see December 4, 1998). It's also three years after an internal State Department document connecting bin Laden to financing and planning numerous terrorist attacks. [PBS Frontline 10/3/02]
Mid-June 1999: Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, plus would-be hijacker Ramzi Bin al-Shibh and associate Mounir El Motassadeq, hold a meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands. All are living in Hamburg at the time, so it's not clear why they go to meet there, though it's speculated they are meeting someone. Motassadeq also goes to the town of Eindhoven, Netherlands, on three occasions, in early 1999, late 1999 and 2001. [AP, 9/13/02] On at least one occasion, Motassadeq receives cash provided by unnamed "Saudi financiers" that is meant to fund a new Eindhoven mosque. Investigators believe he uses the money to help pay for some 9/11 hijacker flying lessons. [Baltimore Sun, 9/2/02] Alshehhi also flies to Amsterdam from the US in the summer of 2001, but it isn't known why (see April 18, 2001).
July 4, 1999: With the chances of a pipeline deal with the Taliban looking increasingly unlikely, the US government finally issues an executive order prohibiting commercial transactions with the Taliban. [Executive Order, 7/4/99]
July 5, 1999: President Clinton signs an executive order freezing the assets of the Taliban in the US and prohibiting trade and other transactions between US citizens and the Taliban. Clinton blames the Taliban for harboring bin Laden. [CNN, 7/6/99]
July 14, 1999: US government informant Randy Glass records a conversation at a dinner attended by him, illegal arms dealers Diaa Mohsen and Mohammed Malik (see June 12, 2001), a former Egyptian judge named Shireen Shawky, and ISI agent Rajaa Gulum Abbas, held at a restaurant within view of the WTC. FBI agents pretending to be restaurant customers sit at nearby tables. [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02, MSNBC, 8/2/02] Abbas says he wants to buy a whole shipload of weapons stolen from the US military to give to bin Laden. [Cox News, 8/2/02] Abbas points to the WTC and says, "Those towers are coming down." This ISI agent later makes two other references to an attack on the WTC. [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02, Cox News, 8/2/02, Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] Abbas also says, "Americans [are] the enemy," and, "We would have no problem with blowing up this entire restaurant because it is full of Americans." [MSNBC, 3/18/03] The meeting is secretly recorded, and parts are shown on television in 2003 (see also August 17, 1999). [MSNBC, 3/18/03 (B)]
August 17, 1999: A group of illegal arms merchants, including an ISI agent with foreknowledge of 9/11, had met in a New York restaurant the month before (see July 14, 1999). This same group meets at this time in a West Palm Beach, Florida, warehouse, and is shown Stinger missiles as part of a sting operation. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3/20/03] US intelligence soon discovers connections between two in the group, Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Mohammed Malik, terrorist groups in Kashmir (where the ISI assists terrorists fighting against India), and the Taliban. Mohamed Malik suggests in this meeting that the Stingers will be used in Kashmir or Afghanistan. His colleague Diaa Mohsen also says Abbas has direct connections to "dignitaries" and bin Laden. Abbas also wants heavy water for a "dirty bomb" or other material to make a nuclear weapon. He says he will bring a Pakistani nuclear scientist to the US to inspect the material. [MSNBC, 8/2/02, MSNBC, 3/18/03] Government informant Randy Glass passes these warnings on before 9/11, but he claims, "The complaints were ordered sanitized by the highest levels of government" (see also Early August 2001). [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02] In June 2002, the US secretly indicts Abbas (see June 2002), but apparently they aren't trying very hard to find him: In August 2002, MSNBC is easily able to contact Abbas in Pakistan and speak to him by telephone. [MSNBC, 8/2/02]
September 1999: BJ's Wholesale Club, a store in Hollywood, Florida, later tells the FBI that Atta may have held a BJ's membership card since at least this time ("more than two years"). Several cashiers at the store vaguely remember seeing Atta there. [Miami Herald, 9/18/01] According to the official story, Atta doesn't arrive in the US until June 3, 2000. [Miami Herald, 9/22/01]
September 1999 (B): Steven Hatfill, later suspected of being behind the 2001 anthrax attacks (see October 4, 2001), ends his two-year contract working at USAMRIID. But his contact held little meaning after February, when he had started working full time somewhere else. [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02] It is later reported that the strain of anthrax used in the attacks could be no older than September 1999. [New York Times, 6/23/02] While at USAMRIID, Hatfill also worked on virology in a different building than where anthrax was studied, so the odds of Hatfill getting access to the type of anthrax used in the attacks at USAMRIID seems extremely small. [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02]
September 1999 (C): A report prepared for US intelligence entitled the "Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism" is completed. It states: "Al-Qaeda's expected retaliation for the US cruise missile attack ... could take several forms of terrorist attack in the nation's capital. Al-Qaeda could detonate a Chechen-type building-buster bomb at a federal building. Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and Semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House. Whatever form an attack may take, bin Laden will most likely retaliate in a spectacular way." The report is by the National Intelligence Council, which advises the President and US intelligence on emerging threats. [AP, 4/18/02, read the complete report on-line] The Bush administration later claims to have never heard of this report until May 2002, despite the fact that it had been publicly posted on the internet since 1999, and "widely shared within the government" according to the New York Times. [CNN, 5/18/02, New York Times, 5/18/02]
September 1999 (D): US intelligence obtains information that bin Laden and others are planning a terrorist act in the US, possibly against specific landmarks in California and New York City. The reliability of the source is unknown. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
September 1999 (E): FBI agents visit the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma to investigate Ihab Ali, who attended the school in 1993 and was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya. [CNN, 10/16/01, Boston Globe, 9/18/01, Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] It's not known if those investigators were aware of a flight school warning given by the Oklahoma FBI in 1998 (see May 18, 1998). Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi later visit Airman in July 2000 but ultimately decide to train in Florida instead. [Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Zacarias Moussaoui takes flight lessons at Airman in 2001 (see February 23, 2001).
September 15, 1999: The first phase of the US Commission on National Security/21st Century, co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart (D) and Warren Rudman (R) is issued. It concludes: "America will be attacked by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction and Americans will lose their lives on American soil, possibly in large numbers" (see also January 31, 2001). [download the complete report here: USCNS Reports]
September 21, 1999: German intelligence is periodically tapping suspected al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar's telephone (see also March 1997 and February 17, 1999), and on this day investigators hear Zammar call hijacker Marwan Alshehhi. Officials initially claim that the call also mentions hijacker Mohamed Atta, but only his first name. [Telegraph, 11/24/01, New York Times, 1/18/03] But in fact, his full name, "Mohammed Atta Al Amir," is mentioned in this call and in another recorded call. [FAZ, 2/2/03] Alshehhi, living in the United Arab Emirates at the time, calls Zammar frequently. German intelligence asks the United Arab Emirates to identify the number and the caller, but the request is not answered. [Der Spiegel, 2/3/03]
October 1999: The ANSER Institute for Homeland Security is founded. This institute claims to be "leading the [homeland security] debate through executive-level education, public awareness programs, workshops for policy makers and online publications: a weekly newsletter and the Journal of Homeland Security, which features articles by senior government leaders and leading homeland security experts." As their webpage makes clear, the first mention of the phrase "homeland security" in a US context came only one month earlier. This institute, which has deep roots in the Air Force, has received tens of millions of government dollars in support. [Online Journal, 6/29/02] They talked about a "second Pearl Harbor" long before 9/11. Doesn't this institute indicate the Department of Homeland Security was planned long before 9/11? Their own website touts their role in the creation of this department, but the media has completely failed to cover the story. [Institute for Homeland Security website, Institute for Homeland Security website FAQ, and, though it's a partisan website, the only reporting on this has been at the Online Journal, 6/29/02]
October 1999 (B): The CIA readies an operation to capture or kill bin Laden, secretly training and equipping approximately 60 commandos from the ISI. Pakistan supposedly agrees to this plan in return for the lifting of economic sanctions and more economic aid. The plan is ready to go by this month, but it is aborted because on October 12, General Musharraf takes control of Pakistan in a coup (see October 12, 1999). Musharraf refuses to continue the operation despite the promise of substantial rewards. [Washington Post, 10/3/01] Some US officials later say the CIA was tricked, because the ISI just feigned to cooperate as a stalling tactic, and never intended to get bin Laden. [New York Times, 10/29/01]
October 5, 1999: The highly respected Jane's Terrorism and Security Monitor reports that US intelligence is worried bin Laden is planning a major terrorist attack on US soil. They are said to be particularly concerned about some kind of attack on New York, and they have recommended stepped-up security at the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve. [NewsMax, 10/5/99]
October 12, 1999: General Musharraf becomes leader of Pakistan in a coup. One major reason for the coup is the ISI felt the previous ruler had to go "out of fear that he might buckle to American pressure and reverse Pakistan's policy [of supporting] the Taliban." [New York Times, 12/8/01] Shortly thereafter Musharraf replaces the leader of the ISI, Brig Imtiaz, because of his close ties to the previous leader. Imtiaz is arrested and convicted of "having assets disproportionate to his known sources of income." It comes out that he was keeping tens of millions of dollars earned from heroin smuggling in a Deutschebank account. This is interesting because insider trading just prior to 9/11 will later connect to a branch of Deutschebank recently run by "Buzzy" Krongard, now Executive Director of the CIA (see September 6-10, 2001). [Financial Times (Asian edition), 8/10/01] The new Director of the ISI is Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, a close ally of Musharraf who is instrumental in the success of the coup. [Guardian, 10/9/01] Mahmood will later be fired after suggestions that he helped fund the 9/11 attacks (see October 7, 2001 (B)).
November 1999: Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar enter the US and begin living in San Diego [Washington Post, 9/30/01, San Diego Channel 10, 10/5/01, Newsweek, 6/2/02] (some reports have them in the US even earlier [Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01, Las Vegas Review Journal, 10/26/01]). Alhazmi's name is on an apartment lease beginning in November 1999. [Washington Post, 10/01] However, FBI Director Mueller has stated the two first arrived on January 15, 2000 after an important meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000), and many news reports concur. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/27/02] It has been reported however, that shortly before 9/11 the CIA determined the two were in Los Angeles around Jan 1, 2000, before the meeting. [AP, 9/21/02 (B)] In early 1999, the NSA intercepted communications mentioning the name Nawaf Alhazmi. [AP, 9/25/02] The NSA Director later states that by the time of the Malaysia meeting, the hijackers Nawaf, his brother Salem and Almihdhar were all to al-Qaeda, "in our sights," known to be associated with al-Qaeda "and we shared this information with the (intelligence) community." [Copley News, 10/17/02, NSA Director Congressional Testimony, 10/17/02] Shouldn't all three have been put on a terrorist watch list even before two of them first arrived in the US in November 1999?
November 1999 (B): As hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar enter the US for the first time (see November 1999), they are met at the Los Angeles International Airport by a Saudi man named Omar al-Bayoumi (see June 1998 (D)). Al-Bayoumi later claims that he didn't know Alhazmi and Almihdhar, but happens to overhear them speaking Arabic in the airport restaurant, introduces himself and begins helping them. He drives them to San Diego, arranges for them to live in an apartment a few doors away in the same apartment building, guarantees the lease and pays $1,550 in cash to cover the first two months rent. He also helps them open a bank account, obtain car insurance, get Social Security cards and call flight schools in Florida. [Newsweek, 11/24/02, Washington Post, 12/29/01, Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] Alhazmi and Almihdhar may have reimbursed al-Bayoumi for the rent money later the same day. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Al-Bayoumi is arrested after 9/11, but released after one week (see September 22, 2001). Some FBI officials later suggest that al-Bayoumi was an al-Qaeda agent, and the possibility that the Saudi government may have funded him creates headlines in November 2002 (see November 22, 2002). Note that there is some discrepancy as to when Alhazmi and Almihdhar first entered the US; most media report January 2000 (after an important al-Qaeda meeting that they attend in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000)), but some report November 1999 (for instance, Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02]). Since Alhazmi's name appears on a San Diego apartment lease in November 1999, it is hard to see how they could have arrived later than that. [Washington Post, 10/01]
November 3, 1999: The head of Australia's security services admits that the Echelon global surveillance system exists (see August 12, 1988); the US still denies its existence. The BBC describes Echelon's power as "astounding," and elaborates: "Every international telephone call, fax, e-mail, or radio transmission can be listened to by powerful computers capable of voice recognition. They home in on a long list of key words, or patterns of messages. They are looking for evidence of international crime, like terrorism." [BBC, 11/3/99]
November 14, 1999: United Nations sanctions against Afghanistan take effect. The sanctions freeze Taliban assets and impose an air embargo on Ariana airlines in an effort to force the Taliban to hand over bin Laden. [BBC, 2/6/00] However, Ariana keeps its illegal trade network flying (see Mid-1996-October 2001), and is grounded in early 2001 only when additional sanctions against Ariana take effect (see January 19, 2001).
November 29, 1999: The United Nations Drug Control Programme has determined the ISI makes around $2.5 billion annually from the sale of illegal drugs. [Times of India, 11/29/99]
November 30, 1999: Jordanian officials successfully uncover an al-Qaeda plot to blow up the Radisson Hotel in Amman, Jordan and other sites on January 1, 2000 (see also 1989-May 2000). [PBS Frontline 10/3/02] A call between al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah and a suspected Jordanian terrorist exposes the plot. In the call, Zubaydah states, "The grooms are ready for the big wedding." [Seattle Times, 6/23/02] This call reflects an extremely poor code system, because the FBI already determined in the wake of the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998) that "wedding" was the al-Qaeda code word for bomb. [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 214] Furthermore, it appears al-Qaeda fails to later change their code system, because the codename for the 9/11 attack is also "The Big Wedding." [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02] US intelligence claims it failed to understand the code language for the 9/11 attacks.
Late November 1999: Investigators believe hijackers Atta, Marwan Alshehhi and Ziad Jarrah and associates Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Said Bahaji (all members of the same Hamburg, Germany cell) arrive separately in Afghanistan around this time. They meet with bin Laden and train for several months. [CBS, 10/9/02, New York Times, 9/10/02] In a 2002 interview with Al Jazeera, bin al-Shibh says "We had a meeting attended by all four pilots including Nawaf Alhazmi, Atta's right-hand man." The Guardian interprets this to mean that Alhazmi flew Flight 77, not Hani Hanjour as popularly believed. [Guardian, 9/9/02]
December 1999: The CIA begins "persistent" efforts to recruit German businessman Mamoun Darkazanli (see September 24, 2001) as an informer. Darkazanli knows Atta and the other members of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. In late 1998, German intelligence had begun an investigation into Darkazanli (see September 20, 1998). Agents occasionally followed him, but Darkazanli obviously noticed the trail on him at least once. More costly and time-consuming electronic surveillance is not done however, and by the end of 1999 the investigation has produced little of value. German law does not allow foreign governments to have informants in Germany. So, this month the CIA representative in Hamburg appears at the headquarters of the Hamburg state domestic intelligence agency, the LFV, responsible for tracking terrorists and domestic extremists. He tells them the CIA believes Darkazanli had knowledge of an unspecified terrorist plot and encourages that he be "turned" against his al-Qaeda comrades. A source later recalls he says, "Darkazanli knows a lot." Efforts to recruit him continue the next year (see Spring 2000). The CIA has not admitted this interest in Darkazanli. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02]
December 1999 (B): A Yemeni safe house telephone monitored by the FBI and CIA (see Late 1998), reveals that there will be an important al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in January 2000, and that hijacker Khalid Almihdhar and an associate named Nawaf (hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi) will attend. [Newsweek, 6/2/02, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] During the next month, the CIA learns that Nawaf's last name is Alhazmi. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, New York Times, 9/21/02] On Almihdhar's way to Malaysia the CIA learns he has a multiple-entry visa for the US good until April 6, 2000 (apparently Alhazmi gets the same type of visa at the same time, but US intelligence does not learn this until later [Copley News, 10/17/02]). [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, New York Times, 9/21/02] Through the safe house connection the CIA knows Almihdhar is tied to al-Qaeda, and they know he can enter and leave the US at will, but they don't attempt to find him. Had they tried, they would have learned he was already living in the US (see November 1999).
December 4, 1999: Princess
Haifa bint Faisal, the wife of Prince Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador to the US,
begins sending monthly cashier's checks of between $2,000 and $3,500 (accounts
differ) to Majeda Dweikat, the wife of Osama Basnan, a Saudi living in San Diego
(see April 1998). Accounts
also differ over when the checks were first sent (between November 1999 and
about March 2000, a Saudi government spokesman has stated December 4 [Fox
News, 11/23/02]). Basnan's wife signs many of the checks over to her friend
Manal Bajadr, the wife of Omar al-Bayoumi. [Washington
Times, 11/26/02, Newsweek, 11/22/02,
Newsweek, 11/24/02, Guardian,
11/25/02] Basnan's wife received some checks while she was living in Baltimore,
Maryland and Falls Church, Virginia. [Washington
Post, 11/24/02] Falls Church is located outside Washington and near CIA
headquarters. It is also where the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [WAMY] - a
suspected terrorist organization - is located. Abdullah bin Laden (Osama's brother)
was the US director of WAMY; he and his brother Omar lived in Falls Church at
the same time as four of the 9/11 hijackers (see 1996).
It is believed that al-Bayoumi helped 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid
Almihdhar settle in San Diego (see November
1999 (B)), and it is later suggested that the money from the wife of
the Saudi ambassador passes through these two as intermediaries and ultimately
ends up in the hands of the two hijackers (see November
22, 2002). The payments from Princess Haifa continue until May 2002
and may total $51,000, or as much as $73,000. [MSNBC,
11/23/02, MSNBC, 11/27/02]
While living in the San Diego area, al-Bayoumi and Basnan are heavily involved
in relocating and offering financial support to Saudi immigrants in the community.
[Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] In late
2002, Al-Bayoumi tells an Arabic-language newspaper in London that he did not
pass any money along to the hijackers. [Washington
Times, 12/04/02] Basnan is also described as an al-Qaeda sympathizer who
called 9/11 "a wonderful, glorious day." [Newsweek,
11/22/02] However, Basnan has variously claimed to know al-Bayoumi, not
know him at all or to know him only vaguely, [Arab
News, 11/26/02, ABC,
11/25/02, MSNBC, 11/27/02]
but earlier reports say Basnan and his wife were "very good friends"
of al-Bayoumi and his wife. Both couples lived at the Parkwood Apartments at
the same time as the two hijackers; prior to that, the couples lived together
in a different apartment complex. Also, the two wives were arrested for shoplifting
together at a J. C. Penney in April 2001. [San
Diego Union-Tribune, 10/22/02]
December 14, 1999: Al-Qaeda terrorist Ahmed Ressam is arrested in Port Angeles, Washington, attempting to enter the US with components of explosive devices. 130 pounds of bomb-making chemicals and detonator components are found inside his rental car. He subsequently admits he planned to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on December 31, 1999. [New York Times, 12/30/01] This would have been part of a wave of attacks against US targets over the New Year's weekend (see also November 30, 1999 and January 3, 2000). He is later connected to al-Qaeda and convicted, but he still hasn't been formally sentenced. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, PBS Frontline 10/3/02]
December 14-31, 1999: In the wake of the arrest of Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999), FBI investigators work frantically to uncover more millennium plots before they are likely to take place at the end of the year. Documents found with Ressam lead to coconspirators in New York, then Boston and Seattle. Enough people are arrested to prevent any attacks. National Security Council Chief of Counterterrorism Richard Clarke later says, "I think a lot of the FBI leadership for the first time realized that ... there probably were al-Qaeda people in the United States. They realized that only after they looked at the results of the investigation of the millennium bombing plot." [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] Yet Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger says, "Until the very end of our time in office, the view we received from the [FBI] was that al-Qaeda had limited capacity to operate in the US and any presence here was under surveillance." No analysis is done before 9/11 to investigate just how big that presence might be. [Washington Post, 9/20/02]
December 20, 1999: The BBC explains one reason why the Northern Alliance has been able to hold out for so long in its civil war against the Taliban in Afghanistan: "Iran has stirred up the fighting in order to make sure an international oil pipeline [goes] through its territory and not through Afghanistan." [BBC, 12/20/99] In the summer of 2001 Pakistan and India appear to be leaning towards putting a gas pipeline through Iran but this plan is apparently canceled after the 9/11 attacks (see June 27, 2001).
December 24-31, 1999: An Indian Airlines flight is hijacked and flown to Afghanistan where 155 passengers are held hostage for eight days. They are freed in return for the release of three militants held in Indian prisons. One of the hostages is killed. One of the men freed in the exchange is 9/11 paymaster Saeed Sheikh (see November 1994-December 1999). [BBC, 12/31/99] Another freed militant is terrorist leader Maulana Masood Azhar. Azhar emerges in Pakistan a few days later, and tells a crowd of 10,000, "I have come here because this is my duty to tell you that Muslims should not rest in peace until we have destroyed America and India." [AP, 1/5/00] He then tours Pakistan for weeks under the protection of the ISI. [Vanity Fair, 8/02] The ISI and Saeed helps Azhar form a new terrorist group called Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Azhar is soon plotting terrorist acts again (see October 1, 2001 (D) and December 13, 2001). [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02, Guardian, 7/16/02, Washington Post, 2/8/03]
Late 1999: Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi report their passports missing, Ziad Jarrah reports his missing in February 2000. [Sun Sentinel, 9/28/01, Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, by Der Spiegel, 2/02, pp. 257-258] Alshehhi has a replacement issued on December 26, 1999. [London Times, 9/20/01] The common theory is that this was to cover up incriminating trips to Afghanistan and other places, but could this have been when they took on new identities?
December 31, 1999-January 1, 2000: The CIA expected five to 15 attacks against American targets around the world over the New Year's weekend, but none occur. [Time, 8/4/02] Since late 1999, there was intelligence that targets in Washington and New York would be attacked at this time. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] It's not clear who they warned or when, but if US intelligence thought terrorists were capable of so many simultaneous attacks then why (as was claimed after 9/11) have only a total of 14 fighters been at a state of highest readiness to defend the entire US since 1997?
2000: The BKA, the German counterpart to the FBI, prepares an extensive report on al-Qaeda's connections in Germany. The BKA warns that "unknown structures" are preparing to stage attacks abroad. However, the German federal prosecutor's office rejects a proposed follow-up investigation. One of the persons named in the BKA report supposedly had contacts with the Hamburg terror group, containing hijackers Atta, Alshehhi and others. [Berliner Zeitung, 9/24/01]
2000 (B): At some point during this year, an FBI internal memo states that a Middle Eastern nation has been trying to purchase a flight simulator in violation of US restrictions. FBI refuses to disclose the date or details. [Los Angeles Times, 5/30/02] FTW
2000 (C): During this year, there are 425 unknowns - pilots who didn't file or diverted from flight plans or used the wrong frequency. Fighters are scrambled in response 129 times. After 9/11, such scrambles go from about twice a week to three or four times a day. [Calgary Herald, 10/13/01] Between September 2000 and June 2001, fighters are scrambled 67 times. [AP, 8/13/02] General Ralph E. Eberhart, NORAD Commander in Chief, says that before 9/11, "Normally, our units fly 4-6 sorties a month in support of the NORAD air defense mission." [FNS, 10/25/01] Statistics on how many minutes fighters take to scramble before 9/11 apparently are not released.
2000-September 10, 2001: The names of four hijackers are later discovered in Philippines immigration records, according to Philippine Immigration Commissioner Andrea Domingo. However, it hasn't been confirmed if these are the hijackers, or just other Saudis with the same names. Abdulaziz Alomari visits the Philippines once in 2000, then again in February 2001, leaving on February 12. [AP, 9/19/01, Telegraph, 9/20/01, Philippines Daily Inquirer, 9/19/01] Ahmed Alghamdi visits Manila, Philippines more than 13 times in the two years before 9/11. He leaves the Philippines the day before the attacks. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01, Telegraph, 9/20/01] Fayez Ahmed Banihammad visits the Philippines on October 17-19, 2000. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01, Telegraph, 9/20/01] Saeed Alghamdi visits the Philippines on at least 15 occasions in 2001, entering as a tourist. The last visit ends on August 6, 2001. [Telegraph, 9/20/01] Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi may also have been living in the Philippines (see 1998-2000), and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed occasionally stays there (see Early 1994-January 1995). When in the Philippines, it is possible the hijackers meet with associates of Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden's brother-in-law. Khalifa has been closely linked with the Philippines chapter of the International Islamic Relief Organization, which gets much of its money from the Saudi Arabian government and has lately been accused of being a front for al-Qaeda. Amongst other connections to terrorism, Khalifa helped fund the Islamic Army of Aden, a group that claimed responsibility for the bombing of the USS Cole. [Boston Herald, 10/14/01] Khalifa has been connected through phone calls to Hambali, a major terrorist who attended a planning meeting for the 9/11 attacks in Malaysia, also attended by two hijackers connected to the Islamic Army of Aden (see January 5-8, 2000). [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02, Cox News, 10/21/01] Nothing more has been heard to confirm or deny the hijackers' Philippines connections since these initial reports - are they being downplayed to hide embarrassing connections between the hijackers, bin Laden's family, and the Saudi government?
Early 2000: By the start of this year, the US has already begun "to quietly build influence" in Central Asia. The US has established significant military-to-military relationships with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Soldiers from those countries have been trained by Americans. The militaries of all three have an ongoing relationship with the National Guard of a US state Kazakhstan with Arizona, Kyrgyzstan with Montana, Uzbekistan with Louisiana. The countries also participate in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. [Washington Post, 8/27/02]
January 2000: Former President George Bush Sr. meets with the bin Laden family on behalf of the Carlyle Group. He had also met with them in 1998 (see November 1998 (B)), but it's not known if he met with them after this. Bush denied this meeting took place until a thank you note was found confirming it. [Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01, Guardian, 10/31/01] FTW
January 2000 (B): A DEA government document later leaked to the press [DEA report, 6/01] suggests that a large Israeli spy ring starts penetrating the US from at least this time, if not earlier. This ring, which will later become popularly known as the "art student spy ring," is later shown to have strange connections to the events of 9/11. [Insight, 3/11/02]
January-May 2000: 9/11 hijacker Atta is put under surveillance by the CIA while living in Germany. [AFP, 9/22/01, Focus, 9/24/01, Berliner Zeitung, 9/24/01] He is "reportedly observed buying large quantities of chemicals in Frankfurt, apparently for the production of explosives [and/or] for biological warfare. The US agents reported to have trailed Atta are said to have failed to inform the German authorities about their investigation," even as the Germans are investigating many of his associates (see November 1, 1998-February 2001). "The disclosure that Atta was being trailed by police long before 11 September raises the question why the attacks could not have been prevented with the man's arrest." [Observer, 9/30/01] A German newspaper adds that Atta was still able to get a visa into the US on May 18. The surveillance stopped when he left for the US at the start of June (see June 3, 2000). But "experts believe that the suspect remained under surveillance in the United States." [Berliner Zeitung, 9/24/01] A German intelligence official also states, "We can no longer exclude the possibility that the Americans wanted to keep an eye on Atta after his entry in the USA." [Focus, 9/24/01] This correlates with a Newsweek claim that US officials knew Atta was a "known [associate] of Islamic terrorists well before [9/11]." [Newsweek, 9/20/01] However, a Congressional inquiry later reports that the US "intelligence community possessed no intelligence or law enforcement information linking 16 of the 19 hijackers [including Atta] to terrorism or terrorist groups." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Did the fact that the CIA started monitoring Atta in January 2000 have any connection to roommate Ramzi bin al-Shibh's participation in an al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia, that the CIA had ordered surveilled that same month (see January 5-8, 2000)?
January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001: After being released from prison (see December 24-31, 1999), Saeed Sheikh stays in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for several days and meets with Taliban leader Mullah Omar. He also meets with bin Laden, who is said to call Saeed "my special son." He then travels to Pakistan and is given a house by the ISI. [Vanity Fair, 8/02] He lives openly and opulently in Pakistan, even attending "swanky parties attended by senior Pakistani government officials." US authorities conclude he is an asset of the ISI. [Newsweek, 3/13/02] Amazingly, he is allowed to travel freely to Britain, and visits family there at least twice (see 1999 (J)). [Vanity Fair, 8/02] He works with Ijaz Shah, a former ISI official in charge of handling two terrorist groups (see February 5, 2002), Lieutenant-General Mohammad Aziz Khan, former deputy chief of the ISI in charge of relations with Jaish-e-Mohammad (see September 17-28, 2001 and October 7, 2001), and Brigadier Abdullah, a former ISI officer. He is well known to other senior ISI officers. He regularly travels to Afghanistan and helps train new terrorist recruits in training camps there. [New York Times, 2/25/02, National Post, 2/26/02, Guardian, 7/16/02, India Today, 2/25/02] Saeed helps train the 9/11 hijackers also, presumably in Afghanistan. [Telegraph, 9/30/01] He also helps al-Qaeda develop a secure web-based communications system, and there is even talk that he could one day succeed bin Laden. [Vanity Fair, 8/02, Telegraph, 7/16/02] He wires money to the 9/11 hijackers on at least one occasion (see Early August 2001 (D)) and possibly others (see June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000 and September 8-11, 2001). Presumably he sends the money from the United Arab Emirates during his many trips there. [Guardian, 2/9/02]
January 3, 2000: An al-Qaeda attack on USS The Sullivans in Yemen's Aden harbor fails when their boat filled with explosives sinks. The attack remains undiscovered, and a duplication of the attack by the same people later successfully hits the USS Cole (see October 12, 2000). [PBS Frontline 10/3/02]
5-8, 2000: About a dozen of bin Laden's trusted
followers hold a secret, "top-level al-Qaeda summit" in the city of
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. [CNN,
Diego Union-Tribune, 9/27/02] Plans for the October 2000 bombing of the
USS Cole (see October 12, 2000)
and the 9/11 attacks are discussed. [USA
Today, 2/12/02, CNN,
8/30/02] At the request of the CIA, the Malaysian secret service follows,
photographs, and even videotapes these men, and then passes the information
on to the US. However, the meeting is not wiretapped. [Newsweek,
6/2/02, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01,
Yorker, 1/14/02] Attendees of the meeting include:
1 and 2) Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. The CIA and FBI will later miss many opportunities to foil the 9/11 plot through these two hijackers and the knowledge of their presence at this meeting.
3) Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a top al-Qaeda leader and the alleged "mastermind" of the 9/11 attacks. [Independent, 6/6/02, CNN, 8/30/02] The US had known Mohammed was a major terrorist since the exposure of Operation Bojinka in 1995 (see January 6, 1995 and January-May 1996), and knew what he looked like, as can be seen from a 1998 wanted poster (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001). US officials have stated that they only realized the meeting was important in the summer of 2001, but the presence of Mohammed should have proved the meeting's importance. [Los Angeles Times, 2/2/02]
4) An Indonesian terrorist known as Hambali. He was the main financier of Operation Bojinka. [CNN, 8/30/02, CNN, 3/14/02] Philippine intelligence officials learned of Hambali's importance in 1995, but didn't track him down or share information about him. [CNN, 3/14/02]
5) Yazid Sufaat, a Malaysian man who owned the condominium where the meeting was held. [Newsweek, 6/2/02, Newsweek, 6/2/02] A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through Sufaat's presence at this meeting is later missed (see September-October 2000).
6) Fahad al-Quso, a top al-Qaeda operative. [Newsweek, 9/20/01] A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through al-Quso's presence at this meeting is later missed (see Early December 2000).
7) Tawifiq bin Atash, better known by his alias "Khallad." Bin Atash, a "trusted member of bin Ladens inner circle," was in charge of bin Laden's bodyguards, and served as bin Laden's personal intermediary at least for the USS Cole attack. [Newsweek, 9/20/01] A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through bin Atash's presence at this meeting is later missed (see January 4, 2001).
8) Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who investigators believe was supposed to be the 20th hijacker, except he couldn't get a US visa. His presence at the meeting may not have been realized until after 9/11, despite a picture of him next to bin Atash, and even video footage of him. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, Time, 9/15/02 Die Zeit, 10/1/02, Newsweek, 11/26/01] One account says he was recognized at the time of the meeting, which makes it hard to understand why he wasn't tracked back to Germany. [Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] Another possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through bin al-Shibh's presence at this meeting is later missed (see June 10, 2000). It appears bin al-Shibh and Almihdhar were directly involved in the attack on the USS Cole [Newsweek, 9/4/02, Washington Post, 7/14/02, Guardian, 10/15/01], so better surveillance or follow-up from this meeting should have prevented that attack as well.
9 and more?) Unnamed members of the Egyptian based Islamic Jihad were also known to have been at the meeting. [Cox News, 10/21/01] Islamic Jihad had merged with al-Qaeda in February 1998. [ABC News, 11/17/01]
January 15, 2000: Shortly after the al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia, hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar fly from Bangkok, Thailand, to Los Angeles, California. [MSNBC, 12/11/01] The CIA tracks Alhazmi, but apparently doesn't realize Almihdhar is also on the plane. The US keeps a watch list database known as TIPOFF, with over 80,000 names of suspected terrorists as of late 2002. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02] The list is checked whenever someone enters or leaves the US. "The threshold for adding a name to TIPOFF is low," and even a "reasonable suspicion" that a person is connected with a terrorist group, warrants being added to the database. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Almihdhar and Alhazmi are important enough to have been mentioned to the CIA Director several times this month, but are not added to the watch list. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Furthermore, "astonishingly, the CIA ... [didn't] notify the FBI, which could have covertly tracked them to find out their mission." [Newsweek, 6/2/02]
January 15-August 2000: Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar return to their apartment in San Diego, and live there openly. Hijacker Hani Hanjour joins them as a roommate in February 2000. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/21/01, San Diego Channel 10, 9/18/01] They use their real names on their rental agreement, [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] driver's licenses, Social Security cards and credit cards, [Newsweek, 6/2/02] car purchase, and bank account. Alhazmi is even listed in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, Newsweek, 6/2/02] Neighbors notice odd behavior: they have no furniture, they are constantly using cell phones on the balcony, constantly playing flight simulator games, keep to themselves, and strange cars and limousines pick them up for short rides in the middle of the night. [Washington Post, 9/30/01, Time, 9/24/01] Who were they meeting in these late night car rides, and for what purpose?
Mid-January 2000: Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi who has been living in the US for several years (see June 1998 (D)), throws a welcoming party for future 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in San Diego that introduces them to the local Muslim community. [Washington Post, 12/29/01] He also introduces hijacker Hani Hanjour to the community a short time later. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/14/02] One associate later says an al-Bayoumi party "was a big deal ... it meant that everyone accepted them without question." [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/25/01] This was only a small part of his assistance to the three hijackers (see November 1999 (B)). Why was he so friendly and helpful? Many people in San Diego who knew him believe he was a Saudi government spy, reporting on the activities of Saudi-born college students. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/14/02, Newsweek, 11/22/02]
February 6, 2000: India's largest newsweekly reports that it appears a recent Mossad attempt to infiltrate al-Qaeda failed when they were stopped by Indian customs officials on their way to Bangladesh. These 11 men appeared to be from Afghanistan, but had Israeli passports. One expert states, "It is not unlikely for Mossad to recruit 11 Afghans in Iran and grant them Israeli citizenship to penetrate a network such as Bin Laden's. They would begin by infiltrating them into an Islamic radical group in an unlikely place like Bangladesh." [The Week, 2/6/00] If this shows that Mossad was trying to infiltrate al-Qaeda, did they make other attempts that succeeded, and if so, is this how they learned enough to know where to trail al-Qaeda in the US via the "art student spy ring"?
February 23, 2000: European Parliament hearings over Echelon, the global surveillance network, draw banner headlines across Europe. A report prepared for the European Parliament not only confirms that Echelon exists, but has found that Echelon had twice helped US companies gain an advantage over Europeans. The EU sets up a commission to determine if action should be taken against Britain for security breaches. [New York Times, 2/24/00] The US has denied and continues to deny the very existence of Echelon. But it exists, as Echelon partners Britain and Australia (see November 3, 1999) now admit. [BBC, 5/29/01]
March 2000: An FBI agent, reportedly angry over a glitch in an e-mail tracking program that has somehow mixed innocent non-targeted e-mails with those belonging to al-Qaeda, supposedly accidentally destroys all of the FBI's Denver-based intercepts of bin Laden's colleagues in a terrorist investigation. The tracking program is called Carnivore. But the story sounds dubious, and is flatly contradicted in the same article: "A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday night that the e-mails were not destroyed." [AP, 5/28/02] FTW
March 2000 (B): US intelligence obtains information about the types of targets that bin Ladens network might strike. The Statue of Liberty is specially mentioned, as are skyscrapers, ports, airports, and nuclear power plants. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
March 5, 2000: An unnamed nation tells the CIA that hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi had flown from the January meeting in Malaysia to Los Angeles (see January 5-8, 2000). [New York Times, 10/17/02] This confirms what the CIA already knows. [CNN, 3/02] The CIA also learns that hijacker Khalid Almihdhar arrived in the US on the same flight. [Michael Rolince Testimony, 9/20/02] Yet again, CIA fails to put their names on a watch list, and fails to alert the FBI so they can be tracked. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] CIA Director Tenet later claims that "Nobody read that cable in the March timeframe." [New York Times, 10/17/02] Yet the Congressional inquiry report states that the day after the cable was received, "another overseas CIA station noted, in a cable to the bin Laden unit at CIA headquarters, that it had 'read with interest' the March cable, 'particularly the information that a member of this group traveled to the US...'" [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]
March 17, 2000: Reports suggest bin Laden appears weak and gaunt at an important meeting of supporters. He may be very ill with liver ailments, and is seeking a kidney dialysis machine. [AP, 3/25/00] It is believed he gets the dialysis machine in early 2001. [London Times, 11/01/01] He is able to talk, walk with a cane, and hold meetings, but little else. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 3/16/00, Asiaweek, 3/24/00] If bin Laden had such medical trouble before 9/11, how could he stay alive on the run after 9/11?
March 21, 2000: FBI agent Robert Wright (see also October 1998 and June 9, 2001), having been accused of tarnishing the reputation of fellow agent Gamal Abdel-Hafiz, makes a formal internal complaint about Abdel-Hafiz. FBI agent Barry Carmody seconds Wright's complaint. Wright and Carmody accuse Abdel-Hafiz, a Muslim, of hindering investigations by openly refusing to record other Muslims. The FBI was investigating if BMI Inc., a New Jersey based company with connections to Saudi financier Yassin al-Qadi (see October 12, 2002), had helped fund the 1998 US embassy bombings. [Wall Street Journal, 11/26/02, ABC News, 12/19/02] Federal prosecutor Mark Flessner and other FBI agents back up the allegations against Abdel-Hafiz. [ABC News, 12/19/02] Carmody also claims that Abdel-Hafiz hurt an inquiry into the possible terrorist ties of fired University of South Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian by refusing to record a conversation with the professor in 1998. [Tampa Tribune, 3/4/03] Complaints to superiors and headquarters about this never get a response. [Fox News, 3/6/03] Furthermore, "Far from being reprimanded, Abdel-Hafiz [is] promoted to one of the FBI's most important anti-terrorism posts, the American Embassy in Saudi Arabia, to handle investigations for the FBI in that Muslim country." [ABC News, 12/19/02] Abdel-Hafiz is finally suspended in February 2003 after his scandal is widely reported in the press. [Tampa Tribune, 3/4/03] Bill O'Reilly of Fox News claims that on March 4, 2003, the FBI threatens to fire Wright if he speaks publicly about this, one hour before Wright is scheduled to appear on Fox News. [Fox News, 3/4/03] Is Abdel-Hafiz promoted to a sensitive Saudi post because he won't ask hard questions there?
March 25, 2000: President Clinton visits Pakistan. It is later revealed that the US secret service believed that the ISI was so deeply infiltrated by terrorist organizations, that it begged Clinton to cancel his visit. Specifically, the US government determined that the ISI had long standing ties with al-Qaeda. When Clinton went ahead anyway, his security took extraordinary and unprecedented precautions. For instance, an empty Air Force One was flown into the country, and the president made the trip in a small unmarked plane. [New York Times, 10/29/01]
Spring 2000: German investigators finally agree to the CIA's idea of recruiting businessman Mamoun Darkazanli as an informer (see December 1999 and September 24, 2001). An agent of the LFV, the Hamburg state intelligence agency, casually approaches Darkazanli and asks him whether he is interested in becoming a spy. Darkazanli replies that he is just a businessman who knows nothing about al-Qaeda or terrorism. The Germans inform the local CIA representative that the approach failed. The CIA agent refuses to admit defeat. But when German agents ask for more information to show Darkazanli they know of his terrorist ties, the CIA fails to give any information. As it happened, at the end of January 2000, Darkazanli had just met with terrorist Barakat Yarkas in Madrid, Spain. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] Darkazanli is a long-time friend and business partner of Yarkas, the most prominent al-Qaeda agent in Spain. [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/03] The meeting included other suspected al-Qaeda figures, and was monitored by Spanish police. If the CIA was aware of the Madrid meeting, they don't tell the Germans. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] The CIA had also begun surveillance of Atta in January 2000, but they keep all knowledge of that investigation secret from the Germans (see January-May 2000). A second LFV attempt to recruit Darkazanli also fails. The CIA then attempts to work with federal German intelligence officials in Berlin to "turn" Darkazanli. Results of that effort aren't known. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02]
Spring 2000 (B): Investigative reporter Bob Woodward later claims that special CIA paramilitary teams begin "working with tribes and warlords in southern Afghanistan" and help "create a significant new network in the region of the Taliban's greatest strength." [Washington Post, 11/18/01]
Spring 2000 (C): Sources who know bin Laden later claim that bin Laden's stepmother has a second meeting with her son Osama in Afghanistan (see Spring 1998). The trip is approved by the Saudi royal family. The Saudis pass the message to him that "'they wouldn't crack down on his followers in Saudi Arabia' as long as he set his sights on targets outside the desert kingdom." In late 1999, the Saudi government had told the CIA about the upcoming trip, and suggested placing a homing beacon on her luggage. This doesn't happen - Saudis later claim they weren't taken seriously, and Americans claim they never received specific information on her travel plans. [New Yorker, 11/5/01, Washington Post, 12/19/01]
Spring 2000 (D): Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, while living in San Diego, contacts a "terrorist facility" in the Middle East that is under US surveillance (see January 15-August 2000). Intelligence agencies are aware of the call but don't understand its significance. [Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02, St. Petersburg Times, 12/12/02] Apparently his location is not known from the call, and some but not all of the information about the call is reported to other intelligence agencies. The name of the terrorist facility or organization has not been released. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 12/11/01] Could it be the safe house in Yemen that Almihdhar may have already called a few months earlier (see December 1999 (B))?
April 2000: Spruce Whited, director of security for the Portland Public Library, later says Atta and possibly a second hijacker are regulars at the library and frequently use public Internet terminals at this time. He says four other employees recognize Atta as a library patron. "I remember seeing (Atta) in the spring of 2000,'' he says. "I have a vague memory of a second one who turned out to be (Atta's) cousin" (note: this is probably a reference to Marwan Alshehhi). Whited also says federal authorities have not inquired about the library sightings. [Boston Herald, 10/5/01, Portland Press Herald, 10/5/01] According to the official story, Atta doesn't arrive in the US until June 3, 2000. [Miami Herald, 9/22/01, Australian Broadcasting Corp. 11/12/01] Why does the FBI appear uninterested in these early sightings of Atta?
April 2000 (B): US intelligence learns about an alleged bin Laden plot to hijack a 747. The source is a "walk-in" to the FBIs Newark office who claims that he had been to a training camp in Pakistan where he learned hijacking techniques and received arms training. He also stated that he was supposed to meet five to six other individuals in the US who would also participate in the plot. They were instructed to use all necessary force to take over the plane because there would be pilots among the hijacking team. The plan was to fly the plane to Afghanistan, and if they would not make it there, that they were to blow up the plane. Although the individual passed an FBI polygraph, the FBI was never able to verify any aspect of his story or identify his contacts in the US. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
April 2000 (C): The US is given permission to greatly expand a military base in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, and construction begins shortly thereafter. The justification for expanding, Al Adid, a billion-dollar base, is preparedness for renewed action against Iraq. [Los Angeles Times, 1/6/02] Dozens of other US military bases had sprung up in the region in the 1990s. [Village Voice, 11/13/02] Such facilities in Qatar later form the regional headquarters for the US attack on Iraq in 2003.
April 4, 2000: ISI Director and "leading Taliban supporter" Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed visits Washington. In a message meant for both Pakistan and the Taliban, US officials tell him that al-Qaeda has killed Americans and "people who support those people will be treated as our enemies." However, no actual action, military or otherwise, is taken against either the Taliban or Pakistan. [Washington Post, 12/19/01]
April 19, 2000: USA Today states that "Israeli crime groups ... dominate distribution" of Ecstasy. [USA Today, 4/19/00] The DEA also states that most of the Ecstasy sold in the US is "controlled by organized crime figures in Western Europe, Russia and Israel." [UPI, 10/25/01] According to DEA documents, the Israeli "art student" spy ring" has been linked to several ongoing DEA [Ecstasy] investigations in Florida, California, Texas and New York now being closely coordinated by DEA headquarters." [Insight, 3/11/02] In addition to 9/11 connections explored later, was this spy ring meant to obstruct DEA prosecution of Israeli organized crime?
April-May 2000: Around this time hijacker Marwan Alshehhi boasts of planning an attack to a Hamburg librarian. He says, "There will be thousands of dead. You will think of me." He also specifically mentions the WTC. [AFP, 8/29/02, New York Times, 8/29/02] "You will see," Alshehhi adds. "In America something is going to happen. There will be many people killed." [New York Times, 9/10/02] This "demonstrates that the members of the Hamburg cell were not quite as careful to keep secret their plans as had previously been thought. And it appears to bury for good the theory that the pilots were informed of their targets only hours before they took off. Not least, though, Marwan Alshehhi's boast provides a key element for the reconstruction of the plot - a date by which the terrorists had decided on their target." [Guardian, 8/30/02]
Late April-Mid-May 2000:
Atta reportedly has a very strange meeting with Johnelle Bryant of the US Department
of Agriculture (incidentally, one month before the official story claims he
arrived in the US for the first time). According to Bryant, in the meeting Atta
does all of the following:
1) He initially refuses to speak with one who is "but a female."
2) He asks her for a loan of $650,000 to buy and modify a crop-dusting plane.
3) He mentions that he wants to "build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting."
4) He uses his real name even as she takes notes, and makes sure she spells it correctly.
5) He says he has just arrived from Afghanistan.
6) He tells about his travel plans to Spain and Germany.
7) He expresses an interest in visiting New York.
8) He asks her about security at the WTC and other US landmarks.
9) He discusses al-Qaeda and its need for American membership.
10) He tells her bin Laden "would someday be known as the world's greatest leader."
11) He asks to buy the aerial photograph of Washington hanging on her Florida office wall, throwing increasingly large "wads of cash" at her when she refuses to sell it. [ABC News, 6/6/02]
12) After Bryant points out one of the buildings in the Washington photograph as her former place of employment, he asks her, "How would you like it if somebody flew an airplane into your friends' building?" [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/14/02, p. 270]
13) He asks her, "What would prevent [me] from going behind [your] desk and cutting [your] throat and making off with the millions of dollars" in the safe behind her.
14) He asks, "How would America like it if another country destroyed [Washington] and some of the monuments in it like the cities in [my] country had been destroyed?" (Atta supposedly comes from Egypt - what cities have been destroyed there in recent decades?)
15) He gets "very agitated" when he isn't given the money in cash on the spot.
Atta later tries to get the loan again from the same woman, this time "slightly disguised" by wearing glasses. Three other terrorists also attempt to get the same loan from Bryant, but all of them fail. Bryant turns them down because they don't meet the loan requirements, and fails to notify anyone about these strange encounters until after 9/11. Government officials not only confirm the account and say that Bryant passed a lie detector test, but elaborate that the account jibes with other information they have received from interrogating prisoners. Supposedly, failing to get the loan, the terrorists switched plans from using crop dusters to hijacking aircraft. [ABC News, 6/6/02, London Times, 6/8/02] Compare Atta's meeting with FBI Director Mueller's later testimony about the hijackers: "There were no slip-ups. Discipline never broke down. They gave no hint to those around them what they were about." [CNN, 9/28/02] Why would the terrorists have been depending on such a loan in the first place instead of just spending some of bin Laden's millions to buy the plane? Were the terrorists comically inept, and the US just as inept for not catching them, or is the story government propaganda? Could Atta (or someone impersonating him) have been trying to make himself conspicuous as part of a trail of false evidence? Why didn't Bryant report someone who threatened her with violence, and threatened terrorist acts?
May 2000: The CIA
and FBI sends a joint investigative team to Sudan to investigate if that country
is a sponsor of terrorism. It determines that it
is not, but the US doesn't take Sudan off its official list of terrorist states. Sudan
offers again (see 1995
and April 1996) to hand
over their voluminous files on al-Qaeda, and the offer is again turned down.
May 14, 2000: An inquiry is launched into the behavior of Bayer in an English trial of the anti-anthrax drug Cipro. The drug is tested on hundreds despite the company having conducted studies which showed its drug reacted badly with other drugs, seriously impairing its ability to kill bacteria. These results are kept secret. Nearly half of those operated on at one test center develop a variety of potentially life-threatening infections, data at other test centers is unknown. [Sunday Times, 5/14/00]
May 22, 2000: In March 2000, Germany's internal intelligence service places Mounir El Motassadeq and Said Bahaji on a border patrol watch list. The two are members of al-Qaeda's Hamburg cell with Mohamed Atta and others. Their international arrivals and departures are to be reported immediately. On this day, Motassadeq flies to Istanbul, Turkey, and from there goes to an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the border patrol only notes his destination of Istanbul. Bahaji doesn't travel, and when he finally does shortly before 9/11, it isn't noted (see September 3-5, 2001). [Der Spiegel, 2/3/03]
May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001: Nabil al-Marabh, an apparent al-Qaeda sleeper agent (see 1989-May 2000), stabs his Detroit roommate in the knee during an argument on May 30, 2000. He pleads guilty in December 2000 to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. [Boston Herald, 9/20/01] He is given a six-month suspended sentence. But he fails to show up for probation and his deportation order is not carried out. An arrest warrant is issued for him in March 2001. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, Ottawa Citizen, 10/29/01] He lives in Detroit with an al-Qaeda agent named Yousef Hmimssa (see September 17, 2001 (D)). [Boston Herald, 9/20/01, ABC 7, 1/31/02] He receives five driver's licenses in Michigan over a period of 13 months in addition to carrying driver's licenses for Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida and Ontario, Canada. [Toronto Star, 10/26/01] On September 11, 2000, he obtains a Michigan license permitting him to drive semi-trucks containing hazardous materials, including explosives and caustic materials. He is still unsuccessfully trying to find a tractor-trailer driving job one month before 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, ABC 7, 1/31/02] In early 2001 he mostly lives in Toronto, Canada, with Hassan Almrei, a man running some al-Qaeda front businesses. [ABC 7, 1/31/02] Many witnesses see al-Marabh with two 9/11 hijackers at his uncle's Toronto photocopy store (see 2001 (C)). On June 27, 2001, al-Marabh is arrested while trying to enter the US from Canada in the back of a tractor-trailer, carrying a false Canadian passport and citizenship card. [St. Catherines Standard, 9/28/01, St. Catherines Standard, 10/2/01] He had been illegally crossing the US-Canadian border for years. [Ottawa Citizen, 10/29/01] Despite suspicions that he is connected to al-Qaeda, the US immediately deports him to Canada. [New York Times, 7/13/02] He spends two weeks in a Canadian prison, where he boasts to other prisoners that he is in contact with the FBI. He is ordered to live with his uncle in Toronto. These prisoners are puzzled that the FBI doesn't try to interview them about al-Marabh after 9/11. But al-Marabh fails to show up for a deportation hearing in August and a court date in September. [St. Catherines Standard, 10/2/01] "Had Canadian security agents investigated Mr. al-Marabh when they had the chance back in June, when he was jailed by immigration authorities, they may have discovered any number of his worldwide links to convicted and suspected terrorists, including two of the [9/11 hijackers]." [Ottawa Citizen, 10/29/01] Despite all of these al-Qaeda connections and more, the US later decides al-Marabh is not a terrorist (see September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002).
June 2000: Atta and other hijackers begin to open bank accounts in Florida. At least 35 accounts are opened, 14 of them at SunTrust Bank. All are opened with fake social security numbers (some with randomly made up numbers), yet none of the accounts are checked or questioned by the banks. [New York Times, 7/10/02] One transfer from the United Arab Emirates three months later totaling $69,985 prompts the bank to make a "suspicious transaction report" to the US Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. This is not followed up (see also June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000). [Financial Times, 11/29/01]
June 2000 (B): Around this time, a number of very suspicious web domains are registered. Here's the list: "attackamerica.com," "attackonamerica.com," "attackontwintowers.com," "august11horror.com," "august11terror.com," "horrorinamerica.com," "horrorinnewyork.com," "nycterroriststrike.com," "pearlharborinmanhattan.com," "terrorattack2001.com," "towerofhorror.com," "tradetowerstrike.com," "worldtradecenter929.com," "worldtradecenterbombs.com," "worldtradetowerattack.com," "worldtradetowerstrike.com," "wterroristattack2001.com." A counter-terrorism expert says: "It's unbelievable that [the registration company] would register these domain names" and "if they did make a comment to the FBI, it's unbelievable that the FBI didn't react to it." Several of the names mention 2001 and apparently there were no other websites mentioning other years. Registering a site requires a credit card, so presumably this story could provide leads, but it's unclear what leads the FBI got from this, if any. None of the sites were being actively used on 9/11. [Cybercast News Service, 9/19/01] All had expired around June 2001. [Cybercast News Service, 9/20/01] This story is later called an "urban legend," but the debunkers are later themselves criticized. [Insight, 3/11/02] Perhaps someone heard of the terror plot, thought to capitalize on it, and then thought better of it? Were the two specific dates mentioned, August 11 and September 29, preliminary target strike dates?
June 3, 2000: Atta supposedly arrives in the US for the first time, flying from Prague to Newark on a tourist visa issued May 18 in Berlin. [Miami Herald, 9/22/01, Australian Broadcasting Corp. 11/12/01] Yet there's evidence someone using Atta's name and appearance was in the US before this (see September 1999, Late April-Mid-May 2000, and April 2000).
June 10, 2000: Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar flies from San Diego to Frankfurt, Germany. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Authorities later believe that Almihdhar visits Ramzi bin al-Shibh and bin al-Shibh's roommate Atta and other al-Qaeda members in bin al-Shibh's terrorist cell. But since the CIA fails to notify Germany about their suspicions of either Almihdhar or bin al-Shibh, both of whom were seen attending the al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000), German police fail to surveil them and a chance to uncover the 9/11 plot is missed. [Die Zeit, 10/1/02] Note that FBI Director Mueller and the Congressional inquiry into 9/11 claim that Almihdhar doesn't return to the US for over a year, despite obvious evidence to the contrary, even the claims of a landlord who lived with him for six weeks (see September-December 2000) [Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01], presumably because there are no INS records of his reentry. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]
June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000: Someone using the aliases "Isam Mansour," "Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hisawi," "Mr. Ali" and "Hani (Fawaz Trdng)," sends a total of $109,910 to the 9/11 hijackers in a series of transfers between these dates. [MSNBC, 12/11/01, Newsweek, 12/2/01, New York Times, 12/10/01, Financial Times, 11/30/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] The money is sent from Sharjah, a emirate in the United Arab Emirates that is a center for al-Qaeda's illegal financial dealings (see Mid-1996-October 2001). The identity of this money man "Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi" is in dispute (see September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002). It has been claimed that the name "Mustafa Ahmed" is an alias used by Saeed Sheikh, a known ISI and al-Qaeda agent who sends the hijackers money on other occasions (see Early August 2001 (D)). [CNN, 10/6/01] India claims ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed orders Saeed to send the hijackers the money at this time. [Frontline, 10/6/01, Daily Excelsior, 10/18/01] FBI Director Mueller's most recent theory is that this money is sent by the previously unheard of "Ali Abdul Aziz Ali." But of the four aliases used in the different transactions, Mueller connects this man only to three, and not to the alias "Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hisawi." [New York Times, 12/10/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02, AP, 9/26/02] It appears that most of the money is sent to an account shared by Marwan Alshehhi and Mohamed Atta, who would obtain money orders and distribute the money to the other hijackers. [CNN, 10/1/01, MSNBC, 12/11/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] The New York Times later suggests that the amount passed from "Mustafa Ahmed" to the Florida bank accounts right until the day before the attack is around $325,000. The rest of the $500,000 - $600,000 they receive for US expenses comes from another, still unknown source. [New York Times, 7/10/02]
July 2000: In response to Western pressure, the Taliban ban poppy growing in Afghanistan. As a result, the opium yield drops dramatically in 2001, from 3,656 tons to 185 tons. Of that, 83 percent is from Northern Alliance controlled lands. However the effect isn't that great because there is a surplus in the West, and it is believed the Taliban have a large stockpile as well. [Guardian, 2/21/02, Reuters, 3/3/02, Observer, 11/25/01]
July 2000 (B): Atta and Marwan Alshehhi move to Venice, Florida, and enroll in pilot classes at Huffman Aviation. [Chicago Sun-Times, 9/16/01]
July 27, 2000: The FDA endorses the use of Bayer's Cipro drug to prevent inhalation anthrax. [Reuters, 7/28/00] Perhaps they hadn't been reading the Sunday Times recently (see May 14, 2000)? An official recommendation like this is highly unusual for the FDA. A 1997 Pentagon study of anthrax in rhesus monkeys showed that several other drugs were as effective as Cipro. The reason given for only recommending Cipro was the government wanted a weapon against anthrax should they come up against a strain resistant to drugs in the penicillin and tetracycline families of antibiotics. [New York Times, 10/21/01] The pharmaceutical industry spent $177 million on lobbying in 1999 and 2000 - more money than any other industry. The FDA has been accused of conflict of interest with companies including Bayer. [New York Times, 11/4/01]
August-September 2000: An unmanned spy plane called the Predator begins flying over Afghanistan, showing incomparably detailed real-time video and photographs of the movements of what appears to be bin Laden and his aides. Clinton is impressed by a two-minute video of bin Laden crossing a street heading toward a mosque. Bin Laden is surrounded by a team of a dozen armed men creating a professional forward security perimeter as he moves. The Predator had been used since 1996 in the Balkans, but its use is stopped in Afghanistan after a few trials when a Predator crashes. The White House presses ahead with a program to arm the Predator with a missile, but the effort is slowed by bureaucratic infighting between the Pentagon and the CIA over who would pay for the craft and who would have ultimate authority over its use. Officials say the dispute is not resolved until after 9/11. [New York Times, 12/30/01, Washington Post, 12/19/01] However, it is later reported that by May 2001, the Predator "proved ... that it could find and kill individuals." [Washington Post, 3/13/03] On September 15, 2001, CIA Director Tenet tells Bush, "The unmanned Predator surveillance aircraft that was now armed with Hellfire missiles had been operating for more than a year out of Uzbekistan to provide real-time video of Afghanistan." [Washington Post, 1/29/02] So someone is lying or mistaken about when the Predator was used and when it was armed.
August 12, 2000: Italian intelligence successfully wiretap the al-Qaeda terrorist cell in Milan, Italy from late 1999 until summer 2001. [Boston Globe, 8/4/02] In a wiretapped conversation from this day, suspected Yemeni terrorist Abdulsalam Ali Abdulrahman tells wanted Egyptian terrorist Es Sayed about a massive strike against the enemies of Islam involving aircraft and the sky, a blow that "will be written about in all the newspapers of the world. This will be one of those strikes that will never be forgotten.... This is a terrifying thing. This is a thing that will spread from south to north, from east to west: The person who came up with this program is a madman from a madhouse, a madman but a genius." In another conversation, Abdulrahman tells Es Sayed: "I'm studying airplanes. I hope, God willing, that I can bring you a window or a piece of an airplane the next time we see each other." The comment is followed by laughter. Beginning in October 2000, FBI experts helped Italian police analyze the intercepts and warnings. Neither Italy nor the FBI understands their meaning until after 9/11, but apparently Italians understand enough to give the US an attack warning in March 2001 (see March 2001 (B)). [Los Angeles Times, 5/29/02, Guardian, 5/30/02, Washington Post, 5/31/02] FTW The Milan cell "is believed to have created a cottage industry in supplying false passports and other bogus documents." [Boston Globe, 8/4/02] If the hijackers were using false identities (see also January 24, 2001), could Abdulrahman, current whereabouts unknown, actually have been one of the 9/11 hijackers?
September 2000: The neoconservative think-tank Project for the New American Century writes a "blueprint" for the "creation of a 'global Pax Americana'" (see also June 3, 1997). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century, was written for the Bush team even before the 2000 Presidential election. It was commissioned by future Vice President Cheney, future Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, future Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Florida Governor and President Bush's brother Jeb Bush, and future Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. The report calls itself a "blueprint for maintaining global US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests." The plan shows Bush intended to take military control of Persian Gulf oil whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power and should retain control of the region even if there is no threat. It says: "The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." The report calls for the control of space through a new "US Space Forces," the political control of the internet, the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies, and advocates "regime change" in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran and other countries. It also mentions that "advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool." A British Member of Parliament says of the report, "This is a blueprint for US world domination -- a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world" (see also Spring 2001 and April 2001 (D)). [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02, click here to download the think tank report] However, the report complains that these changes are likely to take a long time, "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor." [Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03] In an NBC interview at about the same time, Vice Presidential candidate Cheney defends Bush Jr.'s position of maintaining Clinton's policy not to attack Iraq because the US should not act as though "we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments." [Washington Post, 1/12/02] This report and the Project for the New American Century generally are mostly ignored until a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war (see February-March 20, 2003).
September 2000 (B): L'Houssaine Kherchtou arrives in the US to testify against other al-Qaeda agents. He reveals that from 1992 to 1995 he trained in Nairobi, Kenya to be a pilot for al-Qaeda. His training stopped when he left al-Qaeda in 1995. [State Department, 2/22/01]
September 2000 (C): A man named Mohamed Atta purchases a fake passport from the nonexistent "Republic of Conch." The FBI says it is investigating if this is the hijacker Mohamed Atta. [AP, 10/3/01] The "Republic of Conch" was created by some people in Key West, Florida, and they have made money by selling passports and flags. Some have repeatedly entered countries using the novelty passports, but it isn't known what passport Atta used on 9/11. [Miami Herald, 10/3/01] If the report is true, why would Atta have risked not getting on the plane when he had at least two other passports (one from Egypt, one from United Arab Emirates)?
September 2000 (D): US General Tommy Franks, who will later lead the Afghanistan war, tours Central Asia in an attempt to build military aid relationships with nations there, but finds no takers. Russia's power in the region appears to be on the upswing instead. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev writes, "The actions of Islamic extremists in Central Asia give Russia the chance to strengthen its position in the region." But shortly after 9/11, Russia and China agree to allow the US to establish temporary US military bases in Central Asia to prosecute the Afghanistan war. The bases become permanent, and the Guardian will write in early 2002, "Both countries increasingly have good reasons to regret their accommodating stand. Having pushed, cajoled and bribed its way into their Central Asian backyard, the US clearly has no intention of leaving any time soon." [Guardian, 1/10/02]
September-October 2000: Zacarias Moussaoui visits Malaysia twice, and stays at the very same condominium where the January al-Qaeda meeting was held (see January 5-8, 2000). [CNN, 8/30/02, Los Angeles Times, 2/2/02, Washington Post, 2/3/02] After that meeting, Malaysian intelligence keeps watch on the condominium at the request of the CIA. But the CIA stops the surveillance before Moussaoui arrives, spoiling a chance to expose the 9/11 plot by monitoring Moussaoui's later travels. The Malaysians later say they were surprised by the CIA's lack of interest. "We couldn't fathom it, really," Rais Yatim, Malaysia’s Legal Affairs minister, told Newsweek. "There was no show of concern." [Newsweek, 6/2/02] While Moussaoui is in Malaysia, Yazid Sufaat, the owner of the condominium, signs letters falsely identifying Moussaoui as a representative of his wife's company. [Reuters, 9/20/02, Washington Post, 2/3/02] When Moussaoui is later arrested in the US about one month before the 9/11 attacks, this letter in his possession could have led investigators back to the condominium and the connections with the January 2000 meeting attended by two of the hijackers (see January 5-8, 2000). [USA Today, 1/30/02] Moussaoui's belongings also contained phone numbers that could have linked him to Ramzi bin al-Shibh (and his roommate Atta), another participant in the Malaysian meeting. [Associated Press, 12/12/01] But the papers aren't examined until after the 9/11 attack (see September 11, 2001 (J)).
September-December 2000: Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move to the house of Abdussattar Shaikh in San Diego. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16/01] Almihdhar leaves at the beginning of October to go overseas; Alhazmi stays till December. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16/01] Shaikh, a local Muslim leader, is later revealed to be a "tested" undercover "asset" working with the local FBI. Supposedly, he never told the FBI the hijackers' names. But the FBI concedes that a San Diego case agent appears to have been at least aware that Saudi visitors were renting rooms in the informants house, and on one occasion the case agent called the informant and was told he couldn't talk because "Khalid" was in the room. Newsweek says the connection between these two and the informant "has stunned some top counterterrorism officials." [Newsweek, 9/9/02] Neighbors claim that Atta is a frequent visitor, and Hani Hanjour visits as well. [Chicago Tribune, 9/30/01, AP, 9/29/01, Las Vegas Review Journal, 10/26/01, San Diego Channel 10, 9/27/01, San Diego Channel 10, 10/11/01] But Shaikh denies Atta's visits, the FBI never mentions them, and the media appears to have forgotten about them. [AP, 9/29/01] Echoing reports from their first apartment (see January 15-August 2000), neighbors witness strange late night visits with Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [AP, 9/16/01] For instance, one neighbor says, "There was always a series of cars driving up to the house late at night. Sometimes they were nice cars. Sometimes they had darkened windows. They'd stay about 10 minutes." [Time, 9/24/01]
September 15-October 1, 2000: Olympics officials later reveal that "A fully loaded, fueled airliner crashing into the opening ceremony before a worldwide television audience at the Sydney Olympics was one of the greatest security fears for the Games." During the Olympics, Australia has six planes in the sky at all times ready to intercept any wayward aircraft. In fact, "IOC officials said the scenario of a plane crash during the opening ceremony was uppermost in their security planning at every Olympics since terrorists struck in Munich in 1972." Bin Laden was considered the number one threat. [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/20/01]
October 12, 2000: The USS Cole is bombed in the Aden, Yemen harbor by al-Qaeda terrorists. 17 US soldiers are killed. [ABC News, 10/13/00] The Prime Minister of Yemen at the time later claims that hijacker "Khalid Almihdhar was one of the Cole perpetrators, involved in preparations. He was in Yemen at the time and stayed after the Cole bombing for a while, then he left." [Guardian, 10/15/01] John O'Neill and his team of 200 hundred FBI investigators enter Yemen two days later, but are unable to accomplish much due to restrictions placed on them, and tensions with US Ambassador Barbara Bodine. All but about 50 investigators are forced to leave by the end of October. Even though O'Neill's boss visits and finds that Bodine is O'Neill's "only detractor," O'Neill and much of his team is forced to leave in November, and the investigation stalls without his personal relationships to top Yemeni officials. [New Yorker, 1/14/02, Sunday Times, 2/3/02, The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/14/02, p. 237] Increased security threats forces the reduced FBI team still in Yemen to withdraw altogether in June 2001. [PBS Frontline 10/3/02] The Sunday Times later notes, "The failure in Yemen may have blocked off lines of investigation that could have led directly to the terrorists preparing for September 11." [Sunday Times, 2/3/02]
After October 12, 2000: Officials later claim that a secret attempt to kill bin Laden takes place during this month, but is unsuccessful. [New York Times, 12/30/01]
October 24-26, 2000: Pentagon officials carry out a "detailed" emergency drill based upon the crashing of a hijacked airliner into the Pentagon. [MDW News Service, 11/3/00, Mirror, 5/24/02] The Pentagon is such an obvious target that, "For years, staff at the Pentagon joked that they worked at "Ground Zero", the spot at which an incoming nuclear missile aimed at America's defenses would explode. There is even a snack bar of that name in the central courtyard of the five-sided building, America's most obvious military bullseye." [Telegraph, 9/16/01] After 9/11, a Pentagon spokesman will claim: "The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way, and I doubt prior to Tuesday's event, anyone would have expected anything like that here." [Newsday, 9/23/01] FTW
Late November 2000-January 30, 2001: When Ziad Jarrah is questioned at Dubai, United Arab Emirates on January 30, 2001 (see January 30, 2001), he reveals that he has been in Pakistan and Afghanistan for the previous two months and five days, and that he is returning to Florida. [Chicago Tribune, 12/13/01] Investigators also later confirm that "Jarrah had spent at least three weeks in January 2001 at an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan." [CNN, 8/1/02] However, the Florida Flight Training Center where Jarrah has been studying for the previous six months, later says he is in school there until January 15, 2001. His family later reports he arrives in Lebanon to visit them on January 26, five days before he supposedly passes through Dubai. His father had just undergone open heart surgery, and Jarrah visits him every day in the hospital until after January 30. Pointing out this incident, his uncle Jamal Jarrah later asks, "How could he be in two places at one time?" [Among the Heroes, Jere Longman, 2002, p. 101-102] This is not the only example of Jarrah being in two places at the same time - see March 1995-February 1996. Could Jarrah have had a doppelganger? Also, compare these two photos the government says are of Jarrah. Though the faces are similar, note the different shapes of the heads - are these photos be of the same person?
December 2000-April 2001: According to later German reports, "a whole horde of Israeli counter-terror investigators, posing as students, [follow] the trails of Arab terrorists and their cells in the United States ... In the town of Hollywood, Florida, they [identify] ... Atta and Marwan Alshehhi as possible terrorists. Agents [live] in the vicinity of the apartment of the two seemingly normal flight school students, observing them around the clock." Supposedly, around April, the Israeli agents are discovered and deported, terminating the investigation. [Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] However, 80 additional agents are apprehended between June and December 2001 [Fox News, 12/12/01] and even more have been uncovered since (see May 7, 2002). Did the surveillance of Atta and others in fact end in April? Other reports have implied the story and connection (see March 5, 2002). Supposedly, the Mossad waits until late August 2001 before informing the CIA what it learns, and the CIA doesn't take the warning seriously (see August 23, 2001).
Early December 2000: Terrorist Fahad al-Quso is arrested by the government of Yemen. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02, PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] In addition to being involved in the USS Cole bombing, al-Quso was at the January 2000 Malaysian meeting with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see January 5-8, 2000). FBI head investigator John O'Neill feels al-Quso is holding back important information and wants him interrogated. But O'Neill had been kicked out of Yemen by his superiors a week or two before, and without his influential presence the Yemeni government won't allow an interrogation. Al-Quso is finally interrogated days after 9/11, and admits to meeting with Alhazmi and Almihdhar in January 2000. One investigator calls the missed opportunity of exposing the 9/11 plot through al-Quso's connections "mind-boggling." [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] There are pictures from the Malaysian meeting of al-Quso next to hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, but the CIA doesn't share the pictures with the FBI. [Newsweek, 9/20/01]
December 19, 2000: The Washington Post reports that "the United States has quietly begun to align itself with those in the Russian government calling for military action against Afghanistan and has toyed with the idea of a new raid to wipe out Osama bin Laden. Until it backed off under local pressure, it went so far as to explore whether a Central Asian country would permit the use of its territory for such a purpose." Russia and the US are discussing "what kind of government should replace the Taliban. Thus, while claiming to oppose a military solution to the Afghan problem, the United States is now talking about the overthrow of a regime that controls nearly the entire country, in the hope it can be replaced with a hypothetical government that does not exist even on paper." [Washington Post, 12/19/00] It appears that all pre-9/11 plans to invade Afghanistan involve attacking from the north with Russia (see March 15, 2001, June 26, 2001 and July 21, 2001), but 9/11 allows the US to do it without Russian help.
December 20, 2000: Counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke submits a plan to "roll back" al-Qaeda in response to the USS Cole bombing. The main component is a dramatic increase in covert action in Afghanistan to "eliminate the sanctuary" for bin Laden there. However, since there are only a few weeks left before the Bush administration takes over, it is decided to defer the decision to the new administration. However, one month later, the plan is rejected and no action is taken (see January 25, 2001). Russia's President Putin later claims he "tried to egg on the previous Clinton administration - without success - to act militarily against the whole Taliban regime: 'Washington's reaction at the time really amazed me. They shrugged their shoulders and said matter-of-factly: "We can't do anything because the Taliban does not want to turn him over."'" [Guardian, 9/22/01]
December 26, 2000: Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, while still learning to fly in Florida, stall a small plane on a Miami International Airport runway. Unable to start the plane, they simply walk away. Flight controllers have to guide the waiting passenger airliners around the stalled aircraft until it is towed away 35 minutes later. They weren't supposed to be using that airport in the first place. The FAA threatens to investigate the two students and the flight school they are attending. The flight school sends records to the FAA, but no more is heard of the investigation. [New York Times, 10/17/01] "Students do stupid things during their flight course, but this is quite stupid," says the owner of the flight school. Nothing was wrong with the plane. [CNN, 10/17/01] Why did the investigation stop? Did the two ditch the plane intentionally to later lead investigators on a false trail?