THE COMPLETE 9/11 TIMELINE, PART 2: Jan. 2001 - Sept. 11, 2001
By Paul Thompson
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Part 1: 1979 - 2000
Part 2: Jan. 2001 - 9/11
Part 3: Day of 9/11
Part 4: 9/11 - Dec. 2001
Part 5: Jan. 2002 - present
|Day of 9/11
Bush on 9/11
This story is so complicated and long, I've tried to break it into threads of different colors to make it easier to digest. I've made separate pages for each thread, in addition to webpages with all the threads together.
Central Asian oil, Enron and the Afghanistan pipelines.
For a separate page of these entries only, click
Information that should have shown what kind of attack al-Qaeda would make. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
US preparing for a war with Afghanistan before 9/11, increasing control of Asia before and since. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Incompetence, bad luck, and/or obstruction of justice. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Suggestions of advanced knowledge that an attack would take place on or around 9/11. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Cover-up, lies, and/or contradictions. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Israeli "art student" spy ring, Israeli foreknowledge evidence. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Anthrax attacks and microbiologist deaths. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Pakistani ISI and/or opium drug connections. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Bin Laden family, Saudi Arabia corruption and support of terrorists, connections to Bush. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Erosion of civil liberties and erection of a police state. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
For simplicity's sake I don't always use the full names and jobs of some of the major people or organizations in this story. For instance, every time I say "bin Laden," I mean the terrorist Osama bin Laden, not one of his family members. I have standardized the spellings of the Islamic names, even within quotes. Al-Qaeda, for instance, can be spelled many ways, and the person known as Saeed Sheikh has too many name variations and spelling variations to count.
CIA: US Central Intelligence Agency
DEA: US Drug Enforcement Administration
FAA: US Federal Aviation Administration
FDA: US Food and Drug Administration
FBI: US Federal Bureau of Investigations
FEMA: US Federal Emergency Management Agency
ISI: Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani intelligence agency
Mossad: The Israeli intelligence agency
NORAD: US North American Aerospace Defense Command
NSA: US National Security Agency
SEC: US Security and Exchange Commission
Taliban: The rulers of Afghanistan, 1996 - 2001
WTC: World Trade Center
USAMRIID: US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
Ahmad: General Mahmud Ahmad, Director of the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency
Ashcroft: John Ashcroft, US Attorney General under Bush Jr.
Atta: Mohamed Atta, lead 9/11 hijacker
bin Laden: Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda terrorist organization
Bush: George Bush Jr., US President since January, 2001
Cheney: Richard "Dick" Cheney, US Vice President under Bush Jr.
Clinton: Bill Clinton, US President before Bush Jr.
Mueller: Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI since July, 2001
Musharraf: General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan since 1999
Powell: Colin Powell, US Secretary of State under Bush Jr.
Rice: Condaleezza Rice, US National Security Advisor under Bush Jr.
Rumsfeld: Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense
Saeed: Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh (and many variations thereof), ISI agent, al-Qaeda money man and supposed murderer of reporter Daniel Pearl
Tenet: George Tenet, Director of the CIA since 1997 under Clinton and remaining under Bush Jr.
There are many spellings and aliases - the names and spellings below are the versions preferred by the FBI. *= Some evidence suggests the identity of this person may be incorrect (see September 16-23, 2001).
American Airlines Flight 11
Waleed Alshehri, 22, from Saudi Arabia *
Wail Alshehri, 28, from Saudi Arabia, brother of Waleed Alshehri, had psychological problems *
Abdulaziz Alomari, 22, from Saudi Arabia *
Satam Al Suqami, 25, from Saudi Arabia
Mohamed Atta, 33, from Egypt (the likely pilot) *
United Airlines Flight 93
Saeed Alghamdi, 21, from Saudi Arabia (had flight training) *
Ahmed Alhaznawi, 20, from Saudi Arabia *
Ahmed Alnami, 23, from Saudi Arabia *
Ziad Jarrah, 26, from Lebanon (the likely pilot) *
United Airlines Flight 175
Ahmed Alghamdi, 22, from Saudi Arabia
Hamza Alghamdi, 20, from Saudi Arabia, brother of Ahmed Alghamdi *
Marwan Alshehhi, 23, from United Arab Emirates (the likely pilot) *
Mohand Alshehri, 22, from Saudi Arabia, possible cousin of Marwan Alshehhi and/or from the same extended family as Wail and Waleed Alshehri
Fayez Ahmed Banihammad (Alshehri), 24, from United Arab Emirates (had flight training)
American Airlines Flight 77
Khalid Almihdhar, 26, from Saudi Arabia (originally from Yemen, changed citizenship in 1996) *
Nawaf Alhazmi, 25, from Saudi Arabia
Salem Alhazmi, 20, from Saudi Arabia, brother of Nawaf Alhazmi *
Hani Hanjour, 29, from Saudi Arabia (the likely pilot)
Majed Moqed, 24, from Saudi Arabia *
2001: At some point during the year, Julie Sirrs, a Defense Intelligence Agency agent, travels twice to Afghanistan. She claims DIA officials knew in advance about both trips. Sirrs sees a terrorist training center, and meets with Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, who is later assassinated by the Taliban (see September 9, 2001). On her second trip she returns with what she later claims is a treasure trove of information, including evidence that bin Laden is planning to assassinate Massoud. However, upon returning, a security officer meets her flight and confiscates her material. The DIA and the FBI investigate her. She says no higher-ups want to hear what she had learned in Afghanistan. Ultimately, Sirrs' security clearance is pulled. She eventually quits the DIA in frustration. [ABC News, 2/18/02] She claims that the US intelligence on bin Laden and the Taliban relied too heavily on the ISI for its information. [ABC News, 2/18/02 (B)]
2001 (B): The US (known) yearly counter-terrorism budget planned for 2001 is $12.8 billion, compared to $2 billion ten years earlier. [Knight-Ridder, 9/27/01]
2001 (C): Numerous witnesses later recall seeing hijackers Mohamed Atta and/or Marwan Alshehhi in Nabil al-Marabh's Toronto apartment building and photocopy shop at various times during this year. [Toronto Sun, 9/28/01, ABC 7, 1/31/02] Al-Marabh has connections with other hijackers (see Spring 2001 (B)) and other al-Qaeda figures (see 1989-May 2000 and May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001). Some of the dozens of eyewitness accounts say Atta sporadically works in the photocopy shop. [Toronto Sun, 10/21/01] Partially completed fake IDs are found in the store, which is owned by al-Marabh's uncle, and at al-Marabh's apartment. [Toronto Sun, 9/28/01, Toronto Sun, 10/16/01] There is a large picture of bin Laden hanging in the store. [Toronto Sun, 10/21/01] "Forensic officers said there are similarities in the paper stock, laminates and ink seized from the downtown store and that which was used in identification left behind by the [9/11 hijackers]." [Toronto Sun, 10/16/01] US and Canadian police later determine that there is a flurry of phone calls and financial transactions between al-Marabh, Atta and Alshehhi days before the attacks. [Toronto Sun, 11/16/01] US intelligence also intercepts al-Marabh's associates making phone calls immediately praising the 9/11 attacks. [Ottawa Citizen, 10/29/01] Al-Marabh is said to head a Toronto al-Qaeda cell, and three members of his cell have been arrested. [Toronto Sun, 11/23/01] 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).
January 2001: An Arizona flight school alerts the FAA that hijacker Hani Hanjour lacks the English and flying skills necessary for the commercial pilot's license he has. The flight school manager: "I couldn't believe he had a commercial license of any kind with the skills that he had." An FAA official actually sits next to Hanjour in class to observe his skills. This official offers a translator to help Hanjour pass, but the flight school points out that "that went against the rules that require a pilot to be able to write and speak English fluently before they even get their license." [AP, 5/10/02] FAA "records show [Hanjour] obtained a commercial pilot's license in April 1999, but how and where he did so remains a lingering question that FAA officials refuse to discuss." [Cape Cod Times, 10/21/01] Did Hanjour get his original license illegally?
January 2001 (B): Hijackers Hamza Alghamdi and Mohand Alshehri rent a post office box in Delray Beach, Florida, according to the Washington Post. Yet FBI Director Mueller later claims they don't enter the country until May 28, 2001. [Washington Post, 9/30/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]
January-June 2001: 11 of the 9/11 hijackers stay in or pass through Britain, according to the British Home Secretary and top investigators. Most come between April and June, just passing through from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. But investigators suspect some stay in Britain for training and fundraising (see June 2001 (H)). Not all 11 names are given, but one can deduce from the press accounts that Ahmed Alghamdi, Salem Alhazmi, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Ahmed Alnami, and Saeed Alghamdi were definitely in Britain. Ahmed Alghamdi was one of several that should have been "instantly 'red-flagged' by British intelligence," because of his links to Raed Hijazi, a suspected ally of bin Laden being held in Jordan on charges of conspiring to destroy holy sites (see Spring 2001 (B)). Two of the following three also were in Britain: Wail Alshehri, Fayez Banihammad, and Abdulaziz Alomari. All or almost all appear to be the "muscle" (see April 23-June 29, 2001) and specific leaders like Atta and Alshehhi are ruled out as having passed through. [London Times, 9/26/01, Washington Post, 9/27/01, BBC, 9/28/01, Sunday Herald, 9/30/01] However, police are investigating if Mohamed Atta visited Britain in 1999 and 2000 together with some Algerians. [Telegraph, 9/30/01] The London Times also writes, "Officials hope that the inquiries in Britain will disclose the true identities of the suicide team. Some are known to have arrived in Britain using false passports and fake identities that they kept for the hijack." This contradicts assertions by FBI Director Mueller that all the hijackers used their own, real names (see September 16-23, 2001).
January 4, 2001: The FBI's investigation into the USS Cole bombing learns that terrorist Khallad bin Atash had been a principal planner of the bombing [AP, 9/21/02], and that two other participants in the bombing had delivered money to bin Atash at the time of the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000). The FBI shares this information with the CIA, and when CIA analysts reexamine pictures from the Malaysian meeting to learn more about this, they find a picture of him standing next to hijacker Khalid Almihdhar. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, Newsweek, 6/2/02] The CIA is aware that Almihdhar entered the US a year earlier, yet they don't attempt to find him. CNN later notes that at this point the CIA at least "could have put Alhazmi and Almihdhar and all others who attended the meeting in Malaysia on a watch list to be kept out of this country. It was not done." [CNN, 6/4/02] More incredibly, even bin Atash is not placed on the watch list at this time, despite being labeled as the principal planner of the Cole bombing. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02]
January 4, 2001 (B): Atta flies from Miami, Florida to Madrid, Spain. He has been in the US since June 3, 2000, learning to fly in Florida with Marwan Alshehhi. [Miami Herald, 9/22/01] He returns to the US on January 10 (see January 10, 2001). He makes a second trip to Spain later that year (see July 8-19, 2001).
January 10, 2001: "INS documents, matched against an FBI alert given to German police, show two men named Mohamed Atta [arrive] in Miami on Jan. 10, each offering different destination addresses to INS agents, one in Nokomis, near Venice, the other at a Coral Springs condo. He was admitted, despite having overstayed his previous visa by a month. The double entry could be a paperwork error, confusion over a visa extension. It could be Atta arrived in Miami, flew to another country like the Bahamas and returned the same day. Or it could be that two men somehow cleared immigration with the same name using the same passport number." [Miami Herald, 9/22/01] Officials later call this a bureaucratic snafu, and insist only one Atta entered the US on this date. [AP, 10/28/01] If this was just a bureaucratic snafu and the same entry processed twice, then why are different destination addresses given in each case? Could someone else posing as Atta have entered the US on this day? Also, Atta arrives on a tourist visa yet tells immigration inspectors that he is taking flying lessons in the US, which requires a M-1 student visa. [Washington Post, 10/28/01] The fact that he had overstayed his visa over a month on a previous visit also doesn't cause a problem. [Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01] The INS later defends its decision, but "immigration experts outside the agency dispute the INS position vigorously." For instance Stephen Yale-Loehr, co-author of a 20-volume treatise on immigration law:"They just don't want to tell you they blew it. They should just admit they made a mistake." [Washington Post, 10/28/01]
January 11-18, 2001: Hijacker Marwan Alshehhi flies from the US to Casablanca, Morocco and back, for reasons unknown. He is able to reenter the US without trouble, despite having overstayed his previous visa by about five weeks. [Department of Justice, 5/20/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01]
January 19, 2001: New United Nations sanctions against Afghanistan take effect, adding to those from 1999 (see November 14, 1999). The sanctions limit travel by senior Taliban authorities, freeze bin Laden's and the Taliban's assets, and order the closure of Ariana Airlines offices abroad. The sanctions also impose an arms embargo against the Taliban, but not against Northern Alliance forces battling the Taliban. [AP, 12/19/00] But this doesn't stop the illegal trade network the Taliban is secretly running through Ariana (see Mid-1996-October 2001). Two companies, Air Cess and Flying Dolphin, take over most of Ariana's traffic. Air Cess is owned by the Russian arms dealer Victor Bout, and Flying Dolphin is owned by the UAE's former ambassador to the US, who is also an associate of Bout (see October 1996). In late 2000, despite UN reports linking Flying Dolphin to arms smuggling, the United Nations gives Flying Dolphin permission to take over Ariana's closed routes, which it does until the new sanctions take effect. Bout's operations are still functioning and he has not been arrested. [Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02, Montreal Gazette, 2/5/02] Ariana is essentially destroyed in the October 2001 US bombing of Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01]
January 21, 2001: George Bush Jr. is inaugurated as the 43rd US President, replacing Clinton. The only major figure to permanently remain in office is CIA Director Tenet, appointed in 1997 and reputedly a long time friend of Bush Sr. FBI Director Louis Freeh stays on until June 2001. Numerous figures in Bush's administration have been directly employed in the oil industry, including Bush, Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice. It is later revealed that Cheney is still being paid up to $1 million a year in "deferred payments" from Halliburton, the oil company he headed. [Guardian, 3/12/03] Enron's ties also reach deep into the administration. [Washington Post, 1/18/02]
January 24, 2001: On this day, Italian intelligence hear another interesting wiretapped conversation (see also August 12, 2000), this one between terrorists Es Sayed and Ben Soltane Adel, two member's of al-Qaeda's Milan cell. Adel asks, in reference to fake documents, "Will these work for the brothers who are going to the United States?" Sayed responds angrily, saying "Don't ever say those words again, not even joking!" "If it's necessary ... whatever place we may be, come up and talk in my ear, because these are very important things. You must know ... that this plan is very, very secret, as if you were protecting the security of the state." This is only one of many clues found from the Italian wiretaps and passed on to US intelligence in March 2001 (see March 2001 (B)). But they apparently are not properly understood until after 9/11. The Spanish government claims to have uncovered 9/11 clues from wiretaps as well (see August 27, 2001), and a priest was told of the 9/11 plot at an Italian wedding (see September 7, 2001), suggesting a surprising number of people in Europe may have had foreknowledge of 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 5/29/02] Adel is later arrested and convicted of belonging to a terrorist cell and Es Sayed fled to Afghanistan in July 2001. [Guardian, 5/30/02]
January 25, 2001: Richard Clarke, National Security Council Chief of Counterterrorism and holdover from the Clinton administration, submits a proposal to the new administration for an attack on al-Qaeda in revenge of the USS Cole bombing. In the wake of that bombing, Bush stated on the campaign trail: "I hope that we can gather enough intelligence to figure out who did the act and take the necessary action ... there must be a consequence." According to the Washington Post: "Clarke argued that the camps were can't-miss targets, and they mattered. The facilities amounted to conveyor belts for al-Qaeda's human capital, with raw recruits arriving and trained fighters departing – either for front lines against the Northern Alliance, the Afghan rebel coalition, or against American interests somewhere else. The US government had whole libraries of images filmed over Tarnak Qila and its sister camp, Garmabat Ghar, 19 miles farther west. Why watch al-Qaeda train several thousand men a year and then chase them around the world when they left?" [Washington Post, 1/20/02] Clarke also warns that al-Qaeda sleeper cells in the US are a "major threat." Two days later, the US confirms the link between al-Qaeda and the USS Cole bombing. [PBS Frontline 10/3/02] No retaliation is taken on these camps until after 9/11. [Washington Post, 1/20/02]
January 30, 2001: Hijacker Ziad Jarrah is questioned for several hours at the Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates, at the request of the CIA for "suspected involvement in terrorist activities," then let go. This is according to United Arab Emirates, US and European officials, but the CIA denies the story. The CIA notified local officials that he would be arriving from Pakistan on his way back to Europe, and they wanted to know where he had been in Afghanistan and how long he had been there. US officials were informed of the results of the interrogation before Jarrah left the airport. Jarrah had already been in the US for six months learning to fly. "UAE and European intelligence sources told CNN that the questioning of Jarrah fits a pattern of a CIA operation begun in 1999 to track suspected al-Qaeda operatives who were traveling through the United Arab Emirates." He was then permitted to leave, eventually going to the US. [CNN, 8/1/02] Why the US would flag him now but not when he entered the US or after is unclear (see September 9, 2001).
January 31, 2001: The final report of the US Commission on National Security/21st Century, co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart (D), and Warren Rudman (R) is issued (see also September 15, 1999). The bipartisan report was put together in 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The report has 50 recommendations on how to combat terrorism in the US, but all of them are ignored by the Bush Administration. Instead, the White House announces in May that it will have Vice President Cheney study the potential problem of domestic terrorism, despite the fact that this commission had just studied the issue for 2 1/2 years. According to Senator Hart, Congress was taking the commission's suggestions seriously, but then, "Frankly, the White House shut it down... The president said 'Please wait, we're going to turn this over to the vice president'... And so Congress moved on to other things, like tax cuts and the issue of the day." Interestingly, both this commission and the Bush Administration were already assuming a new cabinet level National Homeland Security Agency would be enacted eventually even as the general public remained unaware of the term and the concept. [Salon, 9/12/01, download the complete report here: USCNS Reports]
Late January 2001: The BBC later reports, "After the elections, [US intelligence] agencies [are] told to 'back off' investigating the Bin Ladens and Saudi royals, and that anger[s] agents." This follows previous orders to abandon an investigation of bin Laden relatives (see September 11, 1996), and difficulties in investigating Saudi royalty. [BBC, 11/6/01] FTW An unnamed "top-level CIA operative" says there is a "major policy shift" at the National Security Agency at this time. Osama bin Laden could still be investigated, but agents could not look too closely at how he got his money. [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03] Presumably one such investigation canceled is an investigation by the Chicago FBI into ties between Saudi multimillionaire Yassin al-Qadi and the US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998) and other terrorist acts, because during this month an FBI agent is told that the case is being closed and that "it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie" (see October 1998). Reporter Greg Palast notes that President Clinton was already hindering investigations by protecting Saudi interests. But, as he puts it, "Where Clinton said, 'Go slow,' Bush policymakers said, 'No go.' The difference is between closing one eye and closing them both." [Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03]
Late January 2001 (B): Even as US intelligence is given conclusive evidence that al-Qaeda is behind the USS Cole bombing (see January 25, 2001), the new Bush administration discontinues the covert deployment of cruise missile submarines and gunships on six-hour alert near Afghanistan's borders that had begun under President Clinton (see Late 1998-January 2001). The standby force gave Clinton the option of an immediate strike against targets in al-Qaeda's top leadership. The discontinuation makes a possible assassination of bin Laden much more difficult. [Washington Post, 1/20/02]
February 2001: At least six unconnected people later claim they recognize hijackers Satam Al Suqami and Salem Alhazmi living in San Antonio, Texas, until this month. The management of an apartment building says the two men abandoned their leases at about this time, and some apartment residents recognize them. However, all the witnesses say that Suqami was going by Alhazmi's name, and vice versa! [KENS 5 Eyewitness News, 10/1/01] One pilot shop employee recognizes Alhazmi as a frequent visitor to the store and interested in a 757 or 767 handbook, though he also says Alhazmi used Suqami's name. [KENS 5 Eyewitness News, 10/3/01] The apartment leasing agent also recalls a Ziad Jarrah who once lived there in June 2001 and looked the same as the hijacker. [San Antonio Express-News, 9/22/01, AP, 9/22/01] Local FBI confirm that a Salem Alhazmi attended the nearby Alpha Tango Flight School and lived in that apartment building, but they say he is a different Salem Alhazmi who is still alive and living in Saudi Arabia. [KENS 5 Eyewitness News, 10/4/01] However, that Salem Alhazmi (see September 16-23, 2001) says he's never been to the US and has proved to the authorities he didn't leave Saudi Arabia in the two years prior to 9/11. [Washington Post, 9/20/01] The FBI gave no explanation for Satam Al Suqami's presence. Neither hijacker is supposed to have arrived in the US before April, 2001 (see April 23-June 29, 2001). Is the FBI covering up sitings of hijackers that don't fit into their storyline? Why did they apparently switch names, and what does this say about the veracity of the names of other hijackers?
February 2001 (B): A former CIA anti-terror expert later claims that an allied intelligence agency sees "two of Osama's sisters apparently taking cash to an airport in Abu Dhabi [United Arab Emirates], where they are suspected of handing it to a member of bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization." This is cited as one of many incidents showing an "interconnectedness" between Osama bin Laden and the rest of his family. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
February 2001 (C): Abdul Haq, a famous Afghan leader of the mujaheddin, convinces Robert McFarlane, National Security Adviser under President Reagan, that Haq and about 50 fellow commanders could lead a force to start a revolt against the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan. However, Haq wants to do this under the authority of Zahir Shah, the popular former king of Afghanistan, whom the US doesn't support. The CIA fails to give any support to this revolt idea. Says one CIA official to McFarlane a few months later, "We don't yet have our marching orders concerning US policy; it may be that we will end up dealing with the Taliban." Haq goes ahead with his plans without US support, and is later betrayed and killed (see Mid-August 2001 (B) and October 25, 2001). [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01 (B), Wall Street Journal, 11/2/01]
February-July 2001: A trial is held in New York City for four defendants charged with involvement in the 1998 US embassy bombings. All are ultimately convicted. Testimony reveals that two bin Laden operatives had received pilot training in Texas and Oklahoma and another had been asked to take lessons. One bin Laden aide becomes a government witness and gives the FBI detailed information about a pilot training scheme. This new information does not lead to any new FBI investigations into the matter. [Washington Post, 9/23/01]
February 7, 2001: CIA Director Tenet warns Congress in open testimony that bin Laden and his global network remains ''the most immediate and serious threat" to US interests. "Since 1998 bin Laden has declared that all US citizens are legitimate targets," he says, adding that bin Laden ''is capable of planning multiple attacks with little or no warning." [AP, 2/7/01, Sunday Herald, 9/23/01]
February 9, 2001: Vice President Cheney is briefed that it has been conclusively proven bin Laden was behind the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole (see October 12, 2000). Bush has been in office a matter of days, when secret pipeline negotiations with the Taliban have begun. The new administration has already twice threatened the Taliban that the US would hold the Taliban responsible for any al-Qaeda attack. But, fearful of ending those negotiations, the US does not retaliate against either the Taliban or known bin Laden bases in Afghanistan in the manner Clinton did in 1998. [Washington Post, 1/20/02]
February 9, 2001 (B): US officials claim significant progress in defeating bin Laden's financial network, despite significant difficulties. It is claimed that, "bin Laden's financial and operational networks has been 'completely mapped' in secret documents shared by the State Department, CIA and Treasury Department, with much of the mapping completed in detail by mid-1997." [UPI 2/9/01] Reporter Greg Palast later notes that when the US freezes the assets of terrorist organizations in late September 2001 (see September 24, 2001), US investigators likely knew much about the finances of those organizations but took no action before 9/11. [Santa Fe New Mexican, 3/20/03]
February 13, 2001: UPI reporter Richard Sale, while covering a trial of bin Laden's al-Qaeda followers, reports that the NSA has broken bin Laden's encrypted communications. US officials say "codes were broken." [UPI, 2/13/01] Presumably al-Qaeda changes its security after this time, but also the US government officials later claim that the planning for the 9/11 attack began in 1998 if not earlier (see also 1998). [New York Times, 10/14/01] FTW
February 23, 2001: Zacarias Moussaoui flies to the US. He starts flight training in Norman, Oklahoma three days later. He trains there until May, but doesn't do well and drops out before getting a pilot's license. His visa expires on May 22, but he doesn't attempt to renew it or get another by briefly leaving the country. He stays in Norman, making arrangements to change flight schools and frequently exercising in a gym. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02, MSNBC, 12/11/01] According to US investigators, would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh (see November 20, 2002) said he met Moussaoui in Karachi (Pakistan) in June 2001. [Washington Post, 11/20/02] Moussaoui moves to a flight school in Minnesota in August (see August 13-15, 2001) and is arrested by the FBI a short time later (see August 15, 2001). [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02, MSNBC, 12/11/01]
February 26, 2001: Bin Laden attends the wedding of his son Mohammad in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Although bin Laden is supposedly long estranged from his family, bin Laden's stepmother, two brothers and sister are also said to have attended, according to the only journalist who was invited (see also Spring 1998 and Spring 2000 (C)). [Reuters, 3/1/01, Sunday Herald, 10/7/01]
March 2001: Supposedly, all 13 of the "muscle" hijackers (see April 23-July 29, 2001) record a farewell video before leaving training in Kandahar, Afghanistan around this time. [CBS, 10/9/02] A video of Ahmed Alhaznawi is shown by the Al Jazeera TV network in April 2002. In it, he pledges to give his life to "martyrdom" and swears to send a "bloodied message" to Americans by attacking them in their "heartland." [Guardian, 4/16/02] Compare a still frame of the video with an FBI photo of Alhaznawi. [CNN, 4/16/02] In September 2002, Al Jazeera also shows a similar farewell video of Abdulaziz Alomari made around the same time (see September 8-11, 2002). [AP, 9/9/02] Alomari states, "I am writing this with my full conscience and I am writing this in expectation of the end, which is near... God praise everybody who trained and helped me, namely the leader Sheik Osama bin Laden." [Washington Post, 9/11/02] Al-Jazeera also shows Ahmed Alnami, Hamza Alghamdi and Saeed Alghamdi and Wail Alshehri in Kandahar studying maps and flight manuals. [Financial Times, 9/11/02] Does the making of these videos hint that many in Afghanistan may have had foreknowledge about the 9/11 attacks (see July 2001)?
March 2001 (B): The Italian government gives the US information about possible attacks based on apartment wiretaps in the Italian city of Milan. [Fox News, 5/17/02] Presumably, the information includes a discussion between two al-Qaeda agents talking about a "very, very secret" plan to forge documents "for the brothers who are going to the United States" (see January 24, 2001). The warning may also have mentioned a wiretap the previous August involving one of the same people that discussed a massive strike against the enemies of Islam involving aircraft (see August 12, 2000). Two months later, wiretaps of the same Milan cell also reveal a plot to attack a summit of world leaders (see May 2001).
March 2001 (C): Taliban envoy Rahmatullah Hashimi meets with reporters, middle-ranking State Department bureaucrats and private Afghanistan experts in Washington. He carries a gift carpet and a letter from Afghan leader Mullah Omar for President Bush. He discusses turning bin Laden over, but the US wants to be handed bin Laden and the Taliban want to turn him over to some third country. A CIA official later says: "We never heard what they were trying to say." "We had no common language. Ours was, 'Give up bin Laden.' They were saying, 'Do something to help us give him up.' ... I have no doubts they wanted to get rid of him. He was a pain in the neck." Others claim the Taliban were never sincere. About 20 more meetings on giving up bin Laden take place up till 9/11, all fruitless. [Washington Post, 10/29/01] Hashimi also proposes that the Taliban would hold bin Laden in one location long enough for the US to locate and destroy him. However, this offer is refused. This is according to Laila Helms, daughter of former CIA director Richard Helms, who is doing public relations for the Taliban at the time (while interesting this came out before 9/11, one must be skeptical if the offer was made since her job was public relations for the Taliban). [Village Voice, 6/6/01]
March-August 2001: In March and August, Atta visits a small airport in South Florida and asks detailed questions about how to start and fly a crop-duster plane. People there easily recall him because he was so persistent. After explaining his abilities, Atta is told he is not skilled enough to fly a crop-duster. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] Employees at South Florida Crop Care in Belle Glade, Florida later tell the FBI that Atta was among the men who in groups of two or three visited the crop dusting firm nearly every weekend for six or eight weeks before the attacks. Says employee James Lester: "I recognized him because he stayed on my feet all the time. I just about had to push him away from me." [AP, 9/15/01] Yet, according to US investigators, Atta and the other hijackers gave up on the crop-duster idea back in 2000. (see Late April-Mid-May 2000).
March 1, 2001: The Taliban begins blowing up two giant stone Buddhas of Bamiyan. They face great international condemnation in response, but no longer seem to be courting international recognition. Apparently even ISI efforts to dissuade them fail. [Time, 8/4/02, Time, 8/4/02]
March 4, 2001: Contradicting the later claim that no one could have envisioned the 9/11 attacks, a short-lived Fox TV program called The Lone Gunmen airs a pilot episode in which terrorists try to fly an airplane into the WTC. The heroes save the day and the airplane narrowly misses the building. There are no terrorists on board the aircraft; remote control technology is used to steer the plane. Ratings were good for the show, yet the eerie coincidence is barely mentioned after 9/11. Says one media columnist, "This seems to be collective amnesia of the highest order." [TV Guide, 6/21/02] The heroes also determine, "The terrorist group responsible was actually a faction of our own government. These malefactors were seeking to stimulate arms manufacturing in the lean years following the end of the Cold War by bringing down a plane in New York City and fomenting fears of terrorism." [Myers Report, 6/20/02]
March 7, 2001: The Russian Permanent Mission at the United Nations secretly submits "an unprecedentedly detailed report" to the UN Security Council about bin Laden, his whereabouts, details of his al-Qaeda network, Afghan drug running, and Taliban connections in Pakistan. The report provides "a listing of all bin Laden's bases, his government contacts and foreign advisors," and enough information to potentially kill him. The US fails to act. Alex Standish, the editor of the highly respected Jane's Intelligence Review, concludes that the attacks of 9/11 were less of an American intelligence failure and more the result of "a political decision not to act against bin Laden." [Jane's Intelligence Review, 10/5/01]
March 8, 2001: The United Nations and the European Union direct their members to freeze the assets of some al-Qaeda leaders, including Sa'd Al-Sharif, bin Laden's brother-in-law and the head of his finances, but the US does not do so (see UN list). Their assets are finally frozen by the US after 9/11 (see October 12, 2001). [Guardian, 10/13/01] The US for a time claims that Sa'd Al-Sharif helped fund the 9/11 attacks, but the situation is highly confused and his role is doubtful (see September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002).
March 15, 2001: Jane's Intelligence Review reports that the US is working with India, Iran and Russia "in a concerted front against Afghanistan's Taliban regime." India is supplying the Northern Alliance with military equipment, advisers and helicopter technicians and both India and Russia are using bases in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for their operations (see December 19, 2000, June 26, 2001 and July 21, 2001). [Jane's Intelligence Review, 3/15/01]
Mid-March 2001: Hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi, Majed Moqed, Hani Hanjour, and Nawaf Alhazmi stay four days in the Fairfield Motor Inn, Fairfield, Connecticut. They meet with Eyad M. Alrababah, a Jordanian living in Bridgeport who has been charged with providing false identification to at least 50 illegal aliens. This meeting takes place about six weeks before the FBI says Moqed and Alghamdi enter the US. [AP, 3/6/02, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]
March 23, 2001: The Office of National Drug Control Policy issues a National Security Alert describing "apparent attempts by Israeli nationals to learn about government personnel and office layouts." This later comes to light through a leaked Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) document called "Suspicious Activities Involving Israeli Art Students at DEA Facilities." A crackdown ensues and by June around 120 Israelis are apprehended. More are apprehended later. [Read the document here: DEA report, 6/01]
March 26, 2001: The Washington Post reports on a major improvements of the CIA's intelligence gathering capability "in recent years." A new program called Oasis uses "automated speech recognition" technology to turn audio feeds into formatted, searchable text. It can distinguish one voice from another and differentiates "speaker 1" from "speaker 2" in transcripts. Software called Fluent performs "cross lingual" searches, even translating difficult languages like Chinese and Japanese (apparently such software is much better than similar publicly available software) as well as automatically assessing their importance. There's also software that can turn a suspect's "life story into a three-dimensional diagram of linked phone calls, bank deposits and plane trips," and other software to efficiently and quickly process vast amounts of video, audio and written data. [Washington Post, 3/26/01] However, the government will later report that a number of messages about the 9/11 attacks, such as one stating "tomorrow is the zero hour" weren't translated until after 9/11 because analysts were "too swamped." [ABC News, 6/7/02] Doesn't that contradict the automated aspect of much translation?
Spring 2001: The Sydney Morning Herald later reports, "The months preceding September 11 [see] a shifting of the US military's focus ... Over several months beginning in April  a series of military and governmental policy documents [are] released that [seek] to legitimize the use of US military force in the pursuit of oil and gas." Michael Klare, an international security expert and author of Resource Wars, says the military has increasingly come to "define resource security as their primary mission." An article in the Army War College's journal by Jeffrey Record, a former staff member of the Senate armed services committee, argues for the legitimacy of "shooting in the Persian Gulf on behalf of lower gas prices." He also "advocate[s] the acceptability of presidential subterfuge in the promotion of a conflict" and "explicitly urge[s] painting over the US's actual reasons for warfare with a nobly high-minded veneer, seeing such as a necessity for mobilizing public support for a conflict." In April, Tommy Franks, the commander of US forces in the Persian Gulf/South Asia area, testifies to Congress in April that his command's key mission is "access to [the region's] energy resources." The next month US Central Command begins planning for war with Afghanistan, plans that are later used in the real war (see May 2001 (F)). [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/26/02] Other little noticed but influential documents reflect similar thinking (see September 2000 and April 2001 (D)).
Spring 2001 (B): A US Customs Service investigation finds evidence that Nabil al-Marabh (see 1989-May 2000, May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001 and 2001 (C)) has funneled money to hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi and Satam Al Suqami. [Cox News, 10/16/01, ABC 7, 1/31/02] By summer, Customs uncovers a series of financial transactions between al-Marabh and al-Qaeda agent Raed Hijazi. [New York Times, 9/21/01, AP, 11/17/01] It is later reported that "some of the 11 hijackers who passed through" Britain in spring 2001 on their way to the US (see April 23-June 29, 2001) "should have been instantly 'red-flagged' by British intelligence. One was Ahmed Alghamdi" because of his connection to Raed Hijazi (see January-June 2001). [Sunday Herald, 9/30/01] Presumably another would be Satam Al Suqami. If they should have been flagged by Britain in spring 2001 because of a US investigation, isn't it likely that they should have been flagged by the US as well? 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). A Congressional 9/11 inquiry later concludes that US intelligence "possessed no intelligence or law enforcement information" before 9/11 on any of the hijackers except for Khalid Almihdhar and Salem and Nawaf Alhazmi. The inquiry suggests the other hijackers may have been selected "because they did not have previously established ties to terrorist organizations." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] This seems to completely ignore all evidence of the Customs investigation.
April 2001 (B): A source with terrorist connections speculates to US intelligence that "bin Laden would be interested in commercial pilots as potential terrorists." The source warns that the US should not focus only on embassy bombings, because terrorists are seeking spectacular and traumatic attacks, along the lines of the WTC bombing in 1993. Because the source was offering personal speculation and not hard information, the information is not disseminated widely. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, New York Times, 9/18/02]
April 2001 (C): Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, has been trying to get aid from the US, but his people are only allowed to meet with low level US officials. In an attempt to get his message across, he addresses the European Parliament: "If President Bush doesn't help us, these terrorists will damage the US and Europe very soon." [Time, 8/4/02]
April 2001 (D): A report commissioned by former US Secretary of State James Baker and the Council on Foreign Relations entitled "Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century" is submitted to Vice President Cheney this month. "The report is linked to a veritable who's who of US hawks, oilmen and corporate bigwigs." The report says the "central dilemma" for the US administration is that "the American people continue to demand plentiful and cheap energy without sacrifice or inconvenience." It warns that the US is running out of oil, with a painful end to cheap fuel already in sight. It argues that "the United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma," and that one of the "consequences" of this is a "need for military intervention" to secure its oil supply. It argues that Iraq needs to be overthrown so the US can control its oil. [Sunday Herald, 10/5/02, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/26/02] In what may be a reference to a pipeline through Afghanistan, the report suggests the US should "Investigate whether any changes to US policy would quickly facilitate higher exports of oil from the Caspian Basin region... the exports from some oil discoveries in the Caspian Basin could be hastened if a secure, economical export route could be identified swiftly" (see also September 2000 and Spring 2001). [Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century, 4/01] Could the Bush administration have let 9/11 happen to get access to Central Asian oil, and gain support for a war with Iraq, amongst other reasons?
April-May 2001: National Security Advisor Rice later says US intelligence sources start to learn of specific threats regarding al-Qaeda attacks against US targets or interests around this time. [CNN, 3/02, Reuters, 5/16/02] While its true that intelligence warnings were increasing at this time, what about the many specific warnings from before this (for instance, see March 2000 (B) and March 2001 (B))?
April 1, 2001: Hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi is stopped by an Oklahoma policeman for speeding. His license is run through a computer to check if there is a warrant for his arrest. There is none, so he is given a ticket and sent on his way. The CIA has known Alhazmi is a terrorist and possibly living in the US since March 2000 (see March 5, 2000), but has failed to share this knowledge with other agency. [Daily Oklahoman, 1/20/02, Newsweek, 6/2/02] He also has been in the country illegally since January 2001, but this also doesn't raise any flags. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]
April 4, 2001: The BBC reports on advances in electronic surveillance. Echelon has become particularly effective against mobile phones, recording millions of calls simultaneously and checking them against a powerful search engine designed to pick out key words that might represent a security threat. Laser microphones pick up conversations from up to a kilometer away by monitoring window vibrations. If a bug is attached to a computer keyboard it is possible to monitor exactly what is being keyed in, because every key on a computer has a unique sound when depressed. [BBC, 4/4/01]
April 8, 2001: Supposedly, Atta flies from the US to Prague, Czech Republic, and meets with Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, an Iraqi spy. He returns on April 9 or 10. [New York Times, 10/27/01] But did he actually fly to Prague? A US official later states, "Neither we nor the Czechs nor anybody else has any information [Atta] was coming or going [to Prague] at that time." [Newsweek, 4/28/02] FBI Director Mueller states, "We ran down literally hundreds of thousands of leads and checked every record we could get our hands on, from flight reservations to car rentals to bank accounts," yet no evidence that he left the country was found. [Washington Post, 5/1/02] Investigators believe Atta was in Florida the whole time, and the Czech government eventually agrees. [BBC, 5/1/02, UPI, 10/20/02, New York Times, 10/21/02] But assuming al-Ani met with someone, could it be someone other than Atta, perhaps someone impersonating him? "After months of investigation, the Czechs [say] they [are] no longer certain that Atta was the person who met al-Ani, saying 'he may be different from Atta.'" [Washington Post, 5/1/02] "Some in Prague who knew the diplomat say he met with a used car salesman named Saleh from Nuremberg, Germany, who looked like Mr. Atta. 'He is a perfect double for Atta,' said a Syrian businessman who has lived in Prague for 35 years and says he knew the diplomat and the car salesman. 'I saw him several times with [al-Ani].' ... Czech intelligence officials offered still another theory: the Mohamed Atta who came to Prague last April was not the hijacker but a Pakistani of the same name. 'He didn't have the same identity card number,' an unidentified Interior Ministry official told the newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes. 'There was a great difference in their ages, their nationalities didn't match, basically nothing it was someone else.'" [New York Times, 12/16/01] Could the use of an impersonator explain why some Czech officials remained convinced so long that Atta came to this meeting [AP, 12/17/01], while FBI investigators remained convinced that he never left Florida? [Washington Post, 5/1/02] See September 19, 2001-October 20, 2002 for the remarkable way coverage of this story has changed over time.
April 12-September 7, 2001: At least six hijackers get more than one Florida driver's license. They get the second license simply by filling out change of address forms. 1) Waleed Alshehri: first license May 4, duplicate May 5. 2) Marwan Alshehhi: first license, April 12, duplicate in June. 3) Ziad Jarrah: first license May 2, duplicate July 10. 4) Ahmed Alhaznawi: first license July 10, duplicate September 7. 5) Hamza Alghamdi: first license June 27, two duplicates, the second in August. 6) the sixth man with a Florida duplicate is not named. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01] Additionally, some hijackers got licenses in multiple states. For instance, Nawaf Alhazmi had licenses from California, New York, and Florida at the same time, apparently all in the same name. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, Newsday, 9/21/01, Daily Oklahoman, 1/20/02] Why would they need duplicates of even the exact same license, unless it was, as an article put it, to "[allow] two or more people to use the same identity"? [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01]
April 18, 2001: Hijacker Marwan Alshehhi flies from Miami, Florida, to Amsterdam, Netherlands. He returns on May 2. Investigators have not divulged where he went or what he did while in Europe. [Justice Department, 5/20/02] Could his trip be connected to other trips he and others in the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell take to get terrorist funding from the Dutch city of Eindhoven (see Mid-June 1999)?
April 18, 2001 (B): The FAA sends a warning to US airlines that Middle Eastern terrorists could try to hijack or blow up a US plane and that carriers should "demonstrate a high degree of alertness." The warning stems from the April 6, 2001, conviction of Ahmed Ressam over a failed plot to blow up Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebrations. This warning expires on July 31, 2001. [AP, 5/18/02] This is one of 15 general warnings issued to airlines between January and August (the airlines have been getting an average of more than one warning a month for a long time), but this one is slightly more specific. [CNN, 3/02, CNN, 5/17/02] As one newspaper later reports, "there were so many that airline officials grew numb to them." [St. Petersburg Times, 9/23/02] The Bush administration officials have said the threats were so vague that they did not require tighter security. [AP, 5/18/02]
April 23, 2001: A Global Hawk plane flies 22 hours from the US to Australia without pilot or passengers. A Global Hawk manager says, "The aircraft essentially flies itself, right from takeoff, right through to landing, and even taxiing off the runway" (see 1998 (D) and September 25, 2001). [ITN, 4/24/01]
April 23-June 29, 2001: The 13 hijackers
commonly known as the "muscle" first arrive in the US. The muscle
provides the brute force meant to control the hijacked passengers and protect
the pilots. [Washington
Post, 9/30/01] According to FBI Director Mueller, they all pass through
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and their travel was probably coordinated from
abroad by Khalid Almihdhar. [Congressional
Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] But some information
contradicts their official arrival dates:
April 23: Waleed Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami arrive in Orlando, Florida. Suqami in fact arrived before February 2001 (see February 2001). Alshehri was leasing a house near Washington in 1999 and 2000 with Ahmed Alghamdi (see 1999 (H)). He also lived with Ahmed Alghamdi in Florida for seven months in 1997. [Telegraph, 9/20/01] Alshehri appears quite Americanized in the summer of 2001, frequently talking with an apartment mate about football and baseball, even identifying himself a fan of the Florida Marlins baseball team. [AP, 9/21/01]
May 2: Majed Moqed and Ahmed Alghamdi arrive in Washington. Both actually arrived by mid-March 2001 (see Mid-March 2001). Ahmed Alghamdi was living with Waleed Alshehri near Washington until July 2000 (see 1999 (H)). He also lived with Waleed Alshehri in Florida for seven months in 1997. [Telegraph, 9/20/01]
May 28: Mohand Alshehri, Hamza Alghamdi, and Ahmed Alnami arrive in Miami, Florida. Both Mohand Alshehri and Hamza Alghamdi arrived by January 2001 (see January 2001 (B)).
June 8: Ahmed Alhaznawi and Wail Alshehri arrive in Miami, Florida.
June 27: Fayez Banihammad and Saeed Alghamdi arrive in Orlando, Florida.
June 29: Salem Alhazmi and Abdulaziz Alomari arrive in New York. Alhazmi in fact arrived before February 2001 (see February 2001).
After entering the US (perhaps reentering for some), the hijackers arriving at Miami and Orlando airports settle in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area along with Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, and Ziad Jarrah. The hijackers, arriving in New York and Virginia, settle in the Paterson, New Jersey, area along with Nawaf Alhazmi and Hani Hanjour. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] Note that the FBI's early conclusion that 11 of these muscle men "did not know they were on a suicide mission," [Observer, 10/14/01] is contradicted by video confessions made by all of them in Afghanistan (see March 2001), and CIA Director Tenet later says they "probably were told little more than that they were headed for a suicide mission inside the United States." [CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02] They didn't know the exact details of the 9/11 plot until shortly before the attack. [CBS, 10/9/02]
April 26, 2001: Atta is stopped at a random inspection near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and given a citation for having no driver's license. He fails to show up for his May 28 court hearing a warrant is issued for his arrest on June 4. After this, he flies all over the US using his real name, and even flies to Spain and back in July (see July 8-19, 2001) and is never stopped or questioned. The police never try to find him. [Wall Street Journal, 10/16/01, Australian Broadcasting Corp., 11/12/01]
May 2001: Around this time, intercepts from Afghanistan warn that al-Qaeda could attack an American target in late June or on the July 4 holiday. However, The White House's Counterterrorism Security Group does not meet to discuss this prospect. This group also fails to meet after intelligence analysts overhear conversations from an al-Qaeda cell in Milan suggesting that bin Laden's agents might be plotting to kill Bush at the European summit in Genoa, Italy, in late July (see July 20-22, 2001). In fact, the group hardly meets at all. By comparison, the Counterterrorism Security Group met two or three times a week between 1998 and 2000 under Clinton. [New York Times, 12/30/01]
May 2001 (B): US intelligence obtains information that al-Qaeda is planning to infiltrate the US from Canada and carry out a terrorist operation using high explosives. The report doesn't say exactly where inside the US, or when, or how an attack might occur. Two months later, the information is shared with the FBI, the INS, US Customs Service, and the State Department, and is included in "a closely held intelligence report for senior government officials in August 2001" (apparently a reference to Bush's well-reported briefing - see August 6, 2001). [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02]
May 2001 (C): The Defense Department gains and
shares information indicating that seven people associated with bin Laden have
departed from various locations for Canada, Britain, and the US. This is
around the time that most of the 19 hijackers enter the US - could those be
some of the people referred to? The next month, the CIA learns that key
operatives in al-Qaeda are disappearing while others are preparing for martyrdom.
[Senate Intelligence Committee,
May 2001 (D): Secretary of State Powell gives $43 million in aid to Afghanistan's Taliban government, purportedly to assist hungry farmers who are starving since the destruction of their opium crop in January on orders of the Taliban. [Los Angeles Times, 5/22/01] FTW This follows $113 million given by the US in 2000 for humanitarian aid. [State Department Fact Sheet, 12/11/01]
May 2001 (E): Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, a career covert operative and former Navy Seal, travels to India on a publicized tour while CIA Director Tenet makes a quiet visit to Pakistan to meet with President General Musharraf. Armitage has long and deep Pakistani intelligence connections (as well as a role in the Iran-Contra affair). It would be reasonable to assume that while in Islamabad, Tenet, in what was described as "an unusually long meeting," also meets with his Pakistani counterpart, ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (see October 7, 2001). A long-time regional expert with extensive CIA ties stated publicly: "The CIA still has close links with the ISI." [SAPRA, 5/22/01, Times of India, 3/7/01] FTW
May 2001 (F): General William Kernan, commander in chief of the Joint Forces Command, later mentions: "The details of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan which fought the Taliban and al-Qaeda after the September 11 attacks, were largely taken from a scenario examined by Central Command in May 2001." [AFP, 7/23/02]
May 2001 (G): Vice President Cheney's national energy plan is publicly released. It calls for expanded oil and gas drilling on public land and easing regulatory barriers to building nuclear power plants. [AP, 12/9/02] There are several interesting points, little noticed at the time. It suggests that the US cannot depend exclusively on traditional sources of supply to provide the growing amount of oil that it needs. It will also have to obtain substantial supplies from new sources, such as the Caspian states, Russia, and Africa. It also notes that the US cannot rely on market forces alone to gain access to these added supplies, but will also require a significant effort on the part of government officials to overcome foreign resistance to the outward reach of American energy companies. [Japan Today, 4/30/02] The plan was largely decided through Cheney's secretive Energy Task Force. Both before and after this, Cheney and other Task Force officials meet with Enron executives, including a meeting a month and a half before Enron declares bankruptcy (see December 2, 2001). Two separate lawsuits are later filed to reveal details of how the government's energy policy was formed and if Enron or other players may have influenced it, but so far the Bush Administration has resisted all efforts to release these documents (see October 17, 2002 and February 7, 2003 (B)). [AP, 12/9/02] At the very least, it's known that Enron executives met with the Commerce Secretary about its troubled Dabhol power plant in 2001 (see November 1993). [New York Times, 2/21/02] If these documents are released, they could show what the government did to support Enron's Dabhol plant with an Afghanistan gas pipeline.
May 2001 (H): The US introduces the "Visa Express" program in Saudi Arabia, which allows any Saudi Arabian to obtain visas through his or her travel agent instead of appearing at a consulate in person. An official later states, "The issuing officer has no idea whether the person applying for the visa is actually the person in the documents and application." [US News and World Report, 12/12/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] At the time, warnings of an attack against the US led by the Saudi Osama bin Laden are higher than they had ever been before - "off the charts" as one senator later puts it. [Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02, Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] A terrorism conference had recently concluded that Saudi Arabia was one of four top nationalities in al-Qaeda. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 5/19/02] Five hijackers - Khalid Almihdhar, Abdulaziz Alomari, Salem Alhazmi, Saeed Alghamdi, and Fayez Ahmed Banihammad - use Visa Express over the next month to enter the US. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] The widely criticized program is finally canceled in July 2002 (see July 19, 2002).
May 2001 (I): An Iranian in custody in New York City tells local police of a plot to attack the World Trade Center. No more details are known. [Fox News, 5/17/02]
May 2001 (J): US Medicine magazine later reports, "Though the Department of Defense had no capability in place to protect the Pentagon from an ersatz guided missile in the form of a hijacked 757 airliner, DoD [Department of Defense] medical personnel trained for exactly that scenario in May." The tri-Service DiLorenzo Health Care Clinic and the Air Force Flight Medicine Clinic train inside the Pentagon this month "to fine-tune their emergency preparedness." [US Medicine, 10/01]
May-July 2001: In a two month time period, the NSA reports "at least 33 communications indicating a possible, imminent terrorist attack." None of these reports provide any specific information on where, when, or how an attack might occur. These reports are widely disseminated to other intelligence agencies. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, MSNBC, 9/18/02] The NSA Director later claims that all of the warnings were red herrings. [NSA Director Congressional Testimony, 10/17/02]
May-August 2001: A number of the hijackers make at least six trips to Las Vegas. It's probable they met here after doing practice runs on cross-country flights. At least Atta, Alshehhi, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ziad Jarrah, Khalid Almihdhar and Hani Hanjour were involved. All of these "fundamentalist" Muslims drink alcohol, gamble, and frequent strip clubs. They even have strippers perform lap dances for them. [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4/01, Newsweek, 10/15/01]
May 6-September 6, 2001: The hijackers work out at various gyms, presumably getting in shape for the hijacking. Ziad Jarrah appears to have trained intensively from May to August, and Atta and Marwan Alshehhi also took exercising very seriously. [New York Times, 9/23/01, Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] But these three are presumably pilots who would need the training the least. For instance, Jarrah's trainer says "If he wasn't one of the pilots, he would have done quite well in thwarting the passengers from attacking." [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] Most of the rest appear to have only made token efforts, if at all. For instance, Hani Hanjour, Majed Moqed, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi work out for four days in early September. [AP, 9/21/01] Three others - Waleed Alshehri, Wail Alshehri and Satam al-Suqami - "simply clustered around a small circuit of machines, never asking for help and, according to a trainer, never pushing any weights. 'You know, I don't actually remember them ever doing anything ... They would just stand around and watch people.'" [New York Times, 9/23/01] Those three also had a one month membership in Florida - it isn't known if they actually worked out then or not. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] Since apparently all of the hijackers knew they were on a suicide mission (see March 2001), why weren't they preparing for it?
May 8, 2001: Bush entrusts Cheney to head the new Office of National Preparedness, a part of FEMA. This office is supposed to oversee a "national effort" to coordinate all federal programs for responding to domestic attacks. Cheney says to the press, "One of our biggest threats as a nation" may include "a terrorist organization overseas. We need to look at this whole area, oftentimes referred to as homeland defense." [New York Times, 7/8/02] Could the reason that the Counterterrorism Security Group almost never met under Bush (see May 2001) be because Cheney was leading counter-terrorism efforts through this group in the extreme secrecy he is well known for? Could this extremely obscure Office of National Preparedness actually have planned the 9/11 attacks or obstructed efforts to stop them? If its mission was to stop domestic terrorist attacks, it clearly failed.
May 16, 2001: US General Tommy Franks, later to head the US occupation of Afghanistan, visits the capital of Tajikistan. He says the Bush administration considers Tajikistan "a strategically significant country" and offers military aid. This follows a visit by a Department of Defense official earlier in the year and an earlier regional visit by Franks (see September 2000 (D)). The Guardian later asserts that by this time, "US Rangers were also training special troops in Kyrgyzstan. There were unconfirmed reports that Tajik and Uzbek special troops were training in Alaska and Montana." [Guardian, 9/26/01] FTW
May 23, 2001: Zalmay Khalilzad is appointed to a position on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Gulf, Southwest Asia and Other Regional Issues. Khalilzad is a former official in the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations. During the Clinton years, he worked for Unocal. He is later appointed special envoy to Afghanistan (see January 1, 2002). [Independent, 1/10/02, State Department profile, 2001]
May 29, 2001: A European Union committee investigating the Echelon spy surveillance network advises all people using e-mail to encrypt their e-mails if they want to avoid being spied on by Echelon. Echelon can sift through up to 90% of all internet traffic, as well as monitor phone conversations, mobile phone calls, fax transmissions, net browsing history, satellite transmissions and so on. Even encryption may not help much - the BBC suggests that "it is likely that the intelligence agencies can crack open most commercially available encryption software." [BBC, 5/29/01, BBC, 5/29/01] Given all this data capture capability, isn't it likely they had the data to break the 9/11 plot? The question is were they able to sift through all their data? Certainly any leads connected to al-Qaeda must have had the highest analysis priority for years.
May 29, 2001 (B): The State Department issues a overseas caution connected to the conviction of defendants in bombing the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. That warning says that "Americans citizens abroad may be the target of a terrorist threat from extremist groups" with links to bin Laden. The warning is reissued on June 22. [CNN, 6/23/01]
May 31, 2001: The Wall Street Journal summarizes tens of thousands of pages of evidence disclosed in a recently concluded trial of al-Qaeda terrorists. They are called "a riveting view onto the shadowy world of al-Qaeda." The documents reveal numerous connections between al-Qaeda and specific front companies and charities. They even detail a "tightly organized system of cells in an array of American cities, including Brooklyn, N.Y.; Orlando, Fla.; Dallas; Santa Clara, Calif.; Columbia, Mo., and Herndon, Va." The 9/11 hijackers had ties to many of these same cities and charities. [Wall Street Journal, 5/31/01] Why was so little done in response?
June 2001: German intelligence warns the CIA, Britain's MI6, and Israel's Mossad that Middle Eastern terrorists are planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack "American and Israeli symbols, which stand out." A later article quotes unnamed German intelligence sources who state the information was coming from Echelon surveillance technology, and that British intelligence had access to the same warnings. However, there were other informational sources, including specific information and hints given to, but not reported by, Western and Near Eastern news media six months before 9/11. [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 9/11/01, Washington Post, 9/14/01, Fox News, 5/17/02] FTW
June 2001 (B): US intelligence issues a terrorist threat advisory, warning US government agencies that there is a high probability of an imminent terrorist attack against US interests: "Sunni extremists associated with al-Qaeda are most likely to attempt spectacular attacks resulting in numerous casualties." The advisory mentions the Arabian Peninsula, Israel, and Italy as possible targets for an attack. Afterwards, intelligence information provided to senior US leaders continues to indicate that al-Qaeda expects near-term attacks to have dramatic consequences on governments or cause major casualties. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
June 2001 (C): The CIA provides senior US policy makers with a classified warning of a potential attack against US interests that is thought to be tied to Fourth of July celebrations in the US. [Sunday Herald, 9/23/01]
June 2001 (D): China, Russia, and four Central Asian countries create the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Its explicit purpose is to oppose US dominance, especially in Central Asia. [Guardian, 10/23/01] 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." [Guardian, 1/16/02] In March 2003, the Guardian will note that the new ring of US military bases built in the Afghan war (see January 2002 (D)) "has, in effect, destroyed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which Russia and China had established in an attempt to develop a regional alternative to US power." [Guardian, 3/11/03]
June 2001 (E): Three Middle Eastern men are detained for snapping reconnaissance photos of 26 Federal Plaza, the location of FBI offices in New York City. They are questioned by the FBI and let go. Days later the confiscated film is developed, and it shows photos of security checkpoints, police posts and surveillance cameras at 26 Federal Plaza, two federal courthouses and the federal building at 290 Broadway. It is now believed they were al-Qaeda agents and possibly connected to the 9/11 attacks. A terrorism expert questions why the pictures weren't developed immediately, and detailed intelligence checks conducted. [New York Post, 9/16/01]
June 2001 (F): The US considers aiding Ahmed Shah Massoud and his Northern Alliance movement. As one counter-terrorism official put it, "You keep [al-Qaeda terrorists] on the front lines in Afghanistan. Hopefully you're killing them in the process, and they're not leaving Afghanistan to plot terrorist operations." A former US special envoy to the Afghan resistance visits Massoud this month. Massoud gives him "all the intelligence he had on al-Qaeda" in the hopes of getting some support in return. But he gets nothing more than token amounts, and his organization isn't even given "legitimate resistance movement" status. [Time, 8/4/02] Did the US not want to support Massoud because he might have been too independent of US policy?
June 2001 (G): A 60-page internal memo on the Israeli "art student" spy ring is prepared by the DEA's Office of Security Programs. [Read the memo here: DEA report, 6/01] The memo is a compilation of dozens of field reports, and was meant only for the eyes of senior officials at the Justice Department (of which the DEA is adjunct), but it is leaked to the press around December 2001. The report connects the spies to efforts to foil investigations into Israeli organized crime activity involving the importation of the drug Ecstasy. The spies also appear to be snooping on top secret military bases. For instance, on April 30, 2001, an Air Force alert was issued from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City concerning "possible intelligence collection being conducted by Israeli Art Students." Tinker AFB houses AWACS surveillance craft and Stealth bombers. By the time of the report, the US has "apprehended or expelled close to 120 Israeli nationals" but many remain at large. [Le Monde, 3/5/02, Salon, 5/7/02] An additional 20 or so Israeli spies are apprehended between June and 9/11. [Fox News, 12/12/01]
June 2001 (H): British investigators believe that at least five of the hijackers have a "vital planning meeting" held in a safe house in north London, Britain. [London Times, 9/26/01] Authorities suspect that Mustapha Labsi, an Algerian now in British custody, train the hijackers in this safe house, as well as previously training the hijackers in Afghanistan. [Telegraph, 9/30/01]
June 2001 (I): US intelligence learns that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is interested in "sending terrorists to the United States" and planning to assist their activities once they arrive. The 9/11 Congressional inquiry says the significance of this is not understood at the time, and data collection efforts are not subsequently "targeted on information about [Mohammed] that might have helped understand al-Qaeda's plans and intentions." [Committee Findings, 12/11/02, Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02, USA Today, 12/12/02] The FBI has a $2 million reward for Mohammed at the time (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001). That summer, the NSA intercepts phone calls between Mohammed and Mohamed Atta, but apparently fails to pay attention (see Summer 2001), and on September 10, 2001, the US monitors a call from Atta to Mohammed in which Atta gets final approval for the 9/11 attacks, but this also doesn't lead to action (see September 10, 2001 (F)). In mid-2002, it is reported that "officials believe that given the warning signals available to the FBI in the summer of 2001, investigators correctly concentrated on the [USS] Cole investigation, rather than turning their attention to the possibility of a domestic attack." [New York Times, 6/9/02]
June 2001 (J): Enron's power plant in Dabhol, India, is shut down. The failure of the $3 billion plant, Enron's largest investment, contributes to Enron's bankruptcy later in the year (see December 2, 2001). Earlier in the year, India stopped paying its bill for the energy from the plant, because energy from the plant cost three times the usual rates. [New York Times, 3/20/01] Enron had hoped to feed the plant with cheap Central Asian gas, but this hope was dashed when a gas pipeline through Afghanistan was not completed (see June 1998 (B)). The larger part of the plant is still only 90 percent complete when construction stops at about this time. [New York Times, 3/20/01] It is known that Vice President Cheney lobbies the leader of India's main opposition party about the plant this month. [New York Times, 2/21/02] A lawsuit is in motion to get additional government documents released that could reveal what else the US did to support this plant (see October 17, 2002 and February 7, 2003 (B)). Enron may eventually restart the plant (see October 18, 2002).
June or July 2001: At least two witnesses from the Hamburg university where Atta had studied later claim Atta, Marwan Alshehhi and an unknown third person are seen in the ground-floor workshops of the architecture department at this time. They are seen on at least two occasions with a white, three foot scale model of the Pentagon. Between 60 and 80 slides of the Sears building in Chicago and the World Trade Center are found to be missing from the technical library after 9/11. [Sunday Times, 2/3/02]
Early June 2001: UPI reporters interview the reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar. He says the Taliban would like to resolve the bin Laden issue, so there can be "an easing and then lifting of UN sanctions that are strangling and killing the people of [Afghanistan]" (see November 14, 1999 and January 19, 2001). The reporters also note, "Saudi Arabia and the [United Arab Emirates] secretly fund the Taliban government by paying Pakistan for its logistical support to Afghanistan. Despite Pakistan's official denials, Taliban is entirely dependent on Pakistani aid. This was verified on the ground by UPI. Everything from bottled water to oil, gasoline and aviation fuel, and from telephone equipment to military supplies, comes from Pakistan." [UPI, 6/14/01]
June 1-2, 2001: A multi-agency planning exercise sponsored by NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command, in charge of defending US airspace) involves the hypothetical scenario of a cruise missile launched by "a rogue (government) or somebody" from a barge off the East Coast. Bin Laden is pictured on the cover of the proposal for the exercise. [American Forces Press Service, 6/4/02] After 9/11, the government claims that this type of an attack was completely unexpected, and as a result it had only 14 fighters on standby to defend the entire US. [Newsday, 9/23/01]
June 3, 2001: This is one of only two dates that Bush's national security leadership meets formally to discuss terrorism. This group, made up of the National Security Adviser, CIA Director, Defense Secretary, Secretary of State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others, met around 100 times before 9/11 to discuss a variety of topics, but apparently rarely terrorism. In wake of these reports, the White House "aggressively defended the level of attention, given only scattered hints of al-Qaeda activity." This lack of discussion stands in sharp contrast to the Clinton administration and public comments by the Bush administration. For instance, in January 2001 Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger told his replacement Rice: "I believe that the Bush Administration will spend more time on terrorism generally, and on al-Qaeda specifically, than any other subject." [Time, 8/4/02] Bush said in February 2001: "I will put a high priority on detecting and responding to terrorism on our soil." A few weeks earlier, Tenet had told Congress, "The threat from terrorism is real, it is immediate, and it is evolving." [AP, 6/28/02]
June 4, 2001: At some point in 2000, three men claiming to be Afghans but using Pakistani passports enter the Cayman Islands, possibly illegally. [Miami Herald, 9/20/01] In late 2000, Cayman and British investigators begin a yearlong probe of these men which lasts until 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] They are overheard discussing hijacking attacks in New York City. On this day, they are taken into custody, questioned and released some time later. This information is forwarded to US intelligence. [Fox News, 5/17/02] In late August, a letter to a Cayman radio station will allege these same men are agents of bin Laden "organizing a major terrorist act against the US via an airline or airlines" (see August 29, 2001).
June 9, 2001: Robert
Wright, an FBI agent who spent ten years investigating terrorist funding (see
October 1998), writes
a memo that slams the FBI. He states, "Knowing what I know, I can confidently
say that until the investigative responsibilities for terrorism are transferred
from the FBI, I will not feel safe... The FBI has proven for the past decade
it cannot identify and prevent acts of terrorism against the United States and
its citizens at home and abroad. Even worse, there is virtually no effort on
the part of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit to neutralize known and suspected
international terrorists living in the United States." [Cybercast
News Service, 5/30/02] He claims "FBI was merely gathering intelligence
so they would know who to arrest when a terrorist attack occurred" rather
than actually trying to stop the attacks. [UPI,
5/30/02] Wright's shocking allegations are largely
ignored when they first become public a year later. He is asked on CNN's Crossfire,
one of the few outlets to cover the story at all, "Mr. Wright, your charges
against the FBI are really more disturbing, more serious, than [Coleen] Rowley's
(see August 28, 2001).
Why is it, do you think, that you have been ignored by the media, ignored by
the congressional committees, and no attention has been paid to your allegations?"
The Village Voice says the problem is partly because he went to the FBI and
asked permission to speak publicly instead of going straight to the media as
Rowley did. The FBI put severe limits on what details Wright can divulge. He
is now suing them (see also May
30, 2002). [Village
June 11, 2001: FBI agents from the New York office and Washington headquarters meet with CIA officials to discuss the USS Cole investigation. The FBI agents are shown photographs from the Malaysia meeting, including pictures of hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, but are not given copies (see January 5-8, 2000 and January 4, 2001). "The FBI agents recognized the men from the Cole investigation, but when they asked the CIA what they knew about the men, they were told that they didn't have clearance to share that information. It ended up in a shouting match." [ABC News, 8/16/02] A CIA official later admits that he knew more about Alhazmi and Almihdhar that he was willing to tell the FBI. The FBI agents don't receive the information they want about these two until after 9/11. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Two days after this meeting, Almihdhar has no trouble getting a new multiple reentry US visa. [US News and World Report, 12/12/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] CIA Director Tenet later claims, "Almihdhar was not who they were talking about in this meeting." When Senator Carl Levin (D) reads the following to Tenet, "The CIA analyst who attended the New York meeting acknowledged to the joint inquiry staff that he had seen the information regarding Almihdhar's US visa and Alhazmi's travel to the United States but he stated that he would not share information outside of the CIA unless he had authority to do so," Tenet claims that he talked to the same analyst and was told something completely different. [New York Times, 10/17/02]
June 12, 2001: Operation Diamondback, a sting operation uncovering an attempt to buy weapons illegally for the Taliban, bin Laden, and others, ends with a number of arrests. An Egyptian named Diaa Mohsen and a Pakistani named Mohammed Malik are arrested and accused of attempting to buy Stinger missiles, nuclear weapon components, and other sophisticated military weaponry for the Pakistani ISI. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/23/01, Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B)] Malik appears to have had links to important Pakistani officials and Kashmiri terrorists, and Mohsen claims a connection to a man "who is very connected to the Taliban" and funded by bin Laden. [Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B), MSNBC, 8/2/02] Some other ISI agents came to Florida on several occasions to negotiate, but they escaped being arrested. They wanted to partially pay in heroin. One mentioned that the WTC would be destroyed (see July 14, 1999 and Early August 2001). These ISI agents said some of their purchases would go to the Taliban in Afghanistan and/or terrorists associated with bin Laden. [New York Times, 6/16/01, Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B), MSNBC, 8/2/02] Both Malik and Mohsen lived in Jersey City, New Jersey. [Jersey Journal, 6/20/01] A number of the people held by the US after 9/11, including possible al-Qaeda members Syed Gul Mohammad Shah and Mohammed Azmath (see September 11, 2001 (K)) are from the same Jersey City neighborhood. [New York Post, 9/23/01] Mohsen pleads guilty after 9/11, "But remarkably, even though [he was] apparently willing to supply America's enemies with sophisticated weapons, even nuclear weapons technology, Mohsen was sentenced to just 30 months in prison." [MSNBC, 8/2/02] Malik's case appears to have been dropped, and reporters find him working in a store in Florida less than a year after the trial ended. [MSNBC, 8/2/02] Malik's court files remain completely sealed, and in Mohsen's court case, prosecutors "removed references to Pakistan from public filings because of diplomatic concerns." [Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B)] Also arrested are Kevin Ingram and Walter Kapij. Ingram pleads guilty to laundering $350,000 and is sentenced to 18 months in prison. [AP, 12/1/01] Ingram was a former senior investment banker with Deutschebank, but resigned in January 1999 after his division suffered costly losses. [Jersey Journal, 6/20/01] Walter Kapij, a pilot with a minor role in the plot, is given the longest sentence, 33 months in prison. [Palm Beach Post, 1/12/02] Informant Randy Glass plays a key role in the sting, and has thirteen felony fraud charges against him reduced as a result, serving only seven months in prison. Federal agents involved in the case later express puzzlement that Washington higher-ups didn't make the case a higher priority, pointing out that bin Laden could have gotten a nuclear bomb if the deal was for real. Agents on the case complain that the FBI didn't make the case a counter-terrorism matter, which would have improved bureaucratic backing and opened access to FBI information and US intelligence from around the world. [Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B), MSNBC, 8/2/02] Federal agents frequently couldn't get prosecutors to approve wiretaps. [Cox News, 8/2/02] Glass says, "Wouldn't you think that there should have been a wire tap on Diaa [Mohsen]'s phone and Malik's phone?" [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02] An FBI supervisor in Miami refused to front money for the sting, forcing agents to use money from US Customs and even Glass's own money to help keep the sting going. [Cox News, 8/2/02]
June 13, 2001: Egyptian President Hasni Mubarak claims that Egyptian intelligence discovers a "communiqué from bin Laden saying he wanted to assassinate George W. Bush and other G8 heads of state during their summit in Italy." The communiqué specifically mentions this would be done via "an airplane stuffed with explosives." The US and Italy are sent urgent warnings of this and the attack is apparently aborted (see July 20-22, 2001). [New York Times, 9/26/01] Mubarak claims that Egyptian intelligence officials informed American intelligence officers between March and May 2001 that an Egyptian agent had penetrated the bin Laden organization. Presumably this explains how Egypt is able to give the US these warnings (see also Late July 2001 (D) and August 30, 2001). [New York Times, 6/4/02]
June 23, 2001: Reuters reports that "Followers of exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden are planning a major attack on US and Israeli interests in the next two weeks." The report is based on the impression of a reporter who interviewed bin Laden and some of his followers two days earlier. This reporter is quoted as saying: "There is a major state of mobilization among the Osama bin Laden forces. It seems that there is a race of who will strike first. Will it be the United States or Osama bin Laden?" [Reuters, 6/23/01]
Mid-June 2001: A two-hour video tape of al-Qaeda terrorists training at an Afghanistan camp appears in Kuwait and subsequently makes its way to the internet. The tape shows bin Laden making threats against the US and terrorists attacking targets bearing US emblems. [Sunday Herald, 9/23/01]
June 25, 2001: Hijacker Fayez Banihammad opens a bank account in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), with 9/11 paymaster "Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi." That name is a likely alias for Saeed Sheikh, who is known to frequently visit Dubai in this time period (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001 and September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002). [MSNBC, 12/11/01] Banihammad flies to the US the next day (see April 23-June 29, 2001). Banihammad gives power of attorney to "al-Hawsawi" on July 18, and then "al-Hawsawi" sends Banihammad Visa and ATM cards in Florida. Banihammad uses the Visa card to buy his airplane ticket for 9/11. [Washington Post, 12/13/01, MSNBC, 12/11/01] The same pattern of events occurs for some other hijackers, though the timing is not fully known. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] Visa cards are given to several other hijackers in Dubai. [London Times, 12/1/01] Other hijackers, including Hani Hanjour, Abdulaziz Alomari and Khalid Almihdhar, open foreign bank and credit card accounts in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia. Majed Moqed, Saeed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Wail Alshehri and possibly others purchase travelers checks in the UAE, presumably with funds given to them when they pass through Dubai. It is believed that "al-Hawsawi" is in Dubai every time the hijackers pass through. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]
June 26, 2001: An Indian magazine reports more details of the cooperative efforts of the US, India, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and Iran against the Taliban regime: "India and Iran will 'facilitate' US and Russian plans for ‘limited military action' against the Taliban if the contemplated tough new economic sanctions don't bend Afghanistan's fundamentalist regime." Earlier in the month, Russian President Putin told a meeting of the Confederation of Independent States that military action against the Taliban may happen, possibly with Russian involvement using bases and forces from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as well (see also December 19, 2000, March 15, 2001 and July 21, 2001). [IndiaReacts, 6/26/01] FTW
June 26, 2001 (B): The State Department issues a worldwide caution warning American citizens of possible attacks. [CNN, 3/02]
June 27, 2001: The Wall Street Journal reports that Pakistan and India are discussing jointly building a gas pipeline from Central Asian gas fields through Iran. This would circumvent the difficulties of building the pipeline through Afghanistan. [Wall Street Journal, 6/27/01] Iran has been secretly supporting the Northern Alliance to keep Afghanistan divided so no pipelines could be put through it (see December 20, 1999). Presumably the US government would be opposed to this, since much of its support for Afghanistan pipelines has been to prevent them from going through Iran (see Early 1998).
June 28, 2001: CIA Director Tenet writes an intelligence summary for National Security Adviser Rice: "It is highly likely that a significant al-Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks." Rice will later claim that everyone was taken by complete surprise by the 9/11 attack (see May 16, 2002 (B)). [Washington Post, 5/17/02] This comes several days after a reporter visits bin Laden, and is given the impression that an attack will occur in the next two weeks. He isn't actually told that by anyone, but he is told by at least one bin Laden follower that "a severe blow is expected against USA and Israeli interests worldwide." [Pravda, 6/26/01]
Late June 2001: White House National Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Richard Clarke, gives a direct warning to the FAA to increase security measures in light of an impending terrorist attack. The FAA refuses to take such measures. [New Yorker, 1/14/02]
Summer 2001: Around this time, the NSA intercepts telephone conversations between 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Mohamed Atta, but apparently does not share the information with any other agencies. The FBI has a $2 million reward for Mohammed at the time (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001), while Atta is in charge of operations inside the US. [Knight Ridder, 6/6/02, Independent, 6/6/02] US intelligence learned in June 2001 that Mohammed was interested in sending terrorists to the US and supporting them there (see June 2001 (I)). Yet supposedly, the NSA either fails to translate these messages in a timely fashion or fails to understand the significance of what was translated. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 6/6/02] FTW While the contents of these discussions have never been released, doesn't it seem highly likely they were discussing 9/11 plans? Would the NSA fail to translate or properly analyze messages from one of the most wanted terrorists?
Summer 2001 (B): A confidential informant tells an FBI field office agent that he has been invited to a commando training course at a camp operated by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The information is passed up to FBI headquarters, which rejects the idea of infiltrating the camp. An "asset validation" of the informant, a routine but critical exercise to determine whether information from the source was reliable, is also not done. The FBI later has no comment on the story. [US News and World Report, 6/10/02]
Summer 2001 (C): Congressman Porter Goss (R), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, later says on the intelligence monitoring of terrorist groups: "the chatter level went way off the charts" around this time and stayed high until 9/11. Given his history as a CIA operative, presumably he was kept "in the know" to some extent. [Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02] A later Congressional report states: "Some individuals within the intelligence community have suggested that the increase in threat reporting was unprecedented, at least in terms of their own experience." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Two counter-terrorism officials [later describe] the alerts of this summer as "the most urgent in decades." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
Summer 2001 (D): Egyptian investigators track down a close associate of bin Laden named Ahmed al-Khadir, wanted for bombing the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad in 1995. Egyptians surround the safe house in Pakistan where al-Khadir is hiding. They notify the ISI to help arrest him, and the ISI promises swift action. Instead, a car sent by the ISI filled with Taliban and having diplomatic plates arrives, grabs al-Khadir and drives him to safety in Afghanistan. Time magazine later brings up the incident to show the strong ties between the ISI and both the Taliban and al-Qaeda. [Time, 5/6/02]
Summer 2001 (E): Anonymous government sources later claim that Atta visits fellow hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, and Saudi citizen Omar al-Bayoumi (see June 1998 (D)). These same sources claim al-Bayoumi was identified after September 11 as an "advance man" for al-Qaeda. [Washington Times, 11/26/02] Other reports have suggested Atta visited Alhazmi and Almihdhar in San Diego (see September-December 2000), but it would strongly indicate al-Bayoumi was an advance man if Atta visited him in the company of the other two hijackers.
Summer 2001 (F): An Asia Times article published just prior to 9/11 claims that Crown Prince Abdullah, the defacto ruler of Saudi Arabia (see Late 1995), makes a clandestine visit to Pakistan around this time. After meeting with senior army officials, he visits Afghanistan with ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (see October 7, 2001). They meet Taliban leader Mullah Omar and try to convince him that the US is likely to launch an attack on Afghanistan. They insist bin Laden be sent to Saudi Arabia, where he would be held in custody and not handed over to any third country. If bin Laden were to be tried in Saudi Arabia, Abdullah would help make sure he is acquitted. Mullah Omar apparently rejects the proposal. The article suggests that Abdullah is secretly a supporter of bin Laden and is trying to protect him from harm (see Late 1998 (F)). [Asia Times, 8/22/01] A similar meeting may also take place after 9/11 (see September 19, 2001 (B)).
Summer 2001 (G): Supposedly, since 1997 there are only fourteen fighter planes on active alert to defend the continental US. But in the months before 9/11, rather than increase the number, the Pentagon was planning to reduce the number still further. Just after 9/11, the Los Angeles Times reported, "While defense officials say a decision had not yet been made, a reduction in air defenses had been gaining currency in recent months among task forces assigned by [Defense Secretary] Rumsfeld to put together recommendations for a reassessment of the military." By comparison, in the Cold War atmosphere of the 1950s, the US had thousands of fighters on alert throughout the US. [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01 (B)] Also during this time, FAA officials try to dispense with "primary" radars altogether, so that if a plane were to turn its transponder off, no radar could see it. NORAD rejects the proposal. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02]
July 2001: The CIA hears an individual who had recently been in Afghanistan say, "Everyone is talking about an impending attack." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02] The Telegraph later reports that "the idea of an attack on a skyscraper was discussed among [bin Laden's] supporters in Kabul." At some unspecified point before 9/11, a neighbor in Kabul saw diagrams showing a skyscraper attack in a house known as a "nerve center" for al-Qaeda activity. [Telegraph, 11/16/01] US soldiers will later find forged visas, altered passports, listings of Florida flight schools and registration papers for a flight simulator in al-Qaeda houses in Afghanistan. [New York Times, 12/6/01] Bin Laden bodyguard later claims that in May 2001 he hears bin Laden tell people in Afghanistan that the US would be hit with a terrorist attack, and thousands would die. [Guardian, 11/28/01] CIA Director Tenet later claims that the 9/11 plot was "in the heads of three or four people." [USA Today, 2/7/02] How many people in Afghanistan really knew of the 9/11 attack plans?
July 2001 (B): India gives the US general intelligence on possible terror attacks; details are not known. US government officials later confirm that Indian intelligence had information "that two Islamist radicals with ties to Osama bin Laden were discussing an attack on the White House," but apparently this particular information is not given to the US until two days after 9/11. [Fox News, 5/17/02]
Early July 2001: A briefing prepared for senior US government officials: "Based on a review of all-source reporting over the last five months, we believe that [bin Laden] will launch a significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning." As the weeks go by, intelligence information given to senior officials show that al-Qaeda continues to expect an imminent attack on US interests. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02]
July 1, 2001: Senators Dianne Feinstein (D) and
Richard Shelby (R), both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, appear
on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer", and warn of potential attacks
by bin Laden. Says Feinstein: "One of the things that has begun to concern
me very much as to whether we really have our house in order, intelligence staff
have told me that there is a major probability of a terrorist incident within
the next three months." [CNN,
July 2, 2001: Indian sources claim that "bin Laden, who suffers from renal deficiency, has been periodically undergoing dialysis in a Peshawar military hospital with the knowledge and approval of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), if not of [Pakistani President] Musharraf himself." [SARPA, 7/2/01] While one might question the bias of an Indian newspaper on this issue, highly-respected intelligence newsletter Jane's later reports the story, and adds, "None of [these details] will be unfamiliar to US intelligence operatives who have been compiling extensive reports on these alleged activities." [Jane's Intelligence Digest, 9/20/01] CBS will later report bin Laden had emergency medical care in Pakistan the day before 9/11. [CBS News, 01/28/02] If these stories are true, it appears Pakistan could have captured bin Laden for the US at any time. The Jane's article adds, "it is becoming clear that both the Taliban and al-Qaeda would have found it difficult to have continued functioning - including the latter group's terrorist activities - without substantial aid and support from Islamabad [Pakistan]." [Jane's Intelligence Digest, 9/20/01]
July 2, 2001 (B): The FBI issues a warning of possible al-Qaeda attacks on law enforcement agencies, stating, "there are threats to be worried about overseas. While we cannot foresee attacks domestically, we cannot rule them out." [CNN, 3/02]
July 3, 2001: James Hatfield, author of an unflattering book on Bush called Fortunate Son, claims he has evidence al-Qaeda will try to assassinate Bush at the G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy (see July 20-22, 2001), possibly through a suicidal plane crash. This is the first public mention of the plot (see Mid-July 2001). Intelligence reports later confirm that such an attack was planned but aborted due to high security. What's unusual is that Hatfield adds: "German intelligence services have stated that bin Laden is covertly financing neo-Nazi skinhead groups throughout Europe to launch another terrorist attack at a high-profile American target." [Online Journal, 7/3/01] Two weeks later, Hatfield apparently commits suicide. However, there is widespread speculation that his death was payback for his revelation of Bush's cocaine use in the 1970s. [Salon, 7/20/01]
July 4-14, 2001: Bin Laden, America's most wanted criminal with a $5 million bounty on his head, supposedly receives lifesaving treatment for renal failure from American surgeon specialist Dr. Callaway at the American hospital in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He is possibly accompanied by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri (who is said to be bin Laden's personal physician, al-Qaeda's second-in-command, and leader of Egypt's Islamic Jihad), plus several bodyguards. Callaway supposedly treated bin Laden in 1996 and 1998, also in Dubai. Callaway later refuses to answer any questions on this matter. [Le Figaro, 10/31/01, Agence France-Presse, 11/1/01, London Times, 11/01/01] During his stay, bin Laden is visited by "several members of his family and Saudi personalities," including Prince Turki al Faisal, then head of Saudi intelligence, as well as two CIA officers (see also July 12, 2001). [Guardian, 11/1/01] FTW The explosive story is widely reported in Europe, but barely at all in the US (possibly only by UPI [UPI, 11/1/01]).
July 5, 2001: Counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke leads a meeting of the Counterterrorism Security Group, attended by officials from a dozen federal agencies, to discuss intelligence regarding terrorism threats and potential attacks on US installations overseas. He states, "Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon." One who attended the meeting later calls the evidence that "something spectacular" is being planned by al-Qaeda "very gripping." [Time, 8/4/02] Clarke directs every counter-terrorist office to cancel vacations, defer nonvital travel, put off scheduled exercises and place domestic rapid-response teams on much shorter alert. By early August, all of these emergency measures are no longer in effect. [CNN, 3/02, Washington Post, 5/17/02]
July 8-19, 2001: Atta travels to Spain again (see January 4, 2001 (B)). Three others cross the Atlantic with him but their names are not known, as they apparently use false identities. [El Mundo, 9/30/01] Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a member of his Hamburg terrorist cell, arrives in Spain on July 9, and stays until July 16. [New York Times, 5/1/02] Hijacker Marwan Alshehhi also comes to Spain at about the same time and leaves on July 17. [AP, 6/30/02] Alshehhi must have traveled under another name, because US immigration has no records of his departure or return. [Department of Justice, 5/20/02] Investigators believe Atta, Alshehhi and bin al-Shibh meet with at least three unknown others in a secret safe house near Tarragona. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, AP, 6/30/02] It is theorized this meeting is when the final details of the 9/11 attacks are set. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] It is probable Atta meets with and is hosted by Barakat Yarkas and other Spanish al-Qaeda members (see August 27, 2001). [International Herald Tribune, 11/21/01] One of the unknowns at the meeting could be Yarkas's friend Mamoun Darkazanli, a German with connections to the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell (see Spring 2000). Darkazanli travels to Spain and meets with Yarkas during the time Atta is there. He travels with an unnamed Syrian Spanish suspect, who lived in Afghanistan and had access there to al-Qaeda leaders. [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/03] The Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia later reports that Atta also meets with fellow hijackers Waleed Alshehri and Wail Alshehri on July 16. [AP, 9/27/01] Strangely enough, on July 16, Atta stayed in the same hotel in the town of Salou that had hosted FBI counter-terrorist expert John O'Neill a few days earlier, when he made a speech to other counter-terrorism experts on the need for greater international cooperation by police agencies to combat terrorism. Bin al-Shibh arrived in Salou on July 9, which means he would have been there when the counter-terrorist meeting took place. [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 135] Did bin al-Shibh and/or Atta attend O'Neill's speech to learn from the enemy, or even secretly meet with O'Neill or some other counter-terrorist official?
July 10, 2001: Phoenix, Arizona FBI agent Ken Williams sends a memorandum warning about suspicious activities involving a group of Middle Eastern men taking flight training lessons in Arizona. The memorandum specifically suggests that bin Laden's followers might be trying to infiltrate the civil-aviation system as pilots, security guards or other personnel, and recommends a national program to track suspicious flight-school students. The memo is sent to the counterterrorism division at FBI headquarters in Washington and to two field offices, including the counterterrorism section in New York, which has had extensive experience in al-Qaeda investigations. The memo is ignored in all three places, not passed on to others, and no action is taken. [New York Times, 5/20/02, Fortune, 5/22/02] Williams mentioned 10 flight students as particularly suspicious, but the list didn't include hijacker Hani Hanjour, who was training in Arizona at the time and drew suspicion from others (see January 2001). However, the prime target of the list was Bandar Alhazmi, another Saudi who had roomed and trained with Hanjour off and on for several years (and has been missing since 9/11). Had Alhazmi been investigated, Hanjour might have been discovered as well (see also December 2001). [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/24/02, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02, Washington Post, 9/10/02] Vice President Cheney states in May 2002 that the memo should never be released to the media or public. [CNN, 5/20/02] FTW
July 12, 2001: While in Dubai, United Arab Emirates to receive lifesaving medical treatment (see July 4-14, 2001), Bin Laden supposedly meets with CIA agent Larry Mitchell in the Dubai hospital on this day, and possibly others. Mitchell reportedly lives in Dubai as an Arab specialist under the cover of being a consular agent. The CIA, the Dubai hospital and even bin Laden deny the story. Le Figaro and Radio France International stand by it. [Le Figaro, 10/31/01, Radio France International, 11/1/01, Reuters, 11/10/01] The Guardian claims that the two news organizations that broke the story, Le Figaro and Radio France International, got their information from French intelligence, "which is keen to reveal the ambiguous role of the CIA, and to restrain Washington from extending the war to Iraq and elsewhere." The Guardian adds that during his stay bin Laden is also visited by a second CIA officer. [Guardian, 11/1/01] On July 15, Larry Mitchell supposedly returns to CIA headquarters to report on his meeting with bin Laden. [Radio France International, 11/1/01] If this meeting did happen, then does it show the US was not serious about wanting bin Laden dead?
July 13, 2001: With the threat of a new terrorist
attack on the rise, the CIA has agents reexamine records in the search for new
leads. A CIA cable is rediscovered showing that Khallad bin Atash had attended
the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia (see January
5-8, 2000 and January
4, 2001). The CIA official who finds it immediately e-mails the CIA's
Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC), saying bin Atash "is a major league killer,
who orchestrated the Cole attack and possibly the Africa bombings." Yet
bin Atash is still not put on a terrorist watch list. An FBI analyst assigned
to the CTC is given the task to review all other CIA cables about the Malaysian
meeting. It takes this analyst until August 21 - over five weeks later - to
determine that two attendees of the meeting, hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid
Almihdhar, had entered the US on January 15, 2000, and that Almihdhar had reentered
the US on July 4, 2001. [Congressional
Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]
Mid-July 2001: US intelligence reports another spike in warnings (see June 13, 2001 for a previous warning) related to the July 20-22 G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy (see July 20-22, 2001). The reports include specific threats discovered by the head of Russia's Federal Bodyguard Service that al-Qaeda will try to kill Bush as he attends the summit. [CNN, 3/02] The reports are taken so seriously that Bush stays overnight on an aircraft carrier offshore, and other world leaders stay on a luxury ship. [CNN, 7/18/01] Two days before the summit begins, the BBC reports: "The huge force of officers and equipment which has been assembled to deal with unrest has been spurred on by a warning that supporters of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden might attempt an air attack on some of the world leaders present." [BBC, 7/18/01]
Mid-July 2001 (B): John O'Neill, FBI counter-terrorism expert, privately discusses White House obstruction in his bin Laden investigation. O'Neill says:"The main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were US oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it." He adds:"All the answers, everything needed to dismantle Osama bin Laden's organization, can be found in Saudi Arabia." O'Neill also believes the White House is obstructing his investigation of bin Laden because they are still keeping the idea of a pipeline deal with the Taliban open. [CNN, 1/8/02, CNN, 1/9/02, Irish Times, 11/19/01, Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, released 11/11/01 (the link is an excerpt containing Chapter 1)]
July 16, 2001: British spy agencies send a report to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other top officials warning that al-Qaeda is in "the final stages" of preparing a terrorist attack in the West. The prediction is "based on intelligence gleaned not just from MI6 and GCHQ but also from US agencies, including the CIA and the National Security Agency," which cooperate with the British. "The contents of the July 16 warning would have been passed to the Americans, Whitehall sources confirmed." The report states there is "an acute awareness" that the attack is "a very serious threat." [London Times, 6/14/02] This information could be from or in addition to a warning based on surveillance of al-Qaeda prisoner Khalid al-Fawwaz (see August 21, 2001). [Fox News, 5/17/02]
July 16, 2001 (B): A Village Voice reporter is told by a New York taxi driver, "You know, I am leaving the country and going home to Egypt sometime in late August or September. I have gotten e-mails from people I know saying that Osama bin Laden has planned big terrorist attacks for New York and Washington for that time. It will not be safe here then." He does in fact return to Egypt for that time period. The FBI isn't told about this lead until after 9/11. He is later interrogated by the FBI and released. He claims what he knew was known by many. [Village Voice, 9/25/02 (B)]
July 18, 2001: The FBI issues another warning to domestic law enforcement agencies about threats stemming from the convictions in the millennium bomb plot trial. The FAA also issues a warning, telling the airlines to "use the highest level of caution." [CNN, 3/02]
July 20-22, 2001: The G8 summit is held in Genoa, Italy. Acting on previous warnings that al-Qaeda would attempt to kill Bush and other leaders (see Mid-July 2001), Italy surrounds the summit with antiaircraft guns, keeps fighters in the air, and closes off local airspace to all planes. No attack occurs. US officials at the time state that the warnings were "unsubstantiated" but after 9/11 claim success in preventing an attack. Lying about Genoa keeps the public and the airlines uninformed about the seriousness of the current terrorist threat. [Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01] FTW
July 21, 2001: Three American officials, Tom Simons (former US Ambassador to Pakistan), Karl Inderfurth (former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs) and Lee Coldren (former State Department expert on South Asia) meet with Pakistani and Russian intelligence officers in a Berlin hotel. [Salon, 8/16/02] It is the third of a series of back-channel conferences called "brainstorming on Afghanistan." Taliban representatives sat in on previous meetings, but boycotted this one due to worsening tensions. However, the Pakistani ISI relays information from the meeting to the Taliban. [Guardian, 9/22/01] At the meeting, former US State Department official Lee Coldren passes on a message from Bush officials. He later says, "I think there was some discussion of the fact that the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that they might be considering some military action." [Guardian, 9/26/01] Accounts vary, but former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik later says he is told by senior American officials at the meeting that military action to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan is planned to "take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest." The goal is to kill or capture both bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar, topple the Taliban regime and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place. Uzbekistan and Russia would also participate (see also December 19, 2000, March 15, 2001 and June 26, 2001). Naik also says "it was doubtful that Washington would drop its plan even if bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the Taliban." [BBC, 9/18/01] One specific threat made at this meeting is that the Taliban can choose between "carpets of bombs" - an invasion - or "carpets of gold" - the pipeline. [Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, Guillaume Dasquié and Jean-Charles Brisard, released 11/11/01 (the link is an excerpt containing Chapter 1)] Niaz Naik says Tom Simons made the "carpets" statement. Simons claims: "It's possible that a mischievous American participant, after several drinks, may have thought it smart to evoke gold carpets and carpet bombs. Even Americans can't resist the temptation to be mischievous." Naik and the American participants deny that the pipeline was an issue at the meeting. [Salon, 8/16/02] So then what was the "carpets of gold" phrase referring to? FTW
July 24, 2001: Larry Silverstein's $3.2 billion purchase of the WTC is finalized. [Ireizine, 7/26/01] It's the only time the WTC has ever changed hands. It was previously owned by the New York Port Authority, a bi-state government agency. [ICSC, 4/27/01] Silverstein may get $7 billion in insurance from the 9/11 destruction of the WTC towers. [Guardian, 10/24/01]
July 26, 2001: CBS
News reports that Attorney General Ashcroft has stopped flying commercial airlines
due to a threat assessment, but "neither the FBI
nor the Justice Department ... would identify [to CBS] what the threat was,
when it was detected or who made it." [CBS,
"Ashcroft demonstrated an amazing lack of curiosity
when asked if he knew anything about the threat. 'Frankly, I don't,' he told
Francisco Chronicle, 6/3/02] It is later reported that he stopped
flying in July based on threat assessments made on May 8 and June 19. In May
2002 its claimed the threat assessment had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, but
Ashcroft walked out of his office rather than answer questions about it. [AP,
5/16/02] The San Francisco Chronicle concludes, "The FBI obviously
knew something was in the wind ... The FBI did advise Ashcroft to stay off commercial
aircraft. The rest of us just had to take our chances."
Francisco Chronicle, 6/3/02] CBS's Dan Rather later says of this warning:
"Why wasn't it shared with the public at large?" [Washington
July 31, 2001: The FAA issues another warning to US airlines, citing no specific targets but saying "terror groups are known to be planning and training for hijackings, and we ask you therefore to use caution." These alerts had expired by 9/11. Note that pilots and flight attendants later claim they were never told about warnings such as these. The airlines also disagree about the content of pre-9/11 warnings generally. For instance, American Airlines states these warnings were "extremely general in nature and did not identify a specific threat or recommend any specific security enhancements." The text of these warnings remain classified. [CNN, 3/02, Ananova, 5/17/02]
Late July 2001: The Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil learns that bin Laden is planning a "huge attack" on targets inside America. The attack is imminent, and will kill thousands. He learns this from Tahir Yildash, leader of the rebel Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which is allied with al-Qaeda at the time. Muttawakil sends an emissary to pass this information on to the US consul general, and another US official, "possibly from the intelligence services," also attends the meeting. The message is not taken very seriously; one source blames this on "warning fatigue" from too many warnings. Also, supposedly the emissary was from the Foreign Ministry, but didn't say the message came from Muttawakil himself. The emissary then takes the message to the Kabul offices of UNSMA, the political wing of the UN. They also fail to take the warning seriously. [Independent, 9/7/02, Reuters, 9/7/02] Isn't it ironic the US destroyed the Taliban, who tried to warn them of the attacks? Click here for more on this topic.
Late July 2001 (B): David Schippers, noted conservative Chicago lawyer and the House Judiciary Committee's chief investigator in the Clinton impeachment trial, claims two days after 9/11 that he had tried to warn federal authorities about plans to strike buildings in lower Manhattan. Schippers says, "I was trying to get people to listen to me because I had heard that the terrorists had set up a three-pronged attack:" an American airplane, the bombing of a federal building in the heartland and a massive attack in lower Manhattan, He tries contacting Attorney General John Ashcroft, the White House, and even the House managers with whom he had worked, but nobody returns his phone calls. "People thought I was crazy. What I was doing was I was calling everybody I knew telling them that this has happened," he says. "I'm telling you the more I see of the stuff that's coming out, if the FBI had even been awake they would have seen it." He also claims to know of ignored warnings about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and evidence that Middle Easterners were connected with that attack. [Indianapolis Star, 5/18/02] Other mainstream sources have apparently shied away from Schipper's story, but he has added details in an interview on the partisan Alex Jones Show. He claims that it is FBI agents in Chicago and Minnesota who first contact him and tell him that a terrorist attack is going to occur in lower Manhattan. A group of these agents now want to testify about what they know, but want legal protection from government retribution. [Alex Jones Show, 10/10/01]
Late July 2001 (C): Argentina's Jewish community receives warnings of a major terrorist attack against either the United States, Argentina or France from "a foreign intelligence source." The warning was then relayed to the Argentine security authorities. It was agreed to keep the warning secret in order to avoid panic while reinforcing security at Jewish sites in the country. Says a Jewish leader, "It was a concrete warning that an attack of major proportion would take place, and it came from a reliable intelligence source. And I understand the Americans were told about it." Argentina has a large Jewish community that has been bombed in the past, and has been an area of al-Qaeda activity. [Forward, 5/31/02]
Late July 2001 (D): CBS later has a brief mention in a long story on another topic: "Just days after Atta return[s] to the US from Spain, Egyptian intelligence in Cairo says it received a report from one of its operatives in Afghanistan that 20 al-Qaeda members had slipped into the US and four of them had received flight training on Cessnas. To the Egyptians, pilots of small planes didn't sound terribly alarming, but they [pass] on the message to the CIA anyway, fully expecting Washington to request information. The request never [comes]." [CBS, 10/9/02] This appears to be one of several accurate Egyptian warnings based on informants (see June 13, 2001 and August 30, 2001). Could Egypt have known the names of some or all of the hijackers? Given FBI agent Ken Williams' memo about flight schools a short time before (see July 10, 2001), shouldn't the US have investigated this closely instead of completely ignoring it?
Late summer 2001: Jordanian intelligence (the GID) makes a communications intercept deemed so important that King Abdullah's men relay it to Washington, probably through the CIA station in Amman. To make doubly sure the message gets through it is passed through an Arab intermediary to a German intelligence agent. The message states that a major attack, code named The Big Wedding, is planned inside the US and that aircraft will be used. "When it became clear that the information was embarrassing to Bush Administration officials and congressmen who at first denied that there had been any such warnings before September 11, senior Jordanian officials backed away from their earlier confirmations." Christian Science Monitor calls the story "confidently authenticated" even though Jordan has backed away from it. [International Herald Tribune, 5/21/02, Christian Science Monitor, 5/23/02] FTW
Late summer 2001 (B): US intelligence learns that an al-Qaeda operative is considering mounting terrorist operations in the US. There is no information on the timing or specific targets. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
Late summer 2001 (C): The Guardian later reports, "Reliable western military sources say a US contingency plan existed on paper by the end of the summer to attack Afghanistan from the north." [Guardian, 9/26/01]
August 2001: German newspaper Der Spiegel later reports that this month the US company Raytheon landed a 727 six times in a military base in New Mexico without any pilots on board. This was done to test equipment making future hijackings more difficult, by allowing ground control to take over the flying of a hijacked plane. [Der Spiegel, 10/28/01] Even though Der Spiegel got their information directly from Raytheon, most media reports after 9/11 suggest such technology is currently impossible. For instance, the Observer quotes an expert who says "the technology is pretty much there" but still untried. [Observer, 9/16/01] The New York Times reports on a Bush speech in which he mentioned that the government would give grants to research "new technology, probably far in the future, allowing air traffic controllers to land distressed planes by remote control." [New York Times, 9/28/01] In the wrong hands, couldn't such a technology have caused the 9/11 attacks, without needing any hijackers on the planes (see 1998 (D) and September 25, 2001)?
August 2001 (B): At least six 9/11 hijackers, including all of those that boarded Flight 77, live in Laurel, Maryland from about this time. They reportedly include Hani Hanjour, Majed Moqed, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi and Salem Alhazmi (though also see Early September 2001). Laurel, Maryland is home to a Muslim cleric named Moataz Al-Hallak who teaches at a local Islamic school and has been linked to bin Laden. He has testified three times before a grand jury investigating bin Laden. NSA expert James Bamford later states, "the terrorist cell that eventually took over the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon ended up living, working, planning and developing all their activities in Laurel, Maryland, which happens to be the home of the NSA. So they were actually living alongside NSA employees as they were plotting all these things." [Washington Post, 9/19/01, BBC, 6/21/02]
August 2001 (C): The French magazine Maximale and the Moroccan newspaper al-Ittihad al-Ichtiraki later simultaneously report that a Moroccan agent named Hassan Dabou had penetrated al-Qaeda to the point of getting close to bin Laden by this time. Dabou claims he learns that bin Laden is "very disappointed" that the 1993 bombing had not toppled the WTC, and plans "large scale operations in New York in the summer or fall of 2001." Dabou is called to the US to report this information directly, and in so doing blows his cover, losing his ability to gather more intelligence. The International Herald Tribune later calls the story "not proved beyond a doubt" but intriguing, and asks the CIA to confirm or deny, which it has not done. [Agence France Presse, 11/22/01, International Herald Tribune, 5/21/02, London Times, 6/12/02] FTW
August 2001 (D): Russian President Putin warns the US that suicide pilots are training for attacks on US targets. [Fox News, 5/17/02] The head of Russian intelligence also later states, "We had clearly warned them" on several occasions, but they "did not pay the necessary attention." [Agence France-Presse, 9/16/01] A Russian newspaper on September 12, 2001 claims that "Russian Intelligence agents know the organizers and executors of these terrorist attacks. More than that, Moscow warned Washington about preparation to these actions a couple of weeks before they happened." Interestingly, the article claims that at least two of the terrorists were Muslim radicals from Uzbekistan. [Izvestia, 9/12/01, (the story currently on the Izvestia web site has been edited to delete a key paragraph, the link is to a translation of the original article from From the Wilderness)] FTW
August 2001 (E): The CIA issues a report warning the White House, Pentagon and Department of State that bin Laden is intent on launching a terrorist attack soon, possibly inside the US. [Sunday Herald, 9/23/01]
August 2001 (F): US intelligence learns of a plot to either bomb the US embassy in Nairobi from an airplane or crash an airplane into it. Two people who were reportedly acting on instructions from bin Laden met in October 2000 to discuss this plot. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
August 2001 (G): Former CIA agent Robert Baer (see December 1997 and January 23, 2002) is advising a prince in a Persian Gulf royal family, when a military associate of this prince passes information to him about a "spectacular terrorist operation" that will take place shortly. He is also given a computer record of around 600 secret al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The list includes 10 names that will be placed on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list after 9/11. He is also given evidence that a Saudi merchant family had funded the USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000), and that the Yemeni government is covering up information related to that bombing. At the military officer's request, he offers all this information to the Saudi Arabian government. But an aide to the Saudi defense minister, Prince Sultan, refuses to look at the list or to pass the names on (Sultan is later sued for his complicity in the 9/11 plot, see August 15, 2002). Baer also passes the information on to a senior CIA official and the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center, but there is no response or action. Large sections of Baer's book are blacked out, having been censored by the CIA. [Financial Times, 1/12/02, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, Robert Baer, 2/02, pp. 270-271, Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, Bill Gertz, pp. 55-58]
August 2001 (H): Future anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill's high level Department of Defense security clearance is revoked. He is working at a private company at the time, but no explanation is given to his employers. [Baltimore Sun, 7/18/02]
August 2001 (I): The US receives intelligence that bin Laden's right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is receiving medical treatment at a clinic in San'a, Yemen. However, the Bush administration rejects a plan to capture him, as officials are not 100 percent sure the patient is al-Zawahiri. Officials later regret the missed opportunity. [ABC News, 2/20/02]
August-October 2001: British intelligence asks India for legal assistance in catching Saeed Sheikh sometime during August 2001. Saeed has been openly living in Pakistan since 1999 and has even traveled to Britain at least twice during that time (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001), despite having kidnapped Britons and Americans (see June 1993-October 1994). [London Times, 4/21/02, Vanity Fair, 8/02] According to the Indian media, informants in Germany tell the internal security service there that Saeed helped fund hijacker Mohamed Atta (see Early August 2001 (D)). [Frontline, 10/6/01] On September 23, it is revealed that the British have asked India for help in finding Saeed, but it isn't explained why. [London Times, 9/23/01] His role in training the hijackers and financing the 9/11 attacks soon becomes public knowledge, though some elements are disputed (see September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002). [Telegraph, 9/30/01, CNN, 10/6/01, CNN, 10/8/01] The Gulf News claims that the US freezes the assets of Pakistani terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad on October 12, 2001 because it has established links between Saeed Sheikh and 9/11 (see October 12, 2001). [Gulf News, 10/11/01] However, in October, an Indian magazine notes, "Curiously, there seems to have been little international pressure on Pakistan to hand [Saeed] over" [Frontline, 10/6/01], and the US doesn't formally ask Pakistan for help to find Saeed until January 2002 (see November 2001-January 2002).
Early August 2001: Randy Glass, a former con artist turned government informant, later claims that he contacts the staff of Senator Bob Graham and Representative Robert Wexler at this time and warns them of a plan to attack the WTC, but his warnings are ignored. [Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] Glass also tells the media at this time that his recently concluded informant work has "far greater ramifications than have so far been revealed," and "potentially, thousands of lives [are] at risk." [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/7/01] Glass was a key informant in a sting operation involving ISI agents trying to illegally purchase sophisticated US military weaponry in return for cash and heroin (see June 12, 2001). He claims that in 1999, one ISI agent named Rajaa Gulum Abbas pointed to the WTC and said, "Those towers are coming down" (see July 14, 1999). [Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] Most details remain sealed, but Glass points out that his sentencing document dated June 15, 2001, lists threats against the World Trade Center and Americans. [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02] Florida State Senator Ron Klein, who had dealings with Glass before 9/11, says he is surprised it took so many months for the US to listen to Glass: "Shame on us." [Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] Senator Graham acknowledges that his office had contact with Glass before 9/11, and was told about a WTC attack: "I was concerned about that and a dozen other pieces of information which emanated from the summer of 2001." But Graham later says he personally was unaware of Glass's information until after 9/11. [Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] In October 2002, Glass testifies under oath before a private session of the Congressional 9/11 inquiry. He states, "I told [the inquiry] I have specific evidence, and I can document it." [Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] This testimony and most evidence still has not been made public.
Early August 2001 (B): AP later reports that the "CIA had developed general information a month before the attacks that heightened concerns that bin Laden and his followers were increasingly determined to strike on US soil." A CIA official affirmed that: "There was something specific in early August that said to us that [bin Laden] was determined in striking on US soil." A major excuse given since 9/11 is that the Bush administration was focused on overseas attacks, and didn't expect a domestic attack (for instance see May 16, 2002). [AP, 10/3/01]
Early August 2001 (C): Britain gives the US another warning about an al-Qaeda attack. The previous British warning (see July 16, 2001) was vague as to method, but this warning specifies multiple airplane hijackings. This warning is included in Bush's briefing on August 6. [Sunday Herald, 5/19/02]
Early August 2001 (D): The ransom for a wealthy Indian shoe manufacturer, kidnapped in Calcutta, India, two weeks earlier, is paid to an Indian gangster named Aftab Ansari. Ansari is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and has ties to the ISI and Saeed Sheikh (see November 1994-December 1999). Ansari gives about $100,000 of the about $830,000 in ransom money to Saeed, who sends it to hijacker Mohamed Atta. [Los Angeles Times, 1/23/02, Independent, 1/24/02] A series of recovered e-mails shows the money is sent just after August 11. This appears to be one of a series of Indian kidnappings this gang carries out in 2001. [India Today, 2/14/02, Times of India, 2/14/02] Saeed provides training and weapons to the kidnappers in return for a percentage of the profits. [Frontline, 2/2/02, India Today, 2/25/02] Note that this appears to be an additional $100,000 sent by Saeed to Atta on top of the $100,000 he likely sent to Atta in 2000 (see June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000). If it's true ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed orders Saeed to send $100,000 to the hijackers, it isn't clear to which $100,000 that refers (see October 7, 2001).
August 1, 2001: Actor James Woods, flying first class on an airplane, notices four Arabic-looking men, the only other people in the first class section. He concludes they are terrorists, acting very strangely (for instance, only talking in whispers). [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] He tells a stewardess, "I think this plane is going to be hijacked" adding, "I know how serious it is to say this." He conveys his worries to the pilots and is assured that the cockpit would be locked. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] The flight staff later notifies the FAA about these suspicious individuals. Though the government won't say, it is highly unlikely that any action is taken regarding the flight staff's worries. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] Woods isn't interviewed by the FBI about this until after 9/11. Woods says the FBI believes that all four men did take part in the 9/11 attacks, and the flight he was on was a practice flight for them. [O'Reilly Factor, 2/14/02] Woods believes one was Khalid Almihdhar and another was Hamza Alghamdi. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] The FBI later reports that this may have been one of a dozen test run flights starting as early as January. Flight attendants and passengers on other flights later recall men looking like the hijackers who took pictures of the cockpit aboard flights and/or took notes. [AP, 5/29/02] Given the number of test flights, did others alert authorities before 9/11? The FBI hasn't been able to find any evidence of hijackers on the flight manifest for Woods' flight. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] Were the hijackers using false identities?
August 1, 2001 (B): With
the approaching third anniversary of the US embassy bombings in Africa,
the FBI reissues a warning that overseas law enforcement
agencies could be targets. [CNN,
August 1, 2001 (C): A motel owner in Oklahoma City later claims that Zacarias Moussaoui and hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi all come to his motel on this day. Although the FBI has investigated this lead, they have not commented on it, and prosecutors have not attempted to use the incident as evidence in their case against Moussaoui. It is widely admitted the case against Moussaoui is not strong (for instance, Newsweek states: "there's nothing that shows Moussaoui ever had contact with any of the 9/11 hijackers" [Newsweek, 8/5/02]). The LA Weekly speculates the FBI may want to ignore this lead because it "could force the FBI to reopen its investigation of Middle Eastern connections to the 1995 Oklahoma City blast, because convicted bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols reportedly stayed at the same motel, interacting with a group of Iraqis during the weeks before the bombing." [LA Weekly, 8/2/02]
August 1-2, 2001: Hijackers Hani Hanjour and Khalid Almihdhar meet Luis Martinez-Flores, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, in a 7-Eleven parking lot in Fall Church, Virginia. He is paid $100 cash to Martinez-Flores accompany the two to a local Department of Motor Vehicles office and signs forms attesting to their permanent residence in Virginia. Given new state identity cards, the cards are used the next day to get Virginia identity cards for between five and seven additional hijackers, including Abdulaziz Alomari, Ahmed Alghamdi, Majed Moqed, and Salem Alhazmi. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01, Washington Post, 9/30/01, Wall Street Journal, 10/16/01]
August 2, 2001: Christina Rocca, the Director of Asian Affairs at the State Department, secretly meets the Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, apparently in a last ditch attempt to secure a pipeline deal. Rocca was previously in charge of contacts with Islamic guerrilla groups at the CIA, and oversaw the delivery of Stinger missiles to Afghan mujaheddin in the 1980s. [Irish Times, 11/19/01, Salon, 2/8/02, Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, Guillaume Dasquié and Jean-Charles Brisard, released 11/11/01 (the link is an excerpt containing Chapter 1)] FTW
August 4-30, 2001: President Bush spends most of August 2001 at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, nearly setting a record for the longest presidential vacation. While it is billed a "working vacation," ABC reports Bush is doing "nothing much" aside from his regular daily intelligence briefings. [ABC, 8/3/01, Washington Post, 8/7/01, Salon, 8/29/01] One such unusually long briefing at the start of his trip is a warning that bin Laden is planning to attack in the US, but Bush spends the rest of that day fishing (see August 6, 2001). By the end of his trip, Bush has spent 42 percent of his presidency at vacation spots or en route. [Washington Post, 8/7/01] At the time, a poll shows that 55 percent of Americans say Bush is taking too much time off. [USA Today, 8/7/01]
August 6, 2001: President Bush receives classified intelligence briefings at his Crawford, Texas ranch indicating that bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. The memo read to him is titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US", and the entire memo focuses on the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the US. National Security Advisor Rice later claims the memo was "fuzzy and thin" and only 1 and a half pages long (his normal daily security briefings run two or three pages) but other accounts state it was 11 pages long. [Newsweek, 5/27/02, New York Times, 5/15/02, Die Zeit, 10/1/02] The contents have never been made public. However, a Congressional report later describes what is likely this memo (they call it "a closely held intelligence report for senior government officials" presented in early August 2001): it mentions "that members of al-Qaeda, including some US citizens, had resided in or traveled to the US for years and that the group apparently maintained a support structure here. The report cited uncorroborated information obtained in 1998 that Osama bin Laden wanted to hijack airplanes to gain the release of US-held extremists; FBI judgments about patterns of activity consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks and the number of bin Laden-related investigations underway; as well as information acquired in May 2001 that indicated a group of bin Laden supporters was planning attacks in the US with explosives." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Incredibly, the New York Times later reports that Bush "broke off from work early and spent most of the day fishing" (see also August 4-30, 2001). [New York Times, 5/25/02] FTW The existence of this memo is kept secret until May 2002 (see May 15, 2002). Could the exact timing of this memo be related to the British warning from a few days before (see Early August 2001 (C))?
August 6, 2001 (B): Richard Perle, head of the Defense Policy Board and foreign policy advisor to Bush, is asked about new challenges now that the Cold War is over. He cites three: "We're concerned about Saddam Hussein, we're concerned about the North Koreans, about some future Iranian government that may have the weapon they're now trying so hard to acquire..." [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 8/6/01] Note that these three nations are the same three named in Bush's famous January 2002 "axis of evil" speech (see January 29, 2002). [CNN, 1/29/02] High US officials are later talking about attacking all three, even though there are almost no connections between any of them and al-Qaeda. [Newsweek, 8/11/02] Meanwhile, bin Laden and most top leaders of al-Qaeda and the Taliban remain at large. Was the 9/11 attack an excuse for the US to go after its enemies?
August 6, 2001 (C): Inside trading based on advanced knowledge of the 9/11 attacks may have begun on this date, if not earlier. Investigators later discover a large number of put option purchases (a speculation that the stock will go down) at the Chicago Board Options Exchange bought on this date that expire on September 30 (see also September 6-10, 2001). These would have led to large profits. One analyst says, "From what I'm hearing, it's more than coincidence.'' [Reuters, 9/20/01]
August 8-15, 2001: At some point between these dates, Israel warns the US that an al-Qaeda attack is imminent. [Fox News, 5/17/02] Two high ranking agents from the Mossad come to Washington and warn the FBI and CIA that from 50 to 200 terrorists have slipped into the US and are planning "a major assault on the United States." They say indications point to a "large scale target", and that Americans would be "very vulnerable." They add there could be Iraqi connections to the al-Qaeda attack. [Telegraph, 9/16/01, Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01] The Los Angeles Times later retracts the story after a CIA spokesman says, "There was no such warning. Allegations that there was are complete and utter nonsense." [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] In light of later revelations of a Mossad spy ring trailing numerous Muslim terrorists in the US, it is easy to see that Mossad would have known this info. Could this be later disinformation by the Mossad to spin the spy ring story and blame Iraq for 9/11, or it is another smoking gun showing extensive US foreknowledge?
August 11 or 12, 2001: US Navy Lt. Delmart "Mike" Vreeland, jailed in Toronto on fraud charges and claiming to be an officer in US Naval Intelligence, writes a note which may have contained details of the pending 9/11 attacks, and seals it an envelope which he gives to Canadian authorities. He claims to have been a courier delivering a sealed pouch, which he opened when its recipient failed to show up. The document he claims to have read, written in Russian, not only describes the attack but has the added comment: "Let one happen, stop the rest". This incident is fraught with controversy, as are the accounts of who Vreeland is and what he has done in the past. Read the documents linked here and decide. [Toronto Star, 10/23/01, external link to Toronto Superior Court Records] FTW He apparently later disappears. [Toronto Sun, 9/10/02]
August 13-15, 2001:
Zacarias Moussaoui trains at the Pan Am International Flight School in Minneapolis,
Minnesota, where he pays $8,300 ($1500 by credit card and the remainder
in cash) to use a Boeing 474 Model 400 aircraft simulator. After just one day
of training most of the staff is suspicious that he's a terrorist. They discuss
"how much fuel [is] on board a 747-400 and how much damage that could cause
if it hit[s] anything." They call the FBI
with their concerns later that day. [New
York Times, 2/8/02, Senate
Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] They are
1) In contrast to all the other students at this high-level flight school, he has no aviation background, little previous training and no pilot's license. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02]
2) He wants to fly a 747 not because he plans to be a pilot, but as an "ego boosting thing." [New York Times, 10/18/02] Yet within hours of his arrival, it is clear he "was not some affluent joy-rider." [New York Times, 2/8/02]
3) He is "extremely" interested in the operation of the plane's doors and control panel. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] He also is very keen on learning the protocol for communicating with the flight tower despite having no plans to actually become a pilot. [New York Times, 2/8/02]
4) He is evasive and belligerent when asked about his background. When an instructor, who notes from his records that Moussaoui is from France, attempts to greet him in French, Moussaoui appears not to understand, saying that he had spent very little time in France and that he is from the Middle East. The instructor considers it odd that Moussaoui did not specify the Middle Eastern country. [Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune, 12/21/01; Washington Post, 1/2/02]
5) He tells a flight instructor he is not a Muslim, but the instructor senses he is lying, badly, about it. [New Yorker, 9/30/02]
6) He says he would "love" to fly a simulated flight from London to New York, raising fears he has plans to hijack such a flight. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] His original e-mail to the flight school similarly stated he wanted to be good enough to fly from London to New York. [New York Times, 2/8/02]
7) He pays for thousands of dollars in expenses from a large wad of cash. [New York Times, 2/8/02]
8) He seemed to be trying to pack a large amount of training in a short period of time for no apparent reason. [New York Times, 2/8/02]
9) He mostly practices flying in the air, not taking off or landing (although note that reports claiming he didn't want to take off or land at all appear to be an exaggeration). [New York Times, 2/8/02, Slate, 5/21/02, Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune, 12/21/01, New York Times, 5/22/02]
Failing to get much initial interest from the FBI, the flight instructor tells the FBI agents, "Do you realize how serious this is? This man wants training on a 747. A 747 fully loaded with fuel could be used as a weapon!" [New York Times, 2/8/02]
August 14, 2001: Two apparent associates of Mohamed Atta's Hamburg al-Qaeda cell, Ismail Ben Mrabete and Ahmed Taleb, purchase tickets to fly to Pakistan on September 3, 2001. They are joined on that flight by cell member Said Bahaji. All three apparently then disappear into Afghanistan (see September 3-5, 2001). It is later discovered that Taleb had been in e-mail contact with al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida. [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03] If these tickets were bought in anticipation of the 9/11 attacks, then this is the earliest indication of when at least the rough timing of 9/11 must have been planned by. Because this precedes the arrest of Moussaoui by one day (see August 15, 2001), it also suggests that that arrest didn't affect the timing of 9/11.
August 15, 2001: Based on the concerns of flight school staff (see August 13-15, 2001), Zacarias Moussaoui is arrested and detained in Minnesota on the excuse of an immigration violation. [Time, 5/27/02, some reports say the 16th because the arrest happened late at night] The FBI confiscates his possessions, including a computer laptop, but don't have a search warrant to search through them. But when arresting him they note he possesses two knives, fighting gloves and shin guards, and had prepared "through physical training for violent confrontation." An FBI interview of him adds more concerns. For example, he is supposedly in the US working as a "marketing consultant" for a computer company, but is unable to provide any details of his employment. Nor can he convincingly explain his $32,000 bank balance. [MSNBC, 12/11/01, Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] An FBI report states that when asked about his trips to Pakistan, the gateway to Afghanistan, "the questioning caused him to become extremely agitated, and he refused to discuss the matter further." The report also notes "Moussaoui was extremely evasive in many of his answers." [CNN, 9/28/02] His roommate is interviewed on the same day, and tells agents that Moussaoui believes it is "acceptable to kill civilians who harm Muslims," that Moussaoui approves of Muslims who die as "martyrs", and says Moussaoui might be willing to act on his beliefs. [Washington Post, 5/24/02] But Minnesota FBI agents quickly become frustrated at the lack of interest in the case from higher ups. [New York Times, 2/8/02] For instance, on August 21 they e-mail FBI headquarters saying it's "imperative" that the Secret Service be warned of the danger a plot involving Moussaoui might pose to the President's safety. But no such warning is ever sent. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02, New York Times, 10/18/02] (Also note that there is another report [Boston Herald, 9/14/01] of a terrorist arrest that sounds almost the same as the Moussaoui story. The only differences are that this unnamed man was arrested in Boston, not Minnesota, and was called Algerian instead of French, though it notes he had a French passport. It is very possible this is a slightly garbled, early version of the same Moussaoui case.)
Mid-August 2001 (B): Abdul Haq, a famous Afghan leader of the mujaheddin, returns to Peshawar, Pakistan, from the US. Having failed to gain US support (see February 2001 (C)), except for that of some private individuals such as former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, Haq begins organizing subversive operations in Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01 (B), Wall Street Journal, 11/2/01] He is later killed entering Afghanistan in October 2001, after his position is betrayed to the Taliban by the ISI (see October 25, 2001).
August 16, 2001: The FAA issues a warning to airlines concerning disguised weapons. According to later testimony by National Security Advisor Rice, the FAA is concerned about reports that the terrorists have made breakthroughs in disguising weapons as cell phones, key chains and pens (if this is true, why are all of these items still allowed on planes after 9/11, yet fingernail scissors and tweezers are not?). [CNN, 3/02, Reuters, 5/16/02] However, the major airlines later deny receiving such notification. For instance, a Delta spokesperson states: "We were not aware of any warnings or notifications of any specific threats." [Fox News, 5/16/02]
August 19, 2001: The New York Times reports that counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill is under investigation for an incident involving a missing briefcase. [New York Times, 8/19/01] In July 2000, he misplaced a briefcase containing important classified information, but it was found a couple of hours later still unlocked and untouched. Why such a trivial issue would come up over a year later and be published in the New York Times seemed entirely due to politics. Says the New Yorker, "The leak seemed to be timed to destroy O'Neill's chance of being confirmed for [an] NSC job," and force him into retirement. A high-ranking colleague says the leak was "somebody being pretty vicious to John." [New Yorker, 1/14/02] John O'Neill suspects the article was orchestrated by his enemy Tom Pickard, then interim director of the FBI. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] The New Yorker later speculates that with the retirement of FBI Director Freeh in June, it appears O'Neill lost his friends in high places, and the new FBI Director wanted him replaced with a Bush ally. [New Yorker, 1/14/02] O'Neill quits a few days later (see August 22, 2001 (B)).
August 20, 2001: In a later interview, would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh claims that roughly around this day, he receives a coded e-mail about the 9/11 plot from Mohamed Atta. It reads, "The first term starts in three weeks.... There are 19 certificates for private studies and four exams." Bin al-Shibh learns the exact day of the attack on August 29 (see August 29, 2001 (C)). [Guardian, 9/9/02] Hijacker Hani Hanjour also makes surveillance test flights near the Pentagon and WTC around this time, showing the targets have been confirmed as well. [CBS, 10/9/02] Information in a notebook later found in Afghanistan suggests the 9/11 attack was planned for later, but was moved up at the last minute. [MSNBC, 1/30/02] The FBI later notices spikes in cell phone use between the hijackers just after the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui and just before the hijackers begin to buy tickets for the flights they would hijack (see August 24-29, 2001). [New York Times, 9/10/02] CIA Director Tenet has hinted that Zacarias Moussaoui's arrest a few days earlier (see August 15, 2001) may be connected to when the date of the attack was picked. [CIA, 6/18/02] On the other hand, some terrorists appear to have made plans to flee Germany in advance of the 9/11 attacks one day before Moussaoui's arrest (see August 14, 2001).
August 21, 2001: Walid Arkeh, a Jordanian serving time in a Florida prison, is interviewed by FBI agents after warning the government of an impending terrorist attack. He had been in a British jail from September 2000 to July 2001, and while there had befriended three inmates, Khalid al-Fawwaz, Adel Abdel Bary and Ibrahim Eidarous. US prosecutors charge that "the three men ran a London storefront that served as a cover for al-Qaeda operations and acted as a conduit for communications between bin Laden and his network." [Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] Al-Fawwaz was bin Laden's press agent in London, and bin Laden had called him over 200 times before al-Fawwaz was arrested in 1998. [Financial Times, 11/29/01, Sunday Times, 3/24/02] The other two had worked in the same office as al-Fawwaz. All three have been indicted as co-conspirators with bin Laden in the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998). Arkeh tells the FBI that he had learned from these three that "something big was going to happen in New York City," and that they had called the 1993 attack on the WTC "unfinished business." Tampa FBI agents determine that he had associated with these al-Qaeda agents, but nonetheless they don't believe him. According to Arkeh, one agent responds to his "something big" warning by saying: "Is that all you have? That's old news." The agents fail to learn more from him. On September 9, concerned that time is running out, a fellow prisoner tried to arrange a meeting, but nothing happens before 9/11. The Tampa FBI agents have a second interview with him hours after the 9/11 attacks, but even long after 9/11 they claim he cannot be believed. On January 6, 2002, the Tampa FBI issued a statement: "The information [was] vetted to FBI New York, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa Division and the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. All agreed the information provided by this individual was vague and unsubstantiated... Mr. Arkeh did not provide information that had any bearing on the FBI preventing September 11." [Orlando Sentinel, 1/6/02, Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] However, a different group of FBI agents interviews him later and finds his information is credible (see May 21-22, 2002). Click here for more on this topic.
August 22, 2001: The French give the FBI information requested about Zacarias Moussaoui. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] The French say Moussaoui has ties with radical Islamic groups and recruits men to fight in Chechnya. They believe he spent time in Afghanistan (see 1999). He had been on a French watch list for several years, preventing him from entering France. A French justice official later says "the government gave the FBI 'everything we had" on Moussaoui, "enough to make you want to check this guy out every way you can. Anyone paying attention would have seen he was not only operational in the militant Islamist world but had some autonomy and authority as well." [Time, 5/27/02] A senior French investigator later says "Even a neophyte working in some remote corner of Florida, would have understood the threat based on what was sent." [Time, 8/4/02] The French Interior Minister also emphasizes, "We did not hold back any information." [ABC News, 9/5/02] But senior officials at FBI headquarters still maintain that the information "was too sketchy to justify a search warrant for his computer." [Time, 8/4/02]
August 21, 2001 (B): Thomas Donnelly, Deputy Executive Director of the Project for the New American Century, an influential neoconservative think tank, explains to the Washington Post that the US should embrace its role as imperialist hegemons over the world. He says many important politicians privately agree with him. "There's not all that many people who will talk about it openly," he says. "It's discomforting to a lot of Americans. So they use code phrases like 'America is the sole superpower.'" He also says, "I think Americans have become used to running the world and would be very reluctant to give it up, if they realized there were a serious challenge to it." [Washington Post, 8/21/01] These types of policies are denounced in Bush's 2000 election, and it is frequently claimed that the Bush Administration only changes its mind toward a more aggressive policy after 9/11. But in this summer of 2001, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's office "sponsored a study of ancient empires - Macedonia, Rome, the Mongols - to figure out how they maintained dominance." [New York Times, 3/5/03]
August 22, 2001 (B): Counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill quits the FBI. He says it's partly because of the recent power play against him (see August 19, 2001), but also because of repeated obstruction of his investigations into al-Qaeda. [New Yorker, 1/14/02] In his last act, he signs papers ordering FBI investigators back to Yemen to resume the USS Cole investigation, now that Barbara Bodine is leaving as Ambassador (they arrive a couple days before 9/11) (see October 12, 2000). He never hears the CIA warning about hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar sent out just one day later. Because he fell out of favor a few months earlier, he also is never told about Ken Williams' flight school memo (see July 10, 2001), nor about the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui (see August 16, 2001) [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02], nor is he at a June meeting when the CIA revealed some of what it knew about Alhazmi and Almihdhar (see June 11, 2001). [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] The FBI New York office is eventually warned of Walid Arkeh's warning that the WTC would be attacked, but presumably not in time for O'Neill to hear it (see August 21, 2001). One can only wonder what the government's "most committed tracker of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network of terrorists" [New Yorker, 1/14/02] could have accomplished if he was aware of these things.
August 22, 2001 (C): The Asia Times reports that the US is engaged in "intense negotiations" with Pakistan for assistance in an operation to capture or kill bin Laden. But despite promised rewards, there is a "very strong lobby within the [Pakistani] army not to assist in any US moves to apprehend bin Laden." [Asia Times, 8/22/01]
August 23, 2001: According to German newspapers, the Mossad gives the CIA a list of terrorists living in the US and say that they appear to be planning to carry out an attack in the near future. It is unknown if these are the 19 9/11 hijackers or if the number is a coincidence. However, four names on the list are known and are names of the 9/11 hijackers: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Marwan Alshehhi, and Mohamed Atta. [Die Zeit, 10/1/02, Der Spiegel, 10/1/02, BBC, 10/2/02, Haaretz, 10/3/02] The Mossad appears to have learned about this through its "art student" spy ring (see for instance, March 5, 2002). Yet apparently this warning and list are not treated as particularly urgent by the CIA and also not passed on to the FBI. It's not clear if this warning influenced the adding of Alhazmi and Almihdhar to a terrorism watch list on this same day, and if so, why only those two. [Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] Israel has denied that there were any Mossad agents in the US. [Haaretz, 10/3/02] The US has denied knowing about Atta before 9/11, despite other media reports to the contrary (see January-May 2000).
August 23, 2001 (B): John O'Neill begins his new job as head of security at the WTC. [New Yorker, 1/14/02] A friend says to him, "Well, that will be an easy job. They're not going to bomb that place again." O'Neill replies, "Well actually they've always wanted to finish that job. I think they're going to try again." On September 10 he moves into his new office on the 34th floor of the North Tower. That night, he tells colleague Jerry Hauer, "We're due for something big. I don't like the way things are lining up in Afghanistan" (a probable reference to the assassination of Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Massoud the day before (see September 9, 2001)). O'Neill is killed the next day in the 9/11 attack. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02]
August 23, 2001 (C): The CIA sends a cable to the State Department, INS, Customs Service, and FBI requesting that future hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar be put on the terrorism watch list. Since March 2000, if not earlier, the CIA had good reason to believe these two were al-Qaeda terrorists living in the US, but did nothing and told no other agency about it until now (see March 5, 2000). They are not be found in time, and both die in the 9/11 attacks. FBI agents later state that if they been told about Almihdhar and Alhazmi sooner, "There's no question we could have tied all 19 hijackers together" given the frequent contact between these two and the other hijackers. [Newsweek, 6/2/02] The CIA also requests that Khallad bin Atash be added to the watch list - eight months after he was known to have been the main planner of the Cole bombing. One other attendee of the Malaysian meeting (see January 5-8, 2000) is also included, but that name remains confidential (could it be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11?). [New York Times, 9/21/02] The CIA later claims the request was labeled "immediate," the second most urgent category (the highest is reserved for things like declarations of war). [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01] The FBI denies that it was marked "immediate" and other agencies treated the request as a routine matter. [Los Angeles Times, 10/18/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]
August 23, 2001 (D): The FBI begins a search for hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in response to the CIA cable about them. The FBI later claims that they responded aggressively. An internal review after 9/11 found that "everything was done that could have been done" to find them. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01] However, even aside from a failed attempt to start a criminal investigation (see August 28, 2001) the search is halfhearted at best. As the Wall Street Journal later explains, the search "consisted of little more than entering their names in a nationwide law enforcement database that would have triggered red flags if they were taken into custody for some other reason." [Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01] A speeding ticket issued to Alhazmi the previous April is not detected. [Daily Oklahoman, 1/20/02]; nor is a recorded interaction between Alhazmi and local police in Fairfax, Virginia in May that could have led investigators to Alhazmi's East Coast apartment. [San Diego Union-Tribune,9/27/02] Even though the two were known to have entered the US through Los Angeles, drivers’ license records in California are not checked. The FBI also fails to check national credit card or bank account databases, and car registration. All of these would had positive results. Alhazmi's name was even in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book, listing the address where he and Almihdhar may have been living off and on until about September 9, 2001 (see Early September 2001). [Newsweek, 6/2/02, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01]
August 23, 2001 (E): Two FBI agents in the Oklahoma City Field Office visit Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma, to learn about Zacarias Moussaoui's recent training there (see February 23, 2001). One of these agents had visited the same school in September 1999, to learn more about Ihab Ali, who trained there in 1993 and has been identified as bin Laden's personal pilot (see September 1999). Apparently this agent forgets the connection when he visits the school to look into Moussaoui; he later says he should have connected the two cases. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02, Boston Globe, 9/18/01] The Oklahoma City office should also have recalled a memo that had come from its office in 1998 warning that "large numbers of Middle Eastern males" were receiving flight training in Oklahoma and could be planning terrorist attacks (see May 18, 1998).
August 23-27, 2001: In the wake of the French intelligence report on Zacarias Moussaoui (see August 22, 2001), FBI agents in Minnesota are "in a frenzy" and "absolutely convinced he [is] planning to do something with a plane." One agent writes notes speculating Moussaoui might "fly something into the World Trade Center." [Newsweek, 5/20/02] Minnesota FBI agents become "desperate to search the computer lap top" and "conduct a more thorough search of his personal effects," especially since Moussaoui acted as if he was hiding something important in the laptop when arrested. [Time, 5/21/02, Time, 5/27/02] FTW They decide to apply for a search warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). "FISA allows the FBI to carry out wiretaps and searches that would otherwise be unconstitutional" because "the goal is to gather intelligence, not evidence." [Washington Post, 11/4/01] Standards to get a warrant through FISA are so low that out of 10,000 requests over more than 20 years, not a single one was turned down. When the FBI didn't have a strong enough case, it appears it simply lied to FISA. In May 2002, the FISA court complained that the FBI had lied in at least 75 warrant cases during the Clinton administration, once even by the FBI Director. [New York Times, 8/27/02] However, as FBI agent Coleen Rowley later puts it, FBI headquarters "almost inexplicably, throw[s] up roadblocks" and undermines their efforts. Headquarters personnel bring up "almost ridiculous questions in their apparent efforts to undermine the probable cause." One Minneapolis agent's e-mail says FBI headquarters is "setting this up for failure." That turns out to be correct (see August 28, 2001). [Time, 5/21/02, Time, 5/27/02]
August 24, 2001: Frustrated with lack of response from FBI headquarters about Zacarias Moussaoui, the Minnesota FBI contact an FBI agent working with the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center, and asks the CIA for help. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] On this day, the CIA sends messages to stations and bases overseas requesting information about Moussaoui. The message says that the FBI is investigating Moussaoui for possible involvement in the planning of a terrorist attack and mentions his efforts to obtain flight training. It also suggests he might be "involved in a larger plot to target airlines traveling from Europe to the US." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] It calls him a "suspect 747 airline attacker" and a "suspect airline suicide hijacker" - showing that the form of the 9/11 attack isn't a surprise, at least to the CIA. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] FBI headquarters responds by chastising the Minnesota FBI for notifying the CIA without approval. [Time, 5/21/02]
August 24, 2001 (B): Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar buys his 9/11 plane ticket on-line using a credit card; Nawaf Alhazmi does the same the next day. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] Both men had been put on a terrorist watch list on August 23. Procedures are in place for law enforcement agencies to share watch list information with airlines and airports and such sharing is common, but the FAA and the airlines are not notified, so the purchases raise no red flags. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] An official later states that had the FAA been properly warned, "they should have been picked up in the reservation process." [Washington Post, 10/2/02]
August 24-29, 2001: The hijackers book their flights for 9/11, using their apparent real names. Most pay using credit cards on the internet. [Miami Herald, 9/22/01] At least five tickets are one way only. [Los Angeles Times, 9/18/01] So 9/11 must have been the confirmed date of the attack by August 24, but other evidence suggests it could have been known earlier (see August 14, 2001). Why would they pay using credit cards in their real names? Or were the names we know them as actually stolen identities?
August 25, 2001: A supplemental Visa credit card on a "Mustafa Al-Hawsawi" bank account is issued in the name of Abdulrahman A. A. Al-Ghamdi, who the FBI says is an alias for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. The FBI believes this helps prove Mohammed is a superior to the 9/11 paymaster. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02, Houston Chronicle, 6/5/02] The identity of "Mustafa Al-Hawsawi" is highly contested, but may well be Saeed Sheikh (see September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002). Mohammed and Sheikh appear to work together in the kidnapping of reporter Daniel Pearl (see January 23, 2002).
August 27, 2001: Spanish police tape a series of cryptic, coded phone calls from a caller in Britain using the codename "Shakur" to Barakat Yarkas (also known as Abu Dahdah), the leader of a Spanish al-Qaeda cell presumably visited by Atta (see July 8-19, 2001). A Spanish judge claims that a call by Shakur on this day shows foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. Shakur says that he is "giving classes" and that "in our classes, we have entered the field of aviation, and we have even cut the bird's throat." Another possible translation is: "We are even going to cut the eagle's throat," which would be a clearer metaphor for the US. [Observer, 11/25/01, Guardian, 2/14/02] In a Spanish indictment, the unknown Shakur is described as "a presumed member of the Sept. 11 suicide commandos." [International Herald Tribune, 11/21/01] The Spanish terrorist cell led by Yarkas was allegedly a hub of financing, recruitment and support services for al-Qaeda in Europe. Yarkas's phone number is later also found in the address book of Said Bahaji (see November 1, 1998-February 2001), and he had ties with Mohammed Haydar Zammar (see March 1997) and Mamoun Darkazanli (see Spring 2000) - all three are associates of Atta in Hamburg. [Los Angeles Times, 11/23/01] Yarkas also "reportedly met with bin Laden twice and was in close contact with" top deputy Muhammad Atef. [Washington Post, 11/19/01] On November 11, 2001, Yarkas and 10 other Spaniards are arrested and charged with al-Qaeda terrorist activity. [International Herald Tribune, 11/21/01]
August 27, 2001 (B): An agent at the FBI headquarters' Radical Fundamentalist Unit (RFU) tells the FBI Minnesota office supervisor that the supervisor is getting people "spun up" over Moussaoui. The supervisor replies that he is trying to get people at FBI headquarters "spun up" because he is trying to make sure that Moussaoui does "not take control of a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center." He later alleges the headquarters agent replies, "[T]hat's not going to happen. We don't know he's a terrorist. You don't have enough to show he is a terrorist. You have a guy interested in this type of aircraft - that is it." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] Three weeks earlier, Dave Frasca, the head of the RFU unit, had received Ken Williams' memo expressing concern about terrorists training in US flight schools (see July 10, 2001) and he also knew all about the Moussaoui case, but he apparently wasn't "spun up" enough to connect the two cases. [Time, 5/27/02] Neither he nor anyone else at FBI headquarters who saw Williams's memo informed anyone at the FBI Minnesota office about it before 9/11. [Time, 5/21/02]
August 28, 2001: A report is sent to the FBI's New York office recommending that an investigation be launched "to determine if [Khalid] Almihdhar is still in the United States." The New York office tries to convince FBI headquarters to open a criminal investigation, but are immediately turned down. The reason given is a "wall" between criminal and intelligence work - Almihdhar could not be tied to the Cole investigation without the inclusion of sensitive intelligence information. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] So instead of a criminal case, the New York office opens an "intelligence case", excluding all the "criminal case" investigators from the search. [FBI Agent Testimony, 9/20/02] One FBI agent expresses his frustration in an e-mail the next day, saying, "Whatever has happened to this - someday someone will die - and wall or not - the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain 'problems.' Let's hope the [FBI's] National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decisions then, especially since the biggest threat to us now, UBL [Usama bin Laden], is getting the most 'protection."' [New York Times, 9/21/02, FBI Agent Testimony, 9/20/02]
August 28, 2001 (B): The FBI contacts the State Department and the INS to find out hijacker Khalid Almihdhar's visa status. However neither agency is asked "to assist in locating the individuals, nor was any other information provided [that] would have indicated either a high priority or imminent danger." An INS official later states, "if [the INS] had been asked to locate the two suspected terrorists ... in late August on an urgent, emergency basis, it would have been able to run those names through its extensive database system and might have been able to locate them." The State Department says "it might have been able to locate the two suspected terrorists if it had been asked to do so." [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]
August 28, 2001 (C): Hijacker Atta is able to buy his flight ticket, despite being wanted by police for driving without a license (see April 26, 2001) and violating visa regulations. He should have been wanted for sabotaging a stalled aircraft (see December 26, 2000) as well, [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 11/12/01]
August 28, 2001 (D): A previously mentioned unnamed RFU agent (see August 27, 2001 (B)) edits the Minnesota FBI's request for a FISA search warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui's possessions. Minnesota is trying to prove that Moussaoui is connected to al-Qaeda through a rebel group in Chechnya, but the RFU agent removes information connecting the Chechnya rebels to al-Qaeda. Not surprisingly, the FBI Deputy General Counsel who receives the edited request decides on this day that there isn't enough connection to al-Qaeda to allow an application for a search warrant through FISA, so FISA is never even asked. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] According to a later memo written by Minneapolis FBI legal officer Coleen Rowley (see an edited version of the memo here: Time, 5/21/02), FBI headquarters is to blame for not getting the FISA warrant because of this rewrite of the request. She says "I feel that certain facts ... have, up to now, been omitted, downplayed, glossed over and/or mis-characterized in an effort to avoid or minimize personal and/or institutional embarrassment on the part of the FBI and/or perhaps even for improper political reasons." She asks, "Why would an FBI agent deliberately sabotage a case?" The superiors acted so strangely that some agents in the Minneapolis office openly joked that these higher-ups "had to be spies or moles ... working for Osama bin Laden." Failing to approve the warrant through FISA, FBI headquarters also refuses to contact the Justice Department to try and get a search warrant through ordinary means. Rowley and others are unable to search Moussaoui's computer until after the 9/11 attacks. Rowley later notes that the headquarters agents who blocked the Minnesota FBI were promoted after 9/11 (see December 4, 2002). [Sydney Morning Herald, 5/28/02, Time, 5/21/02] FTW
August 28-30, 2001: Senator Bob Graham (D), Representative Porter Goss (R) and Senator John Kyl (R) travel to Pakistan and meet with President Musharraf. They reportedly discuss various security issues, including the possible extradition of bin Laden. They also meet with Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan. Zaeef apparently tells them that the Taliban want to solve the issue of bin Laden through negotiations with the US. Pakistan says it wants to stay out of the bin Laden issue. All three are meeting with ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed in Washington at the time of the 9/11 attacks (see September 11, 2001 (H)). Mahmood gave $100,000 to hijacker Mohamed Atta (see October 7, 2001). [AFP, 8/28/01, Salon, 9/14/01] Since the ISI was funding the 9/11 hijackers, what else might have been discussed in these meetings?
August 29, 2001: Three men from either Pakistan or Afghanistan living in the Cayman Islands are briefly arrested in June 2001 for discussing hijacking attacks in New York City (see June 4, 2001). On this day, a Cayman Islands radio station receives an unsigned letter claiming these same three men are agents of bin Laden. The anonymous author warns that they "are organizing a major terrorist act against the US via an airline or airlines." The letter is forwarded to a Cayman government official but no action is taken until after 9/11 and it isn't known when the US is informed. Many criminals and/or businesses use the Cayman Islands as a safe, no tax, no questions asked haven to keep their money. The author of the letter meets with the FBI shortly after 9/11, and claims his information was a "premonition of sorts." The three men are later arrested. Its unclear what has happened to them since their arrest. [Miami Herald, 9/20/01, Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01, MSNBC, 9/23/01] FTW Click here for more on this topic.
August 29, 2001 (B): The FBI learns that when hijacker Khalid Almihdhar arrived in the US on July 4, 2001, he indicated that he would be staying at a Marriott hotel in New York City. By September 5, an investigation of all New York area Marriot hotels turn up nothing. The FBI office in Los Angeles receives a request on 9/11 to check Sheraton Hotels in Los Angeles, because that where Almihdhar said he would be staying when he entered the country over a year and a half earlier. The search turns up nothing. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02, Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] The San Diego FBI office isn't notified about the search until September 12, and even then they are only provided with "sketchy" information. [Los Angeles Times, 9/16/01]
August 29, 2001 (C): In a later interview, would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh claims that on this day Atta calls him in Germany from the US. Atta asks him what is "two sticks, a dash and a cake with a stick down?" The answer, which bin al-Shibh figures out, is 11-9 - the European and Arabic way of writing 9/11. [Knight-Ridder, 9/9/02, CBS, 10/9/02] So knowing the date of the attack, bin al-Shibh later claims that he orders active cells in Europe, the US, and elsewhere to evacuate (see also September 3-5, 2001). Presumably, had any government been tracking either some or all of these people, they also may have learned the date of the attacks.
August 29, 2001 (D): President Bush says: "We recognize its a dangerous world. I know this nation still has enemies, and we cannot expect them to be idle. And thats why security is my first responsibility. And I will not permit any course that leaves America undefended." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
August 30, 2001: It is reported in Russia and Pakistan that the Taliban has named bin Laden commander of the Afghanistan army. [UPI, 8/30/01]
August 30-September 4, 2001: According to Egyptian President Hasni Mubarak, Egyptian intelligence warns American officials that bin Laden's network is in the advanced stages of executing a significant operation against an American target, probably within the US. [AP, 12/7/01, New York Times, 6/4/02] He says he learned this information from an agent working inside al-Qaeda. US officials deny receiving any such warning from Egypt. [ABC News, 6/4/02]
August 31, 2001: Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service for 24 years, is replaced. No explanation is given. He is replaced by Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, his nephew and the king's brother, who has "no background in intelligence whatsoever." [AFP, 8/31/01, Seattle Times, 10/29/01, Wall Street Journal, 10/22/01] FTW The Wall Street Journal later reports, "The timing of Turki's removal - August 31 - and his Taliban connection raise the question: Did the Saudi regime know that bin Laden was planning his attack against the US? The current view among Saudi-watchers is probably not, but that the House of Saud might have heard rumors that something was planned, although they did not know what or when. (An interesting and possibly significant detail: Prince Sultan, the defense minister, had been due to visit Japan in early September, but canceled his trip for no apparent reason less than two days before his planned departure.)" [Wall Street Journal, 10/22/01] Turki is later sued for his role in 9/11 (see August 15, 2002) and appointed ambassador to Britain (see October 18, 2002).
Late August 2001 (B): In an interview with the London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi, bin Laden boasts that he is planning a "very, very big" and "unprecedented" strike against the US. The interview is not publicly released until after 9/11, however, so its unclear if US intelligence was aware of this before 9/11. [Independent, 9/17/01, ABC News, 9/12/01]
Late August 2001 (C): A Telegraph article later claims that Iraq leader Saddam Hussein puts his troops on their highest military alert since the Gulf War. A CIA official states that there was nothing obvious to warrant this move: "He was clearly expecting a massive attack and it leads you to wonder why." Hussein apparently made a number of other moves at the time suggesting foreknowledge and the article strongly suggests Iraqi complicity in the 9/11 attacks. [Telegraph, 9/23/01] Iraq will later be sued by 9/11 victims' relatives on the grounds that they had 9/11 foreknowledge but didn't warn the US (see September 4, 2002). Given Rumsfeld's early efforts to blame Iraq (see September 11, 2001 (V)) could such stories be early propaganda to justify a US attack on Iraq? Perhaps Iraq knew what might happen on 9/11 and worried they would be targeted in response?
Late August 2001 (D): French intelligence gives a general terrorist warning to the US; apparently its contents echo an Israeli warning from earlier in the month (see Mid-August 2001). [Fox News, 5/17/02]
Early September 2001: The standard accounts place hijackers Hani Hanjour, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi on the East Coast without interruption in the weeks before the attacks. [New York Times, 11/6/01, CNN, 9/26/01, New York Times, 9/21/01, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01, AP, 9/21/01, Newsday, 9/23/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] However, neighbors at the San Diego apartment complex where the three lived are clear in their assertions that all three were there until days before 9/11. For instance, one article states, "Authorities believe Almihdhar, Hanjour and Alhazmi ... moved out a couple of days before the East Coast attacks." [San Diego Channel 10, 11/1/01] Ed Murray, a resident at the complex, said that all three "started moving out Saturday night -- and Sunday [September 9] they were gone." [San Diego Channel 10, 9/14/01, San Diego Channel 10, 9/20/01] This is the same day that Alhazmi is seen in an East Coast shopping mall. [CNN, 9/26/01] As with previous reports (see January 15-August 2000 and September-December 2000), neighbors also see them getting into strange cars late at night. A neighbor interviewed shortly after 9/11 said, "A week ago, I was coming home between 12 and 1 a.m. from a club. I saw a limo pick them up. It wasn't the first time. In this neighborhood you notice stuff like that. In the past couple of months, I have seen this happen at least two or three times." [Time, 9/24/01] Is one or the other account wrong, or could the identities of these hijackers have been used by more than one person simultaneously? If so, what happened to the ones that didn't board the hijacked planes? To add to the confusion, there have been reports that investigators think Almihdhar is still alive (see September 16-23, 2001) and the Chicago Tribune says of Alhazmi, Almihdhar and Hanjour: "The most basic of facts - the very names of the men - are uncertain. The FBI has said each used at least three aliases. 'It's not going to be a terrible surprise down the line if these are not their true names,' said Jeff Thurman, an FBI spokesman in San Diego." [Chicago Tribune, 9/30/01]
Early September 2001 (B): The NSA intercepts "multiple phone calls from Abu Zubaida, bin Laden's chief of operations, to the United States." The timing and information contained in these intercepted phone calls has not been disclosed. [ABC News, 2/18/02] Shouldn't the US government have been able to determine who was being called, and find those people?
Early September 2001 (C): According to British inside sources, "shortly before September 11," bin Laden contacts an associate thought to be in Pakistan. The conversation refers to an incident that will take place in the US on, or around 9/11, and discusses possible repercussions. In another conversation, bin Laden contacts an associate thought to be in Afghanistan. They discuss the scale and effect of a forthcoming operation; bin Laden praises his colleague for his part in the planning. Neither conversation specifically mentions the WTC or Pentagon, but investigators have no doubt the 9/11 attacks were being discussed. The British government has obliquely made reference to these intercepts: "There is evidence of a very specific nature relating to the guilt of bin Laden and his associates that is too sensitive to release." These intercepts haven't been made public in Blair's presentation of al-Qaeda's guilt (see October 4, 2001 (B)) because "releasing full details could compromise the source or method of the intercepts." [Sunday Times, 10/7/01]
Early September 2001 (D): An Iranian man known as Ali S. in a German jail waiting deportation repeatedly phones US law enforcement to warn of an imminent attack on the WTC in the week of September 9-15. He calls it "an attack that will change the world." After a month of badgering his prison guards, he is finally able to call the White House 14 times in the days before the attack. He then tries to send a fax to Bush, but is denied permission hours before the 9/11 attacks. German police later confirm the calls. Prosecutors later say Ali had no foreknowledge and his forebodings were just a strange coincidence. They say he is mentally unstable. Similar warnings also come from a Moroccan man being held in a Brazilian jail. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 9/13/01, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01, Ananova, 9/14/01, Sunday Herald, 9/16/01] FTW Click here for more on this topic.
Early September 2001 (E): One article later suggests that bin Laden moves his training bases in Afghanistan "in the days before the attacks." [Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/16/01] Given US satellite surveillance of such bases, shouldn't this have been a huge clue that a major attack was imminent?
Early September 2001 (F): A few days before 9/11, a Seattle security guard of Middle Eastern descent tells an East Coast friend on the phone that terrorists will soon attack the US. After 9/11 the friend tells the FBI, and passes a lie detector test. The security guard refuses to cooperate with the FBI or take a lie detector test. He isn't arrested - apparently the FBI determines that while he may have had 9/11 foreknowledge, he wasn't involved in the plot. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 10/12/01]
Early September 2001 (G): Shortly before 9/11, people attending a New York mosque are warned to stay out of lower Manhattan on 9/11. The FBI's Joint Terrorist Task Force interviews dozens of members of the mosque, who confirm the story. The mosque leadership denies any advanced knowledge and the case apparently remains unsolved. [New York Daily News, 10/12/01]
Early September 2001 (H): A veteran detective with post-9/11 investigations later claims that rumors in New York City's Arab-American community about the 9/11 attacks are common in the days beforehand. The story "had been out on the street" and the number of leads turning up later is so "overwhelming" that it is difficult to tell who knows about the attacks from secondhand sources and who knows about it from someone who may have been a participant. After 9/11, tracking leads regarding Middle Eastern employees who didn't show up for work on 9/11 are "a serious and major priority." [Journal News, 10/11/01]
Early September 2001 (I): The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) later announces that they are investigating the trading of shares of 38 companies in the days just before 9/11. The San Francisco Chronicle states that the New York Stock Exchange sees "unusually heavy trading in airline and related stocks several days before the attacks." All of the 38 companies logically stood to lose from the attacks. They include parent companies of major airlines American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, United and USAirways as well as cruise lines Carnival and Royal Caribbean, aircraft maker Boeing and defense contractor Lockheed Martin. The SEC is also looking into suspicious short selling of numerous insurance company stocks. [AP, 10/2/01, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/3/01]
Early September 2001 (J): There is a sharp increase in short selling of the stocks of American and United airlines on the New York Stock Exchange prior to 9/11. A short sell is a bet that a particular stock will drop. There is an increase of 40 percent of short selling over the previous month for these two airlines, compared to an 11 percent increase for other big airlines and one percent for the exchange overall. A significant profit was to be made: United stock dropped 43 percent and American dropped 39 percent the first day the market reopened after the attack (see also September 6-10, 2001). Short selling of Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurer, is also later noted by German investigators. Inquiries into short selling millions of Munich Re shares were made in France days before the attacks. [Reuters, 9/20/01, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/22/01] Munich Re stock plummets after the attacks, as they claim the attacks will cost them $2 billion. [Dow Jones Business News, 9/20/01] There is also suspicious trading activity involving reinsurers Swiss Reinsurance and AXA. These trades are especially curious because the insurance sector "was one of the brightest spots in a very difficult market" at this time. [Los Angeles Times, 9/19/01] There is also a short spike on Dutch airline KLM stock three to seven days before 9/11, reaching historically unprecedented levels. [USA Today, 9/26/01] Was another attack on a KLM airplane planned?
Early September 2001
(K): German central bank president Ernst Welteke says a study by his bank
indicates, "There are ever clearer signs that there were activities on
international financial markets that must have been carried out with the necessary
expert knowledge," not only in shares of heavily affected industries such
as airlines and insurance companies, but also in gold and oil. [Telegraph,
9/23/01] His researchers have found "almost irrefutable proof of insider
Herald, 9/24/01] "If you look at movements in markets before and after
the attack, it makes your brow furrow. But it is extremely difficult to really
verify it." Nevertheless, he believes that "in one or the other case
it will be possible to pinpoint the source." [Fox
News, 9/22/01] Welteke reports "a fundamentally inexplicable rise''
rise in oil prices before the attacks [Miami
Herald, 9/24/01] and then a further rise of 13% the day after the attacks.
Gold rises nonstop for days after the attacks. [Telegraph,
Early September 2001 (L): Numerous other overseas investigations into insider trading before 9/11 are later established. There are investigations in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monte Carlo, Cyprus and other countries. There are particularly strong suspicions British markets were manipulated. Italy is investigating suspicious share movements on the day of the attack, as well as the previous day. Japan as well is looking into trading of futures contracts. [Fox News, 9/22/01, CNN, 9/24/01, BBC, 9/18/01] The British conclude in a remarkable two weeks that their markets were not manipulated (see October 16, 2001). But over one year later, where are the results for all the other countries?
Early September 2001 (M): After 9/11 both the SEC and the Secret Service announce probes into an unusually high volume trade of five-year US Treasury note purchases around this time. These transactions included a single $5 billion trade. The Wall Street Journal explains: "Five-year Treasury notes are among the best investments in the event of a world crisis, especially one that hits the US. The notes are prized for their safety and their backing by the US government, and usually rally when investors flee riskier investments, such as stocks." The value of these notes has risen sharply since the events of September 11. The article also points out that with these notes, "tracks would be hard to spot." [Wall Street Journal, 10/2/01] How could bin Laden, whose fortune is estimated at roughly $250 million [Miami Herald, 9/24/01], have made a $5 billion trade?
September 1, 2001 (approx.): Fox News later reports that, around this date, American Airlines sends out an internal memo warning its employees to be on the lookout for impostors after one of its crews had uniforms and ID badges stolen in Rome, Italy in April. [Reuters, 9/14/01, Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Why is there a five month delay before giving this warning? It is later reported that two of the hijackers on Flight 11 use these stolen ID's to board the plane. [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01] On 9/11, a man is arrested with three Yemen passports (all using different names) and two Lufthansa crew uniforms. [Chicago Sun Times, 9/22/01] It is also claimed that when Atta takes a flight from Portland, Maine to Boston on the morning of 9/11, his bags don't make the transfer to his hijacked flight, and remain in Boston. Later, airline uniforms are found inside. [Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Boston's Logan Airport had been repeatedly fined for failing to run background checks on their employees, and many other serious violations. [CNN, 10/12/01] Did the hijackers use inside connections or disguises like pilots uniforms to bypass security?
September 3, 2001: Author Salman Rushdie, the target of death threats from radical Muslims for years, is banned by US authorities from taking internal US flights. He says the FAA told his publisher the reason was because it had "intelligence of something about to happen." One newspaper states, "The FAA confirmed that it stepped up security measures concerning Mr. Rushdie but refused to give a reason." [London Times, 9/27/01] Years before, Iran had issued a religious fatwa against Rushdie calling for his murder, so if Rushdie had been killed it would have been a major propaganda coup for the terrorists.
September 3-5, 2001: Members of Atta's Hamburg terrorist cell leave Germany for Pakistan. Said Bahaji flies out of Hamburg on September 3. [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03] German intelligence already had Bahaji under surveillance, and German border guards were under orders to report if he left the country. For some reason, they fail to note his departure (see also May 22, 2000). [FAZ, 2/2/03] German agents later discover two other passengers on the same flight traveling with false passports who stay in the same room with Bahaji when they arrive in Karachi, Pakistan. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] Investigators now believe his flight companions are Ismail Ben Mrabete and Ahmed Taleb, both Algerians in their late 40s (see August 14, 2001). Three more associates - Mohammed Belfatmi, an Algerian extremist from the Tarragona region of Spain, and two brothers with the last name Joya - also travel on the same plane. All of these people still remain unaccounted for. [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03] Ramzi bin al-Shibh flies out of Germany on September 5 and stays in Spain a few days before presumably heading for Pakistan. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] Had these people been under investigation, it should have raised red flags, since communications ordering many al-Qaeda operatives back to Afghanistan by September 10 had been intercepted (see September 10, 2001 (K)). At least Bahaji had been under German investigation previously (see November 1, 1998-February 2001).
September 4, 2001: "On or around" this day, the Mossad give their "latest" warning to the US of a major, imminent terrorist attack, according to sources close to Mossad. One former Mossad agent says, "My understanding is that the warning was not specific. No target was identified. But it should have resulted in an increased state of security." US intelligence claims this never happened. [Sunday Mail, 9/16/01]
September 4, 2001 (B): FBI headquarters dispatches a message to the entire US intelligence community about the Zacarias Moussaoui investigation. According to a later Congressional inquiry, the message notes "that Moussaoui was being held in custody but [it doesn't] describe any particular threat that the FBI thought he posed, for example, whether he might be connected to a larger plot. [It also does] not recommend that the addressees take any action or look for any additional indicators of a terrorist attack, nor [does] it provide any analysis of a possible hijacking threat or provide any specific warnings." [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/24/02] The FAA is also given the warning, but the FAA decides not to issue a security alert to the nation's airports. An FAA spokesman says, "He was in jail and there was no evidence he was connected to other people." [New York Post, 5/21/02] This is in sharp contrast to an internal CIA warning sent out earlier based on even less information (see August 24, 2001), which stated Moussaoui might be "involved in a larger plot to target airlines traveling from Europe to the US." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Would the hijackers have been stopped at the airports if the FBI warning was as strong as the CIA warning? It turns out that prior to this point terrorist Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999) had started cooperating with investigators. He had trained with Moussaoui in Afghanistan and willingly shared this information after 9/11. The FBI dispatch, with its notable lack of urgency and details, failed to prompt the agents in Seattle holding Ressam to ask him about Moussaoui. Had the connection between these two been learned before 9/11, presumably the search warrant for Moussaoui would have been approved and the 9/11 plot might have unraveled. [Sunday Times, 2/3/02]
September 4, 2001 (C): Bush's Cabinet-rank advisers have their second ever meeting on terrorism (see June 3, 2001). [Washington Post, 5/17/02] Back in January, terrorism "czar" Richard Clarke had proposed an ambitious plan to "roll back" al-Qaeda's operations around the world. The plan was strengthened and finally approved at this meeting. It no longer plans a "roll back" of al-Qaeda but aims to "eliminate" it altogether. The plan calls for significant support to the Northern Alliance, the last remaining resistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan. At the same time, the US military would launch air strikes on training camps and special-operations missions in Afghanistan. In the words of a senior Bush Administration official, the proposals amounted to "everything we've done since 9/11." The plan was awaiting Bush's signature on 9/11. Clinton's limited missile attack in 1998 faced a lot of controversy - this new ambitious plan would have faced much more opposition had it not been for 9/11. [Time, 8/4/02] A senior Bush administration official dismisses the allegations: "This idea that there was somehow a kind of -- some sort of full-blown plan for going after al-Qaeda is just incorrect." [CNN, 8/5/02]
September 4, 2001 (D): Zim-American Israeli Shipping Co. moves their North American headquarters from the 16th floor of the WTC to Norfolk, Virginia, one week before the 9/11 attacks. The Israeli government owns 49 percent of the company. [Virginian-Pilot, 9/4/01] Zim announced the move and its date six months earlier. [Virginian-Pilot, 4/3/01] More than 200 workers had just been moved out; about 10 are still in the building making final moving arrangements on 9/11, but escape alive. [Jerusalem Post, 9/13/01, Journal of Commerce, 10/18/01] The move leaves only one Israeli company, ClearForest, with 18 employees, in the WTC on 9/11. The four or five employees in the building at the time manage to escape. [Jerusalem Post, 9/13/01] One year later, a Zim ship is impounded attempting to ship Israeli military equipment to Iran; it is speculated that this is done with the knowledge of Israel. [AFP, 8/29/02 (B)] Given the Israeli government ties, the Odigo warning (see September 11, 2001 (C)), and the Israeli art student spy ring (see December 2000-April 2001), some have speculated that the move was more than just lucky.
September 4, 2001 (approx.): On approximately this date, a "weird love letter to Jennifer Lopez" is sent to The Sun, a tabloid with offices in Florida. "But inside the oddly-worded letter was what was described as a 'soapy, powdery substance' and in the pile of that a cheap Star of David charm." The letter was handled both by Ernesto Blanco, who contacted anthrax, and Bob Stevens, who died of anthrax. The letter was thrown away, so it's not known if it contained anthrax. [Newsweek, 10/8/01] Could the letter have been part of a pre-9/11 series of anthrax attacks reported by the New York Post (see before September 11, 2001)? The only specific target mentioned by the Post was Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly. [New York Post, 11/1/01] Bob Stevens was admitted to a hospital on October 2; the period between anthrax exposure and symptoms can be up to eight weeks. The anthrax attacks targeted media outlets, sending both real and hoax letters. Could this have been part of that series? Newsweek also reports a Middle Eastern intern working at the Sun that summer left a curious farewell e-mail. [Newsweek, 10/8/01]
September 4-11, 2001: ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed visits Washington for the second time (see April 4, 2000). On September 10, a Pakistani newspaper reports on his trip so far. It says his visit has "triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council" as well as meetings with CIA Director Tenet, unspecified officials at the White House and the Pentagon, and his "most important meeting" with Mark Grossman, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. The article suggests that "of course, Osama bin Laden" could be the focus of some discussions. Prophetically, the article adds, "What added interest to his visit is the history of such visits. Last time [his] predecessor was [in Washington], the domestic [Pakistani] politics turned topsy-turvy within days." [The News, 9/10/01] This is a reference to the Musharraf coup just after a ISI Director's visit (see October 12, 1999). Mahmood is meeting in Washington when the 9/11 attacks begin (see September 11, 2001 (H)), and extends his stay until September 16 (see September 11-16, 2001).
September 5, 2001: Sakher 'Rocky' Hammad, one of five men later convicted of fraudulently obtaining a Tennessee driver's license from a Memphis woman, later claims he was working on the sprinklers in the underground levels of the WTC on this day. When he was arrested, he had a photo ID pass for such work. This story might not mean much, but for the fact that Katherine Smith, the woman who helped him get the fake license, was killed in bizarre circumstances the day before testifying in the case (see February 10, 2002). [GoMemphis, 2/16/02] Some have suggested that bombs helped bring the WTC towers down - could Hammad have planted such bombs?
September 5, 2001 (B): Two men, believed to be Hani Hanjour and Majed Moqed, are captured on camera at an ATM in Maryland. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01] A picture of this is later released, which appears to be the only picture released of any of the hijackers in the US, except for those on identification cards and some of Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari in Portland, Maine in the 24 hours before the 9/11 attacks. Are there no other pictures of any hijackers anywhere?
September 5-6, 2001: French and US intelligence officials hold meetings in Paris on combating terrorism. The French newspaper Le Monde claims that the French try again to warn their US counterparts about Moussaoui, "but the American delegation ... paid no attention ... basically concluding that they were going to take no one's advice, and that an attack on American soil was inconceivable." The US participants also say Moussaoui's case is in the hands of the immigration authorities and is not a matter for the FBI. [Independent, 12/11/01, Village Voice, 5/28/02] The FBI arranges to deport Moussaoui to France on September 17, so the French can search his belongings and tell the FBI the results. Due to the 9/11 attacks, the deportation never happens. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02]
September 5-8, 2001: Eighty members of a Joint Terrorism Task Force conduct a three-day raid of the offices of InfoCom Corporation, a Texas-based company that hosts about 500 mostly Arab web sites, including Al Jazeera, the Arab world's leading news channel. [Guardian, 9/10/01, Web Host Industry Review, 9/10/01] The Task Force includes agents from the FBI, Secret Service and Diplomatic Security, as well as tax inspectors, immigration officials, customs officials, department of commerce officials and computer experts. [Guardian, 9/10/01] The FBI declines to give a reason for the raid, [NewsFactor Network, 9/7/01] but a spokeswoman said it is not aimed at InfoCom's clients. [BBC, 9/7/01] The reasons for the raid "may never be known, because a judge ordered the warrant to be sealed." [Web Host Industry Review, 9/10/01] Three days after the initial raid, the Task Force is "still busy inside the building, reportedly copying every hard disc they could find." [Guardian, 9/10/01] InfoCom's offices are located in Richardson, a suburb of Dallas. Two charities in Richardson, The Global Relief Foundation Inc. and The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, have been investigated for possible ties to Palestinian terrorist organizations. [Boston Herald, 12/11/01] Not only are InfoCom and Holy Land across the road from each other, they are intimately connected through two brothers: Ghassan and Bayan Elashi. [Guardian, 9/10/01] Ghassan Elashi is both the vice president of Infocom and chairman of Holy Land. [New York Times, 12/20/02] These two and others are later arrested on a variety of serious charges (see December 18, 2002 (B)). Approximately one week before 9/11, Bank One closes Holy Land's checking accounts totaling about $13 million, possibly because of an investigation begun by the New York State Attorney General. [Dallas Business Journal, 9/7/01] The US freezes Holy Land's assets two months later for suspected terrorist associations. Holy Land is represented by Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, a Washington, DC law firm with unusually close ties to the Bush White House (see December 4, 2001). [Washington Post, 12/17/01] Next to Richardson is another suburb called Garland, where a 5th grade boy may have had foreknowledge of 9/11 (see September 10, 2001). [Houston Chronicle, 9/19/01]
September 6, 2001: Antoinette DiLorenzo, teaching English to a class of Pakistani immigrants, asks a student gazing out the window, "What are you looking at?" The student points towards the WTC, and says: "Do you see those two buildings? They won't be standing there next week." At the time, nothing was thought of it, but on September 13 the FBI interviews all the people in the classroom and confirms the event. The FBI later places the boy's family under surveillance but apparently are unable to find a connection to the 9/11 plot. An MSNBC reporter later sets out to disprove this "urban myth," but to his surprise finds all the details of the story are confirmed. The fact that the family are recent immigrants from Pakistan might mean the information came from Pakistan. [MSNBC, 10/12/01] Supposedly, on November 9, 2001, the same student says there will be a plane crash on November 12. On that day, American Airlines Flight 587 crashes on takeoff from New York, killing 260 people. Investigators believe it was an accident. One official at the school says many Arab-American students have come forward with their own stories about having prior knowledge before 9/11: "Kids are telling us that the attacks didn't surprise them. This was a nicely protected little secret that circulated in the community around here." [Insight, 9/10/02]
September 6, 2001 (B): According to a later interview with would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a courier sent by bin al-Shibh tells bin Laden on this day when the 9/11 attacks will take place (see September 3-5, 2001). [Australian, 9/9/02] However, there are doubts about this interview (see April, June or August 2002).
September 6-10, 2001: Suspicious trading occurs on American and United, the two airlines used in the 9/11 attacks. "Between 6 and 7 September, The Chicago Board Options Exchange saw purchases of 4,744 put option contracts [a speculation that the stock will go down] in UAL versus 396 call options where a speculator bets on a price rising. Holders of the put options would have netted a profit of $5 million once the carrier's share price dived after September 11. On 10 September, more trading in Chicago saw the purchase of 4,516 put options in American Airlines, the other airline involved in the hijackings. This compares with a mere 748 call options in American purchased that day. Investigators cannot help but notice that no other airlines saw such trading in their put options." One analyst says: "I saw put-call numbers higher than I've ever seen in 10 years of following the markets, particularly the options markets." [Associated Press, 9/18/01, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/19/01] "To the embarrassment of investigators, it has also emerged that the firm used to buy many of the "put" options ... on United Airlines stock was headed until 1998 by "Buzzy" Krongard, now executive director of the CIA." Krongard was chairman of Alex Brown Inc., which was bought by Deutsche Bank. "His last post before resigning to take his senior role in the CIA was to head Bankers Trust Alex Brown's private client business, dealing with the accounts and investments of wealthy customers around the world." [Independent, 10/14/01] FTW Doesn't this hint that the CIA and some wealthy elites had 9/11 foreknowledge? Why didn't this cause a storm of media attention and further investigation?
September 6-10, 2001 (B): The Chicago Board Options Exchange sees suspicious trading on Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, two of the largest WTC tenants. An average of 3,053 put options in Merrill Lynch are bought between September 6-10, compared to an average of 252 in the previous week. Merrill Lynch, another WTC tenant, see 12,215 put options bought between September 7-10, when the previous days had seen averages of 252 contracts a day. [Independent, 10/14/01] Dylan Ratigan of Bloomberg Business News: "This would be one of the most extraordinary coincidences in the history of mankind if it was a coincidence." [ABC News, 9/20/01] FTW
September 7, 2001: Father Jean-Marie Benjamin is told at a wedding in Todi, Italy of a plot to attack the US and Britain using hijacked airplanes as weapons. He isn't told time or place specifics. He immediately passes what he knows to a judge and several politicians. He states: "Although I am friendly with many Muslims, I wondered why they were telling me, specifically. I felt it my duty to inform the Italian government." Benjamin has been called "one of the West's most knowledgeable experts on the Muslim world." Two days after 9/11, he meets with the Italian Foreign Minister on this topic. He says he learned the attack on Britain failed at the last minute. [Zenit, 9/16/01] He has not revealed who told him this information, but could it have been a member of the al-Qaeda cell in Milan (see August 12, 2000 and January 24, 2001), which appears to have helped with the 9/11 attacks?
September 7, 2001 (B): The State Department issues a little noticed warning, alerting against an attack by al-Qaeda. But the warning focuses on a threat to American citizens overseas, and particularly focuses on threats to US military personnel in Asia. [US State Department, 9/7/01] Such warnings are issued periodically and are usually so vague few pay attention to them, which is why most airlines and officials claim to never have seen this until after 9/11. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/14/01]
September 7, 2001 (C): Bush's plan to visit a Sarasota, Florida elementary school on September 11 is publicly announced. According to a later news article, numerous eyewitnesses see hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi in Sarasota later that evening. They appear to have stayed at a Holiday Inn very close to the place Bush will later stay. [Longboat Observer, 11/21/01] Another news report suggests that there may have been an assassination attempt on Bush in Sarasota two hours before the 9/11 attacks (see September 11, 2001 (B)) - could these two have been planning that attack?
September 7, 2001 (D): One of the first and most frequently told stories about the hijackers is their visit to Shuckums, a sports bar in Hollywood, Florida on this day. What's particularly interesting about this story is how it has changed over time. In the original story, first reported on September 12 [AP, 9/12/01], Atta, Marwan Alshehhi and an unidentified man come into the restaurant already drunk. "They were wasted," says bartender Patricia Idrissi, who directs them to a nearby Chinese restaurant. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/13/01] Later they return and drink - Atta having five vodka and orange juices, and Alshehhi five rum and Cokes. [Time, 9/24/01] Says manager Tony Amos: "The guy Mohamed was drunk, his voice was slurred and he had a thick accent." Idrissi says they argue about the bill, and when she asks if there was a problem, "Mohamed said he worked for American Airlines and he could pay his bill." [AP, 9/12/01] This story was widely reported through much of September (for instance, see [New York Times, 9/13/01, Sunday Herald, 9/16/01, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/15/01, Miami Herald, 9/22/01, Newsweek, 9/17/01, Time, 9/24/01]). But starting on September 15, a second story appears. [Toronto Star, 9/15/01] It's the same as the first, except Atta is playing video games and drinking cranberry juice instead of vodka, and Alshehhi is the one who argues over the bill and pays. After some coexistence, the second story seems to have become predominant in later September (for instance, see [Washington Post, 9/16/01, Washington Post, 9/22/01, Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01, St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01, Australian Broadcasting Corp., 11/12/01, Sunday Times, 2/3/02]). Given that at least three restaurant employees all said the same story in numerous interviews, why did that story change? Could the FBI have put pressure on the witnesses to change their story so that Atta's behavior was more in line with his extremely religious image?
September 8-11, 2001 (B): In the days before the attacks, some of the hijackers (including Waleed Alshehri and/or Wail Alshehri) apparently sleep with prostitutes in Boston hotel rooms, or try to. A driver working at an "escort service" used by the hijackers claims he regularly drove prostitutes to a relative of bin Laden about once a week until 9/11, when the relative disappeared. Bin Laden has several relatives in the Boston area, most or all of whom returned to Saudi Arabia right after 9/11. [Boston Herald, 10/10/01] Did the bin Laden relative recommended the service to the hijackers? On September 10, four other hijackers in Boston (Marwan Alshehhi, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Mohand Alshehri, and Satam Al Suqami) call around to find prostitutes to sleep with on their last night alive, but in the end decline. Says one official, ''It was going to be really expensive and they couldn't come to a consensus on price, so that was the end of it... Either they thought it was too extravagant [over $400] or they didn't have enough money left.'' [Boston Globe, 10/10/01] Does this behavior make any sense if they thought they would die the next day?
September 8-11, 2001 (C): The hijackers send money to and receive money from a man in the United Arab Emirates who uses the aliases "Mustafa Ahmed," "Mustafa Ahmad," and "Ahamad Mustafa." [MSNBC, 12/11/01] This "Mustafa" transfers money to Mohamed Atta in Florida on September 8 and 9. He sends the money from a branch of the Al Ansari Exchange in Sharjah, UAE, a center of al-Qaeda financial dealings (see Mid-1996-October 2001). [Financial Times, 11/30/01] On September 9, three hijackers, Atta, Waleed Alshehri and Marwan Alshehhi, transfer about $15,000 back to "Mustafa"'s account. [Time, 10/1/01, Los Angeles Times, 10/20/01] Apparently the hijackers are returning money meant for the 9/11 attacks that they didn't use. "Mustafa" then transfers $40,000 to his Visa card and then, using a Saudi passport, flies from the UAE to Karachi, Pakistan, on 9/11. He makes six ATM withdrawals there two days later, then disappears into Pakistan (see September 11, 2001-January 2002). [MSNBC, 12/11/01] In early October 2001 it is reported that the financier "Mustafa Ahmed" is an alias used by Saeed Sheikh. [CNN, 10/6/01] It will later be reported that Saeed wired money to Atta the month before (see Early August 2001 (D)). These last-minute transfers are touted as the "smoking gun" proving al-Qaeda involvement in the 9/11 attacks, since Saeed is a known financial manager for bin Laden. [Guardian, 10/1/01] But since Saeed also works for the ISI, aren't these transfers equally a smoking gun of ISI involvement in the 9/11 attacks? The US media frequently reports a series of alternatives to Saeed as the one who sends this money (see September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002).
September 9, 2001: General Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, is assassinated by two al-Qaeda agents posing as Moroccan journalists. [Time, 8/4/02] A legendary mujaheddin commander and a brilliant tactician, Massoud had pledged to bring freedom and democracy to Afghanistan. The BBC says the next day, "General Massoud's death might well have meant the end of the [Northern] alliance" because there clearly was no figure with his skills and popularity to replace him. [BBC, 9/10/01, BBC, 9/10/01] "With Massoud out of the way, the Taliban and al-Qaeda would be rid of their most effective opponent and be in a stronger position to resist the American onslaught." [St. Petersburg Times, 9/9/02] It appears the assassination was supposed to happen earlier- the "journalists" waited for three weeks in Northern Alliance territory to meet Massoud. Finally on September 8, an aide says they "were so worried and excitable they were begging us." They were granted an interview after threatening to leave if the interview didn't happen in the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Taliban army (together with elements of the Pakistani army) had massed for an offensive against the Northern Alliance in the previous weeks, but the offensive began only hours after the assassination. Massoud was killed that day but Northern Alliance leaders pretended for several days that he was only injured in order to keep the army's morale up, and the army was able to stave off total defeat. The timing of the assassination and the actions of the Taliban army suggest that the 9/11 attacks were known to the Taliban leadership. [Time, 8/4/02] However, the assassins may have had other connections. Though it is not widely reported, the Northern Alliance release a statement the next day: "Ahmed Shah Massoud was the target of an assassination attempt organized by the Pakistani [intelligence service] ISI and Osama bin Laden." [Radio Free Europe, 9/10/01, Newsday, 9/15/01, Reuters, 10/4/01] More evidence that the ISI was aware of 9/11?
September 9, 2001 (B): Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R), who has long experience in Afghanistan and even fought with the mujaheddin there, later claims he immediately saw the assassination Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud (see September 9, 2001) as a sign that "something terrible was about to happen." He is only able to make an appointment to meet with top White House and National Security Council officials for 2:30 PM on 9/11. The events of that morning make the meeting moot. [Speech to the House of Representatives, 9/17/01]
September 9, 2001 (C): It is later reported that on this day, bin Laden calls his stepmother and says, "In two days, you're going to hear big news and you're not going to hear from me for a while." US officials later tell CNN that "in recent years they've been able to monitor some of bin Laden's telephone communications with his [step]mother. Bin Laden at the time was using a satellite telephone, and the signals were intercepted and sometimes recorded." [New York Times, 10/2/01] Stepmother Al-Khalifa bin Laden, who raised Osama bin Laden after his natural mother died, was apparently waiting in Damascus, Syria, to meet Osama there, so he called to cancel the meeting. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01] They had met periodically in recent years (see Spring 1998, Spring 2000 (C) and February 26, 2001). Before 9/11, to impress important visitors, NSA analysts would occasionally play audio tapes of bin Laden talking to his stepmother. [Body of Secrets, James Bamford, 4/02, p. 410] The next day government officials say about the call, "I would view those reports with skepticism." [CNN, 10/2/01]
September 9, 2001 (D): Donald Rumsfeld threatens to urge a veto if the Senate proceeds with a plan to divert $600 million from missile defense to counter-terrorism. [Time, 8/4/02]
September 9, 2001 (E): Hijacker Ziad Jarrah is stopped in Maryland for speeding, ticketed and released. No red flags show up when his name is run through the computer by the state police. However, he already had been questioned in United Arab Emirates at the request of the CIA for "suspected involvement in terrorist activities" (see January 30, 2001). Baltimore's mayor has criticized the CIA for not informing them that Jarrah was on the CIA's watch list. [Chicago Tribune, 12/14/01, AP, 12/14/01] The CIA calls the whole story "flatly untrue." [CNN, 8/1/02]
September 9, 2001 (F): A formal National Security Presidential Directive describing a "game plan to remove al-Qaeda from the face of the Earth" is placed on Bush's desk for his signature. The plan deals with all aspects of a war against al-Qaeda, ranging from diplomatic initiatives to military operations in Afghanistan. According to NBC News reporter Jim Miklaszewski, the "directive outlines essentially the same war plan ... put into action after the Sept. 11 attacks. The administration most likely was able to respond so quickly to the attacks because it simply had to pull the plans 'off the shelf.'" The plan includes an effort to persuade the Taliban to turn over bin Laden and a military invasion if it refuses. It was prepared through a process of consultation over many months, involving the Pentagon, CIA, State Department and other security and intelligence agencies. Bush was expected to sign the directive, but hadn't finished reviewing it by 9/11. [MSNBC, 5/16/02, Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02] FTW Sandy Berger, Clinton's National Security Advisor, has stated, "You show me one reporter, one commentator, one member of Congress who thought we should invade Afghanistan before September 11 and I'll buy you dinner in the best restaurant in New York City." [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 219] In July 2002, British Prime Minister Tony Blair will state: "To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11." [London Times, 7/17/02] How did Bush expect to get public support for his plan to invade and conquer Afghanistan if 9/11 didn't happen?
September 9, 2001 (G): FBI Director Mueller later states that on this day, "A telephonic message ... recovered from Atta's cellular telephone has Ziad Jarrah referring to Atta as 'boss.'" [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02, Washington Post, 9/11/02] How else could the FBI know who was speaking to who and the exact words being spoken, unless the call was intercepted? And even if the importance of the call wasn't revealed until after 9/11, what does this say about data collection ability, and what else has been learned through such calls?
September 10, 2001:
A fifth grader in Dallas, Texas casually tells his teacher: "Tomorrow,
World War III will begin. It will begin in the United States, and the United
States will lose." The teacher reports the comment to the FBI, but doesn't
know if they acted on it. The student skips the next two days of school. The
event may be completely coincidental, but the newspaper that reports the story
also notes that two charities located in an adjacent suburb have been investigated
about raising money for Islamic terrorist organizations (see also September
5-8, 2001). [Houston
Chronicle, 9/19/01] The FBI investigates and decides
"no further investigation [is] warranted." [Houston
September 10, 2001 (B): An Army School of Advanced Military Studies issues a report written by elite US army officers, which is made public just prior to 9/11. The report gives the following description for the Mossad: "Wildcard. Ruthless and cunning. Has capability to target US forces and make it look like a Palestinian/Arab act." [Washington Times, 9/10/01] After 9/11 and revelations of a large Mossad spy ring operating mysteriously in the US, some suggest that the Mossad did in fact do just that on 9/11.
September 10, 2001 (C): In a speech to the Department of Defense, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld announces that the Department of Defense "cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions." CBS later calculates that 25% of the yearly defense budget is unaccounted for, and quotes a long-time defense budget analyst: "[Their] numbers are pie in the sky. The books are cooked routinely year after year." Coverage of this rather shocking story is nearly nonexistent given the events of the next day. [Department of Defense speech, 9/10/01, CBS, 1/29/02]
September 10, 2001 (D): CBS later reports that on this day, bin Laden is admitted to a military hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, for kidney dialysis treatment. Pakistani military forces guard bin Laden. They also move out all the regular staff in the urology department and send in a secret team to replace them. It is not known how long he stayed. [CBS News, 01/28/02] Why didn't Pakistan arrest bin laden at this time?
September 10, 2001 (E): Attorney General Ashcroft rejects a proposed $58 million increase in financing for the bureau's counter-terrorism programs. On the same day, he sends a request for budget increases to the White House. It covers 68 programs, but none of them relate to counter-terrorism. He also sends a memorandum to his heads of departments, stating his seven priorities - none of them relating to counter-terrorism. This is more than a little strange, since Ashcroft stopped flying public airplanes in July due to terrorist threats (see July 26, 2001) and he told a Senate committee in May that counter-terrorism was his "highest priority." [New York Times, 6/1/02, Guardian, 5/21/02] Was he starving current departments for funds, with an eye to creating a new Homeland Security Department?
September 10, 2001 (F): Mohamed Atta calls Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the operational planner of the 9/11 attacks, in Afghanistan. Mohammed gives final approval to Atta to launch the attacks. This call is monitored and translated by the US, though it isn't known how quickly that takes, and the specifics of the conversation haven't been released. [Independent, 9/15/02] The NSA had been intercepting calls between Mohammed and Atta for the past several months (see Summer 2001), and US intelligence had learned Mohammed was interested in sending terrorists to the US and supporting them there (see June 2001 (I)). Shouldn't Atta's location have been determined from these calls with a high-profile terrorist (just as bin Laden's location was determined in 1998 from his phone use (Early 1996-October 1998))?
September 10, 2001 (G): A sixth-grade student of Middle Eastern descent in Jersey City, New Jersey, says something that alarms his teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. "Essentially, he warned her to stay away from lower Manhattan because something bad was going to happen," says Sgt. Edgar Martinez, deputy director of police services for the Jersey City Police Department. [Insight, 9/10/02] Note that others with possible 9/11 foreknowledge also lived in Jersey City (see June 12, 2001).
September 10, 2001 (H): The trading ratio on United Airlines is 25 times greater than normal at the Pacific Exchange. Pacific Exchange officials later decline to state if this abnormality is being investigated. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/19/01]
September 10, 2001 (I): According to CBS News, in the afternoon before the attack, "alarm bells were sounding over unusual trading in the US stock options market." It has been documented that the CIA, the Mossad and many other intelligence agencies monitor stock trading in real time using highly advanced programs such as Promis. Both the FBI and the Justice Department have confirmed the use of such programs for US intelligence gathering through at least this summer. This would confirm that CIA should have had additional advance warning of imminent attacks against American and United Airlines planes. [CBS, 9/19/01] There are even allegations that bin Laden was able to get a copy of Promis. [Fox News, 10/16/01] FTW
September 10, 2001 (J): Amr Elgindy orders his broker to liquidate his children's $300,000 trust account fearing a sudden crash in the market. He also tells his stock broker that the Dow Jones average, then at 9,600, will fall to below 3,000. Elgindy is arrested in San Diego in May 2002, along with FBI agents Jeffrey Royer and Lynn Wingate. Government prosecutors claim the FBI agents were using their FBI positions to feed him inside information on various corporations. They also questioned whether Elgindy had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 5/23/02, London Times, 5/30/02, New York Times, 6/8/02] A report published in the San Diego Tribune however casts some doubt on the government's allegations. [San Diego Tribune 6/16/02]
September 10, 2001 (K):
In a major post-9/11 speech, British Prime Minister Tony Blair claims that "shortly
before September 11 bin Laden told associates that he had a major operation
against America under preparation, a range of people were warned to return back
to Afghanistan because of action on or around September 11." His claims
come from a British document of telephone intercepts and interrogations revealing
al-Qaeda orders to return to Afghanistan by September 10. [CNN
10/5/01] However, Blair may have the direction incorrect,
since would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh later claims that he was the one
who passed to bin Laden the date the attacks would happen and warned others
to evacuate (see September
3-5, 2001 and September 6, 2001).
September 10, 2001 (L): At least two messages in Arabic are intercepted by the NSA. One states "The match is about to begin" (bin Laden apparently uses football metaphors in many messages) and the other states "Tomorrow is zero hour." Later reports [Reuters, 9/9/02] translate the first message as "The match begins tomorrow." They were sent between someone in Saudi Arabia and someone in Afghanistan. The NSA claims that they weren't translated until September 12, and that even if they were translated in time, "they gave no clues that authorities could have acted on." [ABC News, 6/7/02, Reuters, 6/19/02] These turn out to be only two of about 30 pre-9/11 communications from suspected al-Qaeda operatives or other militants referring to an imminent event. An anonymous official says of these messages, including the "Tomorrow is zero hour" message, "You can't dismiss any of them, but it doesn't tell you tomorrow is the day." [Reuters, 9/9/02] There is a later attempt to explain them away by suggesting they refer to the killing of Afghani opposition leader Ahmed Shah Massoud the day before (see September 9, 2001). [Reuters, 10/17/02] Couldn't they at least have issued an urgent security warning?
September 10, 2001 (M): US officials later admit American agents had infiltrated al-Qaeda cells in the US, though how many and how long they had been in al-Qaeda remains a mystery. On this day, electronic intercepts connected to these undercover agents hear messages such as: "Watch the news" and "Tomorrow will be a great day for us." As to why this didn't lead to boosted security or warnings the next day, officials call these leads "needles in a haystack." What other leads may have come from this prior to this day are not revealed. [USA Today, 6/4/02] At least until February 2002, the official story was that the "CIA failed to penetrate al-Qaeda with a single agent." [ABC News, 2/18/02] FBI Director Mueller later claims "To this day we have found no one in the United States except the actual hijackers who knew of the plot" (see June 18, 2002) but what about the people in these penetrated cells giving these messages?
September 10, 2001 (N): Two days after 9/11, Newsweek reports: "The state of alert had been high during the past two weeks, and a particularly urgent warning may have been received the night before the attacks, causing some top Pentagon brass to cancel a trip. Why that same information was not available to the 266 people who died aboard the four hijacked commercial aircraft may become a hot topic on the Hill." [Newsweek, 9/13/01] Far from becoming a hot topic, the only additional media mention of this story is in the next issue of Newsweek: "a group of top Pentagon officials suddenly canceled travel plans for the next morning, apparently because of security concerns." [Newsweek, 9/17/01] FTW
September 10, 2001 (O): There is a possibility that FEMA's National Urban Search and Rescue Team arrived in New York the night before the attacks. FEMA member Tom Kennedy says in a CBS interview on September 13: "We're currently one of the first teams that was deployed to support the City of New York in this disaster. We arrived on late Monday night [September 10] and went right into action on Tuesday morning [September 11]." FEMA officials said Kennedy misstated his team's arrival date. [CBS, 9/13/01, link is to an audio file] The Boston Herald later says Kennedy's name is actually Tom Kenney, and his wife claims he merely confused the dates. [Boston Herald, 9/5/02] Even if true, perhaps they had other reasons to be in New York that day? When did FEMA in fact go into action?
September 10, 2001 (P): In a bar in Daytona Beach, Florida the night before the 9/11 attacks, three men make anti-American sentiments and talk of impending bloodshed. One says, "Wait 'til tomorrow. America is going to see bloodshed." These were not any of the hijackers, since they had all left Florida by this time. [MSNBC, 9/23/01, AP, 9/14/01] FBI Director Mueller later claims "To this day we have found no one in the United States except the actual hijackers who knew of the plot" (see June 18, 2002), but what of these three?
September 10, 2001 (Q): Eight hours prior to the attacks, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown receives a warning from "my security people at the airport" advising him to be cautious in traveling. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12/01] Later reports claim that this is because someone saw the State Department warning of September 7, which focused on the threat to military personnel in Asia (see September 7, 2001 (B)). He was scheduled to fly to New York the next morning. [San Francisco Chronicle 9/14/01, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12/01, US State Department, 9/7/01] This story may well be a red herring, but there's been no investigation to provide a definitive answer.
September 10, 2001 (R): Just prior to 9/11, the CIA and FBI don't have enough staff working on al-Qaeda. 17-19 people are working in the FBI's special unit focusing on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] The FBI has a $4.3 billion anti-terrorism budget, but of its 27,000 employees, just 153 are devoted to terrorism analysis. [Sydney Morning Herald, 6/8/02] The FBI's "analytic expertise had been 'gutted' by transfers to operational units" and only one strategic analyst is assigned full time to al-Qaeda. The FBI office in New York is very aware of the threat from bin Laden, but many branch offices remain largely unaware. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] A senior FBI official later tells Congress that there are fewer FBI agents assigned to counter-terrorism on this day than in August 1998, when the US embassy bombings in Africa made bin Laden a household name. [New York Times, 9/22/02] The CIA has about 35-40 people assigned to their special Bin Laden unit. It has five strategic analysts working full time on al-Qaeda. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] The CIA and FBI later say some of these figures are misleading. [New York Times, 9/18/02] "Individuals in both the CIA and FBI units... reported being seriously overwhelmed by the volume of information and workload prior to September 11, 2001." Despite numerous warnings that planes could be used as weapons, such a possibility was never studied, and a Congressional report later blames lack of staff as a major reason for this. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Senator Patrick Leahy (D) also notes: "Between the Department of Justice and the FBI, they had a whole task force working on finding a couple of houses of prostitution in New Orleans. They had one on al-Qaeda." [CBS, 9/25/02]
September 10, 2001 (S): Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), who with Senator Jon Kyl (R) has sent a copy of draft legislation on counterterrorism and national defense to Vice President Cheneys office on July 20, but is told by Cheneys top aide on this day "that it might be another six months before he would be able to review the material." [Newsweek, 5/27/02]
September 10, 2001 (T): The number of US air marshals (specially trained, plainclothes armed federal agents deployed on airliners) shrinks from about 2,000 during the Cold War to 32 by this date. None of the 32 are deployed on domestic flights. The number is later increased to about 2,000, but it would take about 120,000 marshals at a cost of $10 billion a year to protect all daily flights to, from or within the US. [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/02]
Before September 11, 2001: In a story seemingly unreported anywhere else, the New York Post later claims that a series of hoax anthrax letters is sent out from Indianapolis, Indiana, at some point not long before 9/11. The FBI allowed the Post to see copies of these letters, which had handwriting and other features remarkably similar to the later letters containing real anthrax. [New York Post, 11/1/01]
Before September 11, 2001 (B):
A number of the hijackers appeared to drink alcohol heavily in bars and watch
strip shows - strange behavior for Muslim radicals. On September 10, three terrorists
spend $200 to $300 apiece on lap dances and drinks in the Pink Pony, a Daytona
Beach, Florida strip club. While the hijackers had left Florida by this time,
Atta is reported to have visited the same strip club, and these men appear to
have had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks (see September
10, 2001 (P)). [Boston
Herald, 10/10/01] FBI agents have also
reportedly questioned the owners of Nardone's Go-Go Bar in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Several of the terrorists spent time in nearby Paterson and Newark and reportedly
patronized the club, even on the weekend before 9/11. [Boston
Herald, 10/10/01, Wall Street
Journal, 10/16/01] Majed Moqed visits a porn shop and rents a porn video.
The major of Paterson, New Jersey says of the six hijackers who stayed there:
"Nobody ever saw them at mosques, but they liked the go-go clubs."
[Newsweek, 10/15/01] Nawaf
Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar often frequented Cheetah's, a nude bar in San Diego.
Angeles Times, 9/1/02] Hamza Alghamdi watched a porn video on September
10. [Wall Street Journal, 10/16/01]
University of Florida religion professor Richard Foltz states, "It is incomprehensible
that a person could drink and go to a strip bar one night, then kill themselves
the next day in the name of Islam... People who would kill themselves for their
faith would come from very strict Islamic ideology. Something here does not
add up." [Sun-Sentinel,
Before September 11, 2001 (C): Though the NSA specializes in intercepting communications, the CIA and FBI intercept as well. After 9/11, CIA and FBI officials discover messages with phrases like, "There is a big thing coming," "They're going to pay the price" and "We're ready to go." Supposedly, most or all of these intercepted messages were not analyzed until after 9/11. [Newsweek, 9/24/01] Does this mean that some of the hijackers or their assistants were under FBI or CIA surveillance before 9/11?
Before September 11, 2001 (D): The British MI6 and the CIA later claim "technical intelligence" - believed to be intercepted telephone conversations and electronic bank transfers - implicates al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef in the 9/11 attacks. It is believed Atef is one of the top operational planners of the attacks. It has not been revealed when the calls and transfers were intercepted or translated, who Atef is communicating with, or what exactly is said. [Sunday Times, 10/7/01] Atef is later killed in a US bombing raid (see November 15, 2001 (B)).
September 11, 2001: Warren Buffett, possibly the second richest man on Earth [Salon, 8/31/99], schedules a morning charity event inside Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. A number of CEOs who would otherwise have been in the WTC attend. Attendees had just arrived when the first WTC attack occurs. This base is the center of the nation's military defenses, and the same base that Bush will fly to later in the day. The timing, probable attendance, and location of the meeting is curious, to say the least, as is the total lack of any mention of the meeting anywhere, except for one aside by a business leader (Anne Tatlock, CEO and President of Fiduciary and Franklin) explaining why she survived the WTC attack. [San Francisco Business Times, 2/1/02]
September 11, 2001 (B): A small Florida newspaper will later report an extremely curious story. Around 6:00 a.m., a van occupied by men of Middle Eastern arrives at the hotel Bush is staying at. The men tell security guards they are reporters scheduled to conduct a poolside interview with Bush (who is getting ready to go on his morning jog). They ask for a Secret Service agent by name. Another Secret Service agent says that he doesn't know of that agent or the poolside interview, and the men are turned away. An FBI agent later calls the whole incident "very strange." [Longboat Observer, 9/26/01] Two days earlier in Afghanistan, Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud was assassinated by two terrorists posing as reporters. When their TV camera turned on, it blew up, killing Massoud and the two terrorists. [BBC, 9/10/01] Was this an attempt to kill Bush using the same method? Did the men think they had a Secret Service agent on the inside? Doesn't this make the fact that Bush continued to read a goat story after being told about the second WTC plane attack instead of being taken to a secure location seem even stranger?
September 11, 2001 (C): Two employees of Odigo, Inc., in Israel, receive warnings of an imminent attack in New York City around two hours before the first plane hits the WTC. Odigo, one of the world's largest instant messaging companies, has its headquarters two blocks from the WTC. The Odigo Research and Development offices where the warnings were received are located in Herzliyya, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Israeli security and the FBI were notified immediately after the 9/11 attacks began. The two employees claim not to know who sent the warnings. "Odigo service includes a feature called People Finder that allows users to seek out and contact others based on certain interests or demographics. [Alex] Diamandis [Odigo vice president of sales and marketing] said it was possible that the attack warning was broadcast to other Odigo members, but the company has not received reports of other recipients of the message." [Ha'aretz, 9/26/01, Washington Post, 9/27/01 (C)] FTW Odigo claims the warning did not specifically mention the WTC, but the company won't say what was specified, claiming, "Providing more details would only lead to more conjecture." [Washington Post, 9/28/01] Odigo gave the FBI the internet address of the message's sender so the name of the sender could be found. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 9/26/01] Two months later it is reported that the FBI is still investigating the matter, but there have been no reports since. [Courier Mail, 11/20/01] Could the message have been a mass e-mail sent to a large group? Could this be related to the "art student spy ring"? Did the original senders directly inform the FBI as well, and if not, why not?
September 11, 2001 (D): An advertisement for a "homeland security" event in 2002 will mention the following curious sentence: "On the morning of September 11th 2001, Mr. [John] Fulton and his team at the CIA were running a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building. Little did they know that the scenario would come true in a dramatic way that day." [National Law Enforcement Security Institute, 8/02] Fulton's team is part of the National Reconnaissance Office, which "operates many of the nation's spy satellites. It draws its personnel from the military and the CIA." The simulation was to start at 9:00 a.m., four miles from where one of the real hijacked planes took off. The government calls the simulation just a "bizarre coincidence." [AP, 8/21/02] The government has repeatedly claimed that no one imagined a plane deliberately crashing into a building (see May 16, 2002 (B)).
September 11, 2001 (E): Data recovery experts later looking at 32 hard drives salvaged from the 9/11 attacks discover a surge in credit card transactions from the WTC in the hours before and during the attacks. Unusually large sums of money were rushed through computers even as the disaster unfolded. Investigators say, "There is a suspicion that some people had advance knowledge of the approximate time of the plane crashes in order to move out amounts exceeding $100 million. They thought that the records of their transactions could not be traced after the main frames were destroyed." [Reuters, 12/19/01]
September 11, 2001 (F): The hijackers have an argument with a stranger right next to Marwan Alshehri's rental car parked in Boston's Logan Airport. Not long after the 9/11 attacks, the stranger reports this to authorities and the FBI discovers the car. [AP, 9/12/01] Inside is an Arabic language flight manual and other documents that contain a name on the passenger list of one of the flights, and the names of other suspects. The car also contains a pass giving access to restricted areas at the airport. [New York Times, 9/13/01, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/15/01] Were the hijackers drawing attention to themselves to make sure evidence in the car would be found?
September 11, 2001 (G): The 9/11 attack: four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. At least 3,000 people are killed. A more detailed timeline focusing on the hours of this attack appears on a separate page. According to officials, the entire US is defended by only 14 fighters (two planes each in seven military bases). [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01] And "they no longer included any bases close to two obvious terrorist targets - Washington, DC, and New York City." A defense official says: "I don't think any of us envisioned an internal air threat by big aircraft. I don't know of anybody that ever thought through that." [Newsday, 9/23/01]