THE COMPLETE 9/11 TIMELINE, PART 2
By Paul Thompson
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Part 1: 1979 - 2000
Part 2: Jan. 2001 - 9/11
Part 3: Day of 9/11
Part 4: 9/11 - Dec. 2001
Part 5: Jan. 2002 - present
|Day of 9/11
Bush on 9/11
This story is so complicated and long, I've tried to break it into threads of different colors to make it easier to digest. I've made separate pages for each thread, in addition to webpages with all the threads together.
Central Asian oil, Enron and the Afghanistan pipelines.
For a separate page of these entries only, click
Information that should have shown what kind of attack al-Qaeda would make. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
US preparing for a war with Afghanistan before 9/11, increasing control of Asia before and since. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Incompetence, bad luck, and/or obstruction of justice. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Suggestions of advanced knowledge that an attack would take place on or around 9/11. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Cover-up, lies, and/or contradictions. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Israeli "art student" spy ring, Israeli foreknowledge evidence. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Anthrax attacks and microbiologist deaths. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Pakistani ISI and/or opium drug connections. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Bin Laden family, Saudi Arabia corruption and support of terrorists, connections to Bush. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
Erosion of civil liberties and erection of a police state. For a separate page of these entries only, click here.
For simplicity's sake I don't always use the full names and jobs of some of the major people or organizations in this story. For instance, every time I say "bin Laden," I mean the terrorist Osama bin Laden, not one of his family members. I have standardized the spellings of the Islamic names, even within quotes. Al-Qaeda, for instance, can be spelled many ways, and the person known as Saeed Sheikh has too many name variations and spelling variations to count.
CIA: US Central Intelligence Agency
DEA: US Drug Enforcement Administration
FAA: US Federal Aviation Administration
FDA: US Food and Drug Administration
FBI: US Federal Bureau of Investigations
FEMA: US Federal Emergency Management Agency
ISI: Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani intelligence agency
Mossad: The Israeli intelligence agency
NORAD: US North American Aerospace Defense Command
NSA: US National Security Agency
SEC: US Security and Exchange Commission
Taliban: The rulers of Afghanistan, 1996 - 2001
WTC: World Trade Center
USAMRIID: US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
Ahmad: General Mahmud Ahmad, Director of the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency
Ashcroft: John Ashcroft, US Attorney General under Bush Jr.
Atta: Mohamed Atta, lead 9/11 hijacker
bin Laden: Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda terrorist organization
Bush: George Bush Jr., US President since January, 2001
Cheney: Richard "Dick" Cheney, US Vice President under Bush Jr.
Clinton: Bill Clinton, US President before Bush Jr.
Mueller: Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI since July, 2001
Musharraf: General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan since 1999
Powell: Colin Powell, US Secretary of State under Bush Jr.
Rice: Condaleezza Rice, US National Security Advisor under Bush Jr.
Rumsfeld: Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense
Saeed: Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh (and many variations thereof), ISI agent, al-Qaeda money man and supposed murderer of reporter Daniel Pearl
Tenet: George Tenet, Director of the CIA since 1997 under Clinton and remaining under Bush Jr.
There are many spellings and aliases - the names and spellings below are the versions preferred by the FBI. *= Some evidence suggests the identity of this person may be incorrect (see September 16-23, 2001).
American Airlines Flight 11
Waleed Alshehri, 22, from Saudi Arabia *
Wail Alshehri, 28, from Saudi Arabia, brother of Waleed Alshehri, had psychological problems *
Abdulaziz Alomari, 22, from Saudi Arabia *
Satam Al Suqami, 25, from Saudi Arabia
Mohamed Atta, 33, from Egypt (the likely pilot) *
United Airlines Flight 93
Saeed Alghamdi, 21, from Saudi Arabia (had flight training) *
Ahmed Alhaznawi, 20, from Saudi Arabia *
Ahmed Alnami, 23, from Saudi Arabia *
Ziad Jarrah, 26, from Lebanon (the likely pilot) *
United Airlines Flight 175
Ahmed Alghamdi, 22, from Saudi Arabia
Hamza Alghamdi, 20, from Saudi Arabia, brother of Ahmed Alghamdi *
Marwan Alshehhi, 23, from United Arab Emirates (the likely pilot) *
Mohand Alshehri, 22, from Saudi Arabia, possible cousin of Marwan Alshehhi and/or from the same extended family as Wail and Waleed Alshehri
Fayez Ahmed Banihammad (Alshehri), 24, from United Arab Emirates (had flight training)
American Airlines Flight 77
Khalid Almihdhar, 26, from Saudi Arabia (originally from Yemen, changed citizenship in 1996) *
Nawaf Alhazmi, 25, from Saudi Arabia
Salem Alhazmi, 20, from Saudi Arabia, brother of Nawaf Alhazmi *
Hani Hanjour, 29, from Saudi Arabia (the likely pilot)
Majed Moqed, 24, from Saudi Arabia *
September 11, 2001 (G): The 9/11 attack: four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. At least 3,000 people are killed. A more detailed timeline focusing on the hours of this attack appears on a separate page. According to officials, the entire US is defended by only 14 fighters (two planes each in seven military bases). [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01] And "they no longer included any bases close to two obvious terrorist targets - Washington, DC, and New York City." A defense official says: "I don't think any of us envisioned an internal air threat by big aircraft. I don't know of anybody that ever thought through that." [Newsday, 9/23/01]
September 11, 2001
(H): At the time of the attacks, ISI Director
Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed is at a breakfast meeting at the Capitol with the chairmen
of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Senator Bob Graham (D) and
Representative Porter Goss (R) (Goss is a 10-year veteran of the CIA's clandestine
operations wing). The meeting is said to last at least until the second plane
hits the WTC. [Washington
Post, 5/18/02] Graham and Goss later co-head the joint House-Senate investigation
into the 9/11 attacks, which has made headlines for saying there was no "smoking
gun" of Bush knowledge before 9/11. [Washington
Post, 7/11/02] Note Senator Graham should have been aware of a report made
to his staff the previous month that one of Mahmood's subordinates had told
a US undercover agent that the WTC would be destroyed (see Early
August 2001). Evidence suggests Mahmood ordered that $100,000 be sent
to hijacker Mohamed Atta (see Early
August 2001 (D)). Also present at the meeting
were Senator John Kyl (R) and the Pakistani ambassador to the US, Maleeha Lodhi
(all or virtually all of the people in this meeting also met in Pakistan a few
weeks earlier (see August
28-30, 2001)). Senator Graham says of the
meeting: "We were talking about terrorism, specifically terrorism generated
from Afghanistan." The New York Times mentions bin Laden specifically was
being discussed. [Vero Beach
Press Journal, 9/12/01, Salon,
York Times, 6/3/02] The fact that these
people are meeting at the time of the attacks is a strange coincidence at the
very least. Was the topic of conversation just more coincidence? FTW
September 11, 2001 (I): At about 9:00 a.m., a strange incident occurs aboard United Airlines Flight 23, scheduled to fly from New York to Los Angeles. After boarding, the crew tells the passengers that the flight had been canceled. Three Middle Eastern men on board refuse to get off the plane. They argue with a member of the flight crew. Security is called, but before security arrives, the men escape. [CBS, 9/14/01] In June 2002, a Canadian general who is also deputy commander of NORAD refers to Flight 23 and states, "From our perception, we think our reaction on that day was sufficiently quick that we may well have precluded at least one other hijacking. We may not have. We don't know for sure." [Globe and Mail, 6/13/02] It may not be the only aborted hijacking that day (see September 19, 2001).
September 11, 2001 (J): Zacarias Moussaoui watches the 9/11 attack on TV inside a prison, where he is being held on immigration charges. He cheers the attacks. [BBC, 12/12/01] Within an hour of the attacks, the Minnesota FBI uses a memo written to FBI headquarters shortly after Moussaoui's arrest to ask permission from a judge for the search warrant they have been desperately seeking. Even after the attacks, FBI headquarters is still attempting to block the search of Moussaoui's computer, characterizing the WTC attacks as a mere coincidence with suspicions about Moussaoui (the person still trying to block the search is later promoted). [Time, 5/21/02] However, a federal judge approves the warrant that afternoon. [New Yorker, 9/30/02] Minnesota FBI agent Coleen Rowley notes that this very memo was previously deemed insufficient by FBI headquarters to get a search warrant, and the fact that they are immediately granted one when finally allowed to ask shows "the missing piece of probable cause was only the [FBI headquarters'] failure to appreciate that such an event could occur." [Time, 5/21/02] The search uncovers information suggesting Moussaoui may have been planning an attack using crop dusters, but it doesn't turn up any direct connection to the 9/11 hijackers. However, they find some German telephone numbers and the name "Ahad Sabet." The numbers allow them to determine the name is an alias for Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Atta's former roommate, and they find he wired Moussaoui money. They also find a document connecting Moussaoui with the Malaysian Yazid Sufaat, a lead that could have led to hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi (see September-October 2000). [New Yorker, 9/30/02, MSNBC, 12/11/01] Rowley later suggests that if they would had received the search warrant sooner, "There is at least some chance that ... may have limited the Sept. 11th attacks and resulting loss of life." [Time, 5/27/02]
September 11, 2001 (K): Two men, Syed Gul Mohammad Shah (using the alias Ayub Ali Khan) and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, are arrested on a train near Fort Worth, Texas, during a random drug check. They are found with $20,000 in cash, hair dye, and box cutters similar to those used in the 9/11 attacks. They also both had flight training. They had boarded Flight 679 in Newark, New Jersey, at 6:10 a.m., bound for San Antonio. [Washington Post, 9/20/01, Village Voice, 9/25/02] The flight was diverted to St. Louis after the WTC was hit. Shah and Azmath then took an Amtrak train headed to San Antonio. The FBI says no one else on the flight manifest is believed to be a potential hijacker. It is speculated that they were planning to meet Dr. al-Badr Alhazmi, who lived in San Antonio and was also arrested that day. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01, Washington Post, 9/29/01] It is also known that a $64,000 wire transfer by the two men to Pakistan in 1999 "has aroused authorities' suspicion." [Washington Post, 10/7/01] They appeared to be some of the most significant terrorists caught after 9/11. But on September 12, 2002, after nearly a year in solitary confinement, Azmath pleads guilty to one count of credit card fraud, and was released with time served. Shah is given a longer sentence for credit card fraud. [Village Voice, 9/25/02] Both are deported back to India around the end of 2002. [New York Times, 12/31/02, AP, 1/25/03] Both also claim to have been tortured, threatened, denied access to lawyers, and kept in solitary confinement for months (see also June 12, 2001, October 20, 2001). [AP, 1/25/03] Dr. Alhazmi is released after only two weeks. [San Antonio Express News, 10/1/01] Are they innocent, or has the government failed to prove their guilt?
September 11, 2001 (L): Within hours of the attacks, Florida governor and the President's brother Jeb Bush signs an executive order: "I hereby declare that a state of emergency exists in the State of Florida." This order is declared faster than any other state, even New York or Washington, DC, and carries much greater powers. [Jeb Bush Executive Order, 9/11/01] Did someone have an inkling of the many connections between the hijackers and Florida? (Note that the fact that Jeb Bush signed another emergency power order on September 7 isn't that damning, because orders similar to it are made regularly, since Florida is so hurricane prone.) [Jeb Bush Executive Order, 9/7/01]
September 11, 2001 (M): It is later revealed that only hours after the 9/11 attacks, a US "shadow government" is formed. Initially deployed "on the fly", executive directives on government continuity in the face of a crisis dating back to the Reagan administration are put into effect. Approximately 100 midlevel officials are moved to underground bunkers and stay there 24 hours a day. Officials rotate in and out on a 90-day cycle. When its existence is revealed, some controversy arises because of the exclusion of any Democrats from it. In fact, top Congressional Democrats had never even heard of it until journalists broke the story months later. [Washington Post, 3/1/02, CBS, 3/2/02]
September 11, 2001 (N): A few hours after the attacks, German intelligence intercepts a phone conversation between followers of bin Laden that leads the FBI to search frantically for two more teams of suicide hijackers, according to US and German officials. The Germans overhear the terrorists refer to "the 30 people traveling for the operation." The FBI scours flight manifests and any other clues for more conspirators still at large. [New York Times, 9/29/01] Two days later, authorities claim to have identified teams that total as many as 50 infiltrators who supported or carried out the strikes. About forty are accounted for as dead or in custody; ten are missing. They also believe a total of 27 suspected terrorists received some form of pilot training. This corresponds with many analyses that the attacks would have needed a large support network. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01] Even 50 may be a gross underestimate (see September 19, 2001). Yet so far, only one person, Moussaoui, has been identified and charged as an accomplice, and a report in October suggests no one else arrested has been connected to the 9/11 attacks (see October 20, 2001). What happened to the rest of the 40 or 50?
September 11, 2001 (O): A National Public Radio correspondent states: "I spoke with Congressman Ike Skelton – a Democrat from Missouri and a member of the Armed Services Committee – who said that just recently the director of the CIA warned that there could be an attack – an imminent attack – on the United States of this nature. So this is not entirely unexpected." [NPR, 9/11/01] This dramatically contradicts what CIA Director Tenet has told the American public.
September 11, 2001 (P): Senator Orrin Hatch (R) tells the Associated Press that the US government was monitoring bin Laden's communications electronically, and overheard two bin Laden aides celebrating the successful terrorist attack: "They have an intercept of some information that included people associated with bin Laden who acknowledged a couple of targets were hit." [AP, 9/12/01, ABC News, 9/12/01] Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld publicly denounces the report, not as untrue, but as an unauthorized release of classified information. [Department of Defense news briefing, 9/12/01] The head of the NSA explains the delay by saying bin Laden (living in a cave in Afghanistan) "has better technology" than the US ($30 billion annual intelligence budget). [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01] Why has the mainstream media not explored the implications that the CIA and FBI could monitor the private communications of al-Qaeda on the days up to and including 9/11?
September 11, 2001 (Q): Shortly after the suicide attacks, a source with intelligence connections tells Newsweek that US intelligence picks up communications among bin Laden associates relaying the message: "We've hit the targets." Its not clear if this was the same intercept Senator Hatch speaks of (see September 11, 2001 (P)), or an additional one. [Newsweek, 9/13/01]
September 11, 2001 (R): Explosives expert Van Romero says: "My opinion is, based on the videotapes, that after the airplanes hit the World Trade Center there were some explosive devices inside the buildings that caused the towers to collapse." The collapse of the buildings appears "too methodical" to be a chance result of airplanes colliding with the structures. [Albuquerque Journal, 9/11/01] However, Romero, who says he was on his way to the Pentagon to seek Pentagon research funding when the attack hit, reverses his stance 10 days later. [Albuquerque Journal, 9/21/01] Might his need for government funding have played a role in his change of heart?
September 11, 2001 (S): Two of Atta's bags from an early flight from Portland are not loaded onto Flight 11 and are discovered. They contain a handheld electronic flight computer, a simulator procedures manual for Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, two videotapes relating to "air tours" of the Boeing 757 and 747 aircraft, a slide-rule flight calculator, a copy of the Koran, Atta's passport, his international driver's license, a religious cassette tape, airline uniforms, a letter of recommendation, "education related documentation", a note to other hijackers on how to mentally prepare for the hijacking, and Atta's will (written in 1996). [AP, 10/5/01, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/15/01, Boston Globe, 9/18/01, Independent, 9/29/01, (see also an FBI affidavit that omits certain items, like the uniforms and the how-to note)] A New Yorker reporter later writes, "many of the investigators believe that some of the initial clues that were uncovered about the terrorists' identities and preparations, such as flight manuals, were meant to be found. A former high-level intelligence official told me, 'Whatever trail was left was left deliberately—for the FBI to chase.'" [New Yorker, 10/1/01] Why would Atta have brought his will onto a plane he knew would be destroyed? Why would the airline uniforms be where they couldn't be used in the hijacking? In fact, why bring anything at all unless it is to leave it behind and send a message? Atta checked his bags through to his final destination while at Portland, so how could he have known they would be left behind to be found?
September 11, 2001 (T): TV news coverage on 9/11 repeatedly shows images of Palestinians rejoicing over the 9/11 attack. According to Mark Crispin Miller, a Professor of Media Studies at New York University who investigated the issue, the footage was filmed during the funeral of nine people killed the day before by Israeli authorities. He said "to show it without explaining the background, and to show it over and over again is to make propaganda for the war machine and is irresponsible.'' [AFP, 9/18/01, Australian, 9/27/01]
September 11, 2001 (U): Later in the day, weapons are found planted on board three other US airplanes. A US official says of the hijackings: "These look like inside jobs." "Sources tell Time that US officials are investigating whether the hijackers had accomplices deep inside the airports' 'secure' areas." [Time, 9/22/01] Penetrating security doesn't appear to have been that difficult: Argenbright, the company in charge of security at all the airports used by the 9/11 hijackers, had virtually no security check on any of their employees, and even hired criminals and illegal immigrants. Security appears to have particularly abysmal at Boston's Logan Airport, even after 9/11. [CNN, 10/12/01, Boston Globe, 10/1/01] Could the reason that no footage of the hijackers boarding the planes they would hijack has been released be that the hijackers entered the airplanes via backdoors with the help of accomplices?
September 11, 2001 (V): Hours after the 9/11 attacks, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is given information that three of the names on the airplane passenger manifests are suspected al-Qaeda operatives. The notes he composes at the time are leaked nearly a year later. Rumsfeld writes he wants the "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL. [Usama bin Laden] Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not." [CBS, 9/4/02] He presents the idea to Bush the next day (see September 12, 2001 (F)). It is later revealed that shortly after 9/11, Rumsfeld sets up "a small team of defense officials outside regular intelligence channels to focus on unearthing details about Iraqi ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks." It has continued to sift "through much of the same databases available to government intelligence analysts but with the aim of spotlighting information the spy agencies have either overlooked or played down." [Washington Post, 10/25/02] Time will report in May 2002 that Defense Secretary "Rumsfeld has been so determined to find a rationale for an attack that on 10 separate occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking Iraq to the terror attacks of Sept. 11. The intelligence agency repeatedly came back empty-handed." [Time, 5/6/02] But while the CIA hasn't been helpful to Rumsfeld, one former senior official later says, "If it became known that [Rumsfeld] wanted [the Defense Intelligence Agency] to link the government of Tonga to 9/11, within a few months they would come up with sources who'd do it." [New Yorker, 12/16/02] Since the plan to defeat Iraq is planned despite a complete lack of evidence showing Iraqi involvement in 9/11 (see also September 17, 2001 (B)), how can any later evidence pointing to Iraq's complicity in 9/11 be trusted?
September 11, 2001 (W): Five Israelis are arrested for "puzzling behavior" related to the WTC attacks. They are arrested around 4:30 P.M. after having filmed the burning WTC from the roof of their company's building near Liberty State Park, then shouting in what was interpreted as cries of joy and mockery. They were spotted by a neighbor who called the police and the FBI. The police tracked them down in a van with the words "Urban Moving Systems" written on the side. [Bergen Record, 9/12/01, Ha'aretz, 9/17/01] One man was found with $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock, another had two passports on him, and a box cutter was found in the van. [ABC News, 6/21/02] Investigators say that "There are maps of the city in the car with certain places highlighted... It looked like they're hooked in with this. It looked like they knew what was going to happen." [Bergen Record, 9/12/01] One of these Israelis later says, "Our purpose was to document the event." [ABC News, 6/21/02] The FBI later concludes at least two are Mossad agents and that all were on a Mossad surveillance mission. The FBI interrogates them for weeks. [Forward, 3/15/02] They are held on immigration violation charges and released 71 days later. [ABC News, 6/21/02] Their names are later identified as Sivan and Paul Kurzberg, Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari and Yaron Shmuel. [Forward, 3/15/02]
September 11 , 2001 (X): An FAA memo written on the evening of 9/11 suggests a man on Flight 11 was shot and killed by a gun before the plane crashed into the WTC. [See the leaked FAA memo, originally posted at World Net Daily] The "Executive Summary," based on information relayed by a flight attendant to the American Airlines Operation Center, stated "that a passenger located in seat 10B shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B at 9:20 A.M [since Flight 11 crashed at 8:46, the time must be a typo, probably meaning 8:20]. The passenger killed was Daniel Lewin, shot by passenger Satam Al Suqami." The FAA claims that the document is a "first draft" and declines to release the final draft, calling it "protected information." A report in Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz on September 17 identifies Lewin as a former member of the Israel Defense Force Sayeret Matkal, Israel's most successful special-operations unit [UPI, 3/6/02]. Sayeret Matkal is a deep-penetration unit that has been involved in assassinations, the theft of foreign signals-intelligence materials, and the theft and destruction of foreign nuclear weaponry. Sayeret Matkal is best known for the 1976 rescue of 106 passengers at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. [New Yorker, 10/29/01] Officials later deny the gun story and suggest that Lewin was probably stabbed to death instead (which would still be very interesting). [UPI, 3/6/02, Washington Post, 3/2/02] Note that Lewin founded Akamai, a successful computer company, and his connections to Sayeret Mat'kal remained hidden until the gun story came to light. [Guardian, 9/15/01] Perhaps Lewin just happened to be there, and, with his past training, tried to be a hero and stop the hijack? What are the odds that an Israeli counter-terrorist expert would not only be on this hijacked flight, but also have terrorists sitting in the seats directly in front and behind him?
September 11, 2001 (Y): Some White House personnel, including Vice President Cheney's staff, are given Cipro, the anti-anthrax drug, and told to take it regularly on the evening after the attacks. [AP, 10/24/01] Judicial Watch later sues the Bush Administration to release documents showing who knew what and when, and why Presidential staff were protected while Senators, Congresspeople and others were not. [AP, 6/9/02] FTW
September 11, 2001 (Z): The Carlyle Group is a company closely associated with officials of the Bush and Reagan administrations, and has considerable ties to Saudi oil money, including ties to the bin Laden family (see September 27, 2001). Those ties are well illustrated by the fact that on this day the Carlyle Group is hosting a conference at a Washington hotel. Among the guests of honor is investor Shafig bin Laden, brother to Osama. [Observer, 6/16/02]
September 11, 2001 (AA): An unnamed, young, Middle Eastern man flying from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit is arrested after his plane is diverted to Toronto, Canada. He is apparently found to be carrying a flight jacket, Palestinian Authority travel documents, and a picture of himself in a flight crew uniform in front of a fake backdrop of the WTC. [Toronto Star, 9/15/01 (B), Toronto Sun, 9/15/01, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01 (B)] Apparently the man, who identifies himself as an aircraft maintenance engineer in Gaza, Palestine, was supposed to have arrived in the US a few days before but was delayed for unknown reasons. [CBS, 9/14/01] A second man was arrested a few days earlier while trying to enter Canada carrying a similar photo. He also possessed maps and directions to the WTC. Both men are soon handed to the US. [Toronto Star, 9/15/01 (B)] A similar picture of suspected Egyptian al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammad Zeki Majoub, arrested in Canada in June 2000, in front of a fake WTC backdrop was found in the luggage of one of the US hijackers. [AP, 3/1/01, Toronto Sun, 9/15/01] Canadian officials "believe the photos could be calling cards used by the terrorists to identify those involved in plotting the attacks." [Toronto Sun, 9/15/01] It is not known what has happened to these men since.
September 11, 2001 (BB): Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when asked what the 9/11 attacks mean for relations between the US and Israel, replies, "It's very good." Then he edited himself: "Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy." [New York Times, 9/12/01] A week later, the Village Voice states, "From national networks to small-town newspapers, the view that America's terrible taste of terrorism will finally do away with even modest calls for the restraint of Israel's military attacks on Palestinian towns has become an instant, unshakable axiom. ... Now, support for Israel in America is officially absolute, and Palestinians are cast once again as players in a global terrorist conspiracy." [Village Voice, 9/19/01]
September 11-13, 2001:
Investigators find a remarkable number of possessions left behind by the hijackers:
1) As previously mentioned (see September 11, 2001 (S)), two of Mohamed Atta's bags are found on 9/11 containing a handheld electronic flight computer, a simulator procedures manual for Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, two videotapes relating to "air tours" of the Boeing 757 and 747 aircraft, a slide-rule flight calculator, a copy of the Koran, Atta's passport, his will, his international driver's license, a religious cassette tape, airline uniforms, a letter of recommendation, "education related documentation" and a note to other hijackers on how to mentally prepare for the hijacking.
2) As previously mentioned (see September 11, 2001 (I)), Marwan Alshehhi's rental car is discovered at Boston's Logan airport containing an Arabic language flight manual, a pass giving access to restricted areas at the airport, documents containing a name on the passenger list of one of the flights, and the names of other suspects. Huffman Aviation, the name of the flight school where Atta and Alshehhi studied, is also found in the car. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01]
3) A car registered to Nawaf Alhazmi is found in Washington's Dulles Airport on September 12. Inside is a copy of Atta's letter to the other hijackers, a cashier's check made out to a flight school in Phoenix, four drawings of the cockpit of a 757 jet, a box cutter-type knife, maps of Washington and New York, and a page with notes and phone numbers. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01, Cox News, 10/21/01, Die Zeit, 10/1/02]
4) A rental car is found in a airport parking lot in Portland, Maine. Investigators are able to collect fingerprints and hair samples for DNA analysis. [Portland Press Herald, 10/14/01]
5) A Boston hotel room contains airplane and train schedules. [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/15/01]
6) FBI agents carry out numerous garbage bags of evidence from a Florida apartment where Saeed Alghamdi lived. [CNN, 9/17/01]
7) Two days before 9/11, a hotel owner in Deerfield Beach, Florida, finds a box cutter left in a hotel room used by Marwan Alshehhi and two unidentified men. The owner checks the nearby trash and finds a duffel bag containing Boeing 757 manuals, three illustrated martial arts books, an 8-inch stack of East Coast flight maps, a three-ring binder full of handwritten notes, an English-German dictionary, an airplane fuel tester, and a protractor. All the items are seized by the FBI when they are notified on September 12 (except the binder of notes, which the owner apparently threw away). [Miami Herald, 9/16/01, AP, 9/16/01]
8) In an apartment rented by Ziad Jarrah and Ahmed Alhaznawi, the FBI finds a notebook, videotape, and photocopies of their passports. [Miami Herald, 9/15/01]
9) In a bar the night before 9/11, after making predictions of a terrorist attack on America the next day (see September 10, 2001 (P)), terrorists leave a business card and a copy of the Koran at the bar. The FBI also recovers the credit card receipts from when they paid for their drinks and lap dances. [AP, 9/14/01]
10) A September 13 security sweep of Boston airport's parking garage uncovers items left behind by the hijackers: a box cutter, a pamphlet written in Arabic and a credit card. [Washington Post, 9/16/01]
11) A few hours after the attacks, suicide notes that some of the hijackers wrote to their parents are found in New York. Credit card receipts showing that some of the hijackers paid for flight training in the US are also found. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01]
12) A FedEx bill is found in a trash can at the Comfort Inn in Portland, Maine, where Atta stayed the night before 9/11. The bill leads to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, allowing investigators to determine most of the funding for 9/11 (see September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002). [Newsweek, 11/11/01, London Times, 12/1/01]
Their whereabouts can even be tracked by their pizza purchases. An expert points out: "Most people pay cash for pizza. These [hijackers] paid with a credit card. That was an odd thing." [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/3/02] "In the end, they left a curiously obvious trail -- from martial arts manuals, maps, a Koran, Internet and credit card fingerprints. Maybe they were sloppy, maybe they didn't care, maybe it was a gesture of contempt of a culture they considered weak and corrupt." [Miami Herald, 9/22/01] After having stealthily lived "under the radar" in the US for years, why would the hijackers suddenly fail to take the most elementary precautions and risk exposing the plot? Maybe the trail was deliberate, to establish a misleading trail and false identities? Note the New Yorker's quote of a former high-level intelligence official: "Whatever trail was left was left deliberately—for the FBI to chase." [New Yorker, 10/1/01]
September 11-16, 2001: ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, extending his Washington visit because of the 9/11 attacks (see September 4-11, 2001 and September 11, 2001 (H)) [Japan Economic Newswire, 9/17/01], meets with US officials and negotiates Pakistan's cooperation with the US against al-Qaeda. It is rumored that later in the day on 9/11 and again the next day, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visits Mahmood and offers him the choice: "Help us and breathe in the 21st century along with the international community or be prepared to live in the Stone Age." [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 9/12, LA Weekly, 11/9/01] Secretary of State Powell presents Mahmood seven demands as an ultimatum and Pakistan supposedly agrees to all seven. [Washington Post, 1/29/02] Mahmood also has meetings with Senator Joseph Biden (D), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Secretary of State Powell, regarding Pakistan's position. [Miami Herald, 9/16/01, New York Times, 9/13/01, Reuters, 9/13/01, Associated Press, 9/13/01] On September 13, the airport in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, is shut down for the day. A government official later says the airport had been closed because of threats made against Pakistans "strategic assets," but doesn't elaborate. The next day, Pakistan declares "unstinting" support for the US, and the airport is reopened. It is later suggested that Israel and India threatened to attack Pakistan and take control of its nuclear weapons if Pakistan didn't side with the US (see also September 14, 2001 (approx.)). [LA Weekly, 11/9/01] Was war with Pakistan narrowly averted? It is later reported that Mahmood's presence in Washington was a lucky blessing; one Western diplomat saying it "must have helped in a crisis situation when the US was clearly very, very angry." [Financial Times, 9/18/01] Was it luck he was there, or did Mahmood - later reported to have ordered $100,000 wired to the 9/11 hijackers (see Early August 2001 (D) and October 7, 2001) - know when the 9/11 attack would happen?
September 11-16, 2001 (B): Andrews
Air Force Base is 10 miles from Washington, DC, and Langley Air Force Base in
130 miles away. The official story is that there were no fighters at Andrews
so none took off from there to intercept the hijacked planes, but it takes a
few days for the media to come around to that point of view:
1) A few minutes after the Pentagon was hit, "fighter jets scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base..." [Denver Post, 9/11/01]
2) "It was after the attack on the Pentagon that the Air Force then decided to scramble F-16's out of the DC National Guard Andrews Air Force Base..." [NBC Nightly News, 9/11/01]
3) "Air defense around Washington is provided mainly by fighter planes from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland near the District of Columbia border. The D.C. Air National Guard is also based there and equipped with F-16 fighter planes, a National Guard spokesman said. But the fighters took to the skies over Washington only after the devastating attack on the Pentagon..." [San Diego Union Tribune, 9/12/01]
4) "Within minutes of the attack American forces around the world were put on one of their highest states of alert - Defcon 3, just two notches short of all-out war - and F-16's from Andrews Air Force Base were in the air over Washington DC." [Telegraph, 9/16/01]
5) "Andrews Air Force Base, home to Air Force One, is only 15 miles away from the Pentagon, but it had no fighters assigned to it." [USA Today, 9/16/01]
6) "The District of Columbia National Guard maintained fighter planes at Andrews Air Force Base, only about 15 miles from the Pentagon, but those planes were not on alert and not deployed." [USA Today, 9/16/01]
7) "... As part of its dual mission, the 113th provides capable and ready response forces for the District of Columbia in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency." "In the best tradition of the Marine Corps, a 'few good men and women' support two combat-ready reserve units at Andrews AFB." [DC Military website]
8) The District of Columbia Air National Guard website is changed shortly after 9/11. Previously its mission was "to provide combat units in the highest possible state of readiness." Afterwards, it was changed to read that the Guard has a "vision" to "provide peacetime command and control and administrative mission oversight to support customers, DCANG units, and NGB in achieving the highest levels of readiness." [DCANG Home Page (before and after the change)]
The official story is that fighters from Langley didn't arrive over Washington until 12 minutes after the Pentagon was struck, but witnesses see fighters well before then. [Newsday, 9/23/01, Denver Post, 9/11/01] One year later, a new article writes about Andrews extensively: "Within minutes of American Airlines Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon on Sept. 11, Air National Guard F-16's took off from [Andrews]." However, the article also claims that the Andrews fighters were not on alert, and so, of the first two to take off, one was partially armed and the other was unarmed. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/02]
September 11, 2001-January 2002: After probably completing last-minute financial transactions with some 9/11 hijackers, Saeed Sheikh flies to Pakistan (see September 8-11 (C)). [Knight Ridder, 10/7/01] He meets with bin Laden in Afghanistan a few days later. [Washington Post, 2/18/02, London Times, 2/25/02, Guardian, 7/16/02] The US government claims Saeed fights for the Taliban in Afghanistan in September and October 2001. [CNN, 3/14/02] Some believe that after the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saeed acts as a go-between for the hiding bin Laden and the ISI. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] He also helps produce a video of a bin Laden interview. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] Sometime in October 2001 [Guardian, 7/16/02], he moves back to his home in Lahore, Pakistan, and lives there openly. He is frequently seen at local parties hosted by government leaders. In January 2002, he hosts a party to celebrate the birth of his newborn baby. [USA Today, 2/25/02, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] He stays in his well-known Lahore house with his new wife and baby until January 19, 2002 - four days before reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped (see January 23, 2002). [BBC, 7/16/02] He is also actively involved in numerous other terrorist acts (see October 1, 2001 (D), December 13, 2001 (C) and January 22, 2002).
September 12, 2001: The government's initial response to the 9/11 attacks is there was no evidence whatsoever that bin Laden planned an attack in the US. "There was a ton of stuff, but it all pointed to an attack abroad," says one official. Furthermore, in the 24 hours after the attack, investigators have been searching through "mountains of information," "but the vast electronic 'take' on bin Laden, said officials who requested anonymity, contained no hints of a pending terror campaign in the United States itself, no orders to subordinates, no electronic fund transfers, no reports from underlings on their surveillance of the airports in Boston, Newark and Washington." [Miami Herald, 9/12/01] These are obvious lies (for instance, see September 10, 2001 (K) and September 10, 2001 (L) for messages hinting at the attack). Recall also the title of Bush's briefing on August 6, 2001: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" (see May 15, 2002).
September 12, 2001 (B): Press
Secretary Ari Fleischer explains that Bush went to Nebraska because "There
was real and credible information that the White House and Air Force One were
targets." [Fleischer Press Briefing
transcript, 9/12/01] The next day, William Safire of the New York Times
writes, and Bush's Political Strategist Karl Rove confirms, that the secret
service believed "'Air Force One may be next,' and there was an ‘inside'
threat which 'may have broken the secret codes [showing a knowledge of Presidential
York Times, 9/13/01] By September 27, Fleischer
begins to backpedal on the claim that there were specific threats against Air
Force One and/or the President and new stories flatly contradict it. [Washington
Post, 9/27/01] Slate magazine gives their "Whopper of the Week"
award to Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer, and Vice President Cheney for the Air Force
One threat story. [Slate, 9/28/01]
If there was no threat, then why did Bush go to Nebraska on 9/11?
September 12, 2001 (C): A New York firefighter tells of his rescue work inside the WTC: "On the last trip up a bomb went off. We think there was bombs set in the building." [People, 9/12/01] There are many other witnesses who describe bombs. For instance, Teresa Veliz, who escaped from the 47th floor of the North Tower: "The flashlight led us into Borders bookstore, up an escalator and out to Church Street. There were explosions going off everywhere. I was convinced that there were bombs planted all over the place and someone was sitting at a control panel pushing detonator buttons. I was afraid to go down Church Street toward Broadway, but I had to do it. I ended up on Vesey Street. There was another explosion. And another. I didn't know where to run." [September 11: An Oral History, Dean E. Murphy, 2002, pp. 9-15]
September 12, 2001 (D): Billie Vincent, a former FAA security director, suggests the hijackers had inside help at the airports. "These people had to have the means to take control of the aircrafts. And that means they had to have weapons in order for those pilots to relinquish control. Think about it, they planned this thing out to the last detail for months. They are not going to take any risks at the front end. They knew they were going to be successful before they started... It's the only thing that really makes sense to me." [Miami Herald, 9/12/01] Since then, considerable evidence of inside help has emerged, including pre-planted weapons (for example, see September 19, 2001). Why has the FBI failed to see or report this? Could it lead to multi-billion dollar lawsuits against the airlines by relatives of the 9/11 victims?
September 12, 2001 (E): The passport of hijacker Satam Al Suqami is found a few blocks from the WTC. [ABC News, 9/12/01, AP, 9/16/01, ABC News, 9/16/01] What are the odds that this passport became separated from al Suqami or his luggage, and somehow escaped the fireball that consumed the airplane, then the collapse of the buildings? The Guardian says, "the idea that Atta's passport had escaped from that inferno unsinged [tests] the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI's crackdown on terrorism." [Guardian, 3/19/02] Note the passport did not belong to Atta, as is sometimes claimed.
September 12, 2001 (F):
Following his notes from the day before suggesting that 9/11 should be blamed
on Iraq and not just al-Qaeda (see September
11, 2001 (V)), Defense Secretary Rumsfeld proposes to President Bush
that Iraq should be "a principal target of the first round in the war against
terrorism." Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and others support
the idea. Bush and all of his advisors agree that Iraq should be attacked, but
they decide such an attack should wait. Secretary of State Powell says, "Public
opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible." [Washington
Post, 1/28/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03]
There is still no evidence suggesting Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks
(the first and only evidence, later refuted, comes around September 19, 2001
(see September 19, 2001-October
September 13, 2001: A Pentagon official, when asked if the US shot down Flight 93 (the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania), says "We have not ruled out that." This is one of many quotes from officials in the first days that fail to rule out that 93 was shot down. [ABC News, 9/13/01, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 9/14/01] On the same day, a flight controller in Nashua claims an F-16 fighter closely pursued Flight 93 until it crashed in Pennsylvania. "Although controllers don't have complete details of the Air Force's chase of the Boeing 757, they have learned the F-16 made 360-degree turns to remain close to the commercial jet. 'He must've seen the whole thing,' the employee said of the F-16 pilot's view of Flight 93's crash" (Flight controllers have been ordered not to speak publicly about 9/11, but somehow this slipped out). [AP, 9/13/01, Nashua Telegraph, 9/13/01] Cheney later tells the Washington Post that he had ordered a plane to shoot down Flight 93, and confirmed that order two more times as the distance between the fighter and the airliner grew closer. So, supposedly, when Flight 93 crashed, Bush had to ask, "Did we shoot it down or did it crash?" [Washington Post, 1/27/02] If the plane was shot down after the passengers had taken it over, would that have looked so bad that one might want to cover it up?
September 13, 2001 (B): The White House announces that there is "overwhelming evidence" that bin Laden is behind the attacks. [MSNBC, 9/13/01] Since we now know that numerous Mossad agents were caught on 9/11 and interrogated before this date (see September 11, 2001 (W)), isn't this a rush to judgment? And there are other possible culprits or coconspirators, such as the ISI.
September 13, 2001 (C): AP publishes a list of all the people on board the hijacked airlines. This follows an earlier list from CNN on 9/11. These lists are very curious, because the numbers don't appear to add up. Take for instance Flight 11. The list has 86 passengers on board, including five hijackers, plus 11 crew members, a total of 97. But there only were 92 people total on board the plane according to all accounts. The numbers only work if you subtract the five hijackers. The other plane lists all have too few names, by up to five people. [AP, 9/13/01 (B)] Too few can be explained by people who asked their names not to be released, but how does one explain too many? Another report suggests that several hijackers boarded Flight 11 with stolen crew uniforms. [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01]
September 13, 2001 (D): Investigators say they've found debris from the Flight 93 crash far from the main crash site. A second debris field centers around Indian Lake about three miles from the crash scene. More debris is found in New Baltimore, some eight miles away. Later in the day the investigators say all that debris was blown there. [CNN, 9/13/01] Another debris field is found at Indian Lake, six miles away, and human remains are found miles away. After all this is discovered, the FBI still "stresses" that "no evidence had surfaced" to support the idea that the plane was shot down. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/13/01] A half-ton piece of one of the engines is found 2,000 yards away from the main crash site. This was the single heaviest piece recovered from the crash. [Philadelphia Daily News, 12/28/01, Independent, 8/13/02] Days later, the FBI says the wide debris field was probably the result of the explosion on impact. The Independent nevertheless later cites the wide debris field as one of many reasons why widespread rumors remain that the plane was shot down. [Independent, 9/20/01]
September 13, 2001 (E): The FBI says there were 18 hijackers, and releases their names. [CNN, 9/13/01 (C)] The next day, it is revealed there is one more hijacker - Hani Hanjour. [CNN, 9/14/01, AP, 9/14/01] A few days later, it is reported that Hanjour's "name was not on the American Airlines manifest for [Flight 77] because he may not have had a ticket." [Washington Post, 9/16/01] How was Hanjour able to board Flight 77 if he didn't have his name on the manifest or a ticket? How can the FBI can be sure he was on the plane?
September 13-14, 2001: The two "black boxes" for Flight 93 are found. However, they are deemed severely damaged, and it isn't known if the data could be recovered. [Reuters, 9/13/01, BBC, 9/15/01] Months later, the FBI reveals they know the contents, but only release select quotes (see December 21, 2001). [CNN, 12/21/01]
September 13-19, 2001:
Members of bin Laden's family and important
Saudis are "driven or flown under FBI supervision to a secret assembly
point in Texas and then to Washington from where they left the country on a
private charter plane when airports reopened three days after the attacks."
The flights to Texas and Washington occur before the national air ban is lifted.
Times, 9/30/01] The Tampa Tribune reports that
on September 13, a Lear jet takes off from Tampa, Florida, carrying a Saudi
Arabian prince, the son of the Saudi defense minister Prince Sultan (see August
2001 (G), August 31,
2001, August 15,
2002), as well as the son of a Saudi army commander, and flies to Lexington,
Kentucky, where the Saudis own racehorses. They then fly a private 747 out of
the country. Multiple 747s with Arabic lettering on their sides are already
there, suggesting another secret assembly point. The Tampa flight left from
a private Raytheon hangar. [Tampa
Tribune, 10/5/01] (Raytheon's name keeps coming up in relation to 9/11 (for
instance, see September
25, 2001).) Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, helps move
the bin Laden family out of the US. [London
Times, 11/25/02] Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in a
9/11 lawsuit against many Saudis, points to the flights during the air ban as
evidence that Saudis are "protected by the Bush administration" because
of "oil." [Minneapolis
Star Tribune, 8/16/02] There
have been conflicting reports as to whether the FBI interviewed these people
before they left the country. Osama bin Laden's half brother,
Abdullah bin Laden, stated that even a month after 9/11 his only contact with
the FBI was a brief phone call. [Boston
Globe, 9/21/01, New
Yorker, 11/5/01] The existence of these flights during the air travel
ban is now usually referred to as an urban legend. [Snopes,
September 14, 2001 (approx.): According to Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker, a few days after 9/11 members of the elite Israeli counter-terrorism unit Sayeret Matkal arrive in the US and begin training with US Special Forces in a secret location. The two groups are developing contingency plans to attack Pakistan's military bases and remove its nuclear weapons if the Pakistani government or the nuclear weapons fall into the wrong hands. [New Yorker, 10/29/01] There may have been threats to enact this plan on September 13, 2001 (see September 11-16, 2001). The Japan Times later notes that this "threat to divest Pakistan of its 'crown jewels' was cleverly used by the US, first to force Musharraf to support its military campaign in Afghanistan, and then to warn would-be coup plotters against Musharraf." [Japan Times, 11/10/01] Note the curious connection between Sayeret Matkal and one of the 9/11 passengers on Flight 11 (see September 11, 2001 (X)).
September 14, 2001: Officials deny that Flight 93 was shot down (see September 13, 2001), but propose the theory that the hijackers had a bomb on board and blew up the plane. [Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 9/14/01] Later in the month, it is reported that the "FBI has determined from the on site investigation that no explosive was involved." [AP, 9/25/01] If there was a bomb, how did the hijackers get it through security? If there wasn't a bomb, how does one explain the eyewitness accounts?
September 14, 2001 (B): The two "black boxes" for Flight 77 are found. [PBS Newshour, 9/14/01] FBI Director Mueller will later say that the boxes provided altitude, speed, headings and other information, but the voice recorder contained "nothing useful." [CBS, 2/23/02]
September 14, 2001 (C): Officials admit that two planes were near Flight 93 when it crashed, which matches numerous eyewitness accounts. For instance, Dennis Decker says that immediately after hearing an explosion, "We looked up, we saw a midsized jet flying low and fast. It appeared to make a loop or part of a circle, and then it turned fast and headed out. If you were here to see it, you'd have no doubt. It was a jet plane, and it had to be flying real close when that 757 went down... If I was the FBI, I'd find out who was driving that plane." [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] Later the same day, the military says it can "neither confirm nor deny" the nearby planes. [Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 9/14/01] Then, two days later, they again claim there were two planes near, but that they were a military cargo plane and business jet, and neither had anything to do with the crash. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01] Supposedly, the business jet was requested to fly low over the crash site to help rescuers find the crash site, 25 minutes after all aircraft in the US had been ordered to land. But the story appears physically impossible since the FBI says this jet was at 37,000 feet and asked to descend to 5,000 feet. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] That would have taken many minutes for that kind of plane, and witnesses report seeing the plane flying very low even before the crash. [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] Another explanation of a farmer's plane 45 minutes later is put forth, but that also doesn't fit the time at all. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz states: "We responded awfully quickly, I might say, on Tuesday [9/11], and, in fact, we were already tracking in on that plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. I think it was the heroism of the passengers on board that brought it down. But the Air Force was in a position to do so if we had had to." [Department of Defense, 9/14/01] The next day, the Director of the Air National Guard denies that any plane was scrambled after Flight 93. [Seattle Times, 9/16/01] That in turn contradicts what Vice President Cheney will say later. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
September 14, 2001 (D): It is initially reported that Flight 93 is traveling fairly slowly when it crashed. "It slammed into the ground at a speed law enforcement authorities said might have approached 300 mph" [New York Times, 9/14/01] "Flight 93 slammed into the earth nose-first at over 200 mph, according to estimates by the National Transportation Safety Board and other experts." [Delaware News Journal, 9/16/01] However, by 2002 it is being reported that the plane crashed going nearly 600 mph. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 212] "It could have even broken the sound barrier for a while," says Hank Krakowski, director of flight operations control at United's system control center on Sept. 11. [New York Times, 3/27/02] The design limits of the plane are 287 mph below 10,000 feet. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 208]
September 14, 2001 (E): CBS News announces a new revelation: airplanes were scrambled before the Pentagon was hit, but they were scrambled from Langley Air Force Base - too far away to catch the plane in time. [CBS, 9/14/01] This comes after numerous officials, from the Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Myers in Congressional testimony to Vice President Cheney, state that the first planes were scrambled towards Washington only after the Pentagon was hit. [CBS News, 9/12/01, NBC Meet the Press, 9/16/01, General Myers' Senate confirmation hearing, 9/13/01] Four days later, the official NORAD timeline is changed to include this new discovery. [NORAD, 9/18/01] Which account is not true? Could the account have been changed to cover up embarrassing response delays?
September 14, 2001 (F): FBI Director Mueller describes reports that several of the hijackers had received flight training in the US as "news, quite obviously," adding: "If we had understood that to be the case, we would have -- perhaps one could have averted this." It is later discovered that contrary to Mueller's claims, the FBI had interviewed various flight school staffs about Middle Eastern terrorists on numerous occasions, from 1996 until a few weeks before 9/11 (see 1996, May 18, 1998, September 1999 (E), September 2000 (B), July 10, 2001, August 23, 2001). [Washington Post, 9/23/01, Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Three days later he says, "There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country." [Department of Justice transcript, 9/17/01] Slate magazine later contrasts this with numerous other contradictory statements and articles, and awards Mueller the "Whopper of the Week." [Slate, 5/17/02]
September 14, 2001 (G): The Director of the Air National Guard explains why jets failed to scramble towards the hijacked aircraft for so long. He says that before 1997, 100 bases defended the US, but since then the number was reduced to seven, with only two fighter planes at each base defending the entire country from external threats. [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01] However, numerous air force bases on the East Coast alone, including bases in Westfield, Massachusetts, Syracuse, New York, Hartford, Connecticut and Andrews, Virginia, claim they have battle ready fighters on alert 24 hours a day. All of these bases were better positioned to respond to the hijacker airplanes than the bases ultimately chosen. Some of these bases have websites that get changed after 9/11, erasing claims that they have battle-ready fighters on alert (for instance, see the [DCANG Home Page before and after the change]). In 1999, when golfer Payne Stewart's plane went off course, fighters were scrambled from four different bases (none of the official seven) and reached his plane in under 10 minutes. [ABC News, 10/25/99] There are numerous other examples of fighter scramblings since 1997 that seem to contradict the "only seven bases" story.
September 14, 2001 (H): Mayo Shattuck III resigns, effective immediately, as head of the Alex Brown unit of Deutschebank. No reason is given. Some speculate later this could have to do with the role of Deutschebank in the pre-9/11 purchase of put options (see September 6-10, 2001). Deutschebank is also one of the four banks most used by the bin Laden family. [New York Times, 9/15/01, Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01] FTW
September 14, 2001 (I): Some gruesome remains are discovered in the WTC ruins. Investigators find a pair of severed hands bound together with plastic handcuffs on a nearby building. They are believed to have belonged to a stewardess. [Newsday, 9/15/01] There are reports of whole rows of seats with passengers in them being found, as well as much of the cockpit of one of the planes, complete with the body of one of the hijackers, and the body of another stewardess, whose hands were tied with wire. [Ananova, 9/13/01, New York Times, 9/15/01] Yet, contradicting the claim that a hijacker's body was found, only in February 2003 are the remains of two hijackers identified (see Late February 2003). While all these bodies and plane parts are supposedly found, not one of the four black boxes for these two airplanes are ever found. A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman says: "It's extremely rare that we don't get the recorders back. I can't recall another domestic case in which we did not recover the recorders." [CBS, 2/23/02] The black boxes are considered "nearly indestructible," are placed in the safest parts of the aircraft, and are designed to survive impacts much greater than the WTC impact. They can withstand heat of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, and can withstand an impact of an incredible 3,400 G's. [ABC News, 9/17/01] Phone calls from two stewardesses on Flight 11 contradict the idea that stewardesses or anyone else had their hands tied, on that flight at least.
September 14, 2001 (J): The
Miami Herald reports, "Forty-five minutes. That's how long American Airlines
Flight 77 meandered through the air headed for the White House, its flight plan
abandoned, its radar beacon silent... Who was watching in those 45 minutes?
'That's a question that more and more people are going to ask,' said one controller
in Miami. 'What the hell went on here? Was anyone doing anything about it? Just
as a national defense thing, how are they able to fly around and no one go after
Herald, 9/14/01] In the year since this article
and a similar one in the Village Voice [Village
Voice, 9/13/01], there has been only one other US article questioning slow
fighter response times, and that article noted the strange lack of articles
on the topic. [Slate, 1/16/02]
However, some 9/11 victims' relatives continue to raise the issue (see August
13, 2002 and March
31, 2003). Why haven't "more and more people" in the media
September 14, 2001 (K): Dominick Suter, owner of the company Urban Moving Systems, flees the country to Israel. The FBI later tells ABC News that "Urban Moving may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence operation." Suter has been tied to the five Israeli agents caught filming the WTC attack. The FBI had questioned him around September 12, removing boxes of documents and a dozen computer hard drives. But when they returned a few days later, Suter is gone (see September 11, 2001 (W)). [Forward, 3/15/02, New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, 12/13/01, ABC News, 6/21/01]
September 14, 2001 (L): In interviews with the Boston Globe, flight instructors in Florida say that it was common for students with Saudi affiliations to enter the US with only cursory background checks and sometimes none. Some flight schools, including some of those attended by the hijackers, have exemptions that allow the schools to unilaterally issue paperwork that students can present at US embassies and consulates so they can obtain visas. Saudi Arabia is possibly the only Arab country with such an exemption. [Boston Globe, 9/14/01]
September 14, 2001 (M): Congress authorizes Bush to use all necessary military force against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, their sponsors, and those who protected them. [State Department, 12/26/01] In March 2003, Bush informs Congress that Iraq is being attacked for its support of 9/11, despite the lack of any evidence for such a connection (see March 20, 2003).
September 14, 2001 (N): Lawmakers emerging from briefings about the 9/11 attacks complain that they are being told virtually nothing. Says Senator John McCain (R), "We're learning more from CNN." Representative Neil Abercrombie (D), says, "You can't even begin to call these briefings." [Las Vegas Review Journal, 9/14/01] The Administration's obsession with 9/11 secrecy will lead to an FBI investigation into senators and congresspeople a year later (see August 2, 2002 (B)).
September 15, 2001: CIA Director Tenet briefs Bush "with a briefcase stuffed with top-secret documents and plans, in many respects the culmination of more than four years of work on Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda network and worldwide terrorism." In his briefing, Tenet advocates "a strategy to create 'a northern front, closing the safe haven [of Afghanistan].' His idea [is] that Afghan opposition forces, aided by the United States, would move first against the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, try to break the Taliban's grip on that city and open up the border with Uzbekistan. From there the campaign could move to other cities in the north..." Tenet also explains that CIA had begun working with a number of tribal leaders to stir up resistance in the south the previous year. In other words, the exact military strategy that eventually transpires had been prepared by the CIA over the past four years. Tenet then turns to a top secret document called the "Worldwide Attack Matrix," which describes covert operations in 80 countries that are either underway or now recommended. The actions range from routine propaganda to lethal covert action in preparation for military attacks. By comparison, the military, which is the normal planner of military campaigns, is caught relatively unprepared and defers to the CIA plans. [Washington Post, 1/31/02]
September 15, 2001 (B): The first reports of seat assignments for the hijackers on Flight 11 appear. But unlike other flights, accounts of where the hijackers sat vary widely. The first report says Wail Alshehri was in seat 2A, Waleed Alshehri in 2B, Mohamed Atta in 8D, Abdulaziz Alomari in 8G, and Satam Al Suqami in 10B. [ABC News, 9/15/01] The next day, it is reported Atta was in 8A and Alomari was in 8B. [Chicago Sun-Times, 9/16/01] The same day, it is reported that all five hijackers sat in row 8. [Portland Press Herald, 9/16/01] Flight attendant Amy Sweeney apparently telephoned the seat numbers of four of the hijackers before the plane crashed, but the exact numbers she gave have not been released. However, it is known the "numbers she gave were different from those registered in the hijackers' names." [BBC, 9/21/01] Another account suggests she said the hijackers were sitting in rows 9 and 10. [Portland Press Herald, 10/14/01] Another flight attendant, Betty Ong, also telephoned seat numbers, saying there were hijackers in seats 2A, 2B, 9A, and 9B. This is "slightly different" from Sweeney's numbers - with two hijackers in the second row instead of the 10th. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Why so much confusion, and why doesn't the US release the information needed to settle these discrepancies?
September 15-17, 2001: A series of articles suggest that at least seven of the 9/11 hijackers trained in US military bases. [New York Times, 9/15/01, Newsweek, 9/15/01] Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Alghamdi, and Saeed Alghamdi even listed the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida as their permanent address on their driver's licenses. [Pensacola News Journal, 9/17/01]. Hamza Alghamdi was also connected to the Pensacola base. [Washington Post, 9/16/01] A defense official confirms that Saeed Alghamdi is a former Saudi fighter pilot who attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01, Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] Abdulaziz Alomari attended Brooks Air Force Base Aerospace Medical School in San Antonio, Texas. [Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] A defense official confirms Atta is a former Saudi fighter pilot who graduated from the US International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01, Washington Post, 9/16/01] The media drops the story after the Air Force makes a not-very-definitive statement, saying that while the names are similar, "we are probably not talking about the same people." [Washington Post, 9/16/01] However, the military fails to provide any information about the individuals whose names supposedly match those of the alleged hijackers, making it impossible to confirm or refute the story.
September 15-November 1, 2001: Two of the largest war games in history take place during the buildup for war in Afghanistan. Both have been planned several years in advance. Operation Swift Sword 2, the biggest deployment of British troops since the Falklands War, sends 22,000 British troops to Oman, a country 200 miles from Pakistan. It runs from September 15 to October 26. [NewsAhead, 9/1/01] Meanwhile, 23,000 US troops take part in Operation Bright Star, from October 8 to November 1. In Egypt, they join 50,000 soldiers from Egypt, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Jordan and Kuwait for what is possibly the largest war game of all time. USA Today has an article called "War-games Troops May Join Real Fight" but it's unclear if that's what happened or not. [USA Today, 9/30/01] At the same time two US carrier battle groups arrive on station in the Gulf of Arabia just off the Pakistani coast. FTW Given other reports suggesting the US was planning a war in Afghanistan for mid-October, is all this troop movement towards Southwest Asia a coincidence?
September 15, 2001-April 6, 2002: On September 15, 2001, President Bush says of bin Laden: "If he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken." [Los Angeles Times, 9/16/01] Two days later, he says, "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'" [ABC News, 9/17/01] On December 28, 2001, a few weeks after the Afghanistan war ends, Bush says, "Our objective is more than bin Laden." [AP, 8/19/02] Bush's January 2002 State of the Union speech describes Iraq as part of an "axis of evil" and fails to mention bin Laden (see January 29, 2002). On March 8, 2002, Bush still vows: "We're going to find him." [Washington Post, 10/1/02] But only a few days later on March 13, Bush says, "He's a person who's now been marginalized.... I just don't spend that much time on him.... I truly am not that concerned about him." Instead, Bush is "deeply concerned about Iraq." [White House, 3/13/02] The rhetoric shift is complete when Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Myers states on April 6: "The goal has never been to get bin Laden." [Department of Defense, 4/6/02] In October 2002, the Washington Post notes that since March 2002, Bush has avoided mentioning bin Laden's name, even when asked about him directly. Bush sometimes uses questions about bin Laden to talk about Saddam Hussein instead. In late 2001, nearly two-thirds of Americans say the war on terrorism could not be called a success without bin Laden's death or capture. That number falls to 44 percent in a March 2002 poll, and the question has since been dropped. [Washington Post, 10/1/02] Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies, later points out: "There appears to be a real disconnect" between the US military's conquest of Afghanistan and "the earlier rhetoric of President Bush, which had focused on getting bin Laden." [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02]
Mid-September 2001: The Guardian later claims that Pakistani President Musharraf has a meeting of his 12 or 13 most senior officers. Musharraf proposes to support the US in the imminent war against the Taliban and bin Laden. Supposedly, four of his most senior generals oppose him outright in "a stunning display of disloyalty." The four are ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, Lt. Gen. Muzaffar Usmani, Lt. Gen. Jamshaid Gulzar Kiani, and Lt. Gen. Mohammad Aziz Khan. All four are removed from power over the next month (see October 7, 2001). If this meeting took place, it's hard to see when it could have happened, since the article states it happened "within days" of 9/11, but Mahmood was in the US until late September 16 (see September 11-16, 2001), then flew to Afghanistan for two days (see September 17-18 and 28, 2001), then possibly to Saudi Arabia (see September 19, 2001 (B)). [Guardian, 5/25/02] Why would Musharraf send Mahmood on important diplomatic missions even late in the month if he is so disloyal?
September 16, 2001: A report suggests the crash site of Flight 93 is being searched and recorded in 60 square-foot grids. [Delaware News Journal, 9/16/01] That's what the two forensic scientists in charge of the crash site wanted. They said doing so could help determine who was where when the plane crashed, and possibly how it crashed. However, almost a year later it comes out that that's not what actually happened. "The FBI overruled them, instead dividing the site into five large sectors. It would be too time-consuming to mark tight grids, and would serve no real investigative purpose, the bureau decided. There was no mystery to solve about the crash. Everybody knew what happened to the plane." [Among the Heroes, Jere Longman, 8/02, pp. 262-263] While the military may suggest there is no mystery, some articles have suggested the plane was shot down (for instance, see November 15, 2001 and August 13, 2002). Also, at the time of this decision, investigators were still considering the possibility a bomb may have destroyed the plane (see September 14, 2001).
September 16, 2001 (B): President Bush says, "Never (in) anybodys thought processes ... about how to protect America did we ever think that the evil doers would fly not one but four commercial aircraft into precious US targets... never." [NATO, 9/16/01] A month later, Paul Pillar, the former deputy director of the CIA's counter-terrorist center, says, "The idea of commandeering an aircraft and crashing it into the ground and causing high casualties, sure we've thought of it." [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01]
September 16, 2001 (C): Confirming earlier reports [Reuters, 9/13/01], bin Laden denies any involvement in the 9/11 attacks. In a statement to Al Jazeera, he states, "I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons." [CNN, 9/17/01] The US claims that he confesses his role in a role video message, but the contents of that video are highly disputed (see December 13, 2001 (B)).
September 16-23, 2001: Reports
appear in many newspapers suggesting that some of the people the US says were
9/11 hijackers are actually still alive:
1) Ahmed Alnami is still alive and working as an administrative supervisor with Saudi Arabian Airlines, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] He had never lost his passport and found it "very worrying" that his identity appeared to have been stolen. [Telegraph, 9/23/01] However, there is another Ahmed Alnami who is ten years younger, and appears to be dead, according to his father. [ABC News, 3/15/02]
2) Saeed Alghamdi is alive and flying airplanes in Tunisia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, Telegraph, 9/23/01, BBC, 9/23/01] He says he studied flight training in a Florida flight schools for parts of the years, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. [Arab News, 9/18/01]
3) Salem Alhazmi is alive and working at a petrochemical plant in Yanbou, Saudi Arabia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, Telegraph, 9/23/01] He says his passport was stolen by a pickpocket in Cairo three years ago and that pictures and details such as date of birth are of him. [Guardian, 9/21/01, Washington Post, 9/20/01, Saudi Gazette, 9/29/02]
4 and 5) The brothers Waleed M. Alshehri and Wail Alshehri are alive. A Saudi spokesman said, "This is a respectable family. I know his sons, and they're both alive." The father is a diplomat who has been stationed in the US and Bombay, India. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, Arab News, 9/19/01] There is a second pair of Saudi brothers named Wail and Waleed M. who may have been the real hijackers. Their father says they've been missing since December 2000. [ABC News, 3/15/02, Arab News, 9/17/01] The still living Waleed M. Alshehri is a pilot with Saudi Airlines, studying in Morocco. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, AP, 9/22/01] He acknowledges that he attended flight training school at Dayton Beach in the United States. [BBC, 9/23/01, Daily Trust, 9/24/01] He was interviewed by US officials in Morocco, and cleared of all charges against him (though apparently the FBI photos are still of him!). [Embry Riddle Aeronautical University press release, 9/21/01] The still living Wail Alshehri is also apparently a pilot. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] What are the odds that two Saudi terrorist brothers would find two other Saudi brothers with the same names who were pilots with one even training in Florida?
6) Abdulaziz Alomari is alive and working as a pilot for Saudi Arabian Airlines. [New York Times, 9/16/01, Independent, 9/17/01, BBC, 9/23/01] He claims that his passport was stolen in 1995 while he was living in Denver, Colorado. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] "They gave my name and my date of birth, but I am not a suicide bomber. I am here. I am alive." [Telegraph, 9/23/01, London Times, 9/20/01]
7) On September 19, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
distributes a "special alert" to its member banks asking for information
about the attackers. The list includes "Al-Midhar, Khalid. Alive."
The Justice Department later calls this a "typo." [AP,
9/20/01, Cox News, 10/21/01]
The BBC says: "There are suggestions that another
suspect, Khalid Almihdhar, may also be alive." [BBC,
9/23/01] The Guardian says Almihdhar is believed to be alive, but investigators
are looking into three possibilities. Either his name was stolen for a hijacker
alias, or he allowed his name to be used so that US officials would think he
died, or he died in the crash. [Guardian,
9/21/01] Almihdhar is wanted for other terrorist acts (see January
15, 2000), so it's not surprising he's still hard to find. There are
three official pictures of Almihdhar - one of them doesn't look at all like
the other two (see photos on left).
8) Marwan Alshehhi may be alive in Morocco. [Saudi Gazette, 9/18/01, Khaleej Times, 9/20/01] Family and neighbors don't believe he took part in the attacks. [Reuters, 9/18/01]
9) Atta's father says he spoke to his son on the phone on September 12, 2001 (see September 19, 2001 (C)).
10) No one claims that Hamza Alghamdi is still alive, but his family says the FBI photo "has no resemblance to him at all" (on the other hand, Ahmed Alnami's family says his FBI picture is correct). [Washington Post, 9/25/01]
11) Majed Moqed was last seen by a friend in Saudi Arabia in 2000. This friend claims the FBI picture doesn't look like Moqed. [Arab News, 9/22/01] There are three official pictures of Majed Moqed - one of them doesn't look at all like the other two (see photos on below right).
12) The Saudi government has claimed Mohand Alshehri is alive and was not in the US on 9/11, but no more details are known. [AP, 9/29/01]
The Saudi government insists that five of the Saudis mentioned are still alive. [New York Times, 9/21/01] On September 20, FBI Director Mueller says: "We have several others that are still in question. The investigation is ongoing, and I am not certain as to several of the others." [Newsday, 9/21/01] On September 27, after all of these revelations, FBI Director Mueller states, "We are fairly certain of a number of them." [Sun Sentinel, 9/28/01] Could it be that the bodies (and sometimes faces) in question are correct, but the names were stolen? For instance, the Telegraph notes, "The FBI had published [Saeed Alghamdi's] personal details but with a photograph of somebody else, presumably a hijacker who had "stolen" his identity. CNN, however, showed a picture of the real Mr. Alghamdi." [Telegraph, 9/23/01] Police have even determined who sold at least two of the hijackers their fake ID's. [BBC, 8/1/02] On September 20, The London Times reported, "Five of the hijackers were using stolen identities, and investigators are studying the possibility that the entire suicide squad consisted of impostors." [London Times, 9/20/01] Briefly, the press took this story to heart. For instance, a story in the Observer on September 23 put the names of hijackers like Saeed Alghamdi in quotation marks. [Observer, 9/23/01] But the story died down after the initial reports, and it was hardly noticed when Mueller stated on November 2, 2001: "We at this point definitely know the 19 hijackers who were responsible,'' and claimed that they were sticking with the names and photos released in late September. [AP, 11/03/02] Yet many of the names and photos are known to be wrong. Perhaps embarrassing facts would come out if we knew their real names, such as more terrorists who studied at military bases or were on watch lists?
September 17, 2001: Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R), who claims to have made many secret trips into Afghanistan and even fought with the mujaheddin, describes to Congress a missed opportunity to capture bin Laden. He claims that "a few years ago," he was contacted by someone he knew and trusted from the 1980s Afghan war, who claimed he could pinpoint bin Laden's location. Rohrabacher passed this information to the CIA, but found the informant wasn't contacted. After some weeks, Rohrabacher used his influence to set up a meeting with agents in the CIA, NSA and FBI. Yet even then the informant wasn't contacted, until weeks later in a "disinterested" way. Rohrabacher concludes "that our intelligence services knew about the location of bin Laden several times but were not permitted to attack him... because of decisions made by people higher up." [Speech to the House of Representatives, 9/17/01]
September 17, 2001 (B): President Bush signs a document marked "TOP SECRET" that outlines a plan for going to war in Afghanistan. The document also directs the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq. Two days after Bush signs the document, the Defense Policy Board - with Rumsfeld in attendance - meets at the Pentagon and animatedly discusses the importance of ousting Saddam Hussein (a policy Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, had advocated in 1996 for the goal of "rebuilding Zionism" (see 1996 (B)). Iraq secretly becomes a "central focus" of the US's counter-terrorism efforts over the next nine months, without much in the way of internal debate, public pronouncements or paper trail (see also September 2000, April 2001 (D) and September 11, 2001 (V)). [Washington Post, 1/12/02]
September 17, 2001 (C): A confidential FBI bulletin states a "badly damaged" commercially manufactured cigarette lighter with a concealed knife blade has been recovered at the Flight 93 crash scene. The knife was about two and three-fourths inches long, with a knife blade of about two and a half inches. [Los Angeles Times, 9/18/01] This is not a box cutter - why do investigators insist the hijackers used box cutters?
September 17, 2001 (D): Federal agents looking for Nabil al-Marabh at an old address fail to find him (see September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002), but they accidentally discover three other potential terrorists. They arrest Karim Koubriti, Ahmed Hannan, and Farouk Ali-Haimoud. They worked as dishwashers at the Detroit airport. Investigators believe they were casing the airport for possible security breaches. [Boston Globe, 11/15/02] In the apartment, the FBI discovers a day planner that includes notes about the "American base in Turkey," the "American Foreign Minister" and "Alia Airport" in Jordan. [Washington Post, 9/20/01] They believe the three were planning to assassinate ex-Defense Secretary William Cohen during a visit to Turkey. [AP, 11/17/01] A stash of false documents is also found, and all three have false passports, Social Security cards and immigration papers. [Boston Herald, 9/20/01, Boston Globe, 11/15/02] Fake documents linking al-Marabh and another terrorist named Yousef Hmimssa are also found [ABC 7, 1/31/02], as is videotaped surveillance of major tourist spots like Disneyland and the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. [Boston Globe, 11/15/02] Abel-Ilah Elmardoudi, the apparent ringleader of this group, is arrested in North Carolina in November 2002. All are to be tried on terrorist charges in 2003. [Boston Globe, 11/15/02]
September 17, 2001 (E): The New York Stock Exchange, closed since the 9/11 attacks, reopens. The economy slowly returns to normal. The attacks cause more than $20 billion in property damage to buildings in New York City and Washington. The work stoppage and other loss of economic output costs about another $47 billion, making the attacks the costliest man-made disaster in US history. [ABC News, 9/10/02]
September 17-18 and 28, 2001: On September 17, ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed heads a six-man delegation that visits Mullah Omar in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It is reported he is trying to convince Omar to extradite bin Laden or face an immediate US attack. [Press Trust of India, 9/17/01, Financial Times, 9/18/01, London Times, 9/18/01] Also in the delegation is Lt. Gen. Mohammad Aziz Khan, an ex-ISI official who appears to be one of Saeed Sheikh's contacts in the ISI (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001). [Press Trust of India, 9/17/01] On September 28, Ahmed returns to Afghanistan with a group of about 10 religious leaders. He talks with Mullah Omar, who again says he will not hand over bin Laden. [AFP, 9/28/01] A senior Taliban official later claims that on these trips Mahmood in fact urges Omar not to extradite bin Laden, but instead urges him to resist the US. [AP, 2/21/02, Time, 5/6/02] Another account claims Mahmood does "nothing as the visitors [pour] praise on Omar and [fails] to raise the issue" of bin Laden's extradition. [Knight Ridder, 11/3/01] Two Pakistani brigadier generals connected to the ISI also accompany Mahmood, and advise al-Qaeda to counter the coming US attack on Afghanistan by resorting to mountain guerrilla war. The advice is not followed. [Asia Times, 9/11/02] Other ISI officers also stay in Afghanistan to advise the Taliban (see Late September-November 2001).
September 18, 2001: The first anthrax letters are mailed out, two days after the anti-terrorism bill Patriot Act is first proposed. But the anthrax crisis won't begin until October 4 with the first confirmed sickness. [CNN, 11/18/01, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01] With only one week between 9/11 and the first mailing, doesn't it seem likely planning for the anthrax attacks began before 9/11 (see also before September 11, 2001)?
September 18, 2001 (B): The Justice Department publishes an interim regulation allowing non-citizens suspected of terrorism to be detained without charge for 48 hours or "an additional reasonable period of time" in the event of an "emergency or other extraordinary circumstance." [New York Times, 9/19/01 (C)] The new rule is used to hold hundreds indefinitely until the Patriot Act passes in October (see October 26, 2001), providing more solid grounds to hold non-citizens without charge.
19, 2001: The FBI claims that there were six
hijacking teams on the morning of 9/11. [New
York Times, 9/19/01, Guardian,
10/13/01] A different report claims investigators are privately saying eight.
9/25/01] But the reports below suggest there may have been as many as eight
aborted flights, leading to a potential total of 12 hijackings:
1) Knives of the same type used in the successful hijackings were found taped to the backs of fold-down trays on a Continental Airlines flight from Newark. [Guardian, 9/19/01]
2) The FBI is investigating American Airlines Flight 43, which left Boston about 8:10 a.m. bound for Los Angeles and was canceled minutes before takeoff due to a mechanical problem. [BBC, 9/18/01, Chicago Tribune, 9/18/01, Guardian, 9/19/01] Another version claims the flight left from Newark and made it as far as Cincinnati before being grounded in the nationwide air ban. [New York Times, 9/19/01]
3 and 4) Knives and box cutters were found on two separate canceled Delta Airlines planes later that day, one leaving Atlanta for Brussels and the other leaving from Boston. [Time, 9/22/01, Independent, 9/25/01]
5) On September 14, two knives were found on an Air Canada flight that would have flown to New York on 9/11 if not for the air ban. [CNN, 10/15/01]
6) Two men arrested on 9/11 may have lost their nerve on American Airlines Flight 1729 from Newark to San Antonio via Dallas that was scheduled to depart at 8:50, and was later forced to land in St. Louis. Alternately, they may have been planning an attack for September 15 (see September 11, 2001 (K)) [New York Times, 9/19/01]
7) There may have been an attempt to hijack United Airlines Flight 23 flying from Boston to Los Angeles around 9:00 a.m. Three Middle Eastern men angrily refused to get off the plane when it was canceled, then escaped security (see September 11, 2001 (I)).
8) Knives were found stashed in the seats on a plane due to leave Boston that was delayed due to technical problems and then canceled. [Guardian, 10/13/01] Note this might be the same as one of the Delta flights.
9) A box cutter knife was found under a seat cushion on American Airlines Flight 160, a 767 that would have flown from San Diego to New York on the morning of 9/11 but for the air ban. [Chicago Tribune, 9/23/01]
The FBI is said to be seeking a number of passengers who failed to board the same, rescheduled flights when the grounding order on commercial planes in the US was lifted. [BBC, 9/18/01] The Independent points out suspicions have been fueled "that staff at US airports may have played an active role in the conspiracy and helped the hijackers to circumvent airport security." They also note, "It is possible that at least some of the flights that have come under scrutiny were used as decoys, or as fallback targets." [Independent, 9/25/01] Doesn't all of this contradict the official story that the hijackers walked on board with their weapons, which were chosen because they were technically legal?
September 19, 2001 (B): According to the private intelligence service Intelligence Online, a secret meeting between fundamentalist supporters in Saudi Arabia and the ISI takes place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on this day. Crown Prince Abdullah, the defacto ruler of Saudi Arabia (see Late 1995), and Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, the new head of Saudi intelligence (see August 31, 2001), meet with Gen. Mohamed Youssef, head of the ISI's Afghanistan Section, and ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (just returning from discussions in Afghanistan (see September 17-18 and 28, 2001)). They agree "to the principle of trying to neutralize Osama Bin Laden in order to spare the Taliban regime and allow it to keep its hold on Afghanistan." There has been no confirmation that this meeting in fact took place, but if it did, its goals were unsuccessful. [Intelligence Online, 10/4/01] There may have been a similar meeting before 9/11 (see Summer 2001 (F)).
September 19, 2001 (C): Atta's father holds a press conference in Cairo and makes a number of surprising claims. He believes that the Mossad did the 9/11 attacks, and stole his son's identity. He claims that Atta was a mamas boy prone to airsickness, a dedicated architecture student who rarely mentioned politics, and a victim of an intricate framing. He says that Atta spoke to him on the phone on September 12 about "normal things," one day after he was supposed to be dead. Atta called his family about once a month, yet never told them he was in the US, continuing to say he was studying in Germany. Atta's family never saw him after 1999, and Atta canceled a trip in late 2000. His father even shows a picture of his son, claiming he looks similar but not the same as the terrorist Atta. [Newsweek, 9/24/01, New York Times, 9/19/01, Chicago Tribune, 9/20/01] He also says that the man pictured in published photos from an airport surveillance camera had a heavier build than his son. [Cairo Times, 9/20/01] A year later, he still believes his son is alive. [Guardian, 9/2/02]
September 19, 2001 (D): The first draft of what will later be called the Patriot Act is introduced to Congress. [Anti-Terrorism Act, 9/19/01] However, due to Congressional opposition of its broad powers, the act is revised and reintroduced on October 2 (see October 2, 2001 (B)). [Houston Chronicle, 10/7/01] Given that it normally takes months to prepare a large piece of legislation hundreds of pages long, was this act being prepared before 9/11?
September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002: Nabil al-Marabh is arrested on September 19, 2001 at an Illinois convenience store. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] He has an extensive history of criminal behavior and al-Qaeda connections (see 1989-May 2000, May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001, 2001 (C) and September 17, 2001 (D)), and was even being investigated for connections with two 9/11 hijackers before 9/11 (see Spring 2001 (B)). In early 2002, Canadian authorities call him "a senior al-Qaeda planner and money man who may have played a direct role in the Sept. 11 attacks." [Toronto Sun, 1/13/02] FBI investigators claim al-Marabh helped the hijackers get false IDs, and helped launder money for al-Qaeda. [ABC 7, 1/31/02] But the Canadian investigation is closed down by the end of 2001, supposedly due to a lack of funding. [Toronto Sun, 1/13/02] The US also decides not to charge al-Marabh on any terrorism related charge. Instead, on September 3, 2002, Nabil al-Marabh pleads guilty to illegally entering the US, and is sentenced to 8 months in prison. [Chicago Sun-Times, 9/5/02] Federal prosecutors then drop a warrant against him, clearing him to be deported to Syria. [AP, 1/29/03] Canada also isn't attempting to extradite al-Marabh for jumping bail in July 2001. [Southam Newspapers, 8/16/02] Federal prosecutors claim that "at this time" there is no evidence "of any involvement by [al-Marabh] in any terrorist organization," even though he has admitted to getting weapons training in Afghanistan. [Washington Post, 9/4/02] The judge says he cannot say "in good conscience" that he approves of the plea bargain worked out between the prosecution and defense, but he seems unable to stop it. He says, "Something about this case makes me feel uncomfortable. I just don't have a lot of information." The judge has a number of unanswered questions, such as how al-Marabh had $22,000 in cash and $25,000 worth of amber jewels on his possession when he was arrested, despite holding only a sporadic series of low-paying jobs. "These are the things that kind of bother me. It's kind of unusual, isn't it?" says the judge. [National Post, 9/4/02] The media fails to bring up all the previously reported connections between al-Marabh and al-Qaeda. It is instead suggested he is a victim of civil rights discrimination. [Toronto Star, 9/9/02] Are the US and Canada letting an important terrorist go free? Could this have to do with his boasts before 9/11 of ties to the FBI (see May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001)?
September 19, 2001-October
20, 2002: The coverage of whether a purported meeting between Atta and an
Iraqi spy named Ahmed al-Ani took place in Prague, Czech Republic (see April
8, 2001) has changed repeatedly over time (a Slate article also outlines
many of the twists and turns of this story [Slate,
1) September 19: It is first reported that a meeting took place; Atta is named later. [Los Angeles Times, 9/19/01, CNN, 10/11/01]
2) October 20: The story is denied. [New York Times, 10/20/01]
3) October 27: The story is confirmed. [New York Times, 10/27/01]
4) October 27: It is claimed Atta met with Iraqi agents four times in Prague, plus in Germany, Spain, and Italy. [London Times, 10/27/01]
5) November 12: Columnist William Safire calls the meeting an "undisputed fact." [New York Times, 11/12/01]
6) December 9: Vice President Cheney calls the meeting "pretty well confirmed." [Washington Post, 12/9/01]
7) December 16: The identities of both al-Ani and Atta are disputed. [New York Times, 12/16/01]
8) January 12, 2002: It is claimed at least two meetings took place, including one a year earlier. [Telegraph, 1/12/02]
9) February 6: It's reported that the meeting probably took place, but wasn't connected to the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 2/6/02]
10) March 15: Evidence for the meeting is considered between "slim" and "none." [Washington Post, 3/15/02]
11) March 18: William Safire strongly asserts the meeting took place. [New York Times, 3/18/02]
12) April 28 - May 2: The meeting is largely discredited. [Newsweek, 4/28/02, Washington Post, 5/1/02, New York Times, 5/2/02]
13) May 8: Some Czech officials continue to affirm the meeting took place. [Prague Post, 5/8/02]
14) May 9: William Safire refuses to give up the story, claiming a "protect-Saddam cabal" in the high levels of the US government is burying the story. [New York Times, 5/9/02]
15) July 15: The head of Czech foreign intelligence calls the meeting unproved and implausible. [Prague Post, 7/15/02]
16) August 2: With a war against Iraq growing more likely, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer suggests the meeting did happen, "despite deep doubts by the CIA and FBI." [Los Angeles Times, 8/2/02]
17) August 19: Newsweek states: "The sole evidence for the alleged meeting is the uncorroborated claim of a Czech informant." It claims that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is nonetheless pushing the FBI to have the meeting accepted as fact. [Newsweek, 8/19/02]
18) September 10: The Bush administration is no longer pushing the meeting. [Washington Post, 9/10/02]
19) September 17: Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld "accept reports from Czech diplomats" that the meeting took place. [USA Today, 9/17/02]
20) September 23: Newsweek reports that the CIA is resisting Pentagon demands to get pictures of the meeting from Iraqi exiles. One official says: "We do not shy away from evidence. But we also dont make it up." [Newsweek, 9/23/02]
21) October 6: Bush gives a big speech about why the US should attack Iraq. Slate notes if Bush had evidence linking Iraq to 9/11, "this was his last plausible chance to divulge it. He didn't." [Slate, 10/7/02]
22) A poll taken between October 2-6 shows 66% of Americans believe Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks (see also January 12, 2003). [Reuters, 10/10/02] On October 10, Congress passes a resolution authorizing Bush to declare war on Iraq. [AP, 10/11/02]
23) October 20: This story seemingly ends when Czech officials, including the President Vaclav Havel, conclusively deny the meeting, suggesting the entire story was made up by one unreliable source well after 9/11, and after stories in the press that Atta had traveled to Prague. It now appears Atta wasn't even in the Czech Republic during the month the meeting was supposed to have taken place. President Havel told Bush the meeting didn't happen "quietly some time earlier this year." [UPI, 10/20/02, New York Times, 10/21/02] Why did Bush wait to reveal this information until after the Congressional vote for war with Iraq? Considering the way this meeting has seemingly been used as a political football, how can other reporting on the 9/11 story be trusted? Even though the story is seemingly discredited, some "war hawks," such as Bush advisor Richard Perle, continue to maintain that the meeting took place. [CBS, 12/8/02]
September 20, 2001:
Bush announces the new cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security, to be led
by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. [AP,
8/19/02] Ridge later becomes secretary of a
new Homeland Security Department (see November
25, 2002). Accepting the
post, Ridge says, "Liberty is the most precious gift we offer our citizens."
Responding to this comment, the Village Voice opines, "Could
Tom Ridge have said anything scarier or more telling as he accepted the post
of homeland security czar? Trying to strike the bell of liberty, he sounds its
death knell, depicting government not as the agent of the people's will, but
as an imperious power with the authority to give us our democratic freedoms.
Which means, of course, that it can also take them away." [Village
September 20, 2001 (B): President Bush states: "Either you are with us, or you are against us. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." [White House, 9/20/01] Shortly thereafter, Bush says: "As far as the Saudi Arabians go, they've been nothing but cooperative," and "[Am] I pleased with the actions of Saudi Arabia? I am." However, several experts continue to claim Saudi Arabia is being "completely unsupportive" and is giving "zero cooperation" to the 9/11 investigation. Saudi Arabia refuses to help the US trace the names and other background information on the 15 Saudi hijackers. One former US official says, "They knew that once we started asking for a few traces the list would grow.... It's better to shut it down right away." [Los Angeles Times, 10/13/01, New Yorker, 10/16/01] The Saudi government continues to be uncooperative, and the US government continues to downplay this (see Early December 2001 (B), November 2002 and November 26, 2002).
September 20, 2001 (C): The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publicly publishes a letter to President Bush, advising him to quickly conquer Iraq (see also January 26, 1998). "Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism." They also demand that Iran and Syria cease all support of Hezbollah, and state that if they fail to do so, the US should "retaliate" against those two countries as well. The letter also praises Israel as "Americas staunchest ally against international terrorism." [PNAC, 9/20/01] The next day, the Los Angeles Times notes that there is an internal battle inside the Bush Administration about launching a war against Iraq. On one side are Secretary of State Powell and his allies, who argue that al-Qaeda needs to be defeated first. On the other side is the "string of Perles" - Richard Perle, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and their allies, who argue that Iraq shouldn't wait. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01 (C)] The latter side eventually wins the argument.
September 20, 2001 (D): Bush meets with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. [State Department, 12/26/01] According to a former British ambassador to Washington, Bush tells Blair he wants to attack Iraq immediately, but Blair convinces him that Afghanistan should be attacked first. [BBC, 4/3/03] While interesting in suggesting that Bush wanted to attack Iraq before there was any evidence connecting it to al-Qaeda, this account conflicts with evidence that the US had plans before 9/11 to attack Afghanistan by mid-October 2001 (see July 21, 2001 and September 9, 2001 (F)). This is the same day the Project for the New American Century publishes a letter urging Bush to attack Iraq immediately (see September 20, 2001 (C)).
September 21, 2001: A secret report to NATO allies says the US privately wants to hear allied views on "post-Taliban Afghanistan after the liberation of the country." However, the US is publicly claiming it has no intentions to overthrow the Taliban. [Guardian, 9/21/01] For instance, four days later, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer denies that military actions there are "designed to replace one regime with another." [State Department, 12/26/01]
September 21, 2001 (B): Lotfi Raissi, an Algerian pilot living in Britain, is arrested and accused of helping to train four of the hijackers. An FBI source says, "We believe he is by far the biggest find we have had so far. He is of crucial importance to us." [Las Vegas Review Journal, 9/29/01] However, in April 2002 a judge dismisses all charges against him. Raissi later says he will sue the British and American governments unless he is given a "widely publicized apology" for his months in prison and the assumption of "guilty until proven innocent." [Reuters, 8/14/02] US officials originally said, "They had video of him with Hani Hanjour, who allegedly piloted the plane that crashed into the Pentagon; records of phone conversations between the two men; evidence that they had flown a training plane together; and evidence that Raissi had met several of the hijackers in Las Vegas. It turned out, the British court found, that the video showed Raissi with his cousin, not Mr. Hanjour, that Raissi had mistakenly filled in his air training logbook and had never flown with Hanjour, and that Raissi and the hijackers were not in Las Vegas at the same time. The US authorities never presented any phone records showing conversations between Raissi and Hanjour. ... It appears that in this case the US authorities handed over all the information they had...." [Christian Science Monitor, 3/27/02] Did the US fabricate or exaggerate evidence in an attempt to get a conviction, and if so, what does this say about other facts about the hijackers and their associates?
September 21, 2001 (C): A published account of flight attendant Madeline Amy Sweeney's phone conversation from hijacked Flight 11 appears to contradict the official account. She reports four hijackers, not the official five, and the seat numbers she gave do not correspond with the ones in the official version. This discrepancy still has not been explained. A later, fuller account of her call adds even more curious details (see July 18, 2002). [BBC, 9/21/01]
September 21, 2001 (D): A report suggests: "Federal investigators may have video footage of the deadly terrorist attack on the Pentagon. A security camera atop a hotel close to the Pentagon may have captured dramatic footage of the hijacked Boeing 757 airliner as it slammed into the western wall of the Pentagon. Hotel employees sat watching the film in shock and horror several times before the FBI confiscated the video as part of its investigation. It may be the only available video of the attack. The Pentagon has told broadcast news reporters that its security cameras did not capture the crash. The attack occurred close to the Pentagon's heliport, an area that normally would be under 24-hour security surveillance, including video monitoring." [Gertz File, 9/21/01] In a later report, an employee at a gas station across the street from the Pentagon that services only military personnel says the gas station's security cameras should have recorded the moment of impact. However, he says, "I've never seen what the pictures looked like. The FBI was here within minutes and took the film." [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/11/01] A later release of five tiny and grainy images of the crash from a Pentagon security camera shows the government's claim that no security cameras captured the crash was untrue (see March 7, 2002). If there is nothing to hide about the Pentagon crash, why don't they release the footage of it?
September 21, 2001 (E): Congress approves a $15 billion federal aid package for the battered US airline industry, and sets up a government fund to compensate 9/11 victims' relatives. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/01] But relatives are only allowed to sue terrorists, and if they sue anyone else, they are not entitled to any compensation money (see also August 23, 2002). The law also limits the airlines' liability to the limits of their insurance coverage - around $1.5 billion per plane. [Los Angeles Times, 1/17/02] Nevertheless, many later sue important Saudi Arabians (see August 15, 2002) and the Port Authority, owner of the WTC (see September 10, 2002).
September 21 or 22, 2001: Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi citizen studying at Aston University Business School in Birmingham, Britain, is taken into custody by British authorities working with the FBI. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/27/01, Washington Post, 12/29/01] It has been claimed al-Bayoumi befriended hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in San Diego, California and helped them socially and financially (see November 1999 (B)) until moving to Britain two months before 9/11. [MSNBC, 11/27/02] During a search of al-Bayoumi's apartment (which includes ripping up the floorboards), the FBI finds the names and phone numbers of two employees of the Saudi embassy's Islamic Affairs Department. [Newsweek, 11/24/02] "There was a link there," a Justice Department official says, adding that the FBI interviewed the employees and "that was the end of that, in October or November of 2001." The official adds: "I don't know why he had those names." Nail al-Jubeir, chief spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington, says al-Bayoumi "called [the numbers] constantly." [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] At the time of the questioning, the FBI strongly suspects al-Bayoumi has financial connections to the Saudi royal family and may have given some of that money to the hijackers (see November 22, 2002). However, the FBI accepts his story that he met Alhazmi and Almihdhar by coincidence and he is "released after a week without charge." [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02, Newsweek, 11/24/02] British intelligence officials are frustrated that the FBI failed to give them information that would have enabled them to keep al-Bayoumi in custody longer then the seven days allowed under British anti-terrorism laws. [San Diego Channel 10, 10/25/01] Even FBI officials in San Diego appear to have not been told of al-Bayoumi's arrest by FBI officials in Britain until after he is released. British officials anonymously suggest al-Bayoumi must have turned informant because "giving financial aid to terrorists is a very serious offense and there is no way [the FBI] would have let him go scot-free." [Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] A San Diego FBI agent later secretly testifies that supervisors have failed to act on evidence connecting to a Saudi money trail (see October 9, 2002). Could this be part of what he is referring to? Al-Bayoumi returns to his studies at Aston and is still there two months later, and yet still is not rearrested. [Washington Post, 12/29/01] Another report says al-Bayoumi is living in Britain as of October 2002, [Newsweek, 10/29/02] but he disappears by the time he reenters the news a month later (see November 22, 2002). Al-Bayoumi's quick release is in sharp contrast to that of hundreds of US Muslims who are held anonymously for many months after 9/11 despite having no connections to terrorism of any kind (see October 20, 2001).
September 22, 2001-December 2001: Witnesses begin to report US military planes secretly landing at night in the Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The US, Tajik, and Uzbek governments initially deny that any US troops have been sent there. [Telegraph, 9/23/01, AP, 9/25/01 (D)] By October 5, witnesses say a "huge military buildup" has already occurred. [Telegraph, 10/4/01] On October 7, the US and Uzbekistan sign a secret agreement that reportedly is "a long-term commitment to advance security and regional stability." [Financial Times, 10/13/01] It is later reported that the US military bases here, "originally agreed as temporary and emergency expedients, are now permanent." [Guardian, 1/16/02] The US begins building a military base in the nearby country of Kyrgyzstan in December 2001. "There are no restrictions" in the agreement on what the US can do with this base, and it will be a "transportation hub" for the whole region. [New York Times, 1/9/02] The base is only 200 miles from China. [Christian Science Monitor, 1/17/02] The building of these bases is the culmination of efforts begun long before 9/11 (see 1998 (B), Early 2000, September 2000 (D) , and May 16, 2001).
September 23, 2001: European law enforcement experts claim that numerous links tie major Muslim terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, with international organized crime groups. For approximately the last decade, mutually benefiting strong ties have developed between the two groups. Organized crime launders an estimated $900 billion a year, some of it from terrorist groups. France's chief financial crime prosecutor: "The nerve center of war is money... Without money, terrorist networks do not exist. They can't finance their operations overseas or purchase arms." Terrorist groups are also deeply involved in the international narcotics trade. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/23/01]
September 23, 2001 (B): The first of many mainstream articles ridiculing 9/11 "conspiracy theories" is published (see also September 12, 2002). [Independent, 9/23/01] Early articles of this type generally deride Middle Eastern views blaming Israel. [AP, 10/3/01 (C), Washington Post, 10/13/01, Dallas Morning News, 11/19/01] Later articles mostly deride Western theories blaming Bush, and criticize the internet and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see April 11, 2002) for spreading these ideas. [Chicago Sun-Times, 2/8/02, ABC News, 4/17/02, Orlando Sentinel, 5/18/02, Toronto Sun, 5/19/02] The title of one article, "Conspiracy Nuts Feed On Calamity," expresses the general tone of these articles. [Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 5/22/02] An Ottawa Citizen article mockingly includes a Do-It-Yourself Conspiracy Theory section, where you can fill in the blanks for your own personal 9/11 theory. The article calls 9/11 conspiracy theories "delirious," "dangerous," and "viruses," while admitting that "it's true that some of the events surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks are hard to explain." [Ottawa Citizen, 9/1/02] Another article discredits theories that oil was a motive for the US to attack Afghanistan by interspersing them with theories that space aliens were behind the 9/11 attacks. [Telegraph, 9/5/02]
24, 2001: The US freezes the accounts of 27 individuals and organizations,
alleging that they had channeled money to al-Qaeda.
Included in the list is Mamoun Darkazanli (see September
20, 1998). US officials say Darkazanli took part in a 1996 attack on
government troops in Saudi Arabia. According to German investigators, Darkazanli
attended the wedding several years ago of Said Bahaji. [New
York Times, 9/29/01] The German government
also freezes accounts connected to Darkazanli on October 2, 2001. Both governments
suspect Darkazanli of providing financial and logistical support to the Hamburg
al-Qaeda cell. [AFP,
10/28/01] Shortly thereafter, Spanish police listening in to Barakat Yarkas'
telephone hear Yarkas warn the leader of a Syrian extremist organization that
Darkazanli has caught the "flu" going around. [Chicago
Tribune, 11/17/02] But despite Darkazanli's
obvious ties to terrorists, and although he is still openly living in Germany,
he has not been arrested.
September 24, 2001 (B): Fox News claims that up to 12 other Middle Eastern men dressed in pilot uniforms were on other flights scheduled to take off on the morning of 9/11. Hijackings on all these flights were foiled when an unexpected ban on new flights prevented them from taking off. An FBI source says they had been invited into the cockpits under the impression that they were guest pilots from other airlines. It is standard practice to give guest pilots the spare seat in the cockpit known as the jump seat (see November 23, 2001). [Fox News, 9/24/01] Flight 93's cockpit voice recording has apparently shown that "one of the four hijackers had been invited into the cockpit area before the flight took off." Many pilot uniforms had gone missing prior to 9/11 (see September 1, 2001 (approx.)). Atta was given a guided tour of Boston's Logan Airport the week before 9/11 when he turned up in a pilot uniform saying he was with Saudi Airlines. [Herald Sun, 9/25/01]
September 24, 2001-December
26, 2002: In 2000, the 9/11 hijackers receive money from a man using "Mustafa
Ahmed Al-Hisawi" and other aliases (see June
29, 2000-September 18, 2000). On September 8-11, 2001, the hijackers
send money to a man in the United Arab Emirates who uses the aliases "Mustafa
Ahmed," "Mustafa Ahmad," and "Ahamad Mustafa" (see
September 8-11, 2001).
Soon the media begins reporting on who this 9/11 "paymaster" is, but
his reported names and identities will continually change.
The media has sometimes made the obvious connection that the paymaster is the
British man Saeed Sheikh, a financial expert who studied at the London School
of Economics (see June 1993-October
1994), who undisputedly sent hijacker Mohamed Atta money the month before
(see Early August 2001 (D)),
was making frequent trips at the time to Dubai, where the money is sent, and
is also known to have trained the hijackers (see January
1, 2000-September 11, 2001). But the FBI
consistently deflects attention onto other possible explanations, with a highly
confusing series of names vaguely similar to Mustafa Ahmed or Saeed Sheikh.
Could they be ignoring the real Saeed because of his
connections to the Pakistani ISI?
1) September 24, 2001: Newsweek reports that the paymaster for the 9/11 attacks is someone named "Mustafa Ahmed." [Newsweek, 9/24/01] This refers to Mustafa Mahmoud Said Ahmed, an Egyptian al-Qaeda banker who was captured in Tanzania in 1998 then later released. [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/28/01, Newsday, 10/3/01]
2) October 1, 2001: It is reported that the real name of "Mustafa Mohamed Ahmad" is "Sheikh Saeed." [Guardian, 10/1/01] A few days later, CNN confirms that this "Sheik Syed" is the British man Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh rescued in 1999 (see December 24-31, 1999). [CNN, 10/6/01, CNN, 10/8/01] But starting on October 8, the story that ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed ordered Saeed to give Mohamed Atta $100,000 begins to break (see October 7, 2001). References to the 9/11 paymaster being the British Saeed Sheikh (and the connections to Mahmood) suddenly disappear from the Western media (with one exception [CNN, 10/28/01]).
3) October, 2001: Other articles continue to use "Mustafa Mohammed Ahmad" or "Shaykh Saiid" with no details of his identity, except for suggestions that he is Egyptian. There are numerous spelling variations and conflicting accounts over which name is the alias. [Evening Standard, 10/1/01, BBC, 10/1/01, Newsday, 10/3/01, AP, 10/6/01, Washington Post, 10/7/01, Sunday Times, 10/7/01, Knight Ridder, 10/9/01, New York Times, 10/15/01, Los Angeles Times, 10/20/01]
4) October 16, 2001: CNN reports that the 9/11 paymaster "Sheik Sayid" is mentioned in a May 2001 trial of al-Qaeda members. But this turns out to be a Kenyan named Sheik Sayyid el Masry. [CNN, 10/16/01, Trial Transcript, 2/20/01, Trial Transcript, 2/21/01]
5) November 11, 2001: The identity of 9/11 paymaster "Mustafa Ahmed" is suddenly no longer Egyptian, but is now a Saudi named Sa'd Al-Sharif who is said to be bin Laden's brother-in-law. [Newsweek, 11/11/01, United Nations, 3/8/01, AP, 12/18/01]
6) December 11, 2001: The federal indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui calls the 9/11 paymaster "Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi a/k/a 'Mustafa Ahmed,'" and gives him Sa'd's nationality and birthdate. [MSNBC, 12/11/01] Many articles begin adding "al-Hawsawi" to the Mustafa Ahmed name. [Washington Post, 12/13/01, Washington Post, 1/7/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02]
7) January 23, 2002: As new information is reported in India (see December 7, 2001), the media returns to the British Saeed Sheikh as the 9/11 paymaster. [Los Angeles Times, 1/23/02, Telegraph, 1/24/02, Independent, 1/24/02, Telegraph, 1/27/02] While his role in the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl is revealed on February 6, many articles connect him to 9/11, but many more do not (see February 6, 2002). Coverage of Saeed's 9/11 connections generally dies out by the time of his trial in July 2002 (see July 15, 2002).
8) June 4, 2002: Without explanation, the name "Shaikh Saiid al-Sharif" begins to be used for the 9/11 paymaster, presumably a combination of Saeed Sheikh and S'ad al-Sharif. [AP, 6/4/02, AP, 6/5/02, Independent, 9/15/02, AP, 9/26/02, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/15/02] Many of the old names continue to be used, however. [New York Times, 7/10/02, Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02, Washington Post, 9/11/02, Los Angeles Times, 12/24/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, Knight Ridder, 9/8/02, Knight Ridder, 9/9/02, Time, 8/4/02]
9) June 18, 2002: FBI Director Mueller testifies that the money sent in 2000 is sent by someone named "Ali Abdul Aziz Ali" but the money in 2001 is sent by "Shaikh Saiid al-Sharif." The "Aziz Ali" name has not been mentioned again by the press or FBI (outside of coverage of this testimony in September 2002). [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]
10) September 4, 2002: Newsweek says "Mustafa Ahmad Adin Al-Husawi," presumably Saudi, is a deputy to the Egyptian "Sayyid Shaikh Al-Sharif." But it adds he "remains almost a total mystery," and they're unsure of his name. [Newsweek, 9/4/02]
11) December 26, 2002: US officials now say there is no such person as Shaikh Saiid al-Sharif. Instead, he is probably a composite of three different people: "[Mustafa Ahmed] Al-Hisawi; Shaikh Saiid al-Masri, al-Qaeda's finance chief, and Saad al-Sharif, bin Laden's brother-in-law and a midlevel al-Qaeda financier." [AP, 12/26/02] Shaikh Saiid al-Masri is likely a reference the Kenyan Sheik Sayyid el Masry. Note that now al-Hisawi is the assistant to Shaikh Saiid, a flip from a few months before.
Saiid and/or al-Hisawi still haven't been added to the FBI's official most wanted lists. [London Times, 12/1/01, Wall Street Journal, 6/17/02, FBI Most Wanted Terrorists] Despite the confusion, the FBI isn't even seeking information about them. [FBI Seeking Information] Over a year after 9/11, the FBI's understanding of 9/11's financing is in disarray. Perhaps this is because they have yet to interrogate the real paymaster, Saeed Sheikh, who is sitting in a Pakistani prison. [Indian Express, 7/19/02]
September 25, 2001: As details of the passengers on the four hijacked flights emerge, some are shown to have curious connections to the defense company Raytheon, and possibly its Global Hawk pilotless aircraft program (see 1998 (D) and August 2001). Stanley Hall (Flight 77) was director of program management for Raytheon Electronics Warfare. One Raytheon colleague calls him "our dean of electronic warfare." [AP, 9/25/01] Peter Gay (Flight 11) was Raytheon's Vice President of Operations for Electronic Systems and had been on special assignment to a company office in El Segundo, Calif. [AP, 9/25/01] Raytheon's El Segundo's Electronic Systems division is one of two divisions making the Global Hawk. [ISR Journal, 3/02] Kenneth Waldie (Flight 11) was a senior quality control engineer for Raytheon's electronic systems. David Kovalcin (Flight 11) was a senior mechanical engineer for Raytheon's electronic systems. [CNN, 9/01] Herbert Homer (Flight 175) was a corporate executive working with the Department of Defense. [CNN, 9/01, Northeastern University Voice, 12/11/01] Raytheon employees with possible links to Global Hawk can be connected to three of the four flights? There may be more, since many of the passengers' jobs and personal information have remained anonymous. A surprising number of passengers, especially on Flight 77, have military connections. For instance, William E. Caswell was a Navy scientist whose work was so classified that his family knew very little about what he did each day. Says his mother, "You just learn not to ask questions." [Chicago Tribune, 9/16/01] Could these Raytheon employees have been on board to activate Global Hawk technology, or make sure it worked?
September 26, 2001: New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani bans all photographs at the WTC site, unless explicitly approved by the Police Commissioner. A statement said the ban was because the ruins were a crime scene. [AP, 9/27/01] Why can't people take any pictures of piles of rubble? This ban is apparently repealed some point in 2002.
September 26, 2001 (B): Press Secretary Ari Fleischer warns, "There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do...." [AP, 9/26/01 (C)] Fleischer was responding to comments made by Bill Maher, the host of the discussion/comedy show Politically Incorrect. Maher said the hijackers were not cowards but that it was cowardly for the US to launch cruise missiles on targets thousands of miles away. [New York Times, 9/28/01 (B)] Many advertisers and affiliate stations pull their support of the show in response. [Washington Post, 9/29/01 (B)] ABC cancels Maher's show at the end of its season because of the controversy. [Toronto Star, 6/26/02] Several journalists are fired around the same time for criticizing Bush. Fleischer's comments and the general chill on free speech are widely criticized by major newspapers (for instance, [New York Times, 9/29/01 (B), Washington Post, 9/29/01 (B), Dallas Morning News, 10/4/01].)
September 27, 2001: The Wall Street Journal notes that the bin Laden family could profit from the 9/11 attacks. They had invested in the Carlyle Group, a well-connected Washington merchant bank specializing in buyouts of defense and aerospace companies that had done very well since 9/11. The Carlyle Group is noted for its connections with George Bush Sr. and other members of his administration. The bin Ladens invested $2 million in Carlyle back in 1995, but the Wall Street Journal speculates that they have invested much more. [Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01] On October 27, 2001, the bin Laden family divests their known $2 million investment in light of bad publicity. However it isn't known what became of any additional investments they may have had in Carlyle. [Washington Post, 10/27/01]
September 27, 2001 (B): The Sydney Morning Herald discusses the connections between the CIA and Pakistan's ISI, and the ISI's long-standing control over the Taliban. Drugs are a big part of their operation: "opium cultivation and heroin production in Pakistan's northern tribal belt and adjoining Afghanistan were a vital offshoot of the ISI-CIA cooperation. It succeeded in turning some of the Soviet troops into addicts. Heroin sales in Europe and the US, carried out through an elaborate web of deception, transport networks, couriers and payoffs, offset the cost of the decade-long war in Afghanistan." [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/27/01]
September 28, 2001: The text of a handwritten, five-page document found in Atta's luggage is made public. [Complete text here: Observer, 9/30/01] The next day, the Independent strongly questions if the note is genuine. It points out the "note suggests an almost Christian view of what the hijackers might have felt" and is filled with "weird" comments that Muslims would never say, such as "the time of fun and waste is gone." If the note "is genuine, then the [hijackers] believed in a very exclusive version of Islam - or were surprisingly unfamiliar with their religion." [Independent, 9/29/01] Another copy of the document was discovered in a vehicle parked by a Flight 77 hijacker at Washington's Dulles airport. A third copy of essentially the same document was found in the wreckage of Flight 93. So the letter neatly ties most of the hijackers together. [CBS, 9/28/01] The Guardian says, "The finds are certainly very fortunate, though some might think them a little too fortunate." [Guardian, 10/1/01] Interestingly, an FBI affidavit of the contents of Atta's baggage written on September 14 and released on October 4 completely fails to mention the how-to letter. Is this an oversight, or is the letter a forgery?
September 29, 2001: $2.5 million in put options on American Airlines and United Airlines are reported unclaimed. This is likely the result of the suspension in trading on the New York Stock Exchange after the attacks which gave the SEC time to be waiting if the owners showed up to redeem their put options (see September 6-10, 2001). [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/29/01] FTW
September 29, 2001 (B): It is reported that Boston's Logan Airport doesn't have any video cameras in its terminals, gate areas or concourses. It is possibly the only major airport in the US to not have such cameras. The two other airports used by the hijackers to launch the 9/11 attacks had security cameras, but none of the footage has been released. [Boston Herald, 9/29/01] It was previously reported that FBI agents had "examined footage from dozens of cameras at the three airports where the terrorists boarded the aircraft." [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01]
September 29-30, 2001: Police in the Midwest stop six men carrying suspicious documents. They possess photos and descriptions of a nuclear power plant in Florida and the Trans-Alaska pipeline, and also have "box cutters and other equipment." All six have Israeli passports. They are let released the same day after their passports are shown to be valid, but before anyone interviews them. The FBI is reportedly furious about their release. [Miami Herald, 10/3/01, Knight Ridder, 10/31/01, London Times, 11/2/01] The six men may have been Mossad agents. In addition to snooping on the DEA and Muslim terrorists, some Mossad agents in the "art student" spy ring have been caught trying to break into military bases and other top secret facilities. [Salon, 5/7/02] Perhaps they were gathering information, not planning a hijack?
Late September 2001: Sibel Edmonds is hired as a Middle Eastern languages translator for the FBI. As she later tells CBS's 60 Minutes, she immediately encounters a pattern of deliberate failure in her translation department. Her boss says, "Let the documents pile up so we can show it and say that we need more translators and expand the department." She claims that if she wasn't slowing down enough, her supervisor would delete her work. Meanwhile, FBI agents working on the 9/11 investigation would call and ask for urgently needed translations. Senator Charles Grassley (R) says of her charges, "Shes credible and the reason I feel shes very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story." He points out that the speed of such translation might make the difference between a terrorist bombing succeeding or failing. [CBS, 10/25/02, New York Post, 10/26/02] In January 2002, FBI officials tell government auditors that translator shortages have resulted in "the accumulation of thousands of hours of audio tapes and pages" of untranslated material. [Washington Post, 6/19/02] Edmonds has a whistleblower lawsuit against the FBI for these and other charges (see March 22, 2002).
Late September-Early October 2001: According to a later Mirror article, leaders of Pakistan's two Islamic parties negotiate bin Laden's extradition to Pakistan to stand trial for the 9/11 attacks. Bin Laden would be held under house arrest in Peshawar and would face an international tribunal, which would decide whether to try him or hand him over to the US. According to reports in Pakistan (and the Telegraph), this plan has both bin Laden's approval and that of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. However, the plan is vetoed by Pakistan's president Musharraf who says he "could not guarantee bin Laden's safety." But it appears the US did not want the deal: a US official later says that "casting our objectives too narrowly" risked "a premature collapse of the international effort [to overthrow the Taliban] if by some lucky chance Mr. bin Laden was captured." [Mirror, 7/8/02]
Late September-November 2001: The ISI secretly assists the Taliban in its defense against a US-led attack. Between three and five ISI officers give military advice to the Taliban in late September (see also September 17-18 and 28, 2001). [Telegraph, 10/10/01] At least five key ISI operatives help the Taliban prepare defenses in Kandahar. None are later punished for this. [Time, 5/6/02] Secret advisors begin to withdraw in early October, but some stay on into November. [Knight Ridder, 11/3/01] Large convoys of rifles, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers for Taliban fighters cross the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan on October 8 and 12, just after US bombing of Afghanistan begins (see October 7, 2001 (B)) and after a supposed crackdown on ISI fundamentalists (see October 7, 2001). The Pakistani ISI secretly gives safe passage to these convoys, despite having promised the US in September that such assistance would immediately stop. [New York Times, 12/8/01] Secret ISI convoys of weapons and nonlethal supplies continue into November. [UPI, 11/1/01, Time, 5/6/02] An anonymous Western diplomat later states, "We did not fully understand the significance of Pakistan's role in propping up the Taliban until their guys withdrew and things went to hell fast for the Talibs." [New York Times, 12/8/01]
October 2001: A 70-page French intelligence report claims: "The financial network of bin Laden, as well as his network of investments, is similar to the network put in place in the 1980s by BCCI for its fraudulent operations, often with the same people (former directors and cadres of the bank and its affiliates, arms merchants, oil merchants, Saudi investors). The dominant trait of bin Laden's operations is that of a terrorist network backed up by a vast financial structure" (see Mid-1996-October 2001). The BCCI was the largest Muslim bank in the world before it collapsed in 1991 (see July 5, 1991). A senior US investigator later says US agencies are looking into the ties outlined by the French because "they just make so much sense, and so few people from BCCI ever went to jail. BCCI was the mother and father of terrorist financing operations." The report identifies dozens of companies and individuals who were involved with BCCI and were found to be dealing with bin Laden after the bank collapsed. Many went on to work in banks and charities identified by the US and others as supporting al-Qaeda. The role of Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz in supporting bin Laden is emphasized in the report (see April 1999). In 1995 bin Mahfouz paid a $225 million fine in a settlement with US prosecutors for his role in the BCCI scandal. [Washington Post, 2/17/02]
October 2001 (B): Reports this month indicate that many hijacker e-mails have been recovered. USA Today reports many unencrypted e-mails coordinating the 9/11 plans written by the hijackers in internet cafes have been recovered by investigators. [USA Today, 10/1/01] FBI sources say "hundreds of e-mails linked to the hijackers in English, Arabic and Urdu" have been recovered, with some messages including "operational details" of the attack. [Washington Post, 10/4/01] "A senior FBI official says investigators have obtained hundreds of e-mails in English and Arabic, reflecting discussions of the planned Sept. 11 hijackings." [Wall Street Journal, 10/16/01] However, in April 2002, FBI Director Mueller says no documentation of the 9/11 plot has been found (see April 19, 2002). By September 2002, the Chicago Tribune reports, "Of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of e-mails sent and received by the hijackers from public Internet terminals, none is known to have been recovered." [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02] The texts of some e-mails sent by Atta from Germany are published a few months later. [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03]
October 2001-September 2002: Nine Army linguists, including six trained to speak Arabic, are dismissed from the military's Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, because they are gay. At the same time, the military claims it is facing a critical shortage of translators and interpreters for the war on terrorism (see September 10, 2001 (L) for an example of an Arabic translation that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks). [AP, 11/14/02] The Miami Herald comments: "The message is unmistakable: We find gay people more frightening than Osama bin Laden, whose stated goal is our destruction." [Miami Herald, 11/22/02]
Early October 2001: The US begins using the Shahbaz air force base and other bases in Pakistan in their attacks against Afghanistan. [London Times, 10/15/01] However, because of public opposition in Pakistan to US support, it is falsely claimed the US is there for purely logistical and defensive purposes. Even six months later, the US won't confirm it is using the base for offensive operations. [Los Angeles, 3/6/03] Such bases in Pakistan become a link in a chain of US military outposts in Central Asia (see January 2002 (D)). Other countries also falsely maintain that such bases are not being used for military operations in Afghanistan. [Reuters, 12/28/01]
October 1, 2001: The New Yorker gives an inside look at the ongoing 9/11 investigation. "A number of intelligence officials have raised questions about Osama bin Laden's capabilities. 'This guy sits in a cave in Afghanistan and he's running this operation?' one CIA official asked. 'It's so huge. He couldn't have done it alone' A senior military officer told me that because of the visas and other documentation needed to infiltrate team members into the United States a major foreign intelligence service might also have been involved." [New Yorker, 10/1/01] These ideas run counter to the usual public statements by officials that bin Laden was the ultimate mastermind.
October 1, 2001 (B): The New York Times notes the "stepped up warnings on the spread of chemical and biological weapons" based on a number of statements from officials in the past few days. White House chief of staff Andrew Card: "I'm not trying to be an alarmist, but we know that these terrorist organizations, like al-Qaeda, run by Osama bin Laden and others, have probably found the means to use biological or chemical warfare." Representative Henry J. Hyde (R) says biological weapons "scare" him more than nuclear weapons because they can be brought into the country "rather easily." Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and others give similar warnings. Just three days later, anthrax attacks become big news (see October 4, 2001). [New York Times, 10/1/01]
October 1, 2001 (C): It is reported that "a worldwide hunt is under way for 14 young Muslims said to have been trained in secret to fly Boeing airliners at an air base in Afghanistan. A senior pilot for the Afghan state-owned airline Ariana has told how he and four colleagues were forced by the Taliban regime to train the men who are now thought to be hiding in Europe and the United States. The 14 men, seven of whom are said to speak fluent English, are described as "dedicated Muslim fanatics" who spoke of being involved in a holy war. They are thought to have left Afghanistan a year ago. All had close links with the Taliban and some had fought for the regime. [Evening Standard, 10/1/01] Could some of these have been the 9/11 hijackers? Al-Qaeda had effective control of the national airline Ariana (see Mid-1996-October 2001), so why would they need to train pilots in the US where they could get caught?
1, 2001 (D): A
suicide truck-bomb attack on the provincial parliamentary assembly in Indian-controlled
Kashmir leaves 36 dead. It appears that Saeed Sheikh and Aftab Ansari,
working with the ISI, are behind the attacks (see also Early
August 2001 (D)). [Vanity Fair,
Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] Indian intelligence claims that Pakistani President
Musharraf is later given a recording of a phone call between Jaish-e-Mohammad
leader Maulana Masood Azhar and ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed in which
Azhar allegedly reports the bombing is a "success." [UPI,
October 2, 2001: Days before the anthrax attacks begin, a strange letter is sent to a researcher in Fort Detrick, Maryland (USAMRIID). The letter is addressed to Dr. Ayaad Assaad, a Muslim anthrax researcher who was born in Egypt. The unsigned letter calls Assaad a "'potential terrorist,' with a grudge against the United States and the knowledge to wage biological warfare against his adopted country." This is the latest in a series of attacks against Assaad, which include anonymous long hateful poems about him in the early 1990s. Assaad was laid off in 1997. The author of the letter says he is a former colleague of Assaad. The letter seems like a not-very-subtle attempt to frame Assaad for the anthrax attacks about to come. The letter strongly suggests the attacks could have been by someone at USAMRIID with a long time grudge against Assaad. [Hartford Courant, 12/9/01, Salon, 1/26/02] Anthrax suspect Philip Zack later emerges as one (but not the only) coworker with such a grudge (see January 20, 2002).
October 2, 2001 (B): The "anti-terrorism" Patriot Act is introduced in Congress, but is not well received by all. [Patriot Act, 10/2/01] One day later, Senate Majority Leader and future anthrax target Tom Daschle (D) says he doubts the Senate will take up this bill in the one week timetable the administration wants. As head of the Senate, Daschle has great power to block or slow passage of the bill. Attorney General Ashcroft accuses Senate Democrats of dragging their feet. [Washington Post, 10/3/01] On October 4, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and future anthrax target Patrick Leahy (D) accuses the Bush administration of reneging on an agreement on the anti-terrorist bill. Leahy is in a key position to block or slow the bill. Some warn that "lawmakers are overlooking constitutional flaws in their rush to meet the administration's timetable." Two days later, Ashcroft complains about "the rather slow pace…over his request for law enforcement powers… Hard feelings remain." [Washington Post, 10/4/01] The anthrax letters to Daschle and Leahy are sent out on October 9 and difficulties in passing the Act continue (see October 9, 2001). Could Daschle and Leahy have been targeted by some person or entity who wanted to see the Patriot Act pass?
October 2, 2001 (C): A newspaper reveals that Atta kept an e-mail list so he could send out identical e-mails to everyone on the list. [Sun and Weekly Herald, 10/2/01, NBC 2, 4/24/02] What's intriguing is that several of the 40 or so names on the list appear to have been, or still are, employees of US defense contractors. [Online Journal, 4/24/02, note this is a very partisan website]
October 4, 2001: The first case of anthrax infection, in Florida, appears in the media. Letters containing anthrax continue to be received until October 19. After many false alarms, it turns out that only four letters contain real anthrax. They are sent to NBC, New York Post, Democratic Senator Daschle and Democratic Senator Leahy. There are a number of hoax letters however, likely sent by the same person to all the recipients of the real anthrax letters, plus to CBS, Fox News, New York Times, and the St. Petersberg Times. Eleven people are infected, five people die. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01]
October 4, 2001 (B): British Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly presents a paper containing evidence that al-Qaeda is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. [Los Angeles Times, 10/5/01, see the paper here: Los Angeles Times, 10/4/01] Secretary of State Powell and other US officials had promised on September 23 that the US would present a paper containing such evidence. [Los Angeles Times, 9/24/01] But the US paper is never released. Apparently, the British paper is meant to serve as a substitute. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] In the speech, Blair claims, "One of bin Laden's closest lieutenants has said clearly that he helped with the planning of the September 11 attacks and admitted the involvement of the al-Qaeda organization" and that "there is other intelligence, we cannot disclose, of an even more direct nature indicating guilt" of al-Qaeda in the attacks. [CNN 10/4/01, Time, 10/5/01] There has been no confirmation or details since of these claims. Even though most of the evidence in the British paper comes from the US, pre-attack warnings, such as the August 6, 2001 memo to Bush "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US," are not included (see August 6, 2001). In fact, Blair's paper states, "incorrectly, that no such information had been available before the attacks: 'After 11 September we learned that, not long before, bin Laden had indicated he was about to launch a major attack on America.'" [New Yorker, 5/27/02]
October 5, 2001: Contrary to popular belief, Afghanistan "has significant oil and gas deposits. During the Soviets' decade-long occupation of Afghanistan, Moscow estimated Afghanistan's proven and probable natural gas reserves at around five trillion cubic feet and production reached 275 million cubic feet per day in the mid-1970s." Nonstop war since has prevent further exploitation, but that soon changes. [Asia Times, 10/5/01] A later article suggests the country may also have as much copper as Chile, the world's largest producer, and significant deposits of coal, emeralds, tungsten, lead, zinc, uranium ore and more. Estimates of Afghanistan 's natural wealth may even be understated, because surveys were conducted decades ago, using less-advanced methods and covering limited territory. [Houston Chronicle, 12/23/01]
October 5, 2001 (B): 1,000 US soldiers are sent to the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan, which borders Afghanistan. [AP, 8/19/02]
October 7, 2001: ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed is replaced in the face of US pressure after links are discovered between him, Saeed Sheikh, and the funding of the 9/11 attacks. Mahmood instructed Saeed to transfer $100,000 into hijacker Mohamed Atta's bank account prior to 9/11 (see Early August 2001 (D) or June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000; it hasn't been reported which $100,000 money transfer this refers to). This is according to Indian intelligence, which claims the FBI has privately confirmed the story. [Press Trust of India, 10/8/01, Times of India, 10/9/01, India Today, 10/15/01, Daily Excelsior, 10/18/01] The story is not widely reported in Western countries, though it makes the Wall Street Journal. [Australian, 10/10/01, AFP, 10/10/01, Wall Street Journal, 10/10/01] It is reported in Pakistan as well. [Dawn, 10/8/01] The Northern Alliance also repeats the claim in late October. [FNS, 10/31/01] In Western countries, the usual explanation is that Mahmood is fired for being too close to the Taliban. [London Times, 10/9/01, Guardian, 10/9/01] The Times of India reports that Indian intelligence helped the FBI discover the link, and says: "A direct link between the ISI and the WTC attack could have enormous repercussions. The US cannot but suspect whether or not there were other senior Pakistani Army commanders who were in the know of things. Evidence of a larger conspiracy could shake US confidence in Pakistan's ability to participate in the anti-terrorism coalition." [Times of India, 10/9/01] There is evidence some ISI officers may have known of a plan to destroy the WTC as early as mid-1999 (see July 14, 1999). Two other ISI leaders, Lt. Gen. Mohammed Aziz Khan and Chief of General Staff Mohammed Yousuf, are sidelined on the same day as Mahmood. [Fox News, 10/8/01] Saeed had been working under Khan (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001). The firings are said to have purged the ISI of its fundamentalists. But according to one diplomat: "To remove the top two or three doesn't matter at all. The philosophy remains.... [The ISI is] a parallel government of its own. If you go through the officer list, almost all of the ISI regulars would say, of the Taliban, 'They are my boys.'" [New Yorker, 10/29/01] It is believed Mahmood has been living under virtual house arrest in Pakistan ever since (which would seem to imply more than just a difference of opinion over the Taliban), but no charges have been brought against him, and there is no evidence the US has asked to question him. [Asia Times, 1/5/02] He also has refused to speak to reporters since being fired [AP, 2/21/02], and outside India and Pakistan, the story has only been mentioned a couple times in the media since (see [Sunday Herald, 2/24/02, London Times, 4/21/02]). If Mahmood helped fund the 9/11 attacks, what did President Musharraf know about it?
October 7, 2001 (B): The US begins bombing Afghanistan. [MSNBC, 11/01] Note that shortly after 9/11 former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik claimed that in July 2001 he was told by senior US officials that a military action to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan would "take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest" (see July 21, 2001). Is it coincidence that the attacks begin exactly when the US said they would, months before 9/11?
October 7, 2001 (C): On this day, Zeljko E., a Kosovar Serb, enters a Hamburg, Germany police station and says he wants to turn himself in. He tells the police that he has robbed a business and stolen piles of paper written in Arabic, with the hopes of selling them. A friend of his told him that they relate to the 9/11 attacks. The 44 pounds of papers are translated and prove to be a "treasure trove." The documents come from Mamoun Darkazanli's files (see September 24, 2001), which appeared to be missing when police raided his apartment two days after 9/11. "It makes for a great story. A petty thief pilfers files containing critical information about the largest terrorist attack in history and dutifully turns them over to the police. [But German] agents do not buy this story for a minute; they suspect that some other secret service was trying to find a way of getting evidence into [their] hands. The question is, whose secret service?" Some German investigators suggest the CIA was responsible; there are also reports that the FBI illegally surveilled Darkazanli after 9/11. [Der Spiegel, 10/27/01, Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02, Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, 2/02, pp. 166-67] Did the CIA surveil or recruit Darkazanli before 9/11 after failing to get German investigators to do so (see December 1999 and Spring 2000), and then use this method to get information to the Germans in order to keep their illegal surveillance secret?
October 7, 2001 (D): It is reported that Mahrous bin Laden, brother to Osama, is currently manager of the Medina, Saudi Arabia branch of the bin Laden family company, the Binladin Group. In 1979, Binladin company trucks were used by 500 dissidents who seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest city. All the men who took part were later beheaded except Mahrous, who is eventually released from prison apparently because of the close ties between the bin Ladens and the Saudi royal family. The bin Laden family claims that no family members have any ties to terrorism except Osama. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01]
October 9, 2001: Senator Feingold (D) blocks an attempt to rush the USA Patriot Act to a vote with little debate and no opportunity for amendments. Feingold criticizes the bill as a threat to liberty. [AP, 10/10/01] One day earlier, in the story "Cracks in Bipartisanship Start to Show," the Washington Post reports, "Congress has lost some of the shock-induced unity with which it first responded to the [9/11] attacks." [Washington Post, 10/8/01] Also on October 9, identical anthrax letters are postmarked in Trenton, New Jersey, with lethal doses to Senators Daschle and Leahy. Inside both letters are the words: "Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is Great" (see October 15, 2001). [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01]
October 9, 2001 (B): US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin meets with the Pakistani oil minister. She is briefed on the gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan, across Afghanistan, to Pakistan, which appears to be revived "in view of recent geopolitical developments." [Frontier Post, 10/10/01] FTW
October 10, 2001: Mohammed Heikal, longtime Egyptian journalist, former government spokesman, and the "Arab world's foremost political commentator," expresses disbelief that bin Laden and al-Qaeda could have conducted the 9/11 attack without the US knowing. "Bin Laden has been under surveillance for years: every telephone call was monitored and al-Qaeda has been penetrated by American intelligence, Pakistani intelligence, Saudi intelligence, Egyptian intelligence. They could not have kept secret an operation that required such a degree of organization and sophistication." [Guardian, 10/10/01]
October 10, 2001 (B): The US government asks the major US TV networks to refrain from showing unedited video messages taped by Osama bin Laden. They agree. A Newsweek article is critical of the decision, pointing out "all but one [of these networks] are controlled by major conglomerates that have important pending business with the government." The article openly questions if the media is "doing too much of the government's bidding" in reporting on 9/11. Says one expert, "I'm not saying that everything is a horrible paranoid fantasy, but my sense is there's an implicit quid pro quo here. The industry seems to be saying to the administration, 'we're patriotic, we're supporting the war, we lost all of this advertising, now free us from [business] constraints.'" [Newsweek, 10/13/01]
October 10, 2001 (C): It is reported that Globe Aviation Services Corp., in charge of the baggage handlers for Flight 11 and all other American Airlines flights at Boston's Logan Airport, have been cleared of any wrongdoing. Globe Aviation supervisors claim that none of the employees working that day were in the US illegally. Supposedly, no weapons were detected, but a baggage handler for Globe Aviation and an American Airlines employee have told the FBI that one of the hijackers - believed to be either Wail or Waleed Alshehri - was carrying one wooden crutch under his arm when he boarded Flight 11. Crutches are apparently routinely scanned through X-ray machines. [Boston Globe, 10/10/01 (B)]
October 10-11, 2001: The
FBI allows the original batch of the Ames strain of anthrax to be destroyed,
making tracing the anthrax type more difficult. Suspicions
that the anthrax used in the letters was the Ames strain are confirmed on October
17. [New York Times, 11/9/01, South
Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/01] What possible excuse can the FBI have for
allowing this destruction, especially when the Ames strain was already suspected?
October 11, 2001: "FBI investigators have officially concluded that 11 of the 19 terrorists who hijacked the aircraft on September 11 did not know they were on a suicide mission." "Unlike the eight 'lead' attackers, who were all trained pilots, they did not leave messages for friends and family indicating they knew their lives were over" nor did they have copies of Atta's final prayer note. Personal items found suggest the men thought they were taking part in a conventional hijacking and were preparing for the possibility of prison. [Observer, 10/14/01] This is later contradicted by video filmed in Afghanistan in March 2001 showing the 13 non-lead hijackers proclaiming their willingness to die on an upcoming suicide mission (see March 2001).
October 11, 2001 (B): The Ashcroft-led Justice Department takes over all terrorist prosecutions from the US Attorneys office in New York which has had a highly successful track record in prosecuting terrorist cases connected to bin Laden. [New York Times, 10/11/01] FTW
October 12, 2001: The US freezes the assets of 39 additional individuals and organizations connected to terrorism (see also September 24, 2001). Five of the names are al-Qaeda leaders on a list the United Nations published in March 8, 2001, with a recommendation that all nations freeze their assets (see March 8, 2001). Other countries froze assets of those on that list, but the US did not. "Members of Congress want to know why treasury officials charged with disrupting the finances of terrorists did not follow their lead." [AP, 10/12/01, Guardian, 10/13/01] The most detailed case is laid out against Saudi multimillionaire businessman Yassin al-Qadi (see December 5, 2002 and November 26, 2002). [Chicago Tribune, 10/14/01, Chicago Tribune, 10/29/01] Al-Qadi is "horrified and shocked" and offers to open his financial books to US investigators. [Chicago Tribune, 10/16/01] A US official claims a 1998 audit of Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank shows al-Qadi's Muwafaq Foundation funneled $3 million to bin Laden (see April 1999). [Chicago Tribune, 10/29/01] There have been several accusations that al-Qadi laundered money to fund Hamas [Chicago Tribune, 10/16/01, Chicago Tribune, 10/29/01], and an investigation into his al-Qaeda connections was canceled by higher-ups in the FBI in 1998 (see October 1998). Saudi Arabia also later freezes al-Qadi's accounts, an action the Saudis have taken against only three people, but he has yet to be charged or arrested by the Saudis or the US. [Newsweek, 12/6/02]
October 12, 2001 (B): Attorney General Ashcroft encourages federal agencies to deny requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In a memo to all government departments and agencies, he states, "When you carefully consider FOIA requests and decide to withhold records, in whole or in part, you can be assured that the Department of Justice will defend your decisions." This is a dramatic shift from the Clinton Administration, which instructed federal officials to grant all information requests unless there was "foreseeable harm" in doing so. [Washington Post, 12/2/02] The New York Times notes that while this policy was announced after 9/11, "it had been planned well before the attacks." [New York Times, 1/3/03]
October 14, 2001: The Boston Herald reports: "Three banks allegedly used by Osama bin Laden to distribute money to his global terrorism network have well-established ties to a prince in Saudi Arabia's royal family, several billionaire Saudi bankers, and the governments of Kuwait and Dubai. One of the banks, Al-Shamal Islamic Bank in the Sudan, was controlled directly by Osama bin Laden, according to a 1996 US State Department report." A regional expert states, "I think we underestimate bin Laden. He comes from the highest levels of Saudi society and he has supporters at all levels of Saudi Arabia." [Boston Herald, 10/14/01]
October 14, 2001 (B): Investigators of the anthrax attacks believe Iraq is the prime suspect. One CIA source says, "They aren't making this stuff in caves in Afghanistan. 'This is prima facie evidence of the involvement of a state intelligence agency. Maybe Iran has the capability. But it doesn't look likely politically. That leaves Iraq." [Observer, 10/14/01] However, this theory lasts only a few days. On October 20, the International Herald Tribune reports a new theory: "A disgruntled employee of a domestic laboratory that uses anthrax carried out the attacks." It also states investigators "have tentatively concluded that [the anthrax] is a domestic strain that bears no resemblance to strains that Russia and Iraq have turned into biological weapons." [International Herald Tribune, 10/20/01] However, in late 2002 with war against Iraq growing increasingly likely, the Iraq theory appears to make a comeback (see October 28, 2002).
October 15, 2001: Senator Daschle's office opens the letter mailed October 9, containing a lethal dose of anthrax. Senator Leahy's similar letter is misrouted to Virginia on October 12, and isn't discovered until November 17. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/8/01]
October 15, 2001 (B): The BBC says "Bush has pointed the finger at Osama bin Laden" for the anthrax attacks. Bush states, "There may be some possible link. We have no hard data yet, but it's clear that Mr. Bin Laden is an evil man." [BBC, 10/16/01]
October 15, 2001 (C): According to the Moscow Times, the Russian government sees the upcoming US conquest of Afghanistan as an attempt by the US to replace Russia as the dominant political force in Central Asia (see also June 2001 (D)), with the control of oil as a prominent motive: "While the bombardment of Afghanistan outwardly appears to hinge on issues of fundamentalism and American retribution, below the surface, lurks the prize of the energy-rich Caspian basin into which oil majors have invested billions of dollars. Ultimately, this war will set the boundaries of US and Russian influence in Central Asia - and determine the future of oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea." [Moscow Times, 10/15/01] The US later appears to gain military influence over Kazakhstan, the Central Asian country with the most resource wealth, and closest to the Russian heartland (see also December 19, 2001 and March 30, 2002).
October 16, 2001: "The Financial Services Authority - Britain's main financial regulator - has cleared bin Laden and his henchmen of insider trading. There has been a widespread suspicion that members of the al-Qaeda organization had cashed in on the US attacks, dumping airline, aerospace and insurance company shares before September 11th. The Authority says that after a thorough investigation it has found no hard evidence of any such deals in London." [Marketplace radio report, 10/17/01] On September 24, Belgium's Financial Minister claimed there were strong suspicions that British markets may have been used for 9/11-related inside trading (see Early September 2001 (L)). Similar investigations are apparently continuing over a year later in many other countries - how was Britain able to conclusively dispel the strong suspicions in only two weeks?
October 16, 2001 (B): The government releases flight control transcripts of three of the four hijacked planes (see the transcripts here: [New York Times, 9/16/01, New York Times, 9/16/01, New York Times, 9/16/01, New York Times, 9/16/01]). Strangely, Flight 93 is left out. Could it be to hide embarrassing details? For instance, are reports true that a hijacker was in the cockpit of Flight 93 before it even took off (see September 24, 2001 (B))? Yet even the three released transcripts are incomplete (for instance, Flight 77's ends at least 20 minutes before it crashes), and certain events that are part of the official story don't show up on these transcripts. What's the reason for secrecy?
October 16, 2001 (C): Two men, Moshe Elmakias and Ron Katar, are arrested after being found with a detailed video of the Sears Tower in Chicago. In addition, a woman named Ayelet Reisler is found with them, carrying conflicting identification information. They are arrested for illegal dumping, using a van with the name Moving Systems Incorporated. The video contains extensive zoom in shots of the Sears Tower; it is not known when the video was filmed. [Philadelphia Mercury, 10/18/01] Given the moving van cover (see September 11, 2001 (W) and [DEA report, 6/01]), and the Jewish names, it is likely these three are part of the Israeli spy ring. Could they have been videotaping the Sears Tower on 9/11 in the expectation that it would be hit by a plane? Had Flight 93 not been delayed 40 minutes on the runway and stayed on course, it would have been near Chicago at the same time as the other attacks, and it turned towards Washington 20 minutes after the FAA informed the military that the plane had been hijacked.
October 16-17, 2001: 28 congressional staffers test positive for anthrax. The Senate office buildings are shut down, followed by the House of Representatives. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/8/01]
October 18, 2001: Canada overrides Bayer's patent for Cipro and orders a million tablets of a generic version from another company. The US says it is not considering a similar move. Patent lawyers and politicians state that adjusting Bayer's patent to allow other companies to produce Cipro is perfectly legal and necessary. [New York Times, 10/19/01] The New York Times notes that the White House seems "so avidly to be siding with the rights of drug companies to make profits rather than with consumers worried about their access to the antibiotic Cipro," and points out huge recent contributions by Bayer to Republicans. [New York Times, 10/21/01]
October 18, 2001 (B): The Economist reports that the Taliban is dumping its stockpile of heroin into the market to pay for the war against the US. As a result, prices in Afghanistan have tumbled from $700 a kilo just before 9/11 to $100. This stockpile is worth about $1 billion in Pakistan, but between $40 billion and $80 billion on the streets of Europe. 70% of all the world's opium comes from Afghanistan. [Economist, 10/18/01]
October 19, 2001: US Special Forces begin ground attacks in Afghanistan. [MSNBC, 11/01] However, during the Afghanistan war, US ground soldiers are mainly employed as observers, liaisons, and spotters for air power to assist the Northern Alliance - not as direct combatants. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02]
October 20, 2001: The New York Times reports that, although 830 people have been arrested in the 9/11 terrorism investigation (a number that eventually reaches between 1,200 and 2,000 (see November 5, 2001 (B)), there is no evidence that anyone now in custody was a conspirator in the 9/11 attacks. Furthermore, "none of the nearly 100 people still being sought by the [FBI] is seen as a major suspect." Of all the people arrested, only four, Zacarias Moussaoui, Ayub Ali Khan, Mohammed Azmath, and Nabil al-Marabh, are likely connected to al-Qaeda. [New York Times, 10/21/01] Three of those are later cleared of ties to al-Qaeda. After being kept in solitary confinement for more than eight months without seeing a judge or being assigned a lawyer, al-Marabh pleads guilty to the minor charge of entering the United States illegally (see September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002). [CBC, 8/27/02, Washington Post, 6/12/02] On September 12, 2002, after a year in solitary confinement and four months before he was able to contact a lawyer, Mohammed Azmath pleads guilty to one count of credit card fraud, and is released with time served. Ayub Ali Khan, whose real name is apparently Syed Gul Mohammad Shah, is given a longer sentence for credit card fraud, but is released and deported by the end of 2002 (see September 11, 2001 (K)). [Village Voice, 9/25/02, New York Times, 12/31/02] By December 2002, only 6 are known to still be in custody, and none have been charged with any terrorist acts (see December 11, 2002 (D)). On September 24, 2001, Newsweek reported that "the FBI has privately estimated that more than 1,000 individuals - most of them foreign nationals - with suspected terrorist ties are currently living in the United States." [Newsweek, 9/24/01] With the exception of Moussaoui, who was arrested before 9/11, it appears not one person of the 1,200 arrested has been connected to al-Qaeda. What happened to the 1,000 or more terrorists?
October 21, 2001: The Bayer Corporation, holders of the US patent on the anthrax antibiotic Cipro, agrees with the US to reduce the price of Cipro in the US from $1.83 to 95 cents. Analysts say the price reduction will reduce Bayer's profit margin from 95% to 65%. This reduction applies only to sales to the US government, not sales to the public. [New York Times, 11/4/01] Bayer has allowed no other companies to produce or import Cipro into the US. Other countries with less stringent patent laws sell Cipro for 1/30th the US price, and have offered to import large quantities into the US. [New York Times, 10/21/01] Nevertheless, a class action suit by over one million Americans has been filed against Bayer and two other companies, alleging that Bayer has paid $200 million to two competitors to not make generic versions of Cipro. [Bayer lawsuit press release, 10/25/01] The profits from Cipro are considered a "lifesaver" for Bayer, which had been considering pulling out of pharmaceuticals altogether. [Guardian, 10/31/01]
October 23, 2001: The New York Times reports that health officials and experts believe numerous other drugs are as effective as Cipro in combating anthrax. "Several generic antibiotics, including doxycycline, a kind of tetracycline, and various penicillins, are also effective against the disease," and they all are in plentiful supply. [New York Times, 10/23/01] A 1997 Pentagon study of anthrax in rhesus monkeys showed the other drugs to be equally effective. But Cipro remains the only drug officially recommended by the FDA (see July 27, 2000). [New York Times, 10/21/01]
October 24, 2001: The House of Representatives passes the final version of the Patriot Act and other previously unpopular Bush projects: Alaska oil drilling, $25 billion in tax cuts for corporations, taps into Social Security funds and cuts in education. [CNN, 10/25/01] Republican Congressman Ron Paul states: "It's my understanding the bill wasn't printed before the vote - at least I couldn't get it. They played all kinds of games, kept the House in session all night, and it was a very complicated bill. Maybe a handful of staffers actually read it, but the bill definitely was not available to members before the vote." It is later found that only two copies of the bill were made available in the hours before its passage, and most House members admit they voted for the Act without actually reading it first. [Insight, 11/9/01] Two days later, the Senate passes the final version of the Patriot Act. Anthrax targets Senators Daschle and Leahy now support the bill. Bush signs it into law the same day (see October 26, 2001). [Fox News, 10/26/01] Were the anthrax attacks a deliberate plot to help pass the Patriot Act, and whip up public support?
October 25, 2001: Abdul Haq, a leader of the Afghani resistance to the Taliban, is killed. Four days earlier, he had secretly entered Afghanistan with a small force to try and raise rebellion (see also February 2001 (C) and Mid-August 2001 (B)), but was spotted by Taliban forces and surrounded. He called a supporter in the US, and then former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane called the CIA and asked for immediate assistance to help rescue Haq. A battle lasting up to twelve hours ensues. Haq's force is underarmed, since the CIA failed to provide him with weapons. [Sydney Morning Herald, 10/29/01] The CIA refuses to send in a helicopter to rescue him, saying the terrain is too rough. Haq's group claims they are next to a hilltop once used as a helicopter landing point. [Observer, 10/28/01, Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01 (B)] An unmanned surveillance aircraft eventually attacks a group of Taliban, but five hours after Haq has been captured. He is then executed by the Taliban. [Wall Street Journal, 11/2/01] Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA director of counter-terrorism, and others suggest that Haq's position was betrayed to the Taliban by the ISI. Haq was already an enemy of the ISI, who may have killed his family. [Village Voice, 10/26/01, USA Today, 10/31/01, Toronto Star, 11/5/01, Knight Ridder, 11/3/01] Haq "seemed the ideal candidate to lead an opposition alliance into Afghanistan to oust the ruling Taliban." [Observer, 10/28/01] Was Haq betrayed by the ISI and even the CIA because he was not pliable enough to be controlled?
October 26, 2001:
Bush signs the Patriot Act into law. Here are some of its provisions:
1) Non-citizens can be detained and deported if they provide "assistance" for lawful activities of any group the government chooses to call a terrorist organization. Under this provision the secretary of state can designate any group that has ever engaged in violent activity as a terrorist organization. Representative Patsy Mink notes that in theory supporters of Greenpeace could now be convicted for supporting terrorism. [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/12/01]
2) Immigrants can be detained indefinitely, even if they are found to not have any links to terrorism. They can be detained indefinitely for immigration violations or if the attorney general decides their activities pose a danger to national security. They never need to be given a trial or even a hearing on their status. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/0]
3) Internet service providers can be ordered to reveal the web sites and e-mail addresses that a suspect has communicated to or visited. The FBI need only inform a judge that the information is relevant to an investigation. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/02, Village Voice, 11/26/01]
4) It "lays the foundation for a domestic intelligence-gathering system of unprecedented scale and technological prowess." [Washington Post, 11/4/01] It allows the government to access confidential credit reports, school records, and other records, without consent or notification. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/02] All of this information can now be given to the CIA, in violation of the CIA's mandate prohibiting it from spying within the US. [Village Voice, 11/26/01]
5) Financial institutions are encouraged to disclose possible violations of law or "suspicious activities" by any client. The institution is prohibited from notifying the person involved that it made such a report. The term "suspicious" is not defined, so it is up to the financial institutions to determine when to send such a report.
6) Federal agents can easily obtain warrants to review a library patron's reading and computer habits (see also January 2002). [Village Voice, 2/22/02]
7) The government can refuse to reveal how evidence is collected against a suspected terrorist defendant. [Tampa Tribune, 4/6/03]
October 27, 2001: Suspected terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar (see March 1997) travels to Morocco. Not long after, perhaps in December, he is arrested by Moroccan police with US assistance. Though he is a German citizen and under investigation by Germany, German intelligence remain unaware of his arrest, and only learn about it from the newspapers in June 2002. He is sent to Syria, where there are formal charges against him. Supposedly, Zammar now claims he recruited Atta and others into the al-Qaeda Hamburg cell. [Washington Post, 6/19/02] It is widely suspected that the US arranged that Zammar be sent to Syria so he could be more thoroughly interrogated using torture. The Germans are angry that the US has been submitting questions for Zammar and learning answers from Syria, and haven't informed Germany of what they've learned. [Christian Science Monitor, 7/26/02, Telegraph, 6/20/02] Months after the story of Zammar's detention is made public, the Germans are still complaining that the US is not telling them much (see October 25, 2002).
October 27, 2001 (B): The US government no longer thinks bin Laden is behind the anthrax attacks: "Everything seems to lean toward a domestic source... Nothing seems to fit with an overseas terrorist type operation." The Washington Post suggests neo-Nazi groups are behind it. Not long after, the FBI releases a profile of the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks. He is suspected of being a lone, male domestic terrorist, with a scientific background and laboratory experience who could handle hazardous materials. [Washington Post, 10/27/01, St. Petersburg Times, 11/10/01] On the same day, the London Times claims that Atta was given a flask of anthrax by an Iraqi agent in April 2001, which then was used in the US anthrax attacks. [London Times, 10/27/01] However, US and Czech officials eventually conclude the meeting never even took place (see September 19, 2001-October 20, 2002).
October 27, 2001 (C): Furious government intelligence officials accuse the NSA of destroying data pertinent to the 9/11 investigation. They claim that possible leads aren't being followed because of the NSA lack of cooperation. [Boston Globe, 10/27/01]
October 31, 2001: The Justice Department issues a regulation that allows eavesdropping on attorney-client conversations in federal prisons wherever there is "reasonable suspicion ... to believe that a particular inmate may use communications with attorneys to further or facilitate acts of terrorism"; the regulation requires written notice to the inmate and attorney, "except in the case of prior court authorization." Officials no longer have to show probable cause or get a court order. The Los Angeles Times says the new policy is "sharply criticized by a broad array of lawyers and lawmakers." [Los Angeles Times, 11/10/01, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/12/01]
November 2001-February 5, 2002: A US grand jury secretly indicts Saeed Sheikh for his role in the 1994 kidnapping of an American (see June 1993-October 1994). The indictment is revealed in late February 2002. The US later claims it begins asking Pakistan for help in finding Saeed in late November. [AP, 2/26/02, Newsweek, 3/13/02] However, it is not until January 9, 2002 that Wendy Chamberlin, the US ambassador to Pakistan, officially asks the Pakistani government for help in arresting and extraditing Saeed. [AP, 2/24/02, CNN, 2/24/02, Los Angeles Times, 2/25/02] Saeed is seen partying with Pakistani government officials well into January 2002 (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001 and September 11, 2001-January 2002). The Los Angeles Times later notes that Saeed "move[s] about Pakistan without apparent impediments from authorities" up until February 5, when he is identified as a suspect in the Daniel Pearl kidnapping" (see February 5, 2002). [Los Angeles Times, 2/13/02] The London Times says, "It is inconceivable that the Pakistani authorities did not know where he was" before then. [London Times, 4/21/02] Why did the British become interested in Saeed shortly before 9/11 (see August-October 2001), and why was so little done to catch him afterward?
Early November 2001: It is later reported that many locals in Afghanistan witness a remarkable escape of al-Qaeda forces from Kabul around this time. One local businessman says: "We don't understand how they weren't all killed the night before because they came in a convoy of at least 1,000 cars and trucks. It was a very dark night, but it must have been easy for the American pilots to see the headlights. The main road was jammed from eight in the evening until three in the morning." This convoy was thought to have contained al-Qaeda's top officials. [London Times, 7/22/02] With all of the satellite imagery and intense focus on the Kabul area at the time, how could such a force have escaped the city unobserved by the US?
Early November 2001 (B): Starting in late October, US intelligence reports begin noting that al-Qaeda fighters and leaders are moving into and around the Afghanistan city of Jalalabad. By early November, bin Laden is there. Knight-Ridder newspapers report: "American intelligence analysts concluded that bin Laden and his retreating fighters were preparing to flee across the border. But the US Central Command, which was running the war, made no move to block their escape. 'It was obvious from at least early November that this area was to be the base for an exodus into Pakistan,' said one intelligence official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. 'All of this was known, and frankly we were amazed that nothing was done to prepare for it.'" The vast majority of leaders and fighters are eventually able to escape into Pakistan. [Knight-Ridder, 10/20/02]
November 1, 2001: Bush signs an Executive Order which limits public access to papers of all presidents since 1980. A 1978 law provided for the release of presidential papers 12 years after the president leaves office, so Reagan's papers would have been released next year. Reagan issued an order in 1989 that called for disclosure of most of his official papers 12 years after he left office but under the new executive order the papers can be kept secret even if the president in question wants them released. Bush Jr.'s father was Vice President during the Reagan administration. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/8/01] The Guardian notes that now Bush's "personal papers detailing the decision-making process in the current war on terrorism could remain secret in perpetuity." [Guardian, 11/2/01] In March 2001, Bush signed a temporary orders delaying the release of these papers for 90 days, and then signed for another 90 day delay before signing this order making the change permanent. [New York Times, 1/3/03]
November 5, 2001: The New Yorker points to evidence that the bin Laden family has generally not ostracized itself from bin Laden as is popularly believed (for instance, see [Newsweek, 10/15/01]), but retains close ties in some cases. The large bin Laden family owns and runs a $5 billion a year global corporation that includes the largest construction firm in the Islamic world. One counter-terrorism expert says, "There's obviously a lot of spin by the Saudi Binladin Group [the family corporation] to distinguish itself from Osama. I've been following the bin Ladens for years, and it's easy to say, 'We disown him.' Many in the family have. But blood is usually thicker than water." The article notes that neither the bin Laden family nor the Saudi royal family have publicly denounced bin Laden since 9/11. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
November 5, 2001 (B): The Justice Department announces that it has put 1,182 people into secret custody since 9/11. Most all of them are from the Middle East or South Asia. [New York Times, 8/3/02] After this it stops releasing new numbers, but human rights groups believe the total number could be as high as 2,000. [Independent, 2/26/02] Apparently this is roughly the peak for secret arrests, and eventually most are released, and none have been charged with any terrorist acts (see July 3, 2002 and December 11, 2002 (D)). Their names still have not been revealed (see August 2, 2002 (C)).
November 9, 2001: The Taliban abandon the strategic northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, allowing the Northern Alliance to take control. [AP, 8/19/02] The rest of Northern Afghanistan is abandoned by the Taliban in the next few days, except the city of Kunduz, to which most of the Taliban flee. Kunduz falls on November 25, but not before most of the thousands of fighters there are airlifted out (see Mid-November-November 25, 2001). [New Yorker, 1/21/02]
November 10, 2001: Telegraph reporter Christina Lamb is arrested and expelled from Pakistan by the ISI. She had been investigating the connections between the ISI and the Taliban. Reporter Daniel Pearl's investigations into the ISI (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002) will later result in his death (see January 31, 2002). [Telegraph, 11/11/01]
November 10, 2001 (B): In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Bush states: "We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th; malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists, themselves, away from the guilty." [White House, 11/1/01]
November 11, 2001: Saeed Sheikh is connected to Saudi charities that investigators believe secretly funnel millions of dollars to bin Laden's operatives. At this time, he is only known as Mustafa Ahmed, and incorrectly thought by some to be a Saudi. His name appeared shortly after 9/11 when Irish police raided the Dublin offices of the Islamic Relief Agency, a Saudi-backed charity previously linked to bin Laden's 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa. [Newsweek, 11/11/01]
November 12, 2001: The beginning of numerous mysterious
deaths of renowned microbiologists. A good place to start learning about this
is a Globe and Mail article, which calls these deaths a "tale only the
best conspiracy theorist could dream up" yet hard to explain [Globe
and Mail, 5/4/02] (The Memphis Flyer also provides a good overview, but
is much more speculative: [Memphis
Flyer, 3/7/02]). The first dead microbiologist is Dr. Benito Que, 52,
was "an expert in infectious diseases and cellular biology at the Miami
Medical School. Police originally suspected that he had been beaten on November
12 in a carjacking in the medical school's parking lot. Strangely enough, though,
his body showed no signs of a beating. Doctors then began to suspect a stroke."
and Mail, 5/4/02]
November 13, 2001: Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, falls to the Northern Alliance. The Taliban abandon the rest of the country over the next few weeks. [BBC, 11/13/01] As the New Yorker reports, "The initial American aim in Afghanistan had been not to eliminate the Taliban's presence there entirely but to undermine the regime and al-Qaeda while leaving intact so-called moderate Taliban elements that would play a role in a new postwar government. This would insure that Pakistan would not end up with a regime on its border dominated by the Northern Alliance." The surprisingly quick fall of Kabul ruins this plan. [New Yorker, 1/21/02]
November 13, 2001 (B): Bush issues an executive order authorizing the creation of military tribunals to try non-citizens alleged to be involved in international terrorism. The president will decide which defendants will be tried by military tribunals. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld will appoint each panel and set its rules and procedures, including the level of proof needed for a conviction. There is no provision for an appeal to US civil courts or international tribunals. Only the president or the secretary of defense has the authority to overturn a decision. [Washington Post, 11/14/01] Such military tribunals were in the Civil War and again in World War II. [CNN, 11/14/01] But experts say that while there is precedent, aspects of the order could be unconstitutional. [Los Angeles Times, 11/14/01] Additional procedural details are released in March 2002 that satisfy some critics, but others remain alarmed. [Los Angeles Times, 3/21/02, Village Voice, 3/25/02] The New York Times writes, "There is still no practical or legal justification for having the tribunals." The tribunals "still constitute a separate, inferior system of justice, shielded from independent judicial review." [New York Times, 3/22/02 (B)] A year after the order is issued, the Washington Post confirms that "the Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects - US citizens and non-citizens alike - may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system." [Washington Post, 12/1/02]
November 14, 2001: The Northern Alliance capture the Afghan city of Jalalabad. [Sydney Morning Herald, 11/14/01] That night, a convoy of 1,000 or more al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters escape from Jalalabad and reach the fortress of Tora Bora after hours of driving and then walking. Bin Laden is believed to be with them, riding in one of "several hundred cars" in the convoy. The US bombs the nearby Jalalabad airport, but apparently not the convoy. [Knight-Ridder, 10/20/02, Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02] As with an earlier convoy (see Early November 2001), how could the US not notice this target, especially given intense focus in the area at the time?
November 14-November 25, 2001: At the request of the Pakistani government, the US secretly allows rescue flights into the besieged Taliban stronghold of Kunduz, in Northern Afghanistan, to save Pakistanis fighting for the Taliban and bring them back to Pakistan. Pakistan's President "Musharraf won American support for the airlift by warning that the humiliation of losing hundreds - and perhaps thousands - of Pakistani Army men and intelligence operatives would jeopardize his political survival." [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Dozens of senior Pakistani military officers, including two generals, are flown out. [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] In addition, it is reported that the Pakistani government assists 50 trucks of foreign fighters to escape the town. [New York Times, 11/24/01] Many news articles at the time suggest an airlift is occurring (for instance, [Independent, 11/16/01, New York Times, 11/24/01, BBC, 11/26/01, Independent, 11/26/01, Guardian, 11/27/01, MSNBC, 11/29/01]), but a media controversy and wide coverage fails to develop. The US and Pakistani governments deny the existence of the airlift. [State Department, 11/16/01, New Yorker, 1/21/02] On December 2, when asked to assure that the US didn't allow such an airlift, Rumsfeld says, "Oh, you can be certain of that. We have not seen a single - to my knowledge, we have not seen a single airplane or helicopter go into Afghanistan in recent days or weeks and extract people and take them out of Afghanistan to any country, let alone Pakistan." [MSNBC, 12/2/01] Reporter Seymour Hersh believes that Rumsfeld must have given approval for the airlift. [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] But New Yorker magazine reports, "What was supposed to be a limited evacuation apparently slipped out of control and, as an unintended consequence, an unknown number of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters managed to join in the exodus." A CIA analyst says, "Many of the people they spirited away were in the Taliban leadership" who Pakistan wanted for future political negotiations. US intelligence was "supposed to have access to them, but it didn't happen," he says. According to Indian intelligence, airlifts grow particularly intense in the last three days before the city falls on November 25. Of the 8,000 remaining al-Qaeda, Pakistani, and Taliban, about 5,000 are airlifted out and 3,000 surrender. [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Hersh later claims that "maybe even some of Bin Laden's immediate family were flown out on the those evacuations." [Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] Was the escape of al-Qaeda deliberate so the war against terrorism wouldn't end too soon?
November 15, 2001: For the first time, a major newspaper publishes an article strongly suggesting Flight 93 was shot down. The Philadelphia Daily News quotes numerous eyewitnesses who believe the plane was shot down. The FBI reported a half-ton piece of an engine was found "a considerable distance" from the main crash site. "That information is intriguing to shoot-down theory proponents, since the heat-seeking, air-to-air Sidewinder missiles aboard an F-16 would likely target one of the Boeing 757's two large engines." The article concludes, "No one has fully explained why the plane went down, or what exactly happened during an eight-minute gap from the time all cell phone calls from the plane stopped and the time it crashed." [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/01]
November 15, 2001 (B): Al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef is believed to have been killed in a US bombing raid on Afghanistan. Atef is considered al-Qaeda's military commander, and one of its top leaders. [State Department, 11/16/01, ABC News, 11/17/01] He is apparently the only top level al-Qaeda or Taliban leader killed or captured in the Afghan war.
Mid-November 2001: Ismail Khan, governor of Herat province and one of Afghanistan's most successful militia leaders, later claims that his troops and other Northern Alliance fighters held back at the request of the US from sweeping into Kandahar at this time. The reasoning was that the US didn't want the non-Pashtun Northern Alliance to conquer Pashtun areas. But Khan maintains "we could have captured all the Taliban and the al-Qaeda groups. We could have arrested Osama bin Laden with all of his supporters." [USA Today, 1/2/02] British newspapers at the time report bin Laden is surrounded in a 30-mile area, but the conquest of Kandahar takes weeks without the Northern Alliance and bin Laden slips away. [CNN, 11/18/01] Did the US not want the Northern Alliance to conquer this area in the hopes that a moderate version of the Taliban could remain in power (see November 13, 2001)?
November 16, 2001: Dead microbiologist: Dr. Don Wiley, 57, disappears during a business trip to Memphis, Tennessee. [Fox News, 11/24/01] He had just bought tickets to take his son to Graceland the following day. Police found his rental car on a bridge outside Memphis. His body was later found in the Mississippi River. Forensic experts said he may have had a dizzy spell and fallen off the bridge. Police will only say, "We began this investigation as a missing person investigation. From there it went to a more criminal bent." [CNN, 11/29/01] "Wiley is seen as one of the world's leading researchers of deadly viruses, including HIV and the Ebola virus." [CNN, 12/22/01] Wiley worked at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard University, and was an expert on the immune system's response to viral attacks. He was widely regarded as the nation's foremost expert in using special X-ray cameras and mathematical formulas to make high-resolution images of viruses. [Boston Globe, 12/21/01] The FBI is monitoring the investigation because of his research knowledge. [Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
November 16, 2001 (B): According to Newsweek, approximately 600 al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters escape Afghanistan on this day. Many senior leaders are in the group. They had walked a long trek from bombing in the Tora Bora region. There are two main routes out of the Tora Bora cave complex to Pakistan. The US bombed only one route, so the 600 escaped unattacked using the other route. Hundreds continue to use the escape route for weeks, generally unbothered by US bombing or Pakistani border guards (see Early December 2001). US officials later privately admit they lost a golden opportunity to close a trap. [Newsweek, 8/11/02] On the same day, the media reports that the US is studying routes bin Laden might use to escape Tora Bora [Los Angeles Times, 11/16/01], but the one escape route isn't closed, and apparently bin Laden and others escape into Pakistan using this route weeks later (see Early December 2001). High-ranking British officers will later privately complain that "American commanders had vetoed a proposal to guard the high-altitude trails, arguing that the risks of a firefight, in deep snow, gusting winds and low-slung clouds, were too high." [New York Times, 9/30/02]
November 18, 2001: Hijacker Ziad Jarrah wrote
a letter to his girlfriend shortly before 9/11, but made a mistake in the address,
allowing investigators to find it around this time. He writes, "I did what
I had to do, and you should be very proud of that... It is a great honor and
you will see the result, and everyone will be celebrating." [Observer,
11/18/01] Jarrah's relatives claim the letter is a fake designed to frame
him, and that he wouldn't have mistaken the address of the woman he'd been dating
for five years. [BBC,
11/19/01] At some point, part of Jarrah's passport was found in the wreckage
of Flight 93. [CNN,
8/1/02] This image of the burnt passport has been released, which you can
see here. However, it bears only
a vague resemblance to other pictures of
Jarrah. Could someone who looked vaguely like him have stolen his identity
(for other stolen identities, see September
November 20, 2001: The five Israelis arrested on 9/11 for videotaping the WTC attack and then cheering about it (see September 11, 2001 (W)) are released and return to Israel. Some of the men's names appeared in a US national intelligence database, and the FBI concluded that at least two of the men were working for the Mossad, according to ABC News. But the FBI says that none of them had any advanced knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, and they were released as part of a deal between the US and the Israel government. After their release they claim to have been tortured. [Forward, 3/15/02, ABC News, 6/21/02]
November 21, 2001: The Independent runs a story with the title: "Opium Farmers Rejoice at the Defeat of the Taliban." Massive opium planting is underway all across Afghanistan. [Independent, 11/21/01] Four days later, the Observer runs a story headlined, "Victorious Warlords Set To Open the Opium Floodgates." It states that farmers are being encouraged by warlords allied with the US to plant "as much opium as possible." [Observer, 11/25/01] FTW
November 21, 2001 (B): Dead microbiologist: World-class microbiologist and high-profile Russian defector Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, 64, dies of a stroke. Pasechnik, who defected to Britain in 1989, had played a huge role in the development of Russian biowarfare, heading a lab of 400 "with an unlimited budget" and "the best staff available." He says he succeeded in producing an aerosolized plague microbe that could survive outside the laboratory. He was connected to Britain's spy agency and recently had started his own company. "In the last few weeks of his life he had put his research on anthrax at the disposal of the [British] Government, in the light of the threat from bioterrorism." [London Times, 11/30/01, New York Times, 11/23/01, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
November 21, 2001 (C): The remains of all but one of the people on board Flight 77, including the hijackers, are identified. But the identities of the hijackers have still not been confirmed through their remains. [Washington Post, 11/21/01, Mercury, 1/11/02] Over a year later, the FBI still has not given DNA profiles to medical examiners so the hijacker remains can be identified (see Late February 2003). Strangely, the official story states there was a giant fireball on impact that not only destroyed the airplane but actually vaporized the metal. A rescue worker states: "The only way you could tell that an aircraft was inside was that we saw pieces of the nose gear. The devastation was horrific." [NFPA Journal, 11/1/01] Yet remains of every passenger but one was found?
November 21, 2001 (D):
Bush states, "Afghanistan is just the beginning on the war against terror.
There are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends, and there are
other nations willing to sponsor them. We will not be secure as a nation until
all of these threats are defeated. Across the world and across the years, we
will fight these evil ones, and we will win." [White
House, 11/21/01] A short time later, it is reported that "the US has
honed a hit list of countries to target for military action in rogue regions
across the globe where it believes terror cells flourish," including Iraq.
November 23, 2001: The Boston Globe writes a story that strongly suggests at least one hijacker was inside the cockpits on every flight before the 9/11 hijackings began. An airplane captain theorizes how they took control: ''The most likely scenarios are something that was swift, where the pilots couldn't have changed their transponder code and called the controllers. You think four times in one morning one of those crews would have done that. That means they had to be upon them before they could react.'' On practice flights before 9/11, the hijackers were able to repeatedly get into cockpits by various methods. Perhaps the most important method was jumpseating, which allows certified airline pilots to use a spare seat in the cockpit when none is available in the passenger cabin. Airlines reciprocate to help pilots get home or to the city of their originating flight. Officials say they do not believe any of the hijackers were jumpseating on 9/11 despite media reports to the contrary (see September 24, 2001 (B)). However, since 9/11 the FAA has banned the practice unless a pilot works for the airline in whose cockpit that person wants to ride. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] Could jumpseating be ignored by investigators to save the airlines from losing large lawsuits?
November 23, 2001 (B): The Washington Post reports, "At least 60 young Israeli Jews have been arrested and detained around the country on immigration charges since the Sept. 11 attacks, many of them held on US government officials' invocation of national security." An INS official who requested anonymity says the use of the term "special interest" for Israelis being held in Cleveland, St. Louis and other places means the case in question is "related to the investigation of September 11th." [Washington Post, 11/23/01] Could this be more "art school" spy ring activity?
November 24, 2001: Three more dead microbiologists: A Swissair flight from Berlin to Zurich crashes during its landing approach; 22 are killed and nine survive. Among those killed are Dr. Yaakov Matzner, 54, dean of the Hebrew University school of medicine; Amiramp Eldor, 59, head of the haematology department at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and a world-recognized expert in blood clotting; and Avishai Berkman, 50, director of the Tel Aviv public health department and businessman. [CNN, 11/25/01, Swissair manifest, 11/24/01]
November 25, 2001: US troops land near the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, Afghanistan. [AP, 8/19/02] Apparently, as the noose tightens around Kandahar, new Afghanistan head Hamid Karzai makes a deal with the Taliban, giving them a general amnesty in return for surrender of the city. Taliban's leader Mullah Omar is allowed to escape "with dignity" as part of the deal. But the US says it won't abide by the deal and Karzai then says he won't let Omar go free after all. Taliban forces begin surrendering on December 7. [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/8/01] But Omar does escape.
November 25, 2001 (B): It is believed bin Laden makes a speech before a crowd of about 1,000 followers in the village of Milawa, Afghanistan. This village is on the route from Tora Bora to the Pakistani border, about eight to 10 hours by walking. In his last known public appearance, bin Laden encourages the followers to leave Afghanistan, so they could regroup and fight again. [Knight-Ridder, 10/20/02] It is believed he leaves the country a few days later (see Early December 2001). [Telegraph, 2/23/02]
November 28, 2001: A US Special Forces soldier stationed in Fayetteville, North Carolina later (anonymously) claims that the US has bin Laden pinned in a certain Tora Bora cave on this day, but fails to act. Special Forces soldiers sit by waiting for orders and watch two helicopters fly into the area where bin Laden was believed to be, load up passengers, and fly toward Pakistan. No other soldiers have come forward to corroborate the story, but bin Laden is widely believed to have been in the Tora Bora area at the time. [Fayetteville Observer, 8/2/02] Newsweek separately reports that many locals "claim that mysterious black helicopters swept in, flying low over the mountains at night, and scooped up al-Qaeda's top leaders." [Newsweek, 8/11/02] More incompetence, or a pattern of letting bin Laden escape? Perhaps just coincidentally, on the same day this story is reported, the media also reports a recent spate of strange deaths at the same military base in Fayetteville. Five soldiers and their wives have all died since June 2002 in apparent murder-suicides. At least three were Special Forces soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan. [Independent, 8/2/02] Could it be these soldiers knew too much about escapes and/or human rights atrocities?
November 28, 2001: The Financial Times estimates that the bin Laden family's business, the Saudi Binladin Group, is worth about $36 billion. Osama bin Laden inherited about $300 million at the age of 10 on the death of his father, but he may be worth much more today. While he spends large amounts each month supporting terror, he gets large amounts from rich Saudis every month to make up for the losses. [Financial Times, 11/28/01]
November 30, 2001: A report suggests that the strain of anthrax used in the attacks likely originated from USAMRIID and was shared with only a small number of other labs. USAMRIID gave it to Battelle Memorial Institute, in Columbus, Ohio; the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, in Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Defense Research Establishment Suffield, in Canada; the US Army Dugway Proving Ground, in Utah; and the Chemical Defense Establishment at Porton Down, Britain. These in turn sent it to seven more labs, for a total of a dozen. But only five labs total received the virulent form, and some of these may have received strains that were too old (it is known the anthrax used was two years old or less [New York Times, 6/23/02]). [Washington Post, 11/30/01]
Late November, 2001: Ironically, it appears that even as the US is allowing some Taliban to secretly fly out of Afghanistan (see November 14-25, 2001) it is allowing a brutal massacre of others. The Sunday Herald says, "It seems established, almost beyond doubt, that US soldiers oversaw and took part in horrific crimes against humanity," which resulted in the death of thousands of Taliban supporters who surrendered after Kunduz fell to the Northern Alliance. The documentary Massacre at Mazar exposes this news widely in Europe, but the massacre remains virtually unreported in the US. [Sunday Herald, 7/16/02]
2001: James Hauswirth, a retired Phoenix, Arizona FBI agent, writes a letter
to FBI Director Mueller, criticizing the priorities at the Phoenix FBI office.
"[Counter-terrorism] has always been the lowest priority
in the division; it still is the lowest priority in the division," even
though Arizona had been one of the first hubs for radical Muslim groups in the
US. The Phoenix FBI began investigating Muslim terrorists in 1994. A
number of the 9/11 hijackers lived or pass through Arizona, starting with Hani
Hanjour in 1990 (see 1990).
Hauswirth particularly criticizes that "[Ken] Williams,
regarded as the best terrorism agent in the office, had to interrupt his pre-Sept.
11 investigation of Middle Eastern flight students in order to spend six months
on a high-profile arson case. ... 'He fought it. ... Why take your best terrorism
investigator and put him on an arson case? He didn't have a choice.'" Williams
briefly began investigating Middle Eastern students at an Arizona flight school
in early 2000, but a series of difficulties including the arson case, prevented
him from continuing on that case until June 2001. A month later he wrote
a now-famous memo suggesting that terrorists might be training at US flight
schools (see July 10, 2001).
York Times, 6/19/02, Los Angeles Times,
Early December 2001: The Telegraph later reports on the battle for Tora Bora around this time: "In retrospect, and with the benefit of dozens of accounts from the participants, the battle for Tora Bora looks more like a grand charade." Eyewitnesses express shock that the US pinned in Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, thought to contain many high leaders, on three sides only, leaving the route to Pakistan open. An intelligence chief in Afghanistan's new government says: "The border with Pakistan was the key, but no one paid any attention to it. And there were plenty of landing areas for helicopters had the Americans acted decisively. Al-Qaeda escaped right out from under their feet." [Telegraph, 2/23/02] It is believed up to 2,000 were in the area when the battle began. The vast majority successfully flee, and only 21 al-Qaeda fighters are captured in the end. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02] The US relies on local forces "whose loyalty and enthusiasm were suspect from the start" to do most of the fighting. [Knight-Ridder, 10/20/02] Some of the local commanders drafted to help the US had ties to bin Laden going back to the 1980s. [New York Times, 9/30/02] These forces actually help al-Qaeda escape. An Afghan intelligence officer says he is astounded that Pentagon planners didn't consider the most obvious exit routes and put down light US infantry to block them. It is later widely believed that bin Laden escapes along one of these routes on November 30 or December 1, walking out with about four loyal followers. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02, Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02] Al-Qaeda's number two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, also escapes the area. [Knight-Ridder, 10/20/02] Is this part of a pattern of incompetence, or did the US want bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda leaders to escape?
Early December 2001 (B): Bush officials go to Saudi Arabia in a second attempt to get the Saudi government to cooperate with the 9/11 investigation. They have balked at freezing assets of organizations linked to bin Laden. Shortly thereafter, the Boston Herald runs a series of articles on the Saudis. Says an expert, "If there weren't all these other arrangements - arms deals and oil deals and consultancies - I don't think the US would stand for this lack of cooperation." Another expert states, "It's good old fashioned 'I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine.' You have former US officials, former presidents, aides to the current president, a long line of people who are tight with the Saudis... We are willing to basically ignore inconvenient truths that might otherwise cause our blood to boil." These deals are worth an incredible amount of money: one Washington Post reporter claims that US companies spent $200 billion on Saudi Arabia's defenses alone, and that was before 1993. [Boston Herald, 12/10/01, Boston Herald, 12/11/01, Frontline, 2/16/93] The Boston Herald notes that Saudi businessmen Khalid bin Mahfouz (see for instance 1988 and April 1999) and Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi (see November 22, 2002 (B)) have not had their accounts frozen (and they still have not, until present day, for instance [Scotsman, 8/12/02]) despite evidence that they gave money to bin Laden. They continue to do business with many US companies, and "continue to profit from their working relationship with America's own oil elite." [Boston Herald, 12/10/01]
Early December 2001 (C): Al-Qaeda leader Abu Qatada disappears, despite being under surveillance in Britain. He has been "described by some justice officials as the spiritual leader and possible puppet master of al-Qaeda's European networks." [Time, 7/7/02] Qatada had already been sentenced to death in abstentia in Jordan, and is wanted at the time by the US, Spain, France, and Algeria as well. [Guardian, 2/14/02] In October 2001, it was strongly suggested in the media that Qatada would soon be arrested for his known roles in al-Qaeda plots, but he was not. [London Times, 10/21/01] In November, while Qatada was still living openly in Britain, a Spanish judge expressed disbelief that Qatada hadn't been arrested already. Qatada has been connected to a Spanish al-Qaeda cell that may have met with Atta (see July 8-19, 2001). [Observer, 11/25/01] Time magazine will later claim that just before new anti-terrorism laws go into effect in Britain, Abu Qatada and his family are secretly moved to a safe house by the British government, where he is lodged, fed, and clothed by the government. "The deal is that Abu Qatada is deprived of contact with extremists in London and Europe but can't be arrested or expelled because no one officially knows where he is," says a source, whose claims were corroborated by French authorities. The British are doing this to avoid a "hot potato" trial. [Time, 7/7/02] A British official says, "We wouldn't give an awful lot of credence [to the story]." [Guardian, 7/8/02] Some French officials tell the press that Qatada was allowed to disappear because he is actually a British intelligence agent. [Observer, 2/24/02] Qatada is later arrested on October 23, 2002, in London. [London Times, 10/25/02] Was he on the run until his arrest or did the British secretly hold him until they were ready for a trial?
December 2, 2001: Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy - the biggest bankruptcy ever (that is, until WorldCom some months later). [BBC, 1/10/02] However, Enron reorganizes as a pipeline company, and it may yet complete its controversial Dabhol power plant (see October 18, 2002). [Houston Business Journal, 3/15/02]
December 4, 2001: Convicted drug lord and opium kingpin Ayub Afridi is released from prison and recruited by the US government to help establish control in Afghanistan by unifying various Pashtun warlords. The former opium smuggler was one of the CIA's leading assets in the Afghan war against the Russians. [Asia Times, 12/4/01] FTW
December 4, 2001 (B): Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the largest Islamic charity in the US, has its assets frozen by the Treasury Department (see September 5-8, 2001). [CNN, 12/4/01, Jerusalem Post, 12/5/01] Foundation offices in San Diego, California; Paterson, New Jersey; and Bridgeview, Illinois are also raided. [CNN, 12/4/01] Holy Land is represented by the powerful law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. Three partners at Akin, Gump are very close to President Bush: George R. Salem chaired Bush's 2000 campaign outreach to Arab-Americans; Barnett A. "Sandy" Kress was appointed by Bush as an "unpaid consultant" on education reform (he has an office in the White House); and James C. Langdon is one of Bush's closest Texas friends. The firm has also represented Khalid bin Mahfouz (see 1988 and April 1999) and his business partner Mohammed Hussain Al-Amoudi (see November 26, 2002). [Boston Herald, 12/11/01, Washington Post, 12/17/01]
December 6, 2001: In the wake of 9/11, Attorney General Ashcroft has prevented the FBI from investigating gun-purchase records to discover if any of the hundreds arrested or suspected had bought any guns. The White House supports him, saying they have no intention of changing the law to clarify the FBI's ability to search gun-purchase records. [CNN, 12/6/01, Guardian, 5/21/02] What about reports that a gun was possibly used on Flight 11 (see September 11, 2001 (X)) or Flight 93 (see March 27, 2002)?
December 6, 2001 (B): Speaking before a Senate committee, Attorney General Ashcroft says, "To those who pit Americans against immigrants, citizens against non-citizens, to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil." [CNN, 12/7/01]
December 7, 2001: Indian gangster Asif Raza Khan, terrorist associate of Saeed Sheikh and Aftab Ansari (see November 1994-December 1999), is shot dead by Indian police. Police claim he was trying to escape. [Los Angeles Times, 1/23/02] A month or two before he dies, Indian investigators record a confession of his involvement in a plot with Ansari and Saeed to send kidnapping profits to hijacker Mohamed Atta (Early August 2001 (D)). This information becomes public just before Saeed is suspected for kidnapping reporter Daniel Pearl (see January 23, 2002 and February 5, 2002). [Independent, 2/24/02, India Today, 2/25/02] Many in Ansari's Indian criminal network are arrested in October and November 2001, and confirm the money connection to Atta. [India Today, 2/14/02]
December 8, 2001: During a visit to Kazakhstan in Central Asia, Secretary of State Powell states that US oil companies are likely to invest $200 billion in Kazakhstan alone in the next five to 10 years. [New York Times, 12/15/01]
December 10, 2001: Dead microbiologist: "Dr. Robert Schwartz, 57, was stabbed and slashed with what police believe was a sword in his farmhouse in Leesberg, Va. His daughter, who identifies herself as a pagan high priestess, and three of her fellow pagans have been charged." [Globe and Mail, 5/4/02] All were part of what they called a coven, and interested in magic, fantasy and self-mutilation. The police have no motive as to why they would have wanted to kill Schwartz, who was a single parent and said to be very close to his children. Schwartz worked at Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology on DNA sequencing and pathogenic microorganisms. He was "a brilliant scientist who had a gift for explaining complex scientific subjects in simple language." [Washington Post, 12/12/01]
December 11, 2001: Zacarias Moussaoui is criminally indicted for his role in the 9/11 attacks. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death. [MSNBC, 12/11/01, AP, 12/12/01] Moussaoui has admitted to being a member of al-Qaeda, but while he has been involved in terrorist activity, many have expressed doubts that he had any involvement in the 9/11 plot (see September 5, 2002 and September 30, 2002).
December 12-15, 2001: Fox News broadcasts a remarkable series about the Israeli "art student" spy ring. The report mentions that at least 60 more Israelis have been detained or arrested since 9/11. "There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it." When a government source is asked if the Israeli spies knew about the 9/11 attacks before they happened, he responds "The principal question is 'how could they have not known?'" "Investigators within the DEA, INS and FBI have all told Fox News that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying ... is considered career suicide." A highly placed investigator says there are 'tie-ins' between the spy ring and 9/11. But when asked for details, he flatly refuses to describe them, saying, 'evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It's classified information.'" The report also reveals that Amdocs, an Israeli company, is recording virtually every phone call in the US and could be passing information on to the Israeli government (similar claims were first raised in 2000 [Insight, 5/29/00]). Fox News suggests they might be using this position to impede the 9/11 investigation. [Fox News, 12/12/01]
December 13, 2001: The US Army responds to a journalistic investigation and confirms that it has been making weapons grade anthrax in recent years, in violation of an international treaty. The US offensive biological weapons program was supposedly closed in 1969 when the US signed a biological weapons treaty. In 1998 scientists at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah turned small quantities of wet anthrax into powder. This weaponized anthrax appears to be very similar or identical to the anthrax used in the recent attacks. [Baltimore Sun, 12/13/01, New York Times, 12/13/01]
December 13, 2001 (B): The US releases a video of bin Laden that seems to confirm his role in the 9/11 attack. [Guardian, 12/13/01] However, a number of strange facts about this video soon emerge. For one, all previous videos had been made with the consent of bin Laden, and usually released to the Arabic TV channel Al Jazeera. This video was supposedly recorded without his knowledge, found in a house in Afghanistan, and then passed to the CIA by an unknown person or group. Experts point out that it would be possible to fake such a video. So many people doubt the video's authenticity that Bush soon makes a statement, saying it was "preposterous for anybody to think this tape was doctored. Those who contend it's a farce or a fake are hoping for the best about an evil man." Some observers point out that bin Laden is wearing a ring on his right hand. In previous films, he had worn no jewelry apart from a watch. [Guardian, 12/15/01] The German television show Monitor does an independent translation that questions the translation given by the Pentagon. Says Professor Gernot Rotter, scholar of Islamic and Arabic Studies at the University of Hamburg, "This tape is of such poor quality that many passages are unintelligible. And those that are intelligible have often been taken out of context, so that you can't use that as evidence. The American translators who listened to the tape and transcribed it obviously added things that they wanted to hear in many places." [Monitor, 12/20/01] But perhaps the best reason to think the video is not of bin Laden is to look at the video. The person in the video just plain doesn't look like him, especially in the nose. See the comparison on the right. Here also are comparisons of videos from before, during, and after: Al Jazeera, 10/01, Al Jazeera, 10/11/01, Dawn interview, 11/8/01, controversial video, late 11/01, Al Jazeera, 12/27/01. One answer may be that the video was of one of bin Laden's doubles. There are reports that he had from four to ten look-alike doubles at the time. [AFP, 10/7/01, London Times, 11/19/01]
December 13, 2001 (C): The Indian Parliament building in New Delhi is attacked by terrorists. Fourteen people, including the five attackers, are killed. India blames the Pakistani terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad for the attacks. Twelve days later, Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Jaish-e-Mohammad, is arrested by Pakistan and his group is banned. He is freed one year later (see December 14, 2002). [AFP, 12/25/01, Christian Science Monitor, 12/16/02] The Parliament attack leads to talk of war, even nuclear war, between Pakistan and India, until President Musharraf cracks down on terrorist groups in early January (see January 12, 2002). [Telegraph, 12/28/01, Wall Street Journal, 1/3/02, Guardian, 5/25/02] It appears that Saeed Sheikh and Aftab Ansari, working with the ISI, are also behind the attacks. [Vanity Fair, 8/02, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02]
December 14, 2001: Dead microbiologist: Nguyen Van Set, 44, dies in an airlock filled with nitrogen in his lab in Geelong, Australia. The lab had just been written up in the journal Nature for its work in genetic manipulation and DNA sequencing. Scientists there had created a virulent form of mousepox. "They realized that if similar genetic manipulation was carried out on smallpox, an unstoppable killer could be unleashed," according to Nature. [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/12/01, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
December 16, 2001: Fox News removes its series on the "art student" spy ring (see December 12-15, 2001) from its website after only two days, in response to pressure from the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and others (see for instance, [CAMERA, 12/12/01, CAMERA, 12/13/01]). CAMERA for instance, suggests the reporter "has something, personally, about Israel... Maybe he's very sympathetic to the Arab side." [Salon, 5/7/02] The head of the ADL calls the report "sinister dangerous innuendo which fuels anti-Semitism." [Forward, 12/21/01] Yet there doesn't appear to be any substance to these personal attacks (and Forward later reverses its stance on the spy ring [Forward, 3/15/02]). Fox News also never makes a formal repudiation or correction about the series. The contents of the series continues to be mostly ignored by the mainstream media, but it makes a big impact inside the US government. For instance, an internal DEA communiqué from December 18 mentions the Fox report by name, and warns of security breaches in telecommunications as described in the Fox report. [Salon, 5/7/02]
December 17, 2001: Northern Alliance forces declare that the battle of Tora Bora, with a ground assault begun on December 5, has been won. However, in retrospect, the battle is considered a failure because most of the enemy escapes (see Early December 2001). The Afghan war ends with the elimination of the last major pocket of Taliban/al-Qaeda resistance. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02]
December 19, 2001: Speaking
in Kazakhstan, US Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones states: "We
will not leave Central Asia after resolving the conflict [in Afghanistan]. We
want to support the Central Asian countries in their desire to reform their
societies as they supported us in the war against terrorism. These are not only
new but long-term relations" (see also January
2002 (D) and April
30, 2002). [BBC, 12/19/01] This
important change in official US policy is not actually reported in the US itself.
December 21, 2001: The FBI reveals that it knows what's on the Flight 93 black boxes (see September 13-14, 2001), but they won't release the transcript or audio recording. Families of the victims had requested to hear the cockpit voice recording, but the FBI says, "we do not believe that the horror captured on the cockpit voice recording will console them in any way." [CNN, 12/21/01] Accuracy in Media immediately submits a Freedom of Information Act request to have the transcript released, but the FBI turns it down because a release "could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings." The Philadelphia Daily News asks, "What enforcement proceedings?" and suggests the FBI may be covering up a shoot down of the plane. [Philadelphia Daily News, 12/28/01]
December 21, 2001 (B): The FBI is now investigating "whether potential profit from the sale of anthrax medications or cleanup efforts may have motivated" the anthrax attacks. Battelle, a company doing anthrax work for the CIA, is the one company most discussed in the article and is strongly featured in another. [Washington Post, 12/21/01, ABC, 12/20/01] The same day, the FBI says it is not investigating a former Battelle scientist in relation to an anthrax scare, contrary to national broadcast news reports. A US Senator further claims FBI Director Mueller told him "no one with or formerly with Battelle is a suspect." [Columbus Dispatch, 12/21/01] Is Bayer also under investigation (see October 21, 2001)?
December 22, 2001: Afghani Prime Minister Hamid Karzai and his transitional government takes power in Afghanistan. It was revealed a few weeks before that he had been a paid consultant for Unocal, as well as Deputy Foreign Minister for the Taliban. [Le Monde, 12/13/01, CNN, 12/22/01] FTW
December 22, 2001 (B): British citizen Richard Reid is arrested for allegedly trying to blow up a Miami-bound jet using explosives hidden in his shoe. [AP, 8/19/02] He later pleads guilty to all charges, and declares himself a follower of bin Laden. [CBS, 10/4/02] He may have ties to Pakistan. [Washington Post, 3/31/02] It is later believed that Reid and others in the shoe bomb plot reported directly to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. [CNN, 1/30/03] It has been suggested that Mohammed has ties to the ISI (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). It is also later suggested that Reid is a follower of Ali Gilani, a religious leader believed to be working with the ISI (see January 6, 2002).
December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl writes stories about the ISI that will lead to his kidnapping (see January 23, 2002). On December 24, 2001, he reports about ties between the ISI and a Pakistani organization that was working on giving bin Laden nuclear secrets before 9/11. A few days later, he reports that the ISI supported terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad (see December 24-31, 1999) still has its office running and bank accounts working, even though President Musharraf claims to have banned the group. "If [Pearl] hadn't been on the ISI's radarscope before, he was now." [Vanity Fair, 8/02, Guardian, 7/16/02] He begins investigating links between shoe bomber Richard Reid and Pakistani militants (see December 22, 2001 (B)), and comes across connections to the ISI and a mysterious religious group called Al-Fuqra (see January 6, 2002). [Washington Post, 2/23/02] He also may be looking into the US training and backing of the ISI. [Gulf News, 3/25/02] He's writing another story on Dawood Ibrahim, a powerful terrorist and gangster protected by the ISI, and other Pakistani organized crime figures. [Newsweek, 2/4/02, Vanity Fair, 8/02] Former CIA agent Robert Baer (see December 1997 and August 2001 (G)) later claims to be working with Pearl on investigating 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (see December 1997). [UPI, 9/30/02] It is later suggested that Mohammed masterminds both Reid's shoe bomb attempt and the Pearl kidnapping (see January 22, 2003), and has connections to Pakistani gangsters and the ISI, so some of these explanations could fit together. [UPI, 9/30/02, Asia Times, 10/30/02, CNN, 1/30/03] Kidnapper Saeed will later say of Pearl, "because of his hyperactivity he caught our interest." [The News, 2/15/02]
December 24, 2001: The Guardian reports many in Afghanistan intelligence say former top Taliban officials are living openly in villas in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At least four top leaders who had been caught have been simply released. One intelligence source claims to know the exact location of many, and says they could be rounded up within hours. A former Taliban minister now working with the Northern Alliance also claims, "Some are living in luxury in fine houses, they are not hiding in holes. They could be in jail by tonight if the political will existed." The US claims it is working hard to find and catch these leaders. [Guardian, 12/24/01] Yet even a year later no more leaders have been caught in Afghanistan.
December 25, 2001: The New York Times reports that "some of the nation's leading structural engineers and fire-safety experts" believe the investigation into the collapse of the WTC is "inadequate", and "are calling for a new, independent and better-financed inquiry that could produce the kinds of conclusions vital for skyscrapers and future buildings nationwide." Experts critical of the investigation include "some of those people who are actually conducting it." They point out that the current team of 20 or so investigators has no subpoena power, inadequate financial support, little staff support, has been prevented from interviewing witnesses and frequently prevented from examining the disaster site, and has even been unable to obtain basic information like detailed blueprints of the buildings that collapsed. The decision to rapidly recycle the steel columns, beams and trusses from the WTC in the days immediately after 9/11 means definitive answers may never be known. [New York Times, 12/25/01] (Incredibly, some of the steel is being reforged into commemorative medallions selling for $30 apiece) [AP, 1/30/02]
December 30, 2001: The new Afghan Interior Minister Younis Qanooni claims that the ISI helped bin Laden escape from Afghanistan: "Undoubtedly they (ISI) knew what was going on." He claims that the ISI is still supporting bin Laden even if Pakistani president Musharraf isn't. [BBC, 12/30/01]
January 2002: Two dead microbiologists: Ivan Glebov and Alexi Brushlinski. Pravda reports that Glebov died as the result of a bandit attack and reports without explanation that Brushlinski was killed in Moscow. Both were "well known around the world" and members of the Russian Academy of Science. [Pravda, 2/9/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
January 2002 (B): The FBI finally begins subpoenaing laboratories that worked with the Ames strain of anthrax used in the attacks. But when the labs start to send their samples, they are told to wait another month because a new storage room for the sample needs to be built. "The FBI's delay in requesting the samples - and the government's lack of readiness to receive them - is part of a pattern." Other examples include taking six months to begin testing mailboxes surrounding Trenton, New Jersey, where the anthrax letters were postmarked, and nearly a year to go back into the American Media building in Boca Raton, Florida, to hunt for the source of anthrax that killed the first victim there. [Hartford Courant, 9/7/02]
January 2002 (C): Steven Hatfill, later to emerge as a suspect of the anthrax attacks (see June 25, 2002), is interviewed by FBI investigators for the first time. He is then given a lie-detector test as part of a wide-ranging FBI review of the scientific community. Hatfill was told he gave satisfactory answers on the test. The FBI returned for a two-hour interview in March. [Washington Post, 8/11/02] Why was such a likely suspect not questioned for so many months?
January 2002 (D): It is reported that now the US is improving bases in "13 locations in nine countries in the Central Asian region" (see also September 22, 2001-December 2001 and Early October 2001). [Christian Science Monitor, 1/17/02] 60,000 US military personnel now work in these new bases surrounding Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 1/6/02] "Of the five ex-Soviet states of Central Asia, Turkmenistan alone is resisting pressure to allow the deployment of US or other Western forces on its soil...." [Guardian, 1/10/02] "The task of the encircling US bases now shooting up on Afghanistan's periphery is only partly to contain the threat of political regression or Taliban resurgence in Kabul. Their bigger, longer-term role is to project US power and US interests into countries previously beyond its reach. ... The potential benefits for the US are enormous: growing military hegemony in one of the few parts of the world not already under Washington's sway, expanded strategic influence at Russia and China's expense, pivotal political clout and - grail of holy grails - access to the fabulous, non-OPEC oil and gas wealth of central Asia." [Guardian, 1/16/02] On January 9, the speaker of the Russian parliament states, "Russia would not approve of the appearance of permanent US bases in Central Asia," but Russia seems helpless to stop what a Russian newspaper calls "the inexorable growth" of the US military presence in central Asia. [Guardian, 1/10/02]
January 2002 (E): The Patriot Act permits federal agents to secretly obtain information from booksellers and librarians about customers' and patrons' reading, internet and book-buying habits, merely by alleging that the records are relevant to an anti-terrorism investigation. The act prohibits librarians and booksellers from revealing these requests, so they cannot be challenged in court. [Newsday, 9/16/02] A University of Illinois study concludes that federal agents have sought records from about 220 libraries nationwide since September and about this time. [Miami Herald, 9/1/02] The Justice Department refuses to say how many times it has invoked this Patriot Act provision (see also June 13, 2002). [Observer, 3/16/03 (B)] But Assistant Attorney General Daniel Bryant says that people who borrow or buy books surrender their right of privacy. [San Francisco Chronicle, 3/10/03] Some libraries and bookstores unhappy with the law begin to fight back in a number of ways. Some libraries have posted signs warning that the government may be monitoring their users' reading habits. [Reuters, 3/11/03 (B)] Thousands of libraries are destroying records so agents have nothing to seize. [New York Times, 4/7/03] Many librarians polled say they would break the law and deny orders to disclose reading records. [San Francisco Chronicle, 3/10/03]
January 1, 2002: Zalamy Khalilzad, already a Special Assistant to the President (see May 23, 2001), is appointed by Bush as a special envoy to Afghanistan. [BBC, 1/1/02] Khalilzad, a former employee of Unocal, took part in negotiations with the Taliban to build a pipeline through Afghanistan. He also wrote op-eds in the Washington Post in 1997 supporting the Taliban regime, back when Unocal was hoping to work with the Taliban. [Independent, 1/10/02] FTW Now the US envoy is a former Unocal employee consulting with a prime minister who is a former Unocal employee (see December 22, 2001) in a country where Unocal might build gas and oil pipelines (see May 13, 2002).
January 4, 2002: A firefighter trade magazine
with ties to the New York Fire Department calls the investigation into the collapse
of the WTC a "half-baked farce." The article points out that the probe
has not looked at all aspects of the disaster and has had limited access to
documents and other evidence. "The destruction and removal of evidence
must stop immediately." It concludes that a growing number of fire protection
engineers have theorized that "the structural damage from the planes and
the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down
the towers." [New York Daily News,
1/4/02, Fire Engineering, 1/02]
January 4, 2002 (B): The US government is shown to have doctored information about terrorists. For instance, the State Department said Atta "wanted to learn to fly, but didn't need to take off and land" when this information clearly referred to Zacarias Moussaoui (although that story isn't exactly true for him either- see August 13-15, 2001). The Defense Department even released a photo purporting to be bin Laden in Western clothing, with his hair cut short and beard shaved off. An expert says "Frankly, this is sloppy," and the article calls these efforts "worthy of the tabloids." [AP, 1/4/02]
January 5, 2002: It is reported that the FBI has asked Pakistan for permission to question Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad. Pakistan arrested him on December 25, 2001 after US pressure to do so (see December 13, 2001 (C)). One Pakistani official says, "The Americans are aware Azhar met bin Laden often, and are convinced he can give important information about bin Laden's present whereabouts and even the September 11 attacks." But the "primary reason" for US interest is the link between Azhar and Saeed Sheikh (see December 24-31, 1999). They hope to learn about Saeed's involvement in financing the 9/11 attacks. It is not certain that Pakistan gives permission to question Azhar. Four days later, the US officially asks Pakistan for help in finding and extraditing Saeed (see August-October 2001 ). [Gulf News, 1/5/02]
January 6, 2002: The US locates former Taliban head Mullah Omar and 1,500 of his soldiers in the remote village of Baghran, Afghanistan. After a six-day siege and surrounded by US helicopters and troops, Omar and four bodyguards supposedly escape the dragnet in a daring chase on motorcycles over dirt roads. His soldiers are also set free in return for giving up their weapons, in a deal brokered by local leaders. Yet it remains unclear if Omar was ever in the village in the first place. [Observer, 1/6/02]
January 6, 2002: The Boston Globe reports that shoe bomber Richard Reid (see December 22, 2001 (B)) may have had ties with an obscure Pakistani group called Al-Fuqra. Reid apparently visited the Lahore, Pakistan home of Ali Gilani, the leader of Al-Fuqra. [Boston Globe, 1/6/02] Reporter Daniel Pearl reads the article, and decides to investigate (see also December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). [Vanity Fair, 8/02] Pearl believes he is on his way to interview Gilani when he is kidnapped (see January 23, 2002). [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] A 1995 State Department report said Al-Fuqra's main goal is "purifying Islam through violence." [Vanity Fair, 8/02] Intelligence experts say it is a splinter group of Jaish-e-Mohammad, and has ties to al-Qaeda. [UPI, 1/29/02] Al-Fuqra claims close ties with the Muslims of the Americas, a US tax-exempt group claiming about 3,000 members living in rural compounds in 19 states, the Caribbean and Europe. Members of Al-Fuqra are suspected of at least 13 fire bombings and 17 murders, as well as theft and credit-card fraud. Gilani had links to people involved in the 1993 WTC bombing, and he fled the US after the bombing. Gilani admits he works with the ISI and lives freely in Pakistan. [Boston Globe, 1/6/02, The News, 2/15/02, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02, Vanity Fair, 8/02] Saeed Sheikh "has long had close contacts" with the group, and praises Gilani for his "unexplained services to Pakistan and Islam." [The News, 2/18/02, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] There has been surprisingly little media coverage of Al-Fuqra, given their US presence and al-Qaeda connection (see also [Knight Ridder, 12/25/01, New York Times, 1/3/02, New York Post, 2/10/02, Rocky Mountain News, 2/12/02]).
January 11, 2002: The first of about 600 hundred suspected al-Qaeda and/or Taliban prisoners from the war in Afghanistan are transferred to Camp X-Ray, a detention facility in US-controlled Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It is reported that the prisoners are hooded, shackled, and possibly drugged during their flight to Cuba. [Guardian, 1/11/02] Pictures of prisoners being transferred in conditions clearly in violation of international law are later leaked, prompting an outcry. But rather than investigating the inhumane transfer, the Pentagon begins investigating how the pictures were leaked. [AP, 11/9/02] The prisoners are sent to this base because of a historical quirk: The base is owned by Cuba but controlled by the US, so the prisoners are in a legal limbo outside of any US law. [Globe and Mail, 9/5/02] Furthermore, the US argues the prisoners are "enemy combatants" rather than prisoners of war, implying that they do not have all the rights assigned to POWs under the Geneva Convention. [Guardian, 9/9/02] Senior British officials privately call the treatment of prisoners "scandalous," and one calls the refusal to follow the Geneva Convention "not benchmarks of a civilized society." [Guardian, 6/13/02] The commander of the base later suggests that some prisoners could end up staying there for decades (see also April 30, 2002 and October 28, 2002). [AFP, 9/13/02]
January 12, 2002: Pakistan President Musharraf makes "a forceful speech... condemning Islamic extremism." [Washington Post, 3/28/02] Around this time, he also arrests about 2000 people he calls extremists. He is hailed in the Western media as redirecting the ISI to support the US agenda. Yet, by the end of the month at least 800 of the arrested are set free [Washington Post, 3/28/02] including "most of their firebrand leaders." [Time, 5/6/02] Within one year, "almost all" of those arrested have been quietly released. Even the most prominent leaders, such as Maulana Masood Azhar (see December 14, 2002), have been released. Their terrorist organizations are running again, often under new names. [Washington Post, 2/8/03]
January 13, 2002: Andreas von Bülow, former German Minister for Research and Technology and a long-time member of German parliament, suggests in an interview that the CIA could have been behind the 9/11 attacks. He states: "Whoever wants to understand the CIA's methods, has to deal with its main task of covert operations: below the level of war, and outside international law, foreign states are to be influenced by inciting insurrections or terrorist attacks, usually combined with drugs and weapons trade, and money laundering.... Since, however, it must not under any circumstances come out that there is an intelligence agency behind it, all traces are erased, with tremendous deployment of resources. I have the impression that this kind of intelligence agency spends 90% of its time this way: creating false leads. So that if anyone suspects the collaboration of the agencies, he is accused of paranoia. The truth often comes out only years later." [Der Tagesspiegel, 1/13/02] In an example of covering tracks, Ephraim Halevy, head of Israel's Mossad from 1998 till 2002, claims, "Not one big success of the Mossad has ever been made public." [CBS, 2/5/03]
Mid-January 2002: Vice Admiral John Poindexter begins running a shadowy new government agency called the Information Awareness Office. [New York Times, 2/13/02, Federal Computer Week, 10/17/02] Poindexter, President Reagan's National Security Adviser, is known for his five felony convictions of lying to Congress, destroying documents, and obstructing Congress in its investigation of his role in the mid-1980s Iran-Contra affair. Later his convictions were overturned on a technicality. [Los Angeles Times, 11/17/02 (B)] Far from apologizing, Poindexter said it was his duty to lie to Congress. [Newsday, 12/1/02] The New York Times notes that his new agency "is developing technologies to give federal officials instant access to vast new surveillance and information-analysis systems." The new office is part of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Poindexter was also known for his controversial role in shifting control of computer security to the military in the 1980s. Says Marc Rotenberg, former counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, "It took three administrations and both political parties over a decade to correct those mistakes." [New York Times, 2/13/02] Surprisingly, Poindexter's appointment is little noticed until later in 2002 when the Total Information Awareness program is revealed (see March 2002 (B) and November 9, 2002). Incidentally, several others involved in the Iran-Contra affair also find jobs in the Bush Administration, including Elliott Abrams, John Negroponte, and Otto Reich. [Observer, 12/8/02]
January 20, 2002: Evidence comes to light that a scientist named Lt. Col. Philip Zack had a history of suspicious behavior in the nation's most classified anthrax research center, USAMRIID. Zack was fired for unprofessional behavior centering on numerous hateful attacks on his colleague Dr. Assaad (Zack is Jewish and Assaad is Muslim, which may explain the enmity). Security cameras show Zack came into the lab at night on occasion without permission, after being fired. [Hartford Courant, 1/20/02] There is also a history of missing viruses, including anthrax and Ebola, that seem connected to these incidents. [New York Times, 7/19/02, note that the Times story mentions Hatfill (as "Dr. Z") in the article and not Zack, even though Hatfill didn't join USAMRIID until years after these incidents] A former lab technician who worked with some of the anthrax that was later reported missing said all he ever handled was the Ames strain. [Hartford Courant, 1/20/02] Dr. Assaad received a letter just prior to the anthrax attacks in October that appear to frame him (see October 2, 2001). [Hartford Courant, 12/9/01] Zack seems a very likely suspect, but has not been arrested (and wasn't even questioned for months after the attacks).
January 22, 2002: A crowd of mostly unarmed Indian police near the US Information Service building in Calcutta, India, is attacked by gunmen; four policemen are killed and 21 people injured. The gunmen escape. India claims that Aftab Ansari immediately calls to take credit, and India charges that the gunmen belong to Ansari's kidnapping ring also connected to funding the 9/11 attacks (see Early August 2001 (D)). [Telegraph, 1/24/02, AP, 2/10/02] Saeed Sheikh and the ISI assist Ansari in the attack. [Vanity Fair, 8/02, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] This is the fourth terrorist attack they have cooperated on, including the 9/11 attacks (see Early August 2001 (D), October 1, 2001 (D), and December 13, 2001 (C)).
January 22-25, 2002: FBI Director Mueller visits India, and is told by Indian investigators that Saeed Sheikh sent ransom money to hijacker Mohamed Atta in the US (see Early August 2001 (D)). In the next few days, Saeed is publicly blamed for his role with gangster Aftab Ansari in financing Atta and organizing the Calcutta terrorist attack (see January 22, 2002). [Press Trust of India, 1/22/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/23/02, Independent, 2/24/02, AFP, 1/27/02, Telegraph, 1/27/02] Meanwhile, on January 23, Saeed helps kidnap reporter Daniel Pearl (see January 23, 2002) and is later arrested (see February 5, 2002). Also on January 23, Ansari is placed under surveillance after flying to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On January 24, Mueller and US Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin discuss Saeed at a previously scheduled meeting with Pakistani President Musharraf. Apparently Saeed's role in Pearl's kidnapping is not yet known. [AP, 2/24/02] Mueller then flies to Dubai on his way back to the US to pressure the government there to arrest Ansari and deport him to India. Ansari is arrested on February 5 and deported 4 days later (see February 9, 2002 (C)). [AP, 2/10/02, Frontline, 2/16/02, India Today, 2/25/02] Is the timing of Mueller's travels coincidental, or is he striking at Saeed and Ansari for their role in financing 9/11?
January 23, 2002: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Pakistan while researching stories threatening to the ISI (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). [Guardian, 1/25/02, BBC, 7/5/02] He is later murdered (see January 31, 2002). FTW Saeed Sheikh is later convicted as the mastermind of the kidnap (see July 15, 2002), and though it appears he lured Pearl into being kidnapped beginning January 11, the actual kidnapping and murder of Pearl is done by others who remain at large. [Vanity Fair, 8/02, Wall Street Journal, 1/23/03] Both al-Qaeda and the ISI appear to be behind the kidnapping (see January 28, 2002 and February 5, 2002). The overall mastermind behind the kidnapping seems to be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, also mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. [Time, 1/26/03, CNN, 1/30/03] If Saeed assisted Mohammed in the kidnapping, that would appear to repeat their cooperation in the 9/11 attacks, and strengthen the argument that Mohammed is connected to both al-Qaeda and the ISI (see June 4, 2002).
January 24, 2002: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) later claims that on this day, Vice President Cheney calls him and urges that no 9/11 inquiry be made. Bush repeats the request on January 28, and Daschle is repeatedly pressured thereafter. Newsweek summarizes one of these conversations: "Bush administration officials might say they're too busy running the war on terrorism to show up. Press the issue... and you risk being accused of interfering with the mission." [Newsweek, 2/4/02] Cheney later disagrees: "Tom's wrong. He has, in this case, let's say a misinterpretation." [Reuters, 5/27/02]
January 26, 2002: Salon exposes details about the FBI's anthrax investigation. The FBI appears to be casting a very wide net, for instance approaching all 40,000 members of the American Society of Microbiologists and putting flyers asking for information all over New Jersey. Yet all the evidence suggests that the anthrax strain could only be made in one of two places: USAMRIID in Maryland or US Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Meanwhile, the FBI has not yet subpoenaed employee records of the few labs that used the strain of anthrax used in the attacks. Numerous anthrax experts express puzzlement. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a biological arms control expert, believes the FBI is dragging its heels for political reasons. She is convinced the FBI knows who mailed the anthrax letters, but isn't arresting him, because he has been involved in secret biological weapons research that the US does not want revealed. "This guy knows too much, and knows things the US isn't very anxious to publicize. Therefore, they don't want to get too close." [Salon, 1/26/02]
January 28, 2002: The kidnappers of reporter Daniel Pearl (see January 23, 2002) e-mail the media a picture of Pearl and a list of very strange demands. [BBC, 7/5/02] The kidnappers call themselves "The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty," a previously unheard of name. [Vanity Fair, 8/02] Their demands include the return of US-held Pakistani prisoners and the departure of US journalists from Pakistan. [ABC News, 2/7/02] Most unusually, they demand that the US sell F-16 fighters to Pakistan. No terrorist group had ever shown interest in the F-16's, but this demand and the others reflect the desires of Pakistan's military and the ISI. [London Times, 4/21/02, Guardian, 7/16/02] On January 29, "a senior Pakistani official" presumably from the ISI leaks the fact that Pearl is Jewish to the Pakistani press. This may have been an attempt to ensure the kidnappers would want to murder him, which they do shortly thereafter (see January 31, 2002). [Vanity Fair, 8/02] On the same day, it is reported that US intelligence believes the kidnappers are connected to the ISI. [UPI, 1/29/02] Secretary of State Powell will later say there is no connection between the kidnappers and the ISI. [March 3, 2002]
January 29, 2002: President Bush's State of the Union speech describes an "axis of evil" between Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Advisor Richard Perle cautioned against these same three countries a month before 9/11 (see August 6, 2001). Bin Laden is not mentioned in the speech. [CNN, 1/29/02] The speech is followed by a new public focus on Iraq and a downplaying of bin Laden (see September 15, 2001-April 6, 2002).
January 31, 2002: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is murdered by his kidnappers in Pakistan (see also January 23, 2002). Pearl is reported dead on February 21; his body is found months later. Police investigators say "there were at least eight to ten people present on the scene" and at least 15 who participated in his kidnapping and murder. "Despite issuing a series of political demands shortly after Pearl's abduction four weeks ago, it now seems clear that the kidnappers planned to kill Pearl all along." [Washington Post, 2/23/02] Some captured participants later claim 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is the one who cuts Pearl's throat (see January 22, 2003).
February 5, 2002: Pakistani police, with the help of the FBI, determine Saeed Sheikh is behind the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl (see January 23, 2002), but are unable to find him. They round up about ten of his relatives and threaten to harm them unless he turns himself in. Saeed Sheikh does turn himself in, but to Ijaz Shah, his former ISI boss (see June 1993-October 1994). [Boston Globe, 2/7/02, Vanity Fair, 8/02] The ISI holds Saeed for a week, but fails to tell Pakistani police or anyone else that they have him (see February 12, 2002). This "missing week" is the cause of much speculation. The ISI never tells Pakistani police any details about this week. [Newsweek, 3/11/02] Saeed also later refuses to discuss the week or his connection to the ISI, only saying, "I will not discuss this subject. I do not want my family to be killed." He adds, "I know people in the government and they know me and my work." [Newsweek, 3/13/02, Vanity Fair, 8/02] It is suggested Saeed is held for this week to make sure that Pearl was killed. Saeed later says that during this week he got a coded message from the kidnappers that Pearl had been murdered. Also, the time might have been spent working out a deal with the ISI over what Saeed would tell police and the public. [Newsweek, 3/11/02] Several others with both extensive ISI and al-Qaeda ties wanted for the kidnapping are arrested around this time. [Washington Post, 2/23/02, London Times, 2/25/02] One of these men, Khalid Khawaja, "has never hidden his links with Osama bin Laden. At one time he used to fly Osama's personal plane." [PakNews, 2/11/02]
February 6, 2002: Pakistani police publicly name Saeed Sheikh and a terrorist group he belongs to, Jaish-e-Mohammad, responsible for reporter Daniel Pearl's murder (see January 31, 2002 and February 5, 2002). [Observer, 2/24/02] In the next several months, at least 12 Western articles mention Saeed's links to al-Qaeda [ABC News, 2/7/02, Boston Globe, 2/7/02, AP, 2/24/02, Los Angeles Times, 3/15/02], including his financing of 9/11 [New York Daily News, 2/7/02, CNN, 2/8/02, AP, 2/9/02, Guardian, 2/9/02, Independent, 2/10/02, Time, 2/10/02, New York Post, 2/10/02, Evening Standard, 2/12/02, Los Angeles Times, 2/13/02, New York Post, 2/22/02, Sunday Herald, 2/24/02, USA Today, 3/8/02], and at least 16 articles mention his links to the ISI. [Cox News, 2/21/02, Observer, 2/24/02, Telegraph, 2/24/02, Newsweek, 2/25/02, New York Times, 2/25/02, USA Today, 2/25/02, National Post, 2/26/02, Boston Globe, 2/28/02, Newsweek, 3/11/02, Newsweek, 3/13/02, Guardian, 4/5/02, MSNBC, 4/5/02]. However, many other articles fail to mention either link. But only three articles consider that Saeed could have been connected to both groups at the same time. [London Times, 2/25/02, London Times, 4/21/02, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02], and only one of these mentions he could be involved in the ISI, al-Qaeda and financing 9/11. [London Times, 4/21/02] By the time Saeed is convicted of Pearl's murder in July 2002, not a single US newspaper is connecting Saeed to either al-Qaeda or the ISI, while many British newspapers are still making one or the other connection (see July 15, 2002). Is the media afraid of reporting any news that could imply a connection between the ISI and the 9/11 attacks?
February 6, 2002 (B): CIA Director Tenet tells a Senate hearing that there was no 9/11 intelligence failure. When asked about the CIA record on 9/11, he says, "We are proud of that record." He also states that the 9/11 plot was "in the heads of three or four people" and thus nearly impossible to prevent. [USA Today, 2/7/02]
February 9, 2002: Pakistani President Musharraf and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai announce their agreement to "cooperate in all spheres of activity" including the proposed Central Asian pipeline, which they call "in the interest of both countries." [Irish Times, 2/9/02] FTW
February 9, 2002 (B): Dead microbiologist: Victor Korshunov, 56, is bashed over the head and killed at the entrance of his home in Moscow, Russia. He was the head of the microbiology sub-faculty at the Russian State Medical University and an expert in intestinal bacteria. [Pravda, 2/9/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
February 9, 2002 (C): Gangster Aftab Ansari is deported to India. He was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on February 5 (see January 22, 2002 and January 22-25, 2002). [Independent, 2/10/02] He admits funding terrorist attacks through kidnapping ransoms (see Early August 2001 (D)), and building a network of arms and drug smuggling. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 2/11/02] He later also admits to close ties with the ISI and Saeed Sheikh, whom he befriended in prison (see November 1994-December 1999). [Press Trust of India, 5/13/02]
February 10, 2002: Katherine Smith is killed one day before he scheduled appearance in court on charges she helped five Muslim terrorists get illegal drivers licenses. Her car supposedly hit a tree and then caught on fire. The FBI later determined that gasoline was poured on her clothing before she died in the fire. A suicide note was found, but prosecutors say they are looking for murder suspects. One of the five Muslims, Sakhera Hammad, was found with a pass for the WTC, dated September 5, 2001, in his wallet. Hammad claims he was a plumber and worked on the WTC's sprinkler system that day (see September 5, 2001). Smith was being investigated by the FBI; the five later plead guilty to charges of fraud. [AP, 2/13/02, Reuters, 2/15/02, Go Memphis, 2/12/02, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 2/21/02]
February 11, 2002: Dead microbiologist: Dr. Ian Langford, 40, is found dead, partially naked and wedged under a chair in his home in Norwich, England. When found, his house was described as "blood-spattered and apparently ransacked." He was an expert in environmental risks and disease and a senior Fellow at the University of East Anglia's Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment. One of his colleagues states: "Ian was without doubt one of Europe's leading experts on environmental risk, specializing in links between human health and environmental risk... He was one of the most brilliant colleagues I have ever had." [London Times, 2/13/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
February 12, 2002: Saeed Sheikh, already in ISI custody for a week (see February 5, 2002), is handed over to Pakistani police. Shortly afterwards, he publicly confesses to his involvement in reporter Daniel Pearl's murder (see January 31, 2002). Later he will recant this confession. It appears that initially he thought he would get a light sentence. Newsweek describes him initially "confident, even cocky," saying he would only serve three to four years if convicted, and would never be extradited. [Newsweek, 3/11/02] He is in fact sentenced to hang instead (see July 15, 2002). Did Saeed work out a secret deal during his "missing week" in ISI custody to get a light sentence, a deal that is later broken? Pakistani militants respond to his arrest with three suicide attacks that kill more than 30 people. [Guardian, 7/16/02]
February 14, 2002: The Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv astutely notes: "If one looks at the map of the big American bases created [in the Afghan war], one is struck by the fact that they are completely identical to the route of the projected oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean." Ma'ariv also states, "Osama bin Laden did not comprehend that his actions serve American interests... If I were a believer in conspiracy theory, I would think that bin Laden is an American agent. Not being one I can only wonder at the coincidence." [Chicago Tribune, 3/18/02] FTW
February 18, 2002: The Financial Times reports that the estimated opium harvest in Afghanistan in June 2002 will reach a record 4500 metric tons. Afghanistan is supplying 95% of the heroin in Europe, but the US shows "little interest" in stopping the production. [Financial Times, 2/18/02] FTW
February 18, 2002 (B): The Pakistani government unsuccessfully tries to stop the Pakistani newspaper The News from publishing a story revealing Saeed Sheikh's connections to the ISI, based on leaks from Pakistani police interrogations. [Washington Post, 3/10/02, London Times, 4/21/02, Guardian, 7/16/02] According to the article, Saeed admits his involvement in recent attacks on the Indian parliament in Delhi and in Kashmir (see October 1, 2001 (D) and December 13, 2001 (C)), and says the ISI helped him finance, plan and execute them. [The News, 2/18/02] On March 1, the ISI pressures The News to fire the four journalists who worked on the story. The ISI also demands an apology from the newspaper's editor, who flees the country instead. [Washington Post, 3/10/02, London Times, 4/21/02, Guardian, 7/16/02]
February 20, 2002: The Pentagon announces the existence of the new Office of Strategic Influence, which "was quietly set up after September 11." The role of this office is to plant false stories in the foreign press, phony e-mails from disguised addresses, and other covert activities to manipulate public opinion. The new office proves so controversial that it is declared closed six days later. [CNN, 2/20/02, CNN, 2/26/02] It is later reported that the "temporary" Office of Global Communications will be made permanent (it is unknown when this office began its work). This office seems to serve the same function as the earlier Office of Strategic Influence, minus the covert manipulation. [Washington Post, 7/20/02] Defense Secretary Rumsfeld later states that after the office was closed, "I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing fine I'll give you the corpse. There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have" (see also October 2002 and November 24, 2002). [Department of Defense, 11/18/02]
February 21, 2002: Police and intelligence agencies in Britain predict "a potentially huge increase in heroin trafficking because of massive and unchecked replanting of the opium crop in Afghanistan." This dovetails with a UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention report, which has detected massive opium planting that had mostly stopped under the Taliban. An intelligence source describes the idea of cracking down on opium growing as "a political nightmare" that could destroy support for the Afghan government. One solution would be to buy the opium and destroy it, but that has been rejected as too costly and controversial. Afghanistan is the source of 75% of the world's heroin. [Guardian, 2/21/02]
February 25, 2002: Time reports that the second highest Taliban official in US custody, Mullah Haji Abdul Samat Khaksar, has been waiting for months for the CIA to talk to him. Even two weeks after Time informed US officials that Khaksar wanted to talk, no one has properly interviewed him. He says he has useful information, and may be able to help locate former Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Time notes that "he claims to have information about al-Qaeda links to the ISI." [Time, 2/25/02] "The little that Khaksar has divulged to an American general and his intelligence aide - is tantalizing." "He says that the ISI agents are still mixed up with the Taliban and al-Qaeda," and that all three have formed a new group to get the US out of Afghanistan. He also says that "the ISI recently assassinated an Afghan in Paktika province who knew the full extent of ISI's collaboration with al-Qaeda." [Time, 2/19/02] Did the US not want to hear from Khaksar because of his embarrassing information about the ISI?
February 28, 2002: The notion that the 9/11 attacks were not done by bin Laden is only a conspiracy theory in the First World. A Gallup poll conducted in Muslim nations shows 18 percent believe that Arabs were responsible and 61 percent do not. 86 percent in Pakistan say Arabs were not responsible. [Guardian, 2/28/02] Even the President of Pakistan has said bin Laden was not the mastermind, though he probably backed it. [Reuters, 8/4/02]
February 28, 2002 (B): Two dead microbiologists in San Francisco: While taking delivery of a pizza, Tanya Holzmayer, 46, is shot and killed by a colleague, Guyang Huang, 38, who then apparently shot himself. Holzmayer moved to the US from Russia in 1989. Her research focused on the part of the human molecular structure that could be affected best by medicine. Holzmayer was focusing on helping create new drugs that interfere with replication of the virus that causes AIDS. One year earlier, Holzmayer obeyed senior management orders to fire Huang. [San Jose Mercury News, 2/28/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
March 2002: Beginning at least by this time, some political activists begin noticing they are being subjected to extra surveillance and security checks when flying in the US. Numerous government agencies later admit they are using a "no fly" list that bans certain people from flying. The government says about 1,000 names are on the list. It is also admitted that there is a second list that subjects anyone on it to increased security every time they fly. A number of agencies, including the CIA, FBI, INS, and State Department, admit that they have added names to such lists, but no agency admits controlling the list. There are no guidelines to determine who gets on the lists and no procedures for getting off a list if someone is wrongfully on it. Airport security personnel note that the lists seem to be netting mostly priests, elderly nuns, Green Party campaign operatives, left-wing journalists, right-wing activists, and people affiliated with Arab or Arab-American groups. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/27/02, Salon, 11/15/02]
March 2002 (B): The US military internally announces the creation of a new global data collection system called Total Information Awareness. The existence of this program is not reported until August 2002 [Wired, 8/7/02], and not widely known until November (see November 9, 2002). Interestingly, the early accounts of this program suggest its budget is a "significant amount" of $96 million [Federal Computer Week, 10/17/02], and not the $10 million later reported, [Guardian, 11/23/02] It is also reported that "parts" of the program "are already operational" whereas later it is said to be only in the conceptual stages of development. [Federal Computer Week, 10/17/02]
March 2002 (C): Authorities in Bosnia, Sarajevo, raid the offices of the Benevolence International Foundation due to suspected funding of al-Qaeda The raid uncovers a handwritten list of twenty wealthy donors sympathetic to al-Qaeda. The list, referred to as "The Golden Chain," reveals both the names of the donors, and the names of the recipients. Seven of the payments were made to Osama bin Laden, while at least one donation to him was made by the "bin Laden brothers." UPI points out that "the discovery of this document in Sarajevo calls into question whether al-Qaeda has received support from one of Osama's scores of wealthy brothers." Adel Batterjee, a wealth businessman from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, who is also the founder of both the charity BFI and its predecessor Lajnatt Al-Birr Al-Islamiah, appears to be mentioned as a recipient three times. Batterjee has been named as a defendant in a 9/11 lawsuit against wealthy Saudis, but he has been missing in Saudi Arabia for over a year. When the document was written is not mentioned, but it may date from the early 1990s. [UPI, 2/11/03]
Early March 2002: The book l'Effroyable Imposture (The Horrifying Fraud) is published in France. The book denies that a passenger airliner crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. It is written by Thierry Meyssan, "president of the Voltaire Network, a respected independent think tank whose left-leaning research projects have until now been considered models of reasonableness and objectivity." [Guardian, 4/1/02] The book is widely denounced by the media (for instance, [AFP, 3/21/02, London Times, 5/19/02, National Post, 8/31/02, Baltimore Sun, 9/12/02]). One reporter trashes the book even while admitting never to have read it. [LA Weekly, 7/19/02] But the book sets a French publishing record for first-month sales. [Time, Europe version, 5/20/02] One of Meyssan's theories is that people within the US government wanted to hit the Pentagon for its propaganda effect, but didn't want to create a lot of damage or kill important people like Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. They note that the crash hit the one section under construction, thus greatly reducing the loss of life. Furthermore, the wall at point of impact was the first and only one to be reinforced and have blast-resistant windows installed as part of an upgrade plan. [NFPA Journal, 11/1/01]
Early March 2002 (B): William Patrick (see February 1999) is interviewed by the FBI in relation to the anthrax attacks. He is surprised that the FBI didn't interview him earlier. [BBC, 3/14/02] After passing a lie detector test, the FBI invites him to join the inner circle of technical advisers to the anthrax investigation. [Baltimore Sun, 6/27/02] It is later noted that "many of the experts the FBI has turned to for help are also, almost by definition, potential suspects. That has put FBI agents in the uncomfortable position of having to subject their scientist-consultants to polygraph tests, and then, afterward, ask those same experts to help analyze evidence." [Hartford Courant, 9/7/02]
March 1, 2002: An article in Vanity Fair suggests
the ISI is still deeply involved in the drug trade in Central Asia. It estimates
that Pakistan has a parallel drug economy worth $15 billion a year. Pakistan's
official economy is worth about $60 billion. The article
notes that the US has not tied its billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan to
assurances that Pakistan will stop its involvement in drugs. [Vanity
March 2, 2002: A New York Times article theorizes that a diesel fuel tank was responsible for the collapse of Building 7 near the WTC. It collapsed on 9/11 even though it was farther away than many other buildings that remained standing. It was the first time a steel-reinforced high-rise in the US had ever collapsed in a fire. The fuel tank had been installed in 1999 as part of a new "command center" for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. [New York Times, 3/2/02, Dow Jones News, 9/10/02] What's curious, especially given all the Wall Street scandals later in the year, is that Building 7 was where the SEC was storing files related to numerous Wall Street investigations. All the files for approximately 3,000 to 4,000 SEC cases were destroyed. Some were backed up in other places, but many were not, especially those classified as confidential. [National Law Journal, 9/17/01] Lost files include documents that could show the relationship between Citigroup and the WorldCom bankruptcy. [The Street, 8/9/02] The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission estimates over 10,000 cases will be affected. [New York Law Journal, 9/14/01] The Secret Service also lost investigative files. Says one agent: "All the evidence that we stored at 7 World Trade, in all our cases, went down with the building." [Tech TV, 7/23/02] It is also eventually revealed that there was a secret CIA office in Building 7. [CNN, 11/4/01] A few days later, the head of the WTC collapse investigation says he "would possibly consider examining" the collapse of Building 7, but all the rubble has already been removed and destroyed. [Committee on Science, House of Representatives testimony, 3/6/02]
March 2, 2002 (B): The Washington Post claims that nine of the 19 9/11 hijackers were selected for special security just prior to boarding for the 9/11 attack, including two who were singled out because of irregularities in their identification documents. "Six were chosen for extra scrutiny by a computerized screening system, prompting a sweep of their checked baggage for explosives or unauthorized weapons." [Washington Post, 3/2/02] None of the names selected for screening are given, but a different article makes clear that hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, on a watch list for international flights at the time (see August 23, 2001 (C)), are not selected. [Cox News, 10/21/01] It is later revealed that box cutters were illegal to bring on board airplanes at the time of 9/11. [AP, 11/11/02] If this is true, how did they get the box cutters on board, not to mention reports of illegal knives, bombs and chemical spray on two planes (for instance, see September 17, 2001 (C), July 18, 2002 and March 27, 2002)? Also, if all this is true, why have no photos of them boarding planes or interviews with security staff been released?
March 3, 2002: Secretary of State Powell rules out any links between "elements of the ISI" and the murderers of reporter Daniel Pearl. [Dawn, 3/3/02] The Guardian later calls Powell's comment "shocking," given the overwhelming evidence that the main suspect, Saeed Sheikh, worked for the ISI. [Guardian, 4/5/02] Defense Secretary Rumsfeld called him a possible "asset" for the ISI a week earlier. [London Times, 2/25/02] The Washington Post says, "The [ISI] is a house of horrors waiting to break open. Saeed has tales to tell." [Washington Post, 3/28/02] The Guardian says Saeed "is widely believed in Pakistan to be an experienced ISI 'asset.'" [Washington Post, 5/3/02] Does Powell's comment indicate that the US is helping to cover up Saeed's ISI connections?
March 5, 2002: It is reported that many spies in the uncovered Israeli spy ring seemed to have been trailing the 9/11 hijackers. For instance, five Israeli spies are intercepted in the tiny town of Hollywood, Florida, and four 9/11 hijackers are known to have spent time in Hollywood, Florida. [Le Monde, 3/5/02, Reuters, 3/5/02, Jane's Intelligence Digest, 3/15/02] In one case, some Israeli spies lived at 4220 Sheridan Street, only a few hundred feet from where Atta was living at 3389 Sheridan Street. Israeli spies appear to have been close to at least 10 of the 19 9/11 hijackers. [Salon, 5/7/02]
March 6, 2002: A Washington Post article completely denies the existence of any Israeli spy ring. A "wide array of US officials" supposedly deny it, and Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden says: "This seems to be an urban myth that has been circulating for months. The department has no information at this time to substantiate these widespread reports about Israeli art students involved in espionage." [Washington Post, 3/6/02] The New York Times fails to cover the story at all, even months later. [Salon, 5/7/02] By mid-March, Jane's, the respected British intelligence and military analysis service, notes: "It is rather strange that the US media seems to be ignoring what may well be the most explosive story since the 11 September attacks - the alleged breakup of a major Israeli espionage operation in the USA." [Jane's Intelligence Digest, 3/13/02]
March 7, 2002: A series of photos surface purporting to show a plane crashing into the Pentagon on 9/11. It's not clear who released the photos, but the Pentagon says they're authentic and taken from a Pentagon security camera. The release of these pictures comes within days of the publication of the book "l'Effroyable Imposture" (see Early March 2002). "Officials could not immediately explain why the date typed near the bottom of each photograph is Sept. 12 and the time is written as 5:37 p.m." [Fox News, 3/8/02] Could this timing "glitch" help cover the official time of the hit being at 9:37, five minutes before other estimates? Do the pictures show an American Airlines 757, or a much smaller, darker plane that has the shape of a fighter? Because the plane in the first frame hard to see, here is an enlarged version with the plane and its exhaust circled.
March 7, 2002 (B): Pakistani President Musharraf says Saeed Sheikh, chief suspect in the killing of reporter Daniel Pearl (see February 5, 2002), will not be extradited to the US, at least not until after he is tried by Pakistan. [Guardian, 3/15/02] The US Ambassador later reports to Washington that Musharraf privately said, "I'd rather hang him myself" than extradite Saeed. [Washington Post, 3/28/02] Musharraf even brazenly states, "Perhaps Daniel Pearl was over-intrusive. A mediaperson should be aware of the dangers of getting into dangerous areas. Unfortunately, he got over-involved.'' [Hindu, 3/8/02] He also says Pearl was caught up in "intelligence games." [Washington Post, 5/3/02] In early April, Musharraf apparently says he wants to see Saeed sentenced to death. Defense lawyers are appalled, saying Musharraf is effectively telling the courts what to do. [BBC, 4/12/02] The Washington Post reports in early March that Pakistani "police alternately fabricate and destroy evidence, depending on pressure from above" [Washington Post, 3/10/02], and in fact Saeed's trial will be plagued with problems (see July 16-21, 2002).
March 11, 2002: A newspaper reports that the DEA study on Israeli "art students" determined the "students" all had "recently served in the Israeli military, the majority in intelligence, electronic signal intercept or explosive ordnance units." [Palm Beach Post, 3/11/02]
March 13, 2002: A bomb and two smaller explosive-type devices are found and defused in the stairwell outside of the Shelby County Regional Forensic Center, Memphis, Tennessee, where county medical examiner Dr. O. C. Smith works. Smith states, "We have done several high-profile cases from (missing Harvard researcher) Dr. (Don) Wiley to Katherine Smith but there has been no indication that we offended anyone... We just don't know if we were the intended target or not.'' The police state, "It potentially could have been a large blast if exploded." The mystery gets deeper: in June, Dr. Smith is attacked, bound with barbed wire and left with a bomb tied to his body (see June 1, 2002). [Memphis Commercial Appeal, 3/14/02]
March 14, 2002: Attorney General Ashcroft announces a second US criminal indictment of Saeed Sheikh (see August 2001-February 5, 2002), this time for his role in the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl (see January 31, 2002). The amount of background information given about Saeed is very brief, and of all his many terrorist acts since he was released from prison in 1999, the only one mentioned is that in September and October 2001 he fought in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda. The indictment and Ashcroft fail to mention Saeed's financing of the 9/11 attacks, and no reporters ask Ashcroft about this either (see Early August 2001 (D)). [CNN, 3/14/02, Los Angeles Times, 3/15/02]
March 15, 2002: Forward, a US publication with a large Jewish audience, admits that there has been an Israeli spy ring in the US. This is a reversal of their earlier stance (see [Forward, 12/21/01]). But, "far from pointing to Israeli spying against US government and military facilities, as reported in Europe last week, the incidents in question appear to represent a case of Israelis in the United States spying on a common enemy, radical Islamic networks suspected of links to Middle East terrorism." [Forward, 3/15/02]
March 22, 2002: Translator Sibel Edmonds later claims that she is fired by the FBI on this day after repeatedly raising suspicions about a coworker and her alleged connections to an unnamed foreign official and an unnamed foreign organization. Both Edmonds and the coworker, Can Dickerson, were hired as translators in late September 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks (see Late September 2001). Edmonds claims that Dickerson failed to translate sensitive information concerning the foreign official and organization, did not inform the FBI that she once worked for the organization (which is under investigation), and had "unreported contacts" with the foreign official, who has now left the country. When Edmonds failed to agree to work as a spy for this organization, Dickerson told her that her lack of cooperation could put her family in danger. Both Edmonds and Dickerson are ethnically Turkish, but no one has claimed that Turkey was involved. After her boss and others in the FBI failed to respond to her complaints, she wrote to the Justice Department's inspector general's office in March: "Investigations are being compromised. Incorrect or misleading translations are being sent to agents in the field. Translations are being blocked and circumvented." She claims she was fired for her whistleblowing, and is suing. Both the FBI and some US Senators later agree that there is merit to Edmonds's claims, and are investigating the matter. A second FBI whistleblower, John Cole, also claims to know of security lapses in the screening and hiring of FBI translators. [Washington Post, 6/19/02, Cox News, 8/14/02] In October 2002, at the request of FBI Director Mueller, Attorney General Ashcroft asks a judge to throw out Edmonds's lawsuit against the Justice Department. He says he is applying the state secrets privilege in order "to protect the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States." [AP, 10/18/02]
March 22, 2002 (B): British officials claim to have found an al-Qaeda biological weapons lab near Kandahar, Afghanistan. But the lab was incomplete, and "there is still no indication that al-Qaeda ever succeeded in producing biological agents." [New York Times, 3/22/02] Soon after, the US denies even the existence of any such lab, and the British government is accused of inventing the story to justify sending British soldiers to a certain part of Afghanistan. [Observer, 3/24/02]
March 23, 2002: Close on the heels of reports about al-Qaeda wanting to make anthrax in Afghanistan, a new report suggests that one of the 9/11 hijackers had an anthrax wound months before 9/11. Ahmed Alhaznawi went to a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in June 2001 complaining of a nasty leg lesion that authorities believe could have been caused by anthrax. But an FBI spokesman says these possibilities were dismissed months ago, and "nothing new has in fact developed." [Observer, 3/24/02] The spokesman adds, "Exhaustive testing did not support that anthrax was present anywhere the hijackers had been." [CNN, 3/23/02] Phone calls from one of the hijacked planes suggest the hijackers kept passengers at bay with a chemical spray (see July 18, 2002) - could this wound be related to that chemical?
March 24, 2002: The Sunday Times reports that records of bin Laden's satellite phone calls indicate that before 9/11 he and his most senior lieutenants made over 260 calls from their base in Afghanistan to 27 numbers in Britain (see Early 1996-October 1998). They included calls to suspected terrorist agents, sympathizers and companies. If it was known who bin Laden was calling, why weren't those people watched and tracked? It appears British intelligence still doesn't know why bin Laden called certain numbers. Bin Laden's main British contact, Khaled al-Fawwaz, was called over 200 times. [Sunday Times, 3/24/02, Sunday Herald, 5/19/02] Although al Fawwaz was put in prison before 9/11, he told a fellow prisoner about a planned attack on 9/11 (see August 21, 2001).
March 24, 2002 (B): Dead microbiologist: David Wynn-Williams, 55, is hit by a car while jogging near his home in Cambridge, England. He was an astrobiologist with the Antarctic Astrobiology Project and the NASA Ames Research Center. He was studying the capability of microbes to adapt to environmental extremes, including the bombardment of ultraviolet rays and global warming. [London Times, 3/27/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
March 25, 2002: Dead microbiologist: Steven Mostow, 63, dies when the airplane he was piloting crashes near Denver, Colorado. He worked at the Colorado Health Sciences Centre and was known as "Dr. Flu" for his expertise in treating influenza, and expertise on bioterrorism. Mostow was "one of the country's leading infectious disease experts" and was associate dean at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Three others died in the crash. Mostow's death bring the total number of leading microbiologists killed in a six-month period to at least 15. [KUSA TV, 3/26/02, Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]
March 27, 2002: New York Times reporter Jere Longman writes an article based on recent leaks to him about Flight 93's cockpit flight recording (later relatives of the victims are given a single chance to listen to the recording (see April 18, 2002)). He claims that earlier reports of a 911 call from a bathroom reporting smoke and an explosion are incorrect. He names the passenger as Edward Felt and notes that the dispatcher who took the call and Felt's wife both deny the smoke and explosion story. There were messages from both passengers and hijackers on the plane speaking of a bomb. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01] Longman also claims that one passenger, Tom Burnett, told his wife there were guns on the plane. [New York Times, 3/27/02] From immediately after 9/11, the fact that Tom Burnett told his wife that he didn't see any guns was widely reported. [Dateline NBC, 9/14/01] Note that the passengers appeared doubtful that the terrorists had either real guns or bombs, but there is a March 2002 report of a gun being used on Flight 11 (see September 11, 2001 (X)). Why are we only hearing about the possibility of guns on board so many months later? Could it be that the airlines are liable to lose billions if it can be proven weapons were smuggled aboard the plane? Why was the Felt call widely reported and unchallenged by officials until now?
March 28, 2002: FBI agents and Pakistani police commandos raid a house in the city of Faisalabad, Pakistan, and capture al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida. He's shot three times but survives. [New York Times, 4/14/02] Many documents are found that lead to the indictment of 100 more people. [Newsweek, 9/4/02] US intelligence found his location by tracing his phone calls. [New York Times, 4/14/02] He has since given the US useful information on 9/11 and other al-Qaeda plans. [Newsweek, 9/4/02] Zubaida is considered one of the highest in al-Qaeda's leadership and the highest ranking prisoner captured by the US so far. [New York Times, 4/14/02] It is believed that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed takes over Zubaida's tasks. [Asia Times, 9/11/02]
March 29, 2002: Abdullah bin Laden, spokesman for the bin Laden family and one of Osama's many brothers, speaks directly to the press for the first time since 9/11. He says the family cut all personal and financial ties to Osama in 1993, and that no family member has contact with him or provides any kind of support for him. "We went through a tough time. It was difficult We felt we are a victim as well." [ABC News, 3/29/02] This appears to be the same Abdullah bin Laden that the FBI began investigating in 1996 only to have the investigation killed by higher-ups in government (see 1996).
March 30, 2002: With US troops already in many Central Asian countries (see January 2002 (D)), it is now reported that US Special Forces soldiers are training Kazakhstan troops in a secret location. [London Times, 3/30/02] An anonymous source in the Kazakh government previously stated, "It is clear that the continuing war in Afghanistan is no more than a veil for the US to establish political dominance in the region. The war on terrorism is only a pretext for extending influence over our energy resources" (see October 11, 1996). [Observer, 1/20/02]
April, June or August 2002: It is originally reported that Al Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda interviews 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 9/11 associate Ramzi bin al-Shibh at a secret location in Karachi, Pakistan in either June [London Times, 9/8/02] or August. [Guardian, 9/9/02] Details and audio footage of the interview come out between September 8-12, 2002. The video footage of the interview al-Qaeda promised to hand over is never given to Al Jazeera. [AP, 9/8/02] Both figures claim the 9/11 attacks were originally going to target nuclear reactors, but "decided against it for fear it would go out of control." Interviewer Fouda is struck that Mohammed and bin al-Shibh remember only the hijackers' code names, and have trouble remembering their real names. [Australian, 9/9/02] Mohammed calls himself the head of al-Qaeda's military committee - the group that planned the targets for 9/11. These interviews "are the first full admission by senior figures from bin Laden's network that they carried out the September 11 attacks." [Sunday Times, 9/8/02] But the Financial Times has reported on Fouda's interview, "Analysts cited the crude editing of the tapes and the timing of the broadcasts as reasons to be suspicious about their authenticity. Dia Rashwan, an expert on Islamist movements at the Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies in Cairo, said: 'I have very serious doubts [about the authenticity of this tape]. It could have been a script written by the FBI.'" [Financial Times, 9/11/02] Mohammed is later reported to be arrested in June 2002 (see June 16, 2002), killed or arrested in September 2002 (see September 11, 2002), and then arrested in March 2003 (see March 1, 2003). After this last arrest, for the first time Fouda claims this interview took place in April, placing it safely before the first reports of Mohammed's capture. [Guardian, 3/4/03, Canada AM, 3/6/03] Bin al-Shibh also gets captured several days after Fouda's interview in broadcast (see September 11, 2002), and some reports say he is captured because this interview allows his voice to be identified. [CBS, 10/9/02, Observer, 9/15/02] As a result, Fouda has been accused of betraying al-Qaeda, and now fears for his life. [Independent, 9/17/02] As the Washington Post puts it: "Now al Jazeera is also subject to rumors of a conspiracy." [Washington Post, 9/15/02] Yet after being so reviled by al-Qaeda supporters, Fouda is later given a cassette said to be a bin Laden speech. [MSNBC, 11/18/02] Why would al-Qaeda have given such an exclusive to the man said to have betrayed them? US officials believe the voice on that cassette is "almost certainly" bin Laden, but one of the world's leading voice-recognition institutes said they were 95% certain the tape is a forgery. [BBC, 11/18/02, BBC, 11/29/02] Is it possible that Fouda has been working with the US to pass on anti-al-Qaeda propaganda, including the Mohammed and bin al-Shibh interview?
April 1, 2002: "American officials have quietly abandoned their hopes to reduce Afghanistan's opium production substantially this year and are now bracing for a harvest large enough to inundate the world's heroin and opium markets with cheap drugs." They want to see the new Afghan government make at least a token effort to destroy some opium, but it appears they're not doing even that. Afghan leader Hamid Karzai had announced a total ban on opium cultivation, processing, and trafficking, but it appears to be a total sham. The new harvest is so large, it could be "enough opium to stockpile for two or two and a half more years." [New York Times, 4/1/02] Starting this month, Karzai's government offers farmers $500 for every acre of poppies they destroy, but farmers can earn as much as $6,400 per acre for the crop. The program is eventually canceled when it runs out of money to pay farmers. [AP, 3/27/03] If the US wants to ban opium, why doesn't it fund this program?
April 4, 2002: Dr. David Franz, a former commander of USAMRIID, says of the anthrax attacks: "I think a lot of good has come from it. From a biological or a medical standpoint, we've now five people who have died, but we've put about $6 billion in our budget into defending against bioterrorism." Plentiful evidence suggests that the anthrax came from USAMRIID, but investigators say they have no suspects at all. They also say they have come up "against some closely held military secrets" which are slowing down the investigation. "Federal investigators tell ABCNEWS that military and intelligence agencies have withheld a full listing of all facilities and all employees dealing with top-secret anthrax programs where important leads could be found." [ABC News, 4/4/02] Did the anthrax attacker(s) use similar logic as Franz, reasoning that the attacks would serve as a wake up call to protect the US against bioterror attacks?
April 5, 2002: The
Pakistani trial of Saeed Sheikh and three others begins. [BBC,
7/5/02] NBC reports that death sentences are expected for the four accused
killers of Daniel Pearl, despite a lack of evidence. The case will be decided
in top secret by handpicked judges in Pakistan's anti-terrorism courts. "Some
in Pakistan's government also are very concerned about what [the defendant]
Saeed might say in court. His organization and other militant groups here have
ties to Pakistan's secret intelligence agency [the ISI]. There are concerns
he could try to implicate that government agency in the Pearl case, or other
questionable dealings that could be at the very least embarrassing, or worse."
[MSNBC, 4/5/02] Later in the month the
London Times says that the real truth about Saeed won't come out in the trial
because, "Sheikh is no ordinary terrorist but a man who has connections
that reach high into Pakistan's military and intelligence elite and into the
innermost circles of Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda organization." [London
April 11, 2002: Jim Pavitt, the CIA Deputy Director of Operations, emphasizes how prepared the CIA was to launch subversive actions in Afghanistan immediately after 9/11. "With a small logistical footprint they came with lightning speed. We were on the ground within days of that terrible attack. They also came with something else. They came with knowledge of local languages, whatever you heard to the contrary notwithstanding, terrain, and politics... In those few days that it took us to get there after that terrible, terrible attack, my officers stood on Afghan soil, side by side with Afghan friends that we had developed over a long period of time, and we launched America's war against al-Qaeda... Quite simply, we were there well before the 11th of September." [CIA, 4/11/02] This is in stark contrast to the official story reported in the media that the US overly relied on satellites and other high technologies and had no agents on the ground.
April 11, 2002 (B): Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D) calls for a through investigation into whether President Bush and other government officials may have been warned of the 9/11 attacks but did nothing to prevent them, the first national-level politician to do so. "News reports from Der Spiegel to the London Observer, from the Los Angeles Times to MSNBC to CNN, indicate that many different warnings were received by the Administration. ... I am not aware of any evidence showing that President Bush or members of his administration have personally profited from the attacks of 9/11. ... On the other hand, what is undeniable is that corporations close to the Administration, have directly benefited from the increased defense spending arising from the aftermath of September 11. The Carlyle Group, DynCorp, and Halliburton certainly stand out as companies close to this Administration." [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/12/02] McKinney's comments are criticized and ridiculed by other politicians and the media (see April 17, 2002). For instance, Congressman Mark Foley (R) states, "She has said some outrageous things but this has gone too far ... Maybe there should be an investigation as she suggests - but one focused on her." Senator Zell Miller (D) says her comments were dangerous and irresponsible. [Washington Post, 4/12/02] An editorial in her home state calls her the "most prominent nut" promoting 9/11 "conspiracy theories." [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/15/02] One columnist says she is possibly "a delusional paranoiac" or "a socialist rabble-rouser who despises her own country." [Orlando Sentinel, 4/21/02] Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said McKinney "must be running for the hall of fame of the Grassy Knoll Society." [Washington Post, 4/12/02] One month after McKinney's comments, the Bush Administration comes under fire after reports reveal it had been warned five weeks before 9/11 about possible al-Qaeda plane hijackings (see May 15, 2002), and McKinney claims vindication. [McKinney website, 5/16/02]
April 11, 2002 (C): A truck bomb kills 19 people in a Djerba, Tunisia, synagogue, most of them German tourists. It is later claimed that al-Qaeda is behind the attack, and that the suspected bomber speaks with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed by phone about three hours before the attack. [AP, 8/24/02]
April 17, 2002: The Washington Post reports that, "The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit US ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al-Qaeda," allowing bin Laden to escape. The newspaper claims that while the administration has failed to acknowledge the mistake publicly, "inside the government there is little controversy on the subject." [Washington Post, 4/17/02] The next day, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld denies this, and states he didn't know at the time of the assault, "nor do I know today of any evidence that he was in Tora Bora at the time or that he left Tora Bora at the time or even where he is today" (see Early December 2001). [USA Today, 4/18/02]
April 18, 2002: The FBI allows relatives of passengers on Flight 93 to listen to and see a written transcript of the cockpit recordings. 70 do so. But the FBI says the relatives are not allowed to make recordings, because the tape might be used in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. [Guardian, 4/19/02] The San Francisco Chronicle responds: "Is there even a dollop of logic in that explanation? It's like saying we can't watch video of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center because that video might be used in a trial." [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/3/02] New York Times reporter Jere Longman writes the book Among the Heroes based on his access to the recordings (see March 27, 2002) and interviews with officials and relatives. New details of their struggle on board emerges, but the government still has not officially stated if the passengers took over the plane or not. [Telegraph, 8/6/02, MSNBC, 7/30/02]
April 19, 2002: FBI Director Mueller states: "In our investigation, we have not uncovered a single piece of paper—either here in the United States or in the treasure trove of information that has turned up in Afghanistan and elsewhere—that mentioned any aspect of the September 11 plot." He also claims that the attackers used "extraordinary secrecy" and "investigators have found no computers, laptops, hard drives or other storage media that may have been used by the hijackers, who hid their communications by using hundreds of pay phones and cell phones, coupled with hard-to-trace prepaid calling cards." [FBI speech transcript, 4/19/02, Los Angeles Times, 4/22/02, he repeats the quote the next month, Senate Judiciary Statement, 5/8/02] However, before 9/11, CIA Director Tenet told the Senate that al-Qaeda is "embracing the opportunities offered by recent leaps in information technology," [CIA, 03/21/00], the FBI broke the al-Qaeda computer encryption before February 2001 (see February 13, 2001) [UPI, 2/13/01], witnesses report seeing the hijackers use computers for e-mail at public libraries in Florida and Maine [Sun-Sentinel, 9/16/01, Boston Herald, 10/5/01], in October 2001 there were many reports that hundreds of e-mails discussing the 9/11 plot had been found (see October 2001 (B)), Moussaoui's laptop was found to contain important information, etc... Look also at an MSNBC article about al-Qaeda using computers. [MSNBC, 4/19/02]
April 21, 2002: The Sunday Times reports on Saeed's connections to both the ISI and al-Qaeda in a story entitled, "Pearl Murder Case Briton Was a Double Agent." Most other newspapers continue to fail to connect the dots, and not even this story connects Saeed with funding 9/11, as reported in the media months before. [Sunday Times, 4/21/02]
April 23, 2002: Spanish authorities arrest Syrian-born Spaniard businessman Mohammed Galeb Kalaje Zouaydi and allege he is a key al-Qaeda financier. [Chicago Tribune, 5/6/02] An accountant, he is considered to be the "big financier" behind terrorist a network al-Qaeda in Europe, according to investigator Jean-Charles Brisard. From 1996 to 2001 he lived in Saudi Arabia, and funneled money into a series of companies he set up that accepted donations; the source of the money is unknown. Around $1 million of money was then forwarded to al-Qaeda agents throughout Europe, especially to Germany. One of Zouaydi's associates had the phone number of Atta's apartment in Hamburg, Germany in the memory of his cell phone (see November 1, 1998-February 2001). [AFP, 9/20/02] Zouaydi also allegedly sent money to Mamoun Darkazanli (see September 24, 2001), a Syrian-born businessman who has admitted knowing Atta and others in the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. [Chicago Tribune, 5/6/02] One of Zouaydi's employees in Spain visited the WTC in 1997 where he extensively videotaped the buildings (see 1998). Perhaps only coincidentally, while in Saudi Arabia, Zouaydi "was an accountant for the al-Faisal branch of the Saudi royal family, including Prince Mohammed al-Faisal al-Saud and Prince Turki al-Faisal" (see August 31, 2001). [AFP, 9/20/02]
April 25, 2002: Osama Basnan, an alleged associate of 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi (see April 1998 and November 22, 2002), reports his passport stolen to Houston, Texas police. [MSNBC, 12/2/02] This confirms that Basnan is in Houston on the same day that Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, and Saudi US Ambassador Prince Bandar meet with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Powell and National Security Advisor Rice at Bush's ranch in nearby Crawford, Texas. [US-Saudi Arabian Business Council, 4/25/02] Abdullah's entourage passes through Houston that week enroute to Bush's ranch. While in Texas, it is believed that Basnan "met with a high Saudi prince who has responsibilities for intelligence matters and is known to bring suitcases full of cash into the United States." [MSNBC, 12/2/02, Guardian, 11/25/02]
April 30, 2002: It is reported that the US military is drawing up a plan for a long-term military "footprint" in Central Asia. The US says it plans no permanent bases, but the leaders of Central Asia speak of the US being there for decades, and inside US bases temporary structures are being replaced by permanent buildings (see also December 19, 2001 and January 2002 (D)). [AP, 4/30/02, Washington Post, 8/27/02, Los Angeles Times, 4/4/02] All of the countries are encumbered by corrupt dictatorships, and many experts say their serious social and economic problems are growing worse. Some experts wonder if the US is increasing Muslim resentment and the risk of terrorism by closely associating with such regimes. [Washington Post, 8/27/02]
April 30, 2002 (B): The US begins transferring prisoners from the Afghan war from Camp X-Ray to Camp Delta. Both are in US-controlled Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but Camp X-Ray was little more than metal wire cages and Camp Delta is made of proper buildings. [BBC, 4/30/02] Conditions in the new facility are considered more humane, but the prisoners are still not named, not allowed to contact their families, and are not given the rights of prisoners of war (see also January 11, 2002 and October 28, 2002). [Globe and Mail, 9/5/02, Guardian, 9/9/02] Halliburton, Vice President Cheney's former company, has been given the contract to build Camp Delta even though it is estimated military engineers could do the job for about half the price. [New York Times, 7/13/02]
May 1, 2002: L. Britt Snider, ex-CIA official and the head of the joint congressional investigation into 9/11, resigns. Apparently there were many conflicts between Snider and his own staff, as well as with Congress. It is later revealed the final straw occurred when Snider tried to hire a CIA employee who had failed an agency polygraph test as an inquiry staffer. The hearings were expected to start in late May, but the resignation is one reason why the first public hearings are delayed until September (see September 18, 2002). [Los Angeles Times, 5/2/02, Los Angeles Times, 10/19/02] Snider is replaced by Eleanor Hill. She is widely credited for turning around an inquiry "hampered by infighting, politics, leaks and dueling agendas" after being hired in June. [Miami Herald, 7/14/02, Washington Post, 9/25/02]
May 1, 2002 (B): FEMA releases its report of the WTC collapses. It concludes, "with the information and time available, the sequence of events leading to the collapse of each tower could not be definitively determined." On Building 7: "The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time." [FEMA study, 5/1/02] Might their failure to come to conclusions have something to do with the fact that they destroyed the evidence before it could be analyzed?
May 2, 2002: After extensive testing, the DNA sequence of the anthrax sent through the US mail in 2001 is deciphered, and it confirms suspicions that the bacteria originally came from USAMRIID. Furthermore, analysis of genetic drift determines that the attacker's anthrax was not separated from the source anthrax at USAMRIID for many generations. It suggests that USAMRIID or USAMRIID samples given to Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah and/or Porton Downs in Britain are the most likely sources of the anthrax used in the attacks. [New Scientist, 5/2/02]
May 7, 2002: A moving truck is pulled over for speeding in the middle of the night in Oak Harbor, Washington, near the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. The base is the home of the advanced electronic warfare Prowler jets. A bomb-sniffing dog detects explosives on one of the men and inside the truck. High-tech equipment is then used to confirm the presence of TNT on the gearshift and RDX plastic explosive on the steering wheel. Both men turn out to be Israeli (one with an altered passport) and in the country illegally. [Fox News, 5/13/02] However, the FBI later clears the two men, saying both the dog and the tests just detected false positives from "residue left by a cigarette lighter." [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5/14/02, Jerusalem Post, 5/14/02] The "art student spy ring" frequently uses moving vans as cover (see October 16, 2001 (C)), and has been caught spying on the most top secret military bases. [Salon, 5/7/02] In a possibly related story, the Seattle FBI office that handled this case appears to have been broken into a few weeks later, and even a room containing evidence was penetrated. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7/29/02] Is the spy ring is still active? Is the FBI covering up for them and releasing them?
May 7, 2002 (B): Salon reports on the Israeli "art student" ring. All the "students" claim to have come from either Bezalel Academy, or the University of Jerusalem. A look in the Bezalel database shows that not a single one of them appear to have attended school there. There is no such thing as the University of Jerusalem. In fact, the article points out that the sheer sloppiness and brazenness of the spy operation appears to be a great mystery, especially since the Mossad is renowned as one of the best spy agencies in the world. One government source suggests a theory to Salon that the "art students" were actually a smoke screen. They were meant to be caught and connected to DEA surveillance so that a smaller number of spies also posing as art students could complete other missions. One such mission could have been the monitoring of al-Qaeda terrorists. [Salon, 5/7/02] Shortly afterwards, a major Israeli newspaper publishes a story about the spy ring, but doesn't come to any conclusions. [Ha'aretz, 5/14/02] Could it be that Israel assisted the US in keeping an eye on the terrorists, thus allowing the US to maintain plausible deniability and a detachment if there were investigations on what the US knew?
May 8, 2002: FBI Director Mueller: "there was nothing the agency could have done to anticipate and prevent the [9/11] attacks." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]
May 13, 2002: The BBC reports that Afghanistan is about to close a deal for construction of the $2 billion gas pipeline to run from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India. "Work on the project will start after an agreement is expected to be struck" at a summit scheduled for the end of the month. Afghan leader Hamid Karzai (who formerly worked for Unocal) calls Unocal the "lead company" in building the pipeline. [BBC, 5/13/02] FTW The Los Angeles Times comments, "To some here, it looked like the fix was in for Unocal when President Bush named a former Unocal consultant, Zalmay Khalilzad, as his special envoy to Afghanistan late last year." [Los Angeles Times, 5/30/02]
May 15, 2002: The Bush Administration is embarrassed when the CBS Evening News reveals that Bush had been warned about al-Qaeda domestic attacks in August 2001 (see August 6, 2001). Bush had repeatedly said that he had "no warning" of any kind. Press Secretary Ari Fleischer states unequivocally that while Bush had been warned of possible hijackings, "The president did not - not - receive information about the use of airplanes as missiles by suicide bombers." [New York Times, 5/16/02, Washington Post, 5/16/02] "Until the attack took place, I think its fair to say that no one envisioned that as a possibility." [MSNBC, 9/18/02] Fleischer claims the August memo was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike the US" but the real title is soon found to end with "... Strike in US." [Washington Post, 5/18/02] The Guardian will state a few days later, "the memo left little doubt that the hijacked airliners were intended for use as missiles and that intended targets were to be inside the US." It further states that, "now, as the columnist Joe Conason points out in the current edition of the New York Observer, 'conspiracy' begins to take over from 'incompetence' as a likely explanation for the failure to heed - and then inform the public about - warnings that might have averted the worst disaster in the nation's history." [Guardian, 5/19/02] FTW
May 16, 2002: In the wake of new information on what Bush knew (see May 15, 2002), Vice President Cheney states: "my Democratic friends in Congress ... need to be very cautious not to seek political advantage by making incendiary suggestions, as were made by some today, that the White House had advance information that would have prevented the tragic attacks of 9/11." He calls such criticism "thoroughly irresponsible ... in time of war" and states that any serious probe of 9/11 foreknowledge would be tantamount to giving "aid and comfort" to the enemy. [Washington Post, 5/17/02]
May 16, 2002 (B): National Security Advisor Rice states: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile," adding that "even in retrospect" there was "nothing" to suggest that. [White House, 5/16/02] Is Rice aware how many people did predict such a thing, even many years prior to 9/11? What about Japanese kamikaze pilots in WW2? For instance, Former CIA Deputy Director John Gannon has stated that scenario has long been taken seriously by US intelligence: "If you ask anybody could terrorists convert a plane into a missile? nobody would have ruled that out." Rice also states, "The overwhelming bulk of the evidence was that this was an attack that was likely to take place overseas." [MSNBC, 5/17/02] Slate compares this with the title of Bush's August 6 briefing: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US," and awards Rice the "Whopper of the Week." [Slate, 5/23/02] Rice later concedes that "somebody did imagine it" but says she didn't know about such intelligence until well after this conference. [AP, 9/21/02] Which is worse: Rice lying again about not knowing such intelligence, or someone in her position actually not knowing such intelligence?
May 16, 2002 (C): In response to all of the revelations about what was known before 9/11 (see May 15, 2002), the major airlines hold a press conference saying they were never warned of a specific hijacking threat, and were not told to tighten security. For instance, an American Airlines spokesman states the airline ''received no specific information from the US government advising the carrier of a potential terrorist hijacking in the United States in the months prior to Sept. 11, 2001. American receives FAA security information bulletins periodically, but the bulletins were extremely general in nature and did not identify a specific threat or recommend any specific security enhancements.'' [Miami Herald, 5/17/02] The FAA gave 15 warnings to the airlines between January and August 2001, but about one general security warning a month had been common for a long time. [CNN, 5/17/02] Even a government official called these warnings "standard fare." [Miami Herald, 5/17/02]
May 17, 2002: CBS anchorman Dan Rather tells the BBC that he and other journalists haven't been properly investigating since 9/11. He says: "There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around people's necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions." [Guardian, 5/17/02]
May 20-24, 2002: The Bush administration issues a remarkable series of terror warnings that many believe are politically motivated. Vice President Cheney warns it is "not a matter of if, but when" al-Qaeda will next attack the US. [CNN, 5/20/02] Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge says the same thing. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says terrorists will "inevitably" obtain weapons of mass destruction. FBI Director Mueller says more suicide bombings are "inevitable." [Washington Post, 5/22/02] Authorities also issue separate warnings that al-Qaeda terrorists might target apartment buildings nationwide, banks, rail and transit systems, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge. USA Today titles an article, "Some Question Motives Behind Series of Alerts." [USA Today, 5/24/02] David Martin, CBS's national security correspondent, says, "Right now they're putting out all these warnings to change the subject from what was known prior to September 11 to what is known now." [Washington Post, 5/27/02] Remarkably, even Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says the alerts were issued "as a result of all the controversy that took place last week" (see May 15, 2002 and May 21, 2002). [Village Voice, 5/23/02, Washington Times, 5/22/02] Time notes, "Though uncorroborated and vague, the terror alerts were a political godsend for an Administration trying to fend off a bruising bipartisan inquiry into its handling of the terrorist chatter last summer. After the wave of warnings, the Democratic clamor for an investigation into the government's mistakes subsided." [Time, 5/27/02]
May 21, 2002: Minnesota FBI agent Coleen Rowley, upset with what she considers lying from FBI Director Mueller and others in the FBI about the handling of the Moussaoui case, makes public a long memo she's written about the topic (previously discussed, see August 28, 2001 (D), and see the memo here: [Time, 5/21/02]). She also applies for whistleblower protection. Time magazine calls the memo a "colossal indictment of our chief law-enforcement agency's neglect" and says it "raises serious doubts about whether the FBI is capable of protecting the public - and whether it still deserves the public's trust." [Time, 5/27/02] After 9/11 Mueller made statements such as "There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country" (see September 14, 2001 (F)). Coleen Rowley and other Minnesota FBI agents "immediately sought to reach [Mueller's] office through an assortment of higher-level FBI [headquarters] contacts, in order to quickly make [him] aware of the background of the Moussaoui investigation and forewarn [him] so that [his] public statements could be accordingly modified," yet Mueller continued to make similar comments, including in a Senate hearing on May 8, 2002. [Time, 5/21/02 , New York Times, 5/30/02] Finally, after Rowley's memo becomes public, Mueller states, "I cannot say for sure that there wasn't a possibility we could have come across some lead that would have led us to the hijackers." He also admits: "I have made mistakes occasionally in my public comments based on information or a lack of information that I subsequently got." [New York Times, 5/30/02] Time magazine later names Rowley one of three "Persons of the Year" for 2002, along with fellow whistleblowers Cynthia Cooper of Worldcom and Sherron Watkins of Enron. [Time, 12/22/02, Time, 12/22/02]
May 21, 2002 (C): Abdulla Noman, a former employee of the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers got their visas, says that he took money and gifts to provide fraudulent visas to foreigners. He pleads guilty and is convicted. About 50 to 100 visas were improperly issued by Noman from September 1996 until November 2001, when he was arrested. However, a former visa officer in Jeddah, Michael Springman, has claimed in the past that the Jeddah office was notorious for purposefully giving visas to terrorists to train in the US. (see 1987-1989). [AP, 5/21/02] If this is true, then was Noman "the fall guy" to provide a cover story?
May 21-22, 2002: Walid Arkeh is a prisoner in Florida who claims to have told the FBI in August 2001 that al-Qaeda was likely to attack the WTC and other targets soon. At the time, his information was dismissed (see August 21, 2001). After 9/11, his warning is still not taken seriously by the local FBI, but on May 21 he is interviewed by a different group of FBI agents in New York City. They being asking him what three al-Qaeda prisoners he befriended had told him of the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998). When Arkeh mentions he has information about 9/11 that he told the FBI before 9/11, the agents are stunned. One says to him: "Let me tell you something. If you know what happened in New York, we are all in deep shit. We are in deep trouble." He tells them that these prisoners hinted that the WTC would be attacked, and targets in Washington were mentioned as well. However, they did not tell him a date or that airplanes would be used. The New York FBI later informs him that they found his information credible. [Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] Near the end of his prison sentence for dealing in stolen property and slapping his child, it appears Arkeh will be deported to Jordan despite a Responsible Cooperators Program promising visas to those who provided important terrorist information. It is unclear if even one person has been given rewards through this program. [Orlando Sentinel, 11/10/02, Orlando Sentinel, 1/11/03]
May 21-24, 2002: A New York Times editorial says it's time to "light a fire under the FBI in its investigation of the anthrax case. Experts in the bioterror field are already buzzing about a handful of individuals who had the ability, access and motive to send the anthrax." [New York Times, 5/24/02] Similarly, the Guardian suggests that the FBI investigation is moving deliberately slow because the federal authorities have something to hide, stating "there is surely a point after which incompetence becomes an insufficient explanation for failure." [Guardian, 5/21/02]
May 22, 2002: At least half of the 48 Muslim radicals linked to terrorist plots in the US since 1993 manipulated or violated immigration laws to enter this country and then stay here. Even when the terrorists did little to hide violations of visa requirements or other laws, INS officials failed to enforce the laws or to deport the offenders. The terrorists used a variety of methods. At the time they committed their crimes, 12 of the 48 were illegal immigrants. At least five others had lived in the US illegally, and four others had committed significant immigration violations. Others were here legally but should have been rejected for visas because they fit US immigration profiles of people who are likely to overstay their visas. [USA Today, 5/22/02] Experts later strongly suggest that the visa applications for all 15 of the Saudi Arabian 9/11 hijackers should have been rejected due to numerous irregularities (see October 23, 2002).
May 23, 2002: President Bush says he is opposed to establishing a special, independent commission to probe how the government dealt with terror warnings before 9/11. [CBS, 5/23/02] He later changes his stance in the face of overwhelming support for the idea (see September 20, 2002), and then sabotages an agreement that Congress had reached to establish the commission (see October 10, 2002).
May 27, 2002: The New Yorker reports that a senior FBI official acknowledges there has been "no breakthrough" in establishing how the 9/11 suicide teams were organized and how they operated. Additionally, none of the thousands of pages of documents and computer hard drives captured in Afghanistan has enabled investigators to broaden their understanding of how the attack occurred, or even to bring an indictment of a conspirator. [New Yorker, 5/27/02]
May 30, 2002: FBI Agent Robert Wright announces he is suing the FBI over a publishing ban. He has written a book but the FBI won't allow him to show it to anyone. He delivers a tearful press conference at the National Press Club describing his lawsuit against the FBI for deliberately curtailing investigations that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately he has been ordered to not reveal specifics publicly. [Fox News, 5/30/02] Wright claims the FBI shut down his 1998 criminal probe into alleged terrorist-training camps in Chicago and Kansas City (see October 1998). He uses words like "prevented," "thwarted," "obstructed," "threatened," "intimidated," and "retaliation" to describe the actions of his superiors in blocking his attempts to shut off money flows to al-Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist groups. He also alleges that for years the US was training Hamas terrorists to make car bombs to use against Israel, one of the US's closest allies (see also June 9, 2001 and August 9, 2002 (C)). [LA Weekly, 8/2/02] FTW
May 30, 2002 (B): Afghanistan's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, Turkmenistan's President Niyazov, and Pakistani President Musharraf meet in Islamabad and sign a memorandum of understanding on the trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline project. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections, 6/8/02, Dawn, 5/31/02] FTW The agreement is finalized by the end of the year (see December 27, 2002).
May 30, 2002 (C): Attorney General Ashcroft relaxes decades-old rules limiting government agents from monitoring domestic religious and political groups. Now, FBI agents can attend political rallies or religious meetings without evidence of a crime or advance approval from superiors. The new rules also permit the FBI to broadly search or monitor the internet for evidence of criminal activity without having any tips or leads that a specific criminal act has been committed. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/31/02]
May 31, 2002: At some point prior to this date, when asked why the August 6, 2001 memo read by Bush on al-Qaeda has not been released (see August 6, 2001), Vice President Cheney calls the CIA memo just a "rehash" containing nothing new or interesting. But why Congress should not see it, Cheney says, "because it contains the most sensitive sources and methods. It's the family jewels." [Christian Science Monitor, 5/31/02] How can this "rehash" of "jewels" be simultaneously worthless and full of sensitive information?
Late May 2002: A memo written by a Phoenix FBI agent Ken Williams in July 2001 (see July 10, 2001), which warned that Middle Eastern terrorists might be training at US flight schools, is finally received by the FAA - weeks after it was recounted in news reports. [Washington Post, 10/2/02]
June 2002: The US secretly indicts Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Abdul Malik for attempting to buy $32 million in Stinger missiles and other military weaponry in an undercover arms-dealing investigation. However, a US official states that Abbas is an alleged member of the ISI, and is thought to have ties to Middle East terrorist groups and arms-trafficking operations. He also appears to have foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks (see July 14, 1999). Abdul Malik is said to be Abbas's money man. Abdul Malik is not related to Mohammed Malik, another Pakistani targeted by the undercover operation. The chief US informant in the case, Randy Glass, says that both men also have clear ties to al-Qaeda, and the arms were going to be funneled to al-Qaeda and used against American targets. [Palm Beach Post, 3/20/03, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3/20/03] The indictment is not revealed until March 2003; both men still remain missing and are presumed to be in Pakistan. The US says it is still working on capturing and extraditing Abbas and Malik. [MSNBC, 3/18/03] NBC seems to have no trouble reaching Abbas in Pakistan by telephone. [MSNBC, 8/2/02, MSNBC, 3/18/03] The indictment "makes no mention of Pakistan, any ties to Afghanistan's former Taliban regime or the ultimate destination of the weapons." [Palm Beach Post, 3/20/03] In other court cases resulting from this sting, all mentions of Pakistan have been removed (see June 12, 2001).
June 1, 2002: Memphis, Tennessee, medical examiner O.C. Smith is attacked with chemical spray, bound with barbed wire, and left lying in a nearby parking lot with a bomb tied to his body. He is rescued several hours later. In recent months, Smith has been working on two interesting cases. One is the death of Harvard University microbiologist Don Wiley, who supposedly fell from a Memphis bridge in December (see November 16, 2001). He also helped identify the body of Katherine Smith, a state driver's license examiner who was found burned beyond recognition in February 2002, a day before a hearing on federal charges of helping five Middle Eastern men obtain fake driver's licenses (see February 10, 2002). Adding to the mystery, Smith had received a series of death threat letters early in 2001. [AP, 6/4/02] Perhaps it's all coincidence, but the events around O.C. Smith, Katherine Smith and Don Wiley seem to tie 9/11 and the rash of microbiologist deaths together in some inexplicable way. If someone wanted O.C. Smith dead, why didn't they just kill him instead of attacking him in such a strange way and then leaving him to live? Was this, and the earlier bomb attack against his office (see March 13, 2002), meant as a warning?
June 1, 2002 (B): In a speech, Bush announced a new US policy of preemptive attacks: "If we wait for threats to fully materialize we will have waited too long. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge." [New York Times, 6/2/02] This preemptive strategy is included in a defensive strategic paper the next month (see July 13, 2002), and formally announced in September 2002. In all these developments, the media fails to notice that this preemptive policy was the fulfillment of a vision first articulated in Bush Sr.'s administration (see November 9, 1989 and March 8, 1992), and later pushed by the influential Project for the New American Century think tank (see June 3, 1997). [New York Times, 9/20/02, Washington Post, 9/21/02, Guardian, 9/21/02]
June 3, 2002: Former FBI Deputy Director Weldon Kennedy states: "Even in the [Zacarias] Moussaoui case, there's lots of uproar over the fact that the - there was a failure to obtain a warrant to search his computer. Well, the facts now are that warrant was ultimately obtained. The computer was searched and guess what? There was nothing significant on there pertaining to 9/11." [CNN, 6/3/02] Three days later, The Washington Post reports: "Amid the latest revelations about FBI and CIA lapses prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, congressional investigators say it is now clear that the evidence that lay unexamined in Zacarias Moussaoui's possession was even more valuable than previously believed. A notebook and correspondence of Moussaoui's not only appears to link him to the main hijacking cell in Hamburg, Germany, but also to an al-Qaeda associate in Malaysia whose activities were monitored by the CIA more than a year before the terror attacks on New York and Washington." [Washington Post, 6/6/02] Slate magazine later gives Kennedy the "Whopper of the Week" award for his comment. [Slate, 6/7/02]
June 3, 2002 (B): A rare follow-up article about inside trading based on 9/11 foreknowledge confirms that numerous inquiries in the US and around the world are still ongoing (see for instance, Early September 2001 (I), Early September 2001 (J), Early September 2001 (K), Early September 2001 (L), Early September 2001 (M) and September 6-10, 2001). However, "all are treating these inquiries as if they were state secrets." The author speculates: "The silence from the investigating camps could mean any of several things: Either terrorists are responsible for the puts on the airline stocks; others besides terrorists had foreknowledge; the puts were just lucky bets by credible investors; or, there is nothing whatsoever to support the insider-trading rumors." [Insight, 6/3/02]
June 3, 2002 (C): San Francisco attorney Stanley Hilton files a $7 billion
lawsuit against President Bush and other government officials, claiming that
they allowed the 9/11 attacks to occur. Hilton is filing a class action suit
on behalf of the families of 14 victims of 9/11. [San
Francisco Examiner, 6/11/02] His suit names as defendants: President Bush,
Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld,
Attorney General Ashcroft, FBI Director Mueller, Transportation Secretary Norman
Mineta, and the US government generally. [Stanley
Hilton Suit, 6/3/02] While the suit has gotten virtually no press coverage,
an interview in March 2003 shows that his suit is still ongoing. [Alex
Jones Show, 3/11/03]
June 4, 2002: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is publicly identified as the "mastermind" behind the 9/11 attacks. He is believed to have arranged the logistics while on the run in Germany, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 1996 he had been secretly indicted in the US for his role in Operation Bojinka (see January 6, 1995 and January-May 1996), and the US began offering a $2 million reward for his capture in 1998, which increased to $25 million in December 2001. [AP, 6/4/02, New York Times, 6/5/02] There are conflicting accounts on how much US investigators knew about Mohammed before 9/11 (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001). Mohammed is Pakistani (thought born in Kuwait [CBS, 6/5/02]) and a relative of Ramzi Yousef, the bomber of the WTC in 1993. [New York Times, 6/5/02] Though not widely reported, Josef Bodansky, the director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, says Mohammed also has ties to the ISI, and they had acted to shield him in the past. Bodansky claims Mohammed is the one who orders Pearl's murder (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). [UPI, 9/30/02] If the 9/11 mastermind has ties to the ISI, and Saeed Shaikh, an agent of the ISI, helped train the hijackers (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001) and wired money to the 9/11 hijackers on the orders of ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (see Early August 2001 (D)), and other ISI agents had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks in 1999 (see July 14, 1999), why has no mainstream media outlet ever suggested that the ISI could have been behind the 9/11 attacks? Mohammed is apparently captured in March 2003, if not earlier (see March 1, 2003).
June 4, 2002 (B): For the first time, Bush concedes that his intelligence agencies didn't do the best job: "In terms of whether or not the FBI and the CIA were communicating properly, I think it is clear that they weren't." [London Times, 6/5/02] However, in an address to the nation three days later, President Bush states, "Based on everything I've seen, I do not believe anyone could have prevented the horror of September the 11th." [Sydney Morning Herald, 6/8/02] Days earlier, Newsweek reports that the FBI have prepared a detailed chart showing how agents could have uncovered the terrorist plot if the CIA been told them what it knew about the hijackers Almihdhar and Alhazmi sooner. One FBI official says, "There's no question we could have tied all 19 hijackers together." [Newsweek, 6/2/02] FBI Director Mueller denies the existence of such a chart. Attorney General Ashcroft also says it is unlikely better intelligence could have stopped the attacks. [Washington Post, 6/3/02]
June 4, 2002 (C): Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Butler is suspended from his post at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California and is told he could face a court martial for writing a letter to a local newspaper calling President Bush a "joke" and accusing him of allowing the 9/11 attacks to happen. The military prohibits public criticism of superiors. [BBC, 6/5/02, see the letter here: Monterey County Herald, 6/5/02] What is not reported is that he may have had unique knowledge about 9/11: A hijacker named Saeed Alghamdi trained at the Defense Language Institute and Butler was Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs there (note that this is not the same person as the Steven Butler who later testifies before the 9/11 Congressional inquiry (see October 9, 2002)). [Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] Later in the month the Air Force announces "the matter is resolved" and Butler will not face a court-martial but it is unknown if he faced a lesser punishment. [Knight Ridder, 6/14/02] FTW
June 10, 2002: Attorney General Ashcroft announces the arrest of Abdullah al-Mujahir, a.k.a. Jose Padilla. He claims that Padilla was part of an al-Qaeda plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a US city, and supposedly Padilla was scouting bomb targets when arrested. Padilla, a US citizen, is being held as an "enemy combatant," allowing him to be held indefinitely. [Guardian 6/11/02, PBS Newshour, 6/11/02] But almost immediately, doubts grow about this story. The London Times says that it is "beyond dispute" that the timing of the announcement of his arrest was "politically inspired." Padilla was actually arrested a month earlier, on May 8. [London Times, 6/13/02] It is widely believed that Ashcroft made the arrest announcement "only to divert attention from Intelligence Committee inquiries into the FBI and CIA handling of 9/11." [Village Voice, 6/12/02, Independent, 6/12/02, BBC, 6/13/02, Washington Post, 6/13/03] Bush soon privately chastises Ashcroft for overstating claims about Padilla. [Guardian, 8/15/02] The government attorneys apparently could not get an indictment out of a New York grand jury and, rather than let him go, made Padilla an enemy combatant. [Village Voice, 6/12/02] It later comes out that the FBI found no evidence that he was preparing a dirty bomb attack and little evidence to suggest that he had any support from al-Qaeda, or any ties to al-Qaeda cells in the US. Yet the Justice Department maintains that its view of Padilla "remains unchanged," and that he is a "serious and continuing threat." [Guardian, 8/15/02] Because Padilla is a US citizen, he cannot be tried in a military court. So apparently he will simply be held indefinitely. It is pointed out that any American could be declared an enemy combatant and never tried or have that status questioned. [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/11/02, Washington Post, 6/11/02] The Washington Post says, "If that's the case, nobody's constitutional rights are safe." [Washington Post, 6/11/02] Despite the evidence that Padilla's case is grossly overstated, the government won't even allow him access to a lawyer (see December 4, 2002 (B) and March 11, 2003).
June 13, 2002: Several congresspeople submit a list of 50 questions to Attorney General Ashcroft, asking him how the Patriot Act is being implemented (see October 26, 2001). [July 14, 2002] For instance, they ask, "How many times has the department requested records from libraries, bookstores and newspapers? How many roving wiretaps has the department requested?" Ashcroft refuses to answer many of the questions, even though he is legally required to do so. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/8/02] Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D) fails to receive any response to dozens of letters he writes to Ashcroft, and other senators complain of a complete stonewall. [Washington Post, 8/21/02] In March 2003, senators continue to complain that Ashcroft still has not provided the oversight information about the Patriot Act that he is required to give by law. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
June 13, 2002 (B): Sudan arrests an al-Qaeda leader who has confessed to firing a missile at a US plane taking off from Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, in May. Saudi Arabia had failed to arrest him. This is just the latest in a series of events where "some countries long deemed key US allies - such as Saudi Arabia - are considered less than helpful in the war against terror, while other states remaining on the US State Department's blacklist of terrorist sponsors, such as Syria and Sudan, are apparently proving more cooperative than their pariah status would suggest." The US hasn't been given access to al-Qaeda members arrested by Saudi Arabia, and "concerns over the Saudi authorities' 'unhelpful' stance are increasing." [Jane's Intelligence Review, 7/5/02]
June 16, 2002: In September 2002, articles appear in the Pakistani and Indian press suggesting that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is actually captured on this day. Supposedly he has been sent to the US, though the US and Pakistan deny the story and say Mohammed has not been captured at all. [Daily Times, 9/9/02, Times of India, 9/9/02, Economic Times, 9/10/02] If it happened, Mohammed may have been captured before an interview with Al Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda (see April, June or August 2002). It is later widely reported that Mohammed is captured in March 2003, but some reporters and experts doubt this, suggesting he was captured earlier (see March 1, 2003). He may also have been captured or killed in September 2002 (see September 11, 2002).
June 18, 2002: FBI Director Mueller testifies before the Congressional 9/11 inquiry; his testimony is made public in September 2002. [AP, 9/26/02] He claims that with the possible exception of Zacarias Moussaoui, "To this day we have found no one in the United States except the actual hijackers who knew of the plot and we have found nothing they did while in the United States that triggered a specific response about them." [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] The Congressional 9/11 inquiry will later conclude near the end of 2002 that some hijackers had contact inside the US with individuals known to the FBI, and the hijackers "were not as isolated during their time in the United States as has been previously suggested." [Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02] Mueller also claims, "There were no slip-ups. Discipline never broke down. They gave no hint to those around them what they were about." [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] This statement overlooks some facts, such as the FAA's investigation into Hani Hanjour (see January 2001), Atta's strange visit to the Department of Agriculture (see Late April-Mid-May 2000), or what should have been an FAA investigation into Atta (see December 26, 2000).
June 20, 2002: The long-awaited loya jirga, or grand council, is concluded in Afghanistan. This council was supposed to be a traditional method for the Afghan people to select their leaders, but the council is clearly rigged (as an important think tank later concludes). [BBC, 8/1/02] Half of the delegates walk out in protest. [CNN, 6/18/02] One delegate states, "This is worse than our worst expectations. The warlords have been promoted and the professionals kicked out. Who calls this democracy?" Delegates complain, "This is interference by foreign countries", obviously meaning the US. The New York Times publishes an article ("The Warlords Win in Kabul") pointing out that the "very forces responsible for countless brutalities" in past governments are back in power. [New York Times, 6/21/02] These are the same warlords that have controlled the drug trade for years.
June 22, 2002: Internal FBI documents show that Thomas Kelley, in charge of matters relating to the FBI in the joint congressional intelligence 9/11 inquiry, blocked an inquiry into the FBI's role in Waco. For instance, an internal FBI memo from December 2000 states that Kelley "continued to thwart and obstruct" the Waco investigation to the point that a special counsel was forced to send a team to search FBI headquarters for documents Kelley refused to turn over. [Washington Post, 6/22/02] This follows the resignation of the inquiry head a month previously (see May 1, 2002).
June 25, 2002: The FBI search the home of an anthrax researcher who worked at USAMRIID. [AP, 6/25/02] He remains anonymous in most stories, but some name him as Steven Hatfill. In the wake of all these stories, one microbiologist states, "Their intent was clearly to put [Hatfill's] name in the public eye. The only question is why." The FBI announces that the search found nothing and Hatfill is not a suspect. [Hartford Courant, 6/27/02] The FBI also announces voluntary lie detector tests at USAMRIID and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. [New York Times, 7/2/02] Numerous experts have pointed out for months that these two facilities are the only likely places the anthrax used in the attacks could have been made, and that there are only several dozen possible scientists who could have made it. Why is the FBI only now even beginning to look into this? The New York Times had been running a series of articles about "Mr. Z" [New York Times, 5/24/02, New York Times, 7/2/02, New York Times, 7/12/02], who is eventually revealed as Hatfill. [New York Times, 8/13/02]
June 25, 2002 (B): Although the Western media continues to report that the ISI has reformed itself, "few in Pakistan believe it." The Independent later reports rumors that on this day ISI officers hide three al-Qaeda members after a gun battle in which 10 soldiers were killed. This follows several other betrayals - now the FBI and the Pakistanis no longer tell the ISI about their raids in advance. Other Pakistani investigators are having to build terrorist files from scratch because the ISI won't share what they know. [Independent, 7/21/02]
June 26, 2002: Arne Kruithof, owner of the flight school where hijacker Ziad Jarrah trained, narrowly survives a small plane crash in Venice, Florida. The plane crashes shortly after takeoff, but the pilot and two passengers remarkably walk away unscathed. [Venice Gondolier, 6/29/02] The incident may be completely accidental, but it interesting to note that the owner of the other Venice flight school that trained hijackers, Rudi Dekkers, also survives a crash six months later (see January 24, 2003). Reporter Daniel Hopsicker has been reporting on Kruithof's "curious" connections, and suggests the accident may be an attempt to silence Kruithof's knowledge of 9/11 (see Hopsicker's website).
June 26, 2002 (B): US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy claims that the proposed bill for a new Homeland Security department would put this department "above the law." He reveals that, amongst other disturbing provisions, "The Freedom of Information Act would not apply. The conflicts of interest and accountability rules for agency advisers would not apply." A provision in the bill will exempt employees in the new department from whistleblower protection, the very law that has helped expose intelligence-gathering missteps before 9/11. [Reuters, 6/26/02]
July 3, 2002: The Justice Department announces that only 74 of the 752 people detained on immigration charges after 9/11 are still in US custody. By December, only six of them remain in custody (see December 11, 2002 (D)). Hundreds more were detained on other charges or as material witnesses, but no numbers pertaining to them have been released. 611 were subject to secret hearings. Senator Carl Levin (D), who had requested the figures, says, "It took the Justice Department more than three months to produce a partial response to my letter." But the answers raise "a number of additional questions, including why closed hearings were necessary for so many people." Though many were held for months, "the vast majority were never charged with anything other than overstaying a visa." [New York Times, 7/11/02] All the deportation hearings for these people have been held in secret as well. Some say the government is cloaking its activities out of embarrassment, because none of these people have turned out to have any ties to terrorism. [New York Times, 7/11/02, Detroit Free Press, 7/18/02]
July 6, 2002: Afghan Vice President Hajji Abdul Qadir is assassinated by Afghan warlords. Qadir may have been assassinated by opium warlords upset by Qadir's efforts to reduce the rampant opium farming and processing that has taken place since the US occupation. Qadir had been overseeing a Western-backed eradication program, and had recently complained that the money meant to be given to reward farmers for not planting opium was in fact not reaching the farmers. Additionally, Qadir "had long been suspected of enriching himself through involvement in the opium trade." [New York Times, 7/8/02, Chicago Tribune, 7/8/02] FTW
July 10, 2002: A briefing given to a top Pentagon advisory group states, "The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader ... Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies." They are called "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent." This position still runs counter to official US policy, but the Washington Post says it "represents a point of view that has growing currency within the Bush administration." The briefing suggests that the Saudis be given an ultimatum to stop backing terrorism or face seizure of its oil fields and its financial assets invested in the United States. The group, the Defense Policy Board, is headed by Richard Perle. [Washington Post, 8/6/02] A international controversy follows the public reports of the briefing in August 2002 (for instance, [Scotsman, 8/12/02]). In an abrupt change, the media starts calling the Saudis enemies, not allies of the US. Slate reports details of the briefing the Post failed to mention. The briefing states, "There is an 'Arabia,' but it needs not be 'Saudi'". The conclusion of the briefing: "Grand strategy for the Middle East: Iraq is the tactical pivot. Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot. Egypt the prize." [Slate, 8/7/02] Note that a similar meeting of the Defense Policy Board appears to have preceded and affected the US's decision to take a warlike stance against Iraq (see September 17, 2001 (B) and August 6, 2001 (B)).
July 11, 2002: It
is reported that the FBI believes there are approximately 5,000 al-Qaeda agents
inside the US. In early 2003, FBI Director Mueller reduces the estimate to "several
hundred." The New York Times then says that even suggesting over 100 is
probably an exaggeration made for political reasons. [New
York Times, 2/16/03]
July 12, 2002: A federal judge denies a motion to dismiss a lawsuit trying to force the release of documents relating to Vice President Cheney's Energy Task Force (see May 2001 (G)). Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club filed the suit a year earlier. The judge rejects as "mischief" arguments that inquiry into the Energy Task Force would impinge on the president's constitutional powers. The judge further says the Bush Administration's "stunning" arguments "fly in the face of precedent" and are a "problematic and unprecedented assertion ... of Executive Power." He also accuses the Bush Administration of making purposefully misleading arguments in its case. [AP, 7/12/02] In March, the Bush Administration was forced to release thousands of documents after what the judge called ten months of stalling. [New York Times, 3/6/02] But a majority of documents were not released, and of the ones that were, most were completely blanked out. [AP, 3/25/02] The government continues to fight the release of these documents (see October 17, 2002, December 9, 2002 (B) and February 7, 2003 (B)).
July 12, 2002 (B): US prosecutors are arguing in court that the government should be able to block the 9/11 victims' relatives from obtaining sensitive airline information in wrongful death suits alleging inadequate security. The airlines have been named in at least 10 wrongful death suits - now consolidated into one case. Even the airlines on the other side of the case say their lawyers have not been able to learn "basic information" from the government. [Reuters, 7/12/02]
July 13, 2002: The US
military releases a new Defense Planning Guidance strategic vision. It "contains
all the key elements" of a similar document written ten years earlier by
largely the same people now in power (see March
8, 1992). Like the original, the centerpiece of this vision is preventing
any other powers from challenging US world dominance. Some new ideas are added,
for instance, not just preemptive strikes but preemptive strikes using nuclear
weapons. [Los Angeles Times, 7/13/02,
Los Angeles Times, 7/16/02, Harper's,
10/02] David Armstrong notes in Harper's magazine, "[In 1992] the goal
was global dominance, and it met with bad reviews. Now it is the answer to terrorism.
The emphasis is on preemption, and the reviews are generally enthusiastic. Through
all of this, the dominance motif remains, though largely undetected." [Harper's,
July 15, 2002: Saeed Sheikh and three codefendants are judged guilty for the murder of reporter Daniel Pearl (see January 31, 2002). Saeed, the supposed mastermind of the murder, is sentenced to death by hanging, and the others are given 25-year terms. Saeed threatens the judge with retribution. As if to confirm that his death covers up unpleasant truths, in the stories of his sentencing every major US media story fails to report Saeed's connections to 9/11 or even to the ISI. [AP, 7/15/02, AP, 7/15/02, CBS, 7/15/02, CNN, 7/15/02, Los Angeles Times, 7/15/02, MSNBC, 7/15/02, New York Times, 7/15/02, Reuters, 7/15/02, USA Today, 7/15/02, Wall Street Journal, 7/15/02, Washington Post, 7/15/02] In contrast, the British media connects Saeed to the ISI ([Guardian, 7/16/02, Guardian, 7/16/02, Daily Mail, 7/16/02]), al-Qaeda ([Independent, 7/16/02]), the 9/11 attacks ([Scotsman, 7/16/02]), or some combination of the three ([London Times, 7/16/02, Daily Mail, 7/16/02, Telegraph, 7/16/02]) (with one exception: [BBC, 7/16/02, BBC, 7/16/02]). The US and British governments both approve of the verdict. [Wall Street Journal, 7/15/02, BBC, 7/15/02] In the US, only the Washington Post questions the justice of the verdict. [Washington Post, 7/15/02, Washington Post, 7/16/02] By contrast, all British newspapers question the verdict, and subsequently raise additional questions about it (see July 16-21, 2002). Saeed has appealed the decision but a second trial has yet to begin. [AP, 8/18/02]
July 16-21, 2002:
More questions emerge in British newspapers about the conviction of Saeed Sheikh
for reporter Daniel Pearl's murder in the days immediately after the verdict
(see July 15, 2002).
Pakistani police have secretly arrested two men who many believe are the real
masterminds of Pearl's murder, and official confirmation of these crucial arrests
could have ended Saeed's trial. [Guardian,
7/18/02] On May 16, Pearl's body was found and identified,
but the FBI doesn't officially release the DNA results because official confirmation
of the body would also have meant a new trial. [Independent,
7/16/02] Pakistani officials admit they waited to
release the results until after the verdict. [Guardian,
7/18/02] After the trial ends, Pakistani officials
admit that the key testimony of a taxi driver is doubtful. The "taxi driver"
turns out to be a head constable policeman. [Guardian,
7/18/02] One of the codefendants turns out to be working for the Special
7/21/02] The law states the trial needs to finish in a week, but in fact
it took three months. The trial judge and the venue were changed three times.
The trial was held in a bunker underneath a prison, and no reporters were allowed
to attend. When all the appeals are done, it is doubtful that Saeed will be
extradited to the US, "because Mr. Sheikh might tell the Americans about
the links between al-Qaeda and Pakistan's own intelligence organization."
7/16/02] Meanwhile, at least seven more suspects remain at large. All have
ties to the ISI, and as one investigator remarks, "It seems inconceivable
that there isn't someone in the ISI who knows where they're hiding." [Time,
5/6/02] Why is the US complicit in such a sham
July 18, 2002: New revelations about two phone calls made from Flight 11 emerge. Two stewardesses had lengthy telephone calls to their airline company before the plane crashed into the WTC. There's no mention of box cutters being used, but instead the hijackers "went into the cockpit with a bomb with yellow wires attached" and then "sprayed something in the first-class cabin to keep people out of the front of the plane." Three people were also stabbed. Even this may not be the full or accurate story since the government won't release recordings of these conversations. [ABC News, 7/18/02] Note that a detailed article about Madeline Sweeney's call appeared in the Los Angeles Times back in September 20, 2001, without any mention of a bomb or chemical spray. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] Is the story changing or are new details emerging? How could the hijackers get through security with so many weapons?
July 19, 2002: Faced with growing criticism of its Visa Express program (see May 2001 (H)), the State Department early in July 2002 decides merely to change the name of the program. When that fails to satisfy critics, the program is abandoned altogether on July 19. The Visa Express program allowed anyone in Saudi Arabia to apply for US visas through their travel agents instead of having to show up at a consulate in person. [Washington Post, 7/11/02] Mary Ryan, the head of the State Department's consular service that was responsible for letting most of the hijackers into the US, is also forced to retire. It has been pointed out that Ryan deceived Congress by testifying that "there was nothing State could have done to prevent the terrorists from obtaining visas" (see October 21, 2002 and October 23, 2002). However, after all this, Ryan and the other authors of the Visa Express program are given "outstanding performance" awards of $15,000 each. The reporter who wrote most of the stories critical of Visa Express is briefly detained and pressured by the State Department. [Washington Times, 10/23/02, Philadelphia Daily News, 12/30/02]
July 19, 2002 (B):
An editorial in an Indian newspaper wonders why the US is still not interrogating
Saeed Sheikh, recently convicted of murdering Daniel Pearl (see January
31, 2002). Saeed was briefly interrogated by the FBI in February, but
they were unable to ask about his links to al-Qaeda, and no known US contact
has taken place since. [Independent,
7/16/02, Indian Express, 7/19/02]
The editorial suggests that if the US pressures its close ally Pakistan to allow
Saeed to be interrogated in his Pakistani prison, they could learn more about
his financing of the 9/11 attacks and the criminal underworld that Saeed was
connected to (see Early
August 2001 (D)). Also, US attempts to
find al-Qaeda cells in Pakistan could be strongly boosted with new information.
[Indian Express, 7/19/02] No
Western media seems to find it curious that Saeed hasn't been properly interrogated
by US investigators.
July 21, 2002: In an article titled, "Anthrax: the Noose Widens," Time magazine reports, "Despite recent claims by some in the bioterrorism community that the investigation should be homing in on one particular American bioweapons expert, the FBI appears to be moving in the opposite direction. US government officials say the investigation is still ranging far and wide and that the FBI has not ruled out a foreign connection." [Time, 7/21/02]
22, 2002: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld issues
a secret directive to Special Operations forces allowing them to "capture
terrorists for interrogation or, if necessary, to kill them" anywhere in
the world. [New
Yorker, 12/16/02] Bush already issued a presidential finding authorizing
the killing of terrorist leaders, but this increases such efforts. [New
York Times, 12/15/02] However, Bush has not rescinded a presidential executive
order dating from the 1970s that bans all assassinations, claiming that terrorists
are military combatants. "Many past and present military
and intelligence officials have expressed alarm" at the legality, wisdom,
ethics, and effectiveness of the assassination program. Apparently much of the
leadership of Special Operations is against it, worrying about the blowback
effect. In February 2002, a Predator missile targeting someone intelligent agents
thought was bin Laden hit its target, but killed three innocent Afghan farmers
Yorker, 12/16/02] The first successful assassination takes place
in November (see November
July 23, 2002: The New York City government decides that the audio and written records of the Fire Department's actions on 9/11 should never be released to the general public. The New York Times has been trying to get copies of the materials, which include firsthand accounts given to Fire Department officials by scores of firefighters and chiefs. The city claims the firefighters were told their accounts would be kept confidential, but senior fire officials say they were never told that their remarks would be kept confidential. [New York Times, 7/23/02]
July 26, 2002: ABC News reports that an Alabama urban-warfare training camp primarily used by law-enforcement authorities may also have been used to help Islamic militants prepare for terror attacks. US and British authorities don't know how many militant recruits may have come through "Ground Zero USA" camp, which displays bullet-riddled police cars and a school bus with mannequin targets. Before 9/11, an al-Qaeda supporter had a web site recruiting militant Muslims that touted the camp. [South China Morning Post, 7/26/02] How is it so many terrorists seemed to train in the US so easily, and even within clear view of US law enforcement?
Late July 2002: US Special Forces apprehend Mullah Akhter Mohammed Osmani, a top general and one of the six most-wanted Taliban, in Kandahar. He is flown to a detention center north of Kabul for interrogation, but is released a few weeks later and escapes to Pakistan. Contradicting the statements of many soldiers in Kandahar, the Defense Intelligence Agency says it "has no knowledge that Mullah Akhter Mohammed Osmani was ever in US custody in Afghanistan. Given Osmani's high profile and our interest in detaining him, misidentification by experienced personnel is unlikely." [Washington Times, 12/18/02] The incident is one of many examples of the US failing to capture top al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan (see Early November 2001, Mid-November-November 25, 2001, November 16, 2001, November 28, 2001, and Early December 2001).
August 1, 2002: FBI names Steven Hatfill as a "person of interest" in the anthrax attacks, the first person to be so named. FBI agents are also seen investigating his trash and conducting a second search of his house (first search, see June 25, 2002). [AP, 8/1/02, London Times, 8/2/02] On the same day, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, one of the world's top anthrax specialists is interviewed by FBI agents who ask her whether a team of government scientists could be trying to frame Hatfill. Rosenberg has been very publicly critical of the FBI investigation. [Washington Times, 8/3/02] Newsweek follows with a lengthy article purporting to detail the entire anthrax investigation, but it focuses entirely on Hatfill and fails to even mention people like Philip Zack (see January 20, 2002). [Newsweek, 8/4/02] The Washington Post does a similar story focusing on Hatfill only (and even claims the US biowarfare program ended decades ago). [Washington Post, 8/4/02]
August 1, 2002 (B): The US Justice Department sends an e-mail to Louisiana State University's biomedical research and training center, telling them to "immediately cease and desist" from employing researcher Steven Hatfill on department-funded programs. The next day Hatfill is placed on administrative leave. [CNN, 9/5/02] On September 4, he is fired. [AP, 9/4/02] A day after that, the person who hired him is fired as well. [AP, 9/5/02] The LSU center relies on funding from the Justice Department for 97% of its money. [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02] The New York Times later reports that "several senior law enforcement officials expressed embarrassment over the e-mail incident, saying the domestic preparedness office acted improperly because Mr. Hatfill has never been charged with any wrongdoing and has not been identified as a suspect." [New York Times, 9/5/02]
August 2, 2002: MSNBC airs recordings informant Randy Glass made of arms dealers and Pakistani ISI agents attempting to buy nuclear material and other illegal weapons for bin Laden (see also August 17, 1999 and Early August 2001). [MSNBC, 8/2/02] Meanwhile, it is reported that federal investigators are reexamining the arms smuggling case involving Glass "to determine whether agents of the Pakistani government tried to buy missiles and nuclear weapons components in the United States last year for use by terrorists or Pakistan's military." [Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B)] Two such ISI agents, Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Abdul Malik, are already secretly indicted by this time (see June 2002). But Glass still says, "The government knows about those involved in my case who were never charged, never deported, who actively took part in bringing terrorists into our country to meet with me and undercover agents." [Cox News, 8/2/02] One such person may be a former Egyptian judge named Shireen Shawky, who was interested in buying weapons for the Taliban and attended a meeting in which ISI agent Rajaa Gulum Abbas said the WTC would be destroyed (see July 14, 1999). [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02, MSNBC, 8/2/02] Others not charged may include Mohamed Amir and Dr. Magdy el Amir (see Spring 1999 (B)).
August 2, 2002 (B): The Washington Post reveals that FBI agents have questioned nearly all 37 members of the Senate and House intelligence committees about 9/11-related information leaks. They have asked them to submit to lie detector tests but most have refused. Congresspeople express "grave concern" for this historically unprecedented move. A law professor states, "Now the FBI can open dossiers on every member and staffer and develop full information on them. It creates a great chilling effect on those who would be critical of the FBI." [Washington Post, 8/2/02] Senator John McCain suggests that "the constitutional separation of powers is being violated in spirit if not in the letter. 'What you have here is an organization compiling dossiers on people who are investigating the same organization. The administration bitterly complains about some leaks out of a committee, but meanwhile leaks abound about secret war plans for fighting a war against Saddam Hussein. What's that about? There's a bit of a contradiction here, if not a double standard.'" [Washington Post, 8/3/02] Later the search for the source of the leak intensifies to unprecedented levels as the FBI asks 17 senators to turn over phone records, appointment calendars and schedules that would reveal their possible contact with reporters. [Washington Post, 8/24/02] Most, if not all, turn over the records, even as some complain that the request breaches the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. One senator says the FBI is "trying to put a damper on our activities and I think they will be successful." [AP, 8/29/02]
August 2, 2002 (C): A federal judge rules that the Bush administration must reveal the identities of the hundreds of people secretly arrested after the 9/11 attacks within 15 days. [Washington Post, 8/3/02 (B)] The judge calls the secret arrests "odious to a democratic society." The New York Times applauds the decision and notes that the government's argument that terrorist groups could exploit the release of the names makes no sense, because the detainees were allowed a phone call to notify anyone that they were being held. [New York Times, 8/6/02] Two weeks later, the same judge agrees to postpone the release of the names until an appeals court can rule on the matter. [New York Times, 8/16/02] The appeals court still has not ruled, so the names remain secret.
August 3, 2002: A Portuguese newspaper reports on an independent inquiry into 9/11 by a group of military and civilian US pilots that challenges the official version of events. The group's press statement says, "The so-called terrorist attack was in fact a superbly executed military operation carried out against the USA, requiring the utmost professional military skill in command, communications and control. It was flawless in timing, in the choice of selected aircraft to be used as guided missiles and in the coordinated delivery of those missiles to their preselected targets." A member of the inquiry team, a US Air Force officer who flew over 100 sorties during the Vietnam war, says: "Those birds (airliners) either had a crack fighter pilot in the left seat, or they were being maneuvered by remote control." [Portugal News, 8/3/02, Portugal News, 8/8/02]
August 4, 2002: A "lost
tape" of radio messages from firefighters inside the WTC on 9/11 is made
public. Supposedly, "city fire officials simply delayed listening"
to this tape until after the official report on the fire department's response
to the attacks was published, and they still refuse to allow any officials to
discuss the contents. The tape reveals that two firefighters were able to reach
the crash site on the 78th floor of the South Tower. While there, "Chief
Palmer could see only two pockets of fire, and called for a pair of engine companies
to fight them." [New
York Times, 8/4/02, Guardian,
8/5/02] Though the New York Times doesn't
mention it, these small, containable fires contradict the official explanation
that the tower collapsed because of a raging inferno that melted the steel support
columns holding up the building.
August 8, 2002: No physical evidence connects anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill to the deadly anthrax mailings. The main reason he's considered a suspect is smell: bloodhounds trained to recognize the scent of the anthrax envelopes reacted strongly to Hatfill's apartment, his girlfriend's apartment and a Denny's restaurant in Louisiana where he had eaten the day before the hounds were there. According to Newsweek, when the dogs merely got near Hatfill's apartment building complex, "They went crazy." [Newsweek, 8/4/02] But the Baltimore Sun interviewed three veteran bloodhound handlers; all were highly skeptical that a useful scent of the anthrax mailer would have remained on the letters eleven months after they were mailed, rubbed against other letters and then decontaminated to kill the anthrax (additionally, the letters were likely handled with gloves in a special room). The managers at the 12 Denny's in Louisiana said they have not been visited by federal agents with bloodhounds. [Baltimore Sun, 8/8/02]
August 9, 2002: New details emerge about anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill's experiences in Africa. After leaving the US Army in late 1978, he studied at the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine in Zimbabwe, graduating in 1983. That was just a few years after the world's largest outbreak of human anthrax in what was then known as Southern Rhodesia. Between 1978 and 1980, nearly 200 people died and more than 10,000 cases were recorded. "Researchers characterize the outbreak as suspicious and some believe it may have been the result of deliberate action by white Rhodesian security forces in the waning days of what was a long and brutal war with black liberation fighters." [Voice of America News, 8/9/02, New York Times, 7/2/02] Hatfill claimed on a resume that he was in the US Special Forces at the time, the US claims he dropped out of training. [Washington Post, 8/11/02] However, it is later reported that information in these stories of his past always trace back to "an outfit called the Jewish Defense Organization (JDO)." The JDO is a "radical, breakaway faction of Meir Kahane's already-quite-radical Jewish Defense League (JDL) by a man named Mordechai Levy" - a man who was recently sent to prison after firing an automatic rifle from his roof and wounding a bystander. The Weekly Standard claims that all such evidence is nothing but "transparent innuendo" written by JDO member A. J. Weberman, who was briefly famous for obsessively studying the garbage of musician Bob Dylan, and who was recently successfully sued for libel. The Standard also points out that the anthrax outbreak took place before Hatfill arrived in Zimbabwe, and by the time he started studying and working in that country, the white racist regime had already been replaced by a black one. [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02]
August 9, 2002 (B): The government announces it will play cockpit voice recordings of an executive jet near the Flight 93 crash to the jury in the Zacarias Moussaoui case. The contents of this previously unknown recording will remain classified to the public. [AP, 8/9/02] This revelation is strange in several ways. First, it seems impossible that the jet was near the crash at all (see September 14, 2001 (C)). Second, the jet company, Executive Jet, is owned by Warren Buffett, who held a very curious event at a military base on the morning of 9/11 (see September 11, 2001). [Reuters, 3/27/01]
August 9, 2002 (C): FBI agent Robert Wright is a whistleblower who claims the FBI shut down a criminal investigation into the operation of terror-training camps in Chicago and Kansas City, years before the 9/11 attacks (see October 1998, June 9, 2001 and May 30, 2002). It is reported that Wright submitted a formal complaint to the Inspector General's Office of the Justice Department, which probes agency wrongdoing and mistakes. Amazingly, he was turned away, and told to take his cause to Congress. The Inspector General's Office claims they do "not have the resources to conduct an investigation of this anticipated size and scope." Yet they've conducted similar investigations in the past, including a full-blown investigation into the FBI's alleged mishandling of evidence in the probe of Timothy McVeigh, the convicted Oklahoma City bomber. [L.A. Weekly, 8/9/02]
August 11, 2002: A shocking Newsweek article suggests that some of Bush's advisors advocate not only attacking Iraq, but also Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Egypt, and Burma! One senior British official says: "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran." [Newsweek, 8/11/02] Later in the year, Bush's influential advisor Richard Perle states, "No stages. This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq ... this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war ... our children will sing great songs about us years from now." [New Statesman, 12/16/02] In February 2003, US Undersecretary of State John Bolton says in meetings with Israeli officials that he has no doubt America will attack Iraq, and that it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea afterward. This is not reported in the US media. [Haaretz, 2/17/03]
August 11, 2002 (B): In the past, Afghanistan had mostly exported raw opium, but now many new refineries are converting the opium into heroin. The British government has spent £20 million to eradicate opium, but the program is marred by corruption and largely seen as a failure. The new heroin factories are said to be "working in broad daylight." There has been a rash of bombings and assassinations in Afghanistan as various factions fight over drug profits. The Observer was able to determine the precise location of some of these factories, but the US led forces in Afghanistan are doing nothing to stop them. [Observer, 8/11/02]
August 11, 2002 (C): ABC TV reports, "the FBI concedes [Steven Hatfill] could not himself make anthrax, does not have what they call 'the bench skills' to make it." [ABC, 8/11/02] The New York Times has reported of Hatfill (without naming him): "His anthrax vaccinations are up to date, he unquestionably had the ability to make first-rate anthrax..." [New York Times, 5/24/02] Yet there are other claims Hatfill has not had anthrax vaccinations for several years. [Washington Post, 8/11/02] It also later emerges that Hatfill has alibis for the times the anthrax letters were mailed. A former FBI agent says, "Most investigations don't prosper when they are public, and that's what bothers me about this case. It tells me they have either reached a dead end or their case has a great big hole in it and they are trying to put pressure on this person." [Hartford Courant, 9/7/02]
August 11, 2002 (D): Anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill defends himself in a public speech and Washington Post interview. He claims that he is being set up as the "fall guy" for the anthrax attacks. He says his life "has been completely and utterly destroyed," and he has twice lost a job due to the allegations. His lawyer also accuses the FBI of leaking documents to the press and conducting searches of Hatfill's residence in a highly visible way when a more discreet method could have been arranged. [Washington Post, 8/11/02, Fox News, 8/12/02]
August 11, 2002 (E): The New York Times has an article on the mysterious deaths of numerous microbiologists, and strongly argues the entire thing is a coincidence. Says a professor of statistics, ''We can never say for a fact that something isn't a conspiracy. We can just point out the odds that it isn't.'' [New York Times, 8/11/02]
August 12, 2002: A group of FAA flight controllers hold a press conference to talk about the 9/11 events for the first time. However, virtually no new information is disclosed. As the Boston Globe put it, "questions about detailed communications from the hijacked planes was avoided, with FAA officials saying that information remains under investigation." [Boston Globe, 8/13/02]
August 13, 2002: The Independent carries a story entitled, "Unanswered Questions: The Mystery of Flight 93," a rare critique of the official version of events around that plane's crash. Most of the information is a summation of what was reported before. However, there is one interesting new theory. Theorizing why witnesses didn't see smoke from the faltering plane, the article points out to the 1996 research of Harvard academic Elaine Scarry, "showing that the Air Force and the Pentagon have conducted extensive research on 'electronic warfare applications' with the possible capacity intentionally to disrupt the mechanisms of an aeroplane in such a way as to provoke, for example, an uncontrollable dive. Scarry also reports that US Customs aircraft are already equipped with such weaponry; as are some C-130 Air Force transport planes. The FBI has stated that, apart from the enigmatic Falcon business jet, there was a C-130 military cargo plane within 25 miles of the passenger jet when it crashed. According to the Scarry findings, in 1995 the Air Force installed "electronic suites" in at least 28 of its C-130s – capable, among other things, of emitting lethal jamming signals." [Independent, 8/13/02]
13, 2002 (B): On the Donahue TV show, Kristen
Breitweiser, whose husband died in the WTC, says the following about Bush's
behavior on 9/11: "It was clear that we were under attack. Why didn't the
Secret Service whisk [Bush] out of that school? He was on live local television
in Florida. The terrorists, you know, had been in Florida. I mean, we find that
out now. He was less than 10 miles from an airport. And I am concerned. I want
to know why the Secret Service did not whisk him away. I want to know why he
is the commander-in-chief of the USA, our country was clearly under attack,
it was after the second building was hit. I want to know why he sat there for
25 minutes." She further states, "I don't understand how a plane could
hit our Defense Department, which is the Pentagon, an hour after the first plane
hit the first tower. I don't understand how that is possible. I'm a reasonable
person. But when you look at the fact that we spend a half trillion dollars
on national defense and you're telling me that a plane is able to hit our Pentagon,
our Defense Department, an hour after the first tower is hit? There are procedures
and protocols in place in this nation that are to be followed when transponders
are disconnected, and they were not followed on September 11th." [Donahue,
8/13/02] Why have mainstream journalists largely continued to ignore
August 15, 2002: More than 600 relatives (later rising to over 2,500 out of 10,000 eligible [Newsweek, 9/13/02]) of victims of the September 11 attacks file a 15-count, $1 trillion lawsuit against various parties they accuse of financing al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's former Taliban regime. The defendants include the Binladin Group (the company run by Osama bin Laden's family), seven international banks, eight Islamic foundations and charities, individual terrorist financiers, three Saudi princes, and the government of Sudan. [CNN, 8/15/02, Washington Post, 8/16/02] Individuals named include Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan (see June 1998 (D), August 2001 (G), and August 31, 2001), former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal (see July 1998, August 31, 2001, and October 18, 2002), Yassin al-Qadi (see October 12, 2001), and Khalid bin Mahfouz (see 1988, August 13, 1996, April 1999, December 4, 2001 (B) and Early December 2001 (B)). [AP, 8/15/02, MSNBC, 8/25/02] "The attorneys and investigators were able to obtain, through French intelligence, the translation of a secretly recorded meeting between representatives of bin Laden and three Saudi princes in which they sought to pay him hush money to keep him from attacking their enterprises in Saudi Arabia." [CNN, 8/15/02] The plaintiffs also accused the US Government of failing to pursue such institutions thoroughly enough because of lucrative oil interests. [BBC, 8/15/02] Ron Motley, the lead lawyer in the suit, says the case is being aided by intelligence services from France and four other foreign governments, but no help has come from the Justice Department. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/16/02] The plaintiffs acknowledge the chance of ever winning any money is slim, but hope the lawsuit will help bring to light the role of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks. [BBC, 8/15/02] A number of rich Saudis respond by threatening to withdraw hundreds of billions of dollars in US investments if the lawsuit goes forward. [Telegraph, 8/20/02] Saudi businesses withdraw more than $100 billion from the US in response to the suit (see August 20, 2002), and the US government later threatens to block or limit the suit (see November 1, 2002).
August 15, 2002 (B): Trace elements of anthrax are found in a post office box across the street from Princeton University in New Jersey. [MSNBC, 8/12/02] The FBI declares Steven Hatfill has not "received any more attention than any other person of interest in the investigation." [Fox News, 8/12/02] Yet Hatfill's photo is the only one being shown by the FBI to residents of the neighborhood near the mailbox. [AP, 8/15/02] A law enforcement official later admits to the Los Angeles Times that, "to be honest, we don't have anybody that is real good [as a possible anthrax suspect]. That is why so much energy has gone into Hatfill - because we didn't have anybody else." [Weekly Standard, 9/16/02]
August 15, 2002 (C): Rena Golden, the executive vice-president and general manager of CNN International, claims that the press has censored itself over 9/11 and the Afghanistan war. "Anyone who claims the US media didn't censor itself is kidding you. It wasn't a matter of government pressure but a reluctance to criticize anything in a war that was obviously supported by the vast majority of the people. And this isn't just a CNN issue - every journalist who was in any way involved in 9/11 is partly responsible." [Press Gazette, 8/15/02] These comments echo criticisms by Dan Rather (see May 17, 2002).
August 15, 2002 (D): General Tommy Franks, commander
of US troops in Central Asia, says, "It does not surprise me that someone
would say, 'Oh gosh, the military is going to be in Afghanistan for a long,
long time.' Sure we will be." He likens the situation to South Korea, where
the US has stationed troops for over 50 years. A few days earlier, Joint Chiefs
of Staff Chairman Richard Myers says the war on terrorism "could last years
and years." [CBS,
August 18, 2002: The
Washington Post blasts the FBI's treatment of Steven Hatfill. "Each slipshod
case whittles away our collective liberties, our self-respect, our confidence
in the legal system." The article also blasts the
media's coverage: "Wittingly or unwittingly, reporters and government investigators
may collude, creating the appearance of a posse mentality that discredits them
both." [Washington Post, 8/18/02]
August 18, 2002 (B): An FBI forensic linguistics expert says the anthrax mailer was probably someone with high-ranking US military and intelligence connections. He says he has identified two suspects who both worked for the CIA, USAMRIID and other classified military operations. He expresses frustration about accessing evidence. "My two suspects both appear to have CIA connections. These two agencies, the CIA and the FBI, are sometimes seen as rivals. My anxiety is that the FBI agents assigned to this case are not getting full and complete cooperation from the US military, CIA and witnesses who might have information about this case." He also says the killer seems to have tried implicating two former USAMRIID scientists who had left the laboratory in unhappy circumstances by posting the letters from near their homes in New Jersey. [BBC, 8/18/02] Could one of the framed people be Dr. Assaad (see October 2, 2001)?
August 20, 2002: The Financial Times reports that "disgruntled Saudis have pulled tens of billions of dollars out of the US, signaling a deep alienation from America." Estimates range from $100 billion to over $200 billion. Part of the anger is in response to reports that the US might attack Saudi Arabia and freeze Saudi assets unless Saudi Arabia fights terrorism more effectively (see July 10, 2002 and August 11, 2002). It is also in response to a lawsuit against many Saudi Arabians that also may lead to a freeze of Saudi assets (see August 15, 2002). Estimates of total Saudi investments in the US range from $400 billion to $600 billion. [Financial Times, 8/20/02]
August 22, 2002: Osama Basnan, an alleged associate of 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, and his wife are arrested for visa fraud. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02, MSNBC, 11/23/02] One report says he was arrested for allegedly having links to Omar al-Bayoumi (see November 1999 (B)). [Arab News, 11/26/02] On October 22, Basnan and his wife, Majeda Dweikat, admit they used false immigration documents to stay in the US. [San Diego Channel 10, 10/22/02] Possible financial connections between Basnan and al-Bayoumi, Almidhar and Alhazmi, and the Saudi royal family are known to the Congressional Inquiry Panel (as well as the FBI and CIA) at this time (see November 22, 2002), but Basnan is deported to Saudi Arabia on November 17, 2002. His wife is deported to Jordan the same day. [Washington Post, 11/24/02] Less than a week after the deportations, new media reports make Basnan an internationally-known wanted man (see November 22, 2002). Why was Basnan let go, when authorities knew of these new revelations about him since at least early October (see October 9, 2002)?
August 23, 2002: The government starts giving out large cash compensations to the relatives of the 9/11 attack victims. However, in order to qualify, the families have to promise not to sue anyone. Only about one-fifth have agreed to compensation, the rest appear to want to sue the airlines, the Saudis, the government and others. There are many lawsuits in motion (see August 15, 2002, September 4, 2002, and September 10, 2002). [AP, 8/23/02]
August 25, 2002: Former CIA agent Bob Baer says the US collects virtually no intelligence about Saudi Arabia nor are they given any intelligence collected by the Saudis. He says this is because there are implicit orders from the White House, "Do not collect information on Saudi Arabia because we're going to risk annoying the royal family." In the same show, despite being on a US terrorist list since October 2001 (see October 12, 2001), Saudi millionaire Yassin al-Qadi says, "I'm living my life here in Saudi Arabia without any problem" because he is being protected by the Saudi government. Al-Qadi admits to giving bin Laden money for his "humanitarian" work, but says this is different from bin Laden's terrorist work. Presented with this information, the US Treasury Department only says that the US "is pleased with and appreciates the actions taken by the Saudis" in the war on terror. The Saudi government still has not given US intelligence permission to talk to any family members of the hijackers, even though some US journalists have had limited contact with a few. [MSNBC, 8/25/02]
August 25, 2002 (B): General Tommy Franks, head of the US Central Command, suggests that the "war on terror" should not be limited to Afghanistan, but expand into neighboring countries as well. [Reuters, 8/25/02]
August 26, 2002: Anthrax
suspect Steven Hatfill releases photos he claims show that the FBI "trashed"
his girlfriend's apartment. The photos "evoked an uneasy sense of recognition
among law enforcement experts," who have seen these kinds of strong armed
tactics when the FBI is desperate for a conviction. "Veteran FBI-watchers
suggest the Bureau, looking at Steven Hatfill off and on for nearly a year,
does not have the goods on him. Law enforcement sources confirm he passed a
polygraph test administered by the FBI last fall ... Apparent absence of evidence
suggests either incompetence at the level of false accusations in the 1996 Atlanta
Olympic Park bombing - or something worse." [New
York Post, 8/3/02]
August 27, 2002: Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, meets privately for more than an hour with Bush and National Security Advisor Rice in Crawford, Texas (see April 25, 2002). [Telegraph, 8/28/02] Press Secretary Ari Fleischer characterizes it as a warm meeting of old friends. Bandar, his wife (Princess Haifa) and seven of their eight children stay for lunch. [Fox News, 8/27/02] Prince Bandar, a longtime friend of the Bush family, donated $1 million to the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. [Boston Herald, 12/11/01, Bush Library] This relationship later becomes news when it is learned that Princess Haifa gave between $51,000 and $73,000 to two Saudi families in California who may have financed two of the 9/11 hijackers (see December 4, 1999 and November 22, 2002). [New York Times, 11/23/02, MSNBC, 11/25/02]
August 27, 2002 (B): The Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan has recently signed a treaty committing the US to respond to "any external threat" to the country. Uzbekistan's foreign minister: "The logic of the situation suggests that the United States has come here with a serious purpose, and for a long time." The other Central Asian nations - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan - have similar agreements with the US. The US claims it is supporting democracy in these nations, but experts say authoritarianism has been on the rise since 9/11. A new US military base in Uzbekistan currently holds about 1,000 US soldiers, but is being greatly enlarged. The article makes the general point that the US is replacing Russia as the dominant power in Central Asia. [Washington Post, 8/27/02]
August 28, 2002: The judge presiding over the Moussaoui trail is puzzled why the FBI claims it couldn't find an e-mail account used by Moussaoui: "We do not understand why an immediate and thorough investigation into the defendant's e-mail and computer activities did not lead investigators to the ... account, if it existed," the judge says. She adds, "A more detailed explanation from the United States is warranted." Moussaoui was carrying a Kinko's receipt when he was arrested in August 2001, and was known to have used Kinko's computers for e-mail. His Hotmail account was erased by Hotmail because it wasn't used for 90 days - the judge doesn't understand why that didn't give the FBI plenty of time to find his e-mails after 9/11. [AP, 8/28/02] Could it be that the FBI did find the account, but didn't like what it saw, and so claimed ignorance?
August 28, 2002 (B): "A global campaign to block al-Qaeda's access to money has stalled, enabling the terrorist network to obtain a fresh infusion of tens of millions of dollars and putting it in a position to finance future attacks, according to a draft UN report." In the months immediately following 9/11, more than $112 million in assets was frozen. Since then, only $10 million more has been frozen, and most of the original money has been unfrozen due to lack of evidence. Private donations to the group, estimated at $16 million a year, are believed to "continue, largely unabated." The US and other governments are not sharing information about suspected terrorists, and known terrorists are not being put on suspected terrorist lists. [Washington Post, 8/29/02]
August 29, 2002: German authorities charge a Moroccan man named Mounir El Motassadeq with complicity in the 9/11 attacks. He is a Moroccan who was arrested in Germany two months after 9/11. He is only the second person in the world to be charged with any crime related to the 9/11 attacks, after Moussaoui. He is charged with helping finance Atta and others in the Hamburg terrorist cell (see August 1998). [AFP, 8/29/02, New York Times, 8/29/02] His trial lasts three months, ending with a guilty verdict in February 2003 (February 18, 2003).
August 30, 2002: The official story about fighter response on 9/11 significantly changes. Previously it was explained that fighters over Washington left to track Flight 93. But in a book released in this month, the pilots said they were given no such order. [Among the Heroes, by Jere Longman, 8/02, p. 76, 222] This new account states that after the Pentagon explosion, "two F-16's that happened to be on a training mission near Detroit" were sent to intercept Flight 93. But supposedly, they didn't have any weapons since they were on a training mission. US Air Force Col. Robert Marr, commander of the Northeast Air Defense Sector, in Rome, New York, says, "we're going to put them as close to that airplane as we could, in view of the cockpit and convince that guy in that airplane that he needs to land," and if that fails, ram the fighters into the plane. [ABC News, 8/30/02] Supposedly, the question of ramming turned out to be moot, because these fighters were still about 40 miles away when the plane crashed. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] If the story is true, it suggests an incredible level of incompetence. Minutes after the second WTC crash at 9:03, military base commanders from all over the US were calling NORAD and volunteering to scramble planes. For instance, the commander at Syracuse, New York said he could get a plane in the air armed with cannon in ten minutes. Yet none of these planes were put in the air until after the last hijacked plane had crashed over an hour later. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] The idea that the US sent planes after Flight 93 with no weapons is as absurd and contradicts previous accounts. For instance, Cheney has explained how he and Bush agreed to sent fighters to shoot down Flight 93, and repeatedly confirmed that order. [Washington Post, 1/27/02] Were Bush and Cheney given the wrong information or is someone rewriting this story?
September 2002: The Customs Service intercepts a package sent via Federal Express from the Associated Press bureau in Manila to the AP office in Washington, and turns the contents over to the FBI. The FBI keeps the material, all unclassified and previously publicly disclosed, and fails to inform AP about this. It is claimed they do this to prevent the reporters from reporting their story, which is about government foreknowledge of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and ties with Ramzi Yousef and other terrorists in the Philippines. [AP, 3/12/03]
September 4, 2002: Over 1,400 relatives of 9/11 attack victims sue Iraq for more than $1 trillion, claiming there is evidence Iraq conspired with al-Qaeda on the 9/11 attacks. [CBS News, 9/5/02] One of the key pieces of evidence cited is an article in an small town Iraqi newspaper written by Naeem Abd Muhalhal on July 21, 2001. He describes bin Laden thinking "seriously, with the seriousness of the Bedouin of the desert, about the way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after he destroys the White House." He adds that bin Laden is "insisting very convincingly that he will strike America on the arm that is already hurting," which has been interpreted as a possible reference to the 1993 bombing of the WTC. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein apparently praised this writer on September 1, 2001. The lawsuit is based largely on the idea that "Iraqi officials were aware of plans to attack American landmarks," yet didn't warn their archenemy, the US. [AP, 9/4/02] Former CIA agent and terrorist consultant Robert Baer (see August 2001 (G)) is hired by the prosecuting legal team to find evidence of a meeting between Atta and Iraqi agents (see April 8, 2001 and September 19, 2001-October 20, 2002), but despite the help of the CIA, is unable find any evidence of such a meeting. [CBS, 12/8/02]
September 5, 2002: Based on the recent interrogations of terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui's al-Qaeda associates, including his alleged handler, French intelligence believes Moussaoui was not part of the 9/11 attacks, but was being readied for a second wave of attacks. Says one French official: "Moussaoui was going to be a foot soldier in a second wave of attacks that was supposed to culminate in early 2002 with simultaneous bombings against US embassies in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, as well as several hijackings in the United States." However, the US has charged him with being the "20th hijacker" who planned to be on Flight 77 in the 9/11 attack. [ABC News, 9/5/02] Other accounts suggest he wasn't meant to the 20th hijacker (for instance, see September 30, 2002). Why doesn't the US prosecute Moussaoui on other charges?
September 5, 2002 (B): Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, expresses doubts that the committee's investigation into 9/11 will be able to accomplish anything, and he supports an independent investigation. "Time is not on our side," he says, since the investigation has a built-in deadline at the end of 2002. "You know, we were told that there would be cooperation in this investigation, and I question that. I think that most of the information that our staff has been able to get that is real meaningful has had to be extracted piece by piece." He adds that there is explosive information that has not been publicly released. "I think there are some more bombs out there ... I know that." [New York Times, 9/10/02 (B)]
September 8-11, 2002: Details of an Al Jazeera interview with al-Qaeda leaders Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh are widely publicized. [London Times, 9/8/02, Australian, 9/9/02, Guardian, 9/9/02] But there are numerous doubts about this interview (see April, June or August 2002). The possibility has been raised that the broadcast of Ramzi bin al-Shibh's voice in the interview helps in his capture a few days later (see September 11, 2002). [CBS, 10/9/02, Observer, 9/15/02] Al Jazeera also broadcasts footage of hijacker Abdulaziz Alomari speaking against the US filmed in Afghanistan in early 2001 (see March 2001).
September 10, 2002: Right before a one-year deadline, the Port Authority, the government body that owns the WTC complex, is sued by five insurance companies, one utility and 700 relatives of the WTC victims. The insurance companies and utility are suing because of safety violations connected to the installation of diesel fuel tanks in 1999 that many blame for the collapse of WTC Building 7. [Dow Jones News, 9/10/02] The relatives' lawsuit is much more encompassing, and even blames the Port Authority for the Flight 93 hijacking (the Port Authority owns Newark airport, where the flight originated). The relatives' lawsuit is likely to lie dormant for at least six months as evidence is collected. Relatives are also considering suing the airlines, security companies and other entities. [Newsweek, 9/13/02]
September 10, 2002 (B): The FBI searches Steven Hatfill's house for anthrax residue for a third time (for the second search, see August 1, 2002). Hatfill had moved out several weeks earlier. [MSNBC, 9/11/02]
September 11, 2002: Would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh is arrested after a huge gunfight in Karachi, Pakistan, involving thousands of police. [Observer, 9/15/02] He is considered "a high-ranking operative for al-Qaeda and one of the few people still alive who know the inside details of the 9/11 plot." [New York Times, 9/13/02] 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed called bin al-Shibh "the coordinator of the Holy Tuesday [9/11] operation" in an interview aired days before (see September 8-11, 2002). Captured with him are approximately nine associates, as well as numerous computers, phones and other evidence. [Time, 9/15/02, New York Times, 9/13/02] There are conflicting claims that Mohammed is killed in the raid [Christian Science Monitor, 10/29/02, Asia Times, 10/30/02, Daily Telegraph, 3/4/03, Asia Times, 3/6/03], shot while escaping [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/2/03], someone who looks like him is killed, leading to initial misidentification [Time, 1/20/03], someone matching his general appearance is captured [AP, 9/16/02], or that he narrowly escapes capture and his young children are captured. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] It is widely reported that Mohammed is captured in March 2003, but some reporters and experts doubt this, suggesting he was captured earlier (see March 1, 2003).
September 11, 2002 (B): On the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the story of what Bush did on that day is significantly rewritten. In actual fact, when Chief of Staff Andrew Card told Bush about the second plane crash into the WTC, Bush continued to sit in a Florida elementary school classroom and hear a story about goats for about an additional 10 minutes, as video footage shows (see the Day of 9/11 for more). But one year later, Card claims that after he told Bush about the second WTC crash, "it was only a matter of seconds" before Bush "excused himself very politely to the teacher and to the students, and he left" the Florida classroom." [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/11/02] In a different account, Card says, "Not that many seconds later the president excused himself from the classroom." [MSNBC, 9/9/02] An interview with the classroom teacher claims that Bush left the class even before the second WTC crash: "The president bolted right out of here and told me: 'Take over.'" When the second WTC crash occurred, she claims her students are watching TV in a nearby media room. [New York Post, 9/12/02]
September 11, 2002 (C): On the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, The New York Times writes, "One year later, the public knows less about the circumstances of 2,801 deaths at the foot of Manhattan in broad daylight than people in 1912 knew within weeks about the Titanic, which sank in the middle of an ocean in the dead of night." John F. Timoney, the former police commissioner of Philadelphia, says: "You can hardly point to a cataclysmic event in our history, whether it was the sinking of the Titanic, the Pearl Harbor attack, the Kennedy assassination, when a blue-ribbon panel did not set out to establish the facts and, where appropriate, suggest reforms. That has not happened here." The Times specifically points to a failure by New York City Mayor Bloomberg to conduct a real investigation into the WTC attack response. Bloomberg stated in August 2002, "Every single major event is different from all others. The training of how you would respond to the last incident is not really important." [New York Times, 9/11/02] The Chicago Tribune made similar comments a week earlier, pointing out that despite the "largest investigation in history," "Americans know little more today about the Sept. 11 conspiracy, or the conspirators, than they did within a few weeks of the attacks." [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02]
September 12, 2002: For the first time, a mainstream US newspaper looks at the people who believe there was government complicity or criminal incompetence in 9/11 and does not immediately dismiss them (see September 23, 2001 (B)). The San Francisco Examiner quotes a number of 9/11 skeptics and lets them speak for themselves. "While different theorists focus on different aspects of the attacks, what they seem to have in common is they would like an independent investigation into 9/11." [San Francisco Examiner, 9/12/02]
September 17, 2002: CBS reports that in the days after the arrest of Ramzi bin al-Shibh and four other al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan (see September 11, 2002), "a search of the home of the five al-Qaeda suspects turned up passports belonging to members of the family of Osama bin Laden." No more details, such as which family members, or why bin al-Shibh's group had these passports, is given. [CBS, 9/17/02]
September 18, 2002: The Congressional joint committee 9/11 inquiry hold its first public hearing. The committee was formed in February 2002 but suffered months of delays. The day's testimonies focuses on intelligence warnings that should have led the government to believe airplanes could be used as bombs (see the committee's complete 30-page report here: [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02]). However, the Washington Post reports, "lawmakers from both parties ... [protest] the Bush administration's lack of cooperation in the congressional inquiry into Sept. 11 intelligence failures and [threaten] to renew efforts to establish an independent commission." Eleanor Hill, the joint committee's staff director, testifies that "According to [CIA Director Tenet], the president's knowledge of intelligence information relevant to this inquiry remains classified even when the substance of that intelligence information has been declassified." She adds that "the American public has a compelling interest in this information and that public disclosure would not harm national security." [Washington Post, 9/19/02] Furthermore, the committee believes that "a particular al-Qaeda leader may have been instrumental in the attacks" and US intelligence has known about this person since 1995. Tenet "has declined to declassify the information we developed [about this person] on the grounds that it could compromise intelligence sources and methods and that this consideration supersedes the American publics interest in this particular area." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] A few days later, The New York Times reveals this leader to be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 9/22/02] An FBI spokesman says the FBI had offered "full cooperation" to the committee. A CIA official denies that the report is damning: "The committee acknowledges the hard work done by intelligence community, the successes it achieved..." [MSNBC, 9/18/02] The complete open hearing transcripts: [9/18/02, 9/19/02, 9/19/02 (B), 9/24/02, 9/26/02, 10/1/02, 10/3/02, 10/8/02, 10/17/02]
September 18, 2002 (B): Two relatives of 9/11 victims testify before the Congressional 9/11 inquiry. Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband Ronald died at the WTC, asks how the FBI was so quickly able to assemble information on the hijackers (see August 13, 2002 (B)). She cites a The New York Times article stating that agents descended on flight schools within hours of the attacks. "How did the FBI know where to go a few hours after the attacks?" she asks. "Were any of the hijackers already under surveillance?" [MSNBC, 9/18/02] She adds, "Our intelligence agencies suffered an utter collapse in their duties and responsibilities leading up to and on September 11th. But their negligence does not stand alone. Agencies like the Port Authority, the City of NY, the FAA, the INS, the Secret Service, NORAD, the Air Force, and the airlines also failed our nation that morning." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Stephen Push states, "If the intelligence community had been doing its job, my wife, Lisa Raines, would be alive today." He cites the governments failure to place Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi on a terrorist watch list until long after they were photographed meeting with alleged al-Qaeda operatives in Malaysia. [MSNBC, 9/18/02]
September 20, 2002: In the wake of damaging Congressional 9/11 inquiry revelations, President Bush reverses course (see May 23, 2002) and backs efforts by many lawmakers to form an independent commission to conduct a broader investigation than the current Congressional inquiry. Newsweek reports that Bush had virtually no choice. "There was a freight train coming down the tracks," says one White House official. [Newsweek, 9/22/02] But as one of the 9/11 victim's relatives says, "It's carefully crafted to make it look like a general endorsement but it actually says that the commission would look at everything except the intelligence failures." [CBS, 9/20/02] Rather than look into such failures, Bush wants the commission to focus on areas like border security, visa issues and the "role of Congress" in overseeing intelligence agencies. The White House also refuses to turn over documents showing what Bush knew before 9/11. [Newsweek, 9/22/02] Perhaps Bush's true stance on the inquiry can be seen by calls Vice President made to try and stop it earlier in the year (see January 24, 2002).
September 20, 2002 (B): In an editorial for the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram, David Welch, the US Ambassador to Egypt, denounces the publishing of "incredible conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11] without the slightest bit of evidence to back them up" in both state and opposition press. "Leading Egyptian newspapers and magazines in the past two weeks alone have published columns by senior columnists who suggested governments or groups other than al-Qaeda were responsible." Welch urges editors to exercise better judgment. The next day, a group of journalists and intellectuals criticize the editorial, calling it "an American call for imposing restrictions on press freedom" (see February 28, 2002). [Cairo Times, 9/26/02]
September 20, 2002 (C): A Bosnian government probe connects the Saudi charity Talibah International Aid Association to terrorist funding and an al-Qaeda front group. Talibah has been under investigation since shortly after 9/11 due to a foiled terror attack in Bosnia that has been connected to Talibah and al-Qaeda. Abdullah bin Laden, a relative of bin Laden (though his exact relationship can't be determined), is a Talibah officer in its Virginia office. An investigation into Abdullah bin Laden was canceled in 1996 (see September 11, 1996). The US has been criticized for failing to list Talibah as a sponsor of terrorism and for not freezing its assets. [Wall Street Journal, 9/20/02]
September 24, 2002: Federal prosecutors say a business card found in the wreckage of Flight 93 provides a link between alleged conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and hijacker Ziad Jarrah. Supposedly a business card belonging to Jarrah has a phone number written on it, and Moussaoui had once called that number. It was not explained what the number is, whose phone number it was, when Moussaoui called it, when the card was found, or how investigators know the card belonged to Jarrah. [MSNBC, 9/24/02, Washington Post, 9/25/02] Interestingly, this find comes just as the case against Moussaoui is facing trouble. For instance, one month earlier, USA Today said investigators had found no link between Moussaoui and the other hijackers. [USA Today, 8/29/02] Prosecutors have been trying to get permission to play the Flight 93 cockpit voice recordings to the jury, but on September 13, the judge said, "the recordings appear to have marginal evidentiary value while posing unfair prejudice to the defendant." [Washington Post, 9/25/02] Was it just incredible luck to have found this card a year after 9/11, or could someone have created new evidence by writing a phone number on a card?
September 25, 2002: In an interview with CBS, FBI Director Mueller states, "I can tell you there are things I wish we had done differently. That there are things we should have followed up on. But the bottom line is I do not believe that we would have been able to prevent September 11th." Speaking about the Zacarias Moussaoui case, he says, "That took us several months, to follow that lead, and it also required the full support of the German authorities, and it would have been very, I think impossible to have followed that particular lead in the days between the time in which Moussaoui was detained and September 11th." [CBS, 9/25/02] This negativism is in sharp contrast to a previous statement he made (see May 21, 2002 (C)), as well as the opinion of many rank and file FBI officers, some of whom have made a chart showing how all the hijackers could have been caught if certain leads had been followed. [Newsweek, 6/2/02] Mueller's opinion on the Moussaoui case is contradicted by many, including FBI agents working on that case. [Time, 5/21/02] The media also doesn't agree. For instance the Independent stated information on Moussaoui's computer "might have been enough to expose the Hamburg cell, which investigators believe was the key planning unit for 11 September." [Independent, 12/11/01]
September 26, 2002: Senator Pat Roberts (R), a member of the Congressional 9/11 inquiry, publicly criticizes the inquiry staff because one staffer had written that CIA official Cofer Black might "dissemble" if asked certain questions. Roberts, who had repeatedly expressed opposition to the existence of the inquiry, then offers his personal apology to Black for "the unintended consequences of what I believe is an inspector general runaway train." [AP, 9/27/02] The next day, CIA Director Tenet accuses the inquiry of "bias, preconceived notions, and apparent animus." [Washington Post, 9/28/02]
September 26, 2002 (B): A leaked August 16, 2002 report from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's influential Defense Science Board 2002 is exposed. [UPI, 9/26/02] The board "recommends creation of a super-Intelligence Support Activity, an organization it dubs the Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group, (P2OG), to bring together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence, and cover and deception. Among other things, this body would launch secret operations aimed at 'stimulating reactions' among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction -- that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to 'quick-response' attacks by US forces. Such tactics would hold 'states/sub-state actors accountable' and 'signal to harboring states that their sovereignty will be at risk.'" [Los Angeles Times, 10/27/02, Asia Times, 11/5/02] An editorial in the Moscow Times comments: "In other words - and let's say this plainly, clearly and soberly, so that no one can mistake the intention of Rumsfeld's plan - the United States government is planning to use 'cover and deception' and secret military operations to provoke murderous terrorist attacks on innocent people." It is further suggested terrorists could be instigated in countries the US wants to gain control over. [Moscow Times, 11/1/02] Could the US already be using this policy, and if so, since when?
September 30, 2002: Seymour Hersh of New Yorker magazine reveals that, despite a weak case against Zacarias Moussaoui, no federal prosecutor has discussed a plea bargain with him since he was indicted in November 2001. Hersh reports that "Moussaoui's lawyers, and some FBI officials, remain bewildered at the government's failure to pursue a plea bargain." Says a federal public defender, "I've never been in a conspiracy case where the government wasn't interested in knowing if the defendant had any information - to see if there wasn't more to the conspiracy." Apparently a plea bargain isn't being considered because Attorney General Ashcroft wants nothing less than the death penalty for Moussaoui. One former CIA official claims, "They cast a wide net and [Moussaoui] happened to be a little fish who got caught up in it. They know it now. And nobody will back off." A legal expert says, "It appears that Moussaoui is not competent to represent himself, because he doesn't seem to understand the fundamentals of the charges against him, but I am starting to feel that the rest of us are crazier ... we may let this man talk himself to death to soothe our sense of vulnerability." [New Yorker, 9/30/02]
October 2002: The State Department's propaganda office, closed in 1996, is reopened. Called the Counter-Disinformation/Misinformation Team, this office supposedly only aims its propaganda overseas to counter propaganda from other countries (see February 20, 2002 and November 24, 2002). [AP, 3/10/03]
October 3-11, 2002: Both French and British investigators and intelligence deny any claim of a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. The British specifically deny any meeting between Atta and Iraqi agents in the Czech Republic. They state that Iraq has purposely distanced itself from al-Qaeda, not embraced it. [Financial Times, 10/4/02, Guardian, 10/10/02] Meanwhile, Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counterintelligence, says, "Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA." A source connected to the 9/11 investigation says, "The FBI has been pounded on to make this link." [Sydney Morning Herald, 10/10/02] The Los Angeles Times also reports an escalating "war" between the Pentagon and the CIA over tying Iraq to al-Qaeda. [Los Angeles Times, 10/11/02]
October 5, 2002: The New York Times reports that the FBI is refusing to allow Abdussattar Shaikh, the FBI informant who lived with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see September-December 2000), to testify before a Congressional inquiry. His local FBI contact is also not allowed to testify. The FBI claims the informer would have nothing interesting to say, but Congressional investigators are skeptical. The Justice Department also wants to learn more about the informant. [New York Times, 10/5/02] The local FBI contact, Steven Butler, testifies before a secret session the following week (see October 9, 2002); Shaikh apparently doesn't testify at all. [Washington Post, 10/11/02]
October 6, 2002: Newsweek reports that the US has dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets across Afghanistan offering $25 million for the capture of Taliban leader Mullah Omar and bin Laden. However, the picture of Omar is actually that of an Afghan villager named Mulvi Hafizullah, who is now afraid to leave his house for fear of being killed for the reward money. [Newsweek, 10/6/02]
October 6, 2002 (B): 60 Minutes airs a program on the religious support
for Bush's expansionist Middle Eastern policies. [CBS,
10/6/02] A Guardian editorial from around the same time suggests that "Christian
millenarians" who are "driven by visions of messiahs and Armageddon"
have formed an alliance with "secular, neoconservative Jewish intellectuals,
such as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz" and are strongly influencing
Bush's foreign policy. [Guardian,
9/17/02] A later Washington Post article also sees the support of evangelical
Christians and right-wing Jewish groups as instrumental in defining US Middle
East policy. [Washington
October 8, 2002: Many in the US have the impression that the war in Afghanistan is over, and US allied forces conquered the country. However, the US ambassador says, "The war is certainly not over. Military operations are continuing, especially in the eastern part of the country and they will continue until we win." Most of the country is controlled by warlords, which the US has pacified with weapons and money (see adjacent map). [Telegraph, 10/8/02]
October 9, 2002: San Diego FBI agent Steven Butler reportedly gives "explosive" testimony to the 9/11 inquiry. Butler, recently retired, has been unable to speak to the media, but accounts of his testimony say he was the agent who managed Abdussattar Shaikh, an FBI informant who rented a room to hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see September-December 2000). Butler claims he might have uncovered a hint of the 9/11 plot if the CIA had provided the FBI with more information earlier about Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [New York Times, 11/23/02] Butler discloses that he had been monitoring a flow of Saudi Arabian money that wound up in the hands of two of the 9/11 hijackers, but his supervisors failed to take any action on the warnings. It is not known when Butler started investigating the money flow, or warned his supervisors. Some details of this Saudi money trail will cause headlines in November 2002 (see November 22, 2002). The FBI unsuccessfully tried to prevent Butler from testifying (see October 5, 2002). Despite the knowledge about the Saudi money trail involving Osama Basnan and Omar al-Bayoumi revealed at this time, Basnan is nonetheless deported to Saudi Arabia the next month, where he disappears (see August 22, 2002), and al-Bayoumi, who is living in Britain, disappears as well (see September 22, 2001).
October 10, 2002: A tentative congressional deal to create an independent commission to investigate the 9/11 terrorist attacks falls apart hours after the White House objected to the plan (it appears Vice President Cheney called Republican leaders and told them to renege on the agreement [New York Times, 11/2/02]). Bush had pledged to support such a commission a few weeks earlier (see September 20, 2002), but doubters who questioned his sincerity appear to have been proved correct. Hours after top Republican leaders announced at a press conference that an agreement had been reached, House Republican leaders said they wouldn't bring the legislation to the full House for a vote unless the commission proposal was changed. There are worries that if the White House can delay the legislation for a few more days until Congress adjourns, it could stop the creation of a commission for months, if not permanently. [Washington Post, 10/11/02, New York Times, 10/11/02]
October 12, 2002: A car bomb detonates in front of a discotheque at Kuta Beach, on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, starting a fire that rages through a dozen buildings, killing 202 people. No group claims responsibility, but Jemmah Islamiyah, a radical Islamic organization in Indonesia, is suspected. [New York Times, 10/13/02, New York Times, 10/14/02, BBC, 2/19/03]
October 15, 2002: About 10 relatives of the 9/11 victims meet with lawmakers and two Bush administration officials in an unsuccessful attempt to break a deadlock over the establishment of an independent 9/11 commission. The Bush administration says it supports such a commission, but wants its allies to have more control over leadership and subpoena powers (see September 20, 2002 and October 10, 2002). [AP, 10/16/02] No agreement is reached before the 107th Congress ends a few days later, but the committee is established one month later (see November 15, 2002).
October 17, 2002: Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club again win a ruling against Vice President Cheney (see July 12, 2002), and a judge demands that Cheney turn over documents relating to his Energy Task Force (see May 2001 (G)). [Reuters, 10/17/02] But the Bush Administration continues to fight the release of these documents. A similar lawsuit by the General Accounting Office, the Congressional investigative body, is later dropped (see December 9, 2002 (B) and February 7, 2003 (B)).
October 17, 2002 (B): NSA Director Michael Hayden testifies before a Congressional inquiry that the "NSA had no [indications] that al-Qaeda was specifically targeting New York and Washington ... or even that it was planning an attack on US soil.'' Before 9/11, the ''NSA had no knowledge . . . that any of the attackers were in the United States.'' Supposedly, a post-9/11 NSA review found no intercepts of calls involving any of the 19 hijackers. [Reuters, 10/17/02, USA Today, 10/18/02, NSA Director Hayden testimony, 10/17/02] Yet, in the summer of 2001, the NSA intercepted communications between Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and hijacker Atta, when he was in charge of operations in the US. What was said between the two has not been revealed (see Summer 2001). The NSA also intercepted multiple phone calls from Abu Zubaida, bin Laden's chief of operations, to the US in the days before 9/11. But who was called or what was said has not been revealed (Early September 2001 (B)).
October 17, 2002 (C): The directors of the US's three most famous intelligence agencies, the CIA, FBI and NSA, testify before a Congressional inquiry on 9/11 (CIA Director Tenet testimony, 10/17/02, NSA Director Hayden testimony, 10/17/02). All three say no individual at their agencies has been punished or fired for any of missteps connected to 9/11. This does not satisfy several on the inquiry, including Senator Carl Levin (D), who says "People have to be held accountable." [Washington Post, 10/18/02]
October 18, 2002: Saudi Arabia announces that Turki al-Faisal will be its next ambassador to Britain. Turki is a controversial figure because of his long-standing relationship to bin Laden. He has also been named in a lawsuit by 9/11 victims' relatives against Saudi Arabians for their support of al-Qaeda before 9/11 (see August 15, 2002). It is later noted that his ambassador position could give him diplomatic immunity from the lawsuit. [New York Times, 12/30/02] Turki's predecessor as ambassador was recalled after it was revealed he had written poems praising suicide bombers. [Observer, 3/2/03 (C)] Reports on his new posting suggest that Turki last met bin Laden in the early 1990s before he became a wanted terrorist. [London Times, 10/18/02, Guardian, 10/19/02] However, these reports fail to mention other contacts with bin Laden (for instance, see July 1998), including a possible secret meeting in July 2001 (see July 4-14, 2001).
October 18, 2002 (B): "The massive mothballed Dabhol power project that bankrupt US energy company Enron Corp. built in western India could be running within a year, with a long-standing dispute over power charges close to being renegotiated, a government official said." Dabhol is the largest foreign investment project in India's history. Despite reorganizing from a bankruptcy, Enron still holds a controlling 65 percent stake in the plant, while General Electric Co. and Bechtel Corp. hold 10 percent each. The local Indian state electricity board holds the remaining 15 percent (see also November 1993 and June 2001 (J)). [AP, 10/18/02]
October 18, 2002 (C): FBI Director Mueller says in a speech, "There is a continuum between those who would express dissent and those who would do a terrorist act. Somewhere along that continuum we have to begin to investigate. If we do not, we are not doing our job. It is difficult for us to find a path between the two extremes.'' [San Jose Mercury News, 10/19/02] The comment receives little notice. Isn't legal dissent completely different from terrorism?
October 21, 2002: The General Accounting Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, releases a report asserting that at least 13 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were never interviewed by US consular officials before being granted visas to enter the US. This contradicts previous assurances from the State Department that 12 of the hijackers had been interviewed. It also found that, for 15 hijackers whose applications could be found, none had filled in the documents properly. Records for four other hijackers, including Atta, could not be checked because they were accidentally destroyed (see October 23, 2002). [Washington Post, 10/22/02] The State Department maintains that visa procedures were properly followed. In December 2002, Senators Jon Kyl (R) and Pat Roberts (R) state in a report that "if State Department personnel had merely followed the law and not granted nonimmigrant visas to 15 of the 19 hijackers in Saudi Arabia ... 9/11 would not have happened." [AP, 12/18/02]
October 22, 2002: The recent capture of would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh (see September 11, 2002) is threatening the trials of Zacarias Moussaoui in the US and Atta associate Mounir El Motassadeq in Germany. Bin al-Shibh is connected to both, and would normally be an extremely important witness in both cases. But the US does not want bin al-Shibh to testify. Both Moussaoui and Motassadeq have a good chance to win their trials on the argument that they cannot get a fair trial if they cannot call bin al-Shibh as a witness. As a result, there is talk that the US may have to abandon Moussaoui's civilian court trial, and retry him in a military court. It appears a judge has delayed the Moussaoui trial until June 2003 to give the US time to interrogate bin al-Shibh. But the US wants to secretly interrogate him for a couple years, at least. [New York Times, 10/22/02, Washington Post, 10/23/02] Does bin al-Shibh know secrets about 9/11 that would embarrass the US?
October 22, 2002 (B): Investigators say they are building a "growing circumstantial evidence case" against anthrax suspect Steven Hatfill. Supposedly, "their secret weapon" is bloodhounds tying "scent extracted from anthrax letters" to Hatfill's apartment. [ABC News, 10/22/02] But the bloodhound story has already been reported and largely discredited (see August 8, 2002).
October 23, 2002: Visa applications for the 15 Saudi Arabian hijackers are made public, and six separate experts agree: "All of them should have been denied entry [into the US]." Joel Mowbray, who first breaks the story for the conservative National Review, says he is shocked by what he saw: "I really was expecting al-Qaeda to have trained their operatives well, to beat the system. They didn't have to beat the system, the system was rigged in their favor from the get-go." A former US consular officer says the visas show a pattern of criminal negligence. Some examples: "Abdulaziz Alomari claimed to be a student but didn't name a school; claimed to be married but didn't name a spouse; under nationality and gender, he didn't list anything." "Khalid Almihdhar ... simply listed 'Hotel' as his US destination no name, no city, no state but no problem getting a visa." Only one actually gave a US destination, and one stated his destination as "no." Only Hani Hanjour had a slight delay in acquiring his visa. His first application was flagged because he wrote he wanted to visit for three years when the legal limit is two. When he returned two weeks later, he simply changed the form to read "one year" and was accepted. The experts agree that even allowing for chance, incompetence and human error, the odds were that only a few should have been approved (see October 21, 2002). [New York Post, 10/9/02, ABC News, 10/23/02] Could Michael Springman, a former visa official at the same US consulate where the 15 hijackers got their visas, be correct that the US is purposely letting terrorists get visas (see 1987-1989)? Click here to see visa applications for Hani Hanjour 1, 2 and 3, Waleed Alshehri, Wail Alshehri, and Abdulaziz Alomari, all taken from the National Review. [National Review, 10/9/02]
October 25, 2002: "[German authorities] say they're not getting the cooperation they need from the authorities in the USA, and they're worried that a political dispute between Washington and Berlin is hampering their ability to protect the public... In Hamburg, the police say that breakdown in communications between the US and German governments has also led to a dramatic reduction in the amount of investigative help they're getting from the USA." The Bush administration has not spoken to the German government since it won reelection four months earlier while openly opposing Bush's planned war on Iraq. Germans say existing prosecutions of 9/11 suspects are now threatened by the information breakdown. [Online Newshour, 10/25/02] The Germans helped capture terrorist Mohamed Heidar Zammar and turned him over to a third country, yet now they're learning very little from his interrogations, even though he has admitted to being involved in a plot to attack a consulate in Germany. A US State Department official denies there is any problem, aside from a few "bumps in the road." [New York Times, 11/4/02]
October 27, 2002: The Observer reports, "America's most controversial writer Gore Vidal has launched the most scathing attack to date on George W. Bush's Presidency, calling for an investigation into the events of 9/11 to discover whether the Bush administration deliberately chose not to act on warnings of al-Qaeda's plans. Vidal's highly controversial 7,000 word polemic titled 'The Enemy Within' ... argues that what he calls a 'Bush junta' used the terrorist attacks as a pretext to enact a preexisting agenda to invade Afghanistan and crack down on civil liberties at home. Vidal states, "Apparently, 'conspiracy stuff' is now shorthand for unspeakable truth" (read a summary here [Observer, 10/27/02], or Vidal's entire essay here [Observer, 10/27/02], and an interview here [Salon, 4/24/02]).
October 28, 2002: Four prisoners are freed from Guantanamo Bay, the first of the 600 or so prisoners there to be released (see January 11, 2002 and April 30, 2002 (B)). The four, mostly elderly Afghan men, are released because they were determined not to be involved in al-Qaeda and posed no security threat. [BBC, 10/29/02] 19 more are released in March 2003. [BBC, 3/24/03] The prisoners are supposedly being kept there to be interrogated about what they know of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But it is reported that virtually none of the prisoners in Guantanamo have any useful information. One US official says, "[Guantanamo] is a dead end" for fresh intelligence information. According to the Washington Post, "Officials realize many of them had little intelligence value to begin with...." [Washington Post, 10/29/02] US officials privately concede that "perhaps as many as 100 other captives" are innocent of any connections to al-Qaeda or the Taliban, but most of these still have not been released. Furthermore, not a single prisoner has been brought before a US military tribunal. Apparently this is to hide "a sorry fact: the US mostly netted Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters of only low to middling importance, bagging few of the real bad guys." [Time, 10/27/02] At least 59 were deemed to have no intelligence even before being sent to Cuba, but were nonetheless sent there, apparently because of bureaucratic inertia. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02 (B)]
October 28, 2002 (B): The Washington Post reports, "A significant number of scientists and biological warfare experts are expressing skepticism about the FBI's view that a single disgruntled American scientist prepared the spores and mailed the deadly anthrax letters that killed five people last year." More than a dozen experts suggest investigators should "reexamine the possibility of state-sponsored terrorism, or try to determine whether weaponized spores may have been stolen by the attacker from an existing, but secret, biodefense program or perhaps given to the attacker by an accomplice." These experts suggest that making the type of anthrax used could take a team of experts and millions of dollars. The article focuses on the possibility that Iraq could be to blame. [Washington Post, 10/28/02] Why would Iraq have targeted Democratic Senators Leahy and Daschle? Why is the possibility of a team of anthrax attackers from within the US continually brushed aside?
November 2002: Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef blames Zionists and Jews for the 9/11 attacks. He tells journalists, "Who has benefited from Sept. 11 attacks? I think [the Jews] were the protagonists of such attacks." Nayef is in charge of the Saudi investigation into the attacks, and some US congresspeople respond to the comments by questioning how strongly Saudi Arabia is investigating the involvement of the 15 Saudi 9/11 hijackers. [AP, 12/5/02]
November 1, 2002: Some of the 9/11 victims' relatives hold a rally at the US Capitol to protest what they fear are plans by the Bush administration to delay or block their lawsuit against prominent Saudi individuals for an alleged role in financing al-Qaeda (see August 15, 2002). [Washington Post, 11/1/02] US officials say they have not decided whether to submit a motion seeking to block or restrict the lawsuit, but they are considered about the "diplomatic sensitivities" of the suit. Saudis have withdrawn hundreds of billions of dollars from the US in response to the suit (see August 20, 2002). The Guardian previously reported that "some plaintiffs in the case say the Bush administration is pressuring them to pull out of the lawsuit in order to avoid damaging US-Saudi relations, threatening them with the prospect of being denied any money from the government's own compensation scheme if they continue to pursue it. Bereaved relatives who apply to the federal compensation scheme must, in any case, sign away their rights to sue the government, air carriers in the US, and other domestic bodies - a condition that has prompted some of them to call the government compensation "hush money." The fund is expected, in the end, to pay out $4 billion. They remain, however, free to sue those they accuse of being directly responsible for the attacks, such as Osama bin Laden, and - so they thought - the alleged financers of terrorism." [Guardian, 9/20/02]
November 3, 2002: A CIA-operated Predator drone fires a missile that destroys a carload of suspected al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen. The target of the attack is Qaed Senyan al-Harethi, a top al-Qaeda operative, but five others are also killed, including American citizen Kamal Derwish. [Washington Post, 11/4/02, AP, 12/3/02] US officials say the CIA has the legal authority to target and kill American citizens it believes are working for al-Qaeda (see July 22, 2002). [AP, 12/3/02] Bush administration officials say Derwish was the ringleader of a terrorist cell in Lackawanna, New York. [Washington Post, 11/9/02] The CIA also has a "high-value target list" of about two dozen terrorist leaders it is authorized to assassinate, including bin Laden. [New York Times, 12/15/02] Many international lawyers and some foreign governments question the legality of the assassination. [Guardian, 11/6/02] Noting that in its battle against al-Qaeda, the US has effectively deemed the entire planet a combat zone, Scott Silliman, director of Duke University's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security says: "Could you put a Hellfire missile into a car in Washington, DC? ... The answer is yes, you could." But National Security Adviser Rice says, "No constitutional questions are raised here." [ABC, 12/3/02, Chicago Tribune, 11/24/02] A former high-level intelligence officer complains that Rumsfeld wants "to take guys out for political effect." Al-Harethi's was being tracked for weeks through his cell phone. [New Yorker, 12/16/02] The attack happens one day before mid-term elections in the US. Was the timing of this assassination done for its political effect?
November 5, 2002: David Shayler, a member of the British intelligence agency MI5, is convicted of divulging British intelligence secrets. Shayler claims that British intelligence paid an al-Qaeda agent to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi (see 1996). Under strict secrecy laws, the British press is not allowed to report Shayler's claims. The press is not even allowed to report that the government won a gag order on the press. [The Age, 10/10/02] Shayler is not allowed to argue that he acted in the public interest, and the veracity of his claims is not challenged in court. [Guardian, 11/6/02 (B)] Shayler is sentenced to six months in prison, but only serves seven weeks then is released on parole. [BBC, 12/23/02]
November 5, 2002 (B): The New York Times reports that the official Pentagon study assessing the structural effect of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon was completed in July 2002 but has not been released, and may never be released. The report "was specifically intended to consider Pentagon security in the light of new terrorist threats... Some, confused over what could be considered sensitive in the report, have expressed outrage that the lessons it may hold for other buildings could be squandered." Engineers outside the investigation say the implications are considerable, since the design of the Pentagon is much more similar to other major buildings elsewhere than the design of the WTC. If the report were released, it is likely building codes would be changed and many lives saved in the long term. [New York Times, 11/5/02]
November 6 and 22, 2002: The US tightens immigration restrictions for 18 countries. All males over age 16 coming to the US from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates or Yemen must register with the US government and be photographed and fingerprinted at their local INS office. [Washington Post, 11/7/02, AP, 11/23/02] Two countries are not included: Pakistan (the home country of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and many other al-Qaeda terrorists) and Saudi Arabia (the home country of bin Laden and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers). These two countries are added to the list on December 13, 2002, after criticism that they were not included. [New York Times, 12/19/02]
November 9, 2002: The New York Times exposes the existence of John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness data collection program, begun in early 2002 (see Mid-January 2002 and March 2002 (B)). [New York Times, 11/9/02 (C)] Conservative columnist William Safire writes, "If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you: Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend - all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as 'a virtual, centralized grand database.' To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the FBI, your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance and you have the supersnoop's dream: a 'Total Information Awareness' about every US citizen." [New York Times, 11/14/02] Poindexter says it will take years to realize his vision, but his office has already begun providing some technology to government agencies. [Washington Post, 11/12/02] The existence of this program, and the fact that Poindexter is running it, causes concern for many on both the left and right. [USA Today, 1/16/03] It is regularly called Orwellian, conjuring visions of 1984's Big Brother, and even supporters admit it sounds Orwellian. [Newsweek, 11/15/02, Los Angeles Times, 11/17/02 (B), Guardian, 11/23/02, Newsday, 12/1/02, New Yorker, 12/9/02, BBC, 12/12/02, Dallas Morning News, 12/16/02, Baltimore Sun, 1/5/03] The New York Times suggests, "Congress should shut down the program pending a thorough investigation." [New York Times, 11/18/02] Experts question not only its civil liberties implications, but also if it is even feasible. If it does work, would its database be swapped with errors that could not be removed? (See such problems in a much smaller database in March 2002.) [San Jose Mercury News, 12/26/02] However, many newspapers fail to report on the program at all, and ABC is the only network to report the story on prime time television. [ABC News, 11/25/02 (B), ABC News, 11/16/02] Despite so many objections, the program is included in the Homeland Security bill (see November 25, 2002), and only later somewhat curbed by Congress (see January 23, 2003).
November 11, 2002: It is revealed that while the government didn't ban box cutters, the airlines' own rules did. It had been widely reported the hijackers used box cutters because they were legal. It now appears pepper spray was also banned, and like box cutters, should have been confiscated. There is evidence the hijackers used pepper spray as well (see July 18, 2002). It has been reported that nine of the hijackers were given special security screenings on 9/11, and six of those had their bags checked for weapons (see March 2, 2002 (B)). How did the hijackers get their weapons on board the airplanes?
November 12, 2002: A new audio tape purportedly made by bin Laden, in which he praises recent terrorist attacks in Bali, Kuwait, Yemen and Moscow, is broadcast by Al Jazeera. [BBC, 11/13/02, BBC, 11/18/02] US officials believe the voice is "almost certainly" bin Laden, but the Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence in Switzerland, one of the world's leading voice-recognition institutes, is 95% certain the tape is a forgery. [BBC, 11/18/02, BBC, 11/29/02, Toronto Star, 12/16/02] Two weeks later, a British newspaper publishes the complete text of a "letter to the American people," purportedly written by bin Laden. [Observer, 11/25/02] However, "diplomats were skeptical about the authenticity of the document..." [Guardian, 10/15/02]
November 15, 2002: Congress approves legislation creating an independent commission - the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States - to "examine and report on the facts and causes relating to the September 11th terrorist attacks" and "make a full and complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the attacks." President Bush signs it into law November 27, 2002. [US Department of State, 11/28/02] Bush originally opposed an independent commission, but he changes his mind over the summer after political pressure (see January 24, 2002, May 23, 2002, and October 10, 2002). The Democrats concede several important aspects of the commission (such as subpoena approval) after the White House threatens to create a commission by executive order, over which it would have more control. Bush will appoint the Commission chairman (see November 27, 2002) and he sets a strict time frame (18 months) for the investigation. [CNN, 11/15/02] The commission will only have a $3 million budget. Senator Jon Corzine (D) and others have wondered how the commission can accomplish much with such a small budget. [AP, 1/20/03]
November 17, 2002: A Toronto Star editorial entitled "Pursue the Truth About Sept. 11" strongly criticizes the government and media regarding 9/11: "Getting the truth about 9/11 has seemed impossible. The evasions, the obfuscations, the contradictions and, let's not put too fine a point on it, the lies have been overwhelming. ... The questions are endless. But most are not being asked -still - by most of the media most of the time. ... There are many people, and more by the minute, persuaded that, if the Bushies didn't cause 9/11, they did nothing to stop it." The article also mentions the Complete 9/11 Timeline website, calling it one of several "carefully considered, well crafted and very compelling" websites to look at for more information about 9/11. [Toronto Star, 11/17/02]
November 20, 2002: The US claims that captured would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh says Zacarias Moussaoui met 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Afghanistan during the winter of 2000-01 and Mohammed gave him names of US contacts. [Washington Post, 11/20/02] Bin al-Shibh and Mohammed agreed Moussaoui should be nothing more than a backup figure in the 9/11 plot because he could not keep a secret and was too volatile and untrustworthy. Supposedly, bin al-Shibh wired Moussaoui money intended for other terrorist activities, not 9/11. [USA Today, 11/20/02] The Washington Post has suggested this may cause Moussaoui to not want to call bin al-Shibh as a witness in his trial, but it appears Moussaoui still wants him as a witness. [Washington Post, 11/20/02] There have been suggestions that the US may move Moussaoui's case from a civilian court to a military tribunal, which would prevent bin al-Shibh from testifying, but the issue remains undecided (see October 22, 2002). [USA Today, 11/20/02]
November 22, 2002: Newsweek reports that 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi may have received money from Saudi Arabia's royal family through two Saudis, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan (see November 1999 (B) and December 4, 1999), based on information leaked from the Congressional 9/11 inquiry last month (see October 9, 2002). [Newsweek, 11/22/02, MSNBC, 11/23/02, Washington Post, 11/24/02, New York Times, 11/23/02] Al-Bayoumi's whereabouts are unknown; Basnan was deported to Saudi Arabia on November 17 (see August 22, 2002 and September 22, 2001). Saudi officials and Princess Haifa immediately deny any terrorist connections. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Newsweek reports that while the money trail "could be perfectly innocent ... it is nonetheless intriguing - and could ultimately expose the Saudi government to some of the blame for 9/11 ..." Newsweek reports that Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Bob Graham (D) says, "'This one stinks of people using classified information' for political purposes." [Newsweek, 11/22/02] Some Saudi newspapers which usually reflect government thinking claim the leak is blackmail to pressure Saudi Arabia into supporting war with Iraq. [MSNBC, 11/25/02] Senior government officials claim the FBI and CIA failed to aggressively pursue leads that might have linked the two hijackers to Saudi Arabia. This has caused a bitter dispute between FBI and CIA officials and the intelligence panel investigating the 9/11 attacks (see December 11, 2002 (B)). [New York Times, 11/23/02]A number of senators, including Richard Shelby (R), John McCain (R), Mitch O'Connell (R), Joe Lieberman (D), Bob Graham (D), Joe Biden (D) and Charles Schumer (D) express concern about the Bush administration's action (or non-action) regarding the Saudi royal family and its possible role in funding terrorists. [New York Times, 11/25/02, Reuters, 11/24/02] Lieberman says, "I think it's time for the president to blow the whistle and remember what he said after September 11 - you're either with us or you're with the terrorists." [ABC, 11/25/02]
November 22, 2002 (B): 9/11 victims' relatives add 50 defendants to the 100 defendants previously named in their $1 trillion lawsuit against Saudi citizens and organizations (see August 15, 2002). New defendants include Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif and the Saudi American Bank, that nation's second largest financial institution. Also named is Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi, a billionaire Saudi businessman (see August 13, 1996 and Early December 2001 (B)). He is alleged to have directed the Kenya branch of al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which was banned in Kenya after the bombing of the US embassy there in 1998 (see August 7, 1998). The Bosnia and Somalia branches of the charity have been designated terrorist entities by the US. [Wall Street Journal, 11/22/02] Al-Amoudi is also on a secret United Nations list of al-Qaeda financiers (see November 26, 2002). In 1999 it was reported that US and British officials are investigating if a bank he heads, the Capitol Trust Bank in New York and London, has transferred money to bin Laden. He is also seen as the financial successor to Khalid bin Mahfouz in some respects (see 1988, December 4, 2001 (B)), since Mahfouz was placed under house arrest (see April 1999). [USA Today, 10/29/99]
November 24, 2002: The Los Angeles Times reports that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is creating new agencies to make "information warfare" a central element of any US war. For instance, Rumsfeld created a new position of deputy undersecretary for "special plans" - a euphemism for deception operations. "Increasingly, the administration's new policy -- along with the steps senior commanders are taking to implement it -- blurs or even erases the boundaries between factual information and news, on the one hand, and public relations, propaganda and psychological warfare, on the other. And, while the policy ostensibly targets foreign enemies, its most likely victim will be the American electorate" (see also February 20, 2002 and October 2002). [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Authorities have arrested and jailed at least 44 people as potential grand jury witnesses in the 14 months of the nationwide terrorism investigation, but nearly half have never been called to testify before a grand jury, according to defense lawyers and others involved in the cases.
November 24, 2002 (B): The Washington Post reports that the US is using an obscure statute to detain and investigate terrorism suspects without having to charge them with a crime. At least 44 people, some of them US citizens, have been held as "material witnesses." Some have been held for months, and some have been held in maximum-security conditions. Most in fact have never testified, even though that is supposedly why they were held. [Washington Post, 11/24/02]
November 25, 2002: President Bush signs legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge is promoted to Secretary of Homeland Security (see September 20, 2001). The Department will consolidate nearly 170,000 workers from 22 agencies, including the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, the federal security guards in airports, and the Customs Service. [New York Times, 11/26/02, Los Angeles Times, 11/26/02] However, the FBI and CIA, the two most prominent anti-terrorism agencies, will not be part of Homeland Security. [New York Times, 11/20/02] The department wants to be active by March 1, 2003, but "it's going to take years to integrate all these different entities into an efficient and effective organization." [New York Times 11/20/02, Los Angeles Times, 11/26/02] Some 9/11 victims' relatives are angry over sections inserted into the legislation at the last minute. Airport screening companies will be protected from lawsuits filed by family members of 9/11 victims. Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband died in the WTC, says, "We were down there lobbying last week and trying to make the case that this will hurt us, but they did it anyway. It's just a slap in the face to the victims." [New York Times, 11/26/02] The bill also allows the controversial Total Information Awareness program to move forward with its funding. [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/20/02 (B)] It also gives a Freedom of Information Act exemption for information submitted by private industry to government agencies. Such information given will be automatically classified, protecting the private sector from public scrutiny and lawsuits. Robert Leger, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, says, "This bill sacrifices, in the name of homeland security, the long-standing American principle of open government." [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/19/02]
November 26, 2002: In the wake of news that two Saudis living in San Diego, California may have helped two of the 9/11 hijackers (see November 22, 2002), reports surface that the US has a secret, short list of wealthy individuals who are the key financiers of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The Washington Post claims there are nine names on the list: seven Saudi, plus one from Egypt and one from Pakistan. [Washington Post, 11/26/02] ABC News claims the list consists of 12 names, all Saudis, and says they were financing al-Qaeda through accounts in Cyprus, Switzerland and Malaysia, among other countries. [ABC, 11/25/02] They also claim the Saudi government has a copy of the list. US officials privately say all the people listed have close personal and business ties with the Saudi royal family. [ABC, 11/26/02] A secret report to the United Nations by French investigator Jean-Charles Brisard names seven prominent Saudi financiers of terror; the number matches the seven Saudis mentioned in the Post article, though it's not known if all the names are the same. The Saudis mentioned by Brisard are: Khalid bin Mahfouz (see for instance 1988 and April 1999); Yassin al-Qadi (see October 1998, October 12, 2001, and December 5, 2002); Saleh Abdullah Kamel (see June 1998 (D)); Abdullah Suleiman al-Rajhi; Adel Abdul Jalil Batterjee; Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi (see August 13, 1996, Early December 2001 (B), and November 22, 2002 (B)); and Wa'el Hamza Julaidan (who has had his assets frozen by the US [State Department, 9/6/02]). Brisard says al-Qaeda has received between $300 million and $500 million over the last 10 years from wealthy businessmen and bankers. He claims that the combined fortunes of these men equal about 20% of Saudi Arabia's GDP (gross domestic product). [Los Angeles Times, 12/24/02, UN report, 12/19/02 or here] It is also reported that a National Security Council task force recommends the US demand that Saudi Arabia crack down on terrorist financiers within 90 days of receiving evidence of misdeeds and if they don't, the US should take unilateral action to bring the suspects to justice. [Washington Post, 11/26/02] However, the US denies this, calling Saudi Arabia a "good partner in the war on terrorism." [Washington Post, 11/25/02] Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says: "I think the fact that many of the hijackers came from that nation [Saudi Arabia] cannot and should not be read as an indictment of the country." [Radio Free Europe, 11/27/02]
November 27, 2002: President Bush names Henry Kissinger as Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Congressional Democrats appoint George Mitchell, former Senate majority leader and peace envoy to Northern Ireland and the Middle East, as Vice Chairman. Their replacements and the other eight members of the commission are chosen by mid-December (see December 16, 2002). Kissinger served as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor for Presidents Nixon and Ford. [New York Times, 11/28/02] Kissinger's ability to remain independent is met with skepticism (for instance, see Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/3/02, Washington Post, 12/1/02, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/13/02, CNN, 11/30/02, Sydney Morning Herald, 11/29/02]. He has a very controversial past - for instance, "Documents recently released by the CIA, strengthen previously-held suspicions that Kissinger was actively involved in the establishment of Operation Condor, a covert plan involving six Latin American countries including Chile, to assassinate thousands of political opponents." He is also famous for an "obsession with secrecy." [BBC, 4/26/02] Its even difficult for Kissinger to travel outside the US. Investigative judges in Spain, France, Chile and Argentina seek to question him in several legal actions related to his possible involvement in war crimes particularly in Latin America, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Chile and East Timor. [BBC, 4/18/02, Village Voice, 8/15-21/01, Chicago Tribune, 12/1/02] "Indeed, it is tempting to wonder if the choice of Mr. Kissinger is not a clever maneuver by the White House to contain an investigation it long opposed." [New York Times, 11/29/02] The Chicago Tribune notes that "the president who appointed him originally opposed this whole undertaking" (see January 24, 2002, May 23, 2002, and October 10, 2002). Kissinger is "known more for keeping secrets from the American people than for telling the truth" and asking him "to deliver a critique that may ruin friends and associates is asking a great deal." [Chicago Tribune, 12/5/02] Both he and Mitchell resign a short time later rather than reveal the clients they work with (see December 11, 2002 and December 13, 2002).
November 28, 2002: Three suicide bombers detonate their explosives outside a resort hotel in Mombasa, Kenya. Terrorists also fire shoulder-launched missiles unsuccessfully at a passenger jet. [New York Times, 11/30/02] The death toll reaches 16. [CNN, 12/1/02] Al-Qaeda purportedly claims responsibility a few days later. [CNN, 12/2/02]
December 4, 2002: Marion (Spike) Bowman, head of the FBI's National Security Law Unit and the person who refused to seek a special warrant for a search of Zacarias Moussaoui's belongings before the 9/11 attacks (see August 23-27, 2001 and August 28, 2001 (D)) is among nine recipients of bureau awards for "exceptional performance." FBI Director Mueller says the honorees "are strongly linked to our counter-terrorism efforts" and "have gone out on a limb to improve our administrative practices [and] our legal tools." The awards include cash bonuses of up to 35% of each recipient's base salary. The award came shortly after a 9/11 Congressional inquiry report that said Bowman's unit gave Minneapolis FBI agents "inexcusably confused and inaccurate information" that was ''patently false'." [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 12/22/02] Bowman's unit also blocked an urgent request by FBI agents to begin searching for Khalid Almihdhar after his name was put on a watch list (see August 29, 2001). In early 2000, the FBI acknowledged serious blunders in surveillance Bowman's unit conducted during sensitive terrorism and espionage investigations, including agents who illegally videotaped suspects, intercepted e-mails without court permission, and recorded the wrong phone conversations. [AP, 1/10/03] Mueller also promotes Pasquale D'Amuro, the FBI's counter-terrorism chief in New York City before 9/11, to the bureau's top counterterrorism post. A former Justice Department official says Mueller has "promoted the exact same people who have presided over the ... failure." [Time, 12/30/02]
December 4, 2002 (B): A federal judge in New York rules that Jose Padilla, a US citizen who has been accused of being an al-Qaeda "dirty bomber," has the right to meet with a lawyer (see June 10, 2002). The judge agrees with the government that Padilla can be held indefinitely as an "enemy combatant" even though he is a US citizen. But he says such enemy combatants can meet with a lawyer to contest their status. However, the ruling makes it very difficult to overturn such a status. The government only need show that "some evidence" supports its claims. [Washington Post, 12/5/02, Washington Post, 12/11/02] In Padilla's case, many of the allegations against Padilla given to the judge, such as Padilla taking his orders from al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida, have been widely dismissed in the media. [Washington Post, 9/1/02] As one newspaper puts it, Padilla "appears to be little more than a disoriented thug with grandiose ideas." [Guardian, 10/10/02 (B)] However, the government continues to challenge this ruling, and Padilla still has not had access to a lawyer (see March 11, 2003).
December 5, 2002: Federal agents search the offices of Ptech, Inc., a computer software company in Quincy, Massachusetts, looking for evidence of links to bin Laden. A senior Ptech official confirms that Yassin al-Qadi, one of 12 Saudi businessmen on a secret CIA list suspected of funneling millions of dollars to al-Qaeda, was an investor in the company, beginning in 1994 (see October 1998 and November 26, 2002). [Newsweek, 12/6/02, WBZ4, 12/9/02] Some of Ptech's customers include the White House, Congress, Army, Navy, Air Force, NATO, FAA, FBI and the IRS. [Boston Globe, 12/7/02] A former FBI counter-terrorism official states, "For someone like [al-Qadi] to be involved in a capacity, in an organization, a company that has access to classified information, that has access to government open or classified computer systems, would be of grave concern." Yacub Mirza - "a senior official of major radical Islamic organizations that have been linked by the US government to terrorism" - has recently been on Ptech's board of directors. Hussein Ibrahim, the Vice President and Chief Scientist of Ptech, was vice chairman of a now defunct investment group called BMI. An FBI affidavit names BMI as a conduit to launder money from al-Qadi to Hamas terrorists. [WBZ4, 12/9/02] The search into Ptech is part of Operation Green Quest, which has served 114 search warrants in the past 14 months involving suspected terrorist financing. Fifty arrests have been made and $27.4 million seized. [Forbes, 12/6/02] Al-Qadi's assets were frozen by the FBI in October 2001 (see October 12, 2001). [Arab News, 9/26/02] That same month, a number of Ptech employees told the Boston FBI that Ptech was financially backed by al-Qadi, but the FBI did little more than take their statements. A high level government source claims the FBI did not convey the information to a treasury department investigation of al-Qadi, and none of the government agencies using Ptech software were warned. Indira Singh, a second whistleblower, spoke with the FBI in June 2002 and was "shocked" and "frustrated" when she learned the agency had done nothing. [Boston Globe 12/7/02, WBZ4, 12/9/02] Beginning in mid-June 2002, WBZ-TV Boston had prepared an lengthy investigative report on Ptech, but withheld it for more than three months after receiving "calls from federal law enforcement agencies, some at the highest levels." The station claims the government launched its Ptech probe in August 2002, after they "got wind of our investigation" and "asked us to hold the story so they could come out and do their raid and look like they're ahead of the game." [Boston Globe, 12/7/02 (B) , WBZ4, 12/9/02]
December 9, 2002: US commanders have rejected as too risky many special operations missions to attack Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. After Army Green Beret A-Teams received good intelligence on the whereabouts of former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, commanders turned down the missions as too dangerous. Soldiers traced the timidity to an incident in June 2002 called Operation Full Throttle, which resulted in the death of 34 civilians. [Washington Times, 12/9/02]
December 9, 2002 (B): A federal judge rules against the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, in its attempt to force Vice President Cheney to disclose his Energy Task Force documents (see May 2001 (G)). The judge writes, "This case, in which neither a House of Congress nor any congressional committee has issued a subpoena for the disputed information or authorized this suit, is not the setting for such unprecedented judicial action.'' [AP, 12/9/02] The GAO later declines to appeal the ruling (see February 7, 2003 (B)). In a similar suit being filed by Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club, the Bush Administration has successfully delayed deadlines forcing these documents to be turned over. That case continues, with another deadline avoided on December 6. [AP, 12/6/02]
December 11, 2002: George Mitchell resigns as Vice Chairman of the recently-created 9/11 investigative commission (see November 27, 2002). Lee Hamilton, an Indiana congressman for more than 30 years and chairman of the committee which investigated Iran-Contra, is named as his replacement. [CNN, 12/11/02] Mitchell cites time constraints as his reason for stepping down, but he also does not want to sever ties with his lawyer-lobbying firm, Piper Rudnick, or reveal his list of clients. Recent clients include two Mideast governments - Yemen and the United Arab Emirates - and a firm owned by Mohammed Hussain Al-Amoudi, a Saudi magnate under scrutiny from US anti-terror investigators (see November 26, 2002). [Newsweek, 12/15/02] Committee Chairman Henry Kissinger resigns two days later (see December 13, 2002).
December 11, 2002 (B): A Senate Select Committee
on Intelligence investigating the performance of government agencies before
the 9/11 attacks releases its final report. A 450-page report was written, but
only nine pages of findings and 15 pages of recommendations are released, and
those have blacked out sections. It is unclear if any more will be released.
[Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02] The committee
accuses the Bush administration of refusing to declassify information about
possible Saudi Arabian financial links to US-based terrorists,
criticizes the FBI for not adapting into a domestic intelligence bureau after
the attacks and says the CIA lacked an effective system for holding its officials
accountable for their actions. Asked if 9/11 could have been prevented, Senator
Bob Graham (D), the committee chairman, gives "a conditional yes."
Graham says the Bush
administration has given Americans an "incomplete and distorted picture"
of the foreign assistance the hijackers may have received." [ABC,
12/10/02] Graham further says, "There are many more findings to be
disclosed" that Americans would find "more than interesting,"
and he and others express frustration that information that should be released
is being kept classified by the Bush administration. [St.
Petersburg Times, 12/12/02] Sen. Richard Shelby
(R), the vice chairman, singles out six people as having "failed in significant
ways to ensure that this country was as prepared as it could have been":
CIA Director Tenet; Tenet's predecessor, John Deutch; former FBI Director Louis
Freeh; NSA Director Michael Hayden; Hayden's predecessor, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minihan;
and former Deputy Director Barbara McNamara. [Washington
Post, 12/11/02; Committee
Findings, 12/11/02, Committee
Recommendations, 12/11/02] Shelby says that Tenet should resign. "There
have been more failures on his watch as far as massive intelligence failures
than any CIA director in history. Yet he's still there. It's inexplicable to
Newshour, 12/11/02] "A list of 19 recommendations consists largely
of recycled proposals and tepid calls for further study of thorny issues members
themselves could not resolve." [Los
Angeles Times, 12/12/02]
December 11, 2002 (C): In discussing the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on 9/11 (see December 11, 2002 (B)), Senator Bob Graham (D), the committee chairman, says he is "surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the [9/11] terrorists in the United States.... To me that is an extremely significant issue and most of that information is classified, I think overly-classified. I believe the American people should know the extent of the challenge that we face in terms of foreign government involvement. I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted not just in financing - although that was part of it - by a sovereign foreign government and that we have been derelict in our duty to track that down.... It will become public at some point when it's turned over to the archives, but that's 20 or 30 years from now." [PBS Newshour, 12/11/02] In March 2003, Newsweek says its sources indicate Graham is speaking about Saudi Arabia, and that leads pointing in this direction have been pursued. Graham also says that the report contains far more miscues than have been publicly revealed. "Theres been a cover-up of this," he says. [Newsweek, 3/1/03 (B)] Could Graham also be referring to evidence showing Pakistan's ISI foreknowledge of 9/11 that was given to his office before 9/11 (see Early August 2001)?
December 11, 2002 (D): The Justice Department announces that only six of the 765 people detained on immigration charges after 9/11 are still in US custody (see also November 5, 2001 (B) and July 3, 2002). Almost 500 of them were released to their home countries; the remainder are still in the US. 134 others were arrested on criminal charges and 99 were convicted. Another group of more than 300 were taken into custody by state and local law enforcement and so statistics are unknown about them. Additionally, more were arrested on material witness warrants, but the government won't say how many. The Washington Post has determined there are at least 44 in this category (see November 24, 2002 (B)). [Washington Post, 12/12/02] The names of all those secretly arrested still have not been released (see August 2, 2002 (C)). None in any of the categories have been charged with any terrorist acts.
December 12, 2002: The vast majority of the more than 900 people the federal government acknowledges detaining after the 9/11 attacks have been deported, released or convicted of minor crimes unrelated to terrorism, according to government documents (see October 20, 2001). An undisclosed number - most likely in the dozens - are or were held as material witnesses. The Justice Department reports that only six of the 765 people arrested for immigration violations are still held by the INS. An additional 134 people were charged with criminal offenses, with 99 found guilty through pleas or trials. [Chicago Sun-Times, 12/12/02] MSNBC reports that of the "more than 800 people" rounded up since 9/11, "only 10 have been linked in any way to the hijackings" and "probably will turn out to be innocent." [Newsweek, 10/29/02]
December 12-17, 2002: At least 15 FBI investigators conduct a six-day search of Gambrill State Park (outside Frederick, Maryland) and Frederick Municipal Forest in connection with the anthrax investigation. Frederick Municipal Forest is located about four miles northwest of USAMRIID, the Army's principal biodefense lab. In addition to a ground search and excavation of some areas, teams of divers search small lakes and ponds in the park. The search is based on information that former USAMRIID government scientist Steven Hatfill may have disposed of laboratory equipment in one of the ponds near his former Maryland home (see February 1999, September 1999 (B), August 1, 2002, and August 8, 2002). [ABC, 12/12/02, CNN, 12/13/02, Washington Post, 12/13/02, Baltimore Sun, 12/13/02] The FBI search turns up nothing. [ABC News, 1/9/03] Afterwards, Hatfill alleges that a virtual caravan of unmarked vans and cars are keeping him under constant surveillance, following him on errands and to restaurants and driving past his house with a video camera pointed out the window. He also believes that his telephone is wiretapped. [UPI, 11/23/02]
December 13, 2002: Henry Kissinger resigns as head of the new 9/11 investigation (see November 27, 2002). [AP, 12/13/02, ABC, 12/13/02, copy of resignation letter] Two days earlier, the Bush Administration argued that Kissinger was not required to disclose his private business clients. [New York Times, 12/12/02] However, the Congressional Research Service insists that he does, and Kissinger resigns rather than reveal his clients. [MSNBC, 12/13/02, Seattle Times, 12/14/02] It is reported that Kissinger is (or has been) a consultant for Unocal, the oil corporation, and was involved in plans to build pipelines through Afghanistan (see October 21, 1995, and August 9, 1998). [Washington Post, 10/5/98, Salon, 12/3/02] Kissinger claimed he did no current work for any oil companies or Mideast clients, but several corporations with heavy investments in Saudi Arabia, such as ABB Group, a Swiss-Swedish engineering firm, and Boeing Corp., pay him consulting fees of at least $250,000 a year. A Boeing spokesman said its "long-standing" relationship with Kissinger involved advice on deals in East Asia, not Saudi Arabia. Boeing sold $7.2 billion worth of aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1995. [Newsweek, 12/15/02] In a surprising break from usual procedures regarding high-profile presidential appointments, White House lawyers never vetted Kissinger for conflicts of interest. [Newsweek, 12/15/02] The Washington Post says that after the resignations of Kissinger and Mitchell, the commission "has lost time" and "is in disarray, which is no small trick given that it has yet to meet." [Washington Post, 12/14/02]
December 14, 2002: A Pakistani court ruling frees Maulana Masood Azhar, leader of the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad, from prison. [Christian Science Monitor, 12/16/02] Two weeks later, he is freed from house arrest. He was held for exactly one year without charge, the maximum allowed in Pakistan. [AP, 12/29/02] He was arrested shortly after an attack on the Indian Parliament that was blamed on his terrorist group (see December 13, 2001). In 1999 he and Saeed Sheikh were rescued by al-Qaeda from an Indian prison (see December 24-31, 1999), and he has ties to al-Qaeda and possibly the 9/11 attacks (see January 5, 2002). Pakistan frees several other top terrorist leaders in the same month. It is believed they are doing this so these terrorists can fight in a secret proxy war with India over Kashmir. US officials have remained silent about the release of Azhar and others Pakistani terrorist leaders. [Christian Science Monitor, 12/16/02] The US froze the funds of Jaish-e-Mohammad in October 2001 (see October 12, 2001), but the group simply changed its name to al-Furqan, and the US has not frozen the funds of the "new" group. [Financial Times, 2/8/03, Washington Post, 2/8/03]
December 16, 2002: President Bush names former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean as the Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, after his original choice, Henry Kissinger, resigned (see November 27, 2002 and December 13, 2002). [Washington Post, 12/17/02] In an appearance on NBC, Kean promises an aggressive investigation. "It's really a remarkably broad mandate, so I don't think we'll have any problem looking under every rock. I've got no problems in going as far as we have to in finding out the facts." [AP, 12/17/02] However, Kean plans to remain President of Drew University and devote only one day a week to the commission. He also claims he would have no conflicts of interest, stating: "I have no clients except the university." [Washington Post, 12/17/02] However, he has a history of such conflict. Multinational Monitor has previously stated: "Perhaps no individual more clearly illustrates the dangers of university presidents maintaining corporate ties than Thomas Kean," citing the fact that he is on the Board of Directors of Aramark (which received a large contract with his university after he became president), Bell Atlantic, United Health Care, Beneficial Corporation, Fiduciary Trust Company International, and others. [Multinational Monitor, 11/97] Most disturbing is his Board of Director and Executive Committee positions at Amerada Hess, an oil company with extensive investments in Central Asia. [Amerada Hess, 2002] Fortune magazine points out that through this investment, "Kean appears to have a bizarre link to the very terror network he's investigating - al-Qaeda." [Fortune, 1/22/03] In 1998, Amerada Hess created an alliance with the Saudi oil company Delta Oil, calling it Delta Hess. [Azerbaijan International, 2002] Delta Hess is invested in a number of oil field and pipeline projects in Central Asia (see for instance [Azerbaijan International, 1998]). Delta Oil has been one of the main financial partners in a controversial oil pipeline designed to go through Afghanistan. The company has been financially controlled by Khalid bin Mahfouz, and is connected to Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi (see August 13, 1996). Both men are on a secret United Nations list of al-Qaeda financers (see November 26, 2002), and bin Mahfouz is bin Laden's brother-in-law (see 1988). Fortune calls it an "interesting coincidence" that three weeks before his appointment onto the 9/11 commission, Amerada Hess quietly severed its ties with Delta Oil. [Fortune, 1/22/03] George Mitchell resigned from the commission a few days earlier in part because of ties with al-Amoudi (see December 11, 2002), yet Kean's conflict of interest with Amerada Hess and ties with al-Amoudi and bin Mahfouz have only been mentioned in a short Fortune article and briefly at the end of an AP article. [AP, 1/20/03, Fortune, 1/22/03]
December 16, 2002 (B): The ten members of
the new 9/11 Commission (see November
15, 2002) are appointed by this date, and are: Republicans Thomas Kean
(Chairman), Slade Gorton, James Thompson, Fred Fielding, and John Lehman, and
Democrats Lee Hamilton (Vice Chairman), Max Cleland, Tim Roemer, Richard Ben-Veniste,
and Jamie Gorelick. [New
York Times, 12/17/02, Washington
Post, 12/15/02, AP,
Tribune, 12/12/02] Senators Richard Shelby (R) and John McCain (R) had a
say in the choice of one of the Republican positions. They and many 9/11 victims'
relatives wanted former Senator Warren Rudman (R), who cowrote an acclaimed
report about terrorism before 9/11 (see January
31, 2001). But Senate Republican leader Trent Lott blocks Rudman's appointment
and chooses John Lehman instead. [St.
Petersburg Times, 12/12/02, AP,
12/13/02, Reuters, 12/16/02] It
slowly emerges over the next several months that at least six of the ten commissioners
have ties to the airline industry. [CBS,
3/5/03] Every commissioner has at least one potential conflict of interest.
1) For Chairman Thomas Kean's conflicts of interests, see December 16, 2002.
2) Fred Fielding also works for a law firm lobbying for Spirit Airlines and United Airlines. [AP, 2/14/03, CBS, 3/5/03]
3) Slade Gorton has close ties to Boeing, which built all the planes destroyed on 9/11, and his law firm represents several major airlines, including Delta Airlines. [AP, 12/12/02, CBS, 3/5/03]
4) John Lehman, former secretary of the Navy, has large investments in Ball Corp., which has many US military contracts. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)]
5) James Thompson, former Illinois governor, is the head of a law firm that lobbies for American Airlines, and he has previously represented United Airlines. [AP, 1/31/03, CBS, 3/5/03]
6) Richard Ben-Veniste represents Boeing and United Airlines. [CBS, 3/5/03] His law firm also represents Deutsche Bank, which have many connections to 9/11. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)] Ben-Veniste also has other curious connections, according to a 2001 book on CIA ties to drug running written by Daniel Hopsicker, which has an entire chapter called "Who is Richard Ben-Veniste?" Lawyer Ben-Veniste, Hopsicker says, "has made a career of defending political crooks, specializing in cases that involve drugs and politics." Ben-Veniste has been referred to in print as a "Mob lawyer," and was a long-time lawyer for Barry Seal, one of the most famous drug dealers in US history who also is alleged to have had CIA connections. [Barry and the Boys, Daniel Hopsicker, 9/01, pp. 325-330, link to the chapter on Ben-Veniste]
7) Max Cleland, former US senator, has received $300,000 from the airline industry. [CBS, 3/5/03]
8) James Gorelick is a director of United Technologies, one of the Pentagon's biggest defense contractors and a supplier of engines to airline manufacturers. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)]
9) Lee Hamilton sits on many advisory boards, including those to the CIA, the president's Homeland Security Advisory Council, and the US Army. [AP, 3/27/03 (B)]
10) Tim Roemer represents Boeing and Lockheed Martin. [CBS, 3/5/03]
December 18, 2002 (B): Four brothers in Texas - Ghassan Elashi, Bayan Elashi, Hazim Elashi and Basman Elashi - are arrested on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, dealing in the property of a designated terrorist, illegal export and making false statements. [AP, 12/18/02 (B), Washington Post, 12/19/02] Ghassan Elashi is the vice president of InfoCom Corporation, which was raided on September 5, 2001 by 80 members of a Joint Terrorism Task Force (see September 5-8, 2001). [Guardian, 9/10/01] He is also chairman of Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which had its assets frozen by the FBI in December 2001 (see December 4, 2001 (B)). [New York Times, 12/20/02] The 33-count indictment names a fifth brother, Ihsan Elashi, who is already in custody, as well as Mousa Abu Marzook, whom the US deported in 1997, and his wife Nadia Elashi (both believed to be in the Middle East). [BBC, 12/18/01] On December 20, a judge rules Bayan and Hazim Elashi should remain in federal detention, but frees Basman Elashi on $15,000 bail. [New York Times, 12/20/02] Ghassan Elashi is released without bond, but will wear an electronic monitor. [AP, 12/23/02]
December 19, 2002: European security chiefs still regard Britain as a safe haven for al-Qaeda units. Since September 11 Britain has had only three minor prosecutions for terrorist offenses, all for being members of groups that are banned in the country. A senior French security source says that Britains record since the attacks is abysmal. [London Times, 12/19/02] Reportedly, hundreds of British recruits trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. The French are furious for Britain's lax treatment of terrorism suspects, including key al-Qaeda leader Abu Qatada (see Early December 2001 (C)). [Observer, 2/24/02]
December 27, 2002: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan sign an agreement for the building of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, a US$3.2 billion project that has been delayed for many years. [AP, 12/26/02, BBC, 12/27/02] A study by the Asian Development Bank stated that the pipeline would move natural gas from Turkmenistan's huge Dauletabad-Donmez fields to the Pakistani port city of Gwadar. The pipeline was originally launched in 1996 (see August 13, 1996), but was abandoned when a consortium led by Unocal withdrew over fears of being seen as supporting the Taliban and because the US launched missile attacks on Afghanistan in 1998 (see December 5, 1998). The Afghan, Pakistani and Turkmen leaders relaunched the project in May 2002 (see May 30, 2002 (B)). Unocal has denied it is interested in returning to Afghanistan. Skeptics say the project would require an indefinite foreign military presence in Afghanistan. [AP, 12/26/02, BBC, 5/30/02]
January 12, 2003: As the Bush Administration talks of war with Iraq, a nationwide Knight-Ridder poll shows that 50% of respondents say that one or more of the 9/11 hijackers came from Iraq. Only 17% say none came from Iraq. No government or major newspaper has ever suggested that even one of the 9/11 hijackers came from Iraq. Additionally, "Nearly 1 in 4 respondents thinks the Bush administration has publicly released evidence tying Iraq to the planning and funding of the Sept. 11 attacks, and more than 1 in 3 respondents didn't know or refused to answer. No such evidence has been released." [Knight-Ridder, 1/12/03]
January 12, 2003 (B): It is reported that 22 cities representing 3.5 million residents have passed resolutions criticizing the Patriot and Homeland Security Acts (see October 26, 2001). Another 70 cities have such resolutions in the works. [AP, 1/12/03] Many of the resolutions provide some legal justification for local authorities to resist cooperating in the federal war on terrorism when they deem civil liberties and Constitutional rights are being compromised. [New York Times, 12/23/02]
January 13, 2003: The Guardian reports on the state of journalism in the US: "The worldwide turmoil caused by President Bush's policies goes not exactly unreported, but entirely de-emphasized. Guardian writers are inundated by e-mails from Americans asking plaintively why their own papers never print what is in these columns... If there is a Watergate scandal lurking in [the Bush] administration, it is unlikely to be [Washington Post journalist Bob] Woodward or his colleagues who will tell us about it. If it emerges, it will probably come out on the web. That is a devastating indictment of the state of American newspapers." [Guardian, 1/13/03]
January 18, 2003: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf warns of an "impending danger" that Pakistan will become a target of war for "Western forces" after the Iraq crisis. "We will have to work on our own to stave off the danger. Nobody will come to our rescue, not even the Islamic world. We will have to depend on our muscle." [Press Trust of India, 1/19/03, Financial Times, 2/8/03] Pointing to "a number of recent 'background briefings' and 'leaks'" from the US government, "Pakistani officials fear the Bush administration is planning to change its tune dramatically once the war against Iraq is out of the way." [Financial Times, 2/8/03] Despite evidence that the head of Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, ordered money given to the hijackers (see October 7, 2001), so far only one partisan newspaper has suggested Pakistan was involved in 9/11. [WorldNetDaily, 1/3/02] But could Musharraf be worried about evidence suggesting involvement of the ISI in the 9/11 attacks?
January 22, 2003: One year after reporter Daniel Pearl's kidnapping and murder (see January 23, 2002 and January 31, 2002), the investigation is mired in controversy. "Mysteries still abound. ... Suspects disappear or are found dead. Crucial dates are confused. Confessions are offered and then recanted. ... Nobody who physically carried out the killing has been convicted. None of the four men sentenced is even believed to have ever been at the shed where Pearl was held" and killed. The government arrested three suspects in May 2002 but hasn't charged them and still won't admit to holding them, because acknowledging their testimony would ruin the case against Saeed Sheikh. [AP, 8/18/02, AP, 1/22/03] Two of the three claim that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed cut Pearl's throat with a knife. [MSNBC, 9/17/02, Time, 1/26/03]
January 22, 2003 (B): CIA Deputy Director for Operations James Pavitt says he is convinced all the intelligence the CIA had on Sept. 11, 2001, could not have prevented the 9/11 attacks. "It was not as some have suggested, a simple matter of connecting the dots," he claims. [Reuters, 1/23/03]
January 22, 2003 (C): The FBI conducts a very public search of a Miami, Florida, house belonging to Mohammed Almasri and his Saudi family. Having lived in Miami since July 2000, on September 9, 2001 they said they were returning to Saudi Arabia, hurriedly put their luggage in a van, and sped away, according to neighbors. A son named Turki Almasri was enrolled at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida, where hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi also studied. [Washington Post, 1/23/03, Palm Beach Post, 1/23/03] Neighbors repeatedly called the FBI after 9/11 to report their suspicions, but the FBI only began to search the house in October 2002. The house had remained abandoned, but not sold, since they left just before 9/11. [Washington Post, 1/23/03, Palm Beach Post, 1/22/03, Palm Beach Post, 1/23/03, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 1/22/03] The FBI returned for more thorough searches in January 2003, with some agents dressed in white biohazard suits. [Washington Post, 1/23/03] US Representative Robert Wexler (D), later says, "This scenario is screaming out one question: Where was the FBI for 15 months?" The FBI determines there is no terrorism connection, and apologizes to the family. [UPI, 1/24/03] An editorial notes the "ineptitude" of the FBI in not reaching family members over the telephone, as reporters were easily able to do. [Palm Beach Post, 2/1/03]
January 23, 2003: Congress imposes some limitations on the notorious Total Information Awareness program (see March 2002 (B) and November 9, 2002). Research and development of the program would have to halt within 90 days of enactment of the bill unless the Defense Department submits a detailed report about the program. The research can also continue if Bush certifies that the report cannot be provided. Congress also okays use of the program internationally, but it cannot be used inside the US unless Congress passes new legislation specifically authorizing such use. [New York Times, 1/24/03, Los Angeles Times, 2/19/03] However, a bill to completely stop the program has yet to pass. [San Jose Mercury News, 1/17/03, Los Angeles Times, 2/19/03] Several days earlier, Senator Charles Grassley (R) alleged that the Justice Department and FBI are more extensively exploring the use of the Total Information Awareness program than they have previously acknowledged. [AP, 1/21/03, Washington Post, 1/22/03] Contracts worth tens of millions of dollars have been signed with private companies to develop pieces of the program. [AP, 2/12/03] Salon also reports that the program "has now advanced to the point where it's much more than a mere 'research project.'" [Salon, 1/29/03]
January 24, 2003: Rudi Dekkers, owner of the flight school where hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi trained, is nearly killed in a helicopter accident. While piloting a helicopter, his engine dies, and the helicopter plunges into a river. But remarkably a nearby helicopter sees and rescues him. [AP, 1/24/03, NBC2, 1/25/03, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 1/25/03] There may be no foul play in the accident, but it is eerily reminiscent of an crash six months earlier that nearly killed Arne Kruithof, the flight school owner where Ziad Jarrah trained (see June 26, 2002). Reporter Daniel Hopsicker has for months been reporting on Dekkers' strange ties to the CIA (see Hopsicker's website). Interestingly, Dekkers was on his way to a meeting to sell his flight school, Huffman Aviation, which he sells to a competitor the next day. [Venice Gondolier, 1/25/03, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 1/28/03] Just the week before, the state attorney's office filed criminal fraud charges against Dekkers. He is accused of a third-degree felony security interest fraud against business partner Wally Hilliard. [Venice Gondolier, 1/18/03, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 1/22/03] Hilliard has agreed to drop the charges because of the flight school sale, but the state hasn't dropped them. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 1/28/03]
January 27, 2003: The 9/11 Independent Commission, officially titled the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, holds its first meeting in Washington. The commission has $3 million and only until May 2004 to explore the causes of the attacks. By comparison, a 1996 federal commission to study legalized gambling was given two years and $5 million. [AP, 1/27/03] The Bush Administration later grudgingly increases the funding to $12 million total (see March 26, 2003). Philip Zelikow, currently the director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and formerly in the National Security Council during the first Bush administration, is also appointed executive director of the commission. He is expected to resign to focus full time on the commission. [AP, 1/27/03] Zelikow cowrote a book with National Security Advisor Rice. [Independent Commission, 3/03] A few days later, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton says, "The focus of the commission will be on the future. We want to make recommendations that will make the American people more secure.... We're not interested in trying to assess blame, we do not consider that part of the commission's responsibility." [UPI, 2/6/03]
January 30, 2003: Stephen Push, a 9/11 victim's relative, is putting 45,000 pages from the recent German trial of Mounir El Motassadeq onto computer disks for the 9/11 Independent Commission. He is one of about 20 victims' relatives who joined that case as co-plaintiffs and got access to evidence that otherwise would be classified. [AP, 2/28/03] Push has quit his job to devote all his time and $100,000 of his own money investigating 9/11. Originally a Bush supporter, he now says, "Clearly the official government line [on 9/11] is a lie." [Newsday, 1/30/03]
February-March 20, 2003: With war against Iraq imminent, numerous media outlets finally begin reporting on the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) think tank and its role in influencing Iraq policy and US foreign policy generally. PNAC's plans for global domination had been noted before 9/11 (see for instance, [Washington Post, 8/21/01]), and PNAC's 2000 report recommending the conquest of Iraq even if Saddam Hussein is not in power was first reported on in September 2002 (see September 2000 and [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02]), but there were few follow-up mentions until February (exceptions: [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/29/02, Bangor Daily News, 10/18/02, New Statesman, 12/16/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03]. Many of these articles use PNAC to suggest that global and regional domination is the real reason for the Iraq war. Coverage increases as war gets nearer, but many media outlets still have not done any reporting on this, and some of the reporting that has been done is not prominently placed (for instance, a New York Times article on the topic is buried in the Arts section! See [New York Times, 3/11/03]). One Newsweek editorial notes that "not until the last few days" before war have many reasons against the war been brought up. It calls this "too little, too late" to make an impact. [Newsweek, 3/18/03] (Articles that discuss PNAC: [Philadelphia Daily News, 1/27/03, New York Times, 2/1/03, PBS Frontline, 2/20/03, Observer, 2/23/03, Bergen Record, 2/23/03, Guardian, 2/26/03, Mother Jones, 3/03, BBC, 3/2/03, Observer, 3/2/03, Der Spiegel, 3/4/03, ABC, 3/5/03 (B), Salon, 3/5/03, Independent, 3/8/03, Toronto Star, 3/9/03, ABC, 3/10/03, Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/10/03, CNN, 3/10/03, Guardian 3/11/03, New York Times, 3/11/03, American Prospect, 3/12/03, Chicago Tribune, 3/12/03, Globe and Mail, 3/14/03, Japan Times, 3/14/03, Sydney Morning Herald, 3/15/03, Salt Lake Tribune, 3/15/03, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 3/16/03, Observer, 3/16/03, Sunday Herald, 3/16/03, Toronto Star, 3/16/03, Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 3/17/03, Globe and Mail, 3/19/03, Asia Times, 3/20/03, The Age, 3/20/03])
February 7, 2003: Charles Lewis of the Center
for Public Integrity reveals the leaked text of a new anti-terrorism bill. Called
the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, it becomes popularly known as
the Patriot Act II. The text of the bill is dated January 9, 2003. [NOW
with Bill Moyers, 2/7/03, Center
for Public Integrity, 2/7/03, Patriot
Act II text] Before it was leaked, the bill was being
prepared in complete secrecy from the public and Congress. Only House Speaker
Dennis Hastert and Vice President Cheney were sent copies on January 10. [San
Francisco Chronicle, 2/11/03] A week earlier, Attorney General Ashcroft
said the Justice Department was not working on any bill of this type, and when
the text was released, they said it was just a rough draft. But the text "has
all the appearance of a document that has been worked over and over." [ABC
News, 3/12/03, Village
Voice, 2/28/03] Some, including a number of congresspeople, speculate that
the government is waiting until a new terrorist act or war fever before formally
introducing this bill. [NOW
with Bill Moyers, 2/7/03, AP,
2/10/03 (B), UPI,
Voice, 3/26/03] Here are some of its provisions:
1) The attorney general is given the power to deport any foreign national, even people who are legal permanent residents. No crime need be asserted, no proof offered, and the deportation can occur in complete secrecy. [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03]
2) It would authorize secret arrests in terrorism investigations, which would overturn a court order requiring the release of names of their detainees. [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03] Not even an attorney or family need be informed until the person is formally charged, if that ever happens. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
3) The citizenship of any US citizen can be revoked, if they are members of or have supported any group the attorney general designates as terrorist. [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03] A person who gives money to a charity that only later turns out to have some terrorist connection could then lose his or her citizenship. [CNN, 3/6/03]
4) "Whole sections ... are devoted to removing judicial oversight." Federal agents investigating terrorism could have access to credit reports, without judicial permission. [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03]
5) Federal investigators can conduct wiretaps without a court order for 15 days whenever Congress authorizes force or in response to an attack on the United States. [UPI, 3/10/03]
6) It creates a DNA database of anyone the Justice Department determines to be a "suspect,'' without court order. [San Jose Mercury News, 2/20/03]
7) It would be a crime for someone subpoenaed in connection with an investigation being carried out under the Patriot Act to alert Congress to any possible abuses committed by federal agents. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
8) Businesses and their personnel who provide information to anti-terrorism investigators are granted immunity even if the information is fraudulent. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
9) The government would be allowed to carry out electronic searches of virtually all information available about an individual without having to show probable cause and without informing the individual that the investigation was being carried out. Critics say this provision "would fundamentally change American society" because everyone would be under suspicion at all times. [ABC News, 3/12/03]
10) Federal agents would be immune from prosecution when they engage in illegal surveillance acts. [UPI, 3/10/03]
11) Restrictions are eased on the use of secret evidence in the prosecution of terror cases. [UPI, 3/10/03]
12) Existing judicial consent decrees preventing local police departments from spying on civil rights groups and other organizations are canceled. [Salon, 3/24/03]
Initially the story generates little press coverage, but there is a slow stream of stories over the next weeks, all expressing criticism. Of all the major newspapers, only the Washington Post puts the story on the front page, and no television network has the story in prime time. [AP, 2/8/03, CBS, 2/8/03, Los Angeles Times, 2/8/03, New York Times, 2/8/03, Washington Post, 2/8/03 (B), AP, 2/10/03 (B), San Francisco Chronicle, 2/11/03, Los Angeles Times, 2/13/03, St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/03, Denver Post, 2/20/03, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/20/03, San Jose Mercury News, 2/20/03, Baltimore Sun, 2/21/03, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/21/03, Village Voice, 2/28/03, Houston Chronicle, 3/1/03, UPI, 3/10/03, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 3/19/03, Salon, 3/24/03, Village Voice, 3/26/03, CNN, 3/6/03, ABC News, 3/12/03, Tampa Tribune, 4/6/03] Representative Jerrold Nadler (D) says the bill amounts to "little more than the institution of a police state." [San Francisco Chronicle, 2/11/03]
February 7, 2003 (B): The General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, declines to appeal a case attempting to force Vice President Cheney to disclose his Energy Task Force documents (see May 2001 (G) and December 9, 2002 (B)). This ends a potentially historic showdown between the congressional watchdog agency and the executive branch. [Los Angeles Times, 2/8/03 (B)] It is widely believed that the suit is dropped because of pressure from the Republican Party - the suit was filed when the Democrats controlled the Senate, and this decision comes shortly after the Republicans gained control of the Senate. [Washington Post, 2/8/03 (C)] The head of the GAO denies the lawsuit is dropped because of Republican threats to cut his office's budget, but US Comptroller General David Walker, who led the case, says there was one such "thinly veiled threat" last year by a lawmaker he wouldn't identify. [Reuters, 2/25/03] Another account has Senator Ted Stevens (R) and a number of other congresspeople making the threat to Walker. [Hill, 2/19/03] The GAO has previously indicated that accepting defeat in this case would cripple its ability to oversee the executive branch. [Washington Post, 2/8/03 (C)] A similar suit filed by Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club is still moving forward (see July 12, 2002 and October 17, 2002). [Washington Post, 2/8/03 (C)]
February 18, 2003: Mounir El Motassadeq, an alleged member of Mohamed Atta's Hamburg al-Qaeda cell, is convicted in Germany of accessory to murder in the 9/11 attacks (see also August 29, 2002). His is given the maximum sentence of 15 years. [AP, 2/19/03] Motassadeq, admitted varying degrees of contact with Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Said Bahaji, Ziad Jarrah and Zakariya Essabar, admitted he had been given power of attorney over Alshehhi's bank account, and admitted attending an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan from May to August 2000, but he claimed he had nothing to do with 9/11 (see also (see August 1998 and Mid-June 1999). [New York Times, 10/24/02] The conviction is the first related to 9/11, but as the Independent puts it, "there are doubts whether there will ever be a second." This is because intelligence agencies have been reluctant to turn over evidence, or give access to requested witnesses. In Motassadeq's case, his lawyers tried several times unsuccessfully to obtain testimony by two of his friends, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mohammed Haydar Zammar - a lack of evidence that could be grounds for an appeal. German intelligence also failed to turn over evidence on those two, again, making an appeal likely. [Independent, 2/20/03]
February 25, 2003: The Chicago Tribune reveals that there appear to be many more members of Mohamed Atta's Hamburg cell than previously realized. While many members of the cell died in the attacks or fled Germany just prior to them (see September 3-5, 2001), up to a dozen suspected of belonging to the Hamburg cell stayed behind, apparently hoping to avoid government scrutiny. Many of their names have not yet been revealed. In some cases, investigators still don't know the names. For instance, phone records show that someone using the alias Karl Herweg was in close communication with the Hamburg cell and Zacarias Moussaoui, but Herweg's real identity is not known. [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03]
February 26, 2003: Coleen Rowley, the FBI whistleblower who was proclaimed Time magazine's Person of the Year in 2002, sends another public letter to FBI Director Mueller (see also August 28, 2001 (D) and May 21, 2002). She believes the FBI is not prepared for new terrorist attacks likely to result from the upcoming Iraq war. She also says counter-terrorism cases are being mishandled. She claims the FBI and the Justice Department have not questioned captured al-Qaeda suspects Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid about their al-Qaeda contacts, choosing instead to focus entirely on prosecution. She writes, "Lack of follow-through with regard to Moussaoui and Reid gives a hollow ring to our 'top priority' - i.e. preventing another terrorist attack. Moussaoui almost certainly would know of other al-Qaeda contacts, possibly in the US, and would also be able to alert us to the motive behind his and Mohammed Atta's interest in crop-dusting." Moussaoui's lawyer also says the government has not attempted to talk to Moussaoui since 9/11. [New York Times, 3/5/03 (C), New York Times, 3/6/03 (B)]
Late February 2003: Medical examiners match human remains to the DNA of two of the hijackers that flew on Flights 11 and/or 175 into the WTC. The names of the two hijackers are not released. The FBI gave the examiners DNA profiles of all ten hijackers on those flights a few weeks earlier. Genetic profiles of five hijackers from Flight 77 and the four from Flight 83 that did not match any of the passengers' profiles have been given to the FBI, but the FBI has not given any DNA profiles with which to match them. [CNN, 2/27/03]
March 1, 2003: 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is reportedly arrested in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. [AP, 3/1/03] He is reported arrested in a late-night joint Pakistani and FBI raid that also captures Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi, said to be the main money man behind the 9/11 attacks. [MSNBC, 3/3/03] However, there are serious doubts that Mohammed or Al-Hawsawi (who might not even exist) were at the house when it was raided. Mohammed has previously been reported arrested or killed (see June 16, 2002 and September 11, 2002 and also this essay, Is There More to the Capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Than Meets the Eye?, for a detailed analysis of his capture).
March 10, 2003: the ISI shows what they claim is a video of Mohammed's capture (see March 1, 2003). But the video only adds to doubts about that capture, as it is openly questioned to be a forgery by the reporters who see it. [ABC, 3/11/03, Reuters, 3/11/03, PakNews, 3/11/03, Daily Times, 3/13/03] A Fox News reporter even says, "Foreign journalists looking at it laughed and said this is baloney, this is a reconstruction." [Fox News, 3/10/03]
March 11, 2003: A judge reaffirms the right of Jose Padilla, a US citizen being held as an "enemy combatant," to meet with a lawyer (see June 10, 2002 and December 4, 2002 (B)). The same judge ruled that he could meet with a lawyer in December 2002, but the government continues to challenge the ruling and continues to block his access to a lawyer. [AP, 3/11/03] Later in the month, the government tells the judge it is planning to ignore his order and will appeal the case. [AP, 3/26/03] Why is the US fighting so hard to keep Padilla in total isolation despite evidence that the "dirty bomb" plot he is accused of is almost totally fictitious? While it may be completely coincidental, the Village Voice has noticed that Padilla is a "dead ringer" for the never found "John Doe #2" of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and other evidence could tie him to it. [Village Voice, 6/13/02, Village Voice, 3/27/02]
March 14, 2003: The Afghani government warns that unless the international community hands over the aid it promised, Afghanistan will slip back into its role as the world's premier heroin producer. The country's Foreign Minister warns Afghanistan could become a "narco-mafia state." [BBC, 3/17/03] A United Nations study later in the month notes that Afghanistan is once again the world's number one heroin producer, producing 3,750 tons in 2002. Farmers are growing more opium poppies than ever throughout the country, including areas previously free of the crop. [AP, 3/27/03]
March 20, 2003: The US, Britain, Australia, and Poland send in troops to conquer Iraq. [AP, 3/19/03] Bush sends a letter to Congress giving two reasons for the war. The first is that he has determined that further diplomacy will not protect the US. The second is that the US is "continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." [White House, 3/18/03] This mimics language from a bill passed by Congress in October 2002 giving Bush the power to declare war against Iraq if a link with the 9/11 attacks is shown. [White House, 10/2/02] Yet on January 31, 2003, when a reporter asked both Bush and British Prime Minister Blair, "Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?" Bush replied, "I can't make that claim." Blair then replied, "That answers your question." [White House, 1/31/03] A New York Times/ CBS poll from earlier in the month indicates that 45 percent of Americans believe Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was "personally involved" in the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 3/11/03 (B)] The Christian Science Monitor notes, "Sources knowledgeable about US intelligence say there is no evidence that Hussein played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks, nor that he has been or is currently aiding al-Qaeda. Yet the White House appears to be encouraging this false impression...." [Christian Science Monitor, 3/14/03] For instance, Bush claims Hussein has supported "al-Qaeda-type organizations," and "al-Qaeda types." [New York Times, 3/9/03]
March 26, 2003: Time reports that the 9/11 Independent Commission has requested an additional $11 million to add to the $3 million for the commission, and the Bush Administration has turned down the request. The request will not be added to a supplemental spending bill. A Republican member of the commission says the decision will make it "look like they have something to hide." Another commissioner notes that the recent commission on the Columbia shuttle crash will have a $50 million budget. Stephen Push, a leader of the 9/11 victims' families, says the decision "suggests to me that they see this as a convenient way for allowing the commission to fail. They've never wanted the commission and I feel the White House has always been looking for a way to kill it without having their finger on the murder weapon." The Administration has suggested it may grant the money later, but any delay will further slow down the commission's work. Already, commission members are complaining that scant progress has been made in the four months since the commission started, and they are operating under a deadline. [Time, 3/26/03] Three days later, it is reported that the Bush Administration has agreed to extra funding, but only $9 million, not $11 million. The commission has agreed to the reduced amount. [Washington Post, 3/29/03] The New York Times criticizes such penny-pinching, saying, "Reasonable people might wonder if the White House, having failed in its initial attempt to have Henry Kissinger steer the investigation, may be resorting to budgetary starvation as a tactic to hobble any politically fearless inquiry." [New York Times, 3/31/03]
March 26, 2003 (B): Bush signs an executive order delaying the public release of millions of government documents, citing the need to more thoroughly review them first. The government faced a April 17 deadline for declassifying millions of documents 25 years or older. [Reuters, 3/26/03] The order also treats all material sent to American officials from foreign governments, no matter how routine, as subject to classification. It expands the ability of the CIA to shield documents from declassification. And for the first time, it gives the vice president the power to classify information. The New York Times says, "Offering that power to Vice President Dick Cheney, who has shown indifference to the public's right to know what is going on inside the executive branch, seems a particularly worrying development." [New York Times, 3/28/03]
March 27, 2003: It is reported that "most members" of the 9/11 Independent Commission still have not received security clearances. [Washington Post, 3/27/03] For instance, Slade Gorton, picked in December 2002, is a former senator with a long background in intelligence issues. Fellow commissioner Lee Hamilton says, "It's kind of astounding that someone like Senator Gorton can't get immediate clearance. It's a matter we are concerned about." The commission is said to be at a "standstill" because of the security clearance issue, and cannot even read the classified findings of the previous 9/11 Congressional inquiry. [Seattle Times, 3/12/03] Already Hamilton has said that, "We will be short of time. It will be very difficult" to meet the deadline of May 2004, when the commission must complete its investigation. [UPI, 2/6/03] Are the security clearances being delayed to thwart the commission?
March 28, 2003: An article highlights conflicts of interest amongst the commissioners on the 9/11 Independent Commission. It had been previously reported that many of the commissioners had ties to the airline industry (see December 16, 2002 (B)), but a number have other ties. "At least three of the 10 commissioners serve as directors of international financial or consulting firms, five work for law firms that represent airlines and three have ties to the US military or defense contractors, according to personal financial disclosures they were required to submit." Bryan Doyle, project manager for the watchdog group Aviation Integrity Project says, "It is simply a failure on the part of the people making the selections to consider the talented pool of non-conflicted individuals." Commission chairman Thomas Kean says that members are expected to steer clear of discussions that might present even the appearance of a conflict. [AP, 3/28/03] It remains to see what will happen in practice.
March 31, 2003: The 9/11 Independent Commission has its first public hearing. The Miami Herald reports, "Several survivors of the attack and victims' relatives testified that a number of agencies, from federal to local, are ducking responsibility for a series of breakdowns before and during Sept. 11." [Miami Herald, 3/31/03] The New York Times suggests that the Independent Commission would never have been formed if it were not for the pressure of the 9/11 victims' relatives. [New York Times, 4/1/03] Some of the relatives strongly disagreed with statements from some commissioners that they would not place blame. For instance, Stephen Push states, "I think this commission should point fingers.... Some of those people [who failed us] are still in responsible positions in government. Perhaps they shouldn't be." [UPI, 3/31/03] The most critical testimony comes from 9/11 relative Mindy Kleinberg, but her testimony is only briefly reported on by a few newspapers. [UPI, 3/31/03, Newsday, 4/1/03, New York Times, 4/1/03, New York Post, 4/1/03, New Jersey Star-Ledger, 4/1/03] In her testimony, Kleinberg says, "It has been said that the intelligence agencies have to be right 100% of the time and the terrorists only have to get lucky once. This explanation for the devastating attacks of September 11th, simple on its face, is wrong in its value. Because the 9/11 terrorists were not just lucky once: they were lucky over and over again." She points out the inside trading based on 9/11 foreknowledge, the failure of fighters to catch the hijacked planes in time, hijackers getting visas in violation of standard procedures, and other events, and asks how the hijackers could have been lucky so many times. [Independent Commission, 3/31/03]
April 3, 2003: Former CIA Director James Woolsey says the US is engaged in a world war, and that it could continue for years: "As we move toward a new Middle East, over the years and, I think, over the decades to come ... we will make a lot of people very nervous." He calls it World War IV (World War III being the Cold War according to neoconservatives like himself), and says it will be fought against the religious rulers of Iran, the "fascists" of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic extremists like al-Qaeda. He singles out the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, saying, "We want you nervous." This echoes the rhetoric of the Project for the New American Century, of which Woolsey is a supporter (see January 26, 1998), and the singling out of Egypt and Saudi Arabia echoes the rhetoric of the Defense Policy Board, of which he is a member. In July 2002, a presentation to that board concluded, "Grand strategy for the Middle East: Iraq is the tactical pivot. Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot. Egypt the prize" (see July 10, 2002). [CNN, 4/3/03, CNN, 4/3/03 (B)]