January 4, 2001: The FBI's investigation into the USS Cole bombing learns that terrorist Khallad bin Atash had been a principal planner of the bombing [AP, 9/21/02], and that two other participants in the bombing had delivered money to bin Atash at the time of the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000). The FBI shares this information with the CIA, and when CIA analysts reexamine pictures from the Malaysian meeting to learn more about this, they find a picture of him standing next to hijacker Khalid Almihdhar. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02Newsweek, 6/2/02] The CIA is aware that Almihdhar entered the US a year earlier, yet they don't attempt to find him. CNN later notes that at this point the CIA at least "could have put Alhazmi and Almihdhar and all others who attended the meeting in Malaysia on a watch list to be kept out of this country. It was not done." [CNN, 6/4/02] More incredibly, even bin Atash is not placed on the watch list at this time, despite being labeled as the principal planner of the Cole bombing. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02]

July 13, 2001: With the threat of a new terrorist attack on the rise, the CIA has agents reexamine records in the search for new leads. A CIA cable is rediscovered showing that Khallad bin Atash had attended the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000 and January 4, 2001). The CIA official who finds it immediately e-mails the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC), saying bin Atash "is a major league killer, who orchestrated the Cole attack and possibly the Africa bombings." Yet bin Atash is still not put on a terrorist watch list. An FBI analyst assigned to the CTC is given the task to review all other CIA cables about the Malaysian meeting. It takes this analyst until August 21 - over five weeks later - to determine that two attendees of the meeting, hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, had entered the US on January 15, 2000, and that Almihdhar had reentered the US on July 4, 2001. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02]