August 24, 2001: Frustrated with lack of response from FBI headquarters about Zacarias Moussaoui, the Minnesota FBI contact an FBI agent working with the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center, and asks the CIA for help. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] On this day, the CIA sends messages to stations and bases overseas requesting information about Moussaoui. The message says that the FBI is investigating Moussaoui for possible involvement in the planning of a terrorist attack and mentions his efforts to obtain flight training. It also suggests he might be "involved in a larger plot to target airlines traveling from Europe to the US." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] It calls him a "suspect 747 airline attacker" and a "suspect airline suicide hijacker" - showing that the form of the 9/11 attack isn't a surprise, at least to the CIA. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] FBI headquarters responds by chastising the Minnesota FBI for notifying the CIA without approval. [Time, 5/21/02]

September 4, 2001 (B): FBI headquarters dispatches a message to the entire US intelligence community about the Zacarias Moussaoui investigation. According to a later Congressional inquiry, the message notes "that Moussaoui was being held in custody but [it doesn't] describe any particular threat that the FBI thought he posed, for example, whether he might be connected to a larger plot. [It also does] not recommend that the addressees take any action or look for any additional indicators of a terrorist attack, nor [does] it provide any analysis of a possible hijacking threat or provide any specific warnings." [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/24/02] The FAA is also given the warning, but the FAA decides not to issue a security alert to the nation's airports. An FAA spokesman says, "He was in jail and there was no evidence he was connected to other people." [New York Post, 5/21/02] This is in sharp contrast to an internal CIA warning sent out earlier based on even less information (see August 24, 2001), which stated Moussaoui might be "involved in a larger plot to target airlines traveling from Europe to the US." [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Would the hijackers have been stopped at the airports if the FBI warning was as strong as the CIA warning? It turns out that prior to this point terrorist Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999) had started cooperating with investigators. He had trained with Moussaoui in Afghanistan and willingly shared this information after 9/11. The FBI dispatch, with its notable lack of urgency and details, failed to prompt the agents in Seattle holding Ressam to ask him about Moussaoui. Had the connection between these two been learned before 9/11, presumably the search warrant for Moussaoui would have been approved and the 9/11 plot might have unraveled. [Sunday Times, 2/3/02]