December 14, 1999: Al-Qaeda terrorist Ahmed Ressam is arrested in Port Angeles, Washington, attempting to enter the US with components of explosive devices. 130 pounds of bomb-making chemicals and detonator components are found inside his rental car. He subsequently admits he planned to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on December 31, 1999. [New York Times, 12/30/01] This would have been part of a wave of attacks against US targets over the New Year's weekend. He is later connected to al-Qaeda and convicted, but he still hasn't been formally sentenced. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, PBS Frontline 10/3/02]

December 14-31, 1999: In the wake of the arrest of Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999), FBI investigators work frantically to uncover more millennium plots before they are likely to take place at the end of the year. Documents found with Ressam lead to coconspirators in New York, then Boston and Seattle. Enough people are arrested to prevent any attacks. National Security Council Chief of Counterterrorism Richard Clarke later says, "I think a lot of the FBI leadership for the first time realized that ... there probably were al-Qaeda people in the United States. They realized that only after they looked at the results of the investigation of the millennium bombing plot." [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] Yet Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger says, "Until the very end of our time in office, the view we received from the [FBI] was that al-Qaeda had limited capacity to operate in the US and any presence here was under surveillance." No analysis is done before 9/11 to investigate just how big that presence might be. [Washington Post, 9/20/02]