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Profile: Central Intelligence Agency

 
  

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Central Intelligence Agency actively participated in the following events:

 
  

December 26, 1979: Soviet Forces, Lured in by the CIA, Invade Afghanistan      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. They will withdraw in 1989 after a brutal 10-year war. It has been commonly believed that the invasion was unprovoked. However, in a 1998 interview, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser, will reveal that the CIA began destabilizing the pro-Soviet Afghan government six months earlier in a deliberate attempt to get the Soviets to invade and have their own Vietnam-type costly war: “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?” [Mirror, 1/29/02; Le Nouvel Observateur, 1/98] The US and Saudi Arabia give a huge amount of money (estimates range up to $40 billion total for the war) to support the mujahedeen guerrilla fighters opposing the Russians. Most of the money is managed by the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency. [Nation, 2/15/99]
People and organizations involved: United States, Saudi Arabia, Taliban, Central Intelligence Agency, Zbigniew Brzezinski
          

1982-1991: Afghan Opium Production Skyrockets      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar still controls part of Afghanistan.
Afghan opium production rises from 250 tons in 1982 to 2,000 tons in 1991, coinciding with CIA support and funding of the mujahedeen. Alfred McCoy, a professor of Southeast Asian history at the University of Wisconsin, says US and Pakistani intelligence officials sanctioned the rebels' drug trafficking because of their fierce opposition to the Soviets: “If their local allies were involved in narcotics trafficking, it didn't trouble [the] CIA. They were willing to keep working with people who were heavily involved in narcotics.” For instance, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a rebel leader who received about half of all the CIA's covert weapons, was known to be a major heroin trafficker. Charles Cogan, who directs the CIA's operation in Afghanistan, later claims he was unaware of the drug trade: “We found out about it later on.” [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 9/30/01; Atlantic Monthly, 5/96]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Alfred McCoy, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Charles Cogan
          

1984: Bin Laden Develops Ties with Pakistani ISI and Afghan Warlord      Complete 911 Timeline

       Bin Laden moves to Peshawar, a Pakistani town bordering Afghanistan, and helps run a front organization for the mujahedeen known as Maktab al-Khidamar (MAK), which funnels money, arms, and fighters from the outside world into the Afghan war. [New Yorker, 1/24/00] “MAK [is] nurtured by Pakistan's state security services, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, the CIA's primary conduit for conducting the covert war against Moscow's occupation.” [MSNBC, 8/24/98] Bin Laden becomes closely tied to the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and greatly strengthens Hekmatyar's opium smuggling operations. [Le Monde, 9/14/01] Hekmatyar, who also has ties with bin Laden, the CIA, and drug running, has been called “an ISI stooge and creation.” [Asia Times, 11/15/01]
People and organizations involved: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Maktab al-Khidamar, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence
          

Mid-1980s: Pakistani ISI and CIA Gain from Drug Production      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Pakistani ISI starts a special cell of agents who use profits from heroin production for covert actions “at the insistence of the CIA.” “This cell promotes the cultivation of opium, the extraction of heroin in Pakistani and Afghan territories under mujahedeen control. The heroin is then smuggled into the Soviet controlled areas, in an attempt to turn the Soviet troops into heroin addicts. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the ISI's heroin cell started using its network of refineries and smugglers for smuggling heroin to the Western countries and using the money as a supplement to its legitimate economy. But for these heroin dollars, Pakistan's legitimate economy must have collapsed many years ago.” [Financial Times (Asian edition), 8/10/01] The ISI grows so powerful on this money, that “even by the shadowy standards of spy agencies, the ISI is notorious. It is commonly branded ‘a state within the state,’ or Pakistan's ‘invisible government.’” [Time, 5/6/02]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency
          

March 1985: US Escalates War in Afghanistan      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Osama bin Laden in 1989.
The CIA, British MI6 (Britain's intelligence agency), and the Pakistani ISI agree to launch guerrilla attacks from Afghanistan into then Soviet-controlled Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, attacking military installations, factories, and storage depots within Soviet territory, and do so until the end of the war. The CIA also begins supporting the ISI in recruiting radical Muslims from around the world to come to Pakistan and fight with the Afghan mujahedeen. The CIA gives subversive literature and Korans to the ISI, who carry them into the Soviet Union. Eventually, around 35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic countries will fight with the Afghan mujahedeen. Tens of thousands more will study in the hundreds of new madrassas funded by the ISI and CIA in Pakistan. Their main logistical base is in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. [The Hindu, 9/27/01; Washington Post, 7/19/92; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/01; Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9/23/01] In the late 1980s, Pakistani President Benazir Bhutto, feeling the mujahedeen network has grown too strong, tells President George H. W. Bush, “You are creating a Frankenstein.” However, the warning goes unheeded. [Newsweek, 9/24/01] By 1993, President Bhutto tells Egyptian President Hasni Mubarak that Peshawar is under de facto control of the mujahedeen, and unsuccessfully asks for military help in reasserting Pakistani control over the city. Thousands of mujahedeen fighters return to their home countries after the war is over and engage in multiple acts of violence. One Western diplomat notes these thousands would never have been trained or united without US help, and says, “The consequences for all of us are astronomical.” [Atlantic Monthly, 5/96]
People and organizations involved: Benazir Bhutto, Central Intelligence Agency, UK Secret Intelligence Service
          

1986: Bin Laden Works with CIA, at Least Indirectly      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA, ISI, and bin Laden build the Khost tunnel complex in Afghanistan. This will be a major target of bombing and fighting when the US attacks the Taliban in 2001. [Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9/23/01; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/01; The Hindu, 9/27/01] It will be reported in June 2001 that “bin Laden worked closely with Saudi, Pakistani, and US intelligence services to recruit mujahedeen from many Muslim countries,” but this information has not been reported much since 9/11. [UPI, 6/14/01] A CIA spokesperson will later claim, “For the record, you should know that the CIA never employed, paid, or maintained any relationship whatsoever with bin Laden.” [Ananova, 10/31/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Central Intelligence Agency, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Osama bin Laden
          

September 1987-March 1989: Head US Consular Official Claims He's Told to Issue Visas to Unqualified Applicants      Complete 911 Timeline

       Michael Springmann, head US consular official in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, later claims that during this period he is “repeatedly told to issue visas to unqualified applicants.” He turns them down, but is repeatedly overruled by superiors. Springmann loudly complains to numerous government offices, but no action is taken. He is fired and his files on these applicants are destroyed. He later learns that recruits from many countries fighting for bin Laden against Russia in Afghanistan were funneled through the Jeddah office to get visas to come to the US, where the recruits would travel to train for the Afghan war. According to Springmann, the Jeddah consulate was run by the CIA and staffed almost entirely by intelligence agents. This visa system may have continued at least through 9/11, and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers received their visas through Jeddah, possibly as part of this program. [BBC, 11/6/01; Associated Press, 7/17/02 (B); Fox News, 7/18/02]
People and organizations involved: US Consulate, Jedda, Saudi Arabia Office, Central Intelligence Agency, Michael Springmann
          

July 1990: Blind Sheikh on Terrorist Watch List Enters US      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman.
Despite being on a US terrorist watch list for three years, radical Muslim leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman enters the US on a “much-disputed” tourist visa issued by an undercover CIA agent. [Village Voice, 3/30/93; Lance, 2003, pp 42; Atlantic Monthly, 5/96] Abdul-Rahman was heavily involved with the CIA and Pakistani ISI efforts to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan, and became famous traveling all over the world for five years recruiting new mujahedeen. However, he never hid his prime goals to overthrow the governments of the US and Egypt. [Atlantic Monthly, 5/96] He is “infamous throughout the Arab world for his alleged role in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat.” Abdul-Rahman immediately begins setting up a militant Islamic network in the US. [Village Voice, 3/30/93] He is believed to have befriended bin Laden while in Afghanistan, and bin Laden secretly pays Abdul-Rahman's US living expenses. [Atlantic Monthly, 5/96; ABC News, 8/16/02] Abdul-Rahman's ties to the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990 are later ignored. As one FBI agent will say in 1993, he is “hands-off. It was no accident that the sheikh obtained a visa and that he is still in the country. He's here under the banner of national security, the State Department, the NSA, and the CIA.” According to a very high-ranking Egyptian official, Abdul-Rahman continues to assist the CIA in recruiting new mujahedeen after moving to the US: “We begged America not to coddle the sheikh.” Egyptian intelligence warns the US that Abdul-Rahman is planning new attacks, and on November 12, 1992, militants connected to him machine-gun a busload of Western tourists in Egypt. Still, he will continue to live freely in New York City. [Village Voice, 3/30/93] He will finally be arrested in 1993 and convicted of assisting in the 1993 WTC bombing. [Atlantic Monthly, 5/96]
People and organizations involved: National Security Agency, US Department of State, World Trade Center, Central Intelligence Agency, Meir Kahane, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, Anwar el-Sadat
          

1992-1996: Bin Laden Attacks US Interests Using Sudanese Base      Complete 911 Timeline

       With a personal fortune of around $250 million (estimates range from $50 to $800 million [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] ), Osama bin Laden begins plotting attacks against the US from his new base in Sudan. The first attack kills two tourists in Yemen at the end of 1992. [New Yorker, 1/24/00] The CIA learns of his involvement in that attack in 1993, and learns that same year that he is channeling money to Egyptian extremists. US intelligence also learns that by January 1994 he is financing at least three militant training camps in North Sudan. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); PBS Frontline, 9/01; New York Times, 8/14/96]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden
          

June 1992      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), headed by Masud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by Jalal Talabani, meet in Vienna along with nearly 200 delegates from dozens of Iraqi opposition groups to form an umbrella organization for Iraqi dissident groups. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Federation of American Scientists, 8/8/1998] The event is organized by the Rendon Group, which has been contracted by the CIA to organize the wide spectrum of Iraqi dissidents into a unified movement against Saddam Hussein. Rendon names the group the “Iraqi National Congress” (INC). The CIA pays the Rendon Group $326,000 per month for the work, funneled to the company and the INC through various front organizations. [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004; Rolling Stone, 11/17/2005 Sources: Unnamed former CIA operative] Thomas Twetten, the CIA's deputy directorate of operations, will later recall: “The INC was clueless. They needed a lot of help and didn't know where to start.” [The New Republic, 5/20/2002; Bamford, 2004, pp 296-297] Rendon hires freelance journalist Paul Moran and Zaab Sethna as contract employees to do public relations and “anti-Saddam propaganda” for the new organization. [SBS Dateline, 7/23/2003]
People and organizations involved: Masud Barzani, Jalal Talabani, Central Intelligence Agency, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Kurdistan Democratic Party, Iraqi National Congress, Rendon Group, Paul Moran, Zaab Sethna, Thomas Twetten
          

September 1994: ISI Creates the Taliban, Helps Them Begin Afghanistan Conquest      Complete 911 Timeline

       Starting as Afghan exiles in Pakistan religious schools, the Taliban begin their conquest of Afghanistan. [MSNBC, 10/2/01] “The Taliban are widely alleged to be the creation of Pakistan's military intelligence [the ISI], which, according to experts, explains the Taliban's swift military successes.” [CNN, 10/5/96] Richard Clarke, a counterterrorism official during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations and the counterterrorism “tsar” by 9/11, later claims that not only does the ISI create the Taliban, but they also facilitate connections between the Taliban and al-Qaeda to help the Taliban achieve victory. [Clarke, 2004, pp 53] An edition of the Wall Street Journal will state in November 2001, “Despite their clean chins and pressed uniforms, the ISI men are as deeply fundamentalist as any bearded fanatic; the ISI created the Taliban as their own instrument and still support it.” [Asia Times, 11/15/01] ISI support of the Taliban is backed by the CIA. A long-time regional expert with extensive CIA ties later says, “I warned them that we were creating a monster.” He adds that even years later, “the Taliban are not just recruits from ‘madrassas’ (Muslim theological schools) but are on the payroll of the ISI.” [Times of India, 3/7/01] The same claim is made on CNN in February 2002. [CNN, 2/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Taliban
          

March 1995: US Ignores Information About al-Qaeda in Training Manual      Complete 911 Timeline

       Belgian investigators find a CD-ROM of an al-Qaeda training manual and begin translating it a few months later. Versions of the manual are circulated widely and are seized by the police all over Europe. A former CIA official claims the CIA does not obtain a copy of the manual until the end of 1999: “The truth is, they missed for years the largest terrorist guide ever written.” He blames CIA reluctance to scrutinize its support for the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s. The CIA, however, claims that the manual is not that important, and that in any case it had copies for years. [CBS News, 2/20/02; New York Times, 1/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

June 1995: US Considers Bombing bin Laden for Sponsoring Assassination Attempt      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Hassan al-Turabi.
There is a failed assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as he visits Ethiopia. The CIA concludes bin Laden authorized the operation, and they plan a retaliation attack. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] Evidence suggests that the government of Sudan and Hassan al-Turabi, Sudan's leader, know where bin Laden is living and helped support the plot. The United Nations Security Council places sanctions on Sudan as a result. The US examines options for attacking bin Laden and/or al-Turabi's facilities in the Sudanese capital. The options developed by the US military are rejected for being unstealthy and a de facto war on Sudan. In the ensuing months, there are reports of Egyptian covert operations against bin Laden and an Egyptian military build-up on the Sudanese border. These factors influence bin Laden's decision to move to Afghanistan in 1996 (see May 18, 1996). [Clarke, 2004, pp 140-41]
People and organizations involved: Sudan, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Hosni Mubarak, United Nations Security Council, Hassan al-Turabi
          

Early 1996: CIA Forms New Counterterrorism bin Laden Unit      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA's Counter Terrorism Center creates a special unit focusing specifically on bin Laden. It is informally called Alex Station. About 10 to 15 individuals are assigned to the unit initially. This grows to about 35 to 40 by 9/11. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] The unit is set up “largely because of evidence linking [bin Laden] to the 1993 bombing of the WTC.” [Washington Post, 10/3/01 (C)] By early 1997, the unit is certain that bin Laden is not just a financier but an organizer of terrorist activity. It knows that al-Qaeda has a military committee planning operations against US interests worldwide. Although this information is disseminated in many reports, the unit's sense of alarm about bin Laden isn't widely shared or understood within the intelligence and policy communities. Employees in the unit feel their zeal attracts ridicule from their peers. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

March 1996: US, Sudan Squabble over bin Laden's Fate      Complete 911 Timeline

       The US pressures Sudan to do something about bin Laden, who is currently based in that country. According to some accounts, Sudan readily agrees, not wanting to be labeled a terrorist nation. Sudan's defense minister engages in secret negotiations with the CIA in Washington. Sudan offers to extradite bin Laden to anywhere he might stand trial. Some accounts claim that Sudan offers bin Laden to the US, but the US decides not to take him because they do not have enough evidence at the time to charge him with a crime [Washington Post, 10/3/01; Village Voice, 10/31/01] Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” for both Clinton and George W. Bush, calls this story a “fable” invented by the Sudanese and Americans friendly to Sudan. He points out that bin Laden “was an ideological blood brother, family friend, and benefactor” to Sudanese leader Hassan al-Turabi, so any offers to hand him over may have been disingenuous. [Clarke, 2004, pp 142-43] (CIA Director Tenet later denies that Sudan made any “direct offers to hand over bin Laden.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02] ) The US reportedly asks Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan to accept bin Laden into custody, but is refused by all three governments. [Coll, 2004, pp 323] The 9/11 Commission later claims it finds no evidence that Sudan offers bin Laden directly to the US, but it does find evidence that Saudi Arabia is discussed as an option. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/23/04] US officials insist that bin Laden leave the country for anywhere but Somalia. One US intelligence source in the region later states: “We kidnap minor drug czars and bring them back in burlap bags. Somebody didn't want this to happen.” [Village Voice, 10/31/01; Washington Post, 10/3/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Richard A. Clarke, George Tenet, Hassan al-Turabi, Central Intelligence Agency, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan, United States
          

June 1996: Informant Exposes al-Qaeda Secrets to US; No Apparent Response Ensues      Complete 911 Timeline

       Jamal al-Fadl, an al-Qaeda operative from al-Qaeda's first meeting in the late 1980s until 1995, tells the US everything he knows about al-Qaeda. Before al-Fadl's debriefings, US intelligence had amassed thick files on bin Laden and his associates and contacts. However, they had had no idea how the many pieces fit together. “Al-Fadl was the Rosetta Stone,” an official says. “After al-Fadl, everything fell into place.” [Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 154-65] By late 1996, based largely on al-Fadl's information, the CIA definitively confirms that bin Laden is more of a operative than just a financier of the organization. The agency also learns the term “al-Qaeda” for the first time. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] Yet the US will not take “bin Laden or al-Qaeda all that seriously” until after the bombing of US embassies in Africa in 1998. [Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 213] It takes two years to turn al-Fadl's information into the first US indictment of bin Laden. [PBS Frontline, 9/01; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); New York Times, 09/30/01 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Jamal al-Fadl, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda
          

August 1996      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       One of the Kurdish groups within the Iraqi National Congress (INC) invites Iraqi forces into Kurdistan to crush a rival faction allied with Chalabi. Saddam Hussein sends 40,000 Iraqi soldiers and 300 tanks into the Kurdish city of Irbil. Saddam's forces capture, torture, and kill hundreds of Chalabi's followers and some INC officials. At this time, Chalabi is in London. The Clinton administration eventually evacuates 7,000 supporters. [Guardian, 2/22/2002; American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004] A few years later, Chalabi and his aide, Francis Brooke, will help ABC News produce a documentary that puts the blame on the CIA.
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Central Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Chalabi
          

October 1996-early 2002: Arms Dealer Aligns with Taliban and ISI      Complete 911 Timeline

       Russian arms merchant Victor Bout, who has been selling weapons to Afghanistan's Northern Alliance since 1992, switches sides, and begins selling weapons to the Taliban and al-Qaeda instead. [Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02; Los Angeles Times, 5/17/02; Guardian, 4/17/02] The deal comes immediately after the Taliban captures Kabul in late October 1996 and gains the upper hand in Afghanistan's civil war. In one trade in 1996, Bout's company delivers at least 40 tons of Russian weapons to the Taliban, earning about $50 million. [Guardian, 2/16/02] Two intelligence agencies later confirm that Bout trades with the Taliban “on behalf of the Pakistan government.” In late 2000, several Ukrainians sell 150 to 200 T-55 and T-62 tanks to the Taliban in a deal conducted by the ISI, and Bout helps fly the tanks to Afghanistan. [Montreal Gazette, 2/5/02] Bout formerly worked for the Russian KGB, and now operates the world's largest private weapons transport network. Based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bout operates freely there until well after 9/11. The US becomes aware of Bout's widespread illegal weapons trading in Africa in 1995, and of his ties to the Taliban in 1996, but they fail to take effective action against him for years. [Los Angeles Times, 5/17/02] US pressure on the UAE in November 2000 to close down Bout's operations there is ignored. Press reports calling him “the merchant of death” also fail to pressure the UAE. [Financial Times, 6/10/00; Guardian, 12/23/00] After President Bush is elected, it appears the US gives up trying to get Bout, until after 9/11. [Guardian, 4/17/02; Washington Post, 2/26/02] Bout moves to Russia in 2002. He is seemingly protected from prosecution by the Russian government, which in early 2002 will claim, “There are no grounds for believing that this Russian citizen has committed illegal acts.” [Guardian, 4/17/02] The Guardian suggests that Bout may have worked with the CIA when he traded with the Northern Alliance, and this fact may be hampering current international efforts to catch him. [Guardian, 4/17/02]
People and organizations involved: United Arab Emirates, George W. Bush, Russia, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Victor Bout, Central Intelligence Agency, Northern Alliance
          

1997: CIA Re-opens Afghanistan Operations      Complete 911 Timeline

       Special CIA paramilitary teams enter Afghanistan again in 1997. [Washington Post, 11/18/01] (The CIA's anti-Soviet covert operations officially ended in January 1992. [Coll, 2004, pp 233] ) Around 1998 there will be a push to recruit more agents capable of operating or traveling in Afghanistan. Many locals are recruited, including some Taliban military leaders. However, apparently none is close to bin Laden. This problem is not fixed in succeeding years. [Washington Post, 2/22/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Central Intelligence Agency
          

August 1997: CIA Monitors Central Asia for Oil Reserves      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA creates a secret task force to monitor Central Asia's politics and gauge its wealth. Covert CIA officers, some well-trained petroleum engineers, travel through southern Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan to sniff out potential oil reserves. [Time, 5/4/98]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

Early 1998: CIA Ignores Ex-Agent's Warning 9/11 Mastermind Is "Going to Hijack Some Planes," Visiting Germany      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Robert Baer.
in December 1997, CIA agent Robert Baer, newly retired from the CIA and working as a terrorism consultant, meets a former police chief from the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. He learns that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was being sheltered by then Qatari Interior Minister Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani in 1996 (see January-May 1996). However, the ex-police chief knows other details, based on what Qatari police and intelligence learned when Mohammed was in the country. Mohammed was leading an al-Qaeda cell in Qatar together with Shawqui Islambuli, the brother of the Egyptian who had killed Anwar el-Sadat. They also were linked to bomber Ramzi Yousef. But what worries the former police chief is that Mohammed and Islambuli are experts in hijacking commercial planes. He tells Baer that Mohammed “is going to hijack some planes.” Further, he is told that Mohammed has moved to the Czech Republic, and has also travelled to Germany to meet bin Laden associates there. In early 1998 Baer sends this information to a friend in the CIA Counterterrorist Center, who forwards the information to his superiors. Baer doesn't hear back. He says, “There was no interest.” [UPI, 9/30/02; Vanity Fair, 2/02; Baer, 2002, pp 270-71] Baer also tries to interest reporter Daniel Pearl in a story about Mohammed before 9/11, but Pearl is still working on it when he is kidnapped and later murdered in early 2002. [UPI, 9/30/02] Baer's source later disappears, presumably kidnapped in Qatar. It has been speculated that the CIA turned on the source to protect its relationship with the Qatari government. [Gertz, 2002, pp 55-58] It appears bin Laden visits al-Thani in Qatar between the years 1996 and 2000. [ABC News, 2/7/03] Al-Thani continues to support al-Qaeda, providing Qatari passports and more than $1 million in funds to al-Qaeda. Even after 9/11, Mohammed is provided shelter in Qatar for two weeks in late 2001. [New York Times, 2/6/03] Yet the US still has not frozen al-Thani's assets or taken other action.
People and organizations involved: Ramzi Yousef, Counterterrorist Center, Qatar, Anwar el-Sadat, Shawqui Islambuli, Daniel Pearl, Osama bin Laden, Persian Gulf, al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Robert Baer
          

April 15, 1998: Libya Issues First Arrest Warrant for bin Laden      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi.
The first Interpol (international police) arrest warrant for bin Laden is issued—by Libya. [Observer, 11/10/02] According to the authors of the controversial book The Forbidden Truth, British and US intelligence agencies play down the arrest warrant, and have the public version of the warrant stripped of important information, such as the summary of charges and the fact that Libya requested the warrant. At this point, no Western country has yet issued a warrant for bin Laden, even though he publicly called for attacks on Western targets beginning in 1996. The arrest warrant is issued for the 1994 murder of two German antiterrorism agents. Allegedly, Britain and the US aren't interested in catching bin Laden at this time due to his involvement with Britain in attempts to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in 1996 (see 1996). [Brisard, Dasquie and Madsen, 2002, pp 97-98]
People and organizations involved: Britain, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, United States, UK Secret Intelligence Service
          

June 1998: US Develops Plan to Capture bin Laden      Complete 911 Timeline

       In 1997 and early 1998, the US had developed a plan to capture bin Laden in Afghanistan. A CIA-owned aircraft was stationed in a nearby country, ready to land on a remote landing strip long enough to pick him up. However, problems with having to hold bin Laden too long in Afghanistan made the operation unlikely. The plan morphs into using a team of Afghan informants to kidnap bin Laden from inside his heavily defended farm. In this month, the plan is given to CIA Director Tenet for approval, but he rejects it without showing it to President Clinton. It is thought unlikely to succeed and the Afghan allies are considered unreliable. [Clarke, 2004, pp 220-21; Washington Post, 2/22/04] It is later speculated that the airstrip used for these purposes is occupied and used as a base of operations early in the post-9/11 Afghan war. [Washington Post, 12/19/01]
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Osama bin Laden, George Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency
          

August 1998: CIA Warns That Arab Militants Plan to Fly Bomb-Laden Plane From Libya into WTC      Complete 911 Timeline

       A foreign intelligence agency warns the FBI's New York office that Arab militants plan to fly a bomb-laden aircraft from Libya into the World Trade Center. The FBI and the FAA do not take the threat seriously because of the state of aviation in Libya. Later, other intelligence information connects this group to al-Qaeda. The CIA includes the same information in an intelligence report. [FBI Report, 6/9/05, pp 97-98; New York Times, 9/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] An FBI spokesperson says the report “was not ignored, it was thoroughly investigated by numerous agencies” and found to be unrelated to al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 9/19/02 (B)] However, the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry comes to the conclusion that the group in fact did have ties to al-Qaeda. [New York Times, 9/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Aviation Administration, al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, World Trade Center
          

Late August 1998: CIA Learns That Mohammed Was Involved in the African Embassy Bombings      Complete 911 Timeline

       A foreign government sends the CIA a list of the names of individuals who flew into Nairobi before the al-Qaeda attack on the US embassy there (see August 7, 1998). Based on information from another agency, the CIA recognizes one of the passenger's names as an alias for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. The other agency also describes Mohammed as being close to bin Laden. This information is given to the FBI and other US intelligence agencies. However, the 9/11 Commission claims that such information does not generate an aggressive investigative response. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda, 9/11 Commission, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden
          

September 1998: Memo Outlines al-Qaeda's US Infrastructure      Complete 911 Timeline

       US intelligence authors a memorandum detailing al-Qaeda's infrastructure in the US. This memo, which includes information regarding al-Qaeda's use of fronts for terrorist activities [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] , is provided to senior US officials. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

November 1, 1998-February 2001: Atta and Other Islamic Militants Are Monitored by US and Germany in Hamburg Apartment      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The Marienstrasse building.
Mohamed Atta and al-Qaeda operatives Said Bahaji and Ramzi Bin al-Shibh move into a four bedroom apartment at 54 Marienstrasse, in Hamburg, Germany, and stay there until February 2001 (Atta is already living primarily in the US well before this time). Investigators believe this move marks the formation of their Hamburg al-Qaeda cell [New York Times, 9/10/02; Los Angeles Times, 1/27/02] Up to six men at a time live at the apartment, including other al-Qaeda agents such as hijacker Marwan Alshehhi and cell member Zakariya Essabar. [New York Times, 9/15/01 (F)] During the 28 months Atta's name is on the apartment lease, 29 Middle Eastern or North African men register the apartment as their home address. From the very beginning, the apartment was officially under surveillance by German intelligence, because of investigations into businessman Mamoun Darkazanli that connect to Said Bahaji. [Washington Post, 10/23/01] The Germans also suspect connections between Bahaji and al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Haydar Zammar. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] German intelligence monitors the apartment off and on for months, and wiretaps Mounir El Motassadeq, an associate of the apartment-mates who is later put on trial in August 2002 for assisting the 9/11 plot, but apparently do not find any indication of suspicious activity. [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02] Bahaji is directly monitored at least for part of 1998, but German officials have not disclosed when the probe began or ended. That investigation is dropped for lack of evidence. [Associated Press, 6/22/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] It is now clear that investigators would have found evidence if they looked more thoroughly. For instance, Zammar, a talkative man who has trouble keeping secrets, is a frequent visitor to the many late night meetings there. [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02; Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 259-60; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] Another visitor later recalls Atta and others discussing attacking the US. [Knight Ridder, 9/9/02] 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is in Hamburg several times in 1999, and comes to the apartment. However, although there was a $2 million reward for Mohammed since 1998, the US apparently fails to tell Germany what it knows about him (see 1999). [Newsweek, 9/4/02; New York Times, 11/4/02] Hijacker Waleed Alshehri also apparently stays at the apartment “at times.” [Washington Post, 9/16/01 (B); Washington Post, 9/14/01] The CIA also starts monitoring Atta while he is living at this apartment, and does not tell Germany of the surveillance. Remarkably, the German government will claim it knew little about the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell before 9/11, and nothing directed them towards the Marienstrasse apartment. [Daily Telegraph, 11/24/01]
People and organizations involved: Marwan Alshehhi, Mamoun Darkazanli, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Germany, al-Qaeda, Said Bahaji, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, Central Intelligence Agency, Mohamed Atta, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Zakariya Essabar, Mounir El Motassadeq
          

December 1, 1998: Bin Laden Actively Planning Attacks Inside US      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to a US intelligence assessment, “[bin Laden] is actively planning against US targets and already may have positioned operatives for at least one operation. ... Multiple reports indicate [he] is keenly interested in striking the US on its own soil ... Al-Qaeda is recruiting operatives for attacks in the US but has not yet identified potential targets.” Later in the month, a classified document prepared by the CIA and signed by President Clinton states: “The intelligence community has strong indications that bin Laden intends to conduct or sponsor attacks inside the US” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); Washington Post, 9/19/02 (B); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Central Intelligence Agency
          

December 4, 1998: CIA Issues Ineffective Declaration of War on al-Qaeda      Complete 911 Timeline

       CIA Director Tenet issues a “declaration of war” on al-Qaeda, in a memorandum circulated in the intelligence community. This is ten months after bin Laden's fatwa on the US (see February 22, 1998), which is called a “de facto declaration of war” by a senior US official in 1999. Tenet says, “We must now enter a new phase in our effort against bin Laden. ... each day we all acknowledge that retaliation is inevitable and that its scope may be far larger than we have previously experienced. ... We are at war. ... I want no resources or people spared in this efforts [sic], either inside CIA or the [larger intelligence] community.” Yet a Congressional joint committee later finds that few FBI agents ever hear of the declaration. Tenet's fervor does not “reach the level in the field that is critical so [FBI agents] know what their priorities are.” In addition, even as the counterterrorism budget continues to grow generally, there is no massive shift in budget or personnel until after 9/11. For example, the number of CIA personnel assigned to the Counter Terrorism Center (CTC) stays roughly constant until 9/11, then nearly doubles from approximately 400 to approximately 800 in the wake of 9/11. The number of CTC analysts focusing on al-Qaeda rises from three in 1999 to five by 9/11. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; New York Times, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Counterterrorist Center, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, George Tenet
          

Late 1998: Clinton Signs More Directives Authorizing CIA to Plan bin Laden Assassination      Complete 911 Timeline

       President Clinton signs additional, more explicit directives authorizing the CIA to plan the assassination of bin Laden. The initial emphasis is on capturing bin Laden and only killing him if the capture attempt is unsuccessful. The military is unhappy about this, so Clinton continues to sign additional directives before leaving office, each one authorizing the use of lethal force more clearly than the one before. [Washington Post, 2/22/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Osama bin Laden
          

1999: Joint CIA-NSA Project Taps into al-Qaeda's Tactical Radios      Complete 911 Timeline

       A joint project team run by the CIA and NSA slips into Afghanistan and places listening devices within range of al-Qaeda's tactical radios. [Washington Post, 12/19/01]
People and organizations involved: National Security Agency, al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency
          

January 31, 1999: Germany Monitors Hijacker's Calls, Shares Information with CIA      Complete 911 Timeline

       German intelligence is tapping the telephone of al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Haydar Zammar, and on this date, Zammar gets a call from a “Marwan.” This is later found to be hijacker Marwan Alshehhi. Marwan talks about mundane things, like his studies in Bonn, Germany, and promises to come to Hamburg in a few months. German investigators trace the telephone number and determine the call came from a mobile phone registered in the United Arab Emirates. [New York Times, 2/24/04; Deutsche Presse-Agenteur, 8/13/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] German intelligence will pass this information to the CIA about one month later, but the CIA apparently fails to capitalize on it (see March 1999).
People and organizations involved: Marwan Alshehhi, Central Intelligence Agency, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, Germany
          

February 1999: Pilot Suicide Squad Rumored in Iraq      Complete 911 Timeline

       US Intelligence obtains information that Iraq has formed a suicide pilot unit that it plans to use against British and US forces in the Persian Gulf. The CIA comments that this report is highly unlikely and is probably disinformation. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

March 1999: Germany Provides CIA Hijacker's Name and Telephone Number      Complete 911 Timeline

       German intelligence gives the CIA the first name of hijacker Marwan Alshehhi and his telephone number in the United Arab Emirates. The Germans learned the information from surveillance of suspected Islamic militants. They tell the CIA that Alshehhi has been in contact with suspected al-Qaeda members Mohammed Haydar Zammar and Mamoun Darkazanli. He is described as a United Arab Emirates student who has spent some time studying in Germany. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; New York Times, 2/24/04; Deutsche Presse-Agenteur, 8/13/03] The Germans consider this information “particularly valuable” and ask the CIA to track Alshehhi, but the CIA never responds until after the 9/11 attacks. The CIA decides at the time that this “Marwan” is probably an associate of bin Laden but never track him down. It is not clear why the CIA fails to act, or if they learn his last name before 9/11. [New York Times, 2/24/04] The Germans monitor other calls between Alshehhi and Zammar, but it isn't clear if the CIA is also told of these or not (see September 21, 1999).
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Marwan Alshehhi, Mamoun Darkazanli, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, Germany, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

May 1999: US Intelligence Provides bin Laden's Location; CIA Fails to Strike      Complete 911 Timeline

       US intelligence obtains detailed reporting on where bin Laden is located for five consecutive nights. CIA Director Tenet decides against acting three times, because of concerns about collateral damage and worries about the veracity of the single source of information. Frustration mounts. One CIA official writes to a colleague in the field, “having a chance to get [bin Laden] three times in 36 hours and foregoing the chance each time has made me a bit angry...” There is one more opportunity to strike bin Laden in July 1999, but after that there is apparently no intelligence good enough to justify considering a strike. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, George Tenet
          

June 1999: CIA Reports That bin Laden Plans Attack in US      Complete 911 Timeline

       In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and in a briefing to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staffers one month later, the chief of the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center describes reports that bin Laden and his associates are planning attacks in the US. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency
          

September 1999: US Report Predicts Spectacular Attack on Washington      Complete 911 Timeline

       A report prepared for US intelligence titled the “Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism” is completed. It states, “Al-Qaeda's expected retaliation for the US cruise missile attack ... could take several forms of terrorist attack in the nation's capital. Al-Qaeda could detonate a Chechen-type building-buster bomb at a federal building. Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and Semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House. Whatever form an attack may take, bin Laden will most likely retaliate in a spectacular way.” The report is by the National Intelligence Council, which advises the president and US intelligence on emerging threats. [Associated Press, 4/18/02] The Bush administration later claims to have never heard of this report until May 2002, despite the fact that it had been publicly posted on the Internet since 1999, and “widely shared within the government” according to the New York Times. [New York Times, 5/18/02; CNN, 5/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Pentagon, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden
          

September 21, 1999: German Intelligence Records Calls Between Hijacker and Others Linked to al-Qaeda      Complete 911 Timeline

       German intelligence is periodically tapping suspected al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Haydar Zammar's telephone, and on this day investigators hear Zammar call hijacker Marwan Alshehhi. Officials initially claim that the call also mentions hijacker Mohamed Atta, but only his first name. [New York Times, 1/18/03; Daily Telegraph, 11/24/01] However, his full name, “Mohamed Atta Al Amir,” is mentioned in this call and in another recorded call. [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2/2/03] Alshehhi makes veiled references to plans to travel to Afghanistan. He also hands the phone over to Said Bahaji (another member of the Hamburg cell under investigation at the time), so he can talk to Zammar. [Stern, 8/13/03] German investigators still do not know Alshehhi's full name, but they recognize this “Marwan” also called Zammar in January, and they told the CIA about that call. Alshehhi, living in the United Arab Emirates at the time, calls Zammar frequently. German intelligence asks the United Arab Emirates to identify the number and the caller, but the request is not answered. [Der Spiegel, 2/3/03]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Haydar Zammar, Central Intelligence Agency, Said Bahaji, Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, United Arab Emirates
          

October 1999: CIA Does Not Share Information with Able Danger Program      Complete 911 Timeline

       Capt. Scott Phillpott, head of the Able Danger program, asks Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer to talk to a representative of CIA Director George Tenet and attempt to convince him that the new Able Danger program is not competing with the CIA. Shaffer later recalls the CIA representative replying, “I clearly understand the difference. I clearly understand. We're going after the leadership. You guys are going after the body. But, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is, CIA will never give you the best information from ‘Alex Base’ [the CIA's covert action element targeting bin Laden] or anywhere else. CIA will never provide that to you because if you were successful in your effort to target al-Qaeda, you will steal our thunder. Therefore, we will not support this.” Shaffer claims that for the duration of Able Danger's existence, “To my knowledge, and my other colleagues' knowledge, there was no information ever released to us because CIA chose not to participate in Able Danger.” [Government Security News, 9/05]
People and organizations involved: Able Danger, Anthony Shaffer, Scott Phillpott, Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet
          

Early December 1999: US Takes Action to Stop al-Qaeda Millennium Bombing Plot      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA learns from the Jordanian government about an al-Qaeda millennium bombing plot. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told of this, and he implements a plan to neutralize the threat. [Clarke, 2004, pp 205, 211] The plan, approved by President Clinton, focuses on harassing and disrupting al-Qaeda members throughout the world. The FBI is put on heightened alert, counterterrorism teams are dispatched overseas, a formal ultimatum is given to the Taliban to keep al-Qaeda under control, and friendly intelligence agencies are asked to help. There are Cabinet-level meetings nearly every day dealing with terrorism [Associated Press, 6/28/02; Washington Post, 4/20/00] All US embassies, military bases, police departments, and other agencies are given a warning to be on the lookout for signs of an al-Qaeda millennium attack. One alert border agent responds by arresting terrorist Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999), which leads to the unraveling of several bombing plots (see December 14-31, 1999). No terror attacks occur. However, Clarke claims the FBI generally remains unhelpful. For example, around this time the FBI says there are no websites in the US soliciting volunteers for training in Afghanistan or money for terrorist front groups. Clarke has a private citizen check to see if this is true, and within days, he is given a long list of such websites. The FBI and Justice Department apparently fail to do anything with the information. [Newsweek, 3/31/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Taliban, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Ressam, Central Intelligence Agency, Jordan, Richard A. Clarke, US Department of Justice, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
          

December 11, 1999: Watch List Importance Is Stressed but Procedures Are Not Followed      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA's Counter Terrorism Center sends a cable reminding all personnel about various reporting obligations. The cable clearly states that it is important to share information so suspected members of US-designated terrorist groups can be placed on watch lists. The US keeps a number of watch lists; the most important one, TIPOFF, contains about 61,000 names of suspected terrorists by 9/11. [Knight Ridder, 1/27/04; Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02] The list is checked whenever someone enters or leaves the US “The threshold for adding a name to TIPOFF is low,” and even a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is connected with a US-designated terrorist group warrants being added to the database. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Within a month, two future hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, are identified, but the cable's instructions are not followed for them. The CIA initially tells the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry that no such guidelines existed, and CIA Director Tenet fails to mention the cable in his testimony. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; New York Times, 5/15/03]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, George Tenet, TIPOFF
          

December 24-31, 1999: Hijacked Flight Leads to Freeing of Future 9/11 Funder      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Hijackers threaten the Indian Airlines plane, under Taliban supervision.
An Indian Airlines flight is hijacked and flown to Afghanistan where 155 passengers are held hostage for eight days. They are freed in return for the release of three militants held in Indian prisons. One of the hostages is killed. One of the men freed in the exchange is 9/11 paymaster Saeed Sheikh. [BBC, 12/31/99] Another freed militant is Maulana Masood Azhar. Azhar emerges in Pakistan a few days later, and tells a crowd of 10,000, “I have come here because this is my duty to tell you that Muslims should not rest in peace until we have destroyed America and India.” [Associated Press, 1/5/00] He then tours Pakistan for weeks under the protection of the ISI. [Vanity Fair, 8/02] The ISI and Saeed helps Azhar form a new Islamic militant group called Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Azhar is soon plotting attacks again. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02; Washington Post, 2/8/03; Guardian, 7/16/02]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Maulana Masood Azhar, Saeed Sheikh, Central Intelligence Agency, Jaish-e-Mohammed
          

December 31, 1999-January 1, 2000: Attacks Against American Targets Avoided Through Alerts and Luck      Complete 911 Timeline

       Earlier in December, the CIA estimated that al-Qaeda would launch between five and 15 attacks against American targets around the world over the New Year's weekend. “Because the US is [bin Laden]'s ultimate goal ... we must assume that several of these targets will be in the US...” [Time, 8/4/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] Since late 1999, there has been intelligence that targets in Washington and New York would be attacked at this time. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] There in fact are a number of planned attacks, including bomb attacks on the Boston and Los Angeles airports, a hotel in Jordan, and a naval ship in Yemen. However, all of the attacks are foiled, thanks to alerts and luck. [Washington Post, 1/20/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden
          

2000: FBI Repeatedly Tells Clinton That Al-Qaeda Is Unable to Attack Inside US      Complete 911 Timeline

       In the wake of disrupting Ahmed Ressam's millennium bomb plot at the end of 1999 and arresting his cohorts (see December 14, 1999) (see December 14-31, 1999), US intelligence remains concerned that al-Qaeda sleeper cells remain in the US (see March 10, 2000). However, Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger later claims that the FBI still repeatedly assures the Clinton White House that al-Qaeda lacks the ability to launch a domestic strike. [New York Times, 9/22/02] He 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]
People and organizations involved: Clinton administration, Sandy Berger, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency
          

January 2-5, 2000: CIA Tracks Alhazmi and Almihdhar to al-Qaeda Meeting; Fails to Place Them on Terror Watch List      Complete 911 Timeline

       Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar travel to an important al-Qaeda meeting (see January 5-8, 2000) in Malaysia. Alhazmi is in Pakistan with a ticket to Malaysia for January 2. CIA and Pakistani officials plan to have his passport scrutinized as he passes through the airport, but he changes his ticket departure date twice. Officials get confused and are not there when he leaves the country, so they still don't learn his last name. Meanwhile, Almihdhar is watched when he leaves a safe house in Yemen. Agents from eight CIA offices and six friendly foreign intelligence services are all asked to help track him, in the hopes he will lead them to bigger al-Qaeda figures. [Stern, 8/13/03] United Arab Emirates officials secretly make copies of his passport as he is passing through the Dubai airport on his way to Malaysia and immediately report this to the CIA. Therefore, by the time he reaches Malaysia, the CIA knows his full name, and the fact that he has a multiple entry visa to the US that is valid from April 1999 to April 2000. Even though the CIA now knows Almihdhar has a one-year visa to the US and presumably plans to travel there, they do not place him on a terror watch list, despite receiving guidelines the previous month on the importance of doing so. [Bamford, 2004, pp 224]
People and organizations involved: United Arab Emirates, al-Qaeda, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency
          

January 4-6, 2000: CIA Fails to Warn FBI About Terrorist's US Visa; Other CIA Agents Are Deliberately Misled About This      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA has been tracking Khalid Almihdhar as he travels to Malaysia for the al-Qaeda summit that starts on January 5 (see January 5-8, 2000). The CIA has just received a photocopy of his passport that shows he has a valid visa to travel to the US (see January 2-5, 2000). But not only does the CIA fail to put his name on any terrorist watch list, they deliberately prevent the FBI from learning about this visa. On January 4, a CIA cable containing the photocopy is sent to CIA headquarters. An FBI agent assigned to the CIA's Bin Laden unit sees the cable and attempts to share the information about Almihdhar and his visa with colleagues at FBI headquarters. However, a CIA headquarters desk officer instructs him not to send a cable containing this information. Several hours later, this desk officer writes a cable that is distributed only within the CIA. It is sent the next day and claims that Almihdhar's visa documents were shared with the FBI (when she knows they were not). This officer will later admit she didn't personally share the information with the FBI either, and the 9/11 Commission will not be able to find anyone in the CIA who did share it with the FBI. [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/04, pp 502; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] In 2002, CIA Director George Tenet will allude to e-mails he claims prove the information is passed to the FBI around this time. However, the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry and 9/11 Commission fail to find any evidence of these e-mails. The FBI claims it never received any such e-mails. [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/04, pp 502; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; ABC News, 5/10/04] While the Malaysia meeting Almihdhar attends is still in progress, a CIA agent who had been assigned to the FBI's Strategic Information Operations Center to deal with problems “in communicating between the CIA and the FBI” briefs two FBI agents about Almihdhar's activities. This agent then sends an e-mail to another CIA agent describing “exactly” what he told the two FBI agents. One section reads, “This continues to be an [intelligence] operation. Thus far, a lot of suspicious activity has been observed but nothing that would indicate evidence of an impending attack or criminal enterprise. Told [the first FBI agent] that as soon as something concrete is developed leading us to the criminal arena or to known FBI cases, we will immediately bring FBI into the loop. Like [the first FBI agent] yesterday, [the second FBI agent] stated that this was a fine approach and thanked me for keeping him in the loop.” The two FBI agents are not told about Almihdhar's US visa. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] On January 5 and 6, FBI Director Louis Freeh and other top FBI officials are briefed about the ongoing Malaysia meeting as part of one of their regular daily updates. They are told the CIA is in the lead and that the CIA promises to let the FBI know if an FBI angle to the case develops. But they also are not told about Almihdhar's US visa. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04] One FBI official familiar with the case will later complain, “[The CIA] purposely hid [Almihdhar] from the FBI, purposely refused to tell the bureau. ... The thing was, they didn't want John O'Neill and the FBI running over their case. And that's why September 11 happened. ... They have blood on their hands.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 224] Jack Cloonan, an FBI agent who has pursued al-Qaeda members, later says: “If that information [got] disseminated, would it have had an impact on the events of 9/11? I'm telling you that it would have.” [ABC News, 5/10/04]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar, Louis J. Freeh, John O'Neill, Jack Cloonan
          

January 5-8, 2000: Al-Qaeda Summit in Malaysia Monitored by Authorities; Information Passed to US      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Attendees of the Malaysian meeting. From left to right top row: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Left to right bottom row: Hambali, Yazid Sufaat, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh. No pictures of bin Atash or Fahad al-Quso are available, the names of other participants have not been released.
About a dozen of bin Laden's trusted followers hold a secret, “top-level al-Qaeda summit” in the city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. [CNN, 8/30/02; San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/27/02] Plans for the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole (see October 12, 2000) and the 9/11 attacks are discussed. [USA Today, 2/12/02; CNN, 8/30/02] At the request of the CIA, the Malaysian Secret Service monitors the meeting and then passes the information on to the US. Attendees of the meeting include:
Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar - The CIA and FBI will later miss many opportunities to foil the 9/11 plot through Alhazmi and Almihdhar and the knowledge of their presence at this meeting. The CIA already knows many details about these two by the time the meeting begins.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed - A top al-Qaeda leader and the alleged “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks. The US has known Mohammed is an Islamic militant since the exposure of Operation Bojinka in January 1995 (see January 6, 1995), and knows what he looks like. US officials have stated that they only realized the meeting was important in the summer of 2001, but the presence of Mohammed should have proved the meeting's importance. [Los Angeles Times, 2/2/02] Although the possible presence of Mohammed at this meeting is highly disputed by US officials, one terrorism expert testifies before the 9/11 Commission in 2003 that he has access to transcripts of Mohammed's interrogations since his capture, and that Mohammed admits leading this meeting. [New York Post, 7/10/03; Newsweek, 7/9/03] Many media reports identify him there as well [Independent, 6/6/02; CNN, 11/7/02; Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03; CNN, 8/30/02] (for instance, according to Newsweek, “Mohammed's presence would make the intelligence failure of the CIA even greater. It would mean the agency literally watched as the 9/11 scheme was hatched—and had photographs of the attack's mastermind ... doing the plotting.” [Newsweek, 7/9/03]
Riduan Isamuddin, an Indonesian militant better known as Hambali. [BBC, 8/15/03] He was the main financier of Operation Bojinka. [CNN, 3/14/02; CNN, 8/30/02] Philippine intelligence officials learned of Hambali's importance in 1995, but did not track him down or share information about him. He will be arrested by Thai authorities in August 2003. [CBS News, 8/15/03; CNN, 8/14/03]
Yazid Sufaat, - A Malaysian man who owned the condominium where the meeting was held. [New York Times, 1/31/02; Newsweek, 6/2/02] A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through Sufaat's presence at this meeting is later missed in September. Sufaat will travel to Afghanistan in June 2001 and be arrested by Malaysian authorities when he returns to Malaysia in late 2001. [Australian, 12/24/02]
Fahad al-Quso - A top al-Qaeda operative. [Newsweek, 9/20/01] Al-Quso will be arrested by Yemeni authorities in December 2000, but the FBI is not given a chance to interrogate him before 9/11. He will escape from prison in 2003. [CNN, 5/15/03]
Tawifiq bin Attash - Better known by his alias “Khallad.” Bin Attash, a “trusted member of bin Laden's inner circle,” was in charge of bin Laden's bodyguards, and served as bin Laden's personal intermediary at least for the USS Cole attack. [Newsweek, 9/20/01] He is also thought to be a “mastermind” of that attack. Attash is reportedly planning to be one of the hijackers, but will be unable to get a US visa. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04 (B)] US intelligence had been aware of his identity as early as 1995 [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through bin Attash's presence at this meeting is later missed in January 2001. Bin Attash had been previously arrested in Yemen for suspected terror ties, but let go. [Contemporary Southeast Asia, 12/1/02] He will be captured in Pakistan by the US in April 2003. [New York Times, 5/1/03]
Ramzi Bin al-Shibh - Investigators believe he wanted to be the twentieth hijacker. His presence at the meeting may not have been realized until after 9/11, despite the fact that US intelligence had a picture of him next to bin Attash, and had video footage of him. [CNN, 11/7/02; Newsweek, 11/26/01; Die Zeit, 10/1/02; Time, 9/15/02; Washington Post, 7/14/02] German police have credit card receipts indicating bin al-Shibh is in Malaysia at the same time. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] Another account noting he was photographed at the meeting further notes that he entered and left Thailand three times in the first three weeks of January 2000. [Los Angeles Times, 10/17/01] Anonymous Malaysian officials claim he is there, but US officials deny it. [Associated Press, 9/20/02] One account says he is recognized at the time of the meeting, which makes it hard to understand why he is not tracked back to Germany and the Hamburg cell with Mohamed Atta and other hijackers. [Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] Another opportunity to expose the 9/11 plot through bin al-Shibh's presence at this meeting will be missed in June. It appears bin al-Shibh and Almihdhar are directly involved in the attack on the USS Cole in October 2000 [Washington Post, 7/14/02; Newsweek, 9/4/02; Guardian, 10/15/01] , so better surveillance or follow-up from this meeting could have prevented that attack as well.
Ahmad Hikmat Shakir - An al-Qaeda agent of Iraqi nationality, may have attended this meeting, according to some documents [Australian, 12/24/02; Newsweek, 10/7/02] , but his presence at the meeting is uncertain. [Associated Press, 10/2/02] After 9/11, he will be linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and 1995 Bojinka plot. Jordan will arrest him and let him go after the US says they don't want to take custody of him (see September 17, 2001).
Salem Alhazmi - He is possibly at the meeting, although very few accounts mention it. [Australian, 12/24/02] US intelligence intercepts from before the meeting indicate that he had plans to attend the meeting. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
Abu Bara al Taizi - A Yemeni al-Qaeda agent, is also said to attend. He is reportedly meant to be one of the hijackers, but will be unable to enter the US due to greater scrutiny for Yemenis. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04 (B)]
More? - Unnamed members of the Egyptian-based Islamic Jihad are also known to have been at the meeting. [Cox News Service, 10/21/01] (The Islamic Jihad had merged with al-Qaeda in February 1998. [ABC News, 11/17/01]
People and organizations involved: Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, Yazid Sufaat, Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, al-Qaeda, Malaysian Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Salem Alhazmi, Fahad al-Quso, Mohamed Atta, Khalid Almihdhar, Abu Bara al Taizi, Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, Egyptian Islamic Jihad
          

January 6-9, 2000: Malaysia Provides CIA with Information on al-Qaeda Summit and Attendees      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Hazel Evergreen, located on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is the condominium complex where the terror summit was held.
At the CIA's request, the Malaysian Secret Service is monitoring an important al-Qaeda summit (see January 5-8, 2000) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and begins passing what it knows to the CIA even before the meeting is over. Media accounts are consistent that the operatives at the meeting are photographed and even videotaped, but there is no wiretapping or other recording of their conversations. [CNN, 3/14/02; Observer, 10/7/01; Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01; New Yorker, 1/14/02; Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03; Stern, 8/13/03; Newsweek, 6/2/02] However, Malaysian officials are not informed what to look for, and focus more on monitoring the local Malaysian and Indonesian hosts who serve as drivers than the visitors attending the meeting. [Associated Press, 9/20/02] Authorities find out what hotel Khalid Almihdhar is staying at and he and his associates are photographed there [Newsweek, 9/20/01; Observer, 10/7/01] , as well as coming and going from the condo where the meeting is held. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] On January 6, the CIA office in Malaysia begins passing details of the meeting to the CIA Counter Terrorism Center (CTC). Cofer Black, head of the CTC, orders that he be continually informed about the meeting, and CIA Director Tenet is frequently informed as well. [Stern, 8/13/03] National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, FBI Director Louis Freeh, and other top officials are briefed, but apparently President Clinton is not. [Bamford, 2004, pp 225-26] On January 7, Khalid Almihdhar and others go shopping, giving Malaysian security ample opportunity to collect information about them. They spend hours at Internet cafes, and after they leave, Malaysian intelligence searches the hard drives of the computers they used. [Australian, 12/24/02; Stern, 8/13/03] The video footage is apparently sent to US intelligence one month later (see February 2000). However, no photos or video and few details from any of this surveillance have been publicly released. It is known that some photos show Khallad bin Attash with Almihdhar, some show Fahad al-Quso next to Almihdhar, and that some photos are of Ramzi bin al-Shibh. By January 9, all the data and footage the Malaysians have collected are in the hands of the CIA. [Newsweek, 9/20/01; Stern, 8/13/03]
People and organizations involved: Cofer Black, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Sandy Berger, Khalid Almihdhar, al-Qaeda, Tawifiq ("Khallad") bin Attash, Fahad al-Quso, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, George Tenet, Louis J. Freeh, Malaysian Secret Service, Central Intelligence Agency
          

January 8, 2000: Al-Qaeda Summit Ends; CIA Fails to Add Attendees to Watch List      Complete 911 Timeline

       The al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000) ends and the participants leave. Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar fly to Bangkok, Thailand, traveling under their real names. al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash also travels with them and the three sit side by side in the airplane, but bin Attash travels under the false name “Salah Said.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; Associated Press, 9/20/02] The CIA knows that a “Nawaf” has attended the meeting, but does not know his last name. Shortly afterwards, the CIA is told of this airplane flight, and the fact that the person sitting next to Almihdhar on the plane is named “Nawaf Alhazmi.” CIA Headquarters asks the NSA to put Almihdhar on their watch list. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04] However, neither Alhazmi nor Almihdhar are placed on a terror watch list. The CIA still fails to tell the FBI that Almihdhar has a valid US visa, and fails to give them Alhazmi's last name. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; Stern, 8/13/03] The CIA searches for the names in their databases but get no “hits.” Yet they don't search the much larger NSA databases, which had vital information on them. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Nawaf Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Almihdhar, National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Tawifiq ("Khallad") bin Attash
          

January 15, 2000: Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Travel to US Undetected      Complete 911 Timeline

       A week after the meeting in Malaysia, hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar fly together from Bangkok, Thailand, to Los Angeles, California. [MSNBC, 12/11/01] Because the CIA has lost track of them in Thailand, no one in the US government realizes they are coming to the US. The CIA will learn this information in early March, but still will take no action. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency
          

February 2000: CIA Obtains Videotape of Al-Qaeda Summit Malaysia, But Express Little Interest in It      Complete 911 Timeline

       About a month after the Malaysia al-Qaeda summit attended by hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and others (see January 5-8, 2000), “The CIA obtain[s] a surveillance videotape” from Malaysian intelligence “that shows men arriving at the meeting, according to a US intelligence official. The tape, he said, has no sound and [isn't] viewed as very significant at the time.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01] Contents of the tape, which might definitively prove who was at the meeting, have never been made public.
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Nawaf Alhazmi
          

Spring 2000: CIA Paramilitary Teams Begin Working with Anti-Taliban Forces      Complete 911 Timeline

       Around this time, special CIA paramilitary teams begin “working with tribes and warlords in southern Afghanistan” and help “create a significant new network in the region of the Taliban's greatest strength.” [Washington Post, 11/18/01]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Taliban
          

March 5, 2000: CIA Learn Hijackers Have Entered US; FBI Not Informed      Complete 911 Timeline

       Thailand tells the CIA that hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi had flown from the January meeting in Malaysia to Los Angeles. Thai intelligence actually knew this the same day they flew to the US, but they didn't share the information until the CIA finally asked them about it around this time. [New York Times, 10/17/02; 9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04] According to a senior FBI official, the CIA also learns about hijacker Khalid Almihdhar: “In March 2000, the CIA received information concerning the entry of Almihdhar and Alhazmi into the United States.” [Michael Rolince Testimony, 9/20/02] The CIA disputes this, however. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] A cable is immediately sent to CIA Headquarters noting (at least) that Nawaf Alhazmi has traveled to Los Angeles. The cable is marked “Action Required: None, FYI [For Your Information].” CIA Director Tenet later claims, “Nobody read that cable in the March timeframe.” [New York Times, 10/17/02 Sources: George Tenet] Yet the day after the cable is received, “another overseas CIA station note[s], in a cable to the bin Laden unit at CIA headquarters, that it had ‘read with interest’ the March cable, ‘particularly the information that a member of this group traveled to the US...’ ” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Yet again, CIA fails to put their names on a watch list, and again fails to alert the FBI so they can be tracked. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Senior CIA counterterrorism official Cofer Black later says, “I think that month we watch listed about 150 people. [The watch listing] should have been done. It wasn't.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 Sources: Cofer Black]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Malaysian Secret Service, Nawaf Alhazmi
          

May 2000: CIA and FBI Again Reject Sudan's Offer to Provide al-Qaeda Files      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA and FBI send a joint investigative team to Sudan to investigate whether that country is a sponsor of terrorism. It determines that it is not, but the US does not take Sudan off its official list of terrorist states. As in 1995 and 1996, Sudan offers to hand over its voluminous files on al-Qaeda, and the offer is again turned down. [Guardian, 9/30/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda, Sudan, Central Intelligence Agency
          

Summer 2000-September 11, 2001: Illegal FBI Activity Leads to Suspension of Surveillance of al-Qaeda Suspects in US      Complete 911 Timeline

       In the summer of 2000, Royce Lamberth, chief judge of the special federal court that reviews FISA national-security wiretaps, finds out that an FBI official is misrepresenting petitions for taps on terror suspects. An investigation is launched. From this time well into 2001, the FBI is forced to shut down wiretaps of al-Qaeda-related suspects connected to the 1998 African embassy bombing. One source familiar with the case says that about 10 to 20 al-Qaeda related wiretaps have to be shut down and it becomes more difficult to get permission for new FISA wiretaps. Newsweek notes, “The effect [is] to stymie terror surveillance at exactly the moment it was needed most: requests from both Phoenix [with the Ken Williams memo] and Minneapolis [with Zacarias Moussaoui's arrest] for wiretaps [will be] turned down [by FBI superiors].” [Newsweek, 5/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Royce Lamberth, Ken Williams, Zacarias Moussaoui, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

June 10, 2000: Almihdhar Flies from San Diego to Germany; Return Date Unclear      Complete 911 Timeline

       Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar flies from San Diego to Frankfurt, Germany. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Authorities later believe that Almihdhar visits his cousin-in-law Ramzi Bin al-Shibh and bin al-Shibh's roommate Mohamed Atta and other al-Qaeda members in bin al-Shibh's cell. However, since the CIA fails to notify Germany about their suspicions of either Almihdhar or bin al-Shibh, both of whom were seen attending the al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia in January, German police fail to monitor them and another chance to uncover the 9/11 plot is missed. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; Die Zeit, 10/1/02] FBI Director Mueller and the congressional inquiry into 9/11 will claim that Almihdhar does not return to the US for over a year [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] , despite evidence to the contrary. For instance, an FBI agent is told Khalid Almihdhar is in the room when he calls Almihdhar's landlord in autumn 2000. Almihdhar gets a New Jersey ID in December 2000 (see December 30, 2000), and there are indications Almihdhar attends a flight school in Arizona in early 2001. [Arizona Republic, 9/28/01]
People and organizations involved: Germany, Robert S. Mueller III, Mohamed Atta, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Central Intelligence Agency, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Almihdhar
          

September-October 2000: Predator Flights over Afghanistan Are Initiated Then Halted      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Footage from a Predator drone apparently shows bin Laden surrounded by security.
An unmanned spy plane called the Predator begins flying over Afghanistan, showing incomparably detailed real-time video and photographs of the movements of what appears to be bin Laden and his aides. It flies successfully over Afghanistan 16 times. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04] President Clinton is impressed by a two-minute video of bin Laden crossing a street heading toward a mosque. Bin Laden is surrounded by a team of a dozen armed men creating a professional forward security perimeter as he moves. The Predator has been used since 1996, in the Balkans and Iraq. One Predator crashes on takeoff and another is chased by a fighter, but it apparently identifies bin Laden on three occasions. Its use is stopped in Afghanistan after a few trials, mostly because seasonal winds are picking up. It is agreed to resume the flights in the spring, but the Predator fails to fly over Afghanistan again until after 9/11. [Clarke, 2004, pp 220-21; Washington Post, 12/19/01] On September 15, 2001, CIA Director Tenet apparently inaccurately tells President Bush, “The unmanned Predator surveillance aircraft that was now armed with Hellfire missiles had been operating for more than a year out of Uzbekistan to provide real-time video of Afghanistan.” [Washington Post, 1/29/02]
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, George Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency
          

Late Autumn 2000: CIA Support for Massoud Weakens      Complete 911 Timeline

       Covert CIA support for Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance guerrilla leader fighting the Taliban, is minimal and fraying. In the wake of the USS Cole bombing, the CIA develops a plan where the US would increase support for Massoud if he produces strong intelligence about bin Laden's whereabouts. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke outlines this CIA proposal to National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, but Berger rejects it. Aid to Massoud continues to languish under the new Bush administration, until Clarke's proposal (slightly modified) is tentatively approved a week before 9/11. [Washington Post, 2/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Sandy Berger, Ahmed Shah Massoud, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Richard A. Clarke, Osama bin Laden
          

November 2000: Taliban Allegedly Offers to Hand bin Laden to US Officials      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Kabir Mohabbat.
In 1999, Kabir Mohabbat, an Afghan-American businessman, had initiated conversations about bin Laden between the US government and the Taliban. According to Mohabbat, the Taliban were ready to hand bin Laden over to a third country, or the International Court of Justice, in exchange for having the US-led sanctions against Afghanistan lifted. (Elmar Brok, a German member of the European Parliament, later confirms that he helps Mohabbat make contact with the US government in 1999.) The initial talks lead to a secret meeting this month between Taliban ministers and US officials in a Frankfurt hotel. Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil reportedly says in the meeting, “You can have him whenever the Americans are ready. Name us a country and we will extradite him.” However, after this face-to-face meeting, further discussions are never held because, Brok believes, a “political decision” has been made by US officials not to continue the negotiations. He does not clarify when he believes such a decision was made. [Reuters, 6/5/04 Sources: Elmar Brok]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Kabir Mohabbat, Ahmed
          

November 7, 2000: Plans to Target bin Laden Delayed Pending 2000 Election      Complete 911 Timeline

       In the wake of the USS Cole bombing, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger meets with Defense Secretary William Cohen to discuss a new approach to targeting bin Laden. Berger says, “We've been hit many times, and we'll be hit again. Yet we have no option beyond cruise missiles.” He once again brings up the idea of a “boots on the ground” option—a Delta Force special operation to get bin Laden. A plan is drawn up but the order to execute it is never given. Cohen and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Henry Shelton oppose the plan. By December 21, the CIA reports that it strongly suspects that al-Qaeda was behind the bombing, but fails to definitively make that conclusion. That makes such an attack politically difficult. Says a former senior Clinton aide, “If we had done anything, say, two weeks before the election, we'd be accused of helping [presidential candidate] Al Gore.” [Time, 8/4/02; 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Al Gore, Sandy Berger, Henry H. Shelton, Central Intelligence Agency, William S. Cohen
          

December 2000: CIA Develops Plan to Increase Support to Massoud, Strike bin Laden      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA's Counter Terrorism Center develops a plan to strike at bin Laden in Afghanistan called the “Blue Sky Memo.” It recommends increased support to anti-Taliban groups and especially a major effort to back Ahmed Shah Massoud's Northern Alliance, to tie down al-Qaeda personnel before they leave Afghanistan. No action is taken in the last few weeks of the Clinton administration; the CIA presses the ideas unsuccessfully early in the new Bush administration. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)] The National Security Council counterterrorism staff also prepares a strategy paper, incorporating ideas from the Blue Sky Memo. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
People and organizations involved: National Security Council, Ahmed Shah Massoud, al-Qaeda, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Northern Alliance, Osama bin Laden, Clinton administration
          

January 4, 2001: FBI, CIA Miss Connection Between USS Cole Bomber and Hijackers      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Khallad bin Attash.
The FBI's investigation into the USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000) reveals that al-Qaeda operative Khallad bin Attash was a principal planner of the bombing [Associated Press, 9/21/02 (B)] , and that two other participants in the bombing delivered money to bin Attash at the time of the January 2000 al-Qaeda meeting (see January 5-8, 2000) in Malaysia. The FBI shares this information with the CIA. Based on a description of bin Attash from an informant, CIA analysts reexamine pictures from the Malaysian meeting and identify bin Attash with both hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. CIA Director Tenet later testifies that the presence of bin Attash, a known, important al-Qaeda operative, gives the Malaysian meetings “greater significance.” [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04] The CIA has already been informed that Alhazmi has entered the US in March 2000, yet once again they fail to watch list either Alhazmi or Almihdhar. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] CNN later notes that at this point the CIA, at the very 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, bin Attash is not placed on the watch list at this time, despite being labeled as the principal planner of the Cole bombing. (He is finally placed on the watch list in August 2001.) [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02] CIA headquarters is told what these CIA analysts have learned, but it appears the FBI is not told. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, George Tenet, Tawifiq ("Khallad") bin Attash
          

January 10, 2001-September 4, 2001: Armed Predator Drone Is Readied, but Unused      Complete 911 Timeline

      
A Predator drone.
Even before President Bush's official inauguration, Clinton holdover counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke pushes National Security Adviser Rice and other incoming Bush officials to resume Predator drone flights over Afghanistan (originally carried out in September and October 2000) in an attempt to find and assassinate bin Laden. [CBS News, 6/25/03; Washington Post, 1/20/02] On January 10, Rice is shown a video clip of bin Laden filmed by a Predator drone the year before. [Washington Post, 1/20/02] Clarke learns of an Air Force plan to arm the Predator. The original plan calls for three years of testing, but Clarke pushes so hard that the armed Predator is ready in three months. [New Yorker, 7/28/03] A Hellfire missile is successfully test fired from a Predator on February 16, 2001. [CBS News, 6/25/03] In early June, a duplicate of the brick house where bin Laden is believed to be living in Kandahar, Afghanistan, is built in Nevada, and destroyed by a Predator missile. The test shows that the missile fired from miles away would have killed anyone in the building, and one participant calls this the long sought after “holy grail” that could kill bin Laden within minutes of finding him. [Washington Post, 1/20/02] Clarke repeatedly advocates using the Predator, armed or unarmed. However, bureaucratic infighting between the CIA and the Air Force over who would pay for it and take responsibility delays its use. Clarke later says, “Every time we were ready to use it, the CIA would change its mind.” [New Yorker, 7/28/03] Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley decide to delay reconnaissance flights until the armed version is ready. In July 2001, Hadley directs the military to have armed Predators ready to deploy no later than September 1. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] The issue comes to a head in early September, but even then, a decision to use the Predator is delayed [New Yorker, 7/28/03]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Richard A. Clarke, Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice, Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush
          

January 30, 2001: Hijacker Questioned at Request of CIA, Then Released      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ziad Jarrah flying in Florida in 2000.
Hijacker Ziad Jarrah is questioned for several hours at the Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates, at the request of the CIA for “suspected involvement in terrorist activities,” then let go. This is according to United Arab Emirates, US, and European officials, but the CIA denies the story. The CIA notified local officials that he would be arriving from Pakistan on his way back to Europe, and they wanted to know where he had been in Afghanistan and how long he had been there. US officials were informed of the results of the interrogation before Jarrah left the airport. Jarrah had already been in the US for six months learning to fly. “UAE and European intelligence sources told CNN that the questioning of Jarrah fits a pattern of a CIA operation begun in 1999 to track suspected al-Qaeda operatives who were traveling through the United Arab Emirates.” He was then permitted to leave, eventually going to the US. [CNN, 8/1/02; Chicago Tribune, 12/13/01] Some accounts place this in January 2000.
People and organizations involved: United Arab Emirates, Ziad Jarrah, Central Intelligence Agency
          

Late January 2001: US Intelligence Told to Back Off from bin Laden and Saudis      Complete 911 Timeline

       The BBC later reports, “After the elections, [US intelligence] agencies [are] told to ‘back off’ investigating the bin Ladens and Saudi royals, and that anger[s] agents.” This follows previous orders to abandon an investigation of bin Laden relatives in 1996 (see September 11, 1996), and difficulties in investigating Saudi royalty. [BBC, 11/6/01] An unnamed “top-level CIA operative” says there is a “major policy shift” at the National Security Agency at this time. Bin Laden could still be investigated, but agents could not look too closely at how he got his money. One specific CIA investigation hampered by this new policy is an investigation in Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan and his Khan Laboratories. Khan is considered the “father” of Pakistan's nuclear weapons capability. But since the funding for this nuclear program gets traced back to Saudi Arabia, restrictions are placed on the inquiry. [Palast, 2002, pp 99-100] Presumably another investigation canceled is an investigation by the Chicago FBI into ties between Saudi multimillionaire Yassin al-Qadi and the US embassy bombings in August 1998 (see October 1998), because during this month an FBI agent is told that the case is being closed and that “it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie.” Reporter Greg Palast notes that President Clinton was already hindering investigations by protecting Saudi interests. However, as he puts it, “Where Clinton said, ‘Go slow,’ Bush policymakers said, ‘No go.’ The difference is between closing one eye and closing them both.” [Palast, 2002, pp 102]
People and organizations involved: Abdul Qadeer Khan, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Bin Laden Family, Osama bin Laden, Yassin al-Qadi
          

February 2001: US Fails to Back Plan to Overthrow Taliban      Complete 911 Timeline

       Abdul Haq, a famous Afghan leader of the mujahedeen, convinces Robert McFarlane, National Security Adviser under President Ronald Reagan, that Haq and about 50 fellow commanders could lead a force to start a revolt against the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan. However, Haq wants to do this under the authority of Zahir Shah, the popular former king of Afghanistan, whom the US does not support. The CIA fails to give any support to Haq. Says one CIA official to McFarlane a few months later, “We don't yet have our marching orders concerning US policy; it may be that we will end up dealing with the Taliban.” Haq goes ahead with his plans without US support, and is killed in October (see October 25, 2001). [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01 (B); Wall Street Journal, 11/2/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Abdul Haq, Central Intelligence Agency, Zahir Shah, Robert C. McFarlane
          

February 9, 2001: Bin Laden's Financial Network Laid Bare      Complete 911 Timeline

       US officials claim significant progress in defeating bin Laden's financial network, despite significant difficulties. It is claimed that “bin Laden's financial and operational networks has been ‘completely mapped’ in secret documents shared by the State Department, CIA, and Treasury Department, with much of the mapping completed in detail by mid-1997.” [UPI, 2/9/01] Reporter Greg Palast later notes that when the US freezes the assets of terrorist organizations in late September 2001, US investigators likely knew much about the finances of those organizations but took no action before 9/11. [Santa Fe New Mexican, 3/20/03]
People and organizations involved: Greg Palast, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, US Department of the Treasury
          

March 2001: Hijackers Continue to Associate with Suspicious Imam      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Dar al Hijrah mosque.
After living together in Phoenix since December 2000, hijackers Hani Hanjour and Nawaf Alhazmi move to Falls Church, Virginia. [Washington Post, 9/10/02 (B); 9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04] They live only a few blocks from where two nephews of bin Laden with ties to terrorism go to work. They continue to live there off and on until around August. They begin attending the Dar al Hijrah mosque. [Washington Post, 9/10/02 (B)] When they and Khalid Almihdhar lived in San Diego in early 2000, they attended a mosque there led by the imam Anwar Al Aulaqi. This imam moved to Falls Church in January 2001, and now the hijackers attend his sermons at the Dar al Hijrah mosque. Some later suspect that Aulaqi is part of the 9/11 plot because of their similar moves, and other reasons:
The FBI says Aulaqi had closed door meetings with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in 2000 while all three of them were living in San Diego. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
Police later find the phone number of Aulaqi's mosque when they search “would-be twentieth hijacker” Ramzi Bin al-Shibh's apartment in Germany. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
The FBI was investigating Aulaqi for ties to Islamic militant groups in early 2000.
A neighbor of Aulaqi later claims that, in the first week of August 2001, Aulaqi knocks on his door and tells him he is leaving for Kuwait: “He came over before he left and told me that something very big was going to happen, and that he had to be out of the country when it happened.” [Newsweek, 7/28/03]
Aulaqi is apparently in the country in late September 2001, and claims not to recognize any of the hijackers. [Copley News, 10/1/01]
A week after 9/11, Aulaqi says the hijackers were framed, and suggests Israel was behind 9/11. [Washington Post, 7/23/03]
Aulaqi leaves the US in early 2002. [Time, 8/11/03]
In December 2002, Aulaqi briefly returns and is temporarily detained as part of the Green Quest money laundering investigation. However, he is let go. [World Net Daily, 8/16/03] By late 2003, the US is looking for him in Yemen. [New Republic, 8/21/03] The FBI appears to be divided about him, with some thinking he is part of the 9/11 plot and some disagreeing [Time, 8/11/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The 9/11 Commission later reports that Aulaqi gave substantial help to the two hijackers, that his relationship with them is “suspicious,” and it cannot be discounted that he knew of the plot in advance. [Associated Press, 6/27/04]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Germany, William Safire, 9/11 Commission, Anwar Al Aulaqi, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Osama bin Laden, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi
          

March 26, 2001: CIA Benefits from Major Software Improvements      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Washington Post reports on major improvements of the CIA's intelligence gathering capability “in recent years.” A new program called Oasis uses “automated speech recognition” technology to turn audio feeds into formatted, searchable text. It can distinguish one voice from another and differentiates “speaker 1” from “speaker 2” in transcripts. Software called Fluent performs “cross lingual” searches, translates difficult languages like Chinese and Japanese (apparently such software is much better than similar publicly available software), and even automatically assesses the contextual importance. Other new software can turn a suspect's “life story into a three-dimensional diagram of linked phone calls, bank deposits and plane trips,” while still other software can efficiently and quickly process vast amounts of video, audio, and written data. [Washington Post, 3/26/01] However, the government will later report that a number of messages about the 9/11 attacks, such as one stating “tomorrow is the zero hour,” are not translated until after 9/11 because analysts were “too swamped.” [ABC News, 6/7/02]
People and organizations involved: Fluent, Oasis, Central Intelligence Agency
          

April 6, 2001: Rebel Leader Warns Europe and US About Imminent Al-Qaeda Attacks      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ahmed Shah Massoud speaking before European Parliament.
Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, has been trying to get aid from the US but his people are only allowed to meet with low level US officials. In an attempt to get his message across, he addresses the European Parliament: “If President Bush doesn't help us, these terrorists will damage the US and Europe very soon.” [Dawn, 4/7/01; Time, 8/4/02] Massoud also meets privately with some CIA officials while in Europe. He tells them that his guerrilla war against the Taliban is faltering and unless the US gives a significant amount of aid, the Taliban will conquer all of Afghanistan. No more aid is forthcoming. [Washington Post, 2/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Northern Alliance, George W. Bush, Central Intelligence Agency, Taliban, Ahmed Shah Massoud
          

May 2001: Report Warns of al-Qaeda Infiltration from Canada      Complete 911 Timeline

       US intelligence obtains information that al-Qaeda is planning to infiltrate the US from Canada and carry out an operation using high explosives. The report does not say exactly where, when, or how an attack might occur. Two months later, the information is shared with the FBI, the INS, the US Customs Service, and the State Department, and it will be shared with President Bush in August. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; Washington Post, 9/19/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, al-Qaeda, US Customs Service, US Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Immigration and Naturalization Service
          

May 6-September 6, 2001: Some Hijackers Work Out at Gyms, Some Merely Hang Out      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ziad Jarrah's computer record at the US1 Fitness gym.
The hijackers work out at various gyms, presumably getting in shape for the hijacking. Ziad Jarrah appears to train intensively from May to August, and Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi also take exercising very seriously. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01; New York Times, 9/23/01] However, these three are presumably pilots who would need the training the least. For instance, Jarrah's trainer says, “If he wasn't one of the pilots, he would have done quite well in thwarting the passengers from attacking.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] For instance, Hani Hanjour, Majed Moqed, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi work out for only four days in early September. [Associated Press, 9/21/01] Three others—Waleed Alshehri, Wail Alshehri and Satam al-Suqami— “simply clustered around a small circuit of machines, never asking for help and, according to a trainer, never pushing any weights. ‘You know, I don't actually remember them ever doing anything... They would just stand around and watch people.’ ” [New York Times, 9/23/01] Those three also had a one month membership in Florida—whether they ever actually worked out there is unknown. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01]
People and organizations involved: Salem Alhazmi, Ziad Jarrah, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Majed Moqed, William Safire, Mohamed Atta, Waleed M. Alshehri, Central Intelligence Agency, Marwan Alshehhi, Satam Al Suqami, Wail Alshehri
          

May 15, 2001: CIA Hides al-Qaeda Meeting Information from FBI      Complete 911 Timeline

       A supervisor at the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center sends a request to CIA headquarters for the surveillance photos of the January 2000 al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000). Three days later, the supervisor explains the reason for his interest in an e-mail to a CIA analyst: “I'm interested because Khalid Almihdhar's two companions also were couriers of a sort, who traveled between [the Far East] and Los Angeles at the same time ([H]azmi and [S]alah).” Hazmi refers to hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salah Said is the alias al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash traveled under during the meeting. Apparently, the supervisor receives the photos. Toward the end of May, a CIA analyst contacts a specialist working at FBI headquarters about the photographs. The CIA wants the FBI analyst to review the photographs and determine if a person who had carried money to Southeast Asia for bin Attash in January 2000 could be identified. The CIA fails to tell the FBI analyst anything about Almihdhar or Alhazmi. Around the same time, the CIA analyst receives an e-mail mentioning Alhazmi's travel to the US. These two analysts travel to New York the next month and again the CIA analyst fails to divulge what he knows. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Tawifiq ("Khallad") bin Attash, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar
          

June 2001: Germans Warn of Plan to Use Aircraft as Missiles on US and Israeli Symbols      Complete 911 Timeline

       German intelligence warns the CIA, Britain's intelligence agency, and Israel's Mossad that Middle Eastern militants are planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack “American and Israeli symbols, which stand out.” A later article quotes unnamed German intelligence sources who state the information was coming from Echelon surveillance technology, and that British intelligence had access to the same warnings. However, there were other informational sources, including specific information and hints given to, but not reported by, Western and Near Eastern news media six months before 9/11. [Fox News, 5/17/02; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 9/11/01; Washington Post, 9/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, UK Secret Intelligence Service, Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks
          

June 11, 2001: FBI and CIA Hold Shouting Match over Information on Al-Qaeda; CIA Still Withholds Information      Complete 911 Timeline

       A CIA analyst and FBI analyst travel to New York and meet with FBI officials at FBI headquarters about the USS Cole investigation. The CIA analyst has already shown photographs from the al-Qaeda Malaysia meeting (see January 5-8, 2000) attended by hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar to an FBI analyst, but failed to explain what he knows about them. The CIA analyst now shows the same photos to the additional FBI agents. He wants to know if they can identify anyone in the photos for a different case he is working on. “The FBI agents recognized the men from the Cole investigation, but when they asked the CIA what they knew about the men, they were told that they did not have clearance to share that information. It ended up in a shouting match.” [ABC News, 8/16/02] The CIA analyst later admits that at the time, he knows Almihdhar had a US visa, that Alhazmi had traveled to the US in March, that al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash had been recognized in one of the photos, and that Alhazmi was known to be an experienced operative. However, he does not tell any of this to any FBI agent. He does not let them keep copies of the photos either. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] He promises them more information later, but the FBI agents do not receive more information until after 9/11. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Two days after this meeting, Almihdhar has no trouble getting a new, multiple reentry US visa. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02; US News and World Report, 12/12/01] CIA Director Tenet later claims, “Almihdhar was not who they were talking about in this meeting.” When Senator Carl Levin (D) reads the following to Tenet— “The CIA analyst who attended the New York meeting acknowledged to the joint inquiry staff that he had seen the information regarding Almihdhar's US visa and Alhazmi's travel to the United States but he stated that he would not share information outside of the CIA unless he had authority to do so.” —Tenet claims that he talked to the same analyst, who told him something completely different. [New York Times, 10/17/02]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency, Tawifiq ("Khallad") bin Attash, Carl Levin, Nawaf Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

June 12, 2001: CIA Learns Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Is Sending Operatives to US to Meet Up With Operatives Already Living There      Complete 911 Timeline

       A CIA report says that a man named “Khaled” is actively recruiting people to travel to various countries, including the US, to stage attacks. CIA headquarters presume from the details of this report that Khaled is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. On July 11, the individual source for this report is shown a series of photographs and identifies Mohammed as the person he called “Khaled.” [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/04; USA Today, 12/12/02] This report also reveals that
al-Qaeda operatives heading to the US would be “expected to establish contact with colleagues already living there.”
Mohammed himself had traveled to the US frequently, and as recently as May 2001.
He is a relative of bomber Ramzi Yousef.
He appears to be one of bin Laden's most trusted leaders.
He routinely tells others that he can arrange their entry into the US as well. However, the CIA doesn't find this report credible because they think it is unlikely that he would come to the US. Nevertheless, they consider it worth pursuing. One agent replies, “If it is KSM, we have both a significant threat and an opportunity to pick him up.” The CIA disseminates the report to all other US intelligence agencies, military commanders, and parts of the Treasury and Justice Departments. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will later request that the CIA inform them how CIA agents and other agencies reacted to this information, but the CIA does not respond to this. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] On July 23, 2001, the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will give Mohammed a US visa (he uses an alias but his actual photo appears on his application) (see July 23, 2001). Also, during this summer and as late as September 10, 2001, the NSA will intercept phone calls between Mohammed and Mohamed Atta, but the NSA will not share this information with any other agencies (see Summer 2001).
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Ramzi Yousef, US Department of Justice, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, US Consulate, Jedda, Saudi Arabia Office, US Department of the Treasury, Central Intelligence Agency
          

June 14, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The CIA produces a Senior Publish When Ready (SPWR) report stating that the aluminum tubes being imported by Iraq from China are “controlled items under the Nuclear Suppliers Group and Chinese export laws, are suitable for uranium enrichment gas centrifuge rotors and, while less likely, could be used as rocket bodies for multiple rocket launchers.” The CIA does not explain in this assessment why it believes the tubes are more likely to be used for centrifuge rotors then for rocket bodies. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

Late Summer 2001: Jordan Warns US That Aircraft Will Be Used in Major Attack Inside the US      Complete 911 Timeline

       Jordanian intelligence (the GID) makes a communications intercept deemed so important that King Abdullah's men relay it to Washington, probably through the CIA station in Amman. To make doubly sure the message gets through it is passed through an Arab intermediary to a German intelligence agent. The message states that a major attack, code named “The Big Wedding,” is planned inside the US and that aircraft will be used. “When it became clear that the information was embarrassing to Bush administration officials and congressmen who at first denied that there had been any such warnings before September 11, senior Jordanian officials backed away from their earlier confirmations.” The Christian Science Monitor calls the story “confidently authenticated” even though Jordan has backed away from it. [International Herald Tribune, 5/21/02; Christian Science Monitor, 5/23/02]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Bush administration, Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein
          

July 2001: CIA Learns Impending Attack Widely Known in Afghanistan      Complete 911 Timeline

       The CIA hears an individual who had recently been in Afghanistan say, “Everyone is talking about an impending attack.” [Washington Post, 9/19/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] This corresponds with evidence that bin Laden and others were telling many in Afghanistan about the attacks at this time (see Summer 2001).
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

July 4-14, 2001: Bin Laden Reportedly Receives Lifesaving Treatment in Dubai, Said to Meet with CIA While There      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The American Hospital in Dubai.
Bin Laden, America's most wanted criminal with a $5 million bounty on his head, supposedly receives lifesaving treatment for renal failure from American specialist Dr. Terry Callaway at the American hospital in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He is possibly accompanied by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri (who is said to be bin Laden's personal physician, al-Qaeda's second-in-command, and leader of Egypt's Islamic Jihad), plus several bodyguards. Callaway supposedly treated bin Laden in 1996 and 1998, also in Dubai. Callaway later refuses to answer any questions on this matter. [Le Figaro, 10/31/01; Times of London, 11/01/01; Agence France-Presse, 11/1/01] During his stay, bin Laden is visited by “several members of his family and Saudi personalities,” including Prince Turki al Faisal, then head of Saudi intelligence. [Guardian, 11/1/01] On July 12, bin Laden reportedly meets with CIA agent Larry Mitchell in the hospital. Mitchell apparently lives in Dubai as an Arab specialist under the cover of being a consular agent. The CIA, the Dubai hospital, and even bin Laden deny the story. The two news organizations that broke the story, Le Figaro and Radio France International, stand by their reporting. [Le Figaro, 10/31/01; Radio France International, 11/1/01] The explosive story is widely reported in Europe, but there are only two, small wire service stories on it in the US. [Reuters, 11/10/01; UPI, 11/1/01] The Guardian claims that the story originated from French intelligence, “which is keen to reveal the ambiguous role of the CIA, and to restrain Washington from extending the war to Iraq and elsewhere.” The Guardian adds that during his stay bin Laden is also visited by a second CIA officer. [Guardian, 11/1/01] In 2003, reporter Richard Labeviere will provide additional details of what he claims happened in a book entitled “The Corridors of Terror.” He claims he learned about the meeting from a contact in the Dubai hospital. He claims the event was confirmed in detail by a Gulf prince who presented himself as an adviser to the Emir of Bahrain. This prince claimed the meeting was arrange by Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's intelligence director. The prince said, “By organizing this meeting...Turki thought he could start direct negotiations between [bin Laden] and the CIA on one fundamental point: that bin Laden and his supporters end their hostilities against American interests.” In exchange, the CIA and Saudis would allow bin Laden to return to Saudi Arabia and live freely there. The meeting is said to be a failure. [Reuters, 11/14/03] On July 15, Larry Mitchell reportedly returns to CIA headquarters to report on his meeting with bin Laden. [Radio France International, 11/1/01] French terrorism expert Antoine Sfeir says the story of this meeting has been verified and is not surprising: It “is nothing extraordinary. Bin Laden maintained contacts with the CIA up to 1998. These contacts have not ceased since bin Laden settled in Afghanistan. Up to the last moment, CIA agents hoped that bin Laden would return to the fold of the US, as was the case before 1989.” [Le Figaro, 11/1/01] A CIA spokesman calls the entire account of bin Laden's stay at Dubai “sheer fantasy.” [Reuters, 11/14/03]
People and organizations involved: Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, Islamic Jihad, Terry Callaway, Larry Mitchell, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

July 6, 2001: Clarke Briefs Senior Security Officials on al-Qaeda Threat      Complete 911 Timeline

       One day after heading a meeting on al-Qaeda with the Counterterrorism and Security Group, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke heads a similar meeting at the White House with senior security officials at the FAA, Immigration, Secret Service, Coast Guard, Customs, and other agencies. The CIA and FBI give briefings on the growing al-Qaeda threat. The CIA says al-Qaeda members “believe the upcoming attack will be ‘spectacular,’ qualitatively different from anything they have done to date.” [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] Then Clarke says, “You've just heard that CIA thinks al-Qaeda is planning a major attack on us. So do I. You heard CIA say it would probably be in Israel or Saudi Arabia. Maybe. But maybe it will be here. Just because there is no evidence that says that it will be here, does not mean it will be overseas. They may try to hit us at home. You have to assume that is what they are going to do. Cancel summer vacations, schedule overtime, have your terrorist reaction teams on alert to move fast. Tell me, tell each other, about anything unusual.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 236] Despite this and other warnings to the FBI, the FBI continues to inform state and local agencies that the chances of a terrorist attack is low (see Summer 2001).
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Secret Service, Counterterrorism and Security Group, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, US Coast Guard, Richard A. Clarke, Immigration and Naturalization Service, US Customs Service
          

July 12, 2001: Ashcroft Reputedly Uninterested in Terrorism      Complete 911 Timeline

       On July 5, the CIA briefed Attorney General Ashcroft on the al-Qaeda threat, warning that a significant terrorist attack is imminent, and a strike could occur at any time. [9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04 (B)] On this day, acting FBI Director Tom Pickard briefs Ashcroft about the terror threat inside the US. Pickard later swears under oath that Ashcroft tells him, “[I do] not want to hear about this anymore.” Ashcroft, also under oath, later categorically denies the allegation, saying, “I did never speak to him saying that I didn't want to hear about terrorism.” However, Ruben Garcia, head of the Criminal Division, and another senior FBI official corroborate Pickard's account. Ashcroft's account is supported by his top aide, but another official in Ashcroft's office who could also support Ashcroft's account says he cannot remember what happened. Pickard briefs Ashcroft on terrorism four more times that summer, but he never mentions al-Qaeda to Ashcroft again before 9/11. [MSNBC, 6/22/04] Pickard later makes an appeal to Ashcroft for more counterterrorism funding; Ashcroft rejects the appeal on September 10, 2001 (see September 10, 2001). [9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04] Pickard later says, “Before September 11th, I couldn't get half an hour on terrorism with Ashcroft. He was only interested in three things: guns, drugs, and civil rights.” [Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 293]
People and organizations involved: Ruben Garcia, Central Intelligence Agency, Thomas Pickard, al-Qaeda, John Ashcroft
          

July 13, 2001: CIA Reexamines Malaysia Meeting but Major League Killer Is Not Put on Watch List      Complete 911 Timeline

       The same supervisor of the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center (CTC) who expressed interest two months earlier in surveillance photos from the al-Qaeda Malaysia meeting (see January 5-8, 2000) now finds a cable he had been looking for regarding that same meeting. The cable, from January 2001, discusses al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash's presence at the meeting. The supervisor explains later that bin Attash's presence at the meeting had been troubling him. He writes an e-mail to the CTC, stating, “[Bin Attash] is a major league killer, who orchestrated the Cole attack (see October 12, 2000) and possibly the Africa bombings (see August 7, 1998).” Yet bin Attash is still not put on a terrorist watch list. An FBI analyst assigned to the CTC is given the task of reviewing all other CIA cables about the Malaysian meeting. It takes this analyst until August 21—over five weeks later—to put together that Khalid Almihdhar had a US visa and that Nawaf Alhazmi had traveled to the US. Yet other CIA agents are already very aware of these facts but are not sharing the information. Working with immigration officials, this analyst then learns that Almihdhar entered and left the US in 2000, and entered again on July 4, 2001, and that Alhazmi appears to still be in the US. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Tawifiq ("Khallad") bin Attash, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi
          

Late July 2001: Egypt Warns CIA of 20 al-Qaeda Operatives in US; Four Training to Fly; CIA Is Not Interested      Complete 911 Timeline

       CBS later reports, in a long story on another topic: “Just days after [Mohamed] Atta return[s] to the US from Spain, Egyptian intelligence in Cairo says it received a report from one of its operatives in Afghanistan that 20 al-Qaeda members had slipped into the US and four of them had received flight training on Cessnas. To the Egyptians, pilots of small planes didn't sound terribly alarming, but they [pass] on the message to the CIA anyway, fully expecting Washington to request information. The request never [comes].” [CBS News, 10/9/02] This appears to be just one of several accurate Egyptian warnings from their informants inside al-Qaeda.
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency
          

August 2001: Moroccan Informant Warns US of Large Scale, Imminent Attack in New York      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to simultaneous reports in a French magazine and a Moroccan newspaper, a Moroccan agent named Hassan Dabou has penetrated al-Qaeda to the point of getting close to bin Laden by this time. Dabou claims he learns that bin Laden is “very disappointed” that the 1993 bombing had not toppled the WTC, and plans “large scale operations in New York in the summer or fall of 2001.” Dabou is called to the US to report this information directly, and in so doing blows his cover, losing his ability to gather more intelligence. The International Herald Tribune later calls the story “not proved beyond a doubt” but intriguing, and asks the CIA to confirm or deny the story. The CIA has refused to do so. [Agence France-Presse, 11/22/01; Times of London, 6/12/02; International Herald Tribune, 5/21/02]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Hassan Dabou, al-Qaeda
          

August 6, 2001: Bush Briefing Titled Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US      Complete 911 Timeline

      
President Bush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch on August 6, 2001. Advisors wait with classified briefings.
President Bush receives a classified intelligence briefing at his Crawford, Texas ranch indicating that bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. The memo provided to him is titled “bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” The entire memo focuses on the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the US. [Newsweek, 5/27/02; New York Times, 5/15/02] Incredibly, the New York Times later reports that Bush “[breaks] off from work early and [spends] most of the day fishing.” [New York Times, 5/25/02] The existence of this memo is kept secret, until it is leaked in May 2002, causing a storm of controversy. While National Security Adviser Rice claims the memo is only one and a half pages long; other accounts state it is 11 1/2 pages instead of the usual two or three. [Newsweek, 5/27/02; New York Times, 5/15/02; Die Zeit, 10/1/02] She disingenuously asserts that, “It was an analytic report that talked about [bin Laden]'s methods of operation, talked about what he had done historically, in 1997, in 1998. ... I want to reiterate, it was not a warning. There was no specific time, place, or method mentioned.” [White House, 5/16/02] A page and a half of the contents are released on April 10, 2004, after Rice testifies before the 9/11 Commission. [Washington Post, 4/10/04] Rice testifies that the memo is mostly historic regarding bin Laden's previous activities, and she says it contains no specific information that would have prevented an attack. The memo, as released, states as follows:
Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Laden implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."
After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a -REDACTED-service.
An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told -REDACTED- service at the same time that bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative's access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.
The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of bin Laden's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that in ---, Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaida encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaida was planning his own US attack.
Ressam says bin Laden was aware of the Los Angeles operation.
Although bin Laden has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Laden associates surveyed our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.
Al Qaeda members -- including some who are US citizens -- have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qaeda members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.
A clandestine source said in 1998 that a bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.
We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a -REDACTED- service in 1998 saying that bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman and other US-held extremists.
Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.
The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full-field investigations throughout the US that it considers bin Laden-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group or bin Laden supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives. [9/11 Commission, 7/22/2004] The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry calls it “a closely held intelligence report for senior government officials” presented in early August 2001. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Ramzi Yousef, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles International Airport, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Ahmed Ressam, 9/11 Commission, Central Intelligence Agency, Abu Zubaida, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, World Trade Center
          

August 8-15, 2001: Israel Reportedly Warns of Major Assault on the US      Complete 911 Timeline

       At some point between these dates, Israel warns the US that an al-Qaeda attack is imminent. [Fox News, 5/17/02] Reportedly, two high-ranking agents from the Mossad come to Washington and warn the FBI and CIA that from 50 to 200 terrorists have slipped into the US and are planning “a major assault on the United States.” They say indications point to a “large scale target,” and that Americans would be “very vulnerable.” They add there could be Iraqi connections to the al-Qaeda attack. [Daily Telegraph, 9/16/01; Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01; Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01] The Los Angeles Times later retracts its story after a CIA spokesperson says, “There was no such warning. Allegations that there was are complete and utter nonsense.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01 (B)] Other newspapers do not retract it.
People and organizations involved: Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency
          

August 23, 2001: Mossad Reportedly Gives CIA List of Terrorist Living in US; at Least Four 9/11 Hijackers Named      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to German newspapers, the Mossad gives the CIA a list of 19 terrorists living in the US and say that they appear to be planning to carry out an attack in the near future. It is unknown if these are the 19 9/11 hijackers or if the number is a coincidence. However, four names on the list are known, and these four will be 9/11 hijackers: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Marwan Alshehhi, and Mohamed Atta. [Ha'aretz, 10/3/02; BBC, 10/2/02; Die Zeit, 10/1/02; Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] The Mossad appears to have learned about this through its “art student spy ring.” Yet apparently, this warning and list are not treated as particularly urgent by the CIA and the information is not passed on to the FBI. It is unclear whether this warning influenced the decision to add Alhazmi and Almihdhar to a terrorism watch list on this same day, and if so, why only those two. [Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] Israel has denied that there were any Mossad agents in the US. [Ha'aretz, 10/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, "Israeli art students", Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta
          

August 24, 2001: Frustrated Minnesota FBI Asks CIA for Help with Moussaoui Case      Complete 911 Timeline

       Frustrated with the lack of response from FBI headquarters about Zacarias Moussaoui, the Minnesota FBI contacts an FBI agent working with the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center, and asks for help. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 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” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 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 is not a surprise, at least to the CIA. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02] FBI headquarters responds by chastising the Minnesota FBI for notifying the CIA without approval. [Time, 5/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Zacarias Moussaoui, Central Intelligence Agency, FBI Minnesota field office, FBI Headquarters
          

August 28, 2001: CIA Fails to Connect Mohammed, bin al-Shibh, and Moussaoui      Complete 911 Timeline

       In April 2001, the CIA analyzed some “intriguing information associated with a person known as ‘Mukhtar.’ ” The CIA didn't know who this was at the time, only that he was associated with top al-Qaeda deputy Abu Zubaida and that he seemed to be involved in planning al-Qaeda activities. On August 28, 2001, the CIA receives a cable reporting that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's nickname is Mukhtar (which means “brain” in Arabic). However, apparently no one at the CIA's bin Laden unit makes the connection between this new information and the April 2001 information. The 9/11 Commission writes, “Only after 9/11 would it be discovered that Muhktar/KSM had communicated with a phone that was used by [Ramzi] bin al-Shibh, and that bin al-Shibh had used the same phone to communicate with [Zacarias] Moussaoui [who is in US custody by this time.]” [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/04; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Zacarias Moussaoui, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, 9/11 Commission, Abu Zubaida, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

Late August 2001: Foreign Intelligence Reminds US of Al-Qaeda Plot to Attack Within US      Complete 911 Timeline

       The 9/11 Commission later notes that at this time, an unnamed foreign intelligence “service report[s] that [al-Qaeda deputy leader] Abu Zubaida [is] considering mounting terrorist attacks in the United States, after postponing possible operations in Europe. No targets, timing or method of attack [are] provided.” Newsweek suggests that most or all of this information may have come from a US debriefing of al-Qaeda bomber Ahmed Ressam in May 2001 (see May 30, 2001). Newsweek notes that it is a common occurrence for foreign intelligence agencies to “simply rereport to the CIA what it had originally learned from the FBI through separate channels.” Still, even “the multiple channels for Ressam's warnings [do] little to change thinking within the FBI or CIA...” [Newsweek, 4/28/05]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Ahmed Ressam, Abu Zubaida, Central Intelligence Agency, 9/11 Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Early September 2001: Phone Call Warning of Big Event in the US in Coming Days Is Just One of Many Such Warnings Recorded by CIA      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Mamdouh Habib.
A few days before 9/11, an Islamic radical named Mamdouh Habib is in Pakistan and calls his wife in Australia. Her phone is being monitored by Australian intelligence. In the conversation he says that something big is going to happen in the US in the next few days. He is later arrested after 9/11 and is held by the US in the Guantanamo prison before finally being released in 2005. He will be released because his captors eventually decide that he didn't have any special foreknowledge or involvement in the 9/11 plot. He had been in Afghanistan training camps and had picked up the information there. The New York Times paraphrases an Australian official, “Just about everyone in Kandahar [Afghanistan] and the Qaeda camps knew that something big was coming, he said. ‘There was a buzz.’ ” [New York Times, 1/29/05] Furthermore, according to The Australian, this call “mirrored several other conversations between accused terrorists that were tapped around the same time by the Pakistani Internal Security Department on behalf of the CIA.” This was part of what the CIA called a sharp increase in “chatter” intercepted from operatives in al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the days just before the attacks, alluding to an imminent big event. [Australian, 2/2/05]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Pakistani Internal Security Department, Mamdouh Habib
          

September 4, 2001: Cabinet-Rank Advisers Discuss Terrorism, Approve Revised Version of Clarke's Eight Month-Old-Plan      Complete 911 Timeline

       President Bush's cabinet-rank advisers discuss terrorism for the second of only two times before 9/11. [Washington Post, 5/17/02] National Security Adviser Rice chairs the meeting; neither President Bush nor Vice President Cheney attends. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later says that in this meeting, he and CIA Director Tenet speak passionately about the al-Qaeda threat. No one disagrees that the threat is serious. Secretary of State Powell outlines a plan to put pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting al-Qaeda. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld appears to be more interested in Iraq. The only debate is over whether to fly the armed Predator drone over Afghanistan to attack al-Qaeda. [Clarke, 2004, pp 237-38] Clarke's earlier plans to “roll back” al-Qaeda have been discussed and honed in many meetings and are now presented as a formal National Security Presidential Directive. The directive is “apparently” approved, though the process of turning it into official policy is still not done. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] There is later disagreement over just how different the directive presented is from Clarke's earlier plans. For instance, some claim the directive aims not just to “roll back” al-Qaeda, but also to “eliminate” it altogether. [Time, 8/4/02] However, Clarke notes that even though he wanted to use the word “eliminate,” the approved directive merely aims to “significantly erode” al-Qaeda. The word “eliminate” is only added after 9/11. [Washington Post, 3/25/04 (B)] The Washington Post notes that the directive approved on this day “did not differ substantially from Clinton's policy.” [Washington Post, 3/27/04] Time magazine later comments, “The fight against terrorism was one of the casualties of the transition, as Washington spent eight months going over and over a document whose outline had long been clear.” [Time, 8/4/02] The primary change from Clarke's original draft is that the approved plan calls for more direct financial and logistical support to the Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban groups. The plan also calls for drafting plans for possible US military involvement, “but those differences were largely theoretical; administration officials told the [9/11 Commission's] investigators that the plan's overall timeline was at least three years, and it did not include firm deadlines, military plans, or significant funding at the time of the September 11, 2001, attacks.” [Washington Post, 3/27/04; Reuters, 4/2/04]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Central Intelligence Agency, Colin Powell, al-Qaeda, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Northern Alliance, Richard A. Clarke, George W. Bush
          

September 5-6, 2001: French Again Warn US About Moussaoui      Complete 911 Timeline

       French and US intelligence officials hold meetings in Paris on combating terrorism. The French newspaper Le Monde claims that the French try again to warn their US counterparts about Zacarias Moussaoui, “but the American delegation ... paid no attention ... basically concluding that they were going to take no one's advice, and that an attack on American soil was inconceivable.” The US participants also say Moussaoui's case is in the hands of the immigration authorities and is not a matter for the FBI. [Independent, 12/11/01; Village Voice, 5/28/02] The FBI arranges to deport Moussaoui to France on September 17, so the French can search his belongings and tell the FBI the results. Due to the 9/11 attacks, the deportation never happens. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Zacarias Moussaoui, Central Intelligence Agency, France, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 8-11, 2001: Some Hijackers Sleep with Prostitutes      Complete 911 Timeline

       In the days before the attacks, some of the hijackers (including Waleed Alshehri and/or Wail Alshehri) apparently sleep with prostitutes in Boston hotel rooms, or at least try to do so. A driver working at an “escort service” used by the hijackers claims he regularly drove prostitutes to a relative of bin Laden about once a week until 9/11, when the relative disappeared. Bin Laden has several relatives in the Boston area, most or all of whom returned to Saudi Arabia right after 9/11. [Boston Herald, 10/10/01] On September 10, four other hijackers in Boston (Marwan Alshehhi, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Mohand Alshehri, and Satam Al Suqami) call around to find prostitutes to sleep with on their last night alive, but in the end decline. Says one official, “It was going to be really expensive and they couldn't come to a consensus on price, so that was the end of it ... Either they thought it was too extravagant [over $400] or they did not have enough money left.” [Boston Globe, 10/10/01]
People and organizations involved: Wail Alshehri, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Marwan Alshehhi, Waleed M. Alshehri, Mohand Alshehri, Satam Al Suqami
          

September 9, 2001: Internet Forum Message Warns of 9/11 Attack      Complete 911 Timeline

       A message is posted on Alsaha.com, a website based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, warning of the 9/11 attack. It proclaims that in the next two days, a “big surprise” is coming from the Saudi Arabian region of Asir, the remote, mountainous province that produced most of the 19 hijackers who struck on September 11. Since 9/11, the FBI and CIA have closely monitored this website as “a kind of terrorist early-warning system” due to its popularity with Muslim fundamentalists. However, it is doubtful if they were monitoring the site before 9/11, or noticed this message. [Newsweek, 5/25/03]
People and organizations involved: United Arab Emirates, Central Intelligence Agency, Alsaha.com, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Before September 11, 2001: CIA, FBI Lack Counterterrorism Resources, and Focus      Complete 911 Timeline

       Just prior to 9/11, the CIA and FBI do not have enough staff working on al-Qaeda. Only 17 to 19 people are working in the FBI's special unit focusing on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] The FBI has a $4.3 billion anti-terrorism budget, but of its 27,000 employees, just 153 are devoted to terrorism analysis. [Sydney Morning Herald, 6/8/02] The FBI's “analytic expertise has been ‘gutted’ by transfers to operational units” and only one strategic analyst is assigned full time to al-Qaeda. The FBI office in New York is very aware of the threat from bin Laden, but many branch offices remain largely unaware. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] A senior FBI official later tells Congress that there are fewer FBI agents assigned to counterterrorism on this day than in August 1998, when the US embassy bombings in Africa made bin Laden a household name. [New York Times, 9/22/02] The CIA has only about 35 to 40 people assigned to their special bin Laden unit. It has five strategic analysts working full time on al-Qaeda. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] The CIA and FBI later complain that some of these figures are misleading. [New York Times, 9/18/02] “Individuals in both the CIA and FBI units ... reported being seriously overwhelmed by the volume of information and workload prior to September 11, 2001.” Despite numerous warnings that planes could be used as weapons, such a possibility was never studied, and a congressional report later blames lack of staff as a major reason for this. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] Senator Patrick Leahy (D) also notes, “Between the Department of Justice and the FBI, they had a whole task force working on finding a couple of houses of prostitution in New Orleans. They had one on al-Qaeda.” [CBS News, 9/25/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Patrick Leahy, US Congress, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

8:30 a.m.: FBI/CIA Anti-Terrorist Task Force Away From Washington on Training Exercise in California      Complete 911 Timeline

       USA Today reports that at this time, “a joint FBI/CIA anti-terrorist task force that specifically prepared for this type of disaster” is on a “training exercise in Monterey, Calif.” Consequently, “as of late Tuesday, with airports closed around the country, the task force still [hasn]'t found a way to fly back to Washington.” [USA Today, 9/11/01] The US politics website evote.com adds that the FBI has deployed “all of its anti-terrorist and top special operations agents at a training exercise (complete with all associated helicopters and light aircraft) in Monterey, California.” So at the time of the attacks, “the chief federal agency responsible for preventing such crimes [is] being AWOL.” [Evote [.com], 9/11/01]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

(8:50 a.m.): CIA Director, Told of Attack, Immediately Suspects bin Laden      Complete 911 Timeline

       CIA Director Tenet is told of the first WTC crash while he is eating breakfast with his mentor, former Senator David Boren (D). They are interrupted when CIA bodyguards converge on the table to hand Tenet the cell phone. Tenet is told that the WTC has been attacked by an airplane. Boren later says, “I was struck by the fact that [the messenger] used the word ‘attacked.’ ” Tenet then hands a cell phone back to an aide and says to Boren, “You know, this has bin Laden's fingerprints all over it.” “ ‘He was very collected,’ Boren recalls. ‘He said he would be at the CIA in 15 minutes, what people he needed in the room and what he needed to talk about.’ ” [ABC News, 9/14/02; USA Today, 9/24/01] According to other accounts, Tenet responds to the caller, “They steered the plane directly into the building?” Tenet then says to Boren, “That looks like bin Laden.” Tenet muses aloud, “I wonder if this has something to do with the guy [Zacarias Moussaoui] who trained for a pilot's license.” (Moussaoui had been arrested several weeks earlier.) [Stern, 8/13/03; Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 5/29/02] According to another account, Tenet pauses while on the phone to tell Boren, “The World Trade Center has been hit. We're pretty sure it wasn't an accident. It looks like a terrorist act,” then returns to the phone to identify who should be summoned to the CIA situation room. [Time, 9/14/01] (Note that according to two accounts, Tenet was not informed of the developing crisis until after the second WTC tower had been struck. [Washington Post, 1/27/02; Bamford, 2004, pp 18-19] However, the majority of reports indicate that Tenet was informed of the crisis right after the first WTC tower was struck.)
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, George Tenet, David Boren, Zacarias Moussaoui, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency
          

(9:00 a.m.): 9/11-Styled Simulation Cancelled      Complete 911 Timeline

      
John Fulton.
The National Reconnaissance Office plans a simulation of an airplane accidentally crashing into its headquarters. The office is located four miles from Washington's Dulles airport, where one of the real hijacked planes takes off. The NRO “operates many of the nation's spy satellites. It draws its personnel from the military and the CIA.” The simulation is apparently run by John Fulton “and his team at the CIA.” An agency spokesman says, “It was just an incredible coincidence that this happened to involve an aircraft crashing into our facility. As soon as the real world events began, we canceled the exercise.” [UPI, 8/22/02; Associated Press, 8/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, John Fulton
          

9:25 a.m.: 9/11 Commission's Conflicting Account of Clarke-Led Video Conference Begins at This Time      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to his own account, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, started a video teleconference from the White House's Secure Video Conferencing Center, next to the Situation Room, at around 9:10 a.m.(see (9:10 a.m.)). However, the 9/11 Commission says that logs indicate this conference beginning 15 minutes later than this. Included in the conference are the FBI, the CIA, the FAA, the departments of State, Justice, and Defense, and the White House shelter. The FAA and CIA join at 9:40 a.m. The 9/11 Commission says, “It is not clear to us that the video teleconference was fully under way before 9:37, when the Pentagon was struck.” Furthermore, it states: “We do not know who from Defense participated, but we know that in the first hour none of the personnel involved in managing the crisis did. And none of the information conveyed in the White House video teleconference, at least in the first hour, was being passed to the NMCC [in the Pentagon].” Clarke's video teleconference is not connected into the area of the NMCC from where the crisis is being managed. Consequently, “the director of the operations team-who was on the phone with NORAD-did not have the benefit of information being shared on the video teleconference.” And, “when the Secretary [of Defense Rumsfeld] and Vice Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Myers] later participated in the White House video teleconference, they were necessarily absent from the NMCC and unable to provide guidance to the operations team.” Clarke, however, gives a specific recollection of Myers speaking over video at 9:28, which is seemingly at odds with the 9/11 Commission's account (see 9:28 a.m.). One witness later recalls: “[It] was almost like there were parallel decision-making processes going on; one was a voice conference orchestrated by the NMCC ... and then there was the [White House video teleconference]. ... [I]n my mind they were competing venues for command and control and decision-making.” [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, pp. 36 and 463]
People and organizations involved: US Department of State, US Department of Justice, Federal Aviation Administration, US Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Richard A. Clarke
          

September 11, 2001: Planned Rice Speech on Threats Contains No Mention of al-Qaeda      Complete 911 Timeline

       National Security Adviser Rice is scheduled to deliver a speech claiming to address “the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday.” The speech is never given due to the 9/11 attacks earlier in the day, but the text is later leaked to the media. The Washington Post calls the speech “telling Insight into the administration's thinking” because it promotes missile defense and contains no mention of al-Qaeda, bin Laden, or Islamic extremist groups. The only mention of terrorism is in the context of the danger of rogue nations such as Iraq. In fact, there are almost no public mentions of bin Laden or al-Qaeda by Bush or other top Bush administration officials before 9/11, and the focus instead is on missile defense. [Washington Post, 4/1/04 (D); Washington Post, 4/1/04]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Condoleezza Rice, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

(2:40 p.m.): Rumsfeld Wants to Blame Iraq      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is provided information from the CIA indicating that three of the hijackers were suspected al-Qaeda operatives. Notes composed by aides who were with Rumsfeld in the National Military Command Center on 9/11 are leaked nearly a year later. According to the notes, information shows, “One guy is [an] associate of [USS] Cole bomber.” (This is a probable reference to Khalid Almihdhar or Nawaf Alhazmi.) Rumsfeld has also been given information indicating an al-Qaeda operative had advanced details of the 9/11 attack. According to the aide's notes, Rumsfeld wants the “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Osama bin Laden]. Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 285; CBS News, 9/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, National Military Command Center, al-Qaeda, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar  Additional Info 
          

September 14, 2001: Account of Fighter Response Times Changes Significantly      Complete 911 Timeline

       CBS News announces that “contrary to early reports, US Air Force jets did get into the air on Tuesday while the attacks were under way.” According to this new account, the first fighters got airborne toward New York City at 8:52 a.m. [CBS News, 9/14/01] The day before this announcement, acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers in congressional testimony stated that the first fighters got airborne only after the Pentagon was hit at 9:37 a.m. [General Myers' confirmation hearing, 9/13/01] NORAD spokesman Marine Corps Major Mike Snyder also claimed no fighters launched anywhere until after the Pentagon was hit. [Boston Globe, 9/15/01] Four days later, the official NORAD timeline is changed to include this new account. [NORAD, 9/18/01] New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani later testifies before the 9/11 Commission that he found out from the White House at about 9:58 a.m. that the first fighters were not launched toward New York City until twelve minutes earlier—9:46 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 5/19/04] This would correspond to Myers' and Snyder's accounts that no fighters are scrambled until after the Pentagon is hit. But the 9/11 Commission later agrees with this CBS report and by their account the first fighters launch around 8:52. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani, Richard B. Myers, Mike Snyder, Pentagon, North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/11 Commission Report, Central Intelligence Agency
          

Early October-Mid-November, 2001: Air Force Is Repeatedly Denied Permission to Bomb Top al-Qaeda and Taliban Leaders      Complete 911 Timeline

       In mid-November 2001, the Washington Post will report that senior Air Force officials are upset they have missed opportunities to hit top al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders since the start of the bombing of Afghanistan. According to these officials, the Air Force believes it has the leaders in its crosshairs as many as ten times, but they are unable to receive a timely clearance to fire. Cumbersome approval procedures, a concern not to kill civilians, and a power play between the Defense Department and the CIA contribute to the delays. One anonymous Air Force official later says, “We knew we had some of the big boys. The process is so slow that by the time we got the clearances, and everybody had put in their 2 cents, we called it off.” The main problem is that commanders in the region have to ask for permission from General Tommy Franks, based in Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida, or even Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and other higher-ups. Air Force generals complain to Franks about the delay problem, but never receive a response. For example, at one point in October, a Taliban military convoy is moving north to reinforce front line positions. Targeters consider it an easy mark of clear military value. But permission from Central Command is denied on the suspicion that the target is so obvious that “it might be a trick.” In another example, a target is positively identified by real-time imagery from a Predator drone, but Central Command overrides the decision to strike, saying they want a second source of data. An anonymous official calls this request for independent verification of Predator imagery “kind of ridiculous.” [Washington Post, 11/18/01] The London Times paraphrase officials who claim that, “Attempts to limit collateral damage [serve] merely to prolong the war, and force the Pentagon to insert commandos on the ground to hunt down the same targets.” [London Times, 11/19/01 (B)] By the end of the war, only one top al-Qaeda leader, Mohammed Atef, is killed in a bombing raid (see November 15, 2001), and no top Taliban leaders are killed.
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of Defense, Thomas Franks, Mohammed Atef, Donald Rumsfeld, al-Qaeda, Taliban
          

October 7, 2001: US Hesitates, Fails to Kill Mullah Omar      Complete 911 Timeline

       On the first night of the Afghan war, an unmanned Predator drone identifies a convoy of vehicles fleeing Kabul. Mullah Omar, head of the Taliban, is determined to be inside this convoy. The CIA is in control of the Predator attack drone and wants to use it to kill Omar, but they have to ask for permission from military commanders who are based in Florida. General Tommy Franks decides not to fire any missiles or launch an air strike against the building in which Omar takes shelter. Eventually fighters attack and destroy the building, but by then Omar and his associates have moved on. One anonymous senior official later says of this failure to kill Omar, “It's not a f_ckup, it's an outrage.” According to one senior military officer, “political correctness” and/or slow bureaucratic procedures are to blame. [New Yorker, 10/16/01] It is later revealed that this is part of a pattern of delays that will hinder many attacks on al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders (see Early October-Mid-November, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Mullah Omar, Central Intelligence Agency, Thomas Franks
          

October 15, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Italy's military intelligence agency, SISMI, reportedly permits a CIA field agent in Rome to review some papers (It is not clear if these papers are the actual forgeries or a summary of the forgeries put together by SISMI) documenting a deal between Iraq and Niger for the purchase of a large quantity of uranium oxide, known as “yellowcake.” The agent, who is not permitted to duplicate the papers, writes a report and sends it to Langley. [New Yorker, 10/20/03; Knight Ridder, 11/4/2005; La Repubblica, 11/11/2005] The report, it is later learned, is based on a collection of mostly forged documents that were put together in Italy (see (Between Late 2000 and September 11, 2001)). [New York Times, 10/28/2005 Sources: Robb-Silberman report]
The allegations - The report includes four allegations:
The report states that Iraq first communicated its interest in purchasing uranium from Niger at least as early as 1999. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] As blogger Steve Soto will conclude through his careful analysis of the scandal at TheLeftCoaster.Org [TheLeftCoaster [.org], 10/31/2005] none of the documents that are later provided to the US as the basis for these allegations provide actual proof of uranium negotiations in 1999. Two of the source documents for this allegation do mention a 1999 visit by Wissam Al-Zahawi to Niger, however no evidence has ever surfaced suggesting that there were any discussions about uranium during that visit (see February 1999). The first document (possibly authentic) is a letter, dated February 1, 1999, from the Niger embassy in Rome to Adamou Chekou, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Niger, announcing Zahawie's trip. It does not mention uranium. Note that the SISMI report does not mention Al-Zahawi's trip, it only states that uranium negotations between the two countries began by at least 1999. [Sources: Forged Niger documents] The second document is a letter dated July 30, 1999 from the Niger Ministry of Foreign Affairs to his ambassador in Rome requesting that he contact Zahawie, concerning an agreement signed June 28, 2000 to sell uranium to Iraq. The letter is an obvious forgery because the letter (July 30, 1999) refers to an alleged event that is described as taking place 11 months later (June 28, 2000). [Sources: Forged Niger documents]
The SISMI report states that in “late 2000,” the State Court of Niger approved an agreement with Iraq whereby Niger would sell Iraq a large quantity of uranium. This allegation appears to be based on a forged document titled “Annex 1,” which was possibly an annex to the alleged uranium agreement. It is evident that this document was forged because it says that the state court “met in the chamber of the council in the palace ... on Wednesday, July 7, 2000.” But July 7, 2000 was, in fact, a Friday, not a Wednesday. One of SISMI's reports, possibly this one, actually includes this error. [TheLeftCoaster [.org], 10/31/2005 Sources: Forged Niger documents]
According to the report, Nigerien President Mamadou Tandja approved the agreement and communicated this decision to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The source for this is apparently a forged letter from the president of Niger to Saddam Hussein, in which the president refers to his authority under the country's obsolete 1966 constitution. At the time the letter was presumed to have been written, the constitution in effect would have been that of December 26, 1992, which was subsequently revised by national referendum on May 12, 1996 and again by referendum on July 18, 1999. [US Department of State, 9/2005; Reuters, 3/26/03 Sources: Forged Niger documents]
The report also alleges that in October 2000, Nigerien Minister of Foreign Affairs Nassirou Sabo informed one of his ambassadors in Europe that Niger had agreed to provide several tons of uranium to Iraq. [Sources: Forged Niger documents]
This is seemingly based on a forged letter that accompanied the alleged uranium sales agreement. The letter, dated October 10, 2000, is stamped as being received in Rome on September 28, 2000—nearly two weeks before the letter was presumably written. Unlike what is reported in the SISMI papers provided to the CIA, the actual letter is signed by Allele Elhadj Habibou, who left office in 1989. This indicates that someone must have corrected this information, replacing the name of Allele Elhadj Habibou with that of Nassirou Sabo (the minister in October 2000) in the SISMI report provided to the CIA. [TheLeftCoaster [.org], 11/2/2005]
Distribution within US intelligence community - After recieving the report from its fied agent in Rome, the CIA distributes it to other US intelligence agencies. The SSCI will say in its report: “CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and Department of Energy (DOE) analysts considered the reporting to be ‘possible’ while the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) regarded the report as ‘highly suspect,’ primarily because INR analysts did not believe that Niger would be likely to engage in such a transaction and did not believe Niger would be able to transfer uranium to Iraq because a French consortium maintained control of the Nigerien uranium industry.” [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] Sources later interviewed by New Yorker's Seymour Hersh portray US intelligence analysts' assessment of the report in slightly harsher terms, saying that they “dismissed [it] as amateurish and unsubstantiated.” [New Yorker, 10/20/03] Langley asks for further clarification from Rome [La Repubblica, 11/11/2005] and recieves a response three days later (see October 18, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein, Nassirou Sabo, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Mamadou Tandja, US Department of Energy, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Wissam al-Zahawie, SISMI
          

October 18, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Nicolo Pollari, chief of SISMI, Italy's military intelligence service, responds to the CIA's request for clarification regarding intelligence it has suggesting Iraq secured a deal with Niger to purchase a large quantity of uranium. Pollari's page and a half letter explains that “the information comes form a creditable source, La Signora,” who has in the past “given SISMI the cryptographic codes and memorandum ledgers from the Niger Embassy.” [Il Messagero cited in La Repubblica, 11/11/2005]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Nicolo Pollari
          

October 25, 2001: Afghan Resistance Leader Killed      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Abdul Haq.
Abdul Haq, a leader of the Afghan resistance to the Taliban, is killed. According to some reports, he “seemed the ideal candidate to lead an opposition alliance into Afghanistan to oust the ruling Taliban.” [Observer, 10/28/01] Four days earlier, he had secretly entered Afghanistan with a small force to try to raise rebellion, but was spotted by Taliban forces and surrounded. He calls former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane (who had supported him in the past) who then calls the CIA and asks for immediate assistance to rescue Haq. A battle lasting up to twelve hours ensues. (The CIA had previously rejected Haq's requests for weapons to fight the Taliban, and so his force is grossly underarmed.) [Sydney Morning Herald, 10/29/01] The CIA refuses to send in a helicopter to rescue him, alleging that the terrain is too rough, even though Haq's group is 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 some of the Taliban forces fighting Haq, but not until five hours after Haq has been captured. The Taliban executes him. [Wall Street Journal, 11/2/01] Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA director of counterterrorism, and others suggest that Haq's position was betrayed to the Taliban by the ISI. Haq was already an enemy of the ISI, which may have killed his family. [Knight Ridder, 11/3/01; Toronto Star, 11/5/01; USA Today, 10/31/01; Village Voice, 10/26/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Abdul Haq, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Robert C. McFarlane, Vincent Cannistraro
          

November 3, 2001: US Is Said to Be Relying on ISI for Intelligence in Afghan War      Complete 911 Timeline

       The US, lacking local agents and intelligence in Afghanistan, is said to be heavily reliant on the ISI for information about the Taliban. The US is said to be confident in the ISI, even though the ISI was the main supporter of the Taliban up until 9/11. Knight Ridder Newspapers comments, “Anti-Taliban Afghans, foreign diplomats, and Pakistani government security officials say that pro-Taliban officers remain deeply embedded within ISI and might still be helping America's enemies inside Afghanistan.” A leader of the resistance to the Taliban says, “There are lots of (ISI) officers who are fully committed to the way of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.” Former ISI Director Hamid Gul says, “It is a foolish commander who depends on someone else's intelligence, especially when that someone doesn't like him and was once friendly with the enemy.” [Knight Ridder, 11/3/01] Later in the month another article notes that the CIA continues to rely on the ISI for covert actions against the Taliban. One CIA agent says, “The same Pakistani case officers who built up the Taliban are doing the translating for the CIA. Our biggest mistake is allowing the ISI to be our eyes and ears.” [Toronto Star, 11/5/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Hamid Gul, Central Intelligence Agency, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence
          

Early December 2001: Al-Qaeda Puppet Master Disappears in Britain      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Abu Qatada.
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, the media had strongly suggested that Qatada would soon be arrested for his known roles in al-Qaeda plots, but no such arrest occurred. [Times of London, 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, as he has previously been connected to a Spanish al-Qaeda cell that may have met with Mohamed Atta in July 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 reportedly do this to avoid a “hot potato” trial. [Time, 7/7/02] A British official rejects these assertions: “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 (B)] It appears that Qatada held secret meetings with British intelligence in 1996 and 1997, and the British were under the impression that he was informing on al-Qaeda (though there is disagreement if he was misleading them or not) (see June 1996-February 1997). Qatada is later arrested in London on October 23, 2002, but has yet to be put on trial or deported. [Times of London, 10/25/02]
People and organizations involved: Algeria, France, Jordan, Spain, Mohamed Atta, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Abu Qatada, Britain
          

December 13, 2001: US Releases Bin Laden Video; Authenticity Questioned      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The man in the picture on the left is supposed to bel bin Laden in October 2001. The picture on the right is undisputendly bin Laden in December 1998. Their noses are noticably different. Could the man on the left be one of bin Laden's doubles?
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 example, all previous videos had been made with the consent of bin Laden, and usually released to the Arabic television 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” conducts an independent translation that questions the translation given by the US military. According to 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] There are reports that bin Laden had from four to ten look-alike doubles at the time. [Times of London, 11/19/01; Agence France-Presse, 10/7/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Bush administration, Gernot Rotter
          

December 17, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       After fleeing Iraq, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, 43, defects to the US. Before he is debriefed by the CIA, he spends several days in a Bangkok hotel room being coached by Zaab Sethna, the spokesman of the Iraqi National Congress, on what he should tell his debriefer. On December 17, he meets with a CIA official who questions him. Strapped to a polygraph machine [Rolling Stone, 11/17/2005] , al-Haideri proceeds to tell the agent he is a civil engineer who helped hide Iraq's illicit weapons in subterranean wells, private villas, and even beneath the Saddam Hussein Hospital. After reviewing the polygraph, which was requested by the Defense Intelligence Agency, the intelligence debriefer concludes that Haideri made the entire story up. [Rolling Stone, 11/17/2005; New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, Zaab Sethna, Defense Intelligence Agency
          

January 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       A CIA report on global weapons technology proliferation fails to mention Iraq as a nuclear threat. The report only says, “We believe that Iraq has probably continued at least low-level theoretical R&D [research and development] associated with its nuclear program.” [New Republic, 9/16/2001]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

January 30, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The CIA sends Congress an unclassified report stating, “Baghdad may be attempting to acquire materials that could aid in reconstituting its nuclear-weapons program.” [New Yorker, 10/20/03]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

February 5, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The CIA Directorate of Operations (DO) issues a second intelligence report from SISMI, Italy's military intelligence service. This report provides additional details on the alleged agreement described in the October 15 report (see October 18, 2001), which reported that Iraq had struck a deal with Niger on the purchase of several tons of uranium. A later Senate Intelligence investigation will report that this report from SISMI includes a “verbatim text” of the accord, but the Senate Intelligence report does not say precisely which of the orginal documents the “verbatim text” is a trascription of. The purported agreement, signed by Iraqi and Niger officials during meetings held July 5-6, 2000, reportedly stated that Niger would sell Iraq 500 tons of uranium per year. [Knight Ridder, 11/4/2005 Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] The SISMI report also draws attention to a 1999 trip to Niger made by Wissam al-Zahawie (see February 1999), Iraq's former ambassador to the Vatican, and alleges that its mission was to discuss the future purchase of uranium. This is the first report from SISMI that names al-Zahawie and refers directly to his 1999 trip. (SISMI's previous report had only stated that negotiations had begun by at least 1999.) This report, as well as the previous report, are likely based on two documents, one of which is definately a forgery (see October 18, 2001). [TheLeftCoaster [.org], 11/3/2005; New Yorker, 10/20/2003 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie, Unnamed US intelligence sources, Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] Analysts at the CIA and the DIA are more impressed with the detail and substance of this second report, but analysts at the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) remain skeptical of the report's allegations noting that it was unlikely that Niger would sell uranium to Iraq because the Nigeriens would have considered the risk of being caught too great. An INR analyst asks the CIA if the source of the report would submit to a polygraph. A CIA analyst who also asks about the source is told by the DO that the source is “very credible.” [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Defense Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Bureau of Intelligence and Research
          

February 25, 2002: Captured Taliban Leader Ignored by CIA      Complete 911 Timeline

       Time magazine 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. Two weeks after Time informed US officials that Khaksar wanted to talk, he still has not been properly interviewed. 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 the three groups have formed a new group to get the US out of Afghanistan. He also says that “the ISI recently assassinated an Afghan in the Paktika province who knew the full extent of ISI's collaboration with al-Qaeda.” [Time, 2/19/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Mullah Omar, Central Intelligence Agency, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Mullah Haji Abdul Samat Khaksar
          

March 5, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Two CIA officers from the CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO) debrief former ambassador Joseph Wilson who returned from his trip to Niger the previous day (see February 21, 2002-March 4, 2002). The debriefing takes place in Wilson's home. Based on information provided verbally by the former ambassador, the DO case officer writes a draft intelligence report and sends it to the DO reports officer who adds additional relevant information from his notes. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Joseph C. Wilson
          

March 8, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The CIA sends a 1 1/2-page cable to the White House, the FBI, the Justice Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, with news that a CIA source (Joseph Wilson) sent to Niger has failed to find any evidence to back claims that Iraq sought uranium from that country. [BBC, 7/8/03; ABC News, 6/12/03; BBC, 7/8/03; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 6/12/03; Knight Ridder, 6/13/03; The Washington Post, 6/13/03 Sources: senior CIA official, Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] The report does not name the CIA source or indicate that the person is a former ambassador. Instead it describes the source as “a contact with excellent access who does not have an established reporting record” and notes that the Nigeriens with whom he spoke “knew their remarks could reach the US government and may have intended to influence as well as inform.” A later Senate report on the US' prewar intelligence on Iraq will state: “The intelligence report indicated that former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was unaware of any contracts that had been signed between Niger and any rogue states for the sale of yellowcake while he was Prime Minister (1997-1999) or Foreign Minister (1996-1997). Mayaki said that if there had been any such contract during his tenure, he would have been aware of it.” Mayaki, according to the report, also acknowledged a June 1999 visit (see June 1999) by a businessman who arranged a meeting between Mayaki and an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report says that Mayaki interpreted “expanding commercial relations” to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss purchasing uranium. The meeting did take place, but according to the report, “Mayaki let the matter drop due to UN sanctions on Iraq.” The intelligence report also says that Niger's former Minister for Energy and Mines, Mai Manga, told Wilson that there have been no sales outside of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) channels since the mid-1980s. Mai Manga is also reported to have described how the French mining consortium controls Nigerien uranium mining and keeps the uranium very tightly controlled from the time it is mined until the time it is loaded onto ships in Benin for transport overseas. Mai Manga said he believed it would be difficult, if not impossible, to arrange a special clandestine shipment of uranium to a country like Iraq. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq] Bush administration officials will later say in June 2003 that the cable left out important details of the trip. They will say it did not include the conclusions of the trip. And consequently, the Washington Post will report in June 2003, “It was not considered unusual or very important and not passed on to Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, or other senior White House officials.” [Knight Ridder, 6/13/03; The Washington Post, 6/13/03; The Washington Post, 6/12/03 Sources: senior administration official] But the CIA source who made the journey, Joseph Wilson, will find this explanation hard to believe. “Though I did not file a written report [he provided an oral briefing (see March 5, 2002)], there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission,” he will later explain. “The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a CIA report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure.” [New York Times, 7/6/03 Sources: Joseph C. Wilson] According to intelligence analysts later interviewed by congressional investigators, the intelligence community does not believe the trip has contributed any significant information to what is already known about the issue, aside from the details of the 1999 Iraqi delegation. [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Mai Manga, Ibrahim Mayaki, Joseph C. Wilson, Central Intelligence Agency
          

March 30, 2002: British Newspaper: US Special Forces Training at Secret Location in Kazakhstan      Complete 911 Timeline

       With US troops already in many Central Asian countries, US Special Forces are now reportedly training Kazakhstan troops in a secret location. [Times of London, 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.” [Observer, 1/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Kazakhstan
          

July 23, 2002: New York Declares Records of Firefighters' Actions Secret      Complete 911 Timeline

       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]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

August 13, 2002: Electronic Warfare Methods May Have Brought Flight 93 Down      Complete 911 Timeline

       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 did not see smoke from the faltering plane, the article points 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 to intentionally 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 (see September 14, 2001). 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]
People and organizations involved: Pentagon, Central Intelligence Agency, Elaine Scarry
          

September 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The CIA completes a highly classified report on “Iraqi Ties to Terrorism,” summarizing claims that Iraq has provided “training in poisons and gases” to members of al-Qaeda. The report warns that evidence for the claim comes from “sources of varying reliability” and has not yet been substanitated. The main source behind this allegation, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who once operated bin Laden's Khalden training camp in Afghanistan and who is being held in custody by the CIA, will later recant the claim (see February 14, 2004). [Newsweek, 7/5/2004; The New York Times, 7/31/2004]
People and organizations involved: Abu Hammad, Central Intelligence Agency
          

September 18, 2002: First 9/11 Inquiry Hearing Amidst Protests About Lack of Government Cooperation      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Senate Intelligence Committee staff director Eleanor Hill.
The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry holds its first public hearing. The inquiry was formed in February 2002, but suffered months of delays. The day's testimony focuses on intelligence warnings that should have led the government to believe airplanes could be used as bombs. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 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 September 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 public's interest in this particular area.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 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]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Bush administration, Eleanor Hill, George Tenet
          

(8:00pm) October 1, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The CIA delivers the classified version of its 90-page National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq (see October 1, 2002) to Congress. It is available for viewing by Congresspersons under tight security in the offices of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. Congress asks the CIA for a declassified version so that the members have something they can refer to during their debates on the Iraq war resolution. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 281; Washington Post, 6/22/2003]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Central Intelligence Agency
          

October 5, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The CIA's Associate Deputy Director for Intelligence [ADDI] sends a four-page memo to Bush administration officials, including Bush's deputy national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, and the chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson, expressing doubt over claims that Iraq had attempted to obtain uranium from Niger. On page 3 of the memo, the ADDI advises removing the allegation from the draft of Bush's upcoming speech in Cincinnati. “[R]emove the sentence because the amount is in dispute and it is debatable whether it can be acquired from the source. We told Congress that the Brits have exaggerated this issue. Finally, the Iraqis already have 550 metric tons of uranium oxide in their inventory.” [The Washington Post, 7/23/03] Despite the warning, draft seven of the speech, completed later in the day, contains the passage: “[T]he regime has been caught attempting to purchase substantial amounts of uranium oxide from sources in Africa.” [Sources: Senate Intelligence Report on Iraq, 7/2004] Stephen Hadley will later claim in July 2003 that he did not brief Condoleezza Rice on the memo. [The Washington Post, 7/27/03]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Gerson, Central Intelligence Agency
          

October 6, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The CIA's Associate Deputy Director for Intelligence [ADDI] receives draft seven of Bush's upcoming speech in Cincinnati and sees that the speech writers have failed to remove the passage on Iraq's alleged attempt to purchase uranium from Niger, as the CIA had advised the day before (see October 5, 2002). He informs Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet who personally calls White House officials, including Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, with the CIA's concerns. The ADDI reportedly tells Tenet that the “president should not be a fact witness on this issue” because the agency's analysts consider the reporting “weak” and say it is based solely on one source. The allegation is finally removed from the speech. Later in the day, to press its point even further, the CIA faxes another memo, summarizing its position on the Africa-uranium claim. The memo states: “[M]ore on why we recommend removing the sentence about procuring uranium oxide from Africa: Three points (1) The evidence is weak. One of the two mines cited by the source as the location of the uranium oxide is flooded. The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French authorities. (2) The procurement is not particularly significant to Iraq's nuclear ambitions because the Iraqis already have a large stock of uranium oxide in their inventory. And (3) we have shared points one and two with Congress, telling them that the Africa story is overblown and telling them this is one of the two issues where we differed with the British.” [The Washington Post, 7/13/03; The Washington Post, 7/23/03 Sources: Senate Intelligence Report on Iraq, 7/2004] The memo's recipients include National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen Hadley. [The Washington Post, 7/23/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, Stephen Hadley
          

October 9-16, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Italian Panorama journalist Elisabetta Burba goes to the US Embassy in Rome and gives US officials copies of the Niger documents that she had obtained two days before (see Early October 2002). [Agence France Presse, 7/19/03; Associated Press, 7/20/03; New Yorker, 10/20/03; The Washington Post, 7/20/03] The documents are then sent to Washington and distributed to the various intelligence agencies. The precise details are unclear, however, due to contradicting accounts.
In Rome - According to a senior US State Department official interviewed by the Agence France-Presse in July 2003, the documents are first vetted by “all the relevant agencies” in Rome before being sent to Washington. “[T]hey were immediately shared with all the appropriate agencies,” the sources will explain. “The embassy shared them with all the relevant agencies at post, and they were then shared again when they got back to Washington.” [Agence France Presse, 9/19/03; Mercury, 9/19/03 Sources: Unnamed US State Department official] But an unnamed former CIA official will tell Seymour Hersh that the papers were not looked at in Rome. “The Embassy was alerted that the papers were coming and it passed them directly to Washington without even vetting them inside the Embassy.” [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Unnamed former CIA official]
In Washington - After the documents arrive in Washington, they are reviewed by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) and within days its analysts conclude that the papers might be fakes. On October 16, the INR distributes the documents to the CIA and several other US intelligence agencies with the caveat that the documents are of “dubious authenticity.” [The Washington Post, 7/20/03] Vince Cannistraro, former chief of counter-terrorism operations and analysis, will tell Seymour Hersh that the CIA did not immediately recognize that the documents were forged. [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Vincent Cannistraro] However, other sources will claim that like the INR, the CIA quickly saw that the documents were not authentic. A senior Central Intelligence Agency official will tell Knut Royce of Newsday that the CIA “had serious questions about [the claims] from day one.” The agency “had accounts [(see October 15, 2001) (see February 5, 2002) (see March 25, 2002)] of them [the letters] and that was close enough. We didn't take it that seriously to begin with. ... We didn't put a lot of stock in these reports from Niger. We didn't rush around to get the actual documents.” [Newsday, 7/11/03 Sources: Unnamed Senior CIA official] Likewise, a US intelligence official will tell the New York Times that CIA officials were always suspicious of the Niger documents. [New York Times 3/23/03] And Hersh's anonymous CIA source also says the papers were quickly assessed as fakes. “Everybody knew at every step of the way that they were false—until they got to the Pentagon, where they were believed.” [The Washington Post, 7/20/03]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Vincent Cannistraro, Elisabetta Burba  Additional Info 
          

October 17, 2002: None Punished at Agencies for 9/11 Failures      Complete 911 Timeline

       The directors of the US's three most famous intelligence agencies, the CIA, FBI and NSA, testify before a Congressional inquiry on 9/11. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02 (B); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 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]
People and organizations involved: Carl Levin, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency
          

November 22, 2002: Newsweek Reports Saudi Royals Sent Money to Hijackers' Associates      Complete 911 Timeline

       Newsweek reports that hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar may have received money from Saudi Arabia's royal family through two Saudis, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan. Newsweek bases its report on information leaked from the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry in October. [Newsweek, 11/22/02; Newsweek, 11/22/02; Washington Post, 11/23/02; New York Times, 11/23/02] Al-Bayoumi is in Saudi Arabia by this time. Basnan was deported to Saudi Arabia just five days earlier. Saudi officials and Princess Haifa immediately deny any connections to Islamic militants. [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, 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, 11/27/02] Senior US government officials claim the FBI and CIA failed to aggressively pursue leads that might have linked the two hijackers to Saudi Arabia. This causes a bitter dispute between FBI and CIA officials and the intelligence panel investigating the 9/11 attacks. [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), Joseph 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 Islamic militants. [Reuters, 11/24/02; New York Times, 11/25/02] 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 al-Qaeda.” [ABC News, 11/25/02] FBI officials strongly deny any deliberate connection between these two men and the Saudi government or the hijackers [Time, 11/24/03] , but later even more connections between them and both entities are revealed. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Joseph Lieberman, Mitch O'Connell, Joseph Biden, Omar al-Bayoumi, Charles Schumer, Richard Shelby, Osama Basnan, Central Intelligence Agency, Bush administration, John McCain, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Bob Graham
          

Early January 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The CIA issues an updated version of its September 2002 classified internal report (see September 2002) which stated that according to “sources of varying reliability,” Iraq had provided “training in poisons and gases” to al-Qaeda operatives. The allegation in that report was based on information provided by a captured Libyan national by the name of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. In this new updated version of the report, the CIA adds that “the detainee [al-Libi] was not in a position to know if any training had taken place.” It is not known whether this report is seen by White House officials. [Newsweek, 11/10/2005]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi
          

January 10, 2003: Government Employees Responsible for 9/11 Failures Are Promoted      Complete 911 Timeline

       FBI Director Mueller personally awards Marion (Spike) Bowman with a presidential citation and cash bonus of approximately 25 percent of his salary. [Salon, 3/3/03 (B)] 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, is among nine recipients of bureau awards for “exceptional performance.” The award comes shortly after a 9/11 Congressional Inquiry report saying 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. 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. [Associated Press, 1/10/03] As Senator Charles Grassley (R) and others have pointed out, not only has no one in government been fired or punished for 9/11, but several others have been promoted:
Pasquale D'Amuro, the FBI's counterterrorism chief in New York City before 9/11, is promoted to the bureau's top counterterrorism post. [Time, 12/30/02]
FBI Supervisory special agent Michael Maltbie, who removed information from the Minnesota FBI's application to get the search warrant for Moussaoui, is promoted to field supervisor. [Salon, 3/3/03 (B)]
David Frasca, head of the FBI's Radical Fundamentalist Unit, is “still at headquarters,” Grassley notes. [Salon, 3/3/03 (B)] Frasca received the Phoenix memo warning al-Qaeda terrorists could use flight schools inside the US, and then a few weeks later he received the request for Moussaoui's search warrant. “The Phoenix memo was buried; the Moussaoui warrant request was denied.” [Time, 5/27/02] Even after 9/11, Frasca continued to “[throw] up roadblocks” in the Moussaoui case. [New York Times, 5/27/02]
President Bush later names Barbara Bodine the director of Central Iraq shortly after the US conquest of Iraq. Many in government are upset about the appointment because of her blocking of the USS Cole investigation, which some say could have uncovered the 9/11 plot. She failed to admit she was wrong or apologize. [Washington Times, 4/10/03] However, she is fired after about a month, apparently for doing a poor job.
An FBI official who tolerates penetration of the translation department by Turkish spies and encourages slow translations just after 9/11 is promoted (see March 22, 2002). [CBS News, 10/25/02] The CIA has promoted two unnamed top leaders of its unit responsible for tracking al-Qaeda in 2000 even though the unit mistakenly failed to put the two suspected terrorists on the watch list (see August 23, 2001). “The leaders were promoted even though some people in the intelligence community and in Congress say the counterterrorism unit they ran bore some responsibility for waiting until August 2001 to put the suspect pair on the interagency watch list.” CIA Director Tenet has failed to fulfill a promise given to Congress in late 2002 that he would name the CIA officials responsible for 9/11 failures. [New York Times, 5/15/03]
People and organizations involved: Pasquale D'Amuro, Michael Maltbie, David Frasca, Khalid Almihdhar, Charles Grassley, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Barbara Bodine, Central Intelligence Agency, George W. Bush, Marion ("Spike") Bowman, Robert S. Mueller III
          

July 8, 2003: 9/11 Commission Denounces Lack of Cooperation      Complete 911 Timeline

       A status report released by the 9/11 Commission shows that various government agencies are not cooperating fully with the investigation. Neither the CIA nor the Justice Department have provided all requested documents. Lack of cooperation on the part of the Department of Defense “[is] becoming particularly serious,” and the commission has received no responses whatsoever to requests related to national air defenses. The FBI, State Department, and Transportation Department receive generally positive reviews. [Associated Press, 7/9/03] Commissioner Tim Roemer complains, “We're not getting the kind of cooperation that we should be. We need a steady stream of information coming to us ... Instead, We're getting a trickle.” [Guardian, 7/10/03] Chairman Thomas Kean is also troubled by the Bush administration's insistence on having a Justice Department official present during interviews with federal officials. [Associated Press, 7/9/03] The 9/11 Commission is eventually forced to subpoena documents from the Defense Department and FAA (see October-November 2003).
People and organizations involved: US Department of Transportation, Bush administration, Thomas Kean, US Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tim Roemer, US Department of Defense, US Department of Justice, Central Intelligence Agency, 9/11 Commission
          

August 2003: FBI and CIA Reopen Investigation Into Saudi Link to 9/11      Complete 911 Timeline

       In the wake of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry report, and “under intense pressure from Congress,” as the Boston Globe puts it, the FBI and CIA reopen an investigation into whether Saudi Arabian officials aided the 9/11 plot. [Boston Globe, 8/3/03] In early August, Saudi Arabia allows the FBI to interview Omar al-Bayoumi. However, the interview takes place in Saudi Arabia, and apparently on his terms, with Saudi government handlers present. [Associated Press, 8/6/03; New York Times, 8/5/03] Says one anonymous government terrorism consultant, “They are revisiting everybody. The [FBI] did not do a very good job of unraveling the conspiracy behind the hijackers.” [Boston Globe, 8/3/03] But by September, the Washington Post reports that the FBI has concluded that the idea al-Bayoumi was a Saudi government agent is “without merit and has largely abandoned further investigation... The bureau's September 11 investigative team, which is still tracking down details of the plot, has reached similar conclusions about other associates named or referred to in the congressional inquiry report.” [Washington Post, 9/10/03] Yet another article claims that by late August, some key people who interacted with al-Bayoumi have yet to be interviewed by the FBI. “Countless intelligence leads that might help solve” the mystery of a Saudi connection to the hijackers “appear to have been underinvestigated or completely overlooked by the FBI, particularly in San Diego.” [San Diego Magazine, 9/03] Not only were they never interviewed when the investigation was supposedly reopened, they were not interviewed in the months after 9/11 either, when the FBI supposedly opened an “intense investigation” of al-Bayoumi, visiting “every place he was known to have gone, and [compiling] 4,000 pages of documents detailing his activities.” [Newsweek, 7/28/03]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Central Intelligence Agency, US Congress, Omar al-Bayoumi, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 12, 2003: Bush Administration Is Sued for Having Foreknowledge of 9/11 Attacks      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ellen Mariani.
9/11 victim's relative Ellen Mariani sues the US government, claiming that certain officials had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. “I'm 100 percent sure that they knew,” she says. In doing so, she is ineligible for government compensation from what she calls the “shut-up and go-away fund.” She believes she would have received around $500,000. According to a statement by her lawyer, her lawsuit against President Bush, Vice President Cheney, the CIA, Defense Department, and other administration members “is based upon prior knowledge of 9/11; knowingly failing to act, prevent or warn of 9/11; and the ongoing obstruction of justice by covering up the truth of 9/11; all in violation of the laws of the United States.” As the Toronto Star points out, this interesting story has been “buried” by the mainstream media, at least initially. Coverage has been limited mostly to Philadelphia where the case was filed and New Hampshire where Mariani lives. [Al Jazeera, 12/9/03; Toronto Star, 11/30/03; Village Voice, 12/3/03; Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/3/03; Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/23/03; Associated Press, 12/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Ellen Mariani, Central Intelligence Agency, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush, United States, US Department of Defense
          

February 9, 2004: Full 9/11 Commission Allowed To View PDB Summaries      Complete 911 Timeline

       The 9/11 Commission gets greater access to classified intelligence briefings under a new agreement with the White House. The 10-member panel had been barred from reviewing notes concerning the presidential daily briefings taken by three of its own commissioners and the commission's director in December 2003. The new agreement allows all commission members the opportunity to read White House-edited versions of the summaries. The White House had faced criticisms for allowing only some commissioners to see the notes. Still, only three commissioners are allowed to see the original, unclassified documents. [Associated Press, 2/10/04]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency
          

June-November 2004: Critical CIA Report on 9/11 Failures Is Finished, But Its Release Is Successfully Delayed Until After Presidential Election      Complete 911 Timeline

       In November 2002, as the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry was finishing its investigation, it formally asked for a report by the CIA to determine “whether and to what extent personnel at all levels should be held accountable” for the failure to stop the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 9/14/04] The CIA report by the agency's inspector general is completed in June 2004. Newsweek calls the report “hard-hitting” and says it “identifies a host of current and former officials who could be candidates for possible disciplinary procedures imposed by a special CIA Accountability Board.” [Newsweek, 10/24/04] While the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry and 9/11 Commission Reports didn't single out individuals for blame, this one does, and it is said to find “very senior-level officials responsible. Those who have read the classified report say that it faults about 20 intelligence officials, including former CIA Director George Tenet, his former Deputy Director of Operations James Pavitt, and the former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center Cofer Black. Tenet in particular is faulted for focusing too little attention on combating al-Qaeda as a whole in the years prior to 9/11.” [Washington Post, 10/6/05; Los Angeles Times, 10/6/05; Los Angeles Times, 10/19/04] The report is submitted to John McLaughlin, interim acting CIA Director, but he returns it to the inspector general with a request “for more information.” [New York Times, 9/14/04] It continues to remain completely classified, and even the 9/11 Commissioners (who all have high level security clearances) are not allowed to see it before they complete their own 9/11 investigation. [Newsweek, 10/24/04] In late September 2004, Peter Hoekstra (R) and Jane Harman (D), chairman and highest ranking Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee respectively, send a letter to the CIA. [New York Times, 10/27/04] They request that at least their committee, as the oversight committee that originally mandated the creation of the report, be allowed to see the report. But even this committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee are not allowed to see it. One anonymous official who has read the report tells the Los Angeles Times, “It is infuriating that a report which shows that high-level people were not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner before 9/11 is being suppressed. ... The report is potentially very embarrassing for the administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government responsible afterward.” This official says the report has been deliberately stalled, first by John McLaughlin, then by Porter Goss, his replacement as CIA Director. (Ironically, Goss was the co-chairman of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry that originally called for the report.) This official further notes that the only legal and legitimate reason the CIA can give for holding back such a report is national security, yet this reason has not been invoked. The official claims that Goss is “basically sitting on the report until after the [November 2004 Presidential] election. No previous director of CIA has ever tried to stop the inspector general from releasing a report to the Congress, in this case a report requested by Congress.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/20/04; Los Angeles Times, 10/19/04] One anonymous CIA official says, “Everybody feels it will be better off if this hits the fan after the election.” [Newsweek, 10/24/04] The previously mentioned official speaking to The Los Angeles Times comments that the successful delay of the report's release until after the election has “led the management of the CIA to believe it can engage in a cover-up with impunity.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/19/04] More details of the report are revealed to the media in January 2005.(see January 7, 2005). In October 2005, CIA Director Porter Goss will announce that he is not going to release the report, and also will not convene an accountability board to hold anyone responsible.(see October 10, 2005).
People and organizations involved: Jane Harman, Porter J. Goss, Peter Hoekstra, Central Intelligence Agency, John E. McLaughlin, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry
          

November-December 2004: Political Purge of CIA Follows Presidential Election      Complete 911 Timeline

       A former CIA officer tells New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh that, in mid-2004 the White House begins putting pressure on CIA analysts “to see more support for the Administration's political position.” But after Porter Goss becomes the new CIA Director and the November 2004 election passes, a “political purge” of employees who have written papers that dissent with Bush policies begins. One former official notes that only “true believers” remain. [New Yorker, 1/17/05] An anonymous former CIA official tells Newsday, “The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House. Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats.” [Newsday, 11/14/04] Days after the November 2004 Presidential election, Goss circulates an internal memorandum to all CIA employees, telling them their job is to “support the administration and its policies in our work.” [New York Times, 11/17/04] The memo also contains a caveat that they should “let the facts alone speak to the policymaker.” However, an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times calls this mere “lip service,” and says the memo leaves “the impression that in the second Bush administration, the White House will run the CIA. ... Goss has confirmed the worst fears of critics who warned he was too partisan when Bush appointed him...” [Los Angeles Times, 11/21/04] Such new policies inspire more employees to leave. By the time the purge is completed in early 2005, about 20 senior CIA officials will have resigned or retired. Only one member of the leadership team from George Tenet's tenure will remain. [Washington Post, 1/6/05] Newsweek says the “efforts at cleaning house may have only thrown the spy agency into deeper turmoil.” [Newsweek, 2/21/05]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Porter J. Goss
          

December 31, 2004      US-Chile (1964-2005)

       The Wall Street Journal reports that a government investigation into activities at Riggs Bank may be hampered because of its “longstanding relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency.” [Wall Street Journal, 12/31/2004, pp a4]
People and organizations involved: Riggs Bank, Central Intelligence Agency
          

January 7, 2005: Still-Classified Report Is Said to Blame CIA Leaders For 9/11 Failures, But There Are Pressures to Water It Down      Complete 911 Timeline

       Details of an internal CIA report (see June-November 2004) investigating the CIA's failure to stop the 9/11 attacks are leaked to the New York Times. The report by John Helgerson, the CIA's inspector general, was completed in June 2004 but remains classified (see June-November 2004). It sharply criticizes former CIA Director George Tenet, as well as former Deputy Director of Operations James Pavitt. It says these two and others failed to meet an acceptable standard of performance, and recommends that an internal review board review their conduct for possible disciplinary action. Cofer Black, head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center at the time of 9/11, is also criticized. However, the New York Times notes that, “It is not clear whether either the agency or the White House has the appetite to reprimand Mr. Tenet, Mr. Pavitt or others. ... particularly since President Bush awarded a Medal of Freedom to Mr. Tenet last month.” It is unclear if any reprimands will occur, or even if the final version of the report will point blame at specific individuals. [New York Times, 1/7/05] In late October 2004, the new CIA Director, Porter Goss, had asked Helgerson to modify the report to avoid drawing conclusions about whether individual CIA officers should be held accountable. [New York Times, 11/2/04] Helgerson “appears to have accepted [Goss's] recommendation” and will defer any final judgments to a CIA Accountability Review Board. The final version of the report is said to be completed within weeks. [New York Times, 1/7/05] However, months pass, and in October 2005, CIA Director Porter Goss will announce that he is not going to release the report, and also will not convene an accountability board to hold anyone responsible.(see October 10, 2005)
People and organizations involved: James Pavitt, George Tenet, John Helgerson, Cofer Black, Central Intelligence Agency, George W. Bush
          

October 10, 2005: CIA Announces No Agency Officials to be Held Responsible For Pre-9/11 Failures      Complete 911 Timeline

       CIA Director Porter Goss announces that the agency will not pursue disciplinary action against any current or former CIA officials who have been severely criticized in an internal report produced by John Helgerson, the CIA's inspector general. Those who have read the classified report say that it faults about 20 intelligence officials, including former CIA Director George Tenet, his former Deputy Director of Operations James Pavitt, and the former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center Cofer Black. Tenet in particular is faulted for focusing too little attention on combating al-Qaeda as a whole in the years prior to 9/11. However, he and others who are singled out strongly object to the report's conclusions, and have prepared lengthy rebuttals. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, of which Goss was ironically the co-chairman, had formally requested the report in November 2002, as it was finishing its investigation. The 400-page document was completed in June 2004, but its release was delayed (see June-November 2004). John Helgerson finally delivered it to Congress in August 2005, and had urged Goss to convene “accountability boards” to assess the performance of officers it criticized. However, Goss says he has decided not to do this. He says the report in no way suggests “that any one person or group of people could have prevented 9/11,” and that “[o]f the officers named in [Helgerson's] report, about half have retired from the Agency, and those who are still with us are amongst the finest we have.” Goss also claims the report “unveiled no mysteries,” and states that it will remain classified. [New York Times, 10/5/05; Los Angeles Times, 10/6/05; Washington Post, 10/6/05] In response to Goss's statement, Sen. John Rockefeller (D), the senior Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, asks, “What failures in performance, if not these, warrant the convening of an accountability board at the CIA?” 9/11 victim's relative Kristen Breitweiser comments, “No one has been held accountable for the failures on 9/11.” [Reuters, 10/5/05]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Porter J. Goss
          

November 3, 2005      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Italian lawmaker Senator Massimo Brutti states that in January 2003 Italy's military intelligence service, SISMI, warned the United States that its reporting (see March 25, 2002) (see October 15, 2001) (see February 5, 2002) on Iraq's purported attempts to procure uranium from Niger were wrong. Brutti says he is not sure whether this warning was sent before or after President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address (see January 28, 2003). “At about the same time as the State of the Union address, they (Italy's SISMI secret services) said that the dossier doesn't correspond to the truth,” Sen. Massimo Brutti tells journalists after he and other lawmakers on a parliamentary commission were briefed by SISMI's head, Nicolo Pollari, and Gianni Letta, a top aide to Premier Silvio Berlusconi. [Associated Press, 11/3/2005 (B)] Shortly after making the statement, Brutti calls the Associated Press and says his earlier comments were made in error. There was no warning in January 2003, he says. He also says lawmakers were told during the briefing that Italian intelligence did not have “a role in the dossier that was supposed to have demonstrated that Iraq was in an advanced phase of possession of enriched uranium.” [Associated Press, 11/3/2005 (B); Reuters, 11/3/2005]
People and organizations involved: SISMI, Central Intelligence Agency
          

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