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Profile: Federal Bureau of Investigation

 
  

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Federal Bureau of Investigation actively participated in the following events:

 
  

1989-May 2000: Hijacker Associate al-Marabh Busy Inside US      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Raed Hijazi.
Nabil al-Marabh moves to Boston in 1989 and apparently lives there as a taxi driver and al-Qaeda sleeper agent for the next ten years. [Boston Herald, 9/19/01; New York Times, 9/18/01] In 1992, he learns to use weapons in an Afghan al-Qaeda training camp with an operative named Raed Hijazi. [Chicago Sun-Times, 9/5/02] He and Hijazi live together and drive taxis at the same company in Boston for several years. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] A mutual friend at the same taxi company is later killed participating in a 1999 al-Qaeda attack. [Boston Herald, 9/19/01] Hijazi participates in a failed attempt to bomb a hotel in Jordan in November 1999 and helps plan the USS Cole bombing in October 2000 (see October 12, 2000). In May 1999, the FBI approaches al-Marabh looking for Hijazi, but al-Marabh lies and says he does not know Hijazi. [Washington Post, 9/4/02] Hijazi is arrested in Syria in October 2000 and imprisoned in Jordan for his bomb attempt there. [Toronto Sun, 10/16/01] He begins to cooperate with investigators and identifies al-Marabh as a US al-Qaeda operative. [New York Times, 9/18/01] Operative Ahmed Ressam gives evidence helping to prove that al-Marabh sent money to Hijazi for the Jordan bombing. [ABC News, 1/31/02; Toronto Sun, 11/16/01] By February 1999, al-Marabh is driving taxis in Tampa, Florida, while maintaining a cover of living in Boston. [Toronto Star, 10/26/01; New York Times, 9/18/01; ABC News, 1/31/02] He apparently lives in Tampa at least part time until February 2000; investigators later wonder if he is an advance man for the Florida-based hijackers. [ABC News, 1/31/02; New York Times, 9/18/01] Al-Marabh is living in Detroit by May 2000, though he maintains a Boston address until September 2000. [Boston Herald, 9/19/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Ressam, Jordan, Syria, Nabil al-Marabh, Raed Hijazi
          

June 4, 1992: FBI Investigates Ties Between George W. Bush and Saudi Money      Complete 911 Timeline

      
James Bath.
The FBI investigates connections between James Bath and George W. Bush, according to published reports. Bath is Salem bin Laden's official representative in the US. Bath's business partner contends that, “Documents indicate that the Saudis were using Bath and their huge financial resources to influence US policy,” since George W. Bush's father is president. George W. Bush denies any connections to Saudi money. What becomes of this investigation is unclear, but no charges are ever filed. [Houston Chronicle, 6/4/92]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Bath, Salem bin Laden, George W. Bush
          

1993-1998: Al-Qaeda Double Agent Is Arrested and Then Released; Tells Secrets About al-Qaeda      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ali Mohamed.
Canadian police arrest Ali Mohamed, a high-ranking al-Qaeda figure. However, they release him when the FBI says he is a US agent. [Globe and Mail, 11/22/01] Mohamed, a former US Army sergeant, will continue to work for al-Qaeda for a number of years. He trains bin Laden's personal body guards and trains an al-Qaeda cell in Kenya that later blows up the US embassy there. Meanwhile, between 1993 and 1997 he tells secrets to the FBI about al-Qaeda's operations. He is re-arrested in late 1998 and subsequently convicted for his role in the 1998 US embassy bombing in Kenya. [CNN, 10/30/98; Independent, 11/1/98] “For five years he was moving back and forth between the US and Afghanistan. It's impossible the CIA thought he was going there as a tourist. If the CIA hadn't caught on to him, it should be dissolved and its budget used for something worthwhile,” according to a former Egyptian intelligence officer. [Wall Street Journal, 11/26/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Ali Mohamed, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

1994-September 2001: Evidence of Al-Qaeda Connections in Arizona Obtained by Local Agents Repeatedly Ignored by FBI Headquarters      Complete 911 Timeline

       By 1990, Arizona became one of the main centers in the US for radical Muslims, and it remains so throughout this period. However, terrorism remains a low priority for the Phoenix, Arizona, FBI office. Around 1990, al-Qaeda operative Hani Hanjour moves to Arizona for the first time and he spends much of the next decade in the state. The FBI apparently remains oblivious of Hanjour, though one FBI informant claims that by 1998 they “knew everything about the guy.” [New York Times, 6/19/02] In 1994, the Phoenix FBI office uncovers startling evidence connecting Arizona to radical Muslim militants. The office videotapes two men trying to recruit a Phoenix FBI informant to be a suicide bomber. One of the men is linked to al-Qaeda leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. [Los Angeles Times, 5/26/02; New York Times, 6/19/02] In 1998, the office's international terrorism squad investigates a possible Middle Eastern extremist taking flight lessons at a Phoenix airport. FBI agent Ken Williams initiates an investigation into the possibility of Islamic militants learning to fly aircraft, but he has no easy way to query a central FBI database about similar cases. Because of this and other FBI communication problems, he remains unaware of most US intelligence reports about the potential use of airplanes as weapons, as well as other, specific FBI warnings issued in 1998 and 1999 concerning Islamic militants training at US flight schools. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Williams, William Safire, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman
          

March 1994: FBI Begins to Focus on Radical Fundamentalism      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI creates the Radical Fundamentalist Unit to investigate international radical fundamentalism, including al-Qaeda. (An FBI unit focusing on bin Laden will not be created until 1999.) [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda, Radical Fundamentalist Unit, Osama bin Laden
          

August 1994-July 2001: Possible Terrorist Front Man with Saudi Backing Settles in San Diego      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Dallah Avco logo.
A Saudi named Omar al-Bayoumi arrives in San Diego, California. He will later become well known for his suspicious connections to both some 9/11 hijackers and the Saudi government, although the 9/11 Commission asserts that it received no evidence that he was involved in terrorism or the 9/11 attacks. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04] Acquaintances in San Diego long suspect he is a Saudi government spy reporting on the activities of Saudi-born college students. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/14/02; San Diego Magazine, 9/03; Newsweek, 11/22/02] Says one witness, “He was always watching [young Saudi college students], always checking up on them, literally following them around and then apparently reporting their activities back to Saudi Arabia.” [Newsweek, 11/24/02] Just prior to moving to the US, he worked for the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation, headed by Prince Sultan. His salary in this job is approved by Hamid al-Rashid, a Saudi government official whose son, Saud al-Rashid, is strongly suspected of al-Qaeda ties (see August 15, 2002). [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Once in San Diego, al-Bayoumi tells people that he's a student or a pilot, and even claims to be receiving monthly payments from “family in India” (despite being Saudi). However, he is none of those things [Wall Street Journal, 8/11/03; Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] In fact, as he tells some people, he receives a monthly stipend from Dallah Avco, a Saudi aviation company that has extensive ties to the same Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation. [Newsweek, 11/24/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] From early 1995 until 2002, he is paid about $3,000 a month for a project in Saudi Arabia even though he is living in the US. According to the New York Times, Congressional officials believe he is a “ghost employee” doing no actual work. The classified section of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry report notes that his payments increase significantly just after he comes into contact with two hijackers in early 2000. [New York Times, 8/2/03] The FBI is investigating possible ties between Dallah Avco and al-Qaeda. [Newsweek, 10/29/02] The firm's owner, Saudi billionaire Saleh Abdullah Kamel, has denied the accusation. [Newsweek, 7/28/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Saleh Abdullah Kamel, Hamid al-Rashid, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, 9/11 Commission, Abdullah, al-Qaeda, Saud al-Rashid, Omar al-Bayoumi, Dallah Avco
          

December 16, 1994-February 1995: Phone Numbers Link Bin Laden Bother-in-Law to Bojinka Plotters       Complete 911 Timeline

       When bin Laden's brother-in-law Mohamed Jamal Khalifa is arrested in San Francisco, his phonebook and electronic organizer are found. They contain phone numbers to Bojinka plotter Wali Khan Amin Shah, associates of Bojinka plotter Ramzi Yousef, and Osama bin Laden's phone number. When the Manila apartment used by these two plotters is raided, Yousef's computer contains Khalifa's phone number. Wali Khan Shah is arrested several days later, and his phone book and phone bills contain five phone numbers for Khalifa, plus Khalifa's business card. Phone bills also show frequent telephone traffic between Khalifa and Khan's apartment in Manila in November 1994. When Yousef is arrested in February 1995 (see February 7, 1995), he has Khalifa's phone number and address, and more information on him in an encrypted computer file. Not surprisingly given all these links, Yousef is questioned about his ties to Khalifa within hours of being taken into US custody. He admits that he knew the name bin Laden, and knew him to be a relative of Khalifa's. [San Francisco Chronicle, 4/18/95; Associated Press, 4/26/95; FBI Affadavit, 4/29/02] Khalifa has already been tied to two others convicted of the 1993 WTC bombing. Yet despite these ties to Islamic militancy, and others, he will be deported from the US.
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Wali Khan Amin Shah, Ramzi Yousef, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

February 7, 1995: Yousef Is Arrested and Talks, but Hides Operation Bojinka Second Wave and bin Laden Ties      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ramzi Yousef.
Ramzi Yousef is arrested in Pakistan. At the time, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is staying in the same building, and brazenly gives an interview to Time magazine as “Khalid Sheikh,” describing Yousef's capture. [Lance, 2003, pp 328] Yousef had recruited Istaique Parker to implement a limited version of Operation Bojinka. Parker was to place bombs on board two flights bound from Bangkok to the US, but got cold feet and instead turned in Yousef. [Lance, 2003, pp 284-85] The next day, as Yousef is flying over New York City on his way to a prison cell, an FBI agent says to him, “You see the Trade Centers down there, they're still standing, aren't they?” Yousef responds, “They wouldn't be if I had enough money and enough explosives.” [MSNBC, 9/23/01; Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 135] Yousef also soon admits to ties with Wali Khan Shah, who fought with bin Laden in Afghanistan, and Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, one of bin Laden's brothers-in-law, who is being held by the US at the time. Despite Yousef's confession, Khalifa is released later in the year. Although Yousef talks freely, he makes no direct mention of bin Laden, or the planned second wave of Operation Bojinka that closely parallels the later 9/11 plot. [Lance, 2003, pp 297-98]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ramzi Yousef, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Wali Khan Amin Shah, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Operation Bojinka
          

May 11, 1995: FBI Memo Fails to Mention Operation Bojinka Second Wave      Complete 911 Timeline

       FBI agents, having held Operation Bojinka plotter Abdul Hakim Murad for about a month, write a memo containing what they have learned from interrogating him. The memo contains many interesting revelations, including that Ramzi Yousef, a mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, “wanted to return to the United States in the future to bomb the World Trade Center a second time.” However, this memo does not contain a word about the second wave of Operation Bojinka— to fly about 12 hijacked airplanes into prominent US buildings—even though Murad had recently fully confessed this plot to Philippines investigators, who claim they turned over tapes, transcripts, and reports with Murad's confessions of the plot to the US when they handed over Murad. It has not been explained why this plot is not mentioned in the FBI's summary of Murad's interrogation. [Lance, 2003, pp 280-82] After 9/11, a Philippine investigator will refer to this third plot when he says of the 9/11 attacks, “It's Bojinka. We told the Americans everything about Bojinka. Why didn't they pay attention?” [Washington Post, 9/23/01] In an interview after 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will claim that the 9/11 attacks were a refinement and resurrection of this plot. [Australian, 9/9/02]
People and organizations involved: Operation Bojinka, Abdul Hakim Murad, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ramzi Yousef, World Trade Center
          

1996: FBI Fumbles Flight School Investigation; Ten al-Qaeda Pilots Training in US      Complete 911 Timeline

       Finding a business card for a US flight school in the possession of Operation Bojinka plotter Abdul Hakim Murad, the FBI investigates the US flight schools Murad attended. [Washington Post, 9/23/01] He had trained at about six flight schools off and on, starting in 1990. Apparently, the FBI closes the investigation when they fail to find any other potential suspects. [Insight, 5/27/02] However, Murad had already confessed to Philippine authorities the names of about ten other al-Qaeda operatives learning to fly in the US, and the Philippine authorities had asserted that they provided this information to the US. An assistant manager at a Schenectady, New York, flight school where Murad trained later recalls, “There were several [Middle Eastern pilot students] here. At one point three or four were here. Supposedly they didn't know each other before, they just happened to show up here at the same time. But they all obviously knew each other.” However, US investigators somehow fail to detect any of these suspects before 9/11, despite being given their names. [Associated Press, 3/5/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda, Abdul Hakim Murad
          

April 1996-March 1997: Yousef Communicates with Islamic Militants from Within Maximum Security Prison Using Telephone Provided by FBI      Complete 911 Timeline

       Ramzi Yousef, mastermind along with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed of the 1993 WTC bombing and the Operation Bojinka plots, is in a maximum-security prison, sentenced to hundreds of years of prison time for his plots. However, he can communicate with Gregory Scarpa Jr., a mob figure in the cell next to him. The FBI sets up a sting operation with Scarpa's cooperation to learn more of what and whom Yousef knows. Scarpa is given a telephone, and he allows Yousef to use it. However, Yousef uses the sting operation for his own ends, communicating with operatives on the outside in code language without giving away their identities. He attempts to find passports to get co-conspirators into the US, and there is some discussion about imminent attacks on US passenger jets. Realizing the scheme has backfired, the FBI terminates the telephone sting in late 1996, but Yousef manages to keep communicating with the outside world for several more months. [Lance, 2003, pp 280-82; New York Daily News, 9/24/00; New York Daily News, 1/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Gregory Scarpa Jr., Ramzi Yousef, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

July 6-August 11, 1996: Atlanta Rules Established to Protect Against Attacks Using Planes as Flying Weapons      Complete 911 Timeline

       US officials identify crop dusters and suicide flights as potential weapons that could threaten the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. They take steps to prevent any air attacks. They ban planes from getting too close to Olympic events. During the games, they deploy Black Hawk helicopters and US Customs Service jets to intercept suspicious aircraft over the Olympic venues. Agents monitor crop-duster flights within hundreds of miles of downtown Atlanta. They place armed fighter jets on standby at local air bases. Flights to Atlanta get special passenger screening. Law enforcement agents also fan out to regional airports throughout northern Georgia “to make sure nobody hijacked a small aircraft and tried to attack one of the venues,” says Woody Johnson, the FBI agent in charge. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke uses this same security blanket approach to other major events, referring to the approach as “Atlanta Rules.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 108-09; Wall Street Journal, 4/1/04; Chicago Tribune, 11/18/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Richard A. Clarke, Woody Johnson
          

September 11, 1996: Investigation of bin Laden Family Members Is Closed      Complete 911 Timeline

      
WAMY logo.
The FBI investigation into two relatives of bin Laden, begun in February 1996, is closed. The FBI wanted to learn more about Abdullah bin Laden, “because of his relationship with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [WAMY]—a suspected terrorist organization.” [Guardian, 11/7/01] Abdullah was the US director of WAMY and lived with his brother Omar in Falls Church, Virginia, a suburb of Washington. The coding on a leaked FBI document about the case, marked secret, indicates the case related to national security. WAMY's office address is 5613 Leesburg Pike. It is later determined that four of the 9/11 hijackers lived at 5913 Leesburg Pike at the same time the two bin Laden brothers were there. WAMY has been banned in Pakistan by this time. [Guardian, 11/7/01; BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01] The Indian and Philippine governments have also cited WAMY for funding Islamic militancy. The 9/11 Commission later hears testimony that WAMY “has openly supported Islamic terrorism. There are ties between WAMY and 9/11 hijackers. It is a group that has openly endorsed the notion that Jews must be killed. ... [It] has consistently portrayed the United States, Jews, Christians, and other infidels as enemies who have to be defeated or killed. And there is no doubt, according to US intelligence, that WAMY has been tied directly to terrorist attacks.” [9/11 Commission, 7/9/03, pp 66] “WAMY was involved in terrorist-support activity,” says a security official who later serves under President Bush. “There's no doubt about it.” [Vanity Fair, 10/03] After 9/11, a high-placed intelligence official will tell the Guardian: “There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis. There were particular investigations that were effectively killed.” [Guardian, 11/7/01] An unnamed US source will tell the BBC, “There is a hidden agenda at the very highest levels of our government.” [BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01] The Bosnian government will say in September 2002 that a charity with Abdullah bin Laden on its board had channeled money to Chechen guerrillas, something that “is only possible because the Clinton CIA gave the wink and nod to WAMY and other groups who were aiding Bosnian guerrillas when they were fighting Serbia, a US-approved enemy.” The investigation into WAMY is only restarted a few days after 9/11, around the same time these bin Ladens leave the US. [Palast, 2002, pp 96-99] (Note that this Abdullah bin Laden is possibly bin Laden's cousin, not brother, and is not the same as the Abdullah bin Laden who serves as the bin Laden family spokesperson. [Palast, 2002, pp 98-99] ) WAMY is still not listed by the US as a terrorist organization.
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Abdullah bin Laden, Clinton administration, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Central Intelligence Agency, Omar bin Laden
          

Late 1996-May 2000: British Intelligence and al-Qaeda Allegedly Cooperate in Plot to Assassinate Libyan Leader      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Anas al-Liby.
Anas al-Liby, member of a Libyan al-Qaeda cell called Al-Muqatila, lives in Britain during this time. He had stayed with bin Laden in Sudan until bin Laden moved to Afghanistan in 1996 (see May 18, 1996). Then, as the Observer puts it, “Astonishingly, despite suspicions that he was a high-level al-Qaeda operative, al-Liby was given political asylum in Britain and lived in Manchester until May of 2000 when he eluded a police raid on his house and fled abroad. The raid discovered a 180-page al-Qaeda ‘manual for jihad’ containing instructions for terrorist attacks.” He was apparently involved in a plot with the British intelligence agency to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in 1996 (see 1996) and presumably his ability to live in Britain was connected to that plot. [Observer, 11/10/02] After the failed assassination attempt, the British allegedly continued to support Al-Muqatila—for instance, the group openly published a newsletter from a London office. [Brisard, Dasquie and Madsen, 2002, pp 97-98] Whistleblower David Shayler had given British authorities details of this Libya plot in 1998 and again in 1999, and later serves a short prison sentence for revealing this information to the public (see November 5, 2002). [Observer, 8/27/00] Well after the failed attempt, the British allegedly continue to support Al-Muqatila—for instance, the group openly publishes a newsletter from a London office. [Brisard, Dasquie and Madsen, 2002, pp 97-98] Al-Liby remains on the US government's most wanted list with a reward of $25 million for his capture. He is wanted for his involvement in the 1998 African embassy bombings. [Observer, 11/10/02; FBI, 2002]
People and organizations involved: Al-Muqatila, Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, Osama bin Laden, Britain, David Shayler, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

1997: Possible Unmanned Aerial Attacks Raise Concerns at FBI, CIA      Complete 911 Timeline

       FBI and CIA are concerned that an unnamed militant group, which has apparently purchased an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), will use it for attacks against US interests. At the time, the agencies believed that the only reason to use this UAV would be for either reconnaissance or attack. The primary concern is that it will be used to attack outside the United States, for example, by flying a UAV into a US Embassy or a visiting US delegation. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency
          

May 22, 1997: FBI: Terrorists Are Operating in US With Capability to Attack      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Associated Press reports that senior FBI officials have determined that militant Islamic groups are operating in America. FBI agent John O'Neill is quoted as saying, “Almost every one of these groups has a presence in the United States today. A lot of these groups now have the capacity and the support infrastructure in the United States to attack us here if they choose to.” [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C)]
People and organizations involved: John O'Neill, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

1998: Information on Hanjour Apparently Ignored by FBI      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Aukai Collins.
American Muslim Aukai Collins later says he reports to the FBI on hijacker Hani Hanjour for six months this year. [Associated Press, 5/24/02] The FBI later acknowledges they paid Collins to monitor the Islamic and Arab communities in Phoenix between 1996 and 1999. [ABC News, 5/23/02; Associated Press, 5/24/02] Collins claims that he is a casual acquaintance of Hanjour while Hanjour is taking flying lessons. [Associated Press, 5/24/02] Collins sees nothing suspicious about Hanjour as an individual, but he tells the FBI about him because Hanjour appears to be part of a larger, organized group of Arabs taking flying lessons. [Fox News, 5/24/02] He says the FBI “knew everything about the guy,” including his exact address, phone number, and even what car he drove. The FBI denies Collins told them anything about Hanjour, and denies knowing about Hanjour before 9/11. [ABC News, 5/23/02] Collins later calls Hanjour a “hanky panky” hijacker: “He wasn't even moderately religious, let alone fanatically religious. And I knew for a fact that he wasn't part of al-Qaeda or any other Islamic organization; he couldn't even spell jihad in Arabic.” [Collins, 2003, pp 248]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, William Safire, Aukai Collins
          

April 1998: Hijacker Associate Receives Saudi Money; FBI Fails to Investigate      Complete 911 Timeline

       Osama Basnan, a Saudi living in California, claims to write a letter to Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar bin Sultan and his wife, Princess Haifa bint Faisal, asking for financial help because his wife needs thyroid surgery. The Saudi embassy sends Basnan $15,000 and pays the surgical bill. However, according to University of California at San Diego hospital records, Basnan's wife, Majeda Dweikat, is not treated until April 2000. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Basnan will later come under investigation for possibly using some of this money to support two of the 9/11 hijackers who arrive in San Diego, although the 9/11 Commission has concluded that evidence does not support these charges. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04] Prior to this time, the FBI had several chances to investigate Basnan, but failed to do so. In 1992, they received information suggesting a connection between him and a militant group later associated with bin Laden. In 1993, they received reports that Basnan hosted a party for al-Qaeda leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman the year before, but again they failed to investigate. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] According to one US official, Basnan later “celebrate[s] the heroes of September 11” and talks about “what a wonderful, glorious day it had been” at a party shortly after 9/11. [Newsweek, 11/24/02; San Diego Magazine, 9/03]
People and organizations involved: Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia, Osama Basnan, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Majeda Dweikat, 9/11 Commission, Haifa bint Faisal, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, Osama bin Laden
          

May 1998: FBI Gives Counterterrorism Top Priority but No Extra Resources      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI issues a strategic, five-year plan that designates national and economic security, including counterterrorism, as its top priority for the first time. However, it is later determined that neither personnel nor resources are shifted accordingly. FBI counterterrorism spending remains constant from this point until 9/11. Only about six percent of the FBI's agent work force is assigned to counterterrorism on 9/11. [New York Times, 4/18/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

May 15, 1998: Oklahoma FBI Memo Warns of Potential Terrorist-Related Flight Training; No Investigation Ensues      Complete 911 Timeline

       An FBI pilot sends his supervisor in the Oklahoma City FBI office a memo warning that he has observed “large numbers of Middle Eastern males receiving flight training at Oklahoma airports in recent months.” The memo, titled “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” further states this “may be related to planned terrorist activity” and “light planes would be an ideal means of spreading chemicals or biological agents.” The memo does not call for an investigation, and none occurs. [NewsOK, 5/29/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] The memo is “sent to the bureau's Weapons of Mass Destruction unit and forgotten.” [New York Daily News, 9/25/02] In 1999, it is learned that an al-Qaeda agent has studied flight training in Norman, Oklahoma. Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi will briefly visit the same school in 2000; Zacarias Moussaoui trains at the school in 2001.
People and organizations involved: Zacarias Moussaoui, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

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: Al-Qaeda Planning US Attack, but Not Yet Ready      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI learns that al-Qaeda is planning an attack on the US, but “things are not ready yet. We don't have everything prepared,” according to a captured member of the al-Qaeda cell that bombed the US embassy in Kenya. [USA Today, 8/29/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 1998-July 1999: FBI Conducts Inquiry of Suspected al-Qaeda Advance Man      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Omar al-Bayoumi.
The FBI conducts a counterterrorism inquiry on Omar al-Bayoumi, suspected al-Qaeda advance man, and possible Saudi agent. The FBI discovers he has been in contact with several people also under investigation. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The FBI is given a tip that he was sent a suspicious package filled with wire from the Middle East, and that large numbers of Arab men routinely meet in his apartment. His landlord notices that he switches from driving a beat up old car to a new Mercedes [Newsweek, 7/28/03] According to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, the FBI notes that al-Bayoumi has “access to seemingly unlimited funding from Saudi Arabia.” For instance, an FBI source identifies him as a person who has delivered about $500,000 from Saudi Arabia to buy a mosque in June 1998 (see June 1998). However, the FBI closes the inquiry “for reasons that remain unclear .” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Also in 1999, al-Bayoumi is working as an employee of the Saudi company Dallah Avco but apparently is doing no work. Someone in the company tries to fire him and sends a note to the Saudi government about this, since the company is so closely tied to the government. However, Mohammed Ahmed al-Salmi, the Director General of Civil Aviation, replies that it is “extremely urgent” his job is renewed “as quickly as possible,” and so he keeps his job. [Wall Street Journal, 8/11/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mohammed Ahmed al-Salmi, Dallah Avco, Omar al-Bayoumi
          

September 20, 1998: Al-Qaeda Operative Arrest in Germany Leads to New German Suspects      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim.
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, an al-Qaeda operative from the United Arab Emirates connected to the 1998 US embassy bombings, is arrested near Munich, Germany. [PBS Newshour, 9/30/98] In retrospect, it appears he was making one of many visits to the al-Qaeda cells in Germany. [Corbin, 2003, pp 147] US investigators later call him bin Laden's “right hand man.” [New York Times, 9/29/01] However, the FBI is unwilling to brief their German counterparts on what they know about Salim and al-Qaeda, despite learning much that could have been useful as part of their investigation into the US embassy bombings. By the end of the year, German investigators learn that Salim has a Hamburg bank account. [New York Times, 9/29/01] The cosignatory on the account is businessman Mamoun Darkazanli, whose home number had been programmed into Salim's cell phone. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] US intelligence had first investigated Darkazanli in 1993, when a suspect was found with his telephone number [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] , and German authorities had begun to suspect Darkazanli of money laundering for Islamic militant groups in 1996. Wadih El-Hage, a former personal secretary to bin Laden, is also arrested in the wake of the embassy bombings. El-Hage had created a number of shell companies as fronts for al-Qaeda activities, and one of these uses the address of Darkazanli's apartment. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] Darkazanli's phone number and Deutsche Bank account number are also found in El-Hage's address book. [CNN, 10/16/01] The FBI also discovers that Darkazanli had power of attorney over a bank account of Hajer, a person on al-Qaeda's supreme council. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Based on these new connections, investigators ask a federal prosecutor for permission to open a formal investigation against Darkazanli. An investigation reportedly begins, at the insistence of the US, though Germany has claimed the request for the investigation was rejected [Agence France-Presse, 10/28/01; New York Times, 1/18/03] German investigators also learn of a connection between Salim and Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who is already identified by police in 1997 as a suspected extremist. [New York Times, 1/18/03; Associated Press, 6/22/02]
People and organizations involved: Mamoun Darkazanli, Wadih El-Hage, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Germany, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, Osama bin Laden, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, Deutsche Bank, al-Qaeda
          

October 1998: Chicago FBI Investigation of al-Qaeda Funding Is Thwarted      Complete 911 Timeline

      
FBI agents John Vincent (left), and Robert Wright (right).
FBI agents Robert Wright and John Vincent, tracking a terrorist cell in Chicago, are told to simply follow suspects around town and file reports. The two agents believe some of the money used to finance the 1998 US embassy bombing in Africa leads back to Chicago and Saudi multimillionaire businessman Yassin al-Qadi. Supervisors try, but temporarily fail, to halt the investigation into al-Qadi's possible terrorist connections. However, at this time, a supervisor prohibits Wright and Vincent from making any arrests connected to the bombings, or opening new criminal investigations. Even though they believe their case is growing stronger, in January 2001, Wright is told that the Chicago case is being closed and that “it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie.” Wright tells ABC: “Those dogs weren't sleeping, they were training, they were getting ready. ... September the 11th is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit. ... Absolutely no doubt about that.” Chicago federal prosecutor Mark Flessner, also working on the case, says there “were powers bigger than I was in the Justice Department and within the FBI that simply were not going to let [the building of a criminal case] happen.” Wright will write an internal FBI memo harshly criticizing their decisions regarding the case in June 2001. Al-Qadi is named in a March 2000 affidavit as a source of terrorist funds in Chicago. [ABC News, 12/19/02 (B); ABC News, 12/19/02; ABC News, 11/26/02] He is also on secret US and UN lists of major al-Qaeda financiers. His charity, the Muwafaq Foundation, is allegedly an al-Qaeda front that transferred $820,000 to the Palestinian group Hamas through a Muslim foundation called the Quranic Literacy Institute. (The date of the transfer has not been released.) [CNN, 10/15/01 (B)] Al-Qadi says he shut down Muwafaq in 1996, but the charity has received money from the United Nations since then. [BBC, 10/20/01; CNN, 10/15/01 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Yassin al-Qadi, Quranic Literacy Institute, Hamas, Muwafaq Foundation, International Terrorism Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mark Flessner, US Department of Justice, Robert Wright, al-Qaeda, John Vincent
          

November 1998: Turkish Extremists' Plan to Crash Airplane into Famous Tomb Uncovered      Complete 911 Timeline

       US intelligence learns that a Turkish extremist group named Kaplancilar had planned a suicide attack. The conspirators, who were arrested, planned to crash an airplane packed with explosives into a famous tomb during a government ceremony. The Turkish press said the group had cooperated with bin Laden and the FBI includes this incident in a bin Laden database. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Kaplancilar, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

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: Key Embassy Bombing Witnesses Are Beheaded Before They Can Talk to FBI      Complete 911 Timeline

       FBI counterterrorism expert John O'Neill and his team investigating the 1998 US embassy bombings are repeatedly frustrated by the Saudi government. Guillaume Dasquié, one of the authors of The Forbidden Truth, later tells the Village Voice: “We uncovered incredible things. ... Investigators would arrive to find that key witnesses they were about to interrogate had been beheaded the day before.” [Village Voice, 1/2/02; Brisard, Dasquie and Madsen, 2002, pp xxix]
People and organizations involved: John O'Neill, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

1999: FBI Learns of Militant Group's Plans to Send Students to US for Aviation Training; Investigation Opportunity Bungled      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI receives reports that a militant organization is planning to send students to the US for aviation training. The organization's name remains classified, but apparently it is a different organization than one mentioned in a very similar warning the year before. The purpose of this training is unknown, but the organization viewed the plan as “particularly important” and it approved open-ended funding for it. The Counterterrorism Section at FBI headquarters issues a notice instructing 24 field offices to pay close attention to Islamic students from the target country engaged in aviation training. Ken Williams's squad at the Phoenix FBI office receives this notice, although Williams does not recall reading it. Williams will later write a memo on this very topic in July 2001. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry later concludes, “There is no indication that field offices conducted any investigation after receiving the communication.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] However, an analyst at FBI headquarters conducts a study and determines that each year there are about 600 Middle Eastern students attending the slightly over 1,000 US flight schools. [New York Times, 5/4/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] In November 2000, a notice will be issued to the field offices, stating that it has uncovered no indication that the militant group is recruiting students. Apparently, Williams will not see this notice either. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Ken Williams, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

June 1999-March 2000: FBI Investigates Muslim Leader      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Anwar Al Aulaqi.
The FBI conducts a counterterrorism inquiry into imam Anwar Al Aulaqi. From about February 2000, he serves as the “spiritual leader” to several of the hijackers while they live in San Diego, and again in March 2001 when he and they move to the East Coast. During the investigation, the FBI discovers he is in contact with a number of other people being investigated. For instance, in early 2000 he is visited by an associate of Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. However, as the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry later notes, the investigation is closed “despite the imam's contacts with other subjects of counterterrorism investigations and reports concerning the imam's connection to suspect organizations.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Anwar Al Aulaqi
          

June 7, 1999: Bin Laden Finally Makes FBI's 10 Most Wanted      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI puts bin Laden on its “10 Most Wanted List.” This is almost a year and a half after bin Laden's “declaration of war” against the US on February 22, 1998 (see February 22, 1998), and about six months after the CIA's “declaration of war against al-Qaeda” in December 1998 (see December 4, 1998). It is also three years after an internal State Department document connected bin Laden to financing and planning numerous terrorist attacks. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Osama bin Laden
          

July 14, 1999: Pakistani ISI Agent Promises Attack on WTC in Recorded Conversation      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Shireen Shawky holding a guided missile system (left), and Mohammed Malik (right).
US government informant Randy Glass records a conversation at a dinner attended by him, illegal arms dealers Diaa Mohsen, Mohammed Malik, a former Egyptian judge named Shireen Shawky, and ISI agent Rajaa Gulum Abbas, held at a restaurant within view of the WTC. FBI agents pretending to be restaurant customers sit at nearby tables. [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02; MSNBC, 8/2/02] Abbas says he wants to buy a whole shipload of weapons stolen from the US military to give to bin Laden. [Cox News Service, 8/2/02] Abbas points to the WTC and says, “Those towers are coming down.” This ISI agent later makes two other references to an attack on the WTC. [Cox News Service, 8/2/02; Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02; WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02] Abbas also says, “Americans [are] the enemy,” and “We would have no problem with blowing up this entire restaurant because it is full of Americans.” [MSNBC, 3/18/03] The meeting is secretly recorded, and parts are shown on television in 2003. [MSNBC, 3/18/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Osama bin Laden, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Shireen Shawky, Rajaa Gulum Abbas, Randy Glass, Mohammed Malik, Diaa Mohsen
          

September 1999: FBI Investigates Flight School Attendee Connected to bin Laden      Complete 911 Timeline

       Agents from Oklahoma City FBI office visit the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma to investigate Ihab Ali Nawawi, who has been identified as bin Laden's former personal pilot in a recent trial. The agents learned that Nawawi received his commercial pilot's license at the school 1993, then traveled to another school in Oklahoma City to qualify for a rating to fly small business aircraft. He is later named as an unindicted coconspirator in the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya. The trial witness who gave this information, Essam al Ridi, also attended flight school in the US, then bought a plane and flew it to Afghanistan for bin Laden to use (see 1993). [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02; Washington Post, 5/19/02; Boston Globe, 9/18/01; CNN, 10/16/01] When Nawawi was arrested in May 1999, he was working as a taxi driver in Orlando, Florida. Investigators discover recent ties between him and high-ranking al-Qaeda leaders, and suspect he was a “sleeper” agent. [St. Petersburg Times, 10/28/01] However, the FBI agent visiting the school is not given most background details about him. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] It is not known if these investigators are aware of a terrorist flight school warning given by the Oklahoma City FBI office in 1998. Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi later visit the Airman school in July 2000 but ultimately decide to train in Florida instead. [Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Al-Qaeda agent Zacarias Moussaoui takes flight lessons at Airman in February 2001. One of the FBI agents sent to visit the school at this time visits it again in August 2001 asking about Moussaoui, but he fails to make a connection between the two visits.
People and organizations involved: Zacarias Moussaoui, Mohamed Atta, Ihab Ali, Marwan Alshehhi, Essam al Ridi, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

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 14-31, 1999: FBI Thwarts Additional Millennium Attack Plots      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ahmed Ressam.
In the wake of the arrest of Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999), FBI investigators work frantically to uncover more millennium plots before they are likely to take place at the end of the year. Documents found with Ressam lead to co-conspirators in New York, then Boston and Seattle. Enough people are arrested to prevent any attacks. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later says, “I think a lot of the FBI leadership for the first time realized that ... there probably were al-Qaeda people in the United States. They realized that only after they looked at the results of the investigation of the millennium bombing plot.” [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] Yet Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger later claims that the FBI will still repeatedly assure the Clinton White House until Clinton leaves office that al-Qaeda lacks the ability to launch a domestic strike (see 2000).
People and organizations involved: Sandy Berger, Richard A. Clarke, Ahmed Ressam, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

2000: Attempted Flight Simulator Purchase Hints at Pilot Training      Complete 911 Timeline

       At some point during this year, an FBI internal memo states that a Middle Eastern nation has been trying to purchase a flight simulator in violation of US restrictions. The FBI refuses to disclose the date or details of this memo. [Los Angeles Times, 5/30/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

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
          

March 2000: FBI Agent Apparently Destroys bin Laden E-Mail Intercepts      Complete 911 Timeline

       An FBI agent, angry over a glitch in an e-mail tracking program that has somehow mixed innocent non-targeted e-mails with those belonging to al-Qaeda, reportedly accidentally destroys all of the FBI's Denver-based intercepts of bin Laden's colleagues under investigation. The tracking program is called Carnivore. However, the explanation sounds dubious and it is flatly contradicted in the same article: “A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday night that the e-mails were not destroyed.” [Associated Press, 5/28/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Carnivore, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

April 2000: Would-Be Hijacker Tells FBI About Plot to Fly Plane into US Building      Complete 911 Timeline

       Niaz Khan, a British citizen originally from Pakistan, is recruited into an al-Qaeda plot. He is flown to Lahore, Pakistan, and then trains in a compound there for a week with others on how to hijack passenger airplanes. He trains on a mock cockpit of a 767 aircraft (an airplane type used on 9/11). He is taught hijacking techniques, including how to smuggle guns and other weapons through airport security and how to get into a cockpit. He is then flown to the US and told to meet with a contact. He says, “They said I would live there for a while and meet some other people and we would hijack a plane from JFK and fly it into a building.” [Times of London, 5/9/04] He has “no doubt” this is the 9/11 plot. However, Khan slips away and gambles away the money given to him by al-Qaeda. Afraid he would be killed for betraying al-Qaeda, he turns himself in to the FBI. For three weeks, FBI counterterrorism agents in Newark, New Jersey interview him. [MSNBC, 6/3/04; Observer, 6/6/04] One FBI agent recalls, “We were incredulous. Flying a plane into a building sounded crazy but we polygraphed him and he passed.” [Times of London, 5/9/04] A former FBI official says the FBI agents believed Khan and aggressively tried to follow every lead in the case, but word came from FBI headquarters saying, “Return him to London and forget about it.” He is returned to Britain and handed over to British authorities. However, the British only interview him for about two hours, and then release him. He is surprised that authorities never ask for his help in identifying where he was trained in Pakistan, even after 9/11. [MSNBC, 6/3/04] His case is mentioned in the 2002 9/11 Congressional Inquiry report, but the plot is apparently mistakenly described as an attempt to hijack a plane and fly it to Afghanistan. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda, Niaz Khan
          

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
          

May 17, 2000-May 2001: Bin al-Shibh US Visas Rejected, Apparently Because of Ties to USS Cole Bombing      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ramzi bin al-Shibh.
During these months, Hamburg al-Qaeda cell member Ramzi Bin al-Shibh tries five times to get a US visa. In 2000, he tries to a get a visa once from Germany, once from Yemen, and twice using the passport of an Indonesian named Agus Budiman, but all these attempts fail. He makes a little-reported fifth attempt made in May 2001. Bin al-Shibh is in Yemen during the two months before the bombing of the USS Cole in that country, and investigators believe he is involved in that attack (see October 12, 2000). [Los Angeles Times, 10/24/01; Australian, 12/24/02] German authorities believe he is in Yemen at least the day before the attack and stays until four days after, though it isn't clear when they come to this determination. [McDermott, 2005, pp 209] Most media accounts claim that bin al-Shibh is refused a visa on economic grounds based on fears that he would overstay his visa and work in the US. One official suggests it was “only by luck” that he was turned down. [Washington Post, 7/14/02; CBS, 6/6/02] However, other accounts note that, as the London Times put it, he is “turned down on security grounds.” [London Times, 9/9/02] Specifically, it appears the US has suspicions he has ties to terrorism, and especially ties to the USS Cole bombing plot. Newsweek reports, “One senior law-enforcement official [tells] Newsweek that bin al-Shibh's efforts to obtain a US visa [are] rebuffed because of suspicions that he [is] tied to the bombing of the USS Cole.” [Newsweek, 11/26/01] The Los Angeles Times similarly notes that “FBI agents [tell] officials of the Florida flight school” that bin al-Shibh wants to attend that he is “rejected because of unspecified involvement ‘with the bombing of the USS Cole...’ ” Hijacker Ziad Jarrah assists bin al-Shibh with his last two visa applications, and vouches for him. [Los Angeles Times, 10/21/01] Yosri Fouda, an al-Jazeera journalist who reportedly interviews bin al-Shibh and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in 2002 (see April, June, or August 2002), also notes that according to his US intelligence sources, bin al-Shibh's visas are “turned down because he [is] implicated in the USS Cole attack.” The interviewer he tells this to notes, “That's rather odd, because if they knew that and turned him down for that reason, you'd think they would have wondered who else was at that flight school and why? Or, even more to the point they should have issued him a visa just to get him in to the United States and grabbed him for the Cole attack.” [TBS Journal, 10/02] But no other journalist has ever questioned why this information doesn't lead to the unraveling of the 9/11 plot. Not only is there the obvious visa connection to Ziad Jarrah while he is training at a US flight school, but also during this same time period bin al-Shibh wires money to Marwan Alshehhi, Zacarias Moussaoui, and others, usually using his own name. [CBS, 6/6/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Agus Budiman, Ziad Jarrah, Zacarias Moussaoui, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Yosri Fouda, Marwan Alshehhi
          

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
          

June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000: Hijackers Receive $100,000 in Funding from United Arab Emirates Location      Complete 911 Timeline

       Someone using the aliases “Isam Mansour,” “Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi,” “Mr. Ali,” and “Hani (Fawaz Trdng)” sends a total of $109,910 to the 9/11 hijackers in a series of transfers between these dates. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02; Financial Times, 11/30/01; MSNBC, 12/11/01; New York Times, 12/10/01; Newsweek, 12/2/01] The money is sent from Sharjah, an emirate in the United Arab Emirates that is allegedly a center for al-Qaeda's illegal financial dealings. The identity of this moneyman “Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi” is in dispute. It has been claimed that the name “Mustafa Ahmed” is an alias used by Saeed Sheikh, a known ISI and al-Qaeda agent who sends the hijackers money in August 2001. [CNN, 10/6/01] India claims that Pakistani ISI Director Mahmood orders Saeed to send the hijackers the money at this time. [Daily Excelsior, 10/18/01; Frontline, 10/6/01] French author Bernard-Henri Levy claims to have evidence from sources inside both Indian and US governments of phone calls between Sheikh and Mahmood during this same time period, and he sees a connection between the timing of the calls and the money transfers (see Summer 2000). [Who Killed Daniel Pearl? by Bernard-Henri Levy, pp 320-324] FBI Director Mueller's theory is that this money is sent by “Ali Abdul Aziz Ali.” However, of the four aliases used in the different transactions, Mueller connects this man only to three, and not to the alias “Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi.” [Associated Press, 9/26/02; New York Times, 12/10/01; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02] It appears that most of the money is sent to an account shared by Marwan Alshehhi and Mohamed Atta, who would obtain money orders and distribute the money to the other hijackers. [CNN, 10/1/01; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02; MSNBC, 12/11/01] The New York Times later suggests that the amount passed from “Mustafa Ahmed” to the Florida bank accounts right up until the day before the attack is around $325,000. The rest of the $500,000-$600,000 they receive for US expenses comes from another, still unknown source. [New York Times, 7/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, United Arab Emirates, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Mahmood Ahmed, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, Saeed Sheikh, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Robert S. Mueller III, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, al-Qaeda, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi, Fawaz Trdng, Isam Mansour
          

August 12, 2000: Italian Intelligence Wiretap of al-Qaeda Cell Reveals Massive Aircraft-based Strike      Complete 911 Timeline

       Italian intelligence successfully wiretap the al-Qaeda cell in Milan, Italy from late 1999 until summer 2001. [Boston Globe, 8/4/02] In a wiretapped conversation from this day, suspected Yemeni Abdulsalam Ali Abdulrahman tells wanted Egyptian Mahmoud Es Sayed about a massive strike against the enemies of Islam involving aircraft and the sky, a blow that “will be written about in all the newspapers of the world. This will be one of those strikes that will never be forgotten. ... This is a terrifying thing. This is a thing that will spread from south to north, from east to west: The person who came up with this program is a madman from a madhouse, a madman but a genius.” In another conversation, Abdulrahman tells Es Sayed: “I'm studying airplanes. I hope, God willing, that I can bring you a window or a piece of an airplane the next time we see each other.” The comment is followed by laughter. Beginning in October 2000, FBI experts will help Italian police analyze the intercepts and warnings. Neither Italy nor the FBI understands their meaning until after 9/11, but apparently, the Italians understand enough to give the US an attack warning in March 2001. [Los Angeles Times, 5/29/02; Guardian, 5/30/02; Washington Post, 5/31/02] The Milan cell “is believed to have created a cottage industry in supplying false passports and other bogus documents.” [Boston Globe, 8/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Abdulsalam Ali Abdulrahman, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mahmoud Es Sayed
          

Autumn 2000: FBI Informant Fails to Share Valuable Information on Hijackers      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Abdussattar Shaikh.
While hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar live in the house of an FBI informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, the informant continues to have contact with his FBI handler. The handler, Steven Butler, later claims that during summer Shaikh mentions the names “Nawaf” and “Khalid” in passing and that they are renting rooms from him. [Newsweek, 9/9/02; Associated Press, 7/25/03 (B); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] On one occasion, Shaikh tells Butler on the phone he cannot talk because Khalid is in the room. [Newsweek, 9/9/02] Shaikh tells Butler they are good, religious Muslims who are legally in the US to visit and attend school. Butler asks Shaikh for their last names, but Shaikh refuses to provide them. Butler is not told that they are pursuing flight training. Shaikh tells Butler that they are apolitical and have done nothing to arouse suspicion. However, according to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, he later admits that Alhazmi has “contacts with at least four individuals [he] knew were of interest to the FBI and about whom [he] had previously reported to the FBI.” Three of these four people are being actively investigated at the time the hijackers are there. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The report mentions Osama Mustafa as one, and Shaikh admits that suspected Saudi agent Omar al-Bayoumi was a friend. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; Los Angeles Times, 7/25/03] The FBI later concludes Shaikh is not involved in the 9/11 plot, but they have serious doubts about his credibility. After 9/11 he gives inaccurate information and has an “inconclusive” polygraph examination about his foreknowledge of the 9/11 attack. The FBI believes he has contact with hijacker Hani Hanjour, but he claims not to recognize him. There are other “significant inconsistencies” in Shaikh's statements about the hijackers, including when he first met them and later meetings with them. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry later concludes that had the informant's contacts with the hijackers been capitalized upon, it “would have given the San Diego FBI field office perhaps the US intelligence community's best chance to unravel the September 11 plot.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The FBI later tries to prevent Butler and Shaikh from testifying before the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry in October 2002. Butler ends up testifying but Shaikh does not. [Washington Post, 10/11/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Osama ("Sam") Mustafa, Steven Butler, Omar al-Bayoumi, William Safire, Abdussattar Shaikh, Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nawaf Alhazmi
          

October 14-November, 2000: Investigation Into USS Cole Bombing Is Thwarted      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Barbara Bodine at a press conference days after the bombing of the USS Cole.
FBI agent John O'Neill and his team of 200 FBI investigators enter Yemen two days after the bombing of the USS Cole in an attempt to discover who was responsible. However, they are unable to accomplish much due to restrictions placed on them and due to tensions between O'Neill and US Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine. All but about 50 investigators are forced to leave by the end of October. Even though O'Neill's boss visits and finds that Bodine is O'Neill's “only detractor,” O'Neill and much of his team are forced to leave in November, and the investigation stalls without his personal relationships to top Yemeni officials. [New Yorker, 1/14/02; Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 237; Sunday Times, 2/3/02] Increased security threats force the reduced FBI team still in Yemen to withdraw altogether in June 2001. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (B)] The Prime Minister of Yemen at the time later claims that hijacker “Khalid Almihdhar was one of the Cole perpetrators, involved in preparations. He was in Yemen at the time and stayed after the Cole bombing for a while, then he left.” [Guardian, 10/15/01] The Sunday Times later notes, “The failure in Yemen may have blocked off lines of investigation that could have led directly to the terrorists preparing for September 11.” [Sunday Times, 2/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Almihdhar, John O'Neill, USS Cole, Barbara Bodine, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Early December 2000: USS Cole Plotter al-Quso Linked to Hijackers by CIA; Information Withheld from FBI      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Fahad al-Quso.
Fahad al-Quso is arrested by the government of Yemen. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02; PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] In addition to being involved in the USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000), al-Quso was at the January 2000 Malaysian meeting (see January 5-8, 2000) with al-Qaeda agents Khallad bin Attash and hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. Al-Quso tells Yemeni investigators that he flew from Yemen to Bangkok in January 2000 for a secret meeting where he turned over $36,000 in cash to bin Attash. The FBI asks the CIA for more information about bin Attash and the Malaysian meeting, but later the FBI claims that the CIA does not provide the requested information that could have led them to Alhazmi and Almihdhar as well. [New York Times, 4/11/04 (B)] For instance, there are pictures from the Malaysian meeting of al-Quso next to hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, but the CIA does not share the pictures with the FBI before 9/11. [Newsweek, 9/20/01] Meanwhile, FBI head investigator John O'Neill believes that al-Quso is holding back important information from his Yemeni captors and wants him interrogated by the FBI. However, O'Neill had been kicked out of Yemen by his superiors a week or two before, and without his influential presence, the Yemeni government will not allow an interrogation. Al-Quso is finally interrogated days after 9/11, and he admits to meeting with Alhazmi and Almihdhar in January 2000. One investigator calls the missed opportunity of exposing the 9/11 plot through al-Quso's connections “mind-boggling.” [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] In April 2003, al-Quso will escape from a Yemeni prison and apparently remains free. [Associated Press 4/11/03]
People and organizations involved: John O'Neill, Fahad al-Quso, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency
          

January-February 2001: Flight School's Repeated Warnings About Hijacker Hanjour Ignored by FAA      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Hani Hanjour, from a 2000 US visa application.
In January, the Arizona flight school JetTech alerts the FAA about hijacker Hani Hanjour. No one at the school suspects Hanjour of terrorist intent, but they tell the FAA he lacks both the English and flying skills necessary for the commercial pilot's license he has already obtained. The flight school manager “couldn't believe he had a commercial license of any kind with the skills that he had.” A former employee says, “I'm still to this day amazed that he could have flown into the Pentagon. He could not fly at all.” They also note he is an exceptionally poor student who does not seem to care about passing his courses. [New York Times, 5/4/02 (B)] An FAA official named John Anthony actually sits next to Hanjour in class and observes his skills. He suggests the use of a translator to help Hanjour pass, but the flight school points out that goes “against the rules that require a pilot to be able to write and speak English fluently before they even get their license.” [Associated Press, 5/10/02] The FAA verifies that Hanjour's pilot's license is legitimate, but takes no other action. However, since 9/11, the FBI appears to have questions about how Hanjour got his license in 1999. They have questioned and polygraphed the Arab-American instructor who signed off on his flying skills. [CBS News, 5/10/02] His license had in fact already expired in late 1999. [Associated Press, 9/15/01 (B)] In February, Hanjour begins advanced simulator training, “a far more complicated task than he had faced in earning a commercial license.” [New York Times, 6/19/02] The flight school again alerts the FAA about this and gives a total of five alerts about Hanjour, but no further action on him is taken. The FBI is not told about Hanjour. [CBS News, 5/10/02] Ironically, the following July, Arizona FBI agent Ken Williams recommends in a memo that the FBI liaison with local flight schools and keep track of suspicious activity by Middle Eastern students (see July 10, 2001).
People and organizations involved: William Safire, Federal Aviation Administration, John Anthony, Pentagon, Federal Bureau of Investigation, JetTech
          

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
          

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-July 2001: Trial Presents FBI with Information About Pilot Training Scheme      Complete 911 Timeline

       A trial is held in New York City for four defendants charged with involvement in the 1998 US African embassy bombings. All are ultimately convicted. Testimony reveals that two bin Laden operatives had received pilot training in Texas and Oklahoma and another had been asked to take lessons. One bin Laden aide becomes a government witness and gives the FBI detailed information about a pilot training scheme. This new information does not lead to any new FBI investigations into the matter. [Washington Post, 9/23/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

April 2001: FBI Translators Point to Explicit Warning from Afghanistan      Complete 911 Timeline

       FBI translators Sibel Edmonds and Behrooz Sarshar will later claim to know of an important warning given to the FBI at this time. In their accounts, a reliable informant on the FBI's payroll for at least ten years tells two FBI agents that sources in Afghanistan have heard of an al-Qaeda plot to attack the US and Europe in a suicide mission involving airplanes. Al-Qaeda agents, already in place inside the US, are being trained as pilots. By some accounts, the names of prominent US cities are mentioned. It is unclear if this warning reaches FBI headquarters or beyond. The two translators later privately testify to the 9/11 Commission. [World Net Daily, 4/6/04; Village Voice, 4/14/04; Salon, 3/26/04] Sarshar's notes of the interview indicate that the informant claimed his information came from Iran, Afghanistan, and Hamburg, Germany (the location of the primary 9/11 al-Qaeda cell). However, anonymous FBI officials claim the warning was very vague and doubtful. [Chicago Tribune, 7/21/04] In reference to this warning and apparently others, Edmonds says, “President Bush said they had no specific information about September 11, and that's accurate. However, there was specific information about use of airplanes, that an attack was on the way two or three months beforehand, and that several people were already in the country by May of 2001. They should've alerted the people to the threat we were facing.” [Salon, 3/26/04] She adds: “There was general information about the time-frame, about methods to be used but not specifically about how they would be used and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts of terror attacks. There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities with skyscrapers.” [Independent, 4/2/04]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Behrooz Sarshar, Sibel Edmonds, George W. Bush, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry
          

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 11, 2001: New York City Practices for Biological Terrorist Attack      Complete 911 Timeline

       New York City's Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which is located in World Trade Center Building 7, organizes a bio-terrorism drill where militant extremists attack the city with bubonic plague and Manhattan is quarantined. The “tabletop exercise” is called RED Ex—meaning “Recognition, Evaluation, and Decision-Making Exercise” —and involves about seventy different entities, agencies, and locales from the New York area. Federal legislation adopted in 1997 requires federal, state, and local authorities to conduct regular exercises as part of the Domestic Preparedness Program (DPP). The US Defense Department chose New York City as the venue for RED Ex due to its size, prominence, and level of emergency preparedness. Various high-level officials take part, including Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, OEM Director Richard Sheirer, Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, and Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. Agencies and organizations that participate include New York City Fire Department, New York City Police Department, the FBI, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The exercise is supposedly so intense that, according to one participant, “five minutes into that drill, everybody forgot it was a drill.” [New York City Government, 5/11/01; New York City Government, 9/5/01, pp 74; New York Sun, 12/20/03; 9/11 Commission, 5/18/04] According to OEM Director Richard Sheirer, “Operation RED Ex provided a proving ground and a great readiness training exercise for the many challenges the city routinely faces, such as weather events, heat emergencies, building collapses, fires, and public safety and health issues.” [New York City Government, 5/11/01] In his prepared testimony before the 9/11 Commission, Bernard Kerik later states: “The City, through its OEM, had coordinated plans for many types of emergencies; and those plans were tested frequently.” The types of emergencies they prepared for, he states, included “building collapses” and “plane crashes.” [Kerik Testimony, 5/18/04] Considering Richard Sheirer's comments, RED Ex appears to be one example where the city tests for building collapses. Details about training for airplanes crashing into New York City remain unknown. The second part of this exercise, called Tripod, is scheduled to take place in New York on September 12, 2001, but is cancelled due to the 9/11 attacks.
People and organizations involved: Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani, Bernard Kerik, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York City Fire Department, New York City Police Department, US Department of Defense, National Air College, World Trade Center
          

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
          

May 30, 2001: FBI Warned of Major al-Qaeda Operation in the US Involving Hijackings, Explosives, and/or New York City      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Ahmed Ressam.
Ahmed Ressam is convicted in the spring of 2001 for attempting to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport (see December 14, 1999). Facing the likelihood of life in prison, he starts cooperating with authorities in an attempt to reduce his sentence. On this day, he details his experiences in al-Qaeda training camps and his many dealings with top al-Qaeda deputy Abu Zubaida. According to FBI notes from Ressam's interrogation, Zubaida asked Ressam to send him original Canadian passports to help Zubaida “get people to America.” Zubaida “wanted an operation in the US” and talked about the need to get explosives into the US for this operation, but Ressam makes it clear this was a separate plot from the one he was involved with. Notes from this day further explain that Ressam doesn't know if any explosives made it into the US because once an operation was initiated, operators were not supposed to talk about it to anyone. There's no concrete evidence that Ressam knows any detail of the 9/11 attacks. [Newsweek, 4/28/05] However, Fox News reports that roughly around this time Ressam testifies “that attack plans, including hijackings and attacks on New York City targets, [are] ongoing.” [Fox News, 5/17/02] Ressam will repeat some of this in a public trial a month later. Questioned shortly after 9/11, Ressam will point out that given what he's already told his US interrogators, the 9/11 attacks should not be surprising. He notes that he'd described how Zubaida talked “generally of big operations in [the] US with big impact, needing great preparation, great perseverance, and willingness to die.” Ressam had told of “plans to get people hired at airports, of blowing up airports, and airplanes.” Apparently, the FBI waits until July to share the information from this debriefing with other intelligence agencies, the INS, Customs Service, and the State Department. Ressam's warnings are first mentioned to Bush in his now famous August 6, 2001 briefing (see August 6, 2001), but as Newsweek notes, “The information from Ressam that was contained in [Bush's] PDB [is] watered down and seem[s] far more bland than what the Algerian terrorist was actually telling the FBI.” Zubaida's second plot is boiled down to one sentence: “Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaida was planning his own US attack.” [Newsweek, 4/28/05]
People and organizations involved: Los Angeles International Airport, Federal Bureau of Investigation, George W. Bush, Ahmed Ressam, Abu Zubaida
          

Summer 2001: FBI Tells Local Law Enforcement There Is No Credible Threat of Terrorism In the US      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI shares information on terrorist threats with state and local law enforcement entities through National Law Enforcement Threat System (NLETS) reports. However, at this time, the heightened state of alert for an attack in the US is not reflected at all in these NLETS reports. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry notes, “In a May 2001 NLETS report, for example, the FBI assessed the risk of terrorism as ‘low,’ and, in a July 2, 2001 NLETS report, stated that the FBI had no information indicating a credible threat of terrorist attack in the United States, although the possibility of such an attack could not be discounted.” Further reports focus only on the potential of attacks against US interests overseas. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] On July 5 and 6, 2001, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke specifically warns FBI officials that al-Qaeda is planning “something spectacular,” and says, “They may try to hit us at home. You have to assume that is what they are going to do.” Yet apparently the FBI doesn't pass any of Clarke's warnings or sense of urgent emergency to the state and local emergency responders (see July 5, 2001) (see July 6, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Richard A. Clarke, National Law Enforcement Threat System
          

June 9, 2001: FBI Agent Writes Memo Claiming His Agency Is Not Trying to Catch Known Terrorists Living in the US      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Robert Wright.
Robert Wright, an FBI agent who spent ten years investigating terrorist funding, writes a memo that slams the FBI. He states, “Knowing what I know, I can confidently say that until the investigative responsibilities for terrorism are transferred from the FBI, I will not feel safe... The FBI has proven for the past decade it cannot identify and prevent acts of terrorism against the United States and its citizens at home and abroad. Even worse, there is virtually no effort on the part of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit to neutralize known and suspected international terrorists living in the United States.” [Cybercast News Service, 5/30/02] He claims the “FBI was merely gathering intelligence so they would know who to arrest when a terrorist attack occurred” rather than actually trying to stop the attacks. [UPI, 5/30/02] Wright's shocking allegations are largely ignored when they first become public a year later. He is asked on CNN's Crossfire, one of the few outlets to cover the story at all, “Mr. Wright, your charges against the FBI are really more disturbing, more serious, than [Coleen] Rowley's [on August 28, 2001]. Why is it, do you think, that you have been ignored by the media, ignored by the congressional committees, and no attention has been paid to your allegations?” The Village Voice says that the problem is partly because he went to the FBI and asked permission to speak publicly instead of going straight to the media as Rowley did. The FBI put severe limits on what details Wright can divulge. He is now suing them. [Village Voice, 6/19/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, International Terrorism Unit, Robert Wright, Coleen Rowley
          

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: Sting Operation Exposes al-Qaeda, ISI, and Drug Connections; Investigators Face Obstacles to Learn More      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Kevin Ingram, Randy Glass, and Diaa Mohsen in August 1999.
Operation Diamondback, a sting operation uncovering an attempt to buy weapons illegally for the Taliban, bin Laden, and others, ends with a number of arrests. An Egyptian named Diaa Mohsen and a Pakistani named Mohammed Malik are arrested and accused of attempting to buy Stinger missiles, nuclear weapon components, and other sophisticated military weaponry for the Pakistani ISI. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/23/01; Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B)] Malik appears to have had links to important Pakistani officials and Kashmiri militants, and Mohsen claims a connection to a man “who is very connected to the Taliban” and funded by bin Laden. [Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B); MSNBC, 8/2/02] Some other ISI agents came to Florida on several occasions to negotiate, but they escaped being arrested. They wanted to pay partially in heroin. One mentioned that the WTC would be destroyed. These ISI agents said some of their purchases would go to the Taliban in Afghanistan and/or militants associated with bin Laden. [Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B); MSNBC, 8/2/02] Both Malik and Mohsen lived in Jersey City, New Jersey. [Jersey Journal, 6/20/01] Mohsen pleads guilty after 9/11, “but remarkably, even though [he was] apparently willing to supply America's enemies with sophisticated weapons, even nuclear weapons technology, Mohsen was sentenced to just 30 months in prison.” [MSNBC, 8/2/02] Malik's case appears to have been dropped, and reporters find him working in a store in Florida less than a year after the trial ended. [MSNBC, 8/2/02] Malik's court files remain completely sealed, and in Mohsen's court case, prosecutors “removed references to Pakistan from public filings because of diplomatic concerns.” [Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B)] Also arrested are Kevin Ingram and Walter Kapij. Ingram pleads guilty to laundering $350,000 and he is sentenced to 18 months in prison. [Associated Press, 12/1/01] Ingram was a former senior investment banker with Deutsche Bank, but resigned in January 1999 after his division suffered costly losses. [Jersey Journal, 6/20/01] Walter Kapij, a pilot with a minor role in the plot, is given the longest sentence, 33 months in prison. [Palm Beach Post, 1/12/02] Informant Randy Glass plays a key role in the sting, and has thirteen felony fraud charges against him reduced as a result, serving only seven months in prison. Federal agents involved in the case later express puzzlement that Washington higher-ups did not make the case a higher priority, pointing out that bin Laden could have gotten a nuclear bomb if the deal was for real. Agents on the case complain that the FBI did not make the case a counterterrorism matter, which would have improved bureaucratic backing and opened access to FBI information and US intelligence from around the world. [Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B); MSNBC, 8/2/02] Federal agents frequently couldn't get prosecutors to approve wiretaps. [Cox News Service, 8/2/02] Glass says, “Wouldn't you think that there should have been a wire tap on Diaa [Mohsen]'s phone and Malik's phone?” [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02] An FBI supervisor in Miami refused to front money for the sting, forcing agents to use money from US Customs and even Glass's own money to help keep the sting going. [Cox News Service, 8/2/02]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Malik, Kevin Ingram, Diaa Mohsen, Walter Kapij, Operation Diamondback, Randy Glass, Osama bin Laden, World Trade Center, Taliban, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, US Customs Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Mid-September 2001: Private Consumer Databases Reveal Large Credit Card Debt, Multiple Residences of Hijackers      Complete 911 Timeline

       In a 2002 speech, former President Bill Clinton will relate information he says he learned from a close friend who works at Acxiom, the world's largest processor of consumer data. According to this friend, a couple of days after 9/11, FBI agents arrive at Acxiom and discover information about five of the 9/11 hijackers in Acxiom's computer databases. Clinton relates, “One of the men who flew an airplane into the World Trade Center [presumably either Marwan Alshehhi or Mohamed Atta] had 30 credit cards, a quarter of a million of dollars in debt, and a consolidated payout schedule of $9,800 a month. ... Mohamed Atta, the ring leader, had 12 addresses, two places he lived and 10 safe houses, under the names Mohamed Atta, Mohammed J. Atta, J. Atta, and his middle initial spelled out.” [Fortune, 2/9/04; Clinton Speech, 12/3/02] No information like this will be revealed by any subsequent official 9/11 investigations, except for a vague one sentence reference in a 9/11 Commission Report footnote that “Searches of readily available databases could have unearthed” valuable information on at least some of the hijackers. [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/2004, p. 539] The chairman of ChoicePoint, another large data brokerage company, will state that his company had data on some of the hijackers before 9/11, but he won't provide any details. After two of the hijackers are put on a no-fly list in late August 2001, an FBI agent will apparently fail to check if their names appear in the ChoicePoint database, though he claims to have done so (see August 29, 2001). [New York Observer, 11/28/04]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mohamed Atta, Acxiom
          

July 2, 2001: FBI Warns of Possible al-Qaeda Attacks; Little Action Results      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI issues a warning of possible al-Qaeda attacks to law enforcement agencies, stating, “[T]here are threats to be worried about overseas. While we cannot foresee attacks domestically, we cannot rule them out.” It further states, “[T]he FBI has no information indicating a credible threat of terrorist attack in the United States.” It asks law enforcement agencies to “exercise vigilance” and “report suspicious activities” to the FBI. Two weeks later, acting FBI Director Thomas Pickard has a conference call with all field office heads mentioning the heightened threat. However, FBI personnel later fail to recall any heightened sense of threat from summer 2001. Only those in the New York field office took any action or recall this later. [9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04 (B); CNN, 3/02 (H)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Thomas Pickard, al-Qaeda
          

July 5, 2001: Clarke Warns of Something Really Spectacular; FAA and FBI Respond Poorly      Complete 911 Timeline

       At the request of National Security Adviser Rice and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke leads a meeting of the Counterterrorism and Security Group, attended by officials from a dozen federal agencies. They discuss intelligence regarding terrorism threats and potential attacks on US installations overseas. Two attendees recall Clarke stating that “something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon.” One who attended the meeting later calls the evidence that “something spectacular” is being planned by al-Qaeda “very gripping.” [Washington Post, 5/17/02; Time, 8/4/02] Clarke directs every counterterrorist office to cancel vacations, defer non-vital travel, put off scheduled exercises, and place domestic rapid-response teams on much shorter alert. By early August, all of these emergency measures are no longer in effect. [CNN, 3/02; Washington Post, 5/17/02] The FAA issues general and routine threat advisories that don't reflect the level of urgent emergency expressed by Clarke, Tenet, and others (see January-August 2001). FAA Administrator Jane Garvey later claims she was unaware of a heightened threat level, but in 2005 it will be revealed that about half of the FAA's daily briefings in this time period referred to bin Laden or al-Qaeda (see April 1, 2001-September 10, 2001). [New York Times, 4/18/04] Clarke says rhetorically that he wants to know if a sparrow has fallen from a tree. A senior FBI official attends the meeting and promises a redoubling of efforts. However, just five days later, when FBI agent Ken Williams sends off his memo speculating that al-Qaeda may be training operatives as pilots in the US, the FBI fails to share this information with any other agency. [Washington Post, 5/17/02; Clarke, 2004, pp 236-37] The FBI also fails to tell Clarke about the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui (see August 15, 2001), or what they know about Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see August 23, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Zacarias Moussaoui, Central Intelligence Agency, Richard A. Clarke, Ken Williams, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Counterterrorism and Security Group, Federal Aviation Administration, Condoleezza Rice, Andrew Card, George Tenet
          

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 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
          

July 16, 2001: New York Taxi Driver Tells of E-mails Warning Imminent al-Qaeda Attack on New York and Washington      Complete 911 Timeline

       A Village Voice reporter is told by a New York taxi driver, “You know, I am leaving the country and going home to Egypt sometime in late August or September. I have gotten e-mails from people I know saying that Osama bin Laden has planned big terrorist attacks for New York and Washington for that time. It will not be safe here then.” He does in fact return to Egypt for that time. The FBI, which is not told about this lead until after 9/11, interrogates and then releases him. He claims that many others knew what he knew prior to 9/11. [Village Voice, 9/25/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Osama bin Laden
          

July 26, 2001: Ashcroft Stops Flying Commercial Airlines; Refuses to Explain Why      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Attorney General John Ashcroft.
CBS News reports that Attorney General Ashcroft has stopped flying commercial airlines due to a threat assessment, but “neither the FBI nor the Justice Department ... would identify [to CBS] what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it.” [CBS News, 7/26/01] “Ashcroft demonstrated an amazing lack of curiosity when asked if he knew anything about the threat. ‘Frankly, I don't,’ he told reporters.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/3/02] It is later reported that he stopped flying in July based on threat assessments made on May 8 and June 19. In May 2002, it is claimed the threat assessment had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, but Ashcroft walked out of his office rather than answer questions about it. [Associated Press, 5/16/02] The San Francisco Chronicle concludes, “The FBI obviously knew something was in the wind. ... The FBI did advise Ashcroft to stay off commercial aircraft. The rest of us just had to take our chances.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/3/02] CBS's Dan Rather later asks of this warning: “Why wasn't it shared with the public at large?” [Washington Post, 5/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Dan Rather, John Ashcroft, US Department of Justice, al-Qaeda
          

August 1, 2001: FBI Reissues Warning That Overseas Law Enforcement Agencies May Be Targets      Complete 911 Timeline

       With the approaching third anniversary of the US embassy bombings in Africa, the FBI reissues a warning that overseas law enforcement agencies may be targets. [CNN, 3/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

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 13-15, 2001: Moussaoui Immediately Raises Suspicions at Flight School      Complete 911 Timeline

       Zacarias Moussaoui trains at the Pan Am International Flight School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he pays $8,300 ($1500 by credit card and the remainder in cash) to use a Boeing 474 Model 400 aircraft simulator. After just one day of training most of the staff is suspicious that he is a terrorist, especially after they discuss with him “how much fuel [is] on board a 747-400 and how much damage that could cause if it hit[s] anything.” Staff members call the FBI with their concerns later that day. [New York Times, 2/8/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02] They are suspicious because:
In contrast to all the other students at this high-level flight school, he has no aviation background, little previous training, and no pilot's license. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02]
He wants to fly a 747 not because he plans to be a pilot, but as an “ego boosting thing.” [New York Times, 10/18/02] Yet within hours of his arrival, it is clear he “was not some affluent joyrider.” [New York Times, 2/8/02]
He is “extremely” interested in the operation of the plane's doors and control panel. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02] He also is very keen to learn the protocol for communicating with the flight tower, despite having no plans to become an actual pilot. [New York Times, 2/8/02]
He is evasive and belligerent when asked about his background. When an instructor, who notes from his records that Moussaoui is from France, attempts to greet him in French, Moussaoui appears not to understand, saying that he had spent very little time in France and that he is from the Middle East. The instructor considers it odd that Moussaoui did not specify the Middle Eastern country. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 12/21/01; Washington Post, 1/2/02]
He tells a flight instructor he is not a Muslim, but the instructor senses he is lying about this. [New Yorker, 9/30/02]
He says he would “love” to fly a simulated flight from London to New York, raising fears he has plans to hijack such a flight. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02] His original e-mail to the flight school similarly stated he wanted to be good enough to fly from London to New York. [New York Times, 2/8/02]
He pays for thousands of dollars in expenses from a large wad of cash. [New York Times, 2/8/02]
He seems determined to pack a large amount of training in a short period for no apparent reason. [New York Times, 2/8/02]
He mostly practices flying in the air, not taking off or landing (although reports claiming he did not want to take off or land at all appear to be an exaggeration). [New York Times, 2/8/02; Slate, 5/21/02; Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 12/21/01; New York Times, 5/22/02] Failing to get much initial interest from the FBI, the flight instructor tells the FBI agents, “Do you realize how serious this is? This man wants training on a 747. A 747 fully loaded with fuel could be used as a weapon!” [New York Times, 2/8/02]
People and organizations involved: Zacarias Moussaoui, Pan Am International Flight School, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

August 21, 2001: Inmate Warns of Impending Attack in New York      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Left to right: Khalid al-Fawwaz, Adel Abdel Bary and Ibrahim Ediarous.
Walid Arkeh, a Jordanian serving time in a Florida prison, is interviewed by FBI agents after warning the government of an impending al-Qaeda attack. He had been in a British jail from September 2000 to July 2001, and while there had befriended three inmates, Khalid al-Fawwaz, Adel Abdel Bary, and Ibrahim Eidarous. US prosecutors charge, “The three men ran a London storefront that served as a cover for al-Qaeda operations and acted as a conduit for communications between bin Laden and his network.” [Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] Al-Fawwaz was bin Laden's press agent in London, and bin Laden had called him over 200 times before al-Fawwaz was arrested in 1998. [Sunday Times, 3/24/02; Financial Times, 11/29/01 (B)] The other two had worked in the same office as al-Fawwaz. All three had been indicted as co-conspirators with bin Laden in the August 1998 US embassy bombings. Arkeh tells the FBI that he had learned from these three that “something big [is] going to happen in New York City,” and that they call the 1993 attack on the WTC “unfinished business.” Tampa FBI agents determine that he had associated with these al-Qaeda agents, but nonetheless they do not believe him. According to Arkeh, one agent responds to his “something big” warning by saying: “Is that all you have? That's old news.” The agents fail to learn more from him. On September 9, concerned that time is running out, a fellow prisoner will try to arrange a meeting, but nothing happens before 9/11. The Tampa FBI agents have a second interview with him hours after the 9/11 attacks, but even long after 9/11 they claim he cannot be believed. On January 6, 2002, the Tampa FBI issued a statement: “The information [was] vetted to FBI New York, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa Division and the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. All agreed the information provided by this individual was vague and unsubstantiated ... Mr. Arkeh did not provide information that had any bearing on the FBI preventing September 11.” [Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02; Orlando Sentinel, 1/6/02] However, a different group of FBI agents will interview him in May 2002 and find his information credible.
People and organizations involved: Khalid al-Fawwaz, al-Qaeda, Walid Arkeh, Ibrahim Eidarous, Adel Abdel Bary, Federal Bureau of Investigation, World Trade Center
          

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 27, 2001: INS Given Non-Urgent Request to Determine Visa Status of Alhazmi and Almihdhar      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI contacts the State Department and the INS to determine the visa status of recently watch listed hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. Almihdhar's visa obtained in June is revoked the same day; Alhazmi's visa has already expired and he is in the country illegally. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] However neither agency is asked “to assist in locating the individuals, nor was any other information provided [that] would have indicated either a high priority or imminent danger.” An INS official later states, “if [the INS] had been asked to locate the two suspected terrorists... in late August on an urgent, emergency basis, it would have been able to run those names through its extensive database system and might have been able to locate them.” The State Department says that “it might have been able to locate the two suspected terrorists if it had been asked to do so.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Almihdhar, US Department of State, Nawaf Alhazmi, Immigration and Naturalization Service
          

August 28, 2001: FBI's New York Office Request to Open Criminal Investigation on Hijacker Rejected by FBI Headquarters      Complete 911 Timeline

       A report is sent by the FBI's New York office recommending that an investigation be launched “to determine if [Khalid] Almihdhar is still in the United States.” The New York office tries to convince FBI headquarters to open a criminal investigation, but it is immediately turned down. The reason given is a “wall” between criminal and intelligence work—Almihdhar could not be tied to the USS Cole investigation without the inclusion of sensitive intelligence information [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] So instead of a criminal case, the New York office opens an “intelligence case,” excluding all the “criminal case” investigators from the search. [FBI Agent Testimony, 9/20/02] One FBI agent expresses his frustration in an e-mail the next day, saying, “Whatever has happened to this—someday someone will die—and wall or not—the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain ‘problems.’ Let's hope the [FBI's] National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decisions then, especially since the biggest threat to us now, UBL [bin Laden], is getting the most ‘protection.’ ” [New York Times, 9/21/02; FBI Agent Testimony, 9/20/02] This same agent will be able to quickly find Almihdhar's address using an Internet search, once he is given permission to do so, hours after the 9/11 attack is over.(see September 11, 2001). The 9/11 Commission will later comment, “It is now clear that everyone involved was confused about the rules governing the sharing and use of information gathered in intelligence channels. Because Almihdhar was being sought for his possible connection to or knowledge of the Cole bombing, he could be investigated or tracked under the existing Cole criminal case. No new criminal case was needed for the criminal agent to begin searching for [him]. And as the NSA had approved the passage of its information to the criminal agent, he could have conducted a search using all available information. As a result of this confusion, the criminal agents who were knowledgeable about al-Qaeda and experienced with criminal investigative techniques, including finding suspects and possible criminal charges, were thus excluded from the search.” [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/2004, p. 271]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

August 29, 2001: Cayman Islands Letter Warns of ‘Major Terrorist Act Against US via an Airline or Airlines’      Complete 911 Timeline

       Three men from either Pakistan or Afghanistan living in the Cayman Islands are briefly arrested in June 2001 for discussing hijacking attacks in New York City. On this day, a Cayman Islands radio station receives an unsigned letter claiming these same three men are agents of bin Laden. The anonymous author warns that they “are organizing a major terrorist act against the US via an airline or airlines.” The letter is forwarded to a Cayman government official but no action is taken until after 9/11. When the Cayman government notifies the US is unknown. Many criminals and/or businesses use the Cayman Islands as a safe, no tax, no-questions-asked haven to keep their money. The author of the letter meets with the FBI shortly after 9/11, and claims his information was a “premonition of sorts.” The three men are later arrested. What has happened to them since their arrest is unclear. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01; Miami Herald, 9/20/01; MSNBC, 9/23/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Early September 2001: Pakistani Student Says WTC Towers ‘Won't Be Here Next Week’       Complete 911 Timeline

       At New Utrecht High School, in Brooklyn, New York City, about one week before 9/11, a Pakistani student in a bilingual class points at the WTC during a heated political argument and declares, “Look at those two buildings. They won't be here next week.” The teacher notifies New York police after 9/11, who in turn notify the FBI. The status of the FBI investigation into this incident is unknown as of early October 2001. [New York Daily News, 10/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, World Trade Center
          

September 5-8, 2001: Raid on Arab Web Hosting Company Precedes 9/11 Attacks      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Infocom logo.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force conducts a three-day raid of the offices of InfoCom Corporation, a Texas-based company that hosts about 500 mostly Arab websites, including Al Jazeera, the Arab world's leading news channel. [Web Host Industry Review, 9/10/01; Guardian, 9/10/01] The task force includes agents from the FBI, Secret Service, and Diplomatic Security, as well as tax inspectors, immigration officials, customs officials, department of commerce officials, and computer experts. [Guardian, 9/10/01] The FBI declines to give a reason for the raid [NewsFactor Network, 9/7/01] , but a spokeswoman said it is not aimed at InfoCom's clients. [BBC, 9/7/01] The reasons for the raid “may never be known, because a judge ordered the warrant to be sealed.” [Web Host Industry Review, 9/10/01] Three days after the initial raid, the task force is “still busy inside the building, reportedly copying every hard disc they could find.” [Guardian, 9/10/01] InfoCom's offices are located in Richardson, a suburb of Dallas. Two charities in Richardson, The Global Relief Foundation Inc. and The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, have been investigated for possible ties to Palestinian militant organizations. [Boston Herald, 12/11/01] Five or six years earlier, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke had wanted to raid the Holy Land offices, but was prevented from doing so by the FBI and Treasury Department. [Clarke, 2004, pp 98] Not only are InfoCom and Holy Land across the road from each other, they are intimately connected through two brothers: Ghassan and Bayan Elashi. [Guardian, 9/10/01] Ghassan Elashi is both the vice president of InfoCom and chairman of Holy Land. [New York Times, 12/20/02] These two and others are later arrested on a variety of serious charges. Approximately one week before 9/11, Bank One closes Holy Land's checking accounts totaling about $13 million, possibly because of an investigation begun by the New York State Attorney General. [Dallas Business Journal, 9/7/01] The US freezes Holy Land's assets two months later (see December 4, 2001) for suspected terrorist associations. Holy Land is represented by Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, a Washington, D.C., law firm with unusually close ties to the Bush White House. [Washington Post, 12/17/01] In the Garland suburb adjoining Richardson, a fifth-grade boy apparently has foreknowledge of 9/11 (see September 10, 2001). [Houston Chronicle, 9/19/01]
People and organizations involved: Al Jazeera, Richard A. Clarke, Global Relief Foundation, Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Bayan Elashi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ghassan Elashi, Joint Terrorism Task Force, InfoCom Corporation, Secret Service
          

September 6, 2001: New York Student Forecasts Destruction of WTC      Complete 911 Timeline

       Antoinette DiLorenzo, teaching English to a class of Pakistani immigrants, asks a student gazing out the window, “What are you looking at?” The student points towards the WTC, and says, “Do you see those two buildings? They won't be standing there next week.” At the time, nothing is thought of it, but on September 13, the FBI will interview all the people in the classroom and confirm the event. The FBI later places the boy's family under surveillance but apparently is unable to find a connection to the 9/11 plot. An MSNBC reporter later sets out to disprove this “urban myth,” but to his surprise, finds all the details of the story are confirmed. The fact that the family members are recent immigrants from Pakistan might mean the information came from Pakistan. [MSNBC, 10/12/01] Supposedly, on November 9, 2001, the same student predicts there will be a plane crash on November 12. On that day, American Airlines Flight 587 will crash on takeoff from New York, killing 260 people. Investigators will later determine that the crash is accidental. One official at the school later says many Arab-American students have come forward with their own stories about having prior knowledge before 9/11: “Kids are telling us that the attacks didn't surprise them. This was a nicely protected little secret that circulated in the community around here.” [Insight, 9/10/02]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Antoinette DiLorenzo, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

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
          

September 10, 2001: Dallas Fifth Grader Forecasts World War III      Complete 911 Timeline

       A fifth grader in Dallas, Texas, casually tells his teacher, “Tomorrow, World War III will begin. It will begin in the United States, and the United States will lose.” The teacher reports the comment to the FBI, but does not know if they act on it at the time. The student skips the next two days of school. The event may be completely coincidental, but the newspaper that reports the story also notes that two charities located in an adjacent suburb have been under investigation based on suspected fund-raising activities for Islamic militant organizations. [Houston Chronicle, 9/19/01] The FBI investigates and decides “no further investigation [is] warranted.” [Houston Chronicle, 10/1/01]
People and organizations involved: 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
          

September 11, 2001: Two Hours Before Attacks, Israeli Company Employees Receive Warnings      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Odigo's logo.
Two employees of Odigo, Inc., an Israeli company, receive warnings of an imminent attack in New York City about two hours before the first plane hits the WTC. Odigo, one of the world's largest instant messaging companies, has its headquarters two blocks from the WTC. The Odigo Research and Development offices where the warnings were received are located in Herzliyya, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Israeli security and the FBI were notified immediately after the 9/11 attacks began. The two employees claim not to know who sent the warnings. “Odigo service includes a feature called People Finder that allows users to seek out and contact others based on certain interests or demographics. [Alex] Diamandis [Odigo vice president of sales and marketing] said it was possible that the attack warning was broadcast to other Odigo members, but the company has not received reports of other recipients of the message.” [Washington Post, 9/27/01 (C); Ha'aretz, 9/26/01] Odigo claims the warning did not specifically mention the WTC, but the company refuses to divulge what was specified, claiming, “Providing more details would only lead to more conjecture.” [Washington Post, 9/28/01] Odigo gave the FBI the Internet address of the message's sender so the name of the sender could be found. [Deutsche Presse-Agenteur, 9/26/01] Two months later, it is reported that the FBI is still investigating the matter, but there have been no reports since. [Courier Mail, 11/20/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Israel, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Odigo Inc.
          

Early Morning September 11, 2001: Medic Is Studying a Medical Emergency Disaster Plan for a Plane Crash at the Pentagon      Complete 911 Timeline

       Sergeant Matt Rosenberg, an army medic at the Pentagon, is studying “a new medical emergency disaster plan based on the unlikely scenario of an airplane crashing into the place.” [Washington Post, 9/16/01] The day before, Rosenberg later recalls in an interview with the Office of Medical History, he called the FBI with questions about who would have medical jurisdiction if such an event were to take place. “Believe it or not, the day prior to the incident, I was just on the phone with the FBI, and we were talking ‘so who has command should this happen, who has the medical jurisdiction, who does this, who does that,’ and we talked about it and talked about it, and he helped me out a lot. And then the next day, during the incident, I actually found him. He was out there on the incident that day.” [Office of Medical History, 9/04, pp 9]
People and organizations involved: Pentagon, 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
          

9:34 a.m.: Flight 93 Passenger Burnett Calls Again, Learns It's a Suicide Mission      Complete 911 Timeline

       Tom Burnett calls his wife Deena a second time. He says, “They're in the cockpit.” He has checked the pulse of the man who was knifed (later identified as Mark Rothenberg, sitting next to him in seat 5B) and determined he is dead. She tells him about the hits on the WTC. He responds, “Oh my God, it's a suicide mission.” As they continue to talk, he tells her the plane has turned back. By this time, Deena is in constant communication with the FBI and others, and a police officer is at her house. [Longman, 2002, pp 110]
People and organizations involved: Mark Rothenberg, Deena Burnett, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tom Burnett
          

(After 9:37 a.m.): FBI Confiscates Film of Pentagon Crash      Complete 911 Timeline

       An employee at a gas station located across the street from the Pentagon servicing military personnel later says the station's security cameras should have recorded the moment of impact. However, he says, “I've never seen what the pictures looked like. The FBI was here within minutes and took the film.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/11/01] A security camera atop a hotel close to the Pentagon also records the impact. Hotel employees watch the film several times before the FBI confiscates the video. [Gertz File, 9/21/01] This film footage has never been released.
People and organizations involved: Pentagon, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

(9:41 a.m.): FBI Agent Already Aware of Flight 93 Hijacking      Complete 911 Timeline

       Newark, New Jersey, flight controller Greg Callahan is talking on the phone to an FBI agent. The agent says about Flight 93: “We suspect that this aircraft has now been taken over by hostile forces.” The agent describes the sharp turn it has made over eastern Ohio and that it is now heading back over southwestern Pennsylvania. Callahan says he could tell the plane is on a course for Washington. [MSNBC, 9/11/02 (B)] The FBI has been in contact with Deena Burnett and informed of what her husband, Flight 93 passenger Tom Burnett, has been saying since at least 9:34 a.m. (see 9:34 a.m.) [Longman, 2002, pp 110] It is unclear where in the chain of command details of these Flight 93 calls reach, and the 9/11 Commission has not clarified the issue of what the FBI knew and when.
People and organizations involved: Greg Callahan, Deena Burnett, Tom Burnett, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

9:45 a.m.: FBI Listens as Passenger Todd Beamer Describes Flight 93 Take Over Plan      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Todd Beamer.
After having some trouble getting authorization to use an Airfone to call his family, passenger Todd Beamer is able to speak to Verizon phone representative Lisa Jefferson, with the FBI listening in. He talks for about 15 minutes. Beamer says he has been herded to the back of the plane along with nine other passengers and five flight attendants. A hijacker, who says he has a bomb strapped to his body, is guarding them. Twenty-seven passengers are being guarded by a hijacker in first class, which is separated from the rest of the aircraft by a curtain. One hijacker has gone into the cockpit. One passenger is dead (that leaves one passenger unaccounted for—presumably the man who made a call from the bathroom, thought to be Edward Felt). The two pilots are apparently dead. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01 (B); Boston Globe, 11/23/01; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/28/01; Newsweek, 9/22/01; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01] A conflicting version states that 27 passengers were in the back, and that Beamer saw four hijackers instead of just three. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] It is not clear if Tom Burnett's first class section group is in contact with Todd Beamer's coach section group or if there are two independent plans to take over the plane.
People and organizations involved: Lisa Jefferson, Todd Beamer, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tom Burnett
          

(Before and After 10:06 a.m.): Witnesses See Low-Flying, Small White Jet at Flight 93 Crash      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Looking straight down onto the Flight 93 crash site. North is to the top. Note the impact point north of the road, and the burned trees to the south of it.
A second plane, described “as a small, white jet with rear engines and no discernible markings,” is seen by at least five witnesses flying low and in erratic patterns, not much above treetop level, over the crash site within minutes of the United flight crashing. [Independent, 8/13/02] Lee Purbaugh: “I didn't get a good look but it was white and it circled the area about twice and then it flew off over the horizon.” [Mirror, 9/13/02]
Susan Mcelwain: Less than a minute before the Flight 93 crash rocked the countryside, she sees a small white jet with rear engines and no discernible markings swoop low over her minivan near an intersection and disappear over a hilltop, nearly clipping the tops of trees lining the ridge. [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] She later adds, “There's no way I imagined this plane—it was so low it was virtually on top of me. It was white with no markings but it was definitely military, it just had that look. It had two rear engines, a big fin on the back like a spoiler on the back of a car and with two upright fins at the side. I haven't found one like it on the Internet. It definitely wasn't one of those executive jets. The FBI came and talked to me and said there was no plane around. ... But I saw it and it was there before the crash and it was 40 feet above my head. They did not want my story—nobody here did.” [Mirror, 9/13/02]
Dennis Decker and/or Rick Chaney, say: “As soon as we looked up [after hearing the Flight 93 crash], we saw a midsized jet flying low and fast. It appeared to make a loop or part of a circle, and then it turned fast and headed out.” Decker and Chaney described the plane as a Learjet type, with engines mounted near the tail and painted white with no identifying markings. “It was a jet plane, and it had to be flying real close when that 757 went down. If I was the FBI, I'd find out who was driving that plane.” [Bergen Record, 9/14/01]
Jim Brandt sees a small plane with no markings stay about one or two minutes over the crash site before leaving. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/12/01]
Tom Spinelli: “I saw the white plane. It was flying around all over the place like it was looking for something. I saw it before and after the crash.” [Mirror, 9/13/02] The FBI later says this was a Fairchild Falcon 20 business jet, directed after the crash to fly from 37,000 feet to 5,000 feet and obtain the coordinates for the crash site to help rescuers. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01] The FBI also says there was a C-130 military cargo aircraft flying at 24,000 feet about 17 miles away (see 10:08 a.m.), but that plane wasn't armed and had no role in the crash. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01; Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] Note that this is the same C-130 that flies very close to Flight 77 right as that planes crashes into the Pentagon (see 9.36 a.m.).
People and organizations involved: Rick Chaney, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Susan Mcelwain, Dennis Decker, Tom Spinelli, Jim Brandt, Lee Purbaugh
          

September 11, 2001: Germans Learn of 30 People Traveling for 9/11 Plot      Complete 911 Timeline

       A few hours after the attacks, German intelligence intercepts a phone conversation between followers of bin Laden that leads the FBI to search frantically for two more teams of suicide hijackers, according to US and German officials. The Germans overhear the operatives refer to “the 30 people traveling for the operation.” The FBI scours flight manifests and any other clues for more conspirators still at large. [New York Times, 9/29/01] Two days later, authorities claim to have identified teams of as many as 50 infiltrators who supported or carried out the strikes. About 40 are accounted for as dead or in custody; ten are missing. They also believe a total of 27 suspected operatives received some form of pilot training. This corresponds with many analyses that the attacks required a large support network. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01] Yet there is no evidence that any accomplices in the US shortly before 9/11 have since been arrested or charged.
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Germany, al-Qaeda
          

September 11, 2001: FBI Agents Able to Quickly Find Alhazmi and Almihdhar Once 9/11 Attacks Are Over      Complete 911 Timeline

       On September 11—after the 9/11 attacks are over—the New York FBI office learns that one of the hijackers was Khalid Almihdhar. One of these FBI agents had attempted to get permission to search for Almihdhar in late August, but was not allowed to do so. He wrote an e-mail on August 28 predicting that “someday someone will die ... the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain ‘problems.’”(see August 28, 2001). He later testifies that upon seeing Almihdhar's name on one of the passenger flight manifests, he angrily yells “This is the same Almihdhar we've been talking about for three months!” In an attempt to console him, his boss replies, “We did everything by the book.” Now that this upset agent is allowed to conduct a basic Internet search for Almihdhar that he had been denied permission to conduct before 9/11, he finds the hijacker's address “within hours.” [Washington Post, 9/21/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 12/10/02 (C)] The FBI field office in San Diego also had not been notified before 9/11 that Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi had been put on a no-fly watch list on August 24, 2001 (see September 4, 2001). Bill Gore, the FBI agent running the San Diego office on this day, later makes reference to that fact that Alhazmi's correct phone number and address was listed in the San Diego phone book and says,“How [we] could have found these people when we didn't know we were looking for them? The first place we would have looked is the phone book .... I submit to you we would have found them.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 12/10/02 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bill Gore
          

September 11, 2001: Five Israelis Arrested for Puzzling Behavior near WTC      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The white van used by five Israeli agents as they were leaving New York on 9/11.
Five Israelis are arrested around 4:30 pm for “puzzling behavior” related to the WTC attacks: filming the burning WTC from the roof of their company's building near Liberty State Park, New Jersey, then shouting in what was interpreted as cries of joy and mockery. A neighbor spotted them and called the police and the FBI. The police tracked them down in a van with the words “Urban Moving Systems” written on the side. [Bergen Record, 9/12/01; Ha'aretz, 9/17/01] One man was found with $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock, another had two passports on him, and a box cutter was found in the van. [ABC News, 6/21/02] Investigators say that “[t]here are maps of the city in the car with certain places highlighted... It looked like they're hooked in with this. It looked like they knew what was going to happen.” [Bergen Record, 9/12/01] One of these Israelis later says, “our purpose was to document the event.” [ABC News, 6/21/02] The FBI later concludes at least two are Mossad agents and that all were on a Mossad surveillance mission. The FBI interrogates them for weeks. [Forward, 3/15/02] They are held on immigration violation charges, but are released 71 days later. [ABC News, 6/21/02] Their names are later identified as Sivan and Paul Kurzberg, Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari, and Yaron Shmuel. [Forward, 3/15/02]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Paul Kurzberg, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Omer Marmari, Yaron Shmuel, Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks, Oded Ellner
          

September 13-14, 2001: Flight 93 and Flight 77 Black Boxes Found      Complete 911 Timeline

       All the “black boxes” for Flights 93 and 77 are found. However, Flight 93's two boxes are deemed severely damaged, and it is not known if the data can be recovered [BBC, 9/15/01; Reuters, 9/13/01 (B)] In December, the FBI reveals they know the contents, but only release select quotes. [CNN, 12/21/01] Flight 93's recording is eventually played in private to victims' relatives, and also to the 9/11 Commission. FBI Director Mueller will later say that the boxes for Flight 77 provided altitude, speed, headings, and other information, but the voice recorder contained “nothing useful.” [CBS News, 2/23/02]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Robert S. Mueller III, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 14, 2001: Officials Deny Flight 93 Shot Down      Complete 911 Timeline

       Officials deny that Flight 93 was shot down, but propose the theory that the hijackers had a bomb on board and blew up the plane. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/14/01] Later in the month, it is reported that the “FBI has determined from the on site investigation that no explosive was involved.” [Associated Press, 9/25/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Richard B. Myers, North American Aerospace Defense Command, National Transportation Safety Board
          

September 16, 2001: Usual Investigative Procedures Not Followed in Examining Flight 93 Wreckage      Complete 911 Timeline

       A report suggests the crash site of Flight 93 is being searched and recorded in 60 square-foot grids. [Delaware News Journal, 9/16/01] This approach is preferred by the two forensic scientists in charge of the crash, who say that doing so can help determine who was where when the plane crashed, and possibly how it crashed. However, almost a year later it comes out that this approach is not followed: “The FBI overruled them, instead dividing the site into five large sectors. It would be too time-consuming to mark tight grids, and would serve no real investigative purpose, the bureau decided. There was no mystery to solve about the crash. Everybody knew what happened to the plane.” [Longman, 2002, pp 262-63] While the military may suggest there is no mystery, some articles have suggested the plane was shot down. (For example, [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/01; Independent, 8/13/02] )In addition, at the time of this decision, investigators were still considering the possibility a bomb might have destroyed the plane.
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 17, 2001: Knife Found at Flight 93 Crash Scene      Complete 911 Timeline

       A confidential FBI bulletin states a “badly damaged” commercially manufactured cigarette lighter with a concealed knife blade has been recovered at the Flight 93 crash scene. The knife was about two and three-fourths inches long, with a knife blade of about two and a half inches. [Los Angeles Times, 9/18/01] A 9/11 Commission staff report in 2004 will also mention this knife. [9/11 Commission staff report, 8/26/04, p. 104]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 19, 2001: Unverified Reports of Additional Flights to Be Hijacked      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI claims on this day that there were six hijacking teams on the morning of 9/11. [Guardian, 10/13/01; New York Times, 9/19/01 (B)] A different report claims investigators are privately saying eight. [Independent, 9/25/01] However, the reports below suggest there may have been as many as eight aborted flights, leading to a potential total of 12 hijackings:
Knives of the same type used in the successful hijackings were found taped to the backs of fold-down trays on a Continental Airlines flight from Newark. [Guardian, 9/19/01]
The FBI is investigating American Airlines Flight 43, which was scheduled to leave Boston about 8:10 a.m. bound for Los Angeles but was canceled minutes before takeoff due to a mechanical problem. [Guardian, 9/19/01; Chicago Tribune, 9/18/01; BBC, 9/18/01 (C)] Another version claims the flight left from Newark and made it as far as Cincinnati before being grounded in the nationwide air ban. [New York Times, 9/19/01 (B)]
Knives and box cutters were found on two separate canceled Delta Airlines planes later that day, one leaving Atlanta for Brussels and the other leaving from Boston. [Time, 9/22/01; Independent, 9/25/01]
On September 14, two knives were found on an Air Canada flight that would have flown to New York on 9/11 if not for the air ban. [CNN, 10/15/01]
Two men arrested on 9/11 may have lost their nerve on American Airlines Flight 1729 from Newark to San Antonio via Dallas that was scheduled to depart at 8:50 a.m., and was later forced to land in St. Louis. Alternately, they may have been planning an attack for September 15, 2001. [New York Times, 9/19/01 (B)]
There may have been an attempt to hijack United Airlines Flight 23 flying from Boston to Los Angeles around 9:00 a.m. Shortly after 9:00 a.m., United Airlines flight dispatcher Ed Ballinger sent out a warning about the first WTC crash to the flights he was handling (see (After 9:00 a.m.)). Because of this warning, the crew of Flight 23 told the passengers it had a mechanical problem and immediately returned to the gate. Ballinger was later told by authorities that six men initially wouldn't get off the plane. When the men finally disembarked, they disappeared into the crowd and never returned. Later, authorities checked their luggage and found copies of the Koran and al-Qaeda instruction sheets. [Chicago Daily Herald, 4/14/04] In mid-2002, a NORAD deputy commander says “we don't know for sure” if Flight 23 was to have been hijacked. [Globe and Mail, 6/13/02]
Knives were found stashed in the seats on a plane due to leave Boston that was delayed due to technical problems and then canceled. [Guardian, 10/13/01]
A box cutter knife was found under a seat cushion on American Airlines Flight 160, a 767 that would have flown from San Diego to New York on the morning of 9/11 but for the air ban. [Chicago Tribune, 9/23/01] The FBI is said to be seeking a number of passengers who failed to board the same, rescheduled flights when the grounding order on commercial planes in the US was lifted. [BBC, 9/18/01 (C)] The Independent points out suspicions have been fueled “that staff at US airports may have played an active role in the conspiracy and helped the hijackers to circumvent airport security.” They also note, “It is possible that at least some of the flights that have come under scrutiny were used as decoys, or as fallback targets.” [Independent, 9/25/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 20, 2001: FBI Translator Sees Pattern of Deliberate Failure      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Sibel Edmonds.
Sibel Edmonds is hired as a Middle Eastern languages translator for the FBI. As she later tells CBS's 60 Minutes, she immediately encounters a pattern of deliberate failure in her translation department. Her boss says, “Let the documents pile up so we can show it and say that we need more translators and expand the department.” She claims that if she was not slowing down enough, her supervisor would delete her work. Meanwhile, FBI agents working on the 9/11 investigation would call and ask for urgently needed translations. Senator Charles Grassley (R) says of her charges, “She's credible and the reason I feel she's very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story.” He points out that the speed of such translation might make the difference between an attack succeeding or failing. [New York Post, 10/26/02; CBS News, 10/25/02] In January 2002, FBI officials will tell government auditors that translator shortages have resulted in “the accumulation of thousands of hours of audio tapes and pages” of material that has not been translated. [Washington Post, 6/19/02] Edmonds files a whistleblower lawsuit against the FBI for these and other charges in March 2002 (see March 22, 2002). However, the case is later dismissed (see July 6, 2004) because all evidence related to proving the charges is classified. [CNN, 7/7/04]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sibel Edmonds, Charles Grassley
          

September 21, 2001: Algerian Pilot Mistakenly Arrested      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Lofti Raissi.
Lotfi Raissi, an Algerian pilot living in Britain, is arrested and accused of helping to train four of the hijackers. An FBI source says, “We believe he is by far the biggest find we have had so far. He is of crucial importance to us.” [Las Vegas Review Journal, 9/29/01] However, in April 2002, a judge dismisses all charges against him. US officials originally said, “They had video of him with Hani Hanjour, who allegedly piloted the plane that crashed into the Pentagon; records of phone conversations between the two men; evidence that they had flown a training plane together; and evidence that Raissi had met several of the hijackers in Las Vegas. It turned out, the British court found, that the video showed Raissi with his cousin, not Mr. Hanjour, that Raissi had mistakenly filled in his air training logbook and had never flown with Hanjour, and that Raissi and the hijackers were not in Las Vegas at the same time. The US authorities never presented any phone records showing conversations between Raissi and Hanjour. It appears that in this case the US authorities handed over all the information they had...” [Christian Science Monitor, 3/27/02] Raissi later says he will sue the British and American governments unless he is given a “widely publicized apology” for his months in prison and the assumption of “guilty until proven innocent.” [Reuters, 8/14/02] In September 2003, he does sue both governments for $20 million. He also wins a undisclosed sum from the British tabloid Mail on Sunday for printing false charges against him. [Arizona Republic, 10/14/03; BBC, 10/7/03; Guardian, 9/16/03]
People and organizations involved: Pentagon, United States, Britain, William Safire, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lotfi Raissi
          

September 24, 2001: Militants Reportedly Stole Pilot Uniforms, Sat in Cockpits      Complete 911 Timeline

       Fox News claims that up to 12 other Middle Eastern men dressed in pilot uniforms were on other flights scheduled to take off on the morning of 9/11. Hijackings on all these flights were foiled when an unexpected ban on new flights prevented them from taking off. An FBI source says they had been invited into the cockpits under the impression that they were guest pilots from other airlines. It is standard practice to give guest pilots the spare seat in the cockpit known as the jump seat. [Fox News, 9/24/01] Flight 93's cockpit voice recording has apparently shown that “one of the four hijackers had been invited into the cockpit area before the flight took off.” Many pilot uniforms had gone missing prior to 9/11. It is claimed that Mohamed Atta was given a guided tour of Boston's Logan Airport the week before 9/11 when he turned up in a pilot uniform saying he was with Saudi Airlines. [Herald Sun, 9/25/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 28, 2001: Text of Atta Note Is Made Public, Authenticity Is Disputed      Complete 911 Timeline

       The text of a handwritten, five-page document found in Mohamed Atta's luggage is made public. [Observer, 9/30/01 (C)] The next day, the Independent strongly questions if the note is genuine. It points out the “note suggests an almost Christian view of what the hijackers might have felt” and is filled with “weird” comments that Muslims would never say, such as “the time of fun and waste is gone.” If the note “is genuine, then the [hijackers] believed in a very exclusive version of Islam—or were surprisingly unfamiliar with their religion.” [Independent, 9/29/01] Another copy of the document was discovered in a vehicle parked by a Flight 77 hijacker at Washington's Dulles airport. A third copy of essentially the same document was found in the wreckage of Flight 93. Therefore, the letter neatly ties most of the hijackers together. [CBS News, 9/28/01] The Guardian says, “The finds are certainly very fortunate, though some might think them a little too fortunate.” [Guardian, 10/1/01] Interestingly, an FBI affidavit of the contents of Atta's baggage written on September 14, 2001, and released on October 4 fails to mention the how-to letter.
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mohamed Atta
          

September 29-30, 2001: Suspected Mossad Agents Detained, Released      Complete 911 Timeline

       Police in the Midwest stop six men carrying suspicious documents. They possess photos and descriptions of a nuclear power plant in Florida and the Trans-Alaska pipeline, and have “box cutters and other equipment.” All six have Israeli passports. They are released the same day after their passports are shown to be valid, but before anyone interviews them. The FBI is reportedly furious about their release. [Miami Herald, 10/3/01; Knight Ridder, 10/31/01; Times of London, 11/2/01] The six men may have been Mossad agents. In addition to snooping on the DEA and Islamic militants, some Mossad agents in the “art student spy ring” have been caught trying to break into military bases and other top-secret facilities (see March 23, 2001). [Salon, 5/7/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Late September 2001-November 26, 2001: Theft of WTC Steel Leads to Tight Security Measures      Complete 911 Timeline

       The New York Police and FBI are investigating the theft of over 250 tons of steel from the remains of the collapsed WTC towers. Apparently, the steel was hauled away by trucks involved in the official clear-up operation (see September 12-October 2001), but instead of being taken to Fresh Kills—the FBI-controlled dump on Staten Island where it was intended to go—the steel was driven to three independently-owned scrapyards, two in New Jersey and one on Long Island. The London Telegraph says the scrap metal value of the stolen steel would have been roughly $17,500. Investigators believe the theft was organized by one of New York's Mafia families. [Daily Telegraph, 9/29/01] Consequently, on November 26, 2001, the city initiates use of an in-vehicle Global Positioning System (GPS), to monitor the locations of nearly 200 trucks removing steel from the WTC collapse site, at a cost of $1,000 per unit. This system sends out alerts if any truck travels off course or arrives late at its destination. One driver involved with the clear-up operation is subsequently dismissed simply for taking an extended lunch break. [Access Control and Security Systems, 7/1/02]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, New York City Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

October 2001: FBI Recovers Hijacker E-Mails      Complete 911 Timeline

       Reports this month indicate that many hijacker e-mails have been recovered. USA Today reports many unencrypted e-mails coordinating the 9/11 plans written by the hijackers in Internet cafes have been recovered by investigators. [USA Today, 10/1/01] FBI sources say, “[H]undreds of e-mails linked to the hijackers in English, Arabic and Urdu” have been recovered, with some messages including “operational details” of the attack. [Washington Post, 10/4/01] “A senior FBI official says investigators have obtained hundreds of e-mails in English and Arabic, reflecting discussions of the planned September 11 hijackings.” [Wall Street Journal, 10/16/01] However, in April 2002, FBI Director Mueller says no documentation of the 9/11 plot has been found. By September 2002, the Chicago Tribune reports, “Of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of e-mails sent and received by the hijackers from public Internet terminals, none is known to have been recovered.” [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02] The texts of some e-mails sent by Mohamed Atta from Germany are published a few months later. [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Robert S. Mueller III, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

October 7, 2001: Stolen 9/11 Documents Appear in Mysterious Circumstances      Complete 911 Timeline

       On this day, Zeljko E., a Kosovar Serb, enters a Hamburg, Germany, police station and says he wants to turn himself in. He tells the police that he has robbed a business and stolen piles of paper written in Arabic, with the hopes of selling them. A friend of his told him that they relate to the 9/11 attacks. The 44 pounds of papers are translated and they prove to be a “treasure trove.” The documents come from Mamoun Darkazanli's files, which were not in Darkazanli's apartment when police raided it two days after 9/11. “It makes for a great story. A petty thief pilfers files containing critical information about the largest terrorist attack in history and dutifully turns them over to the police. [But German] agents do not buy this story for a minute; they suspect that some other Secret Service was trying to find a way of getting evidence into [their] hands. The question is, whose Secret Service?” Some German investigators later suggest that the CIA was responsible; there are also reports that the FBI illegally monitored Darkazanli after 9/11. [Der Spiegel, 10/27/01; Der Spiegel, 2002, pp 166-67; Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Der Spiegel, Germany, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Central Intelligence Agency
          

October 11, 2001: FBI Claims 11 Terrorists Unaware They Were on Suicide Mission      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to an FBI report, “FBI investigators have officially concluded that 11 of the 19 terrorists who hijacked the aircraft on September 11 did not know they were on a suicide mission.” “Unlike the eight ‘lead’ attackers, who were all trained pilots, they did not leave messages for friends and family indicating they knew their lives were over,” and they did not have copies of Mohamed Atta's final prayer note (see September 28, 2001). Personal items found suggest the men thought they were taking part in a conventional hijacking and were preparing for the possibility of prison. [Observer, 10/14/01] This is later contradicted by video filmed in Afghanistan in March 2001 showing several of the 11 non-lead hijackers proclaiming their willingness to die on an upcoming suicide mission.
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

November 20, 2001: Israelis Who Videotaped WTC Attack Are Released, Deported      Complete 911 Timeline

       The five Israelis arrested on 9/11 for videotaping the WTC attack and then cheering about it (see September 11, 2001) are released and deported to Israel. Some of the men's names had appeared in a US national intelligence database, and the FBI has concluded that at least two of the men were working for the Mossad, according to ABC News. However, the FBI says that none of the Israelis had any advanced knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, and they were released as part of a deal between the US and the Israeli government. After their release, they claim to have been tortured. [ABC News, 6/21/02; Forward, 3/15/02]
People and organizations involved: Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks, Paul Kurzberg, Omer Marmari, Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner, Israel, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

November 21, 2001: Flight 77 Remains Identified, Hijackers' Identities Not Confirmed      Complete 911 Timeline

       The remains of all but one of the people on board Flight 77, including the hijackers, are identified. However, the identities of the hijackers have still not been confirmed through their remains [Mercury, 1/11/02; Washington Post, 11/21/01] , and the FBI never provides DNA profiles of the hijackers to medical examiners for identification. Strangely, the official position is that there was a giant fireball on impact that not only destroyed the airplane, but actually vaporized the metal. A rescue worker states: “The only way you could tell that an aircraft was inside was that we saw pieces of the nose gear. The devastation was horrific.” [NFPA Journal, 11/1/01] As of mid-2004, there still have been no reports that the hijackers' remains have been identified by their DNA, except possibly for two unnamed hijackers.
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

December 12-15, 2001: News Reports Raises Israeli Spying Questions      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Two stills from Carl Cameron's Fox News report on potential Israeli spying in the US.
Fox News reports, “Investigators within the DEA, INS, and FBI have all told Fox News that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying ... is considered career suicide.” “A highly placed investigator says there are ‘tie-ins’ between the spy ring and 9/11. However, when asked for details, he flatly refuses to describe them, saying, ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It's classified information.’ ” The report also reveals that Amdocs, an Israeli company, is recording virtually every phone call in the US and could be passing information on to the Israeli government (similar claims were first raised in 2000 [Insight, 5/29/00] ). Fox News suggests that the position of this company might impede the 9/11 investigation. [Fox News, 12/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Amdocs, Drug Enforcement Agency, Israel
          

December 21, 2001: FBI Won't Release Flight 93 Black Box Information      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI reveals that it knows what is on the Flight 93 black boxes, but refuses to release the transcript or audio recording. Families of the victims have requested to hear the cockpit voice recording, but the FBI says, “[W]e do not believe that the horror captured on the cockpit voice recording will console them in any way.” [CNN, 12/21/01] Accuracy in Media immediately submits a Freedom of Information Act request to have the transcript released, but the FBI turns it down because a release “could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.” The Philadelphia Daily News asks, “What enforcement proceedings?” and suggests the FBI may be covering up a shootdown of the plane. [Philadelphia Daily News, 12/28/01] The recordings are later played, but only in private to victims' relatives and the 9/11 Commission.
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

January 5, 2002: FBI Interested in Captured Pakistani Militant Leader      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI has asked Pakistan for permission to question Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, according to reports. Pakistan arrested him on December 25, 2001, after US pressure to do so. One Pakistani official says, “The Americans are aware Azhar met bin Laden often, and are convinced he can give important information about bin Laden's present whereabouts and even the September 11 attacks.” But the “primary reason” for US interest is the link between Azhar and Saeed Sheikh. They hope to learn about Saeed's involvement in financing the 9/11 attacks. Whether Pakistan gives permission to question Azhar is unclear. Four days later, the US officially asks Pakistan for help in finding and extraditing Saeed. [Gulf News, 1/5/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pakistan, Maulana Masood Azhar, Osama bin Laden, Saeed Sheikh
          

February 5, 2002: Pakistan Apprehends Saeed Sheikh      Complete 911 Timeline

       Pakistani police, with the help of the FBI, determine Saeed Sheikh is behind the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl, but are unable to find him. They round up about ten of his relatives and threaten to harm them unless he turns himself in. Saeed Sheikh does turn himself in, but to Ijaz Shah, his former ISI boss. [Boston Globe, 2/7/02; Vanity Fair, 8/02] The ISI holds Saeed for a week, but fails to tell Pakistani police or anyone else that they have him. This “missing week” is the cause of much speculation. The ISI never tells Pakistani police any details about this week. [Newsweek, 3/11/02] Saeed also later refuses to discuss the week or his connection to the ISI, only saying, “I will not discuss this subject. I do not want my family to be killed.” He adds, “I know people in the government and they know me and my work.” [Newsweek, 3/13/02; Vanity Fair, 8/02] It is suggested Saeed is held for this week to make sure that Pearl would be killed. Saeed later says that during this week he got a coded message from the kidnappers that Pearl had been murdered. Also, the time might have been spent working out a deal with the ISI over what Saeed would tell police and the public. [Newsweek, 3/11/02] Several others with both extensive ISI and al-Qaeda ties wanted for the kidnapping are arrested around this time. [Times of London, 2/25/02; Washington Post, 2/23/02] One of these men, Khalid Khawaja, “has never hidden his links with Osama bin Laden. At one time he used to fly Osama's personal plane.” [PakNews, 2/11/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Daniel Pearl, Khalid Khawaja, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Ijaz Shah, Saeed Sheikh, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

February 10, 2002: Driver's License Examiner Dies in Suspicious Circumstances      Complete 911 Timeline

       Katherine Smith is killed one day before her scheduled appearance in court on charges she helped five Islamic men get illegal drivers licenses. According to witnesses, she veered into a utility pole when a fire erupted in her car. She was burned beyond recognition. The FBI later determines that gasoline was poured on her clothing before she died in the fire and find that arson was the cause of death. [Associated Press, 2/15/02 (B)] A suicide note was found, but prosecutors say they are looking for murder suspects. One of the five men, Sakhera Hammad, was found with a pass in his wallet giving access to the restricted areas of the WTC, dated September 5, 2001. Hammad claims he was a plumber and worked on the WTC's sprinkler system that day, but the company with exclusive rights to all WTC plumbing work has never heard of him. Smith was being investigated by the FBI; the five later plead guilty to charges of fraud. [Memphis Commercial Appeal, 2/21/02; Go Memphis, 2/12/02; Associated Press, 2/13/02; Reuters, 2/15/02] One of the five, Khaled Odtllah, drove from New York City to Memphis on 9/11. Tennessee is one of only four US states that doesn't require a Social Security card to get a driver's license. A prosecutor accuses each of the five men of attempting to acquire a “completely false and untraceable identity.” [Associated Press, 2/12/02; Associated Press, 2/15/02 (B)] One month later, the coroner who examines her body is targeted by a bomb, which is defused. Then in June the coroner is attacked, bound with barbed wire, and left with a bomb tied to his body, but he survives. [Memphis Commercial Appeal, 3/14/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khaled Odtllah, Sakhera Hammad, Katherine Smith, World Trade Center
          

March 22, 2002: FBI Translator Charges That Evidence of Turkish Spies in Pentagon and State Department Was Suppressed      Complete 911 Timeline

       Translator Sibel Edmonds later claims that she is fired by the FBI on this day after repeatedly raising suspicions about a co-worker named Jan (or Can) Dickerson. When Dickerson was hired in November 2001, she had connections to a Turkish intelligence officer and had worked with a Turkish organization, both of which were being investigated by the FBI's own counter-intelligence unit. Edmonds claims that Dickerson insisted that she alone translate documents relating to the investigation of this organization and official. When Edmonds reviewed Dickerson's translations, she found information that the Turkish officer had spies inside the State Department and Pentagon was not being translated. Dickerson then tried to recruit Edmonds as a spy, and when Edmonds refused, Dickerson threatened to have her killed. After Edmonds's boss and others in the FBI failed to respond to her complaints, she wrote to the Justice Department's inspector general's office in March: “Investigations are being compromised. Incorrect or misleading translations are being sent to agents in the field. Translations are being blocked and circumvented.” Edmonds is then fired and she sues the FBI. The FBI eventually concludes Dickerson had left out significant information from her translations. A second FBI whistleblower, John Cole, also claims to know of security lapses in the screening and hiring of FBI translators. [Washington Post, 6/19/02; Cox News Service, 8/14/02; CBS News, 7/13/03] The supervisor who told Edmonds not to make these accusations and also encouraged her to go slow in her translations is later promoted. [CBS News, 10/25/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jan Dickerson, Sibel Edmonds, US Department of State, US Department of Defense, John Cole, US Department of Justice
          

March 28, 2002: Al-Qaeda Leader Zubaida Is Captured      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Abu Zubaida.
FBI agents and Pakistani police commandos raid a house in the city of Faisalabad, Pakistan, and capture al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida. He's shot three times but survives. [New York Times, 4/14/02] Many documents are found that lead to the indictment of 100 more people. [Newsweek, 9/4/02] US intelligence found his location by tracing his phone calls. [New York Times, 4/14/02] He has since given the US useful information on 9/11 and other al-Qaeda plans. [Newsweek, 9/4/02] Zubaida is considered one of the highest in al-Qaeda's leadership and one of the highest ranking prisoners captured by the US. [New York Times, 4/14/02] It is believed that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed takes over Zubaida's tasks. [Asia Times, 9/11/02] The claim is later made that during interrogation Zubaida claims ties to people high in the Saudi and Pakistani governments (see March 31, 2002).
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Abu Zubaida, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia
          

April 18, 2002: Private Showing of Flight 93 Recordings Fails to Quell Confusions      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI allows relatives of passengers on Flight 93 to listen to and see a written transcript of the cockpit recordings. Seventy people do so. But the FBI says the relatives are not allowed to make recordings, because the tape might be used in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. [Guardian, 4/19/02] The San Francisco Chronicle responds: “Is there even a dollop of logic in that explanation? It's like saying we can't watch video of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center because that video might be used in a trial.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/3/02] New York Times reporter Jere Longman writes the book Among The Heroes based on his access to the recordings and interviews with officials and relatives. New details of their struggle on board emerge, but the government still has not officially stated if the passengers took over the plane or not. [MSNBC, 7/30/02; Daily Telegraph, 8/6/02]
People and organizations involved: Jere Longman, Zacarias Moussaoui, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

May 7, 2002: Explosives Detected on Illegal Israelis      Complete 911 Timeline

      
A Fox News report on the Oak Harbor truck incident.
A moving truck is pulled over for speeding in the middle of the night in Oak Harbor, Washington, near the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. The base is the home of the advanced electronic warfare Prowler jets. A bomb-sniffing dog detects explosives on one of the men and inside the truck. High-tech equipment is then used to confirm the presence of TNT on the gearshift and RDX plastic explosive on the steering wheel. Both men turn out to be Israeli (one with an altered passport) and in the country illegally. [Fox News, 5/13/02] However, the FBI later clears the two men, saying both the dog and the tests just detected false positives from “residue left by a cigarette lighter.” [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5/14/02; Jerusalem Post, 5/14/02] The “art student spy ring” frequently uses moving vans as cover, and has been caught spying on the most top secret military bases. [Salon, 5/7/02] In a possibly related story, the Seattle FBI office that handled this case will be broken into a few weeks later, and even a room containing evidence will be penetrated. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7/29/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Oak Harbor Israelis"
          

May 21-22, 2002: Prisoner Told FBI of Imminent al-Qaeda Attacks      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Walid Arkeh.
Walid Arkeh, a prisoner in Florida, is interviewed by a group of FBI agents in New York City. The agents seek information regarding the 1988 US embassy bombings and are there to interview him about information he learned from three al-Qaeda prisoners he had befriended. During the interview, Arkeh claims that, in August 2001, he told the FBI that al-Qaeda was likely to attack the WTC and other targets soon, but he was dismissed. After 9/11, his warning still was not taken seriously by the local FBI. The New York FBI agents are stunned. One says to him: “Let me tell you something. If you know what happened in New York, we are all in deep sh_t. We are in deep trouble.” Arkeh tells the agents that these prisoners hinted that the WTC would be attacked, and targets in Washington were mentioned as well. However, they did not tell him a date or that airplanes would be used. The New York FBI later informs him that they found his information credible. [Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] Arkeh is later deported to Jordan despite a Responsible Cooperators Program promising visas to those who provided important information US-designated terrorist groups. (It is unclear whether any one ever has been given a reward through this program.) [Orlando Sentinel, 11/10/02; Orlando Sentinel, 1/11/03; Orlando Sentinel, 3/12/03]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Walid Arkeh, al-Qaeda
          

May 27, 2002: Organization of 9/11 Attacks Is Still Not Clear      Complete 911 Timeline

       The New Yorker reports that a senior FBI official acknowledges there has been “no breakthrough” in establishing how the 9/11 suicide teams were organized and how they operated. Additionally, none of the thousands of pages of documents and computer hard drives captured in Afghanistan has enabled investigators to broaden their understanding of how the attack occurred, or even to bring an indictment of a conspirator. [New Yorker, 5/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

May 30, 2002: Agent Claims FBI Obstructed Efforts to Stop Terrorist Money Flows      Complete 911 Timeline

       FBI Agent Robert Wright announces he is suing the FBI over a publishing ban. He has written a book but the FBI will not allow him to show it to anyone. He delivers a tearful press conference at the National Press Club describing his lawsuit against the FBI for deliberately curtailing investigations (see October 1998) that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately he has been ordered to not reveal specifics publicly. [Fox News, 5/30/02] Wright claims the FBI shut down his 1998 criminal probe into alleged terrorist-training camps in Chicago and Kansas City. He uses the words “prevented,” “thwarted,” “obstructed,” “threatened,” “intimidated,” and “retaliation” to describe the actions of his superiors in blocking his attempts to shut off money flows to al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other Islamic militant groups. He also alleges that for years the US was training Hamas militants to make car bombs to use against Israel, one of the US's closest allies. [La Weekly, 8/2/02 (B); LA Weekly, 8/2/02] Wright's book still has not been released as of mid-2004.
People and organizations involved: Hamas, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Wright
          

June 22, 2002: 9/11 Inquiry Member Appears Biased in Defending FBI      Complete 911 Timeline

       Internal FBI documents show that Thomas Kelley, in charge of matters relating to the FBI in the joint congressional intelligence 9/11 inquiry, blocked an inquiry into the FBI's role in Waco. For instance, an internal FBI memo from December 2000 states that Kelley “continued to thwart and obstruct” the Waco investigation to the point that a special counsel was forced to send a team to search FBI headquarters for documents Kelley refused to turn over. [Washington Post, 6/22/02]
People and organizations involved: Thomas Kelley, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

August 2, 2002: FBI Questions Members of Congressional Committees About 9/11 Leaks      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Senator Richard Shelby.
The Washington Post reveals that FBI agents have questioned nearly all 37 members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees about 9/11-related information leaks. They have asked them to submit to lie detector tests but most have refused. Congresspeople express “grave concern” for this historically unprecedented move. A law professor states, “Now the FBI can open dossiers on every member and staffer and develop full information on them. It creates a great chilling effect on those who would be critical of the FBI.” [Washington Post, 8/2/02] Senator John McCain (R) suggests that “the constitutional separation of powers is being violated in spirit if not in the letter. ‘What you have here is an organization compiling dossiers on people who are investigating the same organization. The administration bitterly complains about some leaks out of a committee, but meanwhile leaks abound about secret war plans for fighting a war against Saddam Hussein. What's that about? There's a bit of a contradiction here, if not a double standard.’ ” [Washington Post, 8/3/02] Later the search for the source of the leak intensifies to unprecedented levels as the FBI asks 17 senators to turn over phone records, appointment calendars and schedules that would reveal their possible contact with reporters. [Washington Post, 8/24/02] Most, if not all, turn over the records, even as some complain that the request breaches the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. One senator says the FBI is “trying to put a damper on our activities and I think they will be successful.” [Associated Press, 8/29/02] In January 2004, it is reported that the probe is now focusing on Republican Senator Richard Shelby. There has been no further word or indictments since. [Washington Post, 1/22/04]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, House Intelligence Committee, Richard Shelby, John McCain
          

August 15, 2002: Son of Saudi Official Associated with Hijackers      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Saud al-Rashid.
The picture of a young Saudi man named Saud al-Rashid is discovered on a CD-ROM that also contains the pictures of four 9/11 hijackers in an al-Qaeda safe house in Pakistan. A senior US official says that investigators “were able to take this piece of information and it showed clear signals or lines that he was connected to 9/11.” [Associated Press, 8/21/02 (B)] Rashid was in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001. [New York Times, 7/29/03 (B)] Six days later, the US issues a worldwide dragnet to find him. [Associated Press, 8/21/02 (B)] But they are unable to catch him because a few days later, he flees from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and turns himself in to the Saudi authorities. The Saudis apparently will not try him for any crime or allow the FBI to interview him. [CNN, 8/31/02; CNN, 8/26/02] Intriguingly, Al-Rashid's father is Hamid al-Rashid, a Saudi government official who paid a salary to Omar al-Bayoumi, an associate of two hijackers who is later suspected of being a Saudi agent. [New York Times, 7/29/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Saud al-Rashid, Omar al-Bayoumi, Hamid al-Rashid, Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda
          

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
          

October 5, 2002: FBI Refuses to Allow FBI Informant to Testify Before 9/11 Inquiry      Complete 911 Timeline

       The New York Times reports that the FBI is refusing to allow Abdussattar Shaikh, the FBI informant who lived with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in the second half of 2000, to testify before the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry. The FBI claims the informer would have nothing interesting to say. The Justice Department also wants to learn more about the informant. [New York Times, 10/5/02] The FBI also tries to prevent Shaikh's handler Steven Butler from testifying, but Butler does end up testifying before a secret session on October 9, 2002. Shaikh does not testify at all. [Washington Post, 10/11/02 (B)] Butler's testimony uncovers many curious facts about Shaikh. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/25/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); US News and World Report, 11/29/02; New York Times, 11/23/02]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Steven Butler, Abdussattar Shaikh, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar
          

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
          

December 5, 2002: Software Company with Access to Government Secrets May Have al-Qaeda Ties      Complete 911 Timeline

      
FBI agents raid Ptech offices.
Federal agents search the offices of Ptech, Inc., a computer software company in Quincy, Massachusetts, looking for evidence of links to bin Laden. A senior Ptech official confirms that Yassin al-Qadi, one of 12 Saudi businessmen on a secret CIA list suspected of funneling millions of dollars to al-Qaeda, was an investor in the company, beginning in 1994. [Newsweek, 12/6/02; WBZ4, 12/9/02] Some of Ptech's customers include the White House, Congress, Army, Navy, Air Force, NATO, FAA, FBI, and the IRS. [Boston Globe, 12/7/02] A former FBI counterterrorism official states, “For someone like [al-Qadi] to be involved in a capacity, in an organization, a company that has access to classified information, that has access to government open or classified computer systems, would be of grave concern.” Yacub Mirza— “a senior official of major radical Islamic organizations that have been linked by the US government to terrorism” —has recently been on Ptech's board of directors. Hussein Ibrahim, the vice president and chief scientist of Ptech, was vice chairman of a now defunct investment group called BMI. An FBI affidavit names BMI as a conduit to launder money from al-Qadi to Hamas militants. [WBZ4, 12/9/02] The search into Ptech is part of Operation Green Quest, which has served 114 search warrants in the past 14 months involving suspected terrorist financing. Fifty arrests have been made and $27.4 million seized. [Forbes, 12/6/02] Al-Qadi's assets were frozen by the FBI in October 2001. [Arab News, 9/26/02] That same month, a number of Ptech employees told the Boston FBI that Ptech was financially backed by al-Qadi, but the FBI did little more than take their statements. A high level government source claims the FBI did not convey the information to a Treasury Department investigation of al-Qadi, and none of the government agencies using Ptech software were warned. Whistleblower Indira Singh spoke with the FBI in June 2002 and was “shocked” and “frustrated” when she learned the agency had done nothing. [WBZ4, 12/9/02; Boston Globe, 12/7/02] Beginning in mid-June 2002, WBZ-TV Boston had prepared an lengthy investigative report on Ptech, but withheld it for more than three months after receiving “calls from federal law enforcement agencies, some at the highest levels.” The station claims the government launched its Ptech probe in August 2002, after they “got wind of our investigation” and “asked us to hold the story so they could come out and do their raid and look like they're ahead of the game.” [WBZ4, 12/9/02; Boston Globe, 12/7/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Indira Singh, Hamas, US Department of the Treasury, Yassin al-Qadi, Osama bin Laden, Operation Green Quest, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ptech Inc.
          

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
          

January 22, 2003: House of 9/11 Suspect Finally Searched by FBI      Complete 911 Timeline

       The FBI conducts a very public search of a Miami, Florida, house belonging to Mohammed Almasri and his Saudi family. Having lived in Miami since July 2000, on September 9, 2001, they said they were returning to Saudi Arabia, hurriedly put their luggage in a van, and sped away, according to neighbors. A son named Turki Almasri was enrolled at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida, where hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi also studied. [Washington Post, 1/23/03; Palm Beach Post, 1/23/03] Neighbors repeatedly called the FBI after 9/11 to report their suspicions, but the FBI only began to search the house in October 2002. The house had remained abandoned, but not sold, since they left just before 9/11. [Palm Beach Post, 1/23/03; South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 1/22/03; Palm Beach Post, 1/22/03; Washington Post, 1/23/03] The FBI returned for more thorough searches in January 2003, with some agents dressed in white biohazard suits. [Washington Post, 1/23/03] US Representative Robert Wexler (D), later says, “This scenario is screaming out one question: Where was the FBI for 15 months?” The FBI determines there is no terrorism connection, and apologizes to the family. [UPI, 1/24/03] An editorial notes the “ineptitude” of the FBI in not reaching family members over the telephone, as reporters were easily able to do. [Palm Beach Post, 2/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Wexler, Turki Almasri, Mohammed Almasri
          

Late February 2003: DNA Identifies Passenger Remains, but Hijacker DNA Is Not Tested      Complete 911 Timeline

       Medical examiners match human remains to the DNA of two of the hijackers that flew on Flights 11 and/or 175 into the WTC. The names of the two hijackers are not released. The FBI gave the examiners DNA profiles of all ten hijackers on those flights a few weeks earlier. Genetic profiles of five hijackers from Flight 77 and the four from Flight 93 that did not match any of the passengers' profiles have been given to the FBI, but the FBI has not given any DNA profiles with which to match them. [CNN, 2/27/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

March 1, 2003: Mohammed Reportedly Arrested in Pakistan, Doubts Persist      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Mohammed's alleged arrest in Pakistan.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is reportedly arrested in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. [Associated Press, 3/1/03] Officials claim that he is arrested in a late-night joint Pakistani and FBI raid, in which they also arrest Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, the purported main financer of the 9/11 attacks. [MSNBC, 3/3/03] However, some journalists immediately cast serious doubts about this arrest. For instance, MSNBC reports, “Some analysts questioned whether Mohammed was actually arrested Saturday, speculating that he may have been held for some time and that the news was made public when it was in the interests of the United States and Pakistan” [MSNBC, 3/3/03] There are numerous problems surrounding the US-alleged arrest of Mohammed:
Witnesses say Mohammed is not present when the raid occurs. [Guardian, 3/3/03 (B); Associated Press, 3/2/03; Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/2/03; New York Times, 3/3/03; Associated Press, 3/2/03 (B)]
There are differing accounts about which house he is arrested in. [Associated Press, 3/1/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/3/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/2/03]
There are differing accounts about where he was before the arrest and how authorities found him. [Washington Post, 3/2/03; New York Times, 3/3/03; New York Times, 3/4/03; Time, 3/1/03; Washington Post, 3/2/03]
Some accounts have him sleeping when the arrest occurs. [New York Times, 3/3/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/2/03; Reuters, 3/2/03; Daily Telegraph, 3/4/03]
Accounts differ on who arrests him—Pakistanis, Americans, or both. [CNN, 3/2/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/2/03; New York Times, 3/2/03; Daily Telegraph, 3/3/03; Associated Press, 3/3/03 (C); Times Of London, 3/3/03 (B)]
There are previously published accounts that Mohammed may have been killed in September 2002. [Daily Telegraph, 9/16/02; Christian Science Monitor, 10/29/02; Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02; Asia Times, 3/6/03; Daily Telegraph, 3/4/03; Asia Times, 10/30/02]
There are accounts that he was captured the year before. [Australian Broadcasting Corp., 3/2/03; Associated Press, 9/16/02; Daily Times, 9/9/02; Times of India, 9/9/02] These are just some of the difficulties with the arrest story. There are so many problems with it that one Guardian reporter says, “The story appears to be almost entirely fictional.” [Guardian, 3/6/03]
People and organizations involved: Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
          

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 19, 2003: FBI Finds No Insider Trading      Complete 911 Timeline

       Spokesperson Paul Bresson announces that the FBI has concluded that there was no insider trading in US securities markets by people with advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. According to Bresson, the “vast majority” of a pre-attack surge of trading in options that bet on a drop in the stock of AMR Corp., which owns American Airlines, and UAL Corp., which owns United Airlines, was conducted by investment hedge funds implementing bearish investment strategies or hedging a line position of common stock and was not linked to terrorists. [Washington Post, 9/19/03; St. Petersburg Times, 9/19/03] Independent research will indicate otherwise a few months later.
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, United Airlines, Paul Bresson, American Airlines
          

March 24, 2004: FBI Says Saudi Associates of Hijackers Not Involved in Plot      Complete 911 Timeline

       It is reported that the FBI has closed down their investigation into Saudis Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan. The Associated Press reports, “The FBI concluded at most the two Saudi men occasionally provided information to their kingdom or helped Saudi visitors settle into the United States, but did so in compliance with Muslim custom of being kind to strangers rather than out of some relationship with Saudi intelligence.” [Associated Press, 3/24/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Osama Basnan, Omar al-Bayoumi
          

June 14, 2004: FBI 9/11 Investigation Continues      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Washington Post reports that the FBI's 9/11 investigation still continues, though at a reduced level. Originally, the investigation, named PENTTBOM, was staffed by about 70 full time FBI agents and analysts. The team now has only about ten members. Some observers complain the FBI has not done enough. Mary Galligan, who headed the investigation until early 2004, emphasizes how much is still unknown about the plot. She says, “There is still information coming in, and we still have so many unanswered questions.” [Washington Post, 6/14/04]
People and organizations involved: Mary Galligan, PENTTBOM, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

July 2004: Report on FBI's 9/11 Failures Is Completed, But Remains Unreleased Until After Presidential Election      Complete 911 Timeline

       In November 2002, as the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry was finishing its investigation, it had formally asked for a report by the Justice Department (which oversees the FBI) to determine “whether and to what extent personnel at all levels should be held accountable” for the failure to stop the 9/11 attacks. An identical request was made to the CIA (see June-November 2004). [New York Times, 9/14/04] The Justice Department report, titled “A Review of the FBI's Handling of Intelligence Information Related to the September 11 Attacks,” is completed this month. [Washington Post, 4/30/05] It centers on three FBI failures before 9/11: the failure to follow up on the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui in August 2001 (see August 15, 2001), the failure to follow up on FBI agent Ken Williams' memo (see July 10, 2001) warning about Islamic militants training in US flight schools, and the FBI's failure to follow up on many leads to hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. The report provides some new details about miscommunications, inaction, and other problems. [New York Times, 9/14/04] The report remains classified. Senior Senate Judiciary Committee members Patrick Leahy (D) and Charles Grassley (R) call for its release. The senators state, “While the needs of national security must be weighed seriously, we fear the designation of information as classified, in some cases, serves to protect the executive branch against embarrassing revelations and full accountability. We hope that is not the case here.” [New York Times, 9/14/04; Washington Times, 7/12/04] One problem complicating the issuing of even a declassified version is the possibility that the material would taint the criminal proceedings against Zacarias Moussaoui. In early 2005, the Justice Department inspector general's office will ask the judge presiding over Moussaoui's case for permission to release a declassified version of the report. But the judge will turn down the request in April 2005, even after Moussaoui pleads guilty (see April 30, 2005). The report will finally be released in June 2005 without the section on Moussaoui (see June 9, 2005). [New York Times, 2/13/05]
People and organizations involved: Charles Grassley, US Department of Justice, Patrick Leahy, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ken Williams, Khalid Almihdhar, Zacarias Moussaoui
          

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