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Profile: Ramzi Yousef

 
  

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Ramzi Yousef actively participated in the following events:

 
  

September 1, 1992: US Misses Opportunity to Stop First WTC Bombing and Discover al-Qaeda      Complete 911 Timeline

       Al-Qaeda Operatives Ahmad Ajaj and Ramzi Yousef enter the US together. Ajaj is arrested at Kennedy Airport in New York City. Yousef is not arrested, and later, he masterminds the 1993 bombing of the WTC. “The US government was pretty sure Ajaj was a terrorist from the moment he stepped foot on US soil,” because his “suitcases were stuffed with fake passports, fake IDs and a cheat sheet on how to lie to US immigration inspectors,” plus “two handwritten notebooks filled with bomb recipes, six bomb-making manuals, four how-to videotapes concerning weaponry, and an advanced guide to surveillance training.” However, Ajaj is charged only with passport fraud, and serves a six-month sentence. From prison, Ajaj frequently calls Yousef and others in the 1993 WTC bombing plot, but no one translates the calls until long after the bombing. [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01] Ajaj is released from prison three days after the WTC bombing, but is later rearrested and sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01] One of the manuals seized from Ajaj is horribly mistranslated for the trial. For instance, the title page is said to say “The Basic Rule,” published in 1982, when in fact the title says “al-Qaeda” (which means “the base” in English), published in 1989. Investigators later complain that a proper translation could have shown an early connection between al-Qaeda and the WTC bombing. [New York Times, 1/14/01] An Israeli Newsweekly later reports that the Palestinian Ajaj may have been a mole for the Israeli Mossad. The Village Voice has suggested that Ajaj may have had “advance knowledge of the World Trade Center bombing, which he shared with Mossad, and that Mossad, for whatever reason, kept the secret to itself.” Ajaj was not just knowledgeable, but was involved in the planning of the bombing from his prison cell. [Village Voice, 8/3/93]
People and organizations involved: Ramzi Yousef, World Trade Center, Ahmad Ajaj, Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks, al-Qaeda
          

February 26, 1993: WTC Is Bombed but Does Not Collapse, as Bombers Had Hoped      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Bomb damage in underground levels of the WTC in 1993.
An attempt to topple the WTC fails, but six people are killed and over 1000 are injured in the misfired blast. An FBI explosives expert later states that, “If they had found the exact architectural Achilles' heel or if the bomb had been a little bit bigger, not much more, 500 pounds more, I think it would have brought her down.” Ramzi Yousef, who has close ties to bin Laden, organizes the attempt. [Village Voice, 3/30/93; Congressional Hearings, 2/24/98] The New York Times later reports on Emad Salem, an undercover agent who will be the key government witness in the trial against Yousef. Salem testifies that the FBI knew about the attack beforehand and told him they would thwart it by substituting a harmless powder for the explosives. However, an FBI supervisor called off this plan, and the bombing was not stopped. [New York Times, 10/28/93] Other suspects were ineptly investigated before the bombing as early as 1990. Several of the bombers were trained by the CIA to fight in the Afghan war, and the CIA later concludes, in internal documents, that it was “partly culpable” for this bombing. [Independent, 11/1/98] US officials later state that the overall mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, is a close relative, probably an uncle, of Yousef. [Independent, 6/6/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] One of the attackers even leaves a message which will later be found by investigators, stating, “Next time, it will be very precise.” [Associated Press, 9/30/01]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, World Trade Center, Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden, Emad Salem, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

June 24, 1993: New York Landmark Bombing Plot Is Foiled      Complete 911 Timeline

       Eight people are arrested, foiling a plot to bomb several New York City landmarks. The targets were the United Nations building, 26 Federal Plaza, and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. The plotters are connected to Ramzi Yousef and Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. If the bombing, planned for later in the year, had been successful, thousands would have died. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Ramzi Yousef, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman
          

December 12, 1994: Operation Bojinka Trial Run Fails, but Kills One      Complete 911 Timeline

      
One of Ramzi Yousef's timers seized by Philippines police in January 1995.
Ramzi Yousef attempts a trial run of Operation Bojinka, planting a small bomb on a Philippine Airlines flight to Tokyo, and disembarking on a stopover before the bomb is detonated. The bomb explodes, killing one man and injuring several others. It would have successfully caused the plane to crash if not for the heroic efforts of the pilot. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Operation Bojinka, Ramzi Yousef
          

December 24, 1994: Al-Qaeda Connected Militants Attempt to Crash Passenger Jet into Eiffel Tower      Complete 911 Timeline

       An Air France Airbus A300 carrying 227 passengers and crew is hijacked in Algiers, Algeria by four Algerians wearing security guard uniforms. They are members of a militant group linked to al-Qaeda. They land in Marseille, France, and demand a very large amount of jet fuel. During a prolonged standoff, the hijackers kill two passengers and release 63 others. They are heavily armed with 20 sticks of dynamite, assault rifles, hand genades, and pistols. French authorities later determine their aim is to crash the plane into the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but French Special Forces storm the plane before it can depart from Marseille. [New York Times, 10/3/01; Time, 1/2/95] Time magazine details the Eiffel Tower suicide plan in a cover story. A week later, Philipine investigators breaking up the Bojinka plot in Manila find a copy of the Time story in bomber Ramzi Yousef's possessions. Author Peter Lance notes that Yousef had close ties to Algerian Islamic militants and may have been connected to or inspired by the plot. [Lance, 2003, pp 258; Time, 1/2/95] Even though this is the third attempt in 1994 to crash an airplane into a building, the New York Times notes after 9/11 that “aviation security officials never extrapolated any sort of pattern from those incidents.” [New York Times, 10/3/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Eiffel Tower, Ramzi Yousef
          

January 6, 1995: Pope Assassination and Bojinka Plot to Bomb a Dozen Airplanes Is Foiled      Complete 911 Timeline

      
A 1998 CNN map of likely flights to be hijacked in one version of Operation Bojinka.
Responding to an apartment fire, Philippine investigators uncover an al-Qaeda plot to assassinate the Pope that is scheduled to take place when he visits the Philippines one week later. While investigating that scheme, they also uncover Operation Bojinka, planned by the same people: 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02; Los Angeles Times, 6/24/02; Independent, 6/6/02] The first phase of the plan is to explode 11 or 12 passenger planes over the Pacific Ocean. [Agence France-Presse, 12/8/01] Had this plot been successful, up to 4,000 people would have been killed in planes flying to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, and New York. [Insight, 5/27/02] All the bombs would be planted at about the same time, but some would be timed to go off weeks or even months later. Presumably worldwide air travel could be interrupted for months. [Lance, 2003, pp 260-61] This phase of Operation Bojinka was scheduled to go forward just two weeks later on January 21. [Insight, 5/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi Yousef, World Trade Center, al-Qaeda, Operation Bojinka
          

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
          

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
          

September 5, 1996: Yousef Trial Ignores Bojinka 9/11 Blueprint Plot      Complete 911 Timeline

       Ramzi Yousef and two other defendants, Abdul Hakim Murad, and Wali Khan Amin Shah, are convicted of crimes relating to Operation Bojinka. [CNN, 9/5/96] In the nearly 6,000-page transcript of the three-month Bojinka trial, there is not a single mention of the “second wave” of Bojinka that closely paralleled the 9/11 plot. Interrogations by Philippine investigator Colonel Rodolfo Mendoza had exposed the details of this plot quite clearly (see January 20, 1995). However, not only does the FBI not call Mendoza to testify, but his name is not even mentioned in the trial, not even by his assistant, who does testify. “The FBI seemed to be going out of its way to avoid even a hint of the plot that was ultimately carried out on 9/11,” notes author Peter Lance. [Lance, 2003, pp 350-51]
People and organizations involved: Operation Bojinka, Abdul Hakim Murad, Wali Khan Amin Shah, Ramzi Yousef, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rodolfo Mendoza
          

January 8, 1998: Mohammed Revealed as Major Al-Qaeda Operative at Yousef Sentencing      Complete 911 Timeline

      
FBI reward notice for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
Islamic militant Ramzi Yousef is sentenced to 240 years for his role in the 1993 WTC bombing. At the same time, prosecutors unseal an indictment against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed for participating with Yousef in the 1995 Operation Bojinka plot (see January 6, 1995). In unsealing this, US Attorney Mary Jo White calls Mohammed a “major player” and says he is believed to be a relative of Yousef. [Washington Post, 1/9/98] The US announces a $2 million reward for his capture in 1998 and wanted posters with his picture are distributed. [New York Times, 6/5/02] This contradicts the FBI's claim after 9/11 that they did not realize he was a major terrorist before 9/11. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 12/11/02] For instance, a senior FBI official later says, “He was under everybody's radar. We don't know how he did it. We wish we knew. ... He's the guy nobody ever heard of.” [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] However, another official says, “We have been after him for years, and to say that we weren't is just wrong. We had identified him as a major al-Qaeda operative before September 11.” [New York Times, 9/22/02] Yet strangely, despite knowing Mohammed is a major al-Qaeda operations planner and putting out a large reward for his capture at this time, there is no worldwide public manhunt for him as there successfully was for his nephew Ramzi Yousef. Mohammed's name remains obscure and he isn't even put on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list until one month after 9/11. [Lance, 2003, pp 327-30]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi Yousef, Mary Jo White
          

'Passive' participant in the following events:

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