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Israeli spies
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Bush on 9/11
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Complete 911 Timeline

 
  

Project: Complete 911 Timeline

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Showing 201-300 of 1602 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100    next 100

1999

      
Zacarias Moussaoui passing through a London airport.
Zacarias Moussaoui, living in London, is observed by French intelligence making several trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan. French investigators later claim the British spy agency MI5 was alerted and requested to place Moussaoui under surveillance. The request appears to have been ignored. [Independent 12/11/01]
          

Mid-June 1999

       Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, plus would-be hijacker Ramzi Bin al-Shibh and associate Mounir El Motassadeq, hold a meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands. All are living in Hamburg at the time, so it's not clear why they go to meet there, though it's speculated they are meeting someone. Motassadeq also goes to the town of Eindhoven, Netherlands, on three occasions, in early 1999, late 1999 and 2001. [AP 9/13/02] On at least one occasion, Motassadeq receives cash provided by unnamed “Saudi financiers” that is meant to fund a new Eindhoven mosque. Investigators believe he uses the money to help pay for some 9/11 hijacker flying lessons. [Baltimore Sun, 9/2/02] Alshehhi also flies to Amsterdam from the US in the summer of 2001, but it isn't known why (see April 18, 2001).
          

1999 (I)

       CIA Director Tenet later claims that in this year, the CIA establishes a network of agents throughout Afghanistan and other countries aimed at capturing bin Laden and his deputies. [UPI, 10/17/02] Tenet states that by 9/11, “a map would show that these collection programs and human networks were in place in such numbers to nearly cover Afghanistan. This array meant that, when the military campaign to topple the Taliban and destroy al-Qaeda began [in October 2001], we were able to support it with an enormous body of information and a large stable of assets.” [Senate Intelligence Committee 10/17/02]
          

1999 (C)

       MI6, the British intelligence agency, gives a secret report to liaison staff at the US embassy in London. The reports states that al-Qaeda has plans to use “commercial aircraft” in “unconventional ways”, “possibly as flying bombs.” [Sunday Times 6/9/02]
          

1999 (L)

       The FBI receive reports that a terrorist 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 (see After May 15, 1998). The purpose of this training is unknown, but the organization views the plan as “particularly important” and has reportedly approved open-ended funding for it. The Counterterrorism Section at FBI headquarters instructs 24 field offices to pay close attention to Islamic students from the target country engaged in aviation training. Ken Williams at the Phoenix FBI office will later write a memo on this very topic (see July 10, 2001), and his squad receives this notice. Williams, however, doesn't recall reading it. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry later concludes, “There is no indication that field offices conducted any investigation after receiving the communication.” [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, Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] In November 2000 a notice is sent out telling field offices that no information about the terrorist group recruiting students had been uncovered. Apparently Williams doesn't see this notice either. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03 (B)]
          

1999 (H)

      
Hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi, left, and Waleed Alshehri, right.
Diane and John Albritton later say they call the CIA and police this year several times to report suspicious activity at a neighbor's home, but authorities fail to respond. [MSNBC, 9/23/01, New York Daily News, 9/15/01] Hijacker Waleed Alshehri is renting the house on Orrin Street in Vienna, Virginia at the time (three blocks from a CIA headquarters). [AP, 9/15/01 (B)] He makes his neighbors nervous. “There were always people coming and going,” said Diane Albritton. “Arabic people. Some of them never uttered a word; I don't know if they spoke English. But they looked very focused. We thought they might be dealing drugs, or illegal immigrants.” [New York Times, 9/15/01 (B)] Ahmed Alghamdi lived at the same address until July 2000. [Fox News, 6/6/02, World Net Daily, 9/14/01] Waleed Alshehri lived with Ahmed Alghamdi in Florida for seven months in 1997. [Telegraph, 9/20/01] Albritton says they observed a van parked outside the home at all hours of the day and night. A Middle-Eastern man appeared to be monitoring a scanner or radio inside the van. Another neighbor says, “We thought it was a drug house. All the cars parked on the street were new BMWs, new Mercedes. People were always walking around out front with cell phones.”There were frequent wild parties, numerous complaints to authorities, and even a police report about a woman shooting a gun into the air during a party. [World Net Daily 9/14/01] Other neighbors also called the police about the house. [AP, 9/14/01 (B)] “Critics say [the case] could have made a difference [in stopping 9/11] had it been handled differently.” Standard procedures require CIA to notify FBI of such domestic information. But FBI officials have not been able to find any record that the CIA shared the information. [Fox News 6/6/02] FBI Director Mueller has said “the hijackers did all they could to stay below our radar.” [Senate Judiciary Statement, 5/8/02] Does this sound like extremely religious “sleepers” successfully blending in?
          

1999 (B)

       The FBI creates its own unit to focus specifically on bin Laden, three years after the CIA created such a special unit. By 9/11, 17-19 people are working in this unit, out of over 11,000 FBI staff. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02] Why so late, and so few people?
          

January 31, 1999

       German intelligence is tapping the telephone of al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar (see March 1997 and September 21, 1999), and on this date Zammar gets a call from a “Marwan.” This is later found to be hijacker Marwan Alshehhi. Marwan talks about mundane things, like his studies in Bonn, Germany, and promises to come to Hamburg in a few months. German investigators trace the telephone number and determine the call came from a mobile phone registered in the United Arab Emirates. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03; Stern 8/13/03; Deutche Presse-Agenteur 8/13/03; New York Times 2/24/04] German intelligence passes this information to the CIA about one month later, but CIA apparently fails to capitalize on it (see March 1999).
          

February 1999 (C)

       US Intelligence obtains information that Iraq has formed a suicide pilot unit that it plans to use against British and US forces in the Persian Gulf. The CIA comments that is highly unlikely and probably disinformation. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

February 1999 (B)

       There is another hoax anthrax attack. A handful of envelopes with almost identical messages are sent to a combination of media and government targets including The Washington Post, NBC's Atlanta office, a post office in Columbus, Georgia (next to Fort Benning, an Army base), and the Old Executive Office Building in Washington. The letters contained fake anthrax powder. “That's interesting because as of 1997, US bio-defense scientists were working basically only with wet anthrax, while by 1999 some had experimented with making powders.” The New York Times later suggests that Steven Hatfill could have been behind this attack and the one in 1997 (see April 24, 1997). [New York Times, 7/12/02] Could there be a connection between this hoax and a classified CIA report about sending anthrax through the mail released the same month (see February 1999)?
          

February 1999 (D)

       Intelligence reports have bin Laden at a desert hunting camp in Afghanistan for about a week. Information on his presence appears reliable, so preparations are made to target his location with cruise missiles. However, intelligence also puts an official aircraft of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and members of the royal family from that country in the same location. Bin Laden is hunting with the Emirati royals, as he did with leaders from that country and Saudi Arabia on other occasions (see 1995-2001). Policy makers are concerned that a strike might kill a prince or other senior officials, so the strike never happens. A top UAE official at the time denies that high-level officials are there, but evidence subsequently confirms their presence. [9/11 Commission Report 3/24/04 (B)]
          

February 1999

       A classified report discusses responses to an anthrax attack through the mail. The report, precipitated by a series of false anthrax mailings, is written by William Patrick, inventor of the US anthrax weaponization process, under a CIA contract. [New York Times, 12/3/01] The report was commissioned by Steven Hatfill, a good friend of Patrick. [Baltimore Sun, 6/27/02] The report describes what the US military could do and what a terrorist might be able to achieve. [New York Times, 12/3/01] The similarities between what the report predicted and the anthrax attacks that eventually happen after 9/11 are startling. The BBC later suggests the “possibility that there was a secret CIA project to investigate methods of sending anthrax through the mail which went madly out of control” and that the anthrax attacker knew of this study or took part in it. The CIA and William Patrick deny the existence of this report, even though copies have been leaked to the media. [BBC 3/14/02; Baltimore Sun 6/27/02]
          

February 17, 1999

      
Said Bahaji, computer expert for the Hamburg cell.
German intelligence is periodically tapping suspected al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar's telephone (see March 1997, January 31, 1999, and September 21, 1999), and on this day investigators hear a caller being told Zammar is at a meeting with “Mohamed, Ramzi, and Said,” and could be reached at the phone number of the Marienstrasse apartment where all three of them live. This refers to Mohamed Atta, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, and Said Bahaji, all members of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. But apparently the German police fail to grasp its importance of these names, even though Said Bahaji is also under investigation (see November 1, 1998-February 2001). [AP 6/22/02; New York Times 1/18/03] Atta's last name is given as well. Agents check the phone number and confirm the street address, but it isn't known what they make of the information. [Der Spiegel 2/3/03]
          

March 1999 B)

       German intelligence gives the CIA the first name of hijacker Marwan Alshehhi and his telephone number in the United Arab Emirates. The Germans learned the information from surveillance of suspected terrorists (see January 31, 1999). They tell Alshehhi has been in contact with suspected al-Qaeda members Mohammed Haydar Zammar and Mamoun Darkazanli (see September 20, 1998 and December 1999) . He is described as a United Arab Emirates student who has spent some time studying in Germany. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03; Stern 8/13/03; Deutche Presse-Agenteur 8/13/03; New York Times 2/24/04] The Germans consider this information “particularly valuable” and ask the CIA to track Alshehhi, but the CIA never responds until after the 9/11 attacks. The CIA decides at the time that this “Marwan” is probably an associate of bin Laden but never track him down. It is not clear why the CIA fails to act, or if they learn his last name before 9/11. [New York Times, 2/24/04] The Germans monitor others calls between Alshehhi and Zammar (see September 21, 1999), but it isn't clear if the CIA is also told of these or not.
          

March 1999

       US intelligence learns of plans by an al-Qaeda member who is also a US citizen, to fly a hang glider into the Egyptian Presidential Palace and then detonate the explosives he is carrying. The individual, who received hang glider training in the US, brings a hang glider back to Afghanistan, but various problems arise during the testing of the glider. This unnamed person is subsequently arrested and is in custody abroad. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02]
          

March 3, 1999

       Andrew Krepinevich, Executive Director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities: “There appears to be general agreement concerning the need to transform the US military into a significantly different kind of force from that which emerged victorious from the Cold and Gulf Wars. Yet this verbal support has not been translated into a defense program supporting transformation … the ‘critical mass’ needed to effect it has not yet been achieved. One may conclude that, in the absence of a strong external shock to the United States—a latter-day ‘Pearl Harbor’ of sorts—surmounting the barriers to transformation will likely prove a long, arduous process.” [CSBA, 3/5/99] This comment echoes other strategists who wait for a second Pearl Harbor to fulfill their visions (see October 1997 and September 2000).
          

April 1, 1999

      
Friends of Ziad Jarrah taken on April 1, 1999. Third from left in back row is Abdelghani Mzoudi, fifth from is Mounir El Motassadeq; seventh is Ramzi bin al-Shibh; the man on far right in middle row is Mohamed Atta; Atta rests his hands on Mohammed Raji,
Ziad Jarrah has an unofficial wedding with his girlfriend, Aisel Senguen. What's interesting is a photo apparently taken by Jarrah at the wedding, shown here. German intelligence found the photo several days after 9/11. An undercover agent was able to immediately identify 10 of the 18 men in the photo, as well as where it was taken: the prayer room of Hamburg's Al-Quds mosque. The informant was also able to identify which of them attended Mohamed Atta's study group. This informant knew even “seemingly trivial details” of some of the men, showing that “probably almost all members of the Hamburg terror cell” had been watched by German state intelligence since this time, if not before. The head of the state intelligence had previously maintained that they knew nothing of any of these men, and had no informant. [FAZ 2/2/03]
          

Spring 1999 (B)

       Randy Glass is a con artist turned government informant participating in a sting called Operation Diamondback. [Palm Beach Post, 9/29/01] He discusses an illegal weapons deal with an Egyptian American named Mohamed el Amir. In wiretapped conversations, Mohamed discusses the need to get false papers to disguise a shipment of illegal weapons. His brother, Dr. Magdy el Amir, has been a wealthy neurologist in Jersey City for the past twenty years. Two other weapons dealers later convicted in a sting operation involving Glass also lived in Jersey City, and both el Amirs admit knowing one of them, Diaa Mohsen (see June 12, 2001). Mohsen has been paid at least once by Dr. el Amir. In 1998, Congressman Ben Gilman was given a foreign intelligence report suggesting that Dr. el Amir owns an HMO that is secretly funded by bin Laden, and that money is being skimmed from the HMO to fund terrorist activities. The state of New Jersey later buys the HMO and determines that $15 million were unaccounted for and much of that has been diverted into hard-to-trace offshore bank accounts. However, investigators working with Glass are never given the report about Dr. el Amir. Both el Amirs have not been charged with any crime. Mohamed now lives in Egypt and Magdy continues to practice medicine in New Jersey. Glass's sting, which began in late 1998, will uncover many interesting leads before ending in June 2001 (see also July 14, 1999, Early August 2001 and August 2, 2002). [MSNBC 8/2/02]
          

Spring 1999

       US intelligence learns of a planned bin Laden attack on a US government facility in Washington (which facility has not been made public). [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02; New York Times 9/18/02]
          

April 3-7, 1999

       Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi, and Khalid Almihdhar obtains US visas through the US Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] All three are already “al-Qaeda veterans” and battle-hardened killers (see 1996-December 2000). Almihdhar's visa is issued on April 7, and allows him multiple entries and exits to the US until April 6, 2000. [Stern, 8/13/03] Nawaf Alhazmi gets the same kind of visa; details about Salem are unknown. The CIA claims the hijackers then travel to Afghanistan to participate in “special training” with at least one other suicide bomber on a different mission. The training is led by Khallad bin Attash (see January 5-8, 2000). The US learns about Almihdhar's visa in January 2000 (see January 5, 2000). The Jeddah Consulate keeps in its records the fact that Nawaf and Salem Alhazmi obtain US visas several days before Almihdhar, but apparently these records are never searched before 9/11. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

May 1999

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

June 1999 (B)

       In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and in a briefing to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staffers one month later, the chief of the CTC describes reports that bin Laden and his associates are planning attacks in the US. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02]
          

June 1999

       Enron announces an agreement to build a $140 million power plant in the Gaza Strip. One of the major financiers for the project comes from the Saudi Binladin Group, a company owned by Osama's family. This is the second attempted project between these two companies. 90% complete, the construction is halted because of Palestinian-Israeli violence and then Enron's bankruptcy. [Washington Post 3/2/02]
          

June 1999-March 2000

      
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 2001 when he and they move to the East Coast (see March 2001 (D)). 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 (see July 1990). But, 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.” [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

June 7, 1999

       Bin Laden is added to FBI's “Ten Most Wanted”List. This is almost a year and a half after bin Laden's “declaration of war” against the US (see February 22, 1998) and about six months after the CIA's “declaration of war against al-Qaeda”(see December 4, 1998). It's also three years after an internal State Department document connecting bin Laden to financing and planning numerous terrorist attacks. [PBS Frontline 10/3/02 (C)]
          

June 7, 1999

       The FBI puts Bin Laden on FBI's “10 Most Wanted List.” [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03 (B)]
          

June 8, 1999

      
Giuliani's emergency command center.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani opens a $13 million emergency command center on the 23rd floor of World Trade Center Building 7. [Newsday, 9/12/01] The center is intended to coordinate responses to various emergencies, including natural disasters like hurricanes or floods and also terrorist attacks. The 50,000 square foot center has reinforced, bulletproof and bomb-resistant walls, its own air supply and water tank, and three backup generators. This command center is to be staffed around the clock and is intended as a meeting place for city leaders in the event of an act of terrorism. [CNN, 6/7/99; ] The emergency command center is ridiculed as “Rudy's bunker.” [Time 12/31/01] Most controversial is the 6,000 gallon fuel tank. In 1998 and 1999, Fire Department officials warn that the fuel tank violates city fire codes and poses a hazard. According to one Fire Department memorandum, if the tank were to catch fire it could produce “disaster.” Building 7 is destroyed late in the day on 9/11; some suspect this tank helps explains why. [New York Times 12/20/01]
          

July 1999

       The FBI begins an investigation of an unnamed person for ties to important al-Qaeda figures and several organizations linked to al-Qaeda. The FBI is concerned this person is in contact with several experts in nuclear sciences. After 9/11, the FBI determines hijacker Marwan Alshehhi had contact with this person on the East Coast of the US. This person also may have ties to Mohammed Atta's sister. Most additional details about this person, including their name, when and how often Alshehhi had contact, and if the investigation was ever closed, remain classified. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

July 1999 (B)

       The US gains information that former ISI head Hamid Gul contacts Taliban leaders at this time and advises them that the US is not planning to attack Afghanistan to get bin Laden. He assures them that he will provide them three or four hours warning of any future US missile launch, as he did “last time.” Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later suggests Gul gave al-Qaeda warning about the missile strike in 1998 (see August 20, 1998). [New Yorker 7/28/03]
          

Summer 1999

       Around this time, US intelligence notes that a man in Hamburg, Germany named Mohammed Haydar Zammar is in direct contact with one of bin Laden's senior operational coordinators. Zammar is an al-Qaeda recruiter with links to Mohammed Atta and the rest of the Hamburg terror cell (see March 1997, January 31, 1999, February 17, 1999, and September 21, 1999). The US had noted Zammar's terror links on “numerous occasions” before 9/11. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03] But apparently the US does not share their information on Zammar with German intelligence. Instead, the Germans are given evidence from Turkey that Zammar is running a travel agency as a terror front in Hamburg. In 1998, they get information from Italy confirming he is a real terrorist. But his behavior is so suspicious, they've already started closely monitoring him. [Stern 8/13/03; Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

July 1999-November 2000

       Hijacker Marwan Alshehhi receives about $100,000 from an account in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates during this time. [Financial Times, 11/30/01, Newsweek, 12/2/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] The money is apparently sent by Mohamed Yousef Mohamed Alqusaidi, believed to be Alshehhi's brother. Alqusaidi had been sending money to Alshehhi in Germany since at least March 1998. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] It is not clear if this is money innocently sent by Alshehhi's rich Arab family or if it is money deliberately sent for terrorism. Much of the rest of the 9/11 funding also passes through Sharjah (see June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000, Early August 2001 (D) and September 8-11, 2001 (B)), a town at the center of illegal al-Qaeda business dealings (see Mid-1996-October 2001).
          

July 4, 1999

       With the chances of a pipeline deal with the Taliban looking increasingly unlikely, the US government finally issues an executive order prohibiting commercial transactions with the Taliban. [Executive Order 7/4/99]
          

July 5, 1999

       President Clinton signs an executive order freezing the assets of the Taliban in the US and prohibiting trade and other transactions between US citizens and the Taliban. Clinton blames the Taliban for harboring bin Laden. [CNN 7/6/99]
          

July 14, 1999

      
Rajaa Gulum Abbas.
US government informant Randy Glass records a conversation at a dinner attended by him, illegal arms dealers Diaa Mohsen and Mohammed Malik (see June 12, 2001), 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 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. [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02, Cox News, 8/2/02, Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] 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 (see also August 17, 1999). [MSNBC 3/18/03 (B)]
          

August 17, 1999

      
Randy Glass, center, shows Stinger missiles to Rajaa Gulum Abbas and others.
A group of illegal arms merchants, including an ISI agent with foreknowledge of 9/11, had met in a New York restaurant the month before (see July 14, 1999). This same group meets at this time in a West Palm Beach, Florida, warehouse, and is shown Stinger missiles as part of a sting operation. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel 3/20/03] US intelligence soon discovers connections between two in the group, Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Mohammed Malik, terrorist groups in Kashmir (where the ISI assists terrorists fighting against India), and the Taliban. Mohamed Malik suggests in this meeting that the Stingers will be used in Kashmir or Afghanistan. His colleague Diaa Mohsen also says Abbas has direct connections to “dignitaries” and bin Laden. Abbas also wants heavy water for a “dirty bomb” or other material to make a nuclear weapon. He says he will bring a Pakistani nuclear scientist to the US to inspect the material. [MSNBC 8/2/02; MSNBC 3/18/03] Government informant Randy Glass passes these warnings on before 9/11, but he claims, “The complaints were ordered sanitized by the highest levels of government” (see also Early August 2001). [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02] In June 2002, the US secretly indicts Abbas (see June 2002), but apparently they aren't trying very hard to find him: In August 2002, MSNBC is easily able to contact Abbas in Pakistan and speak to him by telephone. [MSNBC 8/2/02]
          

September 1999 (D)

       US intelligence obtains information that bin Laden and others are planning a terrorist act in the US, possibly against specific landmarks in California and New York City. The reliability of the source is unknown. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02]
          

September 1999 (C)

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

September 1999 (B)

       Steven Hatfill, later suspected of being behind the 2001 anthrax attacks (see October 4, 2001), ends his two-year contract working at USAMRIID. But his contact held little meaning after February, when he had started working full time somewhere else. [Weekly Standard 9/16/02] It is later reported that the strain of anthrax used in the attacks could be no older than September 1999. [New York Times, 6/23/02] While at USAMRIID, Hatfill also worked on virology in a different building than where anthrax was studied, so the odds of Hatfill getting access to the type of anthrax used in the attacks at USAMRIID seems extremely small. [Weekly Standard 9/16/02]
          

September 1999 (E)

       Agents from Oklahoma City FBI office visit the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma to investigate Ihab Ali, who has already been identified as bin Laden's former personal pilot. Ali attended the school in 1993 and is later named as an unindicted coconspirator in the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya. [CNN 10/16/01; Boston Globe 9/18/01; Senate Intelligence Committee 10/17/02] When Ali 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 agent visiting the school is not given most background details about him. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] It's not known if these investigators are aware of a terrorist flight school warning given by the Oklahoma City FBI office in 1998 (see May 18, 1998). Hijackers 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 2001 (see February 23, 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 (see August 23, 2001 (E)).
          

September 1999

       BJ's Wholesale Club, a store in Hollywood, Florida, later tells the FBI that Atta may have held a BJ's membership card since at least this time (“more than two years”). Several cashiers at the store vaguely remember seeing Atta there. [Miami Herald 9/18/01] According to the official story, Atta doesn't arrive in the US until June 3, 2000. [Miami Herald 9/22/01]
          

September 15, 1999

       The first phase of the US Commission on National Security/21st Century, co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart (D) and Warren Rudman (R) is issued. It concludes: “America will be attacked by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction and Americans will lose their lives on American soil, possibly in large numbers” (see also January 31, 2001). [USCNS Reports]
          

September 21, 1999

       German intelligence is periodically tapping suspected al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar's telephone (see also March 1997 and February 17, 1999), and on this day investigators hear Zammar call hijacker Marwan Alshehhi. Officials initially claim that the call also mentions hijacker Mohamed Atta, but only his first name. [Telegraph 11/24/01; New York Times 1/18/03] But in fact, his full name, “Mohammed Atta Al Amir,” is mentioned in this call and in another recorded call. [FAZ, 2/2/03] Alshehhi makes veiled references to plans to travel to Afghanistan. He also hands the phone over to Said Bahaji (another member of the Hamburg cell under investigation at the time November 1, 1998-February 2001), so he can talk to Zammar. [Stern, 8/13/03] German investigators still don't know Alshehhi's full name, but they recognize this Marwan also called Zammar earlier in the year, and they told the CIA about that call (see January 31, 1999). Alshehhi, living in the United Arab Emirates at the time, calls Zammar frequently. German intelligence asks the United Arab Emirates to identify the number and the caller, but the request is not answered. [Der Spiegel 2/3/03]
          

October 1999 (B)

       The CIA readies an operation to capture or kill bin Laden, secretly training and equipping approximately 60 commandos from the ISI. Pakistan supposedly agrees to this plan in return for the lifting of economic sanctions and more economic aid. The plan is ready to go by this month, but it is aborted because on October 12, General Musharraf takes control of Pakistan in a coup (see October 12, 1999). Musharraf refuses to continue the operation despite the promise of substantial rewards. [Washington Post 10/3/01 (C)] Some US officials later say the CIA was tricked, because the ISI just feigned to cooperate as a stalling tactic, and never intended to get bin Laden. [New York Times 10/29/01]
          

Autumn 1999

       The Secretary of State finally legally declares al-Qaeda a foreign terrorist organization that is threatening to the US. [9/11 Commission Report 3/24/04]
          

October 1999 (C)

       Worried about intercepts showing a growing likelihood of al-Qaeda attacks around the millennium (see December 31, 1999-January 1, 2000), the CIA steps up ties with Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban. The CIA sends a team of agents to his headquarters in a remote part of northern Afghanistan, asking for his help to capture or kill bin Laden. Massoud complains that the US is too focused on bin Laden, and isn't interested in the root problems of Taliban, Saudi and Pakistani support for terrorism that is propping him up. He agrees to help nonetheless, and the CIA gives him more aid in return. But the US is officially neutral in the Afghan civil war and the agents are prohibited from giving any aid that would “fundamentally alter the Afghan battlefield.” [Washington Post 2/23/04] DIA agent Julie Sirrs (see October 1998 (B)), newly retired, is at Massoud's headquarters at the same time as the CIA team. She gathers valuable intelligence from captured al-Qaeda soldiers while the CIA agents stay in their guesthouse. She publishes much of what she learned on this trip and other trips in the summer of 2001. [Washington Post 2/28/04]
          

October 1999

      
The ANSER logo.
The ANSER Institute for Homeland Security is founded. This institute claims to be “leading the [homeland security] debate through executive-level education, public awareness programs, workshops for policy makers and online publications: a weekly newsletter and the Journal of Homeland Security, which features articles by senior government leaders and leading homeland security experts.” As their webpage makes clear, the first mention of the phrase “homeland security” in a US context came only one month earlier. This institute, which has deep roots in the Air Force, has received tens of millions of government dollars in support. [Online Journal, 6/29/02] They talked about a “second Pearl Harbor” long before 9/11. Doesn't this institute indicate the Department of Homeland Security was planned long before 9/11? Their own website touts their role in the creation of this department, but the media has completely failed to cover the story. [Institute for Homeland Security website; Institute for Homeland Security website FAQ; Online Journal 6/29/02]
          

October 5, 1999

       The highly respected Jane's Terrorism and Security Monitor reports that US intelligence is worried bin Laden is planning a major terrorist attack on US soil. They are said to be particularly concerned about some kind of attack on New York, and they have recommended stepped-up security at the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve. [NewsMax 10/5/99]
          

October 8, 1999

       State Department designates al-Qaeda a foreign terrorist organization. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03 (B)]
          

October 12, 1999

       General Musharraf becomes leader of Pakistan in a coup. One major reason for the coup is the ISI felt the previous ruler had to go “out of fear that he might buckle to American pressure and reverse Pakistan's policy [of supporting] the Taliban.”[New York Times, 12/8/01] Shortly thereafter Musharraf replaces the leader of the ISI, Brig Imtiaz, because of his close ties to the previous leader. Imtiaz is arrested and convicted of “having assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.” It comes out that he was keeping tens of millions of dollars earned from heroin smuggling in a Deutschebank account. This is interesting because insider trading just prior to 9/11 will later connect to a branch of Deutschebank recently run by “Buzzy” Krongard, now Executive Director of the CIA (see September 6-10, 2001). [Financial Times (Asian edition), 8/10/01] The new Director of the ISI is Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, a close ally of Musharraf who is instrumental in the success of the coup. [Guardian, 10/9/01] Mahmood will later be fired after suggestions that he helped fund the 9/11 attacks (see October 7, 2001 (B) ).
          

November 1999

       The Washington Post refers to hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar when it later reports, “In November 1999, two Saudi Arabian men moved into a ground-floor apartment at the Parkwood Apartments, a town house complex near a busy commercial strip in San Diego.” [Washington Post, 9/30/01] Alhazmi's name is on the apartment lease beginning in November 1999. [Washington Post, 10/01] Some reports even have them visiting the US as early as 1996. [Wall Street Journal 9/17/01; Las Vegas Review Journal 10/26/01] However, FBI Director Mueller has stated the two first arrived the middle of January 2000 (see January 15-early February, 2000) after an important meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000). Some news reports mention that the hijackers first arrive in late 1999 (for instance, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02]), but most reports concur with the FBI.
          

November 3, 1999

       The head of Australia's security services admits that the Echelon global surveillance system exists (see August 12, 1988); the US still denies its existence. The BBC describes Echelon's power as “astounding,” and elaborates: “Every international telephone call, fax, e-mail, or radio transmission can be listened to by powerful computers capable of voice recognition. They home in on a long list of key words, or patterns of messages. They are looking for evidence of international crime, like terrorism.” [BBC 11/3/99]
          

November 14, 1999

       United Nations sanctions against Afghanistan take effect. The sanctions freeze Taliban assets and impose an air embargo on Ariana airlines in an effort to force the Taliban to hand over bin Laden. [BBC 2/6/00] However, Ariana keeps its illegal trade network flying (see Mid-1996-October 2001), and is grounded in early 2001 only when additional sanctions against Ariana take effect (see January 19, 2001).
          

Late November 1999

       Investigators believe hijackers Atta, Marwan Alshehhi and Ziad Jarrah and associates Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Said Bahaji (all members of the same Hamburg, Germany cell) arrive separately in Afghanistan around this time. They meet with bin Laden and train for several months. [CBS 10/9/02; New York Times 9/10/02] In a 2002 interview with Al Jazeera, bin al-Shibh says “We had a meeting attended by all four pilots including Nawaf Alhazmi, Atta's right-hand man.” The Guardian interprets this to mean that Alhazmi flew Flight 77, not Hani Hanjour as popularly believed. [Guardian 9/9/02]
          

November 29, 1999

       The United Nations Drug Control Programme has determined the ISI makes around $2.5 billion annually from the sale of illegal drugs. [Times of India 11/29/99]
          

November 30, 1999

       Jordanian officials successfully uncover an al-Qaeda plot to blow up the Radisson Hotel in Amman, Jordan and other sites on January 1, 2000 (see also 1989-May 2000). [PBS Frontline 10/3/02 (C)] A call between al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida and a suspected Jordanian terrorist exposes the plot. In the call, . states, “The grooms are ready for the big wedding.” [Seattle Times, 6/23/02] This call reflects an extremely poor code system, because the FBI already determined in the wake of the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998) that “wedding” was the al-Qaeda code word for bomb. [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 214] Furthermore, it appears al-Qaeda fails to later change their code system, because the code name for the 9/11 attack is also “The Big Wedding.” [Chicago Tribune 9/5/02] US intelligence claims it failed to understand the code language for the 9/11 attacks.
          

December 1999

       The CIA begins “persistent” efforts to recruit German businessman Mamoun Darkazanli (see September 24, 2001) as an informer. Darkazanli knows Atta and the other members of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. US and German intelligence had previously opened investigations into Darkazanli (see September 20, 1998). Agents occasionally followed him, but Darkazanli obviously noticed the trail on him at least once. More costly and time-consuming electronic surveillance is not done however, and by the end of 1999 the investigation has produced little of value. German law does not allow foreign governments to have informants in Germany. So this month, Thomas Volz, the undercover CIA representative in Hamburg appears at the headquarters of the Hamburg state domestic intelligence agency, the LFV, responsible for tracking terrorists and domestic extremists. He tells them the CIA believes Darkazanli had knowledge of an unspecified terrorist plot and encourages that he be “turned” against his al-Qaeda comrades. A source later recalls he says, “Darkazanli knows a lot.” Efforts to recruit him continue the next year (see Spring 2000). The CIA has not admitted this interest in Darkazanli. [Chicago Tribune 11/17/02; Stern 8/13/03]
          

Late 1999

       Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi report their passports missing, Ziad Jarrah reports his missing in February 2000. [Sun Sentinel, 9/28/01, Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, by Der Spiegel, 2/02, pp. 257-258] Alshehhi has a replacement issued on December 26, 1999. [London Times, 9/20/01] The common theory is that this was to cover up incriminating trips to Afghanistan and other places, but could this have been when they took on new identities?
          

December 1999 (B)

       A Yemeni safe house telephone monitored by the FBI and CIA (see Late August 1998 (B)), reveals that there will be an important al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in January 2000, and that a “Khalid,” a “Nawaf,” and a “Salem” will attend. One intelligence agent notes at the time, “Salem may be Nawaf's younger brother.” It turns out they are brothers, and these are the future hijackers Khalid Almihdhar, and Nawaf and Salem Alhazmi. US intelligence is already referring to both of them as “terrorist operatives” because the safe house is known to be such a hotbed of al-Qaeda activity. Their last names are not yet known to the CIA, even though the NSA has learned Nawaf's last name (see Early 1999 (B)). However, Khalid Almihdhar is at the safe house at the time, and as he travels to Malaysia, he is watched and followed (see January 5, 2000). [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

Late 1999 (B)

       Former Saudi Intelligence Minister Prince Turki al Faisal later claims that his intelligence agency tells the CIA that hijacker Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi have been put on a Saudi terror watch list. Turki says, “What we told [the CIA] was these people were on our watch list from previous activities of al-Qaeda, in both the [1998] embassy bombings and attempts to smuggle arms into the kingdom in 1997.” However, the CIA strongly denies any such warning. [AP, 10/16/03] Turki admits no documents concerning this were sent to the US, but claims the information was passed via word of mouth. [Salon 10/18/03] The US doesn't put these two on their watch list until August 2001 (see August 23, 2001 (C)).
          

Early December 1999

       The CIA learns from the Jordanian government about an al-Qaeda millennium bombing plot (see November 30, 1999). Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told of this, and he implements a plan to neutralize the threat. [Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, 3/04, p. 205, p. 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. [Washington Post, 4/20/00, AP, 6/28/02] All US embassies, military bases, police departments, and other agencies are given a warning to be look out for signs of an al-Qaeda millennium attack. One alert border agent responds by arresting terrorist Ahmed Ressam, which leads to the unraveling of several bombing plots (see December 14, 1999 and December 14-31, 1999). No terror attacks occur (see December 31, 1999-January 1, 2000). However, Clarke claims the FBI generally remains unhelpful. For example, around this time the FBI says there are no web sites 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 web sites. The FBI and Justice Department apparently fail to do anything with the information. [Newsweek 3/31/04 (B)]
          

December 4, 1999

      
Prince Bandar (Pictures of his wife, Osama Basnan and Omar al-Bayoumi are not available)
Princess Haifa bint Faisal, the wife of Prince Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador to the US, begins sending monthly cashier's checks of between $2,000 and $3,500 (accounts differ) to Majeda Dweikat, the Jordanian wife of Osama Basnan, a Saudi living in San Diego (see April 1998). Accounts also differ over when the checks were first sent (between November 1999 and about March 2000; a Saudi government spokesman has stated December 4 [Fox News, 11/23/02]). Basnan's wife signs many of the checks over to her friend Manal Bajadr, the wife of Omar al-Bayoumi. [Washington Times, 11/26/02, Newsweek, 11/22/02, Newsweek, 11/24/02, Guardian, 11/25/02] Al-Bayoumi is a suspected al-Qaeda advance man and possible Saudi agent. Some later suggest that the money from the wife of the Saudi ambassador passes through the al-Bayoumi and Basnan families as intermediaries and ends up in the hands of the two hijackers (see November 22, 2002). The payments from Princess Haifa continue until May 2002 and may total $51,000, or as much as $73,000. [Newsweek 11/22/02; MSNBC 11/27/02] While living in the San Diego area, al-Bayoumi and Basnan are heavily involved in relocating and offering financial support to Saudi immigrants in the community (see also August 1994 and June 1998 (D)). [Los Angeles Times 11/24/02] In late 2002, Al-Bayoumi claims he did not pass any money along to the hijackers. [Washington Times, 12/04/02] Basnan is also described as an al-Qaeda sympathizer who called 9/11 “a wonderful, glorious day.” [Newsweek, 11/22/02] Basnan has variously claimed to know al-Bayoumi, not know him at all, or to know him only vaguely. [Arab News, 11/26/02, ABC, 11/26/02, ABC, 11/25/02, MSNBC, 11/27/02] But earlier reports say Basnan and his wife were “very good friends” of al-Bayoumi and his wife. Both couples lived at the Parkwood Apartments at the same time as the two hijackers; prior to that, the couples lived together in a different apartment complex. Also, the two wives were arrested for shoplifting together in April 2001. [San Diego Union-Tribune 10/22/02]
          

December 11, 1999

       The CIA's counterterrorism center sends a cable reminding all personnel about various reporting obligations. The cable clearly states that it is important to share information so terrorists can be placed on watch lists The US keeps a number of watch lists; the most important one is known as TIPOFF, with about 61,000 names of suspected terrorists by 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02, Knight Ridder, 1/27/04] The list is checked whenever someone enters or leaves the US. “The threshold for adding a name to TIPOFF is low,” and even a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is connected with a terrorist group, warrants being added to the database. [Congressional Inquiry 9/20/02] Within a month, two future hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, are identified (see January 5, 2000 and January 8, 2000), but the cable's instructions are not followed for them. The CIA initially tells the 9/11 Congressional inquiry that no such guidelines existed, and CIA Director Tenet fails to mention the cable in his testimony. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03 (B); New York Times 5/15/03]
          

December 14-31, 1999

      
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(see December 31, 1999-January 1, 2000). 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 says, “Until the very end of our time in office, the view we received from the [FBI] was that al-Qaeda had limited capacity to operate in the US and any presence here was under surveillance.” No analysis is done before 9/11 to investigate just how big that presence might be. [Washington Post 9/20/02]
          

December 14, 1999

       Al-Qaeda terrorist Ahmed Ressam is arrested in Port Angeles, Washington, attempting to enter the US with components of explosive devices. 130 pounds of bomb-making chemicals and detonator components are found inside his rental car. He subsequently admits he planned to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on December 31, 1999. [New York Times, 12/30/01] Alert border patrol agent Diana Dean stops him; she and other agents nationwide had been warned recently to look for suspicious activity (see Early December 1999). Ressam's bombing would have been part of a wave of attacks against US targets over the New Year's weekend (see ). He is later connected to al-Qaeda and convicted, but he still hasn't been formally sentenced. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02; PBS Frontline 10/3/02]
          

December 20, 1999

       The BBC explains one reason why the Northern Alliance has been able to hold out for so long in its civil war against the Taliban in Afghanistan: “Iran has stirred up the fighting in order to make sure an international oil pipeline [goes] through its territory and not through Afghanistan.”[BBC, 12/20/99] In the summer of 2001 Pakistan and India appear to be leaning towards putting a gas pipeline through Iran but this plan is apparently canceled after the 9/11 attacks (see June 27, 2001).
          

December 24-31, 1999

      
Hijackers leave the Indian Airlines plane, under Taliban supervision.
An Indian Airlines flight is hijacked and flown to Afghanistan where 155 passengers are held hostage for eight days. They are freed in return for the release of three militants held in Indian prisons. One of the hostages is killed. One of the men freed in the exchange is 9/11 paymaster Saeed Sheikh (see November 1994-December 1999). [BBC, 12/31/99] Another freed militant is terrorist leader Maulana Masood Azhar. Azhar emerges in Pakistan a few days later, and tells a crowd of 10,000, “I have come here because this is my duty to tell you that Muslims should not rest in peace until we have destroyed America and India.” [AP, 1/5/00] He then tours Pakistan for weeks under the protection of the ISI. [Vanity Fair, 8/02] The ISI and Saeed helps Azhar form a new terrorist group called Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Azhar is soon plotting terrorist acts again (see October 1, 2001 (D)and December 13, 2001 (C)). [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 3/3/02; Guardian 7/16/02; Washington Post 2/8/03]
          

December 31, 1999-January 1, 2000

       The CIA expects five to 15 attacks against American targets around the world over the New Year's weekend, but none occur. [Time 8/4/02] A heightened state of alert helps stop some attacks (see November 30, 1999, Early December 1999, December 14, 1999, and December 14-31, 1999), while an attack on a naval ship in Yemen fails through sheer luck (see January 3, 2000).
          

December 31, 1999-January 1, 2000

       Earlier in December, the CIA estimates that al-Qaeda will launch between five to 15 attacks against American targets around the world over the New Year's weekend. “Because the US is [bin Laden]'s ultimate goal…we must assume that several of these targets will be in the US… ” [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B), Time, 8/4/02] Since late 1999, there is intelligence that targets in Washington and New York would be attacked at this time. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02] There in fact are a number of planned attacks, including bomb attacks on the Boston and Los Angeles airports, a hotel in Jordan, and a naval ship in Yemen. (see November 30, 1999, December 14, 1999, and January 3, 2000). But all of the attacks are foiled, thanks to a good deal of luck. [Washington Post 1/20/02]
          

2000-September 10, 2001

       The names of four hijackers are later discovered in Philippines immigration records, according to Philippine Immigration Commissioner Andrea Domingo. However, it hasn't been confirmed if these are the hijackers, or just other Saudis with the same names. Abdulaziz Alomari visits the Philippines once in 2000, then again in February 2001, leaving on February 12. [AP, 9/19/01, Telegraph, 9/20/01, Philippines Daily Inquirer, 9/19/01] Ahmed Alghamdi visits Manila, Philippines more than 13 times in the two years before 9/11. He leaves the Philippines the day before the attacks. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01, Telegraph, 9/20/01] Fayez Ahmed Banihammad visits the Philippines on October 17-19, 2000. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01, Telegraph, 9/20/01] Saeed Alghamdi visits the Philippines on at least 15 occasions in 2001, entering as a tourist. The last visit ends on August 6, 2001. [Telegraph, 9/20/01] Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi may also have been living in the Philippines (see 1998-2000), and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed occasionally stays there (see Early 1994-January 1995). When in the Philippines, it is possible the hijackers meet with associates of Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden's brother-in-law. Khalifa has been closely linked with the Philippines chapter of the International Islamic Relief Organization, which gets much of its money from the Saudi Arabian government and has lately been accused of being a front for al-Qaeda. Amongst other connections to terrorism, Khalifa helped fund the Islamic Army of Aden, a group that claimed responsibility for the bombing of the USS Cole. [Boston Herald, 10/14/01] Khalifa has been connected through phone calls to Hambali, a major terrorist who attended a planning meeting for the 9/11 attacks in Malaysia, also attended by two hijackers connected to the Islamic Army of Aden (see January 5-8, 2000). [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C), Cox News, 10/21/01] The US had Khalifa in custody for about six months in 1995 (see December 14, 1994). Nothing more has been heard to confirm or deny the hijackers' Philippines connections since these initial reports—are they being downplayed to hide embarrassing connections between the hijackers, bin Laden's family, and the Saudi government?
          

Early 2000

       By the start of this year, the US has already begun “to quietly build influence” in Central Asia. The US has established significant military-to-military relationships with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Soldiers from those countries have been trained by Americans. The militaries of all three have an ongoing relationship with the National Guard of a US state—Kazakhstan with Arizona, Kyrgyzstan with Montana, Uzbekistan with Louisiana. The countries also participate in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. [Washington Post 8/27/02]
          

January 2000 (B)

       A DEA government document later leaked to the press [DEA report, 6/01] suggests that a large Israeli spy ring starts penetrating the US from at least this time, if not earlier. This ring, which will later become popularly known as the “art student spy ring,” is later shown to have strange connections to the events of 9/11. [Insight 3/11/02]
          

2000 (B)

       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. FBI refuses to disclose the date or details. [Los Angeles Times, 5/30/02] [FTW]
          

January-May 2000

       9/11 hijacker Atta is put under surveillance by the CIA while living in Germany. [AFP, 9/22/01, Focus, 9/24/01, Berliner Zeitung, 9/24/01] He is “reportedly observed buying large quantities of chemicals in Frankfurt, apparently for the production of explosives [and/or] for biological warfare.” “The US agents reported to have trailed Atta are said to have failed to inform the German authorities about their investigation,” even as the Germans are investigating many of his associates (see November 1, 1998-February 2001). “The disclosure that Atta was being trailed by police long before 11 September raises the question why the attacks could not have been prevented with the man's arrest.”[Observer, 9/30/01] A German newspaper adds that Atta was still able to get a visa into the US on May 18. The surveillance stopped when he left for the US at the start of June (see June 3, 2000). But “experts believe that the suspect remained under surveillance in the United States.” [Berliner Zeitung, 9/24/01] A German intelligence official also states, “We can no longer exclude the possibility that the Americans wanted to keep an eye on Atta after his entry in the USA.” [Focus, 9/24/01] This correlates with a Newsweek claim that US officials knew Atta was a “known [associate] of Islamic terrorists well before [9/11].” [Newsweek 9/20/01] However, a Congressional inquiry later reports that the US “intelligence community possessed no intelligence or law enforcement information linking 16 of the 19 hijackers [including Atta] to terrorism or terrorist groups.” [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Did the fact that the CIA started monitoring Atta in January 2000 have any connection to roommate Ramzi bin al-Shibh's participation in an al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia, that the CIA had ordered monitored that same month (see January 5-8, 2000)?
          

2000

       The BKA, the German counterpart to the FBI, prepares an extensive report on al-Qaeda's connections in Germany. The BKA warns that “unknown structures” are preparing to stage attacks abroad. However, the German federal prosecutor's office rejects a proposed follow-up investigation. One of the persons named in the BKA report supposedly had contacts with the Hamburg terror group, containing hijackers Atta, Alshehhi and others. [Berliner Zeitung 9/24/01]
          

2000-September 11, 2001

       In a roughly two year period before the 9/11 attacks, NORAD conducts regional war game exercises simulating hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties. One of the imagined targets is the World Trade Center. In another exercise, jets perform a mock shoot-down over the Atlantic Ocean of a jet laden with chemical poisons headed toward the US. A third exercise has the Pentagon as the target, but apparently that drill is not run after officials say it is too unrealistic (see April 2001). NORAD confirms that “Numerous types of civilian and military aircraft were used as mock hijacked aircraft” in these drills. [USA Today, 4/18/04] At some undetermined point before 9/11, a regional exercise simulated the crash of a foreign airplane flying into the US and crashing into a famous US building. The building is not known, but it is said not to be either the WTC or the Pentagon. This exercise “involved some flying of military aircraft as well as a command post exercise in which communications procedures were practiced in an office environment.” NORAD has stated that prior to 9/11, it “normally conducted four major exercises a year, most of which included a hijack scenario.” [CNN 4/19/04]
          

2000 (C)

       During this year, there are 425 unknowns—pilots who didn't file or diverted from flight plans or used the wrong frequency. Fighters are scrambled in response 129 times. After 9/11, such scrambles go from about twice a week to three or four times a day. [Calgary Herald, 10/13/01] Between September 2000 and June 2001, fighters are scrambled 67 times. [AP, 8/13/02] General Ralph E. Eberhart, NORAD Commander in Chief, says that before 9/11, “Normally, our units fly 4-6 sorties a month in support of the NORAD air defense mission.” [FNS, 10/25/01] Statistics on how many minutes fighters take to scramble before 9/11 apparently are not released.
          

January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001

      
Saeed Sheikh, partying in the year 2000.
After being released from prison (see December 24-31, 1999), Saeed Sheikh stays in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for several days and meets with Taliban leader Mullah Omar. He also meets with bin Laden, who is said to call Saeed “my special son.”He then travels to Pakistan and is given a house by the ISI. [Vanity Fair, 8/02] He lives openly and opulently in Pakistan, even attending “swanky parties attended by senior Pakistani government officials.” US authorities conclude he is an asset of the ISI. [Newsweek 3/13/02] Amazingly, he is allowed to travel freely to Britain, and visits family there at least twice (see 1999 (J)). [Vanity Fair 8/02] He works with Ijaz Shah, a former ISI official in charge of handling two terrorist groups (see February 5, 2002), Lieutenant-General Mohammad Aziz Khan, former deputy chief of the ISI in charge of relations with Jaish-e-Mohammad (see September 17-18 and 28, 2001 and October 7, 2001), and Brigadier Abdullah, a former ISI officer. He is well known to other senior ISI officers. He regularly travels to Afghanistan and helps train new terrorist recruits in training camps there. [New York Times, 2/25/02, National Post, 2/26/02, Guardian, 7/16/02, India Today, 2/25/02] Saeed helps train the 9/11 hijackers also, presumably in Afghanistan. [Telegraph, 9/30/01] He also helps al-Qaeda develop a secure web-based communications system, and there is even talk that he could one day succeed bin Laden. [Vanity Fair, 8/02, Telegraph, 7/16/02] He wires money to the 9/11 hijackers on at least one occasion (see Early August 2001 (D)) and possibly others (see June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000 and September 8-11, 2001 (B)). Presumably he sends the money from the United Arab Emirates during his many trips there. [Guardian 2/9/02]
          

January 2000

      
Ex-President Bush Sr. meeting in Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Carlyle Group.
Former President George Bush Sr. meets with the bin Laden family on behalf of the Carlyle Group. He had also met with them in 1998 (see November 1998 (B)), but it's not known if he met with them after this. Bush denied this meeting took place until a thank you note was found confirming it. [Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01, Guardian, 10/31/01] [FTW]
          

January 3, 2000

       An al-Qaeda attack on USS The Sullivans in Yemen's Aden harbor fails when their boat filled with explosives sinks. The attack remains undiscovered, and a duplication of the attack by the same people later successfully hits the USS Cole (see October 12, 2000). [PBS Frontline 10/3/02 (C)]
          

January 5, 2000

       Hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi travel to an important al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia. Almihdhar leaves from a safe house in Yemen, and is watched. Agents from eight CIA offices and six friendly foreign intelligence services are all asked to help track him, in the hopes he will lead them to bigger al-Qaeda figures. [Stern, 8/13/03] On his way to Malaysia, a friendly intelligence service secretly makes copies of his passport as he is passing through an airport and immediately reports this to the CIA. So by the time he reaches Malaysia, the CIA knows his full name, and the fact that he has a multiple entry visa to the US good from April 1999 to April 2000 (see April 3-7, 1999). Nawaf Alhazmi meanwhile is in Pakistan and arrives in Malaysia on the same day. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03] Even though the CIA now knows Almihdhar has a year long visa to the US and presumably plans to travel there, they don't place him on a terror watch list, despite recent and clear guidelines on the importance of doing so (see December 11, 1999). The FBI also is not informed a known terrorist has a valid US visa. The FBI is merely told, “The operation is still going on. Until now, many suspicious activities were watched. But no evidence was found that indicated a coming attack or criminal acts.” The FBI also should watch list Almihdhar merely from his description as a “terrorist operative,” but they fail to do so. [Stern 8/13/03; Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

January 5-8, 2000

      
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, th
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 (see January 6-9, 2000). Attendees of the meeting include:
  1. Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and
  2. Khalid Almihdhar. The CIA and FBI will later miss many opportunities to foil the 9/11 plot through these two hijackers and the knowledge of their presence at this meeting. The CIA already knows many details about these two by the time the meeting begins (see December 1999 (B) and January 5, 2000).
  3. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a top al-Qaeda leader and the alleged “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks. The US had known Mohammed was a major terrorist since the exposure of Operation Bojinka in 1995 (see January 6, 1995 and January-May 1996), and knew what he looked like, as can be seen from a 1998 wanted poster (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001). 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] The possible presence of Mohammed at this meeting is highly disputed. In 2003, one terrorism expert testifies before the 9/11 9/11 Commission that he has access to transcripts of Mohammed's interrogations since his capture, and that Mohammed admits leading this meeting. [Newsweek, 7/9/03, New York Post, 7/10/03] Many media reports identify him there as well (for instance, [Independent, 6/6/02, CNN, 8/30/02, CNN, 11/7/02, CBC, 10/29/03]). However, US officials deny the claim. Says 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]
  4. An Indonesian terrorist known as Hambali. He was the main financier of Operation Bojinka. [CNN 8/30/02; CNN 3/14/02] Philippine intelligence officials learned of Hambali's importance in 1995, but didn't track him down or share information about him. [CNN 3/14/02]
  5. 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 (see September-October 2000). Sufaat travels to Afghanistan in June 2001, and is arrested by Malaysian authorities when he returns to Malaysia in late 2001. [Australian, 12/24/02]
  6. Fahad al-Quso, a top al-Qaeda operative. [Newsweek 9/20/01] Al-Quso is arrested by Yemeni authorities in late 2000, but the FBI is not given a chance to interrogate him before 9/11 (see Early December 2000). He escapes from prison in 2003. [CNN 5/15/03]
  7. 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 the “mastermind” of that attack. A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through bin Attash's presence at this meeting is later missed (see January 4, 2001). Bin Attash had been previously arrested in Yemen for suspected terror ties, but let go. [Contemporary Southeast Asia 12/1/02] He is captured in Pakistan by the US in April 2003. [New York Times 5/1/03]
  8. Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who investigators believe wanted to be the twentieth hijacker. His presence at the meeting may not have been realized until after 9/11, despite a picture of him next to bin Attash, and even video footage of him. [Washington Post, 7/14/02, Time, 9/15/02, Die Zeit, 10/1/02, Newsweek, 11/26/01, CNN, 11/7/02] German police have credit card receipts indicating bin al-Shibh is in Malaysia at the same time. [Los Angeles Times 9/1/02] Anonymous Malaysian officials claim he is there, but US officials deny it. [AP, 9/20/02] One account says he is recognized at the time of the meeting, which makes it hard to understand why is wasn't tracked back to Germany and the Hamburg cell with Mohamed Atta and other hijackers. [Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] Another possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through bin al-Shibh's presence at this meeting is later missed (see June 10, 2000). It appears bin al-Shibh and Almihdhar are directly involved in the attack on the USS Cole (see October 12, 2000) [Newsweek, 9/4/02, Washington Post, 7/14/02, Guardian, 10/15/01], so better surveillance or follow-up from this meeting could have prevented that attack as well.
  9. Some documents purport to show that an al-Qaeda agent of Iraqi nationality, Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, is also at the meeting. [Newsweek, 10/7/02, Australian, 12/24/02] But his presence at the meeting is uncertain. [AP, 10/2/02]
  10. Very few accounts mention it, but there is the possibility that another hijacker, Salem Alhazmi, also attends the meeting. [Australian, 12/24/02] US intelligence intercepts from before the meeting show that he at least had plans to attend. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
  11. (and more?) Unnamed members of the Egyptian based Islamic Jihad are also known to have been at the meeting. [Cox News, 10/21/01] Islamic Jihad had merged with al-Qaeda in February 1998. [ABC News, 11/17/01]

          

January 6-9, 2000

       The Malaysian secret service is monitoring an important al-Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000), and begins passing what it knows to the CIA even before the meeting is over. Media accounts are consistent that the terrorists at the meeting are photographed and even videotaped, but there is no wiretapping or other recording of their conversations. [Newsweek, 6/2/02, Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01, Observer, 10/7/01, CNN, 3/14/02, New Yorker, 1/14/02, CBC, 10/29/03, Stern, 8/13/03] However, Malaysian officials aren't informed what to look for, and focus more on monitoring the local Malaysian and Indonesian hosts who serve as drivers than the visitors attending the meeting. [AP 9/20/02] Authorities find out what hotel Khalid Almihdhar is staying at and he and his associates are photographed there [Newsweek, 9/20/01, Observer, 10/7/01], as well as coming and going from the condo where the meeting is held. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] On January 6, the CIA office in Malaysia begins passing details of the meeting to the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center (CTC). Cofer Black, head of the CTC, orders that he be continually informed about the meeting, and CIA Director Tenet is frequently informed as well. [Stern, 8/13/03] The 9/11 9/11 Commission later reports that “the top officials in the US government” are also advised about this meeting around this time, but it does not mention exactly who these officials are. [New York Times 1/27/04] (Note that the fact that top officials are advised at the time contradict early reports claiming US intelligence had no idea the meeting was important until August 2001 (see for instance [Cox News, 10/21/01].)) On January 7, Khalid Almihdhar and others go shopping, giving Malaysian security ample opportunity to collect information about them. They spend hours at internet cafes, and after they leave Malaysian intelligence searches the hard drives of the computers they used. [Australian 12/24/02; Stern 8/13/03] But no photos or video from any this surveillance has been publicly released, and details are few. It is known that some photos show Khallad bin Attash with Almihdhar, some show Fahad al-Quso next to Almihdhar, and that some photos are of bin al-Shibh. By January 9, all the data and footage the Malaysians have collected are in the hands of the CIA. [Stern 8/13/03; Newsweek 9/20/01]
          

January 8-15, 2000

       Hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi stay in Thailand. The CIA is trying to find Almihdhar since they know his full name and the fact that he's just come from an important al-Qaeda meeting (see January 5-8, 2000, January 6-9, 2000, and January 8, 2000). For six weeks they look for him in Thailand. But the search is unsuccessful, because, as one official puts it, “when they arrived we were unable to mobilize what we needed to mobilize.” Nevertheless, in February, the CIA rejects a request from foreign authorities to give assistance. The CIA gives up the search in early March when an unnamed foreign government tells the CIA that Nawaf Alhazmi has already flown to the US (see January 15-early February, 2000 and March 5, 2000). [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

January 8, 2000

       The al-Qaeda terror summit in Malaysia ends (see January 5-8, 2000) and the participants leave. Hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi fly to Bangkok, Thailand, traveling under their real names. Al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash also travels with them and the three sit side by side in the airplane, but bin Attash travels under the false name Salah Said. [AP, 9/20/02, Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The CIA knows that a “Nawaf” has attended the meeting, but doesn't know his last name. Shortly afterwards, the CIA is told of this airplane flight, and the fact that the person sitting next to Almihdhar on the plane is named “Nawaf Alhazmi.” But neither Alhazmi nor Almihdhar are placed on a terror watch list. The CIA still fails to tell the FBI that Almihdhar has a valid US visa, and fails to give them Alhazmi's last name. [Stern, 8/13/03, Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The CIA tries but fails to find them in Thailand (see January 8-15, 2000).
          

January 15, 2000

       Shortly after the al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia, hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar fly from Bangkok, Thailand, to Los Angeles, California. [MSNBC 12/11/01] The CIA tracks Alhazmi, but apparently doesn't realize Almihdhar is also on the plane. The US keeps a watch list database known as TIPOFF, with over 80,000 names of suspected terrorists as of late 2002. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02] The list is checked whenever someone enters or leaves the US. “The threshold for adding a name to TIPOFF is low,” and even a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is connected with a terrorist group, warrants being added to the database. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Almihdhar and Alhazmi are important enough to have been mentioned to the CIA Director several times this month, but are not added to the watch list. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/20/02] Furthermore, “astonishingly, the CIA … [didn't] notify the FBI, which could have covertly tracked them to find out their mission.” [Newsweek 6/2/02]
          

January 15-early February, 2000

       A week after an important al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000), hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar fly together from Bangkok, Thailand (see January 8-15, 2000), to Los Angeles, California. [MSNBC, 12/11/01] In March, the CIA learns that at least Alhazmi is on the flight, and some FBI officials claim they learn Almihdhar is on it as well (see March 5, 2000). This is probably at least the second time these two have entered the US (see November 1999). They stay in Los Angeles for around two weeks. At some point during that time, Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected al-Qaeda advance man and possible Saudi agent (see August 1994, June 1998 (D), and September 1998-July 1999), arrives in Los Angeles and visits the Saudi Consulate there. According to Newsweek, “Law-enforcement officials believe al-Bayoumi may [have] a closed-door meeting with Fahad al Thumairy, a member of the consulate's Islamic and Culture Affairs Section.” [Newsweek, 7/28/03] In March 2003, al Thumairy is stripped of his diplomatic visa and barred from entry to the US, reportedly because of suspected links to terrorism. [Washington Post 11/23/03] Later that day, Al-Bayoumi goes to a restaurant and meets Alhazmi and Almihdhar. Al-Bayoumi later claims that this first contact with the hijackers is accidental. But one FBI source later recalls that before he drives to Los Angeles that day he says he's going “to pick up visitors.” [Newsweek, 7/28/03, Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Al-Bayoumi invites the two hijackers to move to San Diego. Then he returns to San Diego after leaving the restaurant, and Alhazmi and Almihdhar follow him to San Diego shortly thereafter (see Early February 2000). [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03] The FBI's “best source” in San Diego says that al-Bayoumi “must be an intelligence officer for Saudi Arabia or another foreign power.” A former top FBI official working on the al-Bayoumi investigation claims: “We firmly believed that he had knowledge [of the 9/11 plot], and that his meeting with them that day was more than coincidence.” [Newsweek 7/28/03]
          

Late November 2000-January 30, 2001

      
Two Ziad Jarrahs. The photo on the right is from the wreckage of Flight 93. [FBI, 2/12/02]
When Ziad Jarrah is questioned at Dubai, United Arab Emirates on January 30, 2001 (see January 30, 2001), he reveals that he has been in Pakistan and Afghanistan for the previous two months and five days, and that he is returning to Florida. [Chicago Tribune, 12/13/01] Investigators also later confirm that “Jarrah had spent at least three weeks in January 2001 at an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.” [CNN 8/1/02] However, the Florida Flight Training Center where Jarrah has been studying for the previous six months, later says he is in school there until January 15, 2001. His family later reports he arrives in Lebanon to visit them on January 26, five days before he supposedly passes through Dubai. His father had just undergone open heart surgery, and Jarrah visits him every day in the hospital until after January 30. Pointing out this incident, his uncle Jamal Jarrah later asks, “How could he be in two places at one time?” [Among the Heroes, Jere Longman, 2002, p. 101-102] This is not the only example of Jarrah being in two places at the same time—see March 1995-February 1996. Could Jarrah have had a doppelganger? Also, compare these two photos the government says are of Jarrah. Though the faces are similar, note the different shapes of the heads—are these photos be of the same person?
          

Early February-Summer 2000

      
Nawaf Alhazmi in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book
Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move to San Diego and live there openly. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The two of them have just arrived from overseas (see January 15-early February, 2000), but there is evidence Alhazmi signed their apartment lease back in November 1999 (see November 1999). Hijacker Hani Hanjour joins them as a roommate in February 2000 but apparently doesn't stay long. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/21/01, San Diego Channel 10, 9/18/01] They get considerable help moving in from al-Bayoumi, a suspected al-Qaeda advance man (see Early February 2000). The hijackers use their real names on their rental agreement [Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02], driver's licenses, Social Security cards, and credit cards [Newsweek, 6/2/02], car purchase, and bank account. Alhazmi is even listed in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, Newsweek, 6/2/02] Neighbors notice odd behavior: they have no furniture, they are constantly using cell phones on the balcony, constantly playing flight simulator games, keep to themselves, and strange cars and limousines pick them up for short rides in the middle of the night. [Washington Post 9/30/01; Time 9/24/01; Time 9/24/01 (B)]
          

Early February 2000

       Omar al-Bayoumi, suspected al-Qaeda advance man and possible Saudi agent (see August 1994, June 1998 (D) and September 1998-July 1999), helps hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar settle in the US. Having met them in Los Angeles and bought them to San Diego (see January 15-early February, 2000), he finds them a place to live. Al-Bayoumi lives at the Villa Balboa apartments with a wife and children, and the two hijackers move into the Parkwood apartments directly across the street. [Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] It appears the lease was actually signed by Alhazmi a few months earlier (see November 1999). Al-Bayoumi cosigns the lease and pays $1500 cash for their first month's rent and security deposit. Some FBI officials claim the hijackers immediately pay him back, others claim they don't. [Newsweek, 11/24/02, Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Within days of bringing them from Los Angeles, al-Bayoumi throws a welcoming party that introduces them to the local Muslim community. [Washington Post, 12/29/01] One associate later says an al-Bayoumi party “was a big deal … it meant that everyone accepted them without question.” [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/25/01] He also introduces hijacker Hani Hanjour to the community a short time later. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/14/02] He tasks an acquaintance, Modhar Abdallah, to serve as their translator, help get driver's licenses, Social Security rides, information on flight schools, and more. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/8/02, Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The hijackers live openly in San Diego for much of the next two years (see Early February-Summer 2000, Summer-December 2000 and Early September 2001). Al-Bayoumi is arrested and released after 9/11 (see September 21-28, 2001), and the possibility the Saudi government funded him creates headlines in late 2002 (see November 22, 2002).
          

February 6, 2000

       India's largest newsweekly reports that it appears a recent Mossad attempt to infiltrate al-Qaeda failed when they were stopped by Indian customs officials on their way to Bangladesh. These 11 men appeared to be from Afghanistan, but had Israeli passports. One expert states, “It is not unlikely for Mossad to recruit 11 Afghans in Iran and grant them Israeli citizenship to penetrate a network such as Bin Laden's. They would begin by infiltrating them into an Islamic radical group in an unlikely place like Bangladesh.” [The Week, 2/6/00] If this shows that Mossad was trying to infiltrate al-Qaeda, did they make other attempts that succeeded, and if so, is this how they learned enough to know where to trail al-Qaeda in the US via the “art student spy ring”?
          

February 23, 2000

      
An Echelon station in England.
European Parliament hearings over Echelon, the global surveillance network, draw banner headlines across Europe. A report prepared for the European Parliament not only confirms that Echelon exists, but has found that Echelon had twice helped US companies gain an advantage over Europeans. The EU sets up a commission to determine if action should be taken against Britain for security breaches. [New York Times 2/24/00] The US has denied and continues to deny the very existence of Echelon. But it exists, as Echelon partners Britain and Australia (see November 3, 1999) now admit. [BBC 5/29/01]
          

March 2000 (C)

       Dale Watson, the chief of the FBI's counterterrorism unit, convenes a terrorism meeting at headquarters of the agents in charge of all 56 field offices. [New York Times, 6/2/02] He specifically encourages the offices to look for al-Qaeda sleeper cells. [AP 7/23/03] Watson is “startled to learn how little some bureau offices around the country, operating independently of headquarters, had done to investigate terrorism. Even after the meeting, in the months before Sept. 11, senior agents at headquarters [are] reduced to repeatedly cajoling the special agents in charge of the field offices to work harder on counterterrorism inquiries.” [New York Times 6/2/02]
          

March 2000 (E)

       The Clinton administration begins a push to fight terrorism financing by introducing a tough anti-money laundering bill. The bill faces tough opposition, mostly from Republicans and lobbyists who enjoy the anonymity of offshore banking that would also be affected by the legislation. Despite passing the House Banking Committee by a vote of 31 to 1 in July 2000, Senator Phil Gramm (R) refuses to let the bill come up for a vote in his Senate Banking Committee. [Time, 10/15/01] Other efforts begun at this time to fight terrorism finances are later stymied by the new Bush administration (see February 2001).
          

March 2000 (B)

       US intelligence obtains information about the types of targets that bin Laden's network might strike. The Statue of Liberty is specially mentioned, as are skyscrapers, ports, airports, and nuclear power plants. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02]
          

March 2000

       An FBI agent, reportedly 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, supposedly accidentally destroys all of the FBI's Denver-based intercepts of bin Laden's colleagues in a terrorist investigation. The tracking program is called Carnivore. But the story sounds dubious, and 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.” [AP, 5/28/02] [FTW]
          

March 2000 (D)

       US Intelligence Community obtains information suggesting al-Qaeda is planning attacks in specific West Coast areas, possibly involving the assassination of several public officials. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] While these attacks didn't materialize, this is the same month the CIA learns that two known al-Qaeda terrorists have just flown to Los Angeles.
          

March 5, 2000

       An unnamed nation tells the CIA that hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi had flown from an important meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000) to Los Angeles in mid-January 2000 (see January 15-early February, 2000). [New York Times 10/17/02] According to a senior FBI official, the information is also about hijacker Khalid Almihdhar: “In March 2000, the CIA received information concerning the entry of Almihdhar and Alhazmi into the United States.” [Michael Rolince Testimony, 9/20/02] The CIA disputes this, however. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03] A cable is immediately sent to CIA Headquarters noting (at least) that Nawaf Alhazmi has traveled to Los Angeles. The cable is marked “Action Required: None, FYI [For Your Information].” CIA Director Tenet later claims that “Nobody read that cable in the March timeframe.” [New York Times, 10/17/02] Yet the day after the cable is received, “another overseas CIA station note[s], in a cable to the bin Laden unit at CIA headquarters, that it had ‘read with interest’ the March cable, ‘particularly the information that a member of this group traveled to the US… ’ ” [Congressional Inquiry 9/20/02] Yet again, CIA fails to put their names on a watch list, and again fails to alert the FBI so they can be tracked. [Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Senior CIA counterterrorism official Cofer Black later says, “I think that month we watch listed about 150 people. [The watch listing] should have been done. It wasn't.” [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

March 10, 2000

       National Security Advisor Sandy Berger chairs a Cabinet-level meeting to review the wave of attempted terror attacks around the millennium. Counterterrorism reports that disruption efforts “have not put too much of a dent” into bin Laden's overseas network, and that it is feared “sleeper cells” of terrorist have taken root in the US. Some ideas, like expanding the number of Joint Terrorism Task Forces across the US, are adopted. Others, like a centralized translation unit for domestic intercepts, are not. [9/11 Commission Report 3/24/04 (D)]
          

March 17, 2000

       Reports suggest bin Laden appears weak and gaunt at an important meeting of supporters. He may be very ill with liver ailments, and is seeking a kidney dialysis machine. [AP, 3/25/00] It is believed he gets the dialysis machine in early 2001. [London Times, 11/01/01] He is able to talk, walk with a cane, and hold meetings, but little else. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 3/16/00, Asiaweek, 3/24/00] If bin Laden had such medical trouble before 9/11, how could he stay alive on the run after 9/11?
          

March 21, 2000

       FBI agent Robert Wright (see also October 1998 and June 9, 2001), having been accused of tarnishing the reputation of fellow agent Gamal Abdel-Hafiz, makes a formal internal complaint about Abdel-Hafiz. FBI agent Barry Carmody seconds Wright's complaint. Wright and Carmody accuse Abdel-Hafiz, a Muslim, of hindering investigations by openly refusing to record other Muslims. The FBI was investigating if BMI Inc., a New Jersey based company with connections to Saudi financier Yassin al-Qadi (see October 12, 2001), had helped fund the 1998 US embassy bombings. [Wall Street Journal 11/26/02; ABC News 12/19/02] Federal prosecutor Mark Flessner and other FBI agents back up the allegations against Abdel-Hafiz. [ABC News, 12/19/02] Carmody also claims that Abdel-Hafiz hurt an inquiry into the possible terrorist ties of fired University of South Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian by refusing to record a conversation with the professor in 1998. [Tampa Tribune 3/4/03] Complaints to superiors and headquarters about this never get a response. [Fox News, 3/6/03] Furthermore, “Far from being reprimanded, Abdel-Hafiz [is] promoted to one of the FBI's most important anti-terrorism posts, the American Embassy in Saudi Arabia, to handle investigations for the FBI in that Muslim country.” [ABC News, 12/19/02] Abdel-Hafiz is finally suspended in February 2003 after his scandal is widely reported in the press. [Tampa Tribune, 3/4/03] Bill O'Reilly of Fox News claims that on March 4, 2003, the FBI threatens to fire Wright if he speaks publicly about this, one hour before Wright is scheduled to appear on Fox News. [Fox News, 3/4/03] Is Abdel-Hafiz promoted to a sensitive Saudi post because he won't ask hard questions there?
          
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