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Before 9/11

Military Exercises
Counterterrorism Before 9/11
Insider Trading
Foreign Intelligence Warnings
Warning Signs
Pipeline Politics
Hunt for bin Laden

Al-Qaeda Members

Marwan Alshehhi
Hani Hanjour
Ziad Jarrah
Nabil al-Marabh
Zacarias Moussaoui
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
Alhazmi and Almihdhar
Mohamed Atta
Other 9/11 Hijackers
Al-Qaeda in Germany

Geopolitics and 9/11

Randy Glass
Israel
Iraq
Saeed Sheikh
Bin Laden Family
Pakistani ISI
Drugs
Mahmood Ahmed
US Dominance
Saudi Arabia and the bin Laden Family

Day of 9/11

Flight UA 175
Flight AA 11
Flight AA 77
Donald Rumsfeld
Dick Cheney
George Bush
Flight UA 93
Richard Clarke
All day of 9/11 events

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan
Other events
Investigations
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Complete 911 Timeline

 
  

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

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

September 20, 2001: Not All Passengers on ‘Bin Laden Flight’ Are Properly Interviewed or Accounted For

       A private plane picks up Saudis who have gathered in Boston and flies them to Paris, then ultimately to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Because most of the passengers on board are relatives of Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 Commission calls this the “so-called bin Laden flight.” The commission claims there are 26 passengers on board, three of them security personnel. They further report that “22 of the 26... were interviewed by the FBI. Many were asked detailed questions.” However, the commission does not answer how many were not asked detailed questions, or were not questioned at all. [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/04, pp 557] However, Craig Unger, author of the book House of Bush, House of Saud, publishes the flight manifest during the same week as the 9/11 Commission's final report is released, and this list contains 29 names (including the three security personnel), not 26. [Craig Unger website, 7/22/04] The 2005 book “Al-Qaeda Will Conquer” by Guillaume Dasqui? also makes note of this three-person discrepancy. [Financial Times, 4/27/05]
          

September 20, 2001: Saudi Arabia Uncooperative in 9/11 Investigation

       President Bush states: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” [White House, 9/20/01] Shortly thereafter, Bush says, “As far as the Saudi Arabians go, they've been nothing but cooperative,” and “[Am] I pleased with the actions of Saudi Arabia? I am.” However, several experts continue to claim Saudi Arabia is being “completely unsupportive” and is giving “zero cooperation” to the 9/11 investigation. Saudi Arabia refuses to help the US trace the names and other background information on the 15 Saudi hijackers. One former US official says, “They knew that once we started asking for a few traces the list would grow. ... It's better to shut it down right away.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/13/01; New Yorker, 10/16/01]
          

September 20, 2001: Tom Ridge Named Homeland Security Secretary

      
Tom Ridge.
Bush announces the new cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security, to be led by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. [Associated Press, 8/19/02] In November, Ridge becomes secretary of a new Homeland Security Department.
          

September 20, 2001: PNAC Think Tank Pushes for Iraq War

       The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publishes a letter addressed to President Bush, insisting that the war on terrorism include as one of its objectives the removal of Saddam Hussein from power— “even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack.” “Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.” According to PNAC, the US should demand that Iran and Syria cease all support of Hezbollah, and if they fail to do so, the US should “retaliate” against those two countries as well. PNAC also praises Israel as “America's staunchest ally against international terrorism.” [Project for the New American Century, 9/20/01]
People and organizations involved: Project for the New American Century
          

September 21, 2001: US Denies Plans for Afghanistan Regime Change

       A secret report to NATO allies says the US privately wants to hear allied views on “post-Taliban Afghanistan after the liberation of the country.” However, the US is publicly claiming it has no intentions to overthrow the Taliban. [Guardian, 9/21/01] For instance, four days later, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer denies that military actions there are “designed to replace one regime with another.” [State Department, 12/26/01]
          

September 21-28, 2001: Suspected Hijacker Associate Is Arrested in Britain, Released

       Omar al-Bayoumi, suspected al-Qaeda advance man and possible Saudi agent, is arrested, and held for one week in Britain. He moved from San Diego to Britain in July 2001 and is a studying at Aston University Business School in Birmingham when he is taken into custody by British authorities working with the FBI. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/27/01; Washington Post, 12/29/01; MSNBC, 11/27/02] During a search of al-Bayoumi's Birmingham apartment (which includes ripping up the floorboards), the FBI finds the names and phone numbers of two employees of the Saudi embassy's Islamic Affairs Department. [Newsweek, 11/24/02] “There was a link there,” a Justice Department official says, adding that the FBI interviewed the employees and “that was the end of that, in October or November of 2001.” The official adds, “I don't know why he had those names.” Nail al-Jubeir, chief spokesperson for the Saudi embassy in Washington, says al-Bayoumi “called [the numbers] constantly.” [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] They also discover jihadist literature, and conclude he “has connections to terrorist elements,” including al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 7/25/03] However, he is released after a week. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; Newsweek, 11/24/02] British intelligence officials are frustrated that the FBI failed to give them information that would have enabled them to keep al-Bayoumi in custody longer than the seven days allowed under British anti-terrorism laws. [Times of London, 10/19/01; San Diego Channel 10, 10/25/01] Even FBI officials in San Diego appear to have not been told of al-Bayoumi's arrest by FBI officials in Britain until after he is released. [Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] Newsweek claims that classified sections of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry indicate the Saudi Embassy pushed for al-Bayoumi's release— “another possible indicator of his high-level [Saudi] connections.” [Newsweek, 7/28/03] A San Diego FBI agent later secretly testifies that supervisors fail to act on evidence connecting to a Saudi money trail. The FBI is said to conduct a massive investigation of al-Bayoumi within days of 9/11, which shows he has connections to foreign terrorists [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01; Newsweek, 7/28/03] , but two years later witnesses connecting him to Saudi money apparently are not interviewed by the FBI. Al-Bayoumi continues with his studies in Britain and is still there into 2002, and yet is still not rearrested. [Washington Post, 12/29/01; Newsweek, 10/29/02] He disappears into Saudi Arabia by the time he reenters the news in November 2002. [San Diego Magazine, 9/03]
          

September 21, 2001: Report Suggests There Are Confiscated Videos of Pentagon Crash

       A report suggests, “Federal investigators may have video footage of the deadly terrorist attack on the Pentagon. A security camera atop a hotel close to the Pentagon may have captured dramatic footage of the hijacked Boeing 757 airliner as it slammed into the western wall of the Pentagon. Hotel employees sat watching the film in shock and horror several times before the FBI confiscated the video as part of its investigation. It may be the only available video of the attack. The Pentagon has told broadcast news reporters that its security cameras did not capture the crash. The attack occurred close to the Pentagon's heliport, an area that normally would be under 24-hour security surveillance, including video monitoring.” [Gertz File, 9/21/01] In a later report, an employee at a gas station across the street from the Pentagon that services only military personnel says the gas station's security cameras should have recorded the moment of impact. However, he says, “I've never seen what the pictures looked like. The FBI was here within minutes and took the film.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/11/01] A later release of five tiny and grainy images of the crash from a Pentagon security camera shows the government's claim that no security cameras captured the crash was untrue.
          

September 21, 2001: Algerian Pilot Mistakenly Arrested

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

September 21, 2001: Congress Approves Aid Package for Airline Industry, 9/11 Victims

       Congress approves a $15 billion federal aid package for the battered US airline industry, and sets up a government fund to compensate 9/11 victims' relatives. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/01] However, relatives are only allowed to sue terrorists, and if they sue anyone else, they are not entitled to any compensation money. The law also limits the airlines' liability to the limits of their insurance coverage—around $1.5 billion per plane. [Los Angeles Times, 1/17/02] Nevertheless, some later sue entities that make them ineligible for the fund, such as the Port Authority, owner of the WTC.
          

September 22, 2001-December 2001: US Secretly Increases Military Presence in Central Asia

      
A Mirage 2000-D fighter in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in February 2002.
Witnesses begin to report US military planes secretly landing at night in the Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The US, Tajik, and Uzbek governments initially deny that any US troops have been sent there. [Daily Telegraph, 9/23/01 (D); Associated Press, 9/25/01 (D)] By October 5, witnesses say a “huge military buildup” has already occurred. [Daily Telegraph, 10/4/01] On October 7, the US and Uzbekistan sign a secret agreement that reportedly is “a long-term commitment to advance security and regional stability.” [Financial Times, 10/13/01] It is later reported that the US military bases here, “originally agreed as temporary and emergency expedients, are now permanent.” [Guardian, 1/16/02] The US begins building a military base in the nearby country of Kyrgyzstan in December 2001. “There are no restrictions” in the agreement on what the US can do with this base, and it will be a “transportation hub” for the whole region. [New York Times, 1/9/02] The base is only 200 miles from China. [Christian Science Monitor, 1/17/02] The building of these bases is the culmination of the strategy first proposed in 1992 by the men now in power.
          

September 23, 2001-Present: 9/11 Skeptics Derided as Conspiracy Nuts

       The first of many mainstream articles ridiculing 9/11 “conspiracy theories” is published. [Independent, 9/23/01] Early articles of this type generally deride Middle Eastern views blaming Israel. [Associated Press, 10/3/01 (C); Washington Post, 10/13/01; Dallas Morning News, 11/19/01] Later articles mostly deride Western theories blaming President Bush, and criticize the Internet and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney for spreading these ideas. [Chicago Sun-Times, 2/8/02; ABC News, 4/17/02; Orlando Sentinel, 5/18/02; Toronto Sun, 5/19/02] The title of one article, “Conspiracy Nuts Feed On Calamity,” expresses the general tone of these articles. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/22/02] An Ottawa Citizen article mockingly includes a Do-It-Yourself Conspiracy Theory section, where you can fill in the blanks for your own personal 9/11 theory. The article calls 9/11 conspiracy theories “delirious,” “dangerous,” and “viruses,” while admitting, “[I]t's true that some of the events surrounding the September 11 attacks are hard to explain.” [Ottawa Citizen, 9/1/02] Another article attempts to discredit theories that oil was a motive for the US to attack Afghanistan by interspersing them with theories that space aliens were behind the 9/11 attacks. [Daily Telegraph, 9/5/02]
          

September 23, 2001: Experts Say Muslim Terrorist Groups Linked to Organized Crime

       European law enforcement experts claim that numerous links tie major Muslim terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, with international organized crime groups. For approximately the last decade, mutually benefiting strong ties have developed between the two groups. Organized crime launders an estimated $900 billion a year, some of it from terrorist groups. France's chief financial crime prosecutor: “The nerve center of war is money . . . Without money, terrorist networks do not exist. They can't finance their operations overseas or purchase arms.” Terrorist groups are also deeply involved in the international narcotics trade. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/23/01]
          

September 24, 2001: Terrorists Reportedly Stole Pilot Uniforms, Sat in Cockpits

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

September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002: Identity of 9/11 Financier Constantly Changes

      
This is the fuzzy passport photo of “Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi,” according to the book “The Base” by Jane Corbin.
In 2000, the 9/11 hijackers receive money from a man using “Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hisawi” and other aliases. On September 8-11, 2001, the hijackers send money to a man in the United Arab Emirates who uses the aliases “Mustafa Ahmed,” “Mustafa Ahmad,” and “Ahamad Mustafa.” Soon the media begins reporting on who this 9/11 “paymaster” is, but his reported names and identities will continually change. The media has sometimes made the obvious connection that the paymaster is Saeed Sheikh, a British financial expert who studied at the London School of Economics, undisputedly sent hijacker Mohamed Atta money the month before the attacks, made frequent trips to Dubai (where the money is sent), and is known to have trained the hijackers. However, the FBI consistently deflects attention onto other possible explanations, with a highly confusing series of names vaguely similar to Mustafa Ahmed or Saeed Sheikh:
September 24, 2001: Newsweek reports that the paymaster for the 9/11 attacks is someone named “Mustafa Ahmed.” [Newsweek, 9/24/01]
This refers to Mustafa Mahmoud Said Ahmed, an Egyptian al-Qaeda banker who was captured in Tanzania in 1998 then later released. [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/28/01; Newsday, 10/3/01]
October 1, 2001: The Guardian reports that the real name of “Mustafa Mohamed Ahmad” is “Sheikh Saeed.” [Guardian, 10/1/01]
A few days later, CNN confirms that this “Sheik Syed” is the British man Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh rescued from an Indian prison in 1999. [CNN, 10/6/01; CNN, 10/8/01] However, starting on October 8, the story that ISI Director Mahmood ordered Saeed to give Mohamed Atta $100,000 begins to break. References to the 9/11 paymaster being the British Saeed Sheikh (and the connections to Ahmed) suddenly disappear from the Western media (with one exception [CNN, 10/28/01] ).
October 2001: Other articles continue to use “Mustafa Mohammed Ahmad” or “Shaykh Saiid” with no details of his identity, except for suggestions that he is Egyptian. There are numerous spelling variations and conflicting accounts over which name is the alias. [Evening Standard, 10/1/01; BBC, 10/1/01; Newsday, 10/3/01; Associated Press, 10/6/01; Washington Post, 10/7/01; Sunday Times, 10/7/01; Knight Ridder, 10/9/01; New York Times, 10/15/01; Los Angeles Times, 10/20/01]

October 16, 2001: CNN reports that the 9/11 paymaster “Sheik Sayid” is mentioned in a May 2001 trial of al-Qaeda members. However, this turns out to be a Kenyan named Sheik Sayyid el Masry. [CNN, 10/16/01; Trial Transcript, 2/20/01; Trial Transcript, 2/21/01]

November 11, 2001: The identity of 9/11 paymaster “Mustafa Ahmed” is suddenly no longer Egyptian, but is now a Saudi named Sa'd Al-Sharif, who is said to be bin Laden's brother-in-law. [Newsweek, 11/11/01; United Nations, 3/8/01; Associated Press, 12/18/01]

December 11, 2001: The federal indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui calls the 9/11 paymaster “Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi a/k/a ‘Mustafa Ahmed,’ ” and gives him Sa'd's nationality and birth date. [MSNBC, 12/11/01]
Many articles begin adding “al-Hawsawi” to the Mustafa Ahmed name. [Washington Post, 12/13/01; Washington Post, 1/7/02; Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02]
January 23, 2002: As new information is reported in India, the media returns to the British Saeed Sheikh as the 9/11 paymaster. [Los Angeles Times, 1/23/02; Daily Telegraph, 1/24/02; Independent, 1/24/02; Daily Telegraph, 1/27/02]
While his role in the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl is revealed on February 6, many articles connect him to 9/11, but many more do not. Coverage of Saeed's 9/11 connections generally dies out by the time of his trial in July 2002.
June 4, 2002: Without explanation, the name “Shaikh Saiid al-Sharif” begins to be used for the 9/11 paymaster, presumably a combination of Saeed Sheikh and S'ad al-Sharif. [Associated Press, 6/5/02; Independent, 9/15/02; Associated Press, 9/26/02; San Francisco Chronicle, 11/15/02]
Many of the old names continue to be used, however. [New York Times, 7/10/02; Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02; Washington Post, 9/11/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02; Los Angeles Times, 12/24/02 (B); Knight Ridder, 9/8/02; Knight Ridder, 9/9/02; Time, 8/4/02 (B)]
June 18, 2002: FBI Director Mueller testifies that the money sent in 2000 is sent by someone named “Ali Abdul Aziz Ali” but the money in 2001 is sent by “Shaikh Saiid al-Sharif.” The “Aziz Ali” name has not been mentioned again by the press or FBI (outside of coverage of this testimony in September 2002). [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02]

September 4, 2002: Newsweek says “Mustafa Ahmad Adin Al-Husawi,” presumably Saudi, is a deputy to the Egyptian “Sayyid Shaikh Al-Sharif.” However, it adds he “remains almost a total mystery,” and they are unsure of his name. [Newsweek, 9/4/02]

December 26, 2002: US officials now say there is no such person as Shaikh Saiid al-Sharif. Instead, he is probably a composite of three different people: “[Mustafa Ahmed] Al-Hisawi, Shaikh Saiid al-Masri, al-Qaeda's finance chief, and Saad al-Sharif, bin Laden's brother-in-law and a midlevel al-Qaeda financier.” [Associated Press, 12/27/02]
Shaikh Saiid al-Masri is likely a reference the Kenyan Sheik Sayyid el Masry. Note that, now, al-Hisawi is the assistant to Shaikh Saiid, a flip from a few months before. Saiid and/or al-Hisawi still haven't been added to the FBI's official most wanted lists. [Times of London, 12/1/01; Wall Street Journal, 6/17/02; FBI Most Wanted Terrorists, 2002] Despite the confusion, the FBI isn't even seeking information about them. [FBI, 2/14/02] Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi is said to be arrested with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Pakistan in 2003, but no photos of him are released, and witnesses of the supposed arrest did not see Al-Hawsawi or Mohammed there (see March 1, 2003). [Reuters, 3/3/03 (C)]
          

September 24, 2001: Bank Accounts of Suspected al-Qaeda Supporters Frozen by US

      
Darkanzali attended Said Bahaji's wedding in October, 1999. A bearded Marwan al-Shehhi stands at the far left, while Bahaji sits at the far left. Others who attended included Ziad Jarrah, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, Abdelghani Mzoudi, an
The US freezes the accounts of 27 individuals and organizations, alleging that they had channeled money to al-Qaeda. Included in the list is Mamoun Darkanzali. US officials say Darkanzali took part in a 1996 attack on government troops in Saudi Arabia. According to German investigators, Darkanzali attended Said Bahaji's wedding several years earlier. [New York Times, 9/29/01] The German government also freezes accounts connected to Darkanzali on October 2, 2001. Both governments suspect Darkanzali of providing financial and logistical support to the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. [Agence France-Presse, 10/28/01] Shortly thereafter, Spanish police listening in to Barakat Yarkas' telephone hear Yarkas warn the leader of a Syrian extremist organization that Darkanzali has caught the “flu” going around. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02]
          

September 25, 2001: Several 9/11 Passengers Have Possible Connections to Pilotless Aircraft Program

       As details of the passengers on the four hijacked flights emerge, some are shown to have curious connections to the defense company Raytheon, and possibly its Global Hawk pilotless aircraft program. Stanley Hall (Flight 77) was director of program management for Raytheon Electronics Warfare. One Raytheon colleague calls him “our dean of electronic warfare.” [Associated Press, 9/25/01] Peter Gay (Flight 11) was Raytheon's vice president of operations for Electronic Systems and had been on special assignment to a company office in El Segundo, California. [Associated Press, 9/25/01] Raytheon's El Segundo's Electronic Systems division is one of two divisions making the Global Hawk. [ISR Journal, 3/02] Kenneth Waldie (Flight 11) was a senior quality control engineer for Raytheon's electronic systems. David Kovalcin (Flight 11) was a senior mechanical engineer for Raytheon's electronic systems. [CNN, 9/01] Herbert Homer (Flight 175) was a corporate executive working with the Department of Defense. [CNN, 9/01 (B); Northeastern University Voice, 12/11/01] A surprising number of passengers, especially on Flight 77, have military connections. For instance, William E. Caswell was a Navy scientist whose work was so classified that his family knew very little about what he did each day. Says his mother, “You just learn not to ask questions.” [Chicago Tribune, 9/16/01]
          

September 27, 2001: ISI Has Connections to Taliban, Drug Trade, CIA

       The Sydney Morning Herald discusses the connections between the CIA and Pakistan's ISI, and the ISI's long-standing control over the Taliban. Drugs are a big part of their operation: “opium cultivation and heroin production in Pakistan's northern tribal belt and adjoining Afghanistan were a vital offshoot of the ISI-CIA cooperation. It succeeded in turning some of the Soviet troops into addicts. Heroin sales in Europe and the US, carried out through an elaborate web of deception, transport networks, couriers, and payoffs, offset the cost of the decade-long war in Afghanistan.” [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/27/01]
          

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

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

September 29, 2001: No Video Cameras in Boston's Logan Airport; Footage from Other Airports Remains Classified

       It is reported that Boston's Logan Airport has no cameras in its terminals, gate areas, or concourses. It is possibly the only major airport in the US not to have such cameras. The two other airports used by the hijackers to launch the 9/11 attacks had security cameras, but only some footage of the hijackers in the Washington airport is leaked to the press in 2004. [Boston Herald, 9/29/01] It was previously reported that FBI agents had “examined footage from dozens of cameras at the three airports [including Logan] where the terrorists boarded the aircraft.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01]
          

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

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

September 29, 2001: $2.5 Million in Airline Options Go Unclaimed

       $2.5 million in put options on American Airlines and United Airlines are reported unclaimed. This is likely the result of the suspension in trading on the New York Stock Exchange after the attacks which gave the SEC time to be waiting if the owners showed up to redeem their put options placed the week before the 9/11 attacks. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/29/01]
          

Late September-November 2001: Pakistani ISI Aids Taliban Against US

       The ISI secretly assists the Taliban in its defense against a US-led attack. Between three and five ISI officers give military advice to the Taliban in late September. [Daily Telegraph, 10/10/01] At least five key ISI operatives help the Taliban prepare defenses in Kandahar, yet none are punished for their activities. [Time, 5/6/02] Secret advisers begin to withdraw in early October, but some stay on into November. [Knight Ridder, 11/3/01] Large convoys of rifles, ammunition, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers for Taliban fighters cross the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan on October 8 and 12, just after US bombing of Afghanistan begins and after a supposed crackdown on ISI fundamentalists. The Pakistani ISI secretly gives safe passage to these convoys, despite having promised the US in September that such assistance would immediately stop. [New York Times, 12/8/01] Secret ISI convoys of weapons and nonlethal supplies continue into November. [UPI, 11/1/01; Time, 5/6/02] An anonymous Western diplomat later states, “We did not fully understand the significance of Pakistan's role in propping up the Taliban until their guys withdrew and things went to hell fast for the Talibs.” [New York Times, 12/8/01]
          

Early October 2001: US Launches Attacks on Afghanistan from Pakistani Bases

       The US begins using the Shahbaz air force base and other bases in Pakistan in their attacks against Afghanistan. [Times of London, 10/15/01] However, because of public Pakistani opposition to US support, the two governments claim the US is there for purely logistical and defensive purposes. Even six months later, the US refuses to confirm it is using the base for offensive operations. [Los Angeles Times, 3/6/03] Such bases in Pakistan become a link in a chain of US military outposts in Central Asia. Other countries also falsely maintain that such bases are not being used for military operations in Afghanistan despite clear evidence to the contrary. [Reuters, 12/28/01]
          

October 2001: Report: Bin Laden's Financial Network Is Successor to the BCCI Bank

       A 70-page French intelligence report claims: “The financial network of bin Laden, as well as his network of investments, is similar to the network put in place in the 1980s by BCCI for its fraudulent operations, often with the same people (former directors and cadres of the bank and its affiliates, arms merchants, oil merchants, Saudi investors). The dominant trait of bin Laden's operations is that of a terrorist network backed up by a vast financial structure.” The BCCI was the largest Muslim bank in the world before it collapsed in July 1991 (see July 5, 1991). A senior US investigator later says US agencies are looking into the ties outlined by the French because “they just make so much sense, and so few people from BCCI ever went to jail. BCCI was the mother and father of terrorist financing operations.” The report identifies dozens of companies and individuals who were involved with BCCI and were found to be dealing with bin Laden after the bank collapsed. Many went on to work in banks and charities identified by the US and others as supporting al-Qaeda. The role of Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz in supporting bin Laden is emphasized in the report. In 1995, bin Mahfouz paid a $225 million fine in a settlement with US prosecutors for his role in the BCCI scandal. [Washington Post, 2/17/02] Representatives of bin Mahfouz later argue that this report was in fact prepared by Jean-Charles Brisard and not the French intelligence service. Bin Mahfouz has begun libel proceedings against Mr. Brisard, claiming that he has made unfounded and defamatory allegations. [Kendall Freeman, 5/13/04]
          

October 2001: FBI Recovers Hijacker E-Mails

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

October 2001: Anthrax Letters Kill Five, Heighten Terrorist Fears

      
The anthrax letter received by Senator Daschle's office.
A total of four letters containing anthrax are mailed to NBC, the New York Post, Democratic Senator Daschle, and Democratic Senator Leahy. The letters sent to the senators both contain the words “Death to America, Death to Israel, Allah is Great.” Twenty-three people are infected and five people die. Panic sweeps the nation. On October 16, the Senate office buildings are shut down, followed by the House of Representatives, after 28 congressional staffers test positive for exposure to anthrax. A number of hoax letters containing harmless powder turn up. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/8/01] Initially it is suspected that either al-Qaeda or Iraq are behind the anthrax letters. [Observer, 10/14/01; BBC, 10/16/01; Times of London, 10/27/01] However, further investigation leads the US government to conclude that, “everything seems to lean toward a domestic source. ... Nothing seems to fit with an overseas terrorist type operation.” [Washington Post, 10/27/01; St. Petersburg Times, 11/10/01] In August 2002, the FBI names Steven Hatfill, a bioweapons researcher who worked for the US government, as a “person of interest” in the case. [Associated Press, 8/1/02; Times of London, 8/2/02] Though he undergoes intense scrutiny by the FBI, he is never charged with any crime. As of mid-2004, no one has been charged in relation to the anthrax letter attacks.
          

October 2001-September 2002: Vital Army Translators Dismissed for Homosexuality

       Nine Army linguists, including six trained to speak Arabic, are dismissed from the military's Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, because they are gay. At the same time, the military claims it is facing a critical shortage of translators and interpreters for the war on terrorism. [Associated Press, 11/14/02] The Miami Herald comments: “The message is unmistakable: We find gay people more frightening than Osama bin Laden, whose stated goal is our destruction.” [Miami Herald, 11/22/02]
          

October 1, 2001: Taliban Possibly Trained Pilots in Afghanistan

       It is reported that “a worldwide hunt is under way for 14 young Muslims said to have been trained in secret to fly Boeing airliners at an air base in Afghanistan. A senior pilot for the Afghan state-owned airline Ariana has told how he and four colleagues were forced by the Taliban regime to train the men who are now thought to be hiding in Europe and the United States. The fourteen men, seven of whom are said to speak fluent English, are described as ‘dedicated Muslim fanatics’ who spoke of being involved in a holy war. They are thought to have left Afghanistan a year ago. All had close links with the Taliban and some had fought for the regime.” [Evening Standard, 10/1/01]
          

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

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

Early October 2001: General Franks Disregards Advice to Open Second Front in Afghanistan

       The Washington Post reports in late 2004 that, shortly after Richard Myers officially becomes Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman on October 1, 2001, he raises doubts about the military plan to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan. General Tommy Franks, the chief of US Central Command, plans a single thrust towards the capital, Kabul, from the north. Myers urges Franks to open a southern front. A brigade of the Army's 10th Mountain Division in Uzbekistan and two Marine Expeditionary Forces in the Arabian Sea are prepared and in position for the role. However, Franks does not position a blocking force to meet any retreating forces. The Washington Post reports, “Some Bush administration officials now acknowledge privately they consider that a costly mistake.” Franks later claims that it would have taken too much time to put a force into position and would have antagonized the country's Pashtun majority. Most of al-Qaeda and the Taliban's leaders are eventually able to escape the country. “A high-ranking war planner [later] likened the result to throwing a rock at a nest of bees, then trying to chase them down, one by one, with a net.” [Washington Post, 10/22/04]
          

October 2001: Three of Four Black Boxes From WTC Crashes Secretly Found?

       According to two men who work extensively in the wreckage of the WTC, three of the four black boxes from Flight 11 and Flight 175 are actually found during this month, but the public is not told. New York City Firefighter Nicholas DeMasi will mention the finding in a book published in 2003. He claims to drive federal agents on an all-terrain vehicle during their search and to see the found boxes himself. The Philadelphia Daily News will report on the story in 2004 when another rescue worker, volunteer Mike Bellone, backs up DeMasi's account and claims to have seen one of the boxes as well. Spokesmen for the FBI and the New York City Fire Department deny the claims of these two workers. [Philadelphia Daily News, 10/28/04]
          

October 1, 2001: Some Officials Question If Intelligence Service Helped bin Laden in Plot

       The New Yorker reports that “a number of intelligence officials have raised questions about bin Laden's capabilities. ‘This guy sits in a cave in Afghanistan and he's running this operation?’ one CIA official asked. ‘It's so huge. He couldn't have done it alone.’ A senior military officer told me that because of the visas and other documentation needed to infiltrate team members into the United States a major foreign intelligence service might also have been involved.” [New Yorker, 10/1/01] No specific service is named, but the ISI would be one likely candidate.
          

October 1, 2001: Kashmir Suicide Attack Involves 9/11 Funder Saeed Sheikh

       A suicide truck-bomb attack on the provincial parliamentary assembly in Indian-controlled Kashmir leaves 36 dead. It appears that Saeed Sheikh and Aftab Ansari, working with the ISI, are behind the attacks. [Vanity Fair, 8/02; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] Indian intelligence claims that Pakistani President Musharraf is later given a recording of a phone call between Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Maulana Masood Azhar and ISI Director Mahmood in which Azhar allegedly reports the bombing is a “success.” [UPI, 10/10/01]
          

October 2, 2001: Remote Controlled Passenger Airplane Flew Before 9/11, Despite Claims to the Contrary

      
A Raytheon 727 lands in New Mexico in August, 2001.
It is reported that the US company Raytheon landed a 727 six times in a military base in New Mexico without any pilots on board. This was done to test equipment making future hijackings more difficult, by allowing ground control to take over the flying of a hijacked plane. [Associated Press, 10/2/01 (C); Der Spiegel, 10/28/01] Several Raytheon employees with possible ties to this remote control technology program appear to have been on the hijacked 9/11 flights. Earlier in the year, a specially designed Global Hawk plane flew from the US to Australia without pilot or passengers. [ITN, 4/24/01] However, most media reports after 9/11 suggest such technology is currently impossible. For instance, the Observer quotes an expert who says that “the technology is pretty much there” but still untried. [Observer, 9/16/01] An aviation-security expert at Jane's Defence Weekly says this type of technology belongs “in the realms of science fiction.” [Financial Times, 9/18/01 (B); Economist, 9/20/01] Even President Bush appears to deny the technology currently exists. He gives a speech after 9/11 in which he mentions that the government would give grants to research “new technology, probably far in the future, allowing air traffic controllers to land distressed planes by remote control.” [New York Times, 9/28/01]
          

October 4, 2001: Blair Presents Case for al-Qaeda 9/11 Involvement

      
Tony Blair presenting evidence on October 4, 2001.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly presents a paper containing evidence that al-Qaeda is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. [Los Angeles Times, 10/5/01; Los Angeles Times, 10/4/01] Secretary of State Powell and other US officials had promised on September 23 that the US would present a paper containing such evidence. [Los Angeles Times, 9/24/01] However, the US paper is never released. Apparently, the British paper is meant to serve as a substitute. [New Yorker, 5/27/02] In the speech, Blair claims, “One of bin Laden's closest lieutenants has said clearly that he helped with the planning of the September 11 attacks and admitted the involvement of the al-Qaeda organization” and that “there is other intelligence, we cannot disclose, of an even more direct nature indicating guilt” of al-Qaeda in the attacks. [CNN, 10/4/01; Time, 10/5/01] There has been no confirmation or details since of these claims. Even though most of the evidence in the British paper comes from the US, pre-attack warnings, such as the August 6, 2001 memo to Bush titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US,” are not included. In fact, Blair's paper states, “incorrectly, that no such information had been available before the attacks: ‘After 11 September we learned that, not long before, bin Laden had indicated he was about to launch a major attack on America.’ ” [New Yorker, 5/27/02]
          

October 5, 2001: Study Reveals Significant Oil and Gas Deposits in Afghanistan

       Contrary to popular belief, Afghanistan “has significant oil and gas deposits. During the Soviets' decade-long occupation of Afghanistan, Moscow estimated Afghanistan's proven and probable natural gas reserves at around five trillion cubic feet and production reached 275 million cubic feet per day in the mid-1970s.” Nonstop war since has prevented further exploitation. [Asia Times, 10/5/01] A later article suggests that the country may also have as much copper as Chile, the world's largest producer, and significant deposits of coal, emeralds, tungsten, lead, zinc, uranium ore, and more. Estimates of Afghanistan's natural wealth may even be understated, because surveys were conducted decades ago, using less-advanced methods and covering limited territory. [Houston Chronicle, 12/23/01]
          

October 7, 2001: Bin Laden Brother's Ties to Terrorism Revealed

       It is reported that Mahrous bin Laden, brother to Osama bin Laden, is currently manager of the Medina, Saudi Arabia, branch of the bin Laden family company, the Binladin Group. In 1979, Binladin company trucks were used by 500 dissidents who seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest city. All the men who took part were later beheaded except Mahrous, who is eventually released from prison apparently because of the close ties between the bin Ladens and the Saudi royal family. The bin Laden family claims that no family members have any ties to terrorism except Osama. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01]
          

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

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

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

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

October 7, 2001: ISI Director Replaced at US Urging; Role in Funding 9/11 Plot Is One Explanation

      
Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmed.
ISI Director Mahmood is replaced in the face of US pressure after links are discovered between him, Saeed Sheikh, and the funding of the 9/11 attacks. Mahmood instructed Saeed to transfer $100,000 into hijacker Mohamed Atta's bank account prior to 9/11. This is according to Indian intelligence, which claims the FBI has privately confirmed the story. [Press Trust of India, 10/8/01; Times of India, 10/9/01; India Today, 10/15/01; Daily Excelsior, 10/18/01] The story is not widely reported in Western countries, though it makes the Wall Street Journal. [Australian, 10/10/01; Agence France-Presse, 10/10/01; Wall Street Journal, 10/10/01] It is reported in Pakistan as well. [Dawn, 10/8/01] The Northern Alliance also repeats the claim in late October. [Federal News Service, 10/31/01] In Western countries, the usual explanation is that Mahmood is fired for being too close to the Taliban. [Times of London, 10/9/01; Guardian, 10/9/01] The Times of India reports that Indian intelligence helped the FBI discover the link, and says, “A direct link between the ISI and the WTC attack could have enormous repercussions. The US cannot but suspect whether or not there were other senior Pakistani Army commanders who were in the know of things. Evidence of a larger conspiracy could shake US confidence in Pakistan's ability to participate in the anti-terrorism coalition.” [Times of India, 10/9/01] There is evidence some ISI officers may have known of a plan to destroy the WTC as early as July 1999. Two other ISI leaders, Lieutenant General Mohammed Aziz Khan and Lieutenant General Muzaffar Usmani, are sidelined on the same day as Mahmood. [Fox News, 10/8/01] Saeed had been working under Khan. The firings are said to have purged the ISI of its fundamentalists. However, according to one diplomat, “To remove the top two or three doesn't matter at all. The philosophy remains. ... [The ISI is] a parallel government of its own. If you go through the officer list, almost all of the ISI regulars would say, of the Taliban, ‘They are my boys.’ ” [New Yorker, 10/29/01] It is believed Mahmood has been living under virtual house arrest in Pakistan ever since (which would seem to imply more than just a difference of opinion over the Taliban), but no charges have been brought against him, and there is no evidence the US has asked to question him. [Asia Times, 1/5/02] He also has refused to speak to reporters since being fired [Associated Press, 2/21/02] , and outside India and Pakistan, the story has only been mentioned a couple times in the media since. [Sunday Herald, 2/24/02; Times of London, 4/21/02]
          

October 7, 2001: US Begins Bombing in Afghanistan

      
The Afghan village of Darya Khanah is bombed on October 27, 2001.
The US begins bombing Afghanistan in the first strike of its “war on terror.” [MSNBC, 11/01] Most documentary evidence suggests the US was not planning this bombing before 9/11. However, former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik has claimed that in July 2001 senior US officials told him that a military action to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan would, as the BBC put it, “take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.” [BBC, 9/18/01]
          

October 8, 2001: Ex-CIA Director's Meeting With Taliban Leader Is Called Off

       Ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, as part of his attempt to gather evidence that could tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks, contacts the Taliban. He works with Mansour Ijaz, a US businessman of Pakistani origin, who is a lobbyist for Pakistan in the US, an occasional Fox News commentator, and has extensive political ties in the US. Woolsey is also vice-chairman of the board of Ijaz's company. Woolsey and Ijaz work with Khalid Khawaja, a friend of bin Laden and ex-ISI operative. The three plus an unnamed US journalist arrange to meet with Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on October 8. The Taliban agree to tell Woolsey about a meeting between Iraqi and al-Qaeda officials that took place in 1997, and possibly other similar information. Apparently in return they hope to avert the US invasion of Afghanistan. However, the US bombing begins on October 7, and the meeting is called off. [Financial Times, 3/6/03; Dawn, 02/15/02] At least part of this team will later play another behind-the-scenes role. After being given a tip that Mansour Ijaz is connected to leading militant Muslims in Pakistan, reporter Daniel Pearl will connect with Khalid Khawaja, who in turn connects him with militant Muslims who kidnap and eventually kill him. A leading Pakistani newspaper claims that at one point Newsweek is about to accuse Khawaja of involvement in the plot to kidnap Pearl, but Ijaz vouches for Khawaja and convinces Newsweek to pull back their accusations. [Vanity Fair, 8/02; Dawn, 02/15/02]
          

October 9, 2001: Afghan Pipeline Idea Is Revived

       US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin meets with the Pakistani oil minister. She is briefed on the gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan, across Afghanistan, to Pakistan, which appears to be revived “in view of recent geopolitical developments” —in other words, the 9/11 attacks. [Frontier Post, 10/10/01]
          

October 10, 2001: Famous Arab Commentator Says al-Qaeda Could Not Have Conducted 9/11 Attacks

       Mohammed Heikal, longtime Egyptian journalist, former government spokesman, and the “Arab world's foremost political commentator,” expresses disbelief that bin Laden and al-Qaeda could have conducted the 9/11 attack without the US knowing. “Bin Laden has been under surveillance for years: every telephone call was monitored and al-Qaeda has been penetrated by American intelligence, Pakistani intelligence, Saudi intelligence, Egyptian intelligence. They could not have kept secret an operation that required such a degree of organization and sophistication.” [Guardian, 10/10/01]
          

October 10, 2001: US Television Networks Doing Too Much of the Government's Bidding

       The US government asks the major US television networks to refrain from showing unedited video messages taped by Osama bin Laden. They agree. A Newsweek article is critical of the decision, pointing out “all but one [of these networks] are controlled by major conglomerates that have important pending business with the government.” The article openly questions if the media is “doing too much of the government's bidding” in reporting on 9/11. Says one expert, “I'm not saying that everything is a horrible paranoid fantasy, but my sense is there's an implicit quid pro quo here. The industry seems to be saying to the administration, ‘We're patriotic, We're supporting the war, we lost all of this advertising, now free us from [business] constraints.’ ” [Newsweek, 10/13/01]
          

October 10, 2001: Baggage Handling Company Cleared of Wrongdoing

       It is reported that Globe Aviation Services Corp., in charge of the baggage handlers for Flight 11 and all other American Airlines flights at Boston's Logan Airport, have been cleared of any wrongdoing. Globe Aviation supervisors claim that none of the employees working that day was in the US illegally. Supposedly, no weapons were detected, but a baggage handler for Globe Aviation and American Airlines has told the FBI that one of the hijackers—believed to be either Wail or Waleed Alshehri—was carrying one wooden crutch under his arm when he boarded Flight 11. Crutches are apparently routinely scanned through X-ray machines. [Boston Globe, 10/10/01 (B)]
          

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

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

October 11, 2001: Ashcroft Takes Over All Terrorist Prosecutions

       The Ashcroft-led Justice Department assumes control of all terrorist prosecutions from the US Attorneys office in New York, which has had a highly successful record of accomplishment in prosecuting terrorist cases connected to bin Laden. [New York Times, 10/11/01]
          

October 12, 2001: Additional Suspected Terrorist Supporters' Assets Frozen

      
Yassin al-Qadi.
The US freezes the assets of 39 additional individuals and organizations connected to terrorism. Five of the names are al-Qaeda leaders on a list the United Nations published in March 8, 2001, with a recommendation that all nations freeze their assets. Other countries froze assets of those on that list, but the US did not. “Members of Congress want to know why treasury officials charged with disrupting the finances of terrorists did not follow their lead.” [Associated Press, 10/12/01; Guardian, 10/13/01 (B)] The most detailed case is laid out against Saudi multimillionaire businessman Yassin al-Qadi. [Chicago Tribune, 10/14/01; Chicago Tribune, 10/29/01] Al-Qadi is “horrified and shocked” and offers to open his financial books to US investigators. [Chicago Tribune, 10/16/01] There have been several accusations that al-Qadi laundered money to fund Hamas [Chicago Tribune, 10/16/01; Chicago Tribune, 10/29/01] , and an investigation into his al-Qaeda connections was canceled by higher-ups in the FBI in October 1998. Saudi Arabia also later freezes al-Qadi's accounts, an action the Saudis have taken against only three people, but he has yet to be charged or arrested by the Saudis or the US. [Newsweek, 12/6/02]
          

October 14, 2001: Bin Laden Reportedly Has Supporters at All Levels of Saudi Arabia

       The Boston Herald reports: “Three banks allegedly used by Osama bin Laden to distribute money to his global terrorism network have well-established ties to a prince in Saudi Arabia's royal family, several billionaire Saudi bankers, and the governments of Kuwait and Dubai. One of the banks, Al-Shamal Islamic Bank in the Sudan, was controlled directly by bin Laden, according to a 1996 US State Department report.” A regional expert states, “I think we underestimate bin Laden. He comes from the highest levels of Saudi society and he has supporters at all levels of Saudi Arabia.” [Boston Herald, 10/14/01]
          

October 15, 2001: Russian Newspaper Calls Afghanistan War US Political Power Move

       According to the Moscow Times, the Russian government sees the upcoming US conquest of Afghanistan as an attempt by the US to replace Russia as the dominant political force in Central Asia, with the control of oil as a prominent motive: “While the bombardment of Afghanistan outwardly appears to hinge on issues of fundamentalism and American retribution, below the surface, lurks the prize of the energy-rich Caspian basin into which oil majors have invested billions of dollars. Ultimately, this war will set the boundaries of US and Russian influence in Central Asia—and determine the future of oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea.” [Moscow Times, 10/15/01] The US later appears to gain military influence over Kazakhstan, the Central Asian country with the most resource wealth, and closest to the Russian heartland (see March 30, 2002).
          

October 16, 2001: Some Flight Control Transcripts Released, but Sections Are Missing

       The government releases flight control transcripts of three of the four hijacked planes [New York Times, 10/16/01 (B); New York Times, 10/16/01 (C); New York Times, 10/16/01 (D)] ) . Strangely, Flight 93 is left out. Yet even the three released transcripts are incomplete (for instance, Flight 77's ends at least 20 minutes before it crashes), and certain events that are part of the official story do not show up on these transcripts.
          

October 16, 2001: Several Arrested for Curious Sears Tower Surveillance

       Two men, Moshe Elmakias and Ron Katar, are arrested after being found with a detailed video of the Sears Tower in Chicago. In addition, a woman named Ayelet Reisler is found with them, carrying conflicting identification information. They are arrested for illegal dumping, using a van with the name Moving Systems Incorporated. The video contains extensive zoom in shots of the Sears Tower; it is not known when the video was filmed. [Philadelphia Mercury, 10/18/01]
          

October 16, 2001: Bin Laden Cleared of Insider Trading in Britain

       “The Financial Services Authority—Britain's main financial regulator—has cleared bin Laden and his henchmen of insider trading. There has been a widespread suspicion that members of the al-Qaeda organization had cashed in on the US attacks, dumping airline, aerospace and insurance company shares before September 11th. The Authority says that after a thorough investigation, it has found no hard evidence of any such deals in London.” [Marketplace radio report, 10/17/01] On September 24, Belgium's Financial Minister had claimed there were strong suspicions that British markets may have been used for 9/11-related insider trading in early September. [CNN, 9/24/01]
          

October 19, 2001: US Ground Attacks Begin in Afghanistan

       US Special Forces begin ground attacks in Afghanistan. [MSNBC, 11/01] However, during the Afghanistan war, US ground soldiers are mainly employed as observers, liaisons, and spotters for air power to assist the Northern Alliance—not as direct combatants. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02 (B)] White House Counterterrorism Coordinator Richard Clarke will suggest in 2004 that the Bush administration did not commit more ground forces to Afghanistan because it wanted to have enough troops available to stage a large offensive against Iraq. “I can't prove this, but I believe they didn't want to put in a lot of regular infantry because they wanted to hold it in reserve,” Richard Clarke explains. “And the issue is the infantry. A rational military planner who was told to stabilize Afghanistan after the Taliban was gone, and who was not told that we might soon be doing Iraq, would probably have put in three times the number of infantry, plus all the logistics support ‘tail.’ He would have put in more civil-affairs units, too. Based on everything I heard at the time, I believe I can make a good guess that the plan for Afghanistan was affected by a predisposition to go into Iraq. The result of that is that they didn't have enough people to go in and stabilize the country, nor enough people to make sure these guys didn't get out.” [Atlantic Monthly, 10/2004]
          

October 20, 2001: Few Detained in US Have Real Terror Ties

       The New York Times reports that, although 830 people have been arrested in the 9/11 terrorism investigation (a number that eventually reaches between 1,200 and 2,000), there is no evidence that anyone now in custody was a conspirator in the 9/11 attacks. Furthermore, “none of the nearly 100 people still being sought by the [FBI] is seen as a major suspect.” Of all the people arrested, only four—Zacarias Moussaoui, Ayub Ali Khan, Mohammed Azmath, and Nabil al-Marabh—are likely connected to al-Qaeda. [New York Times, 10/21/01 (C)] Three of those are later cleared of ties to al-Qaeda, though the clearance of al-Marabh is a mystery (see January 2004). Al-Marabh is eventually convicted of the minor charge of entering the United States illegally. [Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 8/27/02; Washington Post, 6/12/02] On September 12, 2002, after a year in solitary confinement (the first four months of which he was unable to contact a lawyer), Mohammed Azmath pleads guilty to one count of credit card fraud. He is released with time served. Ayub Ali Khan, whose real name is apparently Syed Gul Mohammed Shah, is given a longer sentence for credit card fraud, but is released and deported by the end of 2002. [Village Voice, 9/25/02; New York Times, 12/31/02] By December 2002, only six of the original 1,000-plus detainees are known to still be in custody, and none charged with any terrorist acts. [Washington Post, 12/12/02]
          

October 25, 2001: Afghan Resistance Leader Killed

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

October 27, 2001: Zammar Arrested, Detained by US in Syria

       Suspected terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar travels from Germany to Morocco. Not long after, perhaps in December, he is arrested by Moroccan police with US assistance. Although he is a German citizen and under investigation by Germany, German intelligence remain unaware of his arrest, and only learn about it from the newspapers in June 2002. He is sent to Syria, where there are formal charges against him. Zammar reportedly now claims he recruited Mohamed Atta and others into the al-Qaeda Hamburg cell. [Washington Post, 6/19/02 (B)] It is widely suspected that the US arranged for Zammar to be sent to Syria so that he could be more thoroughly interrogated using torture. The Germans are angry that the US has been submitting questions for Zammar and learning answers from Syria, but have not informed Germany of what they have learned [Christian Science Monitor, 7/26/02; Daily Telegraph, 6/20/02]
          

October 27, 2001: Pakistan Rewarded With Large Aid Package

       It is reported that the US has put together a multi-billion dollar aid package for Pakistan that includes “sweeping debt rescheduling, grants stretching over many years and trade benefits as a reward for its support against terrorism.” Critics such as Representative Jim McDermott (D) complain the aid is a “blank check” that could go towards supporting the Pakistani military and Islamic militants fighting in India. [New York Times, 10/27/01 (B)]
          

October 27, 2001: Officials Furious over NSC Lack of Cooperation

       Furious government intelligence officials accuse the NSA of destroying data pertinent to the 9/11 investigation. They claim that possible leads are not being followed because of the NSA's lack of cooperation. [Boston Globe, 10/27/01]
          

November 2001-February 5, 2002: Saeed Sheikh Indicted for Role in 1994 Kidnapping

       A US grand jury secretly indicts Saeed Sheikh for his role in the 1994 kidnapping of an American. The indictment is revealed in late February 2002. The US later claims it begins asking Pakistan for help in arresting and extraditing Saeed in late November. [Associated Press, 2/26/02; Newsweek, 3/13/02] However, it is not until January 9, 2002, that Wendy Chamberlin, the US ambassador to Pakistan, officially asks the Pakistani government for assistance. [Associated Press, 2/24/02; CNN, 2/24/02; Los Angeles Times, 2/25/02 (B)] Saeed is seen partying with Pakistani government officials well into January 2002. The Los Angeles Times later reports that Saeed “move[s] about Pakistan without apparent impediments from authorities” up until February 5, when he is identified as a suspect in the Daniel Pearl kidnapping. [Los Angeles Times, 2/13/02] The London Times reports: “It is inconceivable that the Pakistani authorities did not know where he was” before then. [Times of London, 4/21/02]
          

Early November 2001: Al-Qaeda Convoy Flees Kabul

       Many locals in Afghanistan reportedly witness a remarkable escape of al-Qaeda forces from Kabul around this time. One local businessman says, “We don't understand how they weren't all killed the night before because they came in a convoy of at least 1,000 cars and trucks. It was a very dark night, but it must have been easy for the American pilots to see the headlights. The main road was jammed from eight in the evening until three in the morning.” This convoy was thought to have contained al-Qaeda's top officials [Times of London, 7/22/02]
          

Early November 2001: Al-Qaeda Fighters, bin Laden Said to Move into Jalalabad Without Hindrance

       Since late October, US intelligence reports began noting that al-Qaeda fighters and leaders were moving into and around the Afghanistan city of Jalalabad. By early November, bin Laden is said to be there. Knight Ridder Newspapers reports that “American intelligence analysts concluded that bin Laden and his retreating fighters were preparing to flee across the border. However, the US Central Command, which was running the war, made no move to block their escape. ‘It was obvious from at least early November that this area was to be the base for an exodus into Pakistan,’ said one intelligence official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. ‘All of this was known, and frankly we were amazed that nothing was done to prepare for it.’ ” The vast majority of leaders and fighters are eventually able to escape into Pakistan. [Knight Ridder, 10/20/02]
          

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

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

November 5, 2001: Has bin Laden Family Really Disowned Osama?

      
The Binladin Group logo.
The New Yorker points to evidence that the bin Laden family has generally not ostracized itself from bin Laden as is popularly believed, but retains close ties in some cases. The large bin Laden family owns and runs a $5 billion a year global corporation that includes the largest construction firm in the Islamic world. One counterterrorism expert says, “There's obviously a lot of spin by the Saudi Binladin Group [the family corporation] to distinguish itself from Osama. I've been following the bin Ladens for years, and it's easy to say, ‘We disown him.’ Many in the family have. But blood is usually thicker than water.” The article notes that neither the bin Laden family nor the Saudi royal family have publicly denounced bin Laden since 9/11. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
          

November 9, 2001: The Taliban Loses Control of Northern Afghanistan

       The Taliban abandon the strategic northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, allowing the Northern Alliance to take control. [Associated Press, 8/19/02] The Taliban abandons the rest of Northern Afghanistan in the next few days, except the city of Kunduz, where most of the Taliban flee. Kunduz falls on November 25, but not before most of the thousands of fighters there are airlifted out. [New Yorker, 1/21/02]
          

November 10, 2001: Reporter Investigating ISI-Taliban Ties Is Expelled from Pakistan

       Daily Telegraph reporter Christina Lamb is arrested and expelled from Pakistan by the ISI. She had been investigating the connections between the ISI and the Taliban. [Daily Telegraph, 11/11/01]
          

November 10, 2001: Bush Dismisses 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

       In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Bush states, “We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th; malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists, themselves, away from the guilty.” [White House, 11/10/01]
          

November 13, 2001: Kabul Falls to Northern Alliance; Rest of Country Soon Follows

       Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, falls to the Northern Alliance. The Taliban will abandon the rest of the country over the next few weeks. [BBC, 11/13/01] As the New Yorker reports, “The initial American aim in Afghanistan had been not to eliminate the Taliban's presence there entirely but to undermine the regime and al-Qaeda while leaving intact so-called moderate Taliban elements that would play a role in a new postwar government. This would insure that Pakistan would not end up with a regime on its border dominated by the Northern Alliance.” The surprisingly quick fall of Kabul ruins this plan. [New Yorker, 1/21/02]
          

November 14-November 25, 2001: US Secretly Authorizes Airlift of Pakistani and Taliban Fighters

      
The main routes al-Qaeda and the Taliban escape US and Nothern Alliance forces.
At the request of the Pakistani government, the US secretly allows rescue flights into the besieged Taliban stronghold of Kunduz, in Northern Afghanistan, to save Pakistanis fighting for the Taliban (and against US forces) and bring them back to Pakistan. Pakistan's President “Musharraf won American support for the airlift by warning that the humiliation of losing hundreds—and perhaps thousands—of Pakistani Army men and intelligence operatives would jeopardize his political survival.” [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Dozens of senior Pakistani military officers, including two generals, are flown out. [PBS Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] In addition, it is reported that the Pakistani government assists 50 trucks filled with foreign fighters to escape the town. [New York Times, 11/24/01] Many news articles at the time suggest an airlift is occurring. [Independent, 11/16/01; New York Times, 11/24/01; BBC, 11/26/01; Independent, 11/26/01; Guardian, 11/27/01; MSNBC, 11/29/01] Significant media coverage fails to develop, however. The US and Pakistani governments deny the existence of the airlift. [State Department, 11/16/01; New Yorker, 1/21/02] On December 2, when asked to assure that the US did not allow such an airlift, Rumsfeld says, “Oh, you can be certain of that. We have not seen a single—to my knowledge, we have not seen a single airplane or helicopter go into Afghanistan in recent days or weeks and extract people and take them out of Afghanistan to any country, let alone Pakistan.” [MSNBC, 12/2/01] Reporter Seymour Hersh believes that Rumsfeld must have given approval for the airlift. [PBS Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03] However, the New Yorker magazine reports, “What was supposed to be a limited evacuation apparently slipped out of control and, as an unintended consequence, an unknown number of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters managed to join in the exodus.” A CIA analyst says, “Many of the people they spirited away were in the Taliban leadership” who Pakistan wanted for future political negotiations. US intelligence was “supposed to have access to them, but it didn't happen,” he says. According to Indian intelligence, airlifts grow particularly intense in the last three days before the city falls on November 25. Of the 8,000 remaining al-Qaeda, Pakistani, and Taliban, about 5,000 are airlifted out and 3,000 surrender. [New Yorker, 1/21/02] Hersh later claims that “maybe even some of bin Laden's immediate family were flown out on those evacuations.” [PBS Now with Bill Moyers, 2/21/03]
          

November 14, 2001: Al-Qaeda Convoy Flees to Tora Bora; US Fails to Attack

       The Northern Alliance captures the Afghan city of Jalalabad. [Sydney Morning Herald, 11/14/01] That night, a convoy of 1,000 or more al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters escapes from Jalalabad and reaches the fortress of Tora Bora after hours of driving and then walking. Bin Laden is believed to be with them, riding in one of “several hundred cars” in the convoy. The US bombs the nearby Jalalabad airport, but apparently does not attack the convoy. [Knight Ridder, 10/20/02; Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02 (B)]
          

November 15, 2001: Al-Qaeda Leader Reported Dead in Bombing Raid

      
Mohammed Atef.
Al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef is believed to have been killed in a US bombing raid on Afghanistan. Atef is considered al-Qaeda's military commander, and one of its top leaders. [State Department, 11/16/01; ABC News, 11/17/01]
          

November 15, 2001: Newspaper Questions Whether Flight 93 was Shot Down

       For the first time, a major newspaper publishes an article strongly suggesting Flight 93 was shot down. The Philadelphia Daily News quotes numerous eyewitnesses who believe the plane was shot down. The FBI has reported a half-ton piece of an engine was found “a considerable distance” from the main crash site. “That information is intriguing to shootdown theory proponents, since the heat-seeking, air-to-air Sidewinder missiles aboard an F-16 would likely target one of the Boeing 757's two large engines.” The article concludes, “No one has fully explained why the plane went down, or what exactly happened during an eight-minute gap from the time all cell phone calls from the plane stopped and the time it crashed.” [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/01]
          

Mid-November 2001: Afghan Politician Says Mohammed Atef US Policy Prevented bin Laden Capture

       Ismail Khan's troops and other Northern Alliance fighters are reportedly ready to take back Pashtun areas from Taliban control at this time. Khan, governor of Herat province and one of Afghanistan's most successful militia leaders, later maintains that “we could have captured all the Taliban and the al-Qaeda groups. We could have arrested Osama bin Laden with all of his supporters.” [USA Today, 1/2/02] However, according to Khan, his forces hold back at the request of the US, who allegedly do not want the non-Pashtun Northern Alliance to conquer Pashtun areas. British newspapers at the time report bin Laden is surrounded in a 30-mile area, but the conquest of Kandahar takes weeks without the Northern Alliance and bin Laden slips away (other accounts put him at Tora Bora). [CNN, 11/18/01 (B)]
          

November 16, 2001: Al-Qaeda, Taliban Leaders Reportedly Escape Afghanistan

       According to Newsweek, approximately 600 al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, including many senior leaders, escape Afghanistan on this day. There are two main routes out of the Tora Bora cave complex to Pakistan. The US bombed only one route, so the 600 escaped without being attacked using the other route. Hundreds continue to use the escape route for weeks, generally unbothered by US bombing or Pakistani border guards. US officials later privately admit they lost an excellent opportunity to close a trap. [Newsweek, 8/11/02 (B)] On the same day, the media reports that the US is studying routes bin Laden might use to escape Tora Bora [Los Angeles Times, 11/16/01] , but the one escape route is not closed, and apparently bin Laden and others escape into Pakistan using this route several weeks later. High-ranking British officers will later privately complain, “American commanders had vetoed a proposal to guard the high-altitude trails, arguing that the risks of a firefight, in deep snow, gusting winds, and low-slung clouds, were too high.” [New York Times, 9/30/02 (B)]
          

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

       The five Israelis arrested on 9/11 for videotaping the WTC attack and then cheering about it are released and deported to Israel. Some of the men's names had appeared in a US national intelligence database, and the FBI has concluded that at least two of the men were working for the Mossad, according to ABC News. However, the FBI says that none of the Israelis had any advanced knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, and they were released as part of a deal between the US and the Israeli government. After their release, they claim to have been tortured. [Forward, 3/15/02; ABC News, 6/21/02]
          

November 21, 2001: Opium Boom in Afghanistan

       The Independent runs a story with the title: “Opium Farmers Rejoice at the Defeat of the Taliban.” Massive opium planting is underway all across Afghanistan. [Independent, 11/21/01] Four days later, the Observer runs a story headlined, “Victorious Warlords Set to Open the Opium Floodgates.” It states that farmers are being encouraged by warlords allied with the US to plant “as much opium as possible.” [Observer, 11/25/01]
          

November 21, 2001: Bush Wants Iraq Invasion Plan

       George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld speak in private. Bush asks the Defense Secretary what kind of plan the Pentagon has for invading Iraq. “What have you got in terms of plans for Iraq? What is the status of the war plan? I want you to get on it. I want you to keep it secret,” Bush says. When Rumsfeld says its current plan is outdated, Bush instructs him to devise a new one. “Let's get started on this,” Bush says. “And get Tommy Franks looking at what it would take to protect America by removing Saddam Hussein if we have to.” Bush requests that discussion about Iraq remain low-key. “I knew what would happen if people thought we were developing a potential war plan for Iraq,” Bush later explains to journalist Bob Woodward. Bush does not share the details of his conversation with Condoleezza Rice, only telling her that Rumsfeld would be working on Iraq. [Woodward, 2004 cited in Associated Press, 4/16/04; Woodward, 2004 cited in New York Times, 4/17/04; Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post, 1/18/04; CBS News, 4/18/04 Sources: George Bush and other top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward] When General Tommy Franks—who already has his hands full with the operation in Afghanistan—learns that the administration is considering plans to invade Iraq, he utters “a string of obscenities.” [Woodward, 2004 cited in Associated Press, 4/16/04 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward] General Franks will meet with Bush and brief him on the plan's progress on December 28 (see December 28, 2001).
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Thomas Franks
          

November 21, 2001: Bush Says Afghanistan Is Just the Beginning

       Bush states that “Afghanistan is just the beginning on the war against terror. There are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends, and there are other nations willing to sponsor them. We will not be secure as a nation until all of these threats are defeated. Across the world and across the years, we will fight these evil ones, and we will win.” [White House, 11/21/01] A short time later, it is reported that “the US has honed a hit list of countries to target for military action in rogue regions across the globe where it believes terror cells flourish,” including Iraq. [Guardian, 12/10/01]
          

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

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

November 23, 2001: Report Suggests Hijackers Snuck into Cockpits

       The Boston Globe reports information strongly suggesting that at least one hijacker was inside the cockpits on every flight before the 9/11 hijackings began. An airplane captain theorizes how they took control: “The most likely scenarios are something that was swift, where the pilots couldn't have changed their transponder code and called the controllers. You think four times in one morning one of those crews would have done that. That means they had to be upon them before they could react.” On practice flights before 9/11, the hijackers repeatedly obtained access to cockpits by various methods. Perhaps the most important method was jumpseating, which allows certified airline pilots to use a spare seat in the cockpit when none is available in the passenger cabin. Airlines reciprocate to help pilots get home or to the city of their originating flight. Officials say they do not believe any of the hijackers were jumpseating on 9/11 despite media reports to the contrary. However, since 9/11 the FAA has banned the practice unless a pilot works for the airline in whose cockpit that person wants to ride. [Boston Globe, 11/23/01] The 9/11 Commission later concludes that the hijackers didn't use jumpseating because they couldn't find any paperwork relating to jumpseat requests.
          

November 23, 2001: More Israelis Arrested in Wake of 9/11

       The Washington Post reports that “[a]t least 60 young Israeli Jews have been arrested and detained around the country on immigration charges since the September 11 attacks, many of them held on US government officials' invocation of national security.” An INS official who requested anonymity says the use of the term “special interest” for Israelis being held in Cleveland, St. Louis, and other places means the case in question is “related to the investigation of September 11th.” [Washington Post, 11/23/01] Most of them are deported. However, Intelligence Online claims that “For the overwhelming majority of the ring's members expelled, there was no problem at all with visas, and in the lists we only found a few minor cases of expired visas."” [Agence France-Presse, 3/6/02]
          

November 25, 2001: US Troops Arrive in Kandahar amid Talk of a Secret Deal

       US troops land near the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, Afghanistan. [Associated Press, 8/19/02] Apparently, as the noose tightens around Kandahar, new Afghanistan head Hamid Karzai makes a deal with the Taliban, giving them a general amnesty in return for surrender of the city. Taliban's leader Mullah Omar is allowed to escape “with dignity” as part of the deal. However, the US says it will not abide by the deal and Karzai then says he will not let Omar go free after all. Taliban forces begin surrendering on December 7. [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/8/01] Omar escapes.
          

November 25, 2001: Bin Laden Reportedly Gives Last Public Speech to Followers

       It is believed bin Laden makes a speech before a crowd of about 1,000 followers in the village of Milawa, Afghanistan. This village is on the route from Tora Bora to the Pakistani border, about eight to ten hours by walking. In his last known public appearance, bin Laden encourages his followers to leave Afghanistan, so they could regroup and fight again. [Knight Ridder, 10/20/02] It is believed he leaves the country a few days later. [Daily Telegraph, 2/23/02]
          

November 28, 2001: Bin Laden Reportedly Escapes Tora Bora by Helicopter

       A US Special Forces soldier stationed in Fayetteville, North Carolina, later (anonymously) claims that the US has bin Laden pinned in a certain Tora Bora cave on this day, but fails to act. Special Forces soldiers allegedly sit by waiting for orders and watch two helicopters fly into the area where bin Laden is believed to be, load up passengers, and fly toward Pakistan. No other soldiers have come forward to corroborate the story, but bin Laden is widely believed to have been in the Tora Bora area at the time. [Fayetteville Observer, 8/2/02] However, other reports indicate that bin Laden may have left the Tora Bora region by this time. Newsweek separately reports that many locals “claim that mysterious black helicopters swept in, flying low over the mountains at night, and scooped up al-Qaeda's top leaders.” [Newsweek, 8/11/02 (B)] Perhaps coincidentally, on the same day this story is reported, months after the fact, the media also will report a recent spate of strange deaths at the same military base in Fayetteville. Five soldiers and their wives died since June 2002 in apparent murder-suicides. At least three were Special Forces soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan. [Independent, 8/2/02]
          

November 28, 2001: Bin Laden Family Business Valued at $36 Billion; Osama's Share Is Uncertain

       The Financial Times estimates that the bin Laden family's business, the Saudi Binladin Group, is worth about $36 billion. Osama bin Laden inherited about $300 million at the age of ten on the death of his father, but he may be worth much more today. While he spends large amounts each month supporting terror, he reportedly gets large amounts from rich Saudis every month to make up for the losses. [Financial Times, 11/28/01] The 9/11 Commission later disputes these figures and claims that bin Laden only gets about $1 million a year for about two decades until around 1994. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04 (B)]
          

Early December 2001: Battle for Tora Bora Is Called Charade

       The Daily Telegraph later reports on the battle for Tora Bora around this time: “In retrospect, and with the benefit of dozens of accounts from the participants, the battle for Tora Bora looks more like a grand charade.” Eyewitnesses express shock that the US pinned in Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, thought to contain many high leaders, on three sides only, leaving the route to Pakistan open. An intelligence chief in Afghanistan's new government says, “The border with Pakistan was the key, but no one paid any attention to it. In addition, there were plenty of landing areas for helicopters had the Americans acted decisively. Al-Qaeda escaped right out from under their feet.” [Daily Telegraph, 2/23/02] It is believed that up to 2,000 were in the area when the battle began. The vast majority successfully flee, and only 21 al-Qaeda fighters are finally captured. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02 (B)] The US relies on local forces “whose loyalty and enthusiasm were suspect from the start” to do most of the fighting. [Knight Ridder, 10/20/02] Some of the local commanders drafted to help the US had ties to bin Laden going back to the 1980s. [New York Times, 9/30/02 (B)] These forces actually help al-Qaeda escape. An Afghan intelligence officer says he is astounded that Pentagon planners did not consider the most obvious exit routes and put down light US infantry to block them. It is later widely believed that bin Laden escapes along one of these routes on November 30 or December 1, walking out with about four loyal followers. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02; Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02 (B)] Al-Qaeda's number two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, also escapes the area. [Knight Ridder, 10/20/02]
          

Early December 2001: Bush Officials Again Look for Saudi Cooperation

       Bush administration officials go to Saudi Arabia in a second attempt to obtain Saudi government cooperation in the 9/11 investigation. The Saudis have balked at freezing assets of organizations linked to bin Laden. Shortly thereafter, the Boston Herald runs a series of articles on the Saudis, citing an expert who says, “If there weren't all these other arrangements—arms deals and oil deals and consultancies—I don't think the US would stand for this lack of cooperation.” Another expert states that “it's good old fashioned ‘I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine.’ You have former US officials, former presidents, aides to the current president, a long line of people who are tight with the Saudis. ... We are willing to basically ignore inconvenient truths that might otherwise cause our blood to boil.” These deals are worth an incredible amount of money; one Washington Post reporter claims that prior to 1993, US companies spent $200 billion on Saudi Arabia's defenses alone. [Boston Herald, 12/10/01; Boston Herald, 12/11/01 (B); PBS Frontline, 2/16/93]
          

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

      
Abu Qatada.
Al-Qaeda leader Abu Qatada disappears, despite being under surveillance in Britain. He has been “described by some justice officials as the spiritual leader and possible puppet master of al-Qaeda's European networks.” [Time, 7/7/02] Qatada had already been sentenced to death in abstentia in Jordan, and is wanted at the time by the US, Spain, France, and Algeria as well. [Guardian, 2/14/02] In October 2001, the media had strongly suggested that Qatada would soon be arrested for his known roles in al-Qaeda plots, but no such arrest occurred. [Times of London, 10/21/01] In November, while Qatada was still living openly in Britain, a Spanish judge expressed disbelief that Qatada hadn't been arrested already, as he has previously been connected to a Spanish al-Qaeda cell that may have met with Mohamed Atta in July 2001. [Observer, 11/25/01] Time magazine will later claim that just before new anti-terrorism laws go into effect in Britain, Abu Qatada and his family are secretly moved to a safe house by the British government, where he is lodged, fed, and clothed by the government. “The deal is that Abu Qatada is deprived of contact with extremists in London and Europe but can't be arrested or expelled because no one officially knows where he is,” says a source, whose claims were corroborated by French authorities. The British reportedly do this to avoid a “hot potato” trial. [Time, 7/7/02] A British official rejects these assertions: “We wouldn't give an awful lot of credence [to the story].” [Guardian, 7/8/02] Some French officials tell the press that Qatada was allowed to disappear because he is actually a British intelligence agent. [Observer, 2/24/02 (B)] Qatada is later arrested in London on October 23, 2002, but there still has not been any signs of a trial, as of mid-2004. [Times of London, 10/25/02]
          

December 2, 2001: Enron Files for Bankruptcy

      
Enron's logo.
Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy—the biggest bankruptcy in history up to that date. [BBC, 1/10/02] However, in 2002 Enron will reorganize as a pipeline company and will continue working on its controversial Dabhol power plant. [Houston Business Journal, 3/15/02]
          

December 4, 2001: Largest US Islamic Charity Assets Are Frozen

       Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the largest Islamic charity in the US, has its assets frozen by the Treasury Department. [CNN, 12/4/01; Jerusalem Post, 12/5/01] Foundation offices in San Diego, California; Paterson, New Jersey; and Bridgeview, Illinois, are also raided. [CNN, 12/4/01 (B)] Holy Land is represented by the powerful law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. Three partners at Akin, Gump are very close to President Bush: George R. Salem chaired Bush's 2000 campaign outreach to Arab-Americans; Barnett A. “Sandy” Kress was appointed by Bush as an “unpaid consultant” on education reform, and has an office in the White House; and James C. Langdon is one of Bush's closest Texas friends. [Boston Herald, 12/11/01; Washington Post, 12/17/01]
          

December 7, 2001: Indian Police Shoot Terrorist Gangster Dead

       Indian gangster Asif Raza Khan, terrorist associate of Saeed Sheikh and Aftab Ansari, is shot dead by Indian police. Police claim he was trying to escape. [Los Angeles Times, 1/23/02] A month or two before he died, Indian investigators recorded a confession of his involvement in a plot with Ansari and Saeed to send kidnapping profits to hijacker Mohamed Atta. This information becomes public just before Saeed is suspected in the kidnapping and murder of reporter Daniel Pearl. [Independent, 2/24/02; India Today, 2/25/02] Many in Ansari's Indian criminal network are arrested in October and November 2001, and they confirm Khan's money connection to Atta. [India Today, 2/14/02]
          

December 8, 2001: US Oil Companies to Invest $200 Billion in Kazakhstan

       During a visit to Kazakhstan in Central Asia, Secretary of State Powell states that US oil companies are likely to invest $200 billion in Kazakhstan alone in the next five to ten years. [New York Times, 12/15/01]
          

December 11, 2001: Moussaoui Indicted, Could Face Death Penalty

       Zacarias Moussaoui is criminally indicted for his role in the 9/11 attacks. If he is found guilty, he could be sentenced to death. [MSNBC, 12/11/01; Associated Press, 12/12/01] Moussaoui has admitted to being a member of al-Qaeda, but while he has been involved in terrorist activity, many have expressed doubts that he was involved in the 9/11 plot.
          

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

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

December 13, 2001: US Releases bin Laden Video; Authenticity Questioned

      
The man in the picture on the left is supposed to bel bin Laden in October 2001. The picture on the right is undisputendly bin Laden in December 1998. Their noses are noticably different. Could the man on the left be one of bin Laden's doubles?
The US releases a video of bin Laden that seems to confirm his role in the 9/11 attack. [Guardian, 12/13/01] However, a number of strange facts about this video soon emerge. For example, all previous videos had been made with the consent of bin Laden, and usually released to the Arabic television channel Al Jazeera. This video was supposedly recorded without his knowledge, found in a house in Afghanistan, and then passed to the CIA by an unknown person or group. Experts point out that it would be possible to fake such a video. So many people doubt the video's authenticity that Bush soon makes a statement, saying it was “preposterous for anybody to think this tape was doctored. Those who contend it's a farce or a fake are hoping for the best about an evil man.” Some observers point out that bin Laden is wearing a ring on his right hand. In previous films, he had worn no jewelry apart from a watch. [Guardian, 12/15/01] The German television show “Monitor” conducts an independent translation that questions the translation given by the US military. According to Professor Gernot Rotter, scholar of Islamic and Arabic Studies at the University of Hamburg, “This tape is of such poor quality that many passages are unintelligible. And those that are intelligible have often been taken out of context, so that you can't use that as evidence. The American translators who listened to the tape and transcribed it obviously added things that they wanted to hear in many places.” [Monitor, 12/20/01] There are reports that bin Laden had from four to ten look-alike doubles at the time. [Agence France-Presse, 10/7/01; Times of London, 11/19/01]
          

December 13, 2001: ISI-Connected Terrorists Attack Indian Parliament

       The Indian Parliament building in New Delhi is attacked by terrorists. Fourteen people, including the five attackers, are killed. India blames the Pakistani terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attacks. Twelve days later, Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Jaish-e-Mohammed, is arrested by Pakistan and his group is banned. He is freed one year later. [Agence France-Presse, 12/25/01; Christian Science Monitor, 12/16/02] The Parliament attack leads to talk of war, even nuclear war, between Pakistan and India, until President Musharraf cracks down on terrorist groups in early January. [Daily Telegraph, 12/28/01; Wall Street Journal, 1/3/02; Guardian, 5/25/02] It appears that Saeed Sheikh and Aftab Ansari, working with the ISI, are also involved in the attacks. [Vanity Fair, 8/02; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02]
          

December 16, 2001: Fox News Removes Controversial Story from Website, but Story Nonetheless Makes an Impact

       Fox News removes its series on the “art student spy ring” from its website after only two days, in response to pressure from the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and others. CAMERA suggests the reporter “has something, personally, about Israel. ... Maybe he's very sympathetic to the Arab side.” [Salon, 5/7/02] The head of the ADL calls the report “sinister dangerous innuendo which fuels anti-Semitism.” [Forward, 12/21/01] Yet there does not appear to be any substance to these personal attacks (and Forward later reverses its stance on the spy ring [Forward, 3/15/02] ). Fox News also never makes a formal repudiation or correction about the series. The contents of the series continues to be generally ignored by the mainstream media, but it makes a big impact inside the US government: An internal DEA communiqué from December 18 mentions the Fox report by name, and warns of security breaches in telecommunications as described in the Fox report. [Salon, 5/7/02]
          

December 17, 2001: Northern Alliance Declares Victory at Tora Bora; Afghan War Considered Over

       Northern Alliance forces declare that the battle of Tora Bora, with a ground assault begun on December 5, has been won. The Afghan war is widely considered finished. However, in retrospect, many consider the battle a failure because most of the enemy escapes, and the Taliban will later regroup. [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02 (B)]
          
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