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Before 9/11

Warning Signs (228)
Foreign Intelligence Warnings (27)
Insider Trading (36)
Counterterrorism Before 9/11 (181)
Able Danger (39)
Military Exercises (38)
Hunt for bin Laden (73)
Pipeline Politics (54)

Al-Qaeda Members

Al-Qaeda in Germany (42)
Alhazmi and Almihdhar (74)
Other 9/11 Hijackers (48)
Marwan Alshehhi (21)
Mohamed Atta (37)
Ziad Jarrah (9)
Hani Hanjour (15)
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (33)
Zacarias Moussaoui (40)
Nabil al-Marabh (10)

Geopolitics and 9/11

Pakistani ISI (126)
Randy Glass (7)
Sibel Edmonds (6)
Saeed Sheikh (3)
Mahmood Ahmed (3)
Drugs (21)
Saudi Arabia and the bin Laden Family (110)
Bin Laden Family (33)
Israel (33)
Iraq (49)
US Dominance (34)

Day of 9/11

All day of 9/11 events (401)
Flight AA 11 (62)
Flight UA 175 (49)
Flight AA 77 (70)
Flight UA 93 (105)
George Bush (66)
Dick Cheney (24)
Donald Rumsfeld (24)
Richard Clarke (22)

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan (49)
Investigations (166)
9/11 Congressional Inquiry (0)
9/11 Commission (0)
Other 9/11 Investigations (0)
Other events (79)
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March 2001: Bin Laden Targets Passenger Planes at Chicago Airport

       9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey mentions in a public hearing, “In March 2001, another CSG [Counterterrorism Security Group] item on the agenda mentions the possibility of alleged bin Laden interests in ‘targeting US passenger planes at the Chicago airport,’ end of quote.” [9/11 Commission, 3/24/04] No newspaper has ever mentioned this warning, which presumably remained classified aside from this one accidental mention by Kerrey.
People and organizations involved: Bob Kerrey, Osama bin Laden
          

March 2001: Cheney's Energy Task Force Eyes Iraq's Oil Reserves

       Cheney's Energy Task Force authors a variety of documents relating to the oil industries of Iraq, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. [New York Times, 1/12/04; CBS News, 1/10/04; Judicial Watch, 7/17/03]
Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield contracts - This document, dated March 5, 2001, includes a table listing 30 countries which have interests in Iraq's oil industry. The document also includes the names of companies that have interests, the oil fields with which those interests are associated, as well as the statuses of those interests. [Sources: Iraq Oil Foreign Suitors, page 2, Iraq Oil Foreign Suitors, page 1]

Map of Iraq's oil fields - The map includes markings for “supergiant” oil fields of 5 billion barrels or more, other oilfields, fields “earmarked for production sharing,” oil pipelines, operational refineries, and tanker terminals. [Sources: Iraq Oil Map]

Other documents - Other documents include oil field maps and project tables for both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates [Sources: UAE Oil Map, Saudia Arabia Oil Map, UAE Oil Project Table, Saudi Arabia Oil Project Table]

People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

March 4, 2001: Television Show Eerily Envisions 9/11 Attacks

      
An advertisement for the Lone Gunman show.
Contradicting the later claim that no one could have envisioned the 9/11 attacks, a short-lived Fox television program called The Lone Gunmen airs a pilot episode in which militants try to fly an airplane into the WTC. The heroes save the day and the airplane narrowly misses the building. There are no hijackers on board the aircraft; they use remote control technology to steer the plane. Ratings are good for the show, yet the eerie coincidence is barely mentioned after 9/11. Says one media columnist, “This seems to be collective amnesia of the highest order.” [TV Guide, 6/21/02] In the show, the heroes also determine: “The terrorist group responsible was actually a faction of our own government. These malefactors were seeking to stimulate arms manufacturing in the lean years following the end of the Cold War by bringing down a plane in New York City and fomenting fears of terrorism.” [Myers Report, 6/20/02]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

March 7, 2001: Russia Submits Report on bin Laden to UN Security Council, US Fails to Act

       The Russian Permanent Mission at the United Nations secretly submits “an unprecedentedly detailed report” to the UN Security Council about bin Laden, his whereabouts, details of his al-Qaeda network, Afghan drug running, and Taliban connections in Pakistan. The report provides “a listing of all bin Laden's bases, his government contacts and foreign advisers,” and enough information to potentially locate and kill him. The US fails to act. Alex Standish, the editor of the highly respected Jane's Intelligence Review, concludes that the attacks of 9/11 were less of an American intelligence failure than the result of “a political decision not to act against bin Laden.” [Jane's Intelligence Review, 10/5/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Russia, Osama bin Laden, United Nations
          

March 7, 2001: Plan to Fight al-Qaeda Considered, but with Little Urgency

       Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley chairs an informal meeting of some counterparts from other agencies to discuss al-Qaeda. They begin a broad review of the government's approach to al-Qaeda and Afghanistan. According to the New York Times, the approach is “two-pronged and included a crisis warning effort to deal with immediate threats and longer-range planning by senior officials to put into place a comprehensive strategy to eradicate al-Qaeda.” Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke again pushes for immediate decisions on assisting Ahmed Shah Massoud and his Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. Hadley suggests dealing with this as part of the broad review. Clarke supports a larger program, but he warns that delay risks the Alliance's defeat. Clarke also advocates using the armed Predator drone. However, despite an increasing number of alarming warnings following this meeting, there is little follow-up. “By June, a draft of a presidential directive authorizing an ambitious covert action plan is circulating through the upper echelons of the administration, but there seem[s] little urgency about putting the plan into effect.” [New York Times, 4/4/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D); 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04; New York Times, 3/24/04 (D)]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Richard A. Clarke, Ahmed Shah Massoud, Northern Alliance, al-Qaeda
          

March 8, 2001: US Declines to Freeze al-Qaeda's Assets Despite Call from UN and EU

       The United Nations and the European Union direct their members to freeze the assets of some al-Qaeda leaders, including Sa'd Al-Sharif, bin Laden's brother-in-law and the head of his finances, but the US does not do so until after 9/11. [Guardian, 10/13/01 (B)] For a time, the US claims that Sa'd Al-Sharif helped fund the 9/11 attacks, but the situation is highly confused and his role is doubtful (see September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Sa'd Al-Sharif, United Nations, European Union
          

March 15, 2001: India, Iran, Russia, and US Work in Concert to Remove Taliban

       Jane's Intelligence Review reports that the US is working with India, Iran, and Russia “in a concerted front against Afghanistan's Taliban regime.” India is supplying the Northern Alliance with military equipment, advisers, and helicopter technicians and both India and Russia are using bases in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for their operation. [Jane's Intelligence Review, 3/15/01]
People and organizations involved: Russia, Tajikistan, Northern Alliance, Taliban, India, Iran, Uzbekistan
          

Mid-March 2001: Hijackers Meet with ID Forger

       Hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi, Majed Moqed, Hani Hanjour, and Nawaf Alhazmi stay for four days in the Fairfield Motor Inn, Fairfield, Connecticut. They meet with Eyad M. Alrababah, a Jordanian living in Bridgeport, who has been charged with providing false identification to at least 50 illegal aliens. This meeting takes place about six weeks before the FBI says Moqed and Alghamdi enter the US. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02; Associated Press, 3/6/02]
People and organizations involved: William Safire, Eyad M. Alrababah, Majed Moqed, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ahmed Alghamdi
          

March 23, 2001: DEA Issues Alert to Look Out for Israeli Spies

       The Office of National Drug Control Policy issues a National Security Alert describing “apparent attempts by Israeli nationals to learn about government personnel and office layouts.” This later becomes known through a leaked DEA document called “Suspicious Activities Involving Israeli Art Students at DEA Facilities.” A crackdown ensues and by June, around 120 Israelis are apprehended. More are apprehended later. [DEA report, 6/01]
People and organizations involved: "Israeli art students", Office of National Drug Control Policy
          

March 26, 2001: CIA Benefits from Major Software Improvements

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

April 1, 2001: Hijacker Gets Speeding Ticket, but His Illegal Status Is Not Noticed

       Hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi is stopped by an Oklahoma police officer for speeding. His license information is run through a computer to determine whether there are any warrants for his arrest. There are none, so he is issued a ticket and sent on his way. The CIA has known that Alhazmi is an al-Qaeda operative possibly living in the US since March 2000, but has failed to share this knowledge with other agencies. [Newsweek, 6/2/02; Daily Oklahoman, 1/20/02] He also has been in the country illegally since January 2001, but this also does not raise any flags. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency
          

April 1, 2001-September 10, 2001: Nearly Half of FAA's Daily Intelligence Summaries Mention bin Laden or Al-Qaeda; No Action is Taken

       In 2005 (see February 10, 2005), it will be revealed that of the FAA's 105 daily intelligence summaries between these dates, 52 mention bin Laden, al-Qaeda, or both. Most of the mentions are “in regard to overseas threats.” None of the warnings specifically predict something similar to the 9/11 attacks, but five of them mention al-Qaeda's training for hijackings and two reports concern suicide operations unconnected to aviation. [Associated Press, 2/11/05] One of the warnings mentions air defense measures being taken in Genoa, Italy, for the July 2001 G-8 summit to protect from a possible air attack by terrorists. However, the New Jersey Star-Ledger is virtually the only newspaper in the US to report this fact. [New Jersey Star-Ledger, 2/11/05] Despite all these warnings, the FAA fails to take any extra security measures. They do not expand the use of in-flight air marshals or tighten airport screening for weapons. A proposed rule to improve passenger screening and other security measures ordered by Congress in 1996 has held up and is still not in effect by 9/11. The 9/11 Commission's report on these FAA warnings released in 2005 (see February 10, 2005) will conclude that FAA officials were more concerned with reducing airline congestion, lessening delays, and easing air carriers' financial problems than preventing a hijacking. [Associated Press, 2/11/05] The FAA also makes no effort to expand its list of terror suspects, which includes only a dozen names by 9/11. The former head of the FAA's civil aviation security branch later says he wasn't even aware of TIPOFF, the government's main watch list, which included the names of two 9/11 hijackers before 9/11. Nor is there any evidence that a senior FAA working group responsible for security ever meets in 2001 to discuss “the high threat period that summer.” [New York Times, 2/10/05]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, US Congress, al-Qaeda, Federal Aviation Administration, 9/11 Commission
          

April 2001: Speculation That Commercial Pilots Could Be Al-Qaeda Operatives

       A source with al-Qaeda connections speculates to US intelligence that “bin Laden would be interested in commercial pilots as potential terrorists.” The source warns that the US should not focus only on embassy bombings, because al-Qaeda is seeking “spectacular and traumatic” attacks along the lines of the WTC bombing in 1993. Because the source was offering personal speculation and not hard information, the information is not disseminated widely. [New York Times, 9/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, World Trade Center
          

April 2001: FBI Translators Point to Explicit Warning from Afghanistan

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

April-May 2001: Bush, Cheney Receive Numerous al-Qaeda Warnings

       President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and national security aides are given briefing papers headlined, “Bin Laden Planning Multiple Operations,” “Bin Laden Public Profile May Presage Attack,” and “Bin Laden Network's Plans Advancing.” The exact contents of these briefings remain classified, but apparently, none specifically mentions a domestic US attack. [New York Times, 4/18/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

April 2001: Wolfowitz Claims that Iraq is Involved in Terrorism

       During a National Security Council deputy principals meeting, Paul Wolfowitz is challenged by White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke after asserting that Iraq is involved in terrorism. Recalling the meeting, Clarke tells The Guardian in a March 2004 interview: “April was an initial discussion of terrorism policy writ large and at that meeting I said we had to talk about al-Qaeda. And because it was terrorism policy writ large [Paul] Wolfowitz said we have to talk about Iraqi terrorism and I said that's interesting because there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States. There hasn't been any for 8 years. And he said something derisive about how I shouldn't believe the CIA and FBI, that they've been wrong. And I said if you know more than I know tell me what it is, because I've been doing this for 8 years and I don't know about any Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the US since 1993. When I said let's start talking about bin Laden, he said bin Laden couldn't possibly have attacked the World Trade Center in '93. One little terrorist group like that couldn't possibly have staged that operation. It must have been Iraq.” [The Guardian, 3/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Paul Wolfowitz
          

April 4, 2001: Bugging Techniques Reach New Heights

       The BBC reports on advances in electronic surveillance. The US's global surveillance program, Echelon, has become particularly effective in monitoring mobile phones, recording millions of calls simultaneously and checking them against a powerful search engine designed to pick out key words that might represent a security threat. Laser microphones can pick up conversations from up to a kilometer away by monitoring window vibrations. If a bug is attached to a computer keyboard, it is possible to monitor exactly what is being keyed in, because every key on a computer has a unique sound when depressed. [BBC, 4/4/01] Furthermore, a BBC report on a European Union committee investigation into Echelon one month later notes that the surveillance network can sift through up to 90% of all Internet traffic, as well as monitor phone conversations, mobile phone calls, fax transmissions, net browsing history, satellite transmissions and so on. Even encryption may not help much. The BBC suggests that “it is likely that the intelligence agencies can crack open most commercially available encryption software.” [BBC, 5/29/01]
People and organizations involved: Eiffel Tower
          

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

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

April 8, 2001: Czech Intelligence Informant Claims Atta Met Iraqi Agent in Prague

       An informant for the BIS, the Czech intelligence agency, reportedly sees Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani meeting in a restaurant outside Prague with an Arab man in his 20s. This draws concern from the intelligence community because the informant suggests the person is “a visiting ‘student’ from Hamburg—and ... potentially dangerous.” [Slate, 11/19/03 Sources: Jan Kavan] The young man is never positively identified or seen again. Fearing that al-Ani may have been attempting to recruit the young man for a mission to blow-up Radio Free Europe headquarters, the diplomat is told to leave the country on April 18. [UPI, 10/21/02; Slate, 11/19/03; New York Times, 10/27/01 Sources: Unnamed US officials, Jan Kavan] Information about the incident is passed on to US intelligence. After the 9/11 attacks and after it is reported on the news that Atta had likely visited Prague, the BIS informant will say the young man at the restaurant was Atta. (see September 14, 2001) This information leads hawks to come up with the so-called “Prague Connection” theory, which will hold that 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta flew to Prague on April 8, met with al-Ani to discuss the planning and financing of the 9/11 attacks, and returned to the US on either April 9 or 10. [Slate, 11/19/03; New York Times, 10/27/01; UPI, 10/21/02 Sources: Jan Kavan, Unnamed BIS informant, Unnamed US officials] The theory will be widely discounted by October 2002. [New York Times, 10/21/02 Sources: Unnamed BIS informant, Unnamed US officials]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Radio Free Europe, Jabir Salim
          

April 12-September 7, 2001: Hijackers Collect Multiple Drivers' License Copies

      
The most famous image of Mohamed Atta came from his Florida driver's license.
At least six hijackers get more than one Florida driver's license. They get the second license simply by filling out change of address forms:
Waleed Alshehri—first license May 4, duplicate May 5;

Marwan Alshehhi—first license, April 12, duplicate in June;

Ziad Jarrah—first license May 2, duplicate July 10;

Ahmed Alhaznawi—first license July 10, duplicate September 7;

Hamza Alghamdi—first license June 27, two duplicates, the second in August; and

“A sixth man” with a Florida duplicate is not named. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01]
Additionally, some hijackers obtained licenses from multiple states. For instance, Nawaf Alhazmi had licenses from California, New York, and Florida at the same time, apparently all in the same name. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01; Daily Oklahoman, 1/20/02; Newsday, 9/21/01; South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01]
People and organizations involved: Waleed M. Alshehri, Marwan Alshehhi, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Hamza Alghamdi, Ziad Jarrah
          

April 12, 2001: Report on Energy Security Argues US Needs to Review Policy on Iraq

       A report commissioned by former US Secretary of State James Baker and the Council on Foreign Relations, titled “Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century,” is completed and submitted to Vice President Dick Cheney. The report was drafted by the James A.Baker III Institute for Public Policy. Edward L. Morse, an energy industry analyst, chaired the project, and Amy Myers Jaffe was the project's director. The paper urges the US to formulate a comprehensive, integrated strategic energy policy to address the current energy crisis, which it attributes to infrastructural restraints, rapid global economic expansion, and the presence of obstacles to foreign investment in the oil-rich Middle East. The report says the world's supply of oil is not a factor in the crisis. “The reasons for the energy challenge have nothing to do with the global hydrocarbon resource base. ... The world will not run short of hydrocarbons in the foreseeable future,” the paper insists. One of the report's recommendations is to “[r]eview policies toward Iraq” with the ultimate goal of “eas[ing] Iraqi oil-field investment restrictions.” Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein remains a “destabilizing influence ... to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East.” It also notes, “Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export program to manipulate oil markets.” Therefore, the report says, the “United States should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq, including military, energy, economic, and political/diplomatic assessments.” [Sunday Herald, 10/05/02; Sydney Morning Herald, 12/26/02 Sources: Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century]
People and organizations involved: James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University, Amy Myers Jaffe, Edward L. Morse, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, James Baker, Council on Foreign Relations  Additional Info 
          

April 17-26, 2001: Joint Chiefs of Staff Holds Exercise for Continuity of Government if US is Attacked; Proposal to Simulate Airliner Crash into Pentagon Rejected

       The Joint Chiefs of Staff holds a large, worldwide exercise called Positive Force, which focuses on the Defense Department's ability to conduct large-scale military operations and coordinate these operations. [CJCSI, 8/14/00] The 2001 Positive Force exercise is a “continuity of operations exercise,” meaning it deals with government contingency plans to keep working in the event of an attack on the US. [Guardian, 4/15/04] Over a dozen government agencies, including NORAD, are invited to participate. The exercise prepares them for various scenarios, including non-combatant evacuation operations, cyber attacks, rail disruption, and power outages. [Provider Update, 10/01; GlobalSecurity [.org], 6/09/02] Apparently, one of the scenarios that was considered for this exercise involved “a terrorist group hijack[ing] a commercial airliner and fly[ing] it into the Pentagon.” But the proposed scenario, thought up by a group of Special Operations personnel trained to think like terrorists, was rejected. Joint Staff action officers and White House officials said the additional scenario is either “too unrealistic” or too disconnected to the original intent of the exercise. [Guardian, 4/15/04; Boston Herald, 4/14/04; New York Times, 4/14/04; Washington Post, 4/14/04 (G); Air Force Times, 4/13/04]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Department of Defense, Pentagon
          

April 18, 2001: FAA Warns Airlines About Middle Eastern Hijackers

       The FAA sends a warning to US airlines that Middle Eastern militants could try to hijack or blow up a US plane and that carriers should “demonstrate a high degree of alertness.” The warning stems from the April 6, 2001, conviction of Ahmed Ressam over a failed plot to blow up Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebrations. This warning expires on July 31, 2001. [Associated Press, 5/18/02] This is one of 15 general warnings issued to airlines in 2001 before 9/11 (see January-August 2001), but it is more specific than usual. [CNN, 3/02; CNN, 5/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Los Angeles International Airport, Federal Aviation Administration, Ahmed Ressam
          

April 23-June 29, 2001: Al-Qaeda Muscle Team Arrives in US at This Time or Earlier

      
This Ahmed Al-Haznawi picture is a photocopy of his 2001 US visa application.
The 13 hijackers commonly known as the “muscle” allegedly first arrive in the US. The muscle provides the brute force meant to control the hijacked passengers and protect the pilots. [Washington Post, 9/30/01] According to FBI Director Mueller, they all pass through Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and their travel was probably coordinated from abroad by Khalid Almihdhar. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02] However, some information contradicts their official arrival dates:
April 23: Waleed Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami arrive in Orlando, Florida. Suqami in fact arrived before February 2001. Alshehri was leasing a house near Washington in 1999 and 2000 with Ahmed Alghamdi. He also lived with Ahmed Alghamdi in Florida for seven months in 1997. [Daily Telegraph, 9/20/01]
Alshehri appears quite Americanized in the summer of 2001, frequently talking with an apartment mate about football and baseball, even identifying himself a fan of the Florida Marlins baseball team. [Associated Press, 9/21/01]
May 2: Majed Moqed and Ahmed Alghamdi arrive in Washington. Both actually arrived by mid-March 2001. Ahmed Alghamdi was living with Waleed Alshehri near Washington until July 2000. He also lived with Waleed Alshehri in Florida for seven months in 1997. [Daily Telegraph, 9/20/01]

May 28: Mohand Alshehri, Hamza Alghamdi, and Ahmed Alnami allegedly arrive in Miami, Florida. According to other reports, however, both Mohand Alshehri and Hamza Alghamdi arrived by January 2001.

June 8: Ahmed Alhaznawi and Wail Alshehri arrive in Miami, Florida.

June 27: Fayez Banihammad and Saeed Alghamdi arrive in Orlando, Florida.

June 29: Salem Alhazmi and Abdulaziz Alomari allegedly arrive in New York. According to other reports, however, Alhazmi arrived before February 2001.
After entering the US (or, perhaps, reentering), the hijackers arriving at Miami and Orlando airports settle in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area along with Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, and Ziad Jarrah. The hijackers, arriving in New York and Virginia, settle in the Paterson, New Jersey, area along with Nawaf Alhazmi and Hani Hanjour. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02] Note the FBI's early conclusion that 11 of these muscle men “did not know they were on a suicide mission.” [Observer, 10/14/01] CIA Director Tenet's later claim that they “probably were told little more than that they were headed for a suicide mission inside the United States” [CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02] and reports that they did not know the exact details of the 9/11 plot until shortly before the attack [CBS News, 10/9/02] are contradicted by video confessions made by all of them in March 2001 (see March 2001).
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Federal Bureau of Investigation, William Safire, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ziad Jarrah, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, Majed Moqed, Ahmed Alghamdi, Mohand Alshehri, Waleed M. Alshehri, Satam Al Suqami, Hamza Alghamdi, Ahmed Alnami, Saeed Alghamdi, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Salem Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Abdulaziz Alomari, Wail Alshehri, Ahmed Alhaznawi
          

April 24, 2001: US Military Planned for Attacks Against Americans in 1960s To Use as Justification for Attacking Cuba

      
The first lines of the declassified Northwoods document.
James Bamford's book, Body of Secrets, reveals a secret US government plan named Operation Northwoods. All details of the plan come from declassified military documents. [Washington Post, 4/26/01; ABC News, 5/1/01; Baltimore Sun, 4/24/01; Associated Press, 4/24/01 Sources: Operation Northwoods] The heads of the US military, all five Joint Chiefs of Staff, proposed in a 1962 memo to stage attacks against Americans and blame Cuba to create a pretext for invasion. Says one document, “We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington. ... We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba. Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of indignation.” In March 1962, Lyman L. Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presented the Operation Northwoods plan to President John Kennedy and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. The plan was rejected. Lemnitzer then sought to destroy all evidence of the plan. [ABC News, 5/1/01; Baltimore Sun, 4/24/01] Lemnitzer was replaced a few months later, but the Joint Chiefs continued to plan “pretext” operations at least through 1963. [ABC News, 5/1/01] One suggestion in the plan was to create a remote-controlled drone duplicate of a real civilian aircraft. The real aircraft would be loaded with “selected passengers, all boarded under carefully prepared aliases,” and then take off with the drone duplicate simultaneously taking off near by. The aircraft with passengers would secretly land at a US military base while the drone continues along the other plane's flight path. The drone would then be destroyed over Cuba in a way that places the blame on Cuban fighter aircraft. [Harper's, 7/1/01] Bamford says, “Here we are, 40 years afterward, and it's only now coming out. You just wonder what is going to be exposed 40 years from now.” [Insight, 7/30/01] Some 9/11 skeptics later claim that the 9/11 attacks could have been orchestrated by elements of the US government, and see Northwoods as an example of how top US officials could hatch such a plot. [Oakland Tribune, 3/27/04]
People and organizations involved: Robert McNamara, Lyman L. Lemnitzer, John F. Kennedy, Operation Northwoods, James Bamford
          

April 30, 2001: Wolfowitz in Deputy Secretary Meeting: Who Cares About [bin Laden]?

       The Bush administration finally has its first Deputy Secretary-level meeting on terrorism. [Time, 8/4/02] According to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, he advocates that the Northern Alliance needs to be supported in the war against the Taliban, and the Predator drone flights need to resume over Afghanistan so bin Laden can be targeted. [Clarke, 2004, pp 231] Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says the focus on al-Qaeda is wrong. He states, “I just don't understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden,” and “Who cares about a little terrorist in Afghanistan?” Wolfowitz insists the focus should be Iraqi-sponsored terrorism instead. He claims the 1993 attack on the WTC must have been done with help from Iraq, and rejects the CIA's assertion that there has been no Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the US since 1993. (A spokesperson for Wolfowitz later calls Clarke's account a “fabrication.”) [Newsweek, 3/22/04; Clarke, 2004, pp 30, 231] Wolfowitz repeats these sentiments immediately after 9/11 and tries to argue that the US should attack Iraq. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage agrees with Clarke that al-Qaeda is an important threat. Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley, chairing the meeting, brokers a compromise between Wolfowitz and the others. The group agrees to hold additional meetings focusing on al-Qaeda first (in June and July), but then later look at other terrorism, including any Iraqi terrorism. [Clarke, 2004, pp 30, 231-32] Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin also attend the hour-long meeting. [Time, 8/4/02]
People and organizations involved: John E. McLaughlin, Taliban, Paul Wolfowitz, al-Qaeda, Northern Alliance, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Stephen Hadley, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Richard A. Clarke, Promis, Bush administration, Richard Armitage
          

April 30, 2001: Annual Terrorism Report Says Focusing on bin Laden Is Mistake

       The US State Department issues its annual report on terrorism. The report cites the role of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and notes the Taliban “continued to provide safe haven for international terrorists, particularly Saudi exile Osama bin Laden and his network.” However, as CNN describes it, “Unlike last year's report, bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization is mentioned, but the 2001 report does not contain a photograph of bin Laden or a lengthy description of him and the group. A senior State Department official told CNN that the US government made a mistake last year by focusing too tightly on bin Laden and ‘personalizing terrorism ... describing parts of the elephant and not the whole beast.’ ” [CNN, 4/30/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Taliban, US Department of State
          

May 2001: Iranian Tells of Plot to Attack WTC

       An Iranian in custody in New York City tells local police of a plot to attack the World Trade Center. No more details are known. [Fox News, 5/17/02]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

May 2001: Tenet Visits Pakistan; Armitage Calls on India

      
Richard Armitage.
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, a former covert operative and Navy Seal, travels to India on a publicized tour while CIA Director Tenet makes a quiet visit to Pakistan to meet with President General Musharraf. Armitage has long and deep Pakistani intelligence connections (as well as a role in the Iran-Contra affair). It would be reasonable to assume that while in Islamabad, Tenet, in what was described as “an unusually long meeting,” also meets with his Pakistani counterpart, ISI Director Mahmood. A long-time regional expert with extensive CIA ties publicly says, “The CIA still has close links with the ISI.” [SAPRA, 5/22/01; Times of India, 3/7/01]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Mahmood Ahmed, Pervez Musharraf, Richard Armitage, George Tenet
          

May 2001: Bin Laden Associates Head West, Prepare for Martyrdom

       The Defense Department gains and shares information indicating that seven people associated with bin Laden have departed from various locations for Canada, Britain, and the US. The next month, the CIA learns that key operatives in al-Qaeda are disappearing while others are preparing for martyrdom. [Washington Post, 9/19/02 (B); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden
          

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

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

May 2001: US Military Drafts Scenario for Afghan Operation

       General William Kernan, commander in chief of the Joint Forces Command, later mentions: “The details of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan which fought the Taliban and al-Qaeda after the September 11 attacks, were largely taken from a scenario examined by Central Command in May 2001.” [Agence France-Presse, 7/23/02] This seems to contradict other accounts suggesting the military made no Afghanistan invasion plans or preparations after Bush took office (see December 2000).
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, al-Qaeda, William Kernan, Taliban
          

May 2001: US Gives Taliban Millions

       Secretary of State Powell announces that the US is granting $43 million in aid to the Taliban government, purportedly to assist hungry farmers who are starving since the destruction of their opium crop occurred in January on orders of the Taliban. [Los Angeles Times, 5/22/01] This follows $113 million given by the US in 2000 for humanitarian aid. [State Department Fact Sheet, 12/11/01] A Newsday editorial notes that the Taliban “are a decidedly odd choice for an outright gift ... Why are we sending these people money—so much that Washington is, in effect, the biggest donor of aid to the Taliban regime?” [Newsday, 5/29/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Colin Powell
          

May-June 2001: Muslim Convert Inadvertently Learns of 9/11 Plot

      
John Walker Lindh.
John Walker Lindh, a young Caucasian man from California who has converted to Islam, travels to Peshawar, Pakistan, in an attempt to fight for Islamic causes. He had been studying the Koran for about six months elsewhere in Pakistan, but otherwise had no particularly special training, qualifications, or connections. Within days, he is accepted into al-Qaeda and sent to the al Faruq training camp in Afghanistan. Seven other US citizens are already training there. He inadvertently learns details of the 9/11 attacks. In June, he is told by an instructor that “bin Laden had sent forth some fifty people to carry out twenty suicide terrorist operations against the United States and Israel.” He learns that the 9/11 plot is to consist of five attacks, not the four that actually occur. The other fifteen operations are to take place later. He is asked if he wants to participate in a suicide mission, but declines. [Mahoney, 2003, pp 162, 216; Bamford, 2004, pp 234-36] Author James Bamford comments, “The decision to keep CIA employees at arm's length from [al-Qaeda] was a serious mistake. At the same moment the CIA was convinced al-Qaeda was impenetrable, a number of American citizens were secretly joining al-Qaeda in Afghanistan—and being welcomed with open arms.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 161]
People and organizations involved: John Walker Lindh, Osama bin Laden, James Bamford, al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency
          

May-July 2001: 9/11 Attacks Originally Planned for Early Date

       In 2001, bin Laden apparently pressures Khalid Shaikh Mohammed for an attack date earlier than 9/11. According to information obtained from the 9/11 Commission (apparently based on a prison interrogation of Mohammed), bin Laden first requests an attack date of May 12, 2001, the seven-month anniversary of the USS Cole bombing. Then, when bin Laden learns from the media that Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would be visiting the White House in June or July 2001, he attempts once more to accelerate the operation to coincide with his visit. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04 (B)] The surge of warnings around this time could be related to these original preparations.
People and organizations involved: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, USS Cole, Ariel Sharon, Osama bin Laden
          

May-July 2001: NSA Picks Up Word of ‘Imminent Terrorist Attacks’

       Over a two-month period, the NSA reports that “at least 33 communications indicating a possible, imminent terrorist attack.” None of these reports provide any specific information on where, when, or how an attack might occur. These reports are widely disseminated to other intelligence agencies. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; MSNBC, 9/18/02] National Security Adviser Rice later reads what she calls “chatter that was picked up in [2001s] spring and summer. ‘Unbelievable news coming in weeks,’ said one. ‘A big event ... there will be a very, very, very, very big uproar.’ ‘There will be attacks in the near future.’ ” [Washington Post, 4/8/04 (C)] The NSA director later claims that all of the warnings were red herrings. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: National Security Agency, Condoleezza Rice
          

May 2001: Cheney's Energy Plan Foresees Government Helping US Companies Expand Into New Markets

       Vice President Cheney's national energy plan is released to the public. It calls for expanded oil and gas drilling on public land and easing regulatory barriers to building nuclear power plants. [Associated Press, 12/9/02] There are several interesting points, little noticed at the time. It suggests that the US cannot depend exclusively on traditional sources of supply to provide the growing amount of oil that it needs. It will also have to obtain substantial supplies from new sources, such as the Caspian states, Russia, and Africa. It also notes that the US cannot rely on market forces alone to gain access to these added supplies, but will also require a significant effort on the part of government officials to overcome foreign resistance to the outward reach of American energy companies. [Japan Today, 4/30/02] The plan was largely decided through Cheney's secretive Energy Task Force. Both before and after this, Cheney and other Task Force officials meet with Enron executives (including one meeting a month and a half before Enron declares bankruptcy in December 2001). Two separate lawsuits are later filed to reveal details of how the government's energy policy was formed and whether Enron or other players may have influenced it, but as of mid-2005 the Bush administration has successfully resisted all efforts to release these documents. [Associated Press, 12/9/02]
People and organizations involved: Enron, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Bush administration
          

May 1, 2001-September 11, 2001: FAA Briefs Airlines on Security, But Only About Overseas Threats

       The FAA conducts 27 briefings for airline companies in this time period. However, each briefing only addresses hijacking threats overseas. This is despite the fact that from March to May, the FAA conducted briefings for US airports that raised concerns about hijackings in the domestic US, and even told airports that if hijackers wanted to end a hijacking with a suicidal “spectacular explosion” it would make more sense to do it in the domestic US (see March-May 2001). Also during roughly the same May to September time period, about half of the FAA's daily intelligence briefings mention bin Laden or al-Qaeda, and one of those specifically referred to an al-Qaeda plot using planes as weapons. Even though some of these mentions are connected to domestic threats, airlines are only briefed about the overseas threats (see April 1, 2001-September 10, 2001). [Newsday, 2/11/05; New Jersey Star-Ledger, 2/11/05]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Federal Aviation Administration
          

May 2001: Bush, Who Has Yet to Take Any Action Against al-Qaeda, Is Tired of Swatting at Flies

       It is claimed that after a routine briefing by CIA Director Tenet to President Bush regarding the hunt for al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida, Bush complains to National Security Adviser Rice that he is tired of “swatting at flies” and wants a comprehensive plan for attacking terrorism. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke already has such a plan, but it has been mired in bureaucratic deadlock since January. After this, progress remains slow. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D); Time, 8/4/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Richard A. Clarke, Abu Zubaida, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice
          

May 2001: Warnings About Impending Terrorist Attack Fail to Alert White House

       Around this time, intercepts from Afghanistan warn that al-Qaeda could attack an American target in late June or on the July 4 holiday. However, the White House's Counterterrorism and Security Group does not meet to discuss this prospect. This group also fails to meet after intelligence analysts overhear conversations from an al-Qaeda cell in Milan suggesting that bin Laden's agents might be plotting to kill Bush at the European summit in Genoa, Italy, in late July. In fact, the group hardly meets at all. By comparison, the Counterterrorism and Security Group met two or three times a week between 1998 and 2000 under Clinton. [New York Times, 12/30/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Counterterrorism and Security Group, George W. Bush
          

May-August 2001: Hijackers Take Practice Flights and Enjoy Las Vegas Diversions

       A number of the hijackers make at least six trips to Las Vegas. It is probable they met here after doing practice runs on cross-country flights. At least Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ziad Jarrah, Khalid Almihdhar and Hani Hanjour were involved. All of these “fundamentalist” Muslims drink alcohol, gamble, and frequent strip clubs. They even have strippers perform lap dances for them. [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4/01; Newsweek, 10/15/01]
People and organizations involved: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, William Safire, Ziad Jarrah, Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi
          

May 2001: Hijackers Take Advantage of New, Anonymous Visa Express Procedure

      
A portion of Salem Alhazmi's New Jersey identification card.
The US introduces the “Visa Express” program in Saudi Arabia, which allows any Saudi Arabian to obtain a visa through his or her travel agent instead of appearing at a consulate in person. An official later states, “The issuing officer has no idea whether the person applying for the visa is actually the person in the documents and application.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02; US News and World Report, 12/12/01] At the time, warnings of an attack against the US led by the Saudi Osama bin Laden are higher than they had ever been before— “off the charts” as one senator later puts it. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02] A terrorism conference had recently concluded that Saudi Arabia was one of four top nationalities in al-Qaeda. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 5/19/02] Five hijackers—Khalid Almihdhar, Abdulaziz Alomari, Salem Alhazmi, Saeed Alghamdi, and Fayez Ahmed Banihammad—use Visa Express over the next month to enter the US. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Even 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will successfully get a US Visa through this program in July (using a false name but real photograph), despite a posted $2 million reward for his capture. [Los Angeles Times, 1/27/04] Only three percent of Saudi visa applicants are turned down by US consular officers in fiscal 2000 and 2001. In contrast, about 25 percent of US visa seekers worldwide are rejected. Acceptance is even more difficult for applicants from countries alleged to have ties to terrorism such as Iraq or Iran. [Washington Post, 10/31/01] The widely criticized program is finally canceled in July 2002.
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Abdulaziz Alomari, Salem Alhazmi, Saeed Alghamdi, Osama bin Laden, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
          

May 2001: Medics Train for Airplane Hitting Pentagon

       The Tri-Service DiLorenzo Health Care Clinic and the Air Force Flight Medicine Clinic, both housed within the Pentagon, train for a scenario involving a hijacked 757 airliner being crashed into the Pentagon. It is reported that the purpose of the training is “to fine-tune their emergency preparedness.” [US Medicine, 10/01]
People and organizations involved: Tri-Service DiLorenzo Health Care Clinic, Pentagon, Air Force Flight Medicine Clinic
          

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

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

May 8, 2001: Cheney Heads Task Force Responding to Domestic Attacks, but No Action Is Taken Before 9/11

      
Vice President Dick Cheney on television, May 8, 2001.
Bush entrusts Vice President Cheney to head the new Office of National Preparedness, a part of FEMA. This office is supposed to oversee a “national effort” to coordinate all federal programs for responding to domestic attacks. Cheney informs the press: “One of our biggest threats as a nation” may include “a terrorist organization overseas. We need to look at this whole area, oftentimes referred to as homeland defense.” The focus is on state-funded terrorists using weapons of mass destruction, and neither bin Laden nor al-Qaeda is mentioned. [New York Times, 7/8/02] Cheney's task force is supposed to report to Congress by October 1, 2001, after a review by the National Security Council. Bush states that he “will periodically chair a meeting of the National Security Council to review these efforts.” [Washington Post, 1/20/02] In July, two senators send draft counterterrorism legislation to Cheney's office, but a day before 9/11, they are told it might be another six months before he gets to it. The task force is just beginning to hire staff a few days before 9/11. Former Senator Gary Hart (D) later implies that this task force is created to prevent Congress from enacting counterterrorism legislation proposed by a bipartisan commission he had co-chaired in January. [Salon, 4/6/04; Salon, 4/2/04]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Gary Hart, al-Qaeda, National Security Council, Osama bin Laden, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Office of National Preparedness
          

May 10, 2001: Ashcroft Omits Counterterrorism from List of Goals

       Attorney General Ashcroft sends a letter to department heads telling them the Justice Department's new agenda. He cites seven goals, but counterterrorism is not one of them. Yet just one day earlier, he testified before Congress and said of counterterrorism, “The Department of Justice has no higher priority.” [New York Times, 2/28/02] Dale Watson, head of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, recalls nearly falling out of his chair when he sees counterterrorism not mentioned as a goal. [9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04] In August, a strategic plan is distributed, listing the same seven goals and 36 objectives. Thirteen objectives are highlighted, but the single objective relating to counterterrorism is not highlighted. [New York Times, 2/28/02]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Justice, John Ashcroft, Counterterrorism Division, Dale Watson
          

May 11, 2001: New York City Practices for Biological Terrorist Attack

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

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

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

May 16, 2001: US Strengthens Military Relations with Central Asian Republics

       US General Tommy Franks, later to head the US occupation of Afghanistan, visits the capital of Tajikistan. He says the Bush administration considers Tajikistan “a strategically significant country” and offers military aid. This follows a visit by a Department of Defense official earlier in the year. The Guardian later asserts that by this time, “US Rangers were also training special troops in Kyrgyzstan. There were unconfirmed reports that Tajik and Uzbek special troops were training in Alaska and Montana.” [Guardian, 9/26/01]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Thomas Franks
          

May 23, 2001: Former Unocal Employee Becomes Bush's Special Assistant to Middle East and Central Asia

      
Zalmay Khalilzad.
Zalmay Khalilzad is appointed Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Gulf, Southwest Asia and Other Regional Issues on the National Security Council. Khalilzad was an official in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations. During the Clinton years, he worked for Unocal. After 9/11, he will be appointed as special envoy to Afghanistan. [Independent, 1/10/02; State Department profile, 2001] He previously worked under Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and helped him write a controversial 1992 plan for US world domination.(see March 8, 1992) [New York Times, 3/22/03] He was a member of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century. The Asia Times notes, “It was Khalilzad—when he was a huge Taliban fan—who conducted the risk analysis for Unocal (Union Oil Company of California) for the infamous proposed $2 billion, 1,500 kilometer-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan [TAP] gas pipeline.” [Asia Times, 12/25/03] After 9/11, he will be appointed as special envoy to Afghanistan and become what some call the “real president” of that country (see January 1, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Paul Wolfowitz, Taliban, Project for the New American Century, Unocal, National Security Council
          

May 29, 2001: US Citizens Overseas Cautioned

       The State Department issues an overseas caution connected to the conviction of defendants in the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. That warning says, “Americans citizens abroad may be the target of a terrorist threat from extremist groups” with links to bin Laden. The warning will be reissued on June 22. [CNN, 6/23/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, US Department of State
          

May 30, 2001: Yemenis Are Caught Taking Suspicious New York Photos

       Two Yemeni men are detained after guards see them taking photos at 26 Federal Plaza in New York City. They are questioned by INS agents and let go. A few days later, their confiscated film is developed, showing photos of security checkpoints, police posts, and surveillance cameras of federal buildings, including the FBI's counterterrorism office. The two men are later interviewed by the FBI and determined not to be a threat. However, they had taken the pictures on behalf of a third person living in Indiana. By the time the FBI looks for him, he has fled the country and his documentation is found to be based on a false alias. In 2004, the identity of the third man is reportedly still unknown. The famous briefing given to President George W. Bush on August 6, 2001 (see August 6, 2001), will mention the incident, warning that the FBI is investigating “suspicious activity in this country consistent with the preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.” When Bush's August 6 briefing is released in 2004, a White House fact sheet fails to mention the still missing third man. [New York Post, 7/1/01; Washington Post, 5/16/04; New York Post, 9/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, George W. Bush
          

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

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

May 31, 2001: Tightly Organized System of al-Qaeda Cells Found in US

       The Wall Street Journal summarizes tens of thousands of pages of evidence disclosed in a recently concluded trial of al-Qaeda operatives. They are called “a riveting view onto the shadowy world of al-Qaeda.” The documents reveal numerous connections between al-Qaeda and specific front companies and charities. They even detail a “tightly organized system of cells in an array of American cities, including Brooklyn, N.Y.; Orlando, Fla.; Dallas, Tex.; Santa Clara, Calif.; Columbia, Mo., and Herndon, Va.” The 9/11 hijackers had ties to many of these same cities and charities. [Wall Street Journal, 5/31/01]
          

Early June 2001: Extensive ISI Support for Taliban Continues

       UPI reporters visiting Taliban leader Mullah Omar note, “Saudi Arabia and the [United Arab Emirates] secretly fund the Taliban government by paying Pakistan for its logistical support to Afghanistan. Despite Pakistan's official denials, the Taliban is entirely dependent on Pakistani aid. This was verified on the ground by UPI. Everything from bottled water to oil, gasoline and aviation fuel, and from telephone equipment to military supplies, comes from Pakistan.” [UPI, 6/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Mullah Omar, Taliban, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
          

Summer 2001: Bin Laden Speech Mentions 20 Martyrs in Upcoming Attack; Other Hints of Attack Spread Widely

       Word begins to spread within al-Qaeda that an attack against the US is imminent, according to later prison interrogations of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Many within al-Qaeda are aware that Mohammed has been preparing operatives to go to the US. Additionally, bin Laden makes several remarks hinting at an upcoming attack, spawning rumors throughout Muslim extremist circles worldwide. For instance, in a recorded speech at the al Faruq training camp in Afghanistan, bin Laden specifically urges trainees to pray for the success of an upcoming attack involving 20 martyrs. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04 (B)] There are other indications that knowledge of the attacks spreads in Afghanistan. The Daily Telegraph later reports that “the idea of an attack on a skyscraper [is] discussed among [bin Laden's] supporters in Kabul.” At some unspecified point before 9/11, a neighbor in Kabul sees diagrams showing a skyscraper attack in a house known as a “nerve center” for al-Qaeda activity. [Daily Telegraph, 11/16/01] US soldiers will later find forged visas, altered passports, listings of Florida flight schools and registration papers for a flight simulator in al-Qaeda houses in Afghanistan. [New York Times, 12/6/01] A bin Laden bodyguard later claims that in May 2001 he hears bin Laden tell people in Afghanistan that the US would be hit with an attack, and thousands would die. [Guardian, 11/28/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Osama bin Laden
          

Summer 2001: Tenet Believes Something Is Happening

      
CIA Director George Tenet.
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage later claims that at this time, CIA Director “Tenet [is] around town literally pounding on desks saying, something is happening, this is an unprecedented level of threat information. He didn't know where it was going to happen, but he knew that it was coming.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Richard Armitage
          

Summer 2001: Threat Alerts Increase to Record High

       Congressman Porter Goss (R), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, later says on the intelligence monitoring of US-designated terrorist groups, “The chatter level [goes] way off the charts” around this time and stays high until 9/11. Given Goss's history as a CIA operative, presumably he is kept “in the know” to some extent. [Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02] A later Congressional report states: “Some individuals within the intelligence community have suggested that the increase in threat reporting was unprecedented, at least in terms of their own experience.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] Two counterterrorism officials later describe the alerts of this summer as “the most urgent in decades.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Porter J. Goss
          

Summer 2001: Pakistani Intelligence Rescues bin Laden Associate

       Egyptian investigators track down a close associate of bin Laden named Ahmed al-Khadir, wanted for bombing the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad in 1995. Egyptians surround the safe house in Pakistan where al-Khadir is hiding. They notify the ISI to help arrest him, and the ISI promises swift action. Instead, a car sent by the ISI filled with Taliban and having diplomatic plates arrives, grabs al-Khadir and drives him to safety in Afghanistan. Time magazine later reports the incident as demonstrating the strong ties between the ISI and both the Taliban and al-Qaeda. [Time, 5/6/02]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed al-Khadir, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Taliban, al-Qaeda
          

June-July 2001: Terrorist Threat Reports Surge, Frustration with White House Grows

       Terrorist threat reports, already high in the preceding months, surge even higher. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and national security aides are given briefing papers with headlines such as “Bin Laden Threats Are Real” and “Bin Laden Planning High Profile Attacks.” The exact contents of these briefings remain classified, but according to the 9/11 Commission they consistently predict upcoming attacks that will occur “on a catastrophic level, indicating that they would cause the world to be in turmoil, consisting of possible multiple—but not necessarily simultaneous—attacks.” CIA Director Tenet later recalls that by late July the warnings coming in could not get any worse. He feels that President Bush and other officials grasp the urgency of what they are being told. [9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04 (B)] But Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin later states that he feels a great tension, peaking these months, between the Bush administration's apparent misunderstanding of terrorism issues and his sense of great urgency. McLaughlin and others are frustrated when inexperienced Bush officials question the validity of certain intelligence findings. Two unnamed, veteran Counter Terrorism Center officers deeply involved in bin Laden issues are so worried about an impending disaster that they consider resigning and going public with their concerns. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)] Dale Watson, head of counterterrorism at the FBI, wishes he had “500 analysts looking at Osama bin Laden threat information instead of two.” [9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush, John E. McLaughlin, George Tenet, Dale Watson, Osama bin Laden, Bush administration
          

June 2001: Enron Shuts Down Expensive Indian Plant Afghan Pipeline Fails to Materialize

       Enron's power plant in Dabhol, India, is shut down. The failure of the $3 billion plant, Enron's largest investment, contributes to Enron's bankruptcy in December. Earlier in the year, India stopped paying its bill for the energy from the plant, because energy from the plant cost three times the usual rates. [New York Times, 3/20/01] Enron had hoped to feed the plant with cheap Central Asian gas, but this hope was dashed when a gas pipeline through Afghanistan was not completed. The larger part of the plant is still only 90 percent complete when construction stops around this time. [New York Times, 3/20/01] Enron executives meet with Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans about its troubled Dabhol power plant during this year [New York Times, 2/21/02] , and Vice President Cheney lobbies the leader of India's main opposition party about the plant this month. [New York Times, 2/21/02]
People and organizations involved: India, Donald L. Evans, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Enron
          

June 2001: CIA Fears Al-Qaeda Will Strike on Fourth of July.

       The CIA provides senior US policy makers with a classified warning of a potential attack against US interests that is thought to be tied to Fourth of July celebrations in the US. [Sunday Herald, 9/23/01]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

Summer 2001: FBI Neglects Chance to Infiltrate al-Qaeda Training Camp

       A confidential informant tells an FBI field office agent that he has been invited to a commando-training course at a camp operated by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The information is passed up to FBI headquarters, which rejects the idea of infiltrating the camp. An “asset validation” of the informant, a routine but critical exercise to determine whether information from the source was reliable, is also not done. The FBI later has no comment on the story. [US News and World Report, 6/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda
          

June 2001: US Intelligence Warns of Spectacular Attacks by al-Qaeda Associates

       US intelligence issues a terrorist threat advisory, warning US government agencies that there is a high probability of an imminent attack against US interests: “Sunni extremists associated with al-Qaeda are most likely to attempt spectacular attacks resulting in numerous casualties.” The advisory mentions the Arabian Peninsula, Israel, and Italy as possible targets for an attack. Afterwards, intelligence information provided to senior US leaders continues to indicate that al-Qaeda expects near-term attacks to have dramatic consequences on governments or cause major casualties. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda
          

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

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

Early June 2001: Taliban Leader Claims Interest in Resolving bin Laden Issue

       Reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar says the Taliban would like to resolve the bin Laden issue, so there can be “an easing and then lifting of UN sanctions that are strangling and killing the people of [Afghanistan].” [UPI, 6/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden
          

June 2001: US Still Fails to Aid Taliban Resistance

       The US considers substantially aiding Ahmed Shah Massoud and his Northern Alliance. As one counterterrorism official put it, “You keep [al-Qaeda terrorists] on the front lines in Afghanistan. Hopefully you're killing them in the process, and they're not leaving Afghanistan to plot terrorist operations.” A former US special envoy to the Afghan resistance visits Massoud this month. Massoud gives him “all the intelligence he [has] on al-Qaeda” in the hopes of getting some support in return. However, he gets nothing more than token amounts and his organization isn't even given “legitimate resistance movement” status. [Time, 8/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Shah Massoud, al-Qaeda, United States, Northern Alliance
          

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

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

Summer 2001: Military Plans Reducing Domestic Air Defenses Still Further

       During this period, apparently, there are only 14 fighter planes on active alert to defend the continental US (and six more defending Canada and Alaska). [Bergen Record, 12/5/03] However, in the months before 9/11, rather than increase the number, the Pentagon was planning to reduce the number still further. Just after 9/11, the Los Angeles Times will report, “While defense officials say a decision had not yet been made, a reduction in air defenses had been gaining currency in recent months among task forces assigned by [Defense Secretary] Rumsfeld to put together recommendations for a reassessment of the military.” By comparison, in the Cold War atmosphere of the 1950s, the US had thousands of fighters on alert throughout the US. [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01 (B)] In fact, there will be high level military discussions as late as September 8, 2001, where the option of eliminating the bases altogether is considered (see September 8, 2001). As late as 1998, there were 175 fighters on alert status. [Bergen Record, 12/5/03] Also during this time, FAA officials try to dispense with “primary” radars altogether, so that if a plane were to turn its transponder off, no radar could see it. NORAD rejects the proposal [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Donald Rumsfeld, US Department of Defense
          

June 2001: Clarke Asks for Different Job as White House Fails to Share His Urgency

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke asks for a transfer to start a new national program on cyber security. His request is granted, and he is to change jobs in early October 2001. He makes the change despite the 9/11 attacks. He claims that he tells National Security Adviser Rice and her deputy Steve Hadley, “Perhaps I have become too close to the terrorism issue. I have worked it for ten years and to me it seems like a very important issue, but maybe I'm becoming like Captain Ahab with bin Laden as the White Whale. Maybe you need someone less obsessive about it.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 25-26; White House, 10/9/01] He later claims, “My view was that this administration, while it listened to me, either didn't believe me that there was an urgent problem or was unprepared to act as though there were an urgent problem. And I thought, if the administration doesn't believe its national coordinator for counterterrorism when he says there's an urgent problem, and if it's unprepared to act as though there's an urgent problem, then probably I should get another job.” [New York Times, 3/24/04]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Osama bin Laden, Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke
          

June 1, 2001: New Policy: Only Defense Secretary May Approve Fighter Jet Launch

       According to the New York Observer and government documents, the procedure for dealing with hijackings within the United States changes on this date. It requires that, with the exception of “immediate responses,” requests for military assistance must be forwarded to the defense secretary (Donald Rumsfeld) for approval. Rumsfeld later claims that protection against a domestic terrorist attack is not his responsibility; it is instead “a law-enforcement issue.” [Department of Defense, 6/1/01; CJCSI, 7/31/97; New York Observer, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

Summer 2001: Classified al-Qaeda Surveillance Program Curtailed

       According to Newsweek, the Justice Department curtails “a highly classified program called ‘Catcher's Mitt’ to monitor al-Qaeda suspects in the United States.” This is apparently because a federal judge severely chastised the FBI for improperly seeking permission to wiretap terrorists. [Newsweek, 3/22/04]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Early June 2001: Counterterrorism Plan Circulated, but Contingency Plans Are Not Created

      
Steve Hadley.
Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley circulates a draft presidential directive on policy toward al-Qaeda. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and his staff regard the new approach as essentially the same as the proposal that they developed in December 2000 and presented to the Bush administration in January 2001. The draft has the goal of eliminating al-Qaeda as a threat over a multi-year period, and calls for funding through 2006. It has a section calling for the development of contingency military plans against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Hadley contacts Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to tell him these contingency plans will be needed soon. However, no such plans are developed before 9/11. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and others later admit that the contingency plans available immediately after 9/11 are unsatisfactory. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D); 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (B)] The draft is now discussed in three more deputy-level meetings.
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard A. Clarke, Bush administration, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Paul Wolfowitz
          

Summer 2001: NSA Fails to Share Intercepted Information About Calls Between Atta and Mohammed

       Around this time, the NSA intercepts telephone conversations between Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Mohamed Atta, but apparently does not share the information with any other agencies. The FBI has a $2 million reward for Mohammed at the time, while Atta is in charge of operations inside the US. [Knight Ridder, 6/6/02; Independent, 6/6/02] The NSA either fails to translate these messages in a timely fashion or fails to understand the significance of what was translated. [Knight Ridder, 6/6/02]
People and organizations involved: National Security Agency, Mohamed Atta, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
          

Summer 2001: Pentagon's Police Force Holds Various, Unknown Emergency Drills

       The Pentagon's police force, the Defense Protective Service (DPS), conducts emergency drills throughout summer 2001. Some members of the DPS subsequently assist in directing rescue efforts at the Pentagon on 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01 (C)]
          

Summer 2001: Saudi and Taliban Leaders Reportedly Discuss Bin Laden

      
Crown Prince Abdullah.
An Asia Times article published just prior to 9/11 claims that Crown Prince Abdullah, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, makes a clandestine visit to Pakistan around this time. After meeting with senior army officials, he visits Afghanistan with ISI Director Mahmood. They meet Taliban leader Mullah Omar and try to convince him that the US is likely to launch an attack on Afghanistan. They insist bin Laden be sent to Saudi Arabia, where he would be held in custody and not handed over to any third country. If bin Laden were to be tried in Saudi Arabia, Abdullah would help make sure he is acquitted. Mullah Omar apparently rejects the proposal. The article suggests that Abdullah is secretly a supporter of bin Laden and is trying to protect him from harm. [Asia Times, 8/22/01] A similar meeting may also take place about a week after 9/11 (see September 19, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Mullah Omar, Mahmood Ahmed, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Osama bin Laden
          

June or July 2001: Hijackers Plan Attacks from German University

       Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, and an unknown third person are seen in the ground-floor workshops of the architecture department at this time, according to at least two witnesses from the Hamburg university where Atta had studied. They are seen on at least two occasions with a white, three-foot scale model of the Pentagon. Between 60 and 80 slides of the Sears building in Chicago and the WTC are found to be missing from the technical library after 9/11. [Sunday Times, 2/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Pentagon, World Trade Center, Marwan Alshehhi
          

June 1-2, 2001: Military Conducts Exercises Based on Scenario in which Cruise Missiles Are Launched against US

      
Bin Laden is pictured on the cover of the first Amalgam Virgo exercise.
The US military conducts Amalgam Virgo 01, a multi-agency planning exercise sponsored by NORAD involving the hypothetical scenario of a cruise missile being launched by “a rogue [government] or somebody” from a barge off the East Coast. Bin Laden is pictured on the cover of the proposal for the exercise. [American Forces Press Service, 6/4/02] The exercise takes place at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. [Global Security, 4/14/02] The next Amalgam Virgo exercise, scheduled to take place the following year, will involve two simultaneous commercial aircraft hijackings. Planning for the exercises begins before 9/11 (see Before September 11, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, US Department of Defense, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

Summer 2001: Hijackers Use a Variety of Means to Get into Cockpit During Test Flights

       According to the Boston Globe, during various cross-country test run flights in the summer of 2001, “Some of the hijackers were seen videotaping crews on their flights. Other times, they asked for cockpit tours. Two also rode in the cockpit of the planes of one national airline, said a pilot who requested anonymity. The practice, known as ‘jumpseating,’ 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.” [Boston Globe, 11/23/01]
          

June 2001: Hijackers Meet in London

       British investigators believe that at least five of the hijackers have a “vital planning meeting” held in a safe house in north London, Britain. [Times of London, 9/26/01] Authorities suspect that Mustapha Labsi, an Algerian now in British custody, trains the hijackers in this safe house, as well as previously training the hijackers in Afghanistan. [Daily Telegraph, 9/30/01]
People and organizations involved: Mustapha Labsi
          

June 2001: DEA Draws Up Report on Israeli Spies

      
The cover of the DEA report, as depicted on television.
The DEA's Office of Security Programs prepares a 60-page internal memo on the Israeli “art student spy ring.” [DEA report, 6/01] The Memo is a compilation of dozens of field reports, and was meant only for the eyes of senior officials at the Justice Department (of which the DEA is adjunct), but it is leaked to the press around December 2001. The report connects the spies to efforts to foil investigations into Israeli organized crime activity involving the importation of the drug Ecstasy. The spies also appear to be snooping on top-secret military bases. For instance, on April 30, 2001, an Air Force alert was issued from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City concerning “possible intelligence collection being conducted by Israeli art students.” Tinker AFB houses AWACS surveillance craft and Stealth bombers. By the time of the report, the US has “apprehended or expelled close to 120 Israeli nationals” but many remain at large. [Salon, 5/7/02; Le Monde, 3/5/02] An additional 20 or so Israeli spies are apprehended between June and 9/11. [Fox News, 12/12/01]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Justice, "Israeli art students", Office of Security Programs
          

June 4, 2001: Illegal Afghans Overheard Discussing New York City Hijacking Attack

       At some point in 2000, three men claiming to be Afghans but using Pakistani passports entered the Cayman Islands, possibly illegally. [Miami Herald, 9/20/01] In late 2000, Cayman and British investigators began a yearlong probe of these men, which lasts until 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01] They are overheard discussing hijacking attacks in New York City during this period. On this day, they are taken into custody, questioned, and released some time later. This information is forwarded to US intelligence. [Fox News, 5/17/02] In late August, a letter to a Cayman radio station will allege these same men are agents of bin Laden “organizing a major terrorist act against the US via an airline or airlines.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01; Miami Herald, 9/20/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden
          

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

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

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

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

June 12, 2001: Sting Operation Exposes al-Qaeda, ISI, and Drug Connections; Investigators Face Obstacles to Learn More

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

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

       A CIA report says that a man named “Khaled” is actively recruiting people to travel to various countries, including the US, to stage attacks. CIA headquarters presume from the details of this report that Khaled is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. On July 11, the individual source for this report is shown a series of photographs and identifies Mohammed as the person he called “Khaled.” [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/04; USA Today, 12/12/02] This report also reveals that
al-Qaeda operatives heading to the US would be “expected to establish contact with colleagues already living there.”

Mohammed himself had traveled to the US frequently, and as recently as May 2001.

He is a relative of bomber Ramzi Yousef.

He appears to be one of bin Laden's most trusted leaders.

He routinely tells others that he can arrange their entry into the US as well.
However, the CIA doesn't find this report credible because they think it is unlikely that he would come to the US. Nevertheless, they consider it worth pursuing. One agent replies, “If it is KSM, we have both a significant threat and an opportunity to pick him up.” The CIA disseminates the report to all other US intelligence agencies, military commanders, and parts of the Treasury and Justice Departments. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will later request that the CIA inform them how CIA agents and other agencies reacted to this information, but the CIA does not respond to this. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] On July 23, 2001, the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will give Mohammed a US visa (he uses an alias but his actual photo appears on his application) (see July 23, 2001). Also, during this summer and as late as September 10, 2001, the NSA will intercept phone calls between Mohammed and Mohamed Atta, but the NSA will not share this information with any other agencies (see Summer 2001).
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Ramzi Yousef, US Department of Justice, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, US Consulate, Jedda, Saudi Arabia Office, US Department of the Treasury, Central Intelligence Agency
          

June 13, 2001: Bin Laden Wants to Assassinate Bush with an Explosives-Filled Airplane

       Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak later claims that Egyptian intelligence discovers a “communiqué from bin Laden saying he wanted to assassinate President Bush and other G8 heads of state during their summit in Genoa, Italy” on this day. The communiqué specifically mentions this would be done via “an airplane stuffed with explosives.” The US and Italy are sent urgent warnings of this. [New York Times, 9/26/01] Mubarak claims that Egyptian intelligence officials informed American intelligence officers between March and May 2001 that an Egyptian agent had penetrated al-Qaeda. Presumably, this explains how Egypt is able to give the US these warnings. [New York Times, 6/4/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Hosni Mubarak, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda
          

June 13, 2001: Counterterrorism Not Part of Bush Defense Plan

       At President Bush's first meeting with NATO heads of state in Brussels, Belgium, Bush outlines his five top defense issues. Missile defense is at the top of the list. Terrorism is not mentioned at all. This is consistent with his other statements before 9/11. Almost the only time he ever publicly mentions al-Qaeda or bin Laden before 9/11 is later in the month, in a letter that renews Clinton administration sanctions on the Taliban. [CNN, 6/13/01; Washington Post, 4/1/04] He only speaks publicly about the dangers of terrorism once before 9/11, in May, except for several mentions in the context of promoting a missile defense shield. [Washington Post, 1/20/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, Clinton administration, al-Qaeda, Taliban
          

June 16, 2001: Major Simulated Terrorist Attack Exercise is Held in Pennsylvania

       A major training exercise based upon a simulated terrorist attack is held in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, which neighbors Somerset County where Flight 93 crashes on 9/11. The exercise, called Mall Strike 2001, is conducted in Greengate Mall, Hempfield, and involves over 600 emergency first responders and emergency managers responding to the simulated release of a toxic chemical agent and the simulated release of radiation and radiological contamination. [Westmoreland County Annual Financial Report, 2001; Connellsville Daily Courier, 9/11/02] Mall Strike is organized by the Pennsylvania Region 13 Working Group: a 13-county organization that began preparing for terrorist attacks in 1998. When Flight 93 crashes on September 11, the Region 13 Working Group's chair immediately contacts other members of the group and emergency teams are quickly deployed to the crash site. The group's four years of preparing and working together “allowed them to develop and train teams that could work efficiently together during an event of this magnitude.” [Department of Homeland Security, 3/12/03]
People and organizations involved: Mall Strike 2001
          

June 20, 2001: Time Magazine Mentions al-Qaeda Using Planes as Weapons

       Time magazine reports: “For sheer diabolical genius (of the Hollywood variety), nothing came close to the reports that European security services are preparing to counter a bin Laden attempt to assassinate President Bush at next month's G8 summit in Genoa, Italy. According to German intelligence sources, the plot involved bin Laden paying German neo-Nazis to fly remote-controlled model aircraft packed with Semtex into the conference hall and blow the leaders of the industrialized world to smithereens. (Paging Jerry Bruckheimer).” The report only appears on the website, and not in the US version of the magazine. [Time, 6/20/01] This report follows warnings given by Egypt the week before. In addition, there are more warnings before the summit in July. James Hatfield, author of an unflattering book on Bush called Fortunate Son, repeats the claim in print a few days later, writing: “German intelligence services have stated that bin Laden is covertly financing neo-Nazi skinhead groups throughout Europe to launch another terrorist attack at a high-profile American target.” [Online Journal, 7/3/01] Two weeks later, Hatfield apparently commits suicide. However, there is widespread speculation that his death was payback for his revelation of Bush's cocaine use in the 1970s. [Salon, 7/20/01]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, James Hatfield, Osama bin Laden
          

June 21, 2001: Senior al-Qaeda Officials Say Important Surprises Coming Soon

       A reporter for the Middle East Broadcasting Company interviews Osama bin Laden. Keeping a promise made to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, bin Laden does not say anything substantive, but Ayman al-Zawahiri and other top al-Qaeda leaders promise that “[the] coming weeks will hold important surprises that will target American and Israeli interests in the world.” [Associated Press, 6/25/01; Associated Press, 6/24/01] The reporter says, “There is a major state of mobilization among the Osama bin Laden forces. It seems that there is a race of who will strike first. Will it be the United States or Osama bin Laden?” [Reuters, 6/23/01] After 9/11, the reporter concludes, “I am 100 percent sure of this, and it was absolutely clear they had brought me there to hear this message.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 236] The reporter is also shown a several-months-old videotape with bin Laden declaring to his followers, “It's time to penetrate America and Israel and hit him them where it hurts most.” [CNN, 6/21/01] Author James Bamford theorizes that the original 9/11 plot involved a simultaneous attack on Israel and that shoe bomber Richard Reid may have originally wanted to target an Israeli aircraft around this time. For instance, Reid flies to Tel Aviv, Israel on July 12, 2001, to test if airline security would check his shoes for bombs. [Bamford, 2004, pp 236-39]
People and organizations involved: Ayman al-Zawahiri, James Bamford, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Mullah Omar
          

June 25, 2001: Hijacker Opens Bank Account in Dubai

       Hijacker Fayez Banihammad opens a bank account in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), with 9/11 paymaster “Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi.” That name is a likely alias for Saeed Sheikh, who is known to visit Dubai frequently in this time period. [MSNBC, 12/11/01] Banihammad flies to the US the next day. Banihammad gives power of attorney to “al-Hawsawi” on July 18, and then “al-Hawsawi” sends Banihammad Visa and ATM cards in Florida. Banihammad uses the Visa card to buy his airplane ticket for 9/11. [Washington Post, 12/13/01; MSNBC, 12/11/01] The same pattern of events occurs for some other hijackers, though the timing is not fully known. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02] Visa cards are given to several other hijackers in Dubai. [Times of London, 12/1/01] Other hijackers, including Hani Hanjour, Abdulaziz Alomari, and Khalid Almihdhar, open foreign bank and credit card accounts in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia. Majed Moqed, Saeed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Wail Alshehri, and possibly others purchase travelers checks in the UAE, presumably with funds given to them when they pass through Dubai. It is believed that “al-Hawsawi” is in Dubai every time the hijackers pass through. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Alhaznawi, Wail Alshehri, Hamza Alghamdi, Ahmed Alnami, Saeed Alghamdi, Majed Moqed, Khalid Almihdhar, Abdulaziz Alomari, William Safire, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, Saeed Sheikh, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad
          

June 26, 2001: US, Russia, and Regional Powers Cooperate to Oust Taliban

       An Indian magazine reports more details of the cooperative efforts of the US, India, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran against the Taliban regime: “India and Iran will ‘facilitate’ US and Russian plans for ‘limited military action’ against the Taliban if the contemplated tough new economic sanctions don't bend Afghanistan's fundamentalist regime.” Earlier in the month, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a meeting of the Confederation of Independent States that military action against the Taliban may happen, possibly with Russian involvement using bases and forces from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as well. [IndiaReacts, 6/26/01]
People and organizations involved: India, Iran, Vladimir Putin, Bob Kerry, Russia, Tajikistan, Taliban
          

June 26, 2001: State Department Issues Worldwide Caution; Military on Alert Overseas

       The State Department issues a worldwide caution warning American citizens of possible attacks. [CNN, 3/02] Also around this time, US military forces in the Persian Gulf are placed on heightened alert and naval ships there are sent out to sea, and other defensive steps are taken overseas. This is in response to a recent warning the week before where an al-Qaeda video was shown, saying, “It's time to penetrate America and Israel and hit them where it hurts most.” However, as author James Bamford later notes, “No precautions were ever taken within the United States, only overseas.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 241]
People and organizations involved: US Department of State, James Bamford, al-Qaeda
          

June 27, 2001: India and Pakistan Discuss Building Pipeline Project Through Iran

       The Wall Street Journal reports that Pakistan and India are discussing jointly building a gas pipeline from Central Asian gas fields through Iran to circumvent the difficulties of building the pipeline through Afghanistan. Iran has been secretly supporting the Northern Alliance to keep Afghanistan divided so no pipelines could be put through it. [Wall Street Journal, 6/27/01]
People and organizations involved: Northern Alliance, India, Pakistan
          

June 27-July 16, 2001: Counterterrorism Plan Delayed with More Deputies Meetings

       The first Bush administration deputy-secretary-level meeting on terrorism in late April is followed by three more deputy meetings. Each meeting focuses on one issue: one meeting is about al-Qaeda, one about the Pakistani situation, and one on Indo-Pakistani relations. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke's plan to roll back al-Qaeda, which has been discussed at these meetings, is worked on some more, and is finally approved by National Security Adviser Rice and the deputies on August 13. It now can move to the Cabinet-level before finally reaching President Bush. The Cabinet-level meeting is scheduled for later in August, but too many participants are on vacation, so the meeting takes place in early September. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D); 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04; Washington Post, 1/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, al-Qaeda, Bush administration, George W. Bush
          

June 28, 2001: Tenet Warns of Imminent al-Qaeda Attack

       CIA Director Tenet writes an intelligence summary for National Security Adviser Rice: “It is highly likely that a significant al-Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks.” A highly classified analysis at this time adds, “Most of the al-Qaeda network is anticipating an attack. Al-Qaeda's overt publicity has also raised expectations among its rank and file, and its donors.” [Washington Post, 5/17/02] Apparently, the same analysis also adds, “Based on a review of all source reporting over the last five months, we believe that [bin Laden] will launch a significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] This warning is shared with “senior Bush administration officials” in early July. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] Apparently, these warnings are largely based on a warning given by al-Qaeda leaders to a reporter a few days earlier. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke also later asserts that Tenet tells him around this time, “It's my sixth sense, but I feel it coming. This is going to be the big one.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 235]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Bush administration, Richard A. Clarke, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice
          

June 29, 2001: Surveillance Indicates Al-Qaeda Will Attack Genoa Summit With More Than One Plane

      
Abu Hamza al-Masri.
The Italian Secret Service SISDE records a meeting in the Finsbury Park mosque, in northern London, Britain. Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri (an Afghanistan war veteran heading a radical Islamic group), Mustapha Melki (linked to al-Qaeda member Abu Doha), and a man only known as Omar talk to each other. Notes of the meeting state, “Abu Hamza proposed an ambitious but unlikely plot which involved attacks carried by planes.” This is apparently a reference to an attack on the upcoming G8 summit in Genoa scheduled in several weeks. But unlike other reports of an al-Qaeda attack on that summit, this refers to an attack using more than one plane. The notes of the meeting conclude, “The belief that Osama bin Laden is plotting an attack is spreading among the radical Islamic groups.” [Discovery News, 9/13/01]
People and organizations involved: Abu Doha, Khalid el-Masri, al-Qaeda, Mustapha Melki, Secret Service, Osama bin Laden, Italian Secret Service
          

Late Summer 2001: US Intelligence Learns al-Qaeda Is Considering Mounting Operations in the US

       US intelligence learns that an al-Qaeda operative is considering mounting operations in the US. There is no information on the timing or specific targets. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda
          

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

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