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Pakistan,ISI,drugs
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Flight AA 11
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Complete 911 Timeline

 
  

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September 5, 1996

       Terrorist Ramzi Yousef and two other defendants, Abdul Hakim Murad and Wali Khan Amin Shah, are convicted of crimes relating to Project Bojinka, a failed al-Qaeda plan Yousef devised that would have crashed 11 or 12 planes into buildings simultaneously (see January 6, 1995). [CNN, 9/5/96] Many people, including some experts, have said that Yousef was convicted on September 11, 1996 (for instance, see [A Stunning Intelligence Failure Paul Monk, 2002]), and this would explain why that date would be chosen in 2001, but that appears to be incorrect. In the nearly 6,000 page transcript of the three month Bojinka trial, there isn't a single mention of the “third plot” follow up to Bojinka that closely paralleled the 9/11 plot. Interrogations by Philippine investigator Colonel Rodolfo Mendoza had exposed the details of this plot quite clearly (see February 1995). But not only is Mendoza not called to testify, he name isn't even mentioned in the trial, not even by his assistant, who does testify. Author Peter Lance notes, “The FBI seemed to be going out of its way to avoid even a hint of the plot that was ultimately carried out on 9/11.”
          

September 11, 1996 (B)

       The Egyptian government issues an arrest warrant for bin Laden, the first in the world (see also April 15, 1998).
          

September 11, 1996

      
WAMY logo.
An FBI investigation into two relatives of bin Laden, begun in February 1996, is closed. The FBI wanted to learn more about Abdullah bin Laden, “because of his relationship with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [WAMY]—a suspected terrorist organization.” [Guardian, 11/7/01] Abdullah was the US director of WAMY and lived with his brother Omar in Falls Church, Virginia, a town just outside Washington. The coding on the document, marked secret, indicates the case involved espionage, murder, and national security. WAMY has its offices at 5613 Leesburg Pike. Remarkably, it is later determined that four of the 9/11 hijackers lived at 5913 Leesburg Pike at the same time the two bin Laden brothers were there. WAMY has not been put on a list of terrorist organizations in the US, but it has been banned in Pakistan. [BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01, Guardian, 11/7/01, see related leaked documents here ] The Indian and Philippine governments have also cited WAMY for funding terrorism. “WAMY was involved in terrorist-support activity,” says a security official who served under George W. Bush. “There's no doubt about it.” [Vanity Fair, 10/03] A high-placed intelligence official tells the Guardian: “There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis. There were particular investigations that were effectively killed.”[Guardian, 11/7/01] An unnamed US source says to the BBC, “There is a hidden agenda at the very highest levels of our government.” [BBC Newsnight 11/6/01] The Bosnian government later says a charity with Abdullah bin Laden on its board had channeled money to Chechen guerrillas (see also September 20, 2002 (C)), something that “is only possible because the Clinton CIA gave the wink and nod to WAMY and other groups who were aiding Bosnian guerrillas when they were fighting Serbia, a US-approved enemy.” The investigation into WAMY is only restarted two days after 9/11, around the same time these bin Ladens leave the US (see September 14-19, 2001). [ Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast, 2/03] (Note that this Abdullah bin Laden is possibly bin Laden's cousin, not brother, and is apparently not the same as the Abdullah bin Laden who serves as the bin Laden family spokesman. [Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast 2/03]
          

September 27, 1996

       The Taliban conquer Kabul [AP, 8/19/02], establishing control over much of Afghanistan. A surge in the Taliban's military successes at this time is later attributed to an increase in direct military assistance from Pakistan's ISI. [New York Times 12/8/01] The oil company Unocal is hopeful that the Taliban will stabilize Afghanistan and allow its pipeline plans to go forward. In fact, “preliminary agreement [on the pipeline] was reached between the [Taliban and Unocal] long before the fall of Kabul…. Oil industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America's, has been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced in its conquest of Afghanistan.” [Telegraph 10/11/96] The 9/11 Commission later concludes that some State Department diplomats are willing to “give the Taliban a chance” because it might be able to bring stability to Afghanistan, which would allow a Unocal oil pipeline to be built through the country. [9/11 Commission Report 3/24/04]
          

October 1996 (B)

       US intelligence learn of an Iranian plot to hijack a Japanese plane over Israel and crash it into Tel Aviv. While the plot was never carried out, it is one more example of intelligence agencies being aware that planes could be used as suicide weapons. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02]
          

October 1996

      
Victor Bout, taken from a passport photo.
Since 1992, Russian arms merchant Victor Bout has been selling weapons to Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, but this month he switches sides and begins selling weapons to the Taliban and al-Qaeda instead (see also Mid-1996-October 2001). [Guardian, 4/17/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02, Los Angeles Times, 5/17/02] The deal comes immediately after the Taliban captures Kabul and gains the upper hand in Afghanistan's civil war (see September 27, 1996). Bout formerly worked for the Russian KGB, and operates the world's largest private weapons transport network. Based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bout operates freely there until well after 9/11. The US becomes aware of Bout's widespread illegal weapons trading in Africa in 1995, and of his ties to the Taliban in 1996, but they fail to take effective action against him for years. [Los Angeles Times, 5/17/02] US pressure on the UAE in November 2000 to close down Bout's operations there is ignored. Press reports calling him “the merchant of death” also fail to pressure the UAE (for instance, [Financial Times, 6/10/00, Guardian, 12/23/00]). After President Bush is elected, it appears the US gives up trying to get Bout, until after 9/11. [Washington Post 2/26/02; Guardian 4/17/02] In one trade in 1996, Bout's company delivers at least 40 tons of Russian weapons to the Taliban, earning about $50 million. [Guardian 2/16/02] Two intelligence agencies later confirm that Bout trades with the Taliban “on behalf of the Pakistan government.” In late 2000, several Ukrainians sell 150 to 200 T-55 and T-62 tanks to the Taliban in a deal conducted by the ISI, and Bout helps fly the tanks to Afghanistan. [Montreal Gazette 2/5/02] Bout moves to Russia in 2002. He is seemingly protected from prosecution by the Russian government, which in early 2002 claimed, “There are no grounds for believing that this Russian citizen has committed illegal acts.” [Guardian 4/17/02] The Guardian suggests that Bout may have worked with the CIA when he traded with the Northern Alliance, and this fact may be hampering current international efforts to catch him. [Guardian 4/17/02]
          

October 11, 1996

       The Telegraph publishes an interesting article about pipeline politics in Afghanistan. Some quotes: “Behind the tribal clashes that have scarred Afghanistan lies one of the great prizes of the 21st century, the fabulous energy reserves of Central Asia.” “ ‘The deposits are huge,’ said a diplomat from the region. ‘Kazakhstan alone may have more oil than Saudi Arabia. Turkmenistan is already known to have the fifth largest gas reserves in the world.’ ” [Telegraph 10/11/96]
          

Late 1996

       After moving the base of his operations to Afghanistan, bin Laden quickly establishes and maintains a major role in the opium drug trade. The money from opium is vital to keep the Taliban in power and fund bin Laden's terrorist network. Yoseff Bodansky, director of the congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare and author of a 1999 biography on bin Laden, says bin Laden takes a 15 percent cut of the drug trade money in exchange for protecting smugglers and laundering their profits. [Star Tribune, 9/30/01] A different estimate has bin Laden taking a cut of up to 10 percent of Afghanistan's drug trade by early 1999. This would give him a yearly income of up to $1 billion out of $6.5 to $10 billion in drug profits seen within Afghanistan each year. [Financial Times 11/28/01]
          

1997-July 2001

       Hijacker Hani Hanjour begins associating with an unnamed individual who is later mentioned in FBI agent Ken Williams' famous flight school memo (see July 10, 2001). Hanjour and this person train at flight schools in Arizona. Several flight instructors later note the two were associates and may have carpooled together. They are known to share the same airplane on one occasion in 1999, and are at the school together on other occasions. This individual leaves the US in April 2000. In May 2001, the FBI attempts to investigate this person, but after finding out the person is out of the country the decision is made to not open a formal investigation. The name of this person is not placed on a watch list, so the FBI is unaware that the person returns in June and stays in the US for another month. By this time, this person is an experienced flight instructor who is certified to fly Boeing 737s. The FBI speculates the person may return to evaluate Hanjour's flying skills or provide final training before 9/11. There is considerable circumstantial evidence placing this person near Hanjour during this month. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

1997 (C)

       FBI headquarters is concerned that an unnamed terrorist group would possibly use an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for terrorist attacks. The FBI and CIA become aware that this group had purchased a UAV. At the time, the agencies believed that the only reason to use this UAV would be for either reconnaissance or attack. There was more concern about the possibility of an attack outside the United States, for example, by flying a UAV into a US Embassy or a visiting US delegation. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02]
          

1997 (B)

       Special CIA paramilitary teams start entering Afghanistan in this year. [Washington Post, 11/18/01] Around 1998 there is a push to recruit more agents capable of operating or traveling in Afghanistan. Many locals are recruited, including some Taliban military leaders. However, apparently none are close to bin Laden. This problem is not fixed in succeeding years. [Washington Post 2/22/04; 9/11 Commission 3/24/04 (C)]
          

1997 or 1998

       The Spanish newspaper El Mundo later reports, “According to several professors at the Valencia School of Medicine, some of whom are forensic experts, [Atta] was a student there in 1997 or 1998. Although he used another name then, they remember his face among the students that attended anatomy classes.” It is also suggested that “years before, as a student he went to Tarragona. That would explain his last visit to Salou [(see July 8-19, 2001)], where he could have made contact with dormant cells… ” [El Mundo 9/30/01] If this is true, it would contradict Atta's presence as a student in Hamburg, Germany during this entire period. But there are other accounts of Atta seemingly being in two places at once (see 1998-2000, September 1999, Late April-Mid-May 2000, and Spring 2000).
          

1997

       While the State Department listed bin Laden as a financier of terror in its 1996 survey of terrorism, al-Qaeda is not included on the 1997 official US list of terrorist organizations subject to various sanctions. They are finally listed in 1998. [New York Times 12/30/01]
          

January 20, 1997

       Bill Clinton is re-inaugurated as President. An extensive set of security measures to prevent airplanes as weapons crashing into the inauguration is used. These measures, first used in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and thus referred to as the “Atlanta Rules” (see July 6-August 11, 1996), includes the closing of nearby airspace, intercept helicopters, the basing of armed fighters nearby, and more. This plan will later be used for the 1999 North Atlantic Treaty Organization's 50th anniversary celebration in Washington, the 2000 Republican convention in Philadelphia, the 2000 Democratic convention in New York, and the Bush Jr. inauguration in 2001 (see January 21, 2001). [Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, 3/04, pp. 110-111, Wall Street Journal, 4/1/04] At some point near the end of the Clinton administration, the Secret Service and Customs Service agree to create a permanent air defense unit to protect Washington. However, these agencies are part of the Treasury Department, and the leadership there refuses to fund the idea. The permanent unit is not created until after 9/11. [Wall Street Journal 4/1/04]
          

February 12, 1997

       The White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, led by Vice President Gore, issues its final report. [Gore Commission 2/12/97] But the report has little practical effect: “Federal bureaucracy and airline lobbying slowed and weakened a set of safety improvements recommended by a presidential commission—including one that a top airline industry official now says might have prevented the Sept. 11 terror attacks.” [Los Angeles Times 10/6/01]
          

March 1997

      
Mohammed Haydar Zammar.
An investigation of al-Qaeda contacts in Hamburg by the Constitutional Protection Agency, Germany's domestic intelligence service, begins at least by this time (Germany won't give details) . [New York Times, 1/18/03] Telephone intercepts show that a German investigation into Mohammed Haydar Zammar (see November 1, 1998-February 2001 and October 27, 2001) is taking place this month. It is later believed that Zammar, a German of Syrian origin, is a part of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/03] He supposedly later claims he recruited Atta and others into the cell. [Washington Post, 6/19/02] A decade earlier, Germany authorities already identified Zammar as a militant. [New York Times, 1/18/03] From 1995-2000, he makes frequent trips to Afghanistan. [New York Times, 1/18/03, Stern, 8/13/03] German intelligence is aware that he was personally invited to Afghanistan by bin Laden. [FAZ, 2/2/03] Spanish investigators later say Zammar is a longtime associate of Barakat Yarkas, the alleged boss of the al-Qaeda cell in Madrid, Spain (see August 27, 2001). In 1998, Germany is given more evidence of his terror ties, and surveillance intensifies. He is periodically trailed, and all his calls are recorded (see Summer 1999). [Stern, 8/13/03] It's not clear if or when the investigation ends, but it continues until at least September 1999 (see September 21, 1999). [AP 6/22/02]
          

April 24, 1997

       A package containing a petri dish mislabeled “anthracks” is received at the B'nai B'rith headquarters in Washington, DC. “The choice of B'nai B'rith probably was meant to suggest Arab terrorists, because the building had once been the target of an assault by Muslim gunmen.” The dish did not contain anthrax but did contain bacillus cereus, a very close, non-toxic cousin of anthrax used by the US Defense Department. There are similarities to the later real anthrax attacks (see October 4, 2001), such as the misspelling “penacilin”. In July 2002, B'nai B'rith claims the FBI still hasn't asked them about this hoax anthrax attack. [New York Times 7/12/02]
          

May 26, 1997

       The Saudi government extends formal recognition of the Taliban government of Afghanistan. They are the first country to do so. Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates also eventually recognize the Taliban, and these three are still the ones officially recognizing them on 9/11. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] The Saudi Arabian and Pakistani governments are later suspected of involvement in 9/11, and the United Arab Emirates is the financial conduit for many of the money transfers in the operation.
          

June 3, 1997

      
William Kristol, one of the founders and leaders of PNAC.
The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think tank formed in the spring of 1997, issues its statement of principles. PNAC's stated aims: “to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests,” to achieve “a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad,” “to increase defense spending significantly,” to challenge “regimes hostile to US interests and values,” and to “accept America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.” [PNAC Principles, 6/3/97] These principles matter because they are signed by a group who will become “a roll call of today's Bush inner circle.” [Guardian, 2/26/03] ABC's Ted Koppel will later say PNAC's ideas have “been called a secret blueprint for US global domination” (see also January 26, 1998, September 2000, August 21, 2001 (B)). [ABC News 3/5/03 (B)]
          

August 1997

       The CIA creates a secret task force to monitor Central Asia's politics and gauge its wealth. Covert CIA officers, some well-trained petroleum engineers, travel through southern Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to sniff out potential oil reserves. [Time 5/4/98]
          

October 1997

      
Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (see December 26, 1979) publishes a book in which he portrays the Eurasian landmass as the key to world power, and Central Asia with its vast oil reserves as the key to domination of Eurasia. He states that for the US to maintain its global primacy, it must prevent any possible adversary from controlling that region. He notes that, “The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported America's engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.” Furthermore, because of popular resistance to US military expansionism, his ambitious Central Asian strategy could not be implemented “except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.” [The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives]
          

October 27, 1997

       Halliburton, a company with future Vice President Cheney as CEO, announces a new agreement to provide technical services and drilling for Turkmenistan, a country in Central Asia. The press release also mentions that “Halliburton has been providing a variety of services in Turkmenistan for the past five years.” On the same day, a consortium to build a pipeline through Afghanistan is formed. It's called CentGas, and the two main partners are Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia. [Halliburton press release 10/27/97; CentGas press release 10/27/97]
          

November 26, 1997

       An industry newsletter reports that Saudi Arabia has abandoned plans to have open bids on a $2 billion power plant near Mecca, deciding that the government will build it instead. What's interesting is that one of the bids was made by a consortium of Enron, the Saudi Binladen Group (run by Osama's family),and Italy's Ansaldo Energia. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections 1/22/98]
          

December 1997

      
Abdallah al-Thani
CIA agent Robert Baer (see also August 2001 (G) and January 23, 2002), newly retired from the CIA and working as a terrorism consultant, meets a former police chief from the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. He learns how 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was sheltered from the FBI by the Qatari Interior Minister Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani (see January-May 1996). He passes this information to the CIA in early 1998, but the CIA takes no action against Qatar's al-Qaeda patrons. The ex-police chief also tells him that Mohammed is a key aide to bin Laden, and that based on Qatari intelligence, Mohammed “is going to hijack some planes.” He passes this information to the CIA as well, but again the CIA doesn't seem interested, even when he tries again after 9/11. [UPI 9/30/02; Vanity Fair 2/02; See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism Robert Baer 2/02 pp. 270-271] Baer also tries to interest reporter Daniel Pearl in a story about Mohammed before 9/11, but Pearl is still working on it when he gets kidnapped and murdered (see December 24, 2001-January 23, 2002). [UPI 9/30/02] The ex-police chief later disappears, presumably kidnapped by Qatar. It has been speculated that the CIA turned on the source to protect its relationship with the Qatari government. [ Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, Bill Gertz, pp. 55-58Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, Bill Gertz, pp. 55-58] It appears bin Laden visits Abdallah al-Thani in Qatar between the years 1996 and 2000. [ABC News, 2/7/03] Al-Thani continues to support al-Qaeda, providing Qatari passports and more than $1 million in funds. Even after 9/11, Mohammed is provided shelter in Qatar for two weeks in late 2001. [New York Times, 2/6/03] Yet the US still has not frozen al-Thani's assets or taken other action. Could the US have captured bin Laden if they paid more attention to Robert Baer's information?
          

December 4, 1997

       Representatives of the Taliban are invited guests to the Texas headquarters of Unocal to negotiate their support for the pipeline. Future President Bush Jr. is Governor of Texas at the time. The Taliban appear to agree to a $2 billion pipeline deal, but will do the deal only if the US officially recognizes the Taliban regime. The Taliban meet with US officials, and the Telegraph reports that “the US government, which in the past has branded the Taliban's policies against women and children ‘despicable,’ appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to clinch the lucrative pipeline contract.” A BBC regional correspondent says “the proposal to build a pipeline across Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from developing the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea.” [BBC, 12/4/97, Telegraph, 12/14/97] [FTW]
          

December 14, 1997

       It is reported that Unocal has hired the University of Nebraska to train 400 Afghani teachers, electricians, carpenters and pipefitters in anticipation of using them for their pipeline in Afghanistan. 150 students are already attending classes. [Telegraph 12/14/97]
          

1998 (D)

       A military report released this year describes a program called “Joint Vision 2010”, a series of “analyses, wargames, studies, experiments, and exercises” which are “investigating new operational concepts, doctrines, and organizational approaches that will enable US forces to maintain full spectrum dominance of the battlespace well into the 21st century.” “The Air Force has begun a series of wargames entitled Global Engagement at the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.” The same article mentions that the military is working on a “variety of new imaging and signals intelligence sensors, currently in advanced stages of development, deployed aboard the Global Hawk, DarkStar, and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)… ” [Department of Defense Annual Report, 1998] What is the relevance of this? It may be complete coincidence, but “Air Force spokesman Col. Ken McClellan said a man named Mohamed Atta—which the FBI has identified as one of the five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11—had once attended the International Officer's School at Maxwell/Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.” [Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] Global Hawk is a technology that enables pilotless flight and has been functioning since at least early 1997. [Department of Defense, 2/20/97] Some have claimed that Global Hawk technology was used to manipulate events on 9/11. Could Atta have taken part in wargames involving Global Hawk (see September 25, 2001)?
          

1998 (H)

       Hendropriyono, the Indonesian chief of intelligence, claims in 2003 that, “We had intelligence predicting the September 11 attacks three years before it happened but nobody believed us.” He says Indonesian intelligence agents identify bin Laden as the leader of the group plotting the attack and that the US disregards the warning, but otherwise offers no additional details. The Associated Press notes, “Indonesia's intelligence services are not renowned for their accuracy.” [AP 7/9/03 (C)]
          

1998-2000

       Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi live periodically in the town of Mabalacat, Philippines. They stay in the Woodland Resort hotel and apparently learn to fly planes at a nearby flight school. Philippine and US investigators have looked into these visits but haven't confirmed the hijackers' presence there. Locals, however, are certain they saw them frequently partying, drinking alcohol, sleeping with local women, and consorting with many other, unknown Arabs (most of whom disappear shortly before 9/11). For instance, according to a former waitress at the hotel, Alshehhi throws a party in December 1999 with six or seven Arab friends: “They rented the open area by the swimming pool for 1,000 pesos. They drank Johnnie Walker Black Label whiskey … They came in big vehicles, and they had a lot of money. They all had girlfriends.” Several employees recall Atta staying at the hotel during the summer of 1999, acting unfriendly and cheap. One hotel employee claims that most of the guests were Arab, and many took flying lessons at the nearby school. These witnesses claim the two used aliases, but the other Arabs referred to Atta as “Mohamed.” [Manila Times, 10/2/01, International Herald Tribune, 10/5/01, AP, 9/28/01] Apparently, other hijackers and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed visit the Philippines during this time (see Early 1994-January 1995and 2000-September 10, 2001). However, according to the official version of events, Atta and Alshehhi are in Hamburg, Germany during this time. Atta is still working on his thesis, which he completes in late 1999. [Australian Broadcasting Corp. 11/12/01]
          

1998 (B)

       It is later revealed by Uzbekistan that Uzbekistan and the US have been conducting joint covert operations against Afghanistan's Taliban regime and bin Laden since at least before this year. [Times of India 10/14/01; Washington Post 10/14/01]
          

1998

       According to later closed session congressional testimony by the heads of the CIA, FBI and NSA, al-Qaeda begins planning the 9/11 attacks in this year. [USA Today, 6/18/02] In a June 2002 interview, 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed also says the planning for the attacks begin at this time. [AP, 9/8/02] But it appears the targeting of the WTC and pilot training began even earlier. An al-Qaeda operative in Spain will later be found with videos filmed in 1997 of major US structures (including “innumerable takes from all distances and angles” of the WTC). There are numerous connections between Spain and the 9/11 hijackers, including an important meeting there in July 2001 (see July 8-19, 2001). [AP, 7/17/02] Hijacker Waleed Alshehri was living in Florida since 1995, started training for his commercial pilot training degree in 1996, and got his license in 1997. [Sunday Herald 9/16/01; Boston Globe 9/14/01] So the attack was probably planned even earlier, but the earlier it was planned, the worse the US looks for not catching it.
          

1998 (G)

       Antoine Sfeir, a French Arab specialist, later claims that bin Laden was a CIA asset in the 1980s, and that the CIA maintains contact with bin Laden until this year. He says, “Those contacts didn't end after bin Laden moved to Afghanistan”(see May 18, 1996). He isn't surprised by reports of bin Laden meeting with the CIA in July 2001 (see July 12, 2001) because, “Until the last minute, CIA agents hoped bin Laden would return to US command, as was the case before 1998.” [UPI, 11/1/01] The CIA denies ever having any kind of relationship with bin Laden (see 1986).
          

1998 (F)

      
Aukai Collins
An American Muslim named Aukai Collins later says he reports to the FBI about hijacker Hani Hanjour for six months this year. [AP, 5/24/02] The FBI later acknowledges they paid Collins to monitor the Islamic and Arab communities in Phoenix between 1996 and 1999. [AP, 5/24/02, ABC News, 5/23/02] Collins claims that he is a casual acquaintance of hijacker Hani Hanjour while Hanjour is taking flying lessons. [AP, 5/24/02] Collins sees nothing suspicious about Hanjour as an individual, but he tells the FBI about him because Hanjour appears to be part of a larger, organized group of Arabs taking flying lessons. [Fox News 5/24/02] He says the FBI “knew everything about the guy,” including his exact address, phone number and even what car he drove. The FBI denies Collins told them anything about Hanjour, and denies knowing about Hanjour before 9/11. [ABC News 5/23/02] Collins later calls Hanjour a “hanky panky” hijacker: “He wasn't even moderately religious, let alone fanatically religious. And I knew for a fact that he wasn't part of al-Qaeda or any other Islamic organization; he couldn't even spell jihad in Arabic.” [My Jihad: The True Story of an American Mujahid's Amazing Journey from Usama Bin Laden's Training Camps to Counterterrorism with the FBI and CIA Aukai Collins 6/02 p. 248]
          

Early 1998

       Bill Richardson, the US Ambassador to the UN, meets Taliban officials in Kabul (all such meetings are technically illegal, because the US still officially recognizes the government the Taliban ousted as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan). US officials at the time call the oil and gas pipeline project a “fabulous opportunity” and are especially motivated by the “prospect of circumventing Iran, which offered another route for the pipeline.” [Boston Globe 9/20/01]
          

1998 (E)

       A son of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the al-Qaeda leader convicted in 1995 of conspiring to blow up tunnels and other New York City landmarks, is heard to say that the best way to free his father from a US prison might be to hijack an American plane and exchange the hostages. This is supposedly the most recent concrete hijacking report Bush hears in his August 2001 briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”(see August 6, 2001). [Washington Post 5/18/02 (B)]
          

Mid-August 1998

       President Clinton signs a Memorandum of Notification authorizing the CIA to plan an assassination of bin Laden. The CIA draw up detailed profiles of bin Laden's daily routines, where he sleeps, and his travel arrangements. The assassination never happens, supposedly because of inadequate intelligence. But, as one officer later says, “you can keep setting the bar higher and higher, so that nothing ever gets done.” An officer who helped draw up the plans says, “We were ready to move” but “we were not allowed to do it because of this stubborn policy of risk avoidance… It is a disgrace.” [Philadelphia Inquirer 9/16/01] Additional memorandums quickly follow that authorize the assassination of less than ten other al-Qaeda leaders, and authorize the shooting down of private aircraft containing bin Laden. [Washington Post, 12/19/01] “These directives [lead] to nothing.” [New Yorker 7/28/03]
          

1998 (C)

       In response to the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am 747 over Scotland, the FAA creates “red teams” —small, secretive teams traveling to airports and attempting to foil their security systems. “In 1998, the red team completed extensive testing of screening checkpoints at a large number of domestic airports… ” “We were successful in getting major weapons — guns and bombs— through screening checkpoints with relative ease, at least 85 percent of the time in most cases. At one airport, we had a 97 percent success rate in breaching the screening checkpoint.” “The individuals who occupied the highest seats of authority in FAA were fully aware of this highly vulnerable state of aviation security and did nothing.” [New York Times, 2/27/02] In 1999, the New York Port Authority and major airlines at Boston's Logan Airport—used twice on 9/11— “were fined a total of $178,000 for at least 136 security violations over the previous two years. In the majority of incidents, screeners hired by the airlines for checkpoints in terminals routinely failed to detect test items, such as pipe bombs and guns.” [AP, 9/12/01 (C)] Did the terrorists know which airports were most vulnerable, and take advantage of that knowledge?
          

Mid-August 1998-January 2001

       Within days of the US embassy bombings (see August 8, 1998), the US permanently stations two submarines in the Indian Ocean, ready to hit al-Qaeda with cruise missiles on short notice. Missile are fired from these subs later in the month in a failed attempt to assassinate bin Laden (see August 20, 1998). Six to ten hours advance warning is now needed to review the decision, program the cruise missiles and have them reach their target. On at least three other occasions, spies in Afghanistan report bin Laden's location with information suggesting he would remain there for some time. Each time, Clinton approves the strike. Each time, CIA Director Tenet says the information is not reliable enough and the attack cannot go forward. [Washington Post, 12/19/01, New York Times, 12/30/01] The submarines are removed shortly after President Bush takes office (see ).
          

January 26, 1998

      
PNAC logo.
The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publishes a letter to President Clinton, urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein because he is a “hazard” to “a significant portion of the world's supply of oil.” In a foretaste of what eventually actually happens, the letter calls for the US to go to war alone, attacks the United Nations, and says the US should not be “crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.” The letter is signed by many who will later lead the 2003 Iraq war. 10 of the 18 signatories later join the Bush Administration, including (future) Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Undersecretaries of State John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, presidential adviser for the Middle East Elliott Abrams, and Bush's special Iraq envoy Zalmay Khalilzad (see also June 3, 1997, and September 2000). [Sunday Herald, 3/16/03, PNAC Letter, 1/26/98] Clinton does heavily bomb Iraq in late 1998, but the bombing doesn't last long and its long-term effect is the break off of United Nations weapons inspections. [New York Times 3/22/03]
          

February 12, 1998

       Unocal Vice President John J. Maresca—later to become a Special Ambassador to Afghanistan—testifies before the House of Representatives that until a single, unified, friendly government is in place in Afghanistan the trans-Afghani pipeline will not be built. He suggests that with a pipeline through Afghanistan, the Caspian basin could produce 20 percent of all the non-OPEC oil in the world by 2010. [House International Relations Committee testimony, 2/12/98] [FTW]
          

February 22, 1998

       Bin Laden issues a fatwa, declaring it the religious duty of all Muslims “to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military … in any country in which it is possible.” [PBS Frontline, 2001, Sunday Herald, 9/16/01, complete text of the fatwa from al-Quds al-Arabi, 2/23/98] This is an expansion of an earlier fatwa issued in August 1996 (see August 1996).
          

Spring 1998

       Sources who know bin Laden later claim that bin Laden's mother has the first of two meetings with her son in Afghanistan. This trip was arranged by Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the head of Saudi intelligence. Turki was in charge of the “Afghanistan file” for Saudi Arabia, and had long-standing ties to bin Laden and the Taliban (see Early 1980). [New Yorker 11/5/01]
          

April 1998

       Osama Basnan, a Saudi living in California, later claims that he writes a letter at this time to Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar bin Sultan and his wife, Princess Haifa bint Faisal, asking for financial help because his wife needs thyroid surgery. The Saudi embassy sends Basnan $15,000 and pays the surgical bill. However, University of California at San Diego hospital records say Basnan's wife, Majeda Dweikat, isn't treated until April 2000. [Los Angeles Times 11/24/02] Basnan will later come under investigation for possibly using some of this money to support two of the 9/11 hijackers who arrive in San Diego (see December 4, 1999 and November 22, 2002). Prior to this time, the FBI had several chances to investigate Basnan, but failed to do so. In 1992 they received information suggesting a connection between him and a terror group later associated with bin Laden. In 1993, they received reports that Basnan hosted a party for terrorist leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman (see July 1990) the year before, but again they failed to investigate. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] According to one US official, at a party shortly after 9/11, Basnan “celebrate[s] the heroes of September 11” and talks about “what a wonderful, glorious day it had been.” [Newsweek 12/24/02; San Diego Magazine 9/03]
          

April 15, 1998

      
Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi.
The first Interpol (international police) arrest warrant for bin Laden is issued by, of all countries, Libya. [Observer 11/10/02] According to Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, authors of the controversial book The Forbidden Truth, British and US intelligence agencies play down the arrest warrant, and have the public version of the warrant stripped of important information, such as the summary of charges and the fact that Libya requested the warrant. At this point, no Western country has yet issued a warrant for bin Laden, even though he publicly called for attacks on Western targets beginning in 1996 (see August 1996). The arrest warrant is issued for the murder in 1994 of two German anti-terrorism agents. Supposedly, Britain and the US aren't interested in catching bin Laden at this time due to his involvement with Britain in attempts to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi (see 1996 and November 5, 2002).
          

May 1998

       The FBI issues a strategic, five-year plan that designates national and economic security, including counterterrorism, as its top priority for the first time. However, it is later determined that neither personnel nor resources are shifted accordingly. FBI counterterrorism spending remains constant from this point until 9/11. Only about 6 percent of the FBI's agent work force is assigned to counterterrorism on 9/11 (see also Before September 11, 2001 (D)). [9/11 Commission Report 4/13/04; New York Times 4/18/04]
          

After May 15, 1998

       At some point in 1998 after an Oklahoma City FBI office warning about possible terrorists training at US flight schools (see May 18, 1998), the FBI receives reports that a terrorist organization might be planning to bring students to the US for flight training. [New York Daily News, 9/25/02] The FBI is aware that people connected to this unnamed organization had performed surveillance and security tests at airports in the US and had made comments suggesting an intention to target civil aviation. Apparently this warning is not shared with other FBI offices or the FAA, and a connection with the Oklahoma warning is not made; a similar warning follows in 1999 (see 1999 (L)). [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03 (B)]
          

May 18, 1998

       An FBI pilot sends his supervisor in the Oklahoma City FBI office a memo warning that he has observed “large numbers of Middle Eastern males receiving flight training at Oklahoma airports in recent months.” The memo, titled “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” further states this “may be related to planned terrorist activity” and speculates that “light planes would be an ideal means of spreading chemicals or biological agents.” The memo doesn't call for an investigation, and none is done. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B), NewsOK, 5/29/02, see the memo here] The memo is “sent to the bureau's Weapons of Mass Destruction unit and forgotten.” [New York Daily News 9/25/02] In 1999 it is learned that an al-Qaeda agent had studied flight training in Norman, Oklahoma (see September 1999 (E)). Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi briefly visit the same school in 2000; Zacarias Moussaoui does study at the school in 2001 (see February 23, 2001 and August 23, 2001 (E)).
          

May 22, 1998

       President Clinton creates the new post of National Coordinator for Counterterrorism. He names Richard Clarke for the job, and Clarke soon becomes known as the counterterrorism “tsar.” [Washington Post, 4/20/00] This is outlined in a new presidential directive on counterterrorism that also outlines goals in fighting terrorism and attempts to strengthen interagency coordination of the terrorism issue. [9/11 Commission Report 3/24/04 (D)]
          

May 26, 1998

       In a press conference from Afghanistan, bin Laden discusses “bringing the war home to America.” [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02] He indicates the results of his jihad will be “visible” within weeks. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03 (B)]
          

May 28, 1998

       In an interview with ABC News reporter John Miller, bin Laden indicates he may attack a US military passenger aircraft using antiaircraft missiles. In the subsequent media coverage, Miller repeatedly refers to bin Laden as “the world's most dangerous terrorist,” and even “the most dangerous man in the world.” [ABC News 5/28/98; ABC News 6/12/98; Esquire 2/99; Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03 (B)]
          

May 28, 1998 (B)

       Pakistan conducts a successful nuclear test. Former Clinton official Karl Inderfurth later notes that concerns about an Indian-Pakistani conflict, or even nuclear confrontation, compete with efforts to press Pakistan on terrorism. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03 (B)]
          

June 1998 (E)

       In 1997 and early 1998, the US develops a plan to capture bin Laden in Afghanistan. A CIA-owned aircraft is stationed in a nearby country, ready to land on a remote landing strip long enough to pick him up. But problems with having to hold bin Laden too long in Afghanistan make the operation unlikely. The plan morphs into using a team of Afghan informants (see 1997 (B)) to kidnap bin Laden from inside his heavily defended farm. In this month the plan is given to CIA Director Tenet for approval, but he rejects it without showing it to President Clinton. It is thought unlikely to succeed and the Afghan allies are considered unreliable. [Washington Post 2/22/04] It is speculated that the airstrip used for these purposes is occupied and used as a base of operations early in the post-9/11 Afghan war. [Washington Post 12/19/01]
          

June 1998 (B)

       Enron's agreement to develop natural gas with the government of Uzbekistan is not renewed (see June 24, 1996). Enron closes its office there. The reason for the “failure of Enron's flagship project” is an inability to get the natural gas out of the region. Uzbekistan's production is “well below capacity” and only 10 percent of its production is being exported, all to other countries in the region. The hope was to use a pipeline through Afghanistan, but “Uzbekistan is extremely concerned at the growing strength of the Taliban and its potential impact on stability in Uzbekistan, making any future cooperation on a pipeline project which benefits the Taliban unlikely.” A $12 billion pipeline through China is being considered as one solution, but that wouldn't be completed until the end of the next decade at the earliest. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections 10/12/98]
          

June 1998 (C)

       US intelligence obtains information from several sources that bin Laden is considering attacks in the US, including Washington and New York. This information is given to senior US officials in July 1998. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02] Information mentions an attack in Washington probably against public places. US intelligences guesses bin Laden places a high priority on conducting attacks in the US. In spring 1999 there is more information about a planned al-Qaeda attack on a Washington government facility. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03; Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03 (B)]
          

June 1998

      
Taliban leader Mullah Omar, blind in one eye.
Relations between Taliban head Mullah Omar and bin Laden grow tense, and Omar strikes a secret deal with the Saudis to expel bin Laden. Head of Saudi intelligence Prince Turki al-Faisal travels to Kandahar, Afghanistan and brokers the deal, but before it can be enacted, the US strikes Afghanistan in August, driving Omar and bin Laden back together. Prince Turki states that “the Taliban attitude changed 180 degrees,” and that Omar was “absolutely rude” to him when he visited again in September. [Guardian 11/5/01; London Times 8/3/02] Note that reports of this meeting seemingly contradict reports of a different secret meeting a month later (see July 1998). Was bin Laden charmed by luck, or might the embassy bombings and/or the US missile attacks in response have been timed to help keep him in Afghanistan?
          

June 1998 (D)

      
Prince Sultan, the Saudi Minister of Defense and Aviation.
An unknown Saudi benefactor pays a Saudi named Saad Al-Habeeb to buy a building in San Diego, California for a new Kurdish community mosque. However, the approximately $500,000 needed will only be given on the condition that a Saudi named Omar al-Bayoumi be installed as the building's maintenance manager with a private office at the mosque. Al-Bayoumi is later suspected of being both an al-Qaeda advance man and a Saudi agent (see December 4, 1999, Early February 2000, and November 22, 2002). After taking the job, al-Bayoumi rarely shows up for work. [Newsweek, 11/24/02, San Diego Magazine, 9/03] This means he has two jobs at once (see August 1994). The people in the mosque eventually begin a move to replace al-Bayoumi, but he moves to Britain in July 2001 before this can happen. [Newsweek, 11/24/02] An anonymous federal investigator states: “Al-Bayoumi came here, set everything up financially, set up the San Diego [terrorist] cell and set up the mosque.” An international tax attorney notes that anyone handling business for a mosque or a church could set it up as a tax-exempt charitable organization “and it can easily be used for money laundering.” [San Diego Union-Tribune 10/27/01; San Diego Union-Tribune 10/22/02]
          

June 8, 1998

       A US grand jury issues a sealed indictment charging bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders with conspiracy to attack the US. The indictment is publicly released on November 4, 1998. [PBS Frontline 10/3/02 (C)] The grand jury took two years to reach an indictment, largely based on information from an informant (see June 1996). [New York Times, 09/30/01 (B), Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B), Frontline, 9/01] This secret indictment is superseded by a public one later in the year (see November 4, 1998).
          

June 23, 1998

       Future Vice President Cheney, working for the Halliburton energy company, states: “I can't think of a time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian. It's almost as if the opportunities have arisen overnight.” The Caspian Sea is in Central Asia. [Cato Institute Library; Chicago Tribune 8/10/00]
          

July 1998

       According to documents exposed in a later lawsuit, a meeting takes place in Kandahar, Afghanistan, that leads to a secret deal between Saudi Arabia and the Taliban. Those present include Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabian intelligence (see also Early 1980and Spring 1998), Taliban leaders, senior officers from the ISI, and bin Laden. Saudi Arabia agrees to give the Taliban and Pakistan “several hundred millions” of dollars, and in return bin Laden promises no attacks against Saudi Arabia. The Saudis also agree to ensure that requests for the extradition of al-Qaeda members will be blocked and promise to block demands by other countries that bin Laden's Afghan training camps will be closed down. Saudi Arabia had previously given money to the Taliban and bribe money to bin Laden (see 1996 (C)), but this ups the ante. [Sunday Times, 8/25/02] A few weeks after the meeting, Prince Turki sends 400 new pickup trucks to Afghanistan. At least $200 million follow. [Honolulu Star-Bulletin 9/23/01; New York Post 8/25/02] Controversial author Gerald Posner gives a similar account said to come from high US government officials, and adds that al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida also attends the meeting. Note that reports of this meeting seemingly contradict reports of a meeting the month before between Turki and the Taliban, in which the Taliban agreed to get rid of bin Laden (see June 1998).
          

July 7, 1998

       Thieves snatch a passport from a car driven by a US tourist in Barcelona, Spain. The passport later finds its way into the hands of would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh. Bin al-Shibh allegedly uses the name on the passport in the summer of 2001 as he wires money to pay flight school tuition for Zacarias Moussaoui in Oklahoma. Investigators believe the movement of this passport shows connections between the 9/11 plotters in Germany and a support network in Spain, made up mostly by ethnic Syrians. “Investigators believe that the Syrians served as deep-cover mentors, recruiters, financiers and logistics providers for the hijackers—elite backup for an elite attack team” (see also 1998). [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/03] Atta twice travels to Spain, perhaps to make contact with members of this Spanish support team (see January 4, 2001 (B)and July 8-19, 2001).
          

August 1998

       A German inquiry into Mounir El Motassadeq, an alleged member of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell with Mohamed Atta, begins by this time. Though Germany won't reveal details, documents show that by this month Motassadeq is under surveillance. “The trail soon [leads] to most of the main [Hamburg] participants” in 9/11. On this date, surveillance records Motassadeq and Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who had already been identified by police as a suspected extremist (see March 1997), as they meet at the Hamburg home of Said Bahaji, who is also under surveillance that same year. (Bahaji will soon move into an apartment with Atta and other al-Qaeda members, see November 1, 1998-February 2001.) German police monitor several other meetings between the Motassadeq and Zammar in the following months. [New York Times, 1/18/03] Motassadeq is later convicted in Germany for participation in the 9/11 attacks (see August 29, 2002).
          

August 1998 (B)

       A CIA intelligence report asserts that Arab terrorists are planning to fly a bomb-laden aircraft from a foreign country into the WTC. The FBI and the FAA don't take the threat seriously because of the state of aviation in that unnamed country. Later, other intelligence information connects this group to al-Qaeda. [New York Times 9/18/02; Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02] An FBI spokesman says the report “was not ignored, it was thoroughly investigated by numerous agencies” and found to be unrelated to al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 9/19/02 (B)] However, the group in fact did have “ties to al-Qaeda.” [New York Times 9/18/02; Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

August 7, 1998

       Terrorists bomb the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The destroyed US embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The bomb in Nairobi, Kenya kills 213 people, including 12 US nationals, and injures more than 4,500. The bomb in Dar es Salaam kills 11 and injures 85. The attack is blamed on al-Qaeda.
The destroyed US embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.
[PBS Frontline 2001]

          

August 9, 1998

       The Northern Alliance capital of Afghanistan, Mazar-i-Sharif, is conquered by the Taliban. Military support of Pakistan's ISI plays a large role; there is even an intercept of an ISI officer stating, “My boys and I are riding into Mazar-i-Sharif.” [ New York Times, 12/8/01] This victory gives the Taliban control of 90%of Afghanistan, including the entire pipeline route. CentGas, the consortium behind the gas pipeline that would run through Afghanistan, is now “ready to proceed. Its main partners are the American oil firm Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia, plus Hyundai of South Korea, two Japanese companies, a Pakistani conglomerate and the Turkmen government.” However, the pipeline cannot be financed unless the government is officially recognized. “Diplomatic sources said the Taliban's offensive was well prepared and deliberately scheduled two months ahead of the next UN meeting” to decide if the Taliban should be recognized. [Telegraph 8/13/98]
          

August 24, 1998

       The New York Times reports that the training camps recently attacked by the US (see ) were actually built years before by the US and its allies. The US and Saudi Arabia gave the Afghans between $6 billion and $40 billion to fight the Soviets in the 1980s (see December 26, 1979). Many of the people targeted by the Clinton missile attacks were actually trained and equipped by the CIA years before. [New York Times 8/24/98]
          

August 27, 1998

       Following the cruise missile attack on al-Qaeda targets (see August 20, 1998), immediate plans are made for follow up attacks to make sure bin Laden is killed. However, on this day Defense Secretary William Cohen is advised that available targets are not promising. Some question to use of expensive missiles to hit very primitive training camps, and there is the concern that if bin Laden is not killed, his stature will only grow further (see Late 1998 (F)). As discussions continue, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke prepares a plan he calls “Delenda,” which means “to destroy” in Latin. His idea is to have regular, small strikes in Afghanistan whenever the intelligence warrants it. The plan is rejected. Counterterrorism officials in the Defense Secretary's office independently create a similar plan, but it too is rejected. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (B)] The Delenda Plan also calls for diplomacy against the Taliban, covert action focused in Afghanistan, and financial measures to freeze bin-Laden related funds. These aspects are not formally adopted, but they guide future efforts. [9/11 Commission Report 3/24/04 (D)]
          

Late August 1998 (B)

       An al-Qaeda operative involved in the bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi is captured and interrogated by the FBI. The FBI learns of a safe house telephone number in Yemen, owned by bin Laden associate Ahmed Al-Hada, hijacker Khalid Almihdhar's father-in-law. [Newsweek, 6/2/02, Die Zeit, 10/1/02] US intelligence learns the safe house is an al-Qaeda “logistics center” used by agents around the world to communicate with each other and plan attacks. [Newsweek, 6/2/02] It has been revealed that even bin Laden called the safe house dozens of times from 1996 to 1998 (the two years he had a traced satellite phone). [Sunday Times, 3/24/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] The NSA and CIA together plant bugs inside the house, tap the phones, and monitor visitors with spy satellites. [Mirror, 6/9/02] The NSA later records Khalid Almihdhar and other hijackers calling this house, even from the US (see Early 1999 (B) and Spring-Summer 2000). In late 1999 the phone line will lead the CIA to an important al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia (see December 1999 (B)). [Newsweek, 6/2/02] It appears al-Qaeda still uses the phone line until a Yemeni government raid in February 2002. [CBS News 2/13/02]
          

Late August 1998

       A captured member of the al-Qaeda cell that bombed the US embassy in Kenya tells an FBI agent about a conversation he had with his cell's leader. The leader told him that al-Qaeda was planning an attack on the US, but “Things are not ready yet. We don't have everything prepared.” [USA Today 8/29/02]
          

September 1998 (B)

       US intelligence finds information that bin Laden's next operation could possibly involve crashing an aircraft loaded with explosives into a US airport. This information is provided to senior US officials. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02; Washington Post 9/19/02 (B)]
          

September 1998

       US intelligence gives a memorandum to senior officials detailing al-Qaeda's infrastructure in the US. This includes the use of fronts for terrorist activities. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02] This information is provided to senior US officials. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

September 1998-July 1999

      
Omar al-Bayoumi
The FBI conducts a counterterrorism inquiry on Omar al-Bayoumi, suspected al-Qaeda advance man and possible Saudi agent (see December 4, 1999, Early February 2000, and November 22, 2002). The FBI discovers he has been in contact with several people also under investigation. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The FBI is given a tip that he was sent a suspicious package filled with wire from the Middle East, and that large numbers of Arab men routinely meet in his apartment. His landlord notices that he switches from driving a beat up old car to a new Mercedes. [Newsweek, 7/28/03] According to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, the FBI notes that al-Bayoumi has “access to seemingly unlimited funding from Saudi Arabia.” For instance, an FBI source identifies him as a person who has delivered about $500,000 from Saudi Arabia to buy a mosque (see June 1998 (D)). But the FBI closes the inquiry “for reasons that remain unclear.” [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03] Also in 1999, al-Bayoumi is working as an employee of the Saudi company Dallah Avco but apparently doing no work (see August 1994). Someone in the company tries to fire him and sends a note to the Saudi government about this, since the company is so closely tied to the government. But Mohammed Ahmed al-Salmi, the director general of civil aviation, replies that it is “extremely urgent” his job is renewed “as quickly as possible,” and so he keeps his job. [Wall Street Journal 8/11/03]
          

September 20, 1998

      
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, an al-Qaeda terrorist from the United Arab Emirates connected to the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998), is arrested near Munich, Germany. [PBS Newshour, 9/30/98] In retrospect, it appears he was making one of many visits to the al-Qaeda cells in Germany. [The Base, Jane Corbin, 8/02, p. 147] US investigators later call him bin Laden's “right hand man.” [New York Times 9/29/01] However, the FBI is unwilling to brief their German counterparts on what they know about Salim and al-Qaeda, despite learning much that could have been useful as part of their investigation into the US embassy bombings. By the end of the year, German investigators learn that Salim had a Hamburg bank account. [New York Times, 9/29/01] The cosignatory on the account is businessman Mamoun Darkazanli (see September 24, 2001), whose home number had been programmed into Salim's cell phone. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] US intelligence had first investigated Darkazanli in 1993, when a suspect was found with his telephone number. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] German authorities had begun to suspect Darkazanli of terrorist money laundering in 1996. Wadih El-Hage, a former personal secretary to bin Laden, is also arrested in the wake of the embassy bombings. El-Hage had created a number of shell companies as fronts for al-Qaeda terrorist activities, and one of these uses the address of Darkazanli's apartment. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] Darkazanli's phone number and Deutschebank account number are also found in El-Hage's address book. [CNN, 10/16/01] The FBI also discovers Darkazanli had power of attorney over a bank account of Hajer, a person on al-Qaeda's supreme council. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Based on these new connections, investigators ask a federal prosecutor for permission to open a formal investigation against Darkazanli. An investigation begins, at the insistence of the US, though Germany has claimed the request for the investigation was rejected (see December 1999). [AFP 10/28/01; New York Times 1/18/03] German investigators also learn of a connection between Salim and Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who is already identified by police as a suspected extremist (see March 1997). [AP 6/22/02; New York Times 1/18/03]
          

September 23, 1998

       US senior administrative officials admit that they had no evidence that directly linked bin Laden to the Al Shifa factory at the time of retaliatory strikes on Aug 20. Intelligence officials found financial transactions between bin Laden and the Military Industrial Corporation—a company run by the Sudan's government. (Source: New York Times 9/23/98) [PBS Frontline 2001]
          

October 1998 (B)

       Julie Sirrs, a military analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), travels to Afghanistan. Fluent in local languages and knowledgeable about the culture, she had made a previous undercover trip there in October 1997. She was surprised that the CIA wasn't interested in sending in agents after the failed missile attack on bin Laden in August 1998 (see August 20, 1998) so she returns at this time. Traveling undercover, she meets with Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, who is later assassinated by the Taliban (see September 9, 2001). She sees a terrorist training center. Sirrs claims, “The Taliban's brutal regime was being kept in power significantly by bin Laden's money, plus the narcotics trade, while [Massoud's] resistance was surviving on a shoestring. With even a little aid to the Afghan resistance, we could have pushed the Taliban out of power. But there was great reluctance by the State Department and the CIA to undertake that.” She partly blames the interest of the US government and the oil company Unocal to see the Taliban achieve political stability so a pipeline could be built across the company. She claims, “Massoud told me he had proof that Unocal had provided money that helped the Taliban take Kabul.” She also states, “The State Department didn't want to have anything to do with Afghan resistance, or even, politically, to reveal that there was any viable option to the Taliban.” After two weeks she returns with a treasure trove of maps, photographs, and interviews. [New York Observer 3/11/04; ABC News 2/18/02] By interviewing captured al-Qaeda operatives she learns that the official Afghanistan airline, Ariania Airlines, is being used to ferry weapons and drugs, and also learns that bin Laden goes hunting with “rich Saudis and top Taliban officials.” [Los Angeles Times 11/18/01 (B)] When she returns her material is confiscated and she is accused of being a spy. Says one senior colleague, “She had gotten the proper clearances to go, and she came back with valuable information,” but high level officials “were so intent on getting rid of her, the last thing they wanted to pay attention to was any information she had.” She is cleared of wrongdoing, but her security clearance is pulled. She eventually quits the DIA in frustration. [New York Observer 3/11/04; ABC News 2/18/02] She claims that the US intelligence on bin Laden and the Taliban relied too heavily on the ISI for its information. [ABC News 2/18/02 (B)]
          

October 1998

      
FBI agents Vincent (left) and Wright (right)
FBI agents Robert Wright and John Vincent are tracking a terrorist cell in Chicago, but are told to simply follow suspects around town and file reports. The two agents believe some of the money used to finance the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998) leads back to Chicago and Saudi multimillionaire businessman Yassin al-Qadi (see also March 21, 2000, Late January 2001, October 12, 2001, August 15, 2002, August 25, 2002, , and December 5, 2002). Supervisors try, but temporarily fail, to halt the investigation into al-Qadi's possible terrorist connections. However, at this time, a supervisor prohibits Wright and Vincent from making any arrests connected to the bombings, or opening new criminal investigations. Even though they believe their case is growing stronger, in January 2001 Wright is told that the Chicago case is being closed and that “it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie”(see Late January 2001). Wright tells ABC: “Those dogs weren't sleeping, they were training, they were getting ready. … September the 11th is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit. … Absolutely no doubt about that.” Chicago federal prosecutor Mark Flessner, also working on the case, says there “were powers bigger than I was in the Justice Department and within the FBI that simply were not going to let [the building of a criminal case] happen.” Wright will write an internal FBI memo slamming the FBI in June 2001 (see June 9, 2001, and also May 30, 2002and August 9, 2002 (C)). Al-Qadi is named in a March 2000 affidavit as a source of terrorist funds in Chicago. [ABC, 11/26/02, ABC, 12/19/02, ABC, 12/19/02 (B)] He is also on secret US and UN lists of major al-Qaeda financiers (see ). His charity, the Muwafaq Foundation, is allegedly an al-Qaeda front which transferred $820,000 to the Palestinian group Hamas through a Muslim foundation called the Quranic Literacy Institute; the date of the transfer has not been released. [CNN, 10/15/01 (B)] Al-Qadi says he shut down Muwafaq in 1996, but the charity has received money from the United Nations since then. [BBC 10/20/01; CNN 10/15/01 (B)]
          

October-November 1998

       October-November 1998: US intelligence learns that al-Qaeda is trying to establish a terrorist cell within the US. There are indications they might be trying to recruit US citizens. In the next month, there is information that a terror cell in the United Arab Emirates is attempting to recruit a group of five to seven young men from the US to travel to the Middle East for training. This is part of a plan to strike a US domestic target. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02; Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03 (B)]
          

Autumn 1998

       US intelligence hears of a bin Laden plot involving aircraft in the New York and Washington areas. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02; New York Times 9/18/02] In December it learns that al-Qaeda plans to hijack US aircraft are proceeding well. Two individuals have successfully evaded checkpoints in a dry run at a New York airport. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03 (B)]
          

October 8, 1998

       The FAA issues the first of three warnings to the nation's airports and airlines urging a “high degree of vigilance” against threats to US civil aviation from al-Qaeda. It specifically warns against a possible terrorist hijacking “at a metropolitan airport in the Eastern United States.”The information is based on statements made by bin Laden and other Islamic leaders and intelligence information following the US cruise missile attacks in August. All three warnings came in late 1998, well before 9/11. [Boston Globe 5/26/02] This report contradicts numerous later statements by US officials that the US never had any pre-9/11 specific threats inside the US or involving hijackings (for instance, see September 12, 2001 or May 16, 2002 (B)).
          

November 1, 1998-February 2001

      
The Marienstrasse building.
Mohamed Atta and al-Qaeda terrorists Said Bahaji and Ramzi bin al-Shibh move into a four bedroom apartment at 54 Marienstrasse, in Hamburg, Germany, and stay there until February 2001 (Atta is already mainly living in the US well before this time). Investigators believe this move marks the formation of their Hamburg al-Qaeda terrorist cell. [Los Angeles Times, 1/27/02, New York Times, 9/10/02] Up to six men at a time live at the apartment, including other al-Qaeda agents such as hijacker Marwan Alshehhi and cell member Zakariya Essabar. [New York Times, 9/15/01 (F)] During the 28 months Atta's name is on the apartment lease, 29 ethnically Middle Eastern or North African men register the apartment as their home address. From the very beginning, the apartment was officially under surveillance by German intelligence, because of investigations into businessman Mamoun Darkazanli that connect to Said Bahaji (see September 20, 1998 and December 1999). [Washington Post, 10/23/01] They also suspect connections between Bahaji and al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Haydar Zammar (see March 1997 and February 17, 1999). [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] Germans monitor the apartment off and on for months, and also wiretap Mounir El Motassadeq (see August 1998), an associate of the apartment-mates who is later put on trial for assisting the 9/11 plot (see August 29, 2002), but they don't find any indication of suspicious activity. [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02] Bahaji is directly monitored at least for part of 1998, but German officials have not disclosed when the probe began or ended. That investigation is dropped for lack of evidence. [AP, 6/22/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] However, certainly investigators would have found evidence if they looked more thoroughly. For instance, Zammar, a talkative man who has trouble keeping secrets, is a frequent visitor to the many late night meetings there. [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/14/02, pp. 259-260] Another visitor later recalls Atta and others discussing attacking the US. [Knight Ridder, 9/9/02] 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is in Hamburg several times in 1999, and comes to the apartment (see 1999 (K)). But although there was a $2 million reward for Mohammed since 1998 (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001), the US apparently fails to tell Germany what it knows about him. [New York Times, 11/4/02, Newsweek, 9/4/02] Hijacker Waleed Alshehri also apparently stays there “at times.” [Washington Post, 9/14/01, Washington Post, 9/16/01 (B)] The CIA also starts monitoring Atta while he is living at this apartment, and doesn't tell Germany of the surveillance (see January-May 2000). The German government originally claimed they knew little about the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell before 9/11, and said nothing directed them towards the Marienstrasse apartment, which is clearly incorrect. [Telegraph 11/24/01]
          

November 1998 (B)

       Former President George Bush Sr. meets with the bin Laden family on behalf of the Carlyle Group. The meeting takes place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This is one of two known meetings (see January 2000). [Sunday Herald 10/7/01]
          

November 1998

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

November 4, 1998

       The US publicly indicts bin Laden, Mohammed Atef, and others with the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania (see August 7, 1998). Bin Laden had been secretly indicted on different charges earlier in the year (see June 8, 1998). Record $5 million rewards are announced for information leading to his arrest and the arrest of Mohammed Atef. [PBS Frontline, 2001] Shortly thereafter, bin Laden allocates $9 million in reward money for the assassinations of four US government officials in response to the reward on him. A year later it is learned that the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, FBI Director, and CIA Director are the targets. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02; MSNBC 9/18/02; Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

Late 1998-2000 (B)

       The US permanently stations two submarines in the Indian Ocean, ready to hit al-Qaeda with cruise missiles on short notice. Six to ten hours advance warning is now needed to review the decision, program the cruise missiles and have them reach their target. On at least three occasions, spies in Afghanistan report bin Laden's location with information suggesting he would remain there for some time. Each time, Clinton approves the strike. Each time, CIA Director Tenet says the information is not reliable enough and the attack cannot go forward. [Washington Post 12/19/01; New York Times 12/30/01] At some point in 2000 the submarines are withdrawn, apparently because the Navy wanted to use them for other purposes. So when the unmanned Predator spy plane flies over Afghanistan and identifies bin Laden (see August-October 2000), there is no way to capitalize on that opportunity. [Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, 3/04, pp. 220-221] The Bush Administration fails to resume the submarine patrol (see January 27, 2001). Lacking any way to attack bin Laden, military plans to strike at him are no longer updated after March 2001. [9/11 Commission Report 3/24/04 (B]
          

December 1, 1998

       A US intelligence assessment: “[Bin Laden] is actively planning against US targets and already may have positioned operatives for at least one operation… Multiple reports indicate [he] is keenly interested in striking the US on its own soil… al-Qaeda is recruiting operatives for attacks in the US but has not yet identified potential targets.” Later in the month, a classified document prepared by the CIA and signed by Clinton states: “The intelligence community has strong indications that bin Laden intends to conduct or sponsor attacks inside the US.” [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02; Washington Post 9/19/02 (B); Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03; Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03 (B)]
          

Late 1998 (C)

       FBI counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill and his team investigating the 1998 embassy bombings are repeatedly frustrated by the Saudi government. Guillaume Dasquié, one of the authors of Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, later tells the Village Voice: “We uncovered incredible things… Investigators would arrive to find that key witnesses they were about to interrogate had been beheaded the day before.” [Village Voice 1/2/02; Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth]
          

December 1998

       US intelligence learns that bin Laden is staying at a particular location in Afghanistan, and missile strikes are readied against him. However, principal advisors to President Clinton agree not to recommend a strike because of doubts about the intelligence and worries about collateral damage. In the wake of this, officials attempt to find alternatives to cruise missiles, such a precision strike aircraft. But US Central Command chief General Anthony Zinni is apparently opposed to deployment of these aircraft near Afghanistan, and they are not deployed (see also Late 1998-2000). [9/11 Commission Report 3/24/04 (B]
          

Late 1998 (F)

       The failed August 1998 US missile attack against bin Laden (see ) greatly elevates bin Laden's stature in the Muslim world. A US defense analyst later states, “I think that raid really helped elevate bin Laden's reputation in a big way, building him up in the Muslim world…. My sense is that because the attack was so limited and incompetent, we turned this guy into a folk hero.” [Washington Post 10/3/01 (C)] An Asia Times article published just prior to 9/11 suggests that because of the failed attack, “a very strong Muslim lobby emerge[s] to protect [bin Laden's] interests. This includes Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, as well as senior Pakistani generals. Prince Abdullah has good relations with bin Laden as both are disciples of slain Doctor Abdullah Azzam.” [Asia Times 8/22/01] In early 1999, Pakistani President Musharraf complains that by demonizing bin Laden, the US has turned him into a cult figure and hero. The US decides to play down the importance of bin Laden. [UPI 6/14/01]
          

Late 1998 (D)

       President Clinton signs a directive authorizing the CIA to plan an assassination of bin Laden. The CIA draw up detailed profiles of bin Laden's daily routines, where he sleeps, and his travel arrangements. The assassination never happens, supposedly because of inadequate intelligence. But, as one officer later says, “you can keep setting the bar higher and higher, so that nothing ever gets done.” An officer who helped draw up the plans later says, “We were ready to move” but “we were not allowed to do it because of this stubborn policy of risk avoidance…It is a disgrace.” [ [Philadelphia Inquirer 9/16/01] ] The initial emphasis is on capturing bin Laden and only killing him if the capture attempt is unsuccessful. The military is unhappy about this, so Clinton signs several new directives before leaving office, each one authorizing the use of lethal force more clearly than the one before. [Washington Post 2/22/04 (B)]
          

Late 1998 (B)

       During the investigation of the 1998 embassy bombings, FBI counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill finds a memo by al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef on a computer. The memo shows that bin Laden's group has a keen interest in and detailed knowledge of negotiations between the Taliban and the US over an oil and gas pipeline through Afghanistan. Atef's analysis suggests that the Taliban are not sincere in wanting a pipeline, but are dragging out negotiations to keep Western powers at bay. [Salon 6/5/02]
          

Late 1998-2000

       National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright repeatedly ask about having a “boots on the ground” option to kill bin Laden, using the elite Delta Force. Clinton also supports the idea, telling Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Henry Shelton, “You know, it would scare the [expletive] out of al-Qaeda if suddenly a bunch of black ninjas rappelled out of helicopters into the middle of their camp.” But Shelton says he wants “nothing to do” with such an idea. He calls it naive, and ridicules it as “going Hollywood.” He says he would need a large force, not just a small team. [Washington Post, 12/19/01] US Central Command chief General Anthony Zinni is considered the chief opponent to the “boots on the ground” idea. [Washington Post, 10/2/02] Clinton orders “formal planning for a mission to capture the al-Qaeda leadership.” Reports are contradictory, but some claim Clinton was told such plans were drawn up when in fact they were not. [Time 8/4/02; Washington Post 10/2/02]
          

Late 1998 (E)

       Intelligence agents learn that Mohammed Atef (also known as Abu Hafs)—head of Islamic Jihad and one of the top three leaders of al-Qaeda [ABC News, 11/17/01], is staying in a particular hotel room in Khartoum, Sudan. White House officials ask that Atef be killed or captured and interrogated. International capture operations of terrorists have become routine by the mid-1990s, but in this case both the Defense Department and the CIA are against it, although Atef doesn't even have bodyguards. The CIA puts the operation in the “too hard to do box,” according to one former official. The CIA says it's incapable of conducting such an operation in Sudan, but in the same year the CIA conducts another spy mission in the same city. [New York Times, 12/30/01 , Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, 3/04, pp. 143-146] A plan is eventually made to seize him, but by then he has left the country. [New York Times, 12/30/01] Atef is considered a top planner of the 9/11 attacks (see Before September 11, 2001 (D)), and is later killed in a bombing raid (see November 15, 2001 (B)).
          

December 4, 1998

       CIA Director Tenet issues a “declaration of war” on al-Qaeda, in a memorandum circulated in the intelligence community. This is 10 months after bin Laden's fatwa on the US, which is called a “de facto declaration of war” by a senior US official in 1999 (see February 22, 1998). Tenet says, “We must now enter a new phase in our effort against bin Laden … each day we all acknowledge that retaliation is inevitable and that its scope may be far larger than we have previously experienced… We are at war… I want no resources or people spared in this efforts [sic], either inside CIA or the [larger intelligence] community.” Yet a Congressional joint committee later finds that few FBI agents had ever heard of the declaration. Tenet's fervor did not “reach the level in the field that is critical so [FBI agents] know what their priorities are.” And even as the counterterrorism budget continues to grow generally, there is no massive shift in budget or personnel until after 9/11. For example, the number of CIA personnel assigned to the Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC) stays roughly constant until 9/11 then nearly doubles from approximately 400 to approximately 800 in the wake of 9/11. The number of CTC analysts focusing on al-Qaeda rises from three in 1999 to five by 9/11. [New York Times 9/18/02; Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02]
          

December 5, 1998

       In the wake of the al-Qaeda US embassy attacks (see August 7, 1998), the US gives up on putting a pipeline through Afghanistan. Unocal announces it is withdrawing from the CentGas pipeline consortium, and closing three of its four offices in Central Asia. A concern that Clinton will lose support among women voters for upholding the Taliban also plays a role in the cancellation. [New York Times, 12/5/98] [FTW]
          

December 21, 1998

       In a Time magazine cover story entitled “The Hunt for Osama,” it is reported intelligence sources “have evidence that bin Laden may be planning his boldest move yet—a strike on Washington or possibly New York City in an eye-for-an-eye retaliation. ‘We've hit his headquarters, now he hits ours,’ says a State Department aide.” [Time 12/21/98]
          

1999

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

1999 (I)

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

1999 (F)

       A joint project run by the CIA and NSA slips into Afghanistan and places listening devices within range of al-Qaeda's tactical radios. [Washington Post 12/19/01] If all of al-Qaeda's communications was being monitored, why was bin Laden never captured or killed and apparently no hints of the 9/11 plot revealed?
          

1999 (B)

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

Mid-June 1999

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

1999 (H)

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