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   Day of 911

Flight AA 11
Flight AA 77
Flight UA 93
Bush on 9/11
Flight UA 175

   Theme

Advance info;time
Cover-up,lies
Israeli spies
Saudis, Bush
Advance info;kind
Oil,Enron,pipeline
Anthrax attacks
Incompetence
Afghan war prep
Pakistan,ISI,drugs
none
civil liberties

 

Complete 911 Timeline

 
  

Project: Complete 911 Timeline
Compiled by Paul Thompson

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Showing 101-150 of 1381 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 50    next 50

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 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-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]
          

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 rollcall 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

       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 (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 (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?
          

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 (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)]
          

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]
          

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 (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 1995 and 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]
          

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).
          

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]
          

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).
          

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 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

      
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 (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 (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 1980 and 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]
          

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]
          

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 Late January 2001 (B)).
          
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