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Before 9/11

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

Al-Qaeda Members

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

Geopolitics and 9/11

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

Day of 9/11

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

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan
Other events
Investigations
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Complete 911 Timeline

 
  

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(12:00 Noon): Senator Hatch Repeats Intelligence Community's Conclusion That Osama Bin Laden Is Responsible

       Senator Orrin Hatch (R), a member of both the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, says he has just been “briefed by the highest levels of the FBI and of the intelligence community.” He says, “they've come to the conclusion that this looks like the signature of Osama bin Laden, and that he may be the one behind this.” [Salon, 9/12/01 (B)]
          

(12:00 Noon): Bush Provided Tight Security in Louisiana

      
Bush escorted into Barksdale Air Force Base.
President Bush arrives at the Barksdale Air Force Base headquarters in a Humvee escorted by armed outriders. Reporters and others are not allowed to say where they are. Bush remains in this location for approximately one hour, recording a brief message and talking on the phone. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
          

11:45 a.m.: Air Force One Lands at Louisiana Air Force Base

      
Air Force One at Barksdale Air Force Base.
Air Force One lands at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana. “The official reason for landing at Barksdale was that President Bush felt it necessary to make a further statement, but it isn't unreasonable to assume that—as there was no agreement as to what the President's movements should be—it was felt he might as well be on the ground as in the air.” [Salon, 9/12/01 (B); New York Times, 9/16/01 (B); Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; CBS News, 9/11/02]
          

September 11, 2001: Former Israeli Prime Minister: 9/11 Very Good for Israeli-US Relations

       Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when asked what the 9/11 attacks means for relations between the US and Israel, replies, “It's very good.” Then he edits himself: “Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.” [New York Times, 9/12/01 (C)] A week later, the Village Voice states, “From national networks to small-town newspapers, the view that America's terrible taste of terrorism will finally do away with even modest calls for the restraint of Israel's military attacks on Palestinian towns has become an instant, unshakable axiom. ... Now, support for Israel in America is officially absolute, and Palestinians are cast once again as players in a global terrorist conspiracy.” [Village Voice, 9/19/01]
          

September 11, 2001: Bin Laden Brother Attends Carlyle Group Conference

       The Carlyle Group is a company closely associated with officials of the Bush and Reagan administrations, and has considerable ties to Saudi oil money, including ties to the bin Laden family. Those ties are well illustrated by the fact that on this day the Carlyle Group is hosting a conference at a Washington hotel. Among the guests of honor is investor Shafig bin Laden, brother to bin Laden. [Observer, 6/16/02]
          

September 11, 2001: Television News Footage of Gleeful Palestinians Shown Out of Context

       Television news coverage on 9/11 repeatedly shows images of Palestinians rejoicing over the 9/11 attack. According to Mark Crispin Miller, a Professor of Media Studies at New York University who investigated the issue, the footage was filmed during the funeral of nine people killed the day before by Israeli authorities. He said, “to show it without explaining the background, and to show it over and over again is to make propaganda for the war machine and is irresponsible.” [Agence France-Presse, 9/18/01; Australian, 9/27/01]
          

September 11, 2001: Germans Learn of 30 People Traveling for 9/11 Plot

       A few hours after the attacks, German intelligence intercepts a phone conversation between followers of bin Laden that leads the FBI to search frantically for two more teams of suicide hijackers, according to US and German officials. The Germans overhear the terrorists refer to “the 30 people traveling for the operation.” The FBI scours flight manifests and any other clues for more conspirators still at large. [New York Times, 9/29/01] Two days later, authorities claim to have identified teams of as many as 50 infiltrators who supported or carried out the strikes. About 40 are accounted for as dead or in custody; ten are missing. They also believe a total of 27 suspected terrorists received some form of pilot training. This corresponds with many analyses that the attacks required a large support network. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01] Yet there is no evidence that any accomplices in the US shortly before 9/11 have since been arrested or charged.
          

September 11-13, 2001: Hijackers Leave a Clear Trail of Evidence

      
A white Mitsubishi is towed from Logan Airport, Boston, on September 12. Inside is an Arabic-language flight manual.
Investigators find a remarkable number of possessions left behind by the hijackers:
Two of Mohamed Atta's bags are found on 9/11. They contain a handheld electronic flight computer, a simulator procedures manual for Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, two videotapes relating to “air tours” of the Boeing 757 and 747 aircraft, a slide-rule flight calculator, a copy of the Koran, Atta's passport, his will, his international driver's license, a religious cassette tape, airline uniforms, a letter of recommendation, “education related documentation” and a note to other hijackers on how to mentally prepare for the hijacking. [Associated Press, 10/5/01; Sydney Morning Herald, 9/15/01; Boston Globe, 9/18/01; Independent, 9/29/01]

Marwan Alshehhi's rental car is discovered at Boston's Logan Airport containing an Arabic language flight manual, a pass giving access to restricted areas at the airport, documents containing a name on the passenger list of one of the flights, and the names of other suspects. The name of the flight school where Atta and Alshehhi studied, Huffman Aviation, is also found in the car. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01]

A car registered to Nawaf Alhazmi is found at Washington's Dulles Airport on September 12. Inside is a copy of Atta's letter to the other hijackers, a cashier's check made out to a flight school in Phoenix, four drawings of the cockpit of a 757 jet, a box cutter-type knife, maps of Washington and New York, and a page with notes and phone numbers. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01; Cox News Service, 10/21/01; Die Zeit, 10/1/02]

A rental car is found in an airport parking lot in Portland, Maine. Investigators are able to collect fingerprints and hair samples for DNA analysis. [Portland Press Herald, 10/14/01]

A Boston hotel room contains airplane and train schedules. [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/15/01]

FBI agents carry out numerous garbage bags of evidence from a Florida apartment where Saeed Alghamdi lived. [CNN, 9/17/01 (B)]

Two days before 9/11, a hotel owner in Deerfield Beach, Florida, finds a box cutter left in a hotel room used by Marwan Alshehhi and two unidentified men. The owner checks the nearby trash and finds a duffel bag containing Boeing 757 manuals, three illustrated martial arts books, an 8-inch stack of East Coast flight maps, a three-ring binder full of handwritten notes, an English-German dictionary, an airplane fuel tester, and a protractor. The FBI seizes all the items when they are notified on September 12 (except the binder of notes, which the owner apparently threw away). [Miami Herald, 9/16/01; Associated Press, 9/16/01 (B)]

In an apartment rented by Ziad Jarrah and Ahmed Alhaznawi, the FBI finds a notebook, videotape, and photocopies of their passports. [Miami Herald, 9/15/01]

In a bar the night before 9/11, after making predictions of a terrorist attack on America the next day, terrorists leave a business card and a copy of the Koran at the bar. The FBI also recovers the credit card receipts from when they paid for their drinks and lap dances. [Associated Press, 9/14/01]

A September 13 security sweep of Boston airport's parking garage uncovers items left behind by the hijackers: a box cutter, a pamphlet written in Arabic, and a credit card. [Washington Post, 9/16/01]

A few hours after the attacks, suicide notes that some of the hijackers wrote to their parents are found in New York. Credit card receipts showing that some of the hijackers paid for flight training in the US are also found. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01]

A FedEx bill is found in a trash can at the Comfort Inn in Portland, Maine, where Atta stayed the night before 9/11. The bill leads to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, allowing investigators to determine much of the funding for 9/11. [Newsweek, 11/11/01; Times of London, 12/1/01]
The hijackers past whereabouts can even be tracked by their pizza purchases. An expert points out: “Most people pay cash for pizza. These [hijackers] paid with a credit card. That was an odd thing.” [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/3/02] “In the end, they left a curiously obvious trail—from martial arts manuals, maps, a Koran, Internet and credit card fingerprints. Maybe they were sloppy, maybe they did not care, maybe it was a gesture of contempt of a culture they considered weak and corrupt.” [Miami Herald, 9/22/01] Note the New Yorker's quote of a former high-level intelligence official: “Whatever trail was left was left deliberately—for the FBI to chase.” [New Yorker, 10/1/01]
          

September 11, 2001: Suspected Terrorists Found with Calling Cards

       An unnamed, young, Middle Eastern man flying from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, is arrested after his plane is diverted to Toronto, Canada. He is apparently found to be carrying a flight jacket, Palestinian Authority travel documents, and a picture of himself in a flight crew uniform in front of a fake backdrop of the WTC. [Toronto Star, 9/15/01 (B); Toronto Sun, 9/15/01; Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01 (B)] Apparently, the man, who identifies himself as an aircraft maintenance engineer in Gaza, Palestine, was supposed to have arrived in the US a few days before but was delayed for unknown reasons. [CBS News, 9/14/01 (B)] A second man was arrested a few days earlier while trying to enter Canada carrying a similar photo. He also possessed maps and directions to the WTC. Both men are soon handed over to the US. [Toronto Star, 9/15/01 (B)] A similar picture of suspected Egyptian al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Zeki Majoub, arrested in Canada in June 2000, in front of a fake WTC backdrop was found in the luggage of one of the US hijackers. [Associated Press, 3/1/01; Toronto Sun, 9/15/01] Canadian officials “believe the photos could be calling cards used by the terrorists to identify those involved in plotting the attacks.” [Toronto Sun, 9/15/01]
          

September 11, 2001: Planned Rice Speech on Threats Contains No Mention of al-Qaeda

       National Security Adviser Rice is scheduled to deliver a speech claiming to address “the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday.” The speech is never given due to the 9/11 attacks earlier in the day, but the text is later leaked to the media. The Washington Post calls the speech “telling insight into the administration's thinking” because it promotes missile defense and contains no mention of al-Qaeda, bin Laden, or Islamic extremist groups. The only mention of terrorism is in the context of the danger of rogue nations such as Iraq. In fact, there are almost no public mentions of bin Laden or al-Qaeda by Bush or other top Bush administration officials before 9/11, and the focus instead is on missile defense. [Washington Post, 4/1/04; Washington Post, 4/1/04 (D)]
          

September 11, 2001: All-Republican Shadow Government Formed

       It is later revealed that only hours after the 9/11 attacks, a US “shadow government” is formed. Initially deployed “on the fly,” executive directives on government continuity in the face of a crisis dating back to the Reagan administration are put into effect. Approximately 100 midlevel officials are moved to underground bunkers and stay there 24 hours a day. Officials rotate in and out on a 90-day cycle. When its existence is revealed, some controversy arises because the shadow government includes no Democrats. In fact, top congressional Democrats are unaware of it until journalists break the story months later. [Washington Post, 3/1/02; CBS News, 3/2/02]
          

September 11, 2001: Weapons Found on Additional Planes: Inside Jobs?

       Later in the day, weapons are found planted on board three other US airplanes. A US official says of the hijackings: “These look like inside jobs.” Time magazine reports, “Sources tell Time that US officials are investigating whether the hijackers had accomplices deep inside the airports' ‘secure’ areas.” [Time, 9/22/01] Penetrating airport security does not appear to have been that difficult: Argenbright, the company in charge of security at all the airports used by the 9/11 hijackers, had virtually no security check on any of their employees, and even hired criminals and illegal immigrants. Security appears to have particularly abysmal at Boston's Logan Airport, even after 9/11. [CNN, 10/12/01; Boston Globe, 10/1/01]
          

12:05 p.m.: Rumsfeld Finds Evidence of al-Qaeda Role Not Good Enough

       CIA Director Tenet tells Defense Secretary Rumsfeld about an intercepted phone call from earlier in the day at 9:53 a.m. An al-Qaeda operative talked of a fourth target just before Flight 93 crashed. Rumsfeld wrote notes to himself at the time. According to CBS, “Rumsfeld felt it was ‘vague,’ that it ‘might not mean something,’ and that there was ‘no good basis for hanging hat.’ In other words, the evidence was not clear-cut enough to justify military action against bin Laden.” [CBS News, 9/4/02] More evidence suggesting an al-Qaeda link comes several hours later.
          

12:15 p.m.: Border Crossings Security Tightened

       It is announced that US borders with Canada and Mexico are on the highest state of alert, but no decision has been made about closing borders. [CNN, 9/12/01]
          

12:16 p.m.: US Airspace Cleared of All Civilian Aircraft

       US airspace is clear of aircraft except for military and emergency flights. Only a few transoceanic flights are still landing in Canada. [USA Today, 8/12/02 (C)] At 12:30 p.m., the FAA reports about 50 (non-civilian) planes still flying in US airspace, but none are reporting problems. [CNN, 9/12/01; New York Times, 9/12/01]
          

12:36 p.m.: Bush Records Second Speech; Aired About 30 Minutes Later

      
Bush records a speech at Barksdale Air Force Base.
President Bush records a short speech that is played by the networks at 1:04 p.m. [Salon, 9/12/01 (B); Washington Times, 10/8/02] In a speech at the Louisiana base, President Bush announces that security measures are being taken and says: “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.” [MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01; New York Times, 9/12/01] He also states, “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended.” [ABC News, 9/11/02]
          

(12:58 p.m.): Bush Argues with Cheney, Others About Where He Should Go Next

       President Bush spends most of his time at Barksdale Air Force Base arguing on the phone with Vice President Cheney and others over where he should go next. “A few minutes before 1 p.m.,” he agrees to fly to Nebraska. As earlier, there are rumors of a “credible terrorist threat” to Air Force One that are said to prevent his return to Washington. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
          

September 11, 2001-January 2002: Saeed Sheikh Lives Openly in Pakistan

      
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, partying in Pakistan after 9/11.
After probably completing last-minute financial transactions with some 9/11 hijackers, Saeed Sheikh flies to Pakistan. [Knight Ridder, 10/7/01] He meets with bin Laden in Afghanistan a few days later. [Washington Post, 2/18/02; Times of London, 2/25/02; Guardian, 7/16/02] The US government claims Saeed fights for the Taliban in Afghanistan in September and October 2001. [CNN, 3/14/02] Some reports indicate that after the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saeed acts as a go-between with bin Laden and the ISI seeking to hide bin Laden. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] He also helps produce a video of a bin Laden interview. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] Sometime in October 2001 [Guardian, 7/16/02] , Saeed moves back to his home in Lahore, Pakistan, and lives there openly. He is frequently seen at local parties hosted by government leaders. In January 2002, he hosts a party to celebrate the birth of his newborn baby. [USA Today, 2/25/02; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02] He stays in his well-known Lahore house with his new wife and baby until January 19, 2002—four days before reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped. [BBC, 7/16/02]
          

September 11-16, 2001: Pakistan Threatened; Promises to Support US

       ISI Director Mahmood, extending his Washington visit because of the 9/11 attacks [Japan Economic Newswire, 9/17/01] , meets with US officials and negotiates Pakistan's cooperation with the US against al-Qaeda. It is rumored that later in the day of 9/11 and again the next day, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visits Mahmood and offers him the choice: “Help us and breathe in the 21st century along with the international community or be prepared to live in the Stone Age.” [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 9/12/01; LA Weekly, 11/9/01] Secretary of State Powell presents Mahmood seven demands as an ultimatum and Pakistan supposedly agrees to all seven. [Washington Post, 1/29/02] Mahmood also has meetings with Senator Joseph Biden (D), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Secretary of State Powell, regarding Pakistan's position. [Miami Herald, 9/16/01; New York Times, 9/13/01; Reuters, 9/13/01; Associated Press, 9/13/01] On September 13, the airport in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, is shut down for the day. A government official later says the airport had been closed because of threats made against Pakistan's “strategic assets,” but does not elaborate. The next day, Pakistan declares “unstinting” support for the US, and the airport is reopened. It is later suggested that Israel and India threatened to attack Pakistan and take control of its nuclear weapons if Pakistan did not side with the US. [LA Weekly, 11/9/01] It is later reported that Mahmood's presence in Washington was a lucky blessing; one Western diplomat saying it “must have helped in a crisis situation when the US was clearly very, very angry.” [Financial Times, 9/18/01]
          

1:02 p.m.: Rumsfeld Calls for War

       Defense Secretary Rumsfeld later claims that he says to President Bush on the phone, “This is not a criminal action. This is war.” [Washington Times, 2/23/04]
          

(1:02 p.m.): Giuliani Orders Evacuation of Southern Manhattan

       New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani orders an evacuation of Manhattan south of Canal Street. [MSNBC, 9/22/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)]
          

1:04 p.m.: Military on High Alert Worldwide

       President Bush announces that the US military has been put on high alert worldwide. [CNN, 9/12/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)] Apparently, this occurs in a televised speech that was actually recorded half an hour earlier.
          

1:27 p.m.: State of Emergency in Washington

       A state of emergency is declared in Washington. [CNN, 9/12/01; New York Times, 9/12/01]
          

(1:30 p.m.): Air Force One Leaves Louisiana; Flies to Nebraska

       President Bush leaves Louisiana on Air Force One, and flies to Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base, where the US Strategic Command is located. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Salon, 9/12/01 (B); MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01] He travels with Chief of Staff Andrew Card, senior adviser Karl Rove, communications staffers Dan Bartlett, Ari Fleischer, and Gordon Johndroe, and a small group of reporters. [Salon, 9/12/01 (B)]
          

1:44 p.m.: US Military Deployed at Sea, in Skies

       The Pentagon announces that aircraft carriers and guided missile destroyers have been dispatched toward New York and Washington. Around the country, more fighters, airborne radar (AWACs), and refueling planes are scrambling. NORAD is on its highest alert. [MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01]
          

(2:00 p.m.): Fighter Pilot Told Flight 93 Was Shot Down

       F-15 fighter pilot Major Daniel Nash returns to base around this time, after chasing Flight 175 and patrolling the skies over New York City. He says that when he gets out of the plane, “he [is] told that a military F-16 had shot down a fourth airliner in Pennsylvania.” [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02]
          

September 11, 2001: FBI Agents Able to Quickly Find Alhazmi and Almihdhar Once 9/11 Attacks Are Over

       On September 11 but after the 9/11 attacks are over, the New York FBI office learns that one of the hijackers was Khalid Almihdhar. One of these FBI agents had attempted to get permission to search for Almihdhar in late August, but was not allowed to do so. He wrote an e-mail on August 28 predicting that “someday someone will die ... the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain ‘problems.’”(see August 28, 2001). He later testifies that upon seeing Almihdhar's name on one of the passenger flight manifests, he angrily yells “This is the same Almihdhar we've been talking about for three months!” In an attempt to console him, his boss replies, “We did everything by the book.” Now that this upset agent is allowed to conduct a basic Internet search for Almihdhar that he had been denied permission to conduct before 9/11, he finds the hijacker's address “within hours.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 12/10/02 (C); Washington Post, 9/21/02] The FBI field office in San Diego also had not been notified before 9/11 that Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi had been put on a no-fly watch list on August 24, 2001 (see August 29, 2001). Bill Gore, the FBI agent running the San Diego office on this day, later makes reference to that fact that Alhazmi's correct phone number and address was listed in the San Diego phone book and says,“How could have found these people when we didn't know we were looking for them? The first place we would have looked is the phone book .... I submit to you we would have found them.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 12/10/02 (C)]
          

(2:40 p.m.): Rumsfeld Wants to Blame Iraq

       Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is provided information from the CIA indicating that three of the hijackers were suspected al-Qaeda operatives. Notes composed by aides who were with Rumsfeld in the National Military Command Center on 9/11 are leaked nearly a year later. According to the notes, information shows, “One guy is [an] associate of [USS] Cole bomber.” (This is a probable reference to Khalid Almihdhar or Nawaf Alhazmi.) Rumsfeld has also been given information indicating an al-Qaeda operative had advanced details of the 9/11 attack. According to the aide's notes, Rumsfeld wants the “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Osama bin Laden]. Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” [CBS News, 9/4/02; Bamford, 2004, pp 285]
          

(2:50 p.m.): Bush Arrives in Nebraska; Enters Strategic Command Center

       Air Force One lands at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. President Bush stays on the plane for about ten minutes before entering the United States Strategic Command bunker at 3:06 p.m. [Salon, 9/12/01] Bush is taken into a bunker far underground designed to withstand a nuclear blast. There, he uses an advanced strategic command and communications center to teleconference with other top leaders. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Washington Times, 10/8/02; Daily Mail, 9/8/02; Salon, 9/12/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)]
          

(3:00 p.m.): Bush Meets with Top Officials via Video Conference Call

      
President Bush takes part in a video teleconference at Offutt Air Force Base. Chief of Staff Andrew Card sits on his left, and Admiral Richard Mies sits on his left.
President Bush begins a video conference call from a bunker beneath Offutt Air Force Base. He and Chief of Staff Andrew Card visually communicate directly with Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, CIA Director Tenet, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, and others. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Washington Times, 10/8/02; ABC News, 9/11/02] According to Clarke, Bush begins the meeting by saying, “I'm coming back to the White House as soon as the plane is fueled. No discussion.” Clarke leads a quick review of what has already occurred, and issues that need to be quickly addressed. CIA Director Tenet states that al-Qaeda is clearly behind the 9/11 attacks. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld states that about 120 fighters are now above US cities. [Clarke, 2004, pp 21-22] The meeting ends at 4:15 P.M. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Washington Times, 10/8/02]
          

3:55 p.m.: Bush Said to Be at Undisclosed Location

       White House adviser Karen Hughes briefly speaks to the media and says President Bush is at an undisclosed location, taking part in a video conference. This is possibly the only in-person media appearance by any Bush administration official since the attacks and until a news conference by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld at 6:40 p.m. [CNN, 9/12/01]
          

(4:00 p.m.): Bush Determined to Return to Washington; Rove Later Misinforms Public About Threat to Bush

       President Bush has just told his advisers that he is returning to Washington as soon as the plane is fueled— “No discussion.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 21-22] Yet, Bush adviser Karl Rove later says that at this time President Bush is hesitant to return to Washington because, “they've accounted for all four [hijacked] planes, but they've got another, I think, three or four or five planes still outstanding.” [New Yorker, 9/25/01] However, the FAA points out there are no such reports and that Bush had been quickly informed when domestic US skies were completely cleared at 12:16 p.m. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04]
          

4:00 p.m.: CNN Blames bin Laden for Attacks

       CNN reports US officials say there are “good indications” that bin Laden is involved in the attacks, based on “new and specific” information developed since the attacks. [CNN, 9/12/01]
          

4:10 p.m.: WTC Building 7 Burning

      
Several small fires burn inside World Trade Center Building 7.
World Trade Center Building 7 is reported to be on fire. [CNN, 9/12/01]
          

(After 4:15 p.m.): Leaders Determine to Crush Taliban

       After President Bush leaves his video conference, other top leaders continue to discuss what steps to take. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke asks what to do about al-Qaeda, assuming they are behind the attacks. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage states, “Look, we told the Taliban in no uncertain terms that if this happened, it's their ass. No difference between the Taliban and al-Qaeda now. They both go down.” Regarding Pakistan, the Taliban's patrons, Armitage says, “Tell them to get out of the way. We have to eliminate the sanctuary.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 22-23]
          

(4:30 p.m.): WTC Building 7 Area Is Evacuated

       The area around WTC Building 7 is evacuated at this time. [Kansas City Star, 3/28/04] New York fire department chief officers, who have surveyed the building, have determined it is in danger of collapsing. Several senior firefighters have described this decision-making process. According to fire chief Daniel Nigro, “The biggest decision we had to make was to clear the area and create a collapse zone around the severely damaged [WTC Building 7]. A number of fire officers and companies assessed the damage to the building. The appraisals indicated that the building's integrity was in serious doubt.” [Fire Engineering, 9/02]
          

September 11, 2001: Five Israelis Arrested for Puzzling Behavior near WTC

      
The white van used by five Israeli agents as they were leaving New York on 9/11.
Five Israelis are arrested around 4:30 pm for “puzzling behavior” related to the WTC attacks: filming the burning WTC from the roof of their company's building near Liberty State Park, New Jersey, then shouting in what was interpreted as cries of joy and mockery. A neighbor spotted them and called the police and the FBI. The police tracked them down in a van with the words “Urban Moving Systems” written on the side. [Bergen Record, 9/12/01; Ha'aretz, 9/17/01] One man was found with $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock, another had two passports on him, and a box cutter was found in the van. [ABC News, 6/21/02] Investigators say that “[t]here are maps of the city in the car with certain places highlighted... It looked like they're hooked in with this. It looked like they knew what was going to happen.” [Bergen Record, 9/12/01] One of these Israelis later says, “our purpose was to document the event.” [ABC News, 6/21/02] The FBI later concludes at least two are Mossad agents and that all were on a Mossad surveillance mission. The FBI interrogates them for weeks. [Forward, 3/15/02] They are held on immigration violation charges, but are released 71 days later. [ABC News, 6/21/02] Their names are later identified as Sivan and Paul Kurzberg, Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari, and Yaron Shmuel. [Forward, 3/15/02]
          

(4:33 p.m.): Air Force One Leaves Nebraska; Heads Toward Washington

      
This photo of Bush speaking to Cheney shortly after leaving Offutt is later used for Republican fundraising.
President Bush leaves Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for Washington. [MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Washington Times, 10/8/02]
          

(5:20 p.m.): WTC Building 7 Collapses; Cause Remains Unclear

      
World Trade Center Building 7 collapses down into its footprint.
Building 7 of the WTC complex, a 47-story tower, collapses. No one is killed. [MSNBC, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/12/01; Washington Post, 9/12/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)] Many questions will arise over the cause of this collapse in the coming weeks and months. Building 7, which was not hit by an airplane, is the first modern, steel-reinforced high-rise to collapse because of fire. [Chicago Tribune, 11/29/01; Stanford Report, 12/3/01; New York Times, 3/2/02] Some later suggest that the diesel fuel stored in several tanks on the premises may have contributed to the building's collapse. The building contained a 6,000-gallon tank between its first and second floors and another four tanks, holding as much as 36,000 gallons, below ground level. There were also three smaller tanks on higher floors. [Chicago Tribune, 11/29/01; New York Times, 3/2/02; New York Observer, 3/25/02; FEMA study, 5/1/02] However, the cause of the collapse is uncertain. A 2002 government report concludes: “The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time. Although the total diesel fuel on the premises contained massive potential energy, the best hypothesis has only a low probability of occurrence.” [FEMA study, 5/1/02] Some reports indicate that the building may have been deliberately destroyed. Shortly after the collapse, CBS news anchor Dan Rather comments that the collapse is “reminiscent of ... when a building was deliberately destroyed by well-placed dynamite to knock it down.” [CBS News, 9/11/01] In a PBS documentary broadcast in 2002, the World Trade Center's leaseholder Larry Silverstein talks about a phone call from the Fire Department commander he had on 9/11. Silverstein recalls saying to the commander about the building: “You know, we've had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it. And they made that decision to pull and then we watched the building collapse.” [PBS, 9/10/02] It is unclear what Silverstein meant by the phrase “decision to pull.”
          

(6:54 p.m.): Bush Returns to White House

       President Bush arrives at the White House, after exiting Air Force One at 6:42 p.m. and flying across Washington in a helicopter. [ABC News, 9/11/02; Salon, 9/12/01 (B); Washington Times, 10/8/02; CNN, 9/12/01; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)]
          

(7:00 p.m.): Powell Returns from Peru

       Secretary of State Powell returns to Washington from Lima, Peru. He is finally able to speak to President Bush for the first time since the 9/11 attacks began when they both arrive at the White House at about the same time. Powell later says of his flight, “And the worst part of it, is that because of the communications problems that existed during that day, I couldn't talk to anybody in Washington.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] The Daily Telegraph later theorizes, “Why so long? In the weeks before September 11, Washington was full of rumors that Powell was out of favor and had been quietly relegated to the sidelines...” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01]
          

8:30 p.m.: Bush Gives Third Speech to Nation, Declares Bush Doctrine

      
Bush addresses the nation from the White House.
President Bush addresses the nation on live television. [CNN, 9/12/01] In what will later be called the Bush Doctrine, he states, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
          

(9:00 p.m.): Bush Meets with Advisers, Declares War Without Barriers

      
President Bush (below television screen) meeting with the National Security Council in a bunker below the White House. In the far row from left to right, are Attorney General Ashcroft, President Bush, Chief of Staff Card, CIA Director Tenet, and countert
President Bu sh meets with his full National Security Council in the PEOC beneath the White House for about 30 minutes. He then meets with a smaller group of key advisers. Bush and his advisers have already decided bin Laden is behind the attacks. CIA Director Tenet says that al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan are essentially one and the same. Bush says, “Tell the Taliban We're finished with them.” [Washington Post, 1/27/02] He goes on to say, “I want you all to understand that we are at war and we will stay at war until this is done. Nothing else matters. Everything is available for the pursuit of this war. Any barriers in your way, they're gone. Any money you need, you have it. This is our only agenda.” When Rumsfeld points out that international law only allows force to prevent future attacks and not for retribution, Bush yells, “No. I don't care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 23-24]
          

10:49 p.m.: Ashcroft Claims to Already Understand Hijacking Procedure

       It is reported that Attorney General Ashcroft has told members of Congress that there were three to five hijackers on each plane armed only with knives. [CNN, 9/12/01]
          

(11:30 p.m.): Bush Sees New Pearl Harbor

       Before going to sleep, President Bush writes in his diary, “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today. ... We think it's Osama bin Laden.” [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
          

September 12, 2001: US Denies Any Hints of bin Laden Plot to Attack in US

       The government's initial response to the 9/11 attacks is that it had no evidence whatsoever that bin Laden planned an attack in the US “There was a ton of stuff, but it all pointed to an attack abroad,” says one official. Furthermore, in the 24 hours after the attack, investigators would have been searching through “mountains of information.” However, “the vast electronic ‘take’ on bin Laden, said officials who requested anonymity, contained no hints of a pending terror campaign in the United States itself, no orders to subordinates, no electronic fund transfers, no reports from underlings on their surveillance of the airports in Boston, Newark, and Washington.” [Miami Herald, 9/12/01]
          

September 12, 2001: Hijacker's Passport Found Near WTC

       The passport of hijacker Satam Al Suqami is found a few blocks from the WTC. [ABC News, 9/12/01 (C); Associated Press, 9/16/01; ABC News, 9/16/01] The Guardian says, “the idea that Mohamed Atta's passport had escaped from that inferno unsinged [tests] the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI's crackdown on terrorism.” [Guardian, 3/19/02] (Note that, as in this Guardian account, the passport is frequently mistakenly referred to as Atta's passport.)
          

September 12, 2001: Bush Meeting Raises Iraq Attack Possibility

       White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke meets with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. During the briefing Rumsfeld suggests that the US should bomb Iraq in retaliation for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. “Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq,” Clarke will later recall in his book, Against All Enemies. “... We all said, ‘but no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan’ and Rumsfeld said, ‘There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.’ ” [Clarke, 2004; Associated Press, 3/20/04; Reuters, 3/19/04; Washington Post, 3/22/2004 Sources: Richard A. Clarke] Secretary of State Powell agrees with Clarke that the immediate focus should be on al-Qaeda. However, Powell also says, “Public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible.” Clarke complains to him, “Having been attacked by al-Qaeda, for us now to go bombing Iraq in response would be like our invading Mexico after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.” President Bush notes the goal should be replacing the Iraqi government, not just bombing it, but the military warns an invasion would need a large force and many months to assemble. [Clarke, 2004] Rumsfeld's view is said to be closely aligned with that of his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, who believes Saddam, not Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda, should be the principal target of the “war on terrorism.” [Woodward, 2002, pp 49] Commenting on his feelings after the meeting, Clarke will later write: “At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting al-Qaeda. I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq.” [Washington Post, 3/22/04; New York Times, 3/28/04] Bush administration officials will contest the accusations Clarke—who was a registered Republican in 2000—makes in his book, dismissing them as politically motivated comments made during an election year. [Associated Press, 3/22/04] But another source had provided a similar account a year earlier. In his book, Bush at War, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward stated that during a White House meeting, Rumsfeld had suggested that the US should attack Iraq. (Note: It is not clear whether or not this meeting is the same one referred to by Clarke.) [Woodward, 2002, pp 49] Clarke also says in his book, referring to unspecified administration officials, “They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12.” [Clarke, 2004.; Associated Press, 3/20/04; Reuters, 3/19/04 Sources: Richard A. Clarke]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Richard A. Clarke, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Colin Powell  Additional Info 
          

September 12, 2001: Threat to Air Force One? Stories Conflict

       White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer explains that President Bush went to Nebraska because “[t]here was real and credible information that the White House and Air Force One were targets.” The next day, William Safire of the New York Times writes, and Bush's Political Strategist Karl Rove confirms, that the Secret Service believed “ ‘Air Force One may be next,’ and there was an ‘inside’ threat which ‘may have broken the secret codes [i.e., showing a knowledge of Presidential procedures].’ ” [New York Times, 9/13/01] By September 27, Fleischer begins to backpedal on the claim that there were specific threats against Air Force One and/or the President, and news stories flatly contradict it. [Washington Post, 9/27/01] A well-informed, anonymous Washington official says, “It did two things for [Cheney]. It reinforced his argument that the President should stay out of town, and it gave George W. an excellent reason for doing so.” [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01] By 2004, a Bush spokesperson says there was no threat, but Cheney continues to maintain that there may have been. Cheney also claims the Secret Service passed him word of the threat, but two Secret Service agents working that day deny their agency played any role in receiving or passing on such a threat. The threat was allegedly based on the use of the word “Angel,” the code word for Air Force One, but Secret Service agents later note that the code word was not an official secret, but a radio shorthand designation that had been made public well before 2001. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04]
          

September 12, 2001: Inside Help for Terrorists at Airports?

       Billie Vincent, a former FAA security director, suggests the hijackers had inside help at the airports. “These people had to have the means to take control of the aircrafts. And that means they had to have weapons in order for those pilots to relinquish control. Think about it, they planned this thing out to the last detail for months. They are not going to take any risks at the front end. They knew they were going to be successful before they started ... It's the only thing that really makes sense to me.” [Miami Herald, 9/12/01 (B)]
          

September 12, 2001: Planned Terrorism Exercise May Have Sped Up Response to 9/11 Attack

       Before 9/11, New York City is scheduled to have a biological terrorism exercise on this day called Tripod II. As Mayor Rudolph Giuliani later testifies, “hundreds of people ... from FEMA, from the federal government, from the state, from the State Emergency Management Office” come to New York to take part in the exercise. Presumably many have already arrived when the 9/11 attacks occur. Giuliani notes that the equipment for the exercise is already there, so when his emergency bunker (in WTC Building 7) is destroyed in the attacks, he moves his response center to the planned site of the Tripod exercise. [9/11 Commission Report, 5/19/04; New York Magazine, 10/15/01]
          

September 12, 2001: Bush to Clarke: ‘Look into Iraq’

       US President George Bush speaks privately with White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke in the White House Situation Room. According to Clarke, Bush tells him to investigate the possibility that Iraq had been involved in the attacks. “I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything,” Bush says. “See if Saddam did this.” When Clarke responds, “But Mr. President, al-Qaeda did this,” Bush replies, “I know, I know, but... see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred.” Clarke insists that the CIA, FBI, and White House had already concluded that there were no such links. As he exits the room, Bush “testily” reiterates, “Look into Iraq, Saddam.” [Washington Post, 3/22/2004 Sources: Richard A. Clarke] During a “60 Minutes” interview, Clarke will add that Bush's instructions were made in a way that were “very intimidating,” and which hinted that Clarke “should come back with that answer.” “Now he never said, ‘Make it up.’ But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.” [CBS News, 3/20/04; New York Times, 3/23/04] White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan will later dispute Clarke's account. Bush “doesn't have any recollection” of such a meeting or conversation, McClellan will say on March 22, 2004. “There's no record of the President being in the Situation Room on that day that ... you know, when the President is in the Situation Room, we keep track of that.” [Associated Press, 3/22/04] But several eyewitnesses soon confirm Clarke's account and [CBS News, 3/20/04; BBC, 3/23/2004; Guardian, 3/26/2004] White House aides eventually concede that the meeting “probably” occurred [New York Daily News, 3/27/04] —though they will say that Bush was only asking Clarke to consider all possibilities. Clarke, however, in interviews with the press will reject this claim and stand by his original account that Bush wanted him to “find Iraqi involvement.” [BBC, 3/23/2004; ABC News, 3/22/2004] After the meeting, Clarke collaborates with CIA and FBI experts producing a report which finds no evidence that Iraq had a hand in the attacks. But “it got bounced by the national-securty advisor, or deputy,” Clarke will explain. “ It got bounced and sent back, saying ‘Wrong answer .... Do it again.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pp 238]
People and organizations involved: Scott McClellan, Stephen Hadley, George W. Bush, Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice  Additional Info 
          

September 13, 2001: 18 Hijackers Named, Hanjour Follows One Day Later

       The FBI says there were 18 hijackers, and releases their names. [CNN, 9/13/01 (C)] The next day, it is revealed there is one more hijacker—Hani Hanjour. [CNN, 9/14/01; Associated Press, 9/14/01 (B)] A few days later, it is reported that Hanjour's “name was not on the American Airlines manifest for [Flight 77] because he may not have had a ticket.” [Washington Post, 9/16/01 (B)]
          

September 13, 2001: Saudi Royals Fly to Kentucky in Violation of Domestic Flight Ban

       After a complete air flight ban in the US begun during the 9/11 attacks, some commercial flights begin resuming this day. However, all private flights are still banned from flying. Nonetheless, at least one private flight carrying Saudi royalty takes place on this day. And in subsequent days, other flights carry royalty and bin Laden family members. These flights take place even as fighters escort down three other private planes attempting to fly. Most of the Saudi royals and bin Ladens in the US at the time are high school or college students and young professionals. [New York Times, 9/30/01; Vanity Fair, 10/03] The first flight is a Lear Jet that leaves from a private Raytheon hangar in Tampa, Florida, and takes three Saudis to Lexington, Kentucky. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01] Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the US who is so close to the Bush family that he is nicknamed “Bandar Bush,” pushes for and helps arrange the flights at the request of frightened Saudis. [Vanity Fair, 10/03; Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03 (D)] For two years, this violation of the air ban is denied by the FAA, FBI, and White House, and decried as an urban legend except for one article detailing them in a Tampa newspaper. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01] Finally, in 2003, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke confirms the existence of these flights, and Secretary of State Powell confirms them as well. [Vanity Fair, 10/03; MSNBC, 9/7/03] However, the White House remains silent on the matter. [New York Times, 9/4/03] Officials at the Tampa International Airport finally confirm this first flight in 2004. But whether the flight violated the air ban or not rests on some technicalities that remain unresolved. [Lexington Herald-Leader, 6/10/04] The Saudis are evacuated to Saudi Arabia over the next several days (see September 14-19, 2001).
          

September 13-14, 2001: Flight 93 and Flight 77 Black Boxes Found

       All the “black boxes” for Flights 93 and 77 are found. However, Flight 93's two boxes are deemed severely damaged, and it is not known if the data can be recovered [Reuters, 9/13/01 (B); BBC, 9/15/01] In December, the FBI reveals they know the contents, but only release select quotes. [CNN, 12/21/01] Flight 93's recording is eventually played in private to victims' relatives, and also to the 9/11 Commission. FBI Director Mueller will later say that the boxes for Flight 77 provided altitude, speed, headings, and other information, but the voice recorder contained “nothing useful.” [CBS News, 2/23/02]
          

September 13, 2001: Series of Circumstances Said to Make Hijacked Passenger Cell Phone Calls Possible

       It is reported that the many phone calls made by passengers from the hijacked flights are normally technically impossible to make. A major cell phone carrier spokeswoman claims, “Those were a series of circumstances that made those calls go through, which would not be repeated under normal circumstances.” Supposedly, the calls worked because they were made when the planes were close to the gro und and they were kept short. [Wired, 9/13/01] However, many of the cell phone calls were made from high cruising altitudes and lasted ten minutes or more. The New York Times later reports, “According to industry experts, it is possible to use cell phones with varying success during the ascent and descent of commercial airline flights, although the difficulty of maintaining a signal appears to increase as planes gain altitude. Some older phones, which have stronger transmitters and operate on analog networks, can be used at a maximum altitude of ten miles, while phones on newer digital systems can work at altitudes of five to six miles. A typical airline cruising altitude would be 35,000 feet, or about 6.6 miles.” [Slate, 9/14/01] A spokesperson for the AT&T phone company notes that cell phone networks are not designed for calls from high altitudes. She suggests that “it was almost a fluke that the calls reached their destinations.” [Wireless Review, 11/1/01]
          

September 13, 2001: Wide Flight 93 Debris Field Spurs Rumors Flight Was Shot Down

       Investigators say they have found debris from the Flight 93 crash far from the main crash site. A second debris field centers around Indian Lake about three miles from the crash scene, where eyewitnesses report seeing falling debris only moments after the crash. More debris is found in New Baltimore, some eight miles away. Later in the day, the investigators say all that debris likely was blown there. [CNN, 9/13/01; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/13/01] Another debris field is found six miles away, and human remains are found miles away. After all of this is discovered, the FBI still “stresses” that “no evidence [has] surfaced” to support the idea that the plane was shot down. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/13/01] A half-ton piece of one of the engines is found 2,000 yards away from the main crash site. This was the single heaviest piece recovered from the crash. [Philadelphia Daily News, 12/28/01; Independent, 8/13/02] Days later, the FBI says the wide debris field was probably the result of the explosion on impact. The Independent nevertheless later cites the wide debris field as one of many reasons why widespread rumors remain that the plane was shot down. [Independent, 9/20/01]
          

September 13, 2001: White House Announces bin Laden-9/11 Connection

       The White House announces that there is “overwhelming evidence” that bin Laden is behind the attacks. [MSNBC, 9/13/01]
          

September 14, 2001: Lack of Debate About Poor Fighter Response on 9/11

       The Miami Herald reports: “Forty-five minutes. That's how long American Airlines Flight 77 meandered through the air headed for the White House, its flight plan abandoned, its radar beacon silent. ... Who was watching in those 45 minutes? ‘That's a question that more and more people are going to ask,’ said one controller in Miami. ‘What the hell went on here? Was anyone doing anything about it? Just as a national defense thing, how are they able to fly around and no one [goes] after them?’ ” [Miami Herald, 9/14/01] The Village Voice comments, “In the wake of the terrorist attacks, questions are mounting about America's airline safety system and, beyond that, the military's air-defense screen.” [Village Voice, 9/13/01] But in the subsequent year, there will be only one other article in the mainstream US media questioning slow fighter response times, and this article notes the strange lack of articles on the topic. [Slate, 1/16/02] The fighter response on 9/11 will finally make news as a result of 9/11 Commission hearings in 2004. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
          

September 14, 2001: Account of Fighter Response Times Changes Significantly

       CBS News announces that “contrary to early reports, US Air Force jets did get into the air on Tuesday while the attacks were under way.” According to this new account, the first fighters get airborne toward New York City at 8:52 am. [CBS News, 9/14/01] The day before this announcement, acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers in congressional testimony stated that the first fighters got airborne only after the Pentagon was hit at 9:37 am. [General Myers' confirmation hearing, 9/13/01] NORAD spokesman Marine Corps Major Mike Snyder also claimed no fighters launched anywhere until after the Pentagon was hit. [Boston Globe, 9/15/01] Four days later, the official NORAD timeline is changed to include this new account. [NORAD, 9/18/01] New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani later testifies before the 9/11 Commission that he found out from the White House at about 9:58 am. that the first fighters were not launched toward New York City until twelve minutes earlier—9:46 am. [9/11 Commission Report, 5/19/04] This would correspond to Myers' and Snyder's accounts that no fighters are scrambled until after the Pentagon is hit. But the 9/11 Commission later agrees with this CBS report and by their account the first fighters launch around 8:52. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
          

September 14, 2001: Revealed: Saudi Students May Attend Florida Flight Schools Without Background Checks

       In interviews with the Boston Globe, flight instructors in Florida say that it was common for students with Saudi affiliations to enter the US with only cursory background checks and sometimes none. Some flight schools, including some of those attended by the hijackers, have exemptions that allow the schools to unilaterally issue paperwork that students can present at US embassies and consulates so they can obtain visas. Saudi Arabia is possibly the only Arab country with such an exemption. [Boston Globe, 9/14/01]
          

September 14, 2001: FBI Director Caught in Whopper

      
FBI Director Robert Mueller.
FBI Director Mueller describes reports that several of the hijackers had received flight training in the US as “news, quite obviously,” adding, “If we had understood that to be the case, we would have—perhaps one could have averted this.” It is later discovered that contrary to Mueller's claims, the FBI had interviewed various flight school staffs about Middle Eastern terrorists on numerous occasions, from 1996 until a few weeks before 9/11. [Washington Post, 9/23/01; Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Three days later, he says, “There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country.” [Department of Justice transcript, 9/17/01] Slate magazine later contrasts this with numerous other contradictory statements and articles, and awards Mueller the “Whopper of the Week.” [Slate, 5/17/02]
          

September 14, 2001: Deutsche Bank Exec Resigns, Prompting Speculations of 9/11 Connection

       Mayo Shattuck III resigns, effective immediately, as head of the Alex Brown unit of Deutsche Bank. No reason is given. Some speculate later that this could have to do with the role of Deutsche Bank in the pre-9/11 purchases of put options on the stock of companies most affected by 9/11. Deutsche Bank is also one of the four banks most used by the bin Laden family. [New York Times, 9/15/01; Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01]
          

September 14, 2001: Officials Deny Flight 93 Shot Down

       Officials deny that Flight 93 was shot down, but propose the theory that the hijackers had a bomb on board and blew up the plane. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/14/01] Later in the month, it is reported that the “FBI has determined from the on site investigation that no explosive was involved.” [Associated Press, 9/25/01]
          

September 14, 2001: Congress to Bush: Use All Necessary Military Force

       Congress authorizes President Bush to use all necessary military force against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, their sponsors, and those who protected them. [State Department, 12/26/01] In March 2003, President Bush informs Congress that Iraq is being attacked for its support of 9/11, despite the lack of any evidence for such a connection.
          

September 14, 2001: Congress to Bush: Use All Necessary Military Force

       Congress authorizes Bush to use all necessary military force against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, their sponsors, and those who protected them. [State Department, 12/26/01]
          

September 14, 2001: Atta-Iraq Spy Meeting Story Begins with Dubious Tip

       The CIA intelligence liaison in Prague is told by the Czech intelligence agency (BIS) that one of its informants in the local Prague Arab community believes the Hamburg “student” he had seen meeting with Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani on April 8, 2001 in a restaurant outside of Prague was 9/11 plotter Mohamed Atta. (see April 8, 2001) Czech intelligence treats the claim skeptically because it comes only after Atta's picture has been broadcast on television and after the Czech press reported that records showed Atta had traveled to Prague. FBI agents go to the Czech Republic and are given full access to Czech intelligence material. This information leads hawks to come up with the so-called “Prague Connection” theory, which holds that 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta flew to Prague on April 8, met with al-Ani to discuss the planning and financing of the 9/11 attacks, and returned to the US on either April 9 or 10. The theory will be widely debated but generally discounted by the end of 2004. [Slate, 11/19/03; New York Times, 10/21/02 Sources: Jan Kavan]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani
          

September 14-19, 2001: Bin Laden Family Members, Saudi Royals Quietly Leave US

      
Khalil bin Laden at the Orlando, Florida, airport, about to be flown out of the country in the days after 9/11.
Following a secret flight inside the US that is in violation of a national private airplane flight ban, members of the bin Laden family and Saudi royalty quietly depart the US. The flights are only publicly acknowledged after all the Saudis have left. [Boston Globe, 9/21/01; New York Times, 9/30/01] About 140 Saudis, including around 24 members of the bin Laden family, are passengers in these flights. The identity of most of these passengers is not known. However, some of the passengers include:
The son of the Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan. Sultan is sued in August 2002 for alleged complicity in the 9/11 plot. [Tampa Tribune, 10/5/01]
He is alleged to have contributed at least $6 million since 1994 to four charities that finance al-Qaeda. [Vanity Fair, 10/03]
Khalil bin Laden. He has been investigated by the Brazilian government for possible terrorist connections. [Vanity Fair, 10/03]

Abdullah bin Laden and Omar bin Laden, cousins of bin Laden. Abdullah was the US director of the Muslim charity World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). The governments of India, Pakistan, Philippines, and Bosnia have all accused WAMY of funding terrorism. These two relatives were investigated by the FBI in 1996 in a case involving espionage, murder, and national security. Their case is reopened on September 19, right after they leave the country. [Vanity Fair, 10/03]
Remarkably, four of the 9/11 hijackers briefly live in the town of Falls Church, Virginia, three blocks from the WAMY office headed by Abdullah bin Laden. [BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01]
Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen. He is a prominent Saudi official who is in the same hotel as three of the hijackers the night before 9/11. He leaves on one of the first flights to Saudi Arabia before the FBI can properly interview him about this. [Washington Post, 10/2/03]
There is a later dispute regarding how thoroughly the Saudis are interviewed before they leave and who approves the flights. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke says he agrees to the flights after the FBI assures him none of those on board has connections to terrorism and that it is “a conscious decision with complete review at the highest levels of the State Department and the FBI and the White House.” [Congressional Testimony, 9/3/03] Clarke says the decision to approve the flights “didn't get any higher than me.” However, the question of who made the request of Clarke is still unknown. [The Hill, 05/18/04] According to Vanity Fair, both the FBI and the State Department “deny playing any role whatsoever in the episode.” However, Dale Watson, the FBI's former head of counterterrorism, says the Saudis on the planes “[are] identified, but they [are] not subject to serious interviews or interrogations” before they leave. [Vanity Fair, 10/03] An FBI spokesperson says the bin Laden relatives are only interviewed by the FBI “at the airport, as they [are] about to leave.” [National Review, 9/11/02] There are claims that some passengers are not interviewed by the FBI at all. [Vanity Fair, 10/03] Abdullah bin Laden, who stays in the US, says that even a month after 9/11, his only contact with the FBI is a brief phone call. [Boston Globe, 9/21/01; New Yorker, 11/5/01] Numerous experts are surprised that the bin Ladens are not interviewed more extensively before leaving, pointing out that interviewing the relatives of suspects is standard investigative procedure. [National Review, 9/11/02; Vanity Fair, 10/03] MSNBC claims that “members of the Saudi royal family met frequently with bin Laden—both before and after 9/11” [MSNBC, 9/5/03] , and many Saudi royals and bin Laden relatives are being sued for their alleged role in 9/11. The Boston Globe opines that the flights occur “too soon after 9/11 for the FBI even to know what questions to ask, much less to decide conclusively that each Saudi [royal] and bin Laden relative [deserve] an ‘all clear,’ never to be available for questions again.” [Boston Globe, 9/30/03] Senator Charles Schumer (D) says of the secret flights, “This is just another example of our country coddling the Saudis and giving them special privileges that others would never get. It's almost as if we didn't want to find out what links existed.” [New York Times, 9/4/03]
          

September 14, 2001: Contrary Accounts of Flight 93's Speed Raises Questions

       It is initially reported that Flight 93 is traveling fairly slowly when it crashed. “It slammed into the ground at a speed law enforcement authorities said might have approached 300 mph.” [New York Times, 9/14/01] “Flight 93 slammed into the earth nose-first at over 200 mph, according to estimates by the National Transportation Safety Board and other experts.” [Delaware News Journal, 9/16/01] However, by 2002 it is being reported that the plane crashed going nearly 600 mph. [Longman, 2002, pp 212] “It could have even broken the sound barrier for a while,” says Hank Krakowski, director of flight operations control at United's system control center on September 11. [New York Times, 3/27/02] The design limits of the plane are 287 mph when flying below 10,000 feet. [Longman, 2002, pp 208]
          

September 14, 2001: Head of Shadowy Company Flees US

       Dominick Suter, owner of the company Urban Moving Systems, flees the country to Israel. The FBI later tells ABC News, “Urban Moving may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence operation.” Suter has been tied to the five Israeli agents caught filming the WTC attack. The FBI had questioned Suter around September 12, removing boxes of documents and a dozen computer hard drives. However, when the FBI returns a few days later, he is gone. [Forward, 3/15/02; New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, 12/13/01; ABC News, 6/21/02]
          

September 14, 2001: Lack of Debate About Poor Fighter Response on 9/11

       The Miami Herald reports, “Forty-five minutes. That's how long American Airlines Flight 77 meandered through the air headed for the White House, its flight plan abandoned, its radar beacon silent... Who was watching in those 45 minutes? ‘That's a question that more and more people are going to ask,’ said one controller in Miami. ‘What the hell went on here? Was anyone doing anything about it? Just as a national defense thing, how are they able to fly around and no one go after them?’ ” [Miami Herald, 9/14/01] In the year after this article and a similar one in the Village Voice [Village Voice, 9/13/01] , there will be only one other US article questioning slow fighter response times, and that article notes the strange lack of articles on the topic. [Slate, 1/16/02] The fighter response issue finally makes news in 9/11 Commission hearings in 2004.
          

September 14, 2001: Gruesome WTC Remains Foundbut No Black Boxes

       Some gruesome remains are discovered in the WTC ruins. Investigators find a pair of severed hands bound together with plastic handcuffs on a nearby building. They are believed to have belonged to a flight attendant. [Newsday, 9/15/01] There are reports of whole rows of seats with passengers in them being found, as well as much of the cockpit of one of the planes, complete with the body of one of the hijackers, and the body of another stewardess, whose hands were tied with wire. [Ananova, 9/13/01; New York Times, 9/15/01 (D)] Yet, contradicting the claim that a hijacker's body was found, only in February 2003 are the remains of two hijackers identified. While all of these bodies and plane parts are supposedly found, not one of the four black boxes for these two airplanes is ever found. A National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson says, “It's extremely rare that we don't get the recorders back. I can't recall another domestic case in which we did not recover the recorders.” [CBS News, 2/23/02] The black boxes are considered “nearly indestructible,” are placed in the safest parts of the aircraft, and are designed to survive impacts much greater than the WTC impact. They can withstand heat of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, and can withstand an impact of an incredible 3,400 G's. [ABC News, 9/17/01]
          

September 14, 2001: Conflicting Accounts About Planes Near Flight 93's Crash

       Officials admit that two planes were near Flight 93 when it crashed, which matches numerous eyewitness accounts. For example, local man Dennis Decker says that immediately after hearing an explosion, “We looked up, we saw a midsized jet flying low and fast. It appeared to make a loop or part of a circle, and then it turned fast and headed out. If you were here to see it, you'd have no doubt. It was a jet plane, and it had to be flying real close when that 757 went down ... If I was the FBI, I'd find out who was driving that plane.” [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] Later the same day, the military says it can “neither confirm nor deny” the nearby planes. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/14/01] Two days later, they claim there were two planes near, but that they were a military cargo plane and business jet, and neither had anything to do with the crash. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/16/01] Supposedly, the business jet was requested to fly low over the crash site to help rescuers find the crash site, 25 minutes after all aircraft in the US had been ordered to land. However, the story appears physically impossible since the FBI says this jet was at 37,000 feet and asked to descend to 5,000 feet. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] That would have taken many minutes for that kind of plane, and witnesses report seeing the plane flying very low even before the crash. [Bergen Record, 9/14/01] Another explanation of a farmer's plane 45 minutes later is put forth, but that also does not fit the time at all. [Pittsburgh Channel, 9/15/01] Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz states: “We responded awfully quickly, I might say, on Tuesday [9/11], and, in fact, we were already tracking in on that plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. I think it was the heroism of the passengers on board that brought it down. But the Air Force was in a position to do so if we had had to.” [Department of Defense, 9/14/01] The next day, the Director of the Air National Guard denies that any plane was scrambled after Flight 93. [Seattle Times, 9/16/01] That in turn contradicts what Vice President Cheney will say later. [Washington Post, 1/27/02]
          

September 15-17, 2001: Did Some Hijackers Get US Military Training?

      
Did some of the hijackers take part in Pensacola base military ceremonies such as this one?
A series of articles suggest that at least seven of the 9/11 hijackers trained in US military bases. [New York Times, 9/15/01 (E); Newsweek, 9/15/01] Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Alghamdi, and Saeed Alghamdi even listed the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, as their permanent address on their driver's licenses. [Pensacola News Journal, 9/17/01] Hamza Alghamdi was also connected to the Pensacola base. [Washington Post, 9/16/01] A defense official confirms that Saeed Alghamdi is a former Saudi fighter pilot who attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01; Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] Abdulaziz Alomari attended Brooks Air Force Base Aerospace Medical School in San Antonio, Texas. [Gannett News Service, 9/17/01] A defense official confirms Mohamed Atta is a former Saudi fighter pilot who graduated from the US International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01; Washington Post, 9/16/01] The media stops looking into the hijackers' possible US military connections after the Air Force makes a not-very-definitive statement, saying that while the names are similar, “we are probably not talking about the same people.” [Washington Post, 9/16/01]
          

September 15, 2001: Bush Approves the CIA's Worldwide Attack Matrix Action Plan

       CIA Director Tenet briefs Bush “with a briefcase stuffed with top-secret documents and plans, in many respects the culmination of more than four years of work on bin Laden, the al-Qaeda network and worldwide terrorism.” In his briefing, Tenet advocates “a strategy to create ‘a northern front, closing the safe haven [of Afghanistan].’ His idea [is] that Afghan opposition forces, aided by the United States, would move first against the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, try to break the Taliban's grip on that city and open up the border with Uzbekistan. From there the campaign could move to other cities in the north...” Tenet also explains that the CIA had begun working with a number of tribal leaders to stir up resistance in the south the previous year. Tenet then turns to a top secret document called the “Worldwide Attack Matrix,” which describes covert operations in 80 countries that are either underway or now recommended. The actions range from routine propaganda to lethal covert action in preparation for military attacks. The military, which typically plans such military campaigns, is caught relatively unprepared and so it defers to the CIA plans. [Washington Post, 1/31/02]
          

September 15, 2001-April 6, 2002: Bush Shifts Public Focus from bin Laden to Iraq

       On September 15, 2001, President Bush says of bin Laden: “If he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/16/01 (B)] Two days later, he says, “I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’ ” [ABC News, 9/17/01] On December 28, 2001, even as the US was declaring victory in Afghanistan, Bush says, “Our objective is more than bin Laden.” [Associated Press, 8/19/02 (B)] Bush's January 2002 State of the Union speech describes Iraq as part of an “axis of evil” and fails to mention bin Laden at all. On March 8, 2002, Bush still vows: “We're going to find him.” [Washington Post, 10/1/02] Yet, only a few days later on March 13, Bush says, “He's a person who's now been marginalized. ... I just don't spend that much time on him. ... I truly am not that concerned about him.” Instead, Bush is “deeply concerned about Iraq.” [White House, 3/13/02] The rhetoric shift is complete when Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers states on April 6, “The goal has never been to get bin Laden.” [Department of Defense, 4/6/02] In October 2002, the Washington Post notes that since March 2002, Bush has avoided mentioning bin Laden's name, even when asked about him directly. Bush sometimes uses questions about bin Laden to talk about Saddam Hussein instead. In late 2001, nearly two-thirds of Americans say the war on terrorism could not be called a success without bin Laden's death or capture. That number falls to 44 percent in a March 2002 poll, and the question has since been dropped. [Washington Post, 10/1/02] Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies, later points out: “There appears to be a real disconnect” between the US military's conquest of Afghanistan and “the earlier rhetoric of President Bush, which had focused on getting bin Laden.” [Christian Science Monitor, 3/4/02 (B)]
          

Mid-September 2001: Israel and US Plan Contingency to Steal Nuclear Weapons from Pakistan

       According to Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker, a few days after 9/11 members of the elite Israeli counterterrorism unit Sayeret Matkal arrive in the US and begin training with US Special Forces in a secret location. The two groups are developing contingency plans to attack Pakistan's military bases and remove its nuclear weapons if the Pakistani government or the nuclear weapons fall into the wrong hands. [New Yorker, 10/29/01] There may have been threats to enact this plan on September 13, 2001. The Japan Times later notes that this “threat to divest Pakistan of its ‘crown jewels’ was cleverly used by the US, first to force Musharraf to support its military campaign in Afghanistan, and then to warn would-be coup plotters against Musharraf.” [Japan Times, 11/10/01]
          

Mid-September 2001: Pakistani Leaders Side with Taliban

       The Guardian later claims that Pakistani President Musharraf has a meeting with his 12 or 13 most senior officers. Musharraf proposes to support the US in the imminent war against the Taliban and bin Laden. Supposedly, four of his most senior generals oppose him outright in “a stunning display of disloyalty.” The four are ISI Director Mahmood, Lieutenant General Muzaffar Usmani, Lieutenant General Jamshaid Gulzar Kiani, and Lieutenant General Mohammed Aziz Khan. All four are removed from power over the next month. If this meeting took place, it is hard to see when it could have happened, since the article states it happened “within days” of 9/11, but Mahmood was in the US until late September 16, then flew to Afghanistan for two days, then possibly to Saudi Arabia. [Guardian, 5/25/02]
          

September 16-23, 2001: People with Hijacker Names and Identifying Details Are Still Alive

      
The Salem Alhazmi on the left [Saudi Gazette, 9/23/01] claims that the FBI pictures of a Salem Alhazmi such as this one on the right [FBI] are of him, from when his passport was stolen.
Reports appear in many newspapers suggesting that some of the people the US says were 9/11 hijackers are actually still alive:
Hamza Alghamdi: No media outlet has claimed that Hamza Alghamdi is still alive, but his family says the FBI photo “has no resemblance to him at all.” [Washington Post, 9/25/01]

Saeed Alghamdi is alive and flying airplanes in Tunisia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01; Daily Telegraph, 9/23/01; BBC, 9/23/01]
He says he studied flight training in a Florida flight schools for parts of the years 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. [Arab News, 9/18/01] The Daily Telegraph notes, “The FBI had published [Saeed Alghamdi's] personal details but with a photograph of somebody else, presumably a hijacker who had ‘stolen’ his identity. CNN, however, showed a picture of the real Mr. Alghamdi.” [Daily Telegraph, 9/23/01] If this account is true, as of mid-2004 the FBI is still using the wrong photograph of Alghamdi.
Salem Alhazmi is alive and working at a petrochemical plant in Yanbou, Saudi Arabia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01; Daily Telegraph, 9/23/01]
He says his passport was stolen by a pickpocket in Cairo three years ago and that pictures and details such as date of birth are of him. [Guardian, 9/21/01 (C); Washington Post, 9/20/01; Saudi Gazette, 9/29/02]
Ahmed Alnami is alive and working as an administrative supervisor with Saudi Arabian Airlines in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01]
He had never lost his passport and found it “very worrying” that his identity appeared to have been stolen. [Daily Telegraph, 9/23/01] However, there is another “Ahmed Alnami” who is ten years younger, and appears to be dead, according to his father. [ABC News, 3/15/02] Ahmed Alnami's family says his FBI picture is correct. [Washington Post, 9/25/01]
Abdulaziz Alomari is alive and working as a pilot for Saudi Arabian Airlines [New York Times, 9/16/01; Independent, 9/17/01; BBC, 9/23/01]
He claims that his passport was stolen in 1995 while he was living in Denver, Colorado. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] “They gave my name and my date of birth, but I am not a suicide bomber. I am here. I am alive.” [Daily Telegraph, 9/23/01; Times of London, 9/20/01]
Marwan Alshehhi may be alive in Morocco. [Saudi Gazette, 9/18/01; Khaleej Times, 9/20/01]
Family and neighbors do not believe he took part in the attacks. [Reuters, 9/18/01]
Mohand Alshehri: The Saudi government has claimed that Mohand Alshehri is alive and that he was not in the US on 9/11, but no more details are known. [Associated Press, 9/29/01 (B)]

The brothers Waleed M. Alshehri and Wail Alshehri are alive. A Saudi spokesman said, “This is a respectable family. I know his sons, and they're both alive.” The father is a diplomat who has been stationed in the US and Bombay, India. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01; Arab News, 9/19/01]
There is a second pair of Saudi brothers named Wail and Waleed M. who may have been the real hijackers. Their father says they have been missing since December 2000. [ABC News, 3/15/02; Arab News, 9/17/01] The still-living Waleed M. Alshehri is a pilot with Saudi Airlines, studying in Morocco. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01; Associated Press, 9/22/01] He acknowledges that he attended flight training school at Dayton Beach in the United States. [BBC, 9/23/01; Daily Trust, 9/24/01] He was interviewed by US officials in Morocco, and cleared of all charges against him (though apparently the FBI is still using his picture). [Embry Riddle Aeronautical University press release, 9/21/01] The still living Wail Alshehri is also apparently a pilot. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] He claims that he saw his picture on CNN and recognized it from when he studied flying in Florida. But he also says that he has no brother named Wail. [Ausat, 9/22/01]
Mohamed Atta's father says he spoke to his son on the phone on September 12, 2001. [New York Times, 9/19/01; Chicago Tribune, 9/20/01]

Khalid Almihdhar: On September 19, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. distributes a “special alert” to its member banks asking for information about the attackers. The list includes “Al-Midhar, Khalid. Alive.” The Justice Department later calls this a “typo.” [Associated Press, 9/20/01; Cox News Service, 10/21/01]
The BBC says, “There are suggestions that another suspect, Khalid Almihdhar, may also be alive.” [BBC, 9/23/01] The Guardian says Almihdhar is believed to be alive, but investigators are looking into three possibilities. Either his name was stolen for a hijacker alias, or he allowed his name to be used so that US officials would think he died, or he died in the crash. [Guardian, 9/21/01 (B)]
Majed Moqed was last seen by a friend in Saudi Arabia in 2000. This friend claims the FBI picture does not look like Moqed. [Arab News, 9/22/01]
The Saudi government insists that five of the Saudis mentioned are still alive. [New York Times, 9/21/01] On September 20, FBI Director Mueller says, “We have several others that are still in question. The investigation is ongoing, and I am not certain as to several of the others.” [Newsday, 9/21/01] On September 27, after all of these revelations mentioned above are revealed in the media, FBI Director Mueller states, “We are fairly certain of a number of them.” [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01] On September 20, the London Times reported, “Five of the hijackers were using stolen identities, and investigators are studying the possibility that the entire suicide squad consisted of impostors.” [Times of London, 9/20/01] The mainstream media briefly doubted some of the hijackers' identities. For instance, a story in the Observer on September 23 put the names of hijackers like Saeed Alghamdi in quotation marks. [Observer, 9/23/01] However, the story will die down after the initial reports, and it is hardly noticed when Mueller states on November 2, 2001, “We at this point definitely know the 19 hijackers who were responsible,” and claims that the FBI is sticking with the names and photos released in late September. [Associated Press, 11/03/02]
          

September 16, 2001: Bush Claim That Using Planes as Missiles Was Impossible to Predict Is Contradicted by Former CIA Official

       President Bush says, “Never (in) anybody's thought processes ... about how to protect America did we ever think that the evil doers would fly not one but four commercial aircraft into precious US targets ... never.” [NATO, 9/16/01] A month later, Paul Pillar, the former deputy director of the CIA's counterterrorist center, says, “The idea of commandeering an aircraft and crashing it into the ground and causing high casualties, sure we've thought of it.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01]
          

September 16, 2001: Taliban Said to Agree to All US Demands in a Secret Meeting

       A secret meeting takes place between Taliban and US government representatives in the city of Quetta, Pakistan. Afghan-American businessman Kabir Mohabbat serves as a middleman. US officials deny the meeting takes place, but later in the month Mohabbat explains that the US demands the Taliban hand over bin Laden, extradite foreign members of al-Qaeda who are wanted in their home countries, and shut down bin Laden's bases and camps. Mohabbat claims that the Taliban agrees to meet all the demands. However, some days later he is told the US position has changed and the Taliban must surrender or be killed. Later in the month, the Taliban again agrees to hand over bin Laden unconditionally, but the US replies that “the train had moved.” [Counterpunch, 11/1/04; CBS, 9/25/01]
          

September 16, 2001: EPA Misleads Public About Health Risks at WTC Site

      
Smoke from the WTC south tower collapse covers lower Manhattan on the day of 9/11, and for days afterward.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) release a joint statement asserting that the air in downtown New York City is safe to breathe. “New samples confirm previous reports that ambient air quality meets OSHA standards and consequently is not a cause for public concern,” the agencies claim. [EPA, 9/16/01] However, the government's statements are based on ambient air quality tests using outdated technologies. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/14/02] Furthermore, it is later learned that the press release was heavily edited under pressure from the White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Critical passages in the original draft were either deleted or modified to downplay public health risks posed by contaminants that were released into the air during the collapse of the World Trade Center. [Newsday, 8/26/03; EPA, 8/21/03] In late October, the New York Daily News obtains internal EPA documents containing information that had been withheld from the public. One document says that “dioxins, PCBs, benzene, lead and chromium are among the toxic substances detected ... sometimes at levels far exceeding federal levels.” [New York Daily News, 10/21/01] Later, in October, it is reported that thousands of rescue workers and residents are experiencing respiratory problems that experts attribute to the toxic smoke flume and ultra fine dust. [CNN, 10/29/01 (B); Newsday, 10/30/01; BBC, 10/31/01; New York Post, 10/29/01]
          

September 16, 2001: Usual Investigative Procedures Not Followed in Examining Flight 93 Wreckage

       A report suggests the crash site of Flight 93 is being searched and recorded in 60 square-foot grids. [Delaware News Journal, 9/16/01] This approach is preferred by the two forensic scientists in charge of the crash, who say that doing so can help determine who was where when the plane crashed, and possibly how it crashed. However, almost a year later it comes out that this approach is not followed: “The FBI overruled them, instead dividing the site into five large sectors. It would be too time-consuming to mark tight grids, and would serve no real investigative purpose, the bureau decided. There was no mystery to solve about the crash. Everybody knew what happened to the plane.” [Longman, 2002, pp 262-63] While the military may suggest there is no mystery, some articles have suggested the plane was shot down. (For example, [Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/01; Independent, 8/13/02] )In addition, at the time of this decision, investigators were still considering the possibility a bomb might have destroyed the plane.
          

September 16, 2001: Bin Laden Denies Involvement in 9/11 Attacks

       Confirming earlier reports [Reuters, 9/13/01 (D)] , bin Laden denies any involvement in the 9/11 attacks. In a statement to Al Jazeera, he states, “I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons.” [CNN, 9/17/01 (C)] The US claims that he confesses his role in a video message two months later, but the contents of that video are highly disputed.
          

September 17, 2001: Knife Found at Flight 93 Crash Scene

       A confidential FBI bulletin states a “badly damaged” commercially manufactured cigarette lighter with a concealed knife blade has been recovered at the Flight 93 crash scene. The knife was about two and three-fourths inches long, with a knife blade of about two and a half inches. [Los Angeles Times, 9/18/01]
          

September 17-18 and 28, 2001: Taliban Refuses to Extradite bin Laden

       On September 17, ISI Director Mahmood heads a six-man delegation that visits Mullah Omar in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It is reported he is trying to convince Omar to extradite bin Laden or face an immediate US attack. [Press Trust of India, 9/17/01; Financial Times, 9/18/01; Times of London, 9/18/01] Also in the delegation is Lieutenant General Mohammed Aziz Khan, an ex-ISI official who appears to be one of Saeed Sheikh's contacts in the ISI. [Press Trust of India, 9/17/01] On September 28, Mahmood returns to Afghanistan with a group of about ten religious leaders. He talks with Omar, who again says he will not hand over bin Laden. [Agence France-Presse, 9/28/01] A senior Taliban official later claims that on these trips Mahmood in fact urges Omar not to extradite bin Laden, but instead urges him to resist the US. [Associated Press, 2/21/02; Time, 5/6/02] Another account claims Mahmood does “nothing as the visitors [pour] praise on Omar and [fails] to raise the issue” of bin Laden's extradition. [Knight Ridder, 11/3/01] Two Pakistani brigadier generals connected to the ISI also accompany Mahmood, and advise al-Qaeda to counter the coming US attack on Afghanistan by resorting to mountain guerrilla war. The advice is not followed. [Asia Times, 9/11/02] Other ISI officers also stay in Afghanistan to advise the Taliban.
          

September 17, 2001: Bush Signs Afghanistan War Plan, But Also Includes Order to Prepare for Iraq

       President Bush signs a 2 1/2-page “top secret” document that outlines the administration's plan to invade Afghanistan and topple its government. According to administration officials interviewed by The Washington Post, the document also instructs the Pentagon to begin planning for an invasion of Iraq. [Washington Post, 1/12/03; The Mirror, 9/22/03; Atlantic Monthly, 10/2004 Sources: senior administration officials] The document further orders the military to be ready to occupy Iraq's oil fields if the country acts against US interests. [Washington Post, 7/23/04]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

September 17, 2001: Stock Exchange Reopens; Economic Costs of Attack Are High

       The New York Stock Exchange, closed since the 9/11 attacks, reopens. The economy slowly returns to normal. The attacks caused more than $20 billion in property damage to buildings in New York City and Washington. The work stoppage and other loss of economic output costs about another $47 billion, making the attacks the costliest man-made disaster in US history. [ABC News, 9/10/02]
          

September 17, 2001: Attendee of 2000 Malaysia Summit Is Arrested, but ‘Inexplicably Released’

       Police in Qatar arrest Ahmed Hikmat Shakir. US intelligence is very interested in Shakir, partly because he comes from Iraq and thus might be connected to the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein, and partly because he was seen at the January 2000 al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia attended by at least two of the 9/11 hijackers (see January 5-8, 2000). A search of Shakir's apartment in Qatar yields a “treasure trove” of information, including telephone records linking him to suspects in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1995 Bojinka plot. Yet, according to a senior Arab intelligence official, when the Qataris ask the US if they want to take custody of him, the US says no. He goes Jordan on October 21 instead. (Accounts differ as to whether Qatar releases him and Jordan captures him or whether Qatar sends him there.) Newsweek implies that the US expects Jordan will torture Shakir and share what they learn. The US is not allowed to directly question him. Three months later, he is “inexplicably released by Jordanian authorities” and vanishes. He has not been caught since. [Newsweek, 12/5/01; Newsweek, 9/30/02]
          

September 17, 2001: White House Meeting Leads to Cover-up?

       In a later 9/11 Commission hearing, Commissioner Bob Kerrey says that NORAD gives a briefing at the White House on this day. He adds, “[A]nd it feels like something happened in that briefing that produced almost a necessity to deliver a story that's different than what actually happened on that day.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] The next day, NORAD releases a timeline of 9/11 events detailing fighter response times. The 9/11 Commission later strongly disputes many details from NORAD's timeline. For instance, the timeline claims that NORAD is notified about the hijacking of Flight 93 at 9:16 am., but the commission concludes that when the plane crashes after 10:00 am., NORAD still has not been notified. [NORAD, 9/18/01; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
          

September 17, 2001: Associates of al-Marabh Arrested on Conspiracy Charges

       Federal agents looking for al-Marabh fail to find him at an old address, but they accidentally discover three other potential terrorists there. Karim Koubriti, Ahmed Hannan, and Farouk Ali-Haimoud are arrested. They worked as dishwashers at the Detroit airport. Investigators believe they were casing the airport for possible security breaches. [Boston Globe, 11/15/02] In the apartment, the FBI discovers a day planner that includes notes about the “American base in Turkey,” the “American Foreign Minister,” and “Alia Airport” in Jordan. [Washington Post, 9/20/01] They believe the men were planning to assassinate ex-Defense Secretary William Cohen during a visit to Turkey. [Associated Press, 11/17/01] A stash of false documents is also found, and all three have false passports, Social Security cards, and immigration papers. [Boston Herald, 9/20/01; Boston Globe, 11/15/02] Fake documents linking al-Marabh and another suspected terrorist named Yousef Hmimssa are also found [ABC News, 1/31/02] , as is videotaped surveillance of major tourist spots like Disneyland and the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. [Boston Globe, 11/15/02] Abel-Ilah Elmardoudi, the apparent ringleader of this group, is arrested in North Carolina in November 2002. All are tried on terrorist charges in 2003. [Boston Globe, 11/15/02] Two of the four are convicted of being part of a terrorism conspiracy. [Associated Press, 6/3/04]
          

September 18, 2001: 9/11 Grand Jury Convenes, Then Disappears

       It is reported that a federal grand jury has been convened in White Plains, New York, to investigate the 9/11 attacks. The grand jury, said to have begun meeting a few days earlier, will be able to issue subpoenas. New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik says it won't be the only 9/11-related grand jury: “You're going to see things like the grand jury in White Plains. You're going to see grand juries around the country, perhaps, looking into matters pertaining to this investigation.” White Plains is part of the federal court system's Southern District of New York, which has historically led all investigations related to bin Laden. [Associated Press, 9/18/01 (B)] However, thorough searches of the Lexis-Nexus database show no further mention of this grand jury, or any other 9/11-related grand juries. What happened to it is unclear.
          

On and around September 18, 2001: Wolfowitz and Feith Argue that Iraq Should be Target in War on Terorrism

       Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith argue in three memos why Iraq should be included as a target in the war on terrorism. One memo, “Were We Asleep?”, is dated September 18, and suggests links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, which most intelligence officials consider highly dubious. [Washington Post, 1/12/03; The Mirror, 9/22/03 Sources: senior administration officials]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

September 19, 2001-September 20, 2001: Defense Policy Board Meets and Discusses Iraq

       The Defense Policy Board (DPB) meets in secrecy in Rumsfeld's Pentagon conference room on September 19 and 20 for nineteen hours to discuss the option of taking military action against Iraq. This is reported in detail by the New York Times three weeks later on October 12 [New York Times, 10/12/01] Among those attending the meeting are the 18 members of the Defense Policy Board, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld, Ahmed Chalabi, and Bernard Lewis. [New York Times 10/12/01; Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 236] Secretary of State Colin Powell and other State Department officials in charge of US policy toward Iraq are not invited and are not informed of the meeting. A source will later tell the New York Times that Powell was irritated about not being briefed on the meeting. [New York Times 10/12/01] During the seminar, two of Richard Perle's invited guests, Princeton professor Bernard Lewis and Ahmed Chalabi, the president of the Iraqi National Congress, are given the opportunity to speak. Lewis says that the US must encourage democratic reformers in the Middle East, “such as my friend here, Ahmed Chalbi.” Chalabi argues that Iraq is a breeding ground for terrorists and asserts that Saddam's regime has weapons of mass destruction. [Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 232] During another part of the meeting, the attendees write a letter to President Bush calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein. “[E]ven if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism,” the letter reads. The letter is published in The Washington Times on September 20 (see September 20, 2001) in the name of The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a conservative think tank that believes the US needs to shoulder the responsibility for maintaining “peace” and “security” in the world by strengthening its global hegemony. [Project for a New American Century, 9/20/01; Manila Times, 7/19/03] They also discuss how to overcome some of the obvious diplomatic and political pressures that will impede a policy of regime change in Iraq. [New York Times 10/12/01] Bush reportedly rejects the proposal, as both Cheney and Powell agree that there is no evidence implicating Saddam Hussein in the attacks. [New York Times 10/12/01 Sources: Unnamed senior administration officials and defense experts]
People and organizations involved: Bernard Lewis, Defense Policy Board, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, Dan Quayle, Adm. David E. Jeremiah, James Woolsey, Harold Brown, Newt Gingrich, Ahmed Chalabi, James R. Schlesinger, Henry A. Kissinger
          

September 19, 2001: Unverified Reports of Additional Flights to Be Hijacked

       The FBI claims on this day that there were six hijacking teams on the morning of 9/11. [New York Times, 9/19/01 (B); Guardian, 10/13/01] A different report claims investigators are privately saying eight. [Independent, 9/25/01] However, the reports below suggest there may have been as many as eight aborted flights, leading to a potential total of 12 hijackings:
Knives of the same type used in the successful hijackings were found taped to the backs of fold-down trays on a Continental Airlines flight from Newark. [Guardian, 9/19/01]

The FBI is investigating American Airlines Flight 43, which was scheduled to leave Boston about 8:10 am. bound for Los Angeles but was canceled minutes before takeoff due to a mechanical problem. [BBC, 9/18/01 (C); Chicago Tribune, 9/18/01; Guardian, 9/19/01]
Another version claims the flight left from Newark and made it as far as Cincinnati before being grounded in the nationwide air ban. [New York Times, 9/19/01 (B)]
Knives and box cutters were found on two separate canceled Delta Airlines planes later that day, one leaving Atlanta for Brussels and the other leaving from Boston. [Time, 9/22/01; Independent, 9/25/01]

On September 14, two knives were found on an Air Canada flight that would have flown to New York on 9/11 if not for the air ban. [CNN, 10/15/01]

Two men arrested on 9/11 may have lost their nerve on American Airlines Flight 1729 from Newark to San Antonio via Dallas that was scheduled to depart at 8:50 am., and was later forced to land in St. Louis. Alternately, they may have been planning an attack for September 15, 2001. [New York Times, 9/19/01 (B)]

There may have been an attempt to hijack United Airlines Flight 23 flying from Boston to Los Angeles around 9:00 am. Shortly after 9:00 am., United Airlines flight dispatcher Ed Ballinger sent out a warning about the first WTC crash to the flights he was handling. Because of this warning, the crew of Flight 23 told the passengers it had a mechanical problem and immediately returned to the gate. Ballinger was later told by authorities that six men initially wouldn't get off the plane. When the men finally disembarked, they disappeared into the crowd and never returned. Later, authorities checked their luggage and found copies of the Koran and al-Qaeda instruction sheets. [Chicago Daily Herald, 4/14/04]
In mid-2002, a NORAD deputy commander says “we don't know for sure” if Flight 23 was to have been hijacked. [Globe and Mail, 6/13/02]
Knives were found stashed in the seats on a plane due to leave Boston that was delayed due to technical problems and then canceled. [Guardian, 10/13/01]

A box cutter knife was found under a seat cushion on American Airlines Flight 160, a 767 that would have flown from San Diego to New York on the morning of 9/11 but for the air ban. [Chicago Tribune, 9/23/01]
The FBI is said to be seeking a number of passengers who failed to board the same, rescheduled flights when the grounding order on commercial planes in the US was lifted. [BBC, 9/18/01 (C)] The Independent points out suspicions have been fueled “that staff at US airports may have played an active role in the conspiracy and helped the hijackers to circumvent airport security.” They also note, “It is possible that at least some of the flights that have come under scrutiny were used as decoys, or as fallback targets.” [Independent, 9/25/01]
          

September 19, 2001: Atta's Father Claims Son Was Framed

      
Mohamed Atta's father, Mohamed al-Amir Awad al-Sayed Atta.
Mohamed Atta's father holds a press conference in Cairo and makes a number of surprising claims. He believes that the Mossad, Israel's spy agency, did the 9/11 attacks, and stole his son's identity. He claims that Atta was a mama's boy prone to airsickness, a dedicated architecture student who rarely mentioned politics, and a victim of an intricate framing. He says that Atta spoke to him on the phone on September 12 about “normal things,” one day after he was supposed to be dead. Atta called his family about once a month, yet never told them he was in the US, continuing to say he was studying in Germany. Atta's family never saw him after 1999, and Atta canceled a trip to visit them in late 2000. His father even shows a picture of his son, claiming he looks similar but not the same as the terrorist Atta. [Newsweek, 9/24/01 (B); New York Times, 9/19/01; Chicago Tribune, 9/20/01] He also says that the man pictured in published photos from an airport surveillance camera had a heavier build than his son. [Cairo Times, 9/20/01] A year later, he still believes his son is alive. [Guardian, 9/2/02]
          

September 19, 2001: Al-Marabh Arrested, Given Light Prison Sentence on Non-Terrorism Charges

       Nabil al-Marabh is arrested on September 19, 2001, at an Illinois convenience store. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] FBI investigators claim al-Marabh helped the hijackers get false IDs, and helped launder money for al-Qaeda. [ABC News, 1/31/02] The FBI decides not to charge al-Marabh on any terrorism related charge. Instead, on September 3, 2002, Nabil al-Marabh pleads guilty to illegally entering the US, and he is sentenced to only eight months in prison. [Chicago Sun-Times, 9/5/02] Federal prosecutors claim that “at this time” there is no evidence “of any involvement by [al-Marabh] in any terrorist organization,” even though he has admitted to getting weapons training in Afghanistan. [Washington Post, 9/4/02] The judge states he cannot say “in good conscience” that he approves of the plea bargain worked out between the prosecution and defense, but he seems unable to stop it. He says, “Something about this case makes me feel uncomfortable. I just don't have a lot of information.” The judge has a number of unanswered questions, such as how al-Marabh had $22,000 in cash and $25,000 worth of amber jewels on his possession when he was arrested, despite holding only a sporadic series of low-paying jobs. “These are the things that kind of bother me. It's kind of unusual, isn't it?” says the judge. [National Post, 9/4/02]
          

September 19, 2001-Present: Claims of an Atta-Iraqi Spy Meeting Are Repeatedly Asserted and Denied

       Media coverage relating to an alleged meeting between hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi spy named Ahmed al-Ani took place in Prague, Czech Republic, has changed repeatedly over time:
September 19, 2001: It is first reported that an April 8, 2001, meeting took place; Atta is named later. [Los Angeles Times, 9/19/01; CNN, 10/11/01]

October 20, 2001: The story is denied. [New York Times, 10/20/01]

October 27, 2001: The story is confirmed. [New York Times, 10/27/01]

October 27, 2001: It is claimed Atta met with Iraqi agents four times in Prague, plus in Germany, Spain, and Italy. [Times of London, 10/27/01]

November 12, 2001: Conservative columnist William Safire calls the meeting an “undisputed fact.” [New York Times, 11/12/01]

December 9, 2001: Vice President Cheney asserts that the existence of the meeting is “pretty well confirmed.” [Washington Post, 12/9/01]

December 16, 2001: The identities of both al-Ani and Atta, alleged to have been at the meetings, are disputed. [New York Times, 12/16/01]

January 12, 2002: It is claimed at least two meetings took place, including one a year earlier. [Daily Telegraph, 1/12/02]

February 6, 2002: It is reported that the meeting probably took place, but was not connected to the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 2/6/02]

March 15, 2002: Evidence that the meeting took place is considered between “slim” and “none.” [Washington Post, 3/15/02]

March 18, 2002: William Safire again strongly asserts that the meeting took place. [New York Times, 3/18/02]

April 28-May 2, 2002: The meeting is largely discredited. For example, the Washington Post quotes FBI Director Mueller stating that, “We ran down literally hundreds of thousands of leads and checked every record we could get our hands on, from flight reservations to car rentals to bank accounts,” yet no evidence that Atta left the country was found. According to the Post, “[a]fter months of investigation, the Czechs [say] they [are] no longer certain that Atta was the person who met al-Ani, saying ‘he may be different from Atta.’ ” [Washington Post, 5/1/02]
Newsweek cites a US official who contends that, “Neither we nor the Czechs nor anybody else has any information [Atta] was coming or going [to Prague] at that time.” [Newsweek, 4/28/02; Washington Post, 5/1/02; New York Times, 5/2/02]
May 8, 2002: Some Czech officials continue to affirm the meeting took place. [Prague Post, 5/8/02]

May 9, 2002: William Safire refuses to give up the story, claiming a “protect-Saddam cabal” in the high levels of the US government is burying the story. [New York Times, 5/9/02]

July 15, 2002: The head of Czech foreign intelligence states that reports of the meeting are unproved and implausible. [Prague Post, 7/15/02]

August 2, 2002: With a war against Iraq growing more likely, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer suggests the meeting did happen, “despite deep doubts by the CIA and FBI.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/2/02]

August 19, 2002: Newsweek states: “The sole evidence for the alleged meeting is the uncorroborated claim of a Czech informant.” According to Newsweek, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is nonetheless pushing the FBI to have the meeting accepted as fact. [Newsweek, 8/19/02]

September 10, 2002: The Bush administration is no longer actively asserting that the meeting took place. [Washington Post, 9/10/02]

September 17, 2002: Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld “accept reports from Czech diplomats” that the meeting took place. [USA Today, 9/17/02]

September 23, 2002: Newsweek reports that the CIA is resisting Pentagon demands to obtain pictures of the alleged meeting from Iraqi exiles. One official says, “We do not shy away from evidence. But we also don't make it up.” [Newsweek, 9/23/02]

October 20, 2002: Czech officials, including President Vaclav Havel, emphatically deny that the meeting ever took place. It now appears Atta was not even in the Czech Republic during the month the meeting was supposed to have taken place. President Havel told Bush “quietly some time earlier this year” that the meeting did not happen. [UPI, 10/20/02; New York Times, 10/21/02]

December 8, 2002: Bush adviser Richard Perle continues to push the story, stating, “To the best of my knowledge that meeting took place.” [CBS News, 12/8/02]

July 9, 2003: Iraqi intelligence officer Ahmed al-Ani is captured by US forces in Iraq. [Washington Post, 7/9/03]

July 10, 2003: In a story confirming al-Ani's capture, ABC News cites US and British intelligence officials who have seen surveillance photos of al-Ani's meetings in Prague, and who say that there is a man who looks somewhat like Atta, but is not Atta. [ABC News, 7/10/03]

September 14, 2003: Vice President Cheney repeats the claims that Atta met with al-Ani in Prague on NBC's “Meet the Press.” [Washington Post, 9/15/03]

December 13, 2003: It is reported that al-Ani told interrogators he did not meet Atta in Prague. [Washington Post, 9/29/03; Reuters, 12/13/03]

June 16, 2004: The 9/11 Commission concludes that the meeting never happened. They claim cell phone records and other records show Atta never left Florida during the time in question. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04 (B)]

July 17, 2004: Vice President Cheney says no one has “been able to confirm” the Atta meeting in Prague or to “to knock it down.” [CNN, 6/18/04]

          

September 19, 2001: Rumored Meeting Between Saudi Fundamentalists and ISI

       According to the private intelligence service Intelligence Online, a secret meeting between fundamentalist supporters in Saudi Arabia and the ISI takes place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on this day. Crown Prince Abdullah, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, and Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, the new head of Saudi intelligence, meet with General Mohamed Youssef, head of the ISI's Afghanistan Section, and ISI Director Mahmood (just returning from discussions in Afghanistan). They agree “to the principle of trying to neutralize Osama bin Laden in order to spare the Taliban regime and allow it to keep its hold on Afghanistan.” There has been no confirmation that this meeting in fact took place, but if it did, its goals were unsuccessful. [Intelligence Online, 10/4/01] There may have been a similar meeting before 9/11 in the summer of 2001.
          

September 20, 2001: Bush to Blair: After Afghanistan, ‘We Must Come Back to Iraq’

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets with President George Bush at the White House. During dinner that night, also attended by Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and British ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, Blair tells Bush that he wants to concentrate on ousting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bush replies, “I agree with you Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.” Blair says nothing to disagree. [BBC, 4/3/03; Observer, 4/4/04; Independent, 4/4/04; Vanity Fair, 5/04, pp 238 Sources: Christopher Meyer]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Christopher Meyer, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell
          
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