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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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Early 1998: CIA Ignores Ex-Agent's Warning 9/11 Mastermind Is "Going to Hijack Some Planes," Visiting Germany

      
Robert Baer.
in December 1997, CIA agent Robert Baer, newly retired from the CIA and working as a terrorism consultant, meets a former police chief from the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. He learns that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was being sheltered by then Qatari Interior Minister Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani in 1996 (see January-May 1996). However, the ex-police chief knows other details, based on what Qatari police and intelligence learned when Mohammed was in the country. Mohammed was leading an al-Qaeda cell in Qatar together with Shawqui Islambuli, the brother of the Egyptian who had killed Anwar Sadat. They also were linked to bomber Ramzi Yousef. But what worries the former police chief is that Mohammed and Islambuli are experts in hijacking commercial planes. He tells Baer that Mohammed “is going to hijack some planes.” Further, he is told that Mohammed has moved to the Czech Republic, and has also travelled to Germany to meet bin Laden associates there. In early 1998 Baer sends this information to a friend in the CIA Counterterrorist Center, who forwards the information to his superiors. Baer doesn't hear back. He says, "There was no interest." [UPI, 9/30/02; Vanity Fair, 2/02; Baer, 2002, pp 270-71] Baer also tries to interest reporter Daniel Pearl in a story about Mohammed before 9/11, but Pearl is still working on it when he is kidnapped and later murdered in early 2002. [UPI, 9/30/02] Baer's source later disappears, presumably kidnapped in Qatar. It has been speculated that the CIA turned on the source to protect its relationship with the Qatari government. [Gertz, 2002, pp 55-58] It appears bin Laden visits al-Thani in Qatar between the years 1996 and 2000. [ABC News, 2/7/03] Al-Thani continues to support al-Qaeda, providing Qatari passports and more than $1 million in funds to al-Qaeda. Even after 9/11, Mohammed is provided shelter in Qatar for two weeks in late 2001. [New York Times, 2/6/03] Yet the US still has not frozen al-Thani's assets or taken other action.
          

January 8, 1998: Mohammed Revealed as Major Terrorist at Yousef Sentencing

      
FBI reward notice for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
Terrorist Ramzi Yousef is sentenced to 240 years for his role in the 1993 WTC bombing. At the same time, prosecutors unseal an indictment against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed for participating with Yousef in the 1995 Operation Bojinka plot. In unsealing this, US Attorney Mary Jo White calls Mohammed a “major player” and says he is believed to be a relative of Yousef. [Washington Post, 1/9/98] The US announces a $2 million reward for his capture in 1998 and wanted posters with his picture are distributed. [New York Times, 6/5/02] This contradicts the FBI's claim after 9/11 that they did not realize he was a major terrorist before 9/11. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 12/11/02] For instance, a senior FBI official later says, “He was under everybody's radar. We don't know how he did it. We wish we knew. ... He's the guy nobody ever heard of.” [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] However, another official says, “We have been after him for years, and to say that we weren't is just wrong. We had identified him as a major al-Qaeda operative before September 11.” [New York Times, 9/22/02] Yet strangely, despite knowing Mohammed is a major terrorist plotter and putting out a large reward for his capture at this time, there is no worldwide public manhunt for him as there successfully was for his nephew Ramzi Yousef. Mohammed's name remains obscure and he isn't even put on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list until one month after 9/11. [Lance, 2003, pp 327-30]
          

February 12, 1998: Unocal VP Advocates Afghan Pipeline Before Congress

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

February 22, 1998: Bin Laden Expands Fatwa Against US, Allies

       Bin Laden issues a fatwa, declaring it the religious duty of all Muslims “to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military ... in any country in which it is possible.” [PBS Frontline, 2001; Sunday Herald, 9/16/01; al-Quds al-Arabi, 2/23/98] This is an expansion of an earlier fatwa issued in August 1996, which had called for attacks in the Arabian Peninsula only.
          

Spring 1998: Bin Laden's Stepmother Visits Afghanistan

       Sources who know bin Laden claim his stepmother has the first of two meetings with her stepson in Afghanistan during this period. This trip was arranged by Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the head of Saudi intelligence. Turki was in charge of the “Afghanistan file” for Saudi Arabia, and had long-standing ties to bin Laden and the Taliban since 1980. [New Yorker, 11/5/01]
          

Spring 1998: Experts Warn FAA of Potential Massive Kamikaze Attack

       Three terrorist specialists present an analysis of security threats to FAA security officials. Their analysis describes two scenarios involving planes as weapons. In one, terrorists crash planes into nuclear power plants along the East Coast. In the other, terrorists commandeer Federal Express cargo planes and simultaneously crash them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the White House, the Capitol, the Sears Tower, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Stephen Gale, one of the specialists, later says the analysis is based in part upon attempts that had been made in 1994 to crash airplanes in the Eiffel Tower and the White House (see September 11, 1994)(see December 24, 1994). Gale later recalls that one FAA official responds to the presentation by saying, “You can't protect yourself from meteorites.” [Washington Post, 5/19/02]
          

April 1998: Hijacker Associate Receives Saudi Money; FBI Fails to Investigate

       Osama Basnan, a Saudi living in California, claims to write a letter to Saudi Arabian Prince Bandar bin Sultan and his wife, Princess Haifa bint Faisal, asking for financial help because his wife needs thyroid surgery. The Saudi embassy sends Basnan $15,000 and pays the surgical bill. However, according to University of California at San Diego hospital records, Basnan's wife, Majeda Dweikat, is not treated until April 2000. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] Basnan will later come under investigation for possibly using some of this money to support two of the 9/11 hijackers who arrive in San Diego, although the 9/11 Commission has concluded that evidence does not support these charges. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04] Prior to this time, the FBI had several chances to investigate Basnan, but failed to do so. In 1992, they received information suggesting a connection between him and a terror group later associated with bin Laden. In 1993, they received reports that Basnan hosted a party for terrorist leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman the year before, but again they failed to investigate. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] According to one US official, Basnan later “celebrate[s] the heroes of September 11” and talks about “what a wonderful, glorious day it had been” at a party shortly after 9/11. [Newsweek, 11/24/02; San Diego Magazine, 9/03]
          

April 15, 1998: Libya Issues First Arrest Warrant for bin Laden

      
Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi.
The first Interpol (international police) arrest warrant for bin Laden is issued—by Libya. [Observer, 11/10/02] According to the authors of the controversial book The Forbidden Truth, British and US intelligence agencies play down the arrest warrant, and have the public version of the warrant stripped of important information, such as the summary of charges and the fact that Libya requested the warrant. At this point, no Western country has yet issued a warrant for bin Laden, even though he publicly called for attacks on Western targets beginning in 1996. The arrest warrant is issued for the 1994 murder of two German antiterrorism agents. Allegedly, Britain and the US aren't interested in catching bin Laden at this time due to his involvement with Britain in attempts to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in 1996 (see 1996). [Brisard, Dasquie and Madsen, 2002, pp 97-98]
          

May 1998: FBI Gives Counterterrorism Top Priority but No Extra Resources

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

After May 15, 1998: FBI Again Ignores Warnings About Terrorists Planning to Obtain US Pilot Training

       The FBI receives reports that a terrorist organization might be planning to bring students to the US for flight training, at some point in 1998 after the May 15 memo warns about possible terrorists training at US flight schools. [New York Daily News, 9/25/02] The FBI is aware that people connected to this unnamed organization have performed surveillance and security tests at airports in the US and made comments suggesting an intention to target civil aviation. Apparently, this warning is not shared with other FBI offices or the FAA, and a connection with the Oklahoma warning is not made; a similar warning will follow in 1999. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
          

May 15, 1998: Oklahoma FBI Memo Warns of Potential Terrorist-Related Flight Training; No Investigation Ensues

       An FBI pilot sends his supervisor in the Oklahoma City FBI office a memo warning that he has observed “large numbers of Middle Eastern males receiving flight training at Oklahoma airports in recent months.” The memo, titled “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” further states this “may be related to planned terrorist activity” and “light planes would be an ideal means of spreading chemicals or biological agents.” The memo does not call for an investigation, and none occurs. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); NewsOK, 5/29/02] The memo is “sent to the bureau's Weapons of Mass Destruction unit and forgotten.” [New York Daily News, 9/25/02] In 1999, it is learned that an al-Qaeda agent has studied flight training in Norman, Oklahoma. Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi will briefly visit the same school in 2000; Zacarias Moussaoui trains at the school in 2001.
          

May 22, 1998: Clinton Creates Counterterrorism Post, Selects Richard Clarke

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

May 26, 1998: Bin Laden Promises to Bring Jihad to US

       Bin Laden discusses “bringing the war home to America,” in a press conference from Afghanistan. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] He indicates the results of his jihad will be “visible” within weeks. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] Two US embassies will be bombed in August.
          

May 28, 1998: Pakistan Tests Nuclear Bomb

       Pakistan conducts a successful nuclear test. Former Clinton official Karl Inderfurth later notes that concerns about an Indian-Pakistani conflict, or even nuclear confrontation, compete with efforts to press Pakistan on terrorism. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
          

May 28, 1998: Bin Laden Wants to Use Missiles Against US Aircraft

       Bin Laden indicates he may attack a US military passenger aircraft using antiaircraft missiles, in an interview with ABC News reporter John Miller. In the subsequent media coverage, Miller repeatedly refers to bin Laden as “the world's most dangerous terrorist,” and “the most dangerous man in the world.” [ABC News, 5/28/98; ABC News, 6/12/98; Esquire, 2/99; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] Bin Laden admits to knowing Wali Khan Amin Shah, one of the Bojinka plotters, but denies having met Bojinka plotter Ramzi Yousef or knowing about the plot itself. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C)]
          

June 1998: Taliban and Saudis Discuss bin Laden

       Relations between Taliban head Mullah Omar and bin Laden grow tense, and Omar discusses a secret deal with the Saudis, who have urged the Taliban to expel bin Laden from Afghanistan. Head of Saudi intelligence Prince Turki al-Faisal travels to Kandahar, Afghanistan, and brokers the deal. According to Prince Turki, he seeks to have the Taliban turn bin Laden over to Saudi custody. Omar agrees in principle, but requests that the parties establish a joint commission to work out how bin Laden would be dealt with in accordance with Islamic law. [Coll, 2004, pp 400-02] Note that some reports of this meeting—and the deal discussed—vary significantly from Prince Turki's version. However, before a deal can be reached, the US strikes Afghanistan in August in retaliation for the US African embassy bombings (see August 20, 1998), driving Omar and bin Laden back together. Prince Turki later states that “the Taliban attitude changed 180 degrees,” and that Omar is “absolutely rude” to him when he visits again in September. [Guardian, 11/5/01; Times of London, 8/3/02]
          

Summer 1998: One of Bin Laden's Four Holy War Goals is to Bring Down US Airliners

      
Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed.
Bin Laden sends a fax from Afghanistan to Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed, a London-based Muslim cleric who dubs himself the “mouth, eyes, and ears of Osama bin Laden.” Bakri publicly releases what he calls bin Laden's four specific objectives for a holy war against the US. The instruction reads, “Bring down their airliners. Prevent the safe passage of their ships. Occupy their embassies. Force the closure of their companies and banks.” Noting this, the Los Angeles Times wryly comments that “Bin Laden hasn't been shy about sharing his game plan.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01] In 2001, FBI agent Ken Williams will grow concerned about some Middle Eastern students training in Arizona flight schools. He links several of them to Al-Muhajiroun, an extremist group founded by Bakri. Williams quotes several fatwas (calls to action) from Bakri in his July 2001 memo (see July 10, 2001). However, he apparently isn't aware of this particular call to action. These students linked to Bakri's group apparently have no connection to any of the 9/11 hijackers. In another interview before 9/11, Bakri will boast of recruiting “kamikaze bombers ready to die for Palestine.”(see Early September 2001) [Associated Press, 5/23/02]
          

June 1998: US Develops Plan to Capture bin Laden

       In 1997 and early 1998, the US had developed a plan to capture bin Laden in Afghanistan. A CIA-owned aircraft was stationed in a nearby country, ready to land on a remote landing strip long enough to pick him up. However, problems with having to hold bin Laden too long in Afghanistan made the operation unlikely. The plan morphs into using a team of Afghan informants to kidnap bin Laden from inside his heavily defended farm. In this month, the plan is given to CIA Director Tenet for approval, but he rejects it without showing it to President Clinton. It is thought unlikely to succeed and the Afghan allies are considered unreliable. [Clarke, 2004, pp 220-21; Washington Post, 2/22/04] It is later speculated that the airstrip used for these purposes is occupied and used as a base of operations early in the post-9/11 Afghan war. [Washington Post, 12/19/01]
          

June 1998: Saudi Benefactor Offers Funding for Mosque if Suspected Advance Man Is Retained as Building Manager

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

June 1998: Enron Shuts Down Uzbekistan Pipeline Project

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

June 1998: US Learns That bin Laden Is Considering Attacks Against Washington, New York

       US intelligence obtains information from several sources that bin Laden is considering attacks in the US, including Washington and New York. This information is given to senior US officials in July 1998. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] Information mentions an attack in Washington, probably against public places. US intelligence assumes that bin Laden places a high priority on conducting attacks in the US. More information about a planned al-Qaeda attack on a Washington government facility will be uncovered in the spring of 1999. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
          

June 8, 1998: Grand Jury Issues Sealed Indictment Against bin Laden and Others

       A US grand jury issues a sealed indictment, charging bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders with conspiracy to attack the United States. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C)] The grand jury took two years to reach an indictment, largely based on information from Jamal al-Fadl, a former al-Qaeda operative. [New York Times, 09/30/01 (B); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); PBS Frontline, 9/01] This secret indictment will be superseded by a public one issued in November 1998. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C)]
          

June 23, 1998: Future VP Cheney Raves About Caspian Sea Opportunities

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

July 1998: Taliban and Saudis Meet and Purportedly Make a Deal

       Taliban officials allegedly meet with Prince Turki, head of Saudi intelligence, to continue talks concerning the Taliban's ouster of bin Laden from Afghanistan. Reports on the location of this meeting, and the deal under discussion differ. According to some reports, including documents exposed in a later lawsuit, this meeting takes place in Kandahar. Those present include Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabian intelligence, Taliban leaders, senior officers from the ISI, and bin Laden. According to these reports, Saudi Arabia agrees to give the Taliban and Pakistan “several hundred millions” of dollars, and in return, bin Laden promises no attacks against Saudi Arabia. The Saudis also agree to ensure that requests for the extradition of al-Qaeda members will be blocked and promise to block demands by other countries to close down bin Laden's Afghan training camps. Saudi Arabia had previously given money to the Taliban and bribe money to bin Laden, but this ups the ante. [Sunday Times, 8/25/02] A few weeks after the meeting, Prince Turki sends 400 new pickup trucks to Afghanistan. At least $200 million follow. [Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9/23/01; New York Post, 8/25/02] Controversial author Gerald Posner gives a similar account said to come from high US government officials, and adds that al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida also attends the meeting. [Posner, 2003, pp 189-90] Note that reports of this meeting seemingly contradict reports of a meeting the month before between Turki and the Taliban, in which the Taliban agreed to get rid of bin Laden (see June 1998).
          

July 7, 1998: Stolen Passport Shows Ties Between Hijackers and Spanish Terrorist Cells

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

August 1998: Germany Investigates Hamburg al-Qaeda Cell Member

      
Mounir El Motassadeq.
A German inquiry into Mounir el Motassadeq, an alleged member of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell with Mohamed Atta, begins by this time. Although Germany will not reveal details, documents show that by August 1998, Motassadeq is under surveillance. “The trail soon [leads] to most of the main [Hamburg] participants” in 9/11. Surveillance records Motassadeq and Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who had already been identified by police as a suspected extremist, as they meet at the Hamburg home of Said Bahaji, who is also under surveillance that same year. (Bahaji will soon move into an apartment with Atta and other al-Qaeda members.) German police monitor several other meetings between Motassadeq and Zammar in the following months. [New York Times, 1/18/03] Motassadeq is later convicted in August 2002 in Germany for participation in the 9/11 attacks, but his conviction is later overturned (see March 3, 2004).
          

August 1998: CIA Warns That Terrorists Plan to Fly Bomb-Laden Plane From Libya into WTC

       A foreign intelligence agency warns the FBI's New York office that Arab terrorists plan to fly a bomb-laden aircraft from Libya into the World Trade Center. The FBI and the FAA do not take the threat seriously because of the state of aviation in Libya. Later, other intelligence information connects this group to al-Qaeda. The CIA includes the same information in an intelligence report. [New York Times, 9/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; FBI Report, 6/9/05, pp 97-98] An FBI spokesperson says the report “was not ignored, it was thoroughly investigated by numerous agencies” and found to be unrelated to al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 9/19/02 (B)] However, the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry comes to the conclusion that the group in fact did have ties to al-Qaeda. [New York Times, 9/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

August 4, 1998: Threat Precedes Embassy Bombings

       The Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a terror group that has joined forces with al-Qaeda, issues a statement threatening to retaliate against the US for its involvement rounding up three of its members helping Muslim forces fight in Albania. The group announces, “We wish to inform the Americans ... of preparations for a response which we hope they read with care, because we shall write it with the help of God in the language they understand.” US embassy bombings follow three days later. [CNN, 1/01]
          

August 7, 1998: Terrorists Bomb US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania

      
Bombings of the Nairobi, Kenya, US embassy (left), and the Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, US embassy (right).
Two US embassies in Africa are bombed almost simultaneously. The attack in Nairobi, Kenya, kills 213 people, including 12 US nationals, and injures more than 4,500. The attack in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, kills 11 and injures 85. The attack is blamed on al-Qaeda. [PBS Frontline, 2001] The attack shows al-Qaeda has a capability for simultaneous attacks. A third attack against the US embassy in Uganda fails. [Associated Press, 9/25/98]
          

August 9, 1998: Northern Alliance Stronghold Conquered by Taliban; Pipeline Project Now Looks Promising

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

Mid-August 1998: Clinton Authorizes Assassination of bin Laden

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

Mid-August 1998-2000: US Submarines Ready to Attack bin Laden

       Within days of the US African embassy bombings, the US permanently stations two submarines, reportedly in the Indian Ocean, ready to hit al-Qaeda with cruise missiles on short notice. Missiles are fired from these subs later in the month in a failed attempt to assassinate bin Laden. Six to ten hours' advance warning is now needed to review the decision, program the cruise missiles, and have them reach their target. However, in every rare opportunity when the possibility of attacking bin Laden occurs, CIA Director Tenet says the information is not reliable enough and the attack cannot go forward. [Washington Post, 12/19/01; New York Times, 12/30/01] At some point in 2000, the submarines are withdrawn, apparently because the Navy wants to use them for other purposes. Therefore, when the unmanned Predator spy plane flies over Afghanistan in late 2000 and identifies bin Laden, there is no way to capitalize on that opportunity. [Clarke, 2004, pp 220-21] The Bush administration fails to resume the submarine patrol. Lacking any means to attack bin Laden, military plans to strike at him are no longer updated after March 2001. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (B)]
          

August 20, 1998: US Fires on al-Qaeda's Afghan Training Camps, Sudanese Facility

      
El Shifa Plant in Sudan.
The US fires 66 missiles at six training camps in Afghanistan and 13 missiles at a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan, in retaliation for the US embassy bombings. [Washington Post, 10/3/01 (C)] The US insists the attacks are aimed at terrorists “not supported by any state,” despite obvious evidence to the contrary. The Sudanese factory is hit in the middle of the night when it is unoccupied. About 30 people are killed in the Afghanistan attacks, but no important al-Qaeda figures die. [Observer, 8/23/98; New Yorker, 1/24/00]
          

August 20, 1998: ISI Alerts the Taliban to Incoming Missiles Targeting Their Shared Training Camps

       The US missile strike on Afghanistan on this day inadvertently reveals connections between al-Qaeda and the ISI. Two of the four camps in Afghanistan hit had strong connections to the ISI, and five ISI officers and some twenty trainees are killed. The US also loses the element of surprise. General Joseph Ralston, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was purposely scheduled to eat dinner with General Jehangir Karamat, the Pakistani Army's chief of staff, in Islamabad, Pakistan the night of the missile strike. At one point during the dinner, Ralston looks at his watch and announces that in ten minutes about sixty cruise missiles will be entering Pakistan's airspace on their way to Afghanistan. This is done to make sure the missiles wouldn't be misidentified and shot down. [New Yorker, 1/24/00] But this carefully timed ploy is not successful. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke claims he was promised by the Navy that it would fire their missiles from below the ocean surface. However, in fact, many destroyers fired their missiles from the surface. [Clarke, 2004, pp 188-89] He adds, “not only did they use surface ships—they brought additional ones in, because every captain wants to be able to say he fired the cruise missile.” [New Yorker, 7/28/03] As a result, the ISI (or bin Laden sympathizers within) had many hours to alert bin Laden. Clarke says he believes that “if the [ISI] wanted to capture bin Laden or tell us where he was, they could have done so with little effort. They did not cooperate with us because ISI saw al-Qaeda as helpful in pressuring India, particularly in Kashmir.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 188-89] In 1999 the US will intercept communications suggesting that Hamid Gul, ISI Director in the early 1990's, played a role in forewarning the Taliban about the missile strike which may even had predated the firing of the cruise missiles (see July 1999).
          

August 24, 1998: Bombed Training Camps Were Built by US and Allies

      
A satellite image of the Zhawar Kili training camp in Afghanistan, taken shortly before it was hit by a US missile strike in August, 1998.
The New York Times reports that the training camps recently attacked by the US in Afghanistan were built by the US and its allies, years before. The US and Saudi Arabia gave the Afghans between $6 billion and $40 billion to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. Many of the people targeted by the missile attacks were trained and equipped by the CIA years before. [New York Times, 8/24/98]
          

August 27, 1998: Delenda Plan to Combat al-Qaeda Is Prepared

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

Late August 1998: CIA Learns That Mohammed Was Involved in the African Embassy Bombings

       A foreign government sends the CIA a list of the names of individuals who flew into Nairobi before the al-Qaeda attack on the US embassy there. Based on information from another agency, the CIA recognizes one of the passenger's names as an alias for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. The other agency also describes Mohammed as being close to bin Laden. This information is given to the FBI and other US intelligence agencies. However, the 9/11 Commission claims that such information does not generate an aggressive investigative response. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
          

Late August 1998: Captured Terrorist Leads US to Safe House Phone Number

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

Late August 1998: Al-Qaeda Planning US Attack, but Not Yet Ready

       The FBI learns that al-Qaeda is planning an attack on the US, but “things are not ready yet. We don't have everything prepared,” according to a captured member of the al-Qaeda cell that bombed the US embassy in Kenya. [USA Today, 8/29/02]
          

September 1998: Bin Laden's Next Operations May Involve Crashing Airplane into US Airport

       US intelligence uncovers information that bin Laden's next operation could possibly involve crashing an aircraft loaded with explosives into a US airport. This information is provided to senior US officials. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; Washington Post, 9/19/02 (B)]
          

September 1998: Memo Outlines al-Qaeda's US Infrastructure

       US intelligence authors a memorandum detailing al-Qaeda's infrastructure in the US. This memo, which includes information regarding al-Qaeda's use of fronts for terrorist activities [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] , is provided to senior US officials. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

Autumn 1998: Rumors of bin Laden Plot Involving Aircraft in New York and Washington Surface Again

       US intelligence hears of a bin Laden plot involving aircraft in the New York and Washington areas. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; New York Times, 9/18/02] In December it will learn that al-Qaeda plans to hijack US aircraft are proceeding well and that two individuals have successfully evaded checkpoints in a dry run at a New York airport. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
          

September 1998-July 1999: FBI Conducts Inquiry of Suspected al-Qaeda Advance Man

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

September 20, 1998: Terrorist Arrested in Germany Leads to New German Suspects

      
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim.
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, an al-Qaeda terrorist from the United Arab Emirates connected to the 1998 US embassy bombings, is arrested near Munich, Germany. [PBS Newshour, 9/30/98] In retrospect, it appears he was making one of many visits to the al-Qaeda cells in Germany. [Corbin, 2003, pp 147] US investigators later call him bin Laden's “right hand man.” [New York Times, 9/29/01] However, the FBI is unwilling to brief their German counterparts on what they know about Salim and al-Qaeda, despite learning much that could have been useful as part of their investigation into the US embassy bombings. By the end of the year, German investigators learn that Salim has a Hamburg bank account. [New York Times, 9/29/01] The cosignatory on the account is businessman Mamoun Darkanzali, whose home number had been programmed into Salim's cell phone. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] US intelligence had first investigated Darkanzali in 1993, when a suspect was found with his telephone number [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] , and German authorities had begun to suspect Darkanzali of terrorist money laundering in 1996. Wadih El-Hage, a former personal secretary to bin Laden, is also arrested in the wake of the embassy bombings. El-Hage had created a number of shell companies as fronts for al-Qaeda terrorist activities, and one of these uses the address of Darkanzali's apartment. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] Darkanzali's phone number and Deutsche Bank account number are also found in El-Hage's address book. [CNN, 10/16/01] The FBI also discovers that Darkanzali had power of attorney over a bank account of Hajer, a person on al-Qaeda's supreme council. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Based on these new connections, investigators ask a federal prosecutor for permission to open a formal investigation against Darkanzali. An investigation reportedly begins, at the insistence of the US, though Germany has claimed the request for the investigation was rejected [Agence France-Presse, 10/28/01; New York Times, 1/18/03] German investigators also learn of a connection between Salim and Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who is already identified by police in 1997 as a suspected extremist. [Associated Press, 6/22/02; New York Times, 1/18/03]
          

September 23, 1998: US Administration Officials Confirm No Direct bin Laden Link to Sudanese Factory

       Senior Clinton administration officials admit they had no evidence directly linking bin Laden to the Al Shifa factory at the time of retaliatory strikes on August 20. However, intelligence officials assert that they found financial transactions between bin Laden and the Military Industrial Corporation—a company run by the Sudan's government. [New York Times, 9/23/98; PBS Frontline, 2001] A soil sample is said to show that the pharmaceutical factory was producing chemical weapons, but many doubts about the sample later arise. [New York Times, 9/21/98; New Yorker, 10/12/98] The US later unfreezes the bank accounts of the nominal factory owner and takes other conciliatory actions, but admits no wrongdoing. It is later learned that of the six camps targeted in Afghanistan, only four were hit, and of those, only one had definitive connections to bin Laden. Clinton declares that the missiles were aimed at a “gathering of key terrorist leaders,” but it is later revealed that the referenced meeting took place a month earlier, in Pakistan. [Observer, 8/23/98; New Yorker, 1/24/00]
          

October 1998: Chicago FBI Investigation of al-Qaeda Funding Is Thwarted

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

October-November 1998: Al-Qaeda US-based Recruiting Efforts Uncovered

       US intelligence learns al-Qaeda is trying to establish a terrorist cell within the US. There are indications they might be trying to recruit US citizens. In the next month, there is information that a terror cell in the United Arab Emirates is attempting to recruit a group of five to seven young men from the US to travel to the Middle East for training. This is part of a plan to strike a US domestic target. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
          

October 1998: Military Analyst Goes Where Spies Fail to Go, but Her Efforts Are Rejected

      
Julie Sirrs.
Julie Sirrs, a military analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), travels to Afghanistan. Fluent in local languages and knowledgeable about the culture, she had made a previous undercover trip there in October 1997. She is surprised that the CIA was not interested in sending in agents after the failed missile attack on bin Laden in August 1998, so she returns at this time. Traveling undercover, she meets with Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. She sees a terrorist training center in Taliban-controlled territory. Sirrs claims, “The Taliban's brutal regime was being kept in power significantly by bin Laden's money, plus the narcotics trade, while [Massoud's] resistance was surviving on a shoestring. With even a little aid to the Afghan resistance, we could have pushed the Taliban out of power. But there was great reluctance by the State Department and the CIA to undertake that.” She partly blames the interest of the US government and the oil company Unocal to see the Taliban achieve political stability to enable a trans-Afghanistan pipeline (see May 1996)(see September 27, 1996). She claims, “Massoud told me he had proof that Unocal had provided money that helped the Taliban take Kabul.” She also states, “The State Department didn't want to have anything to do with Afghan resistance, or even, politically, to reveal that there was any viable option to the Taliban.” After two weeks, she returns with a treasure trove of maps, photographs, and interviews. [New York Observer, 3/11/04; ABC News, 2/18/02] By interviewing captured al-Qaeda operatives, she learns that the official Afghanistan airline, Ariana Airlines, is being used to ferry weapons and drugs, and learns that bin Laden goes hunting with “rich Saudis and top Taliban officials” (see Mid-1996-October 2001)(see 1995-2001). [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01 (B)] When she returns from Afghanistan, her material is confiscated and she is accused of being a spy. Says one senior colleague, “She had gotten the proper clearances to go, and she came back with valuable information,” but high level officials “were so intent on getting rid of her, the last thing they wanted to pay attention to was any information she had.” She is cleared of wrongdoing, but her security clearance is pulled. She eventually quits the DIA in frustration. [New York Observer, 3/11/04; ABC News, 2/18/02] She claims that US intelligence on bin Laden and the Taliban relied too heavily on the ISI for its information. [ABC News, 2/18/02 (B)]
          

October 8, 1998: FAA Warns of al-Qaeda Threat to US Civil Aviation

       The FAA issues the first of three 1998 warnings to US airports and airlines urging a “high degree of vigilance” against threats to US civil aviation from al-Qaeda. It specifically warns against a possible terrorist hijacking “at a metropolitan airport in the Eastern United States.” The information is based on statements made by bin Laden and other Islamic leaders and intelligence information obtained after the US cruise missile attacks in August. All three warnings come in late 1998, well before 9/11. [Boston Globe, 5/26/02]
          

November 1998: Former President George H. W. Bush Meets with bin Laden Family

       Former President George H. W. Bush meets with the bin Laden family on behalf of the Carlyle Group. The meeting takes place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01]
          

November 1998: Turkish Extremists' Plan to Crash Airplane into Famous Tomb Uncovered

       US intelligence learns that a Turkish extremist group named Kaplancilar had planned a suicide attack. The conspirators, who were arrested, planned to crash an airplane packed with explosives into a famous tomb during a government ceremony. The Turkish press said the group had cooperated with bin Laden and the FBI includes this incident in a bin Laden database. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

November 1, 1998-February 2001: Atta and Other Terrorists Are Monitored by US and Germany in Hamburg Apartment

      
The Marienstrasse building.
Mohamed Atta and al-Qaeda terrorists Said Bahaji and Ramzi bin al-Shibh move into a four bedroom apartment at 54 Marienstrasse, in Hamburg, Germany, and stay there until February 2001 (Atta is already living primarily in the US well before this time). Investigators believe this move marks the formation of their Hamburg al-Qaeda terrorist cell [Los Angeles Times, 1/27/02; New York Times, 9/10/02] Up to six men at a time live at the apartment, including other al-Qaeda agents such as hijacker Marwan Alshehhi and cell member Zakariya Essabar. [New York Times, 9/15/01 (F)] During the 28 months Atta's name is on the apartment lease, 29 ethnically Middle Eastern or North African men register the apartment as their home address. From the very beginning, the apartment was officially under surveillance by German intelligence, because of investigations into businessman Mamoun Darkanzali that connect to Said Bahaji. [Washington Post, 10/23/01] The Germans also suspect connections between Bahaji and al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Haydar Zammar. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] German intelligence monitors the apartment off and on for months, and wiretaps Mounir el Motassadeq, an associate of the apartment-mates who is later put on trial in August 2002 for assisting the 9/11 plot, but apparently do not find any indication of suspicious activity. [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02] Bahaji is directly monitored at least for part of 1998, but German officials have not disclosed when the probe began or ended. That investigation is dropped for lack of evidence. [Associated Press, 6/22/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] It is now clear that investigators would have found evidence if they looked more thoroughly. For instance, Zammar, a talkative man who has trouble keeping secrets, is a frequent visitor to the many late night meetings there. [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02; Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 259-60] Another visitor later recalls Atta and others discussing attacking the US. [Knight Ridder, 9/9/02] 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is in Hamburg several times in 1999, and comes to the apartment. However, although there was a $2 million reward for Mohammed since 1998, the US apparently fails to tell Germany what it knows about him (see 1999). [New York Times, 11/4/02; Newsweek, 9/4/02] Hijacker Waleed Alshehri also apparently stays at the apartment “at times.” [Washington Post, 9/14/01; Washington Post, 9/16/01 (B)] The CIA also starts monitoring Atta while he is living at this apartment, and does not tell Germany of the surveillance. Remarkably, the German government will claim it knew little about the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell before 9/11, and nothing directed them towards the Marienstrasse apartment. [Daily Telegraph, 11/24/01]
          

November 4, 1998: US Issues Public Indictment of bin Laden, Others for Embassy Bombings

       The US publicly indicts bin Laden, Mohammed Atef, and others for the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Bin Laden had been secretly indicted on different charges earlier in the year in June. Record $5 million rewards are announced for information leading to his arrest and the arrest of Mohammed Atef. [PBS Frontline, 2001] Shortly thereafter, bin Laden allocates $9 million in reward money for the assassinations of four US government officials in response to the reward on him. A year later, it is learned that the Secretary of State, Defense Secretary, FBI Director, and CIA Director are the targets. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; MSNBC, 9/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

December 1998: US Locates bin Laden; Declines to Strike

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

December 1, 1998: Bin Laden Actively Planning Attacks Inside US

       According to a US intelligence assessment, “[bin Laden] is actively planning against US targets and already may have positioned operatives for at least one operation. ... Multiple reports indicate [he] is keenly interested in striking the US on its own soil ... al-Qaeda is recruiting operatives for attacks in the US but has not yet identified potential targets.” Later in the month, a classified document prepared by the CIA and signed by President Clinton states: “The intelligence community has strong indications that bin Laden intends to conduct or sponsor attacks inside the US” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; Washington Post, 9/19/02 (B); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
          

December 4, 1998: CIA Issues Ineffective Declaration of War on al-Qaeda

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

December 5, 1998: Unocal Abandons Afghan Pipeline Project

       Unocal announces it is withdrawing from the CentGas pipeline consortium, and closing three of its four offices in Central Asia. President Clinton refuses to extend diplomatic recognition to the Taliban, making business there legally problematic. A concern that Clinton will lose support among women voters for upholding the Taliban plays a role in the cancellation. [New York Times, 12/5/98]
          

December 21, 1998: Bin Laden May Be Planning Attacks on New York and Washington

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

Late 1998: Al-Qaeda Leader Located in Sudan, but US Does Not Try to Capture Him

       Intelligence agents learn Mohammed Atef (also known as Abu Hafs)—head of Islamic Jihad and one of the top three leaders of al-Qaeda [ABC News, 11/17/01] — is staying in a particular hotel room in Khartoum, Sudan. White House officials ask that Atef be killed or captured and interrogated. International capture operations of terrorists have become routine by the mid-1990s, but in this case, both the Defense Department and the CIA are against it, although Atef does not even have bodyguards. The CIA puts the operation in the “too hard to do box,” according to one former official. The CIA says it is incapable of conducting such an operation in Sudan, but in the same year, the CIA conducts another spy mission in the same city. [New York Times, 12/30/01; Clarke, 2004, pp 143-46] A plan is eventually made to seize him, but by then he has left the country. [New York Times, 12/30/01] Atef is considered a top planner of the 9/11 attacks, and is later killed in a bombing raid in November 2001 (see November 15, 2001).
          

Late 1998-2000: US Administration Officials Seek Ground-Based Plan to Kill bin Laden

      
Henry Shelton.
National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright repeatedly seek consideration of a “boots on the ground” option to kill bin Laden, using the elite Delta Force. Clinton also supports the idea, telling Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Henry Shelton, “You know, it would scare the [expletive] out of al-Qaeda if suddenly a bunch of black ninjas rappelled out of helicopters into the middle of their camp.” However, Shelton says he wants “nothing to do” with such an idea. He calls it naive, and ridicules it as “going Hollywood.” He says he would need a large force, not just a small team. [Washington Post, 12/19/01] US Central Command chief General Anthony Zinni is considered the chief opponent to the “boots on the ground” idea. [Washington Post, 10/2/02] Clinton orders “formal planning for a mission to capture the al-Qaeda leadership.” Reports are contradictory, but some claim Clinton was told such plans were drawn up when in fact they were not. [Time, 8/4/02; Washington Post, 10/2/02] In any event, no such plans are implemented.
          

Late 1998: Key Embassy Bombing Witnesses Are Beheaded Before They Can Talk to FBI

       FBI counterterrorism expert John O'Neill and his team investigating the 1998 US embassy bombings are repeatedly frustrated by the Saudi government. Guillaume Dasquié, one of the authors of The Forbidden Truth, later tells the Village Voice: “We uncovered incredible things. ... Investigators would arrive to find that key witnesses they were about to interrogate had been beheaded the day before.” [Village Voice, 1/2/02; Brisard, Dasquie and Madsen, 2002, pp xxix]
          

Late 1998: Clinton Signs More Directives Authorizing CIA to Plan bin Laden Assassination

       President Clinton signs additional, more explicit directives authorizing the CIA to plan the assassination of bin Laden. The initial emphasis is on capturing bin Laden and only killing him if the capture attempt is unsuccessful. The military is unhappy about this, so Clinton continues to sign additional directives before leaving office, each one authorizing the use of lethal force more clearly than the one before. [Washington Post, 2/22/04 (B)]
          

Late 1998-August 10, 1999: Pakistani Air Force Pilot Temporarily Replaces Alshehhi as Atta's Roommate

       Hijacker Marwan Alshehhi moved to Bonn, Germany in 1996, and studied German there. He then lived in Hamburg for several months in 1998, and returned to Bonn after failing a language exam. Just as he leaves town, a Pakistani student named Atif bin Mansour arrives in Hamburg, and begins living and studying together with Mohamed Atta. Early in 1999, Mansour applies with Atta for a room to hold a new Islamic study group. Mansour is a pilot on leave from the Pakistani Air Force. As the Los Angeles Times puts it, “This in itself is intriguing—a Pakistani pilot? Investigators acknowledge they haven't figured out Mansour's role in the plot, if any.” On this day, Mansour's brother, also in the Pakistani armed forces, is killed when his surveillance plane is shot down by India. Mansour returns home and supposedly never comes back to Germany. Soon afterwards, Alshehhi returns to Hamburg. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] In March 2001, Mohamed Atta applies together with a Pakistani Air Force pilot for a security job with Lufthansa Airlines (see February 15, 2001). This pilot is a member of the same Islamic study group as Mansour, but it's not clear if this is Mansour and he did come back to or stay in Germany, or if Atta was associating with a second Pakistani Air Force pilot. [Newsday, 1/24/02; Network of Terror, 11/01] The FBI later notes that Alshehhi arrived “almost as a replacement” for Mansour. After 9/11, the FBI asks Pakistan if the flight lieutenant and squad leader Mansour can be found and questioned about any possible role he may have had in the 9/11 plot, but there's no indication Pakistan as to whether has ever agreed to this request. [Rediff, 7/17/02] In late 2002, the German Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigations will say that Mansour remains “a very interesting figure.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02]
          

Late 1998: Failed Missile Attack Said to Increase bin Laden's Stature in Muslim World

       According to reports, the failed US missile attack against bin Laden on August 20, 1998 greatly elevates bin Laden's stature in the Muslim world. A US defense analyst later states, “I think that raid really helped elevate bin Laden's reputation in a big way, building him up in the Muslim world. ... My sense is that because the attack was so limited and incompetent, we turned this guy into a folk hero.” [Washington Post, 10/3/01 (C)] An Asia Times article published just prior to 9/11 suggests that because of the failed attack, “a very strong Muslim lobby emerge[s] to protect [bin Laden's] interests. This includes Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, as well as senior Pakistani generals. Crown Prince Abdullah has good relations with bin Laden as both are disciples of slain Sheikh Abdullah Azzam (see 1985-1989).” [Asia Times, 8/22/01] In early 1999, Pakistani President Musharraf complains that by demonizing bin Laden, the US has turned him into a cult hero. The US decides to play down the importance of bin Laden. [UPI, 6/14/01]
          

Late 1998: Taliban Stall Pipeline Negotiations to Keep Western Powers at Bay

       During the investigation of the August 7, 1998, US embassy bombings, FBI counterterrorism expert John O'Neill finds a memo by al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef on a computer. The memo shows that bin Laden's group has a keen interest in and detailed knowledge of negotiations between the Taliban and the US over an oil and gas pipeline through Afghanistan. Atef's analysis suggests that the Taliban are not sincere in wanting a pipeline, but are dragging out negotiations to keep Western powers at bay. [Salon, 6/5/02]
          

1999: FBI Learns of Terrorists' Plans to Send Students to US for Aviation Training; Investigation Opportunity Bungled

       The FBI receives reports that a terrorist organization is planning to send students to the US for aviation training. The organization's name remains classified, but apparently it is a different organization than one mentioned in a very similar warning the year before. The purpose of this training is unknown, but the organization viewed the plan as “particularly important” and it approved open-ended funding for it. The Counterterrorism Section at FBI headquarters issues a notice instructing 24 field offices to pay close attention to Islamic students from the target country engaged in aviation training. Ken Williams's squad at the Phoenix FBI office receives this notice, although Williams does not recall reading it. Williams will later write a memo on this very topic in July 2001. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry later concludes, “There is no indication that field offices conducted any investigation after receiving the communication.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] However, an analyst at FBI headquarters conducts a study and determines that each year there are about 600 Middle Eastern students attending the slightly over 1,000 US flight schools. [New York Times, 5/4/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] In November 2000, a notice will be issued to the field offices, stating that it has uncovered no indication that the terrorist group is recruiting students. Apparently, Williams will not see this notice either. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
          

1999: US Ready to Fight For Oil, Especially in Persian Gulf and Caspian Regions

       A top level US policy document explicitly confirms the US military's readiness to fight a war for oil. The report, Strategic Assessment 1999, prepared for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense, states, “energy and resource issues will continue to shape international security,” and if an oil “problem” arises, “US forces might be used to ensure adequate supplies.” Oil conflicts over production facilities and transport routes, particularly in the Persian Gulf and Caspian regions, are specifically envisaged. [Sydney Morning Herald, 5/20/03]
          

1999: FBI Creates bin Laden Unit

       The FBI creates its own unit to focus specifically on bin Laden, three years after the CIA created such a special unit. By 9/11, 17 to 19 people are working in this unit out of over 11,000 FBI staff. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
          

1999: CIA Purportedly Establishes Network of Agents Throughout Afghanistan, Central Asia

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

Early 1999: NSA Monitoring Hears 9/11 Hijacker Names, This Information Is Not Shared with CIA or FBI

       As the NSA continues to monitor an al-Qaeda safe house in Yemen owned by hijacker Khalid Almihdhar's father-in-law, they find references to Almihdhar and the hijacker brothers, Salem and Nawaf Alhazmi. According to analysts, around late 1999 these men are among their very best sources on al-Qaeda, with “notorious” links to the organization and direct links to the 1998 US embassy bombings. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04] In early 1999, the NSA intercepts communications mentioning the full name “Nawaf Alhazmi.” More communications involving the names Nawaf, Salem, and Khalid together and alone are intercepted during 1999. However, this information is not shared with the CIA or FBI. As a result, as an important al-Qaeda meeting approaches in Malaysia (to be held January 5-8, 2000), the CIA does not know the last name of the “Nawaf” attending the meeting. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; Associated Press, 9/25/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02 (B)] In mid-January, after the Malaysian meeting is over, the CIA reports to the NSA what it has learned about Almihdhar, and asks the NSA for information about him. Some information about him is given back and some is not. The NSA still fails to report Alhazmi's last name. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The NSA continues to monitor calls from these hijackers to this safe house after they move to the US in the first half of 2000.
          

1999: Mohammed Repeatedly Visits Atta, Others in al-Qaeda's Hamburg Cell

       Khalid Shaikh Mohammed “repeatedly” visits Mohamed Atta and others in the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. [Associated Press, 8/24/02] US and German officials say a number of sources place Mohammed at Atta's Hamburg apartment, although when he visits, or who he visits while he is there, is unclear. [Los Angeles Times, 6/6/02; New York Times, 11/4/02] However, it would be logical to conclude that he visits Atta's housemate Ramzi bin al-Shibh, since investigators believe he is the “key contact between the pilots” and Mohammed. [Los Angeles Times, 1/27/03] Mohammed is living elsewhere in Germany at the time. [New York Times, 9/22/02] German intelligence monitors the apartment in 1999 but apparently does not notice Mohammed. US investigators have been searching for Mohammed since 1996, but apparently never tell the Germans what they know about him. [New York Times, 11/4/02] Even after 9/11, German investigators complain that US investigators do not tell them what they know about Mohammed living in Germany until they read it in the newspapers in June 2002. [New York Times, 6/11/02]
          

1999: British Intelligence Warns al-Qaeda Plans to Use Aircraft, Possibly as Flying Bombs

       MI6, the British intelligence agency, gives a secret report to liaison staff at the US embassy in London. The reports states that al-Qaeda has plans to use “commercial aircraft” in “unconventional ways,” “possibly as flying bombs.” [Sunday Times, 6/9/02]
          

1999: Neighbors Report Suspicious Activities to CIA; No Apparent Response

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

1999: 9/11 Funder Returns to Britain Without Being Arrested

       The London Times later claims that British intelligence secretly offers 9/11 paymaster Saeed Sheikh (imprisoned in India from 1994 to December 1999 for kidnapping Britons and Americans) amnesty and the ability to “live in London a free man” if he will reveal his links to al-Qaeda. He apparently refuses. [Daily Mail, 7/16/02; Times of London, 7/16/02] Yet after he is rescued in a hostage swap deal in December, the press reports that he, in fact, is freely able to return to Britain. [Press Trust of India, 1/3/00] He visits his parents there in 2000 and again in early 2001. [Vanity Fair, 8/02; BBC, 7/16/02 (B); Daily Telegraph, 7/16/02] He is not charged with kidnapping until well after 9/11. Saeed's kidnap victims call the government's decision not to try him a “disgrace” and “scandalous.” [Press Trust of India, 1/3/00] The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review later suggests that not only is Saeed closely tied to both the ISI and al-Qaeda, but may also have been working for the CIA: “There are many in Musharraf's government who believe that Saeed Sheikh's power comes not from the ISI, but from his connections with our own CIA. The theory is that . . . Saeed Sheikh was bought and paid for.” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02]
          

1999: French Observe Moussaoui Traveling Between London, Pakistan, and Afghanistan

      
Zacarias Moussaoui in 1989.
Zacarias Moussaoui, living in London, is observed by French intelligence making several trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan. French investigators later claim the British spy agency MI5 was alerted and requested to place Moussaoui under surveillance. The request appears to have been ignored. [Independent, 12/11/01]
          

1999: Atta Warns Religious Associate to Stay Away From Islamic Extremists

       This year, Mohamed Atta is regularly attending Islamic study group meetings led by a fellow Hamburg student named Mohammed bin Nasser Belfas. By this time, Atta and most of the rest of the group have replaced their Western jeans and clean-shaven faces with long beards and tunics. After one of these meetings, Atta asks to privately see Volker Harum Bruhn, an ethnic German who is also a member of the group. Bruhn says that Atta strongly warns him to stay away from Islamic extremists, to follow the Koran strictly, and live a careful life. [Knight Ridder, 9/9/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02]
          

1999: Joint CIA-NSA Project Taps into al-Qaeda's Tactical Radios

       A joint project team run by the CIA and NSA slips into Afghanistan and places listening devices within range of al-Qaeda's tactical radios. [Washington Post, 12/19/01]
          

Early 1999: Memo Calls for New Approach on bin Laden; Focuses on State-Sponsorship, Money Trail

       State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Michael Sheehan writes a memo calling for a new approach in containing bin Laden. He urges a series of actions the US could take toward Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen to persuade them to help isolate al-Qaeda. He calls Pakistan the key country and urges that terrorism be made the central issue with them. He advises the US to work with all these countries to curb money laundering. However, a former official says Sheehan's plan lands “with a resounding thud.” Pakistan continues to “feign cooperation but [does] little” about its support for the Taliban. [New York Times, 10/29/01]
          

January 31, 1999: Germany Monitors Hijacker's Calls, Shares Information with CIA

       German intelligence is tapping the telephone of al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar, and on this date, Zammar gets a call from a “Marwan.” This is later found to be hijacker Marwan Alshehhi. Marwan talks about mundane things, like his studies in Bonn, Germany, and promises to come to Hamburg in a few months. German investigators trace the telephone number and determine the call came from a mobile phone registered in the United Arab Emirates. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 8/13/03; New York Times, 2/24/04] German intelligence will pass this information to the CIA about one month later, but the CIA apparently fails to capitalize on it (see March 1999).
          

February 1999: Bin Laden Missile Strike Called Off for Fear of Hitting Persian Gulf Royalty

       Intelligence reports foresee the presence of bin Laden at a desert hunting camp in Afghanistan for about a week. Information on his presence appears reliable, so preparations are made to target his location with cruise missiles. However, intelligence also puts an official aircraft of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and members of the royal family from that country in the same location. Bin Laden is hunting with the Emirati royals, as he did with leaders from the UAE and Saudi Arabia on other occasions (see 1995-2001). Policy makers are concerned that a strike might kill a prince or other senior officials, so the strike never happens. A top UAE official at the time denies that high-level officials are there, but evidence subsequently confirms their presence. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (B)]
          

February 1999: Pilot Suicide Squad Rumored in Iraq

       US Intelligence obtains information that Iraq has formed a suicide pilot unit that it plans to use against British and US forces in the Persian Gulf. The CIA comments that this report is highly unlikely and is probably disinformation. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

February 17, 1999: Germans Intercept al-Qaeda Calls, One Mentions Atta's Name

      
Said Bahaji, computer expert for the Hamburg cell.
German intelligence is periodically tapping suspected al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Haydar Zammar's telephone. On this day, investigators hear a caller being told Zammar is at a meeting with “Mohamed, Ramzi, and Said,” and can be reached at the phone number of the Marienstrasse apartment where all three of them live. This refers to Mohamed Atta, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, and Said Bahaji, all members of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. However, apparently the German police fail to grasp the importance of these names, even though Said Bahaji is also under investigation. [Associated Press, 6/22/02; New York Times, 1/18/03] Atta's last name is given as well. Agents check the phone number and confirm the street address, but it is not known what they make of the information. [Der Spiegel, 2/3/03]
          

Spring 1999: US Uncovers bin Laden Plans to Attack Washington

       US intelligence learns of a planned bin Laden attack on a US government facility in Washington (the specific facility targeted has not been identified). [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; New York Times, 9/18/02]
          

March 1999: Germany Provides CIA Hijacker's Name and Telephone Number

       German intelligence gives the CIA the first name of hijacker Marwan Alshehhi and his telephone number in the United Arab Emirates. The Germans learned the information from surveillance of suspected terrorists. They tell the CIA that Alshehhi has been in contact with suspected al-Qaeda members Mohammed Haydar Zammar and Mamoun Darkanzali. He is described as a United Arab Emirates student who has spent some time studying in Germany. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 8/13/03; New York Times, 2/24/04] The Germans consider this information “particularly valuable” and ask the CIA to track Alshehhi, but the CIA never responds until after the 9/11 attacks. The CIA decides at the time that this “Marwan” is probably an associate of bin Laden but never track him down. It is not clear why the CIA fails to act, or if they learn his last name before 9/11. [New York Times, 2/24/04] The Germans monitor other calls between Alshehhi and Zammar, but it isn't clear if the CIA is also told of these or not (see September 21, 1999).
          

Spring 1999: New Jersey HMO Is Possibly Funding al-Qaeda

       Randy Glass is a con artist turned government informant participating in a sting called Operation Diamondback. [Palm Beach Post, 9/29/01] He discusses an illegal weapons deal with an Egyptian-American named Mohamed el Amir. In wiretapped conversations, Mohamed discusses the need to get false papers to disguise a shipment of illegal weapons. His brother, Dr. Magdy el Amir, has been a wealthy neurologist in Jersey City for the past twenty years. Two other weapons dealers later convicted in a sting operation involving Glass also lived in Jersey City, and both el Amirs admit knowing one of them, Diaa Mohsen. Mohsen has been paid at least once by Dr. el Amir. In 1998, Congressman Ben Gilman was given a foreign intelligence report suggesting that Dr. el Amir owns an HMO that is secretly funded by bin Laden, and that money is being skimmed from the HMO to fund terrorist activities. The state of New Jersey later buys the HMO and determines that $15 million were unaccounted for and much of that has been diverted into hard-to-trace offshore bank accounts. However, investigators working with Glass are never given the report about Dr. el Amir. Neither el Amir has been charged with any crime. Mohamed now lives in Egypt and Magdy continues to practice medicine in New Jersey. Glass's sting, which began in late 1998, will uncover many interesting leads before ending in June 2001. [MSNBC, 8/2/02]
          

March 1999: Plot to Use Hang Glide Bomb Tested, Thwarted

       US intelligence learns of plans by an al-Qaeda member who is also a US citizen to fly a hang glider into the Egyptian Presidential Palace and then detonate the explosives he is carrying. The individual, who received hang glider training in the US, brings a hang glider back to Afghanistan, but various problems arise during the testing of the glider. This unnamed person is subsequently arrested and is in custody abroad. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
          

March 3, 1999: New Pearl Harbor Needed to Change US Military Policies, Says Expert

       Andrew Krepinevich, Executive Director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities: “There appears to be general agreement concerning the need to transform the US military into a significantly different kind of force from that which emerged victorious from the Cold and Gulf Wars. Yet this verbal support has not been translated into a defense program supporting transformation ... the ‘critical mass’ needed to effect it has not yet been achieved. One may conclude that, in the absence of a strong external shock to the United States—a latter-day ‘Pearl Harbor’ of sorts—surmounting the barriers to transformation will likely prove a long, arduous process.” [CSBA, 3/5/99] This comment echoes other strategists at PNAC who wait for a second Pearl Harbor to fulfill their visions.
          

April 1, 1999: Hijacker Jarrah Photographs Wedding Party

      
Friends of Ziad Jarrah taken on April 1, 1999. Third from left in back row is Abdelghani Mzoudi, fifth from is Mounir El Motassadeq; seventh is Ramzi bin al-Shibh; the man on far right in middle row is Mohamed Atta; Atta rests his hands on Mohammed Raji,
Ziad Jarrah has an unofficial wedding with his girlfriend, Aisel Senguen. Interestingly, a photo apparently taken by Jarrah at the wedding is found by German intelligence several days after 9/11. An undercover agent is able immediately to identify ten of the 18 men in the photo, as well as where it was taken: the prayer room of Hamburg's Al-Quds mosque. He is also able to identify which of them attended Mohamed Atta's study group. He knows even “seemingly trivial details” of some of the men, showing that “probably almost all members of the Hamburg terror cell” has been watched by German state intelligence since this time, if not before. The head of the state intelligence had previously maintained that they knew nothing of any of these men. [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2/2/03]
          

April 3-7, 1999: Three Hijackers Obtain US Visas

       Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi, and Khalid Almihdhar obtain US visas through the US Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] All three are already “al-Qaeda veterans” and battle-hardened killers. Almihdhar's visa is issued on April 7, and he thereafter leaves and returns to the US multiple times until April 6, 2000. [Stern, 8/13/03] Nawaf Alhazmi gets the same kind of visa; details about Salem are unknown. The CIA claims the hijackers then travel to Afghanistan to participate in “special training” with at least one other suicide bomber on a different mission. The training is led by Khallad bin Attash. The US learns about Almihdhar's visa in January 2000. The Jeddah Consulate keeps in its records the fact that Nawaf and Alhazmi obtain US visas several days before Almihdhar, but apparently these records are never searched before 9/11. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

May 1999: US Intelligence Provides bin Laden's Location; CIA Fails to Strike

       US intelligence obtains detailed reporting on where bin Laden is located for five consecutive nights. CIA Director Tenet decides against acting three times, because of concerns about collateral damage and worries about the veracity of the single source of information. Frustration mounts. One CIA official writes to a colleague in the field, “having a chance to get [bin Laden] three times in 36 hours and foregoing the chance each time has made me a bit angry...” There is one more opportunity to strike bin Laden in July 1999, but after that there is apparently no intelligence good enough to justify considering a strike. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04]
          

June 1999-March 2000: FBI Investigates Muslim Leader

      
Anwar Al Aulaqi.
The FBI conducts a counterterrorism inquiry into imam Anwar Al Aulaqi. From about February 2000, he serves as the “spiritual leader” to several of the hijackers while they live in San Diego, and again in March 2001 when he and they move to the East Coast. During the investigation, the FBI discovers he is in contact with a number of other people being investigated. For instance, in early 2000 he is visited by an associate of Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. However, as the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry later notes, the investigation is closed “despite the imam's contacts with other subjects of counterterrorism investigations and reports concerning the imam's connection to suspect organizations.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

June 1999: Enron Plans Power Plant with bin Laden Family

       Enron announces an agreement to build a $140 million power plant in the Gaza Strip, between Israel and Egypt. One of the major financiers for the project is the Saudi Binladin Group, a company owned by bin Laden's family. This is the second attempted project between these two companies. Ninety percent complete, the construction will be halted because of Palestinian-Israeli violence and then Enron's bankruptcy. [Washington Post, 3/2/02]
          

June 1999: CIA Reports That bin Laden Plans Attack in US

       In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and in a briefing to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staffers one month later, the chief of the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center describes reports that bin Laden and his associates are planning attacks in the US. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
          

June 1999: Bin Laden Wants All US Males Killed

       In an interview with an Arabic-language television station, bin Laden steps up his rhetoric and issues a further threat indicating that all US males should be killed. [MSNBC, 12/11/01]
          

Summer 1999: US Intelligence Links Zammar to Senior bin Laden Operatives, Fails to Share Information

       Around this time, US intelligence notes that a man in Hamburg, Germany, named Mohammed Haydar Zammar is in direct contact with one of bin Laden's senior operational coordinators. Zammar is an al-Qaeda recruiter with links to Mohamed Atta and the rest of the Hamburg terror cell. The US had noted Zammar's terror links on “numerous occasions” before 9/11. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] However, apparently the US does not share their information on Zammar with German intelligence. Instead, the Germans are given evidence from Turkey that Zammar is running a travel agency as a terror front in Hamburg. In 1998, they get information from Italy confirming he is a real terrorist. However, his behavior is so suspicious that they have already started monitoring him closely. [Stern, 8/13/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

June 7, 1999: Bin Laden Finally Makes FBI's 10 Most Wanted

       The FBI puts bin Laden on its “10 Most Wanted List.” This is almost a year and a half after bin Laden's “declaration of war” against the US on February 22, 1998, and about six months after the CIA's “declaration of war against al-Qaeda” in December 1998. It is also three years after an internal State Department document connected bin Laden to financing and planning numerous terrorist attacks. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
          

June 8, 1999: New York Emergency Command Center Opened in WTC Building 7

      
Giuliani's emergency command center.
New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani opens a $13 million emergency command center on the 23rd floor of World Trade Center Building 7. [Newsday, 9/12/01] The center is intended to coordinate responses to various emergencies, including natural disasters like hurricanes or floods, and terrorist attacks. The 50,000 square foot center has reinforced, bulletproof, and bomb-resistant walls, its own air supply and water tank, and three backup generators. This command center is to be staffed around the clock and is intended as a meeting place for city leaders in the event of an act of terrorism. [CNN, 6/7/99; Times of London, 9/12/01] The center is ridiculed as “Rudy's bunker.” [Time, 12/31/01] Most controversial is the 6,000-gallon fuel tank. In 1998 and 1999, Fire Department officials warn that the fuel tank violates city fire codes and poses a hazard. According to one Fire Department memorandum, if the tank were to catch fire it could produce “disaster.” Building 7 will be destroyed late in the day on 9/11; some suspect this tank helps explains why. [New York Times, 12/20/01]
          

July 1999: Ex-ISI Head Is Providing Taliban Information on US Missile Launches

      
Hamid Gul.
The US gains information that former ISI head Hamid Gul contacts Taliban leaders at this time and advises them that the US is not planning to attack Afghanistan to get bin Laden. He assures them that he will provide them three or four hours warning of any future US missile launch, as he did “last time.” Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later suggests Gul gave al-Qaeda warning about the missile strike in August 1998. [New Yorker, 7/28/03]
          

July 4, 1999: Executive Order Issued Against Taliban

       With the chances of a pipeline deal with the Taliban looking increasingly unlikely, President Clinton finally issues an executive order prohibiting commercial transactions with the Taliban. The order also freezes the Taliban's US assets. Clinton blames the Taliban for harboring bin Laden. [Executive Order, 7/4/99; CNN, 7/6/99]
          

July 14, 1999: Pakistani Intelligence Agent Promises Attack on WTC in Recorded Conversation

      
Rajaa Gulum Abbas.
In a conversation recorded by US government agents as part of a sting operation, a Pakistani ISI agent named Rajaaa Gulum Abbas points to the WTC and says, “Those towers are coming down.” He later makes two other references to an attack on the WTC (for more details on this sting operation, (see Spring 1999), (see July 14, 1999), and (see June 12, 2001)). [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02; Cox News Service, 8/2/02; Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02]
          
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