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Before 9/11

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

Al-Qaeda Members

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

Geopolitics and 9/11

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

Day of 9/11

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

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan (49)
Investigations (166)
9/11 Congressional Inquiry (0)
9/11 Commission (0)
Other 9/11 Investigations (0)
Other events (79)
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Complete 911 Timeline

 
  

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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 Yorker, 10/12/98; New York Times, 9/21/98] 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]
People and organizations involved: Clinton administration, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Osama bin Laden, Military Industrial Corporation
          

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

       US intelligence learns al-Qaeda is trying to establish a cell within the US. There are indications that the organization 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, 7/24/03 (B); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda
          

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, 12/19/02 (B); ABC News, 12/19/02; ABC News, 11/26/02] 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)]
People and organizations involved: Yassin al-Qadi, Quranic Literacy Institute, Hamas, Muwafaq Foundation, International Terrorism Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mark Flessner, US Department of Justice, Robert Wright, al-Qaeda, John Vincent
          

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. [ABC News, 2/18/02; New York Observer, 3/11/04] 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)]
People and organizations involved: Defense Intelligence Agency, Julie Sirrs, Osama bin Laden, Northern Alliance, Ariana Airlines, Unocal, Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of State, Taliban, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Shah Massoud
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda
          

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

      
The Marienstrasse building.
Mohamed Atta and al-Qaeda operatives 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 cell [New York Times, 9/10/02; Los Angeles Times, 1/27/02] 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 Middle Eastern or North African men register the apartment as their home address. From the very beginning, the apartment was officially under surveillance by German intelligence, because of investigations into businessman Mamoun Darkazanli that connect to Said Bahaji. [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; Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 259-60; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] 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). [Newsweek, 9/4/02; New York Times, 11/4/02] Hijacker Waleed Alshehri also apparently stays at the apartment “at times.” [Washington Post, 9/16/01 (B); Washington Post, 9/14/01] 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]
People and organizations involved: Marwan Alshehhi, Mamoun Darkazanli, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Germany, al-Qaeda, Said Bahaji, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, Central Intelligence Agency, Mohamed Atta, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Zakariya Essabar, Mounir El Motassadeq
          

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, 7/24/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Kaplancilar, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Bin Laden Family, George Herbert Walker Bush, Carlyle Group
          

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; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; MSNBC, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: United States, Osama bin Laden, Mohammed Atef, George Tenet, Madeleine Albright, William S. Cohen, Louis J. Freeh
          

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, 7/24/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); Washington Post, 9/19/02 (B); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Central Intelligence Agency
          

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)]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Anthony Zinni, Clinton administration
          

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 (see February 22, 1998), 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. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; New York Times, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Counterterrorist Center, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, George Tenet
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Energy Information Agency, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Unocal, Taliban
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden
          

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

       During the investigation of the August 7, 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998), 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]
People and organizations involved: John O'Neill, Mohammed Atef, United States, al-Qaeda, Taliban
          

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 sh_t 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. [Washington Post, 10/2/02; Time, 8/4/02] In any event, no such plans are implemented.
People and organizations involved: Henry H. Shelton, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Delta Force, Sandy Berger, Anthony Zinni
          

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)]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Osama bin Laden
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Pervez Musharraf
          

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]
People and organizations involved: John O'Neill, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

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 wanted militants, a practice known as “rendition,” have become routine by the mid-1990s (see 1993-2004), 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).
People and organizations involved: Clinton administration, Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of Defense, Mohammed Atef
          

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]
People and organizations involved: United States
          

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. [Daily Telegraph, 7/16/02; BBC, 7/16/02 (B); Vanity Fair, 8/02] 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]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Britain, Saeed Sheikh
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Waleed M. Alshehri, Central Intelligence Agency, Robert S. Mueller III, Diane Albritton, Ahmed Alghamdi, John Albritton, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

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]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, UK Secret Intelligence Service
          

Between 1999 and September 11, 2001: NORAD Practices Live-Fly Mock Shootdown of a Poison-Filled Jet

       At some point during the two-year period preceding 9/11, NORAD fighters perform a mock shootdown over the Atlantic Ocean of a jet loaded with chemical poisons heading toward the US. [USA Today, 4/18/04]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

1999-September 11, 2001: NORAD Exercise Simulates Crashes into US Buildings; One of Them Is the World Trade Center

       According to USA Today, “In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conduct[s] exercises simulating what the White House [later] says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties.” One of these imagined targets is the World Trade Center. According to NORAD, these scenarios are regional drills, rather than regularly scheduled continent-wide exercises. They utilize “[n]umerous types of civilian and military aircraft” as mock hijacked aircraft, and test “track detection and identification; scramble and interception; hijack procedures; internal and external agency coordination; and operational security and communications security procedures.” The main difference between these drills and the 9/11 attacks is that the planes in the drills are coming from another country, rather than from within the US. Before 9/11, NORAD reportedly conducts four major exercises at headquarters level per year. Most of them are said to include a hijack scenario (see Before September 11, 2001). [CNN, 4/19/04; USA Today, 4/18/04]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

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

       The FBI receives reports that a militant 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 militant group is recruiting students. Apparently, Williams will not see this notice either. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Ken Williams, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Mohamed Atta
          

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 Sources: George Tenet] 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]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, George Tenet, Taliban
          

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]
People and organizations involved: France, UK Security Service, Zacarias Moussaoui
          

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]
People and organizations involved: National Security Agency, al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency
          

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 (see January 5-8, 2000), the CIA does not know the last name of the “Nawaf” attending the meeting. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02 (B); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; Associated Press, 9/25/02] 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.
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Salem Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, National Security Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, Clinton administration, Yemen, Pakistan, Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Michael Sheehan, al-Qaeda
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

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

       German intelligence is tapping the telephone of al-Qaeda operative 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. [New York Times, 2/24/04; Deutsche Presse-Agenteur, 8/13/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] 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).
People and organizations involved: Marwan Alshehhi, Central Intelligence Agency, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, Germany
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

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)]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden
          

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 operative 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]
People and organizations involved: Said Bahaji, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Mohamed Atta, Mohammed Haydar Zammar
          

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 Islamic militants. They tell the CIA that Alshehhi has been in contact with suspected al-Qaeda members Mohammed Haydar Zammar and Mamoun Darkazanli. He is described as a United Arab Emirates student who has spent some time studying in Germany. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; New York Times, 2/24/04; Deutsche Presse-Agenteur, 8/13/03] 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).
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Marwan Alshehhi, Mamoun Darkazanli, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, Germany, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

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 al-Qaeda 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]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Diaa Mohsen, Mohamed el Amir, Randy Glass, Operation Diamondback, Magdy el Amir
          

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). [New York Times, 9/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden
          

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]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda
          

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 is very similar to what strategists at PNAC have said (see June 3, 1997).
People and organizations involved: Andrew Krepinevich, Senate Armed Services Committee
          

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, now a wanted man.
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]
People and organizations involved: Ziad Jarrah, Mohamed Atta
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Almihdhar, US Consulate, Jedda, Saudi Arabia Office, Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, George Tenet
          

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 an Islamic militant . 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]
People and organizations involved: Germany, Mohamed Atta, Italy, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, Turkey
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Binladin Group, Enron
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Anwar Al Aulaqi
          

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 (see February 22, 1998), and about six months after the CIA's “declaration of war against al-Qaeda” in December 1998 (see December 4, 1998). It is also three years after an internal State Department document connected bin Laden to financing and planning numerous terrorist attacks. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Osama bin Laden
          

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. [Times of London, 9/12/01; CNN, 6/7/99] 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]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani
          

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]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Hamid Gul, al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke
          

Mid-1999-November 1999: LIWA Data Mining Study Causes Controversy After Connecting Prominent US Figures to Weapons Purchases for Chinese Military

      
Hua Di.
A report commissioned in mid-1999 by Rep. Curt Weldon (R) looks into possible Chinese front companies in the US seeking technology for the Chinese military. Dr. Eileen Preisser and Michael Maloof are commissioned to make the report. Dr. Preisser, who runs the Information Dominance Center at the US Army's Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) and will later become closely tied to Able Danger, uses LIWA's data mining capabilities to search unclassified information. According to Maloof, their results show Chinese front companies in the US posing as US corporations that acquire technology from US defense contractors. When the study is completed in November 1999, the General Counsel's office in the Office of the Defense Secretary orders the study destroyed. Weldon complains about this to Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, and apparently delays the destruction of the report. Weldon also writes a letter to FBI Director Louis Freeh requesting an espionage investigation into these Chinese links, but Freeh never responds to this. [Washington Times, 10/9/05] As part of this report, LIWA analysts had produced a chart of Chinese strategic and business connections in the US. But this data mining effort runs into controversy when the chart apparently shows connections between future National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and other prominent US figures, and business deals benefiting the Chinese military. [New York Post, 8/27/05; Washington Times, 9/22/05] The China chart was put together by private contractor James D. Smith, who will come forward in August 2005 to corroborate revelations about the Able Danger unit and its findings (see August 22-September 1, 2005). The New York Post later says there is “no suggestion that Rice or any of the others had done anything wrong.” [New York Post, 8/27/05] However, articles first appear one month later and through 2001 in the conservative publications WorldNetDaily and NewsMax, which connect Perry and Rice to Hua Di, a Chinese missile scientist and possible spy, and question the nature of their relationship with him. [WorldNetDaily, 4/5/00; WorldNetDaily, 12/21/99; NewsMax, 1/24/01] Di defected to the US in 1989 and worked most of the 1990s at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control, which was co-directed by Perry. Di later returned to China and is subsequently sentenced to ten years in prison for writing influential articles said to reveal vital Chinese state secrets. [Stanford Report, 2/7/01] However, other accounts claim that he was in fact passing on disinformation through these articles, successfully misleading the US military for a couple of years about the abilities of certain Chinese missile programs. [WorldNetDaily, 12/21/99] Additionally, Hua Di teamed in 1994 with Stanford professor Dr. John Lewis and William Perry to buy an advanced AT&T fiber-optic communications system for “civilian” use inside China that instead is used by the Chinese army. The General Accounting Office later criticized the sale. In 1997, Stanford University investigated Dr. Lewis for his role in it, but Condoleezza Rice, serving as a Stanford provost at the time, apparently stopped the investigation. [WorldNetDaily, 4/5/00; NewsMax, 1/24/01] Able Danger and LIWA's data mining efforts will be severely proscribed in April 2000 as part of the fallout from this China controversy (see April 2000), and the destruction of their collected data will follow shortly thereafter (see May-June 2000).
People and organizations involved: Hua Di, William Perry, China, F. Michael Maloof, Eileen Preisser, Land Information Warfare Activity, Curt Weldon, Louis J. Freeh, Condoleezza Rice, James D. Smith, Eric Shinseki
          

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]
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Taliban, Osama bin Laden
          

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

      
Shireen Shawky holding a guided missile system (left), and Mohammed Malik (right).
US government informant Randy Glass records a conversation at a dinner attended by him, illegal arms dealers Diaa Mohsen, Mohammed Malik, a former Egyptian judge named Shireen Shawky, and ISI agent Rajaa Gulum Abbas, held at a restaurant within view of the WTC. FBI agents pretending to be restaurant customers sit at nearby tables. [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02; MSNBC, 8/2/02] Abbas says he wants to buy a whole shipload of weapons stolen from the US military to give to bin Laden. [Cox News Service, 8/2/02] Abbas points to the WTC and says, “Those towers are coming down.” This ISI agent later makes two other references to an attack on the WTC. [Cox News Service, 8/2/02; Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02; WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02] Abbas also says, “Americans [are] the enemy,” and “We would have no problem with blowing up this entire restaurant because it is full of Americans.” [MSNBC, 3/18/03] The meeting is secretly recorded, and parts are shown on television in 2003. [MSNBC, 3/18/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Osama bin Laden, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Shireen Shawky, Rajaa Gulum Abbas, Randy Glass, Mohammed Malik, Diaa Mohsen
          

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 Rajaa 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]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Rajaa Gulum Abbas
          

August 17, 1999: Arms Merchants Seek Nuclear Materials in US; Report Is Sanitized

      
Randy Glass, holding a Stinger missile.
A group of illegal arms merchants, including an ISI agent with foreknowledge of 9/11, had met in a New York restaurant the month before (see July 14, 1999). This same group meets at this time in a West Palm Beach, Florida, warehouse, and it is shown Stinger missiles as part of a sting operation. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3/20/03] US intelligence soon discovers connections between two in the group, Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Mohammed Malik, Islamic militant groups in Kashmir (where the ISI assists them in fighting against India), and the Taliban. Mohamed Malik suggests in this meeting that the Stingers will be used in Kashmir or Afghanistan. His colleague Diaa Mohsen also says Abbas has direct connections to “dignitaries” and bin Laden. Abbas also wants heavy water for a “dirty bomb” or other material to make a nuclear weapon. He says he will bring a Pakistani nuclear scientist to the US to inspect the material. [MSNBC, 3/18/03; MSNBC, 8/2/02] Government informant Randy Glass passes these warnings on before 9/11, but he claims, “The complaints were ordered sanitized by the highest levels of government.” [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02] In June 2002, the US secretly indicts Abbas, but apparently they aren't trying very hard to find him: In August 2002, MSNBC is easily able to contact Abbas in Pakistan and speak to him by telephone. [MSNBC, 8/2/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Mohammed Malik, Diaa Mohsen, Taliban, Randy Glass, Rajaa Gulum Abbas
          

September 1999: Bin Laden to Attack in US Possibly in California and New York City

       US intelligence obtains information that bin Laden and others are planning an attack in the US, possibly against specific landmarks in California and New York City. The reliability of the source is unknown. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden
          

September 1999: US Report Predicts Spectacular Attack on Washington

       A report prepared for US intelligence titled the “Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism” is completed. It states, “Al-Qaeda's expected retaliation for the US cruise missile attack ... could take several forms of terrorist attack in the nation's capital. Al-Qaeda could detonate a Chechen-type building-buster bomb at a federal building. Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and Semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House. Whatever form an attack may take, bin Laden will most likely retaliate in a spectacular way.” The report is by the National Intelligence Council, which advises the president and US intelligence on emerging threats. [Associated Press, 4/18/02] The Bush administration later claims to have never heard of this report until May 2002, despite the fact that it had been publicly posted on the Internet since 1999, and “widely shared within the government” according to the New York Times. [New York Times, 5/18/02; CNN, 5/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Pentagon, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden
          

September 1999: FBI Investigates Flight School Attendee Connected to bin Laden

       Agents from Oklahoma City FBI office visit the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma to investigate Ihab Ali Nawawi, who has been identified as bin Laden's former personal pilot in a recent trial. The agents learned that Nawawi received his commercial pilot's license at the school 1993, then traveled to another school in Oklahoma City to qualify for a rating to fly small business aircraft. He is later named as an unindicted coconspirator in the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya. The trial witness who gave this information, Essam al Ridi, also attended flight school in the US, then bought a plane and flew it to Afghanistan for bin Laden to use (see 1993). [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02; Washington Post, 5/19/02; Boston Globe, 9/18/01; CNN, 10/16/01] When Nawawi was arrested in May 1999, he was working as a taxi driver in Orlando, Florida. Investigators discover recent ties between him and high-ranking al-Qaeda leaders, and suspect he was a “sleeper” agent. [St. Petersburg Times, 10/28/01] However, the FBI agent visiting the school is not given most background details about him. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] It is not known if these investigators are aware of a terrorist flight school warning given by the Oklahoma City FBI office in 1998. Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi later visit the Airman school in July 2000 but ultimately decide to train in Florida instead. [Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Al-Qaeda agent Zacarias Moussaoui takes flight lessons at Airman in February 2001. One of the FBI agents sent to visit the school at this time visits it again in August 2001 asking about Moussaoui, but he fails to make a connection between the two visits.
People and organizations involved: Zacarias Moussaoui, Mohamed Atta, Ihab Ali, Marwan Alshehhi, Essam al Ridi, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Fall 1999: Army Intelligence Program Is Set Up to Gather Information on Al-Qaeda

      
Gen. Pete Schoomaker.
On the orders of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the head of the military's Special Operations Command (SOCOM), sets up an intelligence program called Able Danger, to assemble information about al-Qaeda networks around the world. SOCOM, based in Tampa, Florida, is responsible for America's secret commando units. [Government Security News, 9/05] At least some of the data is collected on behalf of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Lambert, the J3 at US Special Operations Command. [Curt Weldon Statement, 9/21/05] Mark Zaid, a lawyer for several Able Danger whistleblowers in 2005, will give this description of Able Danger: “In the most understandable and simplistic terms, Able Danger involved the searching out and compiling of open source or other publicly available information regarding specific targets or tasks that were connected through associational links. No classified information was used. No government database systems were used. In addition to examining al-Qaeda links, Able Danger also handled tasks relating to Bosnia and China. The search and compilation efforts were primarily handled by defense contractors, who did not necessarily know they were working for Able Danger, and that information was then to be utilized by the military members of Able Danger for whatever appropriate purposes.” [Mark Zaid Testimony, 9/21/05] Eleven intelligence employees are directly involved in Able Danger's work. Six are with SOCOM's Able Danger unit. Four more, including Dr. Eileen Preisser and Maj. Eric Kleinsmith, are with the US Army's Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA), which joins the effort in December 1999. LIWA had been conducing data mining already on a wide variety of topics, including international drug cartels, corruption in Russia and Serbia, terrorist linkages in the Far East, and the proliferation of sensitive military technology to China (see April 2000). Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer running a unit called Stratus Ivy in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) will also take part in the effort. [Government Security News, 8/05; Norristown Times Herald, 6/19/05; New York Times, 8/9/05; St Petersburg Times, 8/10/05; Erik Kleinsmith Statement, 9/21/05; Government Security News, 9/05; Bergen Record, 8/14/05; Curt Weldon Statement, 9/21/05] Using computers, the unit collects huge amounts of data in a technique called “data mining.” They get information from such sources as al-Qaeda Internet chat rooms, news accounts, web sites, and financial records. Using sophisticated software, they compare this with government records such as visa applications by foreign tourists, to find any correlations and depict these visually. [Government Security News, 9/05; Bergen Record, 8/14/05] The program lasts for 18 months, and is shut down early in 2001 (see January-March 2001).
People and organizations involved: Peter J. Schoomaker, Russia, Bosnia, al-Qaeda, Geoffrey Lambert, China, Curt Weldon, Hugh Shelton, Mark Zaid, Special Operations Command, Anthony Shaffer, Eric Kleinsmith, Eileen Preisser, Able Danger
          

September 15, 1999: Bipartisan Commission Concludes Terrorist Attack Will Occur on US Soil, Killing Many

       The first phase of the US Commission on National Security/21st Century, co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart (D) and Warren Rudman (R), is issued. It concludes: “America will be attacked by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction and Americans will lose their lives on American soil, possibly in large numbers.” [USCNS Report, 9/15/99]
People and organizations involved: Gary Hart, Warren Rudman, Commission on National Security/21st Century
          

September 21, 1999: German Intelligence Records Calls Between Hijacker and Others Linked to al-Qaeda

       German intelligence is periodically tapping suspected al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Haydar Zammar's telephone, and on this day investigators hear Zammar call hijacker Marwan Alshehhi. Officials initially claim that the call also mentions hijacker Mohamed Atta, but only his first name. [New York Times, 1/18/03; Daily Telegraph, 11/24/01] However, his full name, “Mohamed Atta Al Amir,” is mentioned in this call and in another recorded call. [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2/2/03] Alshehhi makes veiled references to plans to travel to Afghanistan. He also hands the phone over to Said Bahaji (another member of the Hamburg cell under investigation at the time), so he can talk to Zammar. [Stern, 8/13/03] German investigators still do not know Alshehhi's full name, but they recognize this “Marwan” also called Zammar in January, and they told the CIA about that call. Alshehhi, living in the United Arab Emirates at the time, calls Zammar frequently. German intelligence asks the United Arab Emirates to identify the number and the caller, but the request is not answered. [Der Spiegel, 2/3/03]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Haydar Zammar, Central Intelligence Agency, Said Bahaji, Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, United Arab Emirates
          

October 1999: CIA Considers Increased Aid to Northern Alliance

      
Ahmed Shah Massoud.
Worried about intercepts showing a growing likelihood of al-Qaeda attacks around the millennium, the CIA steps up ties with Ahmed Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban. The CIA sends a team of agents to his headquarters in a remote part of northern Afghanistan, seeking his help to capture or kill bin Laden. Massoud complains that the US is too focused on bin Laden, and isn't interested in the root problems of Taliban, Saudi, and Pakistani support for terrorism that is propping him up. He agrees to help nonetheless, and the CIA gives him more aid in return. However, the US is officially neutral in the Afghan civil war and the agents are prohibited from giving any aid that would “fundamentally alter the Afghan battlefield.” [Washington Post, 2/23/04] DIA agent Julie Sirrs, newly retired, is at Massoud's headquarters at the same time as the CIA team. She gathers valuable intelligence from captured al-Qaeda soldiers while the CIA agents stay in their guesthouse. She publishes much of what she learned on this trip and other trips in the summer of 2001. [Washington Post, 2/28/04]
People and organizations involved: Julie Sirrs, Northern Alliance, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Shah Massoud, Taliban
          

October 1999: Joint US-ISI Operation to Kill Osama Falters

       The CIA readies an operation to capture or kill bin Laden, secretly training and equipping approximately 60 commandos from the Pakistani ISI. Pakistan supposedly agrees to this plan in return for the lifting of economic sanctions and more economic aid. The plan is ready to go by this month, but it is aborted because on October 12, General Musharraf takes control of Pakistan in a coup. Musharraf refuses to continue the operation despite the promise of substantial rewards. [Washington Post, 10/3/01 (C)] Some US officials later say the CIA was tricked, that the ISI just feigned to cooperate as a stalling tactic, and never intended to get bin Laden. [New York Times, 10/29/01]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Pervez Musharraf
          

October 1999: CIA Does Not Share Information with Able Danger Program

       Capt. Scott Phillpott, head of the Able Danger program, asks Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer to talk to a representative of CIA Director George Tenet and attempt to convince him that the new Able Danger program is not competing with the CIA. Shaffer later recalls the CIA representative replying, “I clearly understand the difference. I clearly understand. We're going after the leadership. You guys are going after the body. But, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is, CIA will never give you the best information from ‘Alex Base’ [the CIA's covert action element targeting bin Laden] or anywhere else. CIA will never provide that to you because if you were successful in your effort to target al-Qaeda, you will steal our thunder. Therefore, we will not support this.” Shaffer claims that for the duration of Able Danger's existence, “To my knowledge, and my other colleagues' knowledge, there was no information ever released to us because CIA chose not to participate in Able Danger.” [Government Security News, 9/05]
People and organizations involved: Able Danger, Anthony Shaffer, Scott Phillpott, Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet
          

October 5, 1999: Bin Laden Might Be Planning Major Attack in US

       The highly respected Jane's Terrorism and Security Monitor reports that US intelligence is worried that bin Laden is planning a major attack on US soil. They are said to be particularly concerned about some kind of attack on New York, and they have recommended stepped-up security at the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve. [NewsMax, 10/5/99]
People and organizations involved: New York Stock Exchange, Osama bin Laden
          

October 8, 1999: Al-Qaeda Declared Foreign Terrorist Organization

       The secretary of state finally legally declares al-Qaeda a foreign terrorist organization that is threatening to the US. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Madeleine Albright, al-Qaeda
          

October 12, 1999: General Musharraf Takes Control of Pakistan; Ousted ISI Leader Has Curious Finances

      
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
General Pervez Musharraf becomes leader of Pakistan in a coup. One major reason for the coup is the ISI felt the previous ruler had to go “out of fear that he might buckle to American pressure and reverse Pakistan's policy [of supporting] the Taliban.” [New York Times, 12/8/01] Shortly thereafter Musharraf replaces the leader of the ISI, Brig Imtiaz, because of his close ties to the previous leader. Imtiaz is arrested and convicted of “having assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.” It comes out that he was keeping tens of millions of dollars earned from heroin smuggling in a Deutsche Bank account. This is interesting because insider trading just prior to 9/11 will later connect to a branch of Deutsche Bank recently run by “Buzzy” Krongard, now executive director of the CIA. [Financial Times (Asian edition), 8/10/01] The new director of the ISI is Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmed, a close ally of Musharraf who is instrumental in the success of the coup. [Guardian, 10/9/01]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Pervez Musharraf, Taliban, Mahmood Ahmed, Deutsche Bank, Brig Imtiaz
          

October 31, 1999: Suicide Pilot Crashes Commercial Airliner into Ocean

      
Gameel el-Batouti was suspected of purposely crashing Egyptair 990 (left). Wreckage of the plane (right).
EgyptAir Flight 990 crashes into the ocean off the coast of Massachusetts, killing all 217 people on board. It is immediately suspected that one of the pilots purposely crashed the plane, and this is the eventual conclusion of a National Transportation Safety Board investigation. Thirty-three Egyptian military officers were aboard the plane, leading to suspicions that killing them was the motive for crashing the plane. No connections between the suicide pilot and militancy are found. [Aviation Week And Space Technology, 3/25/02; Atlantic Monthly, 11/01; ABC, 11/2/99; Associated Press, 1/21/00] Bin Laden's military operations chief is inspired to use the idea of planes as weapons after reports of this incident. The US learns of Atef's interest from the interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects in Jordan, but it hasn't been reported if this is learned before or after 9/11. [Washington Post, 9/11/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Mohammed Atef
          

November 1999: Hijackers Said to Lease Apartment in San Diego, Two Months Before Alleged Arrival in US

       The Washington Post refers to hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar when it later reports, “In November 1999, two Saudi Arabian men moved into a ground-floor apartment at the Parkwood Apartments, a town house complex near a busy commercial strip in San Diego .” [Washington Post, 9/30/01] Alhazmi's name is on the apartment lease beginning in November 1999. [Washington Post, 10/01] The Los Angeles Times similarly notes, “A man by [the name Alhazmi] moved to the Parkwood Apartments in San Diego in 1999, according to manager Holly Ratchford.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/15/01] Some reports even have them visiting the US as early as 1996. [Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01; Las Vegas Review Journal, 10/26/01] However, FBI Director Mueller has stated the two hijackers did not arrive in the US until the middle of January 2000, after an important meeting in Malaysia. While some news reports mention that the hijackers first arrive in late 1999 [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] , over time, mentions of the lease beginning in 1999 will slowly fade from media accounts.
People and organizations involved: Robert S. Mueller III, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi
          

November 14, 1999: Limited UN Sanctions on Afghanistan

       United Nations sanctions against Afghanistan take effect. The sanctions freeze Taliban assets and impose an air embargo on Ariana Airlines in an effort to force the Taliban to hand over bin Laden. [BBC, 2/6/00] However, Ariana keeps its illegal trade network flying, until stricter sanctions ground it in 2001.
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Osama bin Laden, Ariana Airlines, United Nations
          

November 29, 1999: UN Says ISI Makes Billions from Drugs

       The United Nations Drug Control Program determines that the ISI makes around $2.5 billion annually from the sale of illegal drugs. [Times of India, 11/29/99]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, United Nations
          

Late November 1999: Hamburg Cell Members Arrive in Afghanistan for Training

       Investigators believe hijackers Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, and Ziad Jarrah and associates Ramzi Bin al-Shibh and Said Bahaji (all members of the same Hamburg, Germany, cell) arrive separately in Afghanistan around this time. They meet with bin Laden and train for several months. [CBS News, 10/9/02; New York Times, 9/10/02] In a 2002 interview with Al Jazeera, bin al-Shibh says, “We had a meeting attended by all four pilots including Nawaf Alhazmi, Atta's right-hand man.” The Guardian interprets this to mean that Alhazmi flew Flight 77, not Hani Hanjour as popularly believed. [Guardian, 9/9/02]
People and organizations involved: William Safire, Said Bahaji, Osama bin Laden, Mohamed Atta, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Ziad Jarrah, Marwan Alshehhi, Nawaf Alhazmi
          

November 30, 1999: Jordan Thwarts al-Qaeda Plot

       Jordanian officials successfully uncover an al-Qaeda plot to blow up the Radisson Hotel in Amman, Jordan, and other sites on January 1, 2000. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C)] A call between al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida and a suspected Jordanian terrorist exposes the plot. In the call, Zubaida states, “The grooms are ready for the big wedding.” [Seattle Times, 6/23/02] This call reflects an extremely poor code system, because the FBI had already determined in the wake of the 1998 US embassy bombings that “wedding” was the al-Qaeda code word for bomb. [Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 214] Furthermore, it appears al-Qaeda fails to later change the system, because the code-name for the 9/11 attack is also “The Big Wedding.” [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/02] This attempt also reveals to investigators the important role of Abu Zubaida in al-Qaeda plots. A January 2001 New York Times article about the attempt will call Zubaida “a crucial link between local initiative and central command.” [New York Times, 1/15/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Abu Zubaida, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jordan
          

December 1999: CIA Attempts to Recruit Man with Links to Atta and Hamburg Cell

       The CIA begins “persistent” efforts to recruit German businessman Mamoun Darkazanli as an informant. Darkazanli knows Mohamed Atta and the other members of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. US and German intelligence had previously opened investigations into Darkazanli in September 1998. Agents occasionally followed him, but Darkazanli obviously noticed the tail on him at least once. More costly and time-consuming electronic surveillance is not done however, and by the end of 1999, the investigation has produced little of value. German law does not allow foreign governments to have informants in Germany. So this month, Thomas Volz, the undercover CIA representative in Hamburg, appears at the headquarters of the Hamburg state domestic intelligence agency, the LfV, responsible for tracking terrorists and domestic extremists. He tells them the CIA believes Darkazanli has knowledge of an unspecified terrorist plot and encourages that he be “turned” against his al-Qaeda comrades. A source later recalls he says, “Darkazanli knows a lot.” Efforts to recruit him will continue in the spring next year. The CIA has not admitted this interest in Darkazanli. [Stern, 8/13/03; Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Central Intelligence Agency, Mamoun Darkazanli, Thomas Volz, Office for the Protection of the Constitution
          

December 1999: US Intelligence Learns of Planned al-Qaeda Meeting Involving Future Hijackers

       A Yemeni safe house telephone monitored by the FBI and CIA reveals that there will be an important al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in January 2000 (see January 5-8, 2000), and that a “Khalid,” a “Nawaf,” and a “Salem” will attend. One intelligence agent notes at the time, “Salem may be Nawaf's younger brother.” It turns out they are brothers—and the future hijackers Khalid Almihdhar, and Nawaf and Salem Alhazmi. US intelligence is already referring to both of them as “terrorist operatives” because the safe house is known to be such a hotbed of al-Qaeda activity. Their last names are not yet known to the CIA, even though the NSA has learned Nawaf's last name. However, Khalid Almihdhar is at the safe house at the time, and as he travels to Malaysia, he is watched and followed. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Salem Alhazmi, National Security Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

Early December 1999: US Takes Action to Stop al-Qaeda Millennium Bombing Plot

       The CIA learns from the Jordanian government about an al-Qaeda millennium bombing plot. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke is told of this, and he implements a plan to neutralize the threat. [Clarke, 2004, pp 205, 211] The plan, approved by President Clinton, focuses on harassing and disrupting al-Qaeda members throughout the world. The FBI is put on heightened alert, counterterrorism teams are dispatched overseas, a formal ultimatum is given to the Taliban to keep al-Qaeda under control, and friendly intelligence agencies are asked to help. There are Cabinet-level meetings nearly every day dealing with terrorism [Associated Press, 6/28/02; Washington Post, 4/20/00] All US embassies, military bases, police departments, and other agencies are given a warning to be on the lookout for signs of an al-Qaeda millennium attack. One alert border agent responds by arresting terrorist Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999), which leads to the unraveling of several bombing plots (see December 14-31, 1999). No terror attacks occur. However, Clarke claims the FBI generally remains unhelpful. For example, around this time the FBI says there are no websites in the US soliciting volunteers for training in Afghanistan or money for terrorist front groups. Clarke has a private citizen check to see if this is true, and within days, he is given a long list of such websites. The FBI and Justice Department apparently fail to do anything with the information. [Newsweek, 3/31/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Taliban, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Ressam, Central Intelligence Agency, Jordan, Richard A. Clarke, US Department of Justice, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
          

December 4, 1999: Saudi Ambassador's Wife Gives Funds That Are Possibly Passed to Hijackers

      
Prince Bandar (pictures of his wife and Osama Basnan are not available).
Princess Haifa bint Faisal, the wife of Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the US, begins sending monthly cashier's checks of between $2,000 and $3,500 (accounts differ) to Majeda Dweikat, the Jordanian wife of Osama Basnan, a Saudi living in San Diego. Accounts also differ over when the checks were first sent (between November 1999 and about March 2000; a Saudi government representative has stated December 4, 1999 [Fox News, 11/23/02] ). Basnan's wife signs many of the checks over to her friend Manal Bajadr, the wife of Omar al-Bayoumi. [Guardian, 11/25/02; Newsweek, 11/24/02; Newsweek, 11/22/02; Washington Times, 11/26/02] Some later suggest that the money from the wife of the Saudi ambassador passes through the al-Bayoumi and Basnan families as intermediaries and ends up in the hands of the two hijackers. The payments from Princess Haifa continue until May 2002 and may total $51,000, or as much as $73,000. [Newsweek, 11/22/02; MSNBC, 11/27/02] While living in the San Diego area, al-Bayoumi and Basnan are heavily involved in helping with the relocation of, and offering financial support to, Saudi immigrants in the community. [Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] In late 2002, al-Bayoumi claims he did not pass any money along to the hijackers. [Washington Times, 12/04/02] Basnan has variously claimed to know al-Bayoumi, not to know him at all, or to know him only vaguely. [MSNBC, 11/27/02; ABC News, 11/25/02; ABC News, 11/26/02; Arab News, 11/26/02] However, earlier reports say Basnan and his wife were “very good friends” of al-Bayoumi and his wife. Both couples lived at the Parkwood Apartments at the same time as the two hijackers; prior to that, the couples lived together in a different apartment complex. In addition, the two wives were arrested together in April 2001 for shoplifting. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/22/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama Basnan, Majeda Dweikat, Omar al-Bayoumi, Haifa bint Faisal, Manal Bajadr
          

December 11, 1999: Watch List Importance Is Stressed but Procedures Are Not Followed

       The CIA's Counter Terrorism Center sends a cable reminding all personnel about various reporting obligations. The cable clearly states that it is important to share information so suspected members of US-designated terrorist groups can be placed on watch lists. The US keeps a number of watch lists; the most important one, TIPOFF, contains about 61,000 names of suspected terrorists by 9/11. [Knight Ridder, 1/27/04; Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02] The list is checked whenever someone enters or leaves the US “The threshold for adding a name to TIPOFF is low,” and even a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is connected with a US-designated terrorist group warrants being added to the database. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Within a month, two future hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, are identified, but the cable's instructions are not followed for them. The CIA initially tells the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry that no such guidelines existed, and CIA Director Tenet fails to mention the cable in his testimony. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; New York Times, 5/15/03]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, George Tenet, TIPOFF
          

December 14-31, 1999: FBI Thwarts Additional Millennium Attack Plots

      
Ahmed Ressam.
In the wake of the arrest of Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999), FBI investigators work frantically to uncover more millennium plots before they are likely to take place at the end of the year. Documents found with Ressam lead to co-conspirators in New York, then Boston and Seattle. Enough people are arrested to prevent any attacks. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later says, “I think a lot of the FBI leadership for the first time realized that ... there probably were al-Qaeda people in the United States. They realized that only after they looked at the results of the investigation of the millennium bombing plot.” [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] Yet Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger later claims that the FBI will still repeatedly assure the Clinton White House until Clinton leaves office that al-Qaeda lacks the ability to launch a domestic strike (see 2000).
People and organizations involved: Sandy Berger, Richard A. Clarke, Ahmed Ressam, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

December 14, 1999: Al-Qaeda Operative Planning LAX Attack Is Arrested

      
Diana Dean.
Al-Qaeda operative Ahmed Ressam is arrested in Port Angeles, Washington, attempting to enter the US with components of explosive devices. One hundred and thirty pounds of bomb-making chemicals and detonator components are found inside his rental car. He subsequently admits he planned to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on December 31, 1999. [New York Times, 12/30/01] Alert border patrol agent Diana Dean stops him; she and other agents nationwide had been warned recently to look for suspicious activity. Ressam's bombing would have been part of a wave of attacks against US targets over the New Year's weekend (see December 14-31, 1999). He is later connected to al-Qaeda and convicted. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; PBS Frontline, 10/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Diana Dean, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Ressam, Los Angeles International Airport
          

December 20, 1999: Iran Said to Be Supporting Conflict in Afghanistan to Further Their Own Pipeline Plans

       The BBC explains one reason why the Northern Alliance has been able to hold out for so long in its civil war against the Taliban in Afghanistan: “Iran has stirred up the fighting in order to make sure an international oil pipeline [goes] through its territory and not through Afghanistan.” [BBC, 12/20/99]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Northern Alliance, Iran
          

December 24-31, 1999: Hijacked Flight Leads to Freeing of Future 9/11 Funder

      
Hijackers threaten the Indian Airlines plane, under Taliban supervision.
An Indian Airlines flight is hijacked and flown to Afghanistan where 155 passengers are held hostage for eight days. They are freed in return for the release of three militants held in Indian prisons. One of the hostages is killed. One of the men freed in the exchange is 9/11 paymaster Saeed Sheikh. [BBC, 12/31/99] Another freed militant is Maulana Masood Azhar. Azhar emerges in Pakistan a few days later, and tells a crowd of 10,000, “I have come here because this is my duty to tell you that Muslims should not rest in peace until we have destroyed America and India.” [Associated Press, 1/5/00] He then tours Pakistan for weeks under the protection of the ISI. [Vanity Fair, 8/02] The ISI and Saeed helps Azhar form a new Islamic militant group called Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Azhar is soon plotting attacks again. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02; Washington Post, 2/8/03; Guardian, 7/16/02]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Maulana Masood Azhar, Saeed Sheikh, Central Intelligence Agency, Jaish-e-Mohammed
          

Late 1999: Hijackers Clear Their Passport Records

       Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi report their passports missing; Ziad Jarrah reports his missing in February 2000. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01; Der Spiegel, 2002, pp 257-58] Alshehhi receives a replacement passport on December 26, 1999. [Times of London, 9/20/01]
People and organizations involved: Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, Ziad Jarrah
          

December 31, 1999-January 1, 2000: Attacks Against American Targets Avoided Through Alerts and Luck

       Earlier in December, the CIA estimated that al-Qaeda would launch between five and 15 attacks against American targets around the world over the New Year's weekend. “Because the US is [bin Laden]'s ultimate goal ... we must assume that several of these targets will be in the US...” [Time, 8/4/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] Since late 1999, there has been intelligence that targets in Washington and New York would be attacked at this time. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] There in fact are a number of planned attacks, including bomb attacks on the Boston and Los Angeles airports, a hotel in Jordan, and a naval ship in Yemen. However, all of the attacks are foiled, thanks to alerts and luck. [Washington Post, 1/20/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden
          

Late 1999: Saudis Claim to Add Two Hijackers to Watch List and Inform CIA

       Former Saudi Intelligence Minister Prince Turki al Faisal later claims that around this time his intelligence agency tells the CIA that hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar have been put on a Saudi terror watch list. Turki says, “What we told [the CIA] was these people were on our watch list from previous activities of al-Qaeda, in both the [1998] embassy bombings and attempts to smuggle arms into the kingdom in 1997.” However, the CIA strongly denies any such warning. [Associated Press, 10/16/03 Sources: Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud] Turki admits no documents concerning this were sent to the US, but claims the information was passed via word of mouth. [Salon, 10/18/03] The US does not put these two on their watch list until August 2001.
People and organizations involved: Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi
          

January-May 2000: CIA Has Atta Under Surveillance

       Hijacker Mohamed Atta is put under surveillance by the CIA while living in Germany. [Berliner Zeitung, 9/24/01; Focus, 9/24/01; Agence France-Presse, 9/22/01] He is “reportedly observed buying large quantities of chemicals in Frankfurt, apparently for the production of explosives [and/or] for biological warfare.” “The US agents reported to have trailed Atta are said to have failed to inform the German authorities about their investigation,” even as the Germans are investigating many of his associates. “The disclosure that Atta was being trailed by police long before 11 September raises the question why the attacks could not have been prevented with the man's arrest.” [Observer, 9/30/01] A German newspaper adds that Atta is able to get a visa into the US on May 18. According to some reports, the surveillance stops when he leaves for the US at the start of June. However, “experts believe that the suspect [remains] under surveillance in the United States.” [Berliner Zeitung, 9/24/01] A German intelligence official also states, “We can no longer exclude the possibility that the Americans wanted to keep an eye on Atta after his entry in the US” [Focus, 9/24/01] This correlates with a Newsweek claim that US officials knew Atta was a “known [associate] of Islamic terrorists well before [9/11].” [Newsweek, 9/20/01] However, a congressional inquiry later reports that the US “intelligence community possessed no intelligence or law enforcement information linking 16 of the 19 hijackers [including Atta] to terrorism or terrorist groups.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] In 2005, after accounts of the Able Danger program learning Atta's name become news, newspaper account will neglect to mention this prior report about Atta being known by US intelligence. For instance, the New York Times will report, “The account [about Able Danger] is the first assertion that Mr. Atta, an Egyptian who became the lead hijacker in the plot, was identified by any American government agency as a potential threat before the Sept. 11 attacks”(see August 9, 2005) . [New York Times, 8/9/05]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Central Intelligence Agency
          

January-March 2000: Hijacker Atta Begins E-mailing US Flight Schools, Seeking Pilot Training

       Hijacker Mohamed Atta, who is under CIA surveillance at this time, begins sending e-mails to US flight schools, inquiring about their pilot training programs. One e-mail states, “We are a small group (2-3) of young men from different arab [sic] countries.” “Now we are living in Germany since a while for study purposes. We would like to start training for the career of airline professional pilots. In this field we haven't yet any knowledge, but we are ready to undergo an intensive training program.” Apparently, multiple e-mails are sent from the same Hotmail account. Some e-mails are signed “M. Atta,” while others are signed “Mahmoud Ben Hamad.” [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Central Intelligence Agency
          

January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001: Following Release from Prison, Saeed Sheikh Lives Openly; Supports Future 9/11 Hijackers

       After being released from prison at the end of 1999, Saeed Sheikh stays in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for several days and meets with Taliban leader Mullah Omar. He also meets with bin Laden, who is said to call Saeed “my special son.” He then travels to Pakistan and is given a house by the ISI. [Vanity Fair, 8/02] He lives openly and opulently in Pakistan, even attending “swanky parties attended by senior Pakistani government officials.” US authorities conclude he is an asset of the ISI. [Newsweek, 3/13/02] Amazingly, he is allowed to travel freely to Britain, and visits family there at least twice. [Vanity Fair, 8/02] He works with Ijaz Shah, a former ISI official in charge of handling two militant groups; Lieutenant-General Mohammed Aziz Khan, former deputy chief of the ISI in charge of relations with Jaish-e-Mohammed; and Brigadier Abdullah, a former ISI officer. He is well known to other senior ISI officers. He regularly travels to Afghanistan and helps train new al-Qaeda recruits in training camps there. [National Post, 2/26/02; Guardian, 7/16/02; New York Times, 2/25/02; India Today, 2/25/02] Saeed helps train the 9/11 hijackers also, presumably in Afghanistan. [Daily Telegraph, 9/30/01] He also helps al-Qaeda develop a secure web-based communications system, and there is talk that he could one day succeed bin Laden. [Daily Telegraph, 7/16/02; Vanity Fair, 8/02] He wires money to the 9/11 hijackers in August 2001 and possibly several other times. Presumably, he sends the money from the United Arab Emirates during his many trips there. [Guardian, 2/9/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Abdullah, Mohammed Aziz Khan, Ijaz Shah, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Osama bin Laden, Saeed Sheikh, Mullah Omar
          

2000: Head of Milan al-Qaeda Cell Under Investigation in Hamburg by This Time

      
Abderazek Mahdjoub.
Abderazek Mahdjoub, an Algerian living in Hamburg, Germany, attends the al-Quds mosque and has ties to some of the 9/11 hijackers. According to a senior German intelligence official, Mahdjoub is under observation by German domestic intelligence since at least this year. However, he is also connected to the al-Qaeda cell in Milan and in fact is believed to be the head of that cell. There is considerable evidence that the Milan cell has foreknowledge of the 9/11 plot. The cell is under heavy surveillance by Italian intelligence before 9/11 (see August 12, 2000) (see January 24, 2001). But apparently the connection between the Milan and Hamburg cells through Mahdjoub is not made. He is also tied to Mohamed Daki, another member of the Milan cell periodically living in Hamburg before 9/11. He apparently continues to be a major organizer after 9/11, and the Italian and German governments fail to share information about him. He is suspected of leading European recruitment of those who want to fight the US in Iraq. In late 2003, he will finally be arrested trying to cross the border into Iraq. He is put in German custody. [New York Times, 3/22/04; New York Times, 11/29/03]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Daki, Germany, Central Intelligence Agency
          

2000: German Intelligence Issues Report on al-Qaeda Connections in Germany

       The BKA, the German counterpart to the FBI, prepares an extensive report on al-Qaeda's connections in Germany. The BKA warns that “Unknown structures” are preparing to stage attacks abroad. However, the German federal prosecutor's office rejects a proposed follow-up investigation. One of the persons named in the BKA report supposedly had contacts with the Hamburg terror cell. [Berliner Zeitung, 9/24/01]
People and organizations involved: Bundeskriminalamt Germany, al-Qaeda
          

Early 2000: US Builds Up Influence in Central Asia

       By the start of this year, the US has already begun “to quietly build influence” in Central Asia. The US has established significant military-to-military relationships with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. Americans have trained soldiers from those countries. The militaries of all three have an ongoing relationship with the National Guard of a US state—Kazakhstan with Arizona, Kyrgyzstan with Montana, and Uzbekistan with Louisiana. The countries also participate in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. [Washington Post, 8/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, United States, Kyrgyzstan
          

2000: FBI Repeatedly Tells Clinton That Al-Qaeda Is Unable to Attack Inside US

       In the wake of disrupting Ahmed Ressam's millennium bomb plot at the end of 1999 and arresting his cohorts (see December 14, 1999) (see December 14-31, 1999), US intelligence remains concerned that al-Qaeda sleeper cells remain in the US (see March 10, 2000). However, Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger later claims that the FBI still repeatedly assures the Clinton White House that al-Qaeda lacks the ability to launch a domestic strike. [New York Times, 9/22/02] He says, “Until the very end of our time in office, the view we received from the [FBI] was that al-Qaeda had limited capacity to operate in the US and any presence here was under surveillance.” No analysis is done before 9/11 to investigate just how big that presence might be. [Washington Post, 9/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Clinton administration, Sandy Berger, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency
          

2000-September 10, 2001: Hijackers Possibly Spend Time in Philippines

       The names of four hijackers are later discovered in Philippines immigration records, according to Philippine Immigration Commissioner Andrea Domingo. However, whether these are the hijackers or just other Saudis with the same names has not been confirmed. Abdulaziz Alomari visits the Philippines once in 2000, then again in February 2001, leaving on February 12. [Associated Press, 9/19/01; Philippines Daily Inquirer, 9/19/01; Daily Telegraph, 9/20/01] Ahmed Alghamdi visits Manila, Philippines, more than 13 times in the two years before 9/11. He leaves the Philippines the day before the attacks. [Daily Telegraph, 9/20/01; Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01] Fayez Ahmed Banihammad visits the Philippines on October 17-19, 2000. [Daily Telegraph, 9/20/01; Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01] Saeed Alghamdi visits the Philippines on at least 15 occasions in 2001, entering as a tourist. The last visit ends on August 6, 2001. [Daily Telegraph, 9/20/01] Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi may also have been living in the Philippines, and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed occasionally stays there. While in the Philippines, it is possible the hijackers meet with associates of Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden's brother-in-law (see December 16, 1994-May 1995). Khalifa has been closely linked with the Philippines chapter of the International Islamic Relief Organization, which gets much of its money from the Saudi Arabian government. The organization has recently been accused of being a front for al-Qaeda. Amongst other connections to terrorism, Khalifa helped fund the Islamic Army of Aden, a group that claimed responsibility for the bombing of the USS Cole. [Boston Herald, 10/14/01] Khalifa has been connected through phone calls to Hambali, a major terrorist who attended a planning meeting for the 9/11 attacks in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000), also attended by two hijackers connected to the Islamic Army of Aden. [Cox News Service, 10/21/01; PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C)] (The US had Khalifa in custody for about six months in 1995.) Nothing more has been heard to confirm or deny the hijackers' Philippines connections since these reports.
People and organizations involved: Abdulaziz Alomari, Ahmed Alghamdi, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Saeed Alghamdi, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Mohamed Atta, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, Marwan Alshehhi, Ahmed, International Islamic Relief Organization, Islamic Army of Aden
          

January-February 2000: Secret Military Unit Identifies al-Qaeda ‘Brooklyn’ Cell; Mohamed Atta is a Member

      
A blurry photograph of a 2005 reconstruction of the pre-9/11 Able Danger chart showing Mohamed Atta and others.
A US Army intelligence program called Able Danger identifies five al-Qaeda terrorist cells; one of them has connections to Brooklyn, New York and will become informally known as the “Brooklyn” cell by the Able Danger team. This cell includes 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta, and three other 9/11 hijackers: Marwan Alshehhi, Khalid Almihdhar, and Nawaf Alhazmi. According to a former intelligence officer who claims he worked closely with Able Danger, the link to Brooklyn is not based upon any firm evidence, but computer analysis that established patterns in links between the four men. “[T]he software put them all together in Brooklyn.” [Government Security News, 9/05; Fox News, 8/23/05; Washington Times, 8/22/05; New York Times, 8/9/05] However, that does not necessarily imply them being physically present in Brooklyn. A lawyer later representing members of Able Danger states, “At no time did Able Danger identify Mohamed Atta as being physically present in the United States.” Furthermore, “No information obtained at the time would have led anyone to believe criminal activity had taken place or that any specific terrorist activities were being planned.” [CNN, 9/21/05; Mark Zaid Statement, 9/21/05] James D. Smith, a contractor working with the unit, discovers Mohamed Atta's link to al-Qaeda. [WTOP News, 9/1/05] Smith has been using advanced computer software and analysing individuals who are going between mosques. He has made a link between Mohamed Atta and Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, ringleader of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. [Government Security News, 9/05; Fox News, 8/28/05] Atta is said to have some unspecified connection to the El Farouq mosque in Brooklyn, a hotbed of anti-American sentiment once frequented by Abdul-Rahman. [Norristown Times-Herald, 9/20/05] Smith obtained Atta's name and photograph through a private researcher in California who was paid to gather the information from contacts in the Middle East. [New York Times, 8/22/05] Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer claims the photo is not the well-known menacing Florida driver's license photo of Atta. “This is an older, more grainy photo we had of him. It was not the best picture in the world.” It is said to contain several names or aliases for Atta underneath it. [Chicago Tribune, 9/28/05; Jerry Doyle Show, 9/20/05] LIWA analysts supporting Able Danger make a chart, which Shaffer describes in a radio interview as, “A chart probably about a 2x3 which had essentially five clusters around the center point which was bin Laden and his leadership.” [Savage Nation, 9/16/05] The 9/11 Commission later claims that Atta only enters the United States for the first time several months later, in June 2000 (see June 3, 2000). [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, p. 224] However, investigations in the months after 9/11 find that Mohamed Atta and another of the hijackers rented rooms in Brooklyn around this time (see Spring 2000). Other newspaper accounts have the CIA monitoring Atta starting in January 2000, while he is living in Germany (see January-May 2000).
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Able Danger, Marwan Alshehhi, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, al-Qaeda, El Farouq
          

2000: Attempted Flight Simulator Purchase Hints at Pilot Training

       At some point during this year, an FBI internal memo states that a Middle Eastern nation has been trying to purchase a flight simulator in violation of US restrictions. The FBI refuses to disclose the date or details of this memo. [Los Angeles Times, 5/30/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

January 2000: Former President Bush Meets with bin Laden Family on Behalf of Carlyle Group

      
Ex-President Bush Sr. meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Fahd on behalf of the Carlyle Group in 2000.
Former President George H. W. Bush meets with the bin Laden family on behalf of the Carlyle Group. He had also met with them in November 1998 (see November 1998), but it is not known if he meets with them again after this. Bush denies this meeting took place until a thank you note is found confirming that it took place. [Guardian, 10/31/01; Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01]
People and organizations involved: George Herbert Walker Bush, Carlyle Group, Bin Laden Family
          
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