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Before 9/11

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

Al-Qaeda Members

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

Geopolitics and 9/11

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

Day of 9/11

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

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan
Other events
Investigations
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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. [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02; Cox News Service, 8/2/02; Palm Beach Post, 10/17/02] 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)]
          

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. 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, terrorist groups in Kashmir (where the ISI assists terrorists 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, 8/2/02; MSNBC, 3/18/03] 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]
          

September 1999: US Report Predicts Spectacular Attack on Washington

       A report prepared for US intelligence entitled 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. [CNN, 5/18/02; New York Times, 5/18/02]
          

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). [CNN, 10/16/01; Boston Globe, 9/18/01; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02; Washington Post, 5/19/02] 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.
          

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 a terrorist act 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]
          

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]
          

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

       German intelligence is periodically tapping suspected al-Qaeda terrorist 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. [Daily Telegraph, 11/24/01; New York Times, 1/18/03] 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]
          

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]
          

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]
          

October 1999: Atta Reportedly Gets Engaged and Asks His Parents If He Can Stay in Egypt

       After Mohamed Atta completes his Master's Degree in Hamburg, Germany, he goes home to Cairo, Egypt, one last time. By this time, his parents are estranged from each other. His father tells Atta they should find him a wife, and has a potential bride lined up. According to his father, they visit a family, Mohamed meets the daughter and they like each other. The woman's parents also likes Atta, but their only condition to the marriage is that their daughter doesn't have to leave Cairo. Mohamed gets engaged to her, and then goes back to Germany. According to Mohamed's aunt, Mohamed asks his mother, who is ill, whether he can remain in Egypt permanently, to begin a career and care for her. However, she insists he continue his education and go on to a doctoral program in the US. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02; Los Angeles Times, 1/27/02]
          

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 terrorist 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]
          

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 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04]
          

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 Deutschebank account. This is interesting because insider trading just prior to 9/11 will later connect to a branch of Deutschebank 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]
          

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 of a terrorist motive, but no connections between the suicide pilot and terrorism can be found. [ABC, 11/2/99; Associated Press, 1/21/00; Atlantic Monthly, 11/01; Aviation Week And Space Technology, 3/25/02] 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]
          

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, 9/1/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02] , over time, mentions of the lease beginning in 1999 will slowly fade from media accounts.
          

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.
          

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

       The United Nations Drug Control Programme determines that the ISI makes around $2.5 billion annually from the sale of illegal drugs. [Times of India, 11/29/99]
          

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]
          

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]
          

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, 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]
          

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 [Washington Post, 4/20/00; Associated Press, 6/28/02] 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)]
          

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

      
Mamoun Darkanzali.
The CIA begins “persistent” efforts to recruit German businessman Mamoun Darkanzali as an informant. Darkanzali knows Mohamed Atta and the other members of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. US and German intelligence had previously opened investigations into Darkanzali in September 1998. Agents occasionally followed him, but Darkanzali 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 Darkanzali has knowledge of an unspecified terrorist plot and encourages that he be “turned” against his al-Qaeda comrades. A source later recalls he says, “Darkanzali knows a lot.” Efforts to recruit him will continue in the spring next year. The CIA has not admitted this interest in Darkanzali. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02; Stern, 8/13/03]
          

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. [Washington Times, 11/26/02; Newsweek, 11/22/02; Newsweek, 11/24/02; Guardian, 11/25/02] 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. [Arab News, 11/26/02; ABC News, 11/26/02; ABC News, 11/25/02; MSNBC, 11/27/02] 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]
          

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 terrorists 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. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/02; Knight Ridder, 1/27/04] 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 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]
          

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

      
Diana Dean.
Al-Qaeda terrorist 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]
          

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).
          

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]
          

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 terrorist leader 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 terrorist group called Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Azhar is soon plotting terrorist acts again. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02; Guardian, 7/16/02; Washington Post, 2/8/03]
          

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] 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.
          

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]
          

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...” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); Time, 8/4/02] 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]
          

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]
          

January-May 2000: CIA Has Atta Under Surveillance

       Hijacker Mohamed Atta is put under surveillance by the CIA while living in Germany. [Agence France-Presse, 9/22/01; Focus, 9/24/01; Berliner Zeitung, 9/24/01] 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]
          

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]
          

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]
          

2000: $250 Million Bank Transfer Suggests Links Between Bin Laden, His Family, and Unnamed Pakistani

       A transfer of 241 million Euros (over $250 million) is made to Pakistan in this year from a Swiss bank account belonging jointly to Osama bin Laden and an unnamed person of Pakistani nationality. This Deutsche Bank joint account belongs to a company called Cambridge, which is a subsidiary of the Saudi Binladin Group, the bin Laden family company. After French investigators discover records of this money transfer in late 2004, a French judge authorizes widening a probe into the financial network surrounding the bin Laden family. [Reuters, 12/26/04] The discovery of this sizable joint bank account contradicts the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission, which claims that bin Laden inherited far less than is commonly reported and never had a fortune in the hundreds of millions of dollars. [Agence France-Presse, 7/26/04]
          

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 terrorist 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]
          

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 terrorist 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 terrorist recruits in training camps there. [New York Times, 2/25/02; National Post, 2/26/02; Guardian, 7/16/02; 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. [Vanity Fair, 8/02; Daily Telegraph, 7/16/02] 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]
          

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]
          

January 2000: Israeli Spy Ring Begins Penetrating US

      
States the Israeli spy ring were known to have operated in, according to a June 2001 Drug Enforcement Administration report (this Fox news graphic was based on information from that report).
A DEA government document later leaked to the press [DEA report, 6/01] suggests that a large Israeli spy ring starts penetrating the US from at least this time, if not earlier. This ring, which will later become popularly known as the “art student spy ring,” is later shown to have strange connections to the events of 9/11. [Insight, 3/11/02]
          

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, 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. [Wall Street Journal, 9/27/01; Guardian, 10/31/01]
          

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]
          

2000-September 10, 2001: Hijackers May 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; Daily Telegraph, 9/20/01; Philippines Daily Inquirer, 9/19/01] 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. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01; Daily Telegraph, 9/20/01] Fayez Ahmed Banihammad visits the Philippines on October 17-19, 2000. [Arizona Daily Star, 9/28/01; Daily Telegraph, 9/20/01] 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 Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden's brother-in-law (see December 16, 1994). 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. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C); Cox News Service, 10/21/01] (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.
          

January 2-5, 2000: CIA Tracks Alhazmi and Almihdhar to al-Qaeda Meeting; Fails to Place Them on Terror Watch List

       Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar travel to an important al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia. Alhazmi is in Pakistan with a ticket to Malaysia for January 2. CIA and Pakistani officials plan to have his passport scrutinized as he passes through the airport, but he changes his ticket departure date twice. Officials get confused and are not there when he leaves the country, so they still don't learn his last name. Meanwhile, Almihdhar is watched when he leaves a safe house in Yemen. Agents from eight CIA offices and six friendly foreign intelligence services are all asked to help track him, in the hopes he will lead them to bigger al-Qaeda figures. [Stern, 8/13/03] United Arab Emirates officials secretly make copies of his passport as he is passing through the Dubai airport on his way to Malaysia and immediately report this to the CIA. Therefore, by the time he reaches Malaysia, the CIA knows his full name, and the fact that he has a multiple entry visa to the US that is valid from April 1999 to April 2000. Even though the CIA now knows Almihdhar has a one-year visa to the US and presumably plans to travel there, they do not place him on a terror watch list, despite receiving guidelines the previous month on the importance of doing so. [Bamford, 2004, pp 224]
          

January 3, 2000: Al-Qaeda Attack on USS The Sullivans Fails; Remains Undiscovered

       An al-Qaeda attack on USS The Sullivans in Yemen's Aden harbor fails when their boat filled with explosives sinks. The attack remains undiscovered, and a duplication of the attack by the same people later successfully hits the USS Cole in October 2000. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C)]
          

January 5-8, 2000: Al-Qaeda Summit in Malaysia Monitored by Authorities; Information Passed to US

      
Attendees of the Malaysian meeting. From left to right top row: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Left to right bottom row: Hambali, Yazid Sufaat, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh. No pictures of bin Atash or Fahad al-Quso are available, th
About a dozen of bin Laden's trusted followers hold a secret, “top-level al-Qaeda summit” in the city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. [CNN, 8/30/02; San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/27/02] Plans for the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and the 9/11 attacks are discussed. [USA Today, 2/12/02; CNN, 8/30/02] At the request of the CIA, the Malaysian secret service monitors the meeting and then passes the information on to the US. Attendees of the meeting include:
Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. The CIA and FBI will later miss many opportunities to foil the 9/11 plot through Alhazmi and Almihdhar and the knowledge of their presence at this meeting. The CIA already knows many details about these two by the time the meeting begins.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a top al-Qaeda leader and the alleged “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks. The US has known Mohammed is a major terrorist since the exposure of Operation Bojinka in January 1995 (see January 6, 1995), and knows what he looks like. US officials have stated that they only realized the meeting was important in the summer of 2001, but the presence of Mohammed should have proved the meeting's importance. [Los Angeles Times, 2/2/02]
Although the possible presence of Mohammed at this meeting is highly disputed by US officials, one terrorism expert testifies before the 9/11 Commission in 2003 that he has access to transcripts of Mohammed's interrogations since his capture, and that Mohammed admits leading this meeting. [Newsweek, 7/9/03; New York Post, 7/10/03] Many media reports identify him there as well (for instance, [Independent, 6/6/02; CNN, 8/30/02; CNN, 11/7/02; Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03] according to Newsweek, “Mohammed's presence would make the intelligence failure of the CIA even greater. It would mean the agency literally watched as the 9/11 scheme was hatched—and had photographs of the attack's mastermind ... doing the plotting.” [Newsweek, 7/9/03]
Riduan Isamuddin, an Indonesian terrorist better known as Hambali. [BBC, 8/15/03]
He was the main financier of Operation Bojinka. [CNN, 8/30/02; CNN, 3/14/02] Philippine intelligence officials learned of Hambali's importance in 1995, but did not track him down or share information about him. He will be arrested by Thai authorities in August 2003. [CNN, 8/14/03; CBS News, 8/15/03]
Yazid Sufaat, a Malaysian man who owned the condominium where the meeting was held. [New York Times, 1/31/02; Newsweek, 6/2/02]
A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through Sufaat's presence at this meeting is later missed in September. Sufaat will travel to Afghanistan in June 2001 and be arrested by Malaysian authorities when he returns to Malaysia in late 2001. [Australian, 12/24/02]
Fahad al-Quso, a top al-Qaeda operative. [Newsweek, 9/20/01]
Al-Quso will be arrested by Yemeni authorities in December 2000, but the FBI is not given a chance to interrogate him before 9/11. He will escape from prison in 2003. [CNN, 5/15/03]
Tawifiq bin Attash, better known by his alias “Khallad.” Bin Attash, a “trusted member of bin Laden's inner circle,” was in charge of bin Laden's bodyguards, and served as bin Laden's personal intermediary at least for the USS Cole attack. [Newsweek, 9/20/01]
He is also thought to be a “mastermind” of that attack. Attash is reportedly planning to be one of the hijackers, but will be unable to get a US visa. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04 (B)] US intelligence had been aware of his identity as early as 1995 [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through bin Attash's presence at this meeting is later missed in January 2001. Bin Attash had been previously arrested in Yemen for suspected terror ties, but let go. [Contemporary Southeast Asia, 12/1/02] He will be captured in Pakistan by the US in April 2003. [New York Times, 5/1/03]
Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who investigators believe wanted to be the twentieth hijacker. His presence at the meeting may not have been realized until after 9/11, despite the fact that US intelligence had a picture of him next to bin Attash, and had video footage of him. [Washington Post, 7/14/02; Time, 9/15/02; Die Zeit, 10/1/02; Newsweek, 11/26/01; CNN, 11/7/02]
German police have credit card receipts indicating bin al-Shibh is in Malaysia at the same time. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] Another account noting he was photographed at the meeting further notes that he entered and left Thailand three times in the first three weeks of January 2000. [Los Angeles Times, 10/17/01] Anonymous Malaysian officials claim he is there, but US officials deny it. [Associated Press, 9/20/02] One account says he is recognized at the time of the meeting, which makes it hard to understand why he is not tracked back to Germany and the Hamburg cell with Mohamed Atta and other hijackers. [Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] Another opportunity to expose the 9/11 plot through bin al-Shibh's presence at this meeting will be missed in June. It appears bin al-Shibh and Almihdhar are directly involved in the attack on the USS Cole in October 2000 [Newsweek, 9/4/02; Washington Post, 7/14/02; Guardian, 10/15/01] , so better surveillance or follow-up from this meeting could have prevented that attack as well.
Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, an al-Qaeda agent of Iraqi nationality, may have attended this meeting, according to some documents [Newsweek, 10/7/02; Australian, 12/24/02]
, but his presence at the meeting is uncertain. [Associated Press, 10/2/02] After 9/11, he will be linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and 1995 Bojinka plot. Jordan will arrest him and let him go after the US says they don't want to take custody of him (see September 17, 2001).
Salem Alhazmi may attend the meeting, although very few accounts mention it. [Australian, 12/24/02]
US intelligence intercepts from before the meeting indicate that he had plans to attend the meeting. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
Abu Bara al Taizi, a Yemeni al-Qaeda agent, is also said to attend. He is reportedly meant to be one of the hijackers, but will be unable to enter the US due to greater scrutiny for Yemenis. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04 (B)]

More? Unnamed members of the Egyptian-based Islamic Jihad are also known to have been at the meeting. [Cox News Service, 10/21/01]
(The Islamic Jihad had merged with al-Qaeda in February 1998. [ABC News, 11/17/01]
          

January 6-9, 2000: Malaysia Provides CIA with Information on al-Qaeda Summit and Attendees

      
Hazel Evergreen, located on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is the condominium complex where the terror summit was held.
At the CIA's request, the Malaysian secret service is monitoring an important al-Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and begins passing what it knows to the CIA even before the meeting is over. Media accounts are consistent that the terrorists at the meeting are photographed and even videotaped, but there is no wiretapping or other recording of their conversations. [Newsweek, 6/2/02; Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01; Observer, 10/7/01; CNN, 3/14/02; New Yorker, 1/14/02; Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03; Stern, 8/13/03] However, Malaysian officials are not informed what to look for, and focus more on monitoring the local Malaysian and Indonesian hosts who serve as drivers than the visitors attending the meeting. [Associated Press, 9/20/02] Authorities find out what hotel Khalid Almihdhar is staying at and he and his associates are photographed there [Newsweek, 9/20/01; Observer, 10/7/01] , as well as coming and going from the condo where the meeting is held. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] On January 6, the CIA office in Malaysia begins passing details of the meeting to the CIA Counter Terrorism Center (CTC). Cofer Black, head of the CTC, orders that he be continually informed about the meeting, and CIA Director Tenet is frequently informed as well. [Stern, 8/13/03] National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, FBI Director Louis Freeh, and other top officials are briefed, but apparently President Clinton is not. [Bamford, 2004, pp 225-26] On January 7, Khalid Almihdhar and others go shopping, giving Malaysian security ample opportunity to collect information about them. They spend hours at Internet cafes, and after they leave, Malaysian intelligence searches the hard drives of the computers they used. [Australian, 12/24/02; Stern, 8/13/03] The video footage is apparently sent to US intelligence one month later (see February 2000). However, no photos or video and few details from any of this surveillance have been publicly released. It is known that some photos show Khallad bin Attash with Almihdhar, some show Fahad al-Quso next to Almihdhar, and that some photos are of Ramzi bin al-Shibh. By January 9, all the data and footage the Malaysians have collected are in the hands of the CIA. [Stern, 8/13/03; Newsweek, 9/20/01]
          

January 8-15, 2000: CIA Fails to Apprehend Hijackers in Thailand

       Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar stay in Thailand. Khallad bin Attash, who flew there with them, is met in Bangkok by two al-Qaeda operatives who give him money. Some of this money is reportedly passed on to Alhazmi and Almihdhar for their upcoming work in the US. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04] The CIA is trying to find Almihdhar, since they now know his full name and the fact that he has just come from an important al-Qaeda meeting. For six weeks, they look for him in Thailand. However, the search is unsuccessful, because, as one official puts it, “when they arrived we were unable to mobilize what we needed to mobilize.” The CIA only alerts Thailand-based CIA officers to look for these men hours after they had already arrived and disappeared into the city. However, a few days later a CIA official notifies superiors that surveillance of the men is continuing, even though the men's location is unknown. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04] Nevertheless, in February, the CIA rejects a request from foreign authorities to give assistance. The CIA gives up the search in early March when an unnamed foreign government tells the CIA that Nawaf Alhazmi has already flown to the US. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

January 8, 2000: Al-Qaeda Summit Ends; CIA Fails to Add Attendees to Watch List

       The al-Qaeda terror summit in Malaysia ends and the participants leave. Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar fly to Bangkok, Thailand, traveling under their real names. Al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash also travels with them and the three sit side by side in the airplane, but bin Attash travels under the false name “Salah Said.” [Associated Press, 9/20/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The CIA knows that a “Nawaf” has attended the meeting, but does not know his last name. Shortly afterwards, the CIA is told of this airplane flight, and the fact that the person sitting next to Almihdhar on the plane is named “Nawaf Alhazmi.” CIA Headquarters asks the NSA to put Almihdhar on their watch list. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04] However, neither Alhazmi nor Almihdhar are placed on a terror watch list. The CIA still fails to tell the FBI that Almihdhar has a valid US visa, and fails to give them Alhazmi's last name. [Stern, 8/13/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The CIA searches for the names in their databases but get no “hits.” Yet they don't search the much larger NSA databases, which had vital information on them. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04]
          

January 15, 2000: Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Travel to US Undetected

       A week after the meeting in Malaysia, hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar fly together from Bangkok, Thailand, to Los Angeles, California. [MSNBC, 12/11/01] Because the CIA has lost track of them in Thailand, no one in the US government realizes they are coming to the US. The CIA will learn this information in early March, but still will take no action. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04]
          

January 15-Early February 2000: Suspected Advance Man Helps 9/11 Hijackers Settle in San Diego

       Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar arrive in Los Angeles and stay there for two weeks. Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected al-Qaeda advance man and possible Saudi agent, arrives in Los Angeles and visits the Saudi Consulate there. According to Newsweek, “Law-enforcement officials believe al-Bayoumi may [have] a closed-door meeting with Fahad al Thumairy, a member of the consulate's Islamic and Culture Affairs Section.” [Newsweek, 7/28/03] (In March 2003, al Thumairy is stripped of his diplomatic visa and barred from entry to the US, reportedly because of suspected links to terrorism. [Washington Post, 11/23/03] ) Later that same day, al-Bayoumi goes to a restaurant and meets Alhazmi and Almihdhar. Al-Bayoumi later claims that this first contact with the hijackers is accidental. However, one FBI source later recalls that before he drives to Los Angeles that day he says he is going “to pick up visitors.” [Newsweek, 7/28/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Al-Bayoumi returns to San Diego after inviting the two hijackers to move there; Alhazmi and Almihdhar follow him there shortly thereafter. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The FBI's “best source” in San Diego says that al-Bayoumi “must be an intelligence officer for Saudi Arabia or another foreign power.” A former top FBI official working on the al-Bayoumi investigation claims: “We firmly believed that he had knowledge [of the 9/11 plot], and that his meeting with them that day was more than coincidence.” [Newsweek, 7/28/03] Al-Bayoumi helps Alhazmi and Almihdhar settle in the US. After meeting them in Los Angeles and after bringing them to San Diego, he finds them a place to live. Al-Bayoumi lives at the Villa Balboa apartments with a wife and children, and the two hijackers move into the Parkwood apartments directly across the street. [Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] It appears the lease was actually signed by Alhazmi a few months earlier. Al-Bayoumi cosigns the lease and pays $1,500 cash for their first month's rent and security deposit. Some FBI officials claim the hijackers immediately pay him back, others claim they do not. [Newsweek, 11/24/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Within days of bringing them from Los Angeles, al-Bayoumi throws a welcoming party that introduces them to the local Muslim community. [Washington Post, 12/29/01] One associate later says an al-Bayoumi party “was a big deal ... it meant that everyone accepted them without question.” [San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/25/01] He also introduces hijacker Hani Hanjour to the community a short time later. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/14/02] He tasks an acquaintance, Modhar Abdallah, to serve as their translator and help them get driver's licenses, Social Security cards, information on flight schools, and more [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/8/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

Late November 2000-January 30, 2001: Conflicting Accounts of Jarrah's Location

      
Two Ziad Jarrahs. The photo on the right is from the wreckage of Flight 93.
When Ziad Jarrah is questioned at Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on January 30, 2001, he reveals that he has been in Pakistan and Afghanistan for the previous two months and five days, and that he is returning to Florida. [Chicago Tribune, 12/13/01] Investigators also later confirm that “Jarrah had spent at least three weeks in January 2001 at an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.” [CNN, 8/1/02] However, the Florida Flight Training Center, where Jarrah has been studying for the previous six months, later says he is in school there until January 15, 2001. His family later reports he arrives in Lebanon to visit them on January 26, five days before he supposedly passes through Dubai. His father had just undergone open-heart surgery, and Jarrah visits him every day in the hospital until after January 30. Pointing out this incident, his uncle Jamal Jarrah later asks, “How could he be in two places at one time?” [Longman, 2002, pp 101-02] This is not the only example of Jarrah being in two places at the same time—there is also evidence he was in different places at once from March 1995-February 1996.
          

February 2000-Early September 2001: San Diego Neighbors to Hijackers See Mysterious Late Night Visits and Car Rides

       While Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar live in the Parkwood Apartments in San Diego in early 2000 and then again before 9/11, neighbors note unexplained late night car rides and visits. Time reports that a neighbor, “Nancy Coker, 36, saw them getting into limos late at night, even though the car that neighbors said they drove was a gray Toyota Camry, early '90s vintage. ‘A week ago, I was coming home between 12 and 1 a.m. from a club. I saw a limo pick them up. It wasn't the first time. In this neighborhood you notice stuff like that. In the past couple of months, I have seen this happen at least two or three times.’” Note the comment, “a week ago,” which is further evidence the two are living in the Parkwood Apartments again just before 9/11 (see Early September 2001) [Time, 9/24/01] Keith Link, a neighbor with a view of one of the apartments, referring to one of these hijackers, says, “People later in the evening would come and pick him up in really fancy nice cars, brand-new Lincolns. Everybody is friendly in this whole complex, except for that guy. Nobody knew him, nobody spoke to him.” Another neighbor, Sharon Flower, says, “I would see this man being picked up or dropped off at all hours of the day or night.” [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/15/01] A similar pattern is seen by neighbors when the hijackers live with FBI informant Abdussattar Shaikh in the neighborhood of Lemon Grove in late 2000. Neighbor Dave Eckler later explains, “There was always a series of cars driving up to the house late at night. Sometimes they were nice cars. Sometimes they had darkened windows. They'd stay about 10 minutes.” At the time, Eckler guesses they are selling fake IDs. [Time, 9/24/01] Neighbor Marna Adair says, “People come and go at all hours. We've always thought there was something strange going on there.” Her daughter Denise Adair adds, “We thought it was a little weird, but we never thought this [i.e., the 9/11 attacks].” [Associated Press, 9/16/01 (D)] There has never been any media speculation as to the meaning of these late night rides and official 9/11 investigations have never mentioned the issue.
          

February 2000: CIA Obtains Videotape of Al-Qaeda Summit Malaysia, But Express Little Interest in It

       About a month after the Malaysia al-Qaeda summit attended by hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and others (see January 5-8, 2000), “The CIA obtain[s] a surveillance videotape” from Malaysian intelligence “that shows men arriving at the meeting, according to a US intelligence official. The tape, he said, has no sound and [isn't] viewed as very significant at the time.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01] Contents of the tape, which might definitively prove who was at the meeting, have never been made public.
          

Early February-Summer 2000: Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Live Openly in San Diego

      
Nawaf Alhazmi in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book.
Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move to San Diego and live there openly. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Hijacker Hani Hanjour joins them as a roommate in February 2000 but apparently does not stay long. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/21/01; San Diego Channel 10, 9/18/01] The hijackers use their real names on their rental agreement [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] , driver's licenses, Social Security cards, credit cards [Newsweek, 6/2/02] , car purchase, and bank account. Alhazmi is even listed in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01; Newsweek, 6/2/02] Neighbors notice odd behavior: They have no furniture, they are constantly using cell phones on the balcony, constantly playing flight simulator games, keep to themselves, and strange cars and limousines pick them up for short rides in the middle of the night. [Washington Post, 9/30/01; Time, 9/24/01; Time, 9/24/01 (B)]
          

February 6, 2000: Apparent Mossad Attempt to Infiltrate al-Qaeda Thwarted

      
Ephrahim Halevy is head of the Israeli Mossad from 1998 to 2002.
India's largest newsweekly reports that it appears a recent Mossad attempt to infiltrate al-Qaeda failed when undercover agents were stopped on their way to Bangladesh by Indian customs officials. These 11 men appeared to be from Afghanistan, but had Israeli passports. One expert states, “It is not unlikely for Mossad to recruit 11 Afghans in Iran and grant them Israeli citizenship to penetrate a network such as bin Laden's. They would begin by infiltrating them into an Islamic radical group in an unlikely place like Bangladesh.” [The Week, 2/6/00]
          

March 2000: Clinton Attempt to Fight Terrorism Financing Defeated by Republican

       The Clinton administration begins a push to fight terrorism financing by introducing a tough anti-money laundering bill. The bill faces tough opposition, mostly from Republicans and lobbyists who enjoy the anonymity of offshore banking, which would be affected by the legislation. Despite passing the House Banking Committee by a vote of 31 to 1 in July 2000, Senator Phil Gramm (R) refuses to let the bill come up for a vote in his Senate Banking Committee. [Time, 10/15/01] Other efforts begun at this time to fight terrorism financing are later stymied by the new Bush administration in February 2001.
          

Spring 2000: Payments to Suspected Hijacker Associate Increase Significantly

       According to leaks from the still-classified part of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, monthly payments to Omar al-Bayoumi increase significantly at this time. Al-Bayoumi has been receiving a salary from the Saudi civil authority of about $500 a month. However, shortly after hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move to San Diego, al-Bayoumi's salary increases to about $3,000 to $3,500 a month [New York Times, 7/29/03 (B)] It is not clear whether this pay spike is from his Dallah Avco job, or an additional payment by the Saudi government [New York Times, 7/29/03 (B); New York Times, 8/2/03] , but the pay spike appears to be a separate stream of money, because another report indicates his Dallah Avco job started with $3,000 a month payments and remained consistent. [Wall Street Journal, 8/11/03] It also fits in with his claims to acquaintances at the time that he is receiving a regular government scholarship. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02]
          

Spring 2000: Saudi Suggestion to Track bin Laden's Stepmother in Planned Meeting with bin Laden Is Rejected

       Sources who know bin Laden later claim that his stepmother has a second meeting with her stepson in Afghanistan (her first visit took place in the spring of 1998). The trip is approved by the Saudi royal family. The Saudis pass the message to him that “ ‘they wouldn't crack down on his followers in Saudi Arabia’ as long as he set his sights on targets outside the desert kingdom.” In late 1999, the Saudi government had told the CIA about the upcoming trip, and suggested placing a homing beacon on her luggage. This does not happen—Saudis later claim they weren't taken seriously, and Americans claim they never received specific information on her travel plans. [New Yorker, 11/5/01; Washington Post, 12/19/01]
          

March 2000: US Intelligence Learns al-Qaeda May Attack West Coast

       The US intelligence community obtains information suggesting al-Qaeda is planning attacks in specific West Coast areas, possibly involving the assassination of several public officials. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] While these attacks do not materialize, this is the same month the CIA learns that two known al-Qaeda terrorists have just flown to Los Angeles (see March 5, 2000).
          

Spring-Summer 2000: NSA Intercepts Calls Made by Hijacker Almihdhar in US, Fails to Trace Location

       Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, while living in San Diego, telephones an al-Qaeda safe house in Yemen owned by his father-in-law (note that the facility is not named, but references in the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry report are consistent with other mentions of this safe house). This safe house has been closely monitored since 1998, as even bin Laden himself makes calls to it. The NSA intercepts these calls but doesn't realize the “Khalid” calling the safe house is calling from the US (This is only determined by an analysis of phone toll records obtained after 9/11.) The NSA had been aware of a “Khalid,” “Nawaf Alhazmi,” and his brother “Salem” having communications with this safe house in 1999. In summer 2000 there are additional communications to the safe house from “Khalid” and “Salem,” but again the NSA does not realize the meaning or importance of these calls. There may have been more communications—the section of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry dealing with these calls is heavily censored. Some, but not all, of the information about certain calls is passed on to the FBI and CIA. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

March 2000: FBI Agent Apparently Destroys bin Laden E-Mail Intercepts

       An FBI agent, angry over a glitch in an e-mail tracking program that has somehow mixed innocent non-targeted e-mails with those belonging to al-Qaeda, reportedly accidentally destroys all of the FBI's Denver-based intercepts of bin Laden's colleagues in a terrorist investigation. The tracking program is called Carnivore. However, the explanation sounds dubious and it is flatly contradicted in the same article: “A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday night that the e-mails were not destroyed.” [Associated Press, 5/28/02]
          

March 2000: Bin Laden Relative Associates With Terrorists in Philippines

       Four Arabs allegedly visit the headquarters of the Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group, deep in the jungles of the southern Philippines. One of them goes by the name Ibnu bin Laden and appears to be a close relative of Osama bin Laden. They give equipment and money. Just days later, Abu Sayyaf militants seize about 50 students and teachers and demand the release of Ramzi Yousef and Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman from US prisons in exchange for their hostages. (They are ultimately unsuccessful in winning their demands.) Osama Bin Laden's ties to Abu Sayyaf go back at least to 1988, when it is believed he personally visited the Philippines. [South China Morning Post, 10/11/01 Sources: Wahab Akbar]
          

Spring 2000: CIA Paramilitary Teams Begin Working with Anti-Taliban Forces

       Around this time, special CIA paramilitary teams begin “working with tribes and warlords in southern Afghanistan” and help “create a significant new network in the region of the Taliban's greatest strength.” [Washington Post, 11/18/01]
          

March 2000: US Intelligence Learns bin Laden May Target Statue of Liberty, Skyscrapers, Other Sites

       US intelligence obtains information about the types of targets that bin Laden's network might strike. The Statue of Liberty is specially mentioned, as are skyscrapers, ports, airports, and nuclear power plants. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
          

Spring 2000: CIA Continues Efforts to Recruit Man Close to Hamburg Cell

       German investigators finally agree to the CIA's request to recruit businessman Mamoun Darkanzali as an informant. An agent of the LfV, the Hamburg state intelligence agency, casually approaches Darkanzali and asks him whether he is interested in becoming a spy. Darkanzali replies that he is just a businessman who knows nothing about al-Qaeda or terrorism. The Germans inform the local CIA representative that the approach failed. The CIA agent persists, asking the German agent to continue to try. However, when German agents ask for more information to show Darkanzali they know of his terrorist ties, the CIA fails to give them any information. As it happens, at the end of January 2000, Darkanzali had just met with terrorist Barakat Yarkas in Madrid, Spain. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] Darkanzali is a longtime friend and business partner of Yarkas, the most prominent al-Qaeda agent in Spain. [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/03] The meeting included other suspected al-Qaeda figures, and it was monitored by Spanish police. If the CIA is aware of the Madrid meeting, they do not tell the Germans. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] A second LfV attempt to recruit Darkanzali also fails. The CIA then attempts to work with federal German intelligence officials in Berlin to “turn” Darkanzali. Results of that effort are not known. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02]
          

March 5, 2000: CIA Learn Hijackers Have Entered US; FBI Not Informed

       Thailand tells the CIA that hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi had flown from the January meeting in Malaysia to Los Angeles. Thai intelligence actually knew this the same day they flew to the US, but they didn't share the information until the CIA finally asked them about it around this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04; New York Times, 10/17/02] According to a senior FBI official, the CIA also learns about hijacker Khalid Almihdhar: “In March 2000, the CIA received information concerning the entry of Almihdhar and Alhazmi into the United States.” [Michael Rolince Testimony, 9/20/02] The CIA disputes this, however. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] A cable is immediately sent to CIA Headquarters noting (at least) that Nawaf Alhazmi has traveled to Los Angeles. The cable is marked “Action Required: None, FYI [For Your Information].” CIA Director Tenet later claims, “Nobody read that cable in the March timeframe.” [New York Times, 10/17/02] Yet the day after the cable is received, “another overseas CIA station note[s], in a cable to the bin Laden unit at CIA headquarters, that it had ‘read with interest’ the March cable, ‘particularly the information that a member of this group traveled to the US...’ ” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Yet again, CIA fails to put their names on a watch list, and again fails to alert the FBI so they can be tracked. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Senior CIA counterterrorism official Cofer Black later says, “I think that month we watch listed about 150 people. [The watch listing] should have been done. It wasn't.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

March 10, 2000: Review of Counterterrorism Efforts Show Continued Worries

       National Security Adviser Sandy Berger chairs a Cabinet-level meeting to review the wave of attempted terror attacks around the millennium. There are counterterrorism reports that disruption efforts “have not put too much of a dent” into bin Laden's overseas network, and that it is feared “sleeper cells” of terrorists have taken root in the US. Some ideas, like expanding the number of Joint Terrorism Task Forces across the US, are adopted. Others, like a centralized translation unit for domestic intercepts, are not. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] In July 2004, it is revealed that the Justice Department is investigating Berger for taking classified documents relating to this review effort out of a secure reading room in 2003. Most of the documents are returned, but a few apparently are lost. [Associated Press, 7/20/04; Washington Post, 7/22/04]
          

March 17, 2000: Bin Laden Reportedly Ill

       Reports suggest bin Laden appears weak and gaunt at an important meeting of supporters. He may be very ill with liver ailments, and is seeking a kidney dialysis machine. [Associated Press, 3/25/00] It is believed he gets the dialysis machine in early 2001. [Times of London, 11/01/01] He is able to talk, walk with a cane, and hold meetings, but little else. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 3/16/00; Asiaweek, 3/24/00] The ISI is said to help facilitate his medical treatment. [CBS News, 1/28/02]
          

March 21, 2000: Complaints About FBI Agent Are Ignored, Dubious Agent Promoted to Head FBI Investigations in Saudi Arabia

       FBI agent Robert Wright, having been accused of tarnishing the reputation of fellow agent Gamal Abdel-Hafiz, makes a formal internal complaint about Abdel-Hafiz. FBI agent Barry Carmody seconds Wright's complaint. Wright and Carmody accuse Abdel-Hafiz, a Muslim, of hindering investigations by openly refusing to record other Muslims. The FBI was investigating if BMI Inc., a New Jersey based company with connections to Saudi financier Yassin al-Qadi, had helped fund the 1998 US embassy bombings. [Wall Street Journal, 11/26/02; ABC News, 12/19/02] Federal prosecutor Mark Flessner and other FBI agents back up the allegations against Abdel-Hafiz. [ABC News, 12/19/02] Carmody also claims that Abdel-Hafiz hindered an inquiry into the possible terrorist ties of fired University of South Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian by refusing to record a conversation with the professor in 1998. [Tampa Tribune, 3/4/03] Complaints to superiors and headquarters about this never get a response. [Fox News, 3/6/03] Furthermore, “Far from being reprimanded, Abdel-Hafiz [is] promoted to one of the FBI's most important anti-terrorism posts, the American Embassy in Saudi Arabia, to handle investigations for the FBI in that Muslim country.” [ABC News, 12/19/02] Abdel-Hafiz is finally suspended in February 2003, after his scandal is widely reported in the press. [Tampa Tribune, 3/4/03] Bill O'Reilly of Fox News claims that on March 4, 2003, the FBI threatens to fire Wright if he speaks publicly about this, one hour before Wright is scheduled to appear on Fox News. [Fox News, 3/4/03]
          

March 25, 2000: Clinton Visits Pakistan Despite Fears of ISI Terror Ties

       President Clinton visits Pakistan. It is later revealed that the US Secret Service believed that the ISI was so deeply infiltrated by terrorist organizations, that it begged Clinton to cancel his visit. Specifically, the US government determined that the ISI had long-standing ties with al-Qaeda. When Clinton decided to go over the Secret Service's protestations, his security took extraordinary and unprecedented precautions. For instance, an empty Air Force One was flown into the country, and the president made the trip in a small, unmarked plane. [New York Times, 10/29/01]
          

April 2000: Atta Pays For Mysterious Passengers' Taxi Ride

       A taxi driver from Bayern, Germany, tells police after 9/11 that this month he drives three Afghanis from F?rth, Germany, to meet Mohammed Atta in Hamburg. Atta pays the approximately $650 taxi bill. Police later determine the identities of these suspicious passengers. One of them, aged 44, trained as a pilot in Afghanistan. His 33 year-old brother is another passenger. The brother had military training and had just come back from the US. Video tapes, aviation papers, and documents that are confiscated in their house are investigated after 9/11. [Focus, 9/24/01]
          

April 2000: Would-Be Hijacker Tells FBI About Plot to Fly Plane into US Building

       Niaz Khan, a British citizen originally from Pakistan, is recruited into an al-Qaeda plot. He is flown to Lahore, Pakistan, and then trains in a compound there for a week with others on how to hijack passenger airplanes. He trains on a mock cockpit of a 767 aircraft (an airplane type used on 9/11). He is taught hijacking techniques, including how to smuggle guns and other weapons through airport security and how to get into a cockpit. He is then flown to the US and told to meet with a contact. He says, “They said I would live there for a while and meet some other people and we would hijack a plane from JFK and fly it into a building.” [Times of London, 5/9/04] He has “no doubt” this is the 9/11 plot. However, Khan slips away and gambles away the money given to him by al-Qaeda. Afraid he would be killed for betraying al-Qaeda, he turns himself in to the FBI. For three weeks, FBI counterterrorism agents in Newark, New Jersey interview him. [MSNBC, 6/3/04; Observer, 6/6/04] One FBI agent recalls, “We were incredulous. Flying a plane into a building sounded crazy but we polygraphed him and he passed.” [Times of London, 5/9/04] A former FBI official says the FBI agents believed Khan and aggressively tried to follow every lead in the case, but word came from FBI headquarters saying, “Return him to London and forget about it.” He is returned to Britain and handed over to British authorities. However, the British only interview him for about two hours, and then release him. He is surprised that authorities never ask for his help in identifying where he was trained in Pakistan, even after 9/11. [MSNBC, 6/3/04] His case is mentioned in the 2002 9/11 Congressional Inquiry report, but the plot is apparently mistakenly described as an attempt to hijack a plane and fly it to Afghanistan. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
          

April-May 2000: Alhazmi and Almihdhar Are ‘Dumb and Dumber’ as Pilot Students

       On April 10, 2000, Nawaf Alhazmi takes a one hour introductory lesson at the National Air College in San Diego. Eight days later, he receives a $5,000 wire transfer in from Ali Abdul Aziz Ali in the United Arab Emirates. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02] In May, Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar arrive at Sorbi's Flying Club, a small school also in San Diego. They announce that they want to learn to fly Boeing airliners. [Washington Post, 9/30/01] They are there with someone named “Hani”—presumably hijacker Hani Hanjour—but only the two of them go up in an airplane. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01] Instructor Rick Garza says that the dream to fly big jets is the goal of practically every student who comes to the school, but he notices an unusual lack of any basic understanding of aircraft in these two. When he asks Almihdhar to draw the aircraft, Almihdhar draws the wings on backwards. Both speak English poorly, but Almihdhar in particular seems impossible to communicate with. Rather than following the instructions he was given, he would vaguely reply, “Very good. Very nice.” [Chicago Tribune, 9/30/01] The two offer extra money to Garza if he will teach them to fly multi-engine Boeing planes, but Garza declines. [Washington Post, 9/30/01] “I told them they had to learn a lot of other things first... It was like Dumb and Dumber. I mean, they were clueless. It was clear to me they weren't going to make it as pilots.” [Observer, 10/7/01]
          

April 2000: US Granted Permission to Expand Qatar Military Base

       The US obtains permission to expand greatly a military base in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, and construction begins shortly thereafter. The justification for expanding Al Adid, a billion-dollar base, is preparedness for renewed action against Iraq. [Los Angeles Times, 1/6/02] Dozens of other US military bases had sprung up in the region in the 1990s. [Village Voice, 11/13/02]
          

April 4, 2000: ISI Director Visits Washington and Is Told to Give Warning to Taliban

      
Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmed in 2000.
ISI Director and “leading Taliban supporter” Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmed visits Washington. In a message meant for both Pakistan and the Taliban, US officials tell him that al-Qaeda has killed Americans and “people who support those people will be treated as our enemies.” However, no actual action, military or otherwise, is taken against either the Taliban or Pakistan. [Washington Post, 12/19/01]
          

April 17, 2000: Arizona FBI Agent Initiates Investigation into Flight School Students, but Faces Delays

       Arizona FBI agent Ken Williams gets a tip that makes him suspicious that some flight students might be terrorists. [New York Times, 6/19/02] It appears that flight school student Zacaria Soubra is seen at a shooting range with a known jihad veteran. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01 (C)] On this day, Williams starts a formal investigation into Soubra. [Arizona Republic, 7/24/03] Soubra is the main focus of Williams's later memo. But Williams's work is greatly slowed because of internal politics and personal disputes. When he finally returns to this case in December 2000, he and all the other agents on the international-terrorism squad are diverted to work on a high-profile arson case. Says James Hauswirth, another Arizona agent, “[Williams] fought it. Why take your best terrorism investigator and put him on an arson case? He didn't have a choice.” The arson case is finally solved in June 2001 and Williams once again returns to the issue of terrorist flight school students. His memo comes out one month later instead of some time in 2000. Hauswirth writes a letter to FBI Director Mueller in late 2001, complaining, “[Terrorism] has always been the lowest priority in the division; it still is the lowest priority in the division.” Others concur that the Arizona FBI placed a low priority on terrorism cases. [Los Angeles Times, 5/26/02; New York Times, 6/19/02]
          

April 19, 2000: Reports Indicate Israeli Organized Crime Units Dominate Ecstasy Distribution

       USA Today reports that “Israeli crime groups ... dominate distribution” of Ecstasy. [USA Today, 4/19/00] The DEA also states that most of the Ecstasy sold in the US is “controlled by organized crime figures in Western Europe, Russia, and Israel.” [UPI, 10/25/01] According to DEA documents, the Israeli “art student spy ring” “has been linked to several ongoing DEA [Ecstasy] investigations in Florida, California, Texas, and New York now being closely coordinated by DEA headquarters.” [Insight, 3/11/02]
          

April 20, 2000: Some Complain Clinton Administration Focusing Too Much on Terrorism

       The Washington Post writes, “With little fanfare, [President Clinton] has begun to articulate a new national security doctrine in which terrorists and other ‘enemies of the nation-state’ are coming to occupy the position once filled by a monolithic communist superpower.” In his January 2000 State of the Union address, President Clinton predicts that terrorists and organized criminals will pose “the major security threat” to the US in coming decades. However, some claim that a “preoccupation with bin Laden has caused errors in judgment.” National Security Adviser Sandy Berger counters that the threat of large-scale terrorist attacks on US soil is “a reality, not a perception. ... We would be irresponsible if we did not take this seriously.” Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke predicts that the US's new enemies “will come after our weakness, our Achilles heel, which is largely here in the United States.” [Washington Post, 4/20/00]
          

April 24, 2000: Mohammed and Other Al-Qaeda Put on New Domestic 'No-Fly' List

       TIPOFF is a US no-fly list of individuals who should be detained if they attempt to leave or enter the US. There are about 60,000 names on this list by 9/11 (see December 11, 1999). Apparently there had been no prohibition of travel inside the US, but on this day a FAA security directive puts six names on a newly created domestic no-fly list. All six are said to be associates of bomber Ramzi Yousef, including his uncle, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. On August 28, 2001, six more names will be added to this list. Apparently all 12 names are associated with al-Qaeda or other Islamic extremist groups. 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey will later note the discrepancy of the 60,000-name list with the 12-name list and comment, “ seems to me, particularly with what was going on at the time, that some effort would have been made to make -- to produce a larger list than [only 12 names].” [9/11 Commission, 1/27/04] On the day of 9/11, two of the 9/11 hijackers will be on the 60,000-name TIPOFF list but not the 12-name domestic list, so airport security does not know to stop them from boarding the planes they hijack that day (see August 24, 2001).
          

April 30, 2000: State Department Issues Counterterrorism Report Focused on South Asia

       The State Department issues its annual report describing the US attempt to combat terrorism. For the first time, it focuses on South Asia. The New York Times notes, “The report reserves its harshest criticism for Afghanistan” and “is also severely critical of Pakistan.” However, neither country is placed on the official list of countries sponsoring terrorism, which has remained unchanged since 1993. [New York Times, 4/30/00]
          

May 2000: CIA and FBI Again Reject Sudan's Offer to Provide al-Qaeda Files

       The CIA and FBI send a joint investigative team to Sudan to investigate whether that country is a sponsor of terrorism. It determines that it is not, but the US does not take Sudan off its official list of terrorist states. As in 1995 and 1996, Sudan offers to hand over its voluminous files on al-Qaeda, and the offer is again turned down. [Guardian, 9/30/01]
          

May 17, 2000-May 2001: Bin al-Shibh US Visas Rejected, Apparently Because of Ties to USS Cole Bombing

      
Ramzi bin al-Shibh.
During these months, Hamburg al-Qaeda cell member Ramzi bin al-Shibh tries five times to get a US visa. In 2000, he tries to a get a visa once from Germany, once from Yemen, and twice using the passport of an Indonesian named Agus Budiman, but all these attempts fail. He makes a little-reported fifth attempt made in May 2001. Bin al-Shibh is in Yemen during the two months before the bombing of the USS Cole in that country, and investigators believe he is involved in that attack (see October 12, 2000). [Australian, 12/24/02; Los Angeles Times, 10/24/01] German authorities believe he is in Yemen at least the day before the attack and stays until four days after, though it isn't clear when they come to this determination. [McDermott, 2005, pp 209] Most media accounts claim that bin al-Shibh is refused a visa on economic grounds based on fears that he would overstay his visa and work in the US. One official suggests it was “only by luck” that he was turned down. [Washington Post, 7/14/02; CBS, 6/6/02] However, other accounts note that, as the London Times put it, he is “turned down on security grounds.” [London Times, 9/9/02] Specifically, it appears the US has suspicions he has ties to terrorism, and especially ties to the USS Cole bombing plot. Newsweek reports, “One senior law-enforcement official [tells] Newsweek that bin al-Shibh's efforts to obtain a US visa [are] rebuffed because of suspicions that he [is] tied to the bombing of the USS Cole.” [Newsweek, 11/26/01] The Los Angeles Times similarly notes that “FBI agents [tell] officials of the Florida flight school” that bin al-Shibh wants to attend that he is “rejected because of unspecified involvement ‘with the bombing of the USS Cole...’” Hijacker Ziad Jarrah assists bin al-Shibh with his last two visa applications, and vouches for him. [Los Angeles Times, 10/21/01] Yosri Fouda, an al-Jazeera journalist who reportedly interviews bin al-Shibh and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in 2002 (see April, June, or August 2002), also notes that according to his US intelligence sources, bin al-Shibh's visas are “turned down because he [is] implicated in the USS Cole attack.” The interviewer he tells this to notes, “That's rather odd, because if they knew that and turned him down for that reason, you'd think they would have wondered who else was at that flight school and why? Or, even more to the point they should have issued him a visa just to get him in to the United States and grabbed him for the Cole attack.” [TBS Journal, 10/02] But no other journalist has ever questioned why this information doesn't lead to the unraveling of the 9/11 plot. Not only is there the obvious visa connection to Ziad Jarrah while he is training at a US flight school, but also during this same time period bin al-Shibh wires money to Marwan Alshehhi, Zacarias Moussaoui, and others, usually using his own name. [CBS, 6/6/02]
          

May 22, 2000: German Intelligence Place Two Hijacker Associates on a German Watch List

       By early 2000, German intelligence monitoring al-Qaeda suspect Mohammed Haydar Zammar notice that Mounir el Motassadeq and Said Bahaji, members of al-Qaeda's Hamburg cell with Mohamed Atta, regularly meet with Zammar. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] In March 2000, Germany's internal intelligence service had placed Motassadeq and Bahaji on a border patrol watch list. Their international arrivals and departures are to be reported immediately. On this day, Motassadeq flies to Istanbul, Turkey, and from there goes to an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the border patrol only notes his destination of Istanbul. Bahaji does not travel, and when he finally does the week before 9/11, it isn't noted. [Der Spiegel, 2/3/03]
          

May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001: Possible al-Qaeda Sleeper Agent Repeatedly Evades Authorities

      
Nabil al-Marabh.
Nabil al-Marabh engages in many suspicious activities. He stabs his Detroit roommate in the knee during an argument on May 30, 2000. He pleads guilty in December 2000 to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. [Boston Herald, 9/20/01] He is given a six-month suspended sentence, but he fails to report to his probation officer. An arrest warrant is issued for him in March 2001. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01; Ottawa Citizen, 10/29/01] Al-Marabh lives in Detroit with an al-Qaeda agent named Yousef Hmimssa. [Boston Herald, 9/20/01; ABC News, 1/31/02] Al-Marabh receives five drivers' licenses in Michigan over a period of 13 months in addition to carrying driver's licenses for Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida, and Ontario, Canada. [Toronto Star, 10/26/01] On September 11, 2000, he obtains a Michigan license permitting him to drive semi-trucks containing hazardous materials, including explosives and caustic materials. He is still unsuccessfully trying to find a tractor-trailer driving job one month before 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01; ABC News, 1/31/02] In early 2001, he mostly lives in Toronto, Canada, with Hassan Almrei, a man running some al-Qaeda front businesses. [ABC News, 1/31/02] Many witnesses see al-Marabh with two 9/11 hijackers at his uncle's Toronto photocopy store. On June 27, 2001, al-Marabh is arrested while trying to enter the US from Canada in the back of a tractor-trailer, carrying a false Canadian passport and citizenship card. [St. Catherines Standard, 9/28/01; St. Catherines Standard, 10/2/01] He had been illegally crossing the US-Canadian border for years. [Ottawa Citizen, 10/29/01] Despite suspicions that he is connected to al-Qaeda, the US immediately deports him to Canada. [New York Times, 7/13/02] He spends two weeks in a Canadian prison, where he boasts to other prisoners that he is in contact with the FBI. He is ordered to live with his uncle in Toronto. These prisoners are puzzled that the FBI does not try to interview them about al-Marabh after 9/11. Al-Marabh fails to show up for a deportation hearing in August and for a court date in September. [St. Catherines Standard, 10/2/01] “Had Canadian security agents investigated Mr. al-Marabh when they had the chance back in June, when he was jailed by immigration authorities, they may have discovered any number of his worldwide links to convicted and suspected terrorists, including two of the [9/11 hijackers].” [Ottawa Citizen, 10/29/01]
          

Summer 2000-September 11, 2001: Illegal FBI Activity Leads to Suspension of Surveillance of al-Qaeda Suspects in US

       In the summer of 2000, Royce Lamberth, chief judge of the special federal court that reviews FISA national-security wiretaps, finds out that an FBI official is misrepresenting petitions for taps on terror suspects. An investigation is launched. From this time well into 2001, the FBI is forced to shut down wiretaps of al-Qaeda-related suspects connected to the 1998 African embassy bombing. One source familiar with the case says that about 10 to 20 al-Qaeda related wiretaps have to be shut down and it becomes more difficult to get permission for new FISA wiretaps. Newsweek notes, “The effect [is] to stymie terror surveillance at exactly the moment it was needed most: requests from both Phoenix [with the Ken Williams memo] and Minneapolis [with Zacarias Moussaoui's arrest] for wiretaps [will be] turned down [by FBI superiors].” [Newsweek, 5/27/02]
          

June 2000: Multiple Web Domains Related to 2001 and/or WTC Terrorist Attack Are Registered

       Around this time, a number of very suspicious web domains are registered, including the following: attackamerica.com, attackonamerica.com, attackontwintowers.com, august11horror.com, august11terror. com, horrorinamerica.com, horrorinnewyork.com, nycterroriststrike.com, pearlharborinmanhattan.com, terrorattack2001.com, towerofhorror.com, tradetowerstrike.com, worldtradecenter929.com, worldtrade-centerbombs.com, worldtradetowerattack.com, worldtradetowerstrike.com, and wterroristattack2001. com. A counterterrorism expert says, “It's unbelievable that [the registration company] would register these domain names” and “if they did make a comment to the FBI, it's unbelievable that the FBI didn't react to it.” Several of the names mention 2001 and, apparently, there were no other websites mentioning other years. Registering a site requires a credit card, so presumably, this story could provide leads, but it is unclear what leads the FBI gets from this, if any. No sites are active on 9/11. [Cybercast News Service, 9/19/01] All of the domain name registrations had expired around June 2001. [Cybercast News Service, 9/20/01] This story is later called an “urban legend,” but the debunkers are later themselves criticized. [Insight, 3/11/02]
          

June 2000: Hijackers Open Many Bank Accounts in Florida; Transactions Not Followed

       Mohamed Atta and other hijackers begin to open bank accounts in Florida. At least 35 accounts are opened, 14 of them at SunTrust Bank. All are opened with fake social security numbers (some with randomly made up numbers), yet none of the accounts are checked or questioned by the banks. [New York Times, 7/10/02] One transfer from the United Arab Emirates three months later totaling $69,985 prompts the bank to make a “suspicious transaction report” to the US Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Apparently, no investigation into this transaction occurs. [Financial Times, 11/29/01]
          

Summer 2000: Saeed Sheikh Frequently Calls the ISI Director

       In 2002, French author Bernard-Henri Levy is presented evidence by government officials in New Delhi, India, that Saeed Shiekh makes repeated calls to ISI Director Mahmood Ahmed during the summer of 2000. Later, Levy gets unofficial confirmation from sources in Washington regarding these calls that the information he was given in India is correct. He notes that someone in the United Arab Emirates using a variety of aliases sends Mohamed Atta slightly over $100,000 between June and September of this year (see June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000), and the timing of these phone calls and the money transfers may have been the source of news reports that Mahmood Ahmed ordered Saeed Sheikh to send $100,000 to Mohamed Atta (see October 7, 2001). However, he also notes that there is evidence of Sheikh sending Atta $100,000 in August 2001 (see Early August 2001), so the reports could refer to that, or both $100,000 transfers could involve Mahmood Ahmed, Saeed Sheikh, and Mohamed Atta. [Who Killed Daniel Pearl? by Bernard-Henri Levy, 2003, pp 320-324]
          

Summer-December 2000: FBI Asset Withholds Information About 9/11 Hijackers Living in His San Diego House

      
Abdussattar Shaikh's house in Lemon Grove, California.
Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move to the house of Abdussattar Shaikh in San Diego. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16/01] Shaikh, a local Muslim leader, is later revealed to be a “tested” undercover “asset” working with the local FBI. [Newsweek, 9/9/02] Shaikh inexplicably fails to tell his FBI handler important details about the hijackers and appears to be lying about many matters concerning them. In early media reports, the two are said to have moved in around September [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01; San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16/01; Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01] but the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry implies that Shaikh lied about this, and they moved in much earlier. Alhazmi stays until December; Almihdhar appears to be mostly out of the US after June. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Neighbors claim that Mohamed Atta is a frequent visitor, and Hani Hanjour visits as well. [Chicago Tribune, 9/30/01; Associated Press, 9/29/01; Las Vegas Review Journal, 10/26/01; San Diego Channel 10, 9/27/01; San Diego Channel 10, 10/11/01] However, Shaikh denies Atta's visits, the FBI never mentions them, and the media appears to have forgotten about them. [Associated Press, 9/29/01] Echoing reports from their first apartment, neighbors witness strange late night visits with Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [Associated Press, 9/16/01 (D)] For instance, one neighbor says, “There was always a series of cars driving up to the house late at night. Sometimes they were nice cars. Sometimes they had darkened windows. They'd stay about 10 minutes.” [Time, 9/24/01 (B)]
          

Summer 2000: San Diego Hijackers Meet Atta and Al-Bayoumi

       Anonymous government sources later claim that Mohamed Atta visits fellow hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, and Omar al-Bayoumi. These same sources claim al-Bayoumi is identified after September 11 as an “advance man” for al-Qaeda. [Washington Times, 11/26/02] Other reports have suggested Atta visited Alhazmi and Almihdhar in San Diego, but the FBI has not confirmed this. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
          

June 10, 2000: Almihdhar Flies from San Diego to Germany; Return Date Unclear

       Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar flies from San Diego to Frankfurt, Germany. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Authorities later believe that Almihdhar visits his cousin-in-law Ramzi bin al-Shibh and bin al-Shibh's roommate Mohamed Atta and other al-Qaeda members in bin al-Shibh's terrorist cell. However, since the CIA fails to notify Germany about their suspicions of either Almihdhar or bin al-Shibh, both of whom were seen attending the al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia in January, German police fail to monitor them and another chance to uncover the 9/11 plot is missed. [Die Zeit, 10/1/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] FBI Director Mueller and the congressional inquiry into 9/11 will claim that Almihdhar does not return to the US for over a year [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02] , despite obvious evidence to the contrary. For instance, an FBI agent is told Khalid Almihdhar is in the room when he calls Almihdhar's landlord in autumn 2000 and there are indications Almihdhar attends a flight school in Arizona in early 2001. [Arizona Republic, 9/28/01]
          

June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000: Hijackers Receive $100,000 in Funding from United Arab Emirates Location

       Someone using the aliases “Isam Mansour,” “Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hisawi,” “Mr. Ali,” and “Hani (Fawaz Trdng)” sends a total of $109,910 to the 9/11 hijackers in a series of transfers between these dates. [MSNBC, 12/11/01; Newsweek, 12/2/01; New York Times, 12/10/01; Financial Times, 11/30/01; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02] The money is sent from Sharjah, an emirate in the United Arab Emirates that is allegedly a center for al-Qaeda's illegal financial dealings. The identity of this moneyman “Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi” is in dispute. It has been claimed that the name “Mustafa Ahmed” is an alias used by Saeed Sheikh, a known ISI and al-Qaeda agent who sends the hijackers money in August 2001. [CNN, 10/6/01] India claims that Pakistani ISI Director Mahmood orders Saeed to send the hijackers the money at this time. [Frontline, 10/6/01; Daily Excelsior, 10/18/01] French author Bernard-Henri Levy claims to have evidence from sources inside both Indian and US governments of phone calls between Sheikh and Mahmood during this same time period, and he sees a connection between the timing of the calls and the money transfers (see Summer 2000). [Who Killed Daniel Pearl? by Bernard-Henri Levy, pp 320-324] FBI Director Mueller's theory is that this money is sent by “Ali Abdul Aziz Ali.” However, of the four aliases used in the different transactions, Mueller connects this man only to three, and not to the alias “Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hisawi.” [New York Times, 12/10/01; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02; Associated Press, 9/26/02] It appears that most of the money is sent to an account shared by Marwan Alshehhi and Mohamed Atta, who would obtain money orders and distribute the money to the other hijackers. [CNN, 10/1/01; MSNBC, 12/11/01; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02] The New York Times later suggests that the amount passed from “Mustafa Ahmed” to the Florida bank accounts right up until the day before the attack is around $325,000. The rest of the $500,000-$600,000 they receive for US expenses comes from another, still unknown source. [New York Times, 7/10/02]
          

July 2000: Taliban Bans Poppy Growing

       In response to Western pressure, the Taliban bans poppy growing in Afghanistan. As a result, the opium yield drops dramatically in 2001, from 3,656 tons to 185 tons. Of that, 83 percent is from Northern Alliance-controlled lands. However, the effect isn't that great because there is a surplus in the West, and it is believed the Taliban have a large stockpile as well. [Guardian, 2/21/02; Reuters, 3/3/02; Observer, 11/25/01]
          

July 2000: Potential Informant Ignored by Australian and US Authorities

      
Jack Roche.
Jack Roche, an Australian Caucasian Muslim, tries to inform on al-Qaeda for Australia or the US, but is ignored. In April, Roche returned from a trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Malaysia, where he took an explosives training course and met with bin Laden, Mohammed Atef, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and other top al-Qaeda leaders. In Pakistan, Mohammed discussed attacking US jets in Australia and gave Roche money to start an al-Qaeda cell in Australia. Roche also met Hambali in Malaysia and was given more money there. Early this month, he tries to call the US embassy in Australia, but they ignore him. He then tries to contact the Australian intelligence agency several times, but they too ignore him. In September 2000, his housemate also tries to contact Australian intelligence about what he has learned from Roche but his call is ignored as well. Australian Prime Minister John Howard later acknowledges that authorities made a “very serious mistake” in ignoring Roche, though he also downplays the importance of Roche's information. Roche is later sentenced to nine years in prison for conspiring with al-Qaeda to blow up an Israeli embassy. [BBC, 6/1/04; Los Angeles Times, 6/7/04]
          

August 12, 2000: Italian Intelligence Wiretap of al-Qaeda Terrorist Cell Reveals Massive Aircraft-based Strike

       Italian intelligence successfully wiretap the al-Qaeda terrorist cell in Milan, Italy from late 1999 until summer 2001. [Boston Globe, 8/4/02] In a wiretapped conversation from this day, suspected Yemeni terrorist Abdulsalam Ali Abdulrahman tells wanted Egyptian terrorist Es Sayed about a massive strike against the enemies of Islam involving aircraft and the sky, a blow that “will be written about in all the newspapers of the world. This will be one of those strikes that will never be forgotten. ... This is a terrifying thing. This is a thing that will spread from south to north, from east to west: The person who came up with this program is a madman from a madhouse, a madman but a genius.” In another conversation, Abdulrahman tells Es Sayed: “I'm studying airplanes. I hope, God willing, that I can bring you a window or a piece of an airplane the next time we see each other.” The comment is followed by laughter. Beginning in October 2000, FBI experts will help Italian police analyze the intercepts and warnings. Neither Italy nor the FBI understands their meaning until after 9/11, but apparently, the Italians understand enough to give the US an attack warning in March 2001. [Los Angeles Times, 5/29/02; Guardian, 5/30/02; Washington Post, 5/31/02] The Milan cell “is believed to have created a cottage industry in supplying false passports and other bogus documents.” [Boston Globe, 8/4/02]
          

September-October 2000: Moussaoui Visits Malaysia After CIA Stops Surveillance There

      
Yazid Sufaat.
Zacarias Moussaoui visits Malaysia twice, and stays at the very same condominium where the January al-Qaeda meeting was held. [CNN, 8/30/02; Los Angeles Times, 2/2/02; Washington Post, 2/3/02] After that meeting, Malaysian intelligence keeps watch on the condominium at the request of the CIA. However, the CIA stops the surveillance before Moussaoui arrives, spoiling a chance to expose the 9/11 plot by monitoring Moussaoui's later travels. The Malaysians later say they were surprised by the CIA's lack of interest. “We couldn't fathom it, really,” Rais Yatim, Malaysia's Legal Affairs minister, told NEWSWEEK. “There was no show of concern.” [Newsweek, 6/2/02] While Moussaoui is in Malaysia, Yazid Sufaat, the owner of the condominium, signs letters falsely identifying Moussaoui as a representative of his wife's company. [Reuters, 9/20/02; Washington Post, 2/3/02] When Moussaoui is later arrested in the US about one month before the 9/11 attacks, this letter in his possession could have led investigators back to the condominium and the connections with the January 2000 meeting attended by two of the hijackers. [USA Today, 1/30/02] Moussaoui's belongings also contained phone numbers that could have linked him to Ramzi bin al-Shibh (and his roommate, Mohamed Atta), another participant in the Malaysian meeting. [Associated Press, 12/12/01 (B)]
          

Autumn 2000: FBI Informant Fails to Share Valuable Information on Hijackers

      
Abdussattar Shaikh.
While hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar live in the house of an FBI informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, the informant continues to have contact with his FBI handler. The handler, Steven Butler, later claims that during summer Shaikh mentions the names “Nawaf” and “Khalid” in passing and that they are renting rooms from him. [Newsweek, 9/9/02; Associated Press, 7/25/03 (B); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] On one occasion, Shaikh tells Butler on the phone he cannot talk because Khalid is in the room. [Newsweek, 9/9/02] Shaikh tells Butler they are good, religious Muslims who are legally in the US to visit and attend school. Butler asks Shaikh for their last names, but Shaikh refuses to provide them. Butler is not told that they are pursuing flight training. Shaikh tells Butler that they are apolitical and have done nothing to arouse suspicion. However, according to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, he later admits that Alhazmi has “contacts with at least four individuals [he] knew were of interest to the FBI and about whom [he] had previously reported to the FBI.” Three of these four people are being actively investigated at the time the hijackers are there. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The report mentions Osama Mustafa as one, and Shaikh admits that suspected Saudi agent Omar al-Bayoumi was a friend. [Los Angeles Times, 7/25/03; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The FBI later concludes Shaikh is not involved in the 9/11 plot, but they have serious doubts about his credibility. After 9/11 he gives inaccurate information and has an “inconclusive” polygraph examination about his foreknowledge of the 9/11 attack. The FBI believes he has contact with hijacker Hani Hanjour, but he claims not to recognize him. There are other “significant inconsistencies” in Shaikh's statements about the hijackers, including when he first met them and later meetings with them. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry later concludes that had the informant's contacts with the hijackers been capitalized upon, it “would have given the San Diego FBI field office perhaps the US intelligence community's best chance to unravel the September 11 plot.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The FBI later tries to prevent Butler and Shaikh from testifying before the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry in October 2002. Butler ends up testifying but Shaikh does not. [Washington Post, 10/11/02 (B)]
          

September 2000: PNAC Report Recommends Policies That Need New Pearl Harbor for Quick Implementation

      
People involved in the 2000 PNAC report (from top left): Vice President Cheney, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Cheney Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Und
PNAC drafts a strategy document, “Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” for George W. Bush's team before the 2000 Presidential election. The document was commissioned by future Vice President Cheney, future Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, future Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Florida Governor Jeb Bush (Bush's brother), and future Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. The document outlines:
A “blueprint for maintaining global US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.”

PNAC states further, “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”

PNAC calls for the control of space through a new “US Space Forces,” the political control of the Internet, and the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies, and advocates “regime change” in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran, and other countries.

It also mentions that “advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”

However, PNAC complains that the desired changes are likely to take a long time, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03]
This strategy document clearly demonstrates that Bush and/or the leading members of his administration planned to attain military control of Persian Gulf oil whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power and sought to retain control of the region even if there is no threat. Notably, while Cheney commissioned this plan (along with other future key leaders of the Bush administration), he defends Bush's position of maintaining Clinton's policy not to attack Iraq, during an NBC interview in the midst of the 2000 presidential campaign, asserting that the US should not act as though “we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments.” [Washington Post, 1/12/02] A British Member of Parliament will later say of the report: “This is a blueprint for US world domination—a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world.” [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02] Both PNAC and its strategy plan for Bush are almost virtually ignored by the media until a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war.
          

September-October 2000: Predator Flights over Afghanistan Are Initiated Then Halted

      
Footage from a Predator drone apparently shows bin Laden surrounded by security.
An unmanned spy plane called the Predator begins flying over Afghanistan, showing incomparably detailed real-time video and photographs of the movements of what appears to be bin Laden and his aides. It flies successfully over Afghanistan 16 times. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04] President Clinton is impressed by a two-minute video of bin Laden crossing a street heading toward a mosque. Bin Laden is surrounded by a team of a dozen armed men creating a professional forward security perimeter as he moves. The Predator has been used since 1996, in the Balkans and Iraq. One Predator crashes on takeoff and another is chased by a fighter, but it apparently identifies bin Laden on three occasions. Its use is stopped in Afghanistan after a few trials, mostly because seasonal winds are picking up. It is agreed to resume the flights in the spring, but the Predator fails to fly over Afghanistan again until after 9/11. [Clarke, 2004, pp 220-21; Washington Post, 12/19/01] On September 15, 2001, CIA Director Tenet apparently inaccurately tells President Bush, “The unmanned Predator surveillance aircraft that was now armed with Hellfire missiles had been operating for more than a year out of Uzbekistan to provide real-time video of Afghanistan.” [Washington Post, 1/29/02]
          
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