The Center for Cooperative Research
U:     P:    
Not registered yet? Register here
 
Search
 
Current timeline only
Advanced Search


Main Menu
Home 
History Engine Sub-Menu
Timelines 
Entities 
Forum 
Miscellaneous Sub-Menu
Donate 
Links 
End of Main Menu

Volunteers Needed!
Submit a timeline entry
Donate: If you think this site is important, please help us out financially. We need your help!
Email updates
 



  View mode (info):
  Ordering (info):
  Time period (info):

Before 9/11

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

Al-Qaeda Members

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

Geopolitics and 9/11

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

Day of 9/11

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

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan (49)
Investigations (166)
9/11 Congressional Inquiry (0)
9/11 Commission (0)
Other 9/11 Investigations (0)
Other events (79)
Click here to join: Suggest changes to existing data, add new data to the website, or compile your own timeline. More Info >>

 

Complete 911 Timeline

 
  

Project: Complete 911 Timeline

Export to XML Printer Friendly View Email to a Friend Increase Text Size Decrease Text Size


Showing 51-150 of 1705 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100    next 100

1994-September 2001: Evidence of Al-Qaeda Connections in Arizona Obtained by Local Agents Repeatedly Ignored by FBI Headquarters

       By 1990, Arizona became one of the main centers in the US for radical Muslims, and it remains so throughout this period. However, terrorism remains a low priority for the Phoenix, Arizona, FBI office. Around 1990, al-Qaeda operative Hani Hanjour moves to Arizona for the first time and he spends much of the next decade in the state. The FBI apparently remains oblivious of Hanjour, though one FBI informant claims that by 1998 they “knew everything about the guy.” [New York Times, 6/19/02] In 1994, the Phoenix FBI office uncovers startling evidence connecting Arizona to radical Muslim militants. The office videotapes two men trying to recruit a Phoenix FBI informant to be a suicide bomber. One of the men is linked to al-Qaeda leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. [Los Angeles Times, 5/26/02; New York Times, 6/19/02] In 1998, the office's international terrorism squad investigates a possible Middle Eastern extremist taking flight lessons at a Phoenix airport. FBI agent Ken Williams initiates an investigation into the possibility of Islamic militants learning to fly aircraft, but he has no easy way to query a central FBI database about similar cases. Because of this and other FBI communication problems, he remains unaware of most US intelligence reports about the potential use of airplanes as weapons, as well as other, specific FBI warnings issued in 1998 and 1999 concerning Islamic militants training at US flight schools. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Williams, William Safire, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman
          

Early 1994-January 1995: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Receives Financial Support in the Philippines

      
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in a 1998 FBI wanted poster.
9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed lives in the Philippines for a year, planning Operation Bojinka until the plot is exposed in January 1995 and he has to flee (see January 6, 1995). Police later say he lives a very expensive and non-religious lifestyle. He goes to karaoke bars and go-go clubs, dates go-go dancers, stays in four-star hotels, and takes scuba diving lessons. Once he rents a helicopter just to fly it past the window of a girlfriend's office in an attempt to impress her. This appears to be a pattern; for instance, he has a big drinking party in 1998. [Los Angeles Times, 6/24/02] Officials believe his obvious access to large sums of money indicate that some larger network is backing him by this time. [Los Angeles Times, 6/6/02] It has been suggested that Mohammed, a Pakistani, is able “to operate as he please[s] in Pakistan” during the 1990s [Los Angeles Times, 6/24/02] , and he is linked to the Pakistani ISI. His hedonistic time in the Philippines resembles reports of hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi in the Philippines in 1998-2000 . Mohammed returns to the Philippines occasionally, and he is even spotted there after 9/11. [Knight Ridder, 9/9/02] He is almost caught while visiting an old girlfriend there in 1999, and fails in a second plot to kill the Pope when the Pope cancels his visit to the Philippines that year. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02; Times of London, 11/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Operation Bojinka, Mohamed Atta, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Marwan Alshehhi
          

March 1994: FBI Begins to Focus on Radical Fundamentalism

       The FBI creates the Radical Fundamentalist Unit to investigate international radical fundamentalism, including al-Qaeda. (An FBI unit focusing on bin Laden will not be created until 1999.) [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda, Radical Fundamentalist Unit, Osama bin Laden
          

April 1994: Disgruntled Worker Tries to Fly Passenger Jet Into Memphis Building

       A flight engineer at Federal Express who is facing a potentially career-ending disciplinary hearing boards a DC-10 as a passenger, storms the cockpit with a hammer, and hits each of the three members of the cockpit crew in the head. He severely injures all of them, but they nonetheless are able to wrestled him down and regain control of the plane. Company employees claim he was trying to hit a company building in Memphis, Tennessee. [New York Times, 10/3/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Express
          

April 9, 1994: The Saudi Government Publicly Breaks with Osama bin Laden

       The Saudi government revokes bin Laden's citizenship and moves to freeze his assets in Saudi Arabia because of his support for Muslim fundamentalist movements. [PBS Frontline, 9/01; New York Times, 4/10/94] However, allegedly, this is only a public front and they privately continue to support him as part of a secret deal allegedly made in 1991 (see Summer 1991).
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden
          

August 1994-July 2001: Possible Terrorist Front Man with Saudi Backing Settles in San Diego

      
Dallah Avco logo.
A Saudi named Omar al-Bayoumi arrives in San Diego, California. He will later become well known for his suspicious connections to both some 9/11 hijackers and the Saudi government, although the 9/11 Commission asserts that it received no evidence that he was involved in terrorism or the 9/11 attacks. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04] Acquaintances in San Diego long suspect he is a Saudi government spy reporting on the activities of Saudi-born college students. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/14/02; San Diego Magazine, 9/03; Newsweek, 11/22/02] Says one witness, “He was always watching [young Saudi college students], always checking up on them, literally following them around and then apparently reporting their activities back to Saudi Arabia.” [Newsweek, 11/24/02] Just prior to moving to the US, he worked for the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation, headed by Prince Sultan. His salary in this job is approved by Hamid al-Rashid, a Saudi government official whose son, Saud al-Rashid, is strongly suspected of al-Qaeda ties (see August 15, 2002). [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Once in San Diego, al-Bayoumi tells people that he's a student or a pilot, and even claims to be receiving monthly payments from “family in India” (despite being Saudi). However, he is none of those things [Wall Street Journal, 8/11/03; Sunday Mercury, 10/21/01] In fact, as he tells some people, he receives a monthly stipend from Dallah Avco, a Saudi aviation company that has extensive ties to the same Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation. [Newsweek, 11/24/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] From early 1995 until 2002, he is paid about $3,000 a month for a project in Saudi Arabia even though he is living in the US. According to the New York Times, Congressional officials believe he is a “ghost employee” doing no actual work. The classified section of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry report notes that his payments increase significantly just after he comes into contact with two hijackers in early 2000. [New York Times, 8/2/03] The FBI is investigating possible ties between Dallah Avco and al-Qaeda. [Newsweek, 10/29/02] The firm's owner, Saudi billionaire Saleh Abdullah Kamel, has denied the accusation. [Newsweek, 7/28/03]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Saleh Abdullah Kamel, Hamid al-Rashid, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, 9/11 Commission, Abdullah, al-Qaeda, Saud al-Rashid, Omar al-Bayoumi, Dallah Avco
          

September 1994: ISI Creates the Taliban, Helps Them Begin Afghanistan Conquest

       Starting as Afghan exiles in Pakistan religious schools, the Taliban begin their conquest of Afghanistan. [MSNBC, 10/2/01] “The Taliban are widely alleged to be the creation of Pakistan's military intelligence [the ISI], which, according to experts, explains the Taliban's swift military successes.” [CNN, 10/5/96] Richard Clarke, a counterterrorism official during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations and the counterterrorism “tsar” by 9/11, later claims that not only does the ISI create the Taliban, but they also facilitate connections between the Taliban and al-Qaeda to help the Taliban achieve victory. [Clarke, 2004, pp 53] An edition of the Wall Street Journal will state in November 2001, “Despite their clean chins and pressed uniforms, the ISI men are as deeply fundamentalist as any bearded fanatic; the ISI created the Taliban as their own instrument and still support it.” [Asia Times, 11/15/01] ISI support of the Taliban is backed by the CIA. A long-time regional expert with extensive CIA ties later says, “I warned them that we were creating a monster.” He adds that even years later, “the Taliban are not just recruits from ‘madrassas’ (Muslim theological schools) but are on the payroll of the ISI.” [Times of India, 3/7/01] The same claim is made on CNN in February 2002. [CNN, 2/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Taliban
          

September 11, 1994: Suicidal Man Attempts to Crash Small Airplane into White House

      
Frank Corder piloted this Cessna, which crashed into the White House lawn and skidded up to the side of the building.
A suicidal and apparently apolitical pilot named Frank Corder steals a single-engine plane from an airport north of Baltimore, Maryland, and attempts to crash it into the White House. He crashes into a wall two stories below the presidential bedroom (President Clinton is not there at the time). Corder is killed on impact. . [Time, 9/26/94; New York Times, 10/3/01] A Time magazine story shortly after the incident notes, “The unlikely incident confirmed all too publicly what security officials have long feared in private: the White House is vulnerable to sneak attack from the air. ‘For years I have thought a terrorist suicide pilot could readily divert his flight from an approach to Washington to blow up the White House,’ said Richard Helms, CIA director from 1966 to 1972.” The article further notes that an attack of this type had been a concern since 1974, when a disgruntled US Army private staged an unauthorized helicopter landing on the South Lawn. Special communcations lines were established between the Secret Service and Washington's National Airport control tower to the Secret Service operations center, but the line is ineffective in this case because no flight controller pays attention to the flight in time. [Time, 9/26/94]
People and organizations involved: Richard Helms, Secret Service, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Frank Corder
          

November 1994-December 1999: 9/11 Funder Saeed Sheikh Is Captured; Makes Connections in Indian Prison

      
Saeed in an Indian hospital shortly after being arrested in 1994. He was shot while being captured.
Saeed Sheikh is imprisoned in India for kidnapping Westerners. While there, he meets Aftab Ansari, another prisoner, an Indian gangster who will be released from prison near the end of 1999. [India Today, 2/25/02] Saeed also meets another prisoner named Asif Raza Khan, who also is released in 1999. [Rediff, 11/17/01] After Saeed is rescued from prison at the end of 1999, he works with Ansari and Khan to kidnap Indians and then uses some of the profits to fund the 9/11 attacks. [India Today, 2/14/02; Frontline, 2/2/02] Saeed also becomes good friends with prisoner Maulana Masood Azhar, a militant with al-Qaeda connections. [Sunday Times, 4/21/02] Saeed will later conduct operations together with Azhar's group, Jaish-e-Mohammed. [Independent, 2/26/02]
People and organizations involved: Saeed Sheikh, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Maulana Masood Azhar, Aftab Ansari, Asif Raza Khan
          

December 12, 1994: Operation Bojinka Trial Run Fails, but Kills One

      
One of Ramzi Yousef's timers seized by Philippines police in January 1995.
Ramzi Yousef attempts a trial run of Operation Bojinka, planting a small bomb on a Philippine Airlines flight to Tokyo, and disembarking on a stopover before the bomb is detonated. The bomb explodes, killing one man and injuring several others. It would have successfully caused the plane to crash if not for the heroic efforts of the pilot. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Operation Bojinka, Ramzi Yousef
          

December 16, 1994-May 1995: Osama's Brother-in-Law Held in US, Then Let Go Despite Ties to Islamic Militancy

      
Mohammed Jamal Khalifa.
Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, a brother-in-law to bin Laden, is arrested in the US. Khalifa, who financed the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the Philippines, has recently been sentenced to death in Jordan for funding a group that staged a series of bombings in that country. The FBI finds and quickly translates literature in Khalifa's luggage advocating training in assassination, explosives, and weapons, bombing churches, and murdering Catholic priests. Over the next weeks, they discover his ties to funding bin Laden's activities, as well as to Ramzi Yousef and other Operation Bojinka plotters (see December 16, 1994-February 1995). [New York Times, 5/2/02 (B); Lance, 2003, pp 233-35] Bin Laden could be connected to many Islamic militant activities through Khalifa's connections. Yet, in January 1995, Secretary of State Warren Christopher writes to Attorney General Janet Reno asking for Khalifa's deportation to Jordan for the sake of international cooperation against terrorism. By April, Khalifa's conviction in Jordan is overturned, and the evidence of his ties to Islamic militancy is growing. For instance, US media accounts in April allege he “bankrolls a network of Arab terrorists” including Ramzi Yousef, plus “violent Muslim extremists” in the Philippines, the Mideast, Russia, Romania, Albania, and the Netherlands. It is noted that he denies “any nefarious link with his brother-in- law, Osama bin Laden, who financed Arab volunteers to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 4/18/95; Associated Press, 4/26/95] Yet the US government's attempt to deport him to Jordan continues. Khalifa is sent to Jordan in May 1995. In a later retrial there, he is set free. Says one expert working at the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center at the time, “I remember people at the CIA who were ripsh_t at the time. Not even speaking in retrospect, but contemporaneous with what the intelligence community knew about bin Laden, Khalifa's deportation was unreal.” [New York Times, 5/2/02 (B); San Francisco Chronicle, 4/18/95; Lance, 2003, pp 233-35; Associated Press, 4/26/95] The Saudi government claims that they jailed Khalifa after 9/11, but in fact he appears to be free and running a seafood restaurant in that country. [New York Times, 5/2/02 (B); Chicago Tribune, 2/22/04]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Warren Christopher, Sheik Mohammed ibn Rashid al Maktum, Osama bin Laden, Ramzi Yousef
          

December 16, 1994-February 1995: Phone Numbers Link Bin Laden Bother-in-Law to Bojinka Plotters

       When bin Laden's brother-in-law Mohamed Jamal Khalifa is arrested in San Francisco, his phonebook and electronic organizer are found. They contain phone numbers to Bojinka plotter Wali Khan Amin Shah, associates of Bojinka plotter Ramzi Yousef, and Osama bin Laden's phone number. When the Manila apartment used by these two plotters is raided, Yousef's computer contains Khalifa's phone number. Wali Khan Shah is arrested several days later, and his phone book and phone bills contain five phone numbers for Khalifa, plus Khalifa's business card. Phone bills also show frequent telephone traffic between Khalifa and Khan's apartment in Manila in November 1994. When Yousef is arrested in February 1995 (see February 7, 1995), he has Khalifa's phone number and address, and more information on him in an encrypted computer file. Not surprisingly given all these links, Yousef is questioned about his ties to Khalifa within hours of being taken into US custody. He admits that he knew the name bin Laden, and knew him to be a relative of Khalifa's. [San Francisco Chronicle, 4/18/95; Associated Press, 4/26/95; FBI Affadavit, 4/29/02] Khalifa has already been tied to two others convicted of the 1993 WTC bombing. Yet despite these ties to Islamic militancy, and others, he will be deported from the US.
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Wali Khan Amin Shah, Ramzi Yousef, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

December 24, 1994: Al-Qaeda Connected Militants Attempt to Crash Passenger Jet into Eiffel Tower

       An Air France Airbus A300 carrying 227 passengers and crew is hijacked in Algiers, Algeria by four Algerians wearing security guard uniforms. They are members of a militant group linked to al-Qaeda. They land in Marseille, France, and demand a very large amount of jet fuel. During a prolonged standoff, the hijackers kill two passengers and release 63 others. They are heavily armed with 20 sticks of dynamite, assault rifles, hand genades, and pistols. French authorities later determine their aim is to crash the plane into the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but French Special Forces storm the plane before it can depart from Marseille. [New York Times, 10/3/01; Time, 1/2/95] Time magazine details the Eiffel Tower suicide plan in a cover story. A week later, Philipine investigators breaking up the Bojinka plot in Manila find a copy of the Time story in bomber Ramzi Yousef's possessions. Author Peter Lance notes that Yousef had close ties to Algerian Islamic militants and may have been connected to or inspired by the plot. [Lance, 2003, pp 258; Time, 1/2/95] Even though this is the third attempt in 1994 to crash an airplane into a building, the New York Times notes after 9/11 that “aviation security officials never extrapolated any sort of pattern from those incidents.” [New York Times, 10/3/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Eiffel Tower, Ramzi Yousef
          

1995-1998: Darkazanli Receives Large Sums From Saudi Intelligence Front Company

       A Saudi company called the Twaik Group deposits more than $250,000 in bank accounts controlled by Mamoun Darkazanli, a Syrian-born businessman suspected of belonging to the Hamburg, Germany, al-Qaeda cell that Mohamed Atta is also a part of. In 2004, the Chicago Tribune will reveal evidence that German intelligence has concluded that Twaik, a $100 million-a-year conglomerate, serves as a front for the Saudi Arabian intelligence agency. It has ties to that agency's longtime chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal. Before 9/11, at least two of Twaik's managers are suspected by various countries' intelligence agencies of working for al-Qaeda. One Twaik employee, who is later accused of helping to finance the financing of the 2003 Bali bombing (see October 12, 2002), repeatedly flies on aircraft operated by Saudi intelligence. In roughly the same time period, hundreds of thousands of additional dollars are deposited into Darkazanli's accounts from a variety of suspicious entities, including a Swiss bank owned by Middle Eastern interests with links to terrorism and a radical Berlin imam. Darkazanli is later accused not just of financially helping the Hamburg 9/11 hijackers, but also of helping to choose them for al-Qaeda. [Chicago Tribune, 3/31/04; Chicago Tribune, 10/12/03]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, al-Qaeda, Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, Mamoun Darkazanli, Twaik Group
          

1995-November 2001: US Lobbies India Over Enron Power Plant

       Enron's $3 billion Dabhol, India power plant runs into trouble in 1995 when the Indian government temporarily cancels an agreement. The plant is projected to get its energy from the proposed Afghan pipeline and deliver it to the Indian government. Enron leader Ken Lay travels to India with Commerce Secretary Ron Brown the same year, and heavy lobbying by US officials continue in subsequent years. By summer 2001, the National Security Council leads a “Dabhol Working Group” with officials from various cabinet agencies to get the plant completed and functioning. US pressure on India intensifies until shortly before Enron files for bankruptcy in December 2001. US officials later claim their lobbying merely supported the $640 million of US government investment in the plant. But critics say the plant received unusually strong support under both the Clinton and Bush administrations. [Washington Post, 1/19/02; New York Daily News, 1/18/02]
People and organizations involved: National Security Council, Enron, Bush administration, Clinton administration, Kenneth Lay, India, Donald L. Evans
          

1995: US Declines to Accept Sudanese Files on al-Qaeda Leaders

       The government of Sudan offers the US all its files on bin Laden. He had been living in Sudan since 1991 partly because there were no visa requirements to live there. Sudanese officials had been monitoring him, collecting a “vast intelligence database on Osama bin Laden and more than 200 leading members of his al-Qaeda terrorist network. ... [The US was] offered thick files, with photographs and detailed biographies of many of his principal cadres, and vital information about al-Qaeda's financial interests in many parts of the globe.” The US apparently declines to accept the Sudanese government's offer. After 9/11, a US agent who has seen the files on bin Laden's men in Khartoum says that some files were “an inch and a half thick.” [Guardian, 9/30/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, United States, al-Qaeda, Sudan
          

1995: French Intelligence Begin Compiling Moussaoui's Ties to Terrorism

       French intelligence begins tracking Zacarias Moussaoui, who is a French national. Over the next few years they develop a substantial dossier on him, including information demonstrating that he has links to al-Qaeda, has made several journeys to Afghanistan, and has undertaken training there at a terrorism camp. This information will be passed to the FBI's Minnesota field office (see August 22, 2001), and to the counterterrorism section at FBI headquarters in late August 2001. [Seattle Times, 7/7/02]
People and organizations involved: Zacarias Moussaoui, al-Qaeda, France
          

1995-2001: Persian Gulf Elite Go Hunting with bin Laden in Afghanistan

       After the Taliban takes control of the area around Kandahar, Afghanistan, in September 1994, prominent Persian Gulf state officials and businessmen, including high-ranking United Arab Emirates and Saudi government ministers, such as Saudi intelligence minister Prince Turki al-Faisal, frequently secretly fly into Kandahar on state and private jets for hunting expeditions. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01] General Wayne Downing, Bush's former national director for combating terrorism, says: “They would go out and see Osama, spend some time with him, talk with him, you know, live out in the tents, eat the simple food, engage in falconing, some other pursuits, ride horses. One noted visitor is Sheik Mohammed ibn Rashid al Maktum, United Arab Emirates Defense Minister and Crown Prince for the emirate of Dubai.” [MSNBC, 9/5/03] While there, some develop ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda and give them money. Both bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar sometimes participate in these hunting trips. Former US and Afghan officials suspect that the dignitaries' outbound jets may also have smuggled out al-Qaeda and Taliban personnel. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01] On one occasion, the US will decide not to attack bin Laden with a missile because he's falconing with important members of the United Arab Emirates' royal family (see February 1999).
People and organizations involved: Wayne Downing, al-Qaeda, Mullah Omar, Taliban, Osama bin Laden, Sheik Mohammed ibn Rashid al Maktum, Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, United Arab Emirates
          

January 6, 1995: Pope Assassination and Bojinka Plot to Bomb a Dozen Airplanes Is Foiled

      
A 1998 CNN map of likely flights to be hijacked in one version of Operation Bojinka.
Responding to an apartment fire, Philippine investigators uncover an al-Qaeda plot to assassinate the Pope that is scheduled to take place when he visits the Philippines one week later. While investigating that scheme, they also uncover Operation Bojinka, planned by the same people: 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02; Los Angeles Times, 6/24/02; Independent, 6/6/02] The first phase of the plan is to explode 11 or 12 passenger planes over the Pacific Ocean. [Agence France-Presse, 12/8/01] Had this plot been successful, up to 4,000 people would have been killed in planes flying to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, and New York. [Insight, 5/27/02] All the bombs would be planted at about the same time, but some would be timed to go off weeks or even months later. Presumably worldwide air travel could be interrupted for months. [Lance, 2003, pp 260-61] This phase of Operation Bojinka was scheduled to go forward just two weeks later on January 21. [Insight, 5/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi Yousef, World Trade Center, al-Qaeda, Operation Bojinka
          

January 20, 1995: First Hints of Bojinka Second Wave Revealed

      
Abdul Hakim Murad.
Philippine and US investigators learn that Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and their fellow plotters were actually planning three different attacks when they were foiled in early January. In addition to the planned assassination of the Pope, and the first phase of Operation Bojinka previously discovered, they also planned to crash about a dozen passenger planes into prominent US buildings. It is often mistakenly believed that there is one Bojinka plan to blow up some planes and crash others into buildings, but in fact these different forms of attack are to take place in two separate phases. [Lance, 2003, pp 259] Philippine investigator Colonel Rodolfo Mendoza learns about this second phase through the examination of recently captured Bojinka plotter Abdul Hakim Murad. On January 20, Mendoza writes a memo about Murad's latest confession, saying, “With regards to their plan to dive-crash a commercial aircraft at the CIA headquarters, subject alleged that the idea of doing same came out during his casual conversation with [Yousef ] and there is no specific plan yet for its execution. What the subject [has] in his mind is that he will board any American commercial aircraft pretending to be an ordinary passenger. Then he will hijack said aircraft, control its cockpit, and dive it at the CIA headquarters. He will use no bomb or explosives. It is simply a suicidal mission that he is very much willing to execute.” [Lance, 2003, pp 277-78; Insight, 5/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Rodolfo Mendoza, Ramzi Yousef, Operation Bojinka, Abdul Hakim Murad
          

January 24, 1995: Clinton Tries to Stop Terrorist Funding with Executive Order

       President Clinton issues Executive Order No. 12947, making it a felony to raise or transfer funds to designated terrorist groups or their front organizations. [White House, 1/24/95; Clarke, 2004, pp 98]
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
          

February 1995: Bojinka Second Wave Fully Revealed to Philippines Investigators; Information Given to US

      
Colonel Rodolfo Mendoza.
As Colonel Mendoza, the Philippines investigator, continues to interrogate Operation Bojinka plotter Abdul Hakim Murad, details of a post-Bojinka “second wave” emerge. Author Peter Lance calls this phase “a virtual blueprint of the 9/11 attacks.” Murad reveals a plan to hijack commercial airliners at some point after the effect of Bojinka dies down. Murad himself had been training in the US for this plot. He names the buildings that would be targeted for attack: CIA headquarters, the Pentagon, an unidentified nuclear power plant, the Transamerica Tower in San Francisco, the Sears Tower, and the World Trade Center. Murad continues to reveal more information about this plot until he is handed over to the FBI in April. [Lance, 2003, pp 278-80] He identifies approximately ten other men who met him at the flight schools or were getting similar training. They came from Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Apparently none of these pilots match the names of any of the 9/11 hijackers. However, he also gives information pointing to the al-Qaeda operative Hambali through a front company named Konsonjaya. Hambali later hosts an important al-Qaeda meeting attended by two of the 9/11 hijackers. [Associated Press, 3/5/02 (B)] Colonel Mendoza even makes a flow chart connecting many key players together, including bin Laden, bin Laden's brother-in-law Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Ramzi Yousef, and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (named as Salem Ali a.k.a. Mohmad). Philippine authorities later claim that they provide all of this information to US authorities, but the US fails to follow up on any of it. [Lance, 2003, pp 303-4] Khalifa is in US custody and released even after the Philippine authorities provide this information about him.
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Ramzi Yousef, World Trade Center, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Operation Bojinka, Sears Tower, Rodolfo Mendoza, Abdul Hakim Murad, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pentagon, Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa
          

After February 7, 1995-January 1996: Ramzi Yousef Arrest Points Investigators to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

       Shortly after bomber Ramzi Yousef is arrested, investigators discover a computer file of a letter on his laptop that is signed by “Khalid Sheikh, and Bojinka.” An eyewitness account of the arrest is given to Time magazine by a “Khalid Sheikh,” who is also staying in the same building. [McDermott, 2005, pp 154, 162] Investigators also discover that he had frequently visited Yousef's apartment in Manila, Philippines, where the bombs for the Bojinka plot were being made. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C)] They also find Yousef had written down a phone number for “Khalid Doha.” Doha is the capital of Qatar. Shortly after being apprehended, Yousef calls this number in Qatar and asks to speak to a “Khalid.” Further intelligence this year connects him to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing when records are found of money wired from a "Khaled Shaykh" in Doha, Qatar, to one of the bombing suspects several days before the bombing. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] At first, investigators don't know exactly who this person is. But there is an entry in Yousef's seized telephone directory for a Zahed Sheikh Mohammed, Yousef's uncle and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's brother. Not long after this discovery is made, Pakistani investigators raid Zahed's offices in Peshawar, Pakistan, but Zahed has already fled. Nevertheless, apparently by the end of 1995 investigators make the connection between Zahed and Khalid, and they begin to build a case against Khalid. [McDermott, 2005, pp 154, 162] The FBI successfully arranges for a photograph to be taken of Mohammed. He is positively identified from the photo in December 1995. This results in his indictment in January 1996 for his role in the 1993 WTC bombing. US intelligence labels him a “top priority,” according the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02]
People and organizations involved: Ramzi Yousef, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Zahed Sheikh Mohammed
          

February 7, 1995: Yousef Is Arrested and Talks, but Hides Operation Bojinka Second Wave and bin Laden Ties

      
Ramzi Yousef.
Ramzi Yousef is arrested in Pakistan. At the time, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is staying in the same building, and brazenly gives an interview to Time magazine as “Khalid Sheikh,” describing Yousef's capture. [Lance, 2003, pp 328] Yousef had recruited Istaique Parker to implement a limited version of Operation Bojinka. Parker was to place bombs on board two flights bound from Bangkok to the US, but got cold feet and instead turned in Yousef. [Lance, 2003, pp 284-85] The next day, as Yousef is flying over New York City on his way to a prison cell, an FBI agent says to him, “You see the Trade Centers down there, they're still standing, aren't they?” Yousef responds, “They wouldn't be if I had enough money and enough explosives.” [MSNBC, 9/23/01; Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 135] Yousef also soon admits to ties with Wali Khan Shah, who fought with bin Laden in Afghanistan, and Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, one of bin Laden's brothers-in-law, who is being held by the US at the time. Despite Yousef's confession, Khalifa is released later in the year. Although Yousef talks freely, he makes no direct mention of bin Laden, or the planned second wave of Operation Bojinka that closely parallels the later 9/11 plot. [Lance, 2003, pp 297-98]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ramzi Yousef, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Wali Khan Amin Shah, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Operation Bojinka
          

March 1995-February 1996: Hijacker Jarrah Living in New York or Lebanon?

       A man named “Ziad Jarrah” rents an apartment in Brooklyn, New York. [Longman, 2002, pp 90] The landlords later identify his photograph as being that of the 9/11 hijacker. A Brooklyn apartment lease bears Ziad Jarrah's name. [Boston Globe, 9/25/01] “Another man named Ihassan Jarrah lived with Ziad, drove a livery cab and paid the 800-dollar monthly rent. The men were quiet, well-mannered, said hello and good-bye. Ziad Jarrah carried a camera and told his landlords that he was a photographer. He would disappear for a few days on occasion, then reappear. Sometimes a woman who appeared to be a prostitute arrived with one of the men. ‘Me and my brother used to crack jokes that they were terrorists,’ said Jason Matos, a construction worker who lived in a basement there, and whose mother owned the house.” However, another Ziad Jarrah is still in his home country of Lebanon at this time. He is studying in a Catholic school in Beirut, and is in frequent contact with the rest of his family. His parents drive him home to be with the family nearly every weekend, and they are in frequent contact by telephone as well. [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/01] Not until April 1996 does this Ziad Jarrah leave Lebanon for the first time to study in Germany. [Boston Globe, 9/25/01] His family believes that the New York lease proves that there were two “Ziad Jarrahs.” [CNN, 9/18/01 (B)] Evidence seems to indicate Jarrah was also in two places at the same time from November 2000 to January 2001 (see Late November 2000-January 30, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Ziad Jarrah, Ihassan Jarrah
          

March 1995: US Ignores Information About al-Qaeda in Training Manual

       Belgian investigators find a CD-ROM of an al-Qaeda training manual and begin translating it a few months later. Versions of the manual are circulated widely and are seized by the police all over Europe. A former CIA official claims the CIA does not obtain a copy of the manual until the end of 1999: “The truth is, they missed for years the largest terrorist guide ever written.” He blames CIA reluctance to scrutinize its support for the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s. The CIA, however, claims that the manual is not that important, and that in any case it had copies for years. [CBS News, 2/20/02; New York Times, 1/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

Spring 1995: More Evidence That the WTC Remains an Target

       In the wake of uncovering the Operation Bojinka plot, Philippine authorities find a letter on a computer disc written by the plotters of the failed 1993 WTC bombing. This letter apparently was never sent, but its contents are revealed in 1998 congressional testimony. [Congressional Hearings, 2/24/98] The Manila police chief also reports discovering a statement from bin Laden around this time that, although they failed to blow up the WTC in 1993, “on the second attempt they would be successful.” [Agence France-Presse, 9/13/01]
People and organizations involved: Operation Bojinka
          

April 3, 1995: Time Magazine and Senator Highlight Author's Flying Bomb Idea

       Time magazine's cover story reports on the potential for anti-American militants to kill thousands in highly destructive acts. Senator Sam Nunn (D) outlines a scenario in which terrorists destroy the US Capitol Building by crashing a radio-controlled airplane into it. “It's not far-fetched,” he says. His idea was taken from Tom Clancy's book Debt of Honour published in August 1994. [Time, 4/3/95] High-ranking al-Qaeda leaders will claim later that Flight 93's target was the Capitol Building. [Guardian, 9/9/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Sam Nunn, World Trade Center
          

April 19, 1995: Oklahoma City Bombing; Possible Middle East Connection

       The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City is bombed. US citizen Timothy McVeigh is convicted of the bombing, but some maintain there is a Middle Eastern connection. For instance, Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, says the possibility is intriguing and he has been unable to disprove it. [Clarke, 2004, pp 127] The bombing leads to a surge in concern about terrorism. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act becomes law as a result of such concern. However, many anti-terrorism provisions Clinton seeks are not approved by the Republican-controlled Congress. Many politicians agree with the National Rifle Association that proposed restrictions on bomb-making would infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms. [Clarke, 2004, pp 98-99]
People and organizations involved: Timothy McVeigh, Richard A. Clarke, US Congress
          

May 11, 1995: FBI Memo Fails to Mention Operation Bojinka Second Wave

       FBI agents, having held Operation Bojinka plotter Abdul Hakim Murad for about a month, write a memo containing what they have learned from interrogating him. The memo contains many interesting revelations, including that Ramzi Yousef, a mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, “wanted to return to the United States in the future to bomb the World Trade Center a second time.” However, this memo does not contain a word about the second wave of Operation Bojinka— to fly about 12 hijacked airplanes into prominent US buildings—even though Murad had recently fully confessed this plot to Philippines investigators, who claim they turned over tapes, transcripts, and reports with Murad's confessions of the plot to the US when they handed over Murad. It has not been explained why this plot is not mentioned in the FBI's summary of Murad's interrogation. [Lance, 2003, pp 280-82] After 9/11, a Philippine investigator will refer to this third plot when he says of the 9/11 attacks, “It's Bojinka. We told the Americans everything about Bojinka. Why didn't they pay attention?” [Washington Post, 9/23/01] In an interview after 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will claim that the 9/11 attacks were a refinement and resurrection of this plot. [Australian, 9/9/02]
People and organizations involved: Operation Bojinka, Abdul Hakim Murad, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ramzi Yousef, World Trade Center
          

June 1995: US Considers Bombing bin Laden for Sponsoring Assassination Attempt

      
Hassan al-Turabi.
There is a failed assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as he visits Ethiopia. The CIA concludes bin Laden authorized the operation, and they plan a retaliation attack. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] Evidence suggests that the government of Sudan and Hassan al-Turabi, Sudan's leader, know where bin Laden is living and helped support the plot. The United Nations Security Council places sanctions on Sudan as a result. The US examines options for attacking bin Laden and/or al-Turabi's facilities in the Sudanese capital. The options developed by the US military are rejected for being unstealthy and a de facto war on Sudan. In the ensuing months, there are reports of Egyptian covert operations against bin Laden and an Egyptian military build-up on the Sudanese border. These factors influence bin Laden's decision to move to Afghanistan in 1996 (see May 18, 1996). [Clarke, 2004, pp 140-41]
People and organizations involved: Sudan, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Hosni Mubarak, United Nations Security Council, Hassan al-Turabi
          

July 1995: US Intelligence Report Concludes Terrorists Intent on Attacking Inside US

       A US National Intelligence Estimate concludes that the most likely terrorist threat will come from emerging “transient” terrorist groupings that are more fluid and multinational than older organizations and state-sponsored surrogates. This “new terrorist phenomenon” is made up of loose affiliations of Islamist extremists violently angry at the US. Lacking strong organization, they get weapons, money, and support from an assortment of governments, factions, and individual benefactors. [9/11 Commission Report, 4/14/04] The estimate warns that terrorists are intent on striking specific targets inside the US, especially landmark buildings in Washington and New York. . It says, “Should terrorists launch new attacks, we believe their preferred targets will be US Government facilities and national symbols, financial and transportation infrastructure nodes, or public gathering places. Civil aviation remains a particularly attractive target in light of the fear and publicity that the downing of an airline would evoke and the revelations last summer of the US air transport sector's vulnerabilities.” In 1997, the intelligence estimate is updated with bin Laden mentioned on the first page as an emerging threat and points out he might be interested in attacks inside the US. However, this new estimate is only two sentences long and lacks any strategic analysis on how to address the threat. [Associated Press, 4/16/04; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/04, p. 54]
          

September-October 1995: Unocal Obtains Turkmenistan Pipeline Deal

       Oil company Unocal signs an $8 billion deal with Turkmenistan to construct two pipelines (one for oil, one for gas), as part of a larger plan for two pipelines intended to transport oil and gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and into Pakistan. Before proceeding further, however, Unocal needs to execute agreements with Pakistan and Afghanistan; Pakistan and Ahmed Shah Massoud's government in Afghanistan, however, have already signed a pipeline deal with an Argentinean company. Henry Kissinger, hired as speaker for a special dinner in New York to announce the Turkmenistan pipeline deal, says the Unocal plan represents a “triumph of hope over experience.” Unocal will later open an office in Kabul, weeks after the Taliban capture of the capital in late 1996 and will interact with the Taliban, seeking support for its pipeline until at least December 1997. [Coll, 2004, pp 301-13, 329, 338, 364-66]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Shah Massoud, Taliban, Unocal, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Henry A. Kissinger, Pakistan
          

November 13, 1995: Al-Qaeda Bombing in Saudi Arabia, US Realizes bin Laden Is More Than Financier

      
Destruction at the Saudi National Guard training center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Two truck bombs kill five Americans and two Indians in the US-operated Saudi National Guard training center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda is blamed for the attacks. [Associated Press, 8/19/02] The attack changes US investigators' views of the role of bin Laden, from al-Qaeda financier to its leader. [Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 150] The Vinnell Corporation, thought by some experts to be a CIA front, owns the facility that was attacked. [Times of London, 5/14/03]
People and organizations involved: Vinnell Corporation, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency
          

December 1995: Caspian Sea Said to Contain Two-Thirds of World's Known Oil Reserves

       The American Petroleum Institute asserts that the states bordering the Caspian Sea, north of Afghanistan, contain two-thirds of the world's known reserves, or 659 billion barrels. Such numbers spur demand for an Afghan pipeline. However, by April 1997, estimates drop to 179 billion barrels. [Middle East Journal, 9/22/00] This is still substantial, but the estimates continue to drop in future years (see November 1, 2002).
          

Late 1995: Illness of Saudi King Generates Long-Term Power Struggle

      
King Fahd (left) with Bakh bin Laden (right), a brother of Osama bin Laden, in the mid-1990's.
King Fahd of Saudi Arabia suffers a severe stroke. Afterwards, he is able to sit in a chair and open his eyes, but little more, and recovers slowly. The resulting lack of leadership begins a behind-the-scenes struggle for power and leads to increased corruption. Crown Prince Abdullah has been urging his fellow princes to address the problem of corruption in the kingdom—so far unsuccessfully. A former White House adviser says: “The only reason Fahd's being kept alive is so Abdullah can't become king.” [New Yorker, 10/16/01] This internal power struggle persists on 9/11, and continues through at least mid-2004.
People and organizations involved: Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz
          

Late 1995: Bin Laden Said to Consider Asylum in Britain

       Osama bin Laden is said to be unhappy with his exile in Sudan, where authorities are making noises about expelling him. Consequently, he requests asylum in Britain. Several of his brothers and other relatives, who are members of the bin Laden construction empire, own properties in London. He has already transferred some of his personal fortune to London, to help his followers set up terror cells in Britain and across Europe. Bin Laden employs Khalid al-Fawwaz, a Saudi businessman described as his “de facto ambassador” in Britain, to assess his chances of moving there. British Home Secretary Michael Howard later says, “In truth, I knew little about him, but we picked up information that bin Laden was very interested in coming to Britain. It was apparently a serious request.” After Home Office officials investigate bin Laden, Howard issues an immediate order banning him under Britain's immigration laws. [London Times, 9/29/05] bin Laden ends up going to Afghanistan instead in 1996 (see May 18, 1996).
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Khalid al-Fawwaz
          

January 1996: Muslim Extremists Plan Suicide Attack on White House

       US intelligence obtains information concerning a suicide attack on the White House planned by individuals connected with Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman and a key al-Qaeda operative. The plan is to fly from Afghanistan to the US and crash into the White House. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman
          

1996: FBI Fumbles Flight School Investigation; Ten al-Qaeda Pilots Training in US

       Finding a business card for a US flight school in the possession of Operation Bojinka plotter Abdul Hakim Murad, the FBI investigates the US flight schools Murad attended. [Washington Post, 9/23/01] He had trained at about six flight schools off and on, starting in 1990. Apparently, the FBI closes the investigation when they fail to find any other potential suspects. [Insight, 5/27/02] However, Murad had already confessed to Philippine authorities the names of about ten other al-Qaeda operatives learning to fly in the US, and the Philippine authorities had asserted that they provided this information to the US. An assistant manager at a Schenectady, New York, flight school where Murad trained later recalls, “There were several [Middle Eastern pilot students] here. At one point three or four were here. Supposedly they didn't know each other before, they just happened to show up here at the same time. But they all obviously knew each other.” However, US investigators somehow fail to detect any of these suspects before 9/11, despite being given their names. [Associated Press, 3/5/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda, Abdul Hakim Murad
          

1996-December 2000: Majority of Hijackers Disappear into Chechnya

      
Saeed Alghamdi training in an Afghaninstan al-Qaeda camp.
At least 11 of the 9/11 hijackers travel to Chechnya between 1996 and 2000:
Nawaf Alhazmi fights in Chechnya, Bosnia, and Afghanistan for several years, starting around 1995. [Observer, 9/23/01; ABC News, 1/9/02; CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]

Khalid Almihdhar fights in Chechnya, Bosnia, and Afghanistan for several years, usually with Nawaf Alhazmi. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02; CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02]

Salem Alhazmi spends time in Chechnya with his brother Nawaf Alhazmi. [ABC News, 1/9/02]
He also possibly fights with his brother in Afghanistan. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
Ahmed Alhaznawi leaves for Chechnya in 1999 [ABC News, 1/9/02]
, and his family loses contact with him in late 2000. [Arab News, 9/22/01]
Hamza Alghamdi leaves for Chechnya in early 2000 [Independent, 9/27/01; Washington Post, 9/25/01]
or sometime around January 2001. He calls home several times until about June 2001, saying he is in Chechnya. [Arab News, 9/18/01]
Mohand Alshehri leaves to fight in Chechnya in early 2000. [Arab News, 9/22/01]

Ahmed Alnami leaves home in June 2000, and calls home once in June 2001 from an unnamed location. [Washington Post, 9/25/01; Arab News, 9/19/01]

Fayez Ahmed Banihammad leaves home in July 2000 saying he wants to participate in a holy war or do relief work. [Washington Post, 9/25/01; St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01]
He calls his parents one time since. [Arab News, 9/18/01]
Ahmed Alghamdi leaves his studies to fight in Chechnya in 2000, and is last seen by his family in December 2000. He calls his parents for the last time in July 2001, but does not mention being in the US. [Arab News, 9/18/01; Arab News, 9/20/01]

Waleed M. Alshehri disappears with Wail Alshehri in December 2000, after speaking of fighting in Chechnya. [Washington Post, 9/25/01; Arab News, 9/18/01]

Wail Alshehri, who had psychological problems, went with his brother to Mecca to seek help and both disappear, after speaking of fighting in Chechnya. [Washington Post, 9/25/01]

Majed Moqed is last seen by a friend in 2000 in Saudi Arabia, after communicating a “plan to visit the United States to learn English.” [Arab News, 9/22/01]
Clearly, there is a pattern: eleven hijackers appear likely to have fought in Chechnya, and two others are known to have gone missing. It is possible that others have similar histories, but this is hard to confirm because “almost nothing [is] known about some.” [New York Times, 9/21/01] Indeed, a colleague claims that hijackers Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Ziad Jarrah and would-be hijacker Ramzi Bin al-Shibh wanted to fight in Chechnya but were told in early 2000 that they were needed elsewhere. [Washington Post, 10/23/02; Reuters, 10/29/02] Reuters has reported, “Western diplomats play down any Chechen involvement by al-Qaeda.” [Reuters, 10/24/02]
People and organizations involved: Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Ziad Jarrah, Marwan Alshehhi, Majed Moqed, Ahmed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, Wail Alshehri, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Waleed M. Alshehri, Mohamed Atta, Mohand Alshehri, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ahmed Alnami, Salem Alhazmi, Ahmed Alhaznawi
          

1996: British Intelligence and al-Qaeda Allegedly Cooperate in Plot to Assassinate Libyan Leader

       Al-Muqatila, a cover for a Libyan al-Qaeda cell, tries to kill Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. Al-Qadhafi survives, but several militants and innocent bystanders are killed. [Dawn, 10/30/02] According to David Shayler, a member of the British intelligence agency MI5, and Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, authors of the controversial book The Forbidden Truth, the British intelligence agency MI6 pays al-Qaeda the equivalent of $160,000 to help fund this assassination attempt. Shayler later goes to prison for revealing this information and the British press is banned from discussing the case (see November 5, 2002). [Observer, 11/10/02; New York Times, 8/5/98 Sources: David Shayler, Jean-Charles Brisard, Guillaume Dasquie] Anas al-Liby, a member of the group, is given political asylum in Britain and lives there until May 2000 despite suspicions that he is an important al-Qaeda figure (see Late 1996-May 2000). [FBI, 2002; Observer, 11/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, Al-Muqatila, UK Security Service, UK Secret Intelligence Service, Britain, al-Qaeda
          

Early 1996: CIA Forms New Counterterrorism bin Laden Unit

       The CIA's Counter Terrorism Center creates a special unit focusing specifically on bin Laden. It is informally called Alex Station. About 10 to 15 individuals are assigned to the unit initially. This grows to about 35 to 40 by 9/11. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] The unit is set up “largely because of evidence linking [bin Laden] to the 1993 bombing of the WTC.” [Washington Post, 10/3/01 (C)] By early 1997, the unit is certain that bin Laden is not just a financier but an organizer of terrorist activity. It knows that al-Qaeda has a military committee planning operations against US interests worldwide. Although this information is disseminated in many reports, the unit's sense of alarm about bin Laden isn't widely shared or understood within the intelligence and policy communities. Employees in the unit feel their zeal attracts ridicule from their peers. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

1996: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia Said to Make Secret Deals with Taliban and al-Qaeda

       In June 2004, the Los Angeles Times will report that, according to some 9/11 Commission members and US counterterrorism officials, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia cut secret deals with the Taliban and bin Laden before 9/11. These deals date to this year, if not earlier, and will successfully shield both countries from al-Qaeda attacks until long after 9/11. “Saudi Arabia provid[es] funds and equipment to the Taliban and probably directly to bin Laden, and [doesn't] interfere with al-Qaeda's efforts to raise money, recruit and train operatives, and establish cells throughout the kingdom, commission and US officials [say]. Pakistan provide[s] even more direct assistance, its military and intelligence agencies often coordinating efforts with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, they [say].” The two countries will become targets of al-Qaeda attacks only after they launch comprehensive efforts to eliminate the organization's domestic cells. In Saudi Arabia, such efforts won't begin until late 2003. [Los Angeles Times, 6/20/04] However, such allegations go completely unmentioned in the 9/11 Commission's final report, which only includes material unanimously agreed upon by the ten commissioners. [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan, Taliban
          

1996: Saudi Regime Goes "to the Dark Side"

       The Saudi Arabian government, which allegedly initiated payments to al-Qaeda in 1991 (see Summer 1991), increases its payments in 1996, becoming al-Qaeda's largest financial backer. It also gives money to other extremist groups throughout Asia, vastly increasing al-Qaeda's capabilities. [New Yorker, 10/16/01] Presumably, two meetings in early summer bring about the change. Says one US official, “[19]96 is the key year. ... Bin Laden hooked up to all the bad guys—it's like the Grand Alliance—and had a capability for conducting large-scale operations.” The Saudi regime, he says, had “gone to the dark side.” Electronic intercepts by the NSA “depict a regime increasingly corrupt, alienated from the country's religious rank and file, and so weakened and frightened that it has brokered its future by channeling hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to protection money to fundamentalist groups that wish to overthrow it.” US officials later privately complain “that the Bush administration, like the Clinton administration, is refusing to confront this reality, even in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks.” [New Yorker, 10/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Clinton administration, National Security Agency, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia
          

Early 1996-October 1998: US Tracks bin Laden's Satellite Phone Calls

       During this period, bin Laden and Mohammed Atef, his military commander, use a satellite phone provided by a friend to direct al-Qaeda's operations. Its use is discontinued two months after a US missile strike against bin Laden's camps on August 20, 1998, when an unnamed senior official boasts that the US can track his movements through the use of the phone. [Sunday Times, 3/24/02] Records show “Britain was at the heart of the terrorist's planning for his worldwide campaign of murder and destruction.” 260 calls were made to 27 phone numbers in Britain. The other countries called were Yemen (over 200 calls), Sudan (131), Iran (106), Azerbaijan (67), Pakistan (59), Saudi Arabia (57), a ship in the Indian Ocean (13), the US (6), Italy (6), Malaysia (4), and Senegal (2). “The most surprising omission is Iraq, with not a single call recorded.” [Sunday Times, 3/24/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Mohammed Atef
          

January-May 1996: US Fails to Capture Mohammed Living Openly in Qatar

      
Abdallah al-Thani.
Since Operation Bojinka was uncovered in the Philippines (see January 6, 1995), nearly all of the plot's major planners, including Ramzi Yousef, are found and arrested. The one exception is 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. He flees to Qatar in the Persian Gulf, where he lives openly using his real name, enjoying the patronage of Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani, Qatar's Interior Minister and a member of the royal family. [ABC News, 2/7/03] In January 1996, he is indicted in the US for his role in the 1993 WTC bombing, and in the same month, the US determines his location in Qatar. FBI Director Louis Freeh sends a letter to the Qatari government asking for permission to send a team after him. [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] One of Freeh's diplomatic notes states that Mohammed was involved in a conspiracy to “bomb US airliners” and is believed to be “in the process of manufacturing an explosive device.” [New Yorker, 5/27/02] Qatar confirms that Mohammed is there and is making explosives, but they delay handing him over. After waiting several months, a high-level meeting takes place in Washington to consider a commando raid to seize him. However, the raid is deemed too risky, and another letter is sent to the Qatari government instead. One person at the meeting later states, “If we had gone in and nabbed this guy, or just cut his head off, the Qatari government would not have complained a bit. Everyone around the table for their own reasons refused to go after someone who fundamentally threatened American interests...” [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] Around May 1996, Mohammed's patron, Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani, makes sure that Mohammed and four others are given blank passports and a chance to escape. Qatar's police chief later says the other men include Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef, al-Qaeda's number two and number three leaders, respectively. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02; ABC News, 2/7/03] Bin Laden twice visits al-Thani in Qatar. [ABC News, 2/7/03; New York Times, 6/8/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Mohammed Atef, Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Louis J. Freeh
          

1996: US Intelligence Learns that Mohammed and bin Laden Have Traveled Together

       Prior to this year, US intelligence is uncertain whether Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is connected to al-Qaeda. But this changes when a foreign government shares information that bin Laden and Mohammed had traveled together to a foreign country the previous year. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda
          

March 1996: US, Sudan Squabble over bin Laden's Fate

       The US pressures Sudan to do something about bin Laden, who is currently based in that country. According to some accounts, Sudan readily agrees, not wanting to be labeled a terrorist nation. Sudan's defense minister engages in secret negotiations with the CIA in Washington. Sudan offers to extradite bin Laden to anywhere he might stand trial. Some accounts claim that Sudan offers bin Laden to the US, but the US decides not to take him because they do not have enough evidence at the time to charge him with a crime [Washington Post, 10/3/01; Village Voice, 10/31/01] Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” for both Clinton and George W. Bush, calls this story a “fable” invented by the Sudanese and Americans friendly to Sudan. He points out that bin Laden “was an ideological blood brother, family friend, and benefactor” to Sudanese leader Hassan al-Turabi, so any offers to hand him over may have been disingenuous. [Clarke, 2004, pp 142-43] (CIA Director Tenet later denies that Sudan made any “direct offers to hand over bin Laden.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02] ) The US reportedly asks Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan to accept bin Laden into custody, but is refused by all three governments. [Coll, 2004, pp 323] The 9/11 Commission later claims it finds no evidence that Sudan offers bin Laden directly to the US, but it does find evidence that Saudi Arabia is discussed as an option. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/23/04] US officials insist that bin Laden leave the country for anywhere but Somalia. One US intelligence source in the region later states: “We kidnap minor drug czars and bring them back in burlap bags. Somebody didn't want this to happen.” [Village Voice, 10/31/01; Washington Post, 10/3/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Richard A. Clarke, George Tenet, Hassan al-Turabi, Central Intelligence Agency, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Sudan, United States
          

April 1996-March 1997: Yousef Communicates with Islamic Militants from Within Maximum Security Prison Using Telephone Provided by FBI

       Ramzi Yousef, mastermind along with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed of the 1993 WTC bombing and the Operation Bojinka plots, is in a maximum-security prison, sentenced to hundreds of years of prison time for his plots. However, he can communicate with Gregory Scarpa Jr., a mob figure in the cell next to him. The FBI sets up a sting operation with Scarpa's cooperation to learn more of what and whom Yousef knows. Scarpa is given a telephone, and he allows Yousef to use it. However, Yousef uses the sting operation for his own ends, communicating with operatives on the outside in code language without giving away their identities. He attempts to find passports to get co-conspirators into the US, and there is some discussion about imminent attacks on US passenger jets. Realizing the scheme has backfired, the FBI terminates the telephone sting in late 1996, but Yousef manages to keep communicating with the outside world for several more months. [Lance, 2003, pp 280-82; New York Daily News, 9/24/00; New York Daily News, 1/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Gregory Scarpa Jr., Ramzi Yousef, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

April 1996: US and Britain Again Decline to Accept al-Qaeda Files

       As in 1995, the US again rejects Sudan's offer to turn over voluminous files about bin Laden and al-Qaeda. An American involved in the secret negotiations later says that the US could have used Sudan's offer to keep an eye on bin Laden, but that another arm of the federal government blocks the efforts. “I've never seen a brick wall like that before. Somebody let this slip up,” he says. “We could have dismantled his operations and put a cage on top. It was not a matter of arresting bin Laden but of access to information. That's the story, and that's what could have prevented September 11. I knew it would come back to haunt us.” [Village Voice, 10/31/01; Washington Post, 10/3/01] Around this time, MI6, the British intelligence agency, also rebuffs Sudan's offer to provide al-Qaeda intelligence. Sudan makes a standing offer: “If someone from MI6 comes to us and declares himself, the next day he can be in [the capital city] Khartoum.” A Sudanese government source later adds, “We have been saying this for years.” The offer is not taken up until after 9/11. [Guardian, 9/30/01]
People and organizations involved: Sudan, Clinton administration, Osama bin Laden, UK Secret Intelligence Service, al-Qaeda
          

May 1996: US Seeks Stability in Afghanistan for Unocal Pipeline

       Robin Raphel, Deputy Secretary of State for South Asia, speaks to the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister about Afghanistan. She says that the US government “now hopes that peace in the region will facilitate US business interests,” such as the proposed Unocal gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. [Coll, 2004, pp 330]
People and organizations involved: Russia, Unocal, Robin Raphel
          

May 1996: Saudis and al-Qaeda Allegedly Strike a Secret Deal

      
The Hotel Royale Monceau.
French intelligence secretly monitors a meeting of Saudi billionaires at the Hotel Royale Monceau in Paris this month with the financial representative of al-Qaeda. “The Saudis, including a key Saudi prince joined by Muslim and non-Muslim gun traffickers, [meet] to determine who would pay how much to Osama. This [is] not so much an act of support but of protection—a payoff to keep the mad bomber away from Saudi Arabia.” [Palast, 2002, pp 100] Participants also agree that bin Laden should be rewarded for promoting Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam that requires literal interpretation of the Koran) in Chechnya, Kashmir, Bosnia, and other places. [Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03 (C)] This extends an alleged secret deal first made between the Saudi government and bin Laden in 1991. Later, 9/11 victims' relatives will rely on the “nonpublished French intelligence report” of this meeting in their lawsuit against important Saudis. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 8/16/02] According to French terrorism expert Jean-Charles Brisard and/or reporter Greg Palast, there are about 20 people at the meeting, including an unnamed brother of bin Laden and an unnamed representative from the Saudi Defense Ministry. [Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 10/29/03 (C)] Palast, noting that the French monitored the meeting, asks, “Since US intelligence was thus likely informed, the question becomes why didn't the government immediately move against the Saudis?” [Palast, 2002, pp 100]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda
          

May 18, 1996: Sudan Expels bin Laden; US Fails to Stop His Flight to Afghanistan

       After Sudan asks bin Laden to leave the country, he moves to Afghanistan. He departs along with many other al-Qaeda members, plus much money and resources. Bin Laden flies to Afghanistan in a C-130 transport plane with an entourage of about 150 men, women, and children, stopping in Doha, Qatar, to refuel, where governmental officials greet him warmly. [Coll, 2004, pp 325; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] The US knows in advance that bin Laden is going to Afghanistan, but does nothing to stop him. Elfatih Erwa, Sudan's minister of state for defense at the time, later says in an interview, “We warned [the US]. In Sudan, bin Laden and his money were under our control. But we knew that if he went to Afghanistan no one could control him. The US didn't care; they just didn't want him in Somalia. It's crazy.” [Washington Post, 10/3/01; Village Voice, 10/31/01]
People and organizations involved: Elfatih Erwa, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Somalia, Sudan
          

Mid-1996-October 2001: Ariana Airlines Becomes Transport Arm of al-Qaeda

      
Victor Bout.
In 1996, al-Qaeda assumes control of Ariana Airlines, Afghanistan's national airline, for use in its illegal trade network. Passenger flights become few and erratic, as planes are used to fly drugs, weapons, gold, and personnel, primarily between Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Pakistan. The Emirate of Sharjah, in the UAE, becomes a hub for al-Qaeda drug and arms smuggling. Typically, “large quantities of drugs” are flown from Kandahar, Afghanistan, to Sharjah, and large quantities of weapons are flown back to Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01] About three to four flights run the route each day. Many weapons come from Victor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer based in Sharjah. [Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02] Afghan taxes on opium production are paid in gold, and then the gold bullion is flown to Dubai, UAE, and laundered into cash. [Washington Post, 2/17/02] Taliban officials regularly provide militants with false papers identifying them as Ariana Airlines employees so they can move freely around the world. A former National Security Council official later claims the US is well aware at the time that al-Qaeda agents regularly fly on Ariana Airlines, but the US fails to act for several years. The US does press the UAE for tighter banking controls, but moves “delicately, not wanting to offend an ally in an already complicated relationship,” and little changes by 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01] Much of the money for the 9/11 hijackers flows though these Sharjah, UAE, channels. There also are reports suggesting that Ariana Airlines might have been used to train Islamic militants as pilots. The illegal use of Ariana Airlines helps convince the United Nations to impose sanctions against Afghanistan in 1999, but the sanctions lack teeth and do not stop the airline. A second round of sanctions finally stops foreign Ariana Airlines flights, but its charter flights and other charter services keep the illegal network running. [Los Angeles Times, 11/18/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Ariana Airlines, Victor Bout, United Nations, United Arab Emirates, Taliban
          

June 1996: Bin Laden Meets with Pakistani Military Leaders

       Controversial author Gerald Posner claims bin Laden and al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida meet with senior members of Pakistan's military, including Mushaf Ali Mir, who becomes chief of Pakistan's air force in 2000. Bin Laden had moved to Afghanistan the month before, and the Pakistanis offer bin Laden protection if he allies with the Taliban. The alliance proves successful, and bin Laden calls it “blessed by the Saudis,” who are already giving money to both the Taliban and al-Qaeda. [Time, 8/31/03; Posner, 2003, pp 105-06] Perhaps not coincidentally, this meeting comes only one month after a deal is reportedly made that reaffirms Saudi support for al-Qaeda. Bin Laden is initially based in Jalalabad, which is free of Taliban control, but after the deal he moves his base to Kandahar, which is the center of Taliban power. [Asia Times, 9/17/03]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Abu Zubaida, Mushaf Ali Mir, Taliban
          

Mid-1996-September 11, 2001: Mohammed Travels World; Involved in Many Al-Qaeda Operations

       After fleeing Qatar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed travels the world and plans many al-Qaeda operationss. He previously was involved in the 1993 WTC bombing, and the Operation Bojinka plot. [Time, 1/20/03] And now, he is apparently involved in the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998), the 2000 USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000), and other attacks. One US official says, “There is a clear operational link between him and the execution of most, if not all, of the al-Qaeda plots over the past five years.” [Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02] He lives in Prague, Czech Republic, through much of 1997. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] By 1999, he is living in Germany and visiting with the hijackers there. [New York Times, 6/8/02 (B); New York Times, 9/22/02] Using 60 aliases and as many passports, he travels through Europe, Africa, the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia and South America, personally setting up al-Qaeda cells. [Time, 1/20/03; Los Angeles Times, 12/22/02]
People and organizations involved: USS Cole, al-Qaeda, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
          

June 1996: Informant's Clues Point to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

      
Wali Khan Shah.
While al-Qaeda operative Jamal al-Fadl gives a treasure trove of useful information on al-Qaeda to US intelligence (see June 1996), one person he describes in detail is Wali Khan Amin Shah. Shah was one of the plotters of the Operation Bojinka plot (see February 7, 1995). Al-Fadl reveals that Shah has al-Qaeda ties. Author Peter Lance notes that US intelligence should have concluded that Shah's fellow Operation Bojinka plotter, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, also has al-Qaeda ties. However, there is no new effort to find Mohammed, and he later goes on to mastermind the 9/11 attacks. [Lance, 2003, pp 330-31]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Jamal al-Fadl, Wali Khan Amin Shah, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
          

June 1996: Informant Exposes al-Qaeda Secrets to US; No Apparent Response Ensues

       Jamal al-Fadl, an al-Qaeda operative from al-Qaeda's first meeting in the late 1980s until 1995, tells the US everything he knows about al-Qaeda. Before al-Fadl's debriefings, US intelligence had amassed thick files on bin Laden and his associates and contacts. However, they had had no idea how the many pieces fit together. “Al-Fadl was the Rosetta Stone,” an official says. “After al-Fadl, everything fell into place.” [Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 154-65] By late 1996, based largely on al-Fadl's information, the CIA definitively confirms that bin Laden is more of a operative than just a financier of the organization. The agency also learns the term “al-Qaeda” for the first time. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)] Yet the US will not take “bin Laden or al-Qaeda all that seriously” until after the bombing of US embassies in Africa in 1998. [Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp 213] It takes two years to turn al-Fadl's information into the first US indictment of bin Laden. [PBS Frontline, 9/01; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B); New York Times, 09/30/01 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Jamal al-Fadl, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda
          

June 1996-February 1997: British Intelligence Recruits Prominent Al-Qaeda Cleric, Extent of His Cooperation Is Unclear

       In June and December 1996, and again in February 1997, a British MI5 agent meets with radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, hoping he will inform on his fellow extremists. Qatada is a Jordanian national who entered the UK in September 1993 using a forged United Arab Emirates passport, and was granted asylum in 1994. In his meetings with the MI5 agent he claims to “wield powerful, spiritual influence over the Algerian community in London.” He says he does not want London to become a center for settling Islamic scores, and that he will report anyone damaging British interests. He says the individuals he has influence over pose no threat to British security, and promises that “he would not bite the hand that fed him.” He also promises to “report anyone damaging the interests of [Britain].” The MI5 agent records that “surprisingly enough—[Abu Qatada] revealed little love of the methodology and policies pursued by Osama bin Laden. He certainly left me with the impression that he had nothing but contempt for bin Laden's distant financing of the jihad.” [London Times, 3/25/04; Guardian, 3/24/04; Channel 4 News, 3/23/04; Special Immigration Appeals Tribunal, 1/04] Yet Qatada is later described as being a “key [British] figure” in al-Qaeda related terror activity. Videos of his sermons are later discovered in the Hamburg flat used by Mohamed Atta. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and Zacarias Moussaoui, who is later convicted in connection with the 9/11 attacks, are alleged to have sought religious advice from him. [Guardian, 8/11/05; BBC News, 8/11/05] Reportedly, after Qatada's February 1997 meeting with the British agent, no further such meetings occur. [Special Immigration Appeals Tribunal, 1/04] However, some French officials later allege that Qatada continues to be an MI5 agent, and this is what allows him to avoid arrest after 9/11 (see Early December 2001). [Observer, 2/24/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: UK Security Service, Abu Qatada, Osama bin Laden
          

June 24, 1996: Uzbekistan Cuts a Deal with Enron

       Uzbekistan signs a deal with Enron “that could lead to joint development of the Central Asian nation's potentially rich natural gas fields.” [Houston Chronicle, 6/25/96] The $1.3 billion venture teams Enron with the state companies of Russia and Uzbekistan. [Houston Chronicle, 6/30/96] On July 8, 1996, the US government agrees to give $400 million to help Enron and an Uzbek state company develop these natural gas fields. [Oil and Gas Journal, 7/8/96]
People and organizations involved: Enron, Uzbekistan
          

June 25, 1996: Khobar Towers Are Bombed; Culprit Is Unclear

      
Destruction at the Khobar Towers, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Explosions destroy the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American soldiers and wounding 500. [CNN, 6/26/96] Saudi officials later interrogate the suspects, declare them guilty, and execute them—without letting the FBI talk to them. [Irish Times, 11/19/01; PBS Frontline, 2001] Saudis blame Hezbollah, the Iranian-influenced group, but US investigators still believe bin Laden was somehow involved. [Seattle Times, 10/29/01] Bin Laden admits instigating the attacks in a 1998 interview. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] Ironically, the bin Laden family is later awarded the contract to rebuild the installation. [New Yorker, 11/5/01] In 1997, Canada catches one of the Khobar Tower attackers and extradites him to the US. However, in 1999, he is shipped back to Saudi Arabia before he can reveal what he knows about al-Qaeda and the Saudis. One anonymous insider calls it, “President Clinton's parting kiss to the Saudis.” [Palast, 2002, pp 102] In June 2001, a US grand jury will indict 13 Saudis for the bombing. According to the indictment, Iran and Hezbollah were also involved in the attack. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Hezbollah, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda
          

July 6-August 11, 1996: Atlanta Rules Established to Protect Against Attacks Using Planes as Flying Weapons

       US officials identify crop dusters and suicide flights as potential weapons that could threaten the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. They take steps to prevent any air attacks. They ban planes from getting too close to Olympic events. During the games, they deploy Black Hawk helicopters and US Customs Service jets to intercept suspicious aircraft over the Olympic venues. Agents monitor crop-duster flights within hundreds of miles of downtown Atlanta. They place armed fighter jets on standby at local air bases. Flights to Atlanta get special passenger screening. Law enforcement agents also fan out to regional airports throughout northern Georgia “to make sure nobody hijacked a small aircraft and tried to attack one of the venues,” says Woody Johnson, the FBI agent in charge. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke uses this same security blanket approach to other major events, referring to the approach as “Atlanta Rules.” [Clarke, 2004, pp 108-09; Wall Street Journal, 4/1/04; Chicago Tribune, 11/18/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Richard A. Clarke, Woody Johnson
          

July 7, 1996: A Clean Break Outlines New Middle East Strategy for Israel

      
Richard Perle.
The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, an Israeli think tank, publishes a paper entitled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 3/6/03] Lead author Richard Perle will later become chairman of President Bush's influential Defense Policy Board. Several other co-authors will hold key positions in Washington after Bush's election. In the paper, Perle and his co-authors advise the new, right wing Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu to make a complete break with the past by adopting a strategy “based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism. ...” The first step is to be the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. A war with Iraq will destabilize the entire Middle East, allowing governments in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, and other countries to be replaced. “Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them,” the paper concludes [Guardian, 9/3/02] , citing the original paper at [The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, 7/8/96] . Perle will be instrumental is moving Bush's US policy toward war with Iraq after the 9/11 attacks.
People and organizations involved: Syria, Saddam Hussein, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, Iran, Lebanon, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, Richard Perle
          

July 17, 1996-September 1996: TWA Flight 800 Crashes; Counterterrorism Funding Boosted in Response

       TWA Flight 800 crashes off the coast of Long Island, New York, killing the 230 people on board. The cause of the crash is debated for a long time afterward, and terrorism is considered a possibility. With this accident in mind, President Clinton requests, and Congress approves, over $1 billion in counter-terrorism-related funding in September 1996. [Clarke, 2004, pp 130]
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, US Congress
          

August 1996: Bin Laden Calls for Attack on Western Targets in Arabia

       Osama bin Laden issues a public fatwa, or religious decree, authorizing attacks on Western military targets in the Arabian Peninsula. This eliminates any doubts that bin Laden is merely a financier of attacks, rather than an active militant. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden
          

August 13, 1996: Unocal, Delta Oil Plan Afghan Pipeline

       Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia reach agreement with state companies in Turkmenistan and Russia to build a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan; the agreement is finalized in 1997. [Unocal website, 8/13/96]
People and organizations involved: Unocal, Saparmurat Niyazov
          

September 5, 1996: Yousef Trial Ignores Bojinka 9/11 Blueprint Plot

       Ramzi Yousef and two other defendants, Abdul Hakim Murad, and Wali Khan Amin Shah, are convicted of crimes relating to Operation Bojinka. [CNN, 9/5/96] In the nearly 6,000-page transcript of the three-month Bojinka trial, there is not a single mention of the “second wave” of Bojinka that closely paralleled the 9/11 plot. Interrogations by Philippine investigator Colonel Rodolfo Mendoza had exposed the details of this plot quite clearly (see January 20, 1995). However, not only does the FBI not call Mendoza to testify, but his name is not even mentioned in the trial, not even by his assistant, who does testify. “The FBI seemed to be going out of its way to avoid even a hint of the plot that was ultimately carried out on 9/11,” notes author Peter Lance. [Lance, 2003, pp 350-51]
People and organizations involved: Operation Bojinka, Abdul Hakim Murad, Wali Khan Amin Shah, Ramzi Yousef, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rodolfo Mendoza
          

September 11, 1996: Investigation of bin Laden Family Members Is Closed

      
WAMY logo.
The FBI investigation into two relatives of bin Laden, begun in February 1996, is closed. The FBI wanted to learn more about Abdullah bin Laden, “because of his relationship with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth [WAMY]—a suspected terrorist organization.” [Guardian, 11/7/01] Abdullah was the US director of WAMY and lived with his brother Omar in Falls Church, Virginia, a suburb of Washington. The coding on a leaked FBI document about the case, marked secret, indicates the case related to national security. WAMY's office address is 5613 Leesburg Pike. It is later determined that four of the 9/11 hijackers lived at 5913 Leesburg Pike at the same time the two bin Laden brothers were there. WAMY has been banned in Pakistan by this time. [Guardian, 11/7/01; BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01] The Indian and Philippine governments have also cited WAMY for funding Islamic militancy. The 9/11 Commission later hears testimony that WAMY “has openly supported Islamic terrorism. There are ties between WAMY and 9/11 hijackers. It is a group that has openly endorsed the notion that Jews must be killed. ... [It] has consistently portrayed the United States, Jews, Christians, and other infidels as enemies who have to be defeated or killed. And there is no doubt, according to US intelligence, that WAMY has been tied directly to terrorist attacks.” [9/11 Commission, 7/9/03, pp 66] “WAMY was involved in terrorist-support activity,” says a security official who later serves under President Bush. “There's no doubt about it.” [Vanity Fair, 10/03] After 9/11, a high-placed intelligence official will tell the Guardian: “There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis. There were particular investigations that were effectively killed.” [Guardian, 11/7/01] An unnamed US source will tell the BBC, “There is a hidden agenda at the very highest levels of our government.” [BBC Newsnight, 11/6/01] The Bosnian government will say in September 2002 that a charity with Abdullah bin Laden on its board had channeled money to Chechen guerrillas, something that “is only possible because the Clinton CIA gave the wink and nod to WAMY and other groups who were aiding Bosnian guerrillas when they were fighting Serbia, a US-approved enemy.” The investigation into WAMY is only restarted a few days after 9/11, around the same time these bin Ladens leave the US. [Palast, 2002, pp 96-99] (Note that this Abdullah bin Laden is possibly bin Laden's cousin, not brother, and is not the same as the Abdullah bin Laden who serves as the bin Laden family spokesperson. [Palast, 2002, pp 98-99] ) WAMY is still not listed by the US as a terrorist organization.
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Abdullah bin Laden, Clinton administration, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Central Intelligence Agency, Omar bin Laden
          

September 27, 1996: Victorious Taliban Supported by Pakistan; Viewed by US, Unocal as Stabilizing Force

       The Taliban conquer Kabul [Associated Press, 8/19/02] , establishing control over much of Afghanistan. A surge in the Taliban's military successes at this time is later attributed to an increase in direct military assistance from Pakistan's ISI. [New York Times, 12/8/01] The oil company Unocal is hopeful that the Taliban will stabilize Afghanistan and allow its pipeline plans to go forward. According to some reports, “preliminary agreement [on the pipeline] was reached between the [Taliban and Unocal] long before the fall of Kabul . ... Oil industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America's, has been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced in its conquest of Afghanistan.” [Daily Telegraph, 10/11/96] The 9/11 Commission later concludes that some State Department diplomats are willing to “give the Taliban a chance” because it might be able to bring stability to Afghanistan, which would allow a Unocal oil pipeline to be built through the country. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Unocal, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, US Department of State, 9/11 Commission
          

October 1996-early 2002: Arms Dealer Aligns with Taliban and ISI

       Russian arms merchant Victor Bout, who has been selling weapons to Afghanistan's Northern Alliance since 1992, switches sides, and begins selling weapons to the Taliban and al-Qaeda instead. [Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02; Los Angeles Times, 5/17/02; Guardian, 4/17/02] The deal comes immediately after the Taliban captures Kabul in late October 1996 and gains the upper hand in Afghanistan's civil war. In one trade in 1996, Bout's company delivers at least 40 tons of Russian weapons to the Taliban, earning about $50 million. [Guardian, 2/16/02] Two intelligence agencies later confirm that Bout trades with the Taliban “on behalf of the Pakistan government.” In late 2000, several Ukrainians sell 150 to 200 T-55 and T-62 tanks to the Taliban in a deal conducted by the ISI, and Bout helps fly the tanks to Afghanistan. [Montreal Gazette, 2/5/02] Bout formerly worked for the Russian KGB, and now operates the world's largest private weapons transport network. Based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bout operates freely there until well after 9/11. The US becomes aware of Bout's widespread illegal weapons trading in Africa in 1995, and of his ties to the Taliban in 1996, but they fail to take effective action against him for years. [Los Angeles Times, 5/17/02] US pressure on the UAE in November 2000 to close down Bout's operations there is ignored. Press reports calling him “the merchant of death” also fail to pressure the UAE. [Financial Times, 6/10/00; Guardian, 12/23/00] After President Bush is elected, it appears the US gives up trying to get Bout, until after 9/11. [Guardian, 4/17/02; Washington Post, 2/26/02] Bout moves to Russia in 2002. He is seemingly protected from prosecution by the Russian government, which in early 2002 will claim, “There are no grounds for believing that this Russian citizen has committed illegal acts.” [Guardian, 4/17/02] The Guardian suggests that Bout may have worked with the CIA when he traded with the Northern Alliance, and this fact may be hampering current international efforts to catch him. [Guardian, 4/17/02]
People and organizations involved: United Arab Emirates, George W. Bush, Russia, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Victor Bout, Central Intelligence Agency, Northern Alliance
          

October 1996: Iranian Hijacking Plot Uncovered

       US intelligence learns of an Iranian plot to hijack a Japanese plane over Israel and crash it into Tel Aviv. While the plot was never carried out, it is one more example of intelligence agencies being aware that planes could be used as suicide weapons. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
          

October 1996: Security Firm with Connections to Bush Family Acquires Security Contract for World Trade Center; Possible Security Breach Is Alleged

       A security company called Stratesec acquires an $8.3 million contract to help provide security at the World Trade Center. It is one of numerous contractors hired in the upgrade of security at the WTC following the 1993 bombing. Stratesec, which was formerly called Securacom, is responsible for installing the “security-description plan”—the layout of the electronic security system—at the World Trade Center. It has a “completion contract” to provide some of the center's security “up to the day the buildings fell down,” according to Barry McDaniel, its CEO from January 2002. Another of Stratesec's biggest security contracts, between 1995 and 1998, is with the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, providing electronic security for Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport. Their work includes maintaining the airfield access systems, the CCTV (closed circuit television) systems, and the electronic badging systems. American Airlines Flight 77—one of the planes hijacked on 9/11—takes off from Dulles. Marvin P. Bush, the youngest brother of future President George W. Bush, is a director at Stratesec from 1993 to June 2000, when most of their work on these big projects is done. Wirt D. Walker III, a distant relative of George W. Bush, is chairman of the board at Stratesec from 1992, and its CEO from 1999 until January 2002. Another of Stratesec's directors, from 1991 to 2001, is Mishal Yousef Saud Al Sabah, who is a member of the Kuwaiti royal family. Al Sabah is also chairman of an investment company called the Kuwait-American Corporation (KuwAm), which, between 1993 and 1999, holds a large, often controlling share of Stratesec. In 1996, it owns 90 percent of the company; by 1999 it owns 47 percent. According to Wayne Black, the head of a Florida-based security firm, it is delicate for a security company serving international facilities to be so interlinked with a foreign-owned company. He suggests: “Somebody knew somebody.” Black also points out that when a company has a security contract, “you know the inner workings of everything.” Furthermore, if another company is linked to the security company, then “what's on your computer is on their computer.” After 9/11 Stratesec CEO Barry McDaniel is asked whether FBI or other agents have questioned him or others at Stratesec about their security work related to 9/11. He answers , “No.” [Progressive Populist, 2/1/03; Washington Spectator, 2/15/05; Progressive Populist, 4/15/03; Prince George's Journal, 2/4/03; American Reporter, 1/20/03]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Stratesec
          

October 7, 1996: Future Bush Envoy to Afghanistan Wants US to Help Taliban Unify Country, Build Pipeline

       In a Washington Post op-ed, Zalmay Khalilzad calls on the US to deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan. “It is time for the United States to reengage. ...The Taliban does not practice the anti-US style of fundamentalism practiced by Iran — it is closer to the Saudi model.” He calls on the US to help the Taliban “put Afghanistan on a path toward peace,” noting that continuing violence “has been a source of regional instability and an obstacle to building pipelines to bring Central Asian oil and gas to Pakistan and the world markets.” [Washington Post, 10/7/96] However, by 2000, Khalilzad will sour on the Taliban. In a speech in March 2000, he will state, “Afghanistan was and is a possible corridor for the export of oil and gas from the Central Asian states down to Pakistan and to the world. A California company called Unocal was interested in exploring that option, but because of the war in Afghanistan, because of the instability that's there, those options, or that option at least, has not materialized.” [Los Angeles World Affairs Council, 3/9/00]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, United States, Unocal, Zalmay M. Khalilzad
          

October 11, 1996: Afghan Pipeline Key to ‘One of the Great Prizes of the 21st Century’

       The Daily Telegraph publishes an interesting article about pipeline politics in Afghanistan. “Behind the tribal clashes that have scarred Afghanistan lies one of the great prizes of the 21st century, the fabulous energy reserves of Central Asia. ... ‘The deposits are huge,’ said a diplomat from the region. ‘Kazakhstan alone may have more oil than Saudi Arabia. Turkmenistan is already known to have the fifth largest gas reserves in the world.’ ” [Daily Telegraph, 10/11/96]
          

November 24, 1996: Passenger Plane Suicide Attack Narrowly Averted

      
A hijacked airliner crashes into the shallow waters off the coast of a resort in the Comoros Islands.
Several Ethiopians take over a passenger airliner and let it run out of fuel. Hijackers fight with the pilot as the hijackers try to steer the plane into a resort on a Comoros Islands beach in the Indian Ocean, but seconds before reaching the resort the pilot is able to crash the plane into shallow waters instead, 500 yards short of the resort. One hundred and twenty-three of the 175 passengers and crew die. [Australian, 11/26/96; Houston Chronicle, 11/26/96; New York Times, 11/25/96]
          

Late 1996: Bin Laden Becomes Active in Opium Trade

       Bin Laden establishes and maintains a major role in opium drug trade, soon after moving the base of his operations to Afghanistan. Opium money is vital to keeping the Taliban in power and funding bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. Yossef Bodansky, Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare and author of a 1999 biography on bin Laden, says bin Laden takes a 15 percent cut of the drug trade money in exchange for protecting smugglers and laundering their profits. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 9/30/01] Another report estimates that bin Laden takes up to 10 percent of Afghanistan's drug trade by early 1999. This would give him a yearly income of up to $1 billion out of $6.5 to $10 billion in annual drug profits from within Afghanistan. [Financial Times, 11/28/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Taliban, al-Qaeda
          

Late 1996-May 2000: British Intelligence and al-Qaeda Allegedly Cooperate in Plot to Assassinate Libyan Leader

      
Anas al-Liby.
Anas al-Liby, member of a Libyan al-Qaeda cell called Al-Muqatila, lives in Britain during this time. He had stayed with bin Laden in Sudan until bin Laden moved to Afghanistan in 1996 (see May 18, 1996). Then, as the Observer puts it, “Astonishingly, despite suspicions that he was a high-level al-Qaeda operative, al-Liby was given political asylum in Britain and lived in Manchester until May of 2000 when he eluded a police raid on his house and fled abroad. The raid discovered a 180-page al-Qaeda ‘manual for jihad’ containing instructions for terrorist attacks.” He was apparently involved in a plot with the British intelligence agency to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in 1996 (see 1996) and presumably his ability to live in Britain was connected to that plot. [Observer, 11/10/02] After the failed assassination attempt, the British allegedly continued to support Al-Muqatila—for instance, the group openly published a newsletter from a London office. [Brisard, Dasquie and Madsen, 2002, pp 97-98] Whistleblower David Shayler had given British authorities details of this Libya plot in 1998 and again in 1999, and later serves a short prison sentence for revealing this information to the public (see November 5, 2002). [Observer, 8/27/00] Well after the failed attempt, the British allegedly continue to support Al-Muqatila—for instance, the group openly publishes a newsletter from a London office. [Brisard, Dasquie and Madsen, 2002, pp 97-98] Al-Liby remains on the US government's most wanted list with a reward of $25 million for his capture. He is wanted for his involvement in the 1998 African embassy bombings. [Observer, 11/10/02; FBI, 2002]
People and organizations involved: Al-Muqatila, Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, Osama bin Laden, Britain, David Shayler, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

1997: Possible Unmanned Aerial Attacks Raise Concerns at FBI, CIA

       FBI and CIA are concerned that an unnamed militant group, which has apparently purchased an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), will use it for attacks against US interests. At the time, the agencies believed that the only reason to use this UAV would be for either reconnaissance or attack. The primary concern is that it will be used to attack outside the United States, for example, by flying a UAV into a US Embassy or a visiting US delegation. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency
          

1997-July 2001: Hanjour Associate Freely Travels in and out of US

       Hijacker Hani Hanjour begins associating with an unnamed individual who is later mentioned in FBI agent Ken Williams' famous “Phoenix memo” (see July 10, 2001). Hanjour and this individual train at flight schools in Arizona. Several flight instructors later note the two were associates and may have carpooled together. They are known to share the same airplane on one occasion in 1999, and are at the school together on other occasions. The unnamed individual leaves the US in April 2000. In May 2001, the FBI attempts to investigate this person, but after finding out that he has left the US, the FBI declines to open a formal investigation. The name of this person is not placed on a watch list, so the FBI is unaware that the person returns in June and stays in the US for another month. By this time, this person is an experienced flight instructor who is certified to fly Boeing 737s. The FBI speculates the person may return to evaluate Hanjour's flying skills or provide final training before 9/11. There is considerable circumstantial evidence placing this person near Hanjour during this month. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
People and organizations involved: William Safire, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

1997: Bin Laden Family Financial Connection With Osama Continues Until At Least This Year

       In 2004, Osama bin Laden's half brother Yeslam Binladin admits that he and other bin Laden family members share a Swiss bank account with Osama bin Laden from 1990 until 1997. The bin Laden family claims to have disowned Osama bin Laden in 1994, and the US government officially designated him as a financier of terrorism in 1996. Yeslam had previously denied any financial dealings with Osama at this late date until evidence of this bank account was uncovered by French private investigator Jean-Charles Brisard. In December 2001, French authorities will open an investigation into the financial dealings of the Saudi Investment Company (SICO) run by Yeslam Binladin. [Scotsman, 9/28/04; Agence France-Presse, 7/26/04] In 2002, his house will be raided by French police. [Associated Press, 3/20/2] No charges have been made as of yet, but the investigation will continue and in fact widen its scope in late 2004. A French magistrate will claim he is looking into “other instances of money laundering” apparently involving financial entities connected to Yeslam and other bin Laden family members. [Reuters, 12/26/04] Yeslam claims he's had no contact with Osama in 20 years. Yet, in 2004, when asked if he would turn in Osama if given the chance, he replies, “What do you think? Would you turn in your brother?” [MSNBC, 7/10/04] His ex-wife Carmen Binladin will also comment around the same time, “From what I have seen and what I have read, I cannot believe that [the rest of the bin Laden family] have cut off Osama completely. ... And I cannot believe that some of the sisters [don't support him.] They are very close to Osama.” [Salon, 7/10/04]
People and organizations involved: Jean-Charles Brisard, Carmen Binladin, Saudi Investment Company, Bin Laden Family, Yeslam Binladin, Osama bin Laden
          

1997: CIA Re-opens Afghanistan Operations

       Special CIA paramilitary teams enter Afghanistan again in 1997. [Washington Post, 11/18/01] (The CIA's anti-Soviet covert operations officially ended in January 1992. [Coll, 2004, pp 233] ) Around 1998 there will be a push to recruit more agents capable of operating or traveling in Afghanistan. Many locals are recruited, including some Taliban military leaders. However, apparently none is close to bin Laden. This problem is not fixed in succeeding years. [Washington Post, 2/22/04; 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Central Intelligence Agency
          

1997: Al-Qaeda Still Not Recognized as Terrorist Organization by State Department

       While the State Department listed bin Laden as a financier of terror in its 1996 survey of terrorism, al-Qaeda is not included on the 1997 official US list of terrorist organizations subject to various sanctions. Al-Qaeda will not be officially recognized as a terrorist organization until 1998. [New York Times, 12/30/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, US Department of State
          

January 20, 1997: Clinton Re-inaugurated; Atlanta Rules Applied at This and Other Events

       Bill Clinton is re-inaugurated as president. An extensive set of security measures to prevent airplanes as weapons crashing into the inauguration is used. These measures, first used in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and thus referred to as the “Atlanta Rules,” include the closing of nearby airspace, the use of intercept helicopters, the basing of armed fighters nearby, and more. This plan will later be used for the 1999 North Atlantic Treaty Organization's 50th anniversary celebration in Washington, the 2000 Republican convention in Philadelphia, the 2000 Democratic convention in New York, and the George W. Bush inauguration in 2001. [Wall Street Journal, 4/1/04; Clarke, 2004, pp 110-11] At some point near the end of the Clinton administration, the Secret Service and Customs Service agree to create a permanent air defense unit to protect Washington. However, these agencies are part of the Treasury Department, and the leadership there refuses to fund the idea. The permanent unit is not created until after 9/11. [Wall Street Journal, 4/1/04]
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Clinton administration, Secret Service, George W. Bush
          

February 12, 1997: Vice President Gore's Aviation Security Report Released

       The White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, led by Vice President Al Gore, issues its final report, which highlights the risk of terrorist attacks in the US. The report references Operation Bojinka, the failed plot to bomb twelve American airliners out of the sky over the Pacific Ocean, and calls for increased aviation security. The commission reports that [it] “believes that terrorist attacks on civil aviation are directed at the United States, and that there should be an ongoing federal commitment to reducing the threats that they pose.” [Gore Commission, 2/12/97] However, the report has little practical effect: “Federal bureaucracy and airline lobbying [slow] and [weaken] a set of safety improvements recommended by a presidential commission—including one that a top airline industry official now says might have prevented the September 11 terror attacks.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/6/01]
People and organizations involved: Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, Operation Bojinka, Al Gore
          

March 1997: German Government Investigates Hamburg al-Qaeda Cell

      
Mohammed Haydar Zammar.
Investigation of al-Qaeda contacts in Hamburg by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany's domestic intelligence service, begins at least by this time (Germany refuses to disclose additional details). [New York Times, 1/18/03] Telephone intercepts show that a German investigation into Mohammed Haydar Zammar is taking place this month. It is later believed that Zammar, a German of Syrian origin, is a part of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/03] He later claims he recruited Mohamed Atta and others into the cell [Washington Post, 6/19/02] Germany authorities had identified Zammar as a militant a decade earlier. [New York Times, 1/18/03] From 1995-2000, he makes frequent trips to Afghanistan. [New York Times, 1/18/03; Stern, 8/13/03] German intelligence is aware that he was personally invited to Afghanistan by bin Laden. [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2/2/03] Spanish investigators later say Zammar is a longtime associate of Barakat Yarkas, the alleged boss of the al-Qaeda cell in Madrid, Spain. In 1998, Germany is given more evidence of his ties to Islamic militants, and surveillance intensifies. He is periodically trailed, and all his calls are recorded. [Stern, 8/13/03] It is not clear if or when the investigation ends, but it continues until at least September 1999. [Associated Press, 6/22/02]
People and organizations involved: Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Barakat Yarkas, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Mohamed Atta
          

May 19, 1997: Military Review Suggests Cutting Fighter Protection Over US; Several Bases Are Discontinued

       Secretary of Defense William Cohen issues a comprehensive assessment of America's defense requirements, called the Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). This is a six-month analysis of the “threats, risks and opportunities for US national security,” and reviews all aspects of the US defense strategy. [Department of Defense, 5/19/97] Amongst other things, the 1997 QDR outlines the conversion of six continental air defense squadrons to general purpose, training or other missions. It calls for there being just four “alert” air defense sites around the US: at Otis, Massachusetts; Homestead, Florida; Riverside, California; and Portland, Oregon. [Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review, 5/97; Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 34] Major General Larry Arnold, who is commanding general of NORAD's Continental Region on 9/11, later says, “The QDR didn't make any sense at all. � [T]here was a fight just to maintain the number of alert sites that we had. We felt we could operate fairly reasonably with about 10 sites and thought eight was the absolute highest risk we could take.” NORAD Commander in Chief General Howell M. Estes III has written to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that a minimum of seven alert sites are needed to maintain America's air sovereignty. In the end, three extra alert sites are added to the four suggested in the QDR. These are at Hampton, Virginia.; Panama City, Florida.; and Ellington, Texas. Larry Arnold later says: “I didn't feel particularly comfortable with seven [alert sites] because there are great large distances between the alert sites.” [Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 36] Other bases will lose their NORAD air defense functions over the next year, including those in Fresno, California; Fargo, North Dakota; Duluth, Minnesota; Burlington, Vermont; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Great Falls, Montana. [Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review, 5/97] Of these closed bases, the most critical loss on 9/11 will be the Atlantic City, New Jersey, base, located about halfway between New York City and Washington. Boston air traffic control, apparently unaware the base has lost its air defense function will try and fail to contact the base shortly after learning about the first hijacking of the morning, Flight 11 (see (8:34 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: Howell M. Estes III, William S. Cohen, Larry Arnold
          

May 22, 1997: FBI: Terrorists Are Operating in US With Capability to Attack

       The Associated Press reports that senior FBI officials have determined that militant Islamic groups are operating in America. FBI agent John O'Neill is quoted as saying, “Almost every one of these groups has a presence in the United States today. A lot of these groups now have the capacity and the support infrastructure in the United States to attack us here if they choose to.” [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C)]
People and organizations involved: John O'Neill, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

May 26, 1997: Taliban Government Is Officially Recognized by Saudis

       The Saudi government becomes the first country to extend formal recognition of the Taliban government of Afghanistan. Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates will follow suit. On 9/11, these three countries are the only countries that officially recognize the Taliban. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Taliban, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan
          

June 3, 1997: PNAC Think Tank Issues Statement of Principles

      
William Kristol, one of the founders and leaders of PNAC.
The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think tank formed in the spring of 1997, issues its statement of principles. PNAC's stated aims are:
to “shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests”

to achieve “a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad”

to “increase defense spending significantly”

to challenge “regimes hostile to US interests and values”

to “accept America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.” [Project For A New American Century, 6/3/97]
The Statement of Principles is significant, because it is signed by a group who will become “a roll call of today's Bush inner circle.” [Guardian, 2/26/03] ABC's Ted Koppel will later say PNAC's ideas have “been called a secret blueprint for US global domination.” [ABC News, 3/5/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Project for the New American Century, Ted Koppel
          

August 1997: CIA Monitors Central Asia for Oil Reserves

       The CIA creates a secret task force to monitor Central Asia's politics and gauge its wealth. Covert CIA officers, some well-trained petroleum engineers, travel through southern Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan to sniff out potential oil reserves. [Time, 5/4/98]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

October 1997: Brzezinski Highlights the Importance of Central Asia to Achieving World Domination

      
Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski publishes a book in which he portrays the Eurasian landmass as the key to world power, and Central Asia with its vast oil reserves as the key to domination of Eurasia. He states that for the US to maintain its global primacy, it must prevent any possible adversary from controlling that region. He notes, “The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported America's engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.” He predicts that because of popular resistance to US military expansionism, his ambitious Central Asian strategy can not be implemented “except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.” [Brzezinski, 1997, pp 24-25, 210-11]
People and organizations involved: Zbigniew Brzezinski
          

October 27, 1997: Halliburton Announces Turkmenistan Project; Unocal and Delta Oil Form Consortium

       Halliburton, a company headed by future Vice President Dick Cheney, announces a new agreement to provide technical services and drilling for Turkmenistan. The press release mentions, “Halliburton has been providing a variety of services in Turkmenistan for the past five years.” On the same day, a consortium to build a pipeline through Afghanistan is formed. It is called CentGas, and the two main partners are Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia. [CentGas press release, 10/27/97; Halliburton press release, 10/27/97]
People and organizations involved: Halliburton, Inc., Energy Information Agency, Turkmenistan, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

November 1997: Enron and bin Laden Family Team Up for Project

       Industry newsletter reports that Saudi Arabia has abandoned plans for open bids on a $2 billion power plant near Mecca, deciding that the government will build it instead. Interestingly, one of the bids was made by a consortium of Enron, the Saudi Binladin Group (run by Osama's family), and Italy's Ansaldo Energia. [Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections, 1/22/98]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, Enron, Saudi Binladin Group, Office for the Protection of the Constitution
          

December 1997: Unocal Establishes Pipeline Training Facility Near bin Laden's Compound

       Unocal pays University of Nebraska $900,000 to set up a training facility near bin Laden's Kandahar compound, to train 400 Afghan teachers, electricians, carpenters and pipe fitters in anticipation of using them for their pipeline in Afghanistan. One hundred and fifty students are already attending classes. [Coll, 2004, pp 364; Daily Telegraph, 12/14/97]
People and organizations involved: Turkey, Osama bin Laden, Unocal
          

December 1997-November 1998: Moroccan Man Ties Hamburg and Milan al-Qaeda Cells Together

       Records indicate that would-be Ramzi Bin al-Shibh lives at the same Hamburg, Germany, address as a Moroccan named Mohamed Daki during this time. Daki will be arrested in April 2003, and admits to knowing bin al-Shibh and some others in the Hamburg cell. In April 1999 Daki obtains a visa to travel to the US, but it isn't known if he goes there. It is generally assumed by the press that the Hamburg cell keep themselves separate from other al-Qaeda cells in Europe. However, Daki is an expert document forger and a member of al-Qaeda's Milan 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 Daki is not made. German authorities interview him after 9/11, and he admits ties to bin al-Shibh, but he is let go, not investigated further, and not put on any watch lists. He will later come under investigation in Italy for recruiting fighters to combat the US in Iraq. He will finally be arrested and charged for that, and not for his 9/11 connections. [New York Times, 3/22/04; Los Angeles Times, 3/22/04]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Mohamed Daki, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh
          

December 4, 1997: Taliban Representatives Visit Unocal in Texas

      
Taliban representatives in Texas, 1997.
Representatives of the Taliban are invited guests to the Texas headquarters of Unocal to negotiate their support for the pipeline. Future President George W. Bush is Governor of Texas at the time. The Taliban appear to agree to a $2 billion pipeline deal, but will do the deal only if the US officially recognizes the Taliban regime. The Taliban meet with US officials. According to the Daily Telegraph, “the US government, which in the past has branded the Taliban's policies against women and children ‘despicable,’ appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to clinch the lucrative pipeline contract.” A BBC regional correspondent says that “the proposal to build a pipeline across Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from developing the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea.” [BBC, 12/4/97; Daily Telegraph, 12/14/97]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Clinton administration, Unocal, Taliban
          

1998: Training Exercise Held at the White House, Based Around Militants Using a Plane as a Weapon

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke chairs a tabletop exercise at the White House, involving a scenario where anti-American militants fill a Learjet with explosives, and then fly it on a suicide mission toward a target in Washington, DC. Officials from the Pentagon, Secret Service, and FAA attend, and are asked how they would stop such a threat. Pentagon officials say they could launch fighters from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, but would need authorization from the president to shoot the plane down, and currently there is no system to do this. The 9/11 Commission later states: “There was no clear resolution of the problem at the exercise.” [Slate, 7/22/04; 9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/24/04, pp. 345 & 457-458]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, US Department of Defense, Secret Service, Richard A. Clarke, Langley Air Force Base
          

Early 1998: US Official Meets with Taliban; Promote Afghan Pipeline

       Bill Richardson, the US Ambassador to the UN, meets Taliban officials in Kabul. (All such meetings are illegal, because the US still officially recognizes the government the Taliban ousted as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan.) US officials at the time call the oil and gas pipeline project a “fabulous opportunity” and are especially motivated by the “prospect of circumventing Iran, which offers another route for the pipeline.” [Boston Globe, 9/20/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Bill Richardson
          

1998: Indonesia Gives US Warning of 9/11 Attack?

       Hendropriyono, the Indonesian chief of intelligence, will later claim that, “[w]e had intelligence predicting the September 11 attacks three years before it happened but nobody believed us.” He says Indonesian intelligence agents identify bin Laden as the leader of the group plotting the attack and that the US disregards the warning, but otherwise offers no additional details. The Associated Press notes, “Indonesia's intelligence services are not renowned for their accuracy.” [Associated Press, 7/9/03 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Hendropriyono, Osama bin Laden
          

Early 1998: Prosecutors Turn Down Deal That Could Reveal Bojinka Third Plot

      
Dietrich Snell.
Abdul Hakim Murad, a conspirator in the 1995 Bojinka plot with Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and others, was convicted in 1996 of his role in the Bojinka plot (see January 6, 1995). He is about to be sentenced for that crime. He offers to cooperate with federal prosecutors in return for a reduction in his sentence, but prosecutors turn down his offer. Dietrich Snell, the prosecutor who convicted Murad, says after 9/11 that he doesn't remember any such offer. But court papers and others familiar with the case later confirmed that Murad does offer to cooperate at this time. Snell claimed he only remembers hearing that Murad had described an intention to hijack a plane and fly it into CIA headquarters. However, in 1995 Murad had confessed to Philippine investigators that this would have been only one part of a larger plot to crash a number of airplanes into prominent US buildings, including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a plot that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed later adjusts and turns into the 9/11 plot (see January 20, 1995) (see February 1995). While Philippine investigators claim this information was passed on to US intelligence, it's not clear just which US officials may have learned this information and what they did with it, if anything. [New York Daily News, 9/25/01] Murad is sentenced in May 1998 and given life in prison plus 60 years. [Albany Times-Union, 9/22/02] After 9/11, Snell goes on to become Senior Counsel and a team leader for the 9/11 Commission. Author Peter Lance later calls Snell “one of the fixers, hired early on to sanitize the Commission's final report.” Lance says Snell ignored evidence presented to the Commission that shows direct ties between the Bojinka plot and 9/11, and in so doing covers up Snell's own role in the failure to make more use of evidence learned from Murad and other Bojinka plotters. [FrontPage Magazine, 1/27/05]
People and organizations involved: Abdul Hakim Murad, Dietrich Snell, Pentagon, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi Yousef, World Trade Center
          
Showing 51-150 of 1705 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100    next 100


Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under the Creative Commons License below:

Creative Commons License Home |  About this Site |  Development |  Donate |  Contact Us
Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Use