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Day of 911

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Complete 911 Timeline: cover-up, lies, and/or contradictions


Project: Complete 911 Timeline

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Showing 51-150 of 336 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100    next 100

June 3, 2000

       Atta supposedly arrives in the US for the first time, flying from Prague to Newark on a tourist visa issued May 18 in Berlin. [Miami Herald 9/22/01; Australian Broadcasting Corp. 11/12/01] Yet there's evidence someone using Atta's name and appearance was in the US before this(see September 1999, Late April-Mid-May 2000, and April 2000).

June 10, 2000

       Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar flies from San Diego to Frankfurt, Germany. [Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Authorities later believe that Almihdhar visits his cousin-in-law Ramzi bin al-Shibh and bin al-Shibh's roommate Atta and other al-Qaeda members in bin al-Shibh's terrorist cell. But since the CIA fails to notify Germany about their suspicions of either Almihdhar or bin al-Shibh, both of whom were seen attending the al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000), German police fail to monitor them and a chance to uncover the 9/11 plot is missed. [Die Zeit 10/1/02; Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03] Note that FBI Director Mueller and the Congressional inquiry into 9/11 claim that Almihdhar doesn't return to the US for over a year (see July 4, 2001) [Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02, Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02], despite obvious evidence to the contrary. For instance, an FBI agent is told Khalid Almihdhar is in the room when he calls Almihdhar's landlord in autumn 2000 (see Autumn 2000 (B) and Summer-December 2000) and there are indications Almihdhar attends a flight school in Arizona in early 2001. [Arizona Republic 9/28/01]

June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000

       Someone using the aliases “Isam Mansour,” “Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hisawi,” “Mr. Ali” and “Hani (Fawaz Trdng),” sends a total of $109,910 to the 9/11 hijackers in a series of transfers between these dates. [MSNBC, 12/11/01, Newsweek, 12/2/01, New York Times, 12/10/01, Financial Times, 11/30/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] The money is sent from Sharjah, a emirate in the United Arab Emirates that is a center for al-Qaeda's illegal financial dealings (see Mid-1996-October 2001). The identity of this money man “Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi”is in dispute (see September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002). It has been claimed that the name “Mustafa Ahmed” is an alias used by Saeed Sheikh, a known ISI and al-Qaeda agent who sends the hijackers money on other occasions (see Early August 2001 (D)). [CNN, 10/6/01] India claims ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed orders Saeed to send the hijackers the money at this time. [Frontline 10/6/01; Daily Excelsior 10/18/01] FBI Director Mueller's most recent theory is that this money is sent by the previously unheard of “Ali Abdul Aziz Ali.” But of the four aliases used in the different transactions, Mueller connects this man only to three, and not to the alias “Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hisawi.” [New York Times 12/10/01; Congressional Intelligence Committee 9/26/02; AP 9/26/02] It appears that most of the money is sent to an account shared by Marwan Alshehhi and Mohamed Atta, who would obtain money orders and distribute the money to the other hijackers. [CNN, 10/1/01, MSNBC, 12/11/01, Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] The New York Times later suggests that the amount passed from “Mustafa Ahmed” to the Florida bank accounts right until the day before the attack is around $325,000. The rest of the $500,000– $600,000 they receive for US expenses comes from another, still unknown source. [New York Times 7/10/02]

Summer-December 2000

Shaikh's house in Lemon Grove, California
Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move to the house of Abdussattar Shaikh in San Diego. [San Diego Union-Tribune 9/16/01] Shaikh, a local Muslim leader, is later revealed to be a “tested” undercover “asset” working with the local FBI. [Newsweek, 9/9/02] Shaikh inexplicably fails to tell his FBI handler important details about the hijackers and appears to be lying about many matters concerning them (see Autumn 2000 (B)). In early media reports, the two are said to have moved in around September (for instance, [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/16/01, Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01]) but the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry implies that Shaikh lied about this, and they moved in much earlier. Alhazmi stays until December (see also Autumn 2000); Almihdhar appears to be mostly out of the US after June (see June 10, 2000). [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Neighbors claim that Atta is a frequent visitor, and Hani Hanjour visits as well. [Chicago Tribune 9/30/01; AP 9/29/01; Las Vegas Review Journal 10/26/01; San Diego Channel 10 9/27/01; San Diego Channel 10 10/11/01] But Shaikh denies Atta's visits, the FBI never mentions them, and the media appears to have forgotten about them. [AP 9/29/01] There is even one report that the two hijackers and Atta meet with suspected Saudi agent Omar al-Bayoumi around this time (see Summer 2000). Echoing reports from their first apartment (see Early February-Summer 2000), neighbors witness strange late night visits with Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [AP, 9/16/01 (D)] For instance, one neighbor says, “There was always a series of cars driving up to the house late at night. Sometimes they were nice cars. Sometimes they had darkened windows. They'd stay about 10 minutes.” [Time 9/24/01 (B)]

September 2000

People involved in the 2000 PNAC report (from top left): Vice President Cheney, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Cheney Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Und
The neoconservative think-tank Project for the New American Century writes a “blueprint” for the “creation of a ‘global Pax Americana’ ” (see also June 3, 1997). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century, was written for the Bush team even before the 2000 Presidential election. It was commissioned by future Vice President Cheney, future Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, future Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Florida Governor and President Bush's brother Jeb Bush, and future Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. The report calls itself a “blueprint for maintaining global US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.” The plan shows Bush intended to take military control of Persian Gulf oil whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power and should retain control of the region even if there is no threat. It says: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” The report calls for the control of space through a new “US Space Forces,” the political control of the internet, the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies, and advocates “regime change” in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran and other countries. It also mentions that “advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.” A British Member of Parliament says of the report, “This is a blueprint for US world domination—a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world” (see also Spring 2001 and April 2001 (D)). [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02, click to download the think tank report] However, the report complains that these changes are likely to take a long time, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” [Los Angeles Times 1/12/03] In an NBC interview at about the same time, Vice Presidential candidate Cheney defends Bush Jr.'s position of maintaining Clinton's policy not to attack Iraq because the US should not act as though “we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments.” [Washington Post 1/12/02] This report and the Project for the New American Century generally are mostly ignored until a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war (see February-March 20, 2003).

September-October 2000

Predator footage of a man who is apparently bin Laden surrounded by an entourage heading to a mosque in 2000.
An unmanned spy plane called the Predator begins flying over Afghanistan, showing incomparably detailed real-time video and photographs of the movements of what appears to be bin Laden and his aides. It flies successfully over Afghanistan 16 times. [9/11 Commission, 3/24/04 (C)] President Clinton is impressed by a two-minute video of bin Laden crossing a street heading toward a mosque. Bin Laden is surrounded by a team of a dozen armed men creating a professional forward security perimeter as he moves. The Predator had been used since 1996 in the Balkans and also in Iraq. One Predator crashes on takeoff and another is chased by a fighter, but it apparently identifies bin Laden on three occasions. Its use is stopped in Afghanistan after a few trials, mostly because seasonal winds are picking up. It is agreed to resume the flights in the spring, but the Predator fails to fly over Afghanistan again until after 9/11 (see January 10, 2001-September 4, 2001 September 4, 2001 (E)). [Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, 3/04, pp. 220-221, New York Times, 12/30/01, Washington Post, 12/19/01] On September 15, 2001, CIA Director Tenet apparently inaccurately tells President Bush, “The unmanned Predator surveillance aircraft that was now armed with Hellfire missiles had been operating for more than a year out of Uzbekistan to provide real-time video of Afghanistan.” [Washington Post 1/29/02]

Autumn 2000 (B)

Abdussattar Shaikh has only allowed the media to publish a photo of his profile
While hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar live in the house of an FBI informant, Abdussattar Shaikh (see Summer-December 2000), the informant continues to have contact with his FBI handler. The handler, Steven Butler, later claims that during summer Shaikh mentions the names “Nawaf” and “Khalid” in passing and that they are renting rooms from him. [Newsweek, 9/9/02, AP, 7/25/03 (B), Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] On one occasion, Shaikh tells Butler on the phone he can't talk because Khalid is in the room. [Newsweek, 9/9/02] Butler is told they are good, religious Muslims who are legally in the US to visit and attend school. Butler asks Shaikh for their last names, but is not given them. He is not told they're pursuing flight training. Shaikh says they are apolitical and have done nothing to arouse suspicion. However, according to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, he later admits that Alhazmi has “contacts with at least four individuals [he] knew were of interest to the FBI and about whom [he] had previously reported to the FBI.” Three of these four people are being actively investigated at the time the hijackers are there. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The report mentions Osama Mustafa as one (Autumn 2000), and Shaikh admits that suspected Saudi agent Omar al-Bayoumi was a friend (see September 1998-July 1999). [Los Angeles Times, 7/25/03, Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The FBI later concludes Shaikh is not involved in the 9/11 plot, but they have serious doubts about his credibility. After 9/11 he gives inaccurate information and has an “inconclusive” polygraph examination about his foreknowledge of the 9/11 attack. The FBI believes he has contact with hijacker Hani Hanjour, but he claims to not recognize him. There are other “significant inconsistencies” in the informant's statements about the hijackers, including when he met first them and later meetings with them. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry later concludes that had the informant's contacts with the hijackers been capitalized on, it “would have given the San Diego FBI field office perhaps the Intelligence Community's best chance to unravel the September 11 plot.” [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03] The FBI later tries to prevent Butler and Shaikh from testifying before the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry. Butler ends up testifying but Shaikh does not (see October 5, 2002 and October 9, 2002).

October 24-26, 2000

       Pentagon officials carry out a “detailed” emergency drill based upon the crashing of a hijacked airliner into the Pentagon. [MDW News Service, 11/3/00, Mirror, 5/24/02] The Pentagon is such an obvious target that, “For years, staff at the Pentagon joked that they worked at ‘Ground Zero’, the spot at which an incoming nuclear missile aimed at America's defenses would explode. There is even a snack bar of that name in the central courtyard of the five-sided building, America's most obvious military bullseye.” [Telegraph 9/16/01] After 9/11, a Pentagon spokesman will claim: “The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way, and I doubt prior to Tuesday's event, anyone would have expected anything like that here.” [Newsday, 9/23/01] [FTW]

January-June 2001

       11 of the 9/11 hijackers stay in or pass through Britain, according to the British Home Secretary and top investigators. Most come between April and June, just passing through from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. But investigators suspect some stay in Britain for training and fundraising (see June 2001 (H)). Not all 11 names are given, but one can deduce from the press accounts that Ahmed Alghamdi, Salem Alhazmi, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Ahmed Alnami, and Saeed Alghamdi were definitely in Britain. Ahmed Alghamdi was one of several that should have been “instantly ‘red-flagged’ by British intelligence,”because of his links to Raed Hijazi, a suspected ally of bin Laden being held in Jordan on charges of conspiring to destroy holy sites (see Spring 2001 (B)). Two of the following three also were in Britain: Wail Alshehri, Fayez Banihammad, and Abdulaziz Alomari. All or almost all appear to be the “muscle”(see April 23-June 29, 2001) and specific leaders like Atta and Alshehhi are ruled out as having passed through. [London Times, 9/26/01, , BBC, 9/28/01, Sunday Herald, 9/30/01] However, police are investigating if Mohamed Atta visited Britain in 1999 and 2000 together with some Algerians. [Telegraph, 9/30/01] The London Times also writes, “Officials hope that the inquiries in Britain will disclose the true identities of the suicide team. Some are known to have arrived in Britain using false passports and fake identities that they kept for the hijack.” This contradicts assertions by FBI Director Mueller that all the hijackers used their own, real names (see September 16-23, 2001).

January 2001 (B)

       Hijackers Hamza Alghamdi and Mohand Alshehri rent a post office box in Delray Beach, Florida, according to the Washington Post. Yet FBI Director Mueller later claims they don't enter the country until May 28, 2001. [Washington Post 9/30/01; Congressional Intelligence Committee 9/26/02]

Mid-March 2001

       Hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi, Majed Moqed, Hani Hanjour, and Nawaf Alhazmi stay four days in the Fairfield Motor Inn, Fairfield, Connecticut. They meet with Eyad M. Alrababah, a Jordanian living in Bridgeport who has been charged with providing false identification to at least 50 illegal aliens. This meeting takes place about six weeks before the FBI says Moqed and Alghamdi enter the US. [AP 3/6/02; Congressional Intelligence Committee 9/26/02]

Late January 2001

       The BBC later reports, “After the elections, [US intelligence] agencies [are] told to ‘back off’ investigating the Bin Ladens and Saudi royals, and that anger[s] agents.” This follows previous orders to abandon an investigation of bin Laden relatives (see September 11, 1996), and difficulties in investigating Saudi royalty. [BBC, 11/6/01] [FTW] An unnamed “top-level CIA operative” says there is a “major policy shift” at the National Security Agency at this time. Osama bin Laden could still be investigated, but agents could not look too closely at how he got his money. [Best Democracy Money Can Buy] Presumably one such investigation canceled is an investigation by the Chicago FBI into ties between Saudi multimillionaire Yassin al-Qadi and the US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998) and other terrorist acts, because during this month an FBI agent is told that the case is being closed and that “it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie”(see October 1998). Reporter Greg Palast notes that President Clinton was already hindering investigations by protecting Saudi interests. But, as he puts it, “Where Clinton said, ‘Go slow,’ Bush policymakers said, ‘No go.’ The difference is between closing one eye and closing them both.” [Best Democracy Money Can Buy]

January 30, 2001

       Hijacker Ziad Jarrah is questioned for several hours at the Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates, at the request of the CIA for “suspected involvement in terrorist activities,” then let go. This is according to United Arab Emirates, US and European officials, but the CIA denies the story. The CIA notified local officials that he would be arriving from Pakistan on his way back to Europe, and they wanted to know where he had been in Afghanistan and how long he had been there. US officials were informed of the results of the interrogation before Jarrah left the airport. Jarrah had already been in the US for six months learning to fly. “UAE and European intelligence sources told CNN that the questioning of Jarrah fits a pattern of a CIA operation begun in 1999 to track suspected al-Qaeda operatives who were traveling through the United Arab Emirates.” He was then permitted to leave, eventually going to the US. [CNN, 8/1/02] Why the US would flag him now but not when he entered the US or after is unclear (see September 9, 2001 (E)).

February 2001

       At least six unconnected people later claim they recognize hijackers Satam Al Suqami and Salem Alhazmi living in San Antonio, Texas, until this month. The management of an apartment building says the two men abandoned their leases at about this time, and some apartment residents recognize them. However, all the witnesses say that Suqami was going by Alhazmi's name, and vice versa! [KENS 5 Eyewitness News, 10/1/01] One pilot shop employee recognizes Alhazmi as a frequent visitor to the store and interested in a 757 or 767 handbook, though he also says Alhazmi used Suqami's name. [KENS 5 Eyewitness News, 10/3/01] The apartment leasing agent also recalls a Ziad Jarrah who once lived there in June 2001 and looked the same as the hijacker. [San Antonio Express-News 9/22/01; AP 9/22/01 (B)] Local FBI confirm that a Salem Alhazmi attended the nearby Alpha Tango Flight School and lived in that apartment building, but they say he is a different Salem Alhazmi who is still alive and living in Saudi Arabia. [KENS 5 Eyewitness News, 10/4/01] However, that Salem Alhazmi (see September 16-23, 2001) says he's never been to the US and has proved to the authorities he didn't leave Saudi Arabia in the two years prior to 9/11. [Washington Post, 9/20/01] The FBI gave no explanation for Satam Al Suqami's presence. Neither hijacker is supposed to have arrived in the US before April, 2001 (see April 23-June 29, 2001). Is the FBI covering up sightings of hijackers that don't fit into their storyline? Why did they apparently switch names, and what does this say about the veracity of the names of other hijackers?

March-August 2001

       In March and August, Atta visits a small airport in South Florida and asks detailed questions about how to start and fly a crop-duster plane. People there easily recall him because he was so persistent. After explaining his abilities, Atta is told he is not skilled enough to fly a crop-duster. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] Employees at South Florida Crop Care in Belle Glade, Florida later tell the FBI that Atta was among the men who in groups of two or three visited the crop dusting firm nearly every weekend for six or eight weeks before the attacks. Says employee James Lester: “I recognized him because he stayed on my feet all the time. I just about had to push him away from me.” [AP 9/15/01] Yet, according to US investigators, Atta and the other hijackers gave up on the crop-duster idea back in 2000. (see Late April-Mid-May 2000).

March 4, 2001

A Lone Gunman advertisement
Contradicting the later claim that no one could have envisioned the 9/11 attacks, a short-lived Fox TV program called The Lone Gunmen airs a pilot episode in which terrorists try to fly an airplane into the WTC. The heroes save the day and the airplane narrowly misses the building. There are no terrorists on board the aircraft; remote control technology is used to steer the plane. Ratings were good for the show, yet the eerie coincidence is barely mentioned after 9/11. Says one media columnist, “This seems to be collective amnesia of the highest order.” [TV Guide 6/21/02] The heroes also determine, “The terrorist group responsible was actually a faction of our own government. These malefactors were seeking to stimulate arms manufacturing in the lean years following the end of the Cold War by bringing down a plane in New York City and fomenting fears of terrorism.” [Myers Report 6/20/02]

March 26, 2001

       The Washington Post reports on a major improvements of the CIA's intelligence gathering capability “in recent years.” A new program called Oasis uses “automated speech recognition” technology to turn audio feeds into formatted, searchable text. It can distinguish one voice from another and differentiates “speaker 1” from “speaker 2” in transcripts. Software called Fluent performs “cross lingual” searches, even translating difficult languages like Chinese and Japanese (apparently such software is much better than similar publicly available software) as well as automatically assessing their importance. There's also software that can turn a suspect's “life story into a three-dimensional diagram of linked phone calls, bank deposits and plane trips,” and other software to efficiently and quickly process vast amounts of video, audio and written data. [Washington Post 3/26/01] However, the government will later report that a number of messages about the 9/11 attacks, such as one stating “tomorrow is the zero hour” weren't translated until after 9/11 because analysts were “too swamped.” [ABC News, 6/7/02] Doesn't that contradict the automated aspect of much translation?

Spring 2001 (B)

       A US Customs Service investigation finds evidence that Nabil al-Marabh (see 1989-May 2000, May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001 and January 2001-September 11, 2001) has funneled money to hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi and Satam Al Suqami. [Cox News, 10/16/01, ABC 7, 1/31/02] By summer, Customs uncovers a series of financial transactions between al-Marabh and al-Qaeda agent Raed Hijazi. [New York Times 9/21/01; AP 11/17/01] It is later reported that “some of the 11 hijackers who passed through” Britain in spring 2001 on their way to the US (see April 23-June 29, 2001) “should have been instantly ‘red-flagged’ by British intelligence. One was Ahmed Alghamdi” because of his connection to Raed Hijazi (see January-June 2001). [Sunday Herald, 9/30/01] Presumably another would be Satam Al Suqami. If they should have been flagged by Britain in spring 2001 because of a US investigation, isn't it likely that they should have been flagged by the US as well? Despite all of these al-Qaeda connections and more, the US later decides al-Marabh is not a terrorist and deports him to Syria (see September 19, 2001-September 3, 2002, Late 2002, and January 2004). A Congressional 9/11 inquiry later concludes that US intelligence “possessed no intelligence or law enforcement information” before 9/11 on any of the hijackers except for Khalid Almihdhar and Salem and Nawaf Alhazmi. The inquiry suggests the other hijackers may have been selected “because they did not have previously established ties to terrorist organizations.” [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/20/02]

April-May 2001

       National Security Advisor Rice later says US intelligence sources start to learn of specific threats regarding al-Qaeda attacks against US targets or interests around this time. [CNN, 3/02, Reuters, 5/16/02] While its true that intelligence warnings were increasing at this time, what about the many specific warnings from before this (for instance, see March 2000 (B) and March 2001 (B))?

April 2001 (D)

       A report commissioned by former US Secretary of State James Baker and the Council on Foreign Relations entitled “Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century” is submitted to Vice President Cheney this month. “The report is linked to a veritable who's who of US hawks, oilmen and corporate bigwigs.” The report says the “central dilemma” for the US administration is that “the American people continue to demand plentiful and cheap energy without sacrifice or inconvenience.” It warns that the US is running out of oil, with a painful end to cheap fuel already in sight. It argues that “the United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma,” and that one of the “consequences” of this is a “need for military intervention” to secure its oil supply. It argues that Iraq needs to be overthrown so the US can control its oil. [Sunday Herald 10/5/02; Sydney Morning Herald 12/26/02] In what may be a reference to a pipeline through Afghanistan, the report suggests the US should “Investigate whether any changes to US policy would quickly facilitate higher exports of oil from the Caspian Basin region… the exports from some oil discoveries in the Caspian Basin could be hastened if a secure, economical export route could be identified swiftly” (see also September 2000 and Spring 2001). [Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century, 4/01] Could the Bush administration have let 9/11 happen to get access to Central Asian oil, and gain support for a war with Iraq, amongst other reasons?

Spring 2001

       The Sydney Morning Herald later reports, “The months preceding September 11 [see] a shifting of the US military's focus … Over several months beginning in April [2001] a series of military and governmental policy documents [are] released that [seek] to legitimize the use of US military force” “in the pursuit of oil and gas.” Michael Klare, an international security expert and author of Resource Wars, says the military has increasingly come to “define resource security as their primary mission.” An article in the Army War College's journal by Jeffrey Record, a former staff member of the Senate armed services committee, argues for the legitimacy of “shooting in the Persian Gulf on behalf of lower gas prices.” He also “advocate[s] the acceptability of presidential subterfuge in the promotion of a conflict” and “explicitly urge[s] painting over the US's actual reasons for warfare with a nobly high-minded veneer, seeing such as a necessity for mobilizing public support for a conflict.” In April, Tommy Franks, the commander of US forces in the Persian Gulf/South Asia area, testifies to Congress in April that his command's key mission is “access to [the region's] energy resources.” The next month US Central Command begins planning for war with Afghanistan, plans that are later used in the real war (see May 2001 (F)). [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/26/02] Other little noticed but influential documents reflect similar thinking (see September 2000 and April 2001 (D)).

April 8, 2001

       Supposedly, Atta flies from the US to Prague, Czech Republic, and meets with Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, an Iraqi spy. He returns on April 9 or 10. [New York Times, 10/27/01] But did he actually fly to Prague? A US official later states, “Neither we nor the Czechs nor anybody else has any information [Atta] was coming or going [to Prague] at that time.” [Newsweek, 4/28/02] FBI Director Mueller states, “We ran down literally hundreds of thousands of leads and checked every record we could get our hands on, from flight reservations to car rentals to bank accounts,” yet no evidence that he left the country was found. [Washington Post, 5/1/02] Investigators believe Atta was in Florida the whole time, and the Czech government eventually agrees. [BBC, 5/1/02, UPI, 10/20/02, New York Times, 10/21/02] But assuming al-Ani met with someone, could it be someone other than Atta, perhaps someone impersonating him? “After months of investigation, the Czechs [say] they [are] no longer certain that Atta was the person who met al-Ani, saying ‘he may be different from Atta.’ ” [Washington Post, 5/1/02] “Some in Prague who knew the diplomat say he met with a used car salesman named Saleh from Nuremburg, Germany, who looked like Mr. Atta. ‘He is a perfect double for Atta,’ said a Syrian businessman who has lived in Prague for 35 years and says he knew the diplomat and the car salesman. ‘I saw him several times with [al-Ani].’ … Czech intelligence officials offered still another theory: the Mohamed Atta who came to Prague last April was not the hijacker but a Pakistani of the same name. ‘He didn't have the same identity card number,’an unidentified Interior Ministry official told the newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes. ‘There was a great difference in their ages, their nationalities didn't match, basically nothing— it was someone else.’ ” [New York Times, 12/16/01] Could the use of an impersonator explain why some Czech officials remained convinced so long that Atta came to this meeting [AP, 12/17/01], while FBI investigators remained convinced that he never left Florida? [Washington Post, 5/1/02] See September 19, 2001-October 20, 2002 for the remarkable way coverage of this story has changed over time.

April 18, 2001 (B)

       The FAA sends a warning to US airlines that Middle Eastern terrorists could try to hijack or blow up a US plane and that carriers should “demonstrate a high degree of alertness.” The warning stems from the April 6, 2001, conviction of Ahmed Ressam over a failed plot to blow up Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebrations. This warning expires on July 31, 2001. [AP, 5/18/02] This is one of 15 general warnings issued to airlines between January and August (the airlines have been getting an average of more than one warning a month for a long time), but this one is slightly more specific. [CNN 3/02; CNN 5/17/02] As one newspaper later reports, “there were so many that airline officials grew numb to them.” [St. Petersburg Times, 9/23/02] The Bush administration officials have said the threats were so vague that they did not require tighter security. [AP 5/18/02]

April 23-June 29, 2001

       The 13 hijackers commonly known as the “muscle” first arrive in the US. The muscle provides the brute force meant to control the hijacked passengers and protect the pilots. [Washington Post, 9/30/01] According to FBI Director Mueller, they all pass through Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and their travel was probably coordinated from abroad by Khalid Almihdhar. [Congressional Intelligence Committee 9/26/02] But some information contradicts their official arrival dates:
  • April 23: Waleed Alshehri and Satam Al Suqami arrive in Orlando, Florida. Suqami in fact arrived before February 2001 (see February 2001). Alshehri was leasing a house near Washington in 1999 and 2000 with Ahmed Alghamdi (see 1999 (H)). He also lived with Ahmed Alghamdi in Florida for seven months in 1997. [Telegraph, 9/20/01] Alshehri appears quite Americanized in the summer of 2001, frequently talking with an apartment mate about football and baseball, even identifying himself a fan of the Florida Marlins baseball team. [AP 9/21/01]
  • May 2: Majed Moqed and Ahmed Alghamdi arrive in Washington. Both actually arrived by mid-March 2001 (see Mid-March 2001). Ahmed Alghamdi was living with Waleed Alshehri near Washington until July 2000 (see 1999 (H)). He also lived with Waleed Alshehri in Florida for seven months in 1997. [Telegraph 9/20/01]
  • May 28: Mohand Alshehri, Hamza Alghamdi, and Ahmed Alnami arrive in Miami, Florida. Both Mohand Alshehri and Hamza Alghamdi arrived by January 2001 (see January 2001 (B)).
  • June 8: Ahmed Alhaznawi and Wail Alshehri arrive in Miami, Florida.
  • June 27: Fayez Banihammad and Saeed Alghamdi arrive in Orlando, Florida.
  • June 29: Salem Alhazmi and Abdulaziz Alomari arrive in New York. Alhazmi in fact arrived before February 2001 (see February 2001).
After entering the US (perhaps reentering for some), the hijackers arriving at Miami and Orlando airports settle in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area along with Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, and Ziad Jarrah. The hijackers, arriving in New York and Virginia, settle in the Paterson, New Jersey, area along with Nawaf Alhazmi and Hani Hanjour. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] Note that the FBI's early conclusion that 11 of these muscle men “did not know they were on a suicide mission,” [Observer 10/14/01] is contradicted by video confessions made by all of them in Afghanistan (see March 2001), and CIA Director Tenet later says they “probably were told little more than that they were headed for a suicide mission inside the United States.” [CIA Director Tenet Testimony 6/18/02] They didn't know the exact details of the 9/11 plot until shortly before the attack. [CBS 10/9/02]

April 30, 2001

       The Bush administration finally has its first Deputy Secretary-level meeting on terrorism (see January 25, 2001). [Time, 8/4/02] According to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, he advocates that the Northern Alliance needs to be supported in the war against the Taliban (see April 6, 2001) and the Predator drone flights need to resume over Afghanistan so bin Laden can be targeted (see January 10, 2001-September 4, 2001). Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says the focus on al-Qaeda is wrong. He states, “I just don't understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden,” and “Who cares about a little terrorist in Afghanistan?” Wolfowitz insists the focus should be Iraqi-sponsored terrorism instead. He claims the 1993 attack on the WTC must have been done with help from Iraq, and rejects the CIA's assertion that there has been no Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the US since 1993. A spokesman for Wolfowitz later calls Clarke's account a “fabrication.” [Newsweek 3/22/04] Wolfowitz repeats these sentiments after 9/11 and tries to argue that the US should attack Iraq (see September 12, 2001 (F)). Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage agrees with Clarke that al-Qaeda is an important threat. Deputy National Security Advisor Steve Hadley, chairing the meeting, brokers a compromise between Wolfowitz and the others. The group agrees to hold additional meetings focusing on al-Qaeda first (see Early June 2001 (B) and June 27-July 16, 2001), but then later look at other terrorism, including any Iraqi terrorism. [Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, 3/04, p. 30, pp. 231-232] Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby and Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin also attend the hour long meeting. [Time 8/4/02]

May 2001 (G)

       Vice President Cheney's national energy plan is publicly released. It calls for expanded oil and gas drilling on public land and easing regulatory barriers to building nuclear power plants. [AP, 12/9/02] There are several interesting points, little noticed at the time. It suggests that the US cannot depend exclusively on traditional sources of supply to provide the growing amount of oil that it needs. It will also have to obtain substantial supplies from new sources, such as the Caspian states, Russia, and Africa. It also notes that the US cannot rely on market forces alone to gain access to these added supplies, but will also require a significant effort on the part of government officials to overcome foreign resistance to the outward reach of American energy companies. [Japan Today, 4/30/02] The plan was largely decided through Cheney's secretive Energy Task Force. Both before and after this, Cheney and other Task Force officials meet with Enron executives, including a meeting a month and a half before Enron declares bankruptcy (see December 2, 2001). Two separate lawsuits are later filed to reveal details of how the government's energy policy was formed and if Enron or other players may have influenced it, but so far the Bush Administration has resisted all efforts to release these documents (see October 17, 2002 and February 7, 2003 (B)). [AP 12/9/02] At the very least, it's known that Enron executives met with the Commerce Secretary about its troubled Dabhol power plant in 2001 (see November 1993). [New York Times, 2/21/02] If these documents are released, they could show what the government did to support Enron's Dabhol plant with an Afghanistan gas pipeline.

May 10, 2001

       Attorney General Ashcroft sends a letter to department heads telling them the Justice Department's new agenda. He cites seven goals, but counterterrorism is not one of them. Yet just one day earlier he testifies before Congress and says of counterterrorism, “The Department of Justice has no higher priority.” [New York Times 2/28/02] Dale Watson, head of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, recalls nearly falling out of his chair when he sees counterterrorism not mentioned as a goal. [9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04] In August, a strategic plan is distributed listing the same seven goals and 36 objectives. Thirteen objectives are highlighted, but the single objective relating to counterterrorism is not highlighted. [New York Times 2/28/02]

May 29, 2001

       A European Union committee investigating the Echelon spy surveillance network advises all people using e-mail to encrypt their e-mails if they want to avoid being spied on by Echelon. Echelon can sift through up to 90% of all internet traffic, as well as monitor phone conversations, mobile phone calls, fax transmissions, net browsing history, satellite transmissions and so on. Even encryption may not help much—the BBC suggests that “it is likely that the intelligence agencies can crack open most commercially available encryption software.” [BBC, 5/29/01, ] Given all this data capture capability, isn't it likely they had the data to break the 9/11 plot? The question is were they able to sift through all their data? Certainly any leads connected to al-Qaeda must have had the highest analysis priority for years.

May 30, 2001

       Two Yemeni men are detained after guards see them taking photos at 26 Federal Plaza in New York City. They are questioned by INS agents and let go. A few days later their confiscated film is developed. It shows photos of security checkpoints, police posts and surveillance cameras of federal buildings, including the FBI's counterterrorism office. The two men are later interviewed by the FBI and determined not to be terrorists. However, they had taken the pictures on behalf of a third person living in Indiana. By the time the FBI looks for him, he has fled the country and his documentation is found to be based on a false alias. In 2004 it is reported that it is still unknown if the third man is a terrorist or not. The famous briefing given to President Bush in early August 2001 (see August 6, 2001) mentions the incident, warning that the FBI is investigating “suspicious activity in this country consistent with the preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.” When Bush's briefing is released in 2004, a White House fact sheet fails to mention the still missing third man. [New York Post 7/1/01; New York Post 9/16/01; Washington Post 5/16/04]

June 2001 (I)

       US intelligence learns that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is interested in “sending terrorists to the United States” and planning to assist their activities once they arrive. The 9/11 Congressional inquiry says the significance of this is not understood at the time, and data collection efforts are not subsequently “targeted on information about [Mohammed] that might have helped understand al-Qaeda's plans and intentions.” [Committee Findings, 12/11/02, Los Angeles Times, 12/12/02, USA Today, 12/12/02] The FBI has a $2 million reward for Mohammed at the time (see Mid-1996-September 11, 2001) That summer, the NSA intercepts phone calls between Mohammed and Mohamed Atta, but apparently fails to pay attention (see Summer 2001), and on September 10, 2001, the US monitors a call from Atta to Mohammed in which Atta gets final approval for the 9/11 attacks, but this also doesn't lead to action (see September 10, 2001 (F)). In mid-2002, it is reported that “officials believe that given the warning signals available to the FBI in the summer of 2001, investigators correctly concentrated on the [USS] Cole investigation, rather than turning their attention to the possibility of a domestic attack.” [New York Times 6/9/02]

June 3, 2001

       This is one of only two dates that Bush's national security leadership meets formally to discuss terrorism (see also September 4, 2001 (C)). This group, made up of the National Security Adviser, CIA Director, Defense Secretary, Secretary of State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others, met around 100 times before 9/11 to discuss a variety of topics, but apparently rarely terrorism. In wake of these reports, the White House “aggressively defended the level of attention, given only scattered hints of al-Qaeda activity.” This lack of discussion stands in sharp contrast to the Clinton administration and public comments by the Bush administration. [Time, 8/4/02] Bush said in February 2001: “I will put a high priority on detecting and responding to terrorism on our soil.” A few weeks earlier, Tenet had told Congress, “The threat from terrorism is real, it is immediate, and it is evolving.” [AP 6/28/02]

June 9, 2001

FBI agent Robert Wright.
Robert Wright, an FBI agent who spent ten years investigating terrorist funding (see October 1998), writes a memo that slams the FBI. He states, “Knowing what I know, I can confidently say that until the investigative responsibilities for terrorism are transferred from the FBI, I will not feel safe… The FBI has proven for the past decade it cannot identify and prevent acts of terrorism against the United States and its citizens at home and abroad. Even worse, there is virtually no effort on the part of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit to neutralize known and suspected international terrorists living in the United States.”[Cybercast News Service, 5/30/02] He claims “FBI was merely gathering intelligence so they would know who to arrest when a terrorist attack occurred” rather than actually trying to stop the attacks. [UPI 5/30/02] Wright's shocking allegations are largely ignored when they first become public a year later. He is asked on CNN's Crossfire, one of the few outlets to cover the story at all, “Mr. Wright, your charges against the FBI are really more disturbing, more serious, than [Coleen] Rowley's [(see August 28, 2001 (D))]. Why is it, do you think, that you have been ignored by the media, ignored by the congressional committees, and no attention has been paid to your allegations?” The Village Voice says the problem is partly because he went to the FBI and asked permission to speak publicly instead of going straight to the media as Rowley did. The FBI put severe limits on what details Wright can divulge. He is now suing them (see also May 30, 2002). [Village Voice 6/19/02]

June 11, 2001

       A CIA analyst and FBI analyst travel to New York and meet with FBI officials at FBI headquarters about the USS Cole investigation. The CIA analyst has already showed photographs from the al-Qaeda Malaysia meeting attended by hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi (see January 5-8, 2000), to the FBI analyst, but failed to explain what he knows about them (see May 15, 2001). The CIA analyst now shows the same photos to the additional FBI agents. He wants to know if the FBI agents can identify anyone in the photos for a different case he's working on. “The FBI agents recognized the men from the Cole investigation, but when they asked the CIA what they knew about the men, they were told that they didn't have clearance to share that information. It ended up in a shouting match. [ABC News, 8/16/02] The CIA analyst later admits that at the time he knows Almihdhar had a US visa (see April 3-7, 1999), that Alhazmi had traveled to the US (see March 5, 2000), that al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash had been recognized in one of the photos (see January 4, 2001), and that Alhazmi was known to be an experienced terrorist. But he doesn't tell any of this to any FBI agent. He doesn't let them keep copies of the photos either. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] He promises them more information later, but the FBI agents don't receive more information until after 9/11. [Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] Two days after this meeting, Almihdhar has no trouble getting a new multiple reentry US visa. [US News and World Report 12/12/01; Congressional Inquiry 9/20/02] CIA Director Tenet later claims, “Almihdhar was not who they were talking about in this meeting.” When Senator Carl Levin (D) reads the following to Tenet, “The CIA analyst who attended the New York meeting acknowledged to the joint inquiry staff that he had seen the information regarding Almihdhar's US visa and Alhazmi's travel to the United States but he stated that he would not share information outside of the CIA unless he had authority to do so,” Tenet claims that he talked to the same analyst and was told something completely different. [New York Times 10/17/02]

June 12, 2001

Diaa Mohsen, left and Mohamed Malik, right, caught on an undercover video. A portrait of Mohamed Malik on the right.
Operation Diamondback, a sting operation uncovering an attempt to buy weapons illegally for the Taliban, bin Laden, and others, ends with a number of arrests. An Egyptian named Diaa Mohsen and a Pakistani named Mohammed Malik are arrested and accused of attempting to buy Stinger missiles, nuclear weapon components, and other sophisticated military weaponry for the Pakistani ISI. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/23/01, Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B)] Malik appears to have had links to important Pakistani officials and Kashmiri terrorists, and Mohsen claims a connection to a man “who is very connected to the Taliban” and funded by bin Laden. [Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B), MSNBC, 8/2/02] Some other ISI agents came to Florida on several occasions to negotiate, but they escaped being arrested. They wanted to partially pay in heroin. One mentioned that the WTC would be destroyed (see July 14, 1999and Early August 2001). These ISI agents said some of their purchases would go to the Taliban in Afghanistan and/or terrorists associated with bin Laden. [New York Times 6/16/01; Washington Post 8/2/02 (B); MSNBC 8/2/02] Both Malik and Mohsen lived in Jersey City, New Jersey. [Jersey Journal, 6/20/01] A number of the people held by the US after 9/11, including possible al-Qaeda members Syed Gul Mohammad Shah and Mohammed Azmath (see September 11, 2001 (K)) are from the same Jersey City neighborhood. [New York Post 9/23/01] Mohsen pleads guilty after 9/11, “But remarkably, even though [he was] apparently willing to supply America's enemies with sophisticated weapons, even nuclear weapons technology, Mohsen was sentenced to just 30 months in prison.” [MSNBC, 8/2/02] Malik's case appears to have been dropped, and reporters find him working in a store in Florida less than a year after the trial ended. [MSNBC 8/2/02] Malik's court files remain completely sealed, and in Mohsen's court case, prosecutors “removed references to Pakistan from public filings because of diplomatic concerns.” [Washington Post 8/2/02 (B)] Also arrested are Kevin Ingram and Walter Kapij. Ingram pleads guilty to laundering $350,000 and is sentenced to 18 months in prison. [AP, 12/1/01] Ingram was a former senior investment banker with Deutschebank, but resigned in January 1999 after his division suffered costly losses. [Jersey Journal, 6/20/01] Walter Kapij, a pilot with a minor role in the plot, is given the longest sentence, 33 months in prison. [Palm Beach Post, 1/12/02] Informant Randy Glass plays a key role in the sting, and has thirteen felony fraud charges against him reduced as a result, serving only seven months in prison. Federal agents involved in the case later express puzzlement that Washington higher-ups didn't make the case a higher priority, pointing out that bin Laden could have gotten a nuclear bomb if the deal was for real. Agents on the case complain that the FBI didn't make the case a counter-terrorism matter, which would have improved bureaucratic backing and opened access to FBI information and US intelligence from around the world. [Washington Post, 8/2/02 (B), MSNBC, 8/2/02] Federal agents frequently couldn't get prosecutors to approve wiretaps. [Cox News, 8/2/02] Glass says, “Wouldn't you think that there should have been a wire tap on Diaa [Mohsen]'s phone and Malik's phone?” [WPBF Channel 25, 8/5/02] An FBI supervisor in Miami refused to front money for the sting, forcing agents to use money from US Customs and even Glass's own money to help keep the sting going. [Cox News 8/2/02]

Late September-Early October 2001

       According to a later Mirror article, leaders of Pakistan's two Islamic parties negotiate bin Laden's extradition to Pakistan to stand trial for the 9/11 attacks. Bin Laden would be held under house arrest in Peshawar and would face an international tribunal, which would decide whether to try him or hand him over to the US. According to reports in Pakistan (and the Telegraph), this plan has both bin Laden's approval and that of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. However, the plan is vetoed by Pakistan's president Musharraf who says he “could not guarantee bin Laden's safety.” But it appears the US did not want the deal: a US official later says that “casting our objectives too narrowly”risked “a premature collapse of the international effort [to overthrow the Taliban] if by some lucky chance Mr. bin Laden was captured.” [Mirror 7/8/02]

Summer 2001 (B)

       A confidential informant tells an FBI field office agent that he has been invited to a commando training course at a camp operated by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The information is passed up to FBI headquarters, which rejects the idea of infiltrating the camp. An “asset validation” of the informant, a routine but critical exercise to determine whether information from the source was reliable, is also not done. The FBI later has no comment on the story. [US News and World Report 6/10/02]

July 2001

       The CIA hears an individual who had recently been in Afghanistan say, “Everyone is talking about an impending attack.” [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Washington Post, 9/19/02] The Telegraph later reports that “the idea of an attack on a skyscraper was discussed among [bin Laden's] supporters in Kabul.” At some unspecified point before 9/11, a neighbor in Kabul saw diagrams showing a skyscraper attack in a house known as a “nerve center” for al-Qaeda activity. [Telegraph, 11/16/01] US soldiers will later find forged visas, altered passports, listings of Florida flight schools and registration papers for a flight simulator in al-Qaeda houses in Afghanistan. [New York Times, 12/6/01] Bin Laden bodyguard later claims that in May 2001 he hears bin Laden tell people in Afghanistan that the US would be hit with a terrorist attack, and thousands would die. [Guardian 11/28/01] CIA Director Tenet later claims that the 9/11 plot was “in the heads of three or four people.” [USA Today 2/7/02] How many people in Afghanistan really knew of the 9/11 attack plans?

July 3, 2001 (B)

       CIA Director Tenet makes an urgent special request to 20 friendly intelligence services, asking for the arrest of a list of known al-Qaeda operatives. [Washington Post 5/17/02]

July 4-14, 2001

Did bin Laden receive life saving treatment at this hospital in Dubai?
Bin Laden, America's most wanted criminal with a $5 million bounty on his head, supposedly receives lifesaving treatment for renal failure from American surgeon specialist Dr. Callaway at the American hospital in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He is possibly accompanied by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri (who is said to be bin Laden's personal physician, al-Qaeda's second-in-command, and leader of Egypt's Islamic Jihad), plus several bodyguards. Callaway supposedly treated bin Laden in 1996 and 1998, also in Dubai. Callaway later refuses to answer any questions on this matter. [Le Figaro 10/31/01; Agence France-Presse 11/1/01; London Times 11/01/01] During his stay, bin Laden is visited by “several members of his family and Saudi personalities,” including Prince Turki al Faisal, then head of Saudi intelligence, as well as two CIA officers (see also July 12, 2001). [Guardian, 11/1/01] [FTW] The explosive story is widely reported in Europe, but barely at all in the US (possibly only by UPI [UPI, 11/1/01]). French terrorism expert Antoine Sfeir says the story of this meeting has been verified and is not surprising: It “is nothing extraordinary. Bin Laden maintained contacts with the CIA up to 1998. These contacts have not ceased since bin Laden settled in Afghanistan. Up to the last moment, CIA agents hoped that bin Laden would return to the fold of the US, as was the case before 1989.” [Le Figaro 11/1/01]

July 10, 2001

FBI agent Ken Williams.
Phoenix, Arizona, FBI agent Ken Williams sends a memorandum warning about suspicious activities involving a group of Middle Eastern men taking flight training lessons in Arizona. The memo is titled: “Zakaria Mustapha Soubra; IT-OTHER (Islamic Army of the Caucasus),” because it focuses on Zakaria Soubra, a Lebanese flight student in Prescott, Arizona, and his connection with a terror group in Chechnya that has ties to al-Qaeda. It is subtitled: “Osama bin Laden and Al-Muhjiroun supporters attending civil aviation universities/colleges in Arizona.” [Fortune 5/22/02; Arizona Republic 7/24/03] The memo is based on an investigation Williams had begun the year before (see April 17, 2000), but had trouble pursuing because of the low priority the Arizona FBI office gave terror investigations (see 1994 (C)). In the memo, Williams does the following:
  1. Names nine other suspect students from Pakistan, India, Kenya, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, in addition to Soubra. [Die Zeit, 10/1/02] Hijacker Hani Hanjour, attending flight school in Arizona in early 2001, is not mentioned in the memo, but one of his acquaintances is (see 1997-July 2001). Another person on the list is later arrested in Pakistan in 2002 with al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida (see March 28, 2002). [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03, Washington Post, 7/25/03 (C)]
  2. Notes he interviewed some of these students, and heard some of them make hostile comments about the US. He also noticed they were suspiciously well informed about security measures at US airports. [Die Zeit 10/1/02]
  3. Notes an increasing, “inordinate number of individuals of investigative interest” taking flight lessons in Arizona. [Die Zeit 10/1/02; Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
  4. Suspects that some of the 10 people he's investigated are connected to al-Qaeda. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] He discovered that one of them was communicating through an intermediary with Abu Zubaida. [San Jose Mercury News 5/23/02] Potentially this is the same member of the list mentioned above who is later captured with Abu Zubaida.
  5. Discovers connections between several of the students and a radical group called Al-Muhajiroun. [San Jose Mercury News, 5/23/02] This group supported bin Laden, and issued a fatwa, or call to arms, that included airports on a list of acceptable terror targets. [AP 5/22/02] Soubra, the main focus of the memo, is a member of Al-Muhajiroun and an outspoken radical, but he is later cleared of any ties to terrorism. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01 (C)]
  6. Warns of a possible “effort by Osama bin Laden to send students to the US to attend civil aviation universities and colleges”[Fortune, 5/22/02], so they can later hijack aircraft. [Die Zeit 10/1/02]
  7. Recommends, “The FBI should accumulate a listing of civil aviation universities/colleges around the country. FBI field offices with these types of schools in their area should establish appropriate liaison. FBI [headquarters] should discuss this matter with other elements of the US intelligence community and task the community for any information that supports Phoenix's suspicions.” [Arizona Republic 7/24/03] In fact, the FBI has already done this, but because of poor FBI communications, Williams is not aware of the report (see 1999 (L)).
  8. Recommends the FBI ask the State Department to provide visa data on flight school students from Middle Eastern countries so the bureau can track them more easily. [New York Times, 5/4/02]
The memo is e-mailed to six people at FBI headquarters in the bin Laden and radical fundamentalist units, and to two people in the FBI New York field office. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] He also shares some concerns with the CIA. [San Jose Mercury News 5/23/02] But the memo is merely marked “routine,” not “urgent.” It is generally ignored, not shared with other FBI offices, and the recommendations are not taken. One colleague in New York replies at the time that the memo is “speculative and not very significant.” [Die Zeit, 10/1/02, Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Williams also was unaware of many FBI investigations and leads that could have given weight to his memo (see 1998 (F), May 18, 1998, After May 15, 1998, 1999 (L), September 1999 (E), January-February 2001). Authorities later claim Williams was only pursuing a hunch, but one familiar with classified information says, “This was not a vague hunch. He was doing a case on these guys.” [San Jose Mercury News 5/23/02]

July 12, 2001

       While in Dubai, United Arab Emirates to receive lifesaving medical treatment (see July 4-14, 2001), Bin Laden supposedly meets with CIA agent Larry Mitchell in the Dubai hospital on this day, and possibly others. Mitchell reportedly lives in Dubai as an Arab specialist under the cover of being a consular agent. The CIA, the Dubai hospital and even bin Laden deny the story. Le Figaro and Radio France International stand by it. [Le Figaro 10/31/01; Radio France International 11/1/01; Reuters 11/10/01] The Guardian claims that the two news organizations that broke the story, Le Figaro and Radio France International, got their information from French intelligence, “which is keen to reveal the ambiguous role of the CIA, and to restrain Washington from extending the war to Iraq and elsewhere.” The Guardian adds that during his stay bin Laden is also visited by a second CIA officer. [Guardian, 11/1/01] On July 15, Larry Mitchell supposedly returns to CIA headquarters to report on his meeting with bin Laden. [Radio France International, 11/1/01] If this meeting did happen, then does it show the US was not serious about wanting bin Laden dead?

July 12, 2001 (B)

       On July 5, the CIA briefs Attorney General Ashcroft on the al-Qaeda threat, warning that a significant terrorist attack is imminent, and a strike could occur at any time. [9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04 (B)] On this day, acting FBI Director Tom Pickard briefs Attorney General Ashcroft about the terror threat inside the US. Pickard later swears under oath that Ashcroft tells him, “he did not want to hear about this anymore.” Ashcroft, also under oath, later categorically denies the allegation, saying, “I did never speak to him saying that I didn't want to hear about terrorism.” However, Ruben Garcia, head of the Criminal Division, and another senior FBI official corroborate Pickard's account. Ashcroft's account is supported by his top aide, but another official Ashcroft's office claimed would also support Ashcroft's account says he can't remember what happened. Pickard briefs Ashcroft on terrorism four more times that summer, but he never mentions al-Qaeda to Ashcroft again before 9/11. [MSNBC, 6/22/04] Pickard later makes an appeal to Ashcroft for more counterterrorism funding; Ashcroft rejects the appeal on September 10, 2001. [9/11 Commission Report, 4/13/04] Picard later says, “Before September 11th, I couldn't get half an hour on terrorism with Ashcroft. He was only interested in three things: guns, drugs, and civil rights.”

July 20-22, 2001

       The G8 summit is held in Genoa, Italy. Acting on previous warnings that al-Qaeda would attempt to kill Bush and other leaders (see June 13, 2001, June 20, 2001, andMid-July 2001), Italy surrounds the summit with antiaircraft guns, keeps fighters in the air, and closes off local airspace to all planes. [Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01]The warnings are taken so seriously that Bush stays overnight on an aircraft carrier offshore, and other world leaders stay on a luxury ship. [CNN, 7/18/01] No attack occurs. US officials at the time state that the warnings were “unsubstantiated” but after 9/11 claim success in preventing an attack. Lying about Genoa keeps the public and the airlines uninformed about the seriousness of the current terrorist threat. [Los Angeles Times 9/27/01]

July 26, 2001

       CBS News reports that Attorney General Ashcroft has stopped flying commercial airlines due to a threat assessment, but “neither the FBI nor the Justice Department … would identify [to CBS] what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it.” [CBS, 7/26/01] FTW “Ashcroft demonstrated an amazing lack of curiosity when asked if he knew anything about the threat. ‘Frankly, I don't,’ he told reporters.” [San Francisco Chronicle 6/3/02] It is later reported that he stopped flying in July based on threat assessments made on May 8 and June 19. In May 2002 its claimed the threat assessment had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, but Ashcroft walked out of his office rather than answer questions about it. [AP, 5/16/02] The San Francisco Chronicle concludes, “The FBI obviously knew something was in the wind … The FBI did advise Ashcroft to stay off commercial aircraft. The rest of us just had to take our chances.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/3/02] CBS's Dan Rather later says of this warning: “Why wasn't it shared with the public at large?” [Washington Post 5/27/02]

Late summer 2001

       Jordanian intelligence (the GID) makes a communications intercept deemed so important that King Abdullah's men relay it to Washington, probably through the CIA station in Amman. To make doubly sure the message gets through it is passed through an Arab intermediary to a German intelligence agent. The message states that a major attack, code named The Big Wedding, is planned inside the US and that aircraft will be used. “When it became clear that the information was embarrassing to Bush Administration officials and congressmen who at first denied that there had been any such warnings before September 11, senior Jordanian officials backed away from their earlier confirmations.” Christian Science Monitor calls the story “confidently authenticated” even though Jordan has backed away from it. [International Herald Tribune, 5/21/02, ] [FTW]

July 31, 2001

       The FAA issues another warning to US airlines, citing no specific targets but saying “terror groups are known to be planning and training for hijackings, and we ask you therefore to use caution.” These alerts had expired by 9/11. Note that pilots and flight attendants later claim they were never told about warnings such as these. The airlines also disagree about the content of pre-9/11 warnings generally. For instance, American Airlines states these warnings were “extremely general in nature and did not identify a specific threat or recommend any specific security enhancements.” The text of these warnings remain classified. [CNN 3/02; Ananova 5/17/02]

August 2001 (G)

Robert Baer
Former CIA agent Robert Baer (see December 1997 and January 23, 2002) is advising a prince in a Persian Gulf royal family, when a military associate of this prince passes information to him about a “spectacular terrorist operation” that will take place shortly. He is also given a computer record of around 600 secret al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The list includes 10 names that will be placed on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list after 9/11. He is also given evidence that a Saudi merchant family had funded the USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000), and that the Yemeni government is covering up information related to that bombing. At the military officer's request, he offers all this information to the Saudi Arabian government. But an aide to the Saudi defense minister, Prince Sultan, refuses to look at the list or to pass the names on (Sultan is later sued for his complicity in the 9/11 plot, see August 15, 2002). Baer also passes the information on to a senior CIA official and the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center, but there is no response or action. Large sections of Baer's book are blacked out, having been censored by the CIA. [Financial Times 1/12/02; See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism Robert Baer 2/02 pp. 270-271; Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11 Bill Gertz pp. 55-58]

Early August 2001 (B)

       AP later reports that the “CIA had developed general information a month before the attacks that heightened concerns that bin Laden and his followers were increasingly determined to strike on US soil.” A CIA official affirmed that: “There was something specific in early August that said to us that [bin Laden] was determined in striking on US soil.” A major excuse given since 9/11 is that the Bush administration was focused on overseas attacks, and didn't expect a domestic attack (for instance see May 16, 2002 (B)). [AP 10/3/01]

August 2001

A Raytheon 727 lands in New Mexico in August, 2001.
The US company Raytheon lands a 727 six times in a military base in New Mexico without any pilots on board. This is done to test equipment making future hijackings more difficult, by allowing ground control to take over the flying of a hijacked plane. [AP 10/2/01 (C); Der Spiegel 10/28/01] Several Raytheon employees with possible ties to this remote control technology program appear to have been on the hijacked 9/11 flight (see September 25, 2001). However, most media reports after 9/11 suggest such technology is currently impossible. For instance, the Observer quotes an expert who says “the technology is pretty much there” but still untried. [Observer 9/16/01] An aviation-security expert at Jane's Defence Weekly says this type of technology belongs “in the realms of science fiction.” [Financial Times, 9/18/01 (B), Economist, 9/20/01] Even Bush appears to deny the technology current exists. He gives a speech after 9/11 in which he mentions that the government would give grants to research “new technology, probably far in the future, allowing air traffic controllers to land distressed planes by remote control.” [New York Times 9/28/01]

August 2001 (D)

       Russian President Putin warns the US that suicide pilots are training for attacks on US targets. [Fox News 5/17/02] The head of Russian intelligence also later states, “We had clearly warned them” on several occasions, but they “did not pay the necessary attention.” [Agence France-Presse 9/16/01] A Russian newspaper on September 12, 2001 claims that “Russian Intelligence agents know the organizers and executors of these terrorist attacks. More than that, Moscow warned Washington about preparation to these actions a couple of weeks before they happened.” Interestingly, the article claims that at least two of the terrorists were Muslim radicals from Uzbekistan. [Izvestia 9/12/01] (the story currently on the Izvestia web site has been edited to delete a key paragraph, the link is to a translation of the original article from From the Wilderness) [FTW]

August 1, 2001 (C)

       A motel owner in Oklahoma City later claims that Zacarias Moussaoui and hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi all come to his motel on this day. Although the FBI has investigated this lead, they have not commented on it, and prosecutors have not attempted to use the incident as evidence in their case against Moussaoui. It is widely admitted the case against Moussaoui is not strong (for instance, Newsweek states: “there's nothing that shows Moussaoui ever had contact with any of the 9/11 hijackers” [Newsweek, 8/5/02]). The LA Weekly speculates the FBI may want to ignore this lead because it “could force the FBI to reopen its investigation of Middle Eastern connections to the 1995 Oklahoma City blast, because convicted bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols reportedly stayed at the same motel, interacting with a group of Iraqis during the weeks before the bombing.”

August 6, 2001

       President Bush receives a classified intelligence briefing at his Crawford, Texas ranch indicating that bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. The memo read to him is titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” The entire memo focuses on the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the US.[Newsweek, 5/27/02, New York Times, 5/15/02] A page and a half of the contents are released after National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice testifies to the 9/11 Commission [Washington Post, 4/10/04]. The 9/11 Congressional inquiry call it “a closely held intelligence report for senior government officials” presented in early August 2001. Rice testifies that the memo is mostly historic regarding bin Laden's previous activities and she says it contains no specific information that would have prevented an attack. The memo, as released, includes at least the following information:
  1. Bin Laden has wanted to conduct attacks inside the US since 1997.
  2. “Members of al-Qaeda, including some US citizens, [have] resided in or travelled to the US for years and the group apparently maintain[s] a support structure” in the US.
  3. A discussion of the arrest of Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999) and the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998).
  4. Uncorroborated information obtained in 1998 that bin Laden wants to hijack airplanes to gain the release of US-held extremists such as Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman (see July 1990).
  5. Information acquired in May 2001 indicating al-Qaeda is planning to infiltrate the US from Canada and attack the US using high explosives (see May 2001 (B)).
  6. “FBI judgments about patterns of activity consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks.”
  7. The number of on-going bin Laden-related investigations. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02, Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03]
Incredibly, the New York Times later reports that Bush “[breaks] off from work early and [spends] most of the day fishing” (see also August 4-30, 2001). [New York Times 5/25/02] The existence of this memo is kept secret, until it is leaked in May 2002, causing a storm of controversy (see May 15, 2002). National Security Advisor Rice gives an inaccurate description of the memo, claiming it is only one and a half pages long (other accounts state it is 11 and a half pages instead of the usual two or three). [Newsweek 5/27/02; New York Times 5/15/02; Die Zeit 10/1/02] She falsely claims, “It was an analytic report that talked about [bin Laden]'s methods of operation, talked about what he had done historically, in 1997, in 1998…. I want to reiterate, it was not a warning. There was no specific time, place, or method mentioned.” [White House 5/16/02]

August 8-15, 2001

       At some point between these dates, Israel warns the US that an al-Qaeda attack is imminent. [Fox News, 5/17/02] Two high ranking agents from the Mossad come to Washington and warn the FBI and CIA that from 50 to 200 terrorists have slipped into the US and are planning “a major assault on the United States.” They say indications point to a “large scale target”, and that Americans would be “very vulnerable.” They add there could be Iraqi connections to the al-Qaeda attack. [Telegraph 9/16/01; Los Angeles Times 9/20/01; Ottawa Citizen 9/17/01] The Los Angeles Times later retracts the story after a CIA spokesman says, “There was no such warning. Allegations that there was are complete and utter nonsense.” [Los Angeles Times 9/21/01 (B)] In light of later revelations of a Mossad spy ring trailing numerous Muslim terrorists in the US, it is easy to see that Mossad would have known this info. Could this be later disinformation by the Mossad to spin the spy ring story and blame Iraq for 9/11, or it is another smoking gun showing extensive US foreknowledge?

August 16, 2001

       The FAA issues a warning to airlines concerning disguised weapons. According to later testimony by National Security Advisor Rice, the FAA is concerned about reports that the terrorists have made breakthroughs in disguising weapons as cell phones, key chains and pens (if this is true, why are all of these items still allowed on planes after 9/11, yet fingernail scissors and tweezers are not?). [CNN 3/02; Reuters 5/16/02] However, the major airlines later deny receiving such notification. For instance, a Delta spokesperson states: “We were not aware of any warnings or notifications of any specific threats.” [Fox News 5/16/02]

August 21, 2001

Left to right: Khalid al-Fawwaz, Adel Abdel Bary and Ibrahim Ediarous.
Walid Arkeh, a Jordanian serving time in a Florida prison, is interviewed by FBI agents after warning the government of an impending terrorist attack. He had been in a British jail from September 2000 to July 2001, and while there had befriended three inmates, Khalid al-Fawwaz, Adel Abdel Bary and Ibrahim Eidarous. US prosecutors charge that “the three men ran a London storefront that served as a cover for al-Qaeda operations and acted as a conduit for communications between bin Laden and his network.” [Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] Al-Fawwaz was bin Laden's press agent in London, and bin Laden had called him over 200 times before al-Fawwaz was arrested in 1998. [Financial Times, 11/29/01 (B), Sunday Times, 3/24/02] The other two had worked in the same office as al-Fawwaz. All three have been indicted as co-conspirators with bin Laden in the 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998). Arkeh tells the FBI that he had learned from these three that “something big was going to happen in New York City,” and that they had called the 1993 attack on the WTC “unfinished business.” Tampa FBI agents determine that he had associated with these al-Qaeda agents, but nonetheless they don't believe him. According to Arkeh, one agent responds to his “something big”warning by saying: “Is that all you have? That's old news.” The agents fail to learn more from him. On September 9, concerned that time is running out, a fellow prisoner tried to arrange a meeting, but nothing happens before 9/11. The Tampa FBI agents have a second interview with him hours after the 9/11 attacks, but even long after 9/11 they claim he cannot be believed. On January 6, 2002, the Tampa FBI issued a statement: “The information [was] vetted to FBI New York, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa Division and the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. All agreed the information provided by this individual was vague and unsubstantiated… Mr. Arkeh did not provide information that had any bearing on the FBI preventing September 11. ” [Orlando Sentinel, 1/6/02, Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/02] However, a different group of FBI agents interviews him later and finds his information is credible (see May 21-22, 2002). See for more on this topic.

August 22, 2001

       The French give the FBI information requested about Zacarias Moussaoui. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02] The French say Moussaoui has ties with radical Islamic groups and recruits men to fight in Chechnya. They believe he spent time in Afghanistan (see 1999). He had been on a French watch list for several years, preventing him from entering France. A French justice official later says “the government gave the FBI ‘everything we had’ ” on Moussaoui, “enough to make you want to check this guy out every way you can. Anyone paying attention would have seen he was not only operational in the militant Islamist world but had some autonomy and authority as well.” [Time, 5/27/02] A senior French investigator later says “Even a neophyte working in some remote corner of Florida, would have understood the threat based on what was sent.” [Time, 8/4/02] The French Interior Minister also emphasizes, “We did not hold back any information.” [ABC News 9/5/02] But senior officials at FBI headquarters still maintain that the information “was too sketchy to justify a search warrant for his computer.” [Time 8/4/02]

August 23, 2001 (C)

       Thanks to the request of an unnamed FBI analyst assigned to the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center (see July 13, 2001), the CIA sends a cable to the State Department, INS, Customs Service, and FBI requesting that “bin Laden-related individuals” Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, and two others be put on the terrorism watch list. Since March 2000, if not earlier, the CIA had good reason to believe these two were al-Qaeda terrorists living in the US, but did nothing and told no other agency about it until now (see March 5, 2000). They are not be found in time, and both die in the 9/11 attacks. FBI agents later state that if they been told about Almihdhar and Alhazmi sooner, “There's no question we could have tied all 19 hijackers together” given the frequent contact between these two and the other hijackers. [Newsweek, 6/2/02] However, in what the Washington Post calls a “critical omission,” the FAA, Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the FBI's Financial Review Group are not notified. The two later groups have the power to tap into private credit card and bank data, and claim they could have readily found Alhazmi and Almihdhar given the frequency the two used credit cards. [Washington Post 7/25/03 (C)] Furthermore, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and his Counterterrorism and Security Group are not told about these two terrorists before 9/11 either. [Newsweek, 3/24/04] At the same time, the CIA requests that Khallad bin Attash be added to the watch list—eight months after he was known to have been the main planner of the USS Cole bombing (see January 4, 2001). One other attendee of the Malaysian meeting (see January 5-8, 2000) is also put on the watch list, but that name remains confidential. [New York Times 9/21/02] The CIA later claims the request was labeled “immediate,” the second most urgent category (the highest is reserved for things like declarations of war). [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/01] The FBI denies that it was marked “immediate” and other agencies treated the request as a routine matter. [Los Angeles Times, 10/18/01, Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] The State Department places all four on the watch list the next day. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03] However, this watch list, named TIPOFF (see December 11, 1999), only checks their names if they use international flights. There is another watch list barring suspected terrorists from flying domestically. On 9/11 it contains about two dozen names. But none of these four are placed on that list. [Knight Ridder 1/27/04]

August 23, 2001

       According to German newspapers, the Mossad gives the CIA a list of terrorists living in the US and say that they appear to be planning to carry out an attack in the near future. It is unknown if these are the 19 9/11 hijackers or if the number is a coincidence. However, four names on the list are known and are names of the 9/11 hijackers: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Marwan Alshehhi, and Mohamed Atta. [Die Zeit 10/1/02; Der Spiegel 10/1/02; BBC 10/2/02; Ha'aretz 10/3/02] The Mossad appears to have learned about this through its “art student” spy ring (see for instance, March 5, 2002). Yet apparently this warning and list are not treated as particularly urgent by the CIA and also not passed on to the FBI. It's not clear if this warning influenced the adding of Alhazmi and Almihdhar to a terrorism watch list on this same day, and if so, why only those two. [Der Spiegel 10/1/02] Israel has denied that there were any Mossad agents in the US. [Ha'aretz, 10/3/02] The US has denied knowing about Atta before 9/11, despite other media reports to the contrary (see January-May 2000).

August 23, 2001 (D)

       The FBI begins a search for hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar in response to a CIA cable about them (see August 23, 2001 (C)). The FBI later claims that they responded aggressively. An internal review after 9/11 found that “everything was done that could have been done” to find them. [Los Angeles Times 10/28/01] However, even aside from a failed attempt to start a criminal investigation (see August 28, 2001), the search is halfhearted at best. As the Wall Street Journal later explains, the search “consisted of little more than entering their names in a nationwide law enforcement database that would have triggered red flags if they were taken into custody for some other reason.” [Wall Street Journal, 9/17/01] A national motor vehicle index is checked, but a speeding ticket issued to Alhazmi the previous April is not detected. [Daily Oklahoman, 1/20/02, Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] Nor is a recorded interaction between Alhazmi and local police in Fairfax, Virginia in May that could have led investigators to Alhazmi's East Coast apartment. [San Diego Union-Tribune,9/27/02] Even though the two were known to have entered the US through Los Angeles, drivers' license records in California are not checked. The FBI also fails to check national credit card or bank account databases, and car registration. All of these would had positive results. Alhazmi's name was even in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book, listing the address where he and Almihdhar may have been living off and on until about September 9, 2001 (see Early February-Summer 2000 and Early September 2001). [Newsweek 6/2/02; South Florida Sun-Sentinel 9/28/01; Los Angeles Times 10/28/01]

August 30-September 4, 2001

       According to Egyptian President Hasni Mubarak, Egyptian intelligence warns American officials that bin Laden's network is in the advanced stages of executing a significant operation against an American target, probably within the US. [AP, 12/7/01, New York Times, 6/4/02] He says he learned this information from an agent working inside al-Qaeda. US officials deny receiving any such warning from Egypt. [ABC News 6/4/02]

Early September 2001

       The standard accounts place hijackers Hani Hanjour, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi on the East Coast without interruption in the weeks before the attacks. [New York Times, 11/6/01, CNN, 9/26/01, New York Times, 9/21/01, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01, St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01, AP, 9/21/01, Newsday, 9/23/01 (B), Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] However, neighbors at the San Diego apartment complex where the three lived are clear in their assertions that all three were there until days before 9/11. For instance, one article states, “Authorities believe Almihdhar, Hanjour and Alhazmi … moved out a couple of days before the East Coast attacks.” [San Diego Channel 10, 11/1/01] Ed Murray, a resident at the complex, said that all three “started moving out Saturday night—and Sunday [September 9] they were gone.” [San Diego Channel 10, 9/14/01, San Diego Channel 10, 9/20/01] This is the same day that Alhazmi is seen in an East Coast shopping mall. [CNN, 9/26/01] As with previous reports (see Early February-Summer 2000 and Summer-December 2000), neighbors also see them getting into strange cars late at night. A neighbor interviewed shortly after 9/11 said, “A week ago, I was coming home between 12 and 1 a.m. from a club. I saw a limo pick them up. It wasn't the first time. In this neighborhood you notice stuff like that. In the past couple of months, I have seen this happen at least two or three times.” [Time, 9/24/01] Is one or the other account wrong, or could the identities of these hijackers have been used by more than one person simultaneously? If so, what happened to the ones that didn't board the hijacked planes? To add to the confusion, there have been reports that investigators think Almihdhar is still alive (see September 16-23, 2001) and the Chicago Tribune says of Alhazmi, Almihdhar and Hanjour: “The most basic of facts—the very names of the men—are uncertain. The FBI has said each used at least three aliases. ‘It's not going to be a terrible surprise down the line if these are not their true names,’ said Jeff Thurman, an FBI spokesman in San Diego.” [Chicago Tribune 9/30/01]

Early September 2001 (L)

       Numerous other overseas investigations into insider trading before 9/11 are later established. There are investigations in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monte Carlo, Cyprus and other countries. There are particularly strong suspicions British markets were manipulated. Italy is investigating suspicious share movements on the day of the attack, as well as the previous day. Japan as well is looking into trading of futures contracts. [Fox News 9/22/01; CNN 9/24/01; BBC 9/18/01 (B)] The British conclude in a remarkable two weeks that their markets were not manipulated (see October 16, 2001). But over one year later, where are the results for all the other countries?

Early September 2001 (B)

       The NSA intercepts “multiple phone calls from Abu Zubaida, bin Laden's chief of operations, to the United States.” The timing and information contained in these intercepted phone calls has not been disclosed. [ABC News, 2/18/02] Shouldn't the US government have been able to determine who was being called, and find those people?

September 4, 2001

       “On or around” this day, the Mossad give their “latest”warning to the US of a major, imminent terrorist attack, according to sources close to Mossad. One former Mossad agent says, “My understanding is that the warning was not specific. No target was identified. But it should have resulted in an increased state of security.” US intelligence claims this never happened. [Sunday Mail 9/16/01]

September 5, 2001 (B)

Hani Hanjour, left, and Majed Moqed, right, at an ATM in Maryland.
Two men, believed to be Hani Hanjour and Majed Moqed, are captured on camera at an ATM in Maryland. [St. Petersburg Times 9/27/01] A picture of this is later released, which appears to be the only picture released of any of the hijackers in the US, except for those on identification cards and some of Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari in Portland, Maine in the 24 hours before the 9/11 attacks. Are there no other pictures of any hijackers anywhere?

September 7, 2001 (D)

       One of the first and most frequently told stories about the hijackers is their visit to Shuckums, a sports bar in Hollywood, Florida on this day. What's particularly interesting about this story is how it has changed over time. In the original story, first reported on September 12 [AP, 9/12/01 (E)], Atta, Marwan Alshehhi and an unidentified man come into the restaurant already drunk. “They were wasted,” says bartender Patricia Idrissi, who directs them to a nearby Chinese restaurant. [St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01] Later they return and drink—Atta having five vodka and orange juices, and Alshehhi five rum and Cokes. [Time, 9/24/01] Says manager Tony Amos: “The guy Mohamed was drunk, his voice was slurred and he had a thick accent.”Idrissi says they argue about the bill, and when she asks if there was a problem, “Mohamed said he worked for American Airlines and he could pay his bill.” [AP, 9/12/01 (E)] This story was widely reported through much of September (for instance, see [New York Times, 9/13/01 (E), Sunday Herald, 9/16/01, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/15/01, Miami Herald, 9/22/01, Newsweek, 9/17/01, Time, 9/24/01]). But starting on September 15, a second story appears. [Toronto Star, 9/15/01] It's the same as the first, except Atta is playing video games and drinking cranberry juice instead of vodka, and Alshehhi is the one who argues over the bill and pays. After some coexistence, the second story seems to have become predominant in later September (for instance, see [Washington Post, 9/16/01 (C), Washington Post, 9/22/01, Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01, St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01, Australian Broadcasting Corp., 11/12/01, Sunday Times, 2/3/02]). Given that at least three restaurant employees all said the same story in numerous interviews, why did that story change? Could the FBI have put pressure on the witnesses to change their story so that Atta's behavior was more in line with his extremely religious image?

September 8-11, 2001 (B)

       The hijackers send money to and receive money from a man in the United Arab Emirates who uses the aliases “Mustafa Ahmed,” “Mustafa Ahmad,” and “Ahamad Mustafa.” [MSNBC, 12/11/01] This “Mustafa” transfers money to Mohamed Atta in Florida on September 8 and 9. He sends the money from a branch of the Al Ansari Exchange in Sharjah, UAE, a center of al-Qaeda financial dealings (see Mid-1996-October 2001). [Financial Times, 11/30/01] On September 9, three hijackers, Atta, Waleed Alshehri and Marwan Alshehhi, transfer about $15,000 back to “Mustafa”'s account. [Time, 10/1/01, Los Angeles Times, 10/20/01] Apparently the hijackers are returning money meant for the 9/11 attacks that they didn't use. “Mustafa” then transfers $40,000 to his Visa card and then, using a Saudi passport, flies from the UAE to Karachi, Pakistan, on 9/11. He makes six ATM withdrawals there two days later, then disappears into Pakistan (see September 11, 2001-January 2002). [MSNBC 12/11/01] In early October 2001 it is reported that the financier “Mustafa Ahmed” is an alias used by Saeed Sheikh. [CNN, 10/6/01] It will later be reported that Saeed wired money to Atta the month before (see Early August 2001 (D)). These last-minute transfers are touted as the “smoking gun” proving al-Qaeda involvement in the 9/11 attacks, since Saeed is a known financial manager for bin Laden. [Guardian 10/1/01] But since Saeed also works for the ISI, aren't these transfers equally a smoking gun of ISI involvement in the 9/11 attacks? The US media frequently reports a series of alternatives to Saeed as the one who sends this money (see September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002).

September 9, 2001 (E)

       Hijacker Ziad Jarrah is stopped in Maryland for speeding, ticketed and released. No red flags show up when his name is run through the computer by the state police. However, he already had been questioned in United Arab Emirates at the request of the CIA for “suspected involvement in terrorist activities”(see January 30, 2001). Baltimore's mayor has criticized the CIA for not informing them that Jarrah was on the CIA's watch list. [Chicago Tribune 12/14/01; AP 12/14/01] The CIA calls the whole story “flatly untrue.” [CNN 8/1/02]

September 9, 2001 (C)

       It is later reported that on this day, bin Laden calls his stepmother and says, “In two days, you're going to hear big news and you're not going to hear from me for a while.” US officials later tell CNN that “in recent years they've been able to monitor some of bin Laden's telephone communications with his [step]mother. Bin Laden at the time was using a satellite telephone, and the signals were intercepted and sometimes recorded.” [New York Times 10/2/01] Stepmother Al-Khalifa bin Laden, who raised Osama bin Laden after his natural mother died, was apparently waiting in Damascus, Syria, to meet Osama there, so he called to cancel the meeting. [Sunday Herald, 10/7/01] They had met periodically in recent years (see Spring 1998, Spring 2000 (C) and February 26, 2001). Before 9/11, to impress important visitors, NSA analysts would occasionally play audio tapes of bin Laden talking to his stepmother. The next day government officials say about the call, “I would view those reports with skepticism.” [CNN 10/2/01]

September 10, 2001 (L)

       At least two messages in Arabic are intercepted by the NSA. One states “The match is about to begin” (bin Laden apparently uses football metaphors in many messages) and the other states “Tomorrow is zero hour.” Later reports [Reuters, 9/9/02] translate the first message as “The match begins tomorrow.” They were sent between someone in Saudi Arabia and someone in Afghanistan. The NSA claims that they weren't translated until September 12, and that even if they were translated in time, “they gave no clues that authorities could have acted on.” [ABC News, 6/7/02, Reuters, 6/19/02] These turn out to be only two of about 30 pre-9/11 communications from suspected al-Qaeda operatives or other militants referring to an imminent event. An anonymous official says of these messages, including the “Tomorrow is zero hour” message, “You can't dismiss any of them, but it doesn't tell you tomorrow is the day.” [Reuters, 9/9/02] There is a later attempt to explain them away by suggesting they refer to the killing of Afghani opposition leader Ahmed Shah Massoud the day before (see September 9, 2001). [Reuters, 10/17/02] Couldn't they at least have issued an urgent security warning?

September 10, 2001 (P)

       In a bar in Daytona Beach, Florida the night before the 9/11 attacks, three men make anti-American sentiments and talk of impending bloodshed. One says, “Wait 'til tomorrow. America is going to see bloodshed.”These were not any of the hijackers, since they had all left Florida by this time. [MSNBC 9/23/01; AP 9/14/01] FBI Director Mueller later claims “To this day we have found no one in the United States except the actual hijackers who knew of the plot”(see June 18, 2002), but what of these three?

September 10, 2001 (O)

       There is a possibility that FEMA's National Urban Search and Rescue Team arrived in New York the night before the attacks. FEMA member Tom Kennedy says in a CBS interview on September 13: “We're currently one of the first teams that was deployed to support the City of New York in this disaster. We arrived on late Monday night [September 10] and went right into action on Tuesday morning [September 11].” FEMA officials said Kennedy misstated his team's arrival date. [CBS, 9/13/01, link is to an audio file] The Boston Herald later says Kennedy's name is actually Tom Kenney, and his wife claims he merely confused the dates. [Boston Herald, 9/5/02] There is a terrorism exercise scheduled in New York City for the day after 9/11; so even if Kenney (or Kennedy) is not in New York in time for the 9/11 attacks, presumably other emergency responders from FEMA and elsewhere are (see September 12, 2001).

September 10, 2001 (M)

       US officials later admit American agents had infiltrated al-Qaeda cells in the US, though how many and how long they had been in al-Qaeda remains a mystery. On this day, electronic intercepts connected to these undercover agents hear messages such as: “Watch the news” and “Tomorrow will be a great day for us.” As to why this didn't lead to boosted security or warnings the next day, officials call these leads “needles in a haystack.” What other leads may have come from this prior to this day are not revealed. [USA Today, 6/4/02] At least until February 2002, the official story was that the “CIA failed to penetrate al-Qaeda with a single agent.” [ABC News, 2/18/02] FBI Director Mueller later claims “To this day we have found no one in the United States except the actual hijackers who knew of the plot”(see June 18, 2002) but what about the people in these penetrated cells giving these messages?

September 11-16, 2001 (B)

       Andrews Air Force Base is 10 miles from Washington, DC, and Langley Air Force Base in 130 miles away. The official story is that there were no fighters at Andrews so none took off from there to intercept the hijacked planes, but it takes a few days for the media to come around to that point of view:
  1. A few minutes after the Pentagon was hit, “fighter jets scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base… ” [Denver Post, 9/11/01]
  2. “It was after the attack on the Pentagon that the Air Force then decided to scramble F-16's out of the DC National Guard Andrews Air Force Base… ” [NBC Nightly News, 9/11/01]
  3. “Air defense around Washington is provided mainly by fighter planes from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland near the District of Columbia border. The D.C. Air National Guard is also based there and equipped with F-16 fighter planes, a National Guard spokesman said. But the fighters took to the skies over Washington only after the devastating attack on the Pentagon… ” [San Diego Union Tribune, 9/12/01]
  4. “Within minutes of the attack American forces around the world were put on one of their highest states of alert—Defcon 3, just two notches short of all-out war—and F-16's from Andrews Air Force Base were in the air over Washington DC.” [Telegraph, 9/16/01]
  5. “Andrews Air Force Base, home to Air Force One, is only 15 miles away from the Pentagon, but it had no fighters assigned to it.” [USA Today, 9/16/01]
  6. “The District of Columbia National Guard maintained fighter planes at Andrews Air Force Base, only about 15 miles from the Pentagon, but those planes were not on alert and not deployed.” [USA Today, 9/16/01]
  7. “ … As part of its dual mission, the 113th provides capable and ready response forces for the District of Columbia in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency.” “In the best tradition of the Marine Corps, a ‘few good men and women’ support two combat-ready reserve units at Andrews AFB.” [DC Military website]
  8. The District of Columbia Air National Guard website is changed shortly after 9/11. Previously its mission was “to provide combat units in the highest possible state of readiness.” Afterwards, it was changed to read that the Guard has a “vision” to “provide peacetime command and control and administrative mission oversight to support customers, DCANG units, and NGB in achieving the highest levels of readiness.” [DCANG Home Page (before and after the change)]
The official story is that fighters from Langley didn't arrive over Washington until 12 minutes after the Pentagon was struck, but witnesses see fighters well before then. [Newsday, 9/23/01, Denver Post, 9/11/01] One year later, a new article writes about Andrews extensively: “Within minutes of American Airlines Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon on Sept. 11, Air National Guard F-16's took off from [Andrews].” However, the article also claims that the Andrews fighters were not on alert, and so, of the first two to take off, one was partially armed and the other was unarmed. [Aviation Week and Space Technology 9/9/02]


Before September 11, 2001 (D)

       Just prior to 9/11, the CIA and FBI don't have enough staff working on al-Qaeda. 17-19 people are working in the FBI's special unit focusing on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02] The FBI has a $4.3 billion anti-terrorism budget, but of its 27,000 employees, just 153 are devoted to terrorism analysis. [Sydney Morning Herald, 6/8/02] The FBI's “analytic expertise had been ‘gutted’ by transfers to operational units” and only one strategic analyst is assigned full time to al-Qaeda. The FBI office in New York is very aware of the threat from bin Laden, but many branch offices remain largely unaware. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] A senior FBI official later tells Congress that there are fewer FBI agents assigned to counterterrorism on this day than in August 1998, when the US embassy bombings in Africa made bin Laden a household name. [New York Times, 9/22/02]The CIA has about 35-40 people assigned to their special Bin Laden unit. It has five strategic analysts working full time on al-Qaeda. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02] The CIA and FBI later say some of these figures are misleading. [New York Times 9/18/02] “Individuals in both the CIA and FBI units…reported being seriously overwhelmed by the volume of information and workload prior to September 11, 2001.” Despite numerous warnings that planes could be used as weapons, such a possibility was never studied, and a Congressional report later blames lack of staff as a major reason for this. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 9/18/02] Senator Patrick Leahy (D) also notes: “Between the Department of Justice and the FBI, they had a whole task force working on finding a couple of houses of prostitution in New Orleans. They had one on al-Qaeda.” [CBS 9/25/02]

September 11, 2001 (Y)

       Some White House personnel, including Vice President Cheney's staff, are given Cipro, the anti-anthrax drug, and told to take it regularly on the evening after the attacks. [AP 10/24/01] Judicial Watch later sues the Bush Administration to release documents showing who knew what and when, and why Presidential staff were protected while Senators, Congresspeople and others were not. [AP, 6/9/02] [FTW]

September 11 , 2001 (X)

       An FAA memo written on the evening of 9/11 suggests a man on Flight 11 was shot and killed by a gun before the plane crashed into the WTC. [See the leaked FAA memo , originally posted at ] The “Executive Summary,” based on information relayed by a flight attendant to the American Airlines Operation Center, stated “that a passenger located in seat 10B shot and killed a passenger in seat 9B at 9:20 A.M”[since Flight 11 crashed at 8:46, the time must be a typo, probably meaning 8:20]. The passenger killed was Daniel Lewin, shot by passenger Satam Al Suqami. The FAA claims that the document is a “first draft” and declines to release the final draft, calling it “protected information.” A report in Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz on September 17 identifies Lewin as a former member of the Israel Defense Force Sayeret Matkal, Israel's most successful special-operations unit [UPI, 3/6/02]. Sayeret Matkal is a deep-penetration unit that has been involved in assassinations, the theft of foreign signals-intelligence materials, and the theft and destruction of foreign nuclear weaponry. Sayeret Matkal is best known for the 1976 rescue of 106 passengers at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. [New Yorker 10/29/01] Officials later deny the gun story and suggest that Lewin was probably stabbed to death instead (which would still be very interesting). [UPI, 3/6/02, Washington Post, 3/2/02 (B)] Note that Lewin founded Akamai, a successful computer company, and his connections to Sayeret Mat'kal remained hidden until the gun story came to light. [Guardian, 9/15/01] Perhaps Lewin just happened to be there, and, with his past training, tried to be a hero and stop the hijack? What are the odds that an Israeli counter-terrorist expert would not only be on this hijacked flight, but also have terrorists sitting in the seats directly in front and behind him?

September 11, 2001 (G)

September 11, 2001: The World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93 crash.
The 9/11 attack: four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. At least 3,000 people are killed. A more detailed timeline focusing on the hours of this attack appears on a separate page. According to officials, the entire US is defended by only 14 fighters (two planes each in seven military bases). [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01] And “they no longer included any bases close to two obvious terrorist targets—Washington, DC, and New York City.” A defense official says: “I don't think any of us envisioned an internal air threat by big aircraft. I don't know of anybody that ever thought through that.” [Newsday 9/23/01]

September 11, 2001 (N)

       A few hours after the attacks, German intelligence intercepts a phone conversation between followers of bin Laden that leads the FBI to search frantically for two more teams of suicide hijackers, according to US and German officials. The Germans overhear the terrorists refer to “the 30 people traveling for the operation.” The FBI scours flight manifests and any other clues for more conspirators still at large. [New York Times, 9/29/01] Two days later, authorities claim to have identified teams that total as many as 50 infiltrators who supported or carried out the strikes. About forty are accounted for as dead or in custody; ten are missing. They also believe a total of 27 suspected terrorists received some form of pilot training. This corresponds with many analyses that the attacks would have needed a large support network. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/01] Even 50 may be a gross underestimate (see September 19, 2001). Yet so far, only one person, Moussaoui, has been identified and charged as an accomplice, and a report in October suggests no one else arrested has been connected to the 9/11 attacks (see October 20, 2001). What happened to the rest of the 40 or 50?

September 11, 2001 (R)

       Explosives expert Van Romero says: “My opinion is, based on the videotapes, that after the airplanes hit the World Trade Center there were some explosive devices inside the buildings that caused the towers to collapse.” The collapse of the buildings appears “too methodical” to be a chance result of airplanes colliding with the structures. [Albuquerque Journal 9/11/01] However, Romero, who says he was on his way to the Pentagon to seek Pentagon research funding when the attack hit, reverses his stance 10 days later. [Albuquerque Journal, 9/21/01] Might his need for government funding have played a role in his change of heart?

September 11, 2001 (M)

       It is later revealed that only hours after the 9/11 attacks, a US “shadow government” is formed. Initially deployed “on the fly”, executive directives on government continuity in the face of a crisis dating back to the Reagan administration are put into effect. Approximately 100 midlevel officials are moved to underground bunkers and stay there 24 hours a day. Officials rotate in and out on a 90-day cycle. When its existence is revealed, some controversy arises because of the exclusion of any Democrats from it. In fact, top Congressional Democrats had never even heard of it until journalists broke the story months later. [Washington Post 3/1/02; CBS 3/2/02]

September 11, 2001 (C)

Odigo's logo.
Two employees of Odigo, Inc., in Israel, receive warnings of an imminent attack in New York City around two hours before the first plane hits the WTC. Odigo, one of the world's largest instant messaging companies, has its headquarters two blocks from the WTC. The Odigo Research and Development offices where the warnings were received are located in Herzliyya, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Israeli security and the FBI were notified immediately after the 9/11 attacks began. The two employees claim not to know who sent the warnings. “Odigo service includes a feature called People Finder that allows users to seek out and contact others based on certain interests or demographics. [Alex] Diamandis [Odigo vice president of sales and marketing] said it was possible that the attack warning was broadcast to other Odigo members, but the company has not received reports of other recipients of the message.” [Ha'aretz, 9/26/01, Washington Post, 9/27/01 (C)] FTW Odigo claims the warning did not specifically mention the WTC, but the company won't say what was specified, claiming, “Providing more details would only lead to more conjecture.” [Washington Post 9/28/01] Odigo gave the FBI the internet address of the message's sender so the name of the sender could be found. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur 9/26/01] Two months later it is reported that the FBI is still investigating the matter, but there have been no reports since. [Courier Mail 11/20/01] Could the message have been a mass e-mail sent to a large group? Could this be related to the “art student spy ring”? Did the original senders directly inform the FBI as well, and if not, why not?

September 11, 2001

       Warren Buffett, possibly the second richest man on Earth [Salon, 8/31/99], schedules a morning charity event inside Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. A number of CEOs who would otherwise have been in the WTC attend. Attendees had just arrived when the first WTC attack occurs. This base is the center of the nation's military defenses, and the same base that Bush will fly to later in the day. The timing, probable attendance, and location of the meeting is curious, to say the least, as is the total lack of any mention of the meeting anywhere, except for one aside by a business leader (Anne Tatlock, CEO and President of Fiduciary and Franklin)explaining why she survived the WTC attack. [San Francisco Business Times 2/1/02]

September 11, 2001 (T)

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

September 11, 2001 (P)

       Senator Orrin Hatch (R) tells the Associated Press that the US government was monitoring bin Laden's communications electronically, and overheard two bin Laden aides celebrating the successful terrorist attack: “They have an intercept of some information that included people associated with bin Laden who acknowledged a couple of targets were hit.”[AP, 9/12/01, ABC News, 9/12/01] Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld publicly denounces the report, not as untrue, but as an unauthorized release of classified information. [Department of Defense news briefing 9/12/01] The head of the NSA explains the delay by saying bin Laden (living in a cave in Afghanistan) “has better technology”than the US ($30 billion annual intelligence budget). [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01] Why has the mainstream media not explored the implications that the CIA and FBI could monitor the private communications of al-Qaeda on the days up to and including 9/11?

September 11, 2001 (D)

       An advertisement for a “homeland security” event in 2002 will mention the following curious sentence: “On the morning of September 11th 2001, Mr. [John] Fulton and his team at the CIA were running a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building. Little did they know that the scenario would come true in a dramatic way that day.” [National Law Enforcement Security Institute, 8/02] Fulton's team is part of the National Reconnaissance Office, which “operates many of the nation's spy satellites. It draws its personnel from the military and the CIA.” The simulation was to start at 9:00 a.m., four miles from where one of the real hijacked planes took off. The government calls the simulation just a “bizarre coincidence.” [AP 8/21/02] The government has repeatedly claimed that no one imagined a plane deliberately crashing into a building (see May 16, 2002 (B)).

September 11, 2001 (O)

       A National Public Radio correspondent states: “I spoke with Congressman Ike Skelton—a Democrat from Missouri and a member of the Armed Services Committee—who said that just recently the director of the CIA warned that there could be an attack—an imminent attack— on the United States of this nature. So this is not entirely unexpected.” [NPR 9/11/01] This dramatically contradicts what CIA Director Tenet has told the American public.

September 11, 2001 (V)

       Hours after the 9/11 attacks, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is given information that three of the names on the airplane passenger manifests are suspected al-Qaeda operatives. The notes he composes at the time are leaked nearly a year later. Rumsfeld writes he wants the “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL. [Usama bin Laden] Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” [CBS, 9/4/02] He presents the idea to Bush the next day (see ). It is later revealed that shortly after 9/11, Rumsfeld sets up “a small team of defense officials outside regular intelligence channels to focus on unearthing details about Iraqi ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks.” It has continued to sift “through much of the same databases available to government intelligence analysts but with the aim of spotlighting information the spy agencies have either overlooked or played down.” [Washington Post, 10/25/02] Time will report in May 2002 that Defense Secretary “Rumsfeld has been so determined to find a rationale for an attack that on 10 separate occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking Iraq to the terror attacks of Sept. 11. The intelligence agency repeatedly came back empty-handed.” [Time, 5/6/02 (B)] But while the CIA hasn't been helpful to Rumsfeld, one former senior official later says, “If it became known that [Rumsfeld] wanted [the Defense Intelligence Agency] to link the government of Tonga to 9/11, within a few months they would come up with sources who'd do it.” [New Yorker, 12/16/02] Since the plan to defeat Iraq is planned despite a complete lack of evidence showing Iraqi involvement in 9/11 (see also September 17, 2001 (B)), how can any later evidence pointing to Iraq's complicity in 9/11 be trusted?

September 11, 2001 (G)

September 11, 2001: The World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93 crash.
The 9/11 attack: four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. At least 3,000 people are killed. A more detailed timeline focusing on the hours of this attack appears on a separate page. According to officials, the entire US is defended by only 14 fighters (two planes each in seven military bases). [Dallas Morning News, 9/16/01] And “they no longer included any bases close to two obvious terrorist targets—Washington, DC, and New York City.” A defense official says: “I don't think any of us envisioned an internal air threat by big aircraft. I don't know of anybody that ever thought through that.” [Newsday 9/23/01]

September 12, 2001 (G)

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later claims that on the evening of this day, President Bush speaks to Clarke and others, saying, “Looks, I know you have a lot to do and all…but I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in any way.” Clarke later recalls, “Now he never said, ‘Make it up.’ But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.” So Clarke complains to Bush that the link between al-Qaeda and Iraq has already been investigated several times, and always come up empty. Bush responds in a testy and intimidating manner, “Look into Iraq, Saddam.” Clarke delegates an investigation to look again at any link between Iraq and al-Qaeda. He writes, “All agencies and departments agreed, there was no cooperation between the two. A memorandum to that effect was sent up to the President, but there never was any indication that it reached him.” The agencies are told to prepare another report on the same subject, with the implication that they should come up with a different answer. But the second time they reach the same conclusion, and again Clarke doubts if Bush ever sees it. [CBS 3/20/04] Deputy National Security Advisor Steve Hadley denies the conversation ever occurred, but 60 Minutes finds two sources to independently confirm Clarke's account. [CBS, 3/20/04] Others also emerge to back up Clarke's account, though so dispute his description of Bush as “intimidating.” [, Guardian, 3/26/04] White House aides eventually concede that the meeting “probably” occurred. [New York Daily News 3/27/04]

September 12, 2001 (F)

The National Security Council meets on the morning of September 12, 2001. From left to right: Rumsfeld, Powell, Bush, Cheney, Shelton.
Top officials meeting with President Bush discuss attacking Iraq. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later recalls, “At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting al-Qaeda. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that [Defense Secretary] Rumsfeld and [Assistant Defense Secretary] Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq. Since the beginning of the administration, indeed well before, they had been pressing for a war with Iraq. My friends in the Pentagon had been telling me that the word was we would be invading Iraq sometime in 2002.” Wolfowitz tries to argue that al-Qaeda must have had Iraqi backing. Following his notes from the day before suggesting that 9/11 should be blamed on Iraq and not just al-Qaeda (see September 11, 2001 (V)), Defense Secretary Rumsfeld proposes that Iraq should be “a principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism.” Rumsfeld complains that there are no decent targets to bomb in Afghanistan and that it would be better to bomb Iraq because they have better targets. Secretary of State Powell agrees with Clarke that the immediate focus should be on al-Qaeda. But Powell also seems open to a later attack, saying, “Public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible.” Clarke complains to him, “Having been attacked by al-Qaeda, for us now to go bombing Iraq in response would be like our invading Mexico after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor. President Bush notes the goal should be replacing the Iraqi government, not just bombing it, but the military warns an invasion would need a large force and many months to assemble.” [Washington Post, 1/28/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03, Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, 3/04, pp. 30-31] There is still no evidence suggesting Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks (the first evidence, later refuted, comes around September 19, 2001 (see September 19, 2001-October 20, 2002)). />

September 12, 2001 (B)

       Press Secretary Ari Fleischer explains that Bush went to Nebraska because “There was real and credible information that the White House and Air Force One were targets.” [Fleischer Press Briefing transcript, 9/12/01] The next day, William Safire of the New York Times writes, and Bush's Political Strategist Karl Rove confirms, that the secret service believed “ ‘Air Force One may be next,’ and there was an ‘inside’ threat which ‘may have broken the secret codes [showing a knowledge of Presidential procedures].’ ” By September 27, Fleischer begins to backpedal on the claim that there were specific threats against Air Force One and/or the President and new stories flatly contradict it. [Washington Post 9/27/01] A well-informed, anonymous Washington official says, “It did two things for [Cheney]. It reinforced his argument that the President should stay out of town, and it gave George W. an excellent reason for doing so.” [Telegraph, 12/16/01] By 2004, a Bush spokesman says there hadn't been any threat, but Cheney continues to maintain that there may have been. Cheney also claims the Secret Service passed him word of the threat, but two Secret Service agents working that day deny their agency played any role in receiving or passing on such a threat. The threat was supposedly based on the use of the word “Angel,” the code word for Air Force One, but Secret Service agents later note that the code word wasn't an official secret, but a radio shorthand designation that had been made public well before 2001. [Wall Street Journal 3/22/04]

September 12, 2001 (E)

       The passport of hijacker Satam Al Suqami is found a few blocks from the WTC. [ABC News, 9/12/01 (C), AP, 9/16/01, ABC News, 9/16/01] What are the odds that this passport became separated from al Suqami or his luggage, and somehow escaped the fireball that consumed the airplane, then the collapse of the buildings? The Guardian says, “the idea that Atta's passport had escaped from that inferno unsinged [tests] the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI's crackdown on terrorism.” [Guardian, 3/19/02] Note the passport did not belong to Atta, as is sometimes claimed.

September 12, 2001

       The government's initial response to the 9/11 attacks is there was no evidence whatsoever that bin Laden planned an attack in the US. “There was a ton of stuff, but it all pointed to an attack abroad,” says one official. Furthermore, in the 24 hours after the attack, investigators have been searching through “mountains of information,” “but the vast electronic ‘take’ on bin Laden, said officials who requested anonymity, contained no hints of a pending terror campaign in the United States itself, no orders to subordinates, no electronic fund transfers, no reports from underlings on their surveillance of the airports in Boston, Newark and Washington.”[Miami Herald, 9/12/01] These are obvious lies (for instance, see September 10, 2001 (K)and September 10, 2001 (L) for messages hinting at the attack). Recall also the title of Bush's briefing on August 6, 2001: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”(see May 15, 2002).

September 13-14, 2001

       The two “black boxes” for Flight 93 are found. However, they are deemed severely damaged, and it isn't known if the data could be recovered. [Reuters 9/13/01 (B); BBC 9/15/01] Months later, the FBI reveals they know the contents, but only release select quotes (see December 21, 2001). [CNN 12/21/01]

September 13, 2001 (C)

       AP publishes a list of all the people on board the hijacked airlines. This follows an earlier list from CNN on 9/11. These lists are very curious, because the numbers don't appear to add up. Take for instance Flight 11. The list has 86 passengers on board, including five hijackers, plus 11 crew members, a total of 97. But there only were 92 people total on board the plane according to all accounts. The numbers only work if you subtract the five hijackers. The other plane lists all have too few names, by up to five people. [AP, 9/13/01 (B)] Too few can be explained by people who asked their names not to be released, but how does one explain too many? Another report suggests that several hijackers boarded Flight 11 with stolen crew uniforms. [Sunday Herald 9/16/01]

September 13, 2001 (D)

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

September 14, 2001 (C)

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

September 14, 2001 (F)

       FBI Director Mueller describes reports that several of the hijackers had received flight training in the US as “news, quite obviously,”adding: “If we had understood that to be the case, we would have—perhaps one could have averted this.” It is later discovered that contrary to Mueller's claims, the FBI had interviewed various flight school staffs about Middle Eastern terrorists on numerous occasions, from 1996 until a few weeks before 9/11 (see 1996 (D), May 18, 1998, September 1999 (E), September 2000 (B), July 10, 2001, August 23, 2001 (E)). [Washington Post, 9/23/01, Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Three days later he says, “There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country.”[Department of Justice transcript, 9/17/01] Slate magazine later contrasts this with numerous other contradictory statements and articles, and awards Mueller the “Whopper of the Week.” [Slate 5/17/02]

September 14, 2001 (B)

       The two “black boxes” for Flight 77 are found. [PBS Newshour, 9/14/01] FBI Director Mueller will later say that the boxes provided altitude, speed, headings and other information, but the voice recorder contained “nothing useful.” [CBS 2/23/02]
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