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Cover-up,lies
Incompetence
Advance info;kind
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Anthrax attacks
civil liberties
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none
Israeli spies
Afghan war prep
Saudis, Bush
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Day of 911

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Bush on 9/11
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Complete 911 Timeline

 
  

Project: Complete 911 Timeline

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Showing 301-400 of 1602 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100    next 100

March 25, 2000

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

Spring-Summer 2000

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

Spring 2000 (C)

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

Spring 2000

       German investigators finally agree to the CIA's idea of recruiting businessman Mamoun Darkazanli as an informer (see September 20, 1998, December 1999 and September 24, 2001). An agent of the LFV, the Hamburg state intelligence agency, casually approaches Darkazanli and asks him whether he is interested in becoming a spy. Darkazanli replies that he is just a businessman who knows nothing about al-Qaeda or terrorism. The Germans inform the local CIA representative that the approach failed. The CIA agent refuses to admit defeat. But when German agents ask for more information to show Darkazanli they know of his terrorist ties, the CIA fails to give any information. As it happened, at the end of January 2000, Darkazanli had just met with terrorist Barakat Yarkas in Madrid, Spain. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] Darkazanli is a longtime friend and business partner of Yarkas, the most prominent al-Qaeda agent in Spain. [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/03] The meeting included other suspected al-Qaeda figures, and was monitored by Spanish police. If the CIA was aware of the Madrid meeting, they don't tell the Germans. [Chicago Tribune, 11/17/02] The CIA had also begun surveillance of Atta in January 2000, but they keep all knowledge of that investigation secret from the Germans (see January-May 2000). A second LFV attempt to recruit Darkazanli also fails. The CIA then attempts to work with federal German intelligence officials in Berlin to “turn” Darkazanli. Results of that effort aren't known. [Chicago Tribune 11/17/02]
          

April 2000 (C)

       The US is given permission to greatly expand a military base in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, and construction begins shortly thereafter. The justification for expanding, Al Adid, a billion-dollar base, is preparedness for renewed action against Iraq. [Los Angeles Times, 1/6/02] Dozens of other US military bases had sprung up in the region in the 1990s. [Village Voice, 11/13/02] Such facilities in Qatar later form the regional headquarters for the US attack on Iraq in 2003.
          

Spring 2000 (D)

       According leaks from the still-classified part of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, monthly payments to Omar al-Bayoumi, suspected hijacker “advance man” and possible Saudi agent, increase significantly at this time. Al-Bayoumi has been receiving a salary from the Saudi civil authority of about $500 a month. But shortly after hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move to San Diego, al-Bayoumi's salary increases to about $3,000 to $3,500 a month. [New York Times, 7/29/03 (B)] From early 1995, al-Bayoumi has been paid for a job with a Saudi aviation company called Dallah Avco that is closely tied to the Saudi government. Apparently it's a “ghost” job that involves no work (see August 1994). Accounts appear to be confused if this pay spike is from his Dallah Avco job, or an additional payment by the government [New York Times, 7/29/03 (B), New York Times, 8/2/03], but it appears to be a separate stream of money because another report has documents showing his Dallah Avco job started with $3,000 a month payments and remained consistent. [Wall Street Journal, 8/11/03] It also fits in with his claims to acquaintances at the time that he is receiving a regular government scholarship. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] Additionally, since 1998, a mysterious rich Saudi forced a San Diego mosque to hire al-Bayoumi for a job where he does little work (see June 1998 (D)). Also around December 1999, the wife of his close friend Osama Basnan begins receiving monthly payments from the wife of the Saudi ambassador to the US, and there is speculation this money passes through al-Bayoumi to the hijackers (see December 4, 1999). So it is possible al-Bayoumi has been receiving four channels of money that have connections with the Saudi government for virtually nothing in return.
          

Spring 2000 (B)

       Investigative reporter Bob Woodward later claims that special CIA paramilitary teams begin “working with tribes and warlords in southern Afghanistan” and help “create a significant new network in the region of the Taliban's greatest strength.” [Washington Post 11/18/01]
          

April 2000 (B)

       US intelligence learns about an alleged bin Laden plot to hijack a 747. The source is a “walk-in” to the FBI's Newark office who claims that he had been to a training camp in Pakistan where he learned hijacking techniques and received arms training. He also stated that he was supposed to meet five to six other individuals in the US who would also participate in the plot. They were instructed to use all necessary force to take over the plane because there would be pilots among the hijacking team. The plan was to fly the plane to Afghanistan, and if they would not make it there, that they were to blow up the plane. Although the individual passed an FBI polygraph, the FBI was never able to verify any aspect of his story or identify his contacts in the US. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02]
          

April 2000 (B)

       Niaz Khan, a British citizen originally from Pakistan, is recruited into an al-Qaeda plot. He is flown to Lahore, Pakistan, and then trains in a compound there for a week with others on how to hijack passenger airplanes. He trains on a mock cockpit of a 767 aircraft (an airplane type used on 9/11). He is taught hijacking techniques, including how to smuggle guns and other weapons through airport security and how to get into a cockpit. He is then flown to the US and told to meet with a contact. He says, “They said I would live there for a while and meet some other people and we would hijack a plane from JFK [John F. Kennedy airport in New York City] and fly it into a building.” [London Times, 5/9/04] He has “no doubt” this is the 9/11 plot. But Khan slips away and gambles away the money given to him by al-Qaeda. Afraid he would be killed for betraying al-Qaeda, he turns himself in to the FBI. For three weeks, FBI counterterrorism agents in Newark, New Jersey interview him. [MSNBC, 6/3/04 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5131524/, Observer, 6/6/04 http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,1232389,00.html] One FBI agent recalls, “We were incredulous. Flying a plane into a building sounded crazy but we polygraphed him and he passed.” [London Times, 5/9/04] A former FBI official says the FBI agents believed Khan and tried to aggressively follow every lead in the case, but word came from FBI headquarters saying, “return him to London and forget about it.” So he is returned to Britain and handed over to British authorities. But the British only interview him for about two hours, and then release him. He is surprised that authorities never asked for his help in identifying where he was trained in Pakistan, even after 9/11. [MSNBC, 6/3/04 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5131524/] His case is mentioned in the 2002 Congressional Inquiry report, but the plot is apparently mistakenly described as an attempt to hijack a plane and fly it to Afghanistan. [Senate Intelligence Committee 9/18/02]
          

April 2000

       Spruce Whited, director of security for the Portland Public Library, later says Atta and possibly a second hijacker are regulars at the library and frequently use public Internet terminals at this time. He says four other employees recognize Atta as a library patron. “I remember seeing (Atta) in the spring of 2000,” he says. “I have a vague memory of a second one who turned out to be (Atta's) cousin” (note: this is probably a reference to Marwan Alshehhi). Whited also says federal authorities have not inquired about the library sightings. [Boston Herald, 10/5/01, Portland Press Herald, 10/5/01] According to the official story, Atta doesn't arrive in the US until June 3, 2000. [Miami Herald, 9/22/01, Australian Broadcasting Corp. 11/12/01] Why does the FBI appear uninterested in these early sightings of Atta?
          

April-May 2000

      
Two pictures of hijacker Marwan Alshehhi.
Around this time hijacker Marwan Alshehhi boasts of planning an attack to a Hamburg librarian. He says, “There will be thousands of dead. You will think of me.” He also specifically mentions the WTC. [AFP, 8/29/02, New York Times, 8/29/02] “You will see,”Alshehhi adds. “In America something is going to happen. There will be many people killed.” [New York Times 9/10/02] This “demonstrates that the members of the Hamburg cell were not quite as careful to keep secret their plans as had previously been thought. And it appears to bury for good the theory that the pilots were informed of their targets only hours before they took off. Not least, though, Marwan Alshehhi's boast provides a key element for the reconstruction of the plot—a date by which the terrorists had decided on their target.” [Guardian 8/30/02]
          

April 4, 2000

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

April 17, 2000

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

April 19, 2000

       USA Today states that “Israeli crime groups…dominate distribution” of Ecstasy. [USA Today, 4/19/00] The DEA also states that most of the Ecstasy sold in the US is “controlled by organized crime figures in Western Europe, Russia and Israel.” [UPI, 10/25/01] According to DEA documents, the Israeli “art student” spy ring “has been linked to several ongoing DEA [Ecstasy] investigations in Florida, California, Texas and New York now being closely coordinated by DEA headquarters.” [Insight, 3/11/02] In addition to 9/11 connections explored later, was this spy ring meant to obstruct DEA prosecution of Israeli organized crime?
          

April 20, 2000

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

Late April-Mid-May 2000

       Atta reportedly has a very strange meeting with Johnelle Bryant of the US Department of Agriculture (incidentally, one month before the official story claims he arrived in the US for the first time). According to Bryant, in the meeting Atta does all of the following:
  1. He initially refuses to speak with one who is “but a female.”
  2. He asks her for a loan of $650,000 to buy and modify a crop-dusting plane.
  3. He mentions that he wants to “build a chemical tank that would fit inside the aircraft and take up every available square inch of the aircraft except for where the pilot would be sitting.”
  4. He uses his real name even as she takes notes, and makes sure she spells it correctly.
  5. He says he has just arrived from Afghanistan.
  6. He tells about his travel plans to Spain and Germany.
  7. He expresses an interest in visiting New York.
  8. He asks her about security at the WTC and other US landmarks.
  9. He discusses al-Qaeda and its need for American membership.
  10. He tells her bin Laden “would someday be known as the world's greatest leader.”
  11. He asks to buy the aerial photograph of Washington hanging on her Florida office wall, throwing increasingly large “wads of cash” at her when she refuses to sell it. ABC News, 6/6/02]
  12. After Bryant points out one of the buildings in the Washington photograph as her former place of employment, he asks her, “How would you like it if somebody flew an airplane into your friends' building?”
  13. He asks her, “What would prevent [me] from going behind [your] desk and cutting [your] throat and making off with the millions of dollars” in the safe behind her.
  14. He asks, “How would America like it if another country destroyed [Washington] and some of the monuments in it like the cities in [my] country had been destroyed?” (Atta supposedly comes from Egypt—what cities have been destroyed there in recent decades?)
  15. He gets “very agitated” when he isn't given the money in cash on the spot.
Atta later tries to get the loan again from the same woman, this time “slightly disguised” by wearing glasses. Three other terrorists also attempt to get the same loan from Bryant, but all of them fail. Bryant turns them down because they don't meet the loan requirements, and fails to notify anyone about these strange encounters until after 9/11. Government officials not only confirm the account and say that Bryant passed a lie detector test, but elaborate that the account jibes with other information they have received from interrogating prisoners. Supposedly, failing to get the loan, the terrorists switched plans from using crop dusters to hijacking aircraft.
Department of Agriculture official Johnelle Bryant
[ABC News 6/6/02; London Times 6/8/02]
Compare Atta's meeting with FBI Director Mueller's later testimony about the hijackers: “There were no slip-ups. Discipline never broke down. They gave no hint to those around them what they were about.” [CNN, 9/28/02] Why would the terrorists have been depending on such a loan in the first place instead of just spending some of bin Laden's millions to buy the plane? Were the terrorists comically inept, and the US just as inept for not catching them, or is the story government propaganda? Could Atta (or someone impersonating him) have been trying to make himself conspicuous as part of a trail of false evidence? Why didn't Bryant report someone who threatened her with violence, and threatened terrorist acts?
          

April 30, 2000

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

May 2000

       The CIA and FBI sends a joint investigative team to Sudan to investigate if that country is a sponsor of terrorism. It determines that it is not, but the US doesn't take Sudan off its official list of terrorist states. Sudan offers again (see 1995 and April 1996) to hand over their voluminous files on al-Qaeda, and the offer is again turned down. [Guardian 9/30/01]
          

May 14, 2000

       An inquiry is launched into the behavior of Bayer in an English trial of the anti-anthrax drug Cipro. The drug is tested on hundreds despite the company having conducted studies which showed its drug reacted badly with other drugs, seriously impairing its ability to kill bacteria. These results are kept secret. Nearly half of those operated on at one test center develop a variety of potentially life-threatening infections, data at other test centers is unknown. [Sunday Times 5/14/00]
          

May 22, 2000

       By early 2000, German intelligence monitoring al-Qaeda suspect Mohammed Haydar Zammar (see March 1997 and September 21, 1999) notice that Mounir El Motassadeq and Said Bahaji regularly meet with Zammar. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] In March 2000, Germany's internal intelligence service places Motassadeq and Bahaji on a border patrol watch list. The two are members of al-Qaeda's Hamburg cell with Mohamed Atta and others. Their international arrivals and departures are to be reported immediately. On this day, Motassadeq flies to Istanbul, Turkey, and from there goes to an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the border patrol only notes his destination of Istanbul. Bahaji doesn't travel, and when he finally does shortly before 9/11, it isn't noted (see September 3-5, 2001). [Der Spiegel 2/3/03]
          

May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001

       Nabil al-Marabh, possibly an al-Qaeda sleeper agent with 9/11 ties (see 1989-May 2000), engages in many suspicious activities. He stabs his Detroit roommate in the knee during an argument on May 30, 2000. He pleads guilty in December 2000 to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. [Boston Herald, 9/20/01] He is given a six-month suspended sentence; he fails to appear for probation and his deportation order is not carried out. An arrest warrant is issued for him in March 2001. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, Ottawa Citizen, 10/29/01] Al-Marabh lives in Detroit with an al-Qaeda agent named Yousef Hmimssa (see September 17, 2001 (D)). [Boston Herald, 9/20/01, ABC 7, 1/31/02] He receives five driver's licenses in Michigan over a period of 13 months in addition to carrying driver's licenses for Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida and Ontario, Canada. [Toronto Star, 10/26/01] On September 11, 2000, he obtains a Michigan license permitting him to drive semi-trucks containing hazardous materials, including explosives and caustic materials. He is still unsuccessfully trying to find a tractor-trailer driving job one month before 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01, ABC 7, 1/31/02] In early 2001 he mostly lives in Toronto, Canada, with Hassan Almrei, a man running some al-Qaeda front businesses. [ABC 7, 1/31/02] Many witnesses see al-Marabh with two 9/11 hijackers at his uncle's Toronto photocopy store (see January 2001-September 11, 2001). On June 27, 2001, al-Marabh is arrested while trying to enter the US from Canada in the back of a tractor-trailer, carrying a false Canadian passport and citizenship card. [St. Catherine's Standard, 9/28/01, St. Catherine Standard, 10/2/01] He had been illegally crossing the US-Canadian border for years. [Ottawa Citizen 10/29/01] Despite suspicions that he is connected to al-Qaeda, the US immediately deports him to Canada. [New York Times, 7/13/02] He spends two weeks in a Canadian prison, where he boasts to other prisoners that he is in contact with the FBI. He is ordered to live with his uncle in Toronto. These prisoners are puzzled that the FBI doesn't try to interview them about al-Marabh after 9/11. Al-Marabh fails to show up for a deportation hearing in August and for a court date in September. [St. Catherine Standard, 10/2/01] “Had Canadian security agents investigated Mr. al-Marabh when they had the chance back in June, when he was jailed by immigration authorities, they may have discovered any number of his worldwide links to convicted and suspected terrorists, including two of the [9/11 hijackers].” [Ottawa Citizen, 10/29/01] 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).
          

June 2000 (B)

       Around this time, a number of very suspicious web domains are registered. Here's the list: “attackamerica.com”, “attackonamerica.com”, “attackontwintowers.com”, “august11horror.com”, “august11terror.com”, “horrorinamerica.com”, “horrorinnewyork.com”, “nycterroriststrike.com”, “pearlharborinmanhattan.com”, “terrorattack2001.com”, “towerofhorror.com”, “tradetowerstrike.com”, “worldtradecenter929.com”, “worldtradecenterbombs.com”, “worldtradetowerattack.com”, “worldtradetowerstrike.com”, “wterroristattack2001.com”. A counter-terrorism expert says: “It's unbelievable that [the registration company] would register these domain names” and “if they did make a comment to the FBI, it's unbelievable that the FBI didn't react to it.” Several of the names mention 2001 and apparently there were no other websites mentioning other years. Registering a site requires a credit card, so presumably this story could provide leads, but it's unclear what leads the FBI got from this, if any. None of the sites were being actively used on 9/11. [Cybercast News Service, 9/19/01] All had expired around June 2001. [Cybercast News Service 9/20/01] This story is later called an “urban legend,” but the debunkers are later themselves criticized. [Insight, 3/11/02] Perhaps someone heard of the terror plot, thought to capitalize on it, and then thought better of it? Were the two specific dates mentioned, August 11 and September 29, preliminary target strike dates?
          

June 2000

       Atta and other hijackers begin to open bank accounts in Florida. At least 35 accounts are opened, 14 of them at SunTrust Bank. All are opened with fake social security numbers (some with randomly made up numbers), yet none of the accounts are checked or questioned by the banks. [New York Times, 7/10/02] One transfer from the United Arab Emirates three months later totaling $69,985 prompts the bank to make a “suspicious transaction report” to the US Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. This is not followed up (see also June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000). [Financial Times 11/29/01]
          

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]
          

July 2000

      
Jack Roche. [AFP]
Jack Roche, an Australian Caucasian Muslim, tries to inform on al-Qaeda for Australia or the US, but is ignored. Roche had come back from Afghanistan in April, where he took an explosives training course and met with bin Laden, Mohammed Atef, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and other top al-Qaeda leaders. In Pakistan, Mohammed discussed attacking US jets in Australia and gave Roche money to start an al-Qaeda cell in Australia. Roche also met Hambali in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000) and is given more money there. Early this month he tries calling the US embassy in Australia but is ignored. He then tries to contact the Australian intelligence agency several times, but is also ignored by them. In September 2000 his housemate also tries to contact Australian intelligence about what he's learned from Roche but his call is ignored as well. Australian Prime Minister John Howard later acknowledges that authorities made a “very serious mistake” in ignoring Roche though he also downplays the importance of Roche's information. Roche is later sentenced to nine years in prison for conspiring with al-Qaeda to blow up an Israeli embassy. [BBC 6/1/04; Los Angeles Times 6/7/04]
          

Summer 2000

       Anonymous government sources later claim that Atta visits fellow hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, and suspected al-Qaeda advance man and possible Saudi agent Omar al-Bayoumi (see August 1994, December 4, 1999, Early February 2000, and November 22, 2002). These same sources claim al-Bayoumi is identified after September 11 as an “advance man” for al-Qaeda. [Washington Times 11/26/02] Other reports have suggested Atta visited Alhazmi and Almihdhar in San Diego (see Summer-December 2000), but the FBI has never confirmed this. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

July 2000

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

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)]
          

July 2000 (B)

       Atta and Marwan Alshehhi move to Venice, Florida, and enroll in pilot classes at Huffman Aviation. [Chicago Sun-Times 9/16/01]
          

July 27, 2000

       The FDA endorses the use of Bayer's Cipro drug to prevent inhalation anthrax. [Reuters, 7/28/00] Perhaps they hadn't been reading the Sunday Times recently (see )? An official recommendation like this is highly unusual for the FDA. A 1997 Pentagon study of anthrax in rhesus monkeys showed that several other drugs were as effective as Cipro. The reason given for only recommending Cipro was the government wanted a weapon against anthrax should they come up against a strain resistant to drugs in the penicillin and tetracycline families of antibiotics. [New York Times, 10/21/01 (B)] The pharmaceutical industry spent $177 million on lobbying in 1999 and 2000—more money than any other industry. The FDA has been accused of conflict of interest with companies including Bayer. [New York Times 11/4/01]
          

August 12, 2000

       Italian intelligence successfully wiretap the al-Qaeda terrorist cell in Milan, Italy from late 1999 until summer 2001. [Boston Globe, 8/4/02] In a wiretapped conversation from this day, suspected Yemeni terrorist Abdulsalam Ali Abdulrahman tells wanted Egyptian terrorist Es Sayed about a massive strike against the enemies of Islam involving aircraft and the sky, a blow that “will be written about in all the newspapers of the world. This will be one of those strikes that will never be forgotten…. This is a terrifying thing. This is a thing that will spread from south to north, from east to west: The person who came up with this program is a madman from a madhouse, a madman but a genius.” In another conversation, Abdulrahman tells Es Sayed: “I'm studying airplanes. I hope, God willing, that I can bring you a window or a piece of an airplane the next time we see each other.” The comment is followed by laughter. Beginning in October 2000, FBI experts helped Italian police analyze the intercepts and warnings. Neither Italy nor the FBI understands their meaning until after 9/11, but apparently Italians understand enough to give the US an attack warning in March 2001 (see March 2001 (B)). [Los Angeles Times, 5/29/02, Guardian, 5/30/02, Washington Post, 5/31/02] FTW The Milan cell “is believed to have created a cottage industry in supplying false passports and other bogus documents.” [Boston Globe, 8/4/02] If the hijackers were using false identities (see also January 24, 2001), could Abdulrahman, current whereabouts unknown, actually have been one of the 9/11 hijackers?
          

September 2000 (B)

       L'Houssaine Kherchtou arrives in the US to testify against other al-Qaeda agents. He reveals that from 1992 to 1995 he trained in Nairobi, Kenya to be a pilot for al-Qaeda. His training stopped when he left al-Qaeda in 1995. [State Department 2/22/01]
          

September-October 2000

       Zacarias Moussaoui visits Malaysia twice, and stays at the very same condominium where the January al-Qaeda meeting was held (see January 5-8, 2000). [CNN 8/30/02; Los Angeles Times 2/2/02; Washington Post 2/3/02] After that meeting, Malaysian intelligence keeps watch on the condominium at the request of the CIA. But the CIA stops the surveillance before Moussaoui arrives, spoiling a chance to expose the 9/11 plot by monitoring Moussaoui's later travels. The Malaysians later say they were surprised by the CIA's lack of interest. “We couldn't fathom it, really,” Rais Yatim, Malaysia's Legal Affairs minister, told Newsweek. “There was no show of concern.” [Newsweek 6/2/02] While Moussaoui is in Malaysia, Yazid Sufaat, the owner of the condominium, signs letters falsely identifying Moussaoui as a representative of his wife's company. [Reuters 9/20/02; Washington Post 2/3/02] When Moussaoui is later arrested in the US about one month before the 9/11 attacks, this letter in his possession could have led investigators back to the condominium and the connections with the January 2000 meeting attended by two of the hijackers (see January 5-8, 2000). [USA Today, 1/30/02] Moussaoui's belongings also contained phone numbers that could have linked him to Ramzi bin al-Shibh (and his roommate Atta), another participant in the Malaysian meeting. [Associated Press, 12/12/01 (B)] But the papers aren't examined until after the 9/11 attack (see September 11, 2001 (J)).
          

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 2000 (D)

      
General Tommy Franks.
US General Tommy Franks, who will later lead the Afghanistan war, tours Central Asia in an attempt to build military aid relationships with nations there, but finds no takers. Russia's power in the region appears to be on the upswing instead. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev writes, “The actions of Islamic extremists in Central Asia give Russia the chance to strengthen its position in the region.” But shortly after 9/11, Russia and China agree to allow the US to establish temporary US military bases in Central Asia to prosecute the Afghanistan war. The bases become permanent, and the Guardian will write in early 2002, “Both countries increasingly have good reasons to regret their accommodating stand. Having pushed, cajoled and bribed its way into their Central Asian backyard, the US clearly has no intention of leaving any time soon.” [Guardian 1/10/02]
          

September 2000 (C)

       A man named Mohamed Atta purchases a fake passport from the nonexistent “Republic of Conch.” The FBI says it is investigating if this is the hijacker Mohamed Atta. [AP, 10/3/01] The “Republic of Conch” was created by some people in Key West, Florida, and they have made money by selling passports and flags. Some have repeatedly entered countries using the novelty passports, but it isn't known what passport Atta used on 9/11. [Miami Herald, 10/3/01] If the report is true, why would Atta have risked not getting on the plane when he had at least two other passports (one from Egypt, one from United Arab Emirates)?
          

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]
          

September 2000 (E)

       George W. Bush Jr., campaigning for president, writes in an article, “And there is more to be done preparing here at home. I will put a high priority on detecting and responding to terrorism on our soil.” [National Guard Magazine, 9/00] This repeats verbatim comments made in a speech a year before at the start of the presidential campaign [Citadel, 9/23/99], and in both cases the context is about weapons of mass destruction. But after 9/11, now President Bush will say of bin Laden: “I knew he was a menace and I knew he was a problem. I was prepared to look at a plan that would be a thoughtful plan that would bring him to justice, and would have given the order to do that. I have no hesitancy about going after him. But I didn't feel that sense of urgency.” [Washington Post 5/17/02]
          

September 15-October 1, 2000

       Olympics officials later reveal that “A fully loaded, fueled airliner crashing into the opening ceremony before a worldwide television audience at the Sydney Olympics was one of the greatest security fears for the Games.” During the Olympics, Australia has six planes in the sky at all times ready to intercept any wayward aircraft. In fact, “IOC officials said the scenario of a plane crash during the opening ceremony was uppermost in their security planning at every Olympics since terrorists struck in Munich in 1972.” Bin Laden was considered the number one threat. [Sydney Morning Herald, 9/20/01] These security measures are similar to those used in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics (see July 6-August 11, 1996) and other events (see January 20, 1997). Similar planning is already underway before 9/11 for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah. [Wall Street Journal 4/1/04]
          

Autumn 2000

       Hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi works at a gas station while living in San Diego (see Early February-Summer 2000 and Summer-December 2000). This is the only apparent instance of any of the hijackers having a job while in the US. He and hijacker Khalid Almihdhar also frequently socialize at the gas station, and Alhazmi works there on and off for about a month at some point after Almihdhar has gone overseas. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03, Washington Post, 12/29/01, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] The station, Sam's Star Mart, is owned by Osama “Sam” Mustafa. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/25/03] Mustafa is first investigated by the FBI in 1991 after he tells a police officer that the US needs another Pan Am 103 attack and that he could be the one to carry it out. He also says all Americans should be killed because of the 1991 Iraq War. In 1994 he is investigated for being a member of the Palestinian terror groups PFLP and PLO and for threatening to kill an Israeli intelligence officer living in San Diego. The investigation is closed, but opens again in 1997 when he is tied to a possible terror plot in North Carolina. Apparently it is closed again before 9/11. He also associates with Osama Basnan (see April 1998 and December 4, 1999) and others who have contacts with the hijackers. Witnesses claim he cheers when first told of the 9/11 attacks. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] The gas station is managed by Ed Salamah. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/25/03, Washington Post, 12/29/01] In January 2000, the brother of a known al-Qaeda operative is under surveillance and is seen chatting with Salamah. The Los Angeles FBI office is investigating this operative, and calls Salamah about it. Salamah refuses to come to Los Angeles for an interview, and refuses to give his home address to be interviewed there. Faced with a reluctant witness, the FBI drops the matter. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03; Newsweek 7/28/03] The hijackers are living with an FBI informant who is aware of their contact with at least Mustafa, and that informant has given reports about Mustafa to the FBI in the past. But the informant fails to tell the FBI about their contacts with him (see Autumn 2000 (B)). The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry strongly implies Salamah and Mustafa assisted the hijackers with the 9/11 plot, but the FBI appears uninterested in them and maintain the hijackers received no assistance from anyone. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

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 12, 2000

      
Damage to the USS Cole.
The USS Cole is bombed in the Aden, Yemen harbor by al-Qaeda terrorists. 17 US soldiers are killed. [ABC News, 10/13/00] The Prime Minister of Yemen at the time later claims that hijacker “Khalid Almihdhar was one of the Cole perpetrators, involved in preparations. He was in Yemen at the time and stayed after the Cole bombing for a while, then he left.” [Guardian 10/15/01] John O'Neill and his team of 200 hundred FBI investigators enter Yemen two days later, but are unable to accomplish much due to restrictions placed on them, and tensions with US Ambassador Barbara Bodine. All but about 50 investigators are forced to leave by the end of October. Even though O'Neill's boss visits and finds that Bodine is O'Neill's “only detractor,” O'Neill and much of his team is forced to leave in November, and the investigation stalls without his personal relationships to top Yemeni officials. [New Yorker, 1/14/02, Sunday Times, 2/3/02, The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/14/02, p. 237] Increased security threats forces the reduced FBI team still in Yemen to withdraw altogether in June 2001. [PBS Frontline 10/3/02 (B)] The Sunday Times later notes, “The failure in Yemen may have blocked off lines of investigation that could have led directly to the terrorists preparing for September 11.” [Sunday Times 2/3/02]
          

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]
          

Late Autumn 2000

       Covert CIA support for Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance guerrilla leader fighting the Taliban, is minimal and fraying (see October 1999 (C)). In the wake of the USS Cole bombing, the CIA develops a plan where the US would increase support for Massoud if he produces strong intelligence about bin Laden's whereabouts. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke outlines this CIA proposal to National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, but Berger rejects it. Aid to Massoud continues to languish under the new Bush administration (see April 6, 2001), and nearly the exact same plan to aid Massoud is tentatively approved a week before 9/11 (see September 4, 2001). [Washington Post 2/23/04]
          

November 2000

       According to a German television documentary, a secret meeting takes place between Taliban ministers and US officials in a Frankfurt hotel. Middlemen try to arrange a deal whereby the Taliban will hand bin Laden over, possibly to a third party, in return for official US recognition of Taliban rule in Afghanistan and an end to an economic embargo. Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Wakil Muttawakil supposedly says in the meeting: “You can have him whenever the Americans are ready. Name us a country and we will extradite him.” It is unclear how sincere the offer was. [Reuters 6/5/04]
          

November 7, 2000

       In the wake of the USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000) National Security Advisor Sandy Berger meets with Defense Secretary William Cohen to discuss a new approach to targeting bin Laden. Berger says, “We've been hit many times, and we'll be hit again. Yet we have no option beyond cruise missiles.” He once again brings up the idea of a “boots on the ground” option—a Delta Force special operation to get bin Laden (see Late 1998-2000). A plan is drawn up but the order to do it is never given. Cohen and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Henry Shelton are against it. By December 21, the CIA reports that it strongly suspects that al-Qaeda is behind the bombing, but fails to definitively conclude that. That makes such an attack politically difficult. Says a former senior Clinton aide, “If we had done anything, say, two weeks before the election, we'd be accused of helping [presidential candidate] Al Gore.” [Time 8/4/02; 9/11 Commission Report 3/24/04 (D)]
          

December 2000 (B)

       CIA Director Tenet and other top CIA officials brief President-elect Bush, Vice President-elect Cheney, National Security Advisor Rice, and other incoming national security officials on al-Qaeda and covert action programs in Afghanistan. Deputy Director for Operations James Pavitt recalls conveying that bin Laden is one of the gravest threats to the country. Bush asks whether killing bin Laden would end the problem. Pavitt says he answers that killing bin Laden would have an impact but not stop the threat. The CIA recommends the most important action to combat al-Qaeda is to arm the Predator drone and use it over Afghanistan. [9/11 Commission 3/24/04; Reuters 3/24/04 (B)] But while the drone is soon armed, Bush never gives the order to use it in Afghanistan until after 9/11 (see January 10, 2001-September 4, 2001).
          

December 2000

       A classified section of the yearly National Intelligence Estimate report given to Congress downplays any threat to domestic aviation. It says that FBI investigations confirm domestic and international terrorist groups are operating within the US but they are focusing primarily on fundraising, recruiting new members, and disseminating propaganda. While international terrorists have conducted attacks on US soil, these acts represent anomalies in their traditional targeting which focuses on US interests overseas. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

Early December 2000

      
Fahad al-Quso.
Terrorist Fahad al-Quso is arrested by the government of Yemen. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02, PBS Frontline, 10/3/02] In addition to being involved in the USS Cole bombing, al-Quso was at the January 2000 Malaysian meeting with al-Qaeda agents Khallad bin Attash and hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see January 5-8, 2000). Al-Quso tells Yemeni investigators that he flew from Yemen to Bangkok in January 2000 for a secret meeting where he turned over $36,000 in cash to bin Attash. The FBI asks the CIA for more information about bin Attash and the Malaysian meeting; the FBI claims the CIA never gives them the requested information that could have led them to Alhazmi and Almihdhar as well. [New York Times, 4/11/04 (B)] For instance, there are pictures from the Malaysian meeting of al-Quso next to hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, but the CIA doesn't share the pictures with the FBI before 9/11. [Newsweek 9/20/01] Meanwhile, FBI head investigator John O'Neill feels al-Quso is holding back important information from his Yemeni captors and wants him interrogated by the FBI. But O'Neill had been kicked out of Yemen by his superiors a week or two before (see October 12, 2000), and without his influential presence, the Yemeni government won't allow an interrogation. Al-Quso is finally interrogated days after 9/11, and admits to meeting with Alhazmi and Almihdhar in January 2000. One investigator calls the missed opportunity of exposing the 9/11 plot through al-Quso's connections “mind-boggling.” [PBS Frontline 10/3/02]
          

December 2000 (C)

       The CIA's counterterrorism center develops an plan to strike at bin Laden in Afghanistan called the “Blue Sky memo.” It recommends increased support to anti-Taliban groups and especially a major effort to back Ahmed Shah Massoud's Northern Alliance, to tie down al-Qaeda personnel before they leave Afghanistan. No action is taken in the last few weeks of the Clinton administration; the CIA presses the ideas unsuccessfully early in the new Bush administration. [9/11 Commission 3/24/04 (C)] The National Security Council counterterrorism staff also prepare a strategy paper, incorporating ideas from the Blue Sky memo (see December 20, 2000). [9/11 Commission Report 3/24/04 (D)]
          

December 2000-April 2001

       According to later German reports, “a whole horde of Israeli counter-terror investigators, posing as students, [follow] the trails of Arab terrorists and their cells in the United States … In the town of Hollywood, Florida, they [identify] … Atta and Marwan Alshehhi as possible terrorists. Agents [live] in the vicinity of the apartment of the two seemingly normal flight school students, observing them around the clock.”Supposedly, around April, the Israeli agents are discovered and deported, terminating the investigation. [Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] However, 80 additional agents are apprehended between June and December 2001 [Fox News, 12/12/01] and even more have been uncovered since (see May 7, 2002). Did the surveillance of Atta and others in fact end in April? Other reports have implied the story and connection (see March 5, 2002). Supposedly, the Mossad waits until late August 2001 before informing the CIA what it learns, and the CIA doesn't take the warning seriously (see August 23, 2001).
          

December 19, 2000

       The Washington Post reports that “the United States has quietly begun to align itself with those in the Russian government calling for military action against Afghanistan and has toyed with the idea of a new raid to wipe out Osama bin Laden. Until it backed off under local pressure, it went so far as to explore whether a Central Asian country would permit the use of its territory for such a purpose.” Russia and the US are discussing “what kind of government should replace the Taliban. Thus, while claiming to oppose a military solution to the Afghan problem, the United States is now talking about the overthrow of a regime that controls nearly the entire country, in the hope it can be replaced with a hypothetical government that does not exist even on paper.” [Washington Post, 12/19/00] It appears that all pre-9/11 plans to invade Afghanistan involve attacking from the north with Russia (see March 15, 2001, June 26, 2001 and July 21, 2001), but 9/11 allows the US to do it without Russian help.
          

December 20, 2000

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke submits a plan to “roll back” al-Qaeda over a period of three to five years until it is ineffectual. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] The main component is a dramatic increase in covert aid to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan to first tie down the terrorists and then “eliminate the sanctuary” for bin Laden. Financial support for terrorist activities would be systematically attacked, nations fighting al-Qaeda would be given aid to defeat them, and the US would plan for direct military and covert action in Afghanistan. The plan would cost several hundred million dollars. However, since there are only a few weeks left before the Bush administration takes over, it is decided to defer the decision to the new administration. One senior Clinton official later says, “We would be handing [the Bush Administration] a war when they took office on Jan. 20. That wasn't going to happen.” However, the plan is rejected by the Bush administration and no action is taken (see January 25, 2001). But, according to one senior Bush Administration official, the proposal amounts to “everything we've done since 9/11.” [Time 8/4/02] Russia's President Putin later claims he “tried to egg on the previous Clinton administration — without success—to act militarily against the whole Taliban regime: ‘Washington's reaction at the time really amazed me. They shrugged their shoulders and said matter-of-factly: ‘We can't do anything because the Taliban does not want to turn him over.’ ’ ” [Guardian 9/22/01]
          

December 26, 2000

       Hijackers Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, while still learning to fly in Florida, stall a small plane on a Miami International Airport runway. Unable to start the plane, they simply walk away. Flight controllers have to guide the waiting passenger airliners around the stalled aircraft until it is towed away 35 minutes later. They weren't supposed to be using that airport in the first place. The FAA threatens to investigate the two students and the flight school they are attending. The flight school sends records to the FAA, but no more is heard of the investigation. [New York Times, 10/17/01] “Students do stupid things during their flight course, but this is quite stupid,”says the owner of the flight school. Nothing was wrong with the plane. [CNN, 10/17/01] Why did the investigation stop? Did the two ditch the plane intentionally to later lead investigators on a false trail?
          

Early January 2001

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke briefs Secretary of State Powell about the al-Qaeda threat. He urges decisive and quick action against al-Qaeda. Powell meets with the CSG (Counterterrorism Security Group) containing senior counterterrorism officials from many agencies. He sees that all members of the group agree al-Qaeda is an important threat. For instance, Assistant Defense Secretary Brian Sheridan says to Powell, “Make al-Qaeda your number one priority.”
          

Early 2001

      
Donald Kerrick.
Clinton and Bush staff overlap for several months while new Bush appointees are appointed and confirmed. Clinton holdovers seem more concerned about al-Qaeda than the new Bush staffers. For instance, according to a colleague, Clinton's National Security Advisor Sandy Berger had become “totally preoccupied” with fears of a domestic terror attack. [Newsweek 5/27/02] Brian Sheridan, Clinton's outgoing assistant Secretary of Defense for special operations and low intensity conflict, is astonished when his offers during the transition to bring the new Pentagon leadership up to speed on terrorism are brushed aside. “I offered to brief anyone, any time on any topic. Never took it up.” [Los Angeles Times 3/30/04] Army Lt. Gen. Donald Kerrick, Deputy National Security Advisor and manager of Clinton's NSC (National Security Council) staff, remains at the NSC nearly four months after Bush took office. He notes that Clinton's advisers met “nearly weekly” on terrorism by the end of his term. But he doesn't detect the same kind of focus with the new Bush advisers: “That's not being derogatory. It's just a fact. I didn't detect any activity but what [Clinton holdover] Dick Clarke and the CSG [Counterterrorism Security Group] were doing.” [Washington Post 1/20/02] He submits a memo to the new people at the NSC, warning, “We are going to be struck again.” He says, “They never responded. It was not high on their priority list. I was never invited to one meeting. They never asked me to do anything. They were not focusing. They didn't see terrorism as the big megaissue that the Clinton administration saw it as.” Kerrick adds, “They were gambling nothing would happen.” [Los Angeles Times, 3/30/04] Bush's first Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Henry Shelton, later says terrorism moved “to the back burner” until 9/11. [Washington Post 10/2/02]
          

Mid-August 2001 (B)

       Abdul Haq, a famous Afghan leader of the mujaheddin, returns to Peshawar, Pakistan, from the US. Having failed to gain US support (see February 2001 (C)), except for that of some private individuals such as former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, Haq begins organizing subversive operations in Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times 10/28/01 (B); Wall Street Journal 11/2/01] He is later killed entering Afghanistan in October 2001, after his position is betrayed to the Taliban by the ISI (see October 25, 2001).
          

Mid-July 2001 (B)

       John O'Neill, FBI counter-terrorism expert, privately discusses White House obstruction in his bin Laden investigation. O'Neill says: “The main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were US oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it.” He adds: “All the answers, everything needed to dismantle Osama bin Laden's organization, can be found in Saudi Arabia.” O'Neill also believes the White House is obstructing his investigation of bin Laden because they are still keeping the idea of a pipeline deal with the Taliban open. [CNN 1/8/02; CNN 1/9/02; Irish Times 11/19/01; Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth]
          

January - September 10, 2001

       National Security Advisor Rice later says that in the 8 months Bush is president before 9/11, he is “briefed by [CIA Director] George Tenet at least 40-some - 40-plus of his briefings dealt in one way or another with al-Qaeda, or the al-Qaeda threat.” Tenet claims that none of the warnings specifically indicate terrorists plan to fly hijacked commercial aircraft into buildings in the United States. [New York Times 4/4/04 (B) http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/04/politics/04SUMM.html]
          

Mid-July 2001

       US intelligence reports another spike in warnings (see June 13, 2001 and June 20, 2001) related to the July 20-22 G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy. The reports include specific threats discovered by the head of Russia's Federal Bodyguard Service that al-Qaeda will try to kill Bush as he attends the summit. [CNN, 3/02] Two days before the summit begins, the BBC reports: “The huge force of officers and equipment which has been assembled to deal with unrest has been spurred on by a warning that supporters of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden might attempt an air attack on some of the world leaders present.” [BBC, 7/18/01] The attack is called off (see July 20-22, 2001).
          

January 2001-September 11, 2001

       Numerous witnesses later recall seeing hijackers Mohamed Atta and/or Marwan Alshehhi in Nabil al-Marabh's Toronto apartment building and photocopy shop at various times during this year. [Toronto Sun, 9/28/01, ABC 7, 1/31/02] Al-Marabh has connections with other hijackers (see Spring 2001 (B)) and other al-Qaeda figures (see 1989-May 2000 and May 30, 2000-September 11, 2001). Some of the dozens of eyewitness accounts say Atta sporadically works in the photocopy shop. [Toronto Sun, 10/21/01] Partially completed fake IDs are found in the store, which is owned by al-Marabh's uncle, and at al-Marabh's apartment. [Toronto Sun, 9/28/01, Toronto Sun, 10/16/01] There is a large picture of bin Laden hanging in the store. [Toronto Sun, 10/21/01] “Forensic officers said there are similarities in the paper stock, laminates and ink seized from the downtown store and that which was used in identification left behind by the [9/11 hijackers].” [Toronto Sun, 10/16/01] US and Canadian police later determine that there is a flurry of phone calls and financial transactions between al-Marabh, Atta, and Alshehhi days before the attacks. [Toronto Sun, 11/16/01] US intelligence also intercepts al-Marabh's associates making phone calls immediately praising the 9/11 attacks. [Ottawa Citizen, 10/29/01] Al-Marabh is said to head a Toronto al-Qaeda cell, and three members of his cell have been arrested. [Toronto Sun 11/23/01] 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).
          

January-February 2001

       In January, the Arizona flight school JetTech alerts the FAA about hijacker Hani Hanjour. No one at the school suspects Hanjour of terrorist intent, but they tell the FAA he lacks both the English and flying skills necessary for the commercial pilot's license he has. The flight school manager: “I couldn't believe he had a commercial license of any kind with the skills that he had.” A former employee says, “I'm still to this day amazed that he could have flown into the Pentagon. He could not fly at all.” They also note he is an exceptionally poor student who doesn't seem to care about passing his courses. [New York Times 5/4/02 (B)] An FAA official named John Anthony actually sits next to Hanjour in class and observes his skills. He suggests the use of a translator to help Hanjour pass, but the flight school points out that goes “against the rules that require a pilot to be able to write and speak English fluently before they even get their license.” [AP, 5/10/02] The FAA verifies that Hanjour's pilot's license is legitimate, but takes no other action. But since 9/11, the FBI appears to have questions about how Hanjour got his license in 1999. They have questioned and polygraphed the Arab American instructor who signed off on his flying skills. [CBS, 5/10/02] His license also in fact had already expired in late 1999. [AP, 9/15/01 (B)] In February, Hanjour begins advanced simulator training, “a far more complicated task than he had faced in earning a commercial license.” [New York Times, 6/19/02] The flight school again alerts the FAA about this and gives a total of five alerts about Hanjour, but no further action on him is taken. The FBI is not told about Hanjour. [CBS, 5/10/02] Ironically, a few months later, Arizona FBI agent Ken Williams recommends in a memo that the FBI liaison with local flight schools and keep track of suspicious activity by Middle Eastern students (see July 10, 2001).
          

Mid-September 2001

       The Guardian later claims that Pakistani President Musharraf has a meeting of his 12 or 13 most senior officers. Musharraf proposes to support the US in the imminent war against the Taliban and bin Laden. Supposedly, four of his most senior generals oppose him outright in “a stunning display of disloyalty.” The four are ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, Lt. Gen. Muzaffar Usmani, Lt. Gen. Jamshaid Gulzar Kiani, and Lt. Gen. Mohammad Aziz Khan. All four are removed from power over the next month (see October 7, 2001). If this meeting took place, it's hard to see when it could have happened, since the article states it happened “within days” of 9/11, but Mahmood was in the US until late September 16 (see September 11-16, 2001), then flew to Afghanistan for two days (see September 17-18 and 28, 2001), then possibly to Saudi Arabia (see September 19, 2001 (B)). [Guardian, 5/25/02] Why would Musharraf send Mahmood on important diplomatic missions even late in the month if he is so disloyal?
          

Mid-June 2001

       A two-hour video tape of al-Qaeda terrorists training at an Afghanistan camp appears in Kuwait and subsequently makes its way to the internet. The tape shows bin Laden making threats against the US and terrorists attacking targets bearing US emblems. [Sunday Herald 9/23/01]
          

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-November 2001

       Ismail Khan, governor of Herat province and one of Afghanistan's most successful militia leaders, later claims that his troops and other Northern Alliance fighters held back at the request of the US from sweeping into Kandahar at this time. The reasoning was that the US didn't want the non-Pashtun Northern Alliance to conquer Pashtun areas. But Khan maintains “we could have captured all the Taliban and the al-Qaeda groups. We could have arrested Osama bin Laden with all of his supporters.” [USA Today, 1/2/02] British newspapers at the time report bin Laden is surrounded in a 30-mile area, but the conquest of Kandahar takes weeks without the Northern Alliance and bin Laden slips away. [CNN, 11/18/01 (B)] Did the US not want the Northern Alliance to conquer this area in the hopes that a moderate version of the Taliban could remain in power (see November 13, 2001)?
          

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]
          

Early 2001 (B)

       The heads of the US military, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are frustrated by the lack of CIA disinformation operations to create dissent among the Taliban. At the very end of the Clinton administration they start developing a Taliban disinformation project of their own, which would go into effect in 2001. When they are briefed, the Defense Department's new leaders kill the project. Joint Chiefs of Staff ChairmanHenry Shelton says, “[Defense Secretary] Rumsfeld and Deputy [Defense] Secretary Paul Wolfowitz were against the Joint Staff having the lead on this.” They consider this a distraction from their core military missions. According to Shelton, as far as Rumsfeld was concerned, “this terrorism thing was out there, but it didn't happen today, so maybe it belongs lower on the list…so it gets defused over a long period of time.” [Los Angeles Times 3/30/04]
          

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).
          

Mid-July 2001 (C)

       CIA Director Tenet has a special meeting with National Security Advisor Rice and her aides about al-Qaeda. Says one official at the meeting, “[Tenet] briefed [Rice] that there was going to be a major attack.” Another at the meeting says Tenet displays a huge wall chart showing dozens of threats. Tenet doesn't rule out a domestic attack but says an overseas attack is more likely. [Time 8/4/02]
          

January 3, 2001

       Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” for the Clinton administration, briefs National Security Advisor Rice and her deputy, Steve Hadley about al-Qaeda. [Washington Post 1/20/02] Outgoing National Security Advisor Sandy Berger makes an unusual appearance at the start of the meeting, saying to Rice, “I'm coming to this briefing to underscore how important I think this subject is.” He claims that he tells Rice during the transition between administrations, “I believe that the Bush Administration will spend more time on terrorism generally, and on al-Qaeda specifically, than any other subject.” Clarke presents his plan to “roll back” al-Qaeda that he'd given to the outgoing Clinton administration a couple of weeks earlier (see December 20, 2000). [Time 8/4/02] He gets the impression that Rice has never heard the term al-Qaeda before. Rice decides this day to retain Clarke and his staff, but downgrades his official position, National Coordinator for Counterterrorism (see May 22, 1998). While he is still known as the counterterrorism “tsar,” he has less power and now reports to deputy secretaries instead of attending Cabinet-level meetings. He no longer is able to send memos directly to the president. [Guardian 3/25/04]
          

January 4, 2001

      
Khallad bin Attash
The FBI's investigation into the USS Cole bombing learns that terrorist Khallad bin Attash had been a principal planner of the bombing [AP, 9/21/02 (B)], and that two other participants in the bombing had delivered money to bin Attash at the time of the January 2000 al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000). The FBI shares this information with the CIA. Based on a description of bin Attash from an informant, CIA analysts reexamine pictures from the Malaysian meeting and identify bin Attash with both hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi. The CIA has already been informed that Alhazmi at least has entered the US (see March 5, 2000), yet once again they failed to watch list either Alhazmi or Almihdhar. [Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] CNN later notes that at this point the CIA at least “could have put Alhazmi and Almihdhar and all others who attended the meeting in Malaysia on a watch list to be kept out of this country. It was not done.” [CNN, 6/4/02] More incredibly, even bin Attash is not placed on the watch list at this time, despite being labeled as the principal planner of the Cole bombing (he is finally placed on the watch list in August 2001 (see August 23, 2001 (C))). [Los Angeles Times 9/22/02] CIA headquarters is told what these CIA analysts have learned, but it appears the FBI is not told. [Congressional Inquiry 7/24/03]
          

January 4, 2001 (B)

       Atta flies from Miami, Florida to Madrid, Spain. He has been in the US since June 3, 2000, learning to fly in Florida with Marwan Alshehhi. [Miami Herald, 9/22/01] He returns to the US on January 10 (see January 10, 2001). He makes a second trip to Spain later that year (see July 8-19, 2001).
          

January 10, 2001-September 4, 2001

      
A Predator drone.
Even before Bush's official inauguration, Clinton holdover counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke pushes National Security Advisor Rice and other incoming Bush officials to resume Predator drone flights over Afghanistan in an attempt to find and assassinate bin Laden (see September-October 2000 (B)). [Washington Post, 1/20/02, CBS, 6/25/03] On January 10, Rice is shown a video clip of bin Laden filmed by a Predator drone the year before. [Washington Post 1/20/02] Clarke learns of an Air Force plan to arm the Predator. The original plan calls for three years of testing, but Clarke pushes so hard that the armed Predator is ready in three months. [New Yorker, 7/28/03] A Hellfire missile is successfully test fired from a Predator on February 16, 2001. [CBS, 6/25/03] In early June, a duplicate of the brick house where bin Laden is believed to be living in Kandahar, Afghanistan is built in Nevada, and destroyed by a Predator missile. The test shows that the missile fired from miles away would have killed anyone in the building, and one participant calls this the long sought after “holy grail” that could kill bin Laden within minutes of finding him. [Washington Post 1/20/02] Clarke repeatedly advocates using the Predator, armed or unarmed (see January 25, 2001, March 7, 2001 (B),April 30, 2001). However, bureaucratic infighting between the CIA and the Air Force over who would pay for it and take responsibility delays its use. Clarke says, “Every time we were ready to use it, the CIA would change its mind.” [New Yorker, 7/28/03] National Security Advisor Rice and her deputy Steve Hadley decide to hold off on reconnaissance flights until the armed version in ready. In July, Hadley directs the military to have armed Predators ready to deploy no later than September 1. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] The issue comes to a head in early September , but even then a decision to use the Predator is delayed (see September 4, 2001 (C) September 4, 2001 (E)). [New Yorker 7/28/03]
          

January 10, 2001

       “INS documents, matched against an FBI alert given to German police, show two men named Mohamed Atta [arrive] in Miami on Jan. 10, each offering different destination addresses to INS agents, one in Nokomis, near Venice, the other at a Coral Springs condo. He was admitted, despite having overstayed his previous visa by a month. The double entry could be a paperwork error, confusion over a visa extension. It could be Atta arrived in Miami, flew to another country like the Bahamas and returned the same day. Or it could be that two men somehow cleared immigration with the same name using the same passport number.”[Miami Herald, 9/22/01] Officials later call this a bureaucratic snafu, and insist only one Atta entered the US on this date. [AP, 10/28/01] If this was just a bureaucratic snafu and the same entry processed twice, then why are different destination addresses given in each case? Could someone else posing as Atta have entered the US on this day? Also, Atta arrives on a tourist visa yet tells immigration inspectors that he is taking flying lessons in the US, which requires a M-1 student visa. [Washington Post, 10/28/01] The fact that he had overstayed his visa over a month on a previous visit also doesn't cause a problem. [Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01] The INS later defends its decision, but “immigration experts outside the agency dispute the INS position vigorously.” For instance Stephen Yale-Loehr, co-author of a 20-volume treatise on immigration law: “They just don't want to tell you they blew it. They should just admit they made a mistake.” [Washington Post 10/28/01]
          

January 11-18, 2001

       Hijacker Marwan Alshehhi flies from the US to Casablanca, Morocco and back, for reasons unknown. He is able to reenter the US without trouble, despite having overstayed his previous visa by about five weeks. [Department of Justice 5/20/02; Los Angeles Times 9/27/01]
          

January 19, 2001

       New United Nations sanctions against Afghanistan take effect, adding to those from 1999 (see November 14, 1999). The sanctions limit travel by senior Taliban authorities, freeze bin Laden's and the Taliban's assets, and order the closure of Ariana Airlines offices abroad. The sanctions also impose an arms embargo against the Taliban, but not against Northern Alliance forces battling the Taliban. [AP 12/19/00] The arms embargo has no visible effect because the sanctions fail to stop Pakistani military assistance. [9/11 Commission Report 3/24/04] The sanctions also fail to stop the illegal trade network the Taliban is secretly running through Ariana (see Mid-1996-October 2001). Two companies, Air Cess and Flying Dolphin, take over most of Ariana's traffic. Air Cess is owned by the Russian arms dealer Victor Bout, and Flying Dolphin is owned by the United Arab Emirates' former ambassador to the US, who is also an associate of Bout (see October 1996). In late 2000, despite UN reports linking Flying Dolphin to arms smuggling, the United Nations gives Flying Dolphin permission to take over Ariana's closed routes, which it does until the new sanctions take effect. Bout's operations are still functioning and he has not been arrested. [Los Angeles Times 1/20/02; Montreal Gazette 2/5/02] Ariana is essentially destroyed in the October 2001 US bombing of Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times 11/18/01]
          

January 21, 2001

       George Bush Jr. is inaugurated as the 43rd US President, replacing Clinton. The only Cabinet-level figure to permanently remain in office is CIA Director Tenet, appointed in 1997 and reputedly a long time friend of Bush Sr. FBI Director Louis Freeh stays on until June 2001. Numerous figures in Bush's administration have been directly employed in the oil industry, including Bush, Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice. It is later revealed that Cheney is still being paid up to $1 million a year in “deferred payments” from Halliburton, the oil company he headed. [Guardian, 3/12/03] Enron's ties also reach deep into the administration. [Washington Post 1/18/02] Security precautions are taken to guard against the possibility of an attack on the inauguration ceremony using an airplane as a flying weapon (see also January 20, 1997). [Wall Street Journal 4/1/04]
          

January 24, 2001

       On this day, Italian intelligence hear another interesting wiretapped conversation (see also August 12, 2000), this one between terrorists Es Sayed and Ben Soltane Adel, two member's of al-Qaeda's Milan cell. Adel asks, in reference to fake documents, “Will these work for the brothers who are going to the United States?” Sayed responds angrily, saying “Don't ever say those words again, not even joking!” “If it's necessary … whatever place we may be, come up and talk in my ear, because these are very important things. You must know … that this plan is very, very secret, as if you were protecting the security of the state.” This is only one of many clues found from the Italian wiretaps and passed on to US intelligence in March 2001 (see March 2001 (B)). But they apparently are not properly understood until after 9/11. The Spanish government claims to have uncovered 9/11 clues from wiretaps as well (see August 27, 2001), and a priest was told of the 9/11 plot at an Italian wedding (see September 7, 2001), suggesting a surprising number of people in Europe may have had foreknowledge of 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 5/29/02] Adel is later arrested and convicted of belonging to a terrorist cell and Es Sayed fled to Afghanistan in July 2001. [Guardian 5/30/02]
          

January 25, 2001

       Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke submits a proposal to National Security Advisor Rice and “urgently” asks for a Cabinet-level meeting on the al-Qaeda threat. [Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, 3/04, pp. 230-231] He forwards his December 2000 strategy paper (see December 20, 2000) and a copy of his 1998 Delenda plan (see August 27, 1998). He lays out a proposed agenda for urgent action:
  1. Approve covert assistance to Ahmed Shah Massoud's Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
  2. Significantly increase funding for CIA counterterrorism activity. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
  3. Respond to the USS Cole bombing with an attack on al-Qaeda. The link between al-Qaeda and that bombing had been assumed for months and is confirmed in the media two days later (see January 27, 2001)). According to the Washington Post, “Clarke argue[s] that the camps [are] can't-miss targets, and they [matter]. The facilities [amount] to conveyor belts for al-Qaeda's human capital, with raw recruits arriving and trained fighters departing either for front lines against the Northern Alliance, the Afghan rebel coalition, or against American interests somewhere else. The US government had whole libraries of images filmed over Tarnak Qila and its sister camp, Garmabat Ghar, 19 miles farther west. Why watch al-Qaeda train several thousand men a year and then chase them around the world when they left?” No retaliation is taken on these camps until after 9/11. [Washington Post 1/20/02]
  4. Go forward with new Predator drone reconnaissance missions in the spring and use an armed version when it's ready (see January 10, 2001-September 4, 2001). [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
  5. Step up the fight against terrorist fundraising. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
  6. Be aware that al-Qaeda sleeper cells in the US are not just a potential threat, but are a “major threat in being.” Additionally, more attacks have almost certainly been set in motion. [PBS Frontline 10/3/02; Washington Post 1/20/02] />
Rice's response to Clarke's proposal is that the Cabinet won't address the issue until it has been “framed” at the deputy secretary level. However, this initial deputy meeting is not given high priority and doesn't take place until April 2001 (see April 30, 2001). Henry Shelton, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman until 9/11, says, “The squeaky wheel was Dick Clarke, but he wasn't at the top of their priority list, so the lights went out for a few months. Dick did a pretty good job because he's abrasive as hell, but given the [bureaucratic] level he was at” there was no progress. [Los Angeles Times, 3/30/04, The Age of Sacred Terror, by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, 10/02, pp. 335-336] Some counterterrorism officials think the new administration responds slowly simply because Clarke's proposal originally came from the Clinton administration. [Time, 8/4/02] For instance, Thomas Maertenson, on the National Security Council in both the Clinton and Bush Jr. administrations, says, “They really believed their campaign rhetoric about the Clinton administration. So anything [that administration] did was bad, and the Bushies were not going to repeat it.”
          

January 25, 2001

      
Richard Clarke.
Richard Clarke, National Security Council Chief of Counterterrorism and holdover from the Clinton administration, submits a proposal to the new administration for an attack on al-Qaeda in revenge of the USS Cole bombing. In the wake of that bombing, Bush stated on the campaign trail: “I hope that we can gather enough intelligence to figure out who did the act and take the necessary action … there must be a consequence.” According to the Washington Post: “Clarke argue[s] that the camps were can't-miss targets, and they [matter]. The facilities [amount] to conveyor belts for al-Qaeda's human capital, with raw recruits arriving and trained fighters departing—either for front lines against the Northern Alliance, the Afghan rebel coalition, or against American interests somewhere else. The US government had whole libraries of images filmed over Tarnak Qila and its sister camp, Garmabat Ghar, 19 miles farther west. Why watch al-Qaeda train several thousand men a year and then chase them around the world when they left?”[Washington Post, 1/20/02] Clarke also warns that there are al-Qaeda sleeper cells in the US, which are a “major threat in being.” Two days later, the US confirms the link between al-Qaeda and the USS Cole bombing. [PBS Frontline 10/3/02 (D)] No retaliation is taken on these camps until after 9/11. Other suggestions by Clarke, such as supporting the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban or boosting the CIA Counterterrorism Center approximately $50 million budget, also go unheeded. [Washington Post 1/20/02]
          

January 27, 2001 (B)

       The Washington Post reports that the US has confirmed the link between al-Qaeda and the USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000). [Washington Post, 1/27/01] This conclusion is stated without hedge in a February 9 briefing for Vice President Cheney. [Washington Post, 1/20/02] In the wake of that bombing, Bush stated on the campaign trail: “I hope that we can gather enough intelligence to figure out who did the act and take the necessary action… there must be a consequence.”[Washington Post, 1/20/02]Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz later complains that by the time the new administration is in place, the Cole bombing was “stale.” Defense Secretary Rumsfeld also states too much time had passed to respond. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (B)] The new Bush administration fails to resume the covert deployment of cruise missile submarines and gunships on six-hour alert near Afghanistan's borders that had begun under President Clinton (see Late 1998-2000). The standby force gave Clinton the option of an immediate strike against targets in Afghanistan harboring al-Qaeda's top leadership. This makes a possible assassination of bin Laden much more difficult. [Washington Post 1/20/02]
          

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)).
          

January 31, 2001

       The final report of the US Commission on National Security/21st Century, co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart (D), and Warren Rudman (R) is issued (see also September 15, 1999). The bipartisan report was put together in 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Hart and Rudman personally brief National Security Advisor Rice, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Powell on their findings. The report has 50 recommendations on how to combat terrorism in the US, but all of them are ignored by the Bush Administration. According to Senator Hart, Congress begins to take the commission's suggestions seriously in March and April, and legislation is introduced to implement some of the recommendations. But then, “Frankly, the White House shut it down…The president said ‘Please wait, we're going to turn this over to the vice president’ …And so Congress moved on to other things, like tax cuts and the issue of the day.” The White House announces in May that it will have Vice President Cheney study the potential problem of domestic terrorism (see May 8, 2001), despite the fact that this commission had just studied the issue for 2 1/2 years. Interestingly, both this commission and the Bush Administration were already assuming a new cabinet level National Homeland Security Agency would be enacted eventually even as the general public remained unaware of the term and the concept. [Salon, 9/12/01, Salon, 4/2/04 download the complete report here: USCNS Reports] Hart is incredulous that neither he nor any of the other members of this commission are ever asked to testify before the 9/11 Commission. [Salon 4/6/04]
          

January 31, 2001 (B)

       The Bush Administration holds its first National Security Council meeting, ten days after Bush's inauguration. According to Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's account in a 2004 book, the first and most important topic discussed is Iraq. O'Neill states that “From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go.” There was no dissent amongst top officials to this idea. O'Neill states, “It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this.’ For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the US has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.” [CBS 1/11/04] O'Neill also claims, “In the 23 months I was [Treasury Secretary], I never saw anything that I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction.” [Time 1/10/04]
          

February 2001 (B)

       A former CIA anti-terror expert later claims that an allied intelligence agency sees “two of Osama's sisters apparently taking cash to an airport in Abu Dhabi [United Arab Emirates], where they are suspected of handing it to a member of bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization.” This is cited as one of many incidents showing an “interconnectedness”between Osama bin Laden and the rest of his family. [New Yorker 11/5/01]
          

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?
          

February 2001 (D)

       Time magazine writes, “The US was all set to join a global crackdown on criminal and terrorist money havens [in early 2001]. Thirty industrial nations were ready to tighten the screws on offshore financial centers like Liechtenstein and Antigua, whose banks have the potential to hide and often help launder billions of dollars for drug cartels, global crime syndicates—and groups like Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization. Then the Bush Administration took office.” [Time 10/15/01] After pressure from the powerful banking lobby, the Treasury Department under Paul O'Neill halts US cooperation with these international efforts begun in 2000 by the Clinton administration. Clinton had created a National Terrorist Asset Tracking Center in his last budget but under O'Neill no funding for the center is provided and the tracking of terrorist financing slows down. [Foreign Affairs 7/01; Time 10/15/01]
          

Early February 2001

       Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” for the Clinton administration, briefs Vice President Cheney about the al-Qaeda threat. He urges decisive and quick action against al-Qaeda. Cheney soon visits CIA headquarters for more information about al-Qaeda. But at later high level meetings he fails to bring up al-Qaeda as a priority issue. [Time 8/4/02]
          

February-July 2001

       A trial is held in New York City for four defendants charged with involvement in the 1998 US embassy bombings. All are ultimately convicted. Testimony reveals that two bin Laden operatives had received pilot training in Texas and Oklahoma and another had been asked to take lessons. One bin Laden aide becomes a government witness and gives the FBI detailed information about a pilot training scheme. This new information does not lead to any new FBI investigations into the matter. [Washington Post 9/23/01]
          

February 2001 (C)

       Abdul Haq, a famous Afghan leader of the mujaheddin, convinces Robert McFarlane, National Security Adviser under President Reagan, that Haq and about 50 fellow commanders could lead a force to start a revolt against the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan. However, Haq wants to do this under the authority of Zahir Shah, the popular former king of Afghanistan, whom the US doesn't support. The CIA fails to give any support to this revolt idea. Says one CIA official to McFarlane a few months later, “We don't yet have our marching orders concerning US policy; it may be that we will end up dealing with the Taliban.” Haq goes ahead with his plans without US support, and is later betrayed and killed (see Mid-August 2001 (B) and October 25, 2001). [Los Angeles Times 10/28/01 (B); Wall Street Journal 11/2/01]
          

February 7, 2001

       CIA Director Tenet warns Congress in open testimony that “The threat from terrorism is real, it is immediate, and it is evolving.” He says bin Laden and his global network remains “the most immediate and serious threat” to US interests. “Since 1998 bin Laden has declared that all US citizens are legitimate targets,” he says, adding that bin Laden “is capable of planning multiple attacks with little or no warning.” [AP 2/7/01; Sunday Herald 9/23/01]
          

February 9, 2001 (B)

       US officials claim significant progress in defeating bin Laden's financial network, despite significant difficulties. It is claimed that, “bin Laden's financial and operational networks has been ‘completely mapped’ in secret documents shared by the State Department, CIA and Treasury Department, with much of the mapping completed in detail by mid-1997.” [UPI 2/9/01] Reporter Greg Palast later notes that when the US freezes the assets of terrorist organizations in late September 2001 (see September 24, 2001), US investigators likely knew much about the finances of those organizations but took no action before 9/11. [Santa Fe New Mexican 3/20/03]
          

February 9, 2001

       Vice President Cheney is briefed that it has been conclusively proven bin Laden was behind the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole (see October 12, 2000). Bush has been in office a matter of days, when secret pipeline negotiations with the Taliban have begun. The new administration has already twice threatened the Taliban that the US would hold the Taliban responsible for any al-Qaeda attack. But, fearful of ending those negotiations, the US does not retaliate against either the Taliban or known bin Laden bases in Afghanistan in the manner Clinton did in 1998. [Washington Post 1/20/02]
          

February 13, 2001

       UPI reporter Richard Sale, while covering a trial of bin Laden's al-Qaeda followers, reports that the NSA has broken bin Laden's encrypted communications. US officials say “codes were broken.” [UPI, 2/13/01] Presumably al-Qaeda changes its security after this time, but also the US government officials later claim that the planning for the 9/11 attack began in 1998 if not earlier (see also 1998). [New York Times, 10/14/01] [FTW]
          

February 23, 2001

       Al-Qaeda agent Zacarias Moussaoui flies to the US. Three days later he starts flight training at the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma. The school and the area had a history of training terrorist pilots (see May 18, 1998 and September 1999 (E)). He trains there until May, but doesn't do well and drops out before getting a pilot's license. His visa expires on May 22, but he doesn't attempt to renew it or get another one. He stays in Norman, making arrangements to change flight schools, and frequently exercising in a gym. [Senate Intelligence Committee, 10/17/02, MSNBC, 12/11/01] According to US investigators, would-be hijacker Ramzi bin al-Shibh (see November 20, 2002) later says he meets Moussaoui in Karachi (Pakistan) in June 2001. [Washington Post, 11/20/02] Moussaoui moves to a flight school in Minnesota in August (see August 13-15, 2001) and is arrested by the FBI a short time later (see August 15, 2001). [Senate Intelligence Committee 10/17/02; MSNBC 12/11/01]
          

February 26, 2001

       Paul Bremer, appointed the US administrator of Iraq in 2003, says in a speech that the Bush administration is “paying no attention” to terrorism. “What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, ‘Oh my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this.’ ” Bremer spoke shortly after chairing the National Commission on Terrorism, a bipartisan body formed during the Clinton administration. [AP 4/29/04]
          
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