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Before 9/11

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

Al-Qaeda Members

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

Geopolitics and 9/11

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

Day of 9/11

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

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan
Investigations
Other events
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Complete 911 Timeline

 
  

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Showing 1-100 of 369 events (use filters to narrow search):    next 100

December 26, 1979: Soviet Forces, Lured in by the CIA, Invade Afghanistan

       The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. They will withdraw in 1989 after a brutal 10-year war. It has been commonly believed that the invasion was unprovoked. However, in a 1998 interview, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser, will reveal that the CIA began destabilizing the pro-Soviet Afghan government six months earlier in a deliberate attempt to get the Soviets to invade and have their own Vietnam-type costly war: “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?” [Le Nouvel Observateur, 1/98; Mirror, 1/29/02] The US and Saudi Arabia give a huge amount of money (estimates range up to $40 billion total for the war) to support the mujahedeen guerrilla fighters opposing the Russians. Most of the money is managed by the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency. [Nation, 2/15/99]
People and organizations involved: Saudi Arabia, United States, Central Intelligence Agency, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Taliban
          

Early 1980: Osama bin Laden, with Saudi Backing, Supports Afghan Rebels

      
Osama bin Laden's father, Mohammed Awad bin Laden, was extremely powerful and influential in Saudi Arabia.
Osama bin Laden begins providing financial, organizational, and engineering aid for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, with the advice and support of the Saudi royal family. [New Yorker, 11/5/01] Some, including Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, believe he was handpicked for the job by Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabia's Secret Service. [Sunday Times, 8/25/02; New Yorker, 11/5/01] The Pakistani ISI want a Saudi prince as a public demonstration of the commitment of the Saudi royal family and as a way to ensure royal funds for the anti-Soviet forces. The agency fails to get royalty, but bin Laden, with his family's influential ties, is good enough for the ISI. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] (Clarke will argue later that the Saudis and other Muslim governments used the Afghan war in an attempt to get rid of their own misfits and troublemakers.) This multinational force later coalesces into al-Qaeda. [Clarke, 2004, pp 52]
People and organizations involved: Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, Osama bin Laden, Richard A. Clarke, al-Qaeda
          

October 1980: Osama's Brother Allegedly Involved in October Surprise

      
Salem bin Laden in 1975.
Salem bin Laden, Osama's oldest brother, described by a French secret intelligence report as one of two closest friends of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd who often performs important missions for Saudi Arabia, is involved in secret Paris meetings between US and Iranian emissaries this month, according to a French report. Frontline, which published the French report, notes that such meetings have never been confirmed. Rumors of these meetings have been called the “October Surprise” and some have speculated that in these meetings, George H. W. Bush negotiated a delay to the release of the US hostages in Iran, thus helping Ronald Reagan and Bush win the 1980 Presidential election. All of this is highly speculative, but if the French report is correct, it points to a long-standing connection of highly improper behavior between the Bush and bin Laden families. [PBS Frontline, 2001 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Salem bin Laden, George Herbert Walker Bush, Ronald Reagan, Iran
          

1982-1991: Afghan Opium Production Skyrockets

      
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar still controls part of Afghanistan.
Afghan opium production rises from 250 tons in 1982 to 2,000 tons in 1991, coinciding with CIA support and funding of the mujahedeen. Alfred McCoy, a professor of Southeast Asian history at the University of Wisconsin, says US and Pakistani intelligence officials sanctioned the rebels' drug trafficking because of their fierce opposition to the Soviets: “If their local allies were involved in narcotics trafficking, it didn't trouble [the] CIA. They were willing to keep working with people who were heavily involved in narcotics.” For instance, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a rebel leader who received about half of all the CIA's covert weapons, was known to be a major heroin trafficker. Charles Cogan, who directs the CIA's operation in Afghanistan, later claims he was unaware of the drug trade: “We found out about it later on.” [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 9/30/01; Atlantic Monthly, 5/96]
People and organizations involved: Charles Cogan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Central Intelligence Agency, Alfred McCoy
          

1984-1994: US Supports Militant Textbooks for Afghanistan

       The US, through USAID and the University of Nebraska, spends millions of dollars developing and printing textbooks for Afghan schoolchildren. The textbooks are filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation. For instance, children are taught to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles, and land mines. Lacking any alternative, millions of these textbooks are used long after 1994; the Taliban are still using them in 2001. In 2002, the US will start producing less violent versions of the same books, which President Bush says will have “respect for human dignity, instead of indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry.” (He will fail to mention who created those earlier books). [Washington Post, 3/23/02; Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 5/6/02]
People and organizations involved: Turkey, George W. Bush, Taliban, USAID
          

1984: Bin Laden Develops Ties with Pakistani ISI and Afghan Warlord

       Bin Laden moves to Peshawar, a Pakistani town bordering Afghanistan, and helps run a front organization for the mujahedeen known as Maktab al-Khidamar (MAK), which funnels money, arms, and fighters from the outside world into the Afghan war. [New Yorker, 1/24/00] “MAK [is] nurtured by Pakistan's state security services, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, the CIA's primary conduit for conducting the covert war against Moscow's occupation.” [MSNBC, 8/24/98] Bin Laden becomes closely tied to the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and greatly strengthens Hekmatyar's opium smuggling operations. [Le Monde, 9/14/01] Hekmatyar, who also has ties with bin Laden, the CIA, and drug running, has been called “an ISI stooge and creation.” [Asia Times, 11/15/01]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Maktab al-Khidamar, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Osama bin Laden
          

1985-1989: Precursor to al-Qaeda Puts Down US Roots

      
Sheikh Abdullah Azzam.
Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, bin Laden's mentor, makes repeated trips to the US and other countries, building up his organization, Makhtab al-Khidimat (MAK), also known as the Services Office. Branches of the MAK open in over 30 US cities, as Muslim-Americans donate millions of dollars to support the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. Azzam is assassinated in a car bomb attack in late 1989. Some US intelligence officials believe bin Laden ordered the killing. Bin Laden soon takes over the MAK, which morphs into al-Qaeda. His followers take over MAK's offices in the US, and they become financial conduits for al-Qaeda operations. [Lance, 2003, pp 40-41]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Makhtab al-Khidimat, Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam
          

Mid-1980s: Pakistani ISI and CIA Gain from Drug Production

       The Pakistani ISI starts a special cell of agents who use profits from heroin production for covert actions “at the insistence of the CIA.” “This cell promotes the cultivation of opium, the extraction of heroin in Pakistani and Afghan territories under mujahedeen control. The heroin is then smuggled into the Soviet controlled areas, in an attempt to turn the Soviet troops into heroin addicts. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the ISI's heroin cell started using its network of refineries and smugglers for smuggling heroin to the Western countries and using the money as a supplement to its legitimate economy. But for these heroin dollars, Pakistan's legitimate economy must have collapsed many years ago.” [Financial Times (Asian edition), 8/10/01] The ISI grows so powerful on this money, that “even by the shadowy standards of spy agencies, the ISI is notorious. It is commonly branded ‘a state within the state,’ or Pakistan's ‘invisible government.’” [Time, 5/6/02]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency
          

Mid-1980s: Osama's Brother Is Allegedly Involved in the Iran-Contra Affair

       Quoting a French intelligence report posted by PBS Frontline, The New Yorker reports, “During the nineteen-eighties, when the Reagan administration secretly arranged for an estimated $34 million to be funneled through Saudi Arabia to the Contras in Nicaragua, [Osama's eldest brother] Salem bin Laden aided in this cause.” [New Yorker, 11/5/01; PBS Frontline, 2001 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Reagan administration, Salem bin Laden, Contras
          

Mid 1980s: ISI Head Regularly Meets with bin Laden

       According to controversial author Gerald Posner, ex-CIA officials claim that General Akhtar Abdul Rahman, Pakistani ISI's head from 1980 to 1987, regularly meets bin Laden in Peshawar, Pakistan. The ISI and bin Laden form a partnership that forces Afghan tribal warlords to pay a “tax” on the opium trade. By 1985, bin Laden and the ISI are splitting annual profits of up to $100 million a year. [Posner, 2003, pp 29]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Akhtar Abdul Rahman
          

March 1985: US Escalates War in Afghanistan

      
Osama bin Laden in 1989.
The CIA, British MI6 (Britain's intelligence agency), and the Pakistani ISI agree to launch guerrilla attacks from Afghanistan into then Soviet-controlled Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, attacking military installations, factories, and storage depots within Soviet territory, and do so until the end of the war. The CIA also begins supporting the ISI in recruiting radical Muslims from around the world to come to Pakistan and fight with the Afghan mujahedeen. The CIA gives subversive literature and Korans to the ISI, who carry them into the Soviet Union. Eventually, around 35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic countries will fight with the Afghan mujahedeen. Tens of thousands more will study in the hundreds of new madrassas funded by the ISI and CIA in Pakistan. Their main logistical base is in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. [Washington Post, 7/19/92; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/01; Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9/23/01; The Hindu, 9/27/01] In the late 1980s, Pakistani President Benazir Bhutto, feeling the mujahedeen network has grown too strong, tells President George H. W. Bush, “You are creating a Frankenstein.” However, the warning goes unheeded. [Newsweek, 9/24/01] By 1993, President Bhutto tells Egyptian President Hasni Mubarak that Peshawar is under de facto control of the mujahedeen, and unsuccessfully asks for military help in reasserting Pakistani control over the city. Thousands of mujahedeen fighters return to their home countries after the war is over and engage in multiple acts of violence. One Western diplomat notes these thousands would never have been trained or united without US help, and says, “The consequences for all of us are astronomical.” [Atlantic Monthly, 5/96]
People and organizations involved: UK Secret Intelligence Service, Central Intelligence Agency, Benazir Bhutto
          

1986: Bin Laden Works with CIA, at Least Indirectly

       The CIA, ISI, and bin Laden build the Khost tunnel complex in Afghanistan. This will be a major target of bombing and fighting when the US attacks the Taliban in 2001. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/01; Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9/23/01; The Hindu, 9/27/01] It will be reported in June 2001 that “bin Laden worked closely with Saudi, Pakistani, and US intelligence services to recruit mujahedeen from many Muslim countries,” but this information has not been reported much since 9/11. [UPI, 6/14/01] A CIA spokesperson will later claim, “For the record, you should know that the CIA never employed, paid, or maintained any relationship whatsoever with bin Laden.” [Ananova, 10/31/01]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Taliban
          

September 1986: CIA Provides Afghan Rebels Stinger Missiles

       Worried that the Soviets are winning the war in Afghanistan, the US decides to train and arm the mujahedeen with Stinger missiles. The Soviets are forced to stop using the attack helicopters that were being used to devastating effect. Some claim the Stingers turn the tide of the war and lead directly to Soviet withdrawal. Now the mujahedeen are better trained and armed than ever before. [Coll, 2004, pp 11, 149-51; Clarke, 2004, pp 48-50]
          

September 1987-March 1989: Head US Consular Official Claims He's Told to Issue Visas to Unqualified Applicants

       Michael Springmann, head US consular official in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, later claims that during this period he is “repeatedly told to issue visas to unqualified applicants.” He turns them down, but is repeatedly overruled by superiors. Springmann loudly complains to numerous government offices, but no action is taken. He is fired and his files on these applicants are destroyed. He later learns that recruits from many countries fighting for bin Laden against Russia in Afghanistan were funneled through the Jeddah office to get visas to come to the US, where the recruits would travel to train for the Afghan war. According to Springmann, the Jeddah consulate was run by the CIA and staffed almost entirely by intelligence agents. This visa system may have continued at least through 9/11, and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers received their visas through Jeddah, possibly as part of this program. [BBC, 11/6/01; Associated Press, 7/17/02 (B); Fox News, 7/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Michael Springmann, Central Intelligence Agency, US Consulate, Jedda, Saudi Arabia Office
          

1988: Bin Ladens Bail Out George W. Bush?

      
Bush during his Harken days.
Prior to this year, President George W. Bush is a failed oilman. Three times, friends and investors have bailed him out to keep his business from going bankrupt. However, in 1988, the same year his father becomes president, some Saudis buy a portion of his small company, Harken, which has never performed work outside of Texas. Later in the year, Harken wins a contract in the Persian Gulf and starts doing well financially. These transactions seem so suspicious that the Wall Street Journal in 1991 states it “raises the question of ... an effort to cozy up to a presidential son.” Two major investors in Bush's company during this time are Salem bin Laden and Khalid bin Mahfouz. [Salon, 11/19/01; Intelligence Newsletter, 3/2/00] Salem bin Laden is Osama's oldest brother; Khalid bin Mahfouz is a Saudi banker with a 20 percent stake in BCCI. The bank will be shut down a few years later and bin Mahfouz will have to pay a $225 million fine (while admitting no wrongdoing) (see October 2001)). [Forbes, 3/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Khalid bin Mahfouz, Salem bin Laden, Harken, George W. Bush
          

August 11, 1988: Bin Laden Forms al-Qaeda

       Bin Laden conducts a meeting to discuss “the establishment of a new military group,” according to notes that are found later. Over time, this group becomes known as al-Qaeda, roughly meaning “the base” or “the foundation.” [Associated Press, 2/19/03 (B)] It will take US intelligence years even to realize a group named al-Qaeda exists.
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda
          

1989-May 2000: Hijacker Associate al-Marabh Busy Inside US

      
Raed Hijazi.
Nabil al-Marabh moves to Boston in 1989 and apparently lives there as a taxi driver and al-Qaeda sleeper agent for the next ten years. [New York Times, 9/18/01; Boston Herald, 9/19/01] In 1992, he learns to use weapons in an Afghan al-Qaeda training camp with an operative named Raed Hijazi. [Chicago Sun-Times, 9/5/02] He and Hijazi live together and drive taxis at the same company in Boston for several years. [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] A mutual friend at the same taxi company is later killed participating in a 1999 al-Qaeda attack. [Boston Herald, 9/19/01] Hijazi participates in a failed attempt to bomb a hotel in Jordan in November 1999 and helps plan the USS Cole bombing in October 2000 (see October 12, 2000). In May 1999, the FBI approaches al-Marabh looking for Hijazi, but al-Marabh lies and says he does not know Hijazi. [Washington Post, 9/4/02] Hijazi is arrested in Syria in October 2000 and imprisoned in Jordan for his bomb attempt there. [Toronto Sun, 10/16/01] He begins to cooperate with investigators and identifies al-Marabh as a US al-Qaeda operative. [New York Times, 9/18/01] Operative Ahmed Ressam gives evidence helping to prove that al-Marabh sent money to Hijazi for the Jordan bombing. [Toronto Sun, 11/16/01; ABC News, 1/31/02] By February 1999, al-Marabh is driving taxis in Tampa, Florida, while maintaining a cover of living in Boston. [Toronto Star, 10/26/01; ABC News, 1/31/02; New York Times, 9/18/01] He apparently lives in Tampa at least part time until February 2000; investigators later wonder if he is an advance man for the Florida-based hijackers. [New York Times, 9/18/01; ABC News, 1/31/02] Al-Marabh is living in Detroit by May 2000, though he maintains a Boston address until September 2000. [Boston Herald, 9/19/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ahmed Ressam, al-Qaeda, Nabil al-Marabh, Syria, Raed Hijazi, Jordan
          

January 20, 1989: George H. W. Bush Is Inaugurated US President

      
President George Herbert Walker Bush.
George H. W. Bush replaces Ronald Reagan and remains president until January 1993. Many of the key members in his government will have important positions again when his son George W. Bush becomes president in 2001. For instance, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell later becomes Secretary of State, and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney later becomes vice president.
People and organizations involved: Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush
          

February 15, 1989: Soviet Forces Withdraw from Afghanistan

       Soviet forces withdraw from Afghanistan, but Afghan communists retain control of Kabul, the capital, until April 1992. [Washington Post, 7/19/92] Richard Clarke, a counterterrorism official during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations and the counterterrorism “tsar” by 9/11, later claims that the huge amount of US aid provided to Afghanistan drops off drastically as soon as the Soviets withdraw, abandoning the country to civil war and chaos. The new powers in Afghanistan are tribal chiefs, the Pakistani ISI, and the Arab war veterans coalescing into al-Qaeda. [Clarke, 2004, pp 52-53]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence
          

November 9, 1989: Cold War Ends; US Asserts World Dominance

      
Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The Berlin Wall begins to fall in East Germany, signifying the end of the Soviet Union as a superpower. Just six days later, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell presents a new strategy document to President George H. W. Bush, proposing that the US shift its strategic focus from countering Soviet attempts at world dominance to ensuring US world dominance. George H. W. Bush accepts this plan in a public speech, with slight modifications, on August 2, 1990, the same day Iraq invades Kuwait. In early 1992 (see March 8, 1992), Powell, counter to his usual public dove persona, tells congresspersons that the US requires “sufficient power” to “deter any challenger from ever dreaming of challenging us on the world stage.” He says, “I want to be the bully on the block.” Powell's early ideas of global hegemony will be formalized by others in a 1992 policy document and finally realized as policy when George W. Bush becomes president in 2001. [Harper's, 10/02]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, George Herbert Walker Bush, Soviet Union
          

1990: First Hijacker Enters US

      
A young Hani Hanjour.
Hani Hanjour, who will pilot Flight 77 on 9/11, enters the US. He takes an English course in Tucson, Arizona. [Time, 9/24/01 (B); Cox News Service, 10/15/01; New York Times, 6/19/02] Despite evidence to the contrary, the FBI claims Hanjour first arrived on October 3, 1991. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02] The 9/11 Commission does not take a position on this issue, finding only that “Hanjour came to the United States to attend school in three stints during the 1990s. His final arrival was in December 2000, through the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport.” [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11 Commission, William Safire
          

July 1990: Blind Sheikh on Terrorist Watch List Enters US

      
Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman.
Despite being on a US terrorist watch list for three years, radical Muslim leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman enters the US on a “much-disputed” tourist visa issued by an undercover CIA agent. [Village Voice, 3/30/93; Atlantic Monthly, 5/96; Lance, 2003, pp 42] Abdul-Rahman was heavily involved with the CIA and Pakistani ISI efforts to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan, and became famous traveling all over the world for five years recruiting new mujahedeen. However, he never hid his prime goals to overthrow the governments of the US and Egypt. [Atlantic Monthly, 5/96] He is “infamous throughout the Arab world for his alleged role in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat.” Abdul-Rahman immediately begins setting up a militant Islamic network in the US. [Village Voice, 3/30/93] He is believed to have befriended bin Laden while in Afghanistan, and bin Laden secretly pays Abdul-Rahman's US living expenses. [Atlantic Monthly, 5/96; ABC News, 8/16/02] Abdul-Rahman's ties to the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990 are later ignored. As one FBI agent will say in 1993, he is “hands-off. It was no accident that the sheikh obtained a visa and that he is still in the country. He's here under the banner of national security, the State Department, the NSA, and the CIA.” According to a very high-ranking Egyptian official, Abdul-Rahman continues to assist the CIA in recruiting new mujahedeen after moving to the US: “We begged America not to coddle the sheikh.” Egyptian intelligence warns the US that Abdul-Rahman is planning new attacks, and on November 12, 1992, militants connected to him machine-gun a busload of Western tourists in Egypt. Still, he will continue to live freely in New York City. [Village Voice, 3/30/93] He will finally be arrested in 1993 and convicted of assisting in the 1993 WTC bombing. [Atlantic Monthly, 5/96]
People and organizations involved: National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Anwar el-Sadat, US Department of State, World Trade Center, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, Meir Kahane
          

August 2, 1990

       Iraq invades Kuwait.
          

August 2, 1990-March 1991: The First Gulf War

       After Iraq invades Kuwait (see August 2, 1990), Laden, newly returned to Saudi Arabia, offers the Saudi government the use of his thousands of mujahedeen fighters to defend the country in case Iraq attacks it. The Saudi government turns him down, allowing 300,000 US soldiers on Saudi soil instead. Bin Laden is incensed, and immediately goes from ally to enemy of the Saudis. [Coll, 2004, pp 221-24, 270-71] After a slow buildup, the US invades Iraq in March 1991 and reestablishes Kuwait. [Posner, 2003, pp 40-41] Bin Laden soon leaves Saudi Arabia and soon forms al-Qaeda ((see Summer 1991)).
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden
          

November 5, 1990: First bin Laden-Related Terror Attack on US

      
Rabbi Meir Kahane (left) and his assassin El Sayyid Nosair (right).
Egyptian-American El Sayyid Nosair assassinates controversial right-wing Zionist leader Rabbi Meir Kahane. Kahane's organization, the Jewish Defense League, was linked to dozens of bombings and is ranked by the FBI as the most lethal domestic militant group in the US at the time. Nosair is captured after a police shoot-out. An FBI informant says he saw Nosair meeting with Muslim leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman a few days before the attack, and evidence indicating a wider plot with additional targets is found. [Village Voice, 3/30/93] Files found in Nosair's possession give details of an Islamic militant cell, mention al-Qaeda, and discuss the destruction of tall US buildings. Incredibly, this vital information is not translated until years later. [ABC News, 8/16/02] Instead, within 12 hours of the assassination, New York police declare the assassination the work of a “lone gunman” and they stick with that story. In Nosair's subsequent trial, prosecutors will choose not to introduce his incriminating possessions or his confession as evidence, and an apparent “open-and-shut case” will end with his acquittal. However, he will be sentenced to 22 years on other lesser charges. [Village Voice, 3/30/93] Bin Laden contributes to Nosair's defense fund. Many of those involved in Kahane's assassination will plan the 1993 WTC bombing. As one FBI agent puts it, “The fact is that in 1990, myself and my detectives, we had in our office in handcuffs, the people who blew up the World Trade Center in '93. We were told to release them.” [ABC News, 8/16/02]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Jewish Defense League, Osama bin Laden, Federal Bureau of Investigation, El Sayyid Nosair, Meir Kahane, al-Qaeda, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman
          

1991-1997: Oil Investment in Central Asia Follows Soviet Collapse

       The Soviet Union collapses in 1991, creating several new nations in Central Asia. Major US oil companies, including ExxonMobil, Texaco, Unocal, BP Amoco, Shell, and Enron, directly invest billions in these Central Asian nations, bribing heads of state to secure equity rights in the huge oil reserves in these regions. The oil companies commit to $35 billion in future direct investments in Kazakhstan. It is believed at the time that these oil fields will have an estimated $6 trillion potential value. US companies own approximately 75 percent of the rights. These companies, however, face the problem of having to pay exorbitant prices to Russia for use of the Russian pipelines to get the oil out. [New Yorker, 7/9/01; Asia Times, 1/26/02]
People and organizations involved: Unocal, Enron, Soviet Union, ExxonMobil, Russia, Kazakhstan, Royal Dutch/Shell, BP, Texaco
          

1991: White House Is Protected From Airplane Attack During Gulf War

       Time magazine reports in 1994, “During the Gulf War, uniformed air-defense teams could be seen patrolling the top floor [of the White House] with automatic rifles or shoulder-mounted ground-to-air missiles.” [Time, 9/26/94] While a battery of surface-to-air-missiles remains permanently on the roof of the White House, the rest of these defenses are apparently removed after the war is over. [Daily Telegraph, 9/16/01] Yet even though counterterrorism officials later call the alerts in the summer of 2001 “the most urgent in decades,” similar defensive measures will apparently not be taken. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry Report, 9/18/02]
          

Between 1991 and 2001: NORAD Exercise Simulates Crash into Famous US Building

       At some point between 1991 and 2001, a regional NORAD sector holds an exercise simulating a foreign hijacked airliner crashing into a prominent building in the United States, the identity of which is classified. According to military officials, the building is not the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. The exercise involves some flying of military aircraft, plus a “command post exercise” where communication procedures are rehearsed in an office environment. [CNN, 4/19/04]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

Between 1991 and 2001: NORAD Exercise Simulates Crash into Famous US Building

       At some point between 1991 and 2001, a regional NORAD sector holds an exercise simulating a foreign hijacked airliner crashing into a prominent building in the United States, the identity of which is classified. According to military officials, the building is not the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. The exercise involves some flying of military aircraft, plus a “command post exercise” where communication procedures are rehearsed in an office environment. [CNN, 4/19/04]
          

March 1991: US Military Remains in Saudi Arabia

       As the Gulf War against Iraq ends, the US stations some 15,000-20,000 soldiers in Saudi Arabia permanently. [Nation, 2/15/99] President George H. W. Bush falsely claims that all US troops have withdrawn. [Guardian, 12/21/01] The US troop's presence is not admitted until 1995, and there has never been an official explanation as to why they remained. The Nation postulates that they are stationed there to prevent a coup. Saudi Arabia has an incredible array of high-tech weaponry, but lacks the expertise to use it and it is feared that Saudi soldiers may have conflicting loyalties. In 1998, bin Laden will release a statement: “For more than seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.” [Nation, 2/15/99]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, George Herbert Walker Bush, United States
          

Summer 1991: Bin Laden Leaves Saudi Arabia

      
Prince Turki al-Faisal.
Bin Laden, recently returned to Saudi Arabia, has been placed under house arrest for his opposition to the continued presence of US soldiers on Saudi soil. [PBS Frontline, 9/01] Controversial author Gerald Posner claims that a classified US intelligence report describes a secret deal between bin Laden and Saudi intelligence minister Prince Turki al-Faisal at this time. Although bin Laden has become an enemy of the Saudi state, he is nonetheless too popular for his role with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan to be easily imprisoned or killed. According to Posner, bin Laden is allowed to leave Saudi Arabia with his money and supporters, but the Saudi government will publicly disown him. Privately, the Saudis will continue to fund his supporters with the understanding that they will never be used against Saudi Arabia. The wrath of the fundamentalist movement is thus directed away from the vulnerable Saudis. [Posner, 2003, pp 40-42] Posner alleges the Saudis “effectively had [bin Laden] on their payroll since the start of the decade.” [Time, 8/31/03] This deal is reaffirmed in 1996 and 1998. Bin Laden leaves Saudi Arabia in the summer of 1991, returning first to Afghanistan. [Coll, 2004, pp 229-31, 601-02] After staying there a few months, he moves again, settling into Sudan with hundreds of ex-mujahedeen supporters (see 1992-1996). [PBS Frontline, 9/01]
People and organizations involved: Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, Osama bin Laden
          

July 5, 1991: Outlaw BCCI Bank Is Shut Down

      
The BCCI logo on the front of one of their banks.
The Bank of England shuts down Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the largest Islamic bank in the world. Based in Pakistan, this bank financed numerous militant organizations and laundered money generated by illicit drug trafficking and other illegal activities, including arms trafficking. Bin Laden and many other militants had accounts there. [Detroit News, 9/30/01] One money-laundering expert claims, “BCCI did dirty work for every major terrorist service in the world.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02] American and British governments were aware of its activities yet allowed the bank to operate for years. The Pakistani ISI had major connections to the bank. However, as later State Department reports indicate, Pakistan remains a major drug trafficking and money-laundering center despite the bank's closing. [Detroit News, 9/30/01] “The CIA used BCCI to funnel millions of dollars to the fighters battling the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan” according to the Washington Post. A French intelligence report in 2001 suggests the BCCI network has been largely rebuilt by bin Laden (see October 2001). [Washington Post, 2/17/02] The ruling family of Abu Dhabi, the dominant emirate in the United Arab Emirates, owned 77 percent of the bank. [Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Bank of Credit and Commerce International, Bank of England, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency
          

1992-1996: Bin Laden Attacks US Interests Using Sudanese Base

       With a personal fortune of around $250 million (estimates range from $50 to $800 million [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] ), Osama bin Laden begins plotting attacks against the US from his new base in Sudan. The first attack kills two tourists in Yemen at the end of 1992. [New Yorker, 1/24/00] The CIA learns of his involvement in that attack in 1993, and learns that same year that he is channeling money to Egyptian extremists. US intelligence also learns that by January 1994 he is financing at least three militant training camps in North Sudan. [New York Times, 8/14/96; PBS Frontline, 9/01; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency
          

March 8, 1992: Raw US World Dominance Plan Is Leaked to the Media

       The Defense Planning Guidance, “a blueprint for the department's spending priorities in the aftermath of the first Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union,” is leaked to the New York Times. [New York Times, 3/8/92; Newsday, 3/16/03] The document causes controversy, because it hadn't yet been “scrubbed” to replace candid language with euphemisms. [New York Times, 3/10/92; New York Times, 3/11/92; Observer, 4/7/02] The document argues that the US dominates the world as sole superpower, and to maintain that role, it “must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” [New York Times, 3/8/92; New York Times, 3/8/92 (B)] As the Observer summarizes it, “America's friends are potential enemies. They must be in a state of dependence and seek solutions to their problems in Washington.” [Observer, 4/7/02] The document is mainly written by Paul Wolfowitz and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who hold relatively low posts at the time, but become deputy defense secretary and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, respectively, under George W. Bush. [Newsday, 3/16/03] The authors conspicuously avoid mention of collective security arrangements through the United Nations, instead suggesting the US “should expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the crisis being confronted.” [New York Times, 3/8/92] They call for “punishing” or “threatening punishment” against regional aggressors before they act. Interests to be defended preemptively include “access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, [and] threats to US citizens from terrorism.” [Harper's, 10/02] Senator Lincoln Chafee (R) later says, “It is my opinion that [George W. Bush's] plan for preemptive strikes was formed back at the end of the first Bush administration with that 1992 report.” [Newsday, 3/16/03] In response to the controversy, US releases an updated version of the document in May 1992, which stresses that the US will work with the United Nations and its allies. [Washington Post, 5/24/92; Harper's, 10/02]
People and organizations involved: Lincoln Chafee, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Soviet Union, United States
          

June 4, 1992: FBI Investigates Ties Between George W. Bush and Saudi Money

      
James Bath.
The FBI investigates connections between James Bath and George W. Bush, according to published reports. Bath is Salem bin Laden's official representative in the US. Bath's business partner contends that, “Documents indicate that the Saudis were using Bath and their huge financial resources to influence US policy,” since George W. Bush's father is president. George W. Bush denies any connections to Saudi money. What becomes of this investigation is unclear, but no charges are ever filed. [Houston Chronicle, 6/4/92]
People and organizations involved: James Bath, George W. Bush, Salem bin Laden, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 1, 1992: US Misses Opportunity to Stop First WTC Bombing and Discover al-Qaeda

       Al-Qaeda Operatives Ahmad Ajaj and Ramzi Yousef enter the US together. Ajaj is arrested at Kennedy Airport in New York City. Yousef is not arrested, and later, he masterminds the 1993 bombing of the WTC. “The US government was pretty sure Ajaj was a terrorist from the moment he stepped foot on US soil,” because his “suitcases were stuffed with fake passports, fake IDs and a cheat sheet on how to lie to US immigration inspectors,” plus “two handwritten notebooks filled with bomb recipes, six bomb-making manuals, four how-to videotapes concerning weaponry, and an advanced guide to surveillance training.” However, Ajaj is charged only with passport fraud, and serves a six-month sentence. From prison, Ajaj frequently calls Yousef and others in the 1993 WTC bombing plot, but no one translates the calls until long after the bombing. [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01] Ajaj is released from prison three days after the WTC bombing, but is later rearrested and sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/01] One of the manuals seized from Ajaj is horribly mistranslated for the trial. For instance, the title page is said to say “The Basic Rule,” published in 1982, when in fact the title says “al-Qaeda” (which means “the base” in English), published in 1989. Investigators later complain that a proper translation could have shown an early connection between al-Qaeda and the WTC bombing. [New York Times, 1/14/01] An Israeli Newsweekly later reports that the Palestinian Ajaj may have been a mole for the Israeli Mossad. The Village Voice has suggested that Ajaj may have had “advance knowledge of the World Trade Center bombing, which he shared with Mossad, and that Mossad, for whatever reason, kept the secret to itself.” Ajaj was not just knowledgeable, but was involved in the planning of the bombing from his prison cell. [Village Voice, 8/3/93]
People and organizations involved: Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks, al-Qaeda, Ramzi Yousef, World Trade Center, Ahmad Ajaj
          

December 1992: First Realization That bin Laden Is Behind an Attack on a US Target

       A bomb explodes in a hotel in Aden, Yemen, killing two tourists. US soldiers had just left the hotel for Somalia. [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] US intelligence is still unaware of bin Laden's funding of the Rabbi Meir Kahane assassination in 1990. However, it will conclude in April 1993 that “[Bin Laden] almost certainly played a role” in this attack. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Meir Kahane
          

1993-1999: Alhazmi and Almihdhar Fight for al-Qaeda

      
Nawaf Alhazmi (left), and Khalid Almihdhar (right).
Of all the 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar have the longest records of involvement with al-Qaeda. CIA Director Tenet calls them al-Qaeda veterans. According to the CIA, Alhazmi first travels to Afghanistan in 1993 as a teenager. In 1995, he travels with Almihdhar to Bosnia and fights against the Serbs. Almihdhar makes his first visit to Afghanistan training camps in 1996, and then fights in Chechnya in 1997. Both swear loyalty to bin Laden around 1998. Alhazmi fights in Afghanistan against the Northern Alliance with his brother, Salem Alhazmi. He fights in Chechnya, probably in 1998. He returns to Saudi Arabia in early 1999 and shares information about the 1998 US embassy bombings. [Observer, 9/23/01; ABC News, 1/9/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03; CIA Director Tenet Testimony, 6/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Nawaf Alhazmi, al-Qaeda, Salem Alhazmi, George Tenet, Osama bin Laden, Northern Alliance, Khalid Almihdhar
          

1993-1998: Al-Qaeda Double Agent Is Arrested and Then Released; Tells Secrets About al-Qaeda

      
Ali Mohamed.
Canadian police arrest Ali Mohamed, a high-ranking al-Qaeda figure. However, they release him when the FBI says he is a US agent. [Globe and Mail, 11/22/01] Mohamed, a former US Army sergeant, will continue to work for al-Qaeda for a number of years. He trains bin Laden's personal body guards and trains an al-Qaeda cell in Kenya that later blows up the US embassy there. Meanwhile, between 1993 and 1997 he tells secrets to the FBI about al-Qaeda's operations. He is re-arrested in late 1998 and subsequently convicted for his role in the 1998 US embassy bombing in Kenya. [CNN, 10/30/98; Independent, 11/1/98] “For five years he was moving back and forth between the US and Afghanistan. It's impossible the CIA thought he was going there as a tourist. If the CIA hadn't caught on to him, it should be dissolved and its budget used for something worthwhile,” according to a former Egyptian intelligence officer. [Wall Street Journal, 11/26/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Ali Mohamed, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

January 1993: Cheney Releases New Global Domination Strategy

       While still serving as Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney releases a documented titled “Defense Strategy for the 1990s,” in which he reasserts the plans for US global domination outlined in the Defense Policy Guide leaked to the press in March 1992 (see March 8, 1992). [Harper's, 10/02] Clinton's inauguration as president later in the month precludes Cheney from actually implementing his plans.
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

1993: Expert Panel Predicts Terrorists Will Use Planes as Weapons on Symbolic US Targets

       An expert panel commissioned by the Pentagon postulates that an airplane could be used as a missile to bomb national landmarks. However, the panel does not publish this idea in its “Terror 2000” Report. [Washington Post, 10/2/01] One of the authors of the report later says, “We were told by the Department of Defense not to put it in ... and I said, ‘It's unclassified, everything is available.’ In addition, they said, ‘We don't want it released, because you can't handle a crisis before it becomes a crisis. And no one is going to believe you.’ ” [ABC News, 2/20/02] However, in 1994, one of the panel's experts will write in Futurist magazine, “Targets such as the World Trade Center not only provide the requisite casualties but, because of their symbolic nature, provide more bang for the buck. In order to maximize their odds for success, terrorist groups will likely consider mounting multiple, simultaneous operations with the aim of overtaxing a government's ability to respond, as well as demonstrating their professionalism and reach.” [Washington Post, 10/2/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center
          

1993: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Has Ties with ISI

       US agents uncover photographs showing Khalid Shaikh Mohammed with close associates of future Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The Financial Times later notes that Mohammed and his allies “must have felt confident that their ties to senior Pakistani Islamists, whose power had been cemented within the country's intelligence service [the ISI], would prove invaluable.” [Financial Times, 2/15/03] Also this year, Mohammed is involved in an operation to assassinate Benazir Bhutto, then prime minister of Pakistan (and an opponent of Sharif and the ISI). [Slate, 9/21/01; Guardian, 3/3/03 (B)] The Los Angeles Times later reports that Mohammed “spent most of the 1990s in Pakistan. Pakistani leadership through the 1990s sympathized with Osama bin Laden's fundamentalist rhetoric. This sympathy allowed Mohammed to operate as he pleased in Pakistan.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/24/02]
People and organizations involved: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Osama bin Laden, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif
          

1993: Bin Laden Buys Airplane From US Military to Kill US Soldiers

       Bin Laden buys a jet from the US military in Arizona. The US military approves the transaction. The aircraft is later used to transport missiles from Pakistan that kill American Special Forces in Somalia. A man named Essam al Ridi will testify in a US trial before 9/11 that he buys a Saber-40 aircraft for $210,000, then flies it from Texas to Khartoum, Sudan. Bin Laden wants the plane to transport Stinger missiles, and apparently it is used in to transport some kind of missile from Pakistan that kill US Special Forces in Somalia in 1993. Essam al Ridi had just taken flying lessons himself (at the Ed Boardman Aviation School in Fort Worth) in an apparently early attempt by bin Laden to get more pilots. [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01; Washington Post, 5/19/02]
People and organizations involved: Essam al Ridi, Osama bin Laden
          

January 20, 1993: Bill Clinton Inaugurated

      
President Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton replaces George H. W. Bush as US president. He remains president until January 2001.
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, George Herbert Walker Bush
          

February 26, 1993: WTC Is Bombed but Does Not Collapse, as Bombers Had Hoped

      
Bomb damage in underground levels of the WTC in 1993.
An attempt to topple the WTC fails, but six people are killed and over 1000 are injured in the misfired blast. An FBI explosives expert later states that, “If they had found the exact architectural Achilles' heel or if the bomb had been a little bit bigger, not much more, 500 pounds more, I think it would have brought her down.” Ramzi Yousef, who has close ties to bin Laden, organizes the attempt. [Congressional Hearings, 2/24/98; Village Voice, 3/30/93] The New York Times later reports on Emad Salem, an undercover agent who will be the key government witness in the trial against Yousef. Salem testifies that the FBI knew about the attack beforehand and told him they would thwart it by substituting a harmless powder for the explosives. However, an FBI supervisor called off this plan, and the bombing was not stopped. [New York Times, 10/28/93] Other suspects were ineptly investigated before the bombing as early as 1990. Several of the bombers were trained by the CIA to fight in the Afghan war, and the CIA later concludes, in internal documents, that it was “partly culpable” for this bombing. [Independent, 11/1/98] US officials later state that the overall mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, is a close relative, probably an uncle, of Yousef. [Independent, 6/6/02; Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] One of the attackers even leaves a message which will later be found by investigators, stating, “Next time, it will be very precise.” [Associated Press, 9/30/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, Emad Salem, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Spring 1993: Blind Sheikh Plot to Crash Airplane into US Embassy in Egypt

       In March 1995, Emad Salem, an FBI informant and an ex-Egyptian army officer, publicly testifies in the trial of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing plotters. He mentions a 1993 plot by Islamic radicals tied to the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman (see July 1990). A Sudanese Air Force pilot would hijack an airplane, attack Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, then crash the plane into the US Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Siddig Siddig Ali, one of the defendants in the trial, asks Salem for help to find “gaps in the air defense in Egypt” so the pilot could “bomb the presidential house and then turn around, crash the plane into the American embassy after he ejects himself out of the plane.” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman had given his approval to the plot, but apparently it never goes beyond the discussion stage. Although details of this plot are in public records of the World Trade Center bombing trial, both the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry and 9/11 Commission fail to mention it. [Lance, 07/04, pp 196; Intelwire, 4/8/04] Abdul-Rahman was closely tied to bin Laden and in fact in 1998 there will be an al-Qaeda hijacking plot designed to free him from prison (see 1998). Individuals connected to Abdul-Rahman and al-Qaeda will also plot to crash an airplane into the White House in 1996 (see January 1996).
People and organizations involved: Emad Salem, World Trade Center, al-Qaeda, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, Siddig Siddig Ali, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/11 Commission
          

June 1993-October 1994: 9/11 Funder Saeed Sheikh Joins Al-Qaeda

       Saeed Sheikh, a brilliant British student at the London School of Economics, drops out of school and moves to his homeland of Pakistan. Two months later, he begins training in Afghanistan at camps run by al-Qaeda and the Pakistani ISI. By mid-1994, he has become an instructor. In June 1994, he begins kidnapping Western tourists in India. In October 1994, he is captured after kidnapping three Britons and an American, and is put in an Indian maximum-security prison, where he remain for five years. The ISI pays a lawyer to defend him. [Los Angeles Times, 2/9/02; Daily Mail, 7/16/02; Vanity Fair, 8/02] His supervisor is Ijaz Shah, an ISI officer. [Times of India, 3/12/02; Guardian, 7/16/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Saeed Sheikh, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Ijaz Shah
          

June 24, 1993: New York Landmark Bombing Plot Is Foiled

       Eight people are arrested, foiling a plot to bomb several New York City landmarks. The targets were the United Nations building, 26 Federal Plaza, and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. The plotters are connected to Ramzi Yousef and Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. If the bombing, planned for later in the year, had been successful, thousands would have died. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Ramzi Yousef, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman
          

October 3-4, 1993: Al-Qaeda and Pakistani Leader Support Somalia Attack on US Soldiers

       Eighteen US soldiers are attacked and killed in Mogadishu, Somalia, in a spontaneous gun battle following an unsuccessful attempt by US Army Rangers to snatch a local warlord. (This event later becomes the subject of the movie Black Hawk Down.) A 1998 US indictment will charge bin Laden and his followers with training the attackers. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/02 (C)] The link between bin Laden and the Somali killers of US soldiers appears to be Pakistani Maulana Masood Azhar. [Los Angeles Times, 2/25/02] Azhar is associated with Pakistan's ISI. He will be imprisoned briefly after 9/11 and then released.
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Maulana Masood Azhar
          

November 1993: Enron Power Plant Creates Demand for an Afghanistan Pipeline

      
The Dabhol power plant.
The Indian government approves construction of Enron's Dabhol power plant, located near Bombay on the west coast of India. Enron has invested $3 billion, the largest single foreign investment in India's history. Enron owns 65 percent of the Dabhol liquefied natural gas power plant, intended to provide one-fifth of India's energy needs by 1997. [Asia Times, 1/18/01; Indian Express, 2/27/00] It is the largest gas-fired power plant in the world. Earlier in the year, the World Bank concluded that the plant was “not economically viable” and refused to invest in it. [New York Times, 3/20/01]
People and organizations involved: World Bank, India, Enron
          

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

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

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

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

1994: US Declines to Accept Documents Exposing Saudi Scandals and Ties to Islamic Militants

       Mohammed al-Khilewi, the first secretary at the Saudi mission to the United Nations, defects and seeks political asylum in the US. He brings with him 14,000 internal government documents depicting the Saudi royal family's corruption, human-rights abuses, and financial support for Islamic militants. He meets with two FBI agents and an assistant US attorney. “We gave them a sampling of the documents and put them on the table,” says his lawyer, “but the agents refused to accept them.” [New Yorker, 10/16/01] The documents include “details of the $7 billion the Saudis gave to [Iraq leader] Saddam Hussein for his nuclear program—the first attempt to build an Islamic Bomb.” However, FBI agents are “ordered not to accept evidence of Saudi criminal activity, even on US soil.” [Palast, 2002, pp 101]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Saddam Hussein, Mohammed al-Khilewi
          

March 1994: FBI Begins to Focus on Radical Fundamentalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring 1995: More Evidence That the WTC Remains an Target

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

       A US National Intelligence Estimate concludes that the most likely terrorist threat will come from emerging “transient” terrorist groupings that are more fluid and multinational than older organizations and state-sponsored surrogates. This “new terrorist phenomenon” is made up of loose affiliations of Islamist extremists violently angry at the US. Lacking strong organization, they get weapons, money, and support from an assortment of governments, factions, and individual benefactors. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04] The estimate warns that terrorists are intent on striking specific targets inside the US, especially landmark buildings in Washington and New York. In 1997, the intelligence estimate is updated with bin Laden mentioned on the first page as an emerging threat and points out he might be interested in attacks inside the US. However, this new estimate is only two sentences long and lacks any strategic analysis on how to address the threat. [Associated Press, 4/16/04]
          

September-October 1995: Unocal Obtains Turkmenistan Pipeline Deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early 1996: CIA Forms New Counterterrorism bin Laden Unit

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

1996-December 2000: Majority of Hijackers Disappear into Chechnya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1996: Saudi Regime Goes "to the Dark Side"

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

January 1996: Muslim Extremists Plan Suicide Attack on White House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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