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Before 9/11

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

Al-Qaeda Members

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

Geopolitics and 9/11

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

Day of 9/11

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

The Post-9/11 World

Afghanistan
Investigations
Other events
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Complete 911 Timeline

 
  

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Showing 251-346 of 346 events (use filters to narrow search):    previous 100

August 28, 2001: FBI's New York Office Request to Open Criminal Investigation on Hijacker Rejected by FBI Headquarters

       A report is sent by the FBI's New York office recommending that an investigation be launched “to determine if [Khalid] Almihdhar is still in the United States.” The New York office tries to convince FBI headquarters to open a criminal investigation, but it is immediately turned down. The reason given is a “wall” between criminal and intelligence work—Almihdhar could not be tied to the USS Cole investigation without the inclusion of sensitive intelligence information [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02] So instead of a criminal case, the New York office opens an “intelligence case,” excluding all the “criminal case” investigators from the search. [FBI Agent Testimony, 9/20/02] One FBI agent expresses his frustration in an e-mail the next day, saying, “Whatever has happened to this—someday someone will die—and wall or not—the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain ‘problems.’ Let's hope the [FBI's] National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decisions then, especially since the biggest threat to us now, UBL [bin Laden], is getting the most ‘protection.’ ” [New York Times, 9/21/02; FBI Agent Testimony, 9/20/02] This same agent will be able to quickly find Almihdhar's address using an Internet search, once he is given permission to do so, hours after the 9/11 attack is over.(see September 11, 2001).
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

August 28-30, 2001: US Politicians Visit Pakistan and Discuss bin Laden

       Senator Bob Graham (D), Representative Porter Goss (R), and Senator Jon Kyl (R) travel to Pakistan and meet with President Musharraf. They reportedly discuss various security issues, including the possible extradition of bin Laden. They also meet with Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan. Zaeef apparently tells them that the Taliban wants to solve the issue of bin Laden through negotiations with the US. Pakistan says it wants to stay out of the bin Laden issue. [Agence France-Presse, 8/28/01; Salon, 9/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Bob Graham, Porter J. Goss, Pervez Musharraf, Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Abdul Salam Zaeef, Jon Kyl
          

August 28, 2001: CIA Fails to Connect Mohammed, bin al-Shibh, and Moussaoui

       In April 2001, the CIA analyzed some “intriguing information associated with a person known as ‘Mukhtar.’ ” The CIA didn't know who this was at the time, only that he was associated with top al-Qaeda deputy Abu Zubaida and that he seemed to be involved in planning al-Qaeda activities. On August 28, 2001, the CIA receives a cable reporting that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's nickname is Mukhtar (which means “brain” in Arabic). However, apparently no one at the CIA's bin Laden unit makes the connection between this new information and the April 2001 information. The 9/11 Commission writes, “Only after 9/11 would it be discovered that Muhktar/KSM had communicated with a phone that was used by [Ramzi] bin al-Shibh, and that bin al-Shibh had used the same phone to communicate with [Zacarias] Moussaoui [who is in US custody by this time.]” [9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/04; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, 9/11 Commission, Abu Zubaida, Zacarias Moussaoui, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

August 28, 2001: Minnesota FBI's Moussaoui Warrant Request Is Edited, Then Dropped by FBI Deputy General Counsel

       A previously mentioned unnamed RFU (Radical Fundamentalism Unit) agent edits the Minnesota FBI's request (see August 23-27, 2001) for a FISA search warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui's possessions. Minnesota is trying to prove that Moussaoui is connected to al-Qaeda through a rebel group in Chechnya, but the RFU agent removes information connecting the Chechnya rebels to al-Qaeda. Not surprisingly, the FBI Deputy General Counsel who receives the edited request decides on this day that the connection to al-Qaeda is insufficient to allow an application for a search warrant through FISA, so FISA is never even sought. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02] According to a later memo written by Minneapolis FBI legal officer Coleen Rowley, FBI headquarters is to blame for not getting the FISA warrant because of this rewrite of the request. She states: “I feel that certain facts ... have, up to now, been omitted, downplayed, glossed over and/or mischaracterized in an effort to avoid or minimize personal and/or institutional embarrassment on the part of the FBI and/or perhaps even for improper political reasons.” She asks, “Why would an FBI agent deliberately sabotage a case?” The superiors acted so strangely that some agents in the Minneapolis office openly joked that these higher-ups “had to be spies or moles ... working for Osama bin Laden.” FBI headquarters also refuses to contact the Justice Department to try to get a search warrant through ordinary means. Rowley and others are unable to search Moussaoui's computer until after the 9/11 attacks. Rowley later notes that the headquarters agents who blocked the Minnesota FBI were promoted after 9/11. [Sydney Morning Herald, 5/28/02; Time, 5/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, US Department of Justice, al-Qaeda, Zacarias Moussaoui, FBI Minnesota field office, FBI Headquarters, Coleen Rowley, Radical Fundamentalist Unit
          

August 29, 2001: FBI Learns That Almihdhar Arrived in US; Fails to Notify San Diego FBI Office

      
A portion of Khalid Almihdhar's New York identification card. The address is a Ramada Inn hotel, which was owned by Marriott at the time.
The FBI learns that when hijacker Khalid Almihdhar arrived in the US in July 2001, he indicated he would be staying at a Marriott hotel in New York City. By September 5, an investigation of all New York area Marriott hotels will turn up nothing. The FBI office in Los Angeles receives a request on the day of 9/11 to check Sheraton Hotels in Los Angeles, because that is where Almihdhar said he would be staying when he entered the country over a year and a half earlier. That search also turns up nothing. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/20/02; 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] The San Diego FBI office is not notified about the need for a search until September 12, and even then, they are only provided with “sketchy” information. [Los Angeles Times, 9/16/01] The FBI handling agent in San Diego is certain they could have been located quickly had they known where to look. The FBI agent running the San Diego office will claim they could have easily found the two hijackers by looking their names up in the phone book (see September 11, 2001). [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 7/24/03] There is some evidence from eyewitnesses that a few days before 9/11, Almihdhar and two other hijackers are living in the same San Diego apartment that they had been living in off and on for the past two years, the address that was listed for them in the public phone book (see Early September 2001).
People and organizations involved: Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

August 29, 2001: Cayman Islands Letter Warns of ‘Major Terrorist Act Against US via an Airline or Airlines’

       Three men from either Pakistan or Afghanistan living in the Cayman Islands are briefly arrested in June 2001 for discussing hijacking attacks in New York City. On this day, a Cayman Islands radio station receives an unsigned letter claiming these same three men are agents of bin Laden. The anonymous author warns that they “are organizing a major terrorist act against the US via an airline or airlines.” The letter is forwarded to a Cayman government official but no action is taken until after 9/11. When the Cayman government notifies the US is unknown. Many criminals and/or businesses use the Cayman Islands as a safe, no tax, no-questions-asked haven to keep their money. The author of the letter meets with the FBI shortly after 9/11, and claims his information was a “premonition of sorts.” The three men are later arrested. What has happened to them since their arrest is unclear. [Miami Herald, 9/20/01; Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01; MSNBC, 9/23/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda
          

August 29, 2001: Bush Vows Security Is His First Responsibility

       President Bush says, “We recognize it's a dangerous world. I know this nation still has enemies, and we cannot expect them to be idle. And that's why security is my first responsibility. And I will not permit any course that leaves America undefended.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

August 30-September 4, 2001: Egypt Warns al-Qaeda Is in Advanced Stages of Planning Significant Attack on US

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

August 30, 2001: Osama Reportedly Named Commander of Afghanistan Army

       It is reported in Russia and Pakistan that the Taliban has named bin Laden commander of the Afghanistan army. [UPI, 8/30/01]
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Osama bin Laden
          

Late August 2001: French Warning to US Echoes Earlier Israeli Warning

       French intelligence gives a general terrorist warning to the US; apparently, its contents echo an Israeli warning from earlier in the month (see August 8-15, 2001). [Fox News, 5/17/02]
          

Late August 2001: Foreign Intelligence Reminds US of Al-Qaeda Plot to Attack Within US

       The 9/11 Commission later notes that at this time, an unnamed foreign intelligence “service report[s] that [al-Qaeda deputy leader] Abu Zubaida [is] considering mounting terrorist attacks in the United States, after postponing possible operations in Europe. No targets, timing or method of attack [are] provided.” Newsweek suggests that most or all of this information may have come from a US debriefing of al-Qaeda bomber Ahmed Ressam in May 2001 (see May 30, 2001). Newsweek notes that it is a common occurrence for foreign intelligence agencies to “simply rereport to the CIA what it had originally learned from the FBI through separate channels.” Still, even “the multiple channels for Ressam's warnings [do] little to change thinking within the FBI or CIA...” [Newsweek, 4/28/05]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Abu Zubaida, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Ressam
          

August 31, 2001: Head of Saudi Arabia's Intelligence Service Is Replaced

       Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service for 24 years, is replaced. No explanation is given. He is replaced by Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, his nephew and the king's brother, who has “no background in intelligence whatsoever.” [Agence France-Presse, 8/31/01; Seattle Times, 10/29/01; Wall Street Journal, 10/22/01] The Wall Street Journal later reports: “The timing of Turki's removal—August 31—and his Taliban connection raise the question: Did the Saudi regime know that bin Laden was planning his attack against the US? The current view among Saudi-watchers is probably not, but that the House of Saud might have heard rumors that something was planned, although they did not know what or when. (An interesting and possibly significant detail: Prince Sultan, the defense minister, had been due to visit Japan in early September, but canceled his trip for no apparent reason less than two days before an alleged planned departure.)” [Wall Street Journal, 10/22/01] Turki is later sued in August 2002 for his role in 9/11 (see August 15, 2002), and is later appointed ambassador to Britain (see October 18, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Taliban, Turki bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, Osama bin Laden, Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
          

Late August 2001: Bin Laden Boasts in Interview of Very, Very Big Strike Against US

       In an interview with the London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi, bin Laden boasts that he is planning a “very, very big” and “unprecedented” strike against the US. The interview is not publicly released until after 9/11, however, so it is unclear if US intelligence is aware of this before 9/11. [Independent, 9/17/01; ABC News, 9/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden
          

Late August 2001: Hussein Puts His Troops on Highest Military Alert Since Gulf War

       A Daily Telegraph article later claims that Iraq leader Saddam Hussein puts his troops on their highest military alert since the Gulf War. A CIA official states that there was nothing obvious to warrant this move: “He was clearly expecting a massive attack and it leads you to wonder why.” Hussein apparently makes a number of other moves suggesting foreknowledge, and the article strongly suggests Iraqi complicity in the 9/11 attacks. [Daily Telegraph, 9/23/01 (B)] Iraq will later be sued by 9/11 victims' relatives on the grounds that they had 9/11 foreknowledge but did not warn the US.
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein
          

Early September 2001: Pakistani Student Says WTC Towers ‘Won't Be Here Next Week’

       At New Utrecht High School, in Brooklyn, New York City, about one week before 9/11, a Pakistani student in a bilingual class points at the WTC during a heated political argument and declares, “Look at those two buildings. They won't be here next week.” The teacher notifies New York police after 9/11, who in turn notify the FBI. The status of the FBI investigation into this incident is unknown as of early October 2001. [New York Daily News, 10/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, World Trade Center
          

Early September 2001: NSA Intercepts Phone Calls from bin Laden's Chief of Operations to the US

       The NSA intercepts “multiple phone calls from Abu Zubaida, bin Laden's chief of operations, to the United States.” The timing and information contained in these intercepted phone calls has not been disclosed. [ABC News, 2/18/02]
People and organizations involved: National Security Agency, Abu Zubaida
          

Early September 2001: Phone Call Warning of Big Event in the US in Coming Days Is Just One of Many Such Warnings Recorded by CIA

      
Mamdouh Habib.
A few days before 9/11, an Islamic radical named Mamdouh Habib is in Pakistan and calls his wife in Australia. Her phone is being monitored by Australian intelligence. In the conversation he says that something big is going to happen in the US in the next few days. He is later arrested after 9/11 and is held by the US in the Guantanamo prison before finally being released in 2005. He will be released because his captors eventually decide that he didn't have any special foreknowledge or involvement in the 9/11 plot. He had been in Afghanistan training camps and had picked up the information there. The New York Times paraphrases an Australian official, “Just about everyone in Kandahar [Afghanistan] and the Qaeda camps knew that something big was coming, he said. ‘There was a buzz.’ ” [New York Times, 1/29/05] Furthermore, according to The Australian, this call “mirrored several other conversations between accused terrorists that were tapped around the same time by the Pakistani Internal Security Department on behalf of the CIA.” This was part of what the CIA called a sharp increase in “chatter” intercepted from operatives in al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the days just before the attacks, alluding to an imminent big event. [Australian, 2/2/05]
People and organizations involved: Pakistani Internal Security Department, Mamdouh Habib, Central Intelligence Agency
          

Early September 2001: New York Mosque Warning: Stay Out of Lower Manhattan on 9/11

       Shortly before 9/11, people attending an unnamed mosque in the Bronx district of New York City are warned to stay out of lower Manhattan on 9/11. The FBI's Joint Terrorist Task Force interviews dozens of members of the mosque, who confirm the story. The mosque leadership denies any advanced knowledge and the case apparently remains unsolved. [New York Daily News, 10/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Early September 2001: Suspicion of Insider Trading in Many Other Countries

       Numerous other overseas investigations into insider trading before 9/11 are later established. There are investigations in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monte Carlo, Cyprus, and other countries. There are particularly strong suspicions British markets are manipulated. Italy will later investigate suspicious share movements on the day of the attack, as well as the previous day. Japan will also look into the trading of futures contracts. [Fox News, 9/22/01; CNN, 9/24/01; BBC, 9/18/01 (B)] The British will take just two weeks to conclude that their markets were not manipulated. [Marketplace radio report, 10/17/01]
          

Early September 2001: Sharp Increase in Short Selling of American and United Airlines Stocks

       There is a sharp increase in short selling of the stocks of American and United Airlines on the New York Stock Exchange prior to 9/11. A short sell is a bet that a particular stock will drop. There is an increase of 40 percent of short selling over the previous month for these two airlines, compared to an 11 percent increase for other big airlines and one percent for the exchange overall. A significant profit is to be made: United stock drops 43 percent and American drops 39 percent the first day the market reopens after the attack. Short selling of Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurer, is also later noted by German investigators. Inquiries into short selling millions of Munich Re shares are made in France days before the attacks. [Reuters, 9/20/01; San Francisco Chronicle, 9/22/01] Munich Re stock will plummet after the attacks, as they claim the attacks will cost them $2 billion. [Dow Jones Business News, 9/20/01] There is also suspicious trading activity involving reinsurers Swiss Reinsurance and AXA. These trades are especially curious because the insurance sector “is one of the brightest spots in a very difficult market” at this time. [Los Angeles Times, 9/19/01] There is also a short spike on Dutch airline KLM stock three to seven days before 9/11, reaching historically unprecedented levels. [USA Today, 9/26/01]
People and organizations involved: Swiss Reinsurance, Munich Re, American Airlines, United Airlines, New York Stock Exchange
          

September 1, 2001: American Airlines Issues Internal Memo Warning of Imposters

       Around this date, American Airlines sends out an internal memo warning its employees to be on the lookout for impostors after one of its crews had uniforms and ID badges stolen in Rome, Italy, in April. [Reuters, 9/14/01; Boston Globe, 9/18/01] It is later reported that two of the hijackers on Flight 11 use these stolen ID's to board the plane. [Sunday Herald, 9/16/01] On 9/11, a man is arrested with three Yemen passports (all using different names) and two Lufthansa crew uniforms. [Chicago Sun-Times, 9/22/01] It is also reported that when Mohamed Atta takes a flight from Portland, Maine, to Boston on the morning of 9/11, his bags are not transferred to his hijacked flight, and remain in Boston. Later, airline uniforms are found inside. [Boston Globe, 9/18/01] Boston's Logan Airport had been repeatedly fined for failing to run background checks on their employees, and many other serious violations. [CNN, 10/12/01]
People and organizations involved: NSI, Mohamed Atta
          

Early September 2001: Bin Laden's Intercepted Phone Calls Discuss an Operation in the US Around 9/11 Date

       According to British inside sources, “shortly before September 11,” bin Laden contacts an associate thought to be in Pakistan. The conversation refers to an incident that will take place in the US on, or around 9/11, and discusses possible repercussions. In another conversation, bin Laden contacts an associate thought to be in Afghanistan. They discuss the scale and effect of a forthcoming operation; bin Laden praises his colleague for his part in the planning. Neither conversation specifically mentions the WTC or Pentagon, but investigators have no doubt the 9/11 attacks were being discussed. The British government has obliquely made reference to these intercepts: “There is evidence of a very specific nature relating to the guilt of bin Laden and his associates that is too sensitive to release.” These intercepts haven't been made public in British Prime Minister Tony Blair's presentation of al-Qaeda's guilt because “releasing full details could compromise the source or method of the intercepts.” [Sunday Times, 10/7/01]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda
          

Early September 2001: Rumors in New York City's Arab-American Community About Attacks

       A veteran detective involved with post-9/11 investigations later claims that rumors in New York City's Arab-American community about the 9/11 attacks are common in the days beforehand. The story “had been out on the street” and the number of leads turning up later is so “overwhelming” that it is difficult to tell who knows about the attacks from secondhand sources and who knows about it from someone who may have been a participant. After 9/11, tracking leads regarding Middle Eastern employees who did not show up for work on 9/11 are “a serious and major priority.” [Journal News, 10/11/01]
          

Early September 2001: Accounts Place Three Hijackers on East and West Coasts at the Same Time

       The standard accounts place hijackers Hani Hanjour, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Khalid Almihdhar on the East Coast for the entire time in the weeks before the attacks [New York Times, 11/6/01; CNN, 9/26/01; New York Times, 9/21/01; South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/28/01; St. Petersburg Times, 9/27/01; Associated Press, 9/21/01; Newsday, 9/23/01 (B); 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/26/02] However, neighbors at the San Diego apartment complex where the three lived are clear in their assertions that all three were there until days before 9/11. For instance, one article states, “Authorities believe Almihdhar, Hanjour and Alhazmi ... moved out a couple of days before the East Coast attacks.” [San Diego Channel 10, 11/1/01] Ed Murray, a resident at the complex, said that all three “started moving out Saturday night-and Sunday [September 9] they were gone.” [San Diego Channel 10, 9/14/01; San Diego Channel 10, 9/20/01] This is the same day that Alhazmi is reportedly seen in an East Coast shopping mall. [CNN, 9/26/01] As with previous reports, neighbors also see them getting into strange cars late at night. A neighbor interviewed shortly after 9/11 said, “A week ago, I was coming home between 12:00 and 1:00 A.M. from a club. I saw a limo pick them up. It was not the first time. In this neighborhood you notice stuff like that. In the past couple of months, I have seen this happen at least two or three times.” [Time, 9/24/01] To add to the confusion, there have been reports that investigators think Almihdhar is still alive and the Chicago Tribune says of Alhazmi, Almihdhar, and Hanjour: “The most basic of facts—the very names of the men—are uncertain. The FBI has said each used at least three aliases. ‘It's not going to be a terrible surprise down the line if these are not their true names,’ said Jeff Thurman, an FBI spokesman in San Diego.” [Chicago Tribune, 9/30/01]
People and organizations involved: Jeff Thurman, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, William Safire
          

Early September 2001: Unusually High Volume Trade of US Treasury Note Purchases

       After 9/11, both the SEC and the Secret Service announce probes into an unusually high volume trade of five-year US Treasury note purchases around this time. These transactions include a single $5 billion trade. The Wall Street Journal explains: “Five-year Treasury notes are among the best investments in the event of a world crisis, especially one that hits the US. The notes are prized for their safety and their backing by the US government, and usually rally when investors flee riskier investments, such as stocks.” The value of these notes has risen sharply since the events of September 11. The article also points out that with these notes, “tracks would be hard to spot.” [Wall Street Journal, 10/2/01]
People and organizations involved: Secret Service, Securities and Exchange Commission
          

Early September 2001: Defense Department Has Evidence of ‘Kamikaze Bombers’ Trained to Fly in Afghanistan

       According to a senior Defense Department source quoted in the book “Intelligence Failure” by David Bossie, Defense Department personnel become aware of a Milan newspaper interview with Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, a self-designated spokesman for al-Qaeda. In the interview, he brags about al-Qaeda recruiting “kamikaze bombers ready to die for Palestine.” Muhammed boasts of training them in Afghanistan. According to this source, the Defense Department seeks “to present its information [to the FBI], given the increased ‘chatter,’ of a possible attack in the United States just days before [9/11]. The earliest the FBI would see the [Defense Department] people who had the information was on September 12, 2001.” [Bossie, 05/04] In 1998, Bakri had publicized a fax bin Laden sent him that listed the four objectives al-Qaeda had in their war with the US. First on the list was: “Bring down their airliners.” (see Summer 1998) The main focus of FBI agent Ken Williams's July 2001 memo, warning about Middle Eastern students training in Arizona flight schools, was a member of Bakri's organization (see July 10, 2001). In 2004, the US will charge Bakri with 11 terrorism-related crimes, including attempting to set up a terror training camp in Oregon and assisting in the kidnapping of two Americans and others in Yemen. [MSNBC, 5/27/04]
People and organizations involved: David Bossie, Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Early September 2001: Bin Laden Moves Training Bases

       One article later suggests that bin Laden moves his training bases in Afghanistan “in the days before the attacks.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/16/01] These bases are under close military satellite surveillance.
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden
          

Early September 2001: Iranian Inmate in Germany Warns of Imminent Attack on WTC

       An Iranian man known as Ali S. in a German jail awaiting deportation repeatedly phones US law enforcement to warn of an imminent attack on the WTC in early September. He calls it “an attack that will change the world.” After a month of badgering his prison guards, he is finally able to call the White House 14 times in the days before the attack. He then tries to send a fax to President Bush, but is denied permission hours before the 9/11 attacks. German police later confirm the calls. Prosecutors later say Ali had no foreknowledge and his forebodings were just a strange coincidence. They say he is mentally unstable. Similar warnings also come from a Moroccan man being held in a Brazilian jail. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 9/13/01; Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01; Ananova, 9/14/01; Sunday Herald, 9/16/01]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, George W. Bush, Ali S.
          

Early September 2001: NYSE Sees Unusually Heavy Trading in Airline and Related Stocks

       The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) later announces that they are investigating the trading of shares of 38 companies in the days just before 9/11. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the New York Stock Exchange sees “unusually heavy trading in airline and related stocks several days before the attacks.” All 38 companies logically stand to be heavily affected by the attacks. They include parent companies of major airlines American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, United, and US Airways as well as cruise lines Carnival and Royal Caribbean, aircraft maker Boeing and defense contractor Lockheed Martin. The SEC is also looking into suspicious short selling of numerous insurance company stocks, but, to date, no details of this investigation have been released. [Associated Press, 10/2/01; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/3/01]
People and organizations involved: New York Stock Exchange, Securities and Exchange Commission
          

Early September 2001: Almost Irrefutable Proof of Insider Trading in Germany

      
Ernst Welteke.
German central bank president Ernst Welteke later reports that a study by his bank indicates, “There are ever clearer signs that there were activities on international financial markets that must have been carried out with the necessary expert knowledge,” not only in shares of heavily affected industries such as airlines and insurance companies, but also in gold and oil. [Daily Telegraph, 9/23/01 (C)] His researchers have found “almost irrefutable proof of insider trading.” [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] “If you look at movements in markets before and after the attack, it makes your brow furrow. But it is extremely difficult to really verify it.” Nevertheless, he believes that “in one or the other case it will be possible to pinpoint the source.” [Fox News, 9/22/01] Welteke reports “a fundamentally inexplicable rise” in oil prices before the attacks [Miami Herald, 9/24/01] and then a further rise of 13 percent the day after the attacks. Gold rises nonstop for days after the attacks. [Daily Telegraph, 9/23/01 (C)]
People and organizations involved: Ernst Welteke
          

Early September 2001: Seattle Security Guard Tells Friend of Impending Attack

       A few days before 9/11, a Seattle security guard of Middle Eastern descent tells an East Coast friend on the phone that terrorists will soon attack the US. After 9/11, the friend tells the FBI, and passes a lie detector test. The security guard refuses to cooperate with the FBI or take a lie detector test. He is not arrested—apparently the FBI determines that while he may have had 9/11 foreknowledge, he was not involved in the plot. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 10/12/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 3-5, 2001: Members of Hamburg's Al-Qaeda Cell Leave for Pakistan

       Members of Mohamed Atta's Hamburg al-Qaeda cell leave Germany for Pakistan. Said Bahaji flies out of Hamburg on September 3. [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03] German intelligence already has Bahaji under surveillance, and German border guards are under orders to report if he leaves the country, yet the border guards fail to note his departure. [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2/2/03] German agents later discover two other passengers on the same flight traveling with false passports who stay in the same room with Bahaji when they arrive in Karachi, Pakistan. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] Investigators now believe his flight companions were Ismail Ben Mrabete and Ahmed Taleb, both Algerians in their late 40s. Three more associates—Mohammed Belfatmi, an Algerian extremist from the Tarragona region of Spain, and two brothers with the last name Joya—also travel on the same plane. To date none of these people have been located. [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03; Chicago Tribune, 2/25/03] Ramzi Bin al-Shibh flies out of Germany on September 5 and stays in Spain a few days before presumably heading for Pakistan. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Said Bahaji, Karachi, Ismail Ben Mrabete, Ahmed Taleb
          

September 3, 2001: Author Is Banned from Internal US Flights Because of FAA Concern Something About to Happen

      
Salman Rushdie.
Author Salman Rushdie, the target of death threats from radical Muslims for years, is banned by US authorities from taking internal US flights. He says the FAA told his publisher the reason was that it had “intelligence of something about to happen.” One newspaper states, “The FAA confirmed that it stepped up security measures concerning Mr. Rushdie but refused to give a reason.” [Times of London, 9/27/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, Italian Secret Service
          

September 4, 2001: FBI Dispatches Vague Message to US Intelligence Community About Moussaoui Investigation

       FBI headquarters dispatches a message to the entire US intelligence community about the Zacarias Moussaoui investigation. According to a later Congressional inquiry, the message notes “that Moussaoui was being held in custody but [it does not] describe any particular threat that the FBI thought he posed, for example, whether he might be connected to a larger plot. [It also does] not recommend that the addressees take any action or look for any additional indicators of a terrorist attack, nor [does] it provide any analysis of a possible hijacking threat or provide any specific warnings.” [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/24/02] The FAA is also given the warning, but the FAA decides not to issue a security alert to the nation's airports. An FAA representative says, “He was in jail and there was no evidence he was connected to other people.” [New York Post, 5/21/02] This is in sharp contrast to an internal CIA warning sent out on August 24 based on even less information, which stated Moussaoui might be “involved in a larger plot to target airlines traveling from Europe to the US” (see August 24, 2001). [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 9/18/02] It turns out that prior to this time, terrorist Ahmed Ressam had started cooperating with investigators. He had trained with Moussaoui in Afghanistan and willingly shared this information after 9/11. The FBI dispatch, with its notable lack of urgency and details, failed to prompt the agents in Seattle holding Ressam to ask him about Moussaoui. Had the connection between these two been learned before 9/11, presumably the search warrant for Moussaoui would have been approved and the 9/11 plot might have unraveled. [Sunday Times, 2/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, FBI Headquarters, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Ahmed Ressam, Central Intelligence Agency, Zacarias Moussaoui
          

September 4, 2001: Mossad Gives Another Warning of Major, Imminent Attack

       “On or around” this day, the Mossad give their “latest” warning to the US of a major, imminent attack by al-Qaeda, according to sources close to Mossad. One former Mossad agent says, “My understanding is that the warning was not specific. No target was identified. But it should have resulted in an increased state of security.” US intelligence claims this never happened. [Sunday Mail, 9/16/01]
People and organizations involved: United States, Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks
          

September 4, 2001: Debate Heats Up over Predator Drone; Decision Again Delayed

       Attendees to an important cabinet-level meeting on terrorism have a heated debate over what to do with the Predator drone. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke has been repeatedly pushing for the use of the Predator over Afghanistan (in either armed or unarmed versions), and he again argues for its immediate use. Everyone agrees that the armed Predator capability is needed, but there are disputes over who will manage and/or pay for it. CIA Director Tenet says his agency will operate the armed Predator “over my dead body.” [Washington Post, 10/2/02] Clarke recalls, “The Air Force said it wasn't their job to fly planes to collect intelligence. No one around the table seemed to have a can-do attitude. Everyone seemed to have an excuse.” [New Yorker, 7/28/03] National Security Adviser Rice concludes that the armed Predator is not ready (even though it had been proven in tests during the summer), but she also presses Tenet to reconsider his opposition to immediately resume reconnaissance flights, suspended since September the year before. After the meeting, Tenet agrees to proceed with such flights. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C); 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] The armed Predator is activated just days after 9/11, showing that it was ready to be used after all. [Associated Press, 6/25/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke, George Tenet
          

September 4, 2001: Israeli Company Moves Out of WTC

       The Zim-American Israeli Shipping Co. moves their North American headquarters from the 16th floor of the WTC to Norfolk, Virginia, one week before the 9/11 attacks. The Israeli government owns 49 percent of the company. [Virginian-Pilot, 9/4/01] Zim announced the move and its date six months earlier. [Virginian-Pilot, 4/3/01] More than 200 workers had just been moved out; about ten are still in the building making final moving arrangements on 9/11, but escape. [Jerusalem Post, 9/13/01; Journal of Commerce, 10/18/01] The move leaves only one Israeli company, ClearForest, with 18 employees, in the WTC on 9/11. The four or five employees in the building at the time manage to escape. [Jerusalem Post, 9/13/01] One year later, a Zim ship is impounded while attempting to ship Israeli military equipment to Iran; it is speculated that this is done with the knowledge of Israel. [Agence France-Presse, 8/29/02 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Zim-American Israeli Shipping Co., World Trade Center, ClearForest
          

September 4, 2001: Secret Embedded Messages Help Show Milan Al-Qaeda Have 9/11 Foreknowledge

       At least one member of the al-Qaeda cell in Milan, Italy, apparently uses steganography, a method of encoding messages within computerized photographs. In Milan's Via Quaranta mosque in Milan, frequented by Egyptian al-Qaeda operative Mahmoud Es Sayed, pictures of the World Trade Center that have steganographic messages in them are saved on a computer. A number of other pictures of world leaders and pornography are also manipulated in a similar manner. These pictures are not discovered until months after 9/11, but they help suggest that some in the Milan cell had foreknowledge of the 9/11 plot. Es Sayed had been wiretapped on previous occasions, and was heard making comments suggesting he had such foreknowledge (see August 12, 2000) (see January 24, 2001). His current whereabouts are unknown. [ABC News, 5/8/03]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Mahmoud Es Sayed, World Trade Center
          

September 4-11, 2001: ISI Director Visits Washington for Mysterious Meetings

       ISI Director Mahmood visits Washington for the second time. On September 10, a Pakistani newspaper reports on his trip so far. It says his visit has “triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council” as well as meetings with CIA Director Tenet, unspecified officials at the White House and the Pentagon, and his “most important meeting” with Marc Grossman, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. The article suggests, “[O]f course, Osama bin Laden” could be the focus of some discussions. Prophetically, the article adds, “What added interest to his visit is the history of such visits. Last time [his] predecessor was [in Washington], the domestic [Pakistani] politics turned topsy-turvy within days.” [The News, 9/10/01] This is a reference to the Musharraf coup just after an ISI Director's visit on October 12, 1999 (see October 12, 1999).
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, George Tenet, National Security Council, Marc Grossman, US Department of Defense, Mahmood Ahmed
          

September 4, 2001: Clarke Memo: Imagine Hundreds of Dead Due to Government Inaction

       Hours before the only significant Bush administration Cabinet-level meeting on terrorism before 9/11, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke writes a critical memo to National Security Adviser Rice. He criticizes the Defense Department for reluctance to use force against al-Qaeda and the CIA for impeding the deployment of unmanned Predator drones to hunt for bin Laden. According to the Washington Post, the memo urges “officials to imagine a day when hundreds of Americans lay dead from a terrorist attack and ask themselves what more they could have done.” [Washington Post, 3/24/04; Washington Post, 3/25/04 (B); 9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, US Department of Defense, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Richard A. Clarke, Osama bin Laden, Condoleezza Rice
          

September 4, 2001: Cabinet-Rank Advisers Discuss Terrorism, Approve Revised Version of Clarke's Eight Month-Old-Plan

       President Bush's cabinet-rank advisers discuss terrorism for the second of only two times before 9/11. [Washington Post, 5/17/02] National Security Adviser Rice chairs the meeting; neither President Bush nor Vice President Cheney attends. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke later says that in this meeting, he and CIA Director Tenet speak passionately about the al-Qaeda threat. No one disagrees that the threat is serious. Secretary of State Powell outlines a plan to put pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting al-Qaeda. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld appears to be more interested in Iraq. The only debate is over whether to fly the armed Predator drone over Afghanistan to attack al-Qaeda. [Clarke, 2004, pp 237-38] Clarke's earlier plans to “roll back” al-Qaeda have been discussed and honed in many meetings and are now presented as a formal National Security Presidential Directive. The directive is “apparently” approved, though the process of turning it into official policy is still not done. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] There is later disagreement over just how different the directive presented is from Clarke's earlier plans. For instance, some claim the directive aims not just to “roll back” al-Qaeda, but also to “eliminate” it altogether. [Time, 8/4/02] However, Clarke notes that even though he wanted to use the word “eliminate,” the approved directive merely aims to “significantly erode” al-Qaeda. The word “eliminate” is only added after 9/11. [Washington Post, 3/25/04 (B)] The Washington Post notes that the directive approved on this day “did not differ substantially from Clinton's policy.” [Washington Post, 3/27/04] Time magazine later comments, “The fight against terrorism was one of the casualties of the transition, as Washington spent eight months going over and over a document whose outline had long been clear.” [Time, 8/4/02] The primary change from Clarke's original draft is that the approved plan calls for more direct financial and logistical support to the Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban groups. The plan also calls for drafting plans for possible US military involvement, “but those differences were largely theoretical; administration officials told the [9/11 Commission's] investigators that the plan's overall timeline was at least three years, and it did not include firm deadlines, military plans, or significant funding at the time of the September 11, 2001, attacks.” [Washington Post, 3/27/04; Reuters, 4/2/04]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Northern Alliance, Richard A. Clarke, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld
          

September 5-8, 2001: Raid on Arab Web Hosting Company Precedes 9/11 Attacks

      
Infocom logo.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force conducts a three-day raid of the offices of InfoCom Corporation, a Texas-based company that hosts about 500 mostly Arab websites, including Al Jazeera, the Arab world's leading news channel. [Guardian, 9/10/01; Web Host Industry Review, 9/10/01] The task force includes agents from the FBI, Secret Service, and Diplomatic Security, as well as tax inspectors, immigration officials, customs officials, department of commerce officials, and computer experts. [Guardian, 9/10/01] The FBI declines to give a reason for the raid [NewsFactor Network, 9/7/01] , but a spokeswoman said it is not aimed at InfoCom's clients. [BBC, 9/7/01] The reasons for the raid “may never be known, because a judge ordered the warrant to be sealed.” [Web Host Industry Review, 9/10/01] Three days after the initial raid, the task force is “still busy inside the building, reportedly copying every hard disc they could find.” [Guardian, 9/10/01] InfoCom's offices are located in Richardson, a suburb of Dallas. Two charities in Richardson, The Global Relief Foundation Inc. and The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, have been investigated for possible ties to Palestinian militant organizations. [Boston Herald, 12/11/01] Five or six years earlier, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke had wanted to raid the Holy Land offices, but was prevented from doing so by the FBI and Treasury Department. [Clarke, 2004, pp 98] Not only are InfoCom and Holy Land across the road from each other, they are intimately connected through two brothers: Ghassan and Bayan Elashi. [Guardian, 9/10/01] Ghassan Elashi is both the vice president of InfoCom and chairman of Holy Land. [New York Times, 12/20/02] These two and others are later arrested on a variety of serious charges. Approximately one week before 9/11, Bank One closes Holy Land's checking accounts totaling about $13 million, possibly because of an investigation begun by the New York State Attorney General. [Dallas Business Journal, 9/7/01] The US freezes Holy Land's assets two months later (see December 4, 2001) for suspected terrorist associations. Holy Land is represented by Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, a Washington, D.C., law firm with unusually close ties to the Bush White House. [Washington Post, 12/17/01] In the Garland suburb adjoining Richardson, a fifth-grade boy apparently has foreknowledge of 9/11 (see September 10, 2001). [Houston Chronicle, 9/19/01]
People and organizations involved: Al Jazeera, Richard A. Clarke, Global Relief Foundation, Bayan Elashi, Ghassan Elashi, Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Joint Terrorism Task Force, Secret Service, InfoCom Corporation, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 5-6, 2001: French Again Warn US About Moussaoui

       French and US intelligence officials hold meetings in Paris on combating terrorism. The French newspaper Le Monde claims that the French try again to warn their US counterparts about Zacarias Moussaoui, “but the American delegation ... paid no attention ... basically concluding that they were going to take no one's advice, and that an attack on American soil was inconceivable.” The US participants also say Moussaoui's case is in the hands of the immigration authorities and is not a matter for the FBI. [Independent, 12/11/01; Village Voice, 5/28/02] The FBI arranges to deport Moussaoui to France on September 17, so the French can search his belongings and tell the FBI the results. Due to the 9/11 attacks, the deportation never happens. [9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 10/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, France, Zacarias Moussaoui, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 5, 2001: US Army Bases Implement ?Full Access Control?

       Fort Myer and Fort Lesley J. McNair, both within two miles of the Pentagon, implement “full access control,” which means they increase the level of military police surveillance of those who enter them. These measures, being taken throughout the US Army, allow commanders to know who is entering their installations 24 hours a day and adjust their security measures immediately as needed. [MDW News Service, 8/3/01]
People and organizations involved: Fort Myer, Fort Lesley J. McNair
          

September 6, 2001: New York Student Forecasts Destruction of WTC

       Antoinette DiLorenzo, teaching English to a class of Pakistani immigrants, asks a student gazing out the window, “What are you looking at?” The student points towards the WTC, and says, “Do you see those two buildings? They won't be standing there next week.” At the time, nothing is thought of it, but on September 13, the FBI will interview all the people in the classroom and confirm the event. The FBI later places the boy's family under surveillance but apparently is unable to find a connection to the 9/11 plot. An MSNBC reporter later sets out to disprove this “urban myth,” but to his surprise, finds all the details of the story are confirmed. The fact that the family members are recent immigrants from Pakistan might mean the information came from Pakistan. [MSNBC, 10/12/01] Supposedly, on November 9, 2001, the same student predicts there will be a plane crash on November 12. On that day, American Airlines Flight 587 will crash on takeoff from New York, killing 260 people. Investigators will later determine that the crash is accidental. One official at the school later says many Arab-American students have come forward with their own stories about having prior knowledge before 9/11: “Kids are telling us that the attacks didn't surprise them. This was a nicely protected little secret that circulated in the community around here.” [Insight, 9/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Antoinette DiLorenzo, World Trade Center, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 6, 2001: Rumsfeld Threatens Veto If Democrats Allocate More Money to Fight Terrorism

       Senator Carl Levin (D), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, seeks to transfer $600 million to counterterrorism from the missile defense program to fill budgetary gaps. However, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld sends a letter on this day saying he would urge Bush to veto the measure. Levin nonetheless pushes the measure through the next day on a party-line vote. It's unclear if a veto would have followed. [New York Times, 4/4/04 (B); Time, 8/4/02; Washington Post, 1/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Carl Levin, Donald Rumsfeld
          

September 6, 2001: Bin Laden Allegedly Informed of Exact Attack Date

       According to a later interview with would-be hijacker Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, a courier sent by bin al-Shibh tells bin Laden on this day when the 9/11 attacks will take place. [Australian, 9/9/02] However, there are doubts about this interview (see April, June, or August 2002).
People and organizations involved: Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Osama bin Laden
          

September 6, 2001: Senator Hart Sees No Sense of Urgency from Rice on Terrorism

       Former Senator Gary Hart (D), one of the two co-chairs of a comprehensive, bipartisan report on terrorism released in January 2001, meets with National Security Adviser Rice to see if the Bush administration is implementing the report's recommendations. He later claims to give her a grave warning. He recalls to tone of her response: “She didn't seem to feel a terrible sense of urgency. Her response was simply ‘I'll talk to the vice president about it.’ ... Even at this late date, nothing was being done inside the White House.” [Salon, 4/2/04]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Condoleezza Rice, Gary Hart
          

September 6-10, 2001: Suspicious Trading of Put Option Contracts on American and United Airlines Occur

      
A. B."Buzzy" Krongard.
Suspicious trading occurs on the stock of American and United, the two airlines hijacked in the 9/11 attacks. “Between 6 and 7 September, the Chicago Board Options Exchange [sees] purchases of 4,744 put option contracts [a speculation that the stock will go down] in UAL versus 396 call options—where a speculator bets on a price rising. Holders of the put options would [net] a profit of $5 million once the carrier's share price [dive] after September 11. On September 10, 4,516 put options in American Airlines, the other airline involved in the hijackings, [are] purchased in Chicago. This compares with a mere 748 call options in American purchased that day. Investigators cannot help but notice that no other airlines [see] such trading in their put options.” One analyst later says, “I saw put-call numbers higher than I've ever seen in ten years of following the markets, particularly the options markets.” [Associated Press, 9/18/01; San Francisco Chronicle, 9/19/01] “To the embarrassment of investigators, it has also [learned] that the firm used to buy many of the ‘put’ options ... on United Airlines stock was headed until 1998 by ‘Buzzy’ Krongard, now executive director of the CIA.” Krongard was chairman of Alex Brown Inc., which was bought by Deutsche Bank. “His last post before resigning to take his senior role in the CIA was to head Bankers Trust—Alex Brown's private client business, dealing with the accounts and investments of wealthy customers around the world.” [Independent, 10/14/01]
People and organizations involved: Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, Deutsche Bank, American Airlines, Chicago Board Options Exchange, United Airlines
          

September 6-10, 2001: Suspicious Trading on Stocks of Two Large WTC Tenants

       The Chicago Board Options Exchange sees suspicious trading on Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, two of the largest WTC tenants. In the first week of September, an average of 27 put option contracts in its shares are bought each day. Then the total for the three days before the attacks is 2,157. Merrill Lynch, another WTC tenant, see 12,215 put options bought between September 7-10, when the previous days had seen averages of 252 contracts a day. [Independent, 10/14/01] Dylan Ratigan of Bloomberg Business News, speaking of the trading on Morgan Stanley and other companies, says, “This would be one of the most extraordinary coincidences in the history of mankind if it was a coincidence.” [ABC News, 9/20/01]
People and organizations involved: Chicago Board Options Exchange, American Airlines, Morgan Stanley, World Trade Center, Dylan Ratigan
          

September 6, 2001: WTC Security Scaled Back in Week and Day Before 9/11 Attack

       Security personnel at the WTC are working extra-long shifts because of numerous phone threats. However, on this day bomb-sniffing dogs are abruptly removed. Security further drops right before 9/11. WTC guard Daria Coard says in an interview later on the day of 9/11: “Today was the first day there was not the extra security.” [Newsday, 9/12/01 (B)] Janitor William Rodriguez later claims that he saw hijacker Mohand Alshehri inside the WTC in June 2001. [New York Daily News, 6/15/04]
People and organizations involved: World Trade Center, William Rodriguez, Daria Coard, Mohand Alshehri
          

September 7, 2001: Priest Is Told of Plot to Attack US and Britain Using Hijacked Airplanes

      
Father Jean-Marie Benjamin.
At a wedding in Todi, Italy, Father Jean-Marie Benjamin is told of a plot to attack the US and Britain using hijacked airplanes as weapons. He is not told specifics regarding time or place. He immediately passes what he knows to a judge and several politicians. He later states, “Although I am friendly with many Muslims, I wondered why they were telling me, specifically. I felt it my duty to inform the Italian government.” Benjamin has been called “one of the West's most knowledgeable experts on the Muslim world.” Two days after 9/11, he meets with the Italian Foreign Minister on this topic. He says he learned the attack on Britain failed at the last minute. [Zenit, 9/16/01] An al-Qaeda cell based in nearby Milan, Italy, appears to have had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks (see August 12, 2000) and (see January 24, 2001). It is not known if the Italian government warns the US government of this latest warning before 9/11.
People and organizations involved: Jean-Marie Benjamin, al-Qaeda
          

September 7, 2001: State Department Issues Overseas Warning

       The State Department issues a little noticed warning, alerting against an attack by al-Qaeda. However, the warning focuses on a threat to American citizens overseas, and particularly focuses on threats to US military personnel in Asia. [US State Department, 9/7/01] Such warnings are issued periodically and are usually so vague few pay attention to them. In any event, most airlines and officials claim that they did not see this warning until after 9/11. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/14/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, US Department of State
          

September 7-10, 2001: Dubai Banker Claims al-Qaeda Agent Speculates on Airline and Blue-Chip Stocks

       French author Bernard-Henri Levy claims to know an anonymous manager at a Dubai, United Arab Emirates, bank who gives him astute and accurate tips on Arab banking. The manager tells Henri-Levy in 2002, “We know a bank here that made [a put option] transaction between the 8th and 10th of September on certain Dow Jones blue-chip stocks for accounts linked to bin Laden. I know the name of a bank that, by shorting 8,000 shares of United Airlines on the 7th of September, then 1,200 shares of American Airlines on the morning of the 10th, allowed the attack to finance itself.” The manager won't name the bank, but he quotes bin Laden from a late September 2001 interview, stating, “al-Qaeda is full of young, modern, and educated people who are aware of the cracks inside the Western financial system, and know how to exploit them. These faults and weaknesses are like a sliding noose strangling the system.” [Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, by Bernard-Henri Levy, 9/03, pp 312-313; Daily Ummat, 9/28/01] The timing and amount of type of stock speculation mentioned in this account is similar to, but not the same as, previously published reports (see September 6-10, 2001). Levy suspects the al-Qaeda agent making these transactions is the financially astute Saeed Sheikh, graduate of the London School of Economics. An al-Qaeda agent using the alias Mustafa Ahmad is captured by a surveillance camera entering the Bank of Dubai on September 10, Dubai time, to pick up money sent by Mohamed Atta in previous days, but this video footage has never been publicly released. Levy and others argue that Mustafa Ahmad and Saeed Sheikh are one and the same (see September 8-11, 2001). [Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, by Bernard-Henri Levy, 9/03, pp 312-313]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, American Airlines, United Airlines, Saeed Sheikh, al-Qaeda
          

September 8-11, 2001: Some Hijackers Sleep with Prostitutes

       In the days before the attacks, some of the hijackers (including Waleed Alshehri and/or Wail Alshehri) apparently sleep with prostitutes in Boston hotel rooms, or at least try to do so. A driver working at an “escort service” used by the hijackers claims he regularly drove prostitutes to a relative of bin Laden about once a week until 9/11, when the relative disappeared. Bin Laden has several relatives in the Boston area, most or all of whom returned to Saudi Arabia right after 9/11. [Boston Herald, 10/10/01] On September 10, four other hijackers in Boston (Marwan Alshehhi, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Mohand Alshehri, and Satam Al Suqami) call around to find prostitutes to sleep with on their last night alive, but in the end decline. Says one official, “It was going to be really expensive and they couldn't come to a consensus on price, so that was the end of it ... Either they thought it was too extravagant [over $400] or they did not have enough money left.” [Boston Globe, 10/10/01]
People and organizations involved: Satam Al Suqami, Central Intelligence Agency, Mohand Alshehri, Wail Alshehri, Waleed M. Alshehri, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Marwan Alshehhi, Osama bin Laden
          

September 8-11, 2001: Last-Minute Money Transfers Between Hijackers and United Arab Emirates

       The 9/11 hijackers send money to and receive money from a man in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who uses the aliases “Mustafa Ahmed,” “Mustafa Ahmad,” and “Ahamad Mustafa.” [MSNBC, 12/11/01] This “Mustafa” transfers money to Mohamed Atta in Florida on September 8 and 9 from a branch of the Al Ansari Exchange in Sharjah, UAE, a center of al-Qaeda financial dealings. [Financial Times, 11/30/01] On September 9, three hijackers, Atta, Waleed Alshehri, and Marwan Alshehhi, transfer about $15,000 back to “Mustafa's” account. [Time, 10/1/01; Los Angeles Times, 10/20/01] Apparently the hijackers are returning money meant for the 9/11 attacks that they have not needed. “Mustafa” then transfers $40,000 to his Visa card and then, using a Saudi passport, flies from the UAE to Karachi, Pakistan, on 9/11. He makes six ATM withdrawals there two days later, and then disappears into Pakistan. [MSNBC, 12/11/01] In early October 2001, it is reported that the financier “Mustafa Ahmed” is an alias used by Saeed Sheikh. [CNN, 10/6/01] It will later be reported that Saeed wired money to Atta the month before. These last-minute transfers are touted as the “smoking gun” proving al-Qaeda involvement in the 9/11 attacks, since Saeed is a known financial manager for bin Laden. [Guardian, 10/1/01]
People and organizations involved: Ahamad Mustafa, al-Qaeda, United Arab Emirates, Waleed M. Alshehri, Mohamed Atta, Saeed Sheikh, Marwan Alshehhi
          

September 9, 2001: Bush's First Budget Has Gaps for Counterterrorism Funding

       President Bush's first budget calls for $13.6 billion on counterterrorism programs, compared with $12.8 billion in President Clinton's last budget and $2 billion ten years earlier. However, there are gaps between what military commanders say they need to combat terrorism and what they are slated to receive. These gaps are still unresolved on September 11. [Knight Ridder, 9/27/01; Time, 8/4/02; Washington Post, 1/20/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
          

September 9, 2001: Congressman Foresees Something Terrible Will Happen in Wake of Massoud Assassination

      
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (right) in Afghanistan in 1988.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R), who has long experience in Afghanistan and even fought with the mujahedeen there, later claims he immediately sees the assassination of Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud (see September 9, 2001) as a sign that “something terrible [is] about to happen.” He is only able to make an appointment to meet with top White House and National Security Council officials for 2:30 pm. on 9/11. The events of that morning make the meeting moot. [Speech to the House of Representatives, 9/17/01]
People and organizations involved: National Security Council, Ahmed Shah Massoud, Dana Rohrabacher
          

September 9, 2001: Internet Forum Message Warns of 9/11 Attack

       A message is posted on Alsaha.com, a website based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, warning of the 9/11 attack. It proclaims that in the next two days, a “big surprise” is coming from the Saudi Arabian region of Asir, the remote, mountainous province that produced most of the 19 hijackers who struck on September 11. Since 9/11, the FBI and CIA have closely monitored this website as “a kind of terrorist early-warning system” due to its popularity with Muslim fundamentalists. However, it is doubtful if they were monitoring the site before 9/11, or noticed this message. [Newsweek, 5/25/03]
People and organizations involved: Alsaha.com, Central Intelligence Agency, United Arab Emirates, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 9, 2001: Hijacker Jarrah Is Stopped for Speeding but No Red Flag in Computer Records

       Hijacker Ziad Jarrah is stopped in Maryland for speeding, ticketed, and released. No red flags show up when his name is run through the computer by the state police, even though he already had been questioned in January 2001 in the United Arab Emirates [UAE] at the request of the CIA for “suspected involvement in terrorist activities” (see January 30, 2001) Baltimore's mayor has criticized the CIA for not informing them that Jarrah was on the CIA's watch list. [Chicago Tribune, 12/13/01; Associated Press, 12/14/01] The CIA calls the whole story (of their alleged request that the UAE question Jarrah) “flatly untrue.” [CNN, 8/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Ziad Jarrah, Central Intelligence Agency
          

September 9, 2001: Osama Tells His Stepmother That Big News Will Come in Two Days

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

September 9-11, 2001: NORAD Begins Northern Vigilance Fighter Exercise

       NORAD begins Operation Northern Vigilance. This military exercise deploys fighters to Alaska and Northern Canada to monitor a Russian air force exercise in the Russian arctic, apparently focused in the Barents Sea above Norway. This operation is still ongoing on 9/11. It is not clear how many fighters have been diverted from the continental US on 9/11 to take part in this exercise. [NORAD, 9/9/01; Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 11/27/01] On the morning of 9/11, the Russians are asked to cancel their exercise and do so. Northern Vigilance is then canceled around 9 am. [Toledo Blade, 12/9/01; National Post, 10/19/02]
People and organizations involved: Operation Northern Vigilance, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

September 9, 2001: Northern Alliance Leader Massoud Is Assassinated in Anticipation of 9/11 Attack

       General Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, is assassinated by two al-Qaeda agents posing as Moroccan journalists. [Time, 8/4/02] A legendary mujahedeen commander and a brilliant tactician, Massoud had pledged to bring freedom and democracy to Afghanistan. The BBC says the next day, “General Massoud's death might well have meant the end of the [Northern] alliance” because there clearly was no figure with his skills and popularity to replace him. [BBC, 9/10/01; BBC, 9/10/01 (B)] “With Massoud out of the way, the Taliban and al-Qaeda would be rid of their most effective opponent and be in a stronger position to resist the American onslaught.” [St. Petersburg Times, 9/9/02] It appears the assassination was supposed to happen earlier: the “journalists” waited for three weeks in Northern Alliance territory to meet Massoud. Finally on September 8, an aide says they “were so worried and excitable they were begging us.” They were granted an interview after threatening to leave if the interview did not happen in the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Taliban army (together with elements of the Pakistani army) had massed for an offensive against the Northern Alliance in the previous weeks, but the offensive began only hours after the assassination. Massoud was killed that day but Northern Alliance leaders pretend for several days that Massoud was only injured in order to keep the Northern Alliance army's morale up, and they are able to stave off total defeat. The timing of the assassination and the actions of the Taliban army suggest that the 9/11 attacks were known to the Taliban leadership. [Time, 8/4/02] Though it is not widely reported, the Northern Alliance releases a statement the next day: “Ahmed Shah Massoud was the target of an assassination attempt organized by the Pakistani [intelligence service] ISI and Osama bin Laden.” [Radio Free Europe, 9/10/01; Newsday, 9/15/01; Reuters, 10/4/01] This suggests that the ISI may also have had prior knowledge of the attack plans.
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Northern Alliance, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Ahmed Shah Massoud, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence
          

Before September 9, 2001: Northern Alliance Has Limited Knowledge of Attack; Warns the West

       Declassified Defense Intelligence Agency documents from November 2001 suggest that Northern Alliance leader General Ahmed Shah Massoud had gained “limited knowledge” “regarding the intentions of [al-Qaeda] to perform a terrorist act against the US on a scale larger than the 1998 bombing of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.” It further points out he may have been assassinated on September 9, 2001, because he “began to warn the West.” The documents are heavily censored, and specifics are lacking, but Massoud did made an oblique public warning before European Parliament earlier in the year (see April 6, 2001). [Agence France-Presse, 9/14/03; Pakistan Tribune, 9/13/03]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Ahmed Shah Massoud, Defense Intelligence Agency
          

September 10, 2001: US Has Only 32 Air Marshals and None on Domestic Flights

       The number of US air marshals (specially trained, plainclothes armed federal agents deployed on airliners) has shrunk from about 2,000 during the Cold War to 32 by this date. None are deployed on domestic flights. The number is later increased to about 2,000, but it would take about 120,000 marshals at a cost of $10 billion a year to protect all daily flights to, from, or within the US. [Los Angeles Times, 1/14/02]
          

September 10, 2001: Alarm Bells Sound over Unusual Trading in US Stock Options Market

       According to CBS News, in the afternoon before the attack, “alarm bells were sounding over unusual trading in the US stock options market.” It has been documented that the CIA, the Mossad, and many other intelligence agencies monitor stock trading in real time using highly advanced programs such as Promis. Both the FBI and the Justice Department have confirmed the use of such programs for US intelligence gathering through at least this summer. This would confirm that the CIA should have had additional advance warning of imminent attacks against American and United Airlines planes. [CBS News, 9/19/01] There are even allegations that bin Laden was able to get a copy of Promis. [Fox News, 10/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Promis, US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks, Central Intelligence Agency
          

September 10, 2001: Intelligence Intercepts Show al-Qaeda Agents Ordered to Return to Afghanistan by This Date

       In a major post-9/11 speech, British Prime Minister Tony Blair claims that “shortly before September 11, bin Laden told associates that he had a major operation against America under preparation, [and] a range of people were warned to return back to Afghanistan because of action on or around September 11.” His claims come from a British document of telephone intercepts and interrogations revealing al-Qaeda orders to return to Afghanistan by September 10. [CNN, 10/4/01; Time, 10/5/01] However, Blair may have the direction incorrect, since would-be hijacker Ramzi Bin al-Shibh later claims that he is the one who passes to bin Laden the date the attacks will happen and warns others to evacuate. [Australian, 9/9/02]
People and organizations involved: Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Osama bin Laden, Tony Blair, al-Qaeda
          

September 10, 2001: Trader Makes Suspicious Investments Moves; Later Accused of 9/11 Foreknowledge

      
Amr "Tony" Elgindy.
Amr Elgindy orders his broker to liquidate his children's $300,000 trust account fearing a sudden crash in the market. He also tells his stockbroker that the Dow Jones average, then at 9,600, will fall to below 3,000. Elgindy is arrested in San Diego in May 2002, along with FBI agents Jeffrey Royer and Lynn Wingate, who, according to government prosecutors, were using their FBI positions to obtain inside information on various corporations. They also questioned whether Elgindy had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. [New York Times, 5/23/02; Times of London, 5/30/02; New York Times, 6/8/02] A report published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, however, casts some doubt on the government's allegations. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/16/02] In 2005, now former FBI agent Jeffrey Royer admits to giving Elgindy confidential details of federal investigations, including a probe of the 9/11 attacks. Royer claims he did it to use Elgindy's knowledge to help develop evidence of criminal wrongdoing. A court case against Royer and Elgindy continues. [Associated Press, 1/5/05]
People and organizations involved: Amr Elgindy, Jeffrey Royer, Lynn Wingate
          

September 10, 2001: New Jersey Student Warns Teacher to Stay Away from Lower Manhattan

       A sixth-grade student of Middle Eastern descent in Jersey City, New Jersey, says something that alarms his teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. “Essentially, he [warns] her to stay away from lower Manhattan because something bad [is] going to happen,” says Sgt. Edgar Martinez, deputy director of police services for the Jersey City Police Department. [Insight, 9/10/02]
          

September 10, 2001: Deputies Still Putting Final Touches on Three-Year Plan to Stop al-Qaeda

       Another deputies meeting further considers policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, and makes further revisions to the National Security Presidential Directive regarding al-Qaeda. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (D)] By the end of the meeting, a formal, three-phase strategy is agreed upon. An envoy is to go to Afghanistan and give the Taliban another chance to expel bin Laden. If this fails, more pressure will be put on the Taliban, including more support for the Northern Alliance and other groups. If the Taliban still refuse to change, the US will try to overthrow the Taliban through more direct action. The time-frame for this strategy is about three years. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04] CIA Director Tenet is formally tasked to draw up new authorities for the covert action program envisioned, and request funding to implement it. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/24/04 (C)] The directive is then to be sent to National Security Adviser Rice for approval. President Bush is apparently aware of the directive and prepared to sign it (though he hasn't attended any of the meetings about it), but he does not sign it until October. [MSNBC, 5/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 5/18/02; Washington Post, 4/1/04]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Taliban, Northern Alliance, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden
          

September 10, 2001: NSA Monitors Call as Mohammed Gives Final Approval to Launch Attacks

       Mohamed Atta calls Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Afghanistan. Mohammed gives final approval to Atta to launch the attacks. This call is monitored and translated by the US, although it is not known how quickly the call is translated, and the specifics of the conversation haven't been released. [Independent, 9/15/02]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed Atta, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, United States
          

September 10, 2001: NSA Intercepts: The Match Is About to Begin and Tomorrow Is Zero Hour

       At least two messages in Arabic are intercepted by the NSA. One states “The match is about to begin” and the other states “Tomorrow is zero hour.” Later reports translate the first message as “The match begins tomorrow.” [Reuters, 9/9/02] The messages were sent between someone in Saudi Arabia and someone in Afghanistan. The NSA claims that they weren't translated until September 12, and that even if they had been translated in time, “they gave no clues that authorities could have acted on.” [ABC News, 6/7/02; Reuters, 6/19/02] These messages turn out to be only two of about 30 pre-9/11 communications from suspected al-Qaeda operatives or other militants referring to an imminent event. An anonymous official says of these messages, including the “Tomorrow is zero hour” message, “You can't dismiss any of them, but it does not tell you tomorrow is the day.” [Reuters, 9/9/02] There is a later attempt to explain the messages away by suggesting they refer to the killing of Afghan opposition leader Ahmed Shah Massoud the day before. [Reuters, 10/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Shah Massoud, al-Qaeda, National Security Agency
          

September 10, 2001: US Generals Warned Not to Fly on Morning of 9/11

       According to a Newsweek report on September 13, “[t]he state of alert had been high during the past two weeks, and a particularly urgent warning may have been received the night before the attacks, causing some top Pentagon brass to cancel a trip. Why that same information was not available to the 266 people who died aboard the four hijacked commercial aircraft may become a hot topic on the Hill.” [Newsweek, 9/13/01] Far from becoming a hot topic, the only additional media mention of this story is in the next issue of Newsweek: “a group of top Pentagon officials suddenly canceled travel plans for the next morning, apparently because of security concerns.” [Newsweek, 9/17/01]
          

September 10, 2001: Florida Man Predicts Imminent American Bloodshed

       In a bar in Daytona Beach, Florida the night before the 9/11 attacks, three men make anti-American sentiments and talk of impending bloodshed. One says, “Wait 'til tomorrow. America is going to see bloodshed.” These are not any of the hijackers, since they had all left Florida by this time. [MSNBC, 9/23/01; Associated Press, 9/14/01]
          

September 10, 2001: Dallas Fifth Grader Forecasts World War III

       A fifth grader in Dallas, Texas, casually tells his teacher, “Tomorrow, World War III will begin. It will begin in the United States, and the United States will lose.” The teacher reports the comment to the FBI, but does not know if they act on it at the time. The student skips the next two days of school. The event may be completely coincidental, but the newspaper that reports the story also notes that two charities located in an adjacent suburb have been under investigation based on suspected fund-raising activities for Islamic militant organizations. [Houston Chronicle, 9/19/01] The FBI investigates and decides “no further investigation [is] warranted.” [Houston Chronicle, 10/1/01]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

September 10, 2001: Ashcroft Opposes Counterterrorism Funding

       Attorney General Ashcroft rejects a proposed $58 million increase in financing for the bureau's counterterrorism programs. On the same day, he sends a request for budget increases to the White House. It covers 68 programs—but none of them relate to counterterrorism. He also sends a memorandum to his heads of departments, stating his seven priorities—none of them relate to counterterrorism. [New York Times, 6/1/02; Guardian, 5/21/02] He further proposes cutting a program that gives state and local counterterrorism grants for equipment like radios and preparedness training from $109 million to $44 million. Yet Ashcroft stopped flying public airplanes in July due to an as yet undisclosed terrorist threat, and in a July speech he proclaimed, “Our No. 1 priority is the prevention of terrorist attacks.” [New York Times, 2/28/02]
People and organizations involved: John Ashcroft, Bush administration
          

September 10, 2001: Cheney's Domestic Terrorism Task Force Finally Beginning to Hire Staff

       The domestic terrorism task force announced by President Bush and Vice President Cheney in May 2001 is just gearing up. Cheney appointed Admiral Steve Abbot to lead the task force in June, but he does not receive his White House security pass until now. Abbot has only hired two staffers and been working full time for a few days prior to 9/11. The task force was to have reported to Congress by October 1, 2001, a date they could not have met. [Congressional Quarterly, 4/15/04; New York Times, 12/27/01]
People and organizations involved: Steve Abbot, George W. Bush, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

September 10, 2001: Pakistan Guards Osama as He Receives Medical Treatment

       CBS later reports that on this day, bin Laden is admitted to a military hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, for kidney dialysis treatment. Pakistani military forces guard bin Laden. They also move out all the regular staff in the urology department and send in a secret team to replace them. It is not known how long he stays there. [CBS News, 1/28/02]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Pakistan
          

September 10, 2001: US Intercepts: Watch the News and Tomorrow Will Be a Great Day for Us

       US officials later admit American agents had infiltrated al-Qaeda cells in the US, though how many agents and how long they had been in al-Qaeda remains a mystery. On this day, electronic intercepts connected to these undercover agents hear messages such as, “Watch the news” and “Tomorrow will be a great day for us.” When asked why these messages did not lead to boosted security or warnings the next day, officials refer to them as “needles in a haystack.” What other leads may have come from this prior to this day are not revealed. [USA Today, 6/4/02] At least until February 2002, the official story was that the “CIA failed to penetrate al-Qaeda with a single agent.” [ABC News, 2/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda
          

September 10, 2001: Three Hijackers at Same Hotel with Senior Saudi Official

      
Sami Omar Hussayen, nephew of Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen.
Three hijackers, Hani Hanjour, Khalid Almihdhar, and Nawaf Alhazmi, check into the same hotel as a prominent Saudi government official. [Washington Post, 10/2/03] Investigators have not found any evidence that the hijackers met with the official, and stress it could be a coincidence. [Daily Telegraph, 3/10/03] However, one prosecutor working on a related case asserts, “I continue to believe it can't be a coincidence.” [Wall Street Journal, 10/2/03] The official, Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen, is interviewed by the FBI shortly after 9/11, but according to testimony from an FBI agent, the interview is cut short when Hussayen “feign[s] a seizure, prompting the agents to take him to a hospital, where the attending physicians [find] nothing wrong with him.” The agent recommends that Hussayen “should not be allowed to leave until a follow-up interview could occur.” However, that “recommendation, for whatever reason, [is] not complied with.” Hussayen returns to Saudi Arabia a few days later, as soon as the US ban on international flights has ended. [Washington Post, 10/2/03] For most of the 1990s, Hussayen was director of the SAAR Foundation, a Saudi charity that is being investigated for terrorism ties. A few months after 9/11 he is named a minister of the Saudi government and put in charge of its two holy mosques. Hussayen had arrived in the US in late August 2001 planning to visit some Saudi-sponsored charities. Many of the charities on his itinerary, including the Global Relief Foundation, World Muslim League, IIRO (International Islamic Relief Organization), IANA (Islamic Assembly of North America), and World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), have since been shut down or investigated for alleged ties to Islamic militant groups. [Washington Post, 10/2/03] His nephew, Sami Omar Hussayen, is indicted in early 2004 for using his computer expertise to assist militant groups, and is charged with administering a website associated with IANA, which expressly advocated suicide attacks and using airliners as weapons in the months before 9/11. Investigators also claim the nephew was in contact with important al-Qaeda figures. [Washington Post, 10/2/03; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1/10/04] IANA is under investigation, as well as the flow of money from the uncle to nephew. [Daily Telegraph, 3/10/03] The uncle has not been charged with any crime. [Wall Street Journal, 10/2/03]
People and organizations involved: SAAR Foundation, Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman Hussayen, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, William Safire, Global Relief Foundation, World Muslim League, International Islamic Relief Organization, Sami Omar Hussayen, Islamic Assembly of North America, World Assembly of Muslim Youth
          

September 10, 2001: Suspicious Trading on United Airlines Stock Occurs at Pacific Exchange

       The trading ratio on United Airlines is 25 times greater than normal at the Pacific Exchange. Pacific Exchange officials later decline to state whether this abnormality is being investigated. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/19/01]
People and organizations involved: Pacific Exchange, United Airlines
          

September 10, 2001: Rumsfeld Announces Defense Department Cannot Track $2.3 Trillion in Transactions

       In a speech to the Department of Defense, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld announces that the Department of Defense “cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.” CBS later calculates that 25 percent of the yearly defense budget is unaccounted for, and quotes a long-time defense budget analyst: “[Their] numbers are pie in the sky. The books are cooked routinely year after year.” Coverage of this rather shocking story is nearly nonexistent given the events of the next day. [Defense Department, 9/10/01; CBS News, 1/29/02] In April 2002 it will be revealed that $1.1 trillion of the missing money comes from the 2000 fiscal year. Auditors won't even quantify how much money is missing from fiscal year 2001, causing “some [to] fear it's worse” than 2000. The Department of the Army will state that it won't publish a stand-alone financial statement for 2001 because of “the loss of financial-management personnel sustained during the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.” [Insight, 4/29/02] This $1.1 trillion plus unknown additional amounts continues to remain unaccounted for, and auditors say it may take eight years of reorganization before a proper accounting can be done. [Insight, 8/21/03]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, US Department of Defense, US Department of the Army
          

September 10, 2001: Review of Counterterrorism Legislation May Take Six Months, Says Cheney Aide

       Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), who, with Senator Jon Kyl (R), has sent a copy of draft legislation on counterterrorism and national defense to Vice President Cheney's office on July 20, is told by Cheney's top aide on this day “that it might be another six months before he would be able to review the material.” [Newsweek, 5/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Dianne Feinstein, Jon Kyl, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

Shortly After September 11, 2001: Al-Qaeda Accomplices Flee East Coast?

       It is later reported that FBI officials believe that a second grouping or cell of “perhaps 20 al-Qaeda terrorists [are] in the United States on Sept. 11 to carry out another attack. Members of this second cell, one official [says], apparently [abandon] apartments they ... rented in Paterson, New Jersey, and Fairfax, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., after Sept. 11, leaving rented furniture and other possessions behind in their haste.” [St. Paul Pioneer Press, 10/7/02] Another article notes, “Police always have had concerns about sleeper agents in the [Brooklyn, New York] area. They particularly were concerned by a story ... from several NYPD sources about an abandoned rental car that was parked in front of a mosque only a few blocks from New Utrecht. The car had been rented under the phony name ‘Bomkr’ from Logan International Airport in Boston shortly before the attacks. Investigators thought the name sounded a lot like ‘bomb car.’ The anonymous party rented several other cars from Logan, all of which either have disappeared or been abandoned. Police suspect the cars were used by al-Qaeda operatives to return to their home bases after the attacks.” [Insight, 9/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda
          

Before September 11, 2001: NORAD Plans a Mock Simultaneous Hijacking Threat from Inside the US

       NORAD plans for the Amalgam Virgo 2 exercise. The exercise, scheduled for June 2002, involves two simultaneous commercial aircraft hijackings. One, a Delta 757, with actual Delta pilots and actors posing as passengers, will fly from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Honolulu, Hawaii. It will be “hijacked” by FBI agents posing as terrorists. The other will be a DC-9 hijacked by Canadian police near Vancouver, British Columbia. US and Canadian fighters are to respond and attempt to escort the hijacked planes to airfields in British Columbia and Alaska. But they possibly could “mock” shoot down the aircraft. [USA Today, 4/18/04; CNN, 6/4/02 (B); American Forces Press Service, 6/4/02] USA Today will note that this is an exception to NORAD's claim that the agency focused only on external threats to the US and did not consider the possibility of threats arising from within the US. [USA Today, 4/18/04] 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste will similarly comment that this planned exercise shows that despite frequent comments to the contrary, the military considered simultaneous hijackings before 9/11. [9/11 Commission Report, 5/23/03]
People and organizations involved: Richard Ben-Veniste, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

Before September 11, 2001: US Government Prepares for Hijackings, Some of Them Involving Multiple-Planes

       According to an FBI official interviewed by journalist Seymour Hersh, for several years prior to 9/11, the US government reportedly plans for “simulated terrorist attacks, including scenarios [involving] multiple-plane hijackings.” This presumably refers to more than just the Amalgam Virgo 02 (see Before September 11, 2001) exercise, which is based on the scenario of two planes being simultaneously hijacked. [New Yorker, 9/24/01] Similarly, NORAD will tell USA Today that before 9/11, it normally conducted four major exercises each year at headquarters level. Most of them include a hijack scenario, the newspaper reports [USA Today, 4/18/04] , and some of them were apparently quite similar to the 9/11 attacks (see Between 1991 and 2001) (see 1999-September 11, 2001).
People and organizations involved: United States, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

Before September 11, 2001: Key Counterterrorism Position Still Unfilled

       The position of Deputy Secretary for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, the Defense Department post traditionally dealing the most with counterterrorism, still has not been filled since being vacated in January 2001 when Bush became president. Aides to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld later tell the 9/11 Commission that “the new [Defense Department] team was focused on other issues” and not counterterrorism. [Newsweek, 3/24/04]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission, Central Intelligence Agency, Donald Rumsfeld, US Department of Defense
          

After September 11, 2001: Propaganda Campaign to Tie 9/11 to Iraq Is Said to Begin

       Soon after September 11, a concerted effort begins to pin the blame for the attacks on Saddam Hussein. Retired General Wesley Clark will later say on NBC's “Meet the Press” in June 2003 and in a letter published by the New York Times that “immediately after 9/11” there was a “concerted effort ... to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein” and use the attacks as an excuse to go after the Iraqi dictator. When asked by NBC's Tim Russert, who was behind the concerted effort, Clark will respond: “Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over.” Clark also says, “I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, ‘You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.’ I said, ‘But—I'm willing to say it, but what's your evidence?’ And I never got any evidence.” He says the phone call came from a Middle Eastern think tank outside of the country. [MSNBC, 6/15/03; New York Times, 7/18/03]
People and organizations involved: Wesley Clark
          

Before September 11, 2001: Hijackers Drink, Watch Strip Shows on Eve of Attacks

       A number of the hijackers apparently drink alcohol heavily in bars and watch strip shows. On September 10, three of them spend $200 to $300 apiece on lap dances and drinks in the Pink Pony, a Daytona Beach, Florida strip club. While the hijackers had left Florida by this time, Mohamed Atta is reported to have visited the same strip club, and these men appear to have had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. [Boston Herald, 10/10/01] Marwan Alshehhi and Mohamed Atta are seen entering the Hollywood, Florida, sports bar Shuckums already drunk. They proceed to drink even more hard alcohol there . Atta and Alshehhi are seen at Sunrise 251, a bar in Palm Beach, Florida. They spend $1,000 in 45 minutes on Krug and Perrier-Jouet champagne. Atta is with a tall busty brunette in her late twenties; Alshehhi is with a shortish blonde. Both women are known locally as regular companions of high-rollers. [Daily Mail, 9/16/01] A stripper at the Olympic Garden Topless Cabaret in Las Vegas, Nevada, recalls Marwan Alshehhi being “cheap,” paying only $20 for a lap dance. [Cox News, 10/16//01] Several hijackers reportedly patronize the Nardone's Go-Go Bar in Elizabeth, New Jersey. They are even seen there on the weekend before 9/11. [Boston Herald, 10/10/01; Wall Street Journal, 10/16/01] Majed Moqed visits a porn shop and rents a porn video. The mayor of Paterson, New Jersey, says of the six hijackers who stayed there: “Nobody ever saw them at mosques, but they liked the go-go clubs.” [Newsweek, 10/15/01] Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar often frequented Cheetah's, a nude bar in San Diego. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] Hamza Alghamdi watched a porn video on September 10. [Wall Street Journal, 10/16/01] University of Florida religion professor Richard Foltz states, “It is incomprehensible that a person could drink and go to a strip bar one night, then kill themselves the next day in the name of Islam ... People who would kill themselves for their faith would come from very strict Islamic ideology. Something here does not add up.” [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Majed Moqed, Nawaf Alhazmi, Hamza Alghamdi, Khalid Almihdhar, Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi
          

Before September 11, 2001: CIA, FBI Lack Counterterrorism Resources, and Focus

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

Before September 11, 2001: Translator Alleges FBI Agent Is Deliberately Deceived Regarding Skyscraper Warning

       FBI translator Sibel Edmonds later makes some allegations of serious FBI misconduct, but the specifics of these allegations have generally remained publicly unknown due to a gag order placed on her. However, in a public August 2004 letter, she alleges that some time before 9/11, an unnamed FBI field agent discovers foreign documentation revealing “certain information regarding blueprints, pictures, and building material for skyscrapers being sent overseas. It also reveal[s] certain illegal activities in obtaining visas from certain embassies in the Middle East, through network contacts and bribery.” The document is in a foreign language and apparently the agent isn't given an adequate translation of it before 9/11. Approximately one month after 9/11, the agent will suspect the original translation is insuffient and will ask the FBI Washington Field Office to retranslate it. The significant information mentioned above is finally revealed, but FBI translation unit supervisor Mike Feghali decides not to send this information back to the field agent. Instead, Feghali sends a note stating that the translation was reviewed and the original translation was accurate. The field agent never receives the accurate translation. This is all according to Edmonds' letter. She claims Feghali “has participated in certain criminal activities and security breaches, and [engaged] in covering up failures and criminal conducts within the department...” While the mainstream media hasn't yet reported on this incident, in January 2005 an internal government report will determine that most of Edmonds' allegations have been verified and none of them could be refuted. [Edmonds Letter, 8/2/04 Sources: Sibel Edmonds]
People and organizations involved: Sibel Edmonds, Mike Feghali, FBI Washington Field Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Shortly after September 11, 2001: Feith Sets Up the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and Middle East specialist Harold Rhode recruit David Wurmser, the director of Middle East studies for the American Enterprise Institute, to serve as a Pentagon consultant. Wurmser is a known advocate of regime change in Iraq, having expressed his views in a 1997 op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal (see November 12, 1997) and having participated in the drafting of a 1996 policy paper for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” (see July 8, 1996). Wurmser works at Feith's office, where he and another neocon, F. Michael Maloof, a former aide to Richard Perle, head a secret intelligence unit, named the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, or the “Wurmser-Maloof” project. The four- to five-person unit, a “B Team” commissioned by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, uses powerful computers and software to scan and sort already-analyzed documents and reports from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and other agencies in an effort to consider possible interpretations and angles of analysis that these agencies may have missed due to deeply ingrained biases and out-of-date worldviews. [Washington Times, 1/14/02; Mother Jones, 1/04; New York Times, 10/24/02; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04; Reuters, 2/19/04] The Pentagon unit's activities cause tension within the traditional intelligence community. Critics claim that its members manipulate and distort intelligence, “cherry-picking” bits of information that fit their preconceived conclusions. “There is a complete breakdown in the relationship between the Defense Department and the intelligence community, to include its own Defense Intelligence Agency,” a defense official will tell the New York Times. “Wolfowitz and company disbelieve any analysis that doesn't support their own preconceived conclusions. The CIA is enemy territory, as far are they're concerned.” [New York Times, 10/24/02 Sources: Unnamed defense official] Defending the project, Paul Wolfowitz will tell the New York Times that the team's purpose is to circumvent the problem “in intelligence work, that people who are pursuing a certain hypothesis will see certain facts that others won't, and not see other facts that others will.” He insists that the special Pentagon unit is “not making independent intelligence assessments.” [New York Times, 10/24/02] One of the cell's projects includes sorting through existing intelligence to create a map of relationships demonstrating links between militant Islamic groups and state powers. This chart of links, which they name the “matrix,” leads the intelligence unit to conclude that Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other groups with conflicting ideologies and objectives are allowing these differences to fall to the wayside as they discover their shared hatred of the US. The group's research also leads them to believe that al-Qaeda has a presence in such places as Latin American. For weeks, the unit will attempt to uncover evidence tying Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks, a theory advocated by both Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. [Washington Times, 1/14/02; Mother Jones, 1/04; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04] David Wurmser will later be relocated to the State Department where he will be the senior advisor to Undersecretary Of State for Arms Control John Bolton.(see September 2002). [Mother Jones, 1/04; American Conservative, 12/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Harold Rhode, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, F. Michael Maloof
          

Before September 11, 2001: Congressman Says US Intelligence Not Interested in Informant Who Could Pinpoint bin Laden's Location

       Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R), who claims to have made many secret trips into Afghanistan and to have fought with the mujahedeen, later describes to Congress a missed opportunity to capture bin Laden. He claims that “a few years” before 9/11, he is contacted by someone he knows and trusts from the 1980s Afghan war, who claims he could pinpoint bin Laden's location. Rohrabacher passes this information to the CIA, but the informant isn't contacted. After some weeks, Rohrabacher uses his influence to set up a meeting with agents in the CIA, NSA, and FBI. Yet even then, the informant is not contacted, until weeks later, and then only in a “disinterested” way. Rohrabacher concludes, “that our intelligence services knew about the location of bin Laden several times but were not permitted to attack him ... because of decisions made by people higher up.” [Speech to the House of Representatives, 9/17/01]
People and organizations involved: National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, Federal Bureau of Investigation, US Congress, Dana Rohrabacher
          

Before September 11, 2001: Echelon Intelligence Network Used on Al-Qaeda

      
An Echelon station in Menwith Hill, Britain.
By the 1980s, a high-tech global electronic surveillance network shared between the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand is gathering intelligence all over the world. The BBC describes Echelon's power as “astounding,” and elaborates: “Every international telephone call, fax, e-mail, or radio transmission can be listened to by powerful computers capable of voice recognition. They home in on a long list of key words, or patterns of messages. They are looking for evidence of international crime, like terrorism.” [BBC, 11/3/99] One major focus for Echelon before 9/11 is al-Qaeda. A staff member of the National Security Council who regularly attends briefings on bin Laden states, “We are probably tapped into every hotel room in Pakistan. We can listen in to just about every phone call in Afghanistan.” However, he and other critics will claim one reason why US intelligence failed to stop terrorism before 9/11 was because there was too much of a focus on electronic intelligence gathering and not enough focus on human interpretation of that vast data collection. [Toronto Star, 2/2/02]
People and organizations involved: Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Osama bin Laden, Echelon, Britain, al-Qaeda, National Security Council
          

Before September 11, 2001: ‘We're Ready to Go, Big Thing Coming’ Intercept Not Analyzed Until After 9/11

       Though the NSA specializes in intercepting communications, the CIA and FBI intercept as well. After 9/11, CIA and FBI officials discover messages with phrases like, “There is a big thing coming,” “they're going to pay the price,” and “We're ready to go.” Supposedly, most or all of these intercepted messages are not analyzed until after 9/11. [Newsweek, 9/24/01]
People and organizations involved: National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation
          

Before September 11, 2001: US Government Knows of Taliban, Saudi, and Pakistan Connections, but Does Nothing

       In June 2004, future 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey will say that before 9/11, “There's no question the Taliban was getting money from the Saudis ... and there's no question they got much more than that from the Pakistani government. Their motive is a secondary issue for us.” He claims this finding is based almost entirely on information known to the US government before 9/11. “All we're doing is looking at classified documents from our own government, not from some magical source. So we knew what was going on, but we did nothing.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/20/04] However, the 9/11 Commission will leave such material out of its final report and in fact make the claim in its last staff statement, “There is no convincing evidence that any government financially supported al-Qaeda before 9/11.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/16/04 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, 9/11 Commission, Taliban, al-Qaeda, Saudi Binladin Group, Pakistan
          
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