August 12, 2000: Italian intelligence successfully wiretap the al-Qaeda terrorist cell in Milan, Italy from late 1999 until summer 2001. [Boston Globe, 8/4/02] In a wiretapped conversation from this day, suspected Yemeni terrorist Abdulsalam Ali Abdulrahman tells wanted Egyptian terrorist Es Sayed about a massive strike against the enemies of Islam involving aircraft and the sky, a blow that "will be written about in all the newspapers of the world. This will be one of those strikes that will never be forgotten.... This is a terrifying thing. This is a thing that will spread from south to north, from east to west: The person who came up with this program is a madman from a madhouse, a madman but a genius." In another conversation, Abdulrahman tells Es Sayed: "I'm studying airplanes. I hope, God willing, that I can bring you a window or a piece of an airplane the next time we see each other." The comment is followed by laughter. Beginning in October 2000, FBI experts helped Italian police analyze the intercepts and warnings. Neither Italy nor the FBI understands their meaning until after 9/11, but apparently Italians understand enough to give the US an attack warning in March 2001 (see March 2001 (B)). [Los Angeles Times, 5/29/02, Guardian, 5/30/02, Washington Post, 5/31/02] FTW The Milan cell "is believed to have created a cottage industry in supplying false passports and other bogus documents." [Boston Globe, 8/4/02] If the hijackers were using false identities (see also January 24, 2001), could Abdulrahman, current whereabouts unknown, actually have been one of the 9/11 hijackers?
January 24, 2001: On this day, Italian intelligence hear another interesting wiretapped conversation (see also August 12, 2000), this one between terrorists Es Sayed and Ben Soltane Adel, two member's of al-Qaeda's Milan cell. Adel asks, in reference to fake documents, "Will these work for the brothers who are going to the United States?" Sayed responds angrily, saying "Don't ever say those words again, not even joking!" "If it's necessary ... whatever place we may be, come up and talk in my ear, because these are very important things. You must know ... that this plan is very, very secret, as if you were protecting the security of the state." This is only one of many clues found from the Italian wiretaps and passed on to US intelligence in March 2001 (see March 2001 (B)). But they apparently are not properly understood until after 9/11. The Spanish government claims to have uncovered 9/11 clues from wiretaps as well (see August 27, 2001), and a priest was told of the 9/11 plot at an Italian wedding (see September 7, 2001), suggesting a surprising number of people in Europe may have had foreknowledge of 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 5/29/02] Adel is later arrested and convicted of belonging to a terrorist cell and Es Sayed fled to Afghanistan in July 2001. [Guardian, 5/30/02]
March 2001: The Italian government gives the US information about possible attacks based on apartment wiretaps in the Italian city of Milan. [Fox News, 5/17/02] Presumably, the information includes a discussion between two al-Qaeda agents talking about a "very, very secret" plan to forge documents "for the brothers who are going to the United States" (see January 24, 2001). The warning may also have mentioned a wiretap the previous August involving one of the same people that discussed a massive strike against the enemies of Islam involving aircraft (see August 12, 2000). Two months later, wiretaps of the same Milan cell also reveal a plot to attack a summit of world leaders (see May 2001).