January 6, 1995: While investigating a possible assassination plan against the Pope, Philippine police uncover plans for Operation Bojinka, an al-Qaeda operation connected to 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02] The plan is to explode 11 or 12 passenger planes over the Pacific Ocean simultaneously. [Agence France Presse, 12/8/01] If successful, up to 4,000 people would have been killed in planes flying to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and New York. [Insight, 5/27/02] Operation Bojinka was scheduled to go forward just two weeks later on January 21. Apparently a plan was also found for a second phase of attacks. [The Cell, John Miller, Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell, 8/02, p. 124, Insight, 5/27/02] In this phase, planes would be hijacked and flown into civilian targets. The WTC, CIA headquarters, Pentagon and the Sears Tower are mentioned as specific targets. [Agence France Presse, 12/8/01] One pilot, Abdul Hakim Murad, who learned to fly in US flight schools, confesses that his role was to crash a plane into the CIA headquarters as part of this phrase of attacks. [Washington Post, 9/23/01] An interrogation report from 1995 states: "[Murad] will hijack said aircraft, control its cockpit and dive it at the CIA headquarters. There will be no bomb or any explosive that he will use in its execution. It is simply a suicidal mission that he is very much willing to execute." [Insight, 5/27/02] Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is not just the 9/11 mastermind - he was also one of the major planners of Operation Bojinka. [Independent, 6/6/02] A Philippine investigator said on the day of 9/11: "It's Bojinka." He later says: "We told the Americans everything about Bojinka. Why didn't they pay attention?" [Washington Post, 9/23/01] Philippines Chief Police Superintendent Avelino Razon says there is "too much coincidence" between 9/11 and Bojinka. [Insight, 5/27/02] FTW

Spring 1996: In the months after uncovering Operation Bojinka in the Philippines (see January 6, 1995), nearly all of its major planners, including Ramzi Yousef, are found and arrested. The one exception is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. He will later go on to mastermind the 9/11 attacks. He flees to Qatar in the Persian Gulf, where he enjoys the patronage of a high-ranking member of the government. US investigators identify him as their Bojinka suspect, and FBI Director Louis Freeh sends a letter to the Qatar government asking for permission to send a team after him. But in spring 1996, Mohammed's patron, a member of the ruling family, makes sure that Mohammed and four others are given blank passports and a chance to escape. Qatar's police chief later says the other men include Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mohammed Atef, two of al-Qaeda's top leaders. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/02, New York Times, 9/22/02] Robert Baer, a CIA directorate of operations officer until 1997, learns of the story in early 1998 and passes the information to the CIA, but no action against the patrons in Qatar is taken. After leaving Qatar, Mohammed lives in Prague, Czech Republic. [Vanity Fair, 2/02, See No Evil, Robert Baer, 2/02] FTW