Complete 911 Timeline [very long – for reference]


Richard Moore

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Complete 911 Timeline
The Warning Signs
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April 18-October 23, 1983: Beirut Bombings Begin Era of Suicide Attacks

The October 1983 bombing of US Marine barracks in 
Beirut, Lebanon. [Source: US Marine Corps.]

In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, and US 
Marines were sent to Lebanon as a peacekeeping 
force in September 1982. On April 18, 1983, the 
US embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, is bombed by a 
suicide truck attack, killing 63 people. On 
October 23, 1983, a Marine barracks in Beirut is 
bombed by another suicide truck attack, killing 
241 Marines. In February 1984, the US military 
will depart Lebanon. The radical militant group 
Islamic Jihad will take credit for both attacks. 
This group is led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who will 
later become the number two leader in al-Qaeda. 
However, many believe Hezbollah is involved in 
the attacks. Prior to this year, attacks of this 
type were rare. But the perceived success of 
these attacks in getting the US to leave Lebanon 
will usher in a new era of suicide attacks around 
the world. The next two years in particular will 
see a wave of such attacks in the Middle East, 
many of them committed by the radical militant 
group Hezbollah. [US Congress, 7/24/2003; US 
Congress, 7/24/2003] The Beirut bombings will 
also inspire bin Laden to believe that the US can 
be defeated by suicide attacks. For instance, he 
will say in a 1998 interview, "We have seen in 
the last decade the decline of the American 
government and the weakness of the American 
soldier who is ready to wage Cold Wars and 
unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in 
Beirut when the Marines fled after two 
explosions." [ABC News, 5/28/1998] In 1994, bin 
Laden will hold a meeting with a top Hezbollah 
leader (see 1994), and arrange for some of his 
operatives to be trained in the truck bombing 
techniques that had been used in Beirut. [9/11 
Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 48]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Hezbollah, Ayman al-Zawahiri

August 11, 1988: Bin Laden Forms al-Qaeda

Bin Laden conducts a meeting to discuss "the 
establishment of a new military group," according 
to notes that are found later. Over time, this 
group becomes known as al-Qaeda, roughly meaning 
"the base" or "the foundation." [Associated 
Press, 2/19/2003] A Sudanese fighter named Jamal 
al-Fadl was among the participants, and testifies 
about the event in the late 1990's (see June 
1996). He claims that the meeting is attended by 
ten men, about half of them Egyptians. Ayman 
Al-Zawahiri, the head of the Egyptian militant 
group Islamic Jihad, is there. Al-Qaeda will be 
tied to al-Zahawiri and Islamic Jihad from the 
very beginning and the two groups will formally 
merge in early 2001. [New Yorker, 9/9/2002] It 
will take US intelligence years even to realize a 
group named al-Qaeda exists; the first known 
incidence of US intelligence being told the name 
will come in 1993 (see Autumn 1993).

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Jamal al-Fadl, Ayman al-Zawahiri

July 1990: Blind Sheikh on Terrorist Watch List Enters US

Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman.

Despite being on a US terrorist watch list for 
three years, radical Muslim leader Sheikh Omar 
Abdul-Rahman enters the US on a "much-disputed" 
tourist visa issued by an undercover CIA agent. 
[Village Voice, 3/30/1993; Atlantic Monthly, 
5/1996; Lance, 2003, pp. 42] Abdul-Rahman was 
heavily involved with the CIA and Pakistani ISI 
efforts to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan, and 
became famous traveling all over the world for 
five years recruiting new mujahedeen. The CIA 
sponsored the first of his trips to the US in 
1986 (see 1986) . However, he never hid his prime 
goals to overthrow the governments of the US and 
Egypt. [Atlantic Monthly, 5/1996] He is "infamous 
throughout the Arab world for his alleged role in 
the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar 
Sadat." Abdul-Rahman immediately begins setting 
up a militant Islamic network in the US. [Village 
Voice, 3/30/1993] He is believed to have 
befriended bin Laden while in Afghanistan, and 
bin Laden secretly pays Abdul-Rahman's US living 
expenses. [Atlantic Monthly, 5/1996; ABC News, 
8/16/2002] Abdul-Rahman's ties to the 
assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990 are 
later ignored. As one FBI agent will say in 1993, 
he is "hands-off. It was no accident that the 
sheikh obtained a visa and that he is still in 
the country. He's here under the banner of 
national security, the State Department, the NSA, 
and the CIA." According to a very high-ranking 
Egyptian official, Abdul-Rahman continues to 
assist the CIA in recruiting new mujahedeen after 
moving to the US: "We begged America not to 
coddle the sheikh." Egyptian intelligence warns 
the US that Abdul-Rahman is planning new attacks, 
and on November 12, 1992, militants connected to 
him will machine-gun a busload of Western 
tourists in Egypt. Still, he will continue to 
live freely in New York City. [Village Voice, 
3/30/1993] He will finally be arrested in 1993 
and convicted of assisting in the 1993 WTC 
bombing. [Atlantic Monthly, 5/1996]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Meir Kahane, Sheikh 
Omar Abdul-Rahman, US Department of State, World 
Trade Center, Central Intelligence Agency, Anwar 
Sadat, National Security Agency

November 5, 1990: First bin Laden-Related Terror 
Attack on US; Evidence of Larger Conspiracy Is 
Found and Ignored

Rabbi Meir Kahane (left) and his assassin El Sayyid Nosair (right).

Egyptian-American El Sayyid Nosair assassinates 
controversial right-wing Zionist leader Rabbi 
Meir Kahane. Kahane's organization, the Jewish 
Defense League, was linked to dozens of bombings 
and is ranked by the FBI as the most lethal 
domestic militant group in the US at the time. 
Nosair is captured after a police shoot-out. An 
FBI informant says he saw Nosair meeting with 
Muslim leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman a few days 
before the attack, and evidence indicating a 
wider plot with additional targets is found. 
[Village Voice, 3/30/1993] Later that night, 
police arrive at Nosair's house and find a pair 
of Middle Eastern men named Mahmud Abouhalima and 
Mohammed Salameh there. They are taken in for 
questioning. Additionally, police collect a total 
of 47 boxes of evidence from Nosair's house, 
including: [Lance, 2003, pp. 34-35] Thousands of 
rounds of ammunition.Maps and drawings of New 
York City landmarks, including the World Trade 
Center.Documents in Arabic containing bomb making 
formulas, details of an Islamic militant cell, 
and mentions of the term "al-Qaeda." Recorded 
sermons by Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman in which he 
encourages his followers to "destroy the edifices 
of capitalism" and destroy "the enemies of Allah" 
by "destroying their ... high world buildings." 
Tape-recorded phone conversations of Nosair 
reporting to Abdul-Rahman about paramilitary 
training, and even discussing bomb-making 
manuals.Videotaped talks that Ali Mohamed 
delivered at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare 
Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.Top secret 
manuals also from Fort Bragg. There are even 
classified documents belonging to the US Joint 
Chiefs of Staff and the Commander in Chief of the 
Army's Central Command. These manuals and 
documents had clearly come from Mohamed, who 
completed military service at Fort Bragg the year 
before and frequently stayed in Nosair's house.A 
detailed and top secret plan for Operation Bright 
Star, a special operations training exercise 
simulating an attack on Baluchistan, a part of 
Pakistan between Afghanistan and the Arabian Sea. 
[Lance, 2003, pp. 34-35; ABC News, 8/16/2002; 
Wall Street Journal, 11/26/2001; Raleigh News and 
Observer, 10/21/2001; Raleigh News and Observer, 
11/13/2001] Also within hours, two investigators 
will connect Nosair with surveillance photographs 
of Mohamed giving weapons training to Nosair, 
Abouhalima, Salameh, and others at a shooting 
range the year before (see July 1989). [Lance, 
2003, pp. 34-35] But, ignoring all of this 
evidence, still later that evening, Joseph 
Borelli, the New York police department's chief 
detective, will publicly declare the 
assassination the work of a "lone deranged 
gunman." He will further state, "I'm strongly 
convinced that he acted alone. ... He didn't seem 
to be part of a conspiracy or any terrorist 
organization." The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry 
will later conclude, "The [New York Police 
Department] and the District Attorney's office 
... reportedly wanted the appearance of speedy 
justice and a quick resolution to a volatile 
situation. By arresting Nosair, they felt they 
had accomplished both." [Village Voice, 
3/30/1993; Lance, 2003, pp. 34-36] Abouhalima and 
Salameh are released, only to be later convicted 
for participating in the 1993 bombing of the 
World Trade Center. As one FBI agent will later 
put it, "The fact is that in 1990, myself and my 
detectives, we had in our office in handcuffs, 
the people who blew up the World Trade Center in 
'93. We were told to release them." The 47 boxes 
of evidence collected at Nosair's house that 
evening are stored away, inaccessible to 
prosecutors and investigators. The documents 
found will not be translated until after the 
World Trade Center bombing. Nosair will later be 
acquitted of Kahane's murder (though he will be 
convicted of lesser charges), as investigators 
will continue to ignore all evidence that could 
suggest Nosair did not act alone (see December 7, 
1991). [ABC News, 8/16/2002; Lance, 2003, pp. 

Entity Tags: Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, al-Qaeda, 
Osama bin Laden, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 
World Trade Center, El Sayyid Nosair, Jewish 
Defense League, Meir Kahane, New York City Police 
Department, Joseph Borelli

1991-2000: Airport Later Used by Ten Hijackers 
Has Poor Security Record and Lacks Surveillance 

Data compiled by the Federal Aviation 
Administration (FAA) shows that over this period 
Boston's Logan Airport has one of the worst 
records for security among major US airports. 
Flight 11 and Flight 175 depart from Logan on 
9/11. While it is only America's 18th busiest 
airport, it has the fifth highest number of 
security violations. FAA agents testing its 
passenger screening are able to get 234 guns and 
inert hand grenades and bombs past its checkpoint 
guards or through its X-ray machines. Though it 
is possible that the high number of violations is 
because the FAA tests more frequently at Logan 
than elsewhere, an official later quoted by the 
Boston Globe says lax security is the only 
explanation, as all checkpoints at every major 
airport are meant to be tested monthly. In 
contrast, Newark Airport, from where Flight 93 
departs on 9/11, has an above average security 
record. Washington's Dulles Airport, from where 
Flight 77 takes off, is below average, though not 
as bad as Logan. Officials familiar with security 
at Logan will, after 9/11, point to various 
flaws. For example, the State Police office has 
no video surveillance of the airport's security 
checkpoints, boarding gates, ramp areas, or 
perimeter entrances. [Boston Globe, 9/26/2001] 
Security cameras had been put into use at most US 
airports in the mid-1980s. When Virginia 
Buckingham takes over as executive director of 
Massachusetts Port Authority in 1999, she is 
surprised at the lack of cameras at Logan, and 
orders them that year. Yet by 9/11, they still 
will not have been installed. [Boston Herald, 
9/29/2001; Boston Globe, 9/30/2001] In spite of 
Logan's poor security record, after 9/11 the 
Boston Globe will report, "[A]viation specialists 
have said it is unlikely that more rigorous 
attention to existing rules would have thwarted 
the 10 hijackers who boarded two jets at Logan on 
Sept. 11." [Boston Globe, 10/17/2001]

Entity Tags: Washington Dulles International 
Airport, Federal Aviation Administration, 
Virginia Buckingham, Newark International 
Airport, Logan Airport

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

With a personal fortune of around $250 million 
(estimates range from $50 to $800 million [Miami 
Herald, 9/24/2001] ), Osama bin Laden begins 
plotting attacks against the US from his new base 
in Sudan. The first attack kills two tourists in 
Yemen at the end of 1992. [New Yorker, 1/24/2000] 
The CIA learns of his involvement in that attack 
in 1993, and learns that same year that he is 
channeling money to Egyptian extremists. US 
intelligence also learns that by January 1994 he 
is financing at least three militant training 
camps in North Sudan. [New York Times, 8/14/1996; 
PBS Frontline, 2001; US Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency

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

Al-Qaeda Operatives Ahmad Ajaj and Ramzi Yousef 
enter the US together. Ajaj is arrested at 
Kennedy Airport in New York City. Yousef is not 
arrested, and later, he masterminds the 1993 
bombing of the WTC. "The US government was pretty 
sure Ajaj was a terrorist from the moment he 
stepped foot on US soil," because his "suitcases 
were stuffed with fake passports, fake IDs and a 
cheat sheet on how to lie to US immigration 
inspectors," plus "two handwritten notebooks 
filled with bomb recipes, six bomb-making 
manuals, four how-to videotapes concerning 
weaponry, and an advanced guide to surveillance 
training." However, Ajaj is charged only with 
passport fraud, and serves a six-month sentence. 
From prison, Ajaj frequently calls Yousef and 
others in the 1993 WTC bombing plot, but no one 
translates the calls until long after the 
bombing. [Los Angeles Times, 10/14/2001] Ajaj is 
released from prison three days after the WTC 
bombing, but is later rearrested and sentenced to 
more than 100 years in prison. [Los Angeles 
Times, 10/14/2001] One of the manuals seized from 
Ajaj is horribly mistranslated for the trial. For 
instance, the title page is said to say "The 
Basic Rule," published in Jordan in 1982, when in 
fact the title says "al-Qaeda" (which means "the 
base" in English), published in Afghanistan in 
1989. Investigators later complain that a proper 
translation could have shown an early connection 
between al-Qaeda and the WTC bombing. [New York 
Times, 1/14/2001] An Israeli Newsweekly later 
reports that the Palestinian Ajaj may have been a 
mole for the Israeli Mossad. The Village Voice 
has suggested that Ajaj may have had "advance 
knowledge of the World Trade Center bombing, 
which he shared with Mossad, and that Mossad, for 
whatever reason, kept the secret to itself." Ajaj 
was not just knowledgeable, but was involved in 
the planning of the bombing from his prison cell. 
[Village Voice, 8/3/1993]

Entity Tags: Ahmad Ajaj, al-Qaeda, Israel 
Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks, 
Ramzi Yousef, World Trade Center

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

A bomb explodes in a hotel in Aden, Yemen, 
killing two tourists. US soldiers had just left 
the hotel for Somalia. [Miami Herald, 9/24/2001] 
US intelligence is still unaware of bin Laden's 
funding of the Rabbi Meir Kahane assassination in 
1990. However, it will conclude in April 1993 
that "[Bin Laden] almost certainly played a role" 
in this attack. [US Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Meir Kahane
1993: Bin Laden Buys Airplane From US Military to Kill US Soldiers

Bin Laden buys a jet from the US military in 
Arizona. The US military approves the 
transaction. The aircraft is later used to 
transport missiles from Pakistan that kill 
American Special Forces in Somalia. A man named 
Essam al Ridi will testify in a US trial before 
9/11 that he buys a Saber-40 aircraft for 
$210,000, then flies it from Texas to Khartoum, 
Sudan. Bin Laden wants the plane to transport 
Stinger missiles, and apparently it is used in to 
transport some kind of missile from Pakistan that 
kill US Special Forces in Somalia in 1993. Essam 
al Ridi had just taken flying lessons himself (at 
the Ed Boardman Aviation School in Fort Worth) in 
an apparently early attempt by bin Laden to get 
more pilots. [Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 9/16/2001; 
Washington Post, 5/19/2002]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Essam al Ridi

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

An expert panel commissioned by the Pentagon 
postulates that an airplane could be used as a 
missile to bomb national landmarks. However, the 
panel does not publish this idea in its "Terror 
2000" Report. [Washington Post, 10/2/2001] One of 
the authors of the report later says, "We were 
told by the Department of Defense not to put it 
in ... and I said, 'It's unclassified, everything 
is available.' In addition, they said, 'We don't 
want it released, because you can't handle a 
crisis before it becomes a crisis. And no one is 
going to believe you.'" [ABC News, 2/20/2002] 
However, in 1994, one of the panel's experts will 
write in Futurist magazine, "Targets such as the 
World Trade Center not only provide the requisite 
casualties but, because of their symbolic nature, 
provide more bang for the buck. In order to 
maximize their odds for success, terrorist groups 
will likely consider mounting multiple, 
simultaneous operations with the aim of 
overtaxing a government's ability to respond, as 
well as demonstrating their professionalism and 
reach." [Washington Post, 10/2/2001]

Entity Tags: World Trade Center
January 20, 1993: Bill Clinton Inaugurated

December 14-31, 1999: FBI Thwarts Additional Millennium Attack Plots

Ahmed Ressam. [Source: Public domain]

In the wake of the arrest of Ahmed Ressam (see 
December 14, 1999), FBI investigators work 
frantically to uncover more millennium plots 
before they are likely to take place at the end 
of the year. Documents found with Ressam lead to 
co-conspirators in New York, then Boston and 
Seattle. Enough people are arrested to prevent 
any attacks. Counterterrorism "tsar" Richard 
Clarke later says, "I think a lot of the FBI 
leadership for the first time realized that ... 
there probably were al-Qaeda people in the United 
States. They realized that only after they looked 
at the results of the investigation of the 
millennium bombing plot." [PBS Frontline, 
10/3/2002] Yet Clinton's National Security 
Adviser Sandy Berger later claims that the FBI 
will still repeatedly assure the Clinton White 
House until Clinton leaves office that al-Qaeda 
lacks the ability to launch a domestic strike 
(see 2000).

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 
al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke, Sandy Berger, Ahmed 

2000: Attempted Flight Simulator Purchase Hints at Pilot Training

At some point during this year, an FBI internal 
memo states that a Middle Eastern nation has been 
trying to purchase a flight simulator in 
violation of US restrictions. The FBI refuses to 
disclose the date or details of this memo. [Los 
Angeles Times, 5/30/2002]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation
January-May 2000: CIA Has Atta Under Surveillance

Hijacker Mohamed Atta is put under surveillance 
by the CIA while living in Germany. [Agence 
France-Presse, 9/22/2001; Focus (Munchen), 
9/24/2001; Berliner Zeitung (Berlin), 9/24/2001] 
He is "reportedly observed buying large 
quantities of chemicals in Frankfurt, apparently 
for the production of explosives [and/or] for 
biological warfare." "The US agents reported to 
have trailed Atta are said to have failed to 
inform the German authorities about their 
investigation," even as the Germans are 
investigating many of his associates. "The 
disclosure that Atta was being trailed by police 
long before 11 September raises the question why 
the attacks could not have been prevented with 
the man's arrest." [Observer, 9/30/2001] A German 
newspaper adds that Atta is able to get a visa 
into the US on May 18. According to some reports, 
the surveillance stops when he leaves for the US 
at the start of June. However, "experts believe 
that the suspect [remains] under surveillance in 
the United States." [Berliner Zeitung (Berlin), 
9/24/2001] A German intelligence official also 
states, "We can no longer exclude the possibility 
that the Americans wanted to keep an eye on Atta 
after his entry in the US" [Focus (Munchen), 
9/24/2001] This correlates with a Newsweek claim 
that US officials knew Atta was a "known 
[associate] of Islamic terrorists well before 
[9/11]." [Newsweek, 9/20/2001] However, a 
congressional inquiry later reports that the US 
"intelligence community possessed no intelligence 
or law enforcement information linking 16 of the 
19 hijackers [including Atta] to terrorism or 
terrorist groups." [US Congress, 9/20/2002] In 
2005, after accounts of the Able Danger program 
learning Atta's name become news, newspaper 
account will neglect to mention this prior report 
about Atta being known by US intelligence. For 
instance, the New York Times will report, "The 
account [about Able Danger] is the first 
assertion that Mr. Atta, an Egyptian who became 
the lead hijacker in the plot, was identified by 
any American government agency as a potential 
threat before the Sept. 11 attacks"(see August 9, 
2005) . [New York Times, 8/9/2005]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Mohamed Atta
2000: Security Consultant Warns of Someone Flying Plane into WTC

During a review of security procedures, Charlie 
Schnabolk, a security consultant who wrote a 
secret report in 1985 about the security of the 
World Trade Center (see July 1985), is asked what 
are the greatest terrorist dangers to the WTC? He 
replies, "Someone blowing up the PATH tubes from 
New Jersey," and "someone flying a plane into the 
building." Further details, such as who is 
conducting the security review and who Schnabolk 
gives his warning to, are unreported. [UExpress 
(.com), 10/12/2001]

Entity Tags: Charles Schnabolk, World Trade Center

January 3, 2000: Al-Qaeda Attack on USS The 
Sullivans Fails; Remains Undiscovered

An al-Qaeda attack on USS The Sullivans in 
Yemen's Aden harbor fails when their boat filled 
with explosives sinks. The attack remains 
undiscovered, and a duplication of the attack by 
the same people will successfully hit the USS 
Cole in October 2000 (see October 12, 2000). [PBS 
Frontline, 10/3/2002]

Entity Tags: USS Cole, al-Qaeda, USS The Sullivans

March 2000: US Intelligence Learns bin Laden May 
Target Statue of Liberty, Skyscrapers, Other Sites

US intelligence obtains information about the 
types of targets that bin Laden's network might 
strike. The Statue of Liberty is specially 
mentioned, as are skyscrapers, ports, airports, 
and nuclear power plants. [US Congress, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda
March 2000: US Intelligence Learns al-Qaeda May Attack West Coast

The US intelligence community obtains information 
suggesting al-Qaeda is planning attacks in 
specific West Coast areas, possibly involving the 
assassination of several public officials. [US 
Congress, 7/24/2003] While these attacks do not 
materialize, this is the same month the CIA 
learns that two known al-Qaeda operatives have 
just flown to Los Angeles (see March 5, 2000).

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency

April 2000: Suspicious Flight School Student Leads to Arizona FBI Investigation

Zacaria Soubra. [Source: Public domain]

In early April 2000, Arizona FBI agent Ken 
Williams gets a tip that makes him suspicious 
that some flight students might be Islamic 
militants. Williams will begin an investigation 
based on this tip that will lead to his "Phoenix 
memo" warning about suspect Middle Easterners 
training in Arizona flight schools (see July 10, 
2001) [New York Times, 6/19/2002] It appears that 
Lebanese flight school student Zacaria Soubra has 
been seen at a shooting range with Abu Mujahid, a 
white American Muslim who had fought in the 
Balkans and the Middle East. [Los Angeles Times, 
10/28/2001; Arizona Monthly, 11/2004] Abu Mujahid 
appears to match Aukai Collins, a white American 
Muslim who had fought in the Balkans and the 
Middle East, who also goes by the name Abu 
Mujahid, and is an FBI informant spying on the 
Muslim community in the area at the time (see 
1998). Collins also claims to have been the 
informant referred to in the Phoenix memo, which 
again suggests that Collins was the one at the 
shooting range with Soubra. [Salon, 10/17/2002] 
On April 7, Williams appears at Soubra's 
apartment and interviews him. Soubra acts 
defiant, and tells Williams that he considers the 
US government and military legitimate targets of 
Islam. He has photographs of bin Laden on the 
walls. Williams runs a check on the license plate 
of Soubra's car and discovers the car is actually 
owned by a suspected militant with explosives and 
car bomb training in Afghanistan who had been 
held for attempting to enter an airplane cockpit 
the year before (see November 1999-August 2001). 
[Graham and Nussbaum, 2004, pp. 43-44] On April 
17, Williams starts a formal investigation into 
Soubra. [Arizona Republic, 7/24/2003] Williams 
will be reassigned to work on an arson case and 
will not be able to get back to work on the 
Soubra investigation until June 2001 (see April 
2000-June 2001). He will release the Phoenix memo 
one month later.After 9/11, some US officials 
will suspect Soubra had ties to terrorism. For 
instance, in 2003, an unnamed official will 
claim, "Soubra was involved in 
terrorist-supporting activities, facilitating 
shelter and employment for people ... involved 
with al-Qaeda." For a time, he and hijacker Hani 
Hanjour attend the same mosque, though there is 
no evidence they ever meet. Soubra's roommate at 
the time of Williams' interview is Ghassan 
al-Sharbi. In 2002, al-Sharbi will be arrested in 
Pakistan with al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida. While 
Williams will focus on Soubra, al-Sharbi will 
also be a target of his memo. [Los Angeles Times, 
1/24/2003] In 2004, Soubra will be deported to 
Lebanon after being held for two years. He will 
deny any connection to Hanjour or terrorism. 
[Arizona Republic, 5/2/2004]

Entity Tags: Abu Zubaida, Hani Hanjour, Zacaria 
Soubra, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken 

April 2000: Would-Be Hijacker Tells FBI About 
Plot to Fly Plane into US Building

Niaz Khan, a British citizen originally from 
Pakistan, is recruited into an al-Qaeda plot. In 
early 2000 he is flown to Lahore, Pakistan, and 
then trains in a compound there for a week with 
others on how to hijack passenger airplanes. He 
trains on a mock cockpit of a 767 aircraft (an 
airplane type used on 9/11). He is taught 
hijacking techniques, including how to smuggle 
guns and other weapons through airport security 
and how to get into a cockpit. In April 2000 he 
flies to the US and told to meet with a contact. 
He says, "They said I would live there for a 
while and meet some other people and we would 
hijack a plane from JFK and fly it into a 
building." [London Times, 5/9/2004] He has "no 
doubt" this is the 9/11 plot. However, Khan slips 
away and gambles away the money given to him by 
al-Qaeda. Afraid he would be killed for betraying 
al-Qaeda, he turns himself in to the FBI. For 
three weeks, FBI counterterrorism agents in 
Newark, New Jersey interview him. [MSNBC, 
6/3/2004; Observer, 6/6/2004] One FBI agent 
recalls, "We were incredulous. Flying a plane 
into a building sounded crazy but we polygraphed 
him and he passed." [London Times, 5/9/2004] A 
former FBI official says the FBI agents believed 
Khan and aggressively tried to follow every lead 
in the case, but word came from FBI headquarters 
saying, "Return him to London and forget about 
it." He is returned to Britain and handed over to 
British authorities. However, the British only 
interview him for about two hours, and then 
release him. He is surprised that authorities 
never ask for his help in identifying where he 
was trained in Pakistan, even after 9/11. [MSNBC, 
6/3/2004] His case will be mentioned in the 2002 
9/11 Congressional Inquiry report, but the plot 
apparently will be mistakenly described as an 
attempt to hijack a plane and fly it to 
Afghanistan. [US Congress, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Niaz Khan

May 2000: FBI Suspect al-Qaeda Is Infiltrating US 
After Training Manual Is Discovered

British authorities raid the Manchester home of 
Anas al-Liby. Remarkably, Liby was a top al-Qaeda 
leader who nonetheless had been given asylum in 
Britain (see Late 1996-May 2000); some speculate 
his treatment was connected to a joint 
al-Qaeda-British plot to assassinate Libyan 
leader Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in 1996 (see 
1996) . [Observer, 9/23/2001] The raid may have 
been conducted as part of an investigation into 
al-Liby's role in the 1998 embassy bombings. 
[Associated Press, 9/21/2001] During the raid of 
his home, investigators find "Military Studies in 
the Jihad Against the Tyrants," a 180-page 
al-Qaeda training manual. [Observer, 9/23/2001] 
The manual appears to have been written in the 
late 1980's by double agent Ali Mohamed. He wrote 
the manual, and many others, by cobbling together 
information from his personal experiences and 
stolen US training guides (see November 5, 1990). 
Others have since updated it as different 
versions spread widely. "The FBI does not know if 
any of the Sept. 11 hijackers used the manual... 
However, many of their tactics come straight from 
Mohamed's lessons, such as how to blend in as 
law-abiding citizens in a Western society." 
[Chicago Tribune, 12/11/2001] George Andrew, 
deputy head of anti-terrorism for the FBI's New 
York City office, later will claim that after 
studying the manual, the FBI suspect that 
al-Qaeda operatives are attempting to infiltrate 
US society. But the FBI think they are not yet 
ready to strike. [Associated Press, 9/21/2001] 
The document is quickly exposed in a public 
trial. [Observer, 9/23/2001]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Ali Mohamed, Federal 
Bureau of Investigation, Anas al-Liby, United 

June 2000: Multiple Web Domains Related to 2001 
and/or WTC Attack Are Registered

Around this time, a number of very suspicious web 
domains are registered, including the following:,,,, 
august11terror. com,,,,,,,,,,,, and 
wterroristattack2001. com. A counterterrorism 
expert says, "It's unbelievable that [the 
registration company] would register these domain 
names" and "if they did make a comment to the 
FBI, it's unbelievable that the FBI didn't react 
to it." Several of the names mention 2001 and, 
apparently, there were no other websites 
mentioning other years. Registering a site 
requires a credit card, so presumably, this story 
could provide leads, but it is unclear what leads 
the FBI gets from this, if any. No sites will be 
active on 9/11. [CNS News, 9/19/2001] All of the 
domain name registrations will expire around June 
2001. [CNS News, 9/20/2001] This story will later 
be incorrectly called an "urban legend," 
[Insight, 3/11/2002]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, World Trade Center

June 2000: GAO Warns of 'Large-Scale Incidents 
Designed for Maximum Destruction'

The General Accounting Office (GAO) issues a 
report examining problems affecting the 
performance of security screening staff at US 
airports. It warns: "The threat of attacks on 
aircraft by terrorists or others remains a 
persistent and growing concern for the United 
States. According to the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, the trend in terrorism against US 
targets is toward large-scale incidents designed 
for maximum destruction, terror, and media 
impact." Though the GAO describes the performance 
of screeners in detecting dangerous objects like 
handguns as "unsatisfactory," it makes no 
recommendations to revise current screening 
practices. [Boston Globe, 9/20/2001; General 
Accounting Office, 6/2000, pp. 6-8, 20 ]

Entity Tags: General Accounting Office

July 2000: Potential Informant Ignored by Australian and US Authorities

Jack Roche, an Australian Caucasian Muslim, tries 
to inform on al-Qaeda for Australia or the US, 
but is ignored. In April, Roche returned from a 
trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Malaysia, 
where he took an explosives training course and 
met with bin Laden, Mohammed Atef, Khalid Shaikh 
Mohammed, and other top al-Qaeda leaders. In 
Pakistan, Mohammed discussed attacking US jets in 
Australia and gave Roche money to start an 
al-Qaeda cell in Australia. Roche also met 
Hambali in Malaysia and was given more money 
there. Early this month, he tries to call the US 
embassy in Australia, but they ignore him. He 
then tries to contact The Australian intelligence 
agency several times, but they too ignore him. In 
September 2000, his housemate also tries to 
contact Australian intelligence about what he has 
learned from Roche but his call is ignored as 
well. Australian Prime Minister John Howard later 
acknowledges that authorities made a "very 
serious mistake" in ignoring Roche, though he 
also downplays the importance of Roche's 
information. Roche is later sentenced to nine 
years in prison for conspiring with al-Qaeda to 
blow up an Israeli embassy. [BBC, 6/1/2004; Los 
Angeles Times, 6/7/2004]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Nurjaman Riduan 
Isamuddin, Mohammed Atef, Jack Roche, Khalid 
Shaikh Mohammed, John Howard, al-Qaeda

August 12, 2000: Italian Intelligence Wiretap of 
al-Qaeda Cell Reveals Massive Aircraft-based 

Italian intelligence successfully wiretap the 
al-Qaeda cell in Milan, Italy from late 1999 
until the summer of 2001. [Boston Globe, 
8/4/2002] In a wiretapped conversation from this 
day, suspected Yemeni Abdulsalam Ali Abdulrahman 
tells wanted Egyptian Mahmoud 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 will help Italian police analyze the 
intercepts and warnings. Neither Italy nor the 
FBI will understand their meaning until after 
9/11, but apparently, the Italians will 
understand enough to give the US an attack 
warning in March 2001 (see March 2001). [Los 
Angeles Times, 5/29/2002; Guardian, 5/30/2002; 
Washington Post, 5/31/2002] The Milan cell "is 
believed to have created a cottage industry in 
supplying false passports and other bogus 
documents." [Boston Globe, 8/4/2002]

Entity Tags: Abdulsalam Ali Abdulrahman, Mahmoud 
Es Sayed, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 

September 2000: Al-Qaeda Agent Testifies of Pilot Training

An al-Qaeda operative turned informant 
L'Houssaine Kherchtou testifies in the US trial 
of the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa. He 
reveals that from 1992 to 1995 he trained in 
Nairobi, Kenya, to be a pilot for al-Qaeda. His 
training stopped when he left al-Qaeda in 1995. 
[Washington File, 2/22/2001]

Entity Tags: L'Houssaine Kherchtou, al-Qaeda

September 2000: Jordan Tells US of Connection 
Between Al-Marabh, Hijazi, and 9/11 Hijacker

Raed Hijazi, Nabil al-Marabh's former Boston 
roommate, is tried and convicted in Jordan for 
his role in planned millennium bombings in that 
country. (Hijazi is tried in absentia since he 
has yet to be arrested, but will later be retried 
in person and reconvicted.) In the wake of the 
trial, Jordanian officials send information to US 
investigators that shows Nabil al-Marabh and 
future 9/11 hijacker Hamza Alghamdi are 
associates of Hijazi. The Washington Post will 
report, "An FBI document circulated among law 
enforcement agencies [just after 9/11] noted that 
Hijazi, who is in a Jordanian jail, had shared a 
telephone number with [9/11] hijacker, Hamza 
Alghamdi." Apparently this document is created 
when Jordan sends the US this information in late 
2000. [Washington Post, 9/21/2001] It appears 
that Alghamdi is not put on any kind of watch 
list and will not be stopped when he will arrive 
in the US by January 2001 (see January 2001) nor 
again on May 23, 2001 (see April 23-June 29, 
2001). The 9/11 Commission Final Report will fail 
to mention any investigation into Alghamdi and 
will give no hint that his name was known to US 
authorities before 9/11.

Entity Tags: Hamza Alghamdi, Nabil al-Marabh, 
Raed Hijazi, Jordan, Ameer Bukhari

September 15-October 1, 2000: Sydney Olympics 
Officials' Top Concern: Airliner-Based al-Qaeda 

Olympics officials later reveal, "A fully loaded, 
fueled airliner crashing into the opening 
ceremony before a worldwide television audience 
at the Sydney Olympics is one of the greatest 
security fears for the Games." During the 
Olympics, Australia has six planes in the sky at 
all times ready to intercept any wayward 
aircraft. In fact, "IOC officials [say] the 
scenario of a plane crash during the opening 
ceremony was uppermost in their security planning 
at every Olympics since terrorists struck in 
Munich in 1972." bin Laden is considered the 
number-one threat. [Sydney Morning Herald, 
9/20/2001] These security measures are similar to 
those used in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and other 
events, including Clinton's second inauguration. 
Similar planning is already underway before 9/11 
for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah. [Wall 
Street Journal, 4/1/2004]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

October 12, 2000: USS Cole Bombed by al-Qaeda Militants; Investigation Thwarted

The USS Cole is bombed in the Aden, Yemen, harbor 
by al-Qaeda militants. Seventeen US soldiers are 
killed. [ABC News, 10/13/2000]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, USS Cole

December 14, 2000: Government Report Warns 
Terrorist Attack 'Inside Our Borders Is 

James Gilmore. [Source: Publicity photo]

A federal panel chaired by former Virginia 
Governor James Gilmore (R) warns President-elect 
Bush that the US in vulnerable to terrorist 
attack and urges him to bolster US preparedness 
within one year. Gilmore states, "The United 
States has no coherent, functional national 
strategy for combating terrorism. The terrorist 
threat is real, and it is serious." The panel 
urges the US counterterrorism effort should be 
consolidated into one new agency. It further 
argues the US has no clear counterterrorism 
program and argues for dozens of special changes 
at all levels of government. Gilmore says, "We 
are impelled by the stark realization that a 
terrorist attack on some level inside our borders 
is inevitable and the United States must be 
ready." The panel also calls for improvement in 
human intelligence instead of a reliance on 
technology. [Washington Post, 12/15/2000] The 
9/11 Commission will later make many of the same 
recommendations. However, the Commission will 
barely mention the Gilmore panel in their report, 
except to note that Congress appointed the panel 
and failed to follow through on implementing the 
recommendations. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 
107, 479]

Entity Tags: James Gilmore, George W. Bush

January 20-September 10, 2001: Bush Briefed on al-Qaeda over 40 Times

National Security Adviser Rice later testifies to 
the 9/11 Commission that in the first eight 
months of Bush's presidency before 9/11, "the 
president receive[s] at these [Presidential Daily 
Briefings] more than 40 briefing items on 
al-Qaeda, and 13 of those [are] in response to 
questions he or his top advisers posed." 
[Washington Post, 4/8/2004] The content of the 
warnings in these briefings are unknown. However, 
CIA Director George Tenet claims that none of the 
warnings specifically indicates terrorists plan 
to fly hijacked commercial aircraft into 
buildings in the US. [New York Times, 4/4/2004] 
Counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke will later 
emphasize, "Tenet on 40 occasions in ... morning 
meetings mentioned al-Qaeda to the president. 
Forty times, many of them in a very alarmed way, 
about a pending attack." [Vanity Fair, 11/2004]

Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, al-Qaeda, Condoleezza Rice

January 24, 2001: Italians Hear of Brothers Going 
to US for Very, Very Secret Plan, Other Clues

On this day, Italian intelligence hears an 
interesting wiretapped conversation eerily 
similar to the one from August 12, 2000 (see 
August 12, 2000). This one occurs between 
al-Qaeda operatives Mahmoud Es Sayed and Ben 
Soltane Adel, two members 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 will be only one of many clues found 
from the Italian wiretaps and passed on to US 
intelligence in March 2001 (see March 2001). 
However, they apparently will not be properly 
understood until after 9/11. Adel is later 
arrested and convicted of belonging to a 
terrorist cell, and Es Sayed will flee to 
Afghanistan in July 2001. [Guardian, 5/30/2002]

Entity Tags: Mahmoud Es Sayed, Ben Soltane Adel, al-Qaeda

January 31, 2001: Bipartisan Commission Issues 
Final Report on Terrorism, but Conclusions Are 

The final report of the US Commission on National 
Security/21st Century, co-chaired by former 
Senators Gary Hart (D) and Warren Rudman (R) is 
issued. The bipartisan report was put together in 
1998 by then-President Bill Clinton and 
then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Hart and Rudman 
personally brief National Security Adviser Rice, 
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and Secretary of 
State Powell on their findings. The report has 50 
recommendations on how to combat terrorism in the 
US, but all of them are ignored by the Bush 
administration. According to Senator Hart, 
Congress begins to take the commission's 
suggestions seriously in March and April, and 
legislation is introduced to implement some of 
the recommendations. Then, "Frankly, the White 
House shut it down... The president said 'Please 
wait, We're going to turn this over to the vice 
president' ... and so Congress moved on to other 
things, like tax cuts and the issue of the day." 
The White House announces in May that it will 
have Vice President Cheney study the potential 
problem of domestic terrorism despite the fact 
that this commission had just studied the issue 
for 2 1/2 years. Interestingly, both this 
commission and the Bush administration were 
already assuming a new cabinet level National 
Homeland Security Agency would be enacted 
eventually, even as the public remained unaware 
of the term and the concept. [Salon, 9/12/2001; 
Salon, 4/2/2004] Hart is incredulous that neither 
he nor any of the other members of this 
commission are ever asked to testify before the 
9/11 Commission. [Salon, 4/6/2004] The 9/11 
Commission will later make many of the same 
recommendations. However, the Commission will 
barely mention the Hart/Rudman Commision in their 
final report, except to note that Congress 
appointed it and failed to follow through on 
implementing the recommendations. [9/11 
Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 107, 479]

Entity Tags: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Condoleezza 
Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, 9/11 Commission, Gary 
Hart, US Congress, Newt Gingrich, Colin Powell, 
Commission on National Security/21st Century, 
Bush administration, Warren Rudman

February-July 2001: Trial Presents FBI with 
Information About Pilot Training Scheme

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

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Federal Bureau of Investigation

February 7, 2001: DIA Director Predicts Major 
Terrorist Attack on US Interests in Next Two Years

Navy Vice Adm. Thomas Wilson, the director of the 
Defense Intelligence Agency, testifies before 
Congress. He analyzes the current state of the 
world and lists some of the threats he sees 
facing the US. He says a terrorist attack is the 
most likely threat. He predicts that within the 
next two years there will be a "major terrorist 
attack against United States interests, either 
here or abroad, perhaps with a weapon designed to 
produce mass casualties." He predicts 
higher-casualty attacks as terrorists gain 
"access to more destructive conventional weapons 
technologies and [weapons of mass destruction]." 
[American Forces Press Service, 2/22/2001; 
American Forces Press Service, 2/22/2001]

Entity Tags: US Congress, Thomas Wilson
February 7, 2001: Tenet Warns Congress About bin Laden

CIA Director Tenet warns Congress in open 
testimony that the "threat from terrorism is 
real, it is immediate, and it is evolving." He 
says bin Laden and his global network remains 
"the most immediate and serious threat" to US 
interests. "Since 1998 bin Laden has declared 
that all US citizens are legitimate targets," he 
says, adding that bin Laden "is capable of 
planning multiple attacks with little or no 
warning." [Associated Press, 2/7/2001; Sunday 
Herald (Glasgow), 9/23/2001]

Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, US Congress
March 2001: Bin Laden Targets Passenger Planes at Chicago Airport

9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey will mention in a 
public hearing, "In March 2001, another CSG 
[Counterterrorism Security Group] item on the 
agenda mentions the possibility of alleged bin 
Laden interests in 'targeting US passenger planes 
at the Chicago airport,' end of quote." [9/11 
Commission, 3/24/2004] No newspaper has ever 
mentioned this warning, which presumably remained 
classified aside from this one accidental mention 
by Kerrey.

Entity Tags: Bob Kerrey, Osama bin Laden
March 2001: Italians Advise US About al-Qaeda Wiretaps

The Italian government gives the US information 
about possible attacks based on apartment 
wiretaps in the Italian city of Milan. [Fox News, 
5/17/2002] 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 August 12, 2000). 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 January 24, 2001). 
Two months later, wiretaps of the same Milan cell 
will also reveal a plot to attack a summit of 
world leaders.

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda
March 2001: Al-Qaeda to Attack Inside the US in April

An intelligence source claims that a group of 
al-Qaeda operatives is planning to conduct an 
unspecified attack inside the US in April. One of 
the operatives allegedly resides in the US. There 
are also reports of planned attacks in California 
and New York State for the same month, though 
whether this is reference to the same plot is 
unclear. [US Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda

Spring-Summer 2001: Bin Laden Tells Mother He 
Cannot Call Her Again Due to Upcoming 'Great 

Der Spiegel will later report that in a "very 
brief conversation Osama [tells] his mother that 
he [will] not be able to call again for a long 
time, a remark that seem[s] cryptic to the agents 
listening in at the time, especially when Osama 
add[s] that 'great events are about to take 
place.'" The NSA had been tracking Osama bin 
Laden's satellite phone number since 1996, and 
also tracking the number of his mother, Hamida 
al-Attas, living in Saudi Arabia, on the off 
chance he would call her and tell her something 
important. Bin Laden apparently had called her 
more than anyone else, but this is his last call 
to her. Around this time, President Bush is so 
convinced that the best way to catch bin Laden is 
through his mother that he is reputed to tell the 
Emir of Qatar, "We know that he'll call his 
mother one day - and then we'll get him." Hamida 
has remained loyal to her son in the wake of 
9/11, saying in 2003, "I disapprove of the 
ambitions the press ascribe to him, but I am 
satisfied with Osama, and I pray to God that He 
will guide him along the right path." [Der 
Spiegel (Hamburg), 6/6/2005; CNN, 3/12/2002] Note 
that this warning is similar to, but apparently 
different from, another warning phone call bin 
Laden makes in early September 2001. That call is 
to Al-Khalifa bin Laden, his stepmother and not 
his mother, who lives in Syria and not Saudi 
Arabia (see September 9, 2001).

Entity Tags: National Security Agency, George W. 
Bush, Hamida al-Attas, Osama bin Laden

Spring 2001: US Customs Investigate Two Hijackers Before 9/11

In the wake of the foiled al-Qaeda plot to blow 
up hotels in Jordan during the millennium 
celebrations, Jordan gives tips to the US that 
launch a Customs investigation into one of the 
plotters, Raed Hijazi, and his US connections. 
"Customs agents for months traced money flowing 
from several Boston banks to banks overseas, 
where officials believe the funds were intended 
for bin Laden's network." In September and 
October 2000, Jordanian officials gave US 
investigators evidence of financial transactions 
connecting Raed Hijazi, Nabil al-Marabh, and 
future 9/11 hijacker Hamza Alghamdi (see 
September 2000; October 2000). By spring 2001, 
Custom agents further connect al-Marabh and 
Hijazi to financial deals with future 9/11 
hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi and Satam Al Suqami. The 
Washington Post will later note, "These various 
connections not only suggest that investigators 
are probing ties between bin Laden and the 
hijackers, but also that federal authorities knew 
about some of those associations long before the 
bombings." [Washington Post, 9/21/2001] It 
appears that the money flowed from al-Marabh to 
Alghamdi and Al Suqami. [Cox News Service, 
10/16/2001; ABC News, 1/31/2002] While accounts 
of these connections to Alghamdi and Al Suqami 
will be widely reported in the media in the 
months after 9/11, a Customs Service spokesman 
will say he can neither confirm nor deny the 
existence of the inquiry. [New York Times, 
9/18/2001] It appears that the two hijackers are 
not put on any kind of watch list and are not 
stopped when they arrive in the US on April 23, 
2001, and May 2, 2001, respectively (see April 
23-June 29, 2001). British newspapers will note 
that Alghamdi was one of several hijackers who 
should have been "instantly 'red-flagged' by 
British intelligence" but in fact is not when he 
passes through Britain sometime in early 2001 
(see January-June 2001). The 9/11 Commission 
Final Report will fail to mention the Customs 
investigation and will give no hint that these 
hijackers' names were known in the US before 9/11.

Entity Tags: US Customs Service, Jordan, Ahmed 
Alghamdi, Nabil al-Marabh, Satam Al Suqami, Raed 
Hijazi, 9/11 Commission

March 4, 2001: Television Show Eerily Envisions 9/11 Attacks

Contradicting the later claim that no one could 
have envisioned the 9/11 attacks, a short-lived 
Fox television program called The Lone Gunmen 
airs a pilot episode in which militants try to 
fly an airplane into the WTC. The heroes save the 
day and the airplane narrowly misses the 
building. There are no hijackers on board the 
aircraft; they use remote control technology to 
steer the plane. Ratings are good for the show, 
yet the eerie coincidence is barely mentioned 
after 9/11. One media columnist will say, "This 
seems to be collective amnesia of the highest 
order." [TV Guide, 6/21/2002] In the show, the 
heroes also determine: "The terrorist group 
responsible was actually a faction of our own 
government. These malefactors were seeking to 
stimulate arms manufacturing in the lean years 
following the end of the Cold War by bringing 
down a plane in New York City and fomenting fears 
of terrorism." [Jack Myers Report, 6/20/2002]

Entity Tags: World Trade Center

April 2001: Speculation That Commercial Pilots Could Be Al-Qaeda Operatives

A source with al-Qaeda connections speculates to 
US intelligence that "bin Laden would be 
interested in commercial pilots as potential 
terrorists." The source warns that the US should 
not focus only on embassy bombings, because 
al-Qaeda is seeking "spectacular and traumatic" 
attacks along the lines of the WTC bombing in 
1993. Because the source is offering personal 
speculation and not hard information, the 
information is not disseminated widely. [US 
Congress, 9/18/2002; New York Times, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, World Trade Center

April 2001: FBI Translators Point to Explicit Warning from Afghanistan

FBI translators Sibel Edmonds and Behrooz Sarshar 
will later claim to know of an important warning 
given to the FBI at this time. In their accounts, 
a reliable informant on the FBI's payroll for at 
least ten years tells two FBI agents that sources 
in Afghanistan have heard of an al-Qaeda plot to 
attack the US and Europe in a suicide mission 
involving airplanes. Al-Qaeda agents, already in 
place inside the US, are being trained as pilots. 
By some accounts, the names of prominent US 
cities are mentioned. It is unclear if this 
warning reaches FBI headquarters or beyond. The 
two translators will later privately testify to 
the 9/11 Commission. [WorldNetDaily, 4/6/2004; 
Village Voice, 4/14/2004; Salon, 3/26/2004] 
Sarshar's notes of the interview indicate that 
the informant claimed his information came from 
Iran, Afghanistan, and Hamburg, Germany (the 
location of the primary 9/11 al-Qaeda cell). 
However, anonymous FBI officials will claim the 
warning was very vague and doubtful. [Chicago 
Tribune, 7/21/2004] In reference to this warning 
and apparently others, Edmonds will say, 
"President Bush said they had no specific 
information about September 11, and that's 
accurate. However, there was specific information 
about use of airplanes, that an attack was on the 
way two or three months beforehand, and that 
several people were already in the country by May 
of 2001. They should've alerted the people to the 
threat we were facing." [Salon, 3/26/2004] She 
will add, "There was general information about 
the time-frame, about methods to be used but not 
specifically about how they would be used and 
about people being in place and who was ordering 
these sorts of terror attacks. There were other 
cities that were mentioned. Major cities with 
skyscrapers." [Independent, 4/2/2004]

Entity Tags: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, George 
W. Bush, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Behrooz 
Sarshar, Sibel Edmonds, al-Qaeda

April-May 2001: Bush, Cheney Receive Numerous al-Qaeda Warnings

President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick 
Cheney, and national security aides are given 
briefing papers headlined, "Bin Laden Planning 
Multiple Operations," "Bin Laden Public Profile 
May Presage Attack," and "Bin Laden Network's 
Plans Advancing." The exact contents of these 
briefings remain classified, but apparently, none 
specifically mentions a domestic US attack. [New 
York Times, 4/18/2004]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Richard ("Dick") Cheney

April 1, 2001-September 10, 2001: Nearly Half of 
FAA's Daily Intelligence Summaries Mention bin 
Laden or Al-Qaeda; No Action is Taken

In 2005 (see February 10, 2005), it will be 
revealed that of the FAA's 105 daily intelligence 
summaries between these dates, 52 mention bin 
Laden, al-Qaeda, or both. Most of the mentions 
are "in regard to overseas threats." None of the 
warnings specifically predict something similar 
to the 9/11 attacks, but five of them mention 
al-Qaeda's training for hijackings and two 
reports concern suicide operations unconnected to 
aviation. [Associated Press, 2/11/2005] One of 
the warnings mentions air defense measures being 
taken in Genoa, Italy, for the July 2001 G-8 
summit to protect from a possible air attack by 
terrorists (see July 20-22, 2001). However, the 
New Jersey Star-Ledger is virtually the only 
newspaper in the US to report this fact. [New 
Jersey Star-Ledger, 2/11/2005] Despite all these 
warnings, the FAA fails to take any extra 
security measures. They do not expand the use of 
in-flight air marshals or tighten airport 
screening for weapons. A proposed rule to improve 
passenger screening and other security measures 
ordered by Congress in 1996 has held up and is 
still not in effect by 9/11. The 9/11 
Commission's report on these FAA warnings 
released in 2005 (see February 10, 2005) will 
conclude that FAA officials were more concerned 
with reducing airline congestion, lessening 
delays, and easing air carriers' financial 
problems than preventing a hijacking. [Associated 
Press, 2/11/2005] The FAA also makes no effort to 
expand its list of terror suspects, which 
includes only a dozen names by 9/11 (see April 
24, 2000). The former head of the FAA's civil 
aviation security branch later says he wasn't 
even aware of TIPOFF, the government's main watch 
list, which included the names of two 9/11 
hijackers before 9/11. Nor is there any evidence 
that a senior FAA working group responsible for 
security ever meets in 2001 to discuss "the high 
threat period that summer." [New York Times, 

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, 9/11 Commission, US 
Congress, al-Qaeda, Federal Aviation 

April 24, 2001: US Military Planned for Attacks 
Against Americans in 1960s To Use as 
Justification for Attacking Cuba

The first lines of the declassified Northwoods 
document. [Source: Public domain]

James Bamford's book, Body of Secrets, reveals a 
secret US government plan named Operation 
Northwoods. All details of the plan come from 
declassified military documents. [Associated 
Press, 4/24/2001; Baltimore Sun, 4/24/2001; ABC 
News, 5/1/2001; Washington Post, 4/26/2001] The 
heads of the US military, all five Joint Chiefs 
of Staff, proposed in a 1962 memo to stage 
attacks against Americans and blame Cuba to 
create a pretext for invasion. Says one document, 
"We could develop a Communist Cuban terror 
campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida 
cities and even in Washington. ... We could blow 
up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba. 
Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a 
helpful wave of indignation." In March 1962, 
Lyman L. Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs 
of Staff, presented the Operation Northwoods plan 
to President John Kennedy and Defense Secretary 
Robert McNamara. The plan was rejected. Lemnitzer 
then sought to destroy all evidence of the plan. 
[Baltimore Sun, 4/24/2001; ABC News, 5/1/2001] 
Lemnitzer was replaced a few months later, but 
the Joint Chiefs continued to plan "pretext" 
operations at least through 1963. [ABC News, 
5/1/2001] One suggestion in the plan was to 
create a remote-controlled drone duplicate of a 
real civilian aircraft. The real aircraft would 
be loaded with "selected passengers, all boarded 
under carefully prepared aliases," and then take 
off with the drone duplicate simultaneously 
taking off near by. The aircraft with passengers 
would secretly land at a US military base while 
the drone continues along the other plane's 
flight path. The drone would then be destroyed 
over Cuba in a way that places the blame on Cuban 
fighter aircraft. [Harper's, 7/1/2001] Bamford 
says, "Here we are, 40 years afterward, and it's 
only now coming out. You just wonder what is 
going to be exposed 40 years from now." [Insight, 
7/30/2001] Some 9/11 skeptics will claim that the 
9/11 attacks could have been orchestrated by 
elements of the US government, and see Northwoods 
as an example of how top US officials could hatch 
such a plot. [Oakland Tribune, 3/27/2004]

Entity Tags: John F. Kennedy, Robert McNamara, 
James Bamford, Lyman L. Lemnitzer

May 2001: Report Warns of al-Qaeda Infiltration from Canada

US intelligence obtains information that al-Qaeda 
is planning to infiltrate the US from Canada and 
carry out an operation using high explosives. The 
report does not say exactly where, when, or how 
an attack might occur. Two months later, the 
information is shared with the FBI, the INS, the 
US Customs Service, and the State Department, and 
it will be shared with President Bush in August. 
[US Congress, 9/18/2002; Washington Post, 

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, George W. Bush, Central 
Intelligence Agency, Immigration and 
Naturalization Service, US Department of State, 
US Customs Service

May 2001: Bin Laden Associates Head West, Prepare for Martyrdom

The Defense Department gains and shares 
information indicating that seven people 
associated with bin Laden have departed from 
various locations for Canada, Britain, and the 
US. The next month, the CIA learns that key 
operatives in al-Qaeda are disappearing while 
others are preparing for martyrdom. [US Congress, 
9/18/2002; Washington Post, 9/19/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden
May 2001: Iranian Tells of Plot to Attack WTC

An Iranian in custody in New York City tells 
local police of a plot to attack the World Trade 
Center. No more details are known. [Fox News, 

Entity Tags: World Trade Center
May-July 2001: NSA Picks Up Word of 'Imminent Terrorist Attacks'

Over a two-month period, the NSA reports that "at 
least 33 communications indicating a possible, 
imminent terrorist attack." None of these reports 
provide any specific information on where, when, 
or how an attack might occur. These reports are 
widely disseminated to other intelligence 
agencies. [US Congress, 9/18/2002; MSNBC, 
9/18/2002] National Security Adviser Rice later 
will read what she calls "chatter that was picked 
up in [2001s] spring and summer. 'Unbelievable 
news coming in weeks,' said one. 'A big event ... 
there will be a very, very, very, very big 
uproar.' 'There will be attacks in the near 
future.'" [Washington Post, 4/8/2004] The NSA 
director later claims that all of the warnings 
were red herrings. [US Congress, 10/17/2002]

Entity Tags: Condoleezza Rice, National Security Agency
May-July 2001: 9/11 Attacks Originally Planned for Early Date

In 2001, bin Laden apparently pressures Khalid 
Shaikh Mohammed for an attack date earlier than 
9/11. According to information obtained from the 
9/11 Commission (apparently based on a prison 
interrogation of Mohammed), bin Laden first 
requests an attack date of May 12, 2001, the 
seven-month anniversary of the USS Cole bombing. 
Then, when bin Laden learns from the media that 
Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would be 
visiting the White House in June or July 2001, he 
attempts once more to accelerate the operation to 
coincide with his visit. [9/11 Commission, 
6/16/2004] The surge of warnings around this time 
could be related to these original preparations.

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, USS Cole, Ariel Sharon

May 2001: Clinton Impeachment Lawyer Learns About 
al-Qaeda Manhattan Attack Warning

David Schippers, the House Judiciary Committee's 
chief investigator in the Clinton impeachment 
trial, was hired to represent FBI agent Robert 
Wright in September 1999 (see August 3, 1999). 
After 9/11, Schippers will claim that he began 
privately informing congresspeople about Wright's 
investigation into terrorism financing in the US 
in early 2001, but found little interest (see 
February-March 2001). Schippers appears to have 
had different sources than Wright who began 
telling him about attack warnings. Supposedly, 
the first warning was based on a secret February 
1995 report which stated that bin Laden was 
planning three attacks on the US: the bombing of 
a federal building in the heartland of the US, 
shooting down or blowing up an airplane, and a 
massive attack in lower Manhattan. Schippers 
believes the first warning was a prediction of 
the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing (see April 
19, 1995) and the second was a prediction of the 
1996 explosion of TWA Flight 800 (see July 17, 
1996-September 1996). In some versions of this 
warning, the Manhattan attack was meant to be 
caused by a "dirty bomb" - explosives mixed with 
radioactive materials - but other accounts 
described the use of planes as weapons instead. 
He says one of his sources for this early warning 
was Yossef Bodansky, director of the 
Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and 
Unconventional Warfare. Schippers will claim that 
his sources continued to uncover further 
information. The Manhattan warning "had started 
out just a general threat, but they narrowed it 
and narrowed it, more and more with time," until 
the "same people who came out with the first 
warning" tell him in May 2001 that "an attack on 
lower Manhattan is imminent." Schippers speaks to 
several FBI agents directly, and hears that 
"there are [other agents] all over the country 
who are frustrated and just waiting to come out." 
They are frustrated by "a bureaucratic elite in 
Washington short-stopping information," which 
gives "terrorism a free reign in the United 
States." Schippers later claims that some FBI 
agents later told him that before 9/11, "they had 
[Mohamed] Atta in their sights." They also had 
attempted to "check out" the names and activities 
of "very strange characters training at flight 
schools." He will claim that "FBI agents in 
Chicago and Minnesota" tell him "there [is] going 
to be an attack on lower Manhattan." Schippers 
will later claim that he will attempt to contact 
Attorney General John Ashcroft and other 
politicians about this warning in coming months, 
but that they will show little interest (see 
July-Late August 2001). [Indianapolis Star, 
5/18/2002; WorldNetDaily, 10/21/2001; Ahmed, 
2004, pp. 258-260]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Yoseff Bodansky, David 
Schippers, Osama bin Laden, John Ashcroft, Robert 
Wright, Federal Bureau of Investigation, William 
Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton

May 7-July 24, 2001: Risk Management Specialist 
Warns Sen. John Kerry of Possible 'Coordinated 

Brian Sullivan, a retired Federal Aviation 
Administration risk management specialist, writes 
a letter to Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), 
concerned about an alarming lack of security at 
Boston's Logan Airport. Flights 11 and 175 take 
off from Logan on 9/11. [Associated Press, 
9/14/2001; Village Voice, 9/15/2004] The previous 
night a local TV station aired a report of an 
undercover investigation, which found that, nine 
times out of ten, a crew was able to get knives 
and other weapons through Logan's security 
checkpoints, including the ones later used by the 
9/11 hijackers. Sullivan writes, "With the 
concept of jihad, do you think it would be 
difficult for a determined terrorist to get on a 
plane and destroy himself and all other 
passengers? Think what the result would be of a 
coordinated attack which took down several 
domestic flights on the same day. With our 
current screening, this is more than possible. It 
is almost likely." Following his letter, Sullivan 
has a videotape of the TV investigation 
hand-delivered to Kerry's office. [Insight on the 
News, 6/17/2002; New York Post, 3/15/2004] After 
9/11, Kerry will say that his response was to 
pass the letter and videotape to the General 
Accounting Office, and consequently they began an 
undercover investigation into the matter. 
[Associated Press, 9/14/2001; Boston Globe, 
9/15/2001] Sullivan will confirm Kerry having 
responded to his letter, and having asked the 
Department of Transportation's Office of 
Inspector General (DOT OIG) to look into the 
matter. He comments, "I think Sen. Kerry did get 
it to the right people and they were about to 
take action." [MSNBC, 9/16/2001] However, in the 
run-up to the 2004 presidential election where 
Kerry is the Democratic candidate, Sullivan will 
accuse him of having done "the Pontius Pilate 
thing and passed the buck." An article in Rupert 
Murdoch's New York Post will claim that Kerry's 
only response to Sullivan was a brief letter 
towards the end of July 2001, and says Sullivan's 
letter to him had made clear that the DOT OIG was 
ineffective in responding to complaints about 
security problems. [New York Post, 3/15/2004]

Entity Tags: John Kerry, Brian Sullivan, Logan Airport
May 29, 2001: US Citizens Overseas Cautioned

The State Department issues an overseas caution 
connected to the conviction of defendants in the 
bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and 
Tanzania. That warning says, "Americans citizens 
abroad may be the target of a terrorist threat 
from extremist groups" with links to bin Laden. 
The warning will be reissued on June 22. [CNN, 

Entity Tags: US Department of State, Osama bin Laden

May 30, 2001: FBI Is Warned of Major al-Qaeda 
Operation in the US Involving Hijackings, 
Explosives, and/or New York City

Ahmed Ressam's Canadian passport. [Source: FBI]

Ahmed Ressam is convicted in the spring of 2001 
for attempting to bomb the Los Angeles 
International Airport (see December 14, 1999). 
Facing the likelihood of life in prison, he 
starts cooperating with authorities in an attempt 
to reduce his sentence. On this day, he details 
his experiences in al-Qaeda training camps and 
his many dealings with top al-Qaeda deputy Abu 
Zubaida. According to FBI notes from Ressam's 
interrogation, Zubaida asked Ressam to send him 
original Canadian passports to help Zubaida "get 
people to America." Zubaida "wanted an operation 
in the US" and talked about the need to get 
explosives into the US for this operation, but 
Ressam makes it clear this was a separate plot 
from the one he was involved with. Notes from 
this day further explain that Ressam doesn't know 
if any explosives made it into the US because 
once an operation was initiated, operators were 
not supposed to talk about it to anyone. There's 
no concrete evidence that Ressam knows any detail 
of the 9/11 attacks. [Newsweek, 4/28/2005] 
However, Fox News will later report that roughly 
around this time Ressam testifies "that attack 
plans, including hijackings and attacks on New 
York City targets, [are] ongoing." [Fox News, 
5/17/2002] Ressam will repeat some of this in a 
public trial a month later (see July 8, 2001). 
Questioned shortly after 9/11, Ressam will point 
out that given what he's already told his US 
interrogators, the 9/11 attacks should not be 
surprising. He notes that he'd described how 
Zubaida talked "generally of big operations in 
[the] US with big impact, needing great 
preparation, great perseverance, and willingness 
to die." Ressam had told of "plans to get people 
hired at airports, of blowing up airports, and 
airplanes." Apparently, the FBI waits until July 
to share the information from this debriefing 
with other intelligence agencies, the INS, 
Customs Service, and the State Department. 
Ressam's warnings will first be mentioned to Bush 
in his now famous August 6, 2001 briefing (see 
August 6, 2001), but as Newsweek will note, "The 
information from Ressam that was contained in 
[Bush's] PDB [is] watered down and seem[s] far 
more bland than what the Algerian terrorist was 
actually telling the FBI." Zubaida's second plot 
will be boiled down to one sentence: "Ressam also 
said that in 1998 Abu Zubaida was planning his 
own US attack." [Newsweek, 4/28/2005]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, Abu Zubaida, Los Angeles 
International Airport, Ahmed Ressam

May 30, 2001: Yemenis Are Caught Taking Suspicious New York Photos

Two Yemeni men are detained after guards see them 
taking photos at 26 Federal Plaza in New York 
City. They are questioned by INS agents and let 
go. A few days later, their confiscated film is 
developed, showing photos of security 
checkpoints, police posts, and surveillance 
cameras of federal buildings, including the FBI's 
counterterrorism office. The two men are later 
interviewed by the FBI and determined not to be a 
threat. However, they had taken the pictures on 
behalf of a third person said to be living in 
Indiana. By the time the FBI looks for him, he 
has fled the country and his documentation is 
found to be based on a false alias. In 2004, the 
identity of the third man reportedly still will 
be unknown. The famous briefing given to 
President George W. Bush on August 6, 2001 (see 
August 6, 2001), will mention the incident, 
warning that the FBI is investigating "suspicious 
activity in this country consistent with the 
preparations for hijackings or other types of 
attacks, including recent surveillance of federal 
buildings in New York." When Bush's August 6 
briefing will be released in 2004, a White House 
fact sheet will fail to mention the still missing 
third man. [New York Post, 7/1/2001; New York 
Post, 9/16/2001; Washington Post, 5/16/2004] In 
2004, it will be reported that Issa al-Hindi 
(alias Issa al-Britani), an alleged al-Qaeda 
operative in British custody, was sent to the US 
in early 2001 by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to case 
potential targets in New York City. He headed a 
three-man team that surveyed the New York Stock 
Exchange and other buildings. While there are 
obvious similarities between the two Yemeni man 
with an unknown boss and al-Hindi with two 
helpers, it is not known if the two cases are 
related. [New York Times, 8/7/2004]

Entity Tags: Issa al-Hindi, Immigration and 
Naturalization Service, Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, George W. Bush

May 31, 2001: Tightly Organized System of al-Qaeda Cells Found in US

The Wall Street Journal summarizes tens of 
thousands of pages of evidence disclosed in a 
recently concluded trial of al-Qaeda operatives. 
They are called "a riveting view onto the shadowy 
world of al-Qaeda." The documents reveal numerous 
connections between al-Qaeda and specific front 
companies and charities. They even detail a 
"tightly organized system of cells in an array of 
American cities, including Brooklyn, N.Y.; 
Orlando, Fla.; Dallas, Tex.; Santa Clara, Calif.; 
Columbia, Mo., and Herndon, Va." The 9/11 
hijackers had ties to many of these same cities 
and charities. [Wall Street Journal, 5/31/2001]

June 2001: Germans Warn of Plan to Use Aircraft 
as Missiles on US and Israeli Symbols

German intelligence warns the CIA, Britain's 
intelligence agency, and Israel's Mossad that 
Middle Eastern militants are planning to hijack 
commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack 
"American and Israeli symbols, which stand out." 
A later article quotes unnamed German 
intelligence sources who state the information 
was coming from Echelon surveillance technology, 
and that British intelligence had access to the 
same warnings. However, there were other 
informational sources, including specific 
information and hints given to, but not reported 
by, Western and Near Eastern news media six 
months before 9/11. [Frankfurter Allgemeine 
Zeitung (Frankfurt), 9/11/2001; Washington Post, 
9/14/2001; Fox News, 5/17/2002]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, UK 
Secret Intelligence Service, Israel Institute for 
Intelligence and Special Tasks, Echelon

June 2001: US Intelligence Warns of Spectacular Attacks by al-Qaeda Associates

US intelligence issues a terrorist threat 
advisory, warning US government agencies that 
there is a high probability of an imminent attack 
against US interests: "Sunni extremists 
associated with al-Qaeda are most likely to 
attempt spectacular attacks resulting in numerous 
casualties." The advisory mentions the Arabian 
Peninsula, Israel, and Italy as possible targets 
for an attack. Afterwards, intelligence 
information provided to senior US leaders 
continues to indicate that al-Qaeda expects 
near-term attacks to have dramatic consequences 
on governments or cause major casualties. [US 
Congress, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda
June 2001: CIA Fears Al-Qaeda Will Strike on Fourth of July.

The CIA provides senior US policy makers with a 
classified warning of a potential attack against 
US interests that is thought to be tied to Fourth 
of July celebrations in the US. [Sunday Herald 
(Glasgow), 9/23/2001]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency

June-July 2001: Terrorist Threat Reports Surge, 
Frustration with White House Grows

Terrorist threat reports, already high in the 
preceding months, surge even higher. President 
Bush, Vice President Cheney, and national 
security aides are given briefing papers with 
headlines such as "Bin Laden Threats Are Real" 
and "Bin Laden Planning High Profile Attacks." 
The exact contents of these briefings remain 
classified, but according to the 9/11 Commission 
they consistently predict upcoming attacks that 
will occur "on a catastrophic level, indicating 
that they would cause the world to be in turmoil, 
consisting of possible multiple-but not 
necessarily simultaneous-attacks." CIA Director 
Tenet later will recall that by late July the 
warnings coming in could not get any worse. He 
feels that President Bush and other officials 
grasp the urgency of what they are being told. 
[9/11 Commission, 4/13/2004] But Deputy CIA 
Director John McLaughlin later states that he 
feels a great tension, peaking these months, 
between the Bush administration's apparent 
misunderstanding of terrorism issues and his 
sense of great urgency. McLaughlin and others are 
frustrated when inexperienced Bush officials 
question the validity of certain intelligence 
findings. Two unnamed, veteran Counter Terrorism 
Center officers deeply involved in bin Laden 
issues are so worried about an impending disaster 
that they consider resigning and going public 
with their concerns. [9/11 Commission, 3/24/2004] 
Dale Watson, head of the FBI's Counterterrorism 
Division, wishes he had "500 analysts looking at 
Osama bin Laden threat information instead of 
two." [9/11 Commission, 4/13/2004]

Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, John E. McLaughlin, 
Dale Watson, Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush, 
Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Bush administration

Summer 2001: Threat Alerts Increase to Record High

Congressman Porter Goss (R), Chairman of the 
House Intelligence Committee, later says on the 
intelligence monitoring of US-designated 
terrorist groups, "The chatter level [goes] way 
off the charts" around this time and stays high 
until 9/11. Given Goss's history as a CIA 
operative, presumably he is kept "in the know" to 
some extent. [Los Angeles Times, 5/18/2002] A 
later Congressional report will state: "Some 
individuals within the intelligence community 
have suggested that the increase in threat 
reporting was unprecedented, at least in terms of 
their own experience." [US Congress, 9/18/2002] 
Two counterterrorism officials later describe the 
alerts of this summer as "the most urgent in 
decades." [US Congress, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: Porter J. Goss
Summer 2001: Israel Warns US of 'Big Attack'

The Associated Press will report in May 2002, 
"Israeli intelligence services were aware several 
months before Sept. 11 that bin Laden was 
planning a large-scale terror attack but did not 
know what his targets would be, Israeli officials 
have said. An Israeli official, speaking on 
condition of anonymity, tells the Associated 
Press shortly after the attacks that 'everybody 
knew about a heightened alert and knew that bin 
Laden was preparing a big attack.' He said 
information was passed on to Washington but 
denied Israel had any concrete intelligence that 
could have been used to prevent the Sept. 11 
attacks." [Associated Press, 5/19/2002] The claim 
that Israel lacks concrete intelligence is 
contradicted by other media reports (see August 
8-15, 2001) (see August 23, 2001) (see September 
4, 2001).

Entity Tags: Israel, Osama bin Laden, Israel 
Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks

Summer 2001: Al-Qaeda Plot Described as Upcoming 'Hiroshima' on US Soil

After 9/11, Secretary of State Colin Powell will 
claim that the Bush administration received a 
"lot of signs" throughout the summer of 2001 that 
terrorists were plotting US attacks. These 
include al-Qaeda mentions of an impending 
'Hiroshima' on US soil. [USA Today, 10/15/2001]

Entity Tags: Colin Powell, al-Qaeda
Summer 2001: Tenet Believes Something Is Happening

CIA Director George Tenet. [Source: CIA]

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage later 
will claim that at this time, CIA Director "Tenet 
[is] around town literally pounding on desks 
saying, something is happening, this is an 
unprecedented level of threat information. He 
didn't know where it was going to happen, but he 
knew that it was coming." [US Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Richard Armitage

Summer 2001: Bin Laden Speech Mentions 20 Martyrs 
in Upcoming Attack; Other Hints of Attack Spread 

Word begins to spread within al-Qaeda that an 
attack against the US is imminent, according to 
later prison interrogations of Khalid Shaikh 
Mohammed. Many within al-Qaeda are aware that 
Mohammed has been preparing operatives to go to 
the US. Additionally, bin Laden makes several 
remarks hinting at an upcoming attack, spawning 
rumors throughout Muslim extremist circles 
worldwide. For instance, in a recorded speech at 
the al Faruq training camp in Afghanistan, bin 
Laden specifically urges trainees to pray for the 
success of an upcoming attack involving 20 
martyrs. [9/11 Commission, 6/16/2004] There are 
other indications that knowledge of the attacks 
spreads in Afghanistan. The Daily Telegraph later 
reports that "the idea of an attack on a 
skyscraper [is] discussed among [bin Laden's] 
supporters in Kabul." At some unspecified point 
before 9/11, a neighbor in Kabul sees diagrams 
showing a skyscraper attack in a house known as a 
"nerve center" for al-Qaeda activity. [Daily 
Telegraph, 11/16/2001] US soldiers will later 
find forged visas, altered passports, listings of 
Florida flight schools and registration papers 
for a flight simulator in al-Qaeda houses in 
Afghanistan. [New York Times, 12/6/2001] A bin 
Laden bodyguard later will claim that in May 2001 
he hears bin Laden tell people in Afghanistan 
that the US would be hit with an attack, and 
thousands would die. [Guardian, 11/28/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Osama bin Laden
June 4, 2001: Congressional Committee Warned of Large Attacks Soon

A deputy head of the CIA's Counterterrorist 
Center warns a closed session of the House 
Intelligence Committee, "We're on the verge of 
more attacks that are larger and more deadly." 
Apparently this is based on the spike in 
"chatter" picked up by NSA and CIA monitors and 
the realization that a number of well-known 
al-Qaeda operatives have gone underground. 
[Vanity Fair, 11/2004]

Entity Tags: House Intelligence Committee, Counterterrorist Center

June 4, 2001: Illegal Afghans Overheard 
Discussing New York City Hijacking Attack

At some point in 2000, three men claiming to be 
Afghans but using Pakistani passports entered the 
Cayman Islands, possibly illegally. [Miami 
Herald, 9/20/2001] In late 2000, Cayman and 
British investigators began a yearlong probe of 
these men, which will last until 9/11. [Los 
Angeles Times, 9/20/2001] They are overheard 
discussing hijacking attacks in New York City 
during this period. On this day, they are taken 
into custody, questioned, and released some time 
later. This information is forwarded to US 
intelligence. [Fox News, 5/17/2002] In late 
August, a letter to a Cayman radio station will 
allege these same men are agents of bin Laden 
"organizing a major terrorist act against the US 
via an airline or airlines." [Miami Herald, 
9/20/2001; Los Angeles Times, 9/20/2001]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

June 9, 2001-July 10, 2001: Wright Says FBI Unit 
Is Making 'Virtually No Effort' to Neutralize 
Known Terrorists Inside the US

FBI agent Robert Wright gives the FBI a mission 
statement he wrote that outlines his complaints 
against his agency. It reads, in part, "Knowing 
what I know, I can confidently say that until the 
investigative responsibilities for terrorism are 
removed from the FBI, I will not feel safe. The 
FBI has proven for the past decade it cannot 
identify and prevent acts of terrorism against 
the United States and its citizens at home and 
abroad. Even worse, there is virtually no effort 
on the part of the FBI's International Terrorism 
Unit to neutralize known and suspected terrorists 
residing within the United States. Unfortunately, 
more terrorist attacks against American 
interests, coupled with the loss of American 
lives, will have to occur before those in power 
give this matter the urgent attention it 
deserves." Wright asks the FBI for permission to 
make his complaints public. Larry Klayman, 
chairman of the public-interest group Judicial 
Watch, claims that regulations require the FBI to 
give or deny clearance within 30 days, which 
would have made FBI failures an issue before 
9/11. But the FBI delays making a decision and 
will only allow Wright to publicly reveal his 
mission statement in May 2002. [Cybercast News 
Service, 5/30/2002; Federal News Service, 
5/30/2002] One month later, Wright and his lawyer 
David Schippers have a meeting with a reporter 
from the CBS news program 60 Minutes to express 
the concerns in his statement. He claims that he 
says it is only a matter of time before there 
will be an attack on US soil. However, he is 
prohibited by his superior from speaking to 60 
Minutes or any other media outlet. [Federal News 
Service, 6/2/2003] Schippers will later claim 
that this month he also attempts to contact a 
number of important politicians with his concerns 
based on information from Wright and other FBI 
agents that he knows, but he was rebuffed (see 
July-Late August 2001).

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 
David Schippers, Larry Klayman, Robert Wright, 
International Terrorism Unit

June 12, 2001: CIA Learns Khalid Shaikh Mohammed 
Is Sending Operatives to US to Meet Up With 
Operatives Already Living There

A CIA report says that a man named "Khaled" is 
actively recruiting people to travel to various 
countries, including the US, to stage attacks. 
CIA headquarters presume from the details of this 
report that Khaled is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. On 
July 11, the individual source for this report is 
shown a series of photographs and identifies 
Mohammed as the person he called "Khaled." [9/11 
Commission, 7/24/2004; USA Today, 12/12/2002] 
This report also reveals that

  al-Qaeda operatives heading to the US would be 
"expected to establish contact with colleagues 
already living there."

  Mohammed himself had traveled to the US 
frequently, and as recently as May 2001.

  He is a relative of bomber Ramzi Yousef.
  He appears to be one of bin Laden's most trusted leaders.

  He routinely tells others that he can arrange 
their entry into the US as well.However, the CIA 
doesn't find this report credible because they 
think it is unlikely that he would come to the 
US. Nevertheless, they consider it worth 
pursuing. One agent replies, "If it is KSM, we 
have both a significant threat and an opportunity 
to pick him up." The CIA disseminates the report 
to all other US intelligence agencies, military 
commanders, and parts of the Treasury and Justice 
Departments. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will 
later request that the CIA inform them how CIA 
agents and other agencies reacted to this 
information, but the CIA does not respond to 
this. [US Congress, 7/24/2003] On July 23, 2001, 
the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will 
give Mohammed a US visa (he uses an alias but his 
actual photo appears on his application) (see 
July 23, 2001). Also, during this summer and as 
late as September 10, 2001, the NSA will 
intercept phone calls between Mohammed and 
Mohamed Atta, but the NSA will not share this 
information with any other agencies (see Summer 

Entity Tags: US Consulate, Jedda, Saudi Arabia 
Office, US Department of the Treasury, Ramzi 
Yousef, Osama bin Laden, US Department of 
Justice, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Central 
Intelligence Agency

June 13, 2001: Bin Laden Wants to Assassinate 
Bush with an Explosives-Filled Airplane

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak later claims 
that Egyptian intelligence discovers a 
"communiqué from bin Laden saying he wanted to 
assassinate President Bush and other G8 heads of 
state during their summit in Genoa, Italy" on 
this day. The communiqué specifically mentions 
this would be done via "an airplane stuffed with 
explosives." The US and Italy are sent urgent 
warnings of this. [New York Times, 9/26/2001] 
Mubarak will claim that Egyptian intelligence 
officials informed American intelligence officers 
between March and May 2001 that an Egyptian agent 
had penetrated al-Qaeda. Presumably, this 
explains how Egypt is able to give the US these 
warnings. [New York Times, 6/4/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, George W. Bush, Hosni Mubarak, Osama bin Laden

June 19, 2001: Bin Laden Calls for 'Blood and 
Destruction' and Tells Followers to 'Penetrate 
America and Israel'

An al-Qaeda recruitment video created months 
earlier is made public. The video had been 
circling amongst radical militants, but appears 
on the news worldwide after a Kuwaiti newspaper 
gets a copy. The video celebrates the bombing of 
the USS Cole. Bin Laden appears on the video, and 
while he does not take credit for the bombing, 
others in the video do. Bin Laden says that 
Muslims have to leave countries that are ruled by 
"allies of Jews and Christians," and join his 
cause to be "prepared" for holy war. In an 
address to Palestinians, he calls for "blood, 
blood and destruction, destruction." He says, "We 
give you the good news that the forces of Islam 
are coming..." He also issues a call to arms: 
"Your brothers in Palestine are waiting for you; 
it's time to penetrate America and Israel and hit 
them where it hurts the most." He also tells his 
supporters to "slay the United States and 
Israel." A similar video appeared shortly before 
the bombing of the USS Cole. [Associated Press, 
6/20/2001; Associated Press, 6/20/2001; 
Washington Post, 9/11/2001; Newsweek, 7/22/2001] 
Intrest in the videotape will grow in the Muslim 
world in the months before the 9/11 attacks (see 
September 9, 2001).

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

June 20, 2001: Time Magazine Mentions al-Qaeda 
Planning to Use Planes as Weapons

Time magazine reports: "For sheer diabolical 
genius (of the Hollywood variety), nothing came 
close to the reports that European security 
services are preparing to counter a bin Laden 
attempt to assassinate President Bush at next 
month's G8 summit in Genoa, Italy. According to 
German intelligence sources, the plot involved 
bin Laden paying German neo-Nazis to fly 
remote-controlled model aircraft packed with 
Semtex into the conference hall and blow the 
leaders of the industrialized world to 
smithereens. (Paging Jerry Bruckheimer)." The 
report only appears on the website, and not in 
the US version of the magazine. [Time, 6/20/2001] 
This report follows warnings given by Egypt the 
week before. In addition, there are more warnings 
before the summit in July. James Hatfield, author 
of an unflattering book on Bush called Fortunate 
Son, repeats the claim in print a few days later, 
writing: "German intelligence services have 
stated that bin Laden is covertly financing 
neo-Nazi skinhead groups throughout Europe to 
launch another terrorist attack at a high-profile 
American target." [Online Journal, 7/3/2001] Two 
weeks later, Hatfield apparently commits suicide. 
However, there is widespread speculation that his 
death was payback for his revelation of Bush's 
cocaine use in the 1970s. [Salon, 7/20/2001]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, James Hatfield

June 21, 2001: Senior al-Qaeda Officials Say Important Surprises Coming Soon

A reporter for the Middle East Broadcasting 
Company interviews bin Laden. Keeping a promise 
made to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, bin Laden 
does not say anything substantive, but Ayman 
al-Zawahiri and other top al-Qaeda leaders 
promise that "[the] coming weeks will hold 
important surprises that will target American and 
Israeli interests in the world." [Associated 
Press, 6/24/2001; Associated Press, 6/25/2001] 
The reporter says, "There is a major state of 
mobilization among the Osama bin Laden forces. It 
seems that there is a race of who will strike 
first. Will it be the United States or Osama bin 
Laden?" [Reuters, 6/23/2001] After 9/11, the 
reporter will conclude, "I am 100 percent sure of 
this, and it was absolutely clear they had 
brought me there to hear this message." [Bamford, 
2004, pp. 236] The reporter is also shown a 
several-months-old videotape with bin Laden 
declares, "It's time to penetrate America and 
Israel and hit them where it hurts most." The 
video is soon made public (see June 21, 2001). 
[CNN, 6/21/2001] Author James Bamford theorizes 
that the original 9/11 plot involved a 
simultaneous attack on Israel and that shoe 
bomber Richard Reid may have originally wanted to 
target an Israeli aircraft around this time. For 
instance, Reid flies to Tel Aviv, Israel on July 
12, 2001, to test if airline security would check 
his shoes for bombs. [Bamford, 2004, pp. 236-39]

Entity Tags: James Bamford, Osama bin Laden, 
Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mullah Omar, al-Qaeda

June 25, 2001: Clarke Tells Rice That Pattern of 
Warnings Indicates an Upcoming Attack

Counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke warns 
National Security Adviser Rice and Assistant 
National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley that six 
separate intelligence reports show al-Qaeda 
personnel warning of a pending attack. These 
include a warning by al-Qaeda leaders that the 
next weeks "will witness important surprises" 
(see June 21, 2001) and a new recruitment video 
making further threats (see June 19, 2001). The 
9/11 Commission will say that "Clarke [argues] 
that this [is] all too sophisticated to be merely 
a psychological operation to keep the United 
States on edge..." It is unclear how Rice and 
Hadley respond, but the CIA agrees with Clarke's 
assessment. [Newsweek, 7/22/2001; 9/11 
Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 257]

Entity Tags: 9/11 Commission, Central 
Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke, 
Condoleezza Rice, Stephen J. Hadley

June 28, 2001: Tenet Warns of Imminent al-Qaeda Attack

CIA Director Tenet writes an intelligence summary 
for National Security Adviser Rice: "It is highly 
likely that a significant al-Qaeda attack is in 
the near future, within several weeks." A highly 
classified analysis at this time adds, "Most of 
the al-Qaeda network is anticipating an attack. 
Al-Qaeda's overt publicity has also raised 
expectations among its rank and file, and its 
donors." [Washington Post, 5/17/2002] Apparently, 
the same analysis also adds, "Based on a review 
of all source reporting over the last five 
months, we believe that [bin Laden] will launch a 
significant terrorist attack against US and/or 
Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack 
will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass 
casualties against US facilities or interests. 
Attack preparations have been made. Attack will 
occur with little or no warning." [US Congress, 
7/24/2003] This warning is shared with "senior 
Bush administration officials" in early July. [US 
Congress, 9/18/2002] Apparently, these warnings 
are largely based on a warning given by al-Qaeda 
leaders to a reporter a few days earlier (see 
June 21, 2001). Counterterrorism "tsar" Richard 
Clarke also later asserts that Tenet tells him 
around this time, "It's my sixth sense, but I 
feel it coming. This is going to be the big one." 
[Clarke, 2004, pp. 235]

Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, al-Qaeda, Bush 
administration, Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza 

June 29, 2001: Surveillance Indicates Al-Qaeda 
Will Attack Genoa Summit With More Than One Plane

The Italian Secret Service SISDE records a 
meeting in the Finsbury Park mosque, in northern 
London, Britain. Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri (an 
Afghanistan war veteran heading a radical Islamic 
group), Mustapha Melki (linked to al-Qaeda member 
Abu Doha), and a man only known as Omar talk to 
each other. Notes of the meeting state, "Abu 
Hamza proposed an ambitious but unlikely plot 
which involved attacks carried by planes." This 
is apparently a reference to an attack on the 
upcoming G8 summit in Genoa scheduled in several 
weeks. But unlike other reports of an al-Qaeda 
attack on that summit, this refers to an attack 
using more than one plane. The notes of the 
meeting conclude, "The belief that Osama bin 
Laden is plotting an attack is spreading among 
the radical Islamic groups." [Discovery News, 

Entity Tags: Mustapha Melki, al-Qaeda, Secret 
Service, Italian Secret Service, Osama bin Laden, 
Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri

Late Summer 2001: Jordan Warns US That Aircraft 
Will Be Used in Major Attack Inside the US

Jordanian intelligence (the GID) makes a 
communications intercept deemed so important that 
King Abdullah's men relay it to Washington, 
probably through the CIA station in Amman. To 
make doubly sure the message gets through it is 
passed through an Arab intermediary to a German 
intelligence agent. The message states that a 
major attack, code named "The Big Wedding," is 
planned inside the US and that aircraft will be 
used. "When it became clear that the information 
was embarrassing to Bush administration officials 
and congressmen who at first denied that there 
had been any such warnings before September 11, 
senior Jordanian officials backed away from their 
earlier confirmations." The Christian Science 
Monitor will call the story "confidently 
authenticated" even though Jordan has backed away 
from it. [International Herald Tribune, 
5/21/2002; Christian Science Monitor, 5/23/2002]

Entity Tags: Jordan General Intelligence 
Department, Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein, Bush 
administration, Central Intelligence Agency

Late Summer 2001: US Intelligence Learns al-Qaeda 
Is Considering Mounting Operations in the US

US intelligence learns that an al-Qaeda operative 
is considering mounting operations in the US. 
There is no information on the timing or specific 
targets. [US Congress, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda

June 30-July 1, 2001: New York Times Reporter 
Told Al-Qaeda Is 'Planning Something So Big the 
US Will Have to Respond,' but Fails to Publish 

New York Times reporter Judith Miller learns her 
government counterterrorism sources are worried 
that al-Qaeda is going to attack a US target on 
the Fourth of July holiday. There has been an 
increase in chatter about an impending attack. In 
2005, Miller will recall, "Everyone in Washington 
was very spun-up in the counterterrorism world at 
that time. I think everybody knew that an attack 
was coming-everyone who followed this. ... I got 
the sense that part of the reason that I was 
being told of what was going on was that the 
people in counterterrorism were trying to get the 
word to the president or the senior officials 
through the press, because they were not able to 
get listened to themselves." She has a 
conversation with a still-anonymous top-level 
White House source who reveals there is some 
concern about a top-secret NSA intercept between 
two al-Qaeda operatives. She explains, "They had 
been talking to one another, supposedly 
expressing disappointment that the United States 
had not chosen to retaliate more seriously 
against what had happened to the [USS] Cole. And 
one al-Qaeda operative was overheard saying to 
the other, 'Don't worry; we're planning something 
so big now that the US will have to respond.' And 
I was obviously floored by that information. I 
thought it was a very good story: (1) the source 
was impeccable; (2) the information was specific, 
tying al-Qaeda operatives to, at least, knowledge 
of the attack on the Cole; and (3) they were 
warning that something big was coming, to which 
the United States would have to respond. This 
struck me as a major page one-potential story." 
Miller tells her editor Stephen Engelberg about 
the story the next day. But Engelberg says, "You 
have a great first and second paragraph. What's 
your third?" Miller finds a second source to 
confirm the same details, but can't find out any 
more (though later she will learn from her first 
source that the conversation occurred in Yemen). 
Miller later regrets not following through more 
because she "had a book coming out" as well as 
other stories and that there wasn't a "sense of 
immediacy" about the information. In 2005, 
Engelberg will confirm Miller's story and agree 
that he wanted more specifics before running the 
story. Engelberg also later wonders "maybe I made 
the wrong call," asking, "More than once I've 
wondered what would have happened if we'd run the 
piece?" The New York Times has yet to mention the 
warning in all of their post-9/11 reporting and 
the 9/11 Commission has never mentioned anything 
about the warning either. In 2005, Miller will 
spend 85 days in jail for refusing to reveal a 
source and then leave the New York Times after 
widespread criticism about her reporting. 
[AlterNet, 5/18/2006; Editor & Publisher, 
5/18/2006; Columbia Journalism Review, 9/2005]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Stephen Engelberg, Judith Miller
July 2001: CIA Learns Impending Attack Widely Known in Afghanistan

The CIA hears an individual who had recently been 
in Afghanistan say, "Everyone is talking about an 
impending attack." [US Congress, 9/18/2002; 
Washington Post, 9/19/2002] This corresponds with 
evidence that bin Laden and others were telling 
many in Afghanistan about the attacks at this 
time (see Summer 2001).

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency
July 2001: India Warns US of Possible Terror Attacks

India gives the US general intelligence on 
possible terror attacks; details are not known. 
US government officials later will confirm that 
Indian intelligence had information "that two 
Islamist radicals with ties to Osama bin Laden 
were discussing an attack on the White House," 
but apparently, this particular information is 
not included in the July general warning and is 
not be given to the US until two days after 9/11. 
[Fox News, 5/17/2002]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden
July 1, 2001: Senators Warn of Al-Qaeda Attack Within Three Months

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D) and Richard Shelby 
(R), both members of the 9/11 Congressional 
Inquiry, appear on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf 
Blitzer," and warn of potential attacks by bin 
Laden. Feinstein says, "One of the things that 
has begun to concern me very much as to whether 
we really have our house in order, intelligence 
staff have told me that there is a major 
probability of a terrorist incident within the 
next three months." [CNN, 3/2002]

Entity Tags: Richard Shelby, Dianne Feinstein, Osama bin Laden

July-August 2001: Translator Alleges FBI Agent Is 
Deliberately Deceived Regarding Skyscraper Warning

FBI translator Sibel Edmonds later will make some 
allegations of serious FBI misconduct, but the 
specifics of these allegations will be generally 
publicly unknown due to a gag order placed on 
her. However, in comments made in 2004 and 2005, 
she will allege that in July or August 2001, 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 insufficient and will ask 
the FBI Washington Field Office to retranslate 
it. The significant information mentioned above 
will finally be revealed, but FBI translation 
unit supervisor Mike Feghali will decide not to 
send this information back to the field agent. 
Instead, Feghali will send a note stating that 
the translation was reviewed and the original 
translation was accurate. The field agent will 
never receive the accurate translation. This is 
all according to Edmonds' letter. She will claim 
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 will not yet report 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, 8/1/2004; Antiwar, 8/22/2005]

Entity Tags: Sibel Edmonds, Mike Feghali, FBI 
Washington Field Office, Federal Bureau of 

July-Late August 2001: Clinton Impeachment Lawyer 
Tries to Warn about al-Qaeda Attack on Lower 

David Schippers. [Source: Publicity photo]

David Schippers, the House Judiciary Committee's 
chief investigator in the Clinton impeachment 
trial and the lawyer for FBI agent Robert Wright 
since September 1999, will later claim that he 
was warned about an upcoming al-Qaeda attack on 
lower Manhattan in May 2001 (see May 2001). After 
May, Schippers continues to get increasingly 
precise information about this attack from FBI 
agents in Chicago and Minnesota, and around July 
he renews efforts to pass the warning to 
politicians. He will claim, "I tried to see if I 
could get a Congressman to go to bat for me and 
at least bring these people [to Washington] and 
listen to them. I sent them information and 
nobody cared. It was always, 'We'll get back to 
you,' 'We'll get back to you,' 'We'll get back to 
you.'" At the same time he is attempting to pass 
on this warning, he will claim he is also 
attempting to pass on the work of reporter Jayna 
Davis and her theory that Middle Easterners were 
involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing (see 
April 19, 1995), and also Wright's claim that 
Hamas operatives were operating freely inside the 
US (see February-March 2001). The three claims 
put together seem to lead to a bad response; 
Schippers later comments, "People thought I was 
crazy." Around July 15, he attempts to contact 
Attorney General John Ashcroft. Conservative 
activist "Phyllis Schlafly finally apparently 
made some calls. She called me one day and said, 
'I've talked to John Ashcroft, and he'll call you 
tomorrow.'" The next day, one of Ashcroft's 
underlings in the Justice Department calls him 
back and says, "We don't start our investigations 
with the Attorney General. Let me look into this, 
and I'll have somebody get back to you right 
away." Schippers will say he never did hear back 
from anyone in the Justice Department. Perhaps 
coincidentally, on July 26 it will be reported 
that Ashcroft has stopped flying commercial 
aircraft due to an unnamed threat (see July 26, 
2001). In late August, his FBI agent sources 
again confirm that an al-Qaeda attack on lower 
Manhattan is imminent. [WorldNetDaily, 
10/21/2001; Indianapolis Star, 5/18/2002; Ahmed, 
2004, pp. 258-260] In 2003, Wright will say, "In 
2000 and in 2001, [Schippers] contacted several 
US congressmen well before the September 11th 
attacks. Unfortunately, these congressmen failed 
to follow through with Mr. Schippers' request 
that they investigate my concerns." It is not 
clear if Wright was one of the Chicago FBI agents 
that Schippers claims gave warnings about a 
Manhattan attack, or if Wright is only referring 
to Wright's investigation into funding for Hamas 
and other groups that Schippers was also warning 
politicians about (see February-March 2001). 
[Federal News Service, 6/2/2003]

Entity Tags: Jayna Davis, David Schippers, John 
Ashcroft, Hamas, William Jefferson ("Bill") 
Clinton, al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, US Department of Justice, Phyllis 
Schlafly, Robert Wright

July 5, 2001: Genoa Planes as Weapons Threat 
Helps Inspire Bush to Ask For Famous August 2001 

In 2002, Newsweek will report, "The White House 
acknowledged for the first time, [President] Bush 
was privately beginning to worry about the stream 
of terror warnings he was hearing that summer, 
most of them aimed at US targets abroad. On July 
5, five days before the Phoenix memo (see July 
10, 2001), Bush directed [Condoleezza] Rice to 
figure out what was going on domestically." 
[Newsweek, 5/27/2002] In 2004, President Bush 
will explain why he requested this. "[T]he reason 
I did is because there had been a lot of threat 
intelligence from overseas. And part of it had to 
do with the Genoa [Italy] G8 conference that I 
was going to attend." [US President, 4/19/2004] 
Though he doesn't mention it, the chief security 
concern at the late July 2001 conference he 
mentions is intelligence that al-Qaeda plans to 
fly an airplane into the conference. This threat 
is so widely reported before the conference (with 
some reports before July 5 (see June 13, 2001) 
(see Mid-July 2001)) that the attack is called 
off (see July 20-22, 2001). For instance, in late 
June, Time magazine mentioned a German 
intelligence report of a bin Laden plot "to fly 
remote-controlled model aircraft packed with 
Semtex into the conference hall and blow the 
leaders of the industrialized world to 
smithereens." (see June 20, 2001) Bush's request 
will result in the later-famous August 6, 2001 
briefing entitled, "bin Laden Determined to 
Strike in US." (see August 6, 2001) [US 
President, 4/19/2004]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice

July 6, 2001: Clarke Tells Rice to Prepare for 3 
to 5 Simultaneous Attacks; No Apparent Response

Counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke sends 
National Security Advisor Rice an e-mail message 
"outlining a number of steps agreed on" at the 
Counterterrorism and Security Group meeting the 
day before, "including efforts to examine the 
threat of weapons of mass destruction and 
possible attacks in Latin America. One senior 
administration official [says] Mr. Clarke 
[writes] that several agencies, including the 
FBI, the CIA, and the Pentagon, [have] been 
directed to develop what the official [says are] 
'detailed response plans in the event of three to 
five simultaneous attacks.'" However, no response 
or follow-up action has been pointed out. [New 
York Times, 4/4/2004]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 
Counterterrorism and Security Group, Condoleezza 
Rice, Central Intelligence Agency, US Department 
of Defense, Richard A. Clarke

July 8, 2001: Prominent Prisoner Publicly Warns 
of al-Qaeda Intent to Export Violence to US Soil

About a month after al-Qaeda prisoner Ahmed 
Ressam told US interrogators new details of 
al-Qaeda plans to attack the US (see May 30, 
2001), he conveys similar information during a 
public trial. As the Los Angeles Times reports at 
the time, "Testifying in the New York trial of an 
accused accomplice, Ressam said his [al-Qaeda] 
colleagues are intent on exporting violence to US 
soil. 'If one is to carry out an operation, it 
would be better to hit the biggest enemy. I mean 
America,' he told a federal jury. Ressam also 
identified a number of other Algerian terrorists 
who had been part of his original attack team [to 
bomb the Los Angeles airport in 2000], most of 
whom remain at large." [Los Angeles Times, 

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Ahmed Ressam

July 10, 2001: FBI Agent Sends Memo Warning That 
Inordinate Number of Muslim Extremists Are 
Learning to Fly in Arizona

FBI agent Ken Williams. [Source: FBI]

Phoenix, Arizona, FBI agent Ken Williams sends a 
memorandum warning about suspicious activities 
involving a group of Middle Eastern men taking 
flight training lessons in Arizona. The memo is 
titled: "Zakaria Mustapha Soubra; IT-OTHER 
(Islamic Army of the Caucasus)," because it 
focuses on Zakaria Soubra, a Lebanese flight 
student in Prescott, Arizona, and his connection 
with a terror group in Chechnya that has ties to 
al-Qaeda. It is subtitled: "Osama bin Laden and 
Al-Muhjiroun supporters attending civil aviation 
universities/colleges in Arizona." [Fortune, 
5/22/2002; Arizona Republic, 7/24/2003] Williams' 
memo is based on an investigation of Sorba that 
Williams had begun in 2000 (see April 2000), but 
he had trouble pursuing because of the low 
priority the Arizona FBI office gave terror 
investigations (see April 2000-June 2001). 
Additionally, Williams had been alerted to 
suspicions about radical militants and aircraft 
at least three other times (see October 1996; 
1998; November 1999-August 2001). In the memo, 
Williams does the following:

  Names nine other suspect students from Pakistan, 
India, Kenya, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, 
and Saudi Arabia. [Die Zeit (Hamburg), 10/1/2002] 
Hijacker Hani Hanjour, attending flight school in 
Arizona in early 2001 and probably continuing 
into the summer of 2001 (see Summer 2001), is not 
one of the students, but, as explained below, it 
seems two of the students know him. [US Congress, 
7/24/2003; Washington Post, 7/25/2003]

  Notes that he interviewed some of these 
students, and heard some of them make hostile 
comments about the US. Additionally, he noticed 
that they were suspiciously well informed about 
security measures at US airports. [Die Zeit 
(Hamburg), 10/1/2002]

  Notes an increasing, "inordinate number of 
individuals of investigative interest" taking 
flight lessons in Arizona. [Die Zeit (Hamburg), 
10/1/2002; US Congress, 7/24/2003]

  Suspects that some of the ten people he has 
investigated are connected to al-Qaeda. [US 
Congress, 7/24/2003] One person on the list, 
Ghassan al Sharbi, will be arrested in Pakistan 
in March 2002 with al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida 
(see March 28, 2002). Al Sharbi attended a flight 
school in Prescott, Arizona. He also apparently 
attended the training camps in Afghanistan and 
swore loyalty to bin Laden in the summer of 2001. 
He apparently knows Hani Hanjour in Arizona (see 
October 1996-Late April 1999). He also is the 
roommate of Soubra, the main target of the memo. 
[9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 521; Los Angeles 
Times, 1/24/2003]

  Discovers that one of them was communicating 
through an intermediary with Abu Zubaida. This 
apparently is a reference to Hamed al Sulami, who 
had been telephoning a Saudi cleric known to be 
Zubaida's spiritual advisor. Al Sulami is an 
acquaintance of Hanjour in Arizona (see October 
1996-Late April 1999). [Mercury News (San Jose), 
5/23/2002; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 
520-521, 529]

  Discusses connections between several of the 
students and a radical group called 
Al-Muhajiroun. [Mercury News (San Jose), 
5/23/2002] This group supported bin Laden, and 
issued a fatwa, or call to arms, that included 
airports on a list of acceptable terror targets. 
[Associated Press, 5/22/2002] Soubra, the main 
focus of the memo, is a member of Al-Muhajiroun 
and an outspoken radical. He met with the leader 
of Al-Muhajiroun in Britain and started an 
Arizona chapter of the organization. After 9/11, 
some US officials will suspect that Soubra has 
ties to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. He 
will be held two years, then deported to Lebanon 
in 2004. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/2001; Los 
Angeles Times, 1/24/2003; Arizona Republic, 
5/2/2004; Arizona Monthly, 11/2004] Though 
Williams doesn't include it in his memo, in the 
summer of 1998 the leader of Al-Muhajiroun 
publicized a fax sent by bin Laden to him that 
listed al-Qaeda's four objectives in fighting the 
US. The first objective was "bring down their 
airliners." (see Summer 1998). [Los Angeles 
Times, 10/28/2001]

  Warns of a possible "effort by Osama bin Laden 
to send students to the US to attend civil 
aviation universities and colleges" [Fortune, 
5/22/2002] , so they can later hijack aircraft. 
[Die Zeit (Hamburg), 10/1/2002]

  Recommends that the "FBI should accumulate a 
listing of civil aviation universities and 
colleges around the country. FBI field offices 
with these types of schools in their area should 
establish appropriate liaison. FBI [headquarters] 
should discuss this matter with other elements of 
the US intelligence community and task the 
community for any information that supports 
Phoenix's suspicions." [Arizona Republic, 
7/24/2003] (The FBI has already done this, but 
because of poor FBI communications, Williams is 
not aware of the report.)

  Recommends that the FBI ask the State Department 
to provide visa data on flight school students 
from Middle Eastern countries, which will 
facilitate FBI tracking efforts. [New York Times, 
5/4/2002] The memo is emailed to six people at 
FBI headquarters in the bin Laden and Radical 
Fundamentalist Units, and to two people in the 
FBI New York field office. [US Congress, 
7/24/2003] He also shares some concerns with the 
CIA. [Mercury News (San Jose), 5/23/2002] One 
anonymous government official who has seen the 
memo says, "This was as actionable a memo as 
could have been written by anyone." [Insight, 
5/27/2002] However, the memo is merely marked 
"routine," rather than "urgent." It is generally 
ignored, not shared with other FBI offices, and 
the recommendations are not taken. One colleague 
in New York replies at the time that the memo is 
"speculative and not very significant." [Die Zeit 
(Hamburg), 10/1/2002; US Congress, 7/24/2003] 
Williams is unaware of many FBI investigations 
and leads that could have given weight to his 
memo. Authorities later claim that Williams was 
only pursuing a hunch, but one familiar with 
classified information says, "This was not a 
vague hunch. He was doing a case on these guys." 
[Mercury News (San Jose), 5/23/2002]

Entity Tags: Al-Muhajiroun, Islamic Army of the 
Caucasus, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 
Ghassan al Sharbi, Abu Zubaida, Ken Williams, 
Radical Fundamentalist Unit, Osama bin Laden, 
Zakaria Mustapha Soubra, Hani Hanjour, al-Qaeda

July 12, 2001: Reuters: 'Terrorist Attack on US Soil Predicted'

Dale Watson. [Source: FBI]

Assistant FBI Director Dale Watson, head of the 
Counterterrorism Division, tells the National 
Governors Association that a significant 
terrorist attack is likely on US soil. "I'm not a 
gloom-and-doom-type person. But I will tell you 
this. [We are] headed for an incident inside the 
United States." This quote appears in a Reuters 
news story published on this day, entitled, 
"Terrorist Attack on US Soil Predicted." 
Apparently paraphasing Watson, the Reuters 
article reports, "The FBI predicts terrorists 
will launch a major attack on American interests 
abroad every year for the next five years and 
thinks an attack using a weapon of mass 
destruction is likely at home..." The article 
also mentions that the number one threat in the 
past year "was from exiled Saudi dissident Osama 
bin Laden." Attorney General John Ashcroft also 
speaks at the conference about security measures 
for upcoming public events such as the 2002 
Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. [Newsday, 
4/10/2004; Reuters, 7/12/2001]

Entity Tags: John Ashcroft, Dale Watson

Mid-July 2001: More G-8 Summit Warnings Describe Plane as Flying Bomb

US intelligence reports another spike in warnings 
related to the July 20-22 G-8 summit in Genoa, 
Italy. The reports include specific threats 
discovered by the head of Russia's Federal 
Bodyguard Service that al-Qaeda will try to kill 
Bush as he attends the summit. [CNN, 3/2002] Two 
days before the summit begins, the BBC reports: 
"The huge force of officers and equipment which 
has been assembled to deal with unrest has been 
spurred on by a warning that supporters of Saudi 
dissident Osama bin Laden might attempt an air 
attack on some of the world leaders present." 
[BBC, 7/18/2001] The attack is called off.

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda
Mid-July 2001: Tenet Warns Rice About Major Attack

CIA Director Tenet has a special meeting with 
National Security Adviser Rice and her aides 
about al-Qaeda. Says one official at the meeting, 
"[Tenet] briefed [Rice] that there was going to 
be a major attack." Another at the meeting says 
Tenet displays a huge wall chart showing dozens 
of threats. Tenet does not rule out a domestic 
attack but says an overseas attack is more 
likely. [Time, 8/4/2002]

Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, al-Qaeda, Condoleezza Rice

July 16, 2001: British Spy Agencies Warn al-Qaeda 
Is in The Final Stages of Attack in the West

British spy agencies send a report to British 
Prime Minister Tony Blair and other top officials 
warning that al-Qaeda is in "the final stages" of 
preparing an attack in the West. The prediction 
is "based on intelligence gleaned not just from 
[British intelligence] but also from US agencies, 
including the CIA and the National Security 
Agency," which cooperate with the British. "The 
contents of the July 16 warning would have been 
passed to the Americans, Whitehall sources 
confirmed." The report states there is "an acute 
awareness" that the attack is "a very serious 
threat." [London Times, 6/14/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Tony Blair, National 
Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency

July 20-22, 2001: During G-8 Summit, Italian 
Military Prepare Against Attack from the Sky

Extra security precautions for the G8 Summit in Genoa. [Source: BBC]

The G8 summit is held in Genoa, Italy. Acting on 
previous warnings that al-Qaeda would attempt to 
kill President Bush and other leaders, Italian 
authorities surround the summit with antiaircraft 
guns. They keep fighters in the air and close off 
local airspace to all planes. [Los Angeles Times, 
9/27/2001] The warnings are taken so seriously 
that Bush stays overnight on an aircraft carrier 
offshore, and other world leaders stay on a 
luxury ship. [CNN, 7/18/2001] No attack occurs. 
US officials at the time state that the warnings 
were "unsubstantiated" but after 9/11, they will 
claim success in preventing an attack. [Los 
Angeles Times, 9/27/2001]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, George W. Bush

July 28, 2001: Captured Operative Had Links That 
Could Have Led to Moussaoui, 9/11 Plot

Djamel Beghal. [Source: Public domain]

High-level al-Qaeda operative Djamel Beghal is 
arrested in Dubai on his way back from 
Afghanistan. Earlier in the month the CIA sent 
friendly intelligence agencies a list of al-Qaeda 
agents they wanted to be immediately apprehended, 
and Beghal was on the list (see July 3, 2001). 
Beghal quickly starts to talk, and tells French 
investigators about a plot to attack the American 
embassy in Paris. Crucially, he provides new 
details about the international-operations role 
of top al-Qaeda deputy Abu Zubaida, whom he had 
been with a short time before. [Time, 8/4/2002; 
New York Times, 12/28/2001] One European official 
says Beghal talks about "very important figures 
in the al-Qaeda structure, right up to bin 
Laden's inner circle. [He] mention[s] names, 
responsibilities and functions-people we weren't 
even aware of before. This is important stuff." 
[Time, 11/12/2001] One French official says of 
Beghal's interrogations, "We shared everything we 
knew with the Americans." [Time, 5/19/2002] The 
New York Times later will report that, "Enough 
time and work could have led investigators from 
Mr. Beghal to an address in Hamburg where Mohamed 
Atta and his cohorts had developed and planned 
the Sept. 11 attacks." Beghal had frequently 
associated with Zacarias Moussaoui. However, 
although Moussaoui is arrested (see August 15, 
2001) around the same time that Beghal is 
revealing the names and details of all his fellow 
operatives, Beghal is apparently not asked about 
Moussaoui. [Time, 8/4/2002; New York Times, 

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Djamel Beghal, Mohamed Atta, Zacarias Moussaoui

Late July 2001: Taliban Foreign Minister Tries to 
Warn US and UN of Huge Attack Inside the US

Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil 
learns that bin Laden is planning a "huge attack" 
on targets inside America. The attack is 
imminent, and will kill thousands. He learns this 
from Tahir Yildash, leader of the rebel Islamic 
Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which is allied 
with al-Qaeda at the time. Muttawakil sends an 
emissary to pass this information on to the US 
consul general, and another US official, 
"possibly from the intelligence services," also 
attends the meeting. The message is not taken 
very seriously; one source blames this on 
"warning fatigue" from too many warnings. In 
addition, the emissary supposedly is from the 
Foreign Ministry, but did not say the message 
came from Muttawakil himself. The emissary then 
takes the message to the Kabul offices of UNSMA, 
the political wing of the UN. They also fail to 
take the warning seriously. [Independent, 
9/7/2002; Reuters, 9/7/2002]

Entity Tags: Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, Tahir Yildash, al-Qaeda
Late July 2001: Argentina Relays Warning to the US

Argentina's Jewish community receives warnings of 
a major attack against the United States, 
Argentina, or France from "a foreign intelligence 
source." The warning is then relayed to the 
Argentine security authorities. It is agreed to 
keep the warning secret in order to avoid panic 
while reinforcing security at Jewish sites in the 
country. Says a Jewish leader, "It was a concrete 
warning that an attack of major proportion would 
take place, and it came from a reliable 
intelligence source. And I understand the 
Americans were told about it." Argentina has a 
large Jewish community that has been bombed in 
the past, and has been an area of al-Qaeda 
activity. [Forward, 5/31/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda

Late July 2001: Egypt Warns CIA of 20 al-Qaeda 
Operatives in US; Four Training to Fly; CIA Is 
Not Interested

CBS later reports, in a long story on another 
topic: "Just days after [Mohamed] Atta return[s] 
to the US from Spain, Egyptian intelligence in 
Cairo says it received a report from one of its 
operatives in Afghanistan that 20 al-Qaeda 
members had slipped into the US and four of them 
had received flight training on Cessnas. To the 
Egyptians, pilots of small planes didn't sound 
terribly alarming, but they [pass] on the message 
to the CIA anyway, fully expecting Washington to 
request information. The request never [comes]." 
[CBS News, 10/9/2002] This appears to be just one 
of several accurate Egyptian warnings from their 
informants inside al-Qaeda.

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency

August 2001: FAA Told to Warn Airlines of 
Hijacking or Airliner Bombing in New York, 
Atlanta, and Other Locations

The CIA sends a message to the FAA asking the FAA 
to advise corporate security directors of US 
airlines, "A group of six Pakistanis currently 
based in La Paz, Bolivia may be planning to 
conduct a hijacking, or possibly a bombing or an 
act of sabotage against a commercial airliner. 
While we have no details of the carrier, the 
date, or the location of this or these possibly 
planned action(s), we have learned the group has 
had discussions in which Canada, England, 
Malaysia, Cuba, South Africa, Mexico, Atlanta, 
New York, Madrid, Moscow, and Dubai have come up, 
and India and Islamabad have been described as 
possible travel destinations." The 9/11 
Congressional Inquiry will later note, "While 
this information was not related to an attack 
planned by al-Qaeda, it did alert the aviation 
community to the possibility that a hijacking 
plot might occur in the US shortly before the 
September 11 attacks occurred." [US Congress, 
9/18/2002] It has not been reported if the FAA 
actually passed this message on to the US 
airlines or not. There have been no reports of 
any extra security measures taken by the 
airlines, airports, or the FAA in the month 
before 9/11 in places such as New York City and 

Entity Tags: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Federal 
Aviation Administration, Central Intelligence 

August 2001: Moroccan Informant Warns US of Large 
Scale, Imminent Attack in New York

In 1999, a Moroccan named Hassan Dabou 
infiltrated al-Qaeda for the Moroccan 
intelligence agency. He was sent to Afghanistan, 
posing as an Islamic radical on the run from the 
Moroccan government. While there, he was able to 
grow close to bin Laden. He heard bin Laden 
repeatedly vent his anger at the failure of the 
World Trade Center bombing in 1993 (see February 
26, 1993). Bin Laden was "very disappointed" that 
the towers did not fall. Dabou heard that bin 
Laden had planned "something spectacular" 
involving "large scale operations in New York in 
the summer or fall of 2001." Moroccan 
intelligence passed this information to US. 
Around this time, US intelligence is so 
interested that they call Dabou to Washington to 
report on this information in person. Dabout 
makes the trip in secret, but apparently his 
cover is blown and he is unable to go back and 
gather more intelligence. Dabou is still in 
Washington cooperating with US intelligence 
agents when 9/11 occurs. After 9/11 he will 
remain in Washington, get a new identity, and 
continue to work with US intelligence. [Agence 
France-Presse, 11/22/2001; International Herald 
Tribune, 5/21/2002; London Times, 6/12/2002]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, 
al-Qaeda, Hassan Dabou, World Trade Center, Osama 
bin Laden

August 2001: Russia Warns US of Suicide Pilots

Russian President Vladimir Putin warns the US 
that suicide pilots are training for attacks on 
US targets. [Fox News, 5/17/2002] The head of 
Russian intelligence also later states, "We had 
clearly warned them" on several occasions, but 
they "did not pay the necessary attention." 
[Agence France-Presse, 9/16/2001] A Russian 
newspaper on September 12, 2001, will claim, 
"Russian Intelligence agents know the organizers 
and executors of these terrorist attacks. More 
than that, Moscow warned Washington about 
preparation to these actions a couple of weeks 
before they happened." Interestingly, the article 
will claim that at least two of the militants 
were Muslim radicals from Uzbekistan. [Izvestia, 

Entity Tags: Vladimir Putin

August 2001: US Learns of Plot to Crash Airplane into US Embassy in Nairobi

US intelligence learns of a plot to either bomb 
the US embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, from an 
airplane or crash an airplane into it. Two people 
who were reportedly acting on instructions from 
bin Laden met in October 2000 to discuss this 
plot. [US Congress, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden
August 2001: FEMA Warns of Likely Terrorist Attack on New York

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 
issues a report warning of the three most likely 
catastrophes facing America. One of these is a 
terrorist attack on New York City. (The other two 
scenarios are a massive San Francisco earthquake 
and a hurricane hitting New Orleans.) FEMA 
managers compiled the list of potential disasters 
at a training session. [Houston Chronicle, 
12/1/2001; Salon, 8/31/2005; Independent, 
9/4/2005; New Republic, 9/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency

August 2001: Persian Gulf Informant Gives Ex-CIA 
Agent Information About 'Spectacular Terrorist 

Former CIA agent Robert Baer is advising a prince 
in a Persian Gulf royal family, when a military 
associate of this prince passes information to 
him about a "spectacular terrorist operation" 
that will take place shortly. He is given a 
computer record of around 600 secret al-Qaeda 
operatives in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The list 
includes ten names that will be placed on the 
FBI's most wanted terrorists list after 9/11. He 
is also given evidence that a Saudi merchant 
family had funded the USS Cole bombing on October 
12, 2000, and that the Yemeni government is 
covering up information related to that bombing. 
At the military officer's request, he offers all 
this information to the Saudi Arabian government. 
However, an aide to the Saudi defense minister, 
Prince Sultan, refuses to look at the list or to 
pass the names on (Sultan is later sued for his 
complicity in the 9/11 plot in August 2002). Baer 
also passes the information on to a senior CIA 
official and the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center, 
but there is no response or action. Portions of 
Baer's book describing his experience wil be 
blacked out, having been censored by the CIA. 
[Financial Times, 1/12/2002; Baer, 2002, pp. 

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence 
Agency, Saudi Arabia, USS Cole, Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, 
Robert Baer

Early August 2001: Government Informant Warns 
Congressmen of Plan to Attack the WTC

Randy Glass, a former con artist turned 
government informant, later will claim that he 
contacts the staff of Senator Bob Graham [D] and 
Representative Robert Wexler [D] at this time and 
warns them of a plan to attack the WTC, but his 
warnings are ignored. [Palm Beach Post, 
10/17/2002] Glass also tells the media at this 
time that his recently concluded informant work 
has "far greater ramifications than have so far 
been revealed," and, "potentially, thousands of 
lives [are] at risk." [South Florida 
Sun-Sentinel, 8/7/2001] Glass was a key informant 
in a sting operation involving ISI agents who 
were illegally trying to purchase sophisticated 
US military weaponry in return for cash and 
heroin. He later claims that in July 1999, one 
ISI agent named Rajaa Gulum Abbas pointed to the 
WTC and said, "Those towers are coming down." 
[Palm Beach Post, 10/17/2002] Most details 
apparently remain sealed. For instance Glass will 
claim that his sealed sentencing document dated 
June 15, 2001, lists threats against the WTC and 
Americans. [WPBF 25 (West Palm Beach), 8/5/2002] 
Florida State Senator Ron Klein, who had dealings 
with Glass before 9/11, later will say he is 
surprised it took so many months for the US to 
listen to Glass: "Shame on us." [Palm Beach Post, 
10/17/2002] Klein will recall getting a warning 
from Glass, though he cannot recall if it 
mentions the WTC specifically. He will say he was 
told US intelligence agencies would look into it. 
[WPTV 5 (West Palm Beach), 10/7/2002] Senator 
Graham later will acknowledge that his office had 
contact with Glass before 9/11, and was told 
about a WTC attack: "I was concerned about that 
and a dozen other pieces of information which 
emanated from the summer of 2001." However, 
Graham will say that he personally was unaware of 
Glass's information until after 9/11. [Palm Beach 
Post, 10/17/2002] In October 2002, Glass will 
testify under oath before a private session of 
the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, stating, "I told 
[the inquiry] I have specific evidence, and I can 
document it." [Palm Beach Post, 10/17/2002]

Entity Tags: Robert Wexler, World Trade Center, 
Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services 
Intelligence, Rajaa Gulum Abbas, Ron Klein, Randy 
Glass, Bob Graham

Early August 2001: CIA's Concern over Planned bin 
Laden Strikes Inside US Are Heightened

The Associated Press later reports that the "CIA 
had developed general information a month before 
the attacks that heightened concerns that bin 
Laden and his followers were increasingly 
determined to strike on US soil." A CIA official 
will affirm, "[t]here was something specific in 
early August that said to us that [bin Laden] was 
determined in striking on US soil." [Associated 
Press, 10/3/2001]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden

Early August 2001: Britain Warns US Again; 
Specifies Multiple Airplane Hijackings

Britain gives the US another warning about an 
al-Qaeda attack. The previous British warning on 
July 16, 2001 (see July 16, 2001), was vague as 
to method, but this warning specifies multiple 
airplane hijackings. This warning is said to 
reach President Bush. [Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, al-Qaeda

August 1, 2001: Actor Communicates Concerns to 
Stewardess That Airplane Will Be Hijacked; 
Warning Forwarded to the FAA

James Woods. [Source: Disney Enterprises/ Publicity photo]

Actor James Woods, flying first class on an 
airplane, notices four Arabic-looking men, the 
only other people in the first class section. He 
concludes they are Islamic militants intent on 
hijacking the plane, acting very strangely (for 
instance, only talking in whispers). [Boston 
Globe, 11/23/2001] He tells a flight attendant, 
"I think this plane is going to be hijacked," 
adding, "I know how serious it is to say this." 
He conveys his worries to the pilots, and they 
assure him that the cockpit would be locked. [New 
Yorker, 5/27/2002] The flight staff later 
notifies the FAA about these suspicious 
individuals. Though the government will not 
discuss this event, it is highly unlikely that 
any action is taken regarding the flight staff's 
worries [New Yorker, 5/27/2002] Woods will not be 
interviewed by the FBI until after 9/11. Woods 
will say the FBI believes that all four men took 
part in the 9/11 attacks, and the flight he was 
on was a practice flight for them. [O'Reilly 
Factor, 2/14/2002] Woods believes one was Khalid 
Almihdhar and another was Hamza Alghamdi. [New 
Yorker, 5/27/2002] The FBI later will report that 
this may have been one of a dozen test run 
flights starting as early as January. Flight 
attendants and passengers on other flights later 
recall men looking like the hijackers who took 
pictures of the cockpit aboard flights and/or 
took notes. [Associated Press, 5/29/2002] The FBI 
has not been able to find any evidence of 
hijackers on the flight manifest for Woods' 
flight. [New Yorker, 5/27/2002]

Entity Tags: Hamza Alghamdi, Khalid Almihdhar, 
Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Woods, 
Federal Aviation Administration

August 1, 2001: FBI Reissues Warning That 
Overseas Law Enforcement Agencies May Be Targets

With the approaching third anniversary of the US 
embassy bombings in Africa, the FBI reissues a 
warning that overseas law enforcement agencies 
may be targets. [CNN, 3/2002]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation

August 6, 2001: Bush Briefing Titled 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US'

President Bush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch on 
August 6, 2001. Advisors wait with classified 
briefings. [Source: White House]

President Bush receives a classified intelligence 
briefing at his Crawford, Texas ranch indicating 
that bin Laden might be planning to hijack 
commercial airliners. The memo provided to him is 
titled "bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" The 
entire memo focuses on the possibility of 
terrorist attacks inside the US. [Newsweek, 
5/27/2002; New York Times, 5/15/2002] Incredibly, 
the New York Times later reports that Bush 
"[breaks] off from work early and [spends] most 
of the day fishing." [New York Times, 5/25/2002] 
The existence of this memo is kept secret, until 
it is leaked in May 2002, causing a storm of 
controversy. While National Security Adviser Rice 
claims the memo is only one and a half pages 
long; other accounts state it is 11 1/2 pages 
instead of the usual two or three. [Newsweek, 
5/27/2002; New York Times, 5/15/2002; Die Zeit 
(Hamburg), 10/1/2002] She disingenuously asserts 
that, "It was an analytic report that talked 
about [bin Laden]'s methods of operation, talked 
about what he had done historically, in 1997, in 
1998. ... I want to reiterate, it was not a 
warning. There was no specific time, place, or 
method mentioned." [White House, 5/16/2002] A 
page and a half of the contents are released on 
April 10, 2004, after Rice testifies before the 
9/11 Commission. [Washington Post, 4/10/2004] 
Rice testifies that the memo is mostly historic 
regarding bin Laden's previous activities, and 
she says it contains no specific information that 
would have prevented an attack. The memo, as 
released, states as follows:

  Clandestine, foreign government, and media 
reports indicate bin Laden since 1997 has wanted 
to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Laden 
implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 
1998 that his followers would follow the example 
of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and 
"bring the fighting to America."

  After US missile strikes on his base in 
Afghanistan in 1998, bin Laden told followers he 
wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a 

  An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told 
-REDACTED- service at the same time that bin 
Laden was planning to exploit the operative's 
access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.

  The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may 
have been part of bin Laden's first serious 
attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the 
US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the 
FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los 
Angeles International Airport himself, but that 
in--, Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaida encouraged him 
and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also 
said that in 1998 Abu Zubaida was planning his 
own US attack.

  Ressam says bin Laden was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

  Although bin Laden has not succeeded, his 
attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and 
Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares 
operations years in advance and is not deterred 
by setbacks. Bin Laden associates surveyed our 
embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early 
as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell 
planning the bombings were arrested and deported 
in 1997.

  Al Qaeda members-including some who are US 
citizens-have resided in or traveled to the US 
for years, and the group apparently maintains a 
support structure that could aid attacks. Two 
al-Qaeda members found guilty in the conspiracy 
to bomb our embassies in East Africa were US 
citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in 
California in the mid-1990s.

  A clandestine source said in 1998 that a bin 
Laden cell in New York was recruiting 
Muslim-American youth for attacks.

  We have not been able to corroborate some of the 
more sensational threat reporting, such as that 
from a -REDACTED- service in 1998 saying that bin 
Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the 
release of "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman and 
other US-held extremists.

  Nevertheless, FBI information since that time 
indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this 
country consistent with preparations for 
hijackings or other types of attacks, including 
recent surveillance of federal buildings in New 

  The FBI is conducting approximately 70 
full-field investigations throughout the US that 
it considers bin Laden-related. CIA and the FBI 
are investigating a call to our embassy in the 
UAE in May saying that a group or bin Laden 
supporters was in the US planning attacks with 
explosives. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004] The 9/11 
Congressional Inquiry calls it "a closely held 
intelligence report for senior government 
officials" presented in early August 2001. [US 
Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: World Trade Center, 9/11 Commission, 
Abu Zubaida, Ahmed Ressam, Egyptian Islamic 
Jihad, George W. Bush, Central Intelligence 
Agency, Condoleezza Rice, Ramzi Yousef, Los 
Angeles International Airport, Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden

August 8-15, 2001: Israel Reportedly Warns of Major Assault on the US

At some point between these dates, Israel warns 
the US that an al-Qaeda attack is imminent. [Fox 
News, 5/17/2002] Reportedly, two high-ranking 
agents from the Mossad come to Washington and 
warn the FBI and CIA that from 50 to 200 
terrorists have slipped into the US and are 
planning "a major assault on the United States." 
They say indications point to a "large scale 
target," and that Americans would be "very 
vulnerable." They add there could be Iraqi 
connections to the al-Qaeda attack. [Daily 
Telegraph, 9/16/2001; Los Angeles Times, 
9/20/2001; Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/2001] The Los 
Angeles Times later retracts its story after a 
CIA spokesperson says, "There was no such 
warning. Allegations that there was are complete 
and utter nonsense." [Los Angeles Times, 
9/21/2001] Other newspapers do not retract it.

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence 
Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Israel 
Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks

August 15-28, 2001: Moussaoui Arrest Raises 
Serious Concerns of Airplane-based Attack with 
Local FBI; Washington Headquarters Ignores Pleas 
for Search Warrant Until After 9/11

See the chapter on Zacarias Moussaoui.

August 15, 2001: CIA Counterterrorism Head: We Are Going to Be Struck Soon

Cofer Black. [Source: US State Department]

Cofer Black, head of the CIA's Counter Terrorism 
Center, says in a speech to the Department of 
Defense's annual Convention of Counterterrorism, 
"We are going to be struck soon, many Americans 
are going to die, and it could be in the US." 
Black later complains that top leaders are 
unwilling to act at this time unless they are 
given "such things as the attack is coming within 
the next few days and here is what they are going 
to hit." [US Congress, 9/26/2002]

Entity Tags: Cofer Black

August 21, 2001: Inmate Warns of Impending Attack in New York

Walid Arkeh, a Jordanian serving time in a 
Florida prison, is interviewed by FBI agents 
after warning the government of an impending 
al-Qaeda attack. He had been in a British jail 
from September 2000 to July 2001, and while there 
had befriended three inmates, Khalid al-Fawwaz, 
Adel Abdel Bary, and Ibrahim Eidarous. US 
prosecutors charge, "The three men ran a London 
storefront that served as a cover for al-Qaeda 
operations and acted as a conduit for 
communications between bin Laden and his 
network." [Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/2002] 
Al-Fawwaz was bin Laden's press agent in London, 
and bin Laden had called him over 200 times 
before al-Fawwaz was arrested in 1998. [Financial 
Times, 11/29/2001; Sunday Times (London), 
3/24/2002] The other two had worked in the same 
office as al-Fawwaz. All three had been indicted 
as co-conspirators with bin Laden in the August 
1998 US embassy bombings. Arkeh tells the FBI 
that he had learned from these three that 
"something big [is] going to happen in New York 
City," and that they call the 1993 attack on the 
WTC "unfinished business." Tampa FBI agents 
determine that he had associated with these 
al-Qaeda agents, but nonetheless they do not 
believe him. According to Arkeh, one agent 
responds to his "something big" warning by 
saying: "Is that all you have? That's old news." 
The agents fail to learn more from him. On 
September 9, concerned that time is running out, 
a fellow prisoner will try to arrange a meeting, 
but nothing will happen before 9/11. The Tampa 
FBI agents will have a second interview with him 
hours after the 9/11 attacks, but even long after 
9/11 they will claim that he cannot be believed. 
On January 6, 2002, the Tampa FBI will issue a 
statement: "The information [was] vetted to FBI 
New York, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of 
the Tampa Division and the United States Attorney 
for the Middle District of Florida. All agreed 
the information provided by this individual was 
vague and unsubstantiated ... Mr. Arkeh did not 
provide information that had any bearing on the 
FBI preventing September 11." [Orlando Sentinel, 
1/6/2002; Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/2002] However, 
a different group of FBI agents will interview 
him in May 2002 and find his information credible 
(see May 21-22, 2002).

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 
World Trade Center, al-Qaeda, Khalid al-Fawwaz, 
Adel Abdel Bary, Ibrahim Eidarous, Walid Arkeh

August 22, 2001: France Gives FBI Information on 
Moussaoui; FBI Headquarters Still Refuses Search 

Responding to the request of the FBI's Minnesota 
field office, the French provide intelligence 
information they have compiled over the past 
several years relating to Zacarias Moussaoui. [US 
Congress, 10/17/2002] The French say Moussaoui 
has ties with radical Islamic groups and recruits 
men to fight in Chechnya. They believe he spent 
time in Afghanistan in 1999. He had been on a 
French watch list for several years, preventing 
him from entering France. A French justice 
official later says that "the government gave the 
FBI 'everything we had'" on Moussaoui, "enough to 
make you want to check this guy out every way you 
can. Anyone paying attention would have seen he 
was not only operational in the militant Islamist 
world but had some autonomy and authority as 
well." [Time, 5/27/2002] A senior French 
investigator later says, "Even a neophyte working 
in some remote corner of Florida, would have 
understood the threat based on what was sent." 
[Time, 8/4/2002] The French Interior Minister 
also emphasizes, "We did not hold back any 
information." [ABC News, 9/5/2002] However, 
senior officials at FBI headquarters still 
maintain that the information "was too sketchy to 
justify a search warrant for his computer." 
[Time, 8/4/2002]

Entity Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui, FBI 
Headquarters, FBI Minnesota field office, France

August 23-27, 2001: Minnesota FBI Agents 
Convinced Moussaoui Plans to Do Something with a 
Plane, Undermined by FBI Headquarters

In the wake of the French intelligence report 
(see August 22, 2001) on Zacarias Moussaoui, FBI 
agents in Minnesota are "in a frenzy" and 
"absolutely convinced he [is] planning to do 
something with a plane." One agent writes notes 
speculating Moussaoui might "fly something into 
the World Trade Center." [Newsweek, 5/20/2002] 
Minnesota FBI agents become "desperate to search 
the computer lap top" and "conduct a more 
thorough search of his personal effects," 
especially since Moussaoui acted as if he was 
hiding something important in the laptop when 
arrested. [Time, 5/21/2002; Time, 5/27/2002] They 
decide to apply for a search warrant under the 
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). 
"FISA allows the FBI to carry out wiretaps and 
searches that would otherwise be 
unconstitutional" because "the goal is to gather 
intelligence, not evidence." [Washington Post, 
11/4/2001] Standards to get a warrant through 
FISA are so low that out of 10,000 requests over 
more than 20 years, not a single one was turned 
down. Previously, when the FBI did not have a 
strong enough case, it allegedly simply lied to 
FISA. In May 2002, the FISA court complained that 
the FBI had lied in at least 75 warrant cases 
during the Clinton administration, once even by 
the FBI director. [New York Times, 8/27/2002] 
However, as FBI Agent Coleen Rowley later puts 
it, FBI headquarters "almost inexplicably, 
throw[s] up roadblocks" and undermines their 
efforts. Headquarters personnel bring up "almost 
ridiculous questions in their apparent efforts to 
undermine the probable cause." One Minneapolis 
agent's e-mail says FBI headquarters is "setting 
this up for failure." That turns out to be 
correct. [Time, 5/21/2002; Time, 5/27/2002]

Entity Tags: FBI Minnesota field office, FBI 
Headquarters, Clinton administration, Zacarias 
Moussaoui, World Trade Center, Coleen Rowley

August 23, 2001: Mossad Reportedly Gives CIA List 
of Terrorist Living in US; at Least Four 9/11 
Hijackers Named

According to German newspapers, the Mossad gives 
the CIA a list of 19 terrorists living in the US 
and say that they appear to be planning to carry 
out an attack in the near future. It is unknown 
if these are the 19 9/11 hijackers or if the 
number is a coincidence. However, four names on 
the list are known, and these four will be 9/11 
hijackers: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, 
Marwan Alshehhi, and Mohamed Atta. [Die Zeit 
(Hamburg), 10/1/2002; Der Spiegel (Hamburg), 
10/1/2002; BBC, 10/2/2002; Ha'aretz, 10/3/2002] 
The Mossad appears to have learned about this 
through its "art student spy ring." Yet 
apparently, this warning and list are not treated 
as particularly urgent by the CIA and the 
information is not passed on to the FBI. It is 
unclear whether this warning influenced the 
decision to add Alhazmi and Almihdhar to a 
terrorism watch list on this same day, and if so, 
why only those two. [Der Spiegel (Hamburg), 
10/1/2002] Israel has denied that there were any 
Mossad agents in the US. [Ha'aretz, 10/3/2002]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Israel 
Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks, 
Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Israeli art 
students", Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, 
Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta

August 25, 2001: Bin Laden Publicly Hints at Attack on US

Bin Laden gives an interview to Middle Eastern 
television. According to ABC News, "When asked 
about his supporters, he says with a significant 
and knowing smile there is going to be a surprise 
to the United States." [ABC News, 9/14/2001]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

August 27, 2001: Spanish Police Tape Phone Calls 
Indicating Aviation-Based Plans to Attack US

Spanish police tape a series of cryptic, coded 
phone calls from a caller in Britain using the 
codename "Shakur" to Barakat Yarkas (also known 
as Abu Dahdah), the leader of a Spanish al-Qaeda 
cell presumably visited by Mohamed Atta in July. 
A Spanish judge will claim that a call by Shakur 
on this day shows foreknowledge of the 9/11 
attacks. Shakur says that he is "giving classes" 
and that "in our classes, we have entered the 
field of aviation, and we have even cut the 
bird's throat." Another possible translation is, 
"We are even going to cut the eagle's throat," 
which would be a clearer metaphor for the US. 
[Observer, 11/25/2001; Guardian, 2/14/2002] 
Spanish authorities later claim that detective 
work and voice analysis shows Shakur is Farid 
Hilali, a young Moroccan who had lived mostly in 
Britain since 1987. The Spanish later will charge 
him for involvement in the 9/11 plot, claiming 
that, in the 45 days preceding 9/11, he travels 
constantly in airplanes "to analyse them and to 
be prepared for action." It will be claimed that 
he is training on aircraft in the days leading up 
to 9/11. It will further be said that he is 
connected to the Madrid train bombing in 2003. 
[Scotsman, 7/15/2004; London Times, 7/16/2004; 
London Times, 6/30/2004] The Spanish Islamic 
militant cell led by Yarkas is allegedly a hub of 
financing, recruitment, and support services for 
al-Qaeda in Europe. Yarkas's phone number will 
later also be found in the address book of Said 
Bahaji, and he had ties with Mohammed Haydar 
Zammar and Mamoun Darkanzali. All three are 
associates of Atta in Hamburg. [Los Angeles 
Times, 11/23/2001] Yarkas also "reportedly met 
with bin Laden twice and was in close contact 
with" top deputy Muhammad Atef. [Washington Post, 
11/19/2001] On November 11, 2001, Yarkas and ten 
other Spaniards will be arrested and charged with 
al-Qaeda activity. [International Herald Tribune, 

Entity Tags: Barakat Yarkas, al-Qaeda, Said 
Bahaji, Shakur, Mohamed Atta, Mohammed Haydar 

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

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 (see June 4, 2001). 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 will meet with the FBI 
shortly after 9/11, and will claim his 
information was a "premonition of sorts." The 
three men will later be arrested. What has 
happened to them since their arrest is unclear. 
[Miami Herald, 9/20/2001; Los Angeles Times, 
9/20/2001; MSNBC, 9/23/2001]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda

August 30, 2001-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, 12/7/2001; New York Times, 
6/4/2002] He says he learned this information 
from an agent working inside al-Qaeda. US 
officials will deny receiving any such warning 
from Egypt. [ABC News, 6/4/2002]

Entity Tags: Hosni Mubarak, al-Qaeda

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

The 9/11 Commission later will note 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 
will suggest 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 will note 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, 4/28/2005]

Entity Tags: 9/11 Commission, al-Qaeda, Ahmed 
Ressam, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central 
Intelligence Agency, Abu Zubaida

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 an "unprecedented" strike against the 
US. Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the newspaper, 
will say, "Personally, we received information 
that he planned very, very big attacks against 
American interests. We received several warnings 
like this. We did not take it so seriously, 
preferring to see what would happen before 
reporting it." [Independent, 9/17/2001; ABC News, 
9/12/2001] Atwan's comment implies the warning is 
not published before 9/11. But Senator Diane 
Feinstein (D) will say shortly after 9/11, "Bin 
Laden's people had made statements three weeks 
ago carried in the Arab press in Great Britain 
that they were preparing to carry out 
unprecedented attacks in the US." [San Francisco 
Chronicle, 9/14/2001]

Entity Tags: Abdel-Bari Atwan, Osama bin Laden, Dianne Feinstein

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, 9/23/2001] 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.

Entity Tags: Saddam Hussein
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, 5/17/2002]

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, 2/18/2002]

Entity Tags: National Security Agency, Abu Zubaida

Early September 2001: Defense Department Has 
Evidence of 'Kamikaze Bombers' Trained to Fly in 

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." Mohammed 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, 5/2004] 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, 5/27/2004]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, David Bossie, Federal 
Bureau of Investigation, Sheikh Omar Bakri 

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. [Source: Public domain]

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 will be arrested 
after 9/11 and held by the US in the Guantanamo 
prison before finally being released in 2005. He 
will be released because his captors eventually 
will decide that he did not 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 will paraphrase 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, 1/29/2005] 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, 2/2/2005]

Entity Tags: Pakistani Internal Security 
Department, Central Intelligence Agency, Mamdouh 

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 will not be 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 (London), 

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Tony Blair

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 will say Ali 
had no foreknowledge and his forebodings were 
just a strange coincidence. They will say he is 
mentally unstable. Similar warnings also come 
from a Moroccan man being held in a Brazilian 
jail. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur (Hamburg), 
9/13/2001; Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/2001; Ananova, 
9/14/2001; Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 9/16/2001]

Entity Tags: Ali S., George W. Bush, World Trade Center
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, 
9/16/2001] These bases are under close military 
satellite surveillance.

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

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, 9/14/2001; Boston Globe, 
9/18/2001] Later it will be reported that two of 
the hijackers on Flight 11 will use these stolen 
ID's to board the plane. [Sunday Herald 
(Glasgow), 9/16/2001] On 9/11, a man will 
arrested with four Yemen passports (all using 
different names) and two Lufthansa crew uniforms 
(see September 11, 2001). [Chicago Sun-Times, 
9/22/2001] It will also be reported that when 
Mohamed Atta takes a flight from Portland, Maine, 
to Boston on the morning of 9/11, his bags will 
not be transferred to his hijacked flight, and 
remain in Boston. Later, airline uniforms will be 
found inside. [Boston Globe, 9/18/2001] Boston's 
Logan Airport had been repeatedly fined for 
failing to run background checks on their 
employees, and many other serious violations. 
[CNN, 10/12/2001]

Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, NSI

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

Declassified Defense Intelligence Agency 
documents from November 2001 will 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 will point out he 
may have been assassinated on September 9, 2001, 
because he "began to warn the West." The 
documents will be heavily censored, and specifics 
will be lacking, but Massoud did made an oblique 
public warning before European Parliament earlier 
in the year (see April 6, 2001). [Agence 
France-Presse, 9/14/2003; PakTribune (Islamabad), 

Entity Tags: Defense Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Shah Massoud

Before September 11, 2001: Three Countries Hear 
bin Laden Tell Wife to Return to Afghanistan; 
This Warning Sets Off 'Scramble' in US and 

A month after 9/11, the New York Times will 
report: "Interpreting intercepted communications, 
which are cryptic and in code, and sorting 
through all the rumors present a formidable 
challenge. One intercept before the Sept. 11 
attack was, according to two senior intelligence 
officials, the first early warning of the assault 
and it set off a scramble by American and other 
intelligence agencies. In that call, Mr. bin 
Laden advised his wife in Syria to come back to 
Afghanistan. That message, which was intercepted 
by the intelligence services of more than one 
country, was passed on to the United States, 
officials from three countries said." [New York 
Times, 10/21/2001] bin Laden apparently makes a 
similar phone call to his stepmother in Syria on 
September 9, 2001 (see September 9, 2001).

Entity Tags: Republic of Georgia, Osama bin Laden

Before September 11, 2001: Tenet Said to Warn 
Congresspeople about Imminent Attack on the US

Ike Skelton. [Source: Publicity photo]

On the morning of 9/11, David Welna, National 
Public Radio's Congressional correspondent, will 
say, "I spoke with Congressman Ike Skelton-a 
Democrat from Missouri and a member of the Armed 
Services Committee-who said that just recently 
the Director of the CIA [George Tenet] warned 
that there could be an attack-an imminent 
attack-on the United States of this nature. So 
this is not entirely unexpected." More details, 
such as when Tenet said this, who else he may 
have said it to, and so forth, remain unknown. 
[NPR, 9/11/2001]

Entity Tags: Ike Skelton, George J. Tenet

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 will 
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 will not be 
analyzed until after 9/11. [Newsweek, 10/1/2001]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 
National Security Agency, Central Intelligence 

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 will not be 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, 5/8/2003]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Mahmoud Es Sayed, World Trade Center

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, 9/16/2001]

Entity Tags: United States, Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks

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, 12/11/2001; Village Voice, 
5/28/2002] 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. [US Congress, 10/17/2002]

Entity Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui, Central 
Intelligence Agency, France, Federal Bureau of 

September 6, 2001: Author Is Banned from Internal 
US Flights Because of FAA Concern Something About 
to Happen

Salman Rushdie. [Source: Public domain]

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 will state, "The 
FAA confirmed that it stepped up security 
measures concerning Mr. Rushdie but refused to 
give a reason." [London Times, 9/27/2001] 
According to the 9/11 Commission, on this day the 
FAA issues a security directive requiring extra 
security measures for flights carrying Rushdie. 
It is not clear if this is in addition or instead 
of a ban on him flying. There is no mention as to 
why this security directive is issued at this 
time. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 56 ]

Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, 
Salman Rushdie, 9/11 Commission, Italian Secret 

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

Father Jean-Marie Benjamin. [Source: Public domain]

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 will state, 
"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 will meet with 
the Italian Foreign Minister on this topic. He 
will say he learned the attack on Britain failed 
at the last minute. [Zenit (Vatican), 9/16/2001] 
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.

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Jean-Marie Benjamin

September 7, 2001: French Give 'Very Specific 
Information' about Possible Attack on US Soil

The French newspaper Le Figaro will report in 
late 2001 that on this day, "According to Arab 
diplomatic sources as well as French 
intelligence, very specific information [is] 
transmitted to the CIA with respect to terrorist 
attacks against American interests around the 
world, including on US soil." A French 
intelligence report sent to the US this day 
"enumerates all the intelligence, and specifies 
that the order to attack [is] to come from 
Afghanistan." [Le Figaro (Paris), 10/31/2001] It 
will later be revealed that Khalid Shaikh 
Mohammed gives Mohamed Atta the final go-ahead in 
a phone call from Afghanistan the day before 9/11 
(see September 10, 2001).

Entity Tags: France, Central Intelligence Agency
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 Department of State, 9/7/2001] In the 
one-page alert, the State Department says it 
received information in May 2001 "that American 
citizens may be the target of a terrorist threat 
from extremist groups with links to Osama bin 
Laden's al-Qaeda organization. Such individuals 
have not distinguished between official and 
civilian targets. ... As always, we take this 
information seriously. US Government facilities 
worldwide remain on heightened alert." Such 
warnings are issued periodically and usually are 
so vague that few pay them serious attention. In 
any event, most airlines and officials will claim 
that they did not see this warning until after 
9/11. [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/14/2001]

Entity Tags: US Department of State, al-Qaeda

September 9, 2001: New York Times Reports bin 
Laden 'Promises More Attacks'; Article Will Be 
Removed Shortly After 9/11

Just two days before 9/11, the New York Times 
publishes an article on their website examining 
the threat of an al-Qaeda attack on US interests. 
The article focuses on a videotape made by bin 
Laden which was released in June 2001 (see June 
19, 2001). The article notes that "When the 
two-hour videotape surfaced last June, it 
attracted little attention, partly because much 
of it was spliced from previous bin Laden 
interviews and tapes. But since then the tape has 
proliferated on Islamic Web sites and in mosques 
and bazaars across the Muslim world." It further 
notes that in the video, bin Laden "promises more 
attacks." Referring to the bombing of the USS 
Cole in Yemen, he says, "The victory of Yemen 
will continue." He promises to aid Palestinians 
fighting Israel, an important shift in emphasis 
from previous pronouncements. He also praises the 
Taliban, suggesting that previous reports of a 
split between bin Laden and the Taliban were a 
ruse. The article comments, "With his mockery of 
American power, Mr. bin Laden seems to be almost 
taunting the United States." [New York Times, 
9/9/2001] Curiously, shortly after 9/11, the New 
York Times will remove the article from their 
website archive and redirect all links from the 
article's web address,, 
to the address of another article written by the 
same author shortly after 9/11, 
(Note the dates contained within the addresses.)

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda

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

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (right) in 
Afghanistan in 1988. [Source: Public domain]

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R), who has long 
experience in Afghanistan and even fought with 
the mujahedeen there, later will claim 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 will make the 
meeting moot. [US Congress, 9/17/2001]

Entity Tags: National Security Council, Dana Rohrabacher, Ahmed Shah Massoud

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

It will later be 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 will 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, 10/2/2001] 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 (Glasgow), 
10/7/2001] 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, 10/2/2001] Bin Laden gave his 
natural mother a similar warning some months 
before that was also overheard by the NSA (see 
Spring-Summer 2001).

Entity Tags: National Security Agency, Osama bin Laden, Al-Khalifa bin Laden

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, 9/19/2001] There are 
even allegations that bin Laden was able to get a 
copy of Promis. [Fox News, 10/16/2001]

Entity Tags: Promis, Central Intelligence Agency, 
Federal Bureau of Investigation, US Department of 
Justice, Israel Institute for Intelligence and 
Special Tasks

September 10, 2001: NSA Intercepts: 'The Match 
Begins Tomorrow' 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, 
9/9/2002] The messages were sent between someone 
in Saudi Arabia and someone in Afghanistan. The 
NSA will claim that they are not 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, 
6/7/2002; Reuters, 6/19/2002] 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 will say 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, 
9/9/2002] There will be 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 (see September 
9, 2001). [Reuters, 10/17/2002]

Entity Tags: National Security Agency, al-Qaeda, Ahmed Shah Massoud

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

US officials later will 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 will refer to them as "needles in a 
haystack." What other leads may have come from 
this prior to this day will not be revealed. [USA 
Today, 6/4/2002] At least until February 2002, 
the official story will be that the "CIA failed 
to penetrate al-Qaeda with a single agent." [ABC 
News, 2/18/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence 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, 9/13/2001] Far 
from becoming a hot topic, the only additional 
media mention of this story will be 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, 9/17/2001]

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 will claim 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 
will come from a British document of telephone 
intercepts and interrogations revealing al-Qaeda 
orders to return to Afghanistan by September 10. 
[CNN, 10/4/2001; Time, 10/5/2001] However, Blair 
may have the direction incorrect, since would-be 
hijacker Ramzi Bin al-Shibh later will claim that 
he is the one who passes to bin Laden the date 
the attacks will happen and warns others to 
evacuate. [Australian, 9/9/2002]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Tony Blair, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, al-Qaeda

September 11-12, 2001: Senior US Officials Claim 
No Specific Warnings or High Threat Recently

The Washington Post reports, "Several US 
officials said there was no warning in the days 
before the attacks that a major operation was in 
the works. 'In terms of specific warning that 
something of this nature was to occur, no,' one 
official said." [Washington Post, 9/11/2001] An 
anonymous "senior US official" tells ABC News, 
"There were no warnings regarding time or place. 
There are always generic threats now but there 
was nothing to indicate anything specific of this 
nature. In fact, in recent weeks, we were not in 
all that high a period of threat warning." [ABC 
News, 9/12/2001]

Entity Tags: Bush administration

September 11, 2001: Two Hours Before Attacks, 
Israeli Company Employees Receive Warnings

Odigo's logo. [Source: Odigo]

Two employees of Odigo, Inc., an Israeli company, 
receive warnings of an imminent attack in New 
York City about two hours before the first plane 
hits the WTC. Odigo, one of the world's largest 
instant messaging companies, has its headquarters 
two blocks from the WTC. The Odigo Research and 
Development offices where the warnings were 
received are located in Herzliyya, a suburb of 
Tel Aviv. Israeli security and the FBI were 
notified immediately after the 9/11 attacks 
began. The two employees claim not to know who 
sent the warnings. "Odigo service includes a 
feature called People Finder that allows users to 
seek out and contact others based on certain 
interests or demographics. [Alex] Diamandis 
[Odigo vice president of sales and marketing] 
said it was possible that the attack warning was 
broadcast to other Odigo members, but the company 
has not received reports of other recipients of 
the message." [Ha'aretz, 9/26/2001; Washington 
Post, 9/27/2001] Odigo claims the warning did not 
specifically mention the WTC, but the company 
refuses to divulge what was specified, claiming, 
"Providing more details would only lead to more 
conjecture." [Washington Post, 9/28/2001] 
However, a later newspaper report claims that the 
message declared "that some sort of attack was 
about to take place. The notes ended with an 
anti-Semitic slur. 'The messages said something 
big was going to happen in a certain amount of 
time, and it did-almost to the minute,' said Alex 
Diamandis, vice president of sales for the 
high-tech company... He said the employees did 
not know the person who sent the message, but 
they traced it to a computer address and have 
given that information to the FBI." [Washington 
Post, 10/4/2001] Odigo gave the FBI the Internet 
address of the message's sender so the name of 
the sender could be found. [Deutsche 
Presse-Agentur (Hamburg), 9/26/2001] Two months 
later, it is reported that the FBI is still 
investigating the matter, but there have been no 
reports since. [Courier Mail, 11/20/2001]

Entity Tags: Odigo Inc., World Trade Center, 
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Israel

September 11, 2001: The 9/11 Attack: 3,000 Die in 
New York City and Washington, D.C.

The September 11, 2001 attacks. From left to 
right: The World Trade Center, Pentagon, and 
Flight 93 crash. [Source: unknown]

The 9/11 attack: Four planes are hijacked, two 
crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and 
one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. 
Nearly 3,000 people are killed.

Entity Tags: World Trade Center, Pentagon, 
al-Qaeda, United Airlines, American Airlines

September 12, 2001: Powell Claims No Evidence 
Specific Intelligence of Attack Was Missed

Secretary of State Colin Powell states, "In the 
first 24 hours of analysis, I have not seen any 
evidence that there was a specific signal that we 
missed. ... In this case, we did not have 
intelligence of anything of this scope or 
magnitude." [Washington File, 9/12/2001]

Entity Tags: Colin Powell

September 12, 2001: US Denies Any Hints of bin Laden Plot to Attack in US

The government's initial response to the 9/11 
attacks is that it had no evidence whatsoever 
that bin Laden planned an attack in the US "There 
was a ton of stuff, but it all pointed to an 
attack abroad," says one official. Furthermore, 
in the 24 hours after the attack, investigators 
would have been searching through "mountains of 
information." However, "the vast electronic 
'take' on bin Laden, said officials who requested 
anonymity, contained no hints of a pending terror 
campaign in the United States itself, no orders 
to subordinates, no electronic fund transfers, no 
reports from underlings on their surveillance of 
the airports in Boston, Newark, and Washington." 
[Miami Herald, 9/12/2001]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Bush administration
September 14, 2001: FBI Director Caught in Whopper

FBI Director Robert Mueller. [Source: FBI]

FBI Director Mueller describes reports that 
several of the hijackers had received flight 
training in the US as "news, quite obviously," 
adding, "If we had understood that to be the 
case, we would have-perhaps one could have 
averted this." It will later be discovered that 
contrary to Mueller's claims, the FBI had 
interviewed various flight school staffs about 
Middle Eastern militants on numerous occasions, 
from 1996 until a few weeks before 9/11. 
[Washington Post, 9/23/2001; Boston Globe, 
9/18/2001] Three days later, he says, "There were 
no warning signs that I'm aware of that would 
indicate this type of operation in the country." 
[US Department of Justice, 9/17/2001] Slate 
magazine will contrast this with numerous other 
contradictory statements and articles, and will 
award Mueller the "Whopper of the Week." [Slate, 

Entity Tags: Robert S. Mueller III, Federal Bureau of Investigation

September 16, 2001: Bush Claim That Using Planes 
as Missiles Was Impossible to Predict Is 
Contradicted by Former CIA Official

President Bush says, "Never (in) anybody's 
thought processes ... about how to protect 
America did we ever think that the evil doers 
would fly not one but four commercial aircraft 
into precious US targets ... never." [US 
President, 9/24/2001] A month later, Paul Pillar, 
the former deputy director of the CIA's 
Counterterrorist Center, will say, "The idea of 
commandeering an aircraft and crashing it into 
the ground and causing high casualties, sure 
we've thought of it." [Los Angeles Times, 

Entity Tags: Paul R. Pillar, George W. Bush

September 16, 2001: Cheney Says There Was No 
Warning of 'Domestic Operation or Involving What 

Vice President Cheney acknowledges that US 
intelligence officials received threat 
information during the summer of 2001 "that a big 
operation was planned" by terrorists, possibly 
striking the US. But he also says, "No specific 
threat involving really a domestic operation or 
involving what happened, obviously-the cities, 
airliner and so forth." [Washington File, 

Entity Tags: Richard ("Dick") Cheney

September 25, 2001: FAA Head Says No One Imagined 
Airplanes Used As Lethal Weapons

FAA Administrator Jane Garvey claims that before 
9/11, "No one could imagine someone being willing 
to commit suicide, being willing to use an 
airplane as a lethal weapon." [CNN, 9/25/2001]

Entity Tags: Jane Garvey

October 17, 2001: Military Head Says He Hadn't Thought of 9/11-Type Scenario

Gen. Richard Myers, acting Joint Chiefs of Staff 
Chairman on 9/11, says of 9/11, "You hate to 
admit it, but we hadn't thought about this." He 
was promoted from Vice-Chairman to Chairman three 
days after 9/11. [American Forces Press Service, 

Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers

December 20, 2001: Bush Says He Didn't Feel 
'Sense of Urgency' to Deal With Bin Laden Before 

In an interview with the Washington Post, 
President Bush says that before 9/11: "I knew 
[bin Laden] was a menace and I knew he was a 
problem. I was prepared to look at a plan that 
would be a thoughtful plan that would bring him 
to justice, and would have given the order to do 
that. I have no hesitancy about going after him. 
But I didn't feel that sense of urgency." 
[Washington Post, 5/17/2002]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden
February 6, 2002: Tenet Is Proud of CIA's Handling of 9/11

CIA Director Tenet tells a Senate hearing that 
there was no 9/11 intelligence failure. When 
asked about the CIA record on 9/11, he says, "We 
are proud of that record." He also states that 
the 9/11 plot was "in the heads of three or four 
people" and thus nearly impossible to prevent. 
[USA Today, 2/7/2002]

Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency
April 2002: CIA Promotes False Hijacker 'Superman' Theory

CIA Deputy Director for Operations James Pavitt 
says of the hijackers: "The terror cells that 
we're going up against are typically small and 
all terrorist personnel ... were carefully 
screened. The number of personnel who know vital 
information, targets, timing, the exact methods 
to be used had to be smaller still. ... Against 
that degree of control, that kind of 
compartmentalization, that depth of discipline 
and fanaticism, I personally doubt-and I draw 
again upon my thirty years of experience in this 
business-that anything short of one of the 
knowledgeable inner-circle personnel or hijackers 
turning himself in to us would have given us 
sufficient foreknowledge to have prevented 
[9/11]." An FBI official calls this "the superman 
scenario." [New Yorker, 5/27/2002] The media 
repeats this notion. For instance, later in the 
year, the Chicago Tribune will comment, "The 
operational discipline surrounding Sept. 11 was 
so professional, and impenetrable, that 
intercepted telephone conversations, or even 
well-placed spies, might not have made a 
difference." [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/2002] But even 
in the same article that quotes Pavitt, a senior 
FBI official states that serious and potentially 
fatal errors were made by the hijackers. The 
article also notes that the hijackers did not 
maintain tight compartmentalization and 
discipline. [New Yorker, 5/27/2002] Eventually, 
more and more details will come out proving the 
"superman" notion false. The hijackers even told 
vital details of their plot to complete strangers 
(see April-May 2000; Late April-Mid-May 2000).

Entity Tags: James Pavitt
May 8, 2002: FBI Could Not Have Foreseen 9/11, Declares Director

FBI Director Mueller states, "[T]here was nothing 
the agency could have done to anticipate and 
prevent the [9/11] attacks." [US Congress, 

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III
May 15, 2002: Bush's August 6, 2001, Warning Is Leaked to Public

The New York Post has a banner headline on May 
16, 2002. [Source: New York Post]

The Bush administration is embarrassed when the 
CBS Evening News reveals that President Bush had 
been warned about al-Qaeda domestic attacks in 
August 2001 (see August 6, 2001). Bush had 
repeatedly said that he had "no warning" of any 
kind. Press Secretary Ari Fleischer states 
unequivocally that while Bush had been warned of 
possible hijackings, "[t]he president did 
not-not-receive information about the use of 
airplanes as missiles by suicide bombers." [New 
York Times, 5/15/2002; Washington Post, 
5/16/2002] "Until the attack took place, I think 
it's fair to say that no one envisioned that as a 
possibility." [MSNBC, 9/18/2002] Fleischer claims 
the August memo was titled "Bin Laden Determined 
to Strike the US," but the real title is soon 
found to end with "... Strike in US" [Washington 
Post, 5/18/2002] The Guardian will state a few 
days later, "the memo left little doubt that the 
hijacked airliners were intended for use as 
missiles and that intended targets were to be 
inside the US" It further states that, "now, as 
the columnist Joe Conason points out in the 
current edition of the New York Observer, 
'conspiracy' begins to take over from 
'incompetence' as a likely explanation for the 
failure to heed-and then inform the public 
about-warnings that might have averted the worst 
disaster in the nation's history." [Guardian, 

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Ari Fleischer, Bush 
administration, Joe Conason, George W. Bush

May 16, 2002: Nobody Predicted 9/11-Style Attacks, Says Rice

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice 
states, "I don't think anybody could have 
predicted that these people would take an 
airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, 
take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, 
that they would try to use an airplane as a 
missile," adding that "even in retrospect" there 
was "nothing" to suggest that. [White House, 
5/16/2002] Contradicting Rice's claims, former 
CIA Deputy Director John Gannon acknowledges that 
such a scenario has long been taken seriously by 
US intelligence: "If you ask anybody could 
terrorists convert a plane into a missile? 
[N]obody would have ruled that out." Rice also 
states, "The overwhelming bulk of the evidence 
was that this was an attack that was likely to 
take place overseas." [MSNBC, 5/17/2002] Slate 
awards Rice the "Whopper of the Week" when the 
title of Bush's August 6 briefing is revealed: 
"Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" [Slate, 
5/23/2002] Rice later will concede that "somebody 
did imagine it" but will say she did not know 
about such intelligence until well after this 
conference. [Associated Press, 9/21/2002]

Entity Tags: Pentagon, World Trade Center, Condoleezza Rice, John Gannon

May 17, 2002: Bush Claims He Did Not Know 'Enemy 
Was Going to Use Airplanes to Kill'

President Bush says in a speech, "Had I known 
that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill 
on that fateful morning, I would have done 
everything in my power to protect the American 
people." [US President, 5/20/2002]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush
May 21-22, 2002: Prisoner Told FBI of Imminent al-Qaeda Attacks

Walid Arkeh, a prisoner in Florida, is 
interviewed by a group of FBI agents in New York 
City. The agents seek information regarding the 
1988 US embassy bombings and are there to 
interview him about information he learned from 
three al-Qaeda prisoners he had befriended. 
During the interview, Arkeh claims that, in 
August 2001, he told the FBI that al-Qaeda was 
likely to attack the WTC and other targets soon, 
but he was dismissed (see August 21, 2001). After 
9/11, his warning still was not taken seriously 
by the local FBI. The New York FBI agents are 
stunned. One says to him: "Let me tell you 
something. If you know what happened in New York, 
we are all in deep sh_t. We are in deep trouble." 
Arkeh tells the agents that these prisoners 
hinted that the WTC would be attacked, and 
targets in Washington were mentioned as well. 
However, they did not tell him a date or that 
airplanes would be used. The New York FBI later 
will inform him that they find his information 
credible. [Orlando Sentinel, 10/30/2002] Arkeh is 
later deported to Jordan despite a Responsible 
Cooperators Program promising visas to those who 
provided important information to US-designated 
terrorist groups. (It is unclear whether any one 
ever has been given a reward through this 
program.) [Orlando Sentinel, 11/10/2002; Orlando 
Sentinel, 1/11/2003; Orlando Sentinel, 3/12/2003]

Entity Tags: World Trade Center, Federal Bureau 
of Investigation, Walid Arkeh, al-Qaeda

June 4, 2002: Bush Acknowledges Agencies Made 
Mistakes, Continues to Insist That 9/11 Could Not 
Have Been Prevented

For the first time, Bush concedes that his 
intelligence agencies had problems: "In terms of 
whether or not the FBI and the CIA were 
communicating properly, I think it is clear that 
they weren't." [London Times, 6/5/2002] However, 
in an address to the nation three days later, 
President Bush still maintains, "Based on 
everything I've seen, I do not believe anyone 
could have prevented the horror of September the 
11th." [Sydney Morning Herald, 6/8/2002] Days 
earlier, Newsweek reported that the FBI had 
prepared a detailed chart showing how agents 
could have uncovered the 9/11 plot if the CIA had 
told them what it knew about the hijackers Nawaf 
Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar sooner. (FBI 
Director Mueller denies the existence of such a 
chart. [Washington Post, 6/3/2002] ) One FBI 
official says, "There's no question we could have 
tied all 19 hijackers together." [Newsweek, 
6/2/2002] Attorney General Ashcroft also says it 
is unlikely better intelligence could have 
stopped the attacks. [Washington Post, 6/3/2002]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Federal 
Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, 
George W. Bush, John Ashcroft, Nawaf Alhazmi, 
Khalid Almihdhar

June 18, 2002: FBI Director Maintains 9/11 
Attacks Could Not Have Been Prevented

FBI Director Mueller testifies before the 
Congressional 9/11 inquiry. His testimony will be 
made public in September 2002. [Associated Press, 
9/26/2002] Mueller claims that with the possible 
exception of Zacarias Moussaoui, "[t]o this day 
we have found no one in the United States except 
the actual hijackers who knew of the plot and we 
have found nothing they did while in the United 
States that triggered a specific response about 
them." [US Congress, 9/26/2002] The 9/11 
Congressional Inquiry will later conclude near 
the end of 2002 that some hijackers had contact 
inside the US with individuals known to the FBI, 
and the hijackers "were not as isolated during 
their time in the United States as has been 
previously suggested." [Los Angeles Times, 
12/12/2002] Mueller also claims, "There were no 
slip-ups. Discipline never broke down. They gave 
no hint to those around them what they were 
about." [US Congress, 9/26/2002]

Entity Tags: Robert S. Mueller III, Zacarias 
Moussaoui, Federal Bureau of Investigation

October 17, 2002: NSA Denies Having Indications of 9/11 Planning

NSA Director Michael Hayden. [Source: NSA]

NSA Director Michael Hayden testifies before the 
9/11 Congressional Inquiry that the "NSA had no 
[indications] that al-Qaeda was specifically 
targeting New York and Washington ... or even 
that it was planning an attack on US soil." 
Before 9/11, the "NSA had no knowledge ... that 
any of the attackers were in the United States." 
Supposedly, a post-9/11 NSA review found no 
intercepts of calls involving any of the 19 
hijackers. [Reuters, 10/17/2002; USA Today, 
10/18/2002; US Congress, 10/17/2002] Yet, in the 
summer of 2001 (see Summer 2001), the NSA 
intercepted communications between Khalid Shaikh 
Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and 
hijacker Mohamed Atta, when he was in charge of 
operations in the US. [Independent, 6/6/2002; 
Independent, 9/15/2002] What was said between the 
two has not been revealed. The NSA also 
intercepted multiple phone calls from Abu 
Zubaida, bin Laden's chief of operations, to the 
US in the days before 9/11 (see Early September 
2001). But who was called or what was said has 
not been revealed. [ABC News, 2/18/2002]

Entity Tags: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, 
al-Qaeda, Michael Hayden, National Security Agency

January 22, 2003: CIA Chief Says Intelligence Was Insufficient to Prevent 9/11

CIA Deputy Director for Operations James Pavitt 
says he is convinced that all the intelligence 
the CIA had on September 11, 2001, could not have 
prevented the 9/11 attacks. "It was not as some 
have suggested, a simple matter of connecting the 
dots," he claims. [Reuters, 1/23/2003]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, James Pavitt

April 13, 2004: Bush Continues to Insist That 
9/11 Could Not Have Been Prevented

In a press conference, President Bush states, "We 
knew he [Osama bin Laden] had designs on us, we 
knew he hated us. But there was nobody in our 
government, and I don't think [in] the prior 
government, that could envision flying airplanes 
into buildings on such a massive scale." 
[Guardian, 4/15/2004] He also says, "Had I any 
inkling whatsoever that the people were going to 
fly airplanes into buildings, we would have moved 
heaven and earth to save the country." [US 
President, 4/19/2004; New York Times, 4/18/2004] 
Two days earlier, he said, "Had I known there was 
going to be an attack on America I would have 
moved mountains to stop the attack." [New York 
Times, 4/18/2004] In July 2004, he will claim 
even more generally, "Had we had any inkling 
whatsoever that terrorists were about to attack 
our country, we would have moved heaven and earth 
to protect America." [New Jersey Star-Ledger, 

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush
June 4, 2004: Rumsfeld Says US Lacked Intelligence to Stop 9/11

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says the US would have 
stopped 9/11, but "We lacked the intelligence 
that might have prevented it." He blames the lack 
of "a source inside the group of people that had 
planned and executed those attacks. ... Had we 
had a source inside there, we undoubtedly would 
have been able to stop it. We did not." [Newsday, 

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Donald Rumsfeld

October 26, 2004: CIA Official Still Believes 
9/11 Attacks Could Not Have Been Stopped

James Pavitt. [Source: Publicity photo]

James Pavitt, the CIA's Deputy Director of 
Operations, states, "Given what we now know, in 
all the hindsight of the year 2004, I still do 
not believe we could have stopped the [9/11] 
attacks." [New York Times, 10/27/2004] Pavitt is 
said to be heavily criticized in a 
still-classified CIA report about that agency's 
failures to stop the 9/11 attacks (see January 7, 

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, James Pavitt

November 2004: FBI Officer Calls 9/11 Plot Unstoppable

Michael Rolince, head of counterintelligence at 
the FBI's Washington office, says of the 9/11 
hijackers, "These guys were pros. For us to have 
done anything, these guys had to make a mistake. 
And they didn't. Could we have generated enough 
information-ever-to keep them off those planes? I 
doubt it." [Vanity Fair, 11/2004] In 2002, an FBI 
agent called this kind of argument "the Superman 
scenario." The notion that the hijackers made no 
mistakes had been discredited well before 
Rolince's comments (see April 2002).

Entity Tags: Michael Rolince

President Bill Clinton. [Source: Library of Congress]

Bill Clinton replaces George H. W. Bush as US 
president. He remains president until January 

Entity Tags: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, George Herbert Walker Bush

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

An attempt to topple the WTC fails, but six 
people are killed and over 1000 are injured in 
the misfired blast. An FBI explosives expert 
later states that, "If they had found the exact 
architectural Achilles' heel or if the bomb had 
been a little bit bigger, not much more, 500 
pounds more, I think it would have brought her 
down." Ramzi Yousef, who has close ties to bin 
Laden, organizes the attempt. [US Congress, 
2/24/1998; Village Voice, 3/30/1993] The New York 
Times later reports on Emad Salem, an undercover 
agent who will be the key government witness in 
the trial against Yousef. Salem testifies that 
the FBI knew about the attack beforehand and told 
him they would thwart it by substituting a 
harmless powder for the explosives. However, an 
FBI supervisor called off this plan, and the 
bombing was not stopped. [New York Times, 
10/28/1993] Other suspects were ineptly 
investigated before the bombing as early as 1990. 
Several of the bombers were trained by the CIA to 
fight in the Afghan war, and the CIA later 
concludes, in internal documents, that it was 
"partly culpable" for this bombing. [Independent, 
11/1/1998] US officials later state that the 
overall mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid 
Shaikh Mohammed, is a close relative, probably an 
uncle, of Yousef. [Independent, 6/6/2002; Los 
Angeles Times, 9/1/2002] One of the attackers 
even leaves a message which will later be found 
by investigators, stating, "Next time, it will be 
very precise." [Associated Press, 9/30/2001]

Entity Tags: Emad Salem, World Trade Center, 
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Shaikh 
Mohammed, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin 
Laden, Ramzi Yousef

After February 26, 1993: Threat Assessments 
Predict Possibility of Terrorists Crashing Plane 
into WTC

Following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing 
(see February 26, 1993), the New York Port 
Authority asks investigative and security 
consulting firm Kroll Associates to help design 
new security measures for the WTC. Kroll's Deputy 
Chairman Brian Michael Jenkins leads the analysis 
of future terrorist threats and how they might be 
addressed. Assessments conclude that a second 
terrorist attack against the WTC is probable. 
Although it is considered unlikely, the 
possibility of terrorists deliberately flying a 
plane into the WTC towers is included in the 
range of possible threats. [Jenkins and 
Edwards-Winslow, 9/2003, pp. 11]

Entity Tags: Brian Michael Jenkins, Kroll 
Associates, New York Port Authority, World Trade 

After February 26, 1993: Security Chief Predicts 
Terrorists Flying Plane into WTC

Rick Rescorla, a Vietnam veteran who also 
previously worked for British intelligence, is 
vice president for security at Morgan Stanley 
Dean Witter and has an office in the south WTC 
tower. Following the 1993 bombing, he believes 
terrorists will attack the WTC again, this time 
by flying a cargo plane, maybe loaded with 
biological or chemical weapons, into it. Fred 
McBee, a close friend of his, will later say, "He 
assumed that it would be the terrorists' mission 
to bring the Trade Center down." Rescorla 
therefore wants his company to leave the WTC and 
relocate to New Jersey, but their lease doesn't 
expire until 2006. Previously, he had predicted 
an attack much like the 1993 bombing: Around 
1990, along with friend and ex-special forces 
soldier Dan Hill, he had done a security survey 
of the WTC and concluded that the biggest threat 
to it was an underground truck bomb. He had met 
with New York Port Authority security officials 
about this, but, according to Hill, was told it 
was none of his business. Rescorla will be in his 
office on the 44th floor of the south tower at 
the time of the first attack on 9/11, and 
immediately order and supervise a successful 
evacuation of almost all of Morgan Stanley's 
2,700 workers from the building. Unfortunately, 
he will himself die when the tower collapses. 
[Washington Post, 10/28/2001; New Yorker, 
2/11/2002; National Review, 9/20/2002; BBC, 

Entity Tags: World Trade Center, Rick Rescorla

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

In March 1995, Emad Salem, an FBI informant and 
an ex-Egyptian army officer, publicly testifies 
in a 1995 trial of the 1993 World Trade Center 
bombing plotters. He mentions a plot taking place 
at this time by Islamic radicals tied to the 
"Blind Sheikh," Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman (see 
July 1990). A Sudanese Air Force pilot would 
hijack an airplane, attack Egyptian President 
Hosni Mubarak, then crash the plane into the US 
Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Siddig Siddig Ali, who 
will be one of the defendants in the trial, asks 
Salem for help to find "gaps in the air defense 
in Egypt" so the pilot could "bomb the 
presidential house and then turn around, crash 
the plane into the American embassy after he 
ejects himself out of the plane." Sheikh Omar 
Abdul-Rahman gives his approval to the plot, but 
apparently it never goes beyond the discussion 
stage. Although details of this plot are in 
public records of the World Trade Center bombing 
trial, both the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry and 
9/11 Commission fail to mention it. [Lance, 2004, 
pp. 196; Intelwire, 4/8/2004] Abdul-Rahman is 
closely tied to bin Laden and in fact in 1998 
there will be an al-Qaeda hijacking plot designed 
to free him from prison (see 1998). Individuals 
connected to Abdul-Rahman and al-Qaeda will also 
plot to crash an airplane into the White House in 
1996 (see January 1996).

Entity Tags: Siddig Siddig Ali, 9/11 
Congressional Inquiry, 9/11 Commission, Emad 
Salem, World Trade Center, al-Qaeda, Sheikh Omar 

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

Eight people are arrested, foiling a plot to bomb 
several New York City landmarks. The targets were 
the United Nations building, 26 Federal Plaza, 
and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. The plotters 
are connected to Ramzi Yousef and Sheikh Omar 
Abdul-Rahman. If the bombing, planned for later 
in the year, had been successful, thousands would 
have died. [US Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Ramzi Yousef, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman

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

Eighteen US soldiers are attacked and killed in 
Mogadishu, Somalia, in a spontaneous gun battle 
following an unsuccessful attempt by US Army 
Rangers to snatch a local warlord. (This event 
later becomes the subject of the movie Black Hawk 
Down.) A 1998 US indictment will charge bin Laden 
and his followers with training the attackers. 
[PBS Frontline, 10/3/2002] A key link between bin 
Laden and the Somali killers of US soldiers 
appears to be Pakistani militant leader Maulana 
Masood Azhar. [Los Angeles Times, 2/25/2002] 
Azhar is associated with Pakistan's ISI. He will 
be imprisoned briefly in Pakistan after 9/11 and 
then released (see December 14, 2002). Double 
agent Ali Mohamed apparently helps train the 
Somalis involved in the attack (see 1993). Also, 
an informant will later testify in an early 2001 
US trial that he flew al-Qaeda leader Mohammed 
Atef and four others from bin Laden's base in 
Sudan to Nairobi, Kenya, to train Somalis. [New 
York Times, 6/3/2002] In a March 1997 interview, 
bin Laden will say of the Somalia attack, "With 
Allah's grace, Muslims over there cooperated with 
some Arab mujahedeen who were in Afghanistan ... 
against the American occupation troops and killed 
large numbers of them." [CNN, 4/20/2001]

Entity Tags: Ali Mohamed, Maulana Masood Azhar, 
Bin Laden Family, Pakistan Directorate for 
Inter-Services Intelligence, Anwar Al Aulaqi, Ali 
Mohamed, Osama bin Laden

1994: FBI Watches Suicide Bomber Train in Arizona, Fails to Take Action

By 1990, Arizona became one of the main centers 
in the US for radical Muslims, and it remains so 
through 9/11. For instance, a terrorism expert 
will later call the principal mosque in Tuscon, 
Arizona, the focal point of "basically, the first 
cell of al Qaeda in the United States; that is 
where it all started." A number of future 
al-Qaeda leaders live in Arizona in the early 
1990s, including Mubarak al Duri, al-Qaeda's 
chief agent attempting to purchase weapons of 
mass destruction, and Wadih El Hage, bin Laden's 
personal secretary who will later be convicted 
for a role in the 1998 US embassy bombings (see 
August 7, 1998). The founder of the mosque, Wael 
Hamza Jelaidan, is later considered one of the 
founders of al-Qaeda and its logistics chief. 
Around 1991, future 9/11 hijacker Hani Hanjour 
moved to Arizona for the first time (see October 
3, 1991-February 1992) and he will spend much of 
the rest of the decade in the state. The FBI 
apparently remains largely oblivious of Hanjour, 
though one FBI informant claims that by 1998 they 
"knew everything about the guy." [New York Times, 
6/19/2002; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 521; 
Washington Post, 9/10/2002] In 1994, the Phoenix 
FBI office uncovers startling evidence connecting 
Arizona to radical Muslim militants. According to 
FBI agent James Hauswirth, they are told that a 
group of "heavy duty associates" of al-Qaeda 
leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman have arrived in 
the area, fleeing New York in the wake of the 
1993 World Trade Center bombing. They are in the 
area to train a recruit as a suicide bomber. The 
recruit apparently is an FBI informant. FBI agent 
Ken Williams, who will later author the July 2001 
"Phoenix memo," orders surveilance of the 
training. The informant is driven to a remote 
stretch of desert and instructed in how to use 
explosives. A device is thrown at a car, but it 
fails to explode. The FBI secretly videotapes the 
entire incident. One of the two men is later 
positively linked to Abdul-Rahman. But apparently 
the investigation into the people involved fails 
to make progress. Hauswirth later blames this on 
a lack of support from higher-ups in the Phoenix 
office, recalling, "The drug war was the big 
thing back then, and terrorism was way on the 
back burner." Additionally, also in 1994, a key 
FBI informant will begin monitoring local radical 
militants (see October 1996). However, terrorism 
will remain a low priority for the Phoenix, 
Arizona, FBI office (see April 2000-June 2001). 
[Los Angeles Times, 5/26/2002; New York Times, 
6/19/2002; Lance, 2003, pp. 209-210]

Entity Tags: Hani Hanjour, Sheikh Omar 
Abdul-Rahman, Wael Hamza Jelaidan, Mubarak al 
Duri, James Hauswirth, Ken Williams, Federal 
Bureau of Investigation, Wadih El-Hage

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

A flight engineer at Federal Express who is 
facing a potentially career-ending disciplinary 
hearing boards a DC-10 as a passenger, storms the 
cockpit with a hammer, and hits each of the three 
members of the cockpit crew in the head. He 
severely injures all of them, but they 
nonetheless are able to wrestled him down and 
regain control of the plane. Company employees 
claim he was trying to hit a company building in 
Memphis, Tennessee. [New York Times, 10/3/2001]

Entity Tags: Federal Express

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

A suicidal and apparently apolitical pilot named 
Frank Corder steals a single-engine plane from an 
airport north of Baltimore, Maryland, and 
attempts to crash it into the White House. He 
crashes into a wall two stories below the 
presidential bedroom (President Clinton is not 
there at the time). Corder is killed on impact. . 
[New York Times, 10/3/2001; Time, 9/26/1994] A 
Time magazine story shortly after the incident 
notes, "The unlikely incident confirmed all too 
publicly what security officials have long feared 
in private: the White House is vulnerable to 
sneak attack from the air. 'For years I have 
thought a terrorist suicide pilot could readily 
divert his flight from an approach to Washington 
to blow up the White House,' said Richard Helms, 
CIA director from 1966 to 1972." The article 
further notes that an attack of this type had 
been a concern since 1974, when a disgruntled US 
Army private staged an unauthorized helicopter 
landing on the South Lawn. Special communications 
lines were established between the Secret Service 
and Washington's National Airport control tower 
to the Secret Service operations center, but the 
line is ineffective in this case because no 
flight controller pays attention to the flight in 
time. [Time, 9/26/1994]

Entity Tags: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, 
Frank Corder, Secret Service, Richard Helms

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

One of Ramzi Yousef's timers seized by 
Philippines police in January 1995. [Source: 
Peter Lance]

Ramzi Yousef attempts a trial run of Operation 
Bojinka, planting a small bomb on a Philippine 
Airlines flight to Tokyo, and disembarking on a 
stopover before the bomb is detonated. The bomb 
explodes, killing one man and injuring several 
others. It would have successfully caused the 
plane to crash if not for the heroic efforts of 
the pilot. [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/2002; US 
Congress, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: Ramzi Yousef, Operation Bojinka

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

Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, a brother-in-law to bin 
Laden, is arrested in the US. Khalifa, who 
financed the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the 
Philippines, has recently been sentenced to death 
in Jordan for funding a group that staged a 
series of bombings in that country. The FBI finds 
and quickly translates literature in Khalifa's 
luggage advocating training in assassination, 
explosives, and weapons, bombing churches, and 
murdering Catholic priests. Over the next weeks, 
they discover his ties to funding bin Laden's 
activities, as well as to Ramzi Yousef and other 
Operation Bojinka plotters (see December 16, 
1994-February 1995). [Lance, 2003, pp. 233-35; 
New York Times, 5/2/2002] On Khalifa's US visa 
application, he listed his occupation as an 
"employee of the Saudi Binladin Group." [Der 
Spiegel (Hamburg), 6/6/2005] Bin Laden could be 
connected to many Islamic militant activities 
through Khalifa's connections. Yet, in January 
1995, Secretary of State Warren Christopher 
writes to Attorney General Janet Reno asking for 
Khalifa's deportation to Jordan for the sake of 
international cooperation against terrorism. By 
April, Khalifa's conviction in Jordan is 
overturned, and the evidence of his ties to 
Islamic militancy is growing. For instance, US 
media accounts in April allege he "bankrolls a 
network of Arab terrorists" including Ramzi 
Yousef, plus "violent Muslim extremists" in the 
Philippines, the Mideast, Russia, Romania, 
Albania, and the Netherlands. It is noted that he 
denies "any nefarious link with his brother-in- 
law, Osama bin Laden, who financed Arab 
volunteers to fight the Soviet army in 
Afghanistan." [San Francisco Chronicle, 
4/18/1995; Associated Press, 4/26/1995] Yet the 
US government's attempt to deport him to Jordan 
continues. Khalifa is sent to Jordan in May 1995. 
In a later retrial there, he is set free. Says 
one expert working at the CIA's Counter Terrorism 
Center at the time, "I remember people at the CIA 
who were ripsh_t at the time. Not even speaking 
in retrospect, but contemporaneous with what the 
intelligence community knew about bin Laden, 
Khalifa's deportation was unreal." [Lance, 2003, 
pp. 233-35; New York Times, 5/2/2002; San 
Francisco Chronicle, 4/18/1995; Associated Press, 
4/26/1995] The Saudi government claims that they 
jailed Khalifa after 9/11, but in fact he appears 
to be free and running a seafood restaurant in 
that country. [New York Times, 5/2/2002; Chicago 
Tribune, 2/22/2004]

Entity Tags: Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Osama bin 
Laden, Warren Christopher, Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, Sheik Mohammed ibn Rashid al 
Maktum, Ramzi Yousef

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

When bin Laden's brother-in-law Mohamed Jamal 
Khalifa is arrested in San Francisco, his 
phonebook and electronic organizer are found. 
They contain phone numbers to Bojinka plotter 
Wali Khan Amin Shah, associates of Bojinka 
plotter Ramzi Yousef, and Osama bin Laden's phone 
number. When the Manila apartment used by these 
two plotters is raided, Yousef's computer 
contains Khalifa's phone number. Wali Khan Shah 
is arrested several days later, and his phone 
book and phone bills contain five phone numbers 
for Khalifa, plus Khalifa's business card. Phone 
bills also show frequent telephone traffic 
between Khalifa and Khan's apartment in Manila in 
November 1994. When Yousef is arrested in 
February 1995 (see February 7, 1995), he has 
Khalifa's phone number and address, and more 
information on him in an encrypted computer file. 
Not surprisingly given all these links, Yousef is 
questioned about his ties to Khalifa within hours 
of being taken into US custody. He admits that he 
knew the name bin Laden, and knew him to be a 
relative of Khalifa's. [US Congress, 4/29/2002; 
San Francisco Chronicle, 4/18/1995; Associated 
Press, 4/26/1995] Khalifa has already been tied 
to two others convicted of the 1993 WTC bombing. 
Yet despite these ties to Islamic militancy, and 
others, he will be deported from the US (see 
December 16, 1994-May 1995).

Entity Tags: Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Federal 
Bureau of Investigation, Ramzi Yousef, Wali Khan 
Amin Shah, Osama bin Laden

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

An Air France Airbus A300 carrying 227 passengers 
and crew is hijacked in Algiers, Algeria by four 
Algerians wearing security guard uniforms. They 
are members of a militant group linked to 
al-Qaeda. They land in Marseille, France, and 
demand a very large amount of jet fuel. During a 
prolonged standoff, the hijackers kill two 
passengers and release 63 others. They are 
heavily armed with 20 sticks of dynamite, assault 
rifles, hand grenades, and pistols. French 
authorities later determine their aim is to crash 
the plane into the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but 
French Special Forces storm the plane before it 
can depart from Marseille. [New York Times, 
10/3/2001; Time, 1/2/1995] Time magazine details 
the Eiffel Tower suicide plan in a cover story. A 
week later, Philippine investigators breaking up 
the Bojinka plot in Manila find a copy of the 
Time story in bomber Ramzi Yousef's possessions. 
Author Peter Lance notes that Yousef had close 
ties to Algerian Islamic militants and may have 
been connected to or inspired by the plot. [Time, 
1/2/1995; Lance, 2003, pp. 258] Even though this 
is the third attempt in 1994 to crash an airplane 
into a building, the New York Times will note 
after 9/11 that "aviation security officials 
never extrapolated any sort of pattern from those 
incidents." [New York Times, 10/3/2001]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Eiffel Tower, Ramzi Yousef

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

Responding to an apartment fire, Philippine 
investigators uncover an al-Qaeda plot to 
assassinate the Pope that is scheduled to take 
place when he visits the Philippines one week 
later. While investigating that scheme, they also 
uncover Operation Bojinka, planned by the same 
people: 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef and 9/11 
mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. [Independent, 
6/6/2002; Los Angeles Times, 6/24/2002; Los 
Angeles Times, 9/1/2002] The first phase of the 
plan is to explode 11 or 12 passenger planes over 
the Pacific Ocean. [Agence France-Presse, 
12/8/2001] Had this plot been successful, up to 
4,000 people would have been killed in planes 
flying to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, 
and New York. [Insight, 5/27/2002] All the bombs 
would be planted at about the same time, but some 
would be timed to go off weeks or even months 
later. Presumably worldwide air travel could be 
interrupted for months. [Lance, 2003, pp. 260-61] 
This phase of Operation Bojinka was scheduled to 
go forward just two weeks later on January 21. 
[Insight, 5/27/2002]

Entity Tags: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, al-Qaeda, 
Operation Bojinka, Ramzi Yousef, World Trade 

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

Abdul Hakim Murad. [Source: Justice Department]

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

Entity Tags: Abdul Hakim Murad, Operation 
Bojinka, Rodolfo Mendoza, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, 
Ramzi Yousef

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

As Colonel Mendoza, the Philippines investigator, 
continues to interrogate Operation Bojinka 
plotter Abdul Hakim Murad, details of a 
post-Bojinka "second wave" emerge. Author Peter 
Lance calls this phase "a virtual blueprint of 
the 9/11 attacks." Murad reveals a plan to hijack 
commercial airliners at some point after the 
effect of Bojinka dies down. Murad himself had 
been training in the US for this plot. He names 
the buildings that would be targeted for attack: 
CIA headquarters, the Pentagon, an unidentified 
nuclear power plant, the Transamerica Tower in 
San Francisco, the Sears Tower, and the World 
Trade Center. Murad continues to reveal more 
information about this plot until he is handed 
over to the FBI in April. [Lance, 2003, pp. 
278-80] He identifies approximately ten other men 
who met him at the flight schools or were getting 
similar training. They came from Sudan, United 
Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. 
Apparently none of these pilots match the names 
of any of the 9/11 hijackers. However, he also 
gives information pointing to the al-Qaeda 
operative Hambali through a front company named 
Konsonjaya. Hambali will host an important 
al-Qaeda meeting attended by two of the 9/11 
hijackers (see January 5-8, 2000). [Associated 
Press, 3/5/2002] Colonel Mendoza even makes a 
flow chart connecting many key players together, 
including bin Laden, bin Laden's brother-in-law 
Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Ramzi Yousef, and 9/11 
mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (named as Salem 
Ali a.k.a. Mohmad). Philippine authorities later 
claim that they provide all of this information 
to US authorities, but the US fails to follow up 
on any of it. [Lance, 2003, pp. 303-4] Khalifa is 
in US custody and released even after the 
Philippine authorities provide this information 
about him.

Entity Tags: Operation Bojinka, Khalid Shaikh 
Mohammed, Ramzi Yousef, Sears Tower, Rodolfo 
Mendoza, Abdul Hakim Murad, al-Qaeda, Federal 
Bureau of Investigation, Pentagon, Mohammed Jamal 
Khalifa, World Trade Center, Nurjaman Riduan 

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

Ramzi Yousef.

Ramzi Yousef is arrested in Pakistan. At the 
time, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is staying in the 
same building, and brazenly gives an interview to 
Time magazine as "Khalid Sheikh," describing 
Yousef's capture. [Lance, 2003, pp. 328] Yousef 
had recruited Istaique Parker to implement a 
limited version of Operation Bojinka. Parker was 
to place bombs on board two flights bound from 
Bangkok to the US, but got cold feet and instead 
turned in Yousef. [Lance, 2003, pp. 284-85] The 
next day, as Yousef is flying over New York City 
on his way to a prison cell, an FBI agent says to 
him, "You see the Trade Centers down there, 
they're still standing, aren't they?" Yousef 
responds, "They wouldn't be if I had enough money 
and enough explosives." [MSNBC, 9/23/2001; 
Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp. 135] 
Yousef also soon admits to ties with Wali Khan 
Shah, who fought with bin Laden in Afghanistan, 
and Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, one of bin Laden's 
brothers-in-law, who is being held by the US at 
the time. Despite Yousef's confession, Khalifa is 
released later in the year. Although Yousef talks 
freely, he makes no direct mention of bin Laden, 
or the planned second wave of Operation Bojinka 
that closely parallels the later 9/11 plot. 
[Lance, 2003, pp. 297-98]

Entity Tags: Ramzi Yousef, Mohammed Jamal 
Khalifa, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Wali 
Khan Amin Shah, Operation Bojinka, Khalid Shaikh 

Spring 1995: US Authorities Learn of Bojinka 
Second Wave Plot from Yousef's Computer

Rafael Garcia, Chairman and CEO of the Mega Group 
of Computer Companies in the Philippines, often 
works with the Philippine National Bureau of 
Investigation (NBI) to decode computer files. He 
is assigned the task of decoding encrypted files 
on Ramzi Yousef's computer. Garcia will later 
comment to a popular Philippine newsweekly, "This 
was how we found out about the various plots 
being hatched by the cell of Ramzi Yousef. First, 
there was the plot to assassinate Pope John Paul 
II. Then, we discovered a second, even more 
sinister plot: Project Bojinka... This was a plot 
to blow up 11 airlines over the Pacific Ocean, 
all in a 48-hour period... Then we found another 
document that discussed a second alternative to 
crash the 11 planes into selected targets in the 
United States instead of just blowing them up in 
the air. These included the CIA headquarters in 
Langley, Virginia; the World Trade Center in New 
York; the Sears Tower in Chicago; the 
Transamerica Tower in San Francisco; and the 
White House in Washington, DC... I submitted my 
findings to NBI officials, who most certainly 
turned over the report (and the computer) either 
to then Senior Superintendent Avelino Razon of 
the [Philippine National Police] or to Bob 
Heafner of the FBI... I have since had meetings 
with certain US authorities and they have 
confirmed to me that indeed, many things were 
done in response to my report." [Newsbreak 
Weekly, 11/15/2001] Around the same time, 
Philippine interrogators were learning the same 
information from captured Bojinka plotter Abdul 
Hakim Murad (see February-April 1995). There has 
been some question whether Murad's complete 
description of Bojinka's second wave plot reached 
US authorities (see May 11, 1995), but if it did 
not, the US appears to have learned the 
information from Garcia's report.In fact, after 
9/11, Garcia will claim to have spoken to a 
retired FBI agent who will recall being aware of 
the Bojinka second wave plot, and says of it, 
"This was ignored in the preparation of evidence 
for the trial [of the Bojinka plotters] because 
there was no actual attempt to crash any plane 
into a US target. ... So there was no crime to 
complain about." [Village Voice, 9/26/2001]

Entity Tags: National Bureau of Investigation, 
Ramzi Yousef, Rafael Garcia, Abdul Hakim Murad, 
Federal Bureau of Investigation

Spring 1995: More Evidence That the WTC Remains an Target

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

Entity Tags: Operation Bojinka

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

Time magazine's cover story reports on the 
potential for anti-American militants to kill 
thousands in highly destructive acts. Senator Sam 
Nunn (D) outlines a scenario in which terrorists 
destroy the US Capitol Building by crashing a 
radio-controlled airplane into it. "It's not 
far-fetched," he says. His idea was taken from 
Tom Clancy's book Debt of Honour published in 
August 1994. [Time, 4/3/1995] High-ranking 
al-Qaeda leaders will claim later that Flight 
93's target was the Capitol Building. [Guardian, 

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, World Trade Center, Sam Nunn
May 11, 1995: FBI Memo Fails to Mention Operation Bojinka Second Wave

FBI agents, having held Operation Bojinka plotter 
Abdul Hakim Murad for about a month, write a memo 
containing what they have learned from 
interrogating him. The memo contains many 
interesting revelations, including that Ramzi 
Yousef, a mastermind of the 1993 World Trade 
Center bombing, "wanted to return to the United 
States in the future to bomb the World Trade 
Center a second time." However, this memo does 
not contain a word about the second wave of 
Operation Bojinka-to fly about 12 hijacked 
airplanes into prominent US buildings-even though 
Murad had recently fully confessed this plot to 
Philippines investigators, who claim they turned 
over tapes, transcripts, and reports with Murad's 
confessions of the plot to the US when they 
handed over Murad. It has not been explained why 
this plot is not mentioned in the FBI's summary 
of Murad's interrogation. [Lance, 2003, pp. 
280-82] If the US does not learn of the second 
wave plot from Murad's interrogation, it appears 
the US get the same information from a different 
source at about the same time (see Spring 1995). 
After 9/11, a Philippine investigator will refer 
to this third plot when he says of the 9/11 
attacks, "It's Bojinka. We told the Americans 
everything about Bojinka. Why didn't they pay 
attention?" [Washington Post, 9/23/2001] In an 
interview after 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will 
claim that the 9/11 attacks were a refinement and 
resurrection of this plot. [Australian, 9/9/2002]

Entity Tags: Ramzi Yousef, Abdul Hakim Murad, 
Operation Bojinka, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, World 
Trade Center, Federal Bureau of Investigation

June 3, 1995: Plot to Crash Plane in CIA Headquarters First Mentioned in Media

A search of the Lexis-Nexus database indicates 
that the first media mention of the Bojinka plot 
to crash an airplane into CIA headquarters occurs 
on this day. An article in the Advertiser, an 
Australian newspaper, will first mention the 
Bojinka plots to assassinate the Pope and then 
blow up about a dozen airplanes over the Pacific. 
Then the article states, "Then the ultimate 
assault on the so-called 'infidels': a plane 
flown by a suicide bomber was to nose-dive and 
crash into the American headquarters of the CIA, 
creating carnage." [Advertiser, 6/3/1995] While 
this first mention may be obscure from a United 
States point of view, the Bojinka planes as 
weapons plot will be mentioned in other media 
outlets in the years to come. In fact, in 2002 
CNN correspondent David Ensor will comment about 
CNN coverage, "[E]veryone, all your viewers who 
wanted to, could have known that at one point 
Ramzi Yousef and some others were allegedly 
plotting to fly an airliner into the CIA 
headquarters in the United States, that, in fact, 
the idea of using an airliner as a weapon, that 
idea at least, had already been aired. .... We 
talked about it. We've done stories about it for 
years, frankly." [CNN, 6/5/2002]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Operation Bojinka

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

A US National Intelligence Estimate concludes 
that the most likely terrorist threat will come 
from emerging "transient" terrorist groupings 
that are more fluid and multinational than older 
organizations and state-sponsored surrogates. 
This "new terrorist phenomenon" is made up of 
loose affiliations of Islamist extremists 
violently angry at the US. Lacking strong 
organization, they get weapons, money, and 
support from an assortment of governments, 
factions, and individual benefactors. [9/11 
Commission, 4/14/2004] The estimate warns that 
terrorists are intent on striking specific 
targets inside the US, especially landmark 
buildings in Washington and New York. . It says, 
"Should terrorists launch new attacks, we believe 
their preferred targets will be US Government 
facilities and national symbols, financial and 
transportation infrastructure nodes, or public 
gathering places. Civil aviation remains a 
particularly attractive target in light of the 
fear and publicity that the downing of an airline 
would evoke and the revelations last summer of 
the US air transport sector's vulnerabilities." 
In 1997, the intelligence estimate is updated 
with bin Laden mentioned on the first page as an 
emerging threat and points out he might be 
interested in attacks inside the US. However, 
this new estimate is only two sentences long and 
lacks any strategic analysis on how to address 
the threat. [Associated Press, 4/16/2004; 9/11 
Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 54 ]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

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

Two truck bombs kill five Americans and two 
Indians in the US-operated Saudi National Guard 
training center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda 
is blamed for the attacks. [Associated Press, 
8/19/2002] The attack changes US investigators' 
views of the role of bin Laden, from al-Qaeda 
financier to its leader. [Miller, Stone, and 
Mitchell, 2002, pp. 150] The Vinnell Corporation, 
thought by some experts to be a CIA front, owns 
the facility that has been attacked. [London 
Times, 5/14/2003]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Vinnell Corporation, 
Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden

1996: FBI Fumbles Flight School Investigation; 
Murad and Eleven Other al-Qaeda Pilots Trained in 

Finding a business card for a US flight school in 
the possession of Operation Bojinka plotter Abdul 
Hakim Murad, the FBI investigates the US flight 
schools Murad attended. [Washington Post, 
9/23/2001] He had trained at about six flight 
schools off and on, starting in 1990. Apparently, 
the FBI closes the investigation when they fail 
to find any other potential suspects. [Insight, 
5/27/2002] However, Murad had already confessed 
to Philippine authorities the names of about ten 
other associates learning to fly in the US, and 
the Philippine authorities had asserted that they 
provided this information to the US. Murad 
detailed how he and a Pakistani friend 
crisscrossed the US, attending flight schools in 
New York, Texas, California and North Carolina. 
The Associated Press reports, "He also identified 
to Filipino police approximately 10 other Middle 
Eastern men who met him at the flight schools or 
were getting similar training. One was a Middle 
Eastern flight instructor who came to the United 
States for more training; another a former 
soldier in the United Arab Emirates. Others came 
from Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. None of 
the pilots match the names of the 19 hijackers 
from Sept. 11." An assistant manager at a 
Schenectady, New York, flight school where Murad 
trained later recalls, "There were several 
[Middle Eastern pilot students] here. At one 
point three or four were here. Supposedly they 
didn't know each other before, they just happened 
to show up here at the same time. But they all 
obviously knew each other." However, US 
investigators somehow fail to detect any of these 
suspects before 9/11, despite being given their 
names. [Associated Press, 3/5/2002]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, al-Qaeda, Abdul Hakim Murad

January 1996: Muslim Extremists Plan Suicide Attack on White House

US intelligence obtains information concerning a 
suicide attack on the White House planned by 
individuals connected with Sheikh Omar 
Abdul-Rahman and a key al-Qaeda operative. The 
plan is to fly from Afghanistan to the US and 
crash into the White House. [US Congress, 

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman

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

Ramzi Yousef, mastermind along with Khalid Shaikh 
Mohammed of the 1993 WTC bombing and the 
Operation Bojinka plots, is in a maximum-security 
prison, sentenced to hundreds of years of prison 
time for his plots. However, he can communicate 
with Gregory Scarpa Jr., a mob figure in the cell 
next to him. The FBI sets up a sting operation 
with Scarpa's cooperation to learn more of what 
and whom Yousef knows. Scarpa is given a 
telephone, and he allows Yousef to use it. 
However, Yousef uses the sting operation for his 
own ends, communicating with operatives on the 
outside in code language without giving away 
their identities. He attempts to find passports 
to get co-conspirators into the US, and there is 
some discussion about imminent attacks on US 
passenger jets. Realizing the scheme has 
backfired, the FBI terminates the telephone sting 
in late 1996, but Yousef manages to keep 
communicating with the outside world for several 
more months. [Lance, 2003, pp. 280-82; New York 
Daily News, 9/24/2000; New York Daily News, 

Entity Tags: Ramzi Yousef, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gregory Scarpa Jr.

June 1996: Informant Exposes al-Qaeda Secrets to 
US; No Apparent Response Ensues

Jamal al-Fadl, an al-Qaeda operative from 
al-Qaeda's first meeting in the late 1980s until 
1995, tells the US everything he knows about 
al-Qaeda. Before al-Fadl's debriefings, US 
intelligence had amassed thick files on bin Laden 
and his associates and contacts. However, they 
had had no idea how the many pieces fit together. 
"Al-Fadl was the Rosetta Stone," an official 
says. "After al-Fadl, everything fell into 
place." [Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp. 
154-65] By late 1996, based largely on al-Fadl's 
information, the CIA definitively confirms that 
bin Laden is more of a operative than just a 
financier of the organization. The agency also 
learns the term "al-Qaeda" for the first time. 
[US Congress, 7/24/2003] Yet the US will not take 
"bin Laden or al-Qaeda all that seriously" until 
after the bombing of US embassies in Africa in 
1998. [Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp. 
213] It takes two years to turn al-Fadl's 
information into the first US indictment of bin 
Laden. [New York Times, 9/30/2001; US Congress, 
7/24/2003; PBS Frontline, 2001] It will come out 
in early 2001 that at this time al-Fadl warns US 
officials, "maybe [al-Qaeda] try to do something 
inside United States and they try to fight the 
United States Army outside, and also they try 
make bomb against some embassy outside." Two US 
embassies will be bombed in Africa in 1998 (see 
August 7, 1998). [CNN, 2/7/2001]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence 
Agency, Osama bin Laden, Jamal al-Fadl

June 25, 1996: Khobar Towers Are Bombed; Culprit Is Unclear

Explosions destroy the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, 
Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American soldiers and 
wounding 500. [CNN, 6/26/1996] Saudi officials 
later interrogate the suspects, declare them 
guilty, and execute them-without letting the FBI 
talk to them. [PBS Frontline, 2001; Irish Times, 
11/19/2001] Saudis blame Hezbollah, the 
Iranian-influenced group, but US investigators 
still believe bin Laden was somehow involved. 
[Seattle Times, 10/29/2001] US intelligence will 
eventually learn that that al-Qaeda's number two 
leader Ayman al-Zawahiri calls bin Laden 
immediately after the bombing to congratulate him 
on the operation. [New Yorker, 9/9/2002] The New 
York Times will later report that Mamoun 
Darkazanli, a suspected al-Qaeda financier with 
extensive ties to the al-Qaeda Hamburg cell, is 
involved in the attack. [New York Times, 
9/25/2001; New York Times, 9/29/2001] Bin Laden 
will admit to instigating the attacks in a 1998 
interview. [Miami Herald, 9/24/2001] Ironically, 
the bin Laden family's construction company is 
awarded the contract to rebuild the installation. 
[New Yorker, 11/5/2001] In 1997, Canada will 
catch one of the Khobar Tower attackers and 
extradite him to the US. However, in 1999, he 
will be shipped back to Saudi Arabia before he 
can reveal what he knows about al-Qaeda and the 
Saudis. One anonymous insider will call it 
"President Clinton's parting kiss to the Saudis." 
[Palast, 2002, pp. 102] In June 2001, a US grand 
jury will indict 13 Saudis for the bombing. 
According to the indictment, Iran and Hezbollah 
were also involved in the attack. [US Congress, 

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, William 
Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Osama bin Laden, 
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ayman 
al-Zawahiri, Mamoun Darkazanli

July 6, 1996-August 11, 1996: Atlanta Rules 
Established to Protect Against Attacks Using 
Planes as Flying Weapons

US officials identify crop dusters and suicide 
flights as potential weapons that could threaten 
the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. They take 
steps to prevent any air attacks. They ban planes 
from getting too close to Olympic events. During 
the games, they deploy Black Hawk helicopters and 
US Customs Service jets to intercept suspicious 
aircraft over the Olympic venues. Agents monitor 
crop-duster flights within hundreds of miles of 
downtown Atlanta. They place armed fighter jets 
on standby at local air bases. Flights to Atlanta 
get special passenger screening. Law enforcement 
agents also fan out to regional airports 
throughout northern Georgia "to make sure nobody 
hijacked a small aircraft and tried to attack one 
of the venues," says Woody Johnson, the FBI agent 
in charge. Counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke 
will use this same security blanket approach to 
other major events, referring to the approach as 
"Atlanta Rules."(see January 20, 1997) [Chicago 
Tribune, 11/18/2001; Wall Street Journal, 
4/1/2004; Clarke, 2004, pp. 108-09]

Entity Tags: Woody Johnson, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Richard A. Clarke

July 17, 1996-September 1996: TWA Flight 800 
Crashes; Counterterrorism Funding Boosted in 

TWA Flight 800 crashes off the coast of Long 
Island, New York, killing the 230 people on 
board. The cause of the crash is debated for a 
long time afterward, and terrorism is considered 
a possibility. With this accident in mind, 
President Clinton requests, and Congress 
approves, over $1 billion in 
counter-terrorism-related funding in September 
1996. [Clarke, 2004, pp. 130]

Entity Tags: US Congress, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
August 1996: Bin Laden Calls for Attack on Western Targets in Arabia

Osama bin Laden issues a public fatwa, or 
religious decree, authorizing attacks on Western 
military targets in the Arabian Peninsula. This 
eliminates any doubts that bin Laden is merely a 
financier of attacks, rather than an active 
militant. [US Congress, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

August 14, 1996: State Department Calls Bin Laden 
One of Most Significant Terrorism Sponsors in the 

The State Department issues a fact sheet on bin 
Laden, calling him "one of the most significant 
financial sponsors of Islamic extremist 
activities in the world today." The text ties bin 
Laden to funding specific attacks, such as the 
attempt to kill dozens of US soldiers in Yemen in 
1992 (see December 1992). The fact sheet is also 
mentions the term "al-Qaeda," leading to the 
first media reports using that term the next day 
(see August 14, 1996). [US Department of State, 
8/14/1996; New York Times, 8/14/1996]

Entity Tags: US Department of State, Osama bin Laden
September 5, 1996: Yousef Trial Ignores Bojinka 9/11 Blueprint Plot

Ramzi Yousef and two other defendants, Abdul 
Hakim Murad, and Wali Khan Amin Shah, are 
convicted of crimes relating to Operation 
Bojinka. [CNN, 9/5/1996] In the nearly 6,000-page 
transcript of the three-month Bojinka trial, 
there is not a single mention of the "second 
wave" of Bojinka that closely paralleled the 9/11 
plot. Interrogations by Philippine investigator 
Colonel Rodolfo Mendoza had exposed the details 
of this plot quite clearly (see January 20, 
1995). However, not only does the FBI not call 
Mendoza to testify, but his name is not even 
mentioned in the trial, not even by his 
assistant, who does testify. "The FBI seemed to 
be going out of its way to avoid even a hint of 
the plot that was ultimately carried out on 
9/11," author Peter Lance will note. [Lance, 
2003, pp. 350-51]

Entity Tags: Abdul Hakim Murad, Operation 
Bojinka, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rodolfo 
Mendoza, Wali Khan Amin Shah, Ramzi Yousef

October 1996: Iranian Hijacking Plot Uncovered

US intelligence learns of an Iranian plot to 
hijack a Japanese plane over Israel and crash it 
into Tel Aviv. While the plot was never carried 
out, it is one more example of intelligence 
agencies being aware that planes could be used as 
suicide weapons. [US Congress, 9/18/2002]

October 1996: Phoenix FBI Agent Has First Suspicions of Local Flight Students

Harry Ellen, a businessman who converted to 
Islam, has high credibility with Muslims in 
Arizona because of his work on behalf of the 
Palestinian cause. He has had important meetings 
with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. In 1994, 
he began working as an FBI informant. Ken 
Williams, the Phoenix FBI agent who will later 
write the July 2001 "Phoenix memo"(see July 10, 
2001), is his handler. In October 1996, Ellen 
tells Williams that he has suspicions about an 
Algerian pilot who is training other Middle 
Eastern men to fly. He later recalls, "My comment 
to Williams was that it would be pitiful if the 
bad guys were able to gain this kind of access to 
airplanes, flight training and crop dusters. I 
said, 'You really ought to look at this, it's an 
interesting mix of people.'" Ellen had previously 
begun spying on a man known as Abu Sief, which 
apparently is his alias. Sief had come to Arizona 
from New Jersey in 1993, and bragged about having 
close ties with al-Qaeda figures Sheikh Omar 
Abdel-Rahman and Ramzi Yousef. Sief attended a 
New Jersey mosque that many of the 1993 World 
Trade Center bombers also attended. Ellen soon 
sees the unnamed Algerian pilot meeting with Abu 
Sief. He tells this to Williams and later will 
claim, "I told him to be very concerned about air 
schools." However, Ellen will claim that Williams 
responds by telling him to "leave it alone." So 
he does. Ellen later believes that Williams 
should have sent the gist of his Phoenix memo at 
this time, instead of four and a half years 
later. Hani Hanjour is living in Phoenix by this 
time and taking flight training nearby (see 
October 1996-Late April 1999). Ellen later will 
say he did not know Hanjour directly, but he knew 
some of his friends and relatives. Ellen and 
Williams will have a falling out in late 1998 on 
an unrelated manner, and Ellen's flow of 
information will stop. [Washington Post, 
5/24/2002; New York Times, 5/24/2002; Lance, 
2003, pp. 211, 352-355, inset 21]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Abu 
Sief, Ken Williams, Harry Ellen

November 24, 1996: Passenger Plane Suicide Attack Narrowly Averted

Several Ethiopians take over a passenger airliner 
and let it run out of fuel. Hijackers fight with 
the pilot as they try to steer the plane into a 
resort on a Comoros Islands beach in the Indian 
Ocean, but seconds before reaching the resort the 
pilot is able to crash the plane into shallow 
waters instead, 500 yards short of the resort. 
One hundred and twenty-three of the 175 
passengers and crew die. [New York Times, 
11/25/1996; Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 
11/26/1996; Houston Chronicle, 11/26/1996]

Late 1996: Effort to Get Nukes Makes al-Qaeda Threat Clear

Michael Scheuer, head of the CIA's Bin Laden unit 
(see February 1996), will write in 2004 that by 
this time, his unit has "acquired detailed 
information about the careful, professional 
manner in which al-Qaeda [is] seeking to acquire 
nuclear weapons ... there could be no doubt after 
this date that al-Qaeda [is] in deadly earnest in 
seeking nuclear weapons." A report his unit 
produces about this threat is "initially 
suppressed within CIA, and then published in a 
drastically shortened form. Three officers of the 
[CIA]'s bin Laden cadre [protest] this decision 
in writing, and [force] an internal review. It 
[is] only after this review that this report [is] 
provided in full to [US intelligence] leaders, 
analysts, and policymakers." [Atlantic Monthly, 
12/2004] He later will claim that due to 
al-Qaeda's "extraordinarily sophisticated and 
professional effort to acquire weapons of mass 
destruction ... by the end of 1996, it [is] clear 
that this [is] an organization unlike any other 
one we had ever seen." [CBS News, 11/14/2004]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Michael Scheuer, al-Qaeda
1997: Possible Unmanned Aerial Attacks Raise Concerns at FBI, CIA

FBI and CIA are concerned that an unnamed 
militant group, which has apparently purchased an 
unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), will use it for 
attacks against US interests. At the time, the 
agencies believed that the only reason to use 
this UAV would be for either reconnaissance or 
attack. The primary concern is that it will be 
used to attack outside the United States, for 
example, by flying a UAV into a US Embassy or a 
visiting US delegation. [US Congress, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation

1997-September 1999: FAA Finds Repeated Security 
Violations at Airport Later Used by Ten Hijackers

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finds 
at least 136 security violations at Boston's 
Logan Airport between 1997 and early 1999. 
Flights 11 and 175 will depart from Logan on 
9/11. Massachusetts Port Authority, which 
operates the airport, is fined $178,000 for these 
breaches, which include failing to screen baggage 
properly and easy access to parked planes. In 
summer 1999, a teenager is able to climb over the 
airport's security fence, walk two miles across 
the tarmac, board a 747, and fly on it to London. 
In September 1999, the Boston Globe finds that 
doors are often left open at the airport, making 
it possible for potentially anyone to gain access 
to planes on the ground. [Boston Globe, 
9/12/2001; Washington Post, 9/12/2001] After 
9/11, an analysis by the Boston Globe will 
conclude that Logan's security record is "dismal" 
(see 1991-2000). [Boston Globe, 9/26/2001]

Entity Tags: Massachusetts Port Authority, Logan 
Airport, Federal Aviation Administration

January 20, 1997: Clinton Re-inaugurated; Atlanta 
Rules Applied at This and Other Events

Bill Clinton is re-inaugurated as president. An 
extensive set of security measures to prevent 
airplanes as weapons crashing into the 
inauguration is used. These measures, first used 
in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and thus referred to 
as the "Atlanta Rules," include the closing of 
nearby airspace, the use of intercept 
helicopters, the basing of armed fighters nearby, 
and more. This plan will later be used for the 
1999 North Atlantic Treaty Organization's 50th 
anniversary celebration in Washington, the 2000 
Republican convention in Philadelphia, the 2000 
Democratic convention in New York, and the George 
W. Bush inauguration in 2001. [Clarke, 2004, pp. 
110-11; Wall Street Journal, 4/1/2004] At some 
point near the end of the Clinton administration, 
the Secret Service and Customs Service will agree 
to create a permanent air defense unit to protect 
Washington. However, these agencies are part of 
the Treasury Department, and the leadership there 
will refuse to fund the idea. The permanent unit 
will not be created until after 9/11. [Wall 
Street Journal, 4/1/2004]

Entity Tags: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, 
Secret Service, George W. Bush, Clinton 

February 12, 1997: Vice President Gore's Aviation Security Report Released

The White House Commission on Aviation Safety and 
Security, led by Vice President Al Gore, issues 
its final report, which highlights the risk of 
terrorist attacks in the US. The report 
references Operation Bojinka, the failed plot to 
bomb twelve American airliners out of the sky 
over the Pacific Ocean, and calls for increased 
aviation security. The commission reports that 
[it] "believes that terrorist attacks on civil 
aviation are directed at the United States, and 
that there should be an ongoing federal 
commitment to reducing the threats that they 
pose." [Gore Commission, 2/12/1997] However, the 
report has little practical effect: "Federal 
bureaucracy and airline lobbying [slow] and 
[weaken] a set of safety improvements recommended 
by a presidential commission-including one that a 
top airline industry official now says might have 
prevented the September 11 terror attacks." [Los 
Angeles Times, 10/6/2001]

Entity Tags: Al Gore, Commission on Aviation 
Safety and Security, Operation Bojinka

May 22, 1997: FBI: Terrorists Are Operating in US With Capability to Attack

The Associated Press reports that senior FBI 
officials have determined that militant Islamic 
groups are operating in the US. FBI agent John 
O'Neill is quoted as saying, "Almost every one of 
these groups has a presence in the United States 
today. A lot of these groups now have the 
capacity and the support infrastructure in the 
United States to attack us here if they choose 
to." [PBS Frontline, 10/3/2002]

Entity Tags: John O'Neill, Federal Bureau of Investigation
July 31, 1997: Suicide Attack in New York City Narrowly Averted

Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, and Lafi Khalil, two 
Palestinian men who had recently immigrated from 
the West Bank to the US, are arrested in New York 
City. They are found with a number of hand made 
bombs, and officials claim they were mere hours 
away from using them on a busy Atlantic Avenue 
subway station and on a commuter bus. Police were 
tipped off to them by a roommate. [CNN, 8/2/1997; 
New York Times, 8/1/1997] In the days immediately 
after the arrests, numerous media reports claim 
that the FBI has tied the two men to Hamas. For 
instance, the Associated Press reports, "The FBI 
has linked two suspects in a Brooklyn 
suicide-bombing plot to the militant Mideast 
group Hamas... One man was linked to Hamas by 
intelligence sources, the other through an 
immigration document he had filled out in which 
he said he had been accused in Israel of having 
been in a terrorist organization. The 
organization, the source said, was Hamas." 
Reports say both suspects "are working for Mousa 
Abu Marzouk, the Hamas political leader who lived 
in Virginia for 15 years before being arrested in 
1995, imprisoned as a terrorism suspect, and then 
deported earlier [in 1997]."(see July 5, 1995-May 
1997) [Associated Press, 8/1/1997; CNN, 8/2/1997] 
According to another account, "law enforcement 
authorities say these suspects made frequent 
phone calls from local neighborhood stores to 
various Hamas organization offices in the Middle 
East." [PBS, 8/1/1997] Just days earlier, there 
had been a Hamas suicide bombing in Israel that 
killed fifteen people. Mezer or Khalil reportedly 
called the suicide bombers "heroes" and added, 
"We wish to join them." [New York Times, 
8/2/1997] A note is found in their apartment that 
threatens a series of attacks unless several 
jailed militants were released, including Sheikh 
Omar Abdel-Rahman, Ramzi Yousef, and Sheikh Ahmed 
Yassin, the top leader of Hamas. A copy of the 
letter was sent to the State Department two days 
before their arrest. A portrait of Abdul-Rahman 
is also found on the wall of their apartment. 
[New York Times, 8/6/1997; CNN, 8/2/1997] 
However, on August 4, US officials announce that 
the two had no ties to Hamas or any other 
organization. In his trial, Mezer will say he 
planned to use the bombs to kill as many Jews as 
possible, though not in a subway. He will 
describe himself as a supporter of Hamas but not 
a member. He will be convicted and sentenced to 
life in prison. Khalil will be acquitted of the 
terrorism charge, but convicted of having a fake 
immigration card. He will be sentenced to three 
years in prison and then ordered deported. [CNN, 
8/4/1997; National Journal, 9/19/2001; New York 
Times, 7/21/1998]

Entity Tags: Ramzi Yousef, Hamas, Mousa Abu 
Marzouk, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lafi 
Khalil, US Department of State, Gazi Ibrahim Abu 
Mezer, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, Sheikh Ahmed 

November 18, 1997: Tourists Massacred in Egypt; 
al-Qaeda Leaders Said to Be Involved

Tourists in Luxor, Egypt, cower as militants 
begin firing on them. [Source: BBC]

Fifty-eight foreign tourists are killed in Luxor, 
Egypt. Six radical militants attack an ancient 
Egyptian temple with machine guns before finally 
being killed by Egyptian police. The attack is 
the peak of a campaign to destroy the Egyptian 
tourism industry that had begun five years 
before. Thirty-four foreigners and 1,200 
Egyptians were killed in the previous attacks. 
The Islamic Group (Al Gamaa al Islamiya in 
Arabic) takes credit for the attack. The Islamic 
Group was founded in the late 1970s by Sheik Omar 
Abdel Rahman. The militants are ultimately hoping 
to destabilize the Egyptian economy and overthrow 
the government. However, the attacks backfire, 
alienating many Egyptians. This will be the last 
serious militant attack in Egypt before 9/11. 
[New York Times, 11/18/1997; New York Times, 
11/18/1997; Los Angeles Times, 10/26/2001] The 
Egyptian militant group Islamic Jihad is also 
thought to be involved. In 1999, Ayman 
al-Zawahiri, leader of Islamic Jihad and 
al-Qaeda's second in command, will be convicted 
in absentia for his role in this attack and other 
attacks. [BBC, 9/27/2004] Also in 1999, the 
Egyptian government will claim it has determined 
that bin Laden helped finance the attack. [BBC, 

Entity Tags: Jemmah Islamiyah, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Islamic Jihad

1998: FBI Agent Starts First Investigation into Arizona Flight Students

The FBI field office in Phoenix, Arizona, 
investigates a possible Middle Eastern extremist 
taking flight lessons at a Phoenix airport. FBI 
agent Ken Williams initiates an investigation 
into the possibility of Islamic militants 
learning to fly aircraft, but he has no easy way 
to query a central FBI database about similar 
cases. Because of this and other FBI 
communication problems, he remains unaware of 
most US intelligence reports about the potential 
use of airplanes as weapons, as well as other, 
specific FBI warnings issued in 1998 and 1999 
concerning Islamic militants training at US 
flight schools (see May 15, 1998; September 
1999). Williams will write the "Phoenix memo" in 
July 2001 (see July 10, 2001). He had been 
alerted about some suspicious flight school 
students in 1996, but it is not clear if this 
person was mentioned in that previous alert or 
not (see October 1996). [US Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Ken Williams, Federal Bureau of Investigation

1998: Training Exercise Held at the White House, 
Based Around Militants Using a Plane as a Weapon

Counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke chairs a 
tabletop exercise at the White House, involving a 
scenario where anti-American militants fill a 
Learjet with explosives, and then fly it on a 
suicide mission toward a target in Washington, 
DC. Officials from the Pentagon, Secret Service, 
and FAA attend, and are asked how they would stop 
such a threat. Pentagon officials say they could 
launch fighters from Langley Air Force Base, 
Virginia, but would need authorization from the 
president to shoot the plane down, and currently 
there is no system to do this. The 9/11 
Commission later states: "There was no clear 
resolution of the problem at the exercise." [9/11 
Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 345, 457-458; Slate, 

Entity Tags: Langley Air Force Base, Secret 
Service, US Department of Defense, Federal 
Aviation Administration, Richard A. Clarke

1998: Hijacking Proposed to Obtain Release of Blind Sheikh

A son of Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, the al-Qaeda 
leader convicted in 1995 of conspiring to blow up 
tunnels and other New York City landmarks, is 
heard to say that the best way to free his father 
from a US prison might be to hijack an American 
plane and exchange the hostages. This will be 
mentioned in President Bush's August 2001 
briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike 
in US" [Washington Post, 5/18/2002]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, al-Qaeda, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman
1998: Indonesia Gives US Warning of 9/11 Attack?

Hendropriyono, the Indonesian chief of 
intelligence, will later claim that, "[we] had 
intelligence predicting the September 11 attacks 
three years before it happened but nobody 
believed us." He says Indonesian intelligence 
agents identify bin Laden as the leader of the 
group plotting the attack and that the US 
disregards the warning, but otherwise offers no 
additional details. The Associated Press notes, 
"Indonesia's intelligence services are not 
renowned for their accuracy." [Associated Press, 

Entity Tags: Hendropriyono, Osama bin Laden

Early 1998: Prosecutors Turn Down Deal That Could Reveal Bojinka Third Plot

Abdul Hakim Murad, a conspirator in the 1995 
Bojinka plot with Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Shaikh 
Mohammed, and others, was convicted in 1996 of 
his role in the Bojinka plot (see January 6, 
1995). He is about to be sentenced for that 
crime. He offers to cooperate with federal 
prosecutors in return for a reduction in his 
sentence, but prosecutors turn down his offer. 
Dietrich Snell, the prosecutor who convicted 
Murad, will say after 9/11 that he does not 
remember any such offer. But court papers and 
others familiar with the case later confirm that 
Murad does offer to cooperate at this time. Snell 
will claim he only remembers hearing that Murad 
had described an intention to hijack a plane and 
fly it into CIA headquarters. However, in 1995 
Murad had confessed to Philippine investigators 
that this would have been only one part of a 
larger plot to crash a number of airplanes into 
prominent US buildings, including the World Trade 
Center and the Pentagon, a plot that Khalid 
Shaikh Mohammed later will adjust and turn into 
the 9/11 plot (see January 20, 1995) (see 
February-April 1995). While Philippine 
investigators claim this information was passed 
on to US intelligence, it's not clear just which 
US officials may have learned this information 
and what they did with it, if anything. [New York 
Daily News, 9/25/2001] Murad is sentenced in May 
1998 and given life in prison plus 60 years. 
[Albany Times-Union, 9/22/2002] After 9/11, Snell 
will go on to become Senior Counsel and a team 
leader for the 9/11 Commission. Author Peter 
Lance later calls Snell "one of the fixers, hired 
early on to sanitize the Commission's final 
report." Lance says Snell ignored evidence 
presented to the Commission that shows direct 
ties between the Bojinka plot and 9/11, and in so 
doing covers up Snell's own role in the failure 
to make more use of evidence learned from Murad 
and other Bojinka plotters. [FrontPage Magazine, 

Entity Tags: Pentagon, Operation Bojinka, 9/11 
Congressional Inquiry, Abdul Hakim Murad, 
Dietrich Snell, Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Shaikh 
Mohammed, World Trade Center

Early 1998: CIA Ignores Ex-Agent's Warning 9/11 
Mastermind Is 'Going to Hijack Some Planes,' 
Visiting Germany

Robert Baer. [Source: Publicity photo]

in December 1997, CIA agent Robert Baer, newly 
retired from the CIA and working as a terrorism 
consultant, meets a former police chief from the 
Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. He learns that 
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was being sheltered by 
then Qatari Interior Minister Abdallah bin Khalid 
al-Thani in 1996 (see January-May 1996). However, 
the ex-police chief knows other details, based on 
what Qatari police and intelligence learned when 
Mohammed was in the country. Mohammed was leading 
an al-Qaeda cell in Qatar together with Shawqui 
Islambuli, the brother of the Egyptian who had 
killed Anwar Sadat. They also were linked to 
bomber Ramzi Yousef. But what worries the former 
police chief is that Mohammed and Islambuli are 
experts in hijacking commercial planes. He tells 
Baer that Mohammed "is going to hijack some 
planes." Further, he is told that Mohammed has 
moved to the Czech Republic, and has also 
travelled to Germany to meet bin Laden associates 
there. In early 1998 Baer sends this information 
to a friend in the CIA Counterterrorist Center, 
who forwards the information to his superiors. 
Baer doesn't hear back. He says, "There was no 
interest." [United Press International, 
9/30/2002; Vanity Fair, 2/2002; Baer, 2002, pp. 
270-71] Baer also tries to interest reporter 
Daniel Pearl in a story about Mohammed before 
9/11, but Pearl is still working on it when he is 
kidnapped and later murdered in early 2002. 
[United Press International, 4/10/2004] Baer's 
source later disappears, presumably kidnapped in 
Qatar. It has been speculated that the CIA turned 
on the source to protect its relationship with 
the Qatari government. [Gertz, 2002, pp. 55-58] 
It appears bin Laden visits al-Thani in Qatar 
between the years 1996 and 2000. [ABC News, 
2/7/2003] Al-Thani continues to support al-Qaeda, 
providing Qatari passports and more than $1 
million in funds to al-Qaeda. Even after 9/11, 
Mohammed is provided shelter in Qatar for two 
weeks in late 2001. [New York Times, 2/6/2003] 
Yet the US still has not frozen al-Thani's assets 
or taken other action.

Entity Tags: Qatar, Counterterrorist Center, 
Shawqui Islambuli, Ramzi Yousef, Anwar Sadat, 
Daniel Pearl, Osama bin Laden, Khalid Shaikh 
Mohammed, Robert Baer, al-Qaeda, Abdallah bin 
Khalid al-Thani, Central Intelligence Agency, 
Persian Gulf

February 22, 1998: Bin Laden Expands Fatwa Against US and Allies

Osama bin Laden (right), Mohammed Atef (center), 
and an unidentified militant at the press 
conference announcing the expanded fatwa. Ayman 
al-Zawahiri is out of the picture, sitting on the 
other side of bin Laden. [Source: BBC]

Bin Laden issues a fatwa, declaring it the 
religious duty of all Muslims "to kill the 
Americans and their allies-civilians and military 
... in any country in which it is possible." [PBS 
Frontline, 2001; Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 
9/16/2001; Al-Quds al-Arabi (London), 2/23/1998] 
This is an expansion of an earlier fatwa issued 
in August 1996, which called for attacks in the 
Arabian Peninsula only (see August 1996).Ayman 
al-Zawahiri, the head of the Egyptian militant 
group Islamic Jihad, is one of many militant 
leaders who sign the fatwa. This reveals to the 
public an alliance between al-Qaeda and Islamic 
Jihad that has long been in effect. Also signing 
the fatwa are representatives from militant 
groups in Afghanistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, 
Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, 
Pakistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Algeria, Tunisia, 
Lebanon, the Philippines, Tajikistan, Chechnya, 
Bangladesh, Kashmir, Azerbaijan, and Palestine. 
All these representatives call themselves allied 
to the "International Islamic Front for Jihad 
Against Jews and Crusaders" (the name al-Qaeda 
has not been widely popularized yet.) New York 
magazine will note, "The [fatwa gives] the West 
its first glimpse of the worldwide conspiracy 
that [is] beginning to form." [New Yorker, 

Entity Tags: Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden

Spring 1998: Experts Warn FAA of Potential Massive Kamikaze Attack

Three terrorism specialists present an analysis 
of security threats to FAA security officials. 
Their analysis describes two scenarios involving 
planes as weapons. In one, hijacked planes are 
flown into nuclear power plants along the East 
Coast. In the other, hijackers commandeer Federal 
Express cargo planes and simultaneously crash 
them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, 
the White House, the Capitol, the Sears Tower, 
and the Golden Gate Bridge. Stephen Gale, one of 
the specialists, later says the analysis is based 
in part upon attempts that had been made in 1994 
to crash airplanes in the Eiffel Tower and the 
White House (see September 11, 1994) (see 
December 24, 1994). Gale later recalls that one 
FAA official responds to the presentation by 
saying, "You can't protect yourself from 
meteorites." [Washington Post, 5/19/2002]

Entity Tags: Pentagon, Federal Aviation 
Administration, World Trade Center, James L. 
Jones, Golden Gate Bridge, Federal Express, Sears 

May 15, 1998: Oklahoma FBI Memo Warns of 
Potential Terrorist-Related Flight Training; No 
Investigation Ensues

An FBI pilot sends his supervisor in the Oklahoma 
City FBI office a memo warning that he has 
observed "large numbers of Middle Eastern males 
receiving flight training at Oklahoma airports in 
recent months." The memo, titled "Weapons of Mass 
Destruction," further states this "may be related 
to planned terrorist activity" and "light planes 
would be an ideal means of spreading chemicals or 
biological agents." The memo does not call for an 
investigation, and none occurs. [US Congress, 
7/24/2003; NewsOK (Oklahoma City), 5/29/2002] The 
memo is "sent to the bureau's Weapons of Mass 
Destruction unit and forgotten." [New York Daily 
News, 9/25/2002] In 1999, it will be learned that 
an al-Qaeda agent has studied flight training in 
Norman, Oklahoma (see May 18, 1999). Hijackers 
Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi will briefly 
visit the same school in 2000; Zacarias Moussaoui 
will train at the school in 2001 (see February 
23-June 2001).

Entity Tags: Marwan Alshehhi, Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, Mohamed Atta, Zacarias Moussaoui, 

After May 15, 1998: FBI Again Ignores Warnings 
About Islamic Militants Planning to Obtain US 
Pilot Training

The FBI receives reports that a militant Islamic 
organization might be planning to bring students 
to the US for flight training, at some point in 
1998 after the May 15 memo (see May 15, 1998) 
warns about Middle Eastern men training at US 
flight schools. [New York Daily News, 9/25/2002] 
The FBI is aware that people connected to this 
unnamed organization have performed surveillance 
and security tests at airports in the US and made 
comments suggesting an intention to target civil 
aviation. Apparently, this warning is not shared 
with other FBI offices or the FAA, and a 
connection with the Oklahoma warning is not made; 
a similar warning will follow in 1999. [US 
Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation
May 26, 1998: Bin Laden Promises to Bring Jihad to US

Bin Laden discusses "bringing the war home to 
America," in a press conference from Afghanistan. 
[US Congress, 9/18/2002] He indicates the results 
of his jihad will be "visible" within weeks. [US 
Congress, 7/24/2003] Two US embassies will be 
bombed in August.

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden
May 28, 1998: Bin Laden Wants to Use Missiles Against US Aircraft

Bin Laden indicates he may attack a US military 
passenger aircraft using antiaircraft missiles, 
in an interview with ABC News reporter John 
Miller. In the subsequent media coverage, Miller 
repeatedly refers to bin Laden as "the world's 
most dangerous terrorist," and "the most 
dangerous man in the world." [ABC News, 
5/28/1998; ABC News, 6/12/1998; Esquire, 2/1999; 
US Congress, 7/24/2003] Bin Laden admits to 
knowing Wali Khan Amin Shah, one of the Bojinka 
plotters, but denies having met Bojinka plotter 
Ramzi Yousef or knowing about the plot itself. 
[PBS Frontline, 10/3/2002]

Entity Tags: Operation Bojinka, Osama bin Laden, 
John Miller, Ramzi Yousef, Wali Khan Amin Shah

June 1998: State Department Warns that Bin Laden Might Target Civilian Aircraft

The State Department warns Saudi officials that 
bin Laden might target civilian aircraft. Three 
State Department officials meet Saudi officials 
in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and pass along a warning 
based on an interview bin Laden had just given to 
ABC News . In the interview, bin Laden threatened 
to strike in the next "few weeks" against 
"military passenger aircraft" and mentioned 
surface-to-air missiles. The State Department 
warns the Saudis that bin Laden does "not 
differentiate between those dressed in military 
uniforms and civilians" and there is "no specific 
information that indicates bin Laden is targeting 
civilian aircraft." However, they add, "We could 
not rule out that a terrorist might take the 
course of least resistance and turn to a civilian 
[aircraft] target." NBC News will note that the 
9/11 Commission "made no mention of the memo in 
any of its reports... It is unknown why the 
[Commission] did not address the warning." [New 
York Times, 12/9/2005; MSNBC, 12/9/2005]

Entity Tags: US Department of State, Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden

Summer 1998: One of Bin Laden's Four Holy War 
Goals Is to Bring Down US Airliners

Bin Laden sends a fax from Afghanistan to Sheikh 
Omar Bakri Mohammed, a London-based Muslim cleric 
who dubs himself the "mouth, eyes, and ears of 
Osama bin Laden." Bakri publicly releases what he 
calls bin Laden's four specific objectives for a 
holy war against the US. The instruction reads, 
"Bring down their airliners. Prevent the safe 
passage of their ships. Occupy their embassies. 
Force the closure of their companies and banks." 
Noting this, the Los Angeles Times will wryly 
comment that "Bin Laden hasn't been shy about 
sharing his game plan." [Los Angeles Times, 
10/14/2001] In 2001, FBI agent Ken Williams will 
grow concerned about some Middle Eastern students 
training in Arizona flight schools. He will link 
several of them to Al-Muhajiroun, an extremist 
group founded by Bakri. Williams will quote 
several fatwas (calls to action) from Bakri in 
his later-famous July 2001 memo (see July 10, 
2001). However, he apparently will not be aware 
of this particular call to action. These students 
linked to Bakri's group apparently have no 
connection to any of the 9/11 hijackers. In 
another interview before 9/11, Bakri will boast 
of recruiting "kamikaze bombers ready to die for 
Palestine." (see Early September 2001) 
[Associated Press, 5/23/2002]

Entity Tags: Ken Williams, Al-Muhajiroun, Osama 
bin Laden, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed

June-July 1998: US Learns bin Laden Is 
Considering Attacks Against Washington, New York

US intelligence obtains information from several 
sources that bin Laden is considering attacks in 
the US, including Washington and New York. This 
information is given to senior US officials in 
July 1998. [US Congress, 9/18/2002] Information 
mentions an attack in Washington, probably 
against public places. US intelligence assumes 
that bin Laden places a high priority on 
conducting attacks in the US. More information 
about a planned al-Qaeda attack on a Washington 
government facility will be uncovered in the 
spring of 1999. [US Congress, 7/24/2003; US 
Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

August 1998: CIA Warns That Arab Militants Plan 
to Fly Bomb-Laden Plane From Libya into WTC

A foreign intelligence agency warns the FBI's New 
York office that Arab militants plan to fly a 
bomb-laden aircraft from Libya into the World 
Trade Center. The FBI and the FAA do not take the 
threat seriously because of the state of aviation 
in Libya. Later, other intelligence information 
will connect this group to al-Qaeda. The CIA will 
include the same information in an intelligence 
report. [New York Times, 9/18/2002; US Congress, 
9/18/2002; US Department of Justice, 6/9/2005, 
pp. 97-98 ] An FBI spokesperson later says the 
report "was not ignored, it was thoroughly 
investigated by numerous agencies" and found to 
be unrelated to al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 
9/19/2002] However, the 9/11 Congressional 
Inquiry will come to the conclusion that the 
group in fact did have ties to al-Qaeda. [New 
York Times, 9/18/2002; US Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, 
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central 
Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, World Trade Center

August 1998-Late-September 2001: Inexperienced 
Manager Heads FAA's Boston Security Field Office

Mary Carol Turano is appointed director of the 
Federal Aviation Administration's Boston Civil 
Aviation Security Field Office (CASFO). This is 
the office that oversees security at Logan 
Airport, from where Flights 11 and 175 depart on 
9/11. Yet Turano has little experience in airport 
security, and has not even begun the basic 
training that all FAA special agents must 
undergo. During her tenure, according to an agent 
who is assigned to Logan, staff that document 
security violations become frustrated, as she 
allows these violations to accumulate without 
taking appropriate action. After 9/11, it is 
revealed that she lacks the identification badge 
necessary for unescorted access to secure areas. 
An official familiar with airport security 
procedures comments, "An organization does well 
what a commander checks, and how can you check 
what they do if you don't have a ramp access 
badge?" Turano is subsequently reassigned. 
[Associated Press, 9/29/2001; Boston Globe, 
9/29/2001; WBUR (Boston), 10/4/2001; Thomas, 
2003, pp. 61] While she heads CASFO, as well as 
before, Logan Airport has a particularly poor 
record for security (see 1991-2000)(see 
1997-September 1999).

Entity Tags: Boston Civil Aviation Security Field 
Office, Mary Carol Turano, Federal Aviation 

August 4, 1998: Threat Precedes Embassy Bombings

The Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a terror group that 
has joined forces with al-Qaeda, issues a 
statement threatening to retaliate against the US 
for its involvement rounding up three of its 
members helping Muslim forces fight in Albania. 
The group announces, "We wish to inform the 
Americans ... of preparations for a response 
which we hope they read with care, because we 
shall write it with the help of God in the 
language they understand." The bombing of two US 
embassies in Africa follows three days later (see 
August 7, 1998). [CNN, 1/2001]

Entity Tags: Islamic Jihad
August 7, 1998: Al-Qaeda Bombs US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania

Two US embassies in Africa are bombed almost 
simultaneously. The attack in Nairobi, Kenya, 
kills 213 people, including 12 US nationals, and 
injures more than 4,500. The attack in Dar es 
Salaam, Tanzania, kills 11 and injures 85. The 
attack is blamed on al-Qaeda. [PBS Frontline, 
2001] The attack shows al-Qaeda has a capability 
for simultaneous attacks. A third attack against 
the US embassy in Uganda fails. [Associated 
Press, 9/25/1998]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda
Late August 1998: Al-Qaeda Planning US Attack, but Not Yet Ready

The FBI learns that al-Qaeda is planning an 
attack on the US, but "things are not ready yet. 
We don't have everything prepared," according to 
a captured member of the al-Qaeda cell that 
bombed the US embassy in Kenya. [USA Today, 

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation

September 1998: Bin Laden's Next Operations May 
Involve Crashing Airplane into US Airport

US intelligence uncovers information that bin 
Laden's next operation could possibly involve 
crashing an aircraft loaded with explosives into 
a US airport. This information is provided to 
senior US officials. [US Congress, 9/18/2002; 
Washington Post, 9/19/2002]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

Autumn 1998: Rumors of bin Laden Plot Involving 
Aircraft in New York and Washington Surface Again

US intelligence hears of a bin Laden plot 
involving aircraft in the New York and Washington 
areas. [US Congress, 9/18/2002; New York Times, 
9/18/2002] In December it will learn that 
al-Qaeda plans to hijack US aircraft are 
proceeding well and that two individuals have 
successfully evaded checkpoints in a dry run at a 
New York airport. [US Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden
October-November 1998: Al-Qaeda US-based Recruiting Efforts Uncovered

US intelligence learns al-Qaeda is trying to 
establish a cell within the US. There are 
indications that the organization might be trying 
to recruit US citizens. In the next month, there 
is information that a terror cell in the United 
Arab Emirates is attempting to recruit a group of 
five to seven young men from the US to travel to 
the Middle East for training. This is part of a 
plan to strike a US domestic target. [US 
Congress, 9/18/2002; US Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda

November 1998: Turkish Extremists' Plan to Crash 
Airplane into Famous Tomb Uncovered

US intelligence learns that a Turkish extremist 
group named Kaplancilar had planned a suicide 
attack. The conspirators, who were arrested, 
planned to crash an airplane packed with 
explosives into a famous tomb during a government 
ceremony. The Turkish press said the group had 
cooperated with bin Laden and the FBI includes 
this incident in a bin Laden database. [US 
Congress, 9/18/2002; US Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Kaplancilar, Federal Bureau of Investigation
December 1, 1998: Bin Laden Actively Planning Attacks Inside US

According to a US intelligence assessment, "[bin 
Laden] is actively planning against US targets 
and already may have positioned operatives for at 
least one operation. ... Multiple reports 
indicate [he] is keenly interested in striking 
the US on its own soil ... Al-Qaeda is recruiting 
operatives for attacks in the US but has not yet 
identified potential targets." Later in the 
month, a classified document prepared by the CIA 
and signed by President Clinton states: "The 
intelligence community has strong indications 
that bin Laden intends to conduct or sponsor 
attacks inside the US" [US Congress, 9/18/2002; 
Washington Post, 9/19/2002; US Congress, 
7/24/2003; US Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, William Jefferson 
("Bill") Clinton, Central Intelligence Agency, 

December 21, 1998: Bin Laden May Be Planning Attacks on New York and Washington

In a Time magazine cover story entitled "The Hunt 
for Osama," it is reported that intelligence 
sources "have evidence that bin Laden may be 
planning his boldest move yet-a strike on 
Washington or possibly New York City in an 
eye-for-an-eye retaliation. 'We've hit his 
headquarters, now he hits ours,' says a State 
Department aide." [Time, 12/21/1998]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

1999: British Intelligence Warns al-Qaeda Plans 
to Use Aircraft, Possibly as Flying Bombs

MI6, the British intelligence agency, gives a 
secret report to liaison staff at the US embassy 
in London. The reports states that al-Qaeda has 
plans to use "commercial aircraft" in 
"unconventional ways," "possibly as flying 
bombs." [Sunday Times (London), 6/9/2002]

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda, UK Secret Intelligence Service

1999: FBI Learns of Militant Group's Plans to 
Send Students to US for Aviation Training; 
Investigation Opportunity Bungled

The FBI receives reports that a militant 
organization is planning to send students to the 
US for aviation training. The organization's name 
remains classified, but apparently it is a 
different organization than one mentioned in a 
very similar warning the year before. The purpose 
of this training is unknown, but the organization 
viewed the plan as "particularly important" and 
it approved open-ended funding for it. The 
Counterterrorism Section at FBI headquarters 
issues a notice instructing 24 field offices to 
pay close attention to Islamic students from the 
target country engaged in aviation training. Ken 
Williams's squad at the Phoenix FBI office 
receives this notice, although Williams does not 
recall reading it. Williams will later write his 
"Phoenix memo" on this very topic in July 2001 
(see July 10, 2001). The 9/11 Congressional 
Inquiry later will conclude, "There is no 
indication that field offices conducted any 
investigation after receiving the communication." 
[US Congress, 7/24/2003] However, an analyst at 
FBI headquarters conducts a study and determines 
that each year there are about 600 Middle Eastern 
students attending the slightly over 1,000 US 
flight schools. [New York Times, 5/4/2002; US 
Congress, 7/24/2003] In November 2000, a notice 
will be issued to the field offices, stating that 
it has uncovered no indication that the militant 
group is recruiting students. Apparently, 
Williams will not see this notice either. [US 
Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ken Williams
February 1999: Pilot Suicide Squad Rumored in Iraq

US Intelligence obtains information that Iraq has 
formed a suicide pilot unit that it plans to use 
against British and US forces in the Persian 
Gulf. The CIA comments that this report is highly 
unlikely and is probably disinformation. [US 
Congress, 7/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency
March 1999: Plot to Use Hang Glide Bomb Tested, Thwarted

US intelligence learns of plans by an al-Qaeda 
member who is also a US citizen to fly a hang 
glider into the Egyptian Presidential Palace and 
then detonate the explosives he is carrying. The 
individual, who received hang glider training in 
the US, brings a hang glider back to Afghanistan, 
but various problems arise during the testing of 
the glider. This unnamed person is subsequently 
arrested and is in custody abroad. [US Congress, 

Entity Tags: al-Qaeda
Spring 1999: US Uncovers bin Laden Plans to Attack Washington

US intelligence learns of a planned bin Laden 
attack on a US government facility in Washington 
(the specific facility targeted has not been 
identified). [US Congress, 9/18/2002; New York 
Times, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden
March 1999: Germany Provides CIA Hijacker's Name and Telephone Number

German intelligence gives the CIA the first name 
of hijacker Marwan Alshehhi and his telephone 
number in the United Arab Emirates. The Germans 
learned the information from surveillance of 
suspected Islamic militants. They tell the CIA 
that Alshehhi has been in contact with suspected 
al-Qaeda members Mohammed Haydar Zammar and 
Mamoun Darkazanli. He is described as a United 
Arab Emirates student who has spent some time 
studying in Germany. [US Congress, 7/24/2003; 
Deutsche Presse-Agentur (Hamburg), 8/13/2003; New 
York Times, 2/24/2004] The Germans consider this 
information "particularly valuable" and ask the 
CIA to track Alshehhi, but the CIA never responds 
until after the 9/11 attacks. The CIA decides at 
the time that this "Marwan" is probably an 
associate of bin Laden but never track him down. 
It is not clear why the CIA fails to act, or if 
they learn his last name before 9/11. [New York 
Times, 2/24/2004] The Germans monitor other calls 
between Alshehhi and Zammar, but it isn't clear 
if the CIA is also told of these or not (see 
September 21, 1999).

Entity Tags: Mamoun Darkazanli, Marwan Alshehhi, 
Germany, al-Qaeda, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, 
Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden

May 18, 1999: Potential al-Qaeda Sleeper Pilot 
Arrested in Florida; Later Disappears into US 

Ihab Ali Nawawi is arrested in Orlando, Florida. 
He is considered an unindicted co-conspirator in 
the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa. Nawawi's 
family moved from Egypt to the US in the late 
1970's and he graduated from an Orlando high 
school. He fought in Afghanistan in the 1980's 
and helped bin Laden move to Sudan in 1991. 
Nawawi received a commercial pilot's license from 
Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma, in 
1993. He crashed an airplane owned by bin Laden 
in 1995 on a runway in Khartoum, Sudan (see 
1993). He lived in Sudan until 1996 when he moved 
back to Orlando. Nawawi's role in al-Qaeda is 
revealed days after the 1998 US embassy bombings 
in Africa when Ali Mohamed's residence in 
California is raided. A letter from Nawawi is 
discovered asking Mohamed to give his "best 
regards to your friend Osama"(see August 8, 
1998-August 21, 1998). Nawawi's connection to the 
embassy bombings were possibly discovered months 
earlier, because there were a series of phone 
calls in 1997 between an Orlando telephone owned 
by Nawawi's sister and an al-Qaeda safe house in 
Nairobi, Kenya. Many telephone numbers connected 
to that house were being monitored by US 
intelligence at the time. Given his obvious 
al-Qaeda ties, it is not clear why agents waited 
until May 1999 before arresting Nawawi. He is 
questioned in front of a grand jury, but 
prosecutors say he is lying and he refuses to 
talk anymore. FBI agents will visit the Airman 
Flight School in September 1999 to enquire about 
his attendance there (see September 1999). He 
will remain jailed and in September 2000 is 
finally charged for contempt and perjury. In 
October 2001, the St. Petersburg Times will 
report, "There are signs that Ali's resolve might 
now be weakening. Court records indicate that 
Ali's lawyers seemed to reach an understanding 
with the government in March [2001]. Since that 
time, all documents in the case have been filed 
under seal." [St. Petersburg Times, 10/28/2001] 
In May 2002, three full years after his arrest, 
the New York Times will report that "Nawawi 
remains in federal custody even now, although he 
has not been charged with conspiring in the 
embassy bombing." [New York Times, 5/18/2002] As 
of the end of 2005, there appears to be no 
further news on what has happened to Nawawi, and 
no sign of any trial.When Nawawi is arrested, he 
is working as a taxi driver. At this time 
Al-Qaeda operative Nabil al-Marabh is working as 
a taxi driver about 80 miles away in Tampa, 
Florida, and while the similarity is intriguing, 
there is no known reported connection between the 
two men (see February 1999-February 2000). [St. 
Petersburg Times, 10/28/2001]

Entity Tags: Ihab Ali Nawawi
June 1999: Bin Laden Wants All US Males Killed

In an interview with an Arabic-language 
television station, bin Laden steps up his 
rhetoric and issues a further threat indicating 
that all US males should be killed. [MSNBC, 

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden
June-July 1999: CIA Reports That bin Laden Plans Attack in US

In testimony before the Senate Select Committee 
on Intelligence and in a briefing to House 
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence 
staffers one month later, the chief of the CIA's 
Counter Terrorism Center describes reports that 
bin Laden and his associates are planning attacks 
in the US. [US Congress, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency

July 14, 1999: Pakistani Intelligence Agent 
Promises Attack on WTC in Recorded Conversation

In a conversation recorded by US government 
agents as part of a sting operation, a Pakistani 
ISI agent named Rajaa Gulum Abbas points to the 
WTC and says, "Those towers are coming down." He 
later makes two other references to an attack on 
the WTC (for more details on this sting 
operation, (see Spring 1999), (see July 14, 
1999), and (see June 12, 2001)). [WPBF 25 (West 
Palm Beach), 8/5/2002; Cox News Service, 
8/2/2002; Palm Beach Post, 10/17/2002]

Entity Tags: Rajaa Gulum Abbas, World Trade Center
September 1999: US Report Predicts Spectacular Attack on Washington

A report prepared for US intelligence titled the 
"Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism" is 
completed. It states, "Al-Qaeda's expected 
retaliation for the US cruise missile attack ... 
could take several forms of terrorist attack in 
the nation's capital. Al-Qaeda could detonate a 
Chechen-type building-buster bomb at a federal 
building. Suicide bomber(s) belonging to 
al-Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land 
an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and 
Semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of 
the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the 
White House. Whatever form an attack may take, 
bin Laden will most likely retaliate in a 
spectacular way." The report is by the National 
Intelligence Council, which advises the president 
and US intelligence on emerging threats. 
[Associated Press, 4/18/2002] The Bush 
administration later claims to have never heard 
of this report until May 2002, despite the fact 
that it had been publicly posted on the Internet 
since 1999, and "widely shared within the 
government" according to the New York Times. 
[CNN, 5/18/2002; New York Times, 5/18/2002]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Central 
Intelligence Agency, al-Qaeda, Bush 
administration, Pentagon

September 1999: Bin Laden to Attack in US, 
Possibly in California and New York City

US intelligence obtains information that bin 
Laden and others are planning an attack in the 
US, possibly against specific landmarks in 
California and New York City. The reliability of 
the source is unknown. [US Congress, 9/18/2002]

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden

September 1999: FBI Investigates Flight School Attendee Connected to bin Laden

Agents from Oklahoma City FBI office visit the 
Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma to 
investigate Ihab Ali Nawawi, who has been 
identified as bin Laden's former personal pilot 
in a recent trial. The agents learned that Nawawi 
received his commercial pilot's license at the 
school 1993, then traveled to another school in 
Oklahoma City to qualify for a rating to fly 
small business aircraft. He is later named as an 
unindicted coconspirator in the 1998 US Embassy 
bombing in Kenya. The trial witness who gave this 
information, Essam al Ridi, also attended flight 
school in the US, then bought a plane and flew it 
to Afghanistan for bin Laden to use (see 1993). 
[CNN, 10/16/2001; Boston Globe, 9/18/2001; US 
Congress, 10/17/2002; Washington Post, 5/19/2002] 
When Nawawi was arrested in May 1999, he was 
working as a taxi driver in Orlando, Florida (see 
May 18, 1999). Investigators discover recent ties 
between him and high-ranking al-Qaeda leaders, 
and suspect he was a "sleeper" agent. [St. 
Petersburg Times, 10/28/2001] However, the FBI 
agent visiting the school is not given most 
background details about him. [US Congress, 
7/24/2003] It is not known if these investigators 
are aware of a terrorist flight school warning 
given by the Oklahoma City FBI office in 1998. 
Hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi later 
visit the Airman school in July 2000 but 
ultimately will decide to train in Florida 
instead. [Boston Globe, 9/18/2001] Al-Qaeda agent 
Zacarias Moussaoui will take flight lessons at 
Airman in February 2001 (see February 23-June 
2001). One of the FBI agents sent to visit the 
school at this time visits it again in August 
2001 asking about Moussaoui, but he will fail to 
make a connection between the two visits (see 
August 23, 2001).

Entity Tags: Marwan Alshehhi, Ihab Ali, Zacarias 
Moussaoui, Mohamed Atta, Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, Essam al Ridi

September 15, 1999: Bipartisan Commission 
Concludes Terrorist Attack Will Occur on US Soil, 
Killing Many

The first phase of the US Commission on National 
Security/21st Century, co-chaired by former 
Senators Gary Hart (D) and Warren Rudman (R), is 
issued. It concludes: "America will be attacked 
by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction 
and Americans will lose their lives on American 
soil, possibly in large numbers." [US Commission 
on National Security, 9/15/1999]

Entity Tags: Gary Hart, Commission on National 
Security/21st Century, Warren Rudman

October 5, 1999: Bin Laden Might Be Planning Major Attack in US

The highly respected Jane's Terrorism and 
Security Monitor reports that US intelligence is 
worried that bin Laden is planning a major attack 
on US soil. They are said to be particularly 
concerned about some kind of attack on New York, 
and they have recommended stepped-up security at 
the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal 
Reserve. [NewsMax, 10/5/1999]

Entity Tags: New York Stock Exchange, Osama bin Laden

October 31, 1999: Suicide Pilot Crashes Commercial Airliner into Ocean

EgyptAir Flight 990 crashes into the ocean off 
the coast of Massachusetts, killing all 217 
people on board. It is immediately suspected that 
one of the pilots purposely crashed the plane, 
and this is the eventual conclusion of a National 
Transportation Safety Board investigation. 
Thirty-three Egyptian military officers were 
aboard the plane, leading to suspicions that 
killing them was the motive for crashing the 
plane. No connections between the supposed 
suicide pilot and militancy are found. [ABC News, 
11/2/1999; Associated Press, 1/21/2000; Atlantic 
Monthly, 11/2001; Aviation Week and Space 
Technology, 3/25/2002] The Egyptian government 
publicly asserts that the crash was caused by 
mechanical failure. However, shortly before 9/11 
it will be reported that US intelligence secretly 
monitored communications between Egyptian 
officials and hear that Egyptian investigators 
"privately accept" that the pilot was "probably 
responsible" for the crash. [CNN, 6/25/2001] 
Mohammed Atef, al-Qaeda's military operations 
chief, is said to be inspired to use the idea of 
planes as weapons after learning of this 
incident. The US learns of Atef's interest from 
the interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects in Jordan, 
but it hasn't been reported if this is learned 
before or after 9/11. [Washington Post, 9/11/2002]

Entity Tags: Mohammed Atef, Osama bin Laden

November 1999-August 2001: Suspects with Saudi 
Embassy Ties Increases Concerns about Radical 
Militants in Phoenix

Two Saudis, Hamdan al Shalawi and Mohammed 
al-Qudhaeein, are detained for trying twice to 
get into the cockpit on a passenger airplane 
flying from Phoenix, Arizona, to Washington, D.C. 
They claim they thought the cockpit was the 
bathroom, and sue the FBI for racism. After 9/11, 
the FBI will consider the possibility that this 
was a "dry run" for the 9/11 attacks, but 
apparently does not come to a definite 
conclusion. In late 1999, it is discovered that 
the two were traveling to Washington to attend a 
party at the Saudi embassy and their ticket had 
been paid by the Saudi government. Apparently 
influenced by their government ties, the FBI 
decides not to prosecute or investigate the men. 
Al-Qudhaeein leaves the US. In 2000, intelligence 
information will be received indicating 
al-Qudhaeein had received explosives and car bomb 
training in Afghanistan. As a result, his name is 
added to a no-fly watch list. In April 2000, FBI 
agent Ken Williams is investigating Zacaria 
Soubra, a suspected radical militant attending a 
flight school in Phoenix, and discovers that the 
car Soubra is driving is actually owned by 
al-Qudhaeein. Soubra is friends with al Shalawi 
and al-Qudhaeein. This and other evidence will 
influence Williams to write his later-famous July 
2001 memo warning about potential terrorists 
training in Arizona flight schools (see July 10, 
2001). In August 2001, al-Qudhaeein applies for a 
visa to reenter the US, but is denied entry. It 
has not been revealed why al-Qudhaeein wanted to 
reenter the US, or if Williams or anyone else in 
US intelligence knew about his attempted reentry, 
or if anyone took action as a result of it. 
[Graham and Nussbaum, 2004, pp. 43-44; 9/11 
Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 521; Arizona Monthly, 
11/2004] Al Shalawi, the other Saudi involved in 
the cockpit incident, also has a radical militant 
background. In November 2000, US intelligence 
discovers he is training in a camp in 
Afghanistan, learning how to conduct a car bomb 
attack. One of his friends in Arizona is Ghassan 
al Sharbi, an al-Qaeda operative who will be 
captured in Pakistan with al-Qaeda leader Abu 
Zubaida. Al Sharbi is one of the targets of 
Williams' July 2001 memo. [9/11 Commission, 
7/24/2004, pp. 521]

Entity Tags: Mohammed Al-Qudhaeein, Ghassan al 
Sharbi, Ken Williams, Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, Zacaria Soubra, Hamdan al Shalawi

December 14, 1999: Al-Qaeda Operative Planning LA Airport Attack Is Arrested

Al-Qaeda operative Ahmed Ressam is arrested in 
Port Angeles, Washington, attempting to enter the 
US with components of explosive devices. One 
hundred and thirty pounds of bomb-making 
chemicals and detonator components are found 
inside his rental car. He subsequently admits he 
planned to bomb Los Angeles International Airport 
on December 31, 1999. [New York Times, 
12/30/2001] Alert border patrol agent Diana Dean 
stops him; she and other agents nationwide had 
been warned recently to look for suspicious 
activity. Ressam's bombing would have been part 
of a wave of attacks against US targets over the 
New Year's weekend (see December 14-31, 1999). He 
is later connected to al-Qaeda and convicted. [US 
Congress, 9/18/2002; PBS Frontline, 10/3/2002]

Entity Tags: Los Angeles International Airport, 
al-Qaeda, Ahmed Ressam, Diana Dean

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