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Main article: 1980s

1989: DEA Agent Receives Information about Possible WTC Attack, According to Controversial Film Edit

In the controversial film The Maltese Double Cross—Lockerbie by Allan Francovich, DEA agent Steve Donahue says that in 1989 a man named Mustafa Jafar provides him with information about a possible attack on the World Trade Center.

After describing information that Jafar had given him about a possible drugs shipment being carried on Pan Am 103, which was downed over Lockerbie, Donahue says:

“In the course of many calls and in direct contact with the FBI and a number of other people, the State Department, and every normal channel and authority, it became quite clear that [Jafar] had significant information, and in fact had predictive information, in terms of the attacks on the World Trade Center, which was one of several attacks which he said were staged, were going to be staged, at that time. This was well in advance of those attacks.”


The World Trade Center will be bombed in 1993 [see 1]. Francovich’s film about Lockerbie is controversial because it blames Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and their contacts with the US for the bombing, rather than Libya. [1][ALLAN FRANCOVICH, 1994]

1989: Holy Land Foundation Formed in US Edit

Holy Land Foundation logo. [Source: Holy Land Foundation] The Holy Land Foundation charity is established in the US, two years after Hamas was founded in the Middle East. From the very beginning, there are signs that Holy Land is supports illegal violent acts committed by Hamas. For instance, In 1990, Haitham Maghawri will apply for asylum in the US. He will tell the INS that he had been arrested several times in Lebanon, once for placing a car bomb. He will be denied asylum, but will gain permanent residence by marrying a US citizen. He then will become executive director of Holy Land. Additionally, government documents, corporate records, and Arabic-language articles show clear connections between Hamas, Holy Land, and a closely related group, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). For instance, in the late 1980s, Mousa Abu Marzouk, a known political leader of Hamas living in the US, is the chairman of IAP’s advisory committee and donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IAP. The IAP publicly recommends Muslims should donate money to Holy Land to support Hamas in the Palestinian intifada (uprising) against Israel. According to international law, violent acts against Israeli military targets are not illegal, but such acts against civilian targets are, and Hamas freely acknowledges that it does both. As a result, financial support in the US for Hamas is controversial and often done in secret. Hamas will not be officially declared a terrorist group until 1995, and after this all US financing support for Hamas will be done in secret (see January 1995). [DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/8/1996; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/12/2001; CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/16/2001; DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/20/2002] Entity Tags: Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Islamic Association for Palestine, Haitham Maghawri Category Tags: Robert Wright and Vulgar Betrayal, Terrorism Financing


Early 1989: US Supplies Sniper Rifles to Bin Laden’s Mentor The US government sends 25 high-powered sniper rifles to a group of fighters in Afghanistan that includes bin Laden. The armor-piercing weapons have range-finding equipment and night-vision scopes. In an early 2001 US court trial, Essam al Ridi, a pilot for bin Laden in the early 1990s (see Early 1993), will recall that he helped ship the weapons to Abdullah Azzam, bin Laden’s mentor. Azzam and bin Laden are close to each other at this time, and al Ridi will later testify he sometimes saw the two of them together. The president of the US company that made the rifles will later state that the rifles “were picked up by US government trucks, shipped to US government bases, and shipped to those Afghan freedom fighters.” The rifles are considered ideal for assassination. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/16/2001] The order, worth about $150,000 at the time, is a significant one for the manufacturer, accounting for 15-25% of its annual turnover on the guns. Their export would usually require an end user certificate from the US Department of State, but the circumstances of the sale are unknown, as al Ridi is not asked how he manages to purchase such a large number of rifles. [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/7/2001; SUNDAY TRIBUNE, 10/15/2001] The CIA will deny being involved in the transfer. [CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, 3/7/2002] However, al Ridi will say that the CIA was aware that bin Laden ended up with some of the guns. [NEW YORK TIMES, 6/3/2002] This shipment is especially significant because there was a protracted debate within the Reagan administration about sending sniper rifles to Afghanistan due to worries that it could violate a US law against assassinations and put US officials in legal jeopardy. In the end, the US gave less than 100 of such rifles without night-vision scopes to the government of Pakistan to pass on to mujaheddin, but the ones sent to Azzam had night-vision scopes. The timing is also significant since the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 1988 and complete the pull out in February 1989, around when these rifles are sent. The rifles given to Pakistan appear to have arrived before 1987. [WASHINGTON POST, 7/20/1992] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, United States, Abdullah Azzam, Essam al Ridi Timeline Tags: War in Afghanistan Category Tags: Soviet-Afghan War, US Intel Links to Islamic Militancy


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

President George Herbert Walker Bush. [Source: White House] George H. W. Bush replaces Ronald Reagan and remains president until January 1993. Many of the key members in his government will have important positions again when his son George W. Bush becomes president in 2001. For instance, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell later becomes Secretary of State, and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney later becomes vice president. Entity Tags: George Herbert Walker Bush, Ronald Reagan Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: US Dominance


Spring 1989: ISI and Bin Laden Allegedly Plot to Kill Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Hamid Gul, Nawaz Sharif, and Osama bin Laden conspire to assassinate Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Husein Haqqani, a Pakistani journalist who claims to have been involved in the plot, will later say that ISI Director Hamid Gul contacted Osama bin Laden, who was then known to provide financial support to Afghan mujaheddin, to pay for a coup/assassination of Bhutto. Gul also brings Nawaz Sharif, then the governor of Punjab province and a rival of Bhutto, into the plot. Bin Laden agrees to provide $10 million on the condition that Sharif transforms Pakistan into a strict Islamic state, which Sharif accepts. [LEVY AND SCOTT-CLARK, 2007, PP. 193-194] Bhutto is not assassinated at this time, but bin Laden allegedly helps Sharif replace Bhutto one year later (see October 1990). Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Husein Haqqani, Hamid Gul, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif Category Tags: Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan and the ISI

March 1989: Possibility of Suicide Attacks Using Planes Is ‘Nightmare’ of Governments, Paper Says Authorities are aware of, and concerned about, the possibility of a suicide attack using a hijacked plane, according to a paper on the threat of terrorism against commercial aviation by Brian Michael Jenkins of the RAND Corporation. “The nightmare of governments is that suicidal terrorists will hijack a commercial airliner and, by killing or replacing its crew, crash into a city or some vital facility,” the paper says. “It has been threatened in at least one case: In 1977, an airliner believed to have been hijacked, crashed, killing all on board. And in 1987, a homicidal, suicidal ex-employee boarded a commercial airliner where he shot his former boss and brought about the crash of the airliner, killing all 44 on board. Fear of such incidents is offered as a powerful argument for immobilizing hijacked aircraft on the ground at the first opportunity and also, some argue, for armoring the flight deck.” The paper asks: “What are we likely to see in the future? Perhaps fewer but deadlier and more sophisticated terrorist hijackings.” [JENKINS, 3/1989, PP. 10-11] The 1987 incident refers to Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771, which is believed to have been hijacked on its way from Los Angeles to San Francisco by a disgruntled former employee. [TIME, 12/21/1987] Jenkins will repeat his warning of terrorists possibly using a plane as a weapon in a threat assessment for the New York Port Authority in 1993 (see After February 26, 1993). [JENKINS AND EDWARDS-WINSLOW, 9/2003, PP. 11] Entity Tags: Brian Michael Jenkins, RAND Corporation Category Tags: US Air Security

(April 25-May 1989): US Holds Secret Meetings with Egyptian Terror Group Headed by ‘Blind Sheikh’ Members of Egyptian militant group Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, whose spiritual head is the ‘Blind Sheikh,’ Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, hold a series of secret meetings with US officials at the American embassy in Cairo. The meetings are initiated by Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, which wants to co-operate with the US, because it thinks the US is co-operating with and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. At the meetings, representatives of the group tell the US:

Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya has between 150,000 and 200,000 members; 
One of the representatives at the meetings sat on Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya’s shura, or leadership council, between 1981 and 1988. The 11 members of the group’s shura are named at the meetings, as is its operational commander; 
Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya thinks highly of Saudi Arabian King Fahd, but believes he should take a stronger line against Iran. However, Abdul-Rahman met an Iranian delegation in Pakistan in autumn 1988; 
The group will not attack US diplomats; 
Abdul-Rahman travels to the US yearly, and also travels to Britain; 
The group is not as secret and violent as represented by the Egyptian government and has undergone a “change in thinking,” becoming concerned about its radical and violent image. 

Embassy officials are skeptical about some of the claims, as the group’s representatives reveal more than the officials think is prudent. One year after the meetings, Abdul-Rahman will be issued a US visa by a CIA officer and move to the US (see July 1990). [US EMBASSY IN CAIRO, 4/25/1989 ; US EMBASSY IN CAIRO, 5/3/1989 ] Entity Tags: Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, United States, Omar Abdul-Rahman, US Embassy in Cairo Category Tags: 1993 WTC Bombing, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, Al-Kifah/MAK, US Intel Links to Islamic Militancy

Summer 1989: Ali Mohamed Uses His US Military Expertise to Train Muslim Radicals Ali Mohamed, a spy for bin Laden working in the US military, trains Islamic radicals in the New York area. Mohamed is on active duty at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, at the time, but he regularly comes to Brooklyn on the weekends to train radicals at the Al-Kifah Refugee Center, a charity connected to both bin Laden and the CIA. Lawyer Roger Savis will later say, “He came quite often and became a real presence in that [Al-Kifah] office, which later metastasized into al-Qaeda.… He would bring with him a satchel full of military manuals and documents. It was Ali Mohamed who taught the men how to engage in guerrilla war. He would give courses in how to make bombs, how to use guns, how to make Molotov cocktails.” Mohamed’s gun training exercises take place at five different shooting ranges. One series of shooting range sessions in July 1989 is monitored by the FBI (Mohamed apparently is not at those particular sessions in person) (see July 1989). Mohamed’s trainees include most of the future bombers of the World Trade Center in 1993. [LANCE, 2006, PP. 47-49] Entity Tags: Roger Savis, Al-Kifah Refugee Center, Ali Mohamed Category Tags: Ali Mohamed, Al-Kifah/MAK, US Intel Links to Islamic Militancy

June 1989: Pakistan Disappointed at End of US Aid over Nuclear Weapons Program Pakistan is disappointed when Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is told during a visit to Washington that the US will cut off foreign aid to her nation, because of its nuclear weapons program (see June 1989). This new US policy comes about shortly after the withdrawal of the Soviet military from neighboring Afghanistan (see February 15, 1989). A US official will later say: “The Paks understood us better than we understood ourselves… They knew that once the Soviets were whipped in Afghanistan we wouldn’t need them anymore. Would we unilaterally defend Pakistan? Never. Our relationship with Pakistan was to counter the Soviet-Indian relationship. The Pakistanis knew that time was limited. And that’s why they went balls out on the nuclear program.” [NEW YORKER, 3/29/1993] Entity Tags: Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network Category Tags: Soviet-Afghan War

June 1989: Bush Administration Decides to Cut Off Aid to Pakistan over Nuclear Weapons Program Next Year Edit

President George Bush and Secretary of State James Baker decide that the US will cut off foreign aid to Pakistan because of its nuclear weapons program. Pakistan was a major recipient of foreign aid during the Soviet Afghan war, when the US channeled support to the mujaheddin through it, but Soviet forces began withdrawing from Afghanistan in February (see February 15, 1989). It is decided that aid will be provided for 1989, but not for 1990 (see October 1990). [NEW YORKER, 3/29/1993] Entity Tags: George Herbert Walker Bush, Pakistan, James A. Baker Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network Category Tags: Soviet-Afghan War

June 4, 1989: Ali Mohamed Shows US Military Training Videos to Muslim Radicals Ali Mohamed, a spy for bin Laden working in the US military, trains Muslim radicals. On this date, he travels with El Sayyid Nosair to the Al-Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn, a charity connected to bin Laden and the CIA, and shows training videos from the Fort Bragg military base where US Special Forces train. A former FBI agent will later comment, “You have an al-Qaeda spy who’s now a US citizen, on active duty in the US Army, and he brings along a video paid for by the US government to train Green Beret officers and he’s using it to help train Islamic terrorists so they can turn their guns on us.… By now the Afghan war is over.” [LANCE, 2006, PP. 48] Nosair, who watches the videos, will assassinate a Jewish leader in New York one year later (see November 5, 1990). Entity Tags: El Sayyid Nosair, Ali Mohamed, Al-Kifah Refugee Center Category Tags: Ali Mohamed, Al-Kifah/MAK, US Intel Links to Islamic Militancy

July 1989: FBI Monitors Future Bombers Weapons Training Sessions; Fail to Follow Up

One of the Calverton surveillance photographs introduced as evidence in court (note that some faces have been blurred out). [Source: National Geographic] FBI agents photograph Islamic radicals shooting weapons at the Calverton Shooting Range, on Long Island, New York. The group is secretly monitored as they shoot AK-47 assault rifles, semiautomatic handguns, and revolvers for four successive weekends. The use of weapons such as AK-47’s are illegal in the US, but this shooting range is known to be unusually permissive. Ali Mohamed is apparently not at the range but has been training the five men there: El Sayyid Nosair, Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammed Salameh, Nidal Ayyad, and Clement Rodney Hampton-El. Nosair will assassinate Rabbi Meir Kahane one year later (see November 5, 1990), and the others except for Hampton-El will be convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing (see February 26, 1993), while Hampton-El will be convicted for a role in the “Landmarks” bombing plot (see June 24, 1993). Some FBI agents have been assigned to watch some Middle Eastern men who are frequenting the Al-Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn. Each weekend, Mohamed’s trainees drive from Al-Kifah to the shooting range, and a small FBI surveillance team follows them. The FBI has been given a tip that some Palestinians at Al-Kifah are planning violence targeting Atlantic City casinos. By August, the casino plot fails to materialize, and the surveillance, including that at the shooting range, comes to an end. Author Peter Lance will later say that why the FBI failed to follow up the shooting sessions is a “great unanswered question.” [LANCE, 2003, PP. 29-33; NEW YORK TIMES, 10/5/2003] Entity Tags: Peter Lance, Nidal Ayyad, Al-Kifah Refugee Center, Mohammed Salameh, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, Ali Mohamed, Calverton Shooting Range, El Sayyid Nosair, Mahmud Abouhalima Category Tags: 1993 WTC Bombing, Ali Mohamed, Al-Kifah/MAK, Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11

July 1989: Ramzi Yousef Already Visits Philippines, Setting Up New Base for Bin Laden A Philippine government undercover operative later says that bomber Ramzi Yousef comes to the Philippines at this time to set up a new base for bin Laden. The operative, Edwin Angeles, is posing as a member of the militant group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Angeles will later claim that Yousef approaches him as the “personal envoy” of bin Laden and is looking to set up a new base of operations on the rebellious Muslim island of Mindanao. Bin Laden’s brother-in-law Mohammed Jamal Khalifa is already in the Philippines setting up charity fronts. These early contacts will contribute to the creation of the Abu Sayyaf, an offshoot of the MILF that Angeles will join. [PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER, 7/10/2001] Yousef had been studying electrical engineering in Wales until 1989. He first went to Afghanistan in 1988 to learn bomb making at a bin Laden camp (see Late 1980s). After graduating, he moved to Afghanistan, where his father, two of his brothers, and his uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed are already fighting with bin Laden. [LONDON TIMES, 10/18/1997] Yousef will frequently return to the Philippines to train and plot attacks (see December 1991-May 1992). Entity Tags: Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi Yousef, Edwin Angeles Category Tags: Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Philippine Militant Collusion, Ramzi Yousef, Other Possible Moles or Informants, Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia

November 1989: Ali Mohamed Honorably Discharged from US Army

Ali Mohamed’s US passport, issued in 1989. [Source: US Justice Department] (click image to enlarge) Ali Mohamed is honorably discharged from the US Army with commendations in his file, including one for “patriotism, valor, fidelity, and professional excellence.” He remains in the Army Reserves for the next five years. [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/1/1998; RALEIGH NEWS AND OBSERVER, 10/21/2001] A US citizen by this time, he will spend much of his time after his discharge in Santa Clara, California, where his wife still resides. He will try but fail to get a job as an FBI interpreter, will work as a security guard, and will run a computer consulting firm out of his home. [SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 9/21/2001] Entity Tags: US Department of the Army, Ali Mohamed Category Tags: Ali Mohamed

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

Secretary of State Colin Powell. [Source: US State Department] The Berlin Wall begins to fall in East Germany, signifying the end of the Soviet Union as a superpower. Just six days later, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell presents a new strategy document to President George H. W. Bush, proposing that the US shift its strategic focus from countering Soviet attempts at world dominance to ensuring US world dominance. George H. W. Bush accepts this plan in a public speech, with slight modifications, on August 2, 1990, the same day Iraq invades Kuwait. In early 1992 (see March 8, 1992), Powell, counter to his usual public dove persona, tells congresspersons that the US requires “sufficient power” to “deter any challenger from ever dreaming of challenging us on the world stage.” He says, “I want to be the bully on the block.” Powell’s early ideas of global hegemony will be formalized by others in a 1992 policy document and finally realized as policy when George W. Bush becomes president in 2001. [HARPER'S, 10/2002] Entity Tags: Soviet Union, George Herbert Walker Bush, Colin Powell Category Tags: US Dominance

November 24, 1989: Bin Laden’s Mentor Assassinated

Sheikh Abdullah Azzam. [Source: CNN] Bin Laden’s mentor Sheikh Abdullah Azzam is killed by a car bomb in Afghanistan. The killing is never solved. Azzam has no shortage of enemies. Suspects include the Mossad, CIA, Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the ISI, and bin Laden. The reason bin Laden is suspected is because he and Azzam were increasingly at odds over what approach to take since the Soviet Union had been driven from Afghanistan earlier in the year (see February 15, 1989). [SLATE, 4/16/2002; COLL, 2004, PP. 204] In 1998, Mohammed Saddiq Odeh will be arrested and later convicted for a role in the 1998 African embassy bombings. He reportedly will tell US interrogators that bin Laden “personally ordered the killing of Azzam because he suspected his former mentor had ties with the CIA.” However, it is not known if Odeh was just passing on a rumor. [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 32] Regardless, in the wake of Azzam’s death, bin Laden takes control of Azzam’s recruiting and support network, Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK)/Al-Kifah, and merges it with al-Qaeda, which was formed the year before (see August 11-20, 1988). [SLATE, 4/16/2002; COLL, 2004, PP. 204] Entity Tags: Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, Al-Qaeda, Abdullah Azzam, Maktab al-Khidamat, Osama bin Laden Timeline Tags: War in Afghanistan Category Tags: Soviet-Afghan War, Osama Bin Laden, Al-Kifah/MAK

Timeline linksEdit

September 8 September 9 September 10 September 11
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