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1993: CIA Declares Bin Laden Significant Financial Backer of Islamic Militants Edit

In 2007, former CIA Director George Tenet will write, “As early as 1993, [the CIA] had declared bin Laden to be a significant financier backer of Islamic terrorist movements. We knew he was funding paramilitary training of Arab religious militants in such far-flung places as Bosnia, Egypt, Kashmir, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, and Yemen” (see July-August 1993). [TENET, 2007, PP. 100] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden, ama Bin Laden, Terrorism Financing

1993: US-Based Charity Helps Send Nine Elite Al-Qaeda Trainers to Bosnia

Al-Hajj Boudella. [Source: Public domain via National Public Radio] Enaam Arnaout, head of the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) in the US and an al-Qaeda operative, personally arranges for nine elite instructors from the Al-Sadda training camp in Afghanistan to be sent to central Bosnia to train mujaheddin there. One of the trainers is Al-Hajj Boudella, who will become the long-time director of the BIF’s office in Bosnia. He will be arrested shortly after 9/11 and renditioned to the Guantanamo Bay prison in 2002 (see January 18, 2002). [KOHLMANN, 2004, PP. 19-20, 255] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Enaam Arnaout, Benevolence International Foundation, Al-Hajj Boudella Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans, Terrorism Financing, BIF

1993: US Begins Construction on Airfield Used for Bosnia Arms Pipeline The US government, in collaboration with Hasan Cengic and his father Halid Cengic, starts work on an airport in Visoko, Bosnia, northwest of Sarajevo. This will become a major destination of a secret US arms pipeline into Bosnia. [WIEBES, 2003, PP. 179] US Special Forces are apparently secretly involved in the construction. [SCOTSMAN, 12/3/1995] The Cengics are radical Muslims and Hasan Cengic is heavily involved with an illegal weapons pipeline into Bosnia controlled by radical militants (see Mid-1991-1996). The airport will be completed in late 1994 (see Late 1994-Late 1995). Entity Tags: Hasan Cengic, Halid Cengic, United States Special Forces Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans

1993: Pakistani Militant Leader Travels to Somalia to Help Bin Laden Fighters Train Anti-US Forces According to a confession made later to Indian police, Pakistani militant leader Maulana Masood Azhar travels to Somalia to help al-Qaeda operatives train local forces the US is attacking. Azhar is assisted by other radicals linked to Osama bin Laden (see Late 1992-October 1993). The training will culminate in the Black Hawk Down incident in October 1993 (see October 3-4, 1993). Trip - Azhar initially travels to Nairobi, Kenya, on the orders of Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, leader of the Pakistani militant organization Harkat ul-Ansar (later known as Harkat ul-Mujahedeen). In Nairobi, he meets with leaders of the Somali group Al-Ittihad al-Islamiya, and gives them money and equipment, as well as making three journeys to Somalia itself. Azhar will also say that some of the militants helping the anti-American Somalis are the same people who fought as the mujaheddin in the Soviet-Afghan War, but were expelled from Pakistan after the war. Alleged Yemen Connection - Indian authorities will also say that Azhar helped with the movement of mercenaries from Yemen to Somalia, and that he was assisted in this by a Yemeni militant leader named Tariq Nasr al-Fadhli. Tariq is said to have fought in Afghanistan against the Soviets and to have been involved in an anti-US bombing in Yemen in late 1992 (see December 29, 1992). [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 2/25/2002] Azhar is also associated with Pakistan’s ISI. He will be imprisoned briefly in Pakistan after 9/11 and then released (see December 14, 2002). Entity Tags: Al-Ittihad al-Islamiya, Tariq Nasr al-Fadhli, Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, Maulana Masood Azhar Category Tags: 1993 Somalia Fighting, Pakistan and the ISI

1993: Algerian GIA Joins Forces with Al-Qaeda By 1993, the Algerian militant group Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) is extremely active launching attacks in Algeria. For instance, in a two month period of 1994 alone, it will burn down over 500 schools. In 1993, bin Laden sends Qari Said al-Jazairi, an Algerian member of al-Qaeda’s shura (ruling council), to meet with rebel leaders in the mountains. He gives them $40,000 but warns them there is no room for compromise with the government and total war is the only solution. This marginalizes the moderates. According to later testimony by key al-Qaeda defector Jamal al-Fadl, the GIA is then treated as an affiliate of al-Qaeda. [DAY 2. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. USAMA BIN LADEN, ET AL., 2/6/2001; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 189-190] Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders may not be aware of it, but the GIA is highly infiltrated by the Algerian intelligence agency by this time (see 1991). Entity Tags: Jamal al-Fadl, Groupe Islamique Armé, Qari Said al-Jazairi, Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Algerian Militant Collusion

1993: Islamic Jihad Decimated in Egypt, Bringing the Group Closer to Al-Qaeda In 1993, the membership director for Islamic Jihad is arrested in Egypt. At the time, Islamic Jihad is a mostly Egyptian-based militant group led by Ayman al-Zawahiri and loosely working with al-Qaeda. It has a blind cell structure so members in one cell do not know members in another. But the membership director has a computer file with the names, addresses, and potential hideouts of every member. As a result, about 800 members are arrested and jailed in Egypt, effectively decimating the group there. Most of the remaining members are in scattered cells in other countries. The group is nearly broke as well, and most members go on the al-Qaeda payroll at this time, since Osama bin Laden has lots of money. Al-Zawahiri will later confide to a friend that joining with bin Laden had been “the only solution to keeping the [Islamic] Jihad organization alive.” In November 1993, while the trials against the 800 arrested members in Egypt are going on, the group attempts to strike back by assassinating Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Sidqi. A car bomb explodes as he drives past a girls’ school in Cairo. Sidqi is unhurt, but a young girl is killed and 21 other people are injured. The girl’s death outrages the Egyptian public to a surprising degree, strongly damaging the group’s reputation in Egypt. This drives Islamic Jihad even closer to al-Qaeda, which has an international focus instead of an Egyptian focus. [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 184-186] Entity Tags: Atef Sidqi, Al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri Category Tags: Ayman Al-Zawahiri

1993: Al-Zawahiri’s Brother Help Manage Mujaheddin in Bosnia Using Charity Cover Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, sends his brother Mohammed al-Zawahiri to the Balkans to help run the mujaheddin fighters in Bosnia. He is known as a logistics expert and is said to be the military commander of Islamic Jihad. Mohammed works in Bosnia, Croatia, and Albania under the cover of being an International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) official. He is said to make an extended stay in central Bosnia, where most of the mujaheddin are based, in 1993. He sets up an Islamic Jihad cell in Albania with over a dozen members to support the mujaheddin in Bosnia. [NEW YORKER, 9/9/2002; SCHINDLER, 2007, PP. 123] Ayman also frequently visits Bosnia (see September 1992 and After) and by 1994 will move to Bulgaria to presumably work with Mohammed to manage operations in the Balkans region (see September 1994-1996). Entity Tags: Mohammed al-Zawahiri, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Islamic Jihad, International Islamic Relief Organization Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans, Terrorism Financing

Early 1990s: Britain, US, and Pakistan Allegedly Work Together to Send 200 British Muslims to Fight in Bosnia In a 2005 op-ed in The Guardian, British MP and former cabinet minister Michael Meacher will claim that Islamist militants from Pakistan were sent to Bosnia in the early 1990s to fight against Serbia. Citing the Observer Research Foundation, he will claim that about 200 Pakistani Muslims living in Britain were sent to Pakistan, where they trained in camps run by the Pakistani militant group Harkat ul-Ansar (which will change its name to Harkat ul-Mujahedeen after being banned by the US a few years later). The Pakistani ISI assisted with their training. They then joined Harkat ul-Ansar forces in Bosnia “with the full knowledge and complicity of the British and American intelligence agencies.” [GUARDIAN, 9/10/2005] Interestingly, Saeed Sheikh, who will later be accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks and the murder of reporter Daniel Pearl, follows this pattern. He left Britain to go to Bosnia with Harkat ul-Ansar, and also attended training camps partly run by the ISI (see April 1993 and June 1993-October 1994). There are also allegations that he worked with British intelligence (see Before April 1993). Entity Tags: Michael Meacher, Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, Saeed Sheikh, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans, Pakistan and the ISI, Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism, US Intel Links to Islamic Militancy, Saeed Sheikh

1993: Albanian Drug Smuggling Profits Fund Muslim Arms Buildup in Balkans Albanian drug smugglers are found to be playing a prominent role in funding the Muslim arms buildup in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. In addition to small arms and machine guns, the criminal arms deals include surface-to-surface missiles and helicopters. [INDEPENDENT, 12/10/1993; SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 6/10/1994] Category Tags: Drugs, Al-Qaeda in Balkans

1993: Bin Laden Lists Al-Qaeda’s Most Important Charity Fronts

Qatar Charitable Society logo. [Source: Qatar Charitable Society] Osama bin Laden privately identifies the three most important charity fronts used to finance al-Qaeda. He names:

The Muslim World League (MWL), a Saudi charity closely tied to the Saudi government. 
Benevolence International Foundation (BIF), a charity based in Chicago, Illinois. 
The Qatar Charitable Society (QCS). Al-Qaeda apparently will stop using this organization after it is publicly linked to an assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 1995 (see Shortly After June 26, 1995). 

Bin Laden tells this to Jamal al-Fadl, who is helping to run bin Laden’s businesses in Sudan. A Justice Department brief will later explain, “[Al-Fadl] understood from conversations with bin Laden and others in al-Qaeda that the charities would receive funds that could be withdrawn in cash and a portion of the money used for legitimate relief purposes and another portion diverted for al-Qaeda operations. The money for al-Qaeda operations would nevertheless be listed in the charities’ books as expenses for building mosques or schools or feeding the poor or the needy.” [USA V. ENAAM M. ARNAOUT, 10/6/2003 ] In 1996, al-Fadl will quit al-Qaeda and tell US investigators all he knows about the organization and its finances (see June 1996-April 1997). Yet the US has yet to list the MWL or QCS as terrorism financiers, and will wait until 2002 before listing BIF. The US knew about the MWL’s support for radical militants even before al-Fadl defected (see January 1996), but its ties to the Saudi government has repeatedly protected it (see October 12, 2001). Entity Tags: Qatar Charitable Society, Benevolence International Foundation, Muslim World League, Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, Jamal al-Fadl Category Tags: Saudi Arabia, Terrorism Financing, BIF

1993: Charity Shut Down in Saudi Arabia for Ties to Al-Qaeda But Prospers in US The Guardian reports in May 1993 that the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) (then known as Lajnat al-Birr al-Islamiyya) has been closed in Saudi Arabia and “its head, Adel Batterjee, a known political activist, has been detained by the police.” The Guardian hints that the shut down is related to pressure from the Egyptian government. This is possibly the only instance of the Saudis shutting down a charity before 9/11. [GUARDIAN, 5/5/1993] Al-Qaeda will determine later in the year that the shut down was because the Saudis had found a link between BIF and al-Qaeda, but an operative will report that the problem has been fixed. [USA V. ENAAM M. ARNAOUT, 10/6/2003 ] Batterjee is also mentioned in a 1992 New York Times article as the chairman of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), flying wounded Saudis fighting in the Bosnian war and giving them free medical treatment. [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/5/1992] BIF stops operating in Saudi Arabia but expands its operations in the US (see 1992-1993). [USA V. ENAAM M. ARNAOUT, 10/6/2003 ] The FBI will not begin to seriously investigate it until 1998 (see 1998). US agents will raid WAMY offices in 2004 for suspected ties to radical militants (see June 1, 2004). Entity Tags: Adel Abdul Jalil Batterjee, Al-Qaeda, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Benevolence International Foundation Category Tags: Saudi Arabia, Terrorism Financing, BIF

1993-1994: Future Pakistani President Promotes Taliban and Kashmiri Militant Groups In the early 1990s, future Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is an up-and-coming military general, who is in charge of military operations. He is a pupil of Hamid Gul, director of the ISI in the late 1980s and a long-time and open supporter of Osama bin Laden. Around 1993, he approaches Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto with a special plan to undermine Indian forces in the province of Kashmir, disputed between India and Pakistan. As Bhutto will later recall, “He told me he wanted to ‘unleash the forces of fundamentalism’ to ramp up the war” against India in Kashmir. Bhutto gives Musharraf the go-ahead, as she had lost power once before by opposing the Pakistani military and ISI, and “Second time around I did not want to rock the boat.” Musharraf approaches several Islamic organizations and commits them to supply volunteers who could be trained to fight as guerrillas in Kashmir. One group he works with is Markaz Dawa Al Irshad (MDI), founded several years before by followers of bin Laden. The MDI already has a military wing known as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). Musharraf is allowed to use LeT’s fighters for his purposes in Kashmir and elsewhere. Other groups effectively created by Musharraf include Harkat ul-Ansar, later known as Harkat ul-Mujahedeen (see Early 1993). In the following months, the level of violence in Kashmir grows as the militias begin sending their fighters there. Around the same time, Musharraf sees early successes of the Taliban (see Spring-Autumn 1994), and along with Interior Minister Nasrullah Babar, begins secretly supporting them and supplying them. The two policies go hand-in-hand, because the militant groups begin training their fighters in parts of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban. The Pakistani policy of tacitly supporting these militias and the Taliban will continue until Musharraf takes power in a coup in 1999 (see October 12, 1999), and beyond. [LEVY AND SCOTT-CLARK, 2007, PP. 239-243] Entity Tags: Markaz Dawa Al Irshad, Benazir Bhutto, Hamid Gul, Nasrullah Babar, Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Pervez Musharraf Category Tags: Pakistan and the ISI

1993: FBI Already Interested in Al-Qaeda Related Charity Based in US

Adham Amin Hassoun. [Source: CBS News] The FBI interviews Adham Amin Hassoun, a Muslim community activist living in Florida. The year before, Hassoun had filed Florida incorporation papers for the first American chapter of the Islamic charity Benevolence International (BIF), listing wealthy Saudi businessman Adel Batterjee as the president. The FBI shows him photographs of suspects in the World Trade Center bombing and asks him if he could recognize the people. At this interview or a later one, he is also asked about Enaam Arnaout, who will take control of Benevolence International after it moved its headquarters to Chicago in 1994. After 9/11, Hassoun will be questioned again for alleged ties with so-called “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla. Hassoun and Padilla were acquaintances in Florida since the early 1990s. [SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL, 7/13/2002] The FBI begins monitoring Hassoun and some of his associates, including Padilla, in October 1993 (see (October 1993-November 2001)). Benevolence International will later be connected to al-Qaeda and shut down, but only after 9/11. Entity Tags: Enaam Arnaout, Benevolence International Foundation, Adel Abdul Jalil Batterjee, Adham Amin Hassoun, Jose Padilla Category Tags: Terrorism Financing, BIF

1993: US Begins Regularly Conducting Renditions The United States begins a practice known as “rendition,” the official purpose of which is to bring suspected foreign criminals to justice. Suspects detained abroad are “rendered” to courts in the United States or other countries. In some cases they are transferred to countries with poor human rights records and tortured. Some are convicted, even put to death, without a fair trial. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/2/2005, PP. A01] The frequency of renditions will increase dramatically after the September 11 attacks (see After September 11, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 3/11/2002, PP. A01; NEW YORK TIMES, 3/9/2003; WASHINGTON POST, 5/11/2004, PP. A01] Gore: "Go Grab His Ass" - The policy is proposed by Richard Clarke, head of the Counterterrorism Security Group, who is aware of a suspect he wants to have rendered. However, White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler opposes the policy, saying it violates international law, and demands a meeting with President Clinton to explain the issue to him. Clinton appears favorable to Cutler’s arguments, until Vice President Al Gore returns from a foreign trip. Gore listens to a recap of the arguments and comments: “That’s a no-brainer. Of course it’s a violation of international law, that’s why it’s a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.” However, the first operation fails. Comment by Clarke - Clarke will later write: “We learned that often things change by the time you can get a snatch team in place. Sometimes intelligence is wrong. Some governments cooperate with the terrorists. It was worth trying, however, because often enough we succeeded.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 144] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, Albert Arnold (“Al”) Gore, Jr., Lloyd Cutler Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

1993: Darkazanli Gives CIA First Hint of Hamburg Cell According to CIA documents, US intelligence first becomes aware of Mamoun Darkazanli at this time, when a person arrested in Africa carrying false passports and counterfeit money is found with Darkazanli’s telephone number. Darkazanli is a Syrian businessman residing in Germany. The CIA carefully scrutinizes Darkazanli and his business dealings, but authorities are not able to make a case against him. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 185 ] Many will later claim that Darkazanli is a member of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell. He will associate with Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, and others. Entity Tags: Mamoun Darkazanli, Central Intelligence Agency Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Germany, Mamoun Darkazanli

1993: US Government Turns Blind Eye to Illegal Weapons Pipeline to Muslim Bosnia According to a senior Western diplomat, in 1993 the Clinton administration learns about the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA) and its real purpose of secretly violating the UN embargo to get weapons to Bosnia (see Mid-1991-1996). But the US takes no action to stop its fund-raising or arms shipments. The diplomat will later say, “We were told [by Washington] to watch them but not interfere. Bosnia was trying to get weapons from anybody, and we weren’t helping much. The least we could do is back off. So we backed off.” TWRA has key offices in Austria and Germany, but authorities in both those countries refrain from shutting down TWRA as well. Austrian officials will later admit that “public pressure to support Bosnia’s Muslims allowed them to turn a blind eye to the agency’s activities.” [WASHINGTON POST, 9/22/1996] However, it seems probable that the US found out about TWRA’s smuggling activites earlier, when they were exposed in late 1992 (see September 1992). Further, there are suggestions that the US may have tacitly agreed to the illegal smuggling and even helped with it from the very beginning (see Late 1992-1995). The TWRA is linked to bin Laden and other radical militants, and in 1993 it helps fund bomb plotters in the US, but the FBI does not act on that link (see Late 1992-Early 1993 and Early April 1993). Entity Tags: Third World Relief Agency Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans, Terrorism Financing

1993: Bin Laden Visits Bosnia, Supports Muslim President Izetbegovic Bin Laden visits Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic in Sarajevo. He sponsors some fighters from Arabic countries to fight on the Muslims’ side in Bosnia. [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/20/2003] Izetbegovic gives bin Laden a Bosnian passport the same year as a gesture of appreciation for his support (see 1993). A CIA report in 1996 will conclude bin Laden did visit the Balkans region in 1993, though it will not definitively state he went to Bosnia. [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 176, 340] Bin Laden will also visit Izetbegovic in 1994 (see November 1994 and 1994). Entity Tags: Alija Izetbegovic, Osama bin Laden Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans

1993: Ali Mohamed Sets Up Nairobi Cell; Trains Somalis to Fight US Troops Bin Laden asks double agent Ali Mohamed to set up an al-Qaeda cell in Nairobi, Kenya, to support al-Qaeda operations against the US intervention in the neighboring country of Somalia that year. He does so, setting up a cell of a dozen operatives. He creates a car business, a fishing business, and sells scuba diving equipment, luxury automobiles, and diamonds to create income for the cell, and a charity organization to provide operatives with documents. The cell will later plan the 1998 embassy bombings in both Nairobi and nearby Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998). He also helps trains Somali clansmen in the months leading up to a battle that will kill 18 US soldiers (see Late 1992-October 1993 and October 3-4, 1993). [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/21/2000; RALEIGH NEWS AND OBSERVER, 10/21/2001; WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/26/2001; CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/11/2001] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Ali Mohamed, Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Ali Mohamed, 1998 US Embassy Bombings, 1993 Somalia Fighting

1993: Bosnian President Izetbegovic Grants Bin Laden Passport as Gesture of Appreciation Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic grants Osama bin Laden a Bosnian passport “in recognition of his followers’ contributions to Mr. Izetbegovic’s quest to create a ‘fundamentalist Islamic republic’ in the Balkans,” according to an account in a Bosnian newspaper in 1999. [OTTAWA CITIZEN, 12/15/2001] Renate Flottau, a reporter for Der Spiegel, will later claim that bin Laden told her he had been given a Bosnian passport when she happened to meet him in Bosnia in 1994 (see 1994). [SCHINDLER, 2007, PP. 123-125] Entity Tags: Renate Flottau, Alija Izetbegovic, Osama bin Laden Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans

1993-1995: Former US Intelligence Agent and Arms Dealer Victor Bout Develop Town that Becomes Hub for Al-Qaeda and the 9/11 Plot

Richard Chichakli. [Source: Public domain] In the spring of 1993, Victor Bout moves to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and begins to use it as the central hub of expanding business empire. Bout is an ex-Russian military officer and is rapidly developing an international network to buy, sell, and transport illegal goods, mostly weapons. The UAE is centrally located for his needs, and it has no money laundering laws, low taxes, and very lax banking regulations. Sharjah International Airport has almost no air passenger traffic at the time, being overshadowed by the popular airport in Dubai a short distance away. So the airport establishes a niche as an air cargo hub by offering tax incentives for cargo companies. In 1993, Richard Chichakli becomes friends and business partners with Bout. In 1995, Sharjah airport hires Chichakli to be the commercial manager of a new free trade zone now being heavily used by Bout. Chichakli, a Syrian by birth, has an interesting background. He claims to have been friends with Osama bin Laden while studying in Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s. He will later claim that he used to “sit around and eat sandwiches and sing songs” with bin Laden and his siblings, back when “Osama was OK.” In 1986, he moved to Texas, became a US citizen, and served in the US army until 1993, specializing in aviation, interrogation, and intelligence. He will later claim that he not only served in the US military, but also spent about 18 years working in intelligence (which, if true, would mean he was an intelligence agent when he was friends with bin Laden). Chichakli’s free trade zone is wildly successful. [CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY, 11/20/2002; FARAH AND BRAUN, 2007, PP. 53-56] In 2000, US investigators will learn that Chichakli is living in Texas again and is still working closely with Bout. [FARAH AND BRAUN, 2007, PP. 53] However, no action will be taken against him until April 26, 2005, when US Treasury and FBI agents raid his home and business in Texas. They will seize his computer, documents, and over $1 million in assets as part of an investigation into Bout’s financial empire, but they will not arrest him. Chichakli will not be stopped when he leaves the US several days later. He will move to Syria, where it is later suspected that he and Bout supply Hezbollah with weapons (see July 2006). [FARAH AND BRAUN, 2007, PP. 247-248] Meanwhile, Sharjah and its airport will become a hub for al-Qaeda and the 9/11 plot. By 1996, there are daily flights between Afghanistan and Sharjah, and al-Qaeda uses Sharjah for drug and arms smuggling (see Mid-1996-October 2001). 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will live in Sharjah in 1998 (see July 8, 1999), and 9/11 plot facilitator Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi will be based in Sharjah in the months before the 9/11 attacks. Some of the 9/11 hijackers will pass through there and visit him (see Early-Late June, 2001). Entity Tags: Victor Bout, Richard Chichakli Category Tags: Victor Bout

1993-1995: Croatian General Agim Ceku Responsible for Anti-Serb Atrocities

Agim Ceku. [Source: Viewimages.com] Croatian General Agim Ceku’s troops in Croatia are responsible for many atrocities against the Croatian Serbs, witnessed by Canadian peace-keeping forces. The Canadian testimony ultimately leads to a sealed indictment against Ceku being issued by the Hague Tribunal. [TAYLOR, 2002, PP. 164] Ceku will be elected prime minister of Kosovo in 2006 despite the still pending war crimes charges (see January 1999). Entity Tags: Agim Ceku Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans

1993-1995: Mujaheddin Reach a Peak of Up to 4,000 in Bosnia

The caption for this picture published in newspapers on December 11, 1995, reads, “One of the Bosnian Army Muslim brigades marches through Zenica in a demonstration of strength by 10,000 soldiers.” [Source: Reuters] (click image to enlarge) The number of Mujaheddin fighting in Bosnia plateau at around several thousand. Estimates of mujaheddin numbers in Bosnia vary from as few as a couple of hundred to as many as 4,000. However, most put the number somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000. The difficulty in pinning down an exact figure stems from fact that there are a variety of foreign mercenary groups in Bosnia and it is not entirely clear who is and who isn’t mujaheddin. Furthermore, these groups are not all present in Bosnia at the same time. According to Cees Wiebes, a professor at Amsterdam University, mujaheddin forces in Bosnia are not controlled by Bosnian authorities, but rather by their countries of origin, Islamic militant organizations, and criminal organizations. [WIEBES, 2003, PP. 207-208] While the mujaheddin’s presence in Bosnia is said to be of only limited military value, they are considered a valuable “political tool” for obtaining the support from Arab countries. According to a UN report, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic sees the fighters as “a conduit for funds from the Gulf and the Middle East.” [WIEBES, 2003, PP. 208, 215] Entity Tags: Cees Wiebes, Alija Izetbegovic Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans

1993-1999: Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Fight for Al-Qaeda

Nawaf Alhazmi (left), and Khalid Almihdhar (right). [Source: FBI] Of all the 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar have the longest records of involvement with al-Qaeda. CIA Director Tenet calls them al-Qaeda veterans. According to the CIA, Alhazmi first travels to Afghanistan in 1993 as a teenager, then fights in Bosnia with Alhazmi (see 1995). Almihdhar makes his first visit to Afghanistan training camps in 1996, and then fights in Chechnya in 1997. Both swear loyalty to bin Laden around 1998. Alhazmi fights in Afghanistan against the Northern Alliance with his brother, Salem Alhazmi. He fights in Chechnya, probably in 1998. [OBSERVER, 9/23/2001; ABC NEWS, 1/9/2002; US CONGRESS, 6/18/2002; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/1/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ] He then returns to Saudi Arabia in early 1999 where he shares information about the 1998 US embassy bombings. However it is not clear what information he disclosed to whom or where he obtained this information. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ] It is possible that some or all of this information came from the NSA, which is intercepting some of Alhazmi’s phone calls at this time (see Early 1999). Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, George J. Tenet, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Northern Alliance, Salem Alhazmi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Alhazmi and Almihdhar, Key Hijacker Events, Islamist Militancy in Chechnya

1993-1994: Expert Panel Predicts Terrorists Will Use Planes as Weapons on Symbolic US Targets

Marvin Centron. [Source: Publicity photo] An expert panel commissioned by the Pentagon in 1993 postulates that an airplane could be used as a missile to bomb national landmarks. Marvin Cetron, president of Forecasting International, a company which conducts studies for many companies and governments, writes the panel’s report. He will later recall telling the panel, “Coming down the Potomac, you could make a left turn at the Washington Monument and take out the White House, or you could make a right turn and take out the Pentagon.” [REEVE, 1999, PP. 259-260; WASHINGTON POST, 10/2/2001] However, State Department officials edit out the planes as weapons references in the final version of the panel’s Terror 2000 Report. [UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 5/17/2002] Centron 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] Air Force Col. Doug Menarchik, who organized the study for the Pentagon, will later recall, “It was considered radical thinking, a little too scary for the times. After I left, it met a quiet death.” [WASHINGTON POST, 10/2/2001] However, in 1994, Cetron will write in a Futurist magazine article about the report, “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: Doug Menarchik, Marvin Cetron, World Trade Center Category Tags: Warning Signs

1993-1995: Al-Qaeda Operative Helps Militant Group Conduct Attacks in Philippines

Mohammed Saddiq Odeh. [Source: ABC News] An al-Qaeda operative helps the militant group Abu Sayyaf conduct attacks in the Philippines at least between the years 1993 to 1995, if not longer. Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, an ethnic Palestinian, went to college in the Philippines in the late 1980’s. Then he went to training camps in Afghanistan, joined al-Qaeda there, and became an explosives expert. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/30/2001] Philippine intelligence agents photograph him in front of his house in the southern city of Davao at some point. [PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER, 10/1/2001] He is a suspect in a 1993 bombing of a cathedral in Davao that kills seven. The attack is blamed on Abu Sayyaf. In 1995, Philippine authorities arrest him for possession of explosive devices and then let him go. He will later be captured and convicted for participating in the 1998 US embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998). [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/27/1993; CONTEMPORARY SOUTHEAST ASIA, 12/1/2002] In late 1998, the Washington Post will report that he had recently confessed to taking part in “Operations in the Philippines that Odeh refused to describe in detail.” [WASHINGTON POST, 8/19/1998] Presumably these are Abu Sayyaf operations since they are the only Muslim militant group conducting attacks in the early 1990s. From at least 1991 to 1995, Abu Sayyaf is deeply penetrated by a Philippine government operative (see 1991-Early February 1995), but it unclear what the US government may have been told about Odeh and when. The US had been warned of Odeh through another source in 1993 (see Summer 1993). Odeh will also later admit to helping militias in Somalia kill US soldiers there in 1993 (see October 3-4, 1993). Entity Tags: Abu Sayyaf, Mohammed Saddiq Odeh Category Tags: Philippine Militant Collusion, Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia

1993 and After: Milan Mosque Is ‘Main Al-Qaeda Station House in Europe’

Friday prayers outside the Islamic Cultural Institute, on October 19, 2001. [Source: Reuters / Corbis] The Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan, Italy, has numerous ties to terrorist activities during this period and after 9/11, and the Treasury Department will call the mosque “the main al-Qaeda station house in Europe.” It is initially headed by Anwar Shaaban (see Late 1993-December 14, 1995 and December 14, 1995), an opponent of the current Egyptian regime and a supporter of the Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya militant group, which is run by the ‘Blind Sheikh,’ Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman (see Late 1993-1994).

It recruits fighters for militant Islamic causes and sends them to Afghanistan for training. One of the recruits, L’Houssaine Kherchtou, who will testify for the prosecution at the trial of men accused of bombing US embassies in Africa in 1998, will say that he knew Shaaban well, adding: “He was my guide. I went there every weekend to be with him.” After studying with Shaaban for some time, Shaaban arranges for Kherchtou and a group of other men to receive military training in Afghanistan. [CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/22/2001] 
There is heavy telephone traffic between the Institute and the New York mosque run by Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, and Italian police say it is a logistical base for the WTC bombing (see Late 1993-1994). 
The Algerian militant group Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) gains influence in the mosque after Shaaban dies in the Bosnian Civil War (see After 1995). 
It creates a “cottage industry in supplying false passports and other bogus documents” according to European intelligence officials, and serves as a gateway to Europe for operatives from Afghanistan. [BOSTON GLOBE, 8/4/2002]

Entity Tags: L’Houssaine Kherchtou, Islamic Cultural Institute, Al-Qaeda, Anwar Shaaban, Omar Abdul-Rahman Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Italy

q1Edit

Main article: Q1 1993

Q2Edit

April 1993: Saeed Sheikh Travels to Bosnia and Joins Militant Islamic Group Edit

Saeed Sheikh during his London School of Economics days. [Source: CNN] Saeed Sheikh, a British citizen and student at the London School of Economics, goes to Bosnia on a trip sponsored by the “Convoy of Mercy” [NEW YORK TIMES, 2/25/2002] , a front for the newly formed militant Islamic fundamentalist group, Harkat ul-Ansar. [JANE'S INTERNATIONAL SECURITY NEWS, 9/20/2001] There he joins Harkat ul-Ansar. [NEW YORK TIMES, 2/25/2002] Aukai Collins, who will meet Saeed Sheikh in a camp in Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan some months later (see June 1993-October 1994), will later confirm that Saeed is a member of Harkat ul-Ansar. [COLLINS, 2003, PP. 33] Harkat ul-Ansar will change its name to Harkat ul-Mujahedeen in 1997 after Harkat ul-Ansar is named a terrorist organization by the US State Department. [SOUTH ASIA ANALYSIS GROUP, 2/18/2002] Collins will also claim Harkat ul-Ansar was funded by bin Laden. [SOUTH ASIA ANALYSIS GROUP, 2/18/2002] Entity Tags: Saeed Sheikh, Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, Aukai Collins, Convoy of Mercy Category Tags: Pakistan and the ISI, Al-Qaeda in Balkans, Saeed Sheikh, Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism

April 1993-Mid-2003: FBI Slow to Act as Main Branch of Al-Qaeda’s ‘Operational Headquarters’ in US Reforms in Boston

Aafia Siddiqui. [Source: Public domain] The Al-Kifah Refugee Center is bin Laden’s largest fundraising group in the US and has offices in many cities (see 1986-1993 and 1985-1989). Counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson will later call it “al-Qaeda’s operational headquarters in the United States.” [EMERSON, 2006, PP. 436] In late March 1993, Newsweek will report that “virtually every principal figure implicated in the World Trade Center bombing” that took place the month before (see February 26, 1993) has a connection to the Al-Kifah branch in Brooklyn, New York. [NEWSWEEK, 3/29/1993] The Brooklyn branch quietly shuts itself down. But other branches stay open (see Shortly After February 26, 1993-1994) and the Boston branch appears to take over for the Brooklyn branch. In April 1993, it reincorporates under the new name Care International (which is not connected with a large US charity based in Atlanta with the same name). Emerson will later comment, “The continuity between the two organizations was obvious to anyone who scratched the surface.” For instance, Care takes over the publication of Al-Kifah’s pro-jihad newsletter, Al Hussam. [EMERSON, 2006, PP. 437] It also shares the same website and street address as the Al-Kifah Boston branch it took over. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/21/2001] By the time of the WTC bombing, Al-Kifah is doing most of its fund raising for the mujaheddin fighting in Bosnia. For instance, one month after the bombing, a member of Al-Kifah/Care in Boston named Aafia Siddiqui sends Muslims newsgroups an e-mail pledge form asking for support for Bosnian widows and orphans. Siddiqui, a university student in Boston for most of the 1990s, is well known to Boston’s Muslim community as a dedicated Islamic activist. One imam will later recall, “She attended many conferences. Whenever there was an event, she would come.” But it appears Siddiqui is also a prominent al-Qaeda operative, working as a “fixer” for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Despite considerable suspicious evidence against her discovered shortly after 9/11, she will disappear in Pakistan in 2003 (see Late September 2001-March 2003). [VANITY FAIR, 3/2005] Two long-time Care employees are also be long-time employees of Ptech, a Boston-based computer firm formed in 1994 that will be raided in 2002 by the FBI for suspected radical militant ties. One of them writes many articles advocating Islamic jihad (see 1994). Emerson and his Investigative Project on Terrorism research team begins researching Care International in 1993, targeting it and several employees for suspected radical militant ties. The team discovers some checks made out to Care have notations on the back such as, “For jihad only.” [TELEGRAM AND GAZETTE, 9/11/2006] Presumably Emerson’s team shares what they learn with US intelligence, as his research on other matters lead to US government investigations around the same time (see for instance October 1994-2001). Al-Kifah branches in the US are connected to the charity Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) overseas, which is also sometimes called Al-Kifah. In 1996, a secret CIA report will assert that the main MAK office in Pakistan funds at least nine militant training camps in Afghanistan and has ties to bin Laden and other militant groups and leaders. Furthermore, it connects this office to the Al-Kifah office in Brooklyn and the 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef (see January 1996). But the FBI takes no action against any of the remaining Al-Kifah branches in the US before 9/11. The US will officially declare Al-Kifah and/or Maktab al-Khidamat a terrorist financier shortly after 9/11, but by then all the US branches have closed or changed their names (see September 24, 2001). One day after the declaration, a Boston Globe article will make the connection between Care and Al-Kifah, pointing out that Care and the old Al-Kifah branch in Boston share the exact same address. [BOSTON GLOBE, 9/26/2001] But the FBI will wait until 2003 before raiding the Care offices and shutting it down. The FBI will later state that Care raised about $1.7 million from 1993 to 2003. [TELEGRAM AND GAZETTE, 9/11/2006] Al-Kifah has had a murky connection with the CIA, at least in its early days. Shortly after 9/11, Newsweek will comment that Al-Kifah’s Brooklyn office “doubled as a recruiting post for the CIA seeking to steer fresh troops to the mujahedin.” [NEWSWEEK, 10/1/2001] Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Steven Emerson, Central Intelligence Agency, Aafia Siddiqui, Al-Kifah Refugee Center, Care International (Boston), Maktab al-Khidamat Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, Terrorism Financing, Al-Kifah/MAK

April-May 1993: UN Declares Safe Areas for Bosnian Muslims Edit

The Bosnian Serbs have the upper hand in their war against Bosnian Muslims and there is international concern that large numbers of Muslim civilians could be killed. The UN Security Council declares six “safe areas” for Bosnian Muslims: Sarajevo, Tuzla, Bihac, Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde. However, despite UN promises, in 1995 the Serbs will begin shelling the Muslim safe areas and conquer Srebrenica and Zepa. [TIME, 12/31/1995] Entity Tags: United Nations Security Council Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans

Early April 1993: FBI Links Bombers in US to Bosnian Charity Front; But Bosnian Link Is Not Explored Edit

Clement Rodney Hampton-El. [Source: Jolie Stahl] FBI investigators begin monitoring Clement Rodney Hampton-El’s house in New York as they close in on the militants involved in the “Landmarks” plot (see June 24, 1993). They listen in on a call from Hampton-El’s right-hand man, Abu Ubaidah Yahya, as he is in Vienna, Austria, picking up money from the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA) for the militants in the US tied to the Landmarks plot. Over the next few months, Yahya is tracked as he makes several trips from the US to Vienna, picking up about $100,000. [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 113] Hampton-El had also been in Vienna earlier in the year, picking up more money from TWRA for the plotters (see Late 1992-Early 1993). TWRA is funneling a huge amount of weapons to Muslim Bosnia in violation of a UN embargo but with the tacit approval of the US government (see Mid-1991-1996). It also has ties to radical militants like bin Laden and Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. The Washington Post will later report that, “Intelligence agencies say they have tapes of telephone calls by Abdul-Rahman to [TWRA’s] office.” The “Landmarks” bombers are closely associated with Abdul-Rahman and will be convicted along with him. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/22/1996] A secret 1996 CIA report will state that “according to a foreign government service” Elfatih Hassanein, the head of TWRA, “supports US Muslim extremists in Bosnia.” [CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, 1/1996] But apparently the US does not go after TWRA for its ties to the “Landmarks” plotters and the connection will not be publicized for years. Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, Abu Ubaidah Yahya, Elfatih Hassanein, Third World Relief Agency Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans, 1993 WTC Bombing, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, Terrorism Financing

April 2, 1993: Yousef Placed on Most Wanted List, Massive Manhunt Ensues

Matchboxes with the photographs and reward information of suspects like Ramzi Yousef. [Source: Jeffrey Markowitz / Corbis] The FBI places Ramzi Yousef on its “Ten Most Wanted” list, after determining his prominent role in the 1993 WTC bombing (see February 26, 1993). An international manhunt ensues. The FBI works with a State Department program that publicly offers generous rewards and a new identity for informants giving information about wanted terrorists. A $2 million reward is announced for information on Yousef, and a large publicity campaign about the reward is launched, with a focus on Pakistan, India, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Huge numbers of matchboxes are distributed with Yousef’s photograph and reward information on them. In early 1995, one of Yousef’s associates will learn of the program and turn him in for the reward money (see February 3-7, 1995). The matchbox program will be used for other wanted suspects, such as Abdul Rahman Yasin and Mir Kansi. However, Yousef’s uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) will never be placed on the most wanted list before 9/11, and while there eventually will be a $2 million reward for him, no similar massive manhunt or large publicity campaign will take place for him, even after he is identified as a mastermind in the WTC bombing, Bojinka plot, African embassy bombings, and many other attacks. [REEVE, 1999, PP. 42-43, 56-57] Entity Tags: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mir Kansi, Abdul Rahman Yasin, Ramzi Yousef Category Tags: Ramzi Yousef

April 23, 1993: FBI Discovers Follow-up Plot to WTC Bombing; Sudanese Diplomats Are Reportedly Involved In the wake of the 1993 WTC bombing (see February 26, 1993), Emad Salem is rehired as an FBI informant. Because Salem has the confidence of the group around the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdul-Rahman connected to the bombing, the FBI is so desperate to hire him back that they pay him over $1 million to return. It takes time for Salem to fully regain confidences, but on April 23, 1993, Siddig Siddig Ali approaches Salem and asks him to participate in a series of bombings that he is planning. Siddig Ali explains that he wants to simultaneously bomb four landmarks in New York City: the Lincoln and Holland tunnel, the United Nations headquarters, and the New York FBI office. This will later be known as the “Landmarks” plot. Siddig Ali later tells Salem that he has friends in the Sudanese Embassy who had approved the plan and are willing to help with diplomatic license plates and credentials. Wearing a wire, over the next weeks Salem meets and records others participating in the plot. Many of them, including Siddig Ali, attended a training camp the FBI briefly monitored back in January 1993 (see January 16-17, 1993). [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 113-114] The FBI will expand its surveillance of the plotters and roll up the plot a couple of months later (see June 24, 1993). The US will later eject two Sudanese diplomats, Siraj Yousif and Ahmed Yousif Mohamed, for suspicions of involvement in the plot. Both are said to be intelligence agents posing as diplomats. Later in 1993, the US also places Sudan on a list of terrorist countries. [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/18/1993; NEW YORK TIMES, 4/11/1996] Entity Tags: Ahmed Yousif Mohamed, Siraj Yousif, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Emad Salem, Siddig Siddig Ali Category Tags: 1993 WTC Bombing, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, Other Possible Moles or Informants

May 1993: Ali Mohamed Gives FBI First Glimpse of Al-Qaeda In the wake of his detention in Canada (see June 16, 1993), double agent Ali Mohamed is interviewed by the FBI and volunteers the earliest publicly known insider description of al-Qaeda. Mohamed is working as an FBI informant on smugglers moving illegal immigrants from Mexico to the US. FBI agent John Zent, Mohamed’s handler, interviews him in the FBI San Francisco office after having helped release him from Canadian custody. [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/31/1998; LANCE, 2006, PP. 125, 130] Mohamed says that bin Laden is running a group called “al-Qaeda.” Apparently, this is the first known instance of the FBI being told of that name, though it appears the CIA was aware of the name since at least 1991 (see February 1991). Mohamed claims to have met bin Laden and says bin Laden is “building an army” that could be used to overthrow the Saudi Arabian government. He admits that he has trained radical militants at bin Laden’s training camps in Sudan and Afghanistan. He says he taught them intelligence and anti-hijacking techniques. Mohamed apparently is given a polygraph test for the first time, and fails it (see 1992). However, he denies links to any criminal group or act. An FBI investigator later will say, “We always took him seriously. It’s just he only gave us 25 percent of what was out there.” In addition to his Canadian detention, the FBI is also interested in Mohamed because his name had surfaced in connection with the Al-Kifah Refugee Center as part of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing investigation. [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/1/1998; SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 11/4/2001; WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/26/2001; CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/11/2001] By the time this interview takes place, investigators looking into the World Trade Center bombing earlier in the year have already determined that top secret US military training manuals found in the possession of assassin El-Sayyid Nosair (see November 5, 1990) must have been stolen by Mohamed from the US army base where he had been stationed (see Spring 1993). Yet Mohamed is not arrested, though he is monitored (see Autumn 1993). New Yorker magazine will later note, “inexplicably, [the contents of the FBI’s] interview never found its way to the FBI investigators in New York.” [NEW YORKER, 9/9/2002] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Ali Mohamed, Al-Qaeda, John Zent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Al-Kifah Refugee Center Category Tags: Ali Mohamed, Al-Kifah/MAK

May 1993: Egyptian President Says ‘Blind Sheikh’ Worked with CIA Edit

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is quoted in an Egyptian newspaper saying Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman had worked with the CIA. Under pressure from the US State Department, the newspaper’s editor retracts the story a few days later. [BOSTON GLOBE, 2/3/1995; LANCE, 2006, PP. 127] Entity Tags: US Department of State, Omar Abdul-Rahman, Central Intelligence Agency, Hosni Mubarak Category Tags: Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman

Shortly After May 1993: Ali Mohamed Describes Al-Qaeda Training Camps, Possibly More, to US Military Double agent Ali Mohamed is interviewed by the US military about al-Qaeda, but what exactly is said is uncertain because the interview files are supposedly lost. When Mohamed’s FBI handler John Zent interviewed him in May 1993 (see May 1993), he mentioned al-Qaeda training camps. FBI agent Jack Cloonan, who will later investigate Mohamed, will recall, “John realizes that Ali is talking about all these training camps in Afghanistan. And starts talking about this guy named bin Laden. So John calls the local rep from army intelligence” and arranges for them to interview him. A special team of army investigators shows up from Fort Meade, Virginia, which is the home of the NSA. “They bring maps with them and they bring evidence.… And so they debrief Ali, and he lays out all these training camps.” What else he may reveal is not known. Cloonan is not sure why Mohamed volunteered all this vital al-Qaeda information. Earlier in the year, FBI investigators discovered that Mohamed stole many top secret US military documents and gave them to Islamic militants (see Spring 1993). However, Mohamed faces no trouble from the Defense Department about that. FBI agent Joseph O’Brien will later ask, “Who in the government was running this show? Why didn’t the Bureau bring the hammer down on this guy Mohamed then and there?” Whatever Mohamed says in this interview is not shared with US intelligence agencies, even though it would have obvious relevance for the worldwide manhunt for Ramzi Yousef going on at the time since Yousef trained in some of the camps Mohamed is describing. Several years later, Cloonan will attempt to find the report of Mohamed’s interview with army intelligence but “we were never able to find it. We were told that the report was probably destroyed in a reorganization of intelligence components” in the Defense Department. [LANCE, 2006, PP. 130-131] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, US Department of Defense, Osama bin Laden, Ali Mohamed, Jack Cloonan, John Zent, Joseph O’Brien, Ramzi Yousef Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, Ali Mohamed, US Intel Links to Islamic Militancy

May 1, 1993: Iran Trains Suicide Pilots at Secret Terror School, Expert Says Yossef Bodansky, the director of the Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US Congress, writes that Iran is training terrorists in aviation hijacking at a secret facility in Wakilabad, near the city of Mashad. The training includes suicide missions. “According to a former trainee in Wakilabad, one of the exercises included having an Islamic jihad detachment seize (or hijack) a transport aircraft. Then, trained air crews from among the terrorists would crash the airliner into a selected objective.” [BODANSKY, 1993, PP. 15] After the 9/11 attacks, Bodansky will suspect Iranian culpability. He will say: “We’ve known since the mid-eighties, for example, that Iran was training people to fly as kamikazes on commercial planes, as bombs, into civilian targets.… The bottom line is that the attack in New York and Washington was carefully prepared and studied. The people who flew into the World Trade Center were highly trained professionals with experience in flying large commercial jets. Flying large aircraft at low altitudes in an urban sky is not a simple thing.” [NEW YORKER, 9/24/2001] Representative Eric Cantor (R), the chair of a Congressional task force on terrorism and unconventional warfare, will make the same charge. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/20/2001] Entity Tags: Iran, Yossef Bodansky Category Tags: Warning Signs

May 30, 1993: ’Al-Qaeda’ First Mentioned in International Media The term “al-Qaeda” is first mentioned in the international media. An article by the French wire service Agence France-Presse on this day entitled “Jordanian Militants Train in Afghanistan to Confront Regime” uses the term, although it is spelled “Al-Ka’ida.” The article quotes a Jordanian militant who says he has been “trained by Al-Ka’ida, a secret organization in Afghanistan that is financed by a wealthy Saudi businessman who owns a construction firm in Jeddah, Ossama ibn Laden.” (The spelling is the same in the original.) [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 410] The term will not be mentioned in the US until August 1996 (see August 14, 1996). Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden Category Tags: Other Pre-9/11 Events

Summer 1993: WTC Bomber Gives Up Names of Future Embassy Bombers, US Turns Down Deal for More Information

Mahmud Abouhalima. [Source: Agence France-Presse] Mahmud Abouhalima is arrested for his role in the February 1993 WTC bombing. He meets with US investigators without his lawyer and provides a detailed account of the Al-Kifah Refugee Center, bin Laden’s main support base in the US in the early 1990s. He says that twice he turned to a Texas acquaintance named Wadih El-Hage to buy weapons for his associates. El-Hage, who turns out to be bin Laden’s personal secretary (see September 15, 1998), will later be caught and convicted of bombing the US embassies in Africa in 1998 (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998). Abouhalima further recounts fighting in Afghanistan with the mujaheddin in the 1980s and tells of travelling to training camps with a Palestinian man named Mohammed Odeh. A Palestinian man with the name Mohammed Saddiq Odeh will later be convicted of a role in the 1998 embassy bombings as well. Abouhalima offers additional inside information about the bomb plot and his associates in exchange for a lighter sentence. But, as the New York Times will later note, prosecutors turn down the offer “for reasons that remain unclear.” Abouhalima is later found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/22/1998] Entity Tags: Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, Wadih El-Hage, Mahmud Abouhalima Category Tags: 1993 WTC Bombing, 1998 US Embassy Bombings, Wadih El-Hage, Al-Kifah/MAK

June 1993: Saudis Urge US to Lead in Military Assistance to Bosnian Muslims

Richard Holbrooke. [Source: US State Department] Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al Faisal urges President Bill Clinton to take the lead in military assistance to Bosnia. Richard Holbrooke, US ambassador to Germany at the time, draws up plans for covert assistance. [WIEBES, 2003, PP. 195] Entity Tags: Turki al-Faisal, William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, Richard Holbrooke

June 1993-October 1994: 9/11 Funder Saeed Sheikh Links with Al-Qaeda Saeed Sheikh, a brilliant British student at the London School of Economics, drops out of school and moves to his homeland of Pakistan. He had been radicalized by a trip to Bosnia earlier in the year (see April 1993). Two months later, he begins training in Afghanistan at camps run by al-Qaeda and the Pakistani ISI. By mid-1994, he has become an instructor. In June 1994, he begins kidnapping Western tourists in India. In October 1994, he is captured after kidnapping three Britons and an American, and is put in an Indian maximum-security prison, where he remain for five years. The ISI pays a lawyer to defend him. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 2/9/2002; DAILY MAIL, 7/16/2002; VANITY FAIR, 8/2002] His supervisor is Ijaz Shah, an ISI officer. [TIMES OF INDIA, 3/12/2002; GUARDIAN, 7/16/2002] Entity Tags: Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Saeed Sheikh, Ijaz Shah, Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Pakistan and the ISI, Saeed Sheikh

June 16, 1993: Ali Mohamed Detained in Vancouver; FBI Tells Canadian Authorities He Is an FBI Informant Edit

Essam Marzouk. [Source: FBI] US-al-Qaeda double agent Ali Mohamed is detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Vancouver, British Columbia, after attempting to pick up a man named Essam Marzouk, who is carrying numerous false passports. They identify Mohamed as a top al-Qaeda operative. Mohamed admits to them that he traveled to Vancouver to help Marzouk sneak into the US and admits working closely with bin Laden. [SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 11/4/2001; GLOBE AND MAIL, 11/22/2001; WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/26/2001] After many hours of questioning, Mohamed tells the Canadian officials to call John Zent, his handler at the FBI. Zent confirms that Mohamed works for the FBI and asks them to release him. They do. [LANCE, 2006, PP. 124] Mohamed is accompanied by fellow al-Qaeda operative Khaled Abu el-Dahab (see 1987-1998), who brings $3,000 sent by bin Laden to pay for Marzouk’s bail. Marzouk had run one of bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan and was an active member of the al-Qaeda allied group Islamic Jihad at the time. However, Canadian intelligence apparently is not aware of his past. Marzouk will spend almost a year in detention. But then, again with the help of another visit to Canada by Mohamed, Marzouk will be released and allowed to live in Canada (see June 16, 1993-February 1998). He later will help train the bombers of the 1998 African embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998). [GLOBE AND MAIL, 11/22/2001; NATIONAL POST, 11/26/2005] Jack Cloonan, an FBI agent who later investigates Mohamed, will later say, “I don’t think you have to be an agent who has worked terrorism all your life to realize something is terribly amiss here. What was the follow up? It just sort of seems like [this incident] dies.” [LANCE, 2006, PP. 125] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, John Zent, Khaled Abu el-Dahab, Jack Cloonan, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Essam Marzouk, Ali Mohamed, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Category Tags: Ali Mohamed

June 16, 1993-February 1998: Canadian Intelligence Fails to Act Against Al-Qaeda Sleeper Cell in Vancouver

Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub. [Source: Public domain] On June 16, 1993, Islamic militant Essam Marzouk arrives in Vancouver, Canada, and immediately arouses suspicion. He is arrested after immigration officials discover his suitcase is full of fake passports. Furthermore, he admits he had spent five years as an “Arab volunteer” in Pakistan and Afghanistan. [NATIONAL POST, 10/14/2005] Al-Qaeda double agent Ali Mohamed is there to pick him up at the airport, and ends up getting questioned. He is asked if Marzouk fought in Afghanistan or knows how to use explosives. But Mohamed claims to be an FBI asset and the FBI vouches for him, so he is let go. Marzouk is detained for nearly a year, but is also let go after another visit by Mohamed (see June 16, 1993). [GLOBE AND MAIL, 9/7/2002] Marzouk applies for and receives political refugee status, but Canadian intelligence are suspicious about him and put him under surveillance. They also repeatedly interview him. However, they do not find anything incriminating. Canadian intelligence is aware that Ali Mohamed is making repeated visits to Vancouver to meet Marzouk. But the Canadians still only know Mohamed as an FBI asset and the FBI fails to tell them more about Mohamed, despite growing evidence against him. Marzouk starts a business with a friend named Amer Hamed. But Canadian intelligence remains suspicious and does not give Marzouk the security clearance to become a permanent resident. In 1997 and 1998, there are several calls between Marzouk and the home number of Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub, an Islamic Jihad operative living in Toronto. Mahjoub is under heavy surveillance, including being physically trailed, so presumably Canadian intelligence is aware of these calls. [TORONTO STAR, 7/17/2004] Additionally, a Canadian judge will later say that Mubarak Al Duri was “reported to be Osama bin Laden’s principal procurement agent for weapons of mass destruction,” and had lived in the Vancouver area at some point, probably the late 1990s. [NATIONAL POST, 11/26/2005] In 2000, Canadian intelligence will discover that Al Duri also has been in contact with Mahjoub. [CANADIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE, 2/22/2008 ] In 1997, the FBI discovers Marzouk’s Vancouver address in the address book of Wadih El-Hage, Osama bin Laden’s former personal secretary. But it is unknown if this information is ever shared with Canadian intelligence (see Shortly After August 21, 1997). [NATIONAL POST, 3/19/2002] In February 1998, Marzouk sells his assets and leaves Canada with Hamed. But on the way out of the country he stops at a house near Toronto, Canada, where Ahmed Said Khadr, a suspected high-ranking al-Qaeda member, lives. He meets with Mahjoub at Khadr’s house. Marzouk soon flies to Afghanistan. He had been a training camp instructor there in the early 1990s, and now he is assigned to train the men who are to attack US embassies in Africa. In July, Marzouk travels to Nairobi to help with the final preparations for the bombings. Hamed, Marzouk’s partner in Vancouver, is killed by a US missile in August in retaliation for the embassy bombings earlier that month. After further travel, Marzouk is arrested in Azerbaijan. [NATIONAL POST, 10/14/2005] Entity Tags: Mubarak al Duri, Essam Marzouk, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Ali Mohamed, Wadih El-Hage, Amer Hamed, Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub, Ahmed Said Khadr Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, Ali Mohamed, 1998 US Embassy Bombings

June 24, 1993: New York ‘Landmarks’ Bombing Plot Is Foiled

Informant Emad Salem, pictured bent over in a green shirt, enables the FBI to take surveillance footage like this of the plotters making a bomb. [Source: National Geographic] 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. This is known as the “Landmarks” or “Day of Terror” plot. The plotters are connected to Ramzi Yousef and the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. If the bombing, planned for later in the year, had been successful, thousands would have died. An FBI informant named Emad Salem had infiltrated the group, gathering information that leads to arrests of the plotters (see April 23, 1993). [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003] Abdul-Rahman will eventually be sentenced to life in prison for a role in the plot. Nine others will be given long prison terms, including Ibrahim El-Gabrowny and Clement Rodney Hampton-El. [NEW YORK TIMES, 1/18/1996] Siddig Siddig Ali, who was possibly the main force behind the plot (see April 23, 1993), will eventually be sentenced to only 11 years in prison because he agreed to provide evidence on the other suspects [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/16/1999] Entity Tags: Ramzi Yousef, Siddig Siddig Ali, Ibrahim El-Gabrowny, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, Emad Salem, Omar Abdul-Rahman Category Tags: Warning Signs, Ali Mohamed, Ramzi Yousef, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman

July 1993: Ramzi Yousef and KSM Attempt to Assassinate Pakistani Prime Minister Ramzi Yousef and his uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) unsuccessfully try to assassinate Behazir Bhutto, the leader of the opposition in Pakistan at the time. Yousef, with his friend Abdul Hakim Murad, plan to detonate a bomb near Bhutto’s home as she is leaving it. However, they are stopped by a police patrol. Yousef had hidden the bomb when the police approached, and after they left the bomb is accidentally set off, severely injuring him. [RESSA, 2003, PP. 25] KSM is in Pakistan at the time and will visit Yousef in the hospital, but his role in the bombing appears to be limited to funding it. [RESSA, 2003, PP. 25; GUARDIAN, 3/3/2003] Bhutto had been prime minister in Pakistan before and will return to power later in 1993 until 1996. She will later claim, “As a moderate, progressive, democratically elected woman prime minister of Pakistan, I was a threat to the fundamentalist zealots on multiple levels…” She claims they had “the support of sympathetic elements within Pakistan’s security apparatus,” a reference to the ISI intelligence agency. [SLATE, 9/21/2001] This same year, US agents uncover photographs showing KSM with close associates of previous Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Bhutto’s main political enemy at the time. Presumably, this failed assassination will later give KSM and Yousef some political connection and cover with the political factions opposed to Bhutto (see Spring 1993). Sharif will serve as prime minister again from 1997 to 1999. [FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/15/2003] Entity Tags: Ramzi Yousef, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Abdul Hakim Murad, Benazir Bhutto, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Nawaz Sharif Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi Yousef, Pakistan and the ISI

July-August 1993: US Intelligence Realizes Bin Laden Is Important Financier of Islamist Militants In a July 1993 intelligence report, the CIA notes that Osama bin Laden has been paying to train members of the Egyptian militant group Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya in Sudan, where he lives. The CIA privately concludes he is an important terrorist financier (see 1993). In August 1993, the State Department sees links between bin Laden and the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman (see August 1993), who leads Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya and was recently arrested in the US (see July 3, 1993). A State Department report comments that bin Laden seems “committed to financing ‘Jihads’ against ‘anti-Islamic’ regimes worldwide.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 109, 479] In August 1993, the State Department also puts bin Laden on its no-fly watch list (see August 12, 1993 and Shortly Thereafter). However, US intelligence will be slow to realize he is more directly involved than just giving money. Some intelligence reports into 1997 will continue to refer to him only as a militant financier. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 109, 479] Entity Tags: Omar Abdul-Rahman, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of State, Osama bin Laden Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden, Terrorism Financing

July 3, 1993: ’Blind Sheikh’ Arrested in Brooklyn The “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, is arrested in Brooklyn after a long stand off. The “Landmarks” plot was rolled up on June 24, 1993, and many of Abdul-Rahman’s close associates were arrested on that day (see June 24, 1993). But Abdul-Rahman moved to the Abu Bakr mosque and stayed there. His presence in a mosque and the many supporters that gathered to surround it makes his arrest difficult. But after long negotiations, on July 3, 1993, he is arrested on immigration charges and taken to prison. [NEW YORK TIMES, 7/3/1993] He will later be charged with a role in the “Landmarks” plot and eventually sentenced to life in prison. [NEW YORK TIMES, 1/18/1996] Entity Tags: Abu Bakr Mosque, Omar Abdul-Rahman Category Tags: Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, Key Captures and Deaths

August 1993: FBI Connects Bin Laden’s Brother-in-Law Khalifa and ‘Blind Shiekh’ Edit

After the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, is arrested for his involvement in several bomb plots (see July 3, 1993), his New Jersey residence is searched by the FBI. A business card from Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden’s brother-in-law, is found. Sixty-two thousand dollars in cash is also found in Abdul-Rahman’s briefcase, suggesting he is being well funded. [LANCE, 2006, PP. 139] Entity Tags: Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Omar Abdul-Rahman, Federal Bureau of Investigation Category Tags: Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman

August 12, 1993 and Shortly Thereafter: US Declares Sudan a Terrorism Sponsor; Bin Laden Placed on US Watch List On August 12, 1993, the US officially designates Sudan to be a “state sponsor of terrorism.” Countries given this designation are subject to a variety of US economic sanctions. As of 2008, Sudan has yet to be removed from the US lists of terrorism sponsors. Osama bin Laden is living in Sudan at the time, and shortly after this designation is issued the State Department places bin Laden on its TIPOFF watch list. This is designed to prevent him from entering the US. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 109; US DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 7/17/2007] However, Britain apparently does not follow suit, because bin Laden will continue to make trips to Britain through 1996 (see Early 1990s-Late 1996). Entity Tags: US Department of State, Osama bin Laden, TIPOFF, Sudan Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden

Autumn 1993: US Intelligence Begins Monitoring Ali Mohamed At some point not long after Ali Mohamed is interviewed by the FBI in the autumn of 1993, the US government begins tracking his movements and monitoring his phone calls. Eventually, this surveillance will lead US investigators to the al-Qaeda cell in Nairobi, Kenya (see Late 1994). It is not clear which governmental agency does this. Meanwhile, he continues to have periodic contact with the FBI. They are especially interested in what he knows about bin Laden, as bin Laden’s importance becomes increasingly evident. [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/1/1998] Entity Tags: Ali Mohamed, Osama bin Laden, Federal Bureau of Investigation Category Tags: Ali Mohamed, 1998 US Embassy Bombings, Remote Surveillance

September 1993: Freeh Becomes FBI Director President Clinton appoints Louis Freeh to be the new director of the FBI. Freeh was once an FBI field agent. He will forge alliances with Republicans in Congress. This will drive a wedge between the FBI and Clinton’s White House and national security staff. Freeh will retire in the summer of 2001 (see May 1, 2001). The New York Times will later claim that he “left the FBI badly damaged. Lawmakers in both parties clamored for change at an agency they attacked as ineptly managed, resistant to change, and unwilling to admit mistakes.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 6/2/2002] Increasingly opposed to Clinton, Freeh develops a secret back-channel relationship with former president George H. W. Bush. He uses this relationship to liaison with the Saudi royal family without Clinton’s knowledge. [TRENTO, 2005, PP. 351] Entity Tags: George Herbert Walker Bush, Louis J. Freeh, Federal Bureau of Investigation, William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

September 11, 1993: NSA Analyst Warns of Terrorist Attacks on US; Analyst Ordered to Undergo Psych Evalation A National Security Agency (NSA) linguist runs afoul of his superiors after he and other linguists submit a report concluding that Islamist terrorists are planning attacks on America. The analyst, who insists on remaining anonymous and is nicknamed “J” by press reports, is fluent in an unusual number of languages. His and his colleagues’ study of Arabic language messages, and the flow of money to terrorist organizations from Saudi Arabia, lead them to believe that Saudi extremists are plotting an attack. J will recall in January 2006: “You could see, this was the pure rhetoric of Osama bin Laden and his group, the exact same group, and we had an early indication.… All of us in the group had this view of a burgeoning threat, and suddenly we were all trotted off to the office of security. Then came the call to report for a battery of psychological tests.” J will issue further warnings of potential terrorist strikes, this time involving hijackers, passenger planes, and US buildings, in May 2001 (see May 2001). In 2006, other current and former NSA officials will claim that the NSA routinely uses unfavorable psychological evaluations to retaliate against whistleblowers and those employees who come into conflict with superiors (see January 25-26, 2006). [CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE, 1/25/2006] Entity Tags: “J”, National Security Agency Category Tags: Warning Signs, Remote Surveillance, Saudi Arabia, Terrorism Financing

Before October 1993: Al-Qaeda Leaders Travel to Somalia from Monitored Base in Sudan Al-Qaeda leaders travel from Khartoum, Sudan, to Mogadishu, Somalia, while US forces are present there. These forces will be attacked shortly afterwards in the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident (see October 3-4, 1993). This is only one of several trips to Somalia at this time (see Late 1992-October 1993). Details of Trip - The names of all five operatives who travel are not known, but one of them is Mohammed Atef (a.k.a. Abu Hafs), who will later become al-Qaeda’s military commander. According to Essam al Ridi, the pilot who flies them on the first leg of the journey to Nairobi, Kenya, they are dressed in Saudi, Western, and Yemeni outfits. The trip from Khartoum to Nairobi is arranged by an associate of Osama bin Laden’s named Wadih El-Hage, and the five men continue from Nairobi to Mogadishu in a different aircraft. [UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, 1/14/2001; UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, 5/8/2001] Al Ridi will later say that at some time after the flight he heard the men had gone to Somalia to stir up tribal leaders against American peacekeeping forces. [NEW YORK TIMES, 6/3/2002] Surveillance - Bin Laden and his associates are under surveillance in Sudan at this time, by the CIA and Egyptian intelligence (see February 1991- July 1992 and Early 1990s), and the plane used to make the trip to Nairobi is well-known at Khartoum airport and is associated with bin Laden (see (1994-1995)), so the CIA and Egyptians may learn of this trip. However, what action they take, if any, is not known. [UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, 1/14/2001; UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, 5/8/2001] In addition, Sudanese intelligence will later say that only a handful of al-Qaeda operatives travel to Somalia at this time, although it is not known when and how the Sudanese obtain this information. [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 188] Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Al-Qaeda, Mohammed Atef, Essam al Ridi Category Tags: Wadih El-Hage, 1993 Somalia Fighting

October 1993: FBI Records Hamas Leaders Plotting in US but Take No Action

Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hanooti. [Source: Muslim World League Canada] The FBI secretly records top Hamas leaders meeting in a Philadelphia hotel. Five Hamas leaders meet with three leaders of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation charity (see 1989), including CEO Shukri Abu Baker and chairman Ghassan Elashi. A peace accord between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) had just been made, and this group meets to decide how to best oppose that. It is decided that “most or almost all of the funds collected [by Holy Land] in the future should be directed to enhance [Hamas] and to weaken the self-rule government” of Palestinian and PLO leader Yasser Arafat. According to an FBI memo released in late 2001 that summarizes the surveillance, “In the United States, they could raise funds, propagate their political goals, affect public opinion and influence decision-making of the US government.” The FBI also learns from the meeting that Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk gave Holy Land large sums of cash to get the charity started. Holy Land will eventually grow to become the largest Muslim charity in the US. In a January 1995 public conference also monitored by the FBI, Holy Land CEO Abu Baker will be introduced to the audience as a Hamas senior vice president. One Hamas military leader there will tell the crowd, “I’m going to speak the truth to you. It’s simple. Finish off the Israelis! Kill them all! Exterminate them! No peace ever!” [NEW YORK TIMES, 12/6/2001; EMERSON, 2002, PP. 89-90; CBS NEWS, 12/18/2002] Investigators conclude at the time that some of Holy Land’s “key decision makers [are] Hamas members, the foundation [is] the primary US fundraising organ for Hamas, and most of its expenditures [go] to build support for Hamas and its goal of destroying Israel.” [DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/5/2001] Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hanooti is one of the attendees for Hamas. In 1995, he will be listed as an unindicted coconspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing (see February 26, 1993). In the early 1990s, he is the imam at a Jersey City, New Jersey, mosque where at least one of the WTC bombers regularly prays and where al-Qaeda leader Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman often delivers incendiary speeches. An FBI report claims Al-Hanooti raised more than $6 million for Hamas in 1993 alone, funneling much of it through the Holy Land Foundation. As of the end of 2005, Al-Hanooti will still be an imam in the US and will continue to deny all charges against him. [ALBANY TIMES-UNION, 6/30/2002] Chicago FBI agents Robert Wright and John Vincent try and fail to get a criminal prosecution against the attendees of this meeting. Instead, the attendees will not be charged with criminal activity connected to this meeting until 2002 and 2004 (see December 18, 2002-April 2005). Vincent will comment in 2002 that the arrests made that year could have been made in 1993 instead. One of the Hamas attendees of the meeting, Abdelhaleem Ashqar, will be not arrested until 2004 (see August 20, 2004), and other attendees like Ismail Selim Elbarasse have never been arrested. Elbarasse, a college roommate of Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk, will be detained in 2004 on the accusation of working with Marzouk to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hamas, but not charged. [FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, 6/2/2003; BALTIMORE SUN, 8/26/2004] Oliver “Buck” Revell, head of the Dallas FBI office at the time, will say after 9/11 that the US government should have shut down Holy Land as soon as it determined it was sending money to Hamas (even though raising money for Hamas is not a criminal act in the US until 1995 (see January 1995)). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/12/2001] Entity Tags: Shukri Abu Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mousa Abu Marzouk, Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hamas, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hanooti, Yasser Arafat, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Wright, Oliver Revell, Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Abdelhaleem Ashqar, John Vincent, Ismail Selim Elbarasse Category Tags: Robert Wright and Vulgar Betrayal, Terrorism Financing

(October 1993-November 2001): Florida Cell Supports Global Jihad, Is Monitored by FBI Edit

Kifah Wael Jayyousi. [Source: Robert A. Reeder] A Florida cell of Islamic radicals carries out fundraising, training, and recruitment to support the global jihad movement. The group is monitored by the FBI from the early 1990s, but no action is taken against it until after 9/11. The cell’s most prominent members are Adham Amin Hassoun, Mohammed Hesham Youssef, Kifah Wael Jayyousi, Kassem Daher, and Jose Padilla. Adnan Shukrijumah may also be involved (see (Spring 2001)).

Both Hassoun and Jayyousi are associates of “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdul-Rahman and the FBI monitors telephone conversations between them and Abdul-Rahman from January 1993 to 1995, at least. After Abdul-Rahman is taken into police custody in July 1993, according to an FBI agent, Jayyousi calls Abdul-Rahman in jail to “update the sheikh with jihad news, many times reading accounts and statements issued directly by terrorist organizations.” [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/23/2003; LANCE, 2006, PP. 126-8; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 4/8/2006; INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, 1/4/2007] 
Funds are provided through bank accounts of Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Group), the Canadian Islamic Association, and Benevolence International Foundation (BIF), for which Hassoun files incorporation papers in Florida. The cell pays out thousands of dollars in checks, some of which are marked “Chechnya”, “Kosovo,” or “for tourism”. 
They try to talk in code, but the code is unsophisticated; for example “tourism” apparently means “terrorism”. In addition, they are not very careful and in one conversation overheard by the FBI, which records tens of thousands of their conversations from the early 1990s, one plotter asks another if he has enough “soccer equipment” to “launch an attack on the enemy.” In another, the conspirators discuss a $3,500 purchase of “zucchini” in Lebanon. 
Cell members are involved in jihad, through funding or direct participation, in Egypt, Somalia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya, Kosovo, the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, and Azerbaijan. 
They are involved with both bin Laden and Chechen leader Ibn Khattab; for example, in one conversation Youssef tells Hassoun that he would be traveling “there at Osama’s and… Khattab’s company.” [INDICTMENT. UNITED STATES V. JOSE PADILLA, 11/17/2005 ] 
They publish the Islam Report, a radical magazine about jihad. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 4/8/2006] 

It is unclear why the FBI monitors the cell for almost a decade before doing anything. However, some of their activities are focused on Bosnia, where the US is turning a blind eye, or even actively assisting Islamic militants fighting on the Bosnian side (see 1992-1995 and April 27, 1994). The cell is broken up in the months after 9/11, and Hassoun, Jayyousi, and Padilla are sent for trial, which begins in 2007. [INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, 1/4/2007] Entity Tags: Mohamed Hesham Youssef, Adnan Shukrijumah, Adham Amin Hassoun, Kifah Wael Jayyousi, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Omar Abdul-Rahman, Kassem Daher, Jose Padilla, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Canadian Islamic Association, Benevolence International Foundation Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, BIF, Islamist Militancy in Chechnya

Before October 3, 1993: Bin Laden Operatives in Somalia Build Bomb, but Attack on UN Fails Arab fighters sent to Somalia to assist locals fighting US forces there build a car bomb to attack a UN target. However, the attack fails. Details such as why the bomb fails and the exact operatives involved in the attack are not known, although the names of some al-Qaeda operatives traveling to Somalia at this time, such as Ali Mohamed and Mohamed Atef, are known (see Late 1992-October 1993). [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 188] Al-Qaeda operative L’Houssaine Kherchtou, who assists the organization’s operations in Somalia, will later say, “They [the members of al-Qaeda] helped some Somalis they wanted to put some explosives in a car and to put it inside a compound of United Nations, and they didn’t succeed to do that.” [BERGEN, 2006, PP. 141] Entity Tags: L’Houssaine Kherchtou Category Tags: 1993 Somalia Fighting

October 3-4, 1993: Al-Qaeda Trained Militants in Somalia Kill 18 US Soldiers

A UN vehicle burning in Mogadishu, Somalia, on October 3, 1993. [Source: CNN] Eighteen US soldiers are killed in Mogadishu, Somalia, in a spontaneous gun battle following an attempt by US Army Rangers and Delta Force to snatch two assistants of a local warlord; the event later becomes the subject of the movie Black Hawk Down. A 1998 US indictment will charge Osama bin Laden and his followers with training the attackers. [PBS FRONTLINE, 10/3/2002] Rocket Propelled Grenades - While rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) are not usually effective against helicopters, the fuses on the RPGs fired by the Somalis against US helicopters are modified so that they explode in midair. During the Soviet-Afghan War, bin Laden associates had learned from the US and British that, although it is hard to score a direct hit on a helicopter’s weak point—its tail rotor—a grenade on an adjusted fuse exploding in midair can spray a tail rotor with shrapnel, causing a helicopter to crash. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 2/25/2002] Possibly Trained by Al-Qaeda - For months, many al-Qaeda operatives had been traveling to Somalia and training militants in an effort to oppose the presence of US soldiers there. Even high-ranking al-Qaeda leaders like Mohammed Atef were directly involved (see Late 1992-October 1993). Comment by Bin Laden - In a March 1997 interview, bin Laden will say of the Somalia attack, “With Allah’s grace, Muslims over there cooperated with some Arab mujaheddin who were in Afghanistan… against the American occupation troops and killed large numbers of them.” [CNN, 4/20/2001] Some Al-Qaeda Operatives Leave Somalia after Battle - Al-Qaeda operative L’Houssaine Kherchtou, who supports the organization’s operations in Somalia, will later say that he was told this event also led at least some al-Qaeda members to flee Somalia. “They told me that they were in a house in Mogadishu and one of the nights one of the helicopters were shot, they heard some shooting in the next house where they were living, and they were scared, and the next day they left because they were afraid that they will be caught by the Americans.” [BERGEN, 2006, PP. 141] Entity Tags: L’Houssaine Kherchtou, Mohammed Atef, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence Category Tags: Warning Signs, Ali Mohamed, Osama Bin Laden, 1993 Somalia Fighting, Alleged Al-Qaeda Linked Attacks

November 1993: Enron Power Plant Creates Demand for an Afghanistan Pipeline

The Dabhol power plant. [Source: Enron] The Indian government approves construction of Enron’s Dabhol power plant, located near Bombay on the west coast of India. Enron has invested $3 billion, the largest single foreign investment in India’s history. Enron owns 65 percent of the Dabhol liquefied natural gas power plant, intended to provide one-fifth of India’s energy needs by 1997. [INDIAN EXPRESS, 2/27/2000; ASIA TIMES, 1/18/2001] It is the largest gas-fired power plant in the world. Earlier in the year, the World Bank concluded that the plant was “not economically viable” and refused to invest in it. [NEW YORK TIMES, 3/20/2001] Entity Tags: World Bank, India, Enron Category Tags: Pipeline Politics

Late 1993: Al-Qaeda Allegedly Attempts to Buy Enriched Uranium According to reliable al-Qaeda defector Jamal al-Fadl (see June 1996-April 1997), in late 1993 he meets with a former high-ranking Sudanese government official to discuss buying enriched uranium. Is taken to an anonymous address in Khartoum, Sudan, and shown a two- to three-foot long metal cylinder with South African markings. Intermediaries demand $1.5 million to buy the cylinder which is supposed to contain uranium. Mohammed Loay Bayazid, a founding member of al-Qaeda and also president of the US-based Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) at the time, is brought in to examine the deal. Al-Fadl is then instructed to write a document for al-Qaeda leader Mamdouh Mahmud Salim detailing the offer. Salim reviews the document and approves the purchase. Al-Fadl never sees the purchase go through, but he is given $10,000 for his role and is told the uranium will be shipped to Cyprus to be tested. He later learns from second-hand sources that the deal went through and the uranium was good. If so, there has been no sign of al-Qaeda attempting to use the uranium ever since. US intelligence does not know about the deal at the time, but learns of it when al-Fadl defects in 1996 (see June 1996-April 1997). The incident will be referred to in an indictment against Salim in 1998. [BOSTON GLOBE, 9/16/2001; NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, 10/1/2001; LANCE, 2006, PP. 262-263] Entity Tags: Jamal al-Fadl, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, Al-Qaeda, Mohammed Loay Bayazid Category Tags: Warning Signs, BIF

Late 1993-Late 1994: Ali Mohamed and Anas Al-Liby Scout Targets in Africa In late 1993, bin Laden asks Ali Mohamed to scout out possible US, British, French, and Israeli targets in Nairobi, Kenya. Mohamed will later confess that in December 1993, “I took pictures, drew diagrams and wrote a report.” Then he travels to Sudan, where bin Laden and his top advisers review Mohamed’s work. In 1994, Mohamed claims that “bin Laden look[s] at a picture of the American Embassy and point[s] to where a truck could go as a suicide bomber.” A truck will follow bin Laden’s directions and crash into the embassy in 1998. Mohamed seems to spend considerable time in Nairobi working with the cell he set up there and conducting more surveillance. He also is sent to the East African nation of Djibouti to scout targets there, and is asked to scout targets in the West African nation of Senegal. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/21/2000; CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/11/2001; LA WEEKLY, 5/24/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 6/16/2004] Much of his work seems to be done together with Anas al-Liby, a top al-Qaeda leader with a mysterious link to Western intelligence agencies similar to Mohamed’s. In 1996, British intelligence will pay al-Liby to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi (see 1996), and then will let him live openly in Britain until 2000 (see 1995-May 2000). Al-Liby is said to be a “computer wizard” known for “working closely” with Mohamed. [NEW YORK TIMES, 2/13/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 4/5/2001] L’Houssaine Kherchtou, an al-Qaeda member who later turns witness for a US trial (see September 2000), was trained in surveillance techniques in Pakistan by Mohamed in 1992. Kherchtou will claim he later comes across Mohamed in 1994 in Nairobi. Mohamed, Anas al-Liby, and a relative of al-Liby’s use Kherchtou’s apartment for surveillance work. Kherchtou sees al-Liby with a camera about 500 meters from the US embassy. [WASHINGTON FILE, 2/22/2001] Mohamed returns to the US near the end of 1994 after an FBI agent phones him in Nairobi and asks to speak to him about an upcoming trial. [WASHINGTON FILE, 2/22/2001] Entity Tags: Ali Mohamed, L’Houssaine Kherchtou, Anas al-Liby, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Osama bin Laden Category Tags: 1998 US Embassy Bombings, Ali Mohamed

Late 1993-1994: US Investigators Discover Links Between WTC Bombing and Mujaheddin Fighting in Bosnian War

Anwar Shaaban. [Source: Evan Kohlmann] The Islamic Cultural Institute mosque in Milan, Italy is dominated by Al-Gama’a al-Islamiya, the Egyptian militant group led by Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. The imam of the mosque, Anwar Shaaban, is a leader of that group and also a leader of the mujaheddin efforts in Bosnia. The Islamic Cultural Institute serves as a transit and logistical base for mujaheddin coming or going to Bosnia (see Late 1993-December 14, 1995). After the 1993 WTC bombing, US investigators will discover heavy phone traffic between the Milan mosque and the Jersey City mosque run by Abdul-Rahman. Furthermore, they learn that bomber mastermind Ramzi Yousef used the Milan mosque as a logistical base as well. [CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/22/2001] Yousef also prayed at the Milan mosque prior to the WTC bombing. [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 171] Shaaban is a close friend of Talaat Fouad Qassem, another leader of Al-Gama’a al-Islamiya and one of the highest ranking leaders of the mujaheddin fighting in Bosnia. Qassem is directing the flow of volunteers to Bosnia while living in political asylum in Denmark (see 1990). [KOHLMANN, 2004, PP. 25] In April 1994, seven Arab men living in Denmark, including Qassem, are arrested. US prosecutors will later claim that fingerprints on documents and videotapes seized from the men match fingerprints on bomb manuals that Ahmad Ajaj was carrying when he entered the US with Yousef (see September 1, 1992). A raid on one apartment in Denmark uncovers bomb formulas, bomb making chemical, sketches of attack targets, some videotapes of Abdul-Rahman’s sermons, and a pamphlet claiming responsibility for the WTC bombing and promising more attacks. Also, phone records and documents found in Abdul-Rahman’s Jersey City apartment show the men in Denmark were communicating regularly with Abdul-Rahman. [NEW YORK TIMES, 4/15/1995] But no one in either Milan or Denmark will be charged with a role in the WTC bombing. Danish police will later say that none of the seized documents indicated that the Arab men personally took part in the bombing. The men all are released and ironically, two of them are granted political asylum in Denmark because they are members of Al-Gama’a al-Islamiya, which the Danish consider to be a persecuted group. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/28/1995] In 1995, an Italian magistrate will issue arrest warrants for Shaaban and 60 other extremists (see Late 1993-December 14, 1995), but Shaaban will flee to Bosnia, where he will die of bullet wounds in unexplained circumstances (see December 14, 1995). [CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/22/2001] The US government will later call the Islamic Cultural Institute al-Qaeda’s main logistical base in Europe and some evidence will link figures connected to it to the 9/11 plot (see Late 1998-September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Ramzi Yousef, Talaat Fouad Qassem, Islamic Cultural Institute, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Omar Abdul-Rahman, Anwar Shaaban Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans, 1993 WTC Bombing, Al-Qaeda in Italy, Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman

Late 1993-December 14, 1995: Logistical Base for Militants Fighting in Bosnia Is Investigated and Shut Down In late 1993, the FBI discovers that WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef used a mosque in Milan, Italy, known as the Islamic Cultural Institute, as a logistical base (see Late 1993-1994). The Italian government begins investigating the mosque and soon discovers that it is the main European headquarters for Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, a radical Egyptian militant group, and is also the logistical base for mujaheddin traveling to fight in Bosnia. The mosque is run by Anwar Shaaban, who has a close working relationship with Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, and who also stays in regular contact with al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri. Shaaban runs a training camp thirty miles outside of Milan where fighters heading to Bosnia can practice using weapons and explosives. The mosque also helps smuggle men, money, and weapons to Bosnia. [SCHINDLER, 2007, PP. 163-164] On June 25, 1995, Italian police raid the mosque and over 70 other locations in northern Italy. Seventeen people are indicted and eleven of them are arrested, but that is only a fraction of the hundreds investigated. Inside the mosque, police find forgery tools, letters to wanted radicals around the world, and hundreds of false documents. Plots to bomb targets in other countries and a US target elsewhere in Italy are averted. Shaaban escapes arrest, as he had already left the country, but he is killed in Croatia a short time later (see December 14, 1995). [UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 6/26/1995; VIDINO, 2006, PP. 216-218] But the Islamic Cultural Institute will soon reopen and continue to be a focal point for radical militants in Europe. It will be linked the 9/11 attacks and other violent plots (see Late 1998-September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Omar Abdul-Rahman, Anwar Shaaban Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans, Al-Qaeda in Italy

December 6, 1993: Bin Laden Gives First Interview to a Western Journalist The British newspaper The Independent publishes the first interview of Osama bin Laden in Western countries. Veteran journalist Robert Fisk interviews bin Laden in Sudan, where bin Laden is ostensibly living a peaceful life. Fisk does note that the “Western embassy circuit in Khartoum has suggested that some of the ‘Afghans’ whom this Saudi entrepreneur flew to Sudan are now busy training for further jihad wars in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt,” but generally bin Laden is portrayed as a former mujaheddin fighter turned peaceful businessman. This is reflected in the title of the article: “Anti-Soviet Warrior Puts His Army on the Road to Peace.” Bin Laden talks some about his role in the Soviet-Afghan war, boasting that he helped thousands of mujaheddin go there to fight. Fisk comments, “When the history of the Afghan resistance movement is written, Mr. bin Laden’s own contribution to the mujaheddin - and the indirect result of his training and assistance - may turn out to be a turning-point in the recent history of militant fundamentalism…” Fisk tells bin Laden that his name has recently been mentioned by Muslim fighters in Bosnia. Bin Laden acknowledges his influence there, but complains about how difficult it is for fighters to cross into Bosnia. [INDEPENDENT, 12/6/1993] Entity Tags: Robert Fisk, Osama bin Laden Category Tags: Al-Qaeda in Balkans, Osama Bin Laden, Alleged Al-Qaeda Media Statements

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