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August 30, 2001: Transportation Department Holds Plane Hijacking Exercise A tabletop exercise is held at the Department of Transportation (DOT) in Washington, DC, as part of its preparations for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. According to Ellen Engleman, the administrator of the DOT’s Research and Special Programs Administration, this is “actually much more than a tabletop” exercise, though she does not explain how. She will later recount, “During that exercise, part of the scenario, interestingly enough, involved a potentially hijacked plane and someone calling on a cell phone, among other aspects of the scenario that were very strange when 12 days later, as you know, we had the actual event [of 9/11].” [MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE, 10/30/2001, PP. 108] Further details of this exercise are unknown. The DOT’s Crisis Management Center will be heavily involved in the 9/11 crisis response, acting as a focal point for the transportation response to the attacks (see 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001). Entity Tags: US Department of Transportation, Ellen Engleman Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Military Exercises
August 30, 2001: CIA Officer Expresses Frustration at FBI’s Inaction on Moussaoui, Predicts Suicide Hijacking in US A CIA officer involved in the Moussaoui case contacts a fellow CIA officer assigned to the FBI and complains about the FBI’s inability to obtain a warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings, which contain enough information to potentially prevent 9/11 (see August 16, 2001). The officer writes: “Please excuse my obvious frustration in this case. I am highly concerned that this is not paid the amount of attention it deserves. I do not want to be responsible when [Moussaoui and his associate Hussein al-Attas] surface again as members of a suicide terrorist op… I want an answer from a named FBI group chief [note: presumably Dave Frasca, head of the FBI’s Radical Fundamentalist Unit] for the record on these questions… several of which I have been asking since a week and a half ago. It is critical that the paper trail is established and clear. If this guy is let go, two years from now he will be talking to a control tower while aiming a 747 at the White House.” One of these two CIA officers may be Tom Wilshire, who is involved in the Moussaoui case (see August 24, 2001). CIA director George Tenet will write, “This comment was particularly prescient because we later learned after 9/11 that Moussaoui had in fact asked Osama bin Laden for permission to be able to attack the White House.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 203] Greg Jones, an FBI agent involved in the case, makes a similar prediction, but guesses that the target will be the World Trade Center, not the White House (see August 27, 2001). Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, George J. Tenet, Tom Wilshire, Zacarias Moussaoui Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui
August 30, 2001: CIA Finally Tells FBI Al-Qaeda Leader Met 9/11 Hijackers in Malaysia, but Information Is Withheld from Investigators The CIA finally tells the FBI that al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash attended an al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia in January 2000 with 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi (see January 5-8, 2000). The CIA monitored the meeting and has known that bin Attash attended for at least eight months (see January 4, 2001), but repeatedly failed to tell the FBI of this (see Shortly Before February 1, 2001, February 1, 2001, Mid-May 2001, and June 11, 2001). The CIA will later say that it thought the FBI knew of the identification in January 2001 (see January 5, 2001 and After), but a CIA manager asked for permission to pass the information to the FBI in July 2001, implying he knew the FBI did not have the information (see July 13, 2001). The cable containing the information is for Rodney Middleton, acting head of the FBI’s bin Laden unit, and also says that, if the FBI thinks it does not have all the photographs it needs of the Malaysia summit, it should ask the CIA for them. Middleton is aware that the FBI is investigating Almihdhar (see August 29, 2001), but there is no record of him or anyone else providing this information to either the agent investigating Almihdhar or the main investigation of the USS Cole bombing, which bin Attash commanded. The information was requested by FBI agent Dina Corsi and was passed through a CIA Counterterrorist Center representative to the FBI, presumably Tom Wilshire. Although one of bin Attash’s aliases was watchlisted one week before (see August 23, 2001), he is not watchlisted under his real name even at this point, meaning the commander of the USS Cole attack can enter the US under his own name as he pleases. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 298, 305, 310 ] Entity Tags: Tom Wilshire, Usama bin Laden Unit (FBI), Tawfiq bin Attash, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency, Dina Corsi, Rod Middleton, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, CIA Hiding Alhazmi & Almihdhar, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit, Search for Alhazmi/ Almihdhar in US, Key Hijacker Events
August 30, 2001: French Provide More Information about Moussaoui
The information sent by the French included a photocopy of this page of Moussaoui’s French passport. [Source: FBI] French authorities provide the FBI’s representative in Paris with additional information about Zacarias Moussaoui, and he forwards this information to the FBI’s Minneapolis field office and headquarters (see August 22, 2001 and Late 1999-Late 2000). The French say that according to an acquaintance of the suspected militant, Moussaoui is a radical Islamic fundamentalist who is potentially very dangerous. They warn that Moussaoui, who was radicalized at London’s Finsbury Park mosque, is devoted to Wahabbism, the Saudi Arabian sect of Islam that is adhered to by bin Laden (see 1994), and has traveled to Kuwait, Turkey, and Afghanistan (see 1995-1998). According to the French, the acquaintance also revealed that Moussaoui is a “strategist” and described him as “a cold stubborn man, capable of nurturing a plan over several months, or even years and of committing himself to this task in all elements of his life.” The French also tell the FBI that they would be willing to have Moussaoui deported back to France. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 169-170 ; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 3/20/2006] Describing the French report to the FBI, a French justice official later says that France “gave the FBI ‘everything we had’” on Moussaoui, “enough to make you want to check this guy out every way you can. Anyone paying attention would have seen he was not only operational in the militant Islamist world but had some autonomy and authority as well.” [TIME, 5/27/2002] And the French interior minister will similarly state, “We did not hold back any information.” [ABC NEWS, 9/5/2002] “Even a neophyte working in some remote corner of Florida, would have understood the threat based on what was sent,” one senior French investigator later explains. [TIME, 8/4/2002] The FBI decides (see (August 30-September 10, 2001)) to deport Moussaoui back to France. At a meeting in Paris several days later (see September 5-6, 2001), French authorities will again warn their US counterparts about Moussaoui and his connections. Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Zacarias Moussaoui Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui
August 30, 2001: Bin Laden Reportedly Named Commander of Afghanistan Army It is reported in Russia and Pakistan that the Taliban has named bin Laden commander of the Afghanistan army. [UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 8/30/2001] Entity Tags: Taliban, Osama bin Laden Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden, Osama Bin Laden