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October 4, 2001: British Prime Minister Tony Blair Presents Case for Al-Qaeda 9/11 Involvement Edit
Tony Blair presenting evidence on October 4, 2001. [Source: Associated Press] British Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly presents a paper containing evidence that al-Qaeda is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/4/2001; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/5/2001] Secretary of State Powell and other US officials had promised on September 23 that the US would present a paper containing such evidence. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/24/2001] However, the US paper is never released (see September 23-24, 2001). Apparently, the British paper is meant to serve as a substitute. [NEW YORKER, 5/27/2002] It begins, “This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama bin Laden in a court of law.” Nevertheless, it continues, “on the basis of all the information available [Her Majesty’s Government] is confident of its conclusions as expressed in this document.” [BBC, 10/4/2001] In his speech, Blair claims, “One of bin Laden’s closest lieutenants has said clearly that he helped with the planning of the September 11 attacks and admitted the involvement of the al-Qaeda organization” and that “there is other intelligence, we cannot disclose, of an even more direct nature indicating guilt” of al-Qaeda in the attacks. [CNN, 10/4/2001; TIME, 10/5/2001] There has been no confirmation or details since of these claims. Even though most of the evidence in the British paper comes from the US, pre-attack warnings, such as the August 6, 2001 memo (see August 6, 2001) to Bush titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US,” are not included. In fact, Blair’s paper states, “incorrectly, that no such information had been available before the attacks: ‘After 11 September we learned that, not long before, bin Laden had indicated he was about to launch a major attack on America.’” [NEW YORKER, 5/27/2002] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Colin Powell, Tony Blair, Osama bin Laden Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Other 9/11 Investigations
October 4, 2001: NATO Meeting Sets Stage for Secret CIA Rendition Flights
One of the executive jets used by the CIA to fly prisoners to Guantanamo. This one, a Gulfstream with tail number N44982 when used by the CIA, is pictured in Geneva, Switzerland in 2005 with a new tail number. [Source: Public domain via Wikipedia] A secret arrangement is made in Brussels, Belgium, by all members of NATO. Lord George Robertson, British defense secretary and later NATO’s secretary general, will later explain NATO members agree to provide “blanket overflight clearances for the United States and other allies’ aircraft for military flights related to operations against terrorism.” [LONDON TIMES, 11/25/2007] Over 700 prisoners will fly over NATO countries on their way to the US-controlled Guantanamo prison in Cuba beginning in 2002 (see January 14, 2002-2005). Conditions of Transfer - According to a 2007 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC—see March 15, 2009), detainees flown on CIA rendition flights would be:
Photographed both clothed and naked; Subjected to body cavity (rectal) searches, with some detainees later alleging that they were administered suppositories of some sort; Dressed in a diaper and a tracksuit, with earphones placed over the ears (through which shatteringly loud music would sometimes be played), a blindfold, black goggles, and sometimes cotton wool placed over the eyes; Shackled by hands and feet, and thus carried onto an airplane, where they would remain, without toilet privileges, from one to 30 hours.
The prisoners would usually be allowed to sit upright, but the ICRC will later find that on “some occasions detainees were transported lying flat on the floor of the plane… with their hands cuffed behind their backs,” causing them “severe pain and discomfort,” as they were moved from one location to another. [NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, 3/15/2009] Entity Tags: George Robertson, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, International Committee of the Red Cross Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics
October 4, 2001: British Prime Miniter Tony Blair Says 9/11 Hijacker Played ‘Key Role’ in Embassy Bombings In a key speech about al-Qaeda’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, British Prime Minister Tony Blair says that one of the hijackers played a “key role” in the 1998 African embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998). Though he doesn’t specify which one, he does say the individual was one of the three hijackers who were quickly identified after 9/11 as known al-Qaeda associates (see 9:53 p.m. September 11, 2001) and someone who had also played an important role in the USS Cole attacks (see October 14-Late November, 2000). [UK PRIME MINISTER, 10/4/2001] Blair’s description of this hijacker as being involved in the USS Cole and African Embassy attacks strongly suggests the person he is referring to is Khalid Almihdhar. Almihdhar allegedly had a hand in the Cole attack (see Early October 2001) and had links to one of the captured embassy bombers, Mohamed al-Owhali. Before the Cole attacks, al-Owhali stayed at an al-Qaeda communications hub in Yemen run by Almihdhar’s father-in-law (see February 2001 and After). Additionally, al-Owhali met an al-Qaeda operative in Pakistan by the name of Khalid, although this may have been Khallad (aka Tawfiq bin Attash), or even Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. [UNITED STATE OF AMERICA V. USAMA BIN LADEN, ET AL., DAY 14, 3/7/2001; GUARDIAN, 10/5/2001; CNN, 10/16/2001; BURKE, 2004, PP. 174; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 222; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 309] It is also possible that the person alluded to in Blair’s speech is Nawaf Alhazmi, who also had connections to the embassy bombings (see 1993-1999). Entity Tags: Tawfiq bin Attash, Tony Blair, Salem Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ahmed al-Hada, Nawaf Alhazmi, Mohamed al-Owhali Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Key Hijacker Events, 1998 US Embassy Bombings, 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, Other 9/11 Hijackers, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit, Yemen Hub
October 4, 2001 and Shortly Afterwards: First Case of Anthrax Reported in the Media, Causing National Panic
Robert Stevens. [Source: Associated Press] The first case of anthrax infection, of Robert Stevens in Florida, is reported in the media (see October 3, 2001). Letters containing anthrax will continue to be received until October 19. After many false alarms, it turns out that only a relatively small number of letters contain real anthrax (see October 5-November 21, 2001). [SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL, 12/8/2001] In 2004, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen will recall how a widespread sense of panic spread across the US over the next few weeks, as millions felt the anthrax could target them next. He will write, “People made anthrax-safe rooms, and one woman I know of had a mask made for her small dog. I still don’t know if that was a touching gesture or just plain madness.” He says, “The [9/11] terrorist attacks coupled with the anthrax scare unhinged us a bit—or maybe more than a bit.” But he will also mention that the panic quickly passed and was largely forgotten by most people. [WASHINGTON POST, 7/22/2004] Columnist Glenn Greenwald will later comment in Salon, “After 9/11 itself, the anthrax attacks were probably the most consequential event of the Bush presidency. One could make a persuasive case that they were actually more consequential. The 9/11 attacks were obviously traumatic for the country, but in the absence of the anthrax attacks, 9/11 could easily have been perceived as a single, isolated event. It was really the anthrax letters—with the first one sent on September 18, just one week after 9/11—that severely ratcheted up the fear levels and created the climate that would dominate in this country for the next several years after. It was anthrax… that created the impression that social order itself was genuinely threatened by Islamic radicalism.” [SALON, 8/1/2008] Entity Tags: Tom Daschle, Patrick J. Leahy, NBC, Glenn Greenwald, New York Post, Richard Cohen Timeline Tags: 2001 Anthrax Attacks Category Tags: Internal US Security After 9/11