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Main article: 2001

January 2001: Future 9/11 Commission Executive Director Zelikow Not Offered Full-time Job with Bush Administration, Returns to University Edit

Future 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow is not offered a job in the Bush administration, and returns to the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia to teach. Zelikow had worked on the transition team [see 1], and thought he would receive an important position in the new administration. He told his friends he thought he was in line for the position of deputy national security adviser to Condoleezza Rice, with whom he had written a book in the mid-1990s [see 2]. Most people in the Bush administration admire his ability, but find him hard to work with. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card will even describe Zelikow as a “bully” historian. Author Philip Shenon will later comment that Zelikow is “perplexed that his talents had not been recognized by the people who handed out the best jobs in the Bush administration.” After returning to university, Zelikow will lobby the White House to make the university where he works the official repository of its oral history. His point of contact at the White House is political adviser Karl Rove. [1][2]

January 2001: CIA Report on USS Cole Bombing Only Finds Circumstantial Evidence of Bin Laden Link, Fails to Mention Some Connections Edit

The CIA’s Counterterrorist Center completes a report on the bombing of the USS Cole. The report, drafted by CIA officer Clark Shannon, finds that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda are circumstantially tied to the attack. However, the report fails to mention details known to the CIA involving figures later connected to the 9/11 plot. The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General will later observe, “The report did not mention [hijacker Khalid Almihdhar’s] visa, [hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi’s] travel to the United States or the Khallad [bin Attash] identification from the Kuala Lumpur photographs[see 3].[3]

January 2001: High Ranking Official Refuses to Hear about Able Danger Edit

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer will later claim that DIA Deputy Director of Human Intelligence William Huntington is briefed by Shaffer at this time about a project named Dorhawk Galley. Some information about Able Danger’s methodology comes up. According to Shaffer, Huntington refuses to hear it and announces, “I can’t be here, I can’t see this.” Huntington immediately leaves Shaffer’s office and refuses to hear the information. Commenting on the episode, Shaffer later notes,

"By doing this, he could later feign ignorance of the project should it have been compromised to the public. It is my belief that he is an example of the cultural problem—senior bureaucrats who are more focused on their own career and having ‘plausible deniability’ to never allow anything ‘controversial or risky’ to ‘touch them.’”


Shaffer will also state, “It is of grave concern that Mr. Huntington is the one who is behind the troubling coincidence regarding my security clearance being suspended in March of 2004, just after reporting to my DIA chain of command [to include Mr. Huntington] of my contact with the 9-11 Commission, and my offer to share the Able Danger information to the 9-11 commission.” [4]

Between January and February 2001: Atta and Alshehhi Allegedly Practice Nighttime Landings at Clearwater AirparkEdit

Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi reportedly spend at least 30 minutes practicing landing a single-engine plane at Clearwater Airpark, Florida, after it has closed for the night. This is according to Daniel Pursell, the chief instructor at Huffman Aviation, the Venice flight school attended by the two during the latter half of 2000 [see 4]. What they are doing at Clearwater is unknown. Their activities draw the attention of a police aide acting as a night watchman, who leaves a voice message at Huffman complaining about the incident. The plane is subsequently identified as having been rented by Atta and Alshehhi. Pursell, along with fellow instructor Thierry Leklou, reprimands them when they return to Venice the following morning. According to the St. Petersburg Times, the two leave Huffman shortly afterwards.

This incident first surfaces publicly in 2006, when Pursell testifies at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. However, others will dispute his allegations. Local police say no incident reports were filed describing the event, and neither the FAA nor city have any record of unauthorized landings during this period. According to Bill Morris, Clearwater’s marine and aviation director, a police aide would have called for backup and recorded the plane’s details in a log, rather than calling Huffman. He says even if the aide had wanted to contact the plane’s owner, it would have been impossible to ascertain who this was at night, as allegedly occurred, because the FAA’s offices would have been closed.. [5]

Furthermore, Atta and Alshehhi supposedly finished training at Huffman Aviation in December 2000, and the school’s owner Rudi Dekkers will claim Huffman last heard from them around the end of that month.. [6] However, a similar incident to this is known to have occurred previously, where Atta and Alshehhi abandoned one of Huffman’s planes at Miami International Airport [see 5].[7] And according to the 9/11 Commission, after passing their instrument rating airplane tests on November 6, 2000, the pair was “able to sign out planes. They did so on a number of occasions, often returning at 2:00 and 3:00 A.M. after logging four or five hours of flying time.” [8] The St. Petersburg Times reports that Atta and Alshehhi “would rent a plane from Huffman and be gone for days at a time, Pursell said. They could fly to 20 airports across the state and never be noticed.” . [9]

January 2001: Death of Operative Puts New FBI Focus on Boston Cell Edit

Bassam Kanj is killed in a battle in Lebanon Wikipedia. Kanj lived on and off in Boston for nearly 15 years, and was a friend of al-Qaeda operatives Nabil al-Marabh, Raed Hijazi, and Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi. All four of them fought together in Afghanistan in the late 1980s [see 6], then worked at the same Boston taxi company in the 1990s [see 7]. In late 1998, Kanj left Boston for Lebanon where he apparently recruited a couple hundred people to take part in a rebellion to overthrow the Lebanese government. He is killed during a five day battle, along with 21 others. Two days after the battle, a Lebanese newspaper identifies him as an al-Qaeda operative who had received financial support from bin Laden. This leads to a renewed focus on him in the US. In February 2001, the Boston Globe will report,

“The FBI is continuing to look at Kanj’s and Hijazi’s activities in the Boston area in hopes of learning more about their contacts inside bin Laden’s far-flung organization.”


Michael Rolince, chief of international terrorism operations for the FBI, will tell the Globe that both men had a “higher station” than most in al-Qaeda, and will add, “We are still trying to sort out who played what role.” . [10] Presumably, this leads the FBI to take another look at Nabil al-Marabh, who had been roommates with both Hijazi and Kanj and is already wanted for a variety of al-Qaeda contacts. An individual matching al-Marabh’s description is even mentioned in a prominent New York Times story about al-Qaeda in January 2001. The article states, “In early 1997, Hijazi moved to Boston, where he had a friend from his years in Afghanistan.” . [11] Yet apparently there is no concerted effort to find al-Marabh, who will even be set free after being arrested trying to illegally enter the US [see 8]. The Boston FBI began investigating Elzahabi for militant ties in 1999, but lost track of him when he went to fight in Chechnya [see 9]. But apparently he is not detected reentering the US shortly before 9/11 [see 10]

January-March 2001: Wright Told to ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’ Edit

Kathleen McChesney. [Source: FBI] FBI agent Robert Wright is continuing to protest and fight the cancellation of the Vulgar Betrayal investigation (see August 2000). In January 2001, he claims that his supervisor tells him, “I think it’s just better to let sleeping dogs lie.” FBI agent John Vincent backs up the allegation. [ABC NEWS, 12/19/2002] In March 2001, Wright meets with the Chicago special agent-in-charge, who appears to be Kathleen McChesney, given that Wright calls this person “she” and McChesney held that position since January 1999. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 12/2001; FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, 6/2/2003] He tells her that “the international terrorism unit of the FBI is a complete joke.” Within three weeks, the FBI opens another disciplinary investigation on Wright, charging that he had supplied classified information to an assistant US attorney. Wright is later cleared of the charges. In 2002, Wright will claim, “This was a pathetic attempt… before the Sept. 11th attacks, to further silence me from going public about the FBI’s negligence and incompetence.” [CNN, 6/19/2003; NEW YORK POST, 7/14/2004] A lawyer speaking for Wright after 9/11 will blame Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Michael Chertoff for refusing to take Wright’s concerns seriously before 9/11. Chertoff will later be promoted to head the Department of Homeland Security. [FOX NEWS, 5/30/2002] Entity Tags: Vulgar Betrayal, Federal Bureau of Investigation, John Vincent, Kathleen McChesney, Michael Chertoff, Robert Wright, International Terrorism Unit Category Tags: Robert Wright and Vulgar Betrayal, Terrorism Financing, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

January-June 2001: 9/11 Hijackers Pass Through Britain for Training or Fundraising

Ahmed Alnami in prayer. [Source: Spiegel TV] Eleven of the 9/11 hijackers stay in or pass through Britain, according to the British Home Secretary and top investigators. Most are in Britain between April and June, just passing through from Dubai, United Arab Emirates (see April 22-June 27, 2001). However, investigators suspect some stay in Britain for training and fundraising (see June 2001). The eleven are Satam Al Suqami, Waleed Alshehri, Majed Moqed, Ahmed al-Ghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, Ahmed Alnami, Mohand Alshehri, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Wail Alshehri, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, and Saeed Alghamdi. Ahmed Alghamdi was one of several that should have been “instantly ‘red-flagged’ by British intelligence,” because of his links to Raed Hijazi, a suspected ally of bin Laden being held in Jordan on charges of conspiring to destroy holy sites. Apparently, the investigation concludes that other “muscle” hijackers and leaders like Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi did not pass through Britain at this time. [LONDON TIMES, 9/26/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/27/2001; BBC, 9/28/2001; SUNDAY HERALD (GLASGOW), 9/30/2001] However, police will investigate whether Atta visited Britain in 1999 and 2000, together with some Algerians. [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/30/2001] The London Times will also write, “Officials hope that the inquiries in Britain will disclose the true identities of the suicide team. Some are known to have arrived in Britain using false passports and fake identities that they kept for the hijack.” [LONDON TIMES, 9/26/2001] Entity Tags: Raed Hijazi, Saeed Alghamdi, Waleed M. Alshehri, Mohamed Atta, Wail Alshehri, Marwan Alshehhi, Satam Al Suqami, Hamza Alghamdi, Majed Moqed, Ahmed Alghamdi, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Mohand Alshehri, Ahmed Alnami, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers, Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism

January-March 2001: CIA Director, National Security Counsel Briefed on Able Danger In addition to briefings about Able Danger with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (see Early 2001) and other military leaders (see March 2001), Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer claims that there are other briefings about the project in the same early 2001 time frame. In one briefing, Shaffer says CIA Director George Tenet approves “our conduct of this special project—I did specifically mention the Able Danger effort to him regarding the use of its methodology to separate out US Person issues.” Shaffer also claims that the National Security Counsel (NSC) is briefed twice on Able Danger around this time. He says, “I cannot recall the specific dates of, or individuals present at, the briefing.” [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006] Entity Tags: National Security Council, Able Danger, George J. Tenet, Anthony Shaffer Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Able Danger

January-February 2001: Flight School’s Repeated Warnings About Hijacker Hanjour Ignored by FAA

Hani Hanjour, from a 2000 US visa application. [Source: 9/11 Commission] In January 2001, the Arizona flight school JetTech alerts the FAA about hijacker Hani Hanjour. No one at the school suspects Hanjour of terrorist intent, but they tell the FAA he lacks both the English and flying skills necessary for the commercial pilot’s license he has already obtained. For instance, he had taken classes at the University of Arizona but failed his English classes with a 0.26 grade point average. A JetTech flight school manager “couldn’t believe he had a commercial license of any kind with the skills that he had.” A former employee says, “I’m still to this day amazed that he could have flown into the Pentagon. He could not fly at all.” They also note he is an exceptionally poor student who does not seem to care about passing his courses. [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/4/2002; CBS NEWS, 5/10/2002] An FAA official named John Anthony actually sits next to Hanjour in class and observes his skills. He suggests the use of a translator to help Hanjour pass, but the flight school points out that goes “against the rules that require a pilot to be able to write and speak English fluently before they even get their license.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 5/10/2002] The FAA verifies that Hanjour’s 1999 pilot’s license is legitimate (see April 15, 1999), but takes no other action. However, his license should have been rejected because it had already expired in late 1999 when he failed to take a manadatory medical test. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/15/2001; CBS NEWS, 5/10/2002] An Arizona FAA inspector later says, “There should have been a stop right then and there.” He will claim that federal law would have required Hanjour to be re-examined. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/13/2002] In February, Hanjour begins advanced simulator training, “a far more complicated task than he had faced in earning a commercial license.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 6/19/2002] The flight school again alerts the FAA about this and gives a total of five alerts about Hanjour, but no further action on him is taken. The FBI is not told about Hanjour. [CBS NEWS, 5/10/2002] Ironically, in July 2001, Arizona FBI agent Ken Williams will recommend in a memo that the FBI liaison with local flight schools and keep track of suspicious activity by Middle Eastern students (see July 10, 2001). Entity Tags: Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, John Anthony, Pentagon, Hani Hanjour, JetTech Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Hani Hanjour, Phoenix Memo, Key Hijacker Events, Alleged Hijackers' Flight Training, Hijacker Contact w Government in US

January-March 2001: Intelligence Unit Tracking Al-Qaeda is Closed Down; Change in Leadership Factors in Closure Edit

A secret military intelligence unit called Able Danger, which is tasked with assembling information about al-Qaeda networks around the world, is shut down. Some accounts say the program is shut down in January, some say February, and some say March. [NORRISTOWN TIMES HERALD, 6/19/2005; TIMES HERALD (NORRISTOWN), 9/12/2005; US CONGRESS, 9/21/2005] The unit has identified Mohamed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers as members of an al-Qaeda cell operating in the United States (see January-February 2000). According to James D. Smith, a Pentagon contractor involved with the unit, the inspector general shuts down the operation “because of a claim that we were collecting information on US citizens,” and it is illegal for the military to do this. [WTOP RADIO 103.5 (WASHINGTON), 9/1/2005] Others familiar with the unit later say it is closed down because it might have led to the exposure of another data mining project that was investigating US citizens allegedly illegally transferring sensitive US technology to the Chinese government. [WTOP RADIO 103.5 (WASHINGTON), 9/1/2005] Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer blames the change in leadership brought by the new Bush administration. “Once the four star [General Schoomaker] went away, it was pretty much like the world closing around us [Schoomaker retired in November 2000, but returned as Army Chief of Staff in 2003]. There was no political will to continue this at that point in time. Plus, my direct leadership: Colonel [Jerry] York and General [Bob] Harding had moved on as well. Therefore, I had a new chain of command above me. They were very risk adverse. This [Able Danger] operation, as with other operations which were very high risk / high gain, some of which are still ongoing—seemed to not be appreciated by the incoming leadership.” [AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE, 6/17/2003; GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005] For example, Shaffer will say that Col. Mary Moffitt, who replaces Col. Gerry York around this time (“spring 2001”), “dismantled the Defense [human intelligence] support to Able Danger just months before the 9-11 attacks… [and ] became focused on shutting down our support to Able Danger under the guise of ‘reorganization’ and in the end, disestablished Stratus Ivy [the unit Shaffer headed] and its cutting edge focus.” [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006] Entity Tags: James D. Smith, Mary Moffitt, Al-Qaeda, Able Danger Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Able Danger

January-August 2001: Airlines Receive FAA Warnings, But Later Claim They Were Given No Real Hints of Possible Terrorist Attacks The FAA gives 15 warnings to domestic airlines between January and August 2001, but about one general security warning a month had been common for a long time. [CNN, 5/17/2002] Even a government official later calls the content of these 15 warnings “standard fare.” [MIAMI HERALD, 5/17/2002] As one newspaper later reports, “there were so many [warnings] that airline officials grew numb to them.” [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/23/2002] In May 2002, in response to recent revelations about what was known before 9/11, the major airlines will hold a press conference claiming they were never warned of a specific hijacking threat, and were not told to tighten security. For instance, an American Airlines spokesman states that the airline “received no specific information from the US government advising the carrier of a potential terrorist hijacking in the United States in the months prior to September 11, 2001. American receives FAA security information bulletins periodically, but the bulletins were extremely general in nature and did not identify a specific threat or recommend any specific security enhancements.” [MIAMI HERALD, 5/17/2002] Bush administration officials later state that the terror information they are receiving is so vague that tighter security does not seem required. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 5/18/2002] However, it seems that even these general warnings are never passed on to airline employees. Rosemary Dillard, a supervisor for American Airlines, states, “My job was supervision over all the flight attendants who flew out of National, Baltimore, or Dulles. In the summer of 2001, we had absolutely no warnings about any threats of hijackings or terrorism, from the airline or from the FAA.” [NEW YORK OBSERVER, 6/20/2004] The content of these seemingly harmless warnings remain classified after 9/11. They are said to be exempted from public disclosure by a federal statute that covers “information that would be detrimental to the security of transportation if disclosed.” [NEW YORK OBSERVER, 6/20/2004] Entity Tags: American Airlines, Bush administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Rosemary Dillard Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics, Warning Signs, US Air Security

January 2001 and after: Security Services Increase Surveillance of Jemaah Islamiyah after Bombing Campaign Following a wave of bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines in late 2000 (see December 24-30, 2000), regional intelligence services increase surveillance of al-Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Police find that a call claiming responsibility for the bombing was made from a phone registered to JI operative Fathur Rohman Al-Ghozi and trace calls from this phone to JI leader Hambali and one of his subordinates, Faiz abu Baker Bafana. Philippines authorities then keep al-Ghozi under surveillance for a year, before arresting him in January 2002. [CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, 2/14/2002] Hambali is named in the media as a JI leader around this time (see January 24, 2001). Entity Tags: Faiz abu Baker Bafana, Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, Hambali Category Tags: Hambali, Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia

Early January 2001: CIA Passes Photos of Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar for Source to Identify The CIA’s Counterterrorist Center passes a photo of hijacker Khalid Almihdhar and a photo of hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi taken at al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit (see January 5-8, 2000) to the CIA station in Islamabad, Pakistan. The station is to show the photos to a source, later referred to as “Omar,” to see if he can identify Khalid Almihdhar or al-Qaeda manager Khallad bin Attash, as Omar has previously identified bin Attash in another photo (see November 22-December 16, 2000). According to cables drafted at this time, the overseas station requested the photo of Almihdhar because it thinks that Almihdhar and bin Attash might be the same person (see Mid-Late December 2000). It is unclear why the photo of Alhazmi is also passed at the same time. The CIA has numerous other photos taken at the Malaysia summit as well as video (see January 5, 2000), but these are not passed. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 269-270 ] Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, CIA Islamabad Station, Nawaf Alhazmi, Tawfiq bin Attash, Counterterrorist Center, “Omar”, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, CIA Hiding Alhazmi & Almihdhar, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit

Early January 2001: Al-Qaeda Threat Highlighted for Powell

Brian Sheridan. [Source: PBS.org] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke briefs Secretary of State Colin Powell about the al-Qaeda threat. He urges decisive and quick action against the organization. Powell meets with the Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG)—made up of senior counterterrorism officials from many agencies—and sees to it that all members of the group agree al-Qaeda is a serious threat. For instance, Deputy Defense Secretary Brian Sheridan says to Powell, “Make al-Qaeda your number one priority.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 227-30] Clarke will later note that he does not provide this briefing to President Bush because he is prevented from doing so. When Clarke resigns in 2003, he receives an effusive letter of praise from Bush for his service (see January 31, 2003). Clarke will later quote Bush (see March 28, 2004), telling NBC’s Tim Russert: “Let me read another line from the letter… ‘I will always have fond memories of our briefings for you on cybersecurity.’ Not on terrorism, Tim, because they didn’t allow me to brief him on terrorism.” [MSNBC, 3/28/2004] Entity Tags: Tim Russert, Richard A. Clarke, Colin Powell, Al-Qaeda, Counterterrorism and Security Group, George W. Bush, Brian Sheridan Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

January 3, 2001: Richard Clarke Briefs Condoleezza Rice on Al-Qaeda Threat Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” for the Clinton administration, briefs National Security Adviser Rice and her deputy, Steve Hadley, about al-Qaeda. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/20/2002] Outgoing National Security Adviser Sandy Berger makes an unusual appearance at the start of the meeting, saying to Rice, “I’m coming to this briefing to underscore how important I think this subject is.” He claims that he tells Rice during the transition between administrations, “I believe that the Bush administration will spend more time on terrorism generally, and on al-Qaeda specifically, than any other subject.” Clarke presents his plan to “roll back” al-Qaeda that he had given to the outgoing Clinton administration a couple of weeks earlier. [TIME, 8/4/2002] He gets the impression that Rice has never heard the term al-Qaeda before. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 227-30; GUARDIAN, 3/25/2004] Clarke is told at the meeting that he will keep his job but the position is being downgraded and he will no longer have direct access to the president (see January 3, 2001). Entity Tags: Sandy Berger, Bush administration, Condoleezza Rice, Al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke, Stephen J. Hadley Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11

January 3, 2001: Clarke Demoted by Rice and Future 9/11 Commission Executive Director

Condoleezza Rice and Philip Zelikow. [Source: Public domain] National Security Adviser Rice decides this day to retain Richard Clarke, counterterrorism “tsar” for the Clinton administration, and his staff. However, she downgrades his official position as National Coordinator for Counterterrorism. While he is still known as the counterterrorism “tsar,” he has less power and now reports to deputy secretaries instead of attending Cabinet-level meetings. He no longer is able to send memos directly to the president, or easily interact with Cabinet-level officials. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 227-30; GUARDIAN, 3/25/2004] Clarke will not be able to meet with President Bush even a single time before 9/11 to discuss al-Qaeda (see January 25, 2001-September 10, 2001). In 2004, Rice will reveal that the person she tasks with considering changes to Clarke and his staff is Philip Zelikow, the future Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission. Zelikow recuses himself from those parts of the 9/11 Commission’s investigation directly relating to his role in this and other matters. However, 9/11 victims’ relatives are not satisfied. For instance, one relative says, “Zelikow has conflicts. I’m not sure that his recusal is sufficient. His fingerprints are all over that decision [to demote Clarke].” [UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 4/9/2004] Entity Tags: Philip Zelikow, Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics, 9/11 Commission, Role of Philip Zelikow

January 3, 2001: Yemen Authorities Receive Malaysia Photographs from CIA, but FBI Does Not Yemeni authorities receive photographs of operatives who attended al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit. The exact number of photographs they receive is not known, but they include three photos, of 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and a man who looks like one of their associates, Fahad al-Quso, that are later shown to the FBI (see June 11, 2001). It is unclear who provides the photos to the Yemenis, but the CIA has them and is interested in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen (see October 12, 2000), so presumably they come from the CIA. The photos are highly relevant to the FBI, as they connect extremists known to be involved in the Cole attack to Almihdhar and Alhazmi, but even though the FBI is in charge of the Cole investigation, the CIA continues to withhold the information from the FBI for months (see January 5, 2001 and After, February 1, 2001, Late May, 2001 and August 30, 2001). The Yemenis’ response to the photographs is unknown. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 293 ] The CIA is aware by June 2001 that Almihdhar is the son-in-law of Ahmed al-Hada, a Yemeni extremist who runs a communications hub for Osama bin Laden (see Late August 1998), but it is not known whether they obtain this information now or at some other time. [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 343] Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency, Fahad al-Quso, Khalid Almihdhar, Yemen Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, CIA Hiding Alhazmi & Almihdhar, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit

January 4, 2001: Mohamed Atta Travels to Spain Edit

9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta flies from Miami, Florida, to Madrid, Spain. He has allegedly been in the US since June 3, 2000, learning to fly in Florida with Marwan Alshehhi. [MIAMI HERALD, 9/22/2001] Spanish authorities will later say he meets Barakat Yarkas, head of a Spanish al-Qaeda cell, on the trip. After Yarkas is arrested in late 2001, an interview with him by a high court judge will indicate that “numerous lines to Sept. 11 principals passed through [him].” [BOSTON GLOBE, 8/4/2002] Atta returns to the US on January 10 (see January 10, 2001), and will make a second trip to Spain in July of the same year (see July 8-19, 2001). Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Mohamed Atta

January 4, 2001: Informer Sees Known Al-Qaeda Leader in Malaysia Summit Photos

Nawaf Alhazmi (left) and Khallad bin Attash (right) are said to have been confused by an informer. [Source: FBI] An overseas CIA officer shows a source known as “Omar,” who provides information on al-Qaeda, photographs of hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi taken at the al-Qaeda Malaysia summit (see January 5-8, 2000). Omar has previously identified a photo of al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash (see November 22-December 16, 2000) and the officer thinks that bin Attash and Almihdhar might be the same person (see Mid-Late December 2000). Omar says that the photo of Alhazmi, who the CIA apparently do not recognize at this time, actually shows bin Attash. As Omar cannot identify Almihdhar, but says he can identify bin Attash, this indicates Almihdhar and bin Attash are not the same person. The identification causes the CIA to believe that bin Attash attended al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit. Although this belief is based on a mistaken identification, it is actually correct, as bin Attash was present at the summit—the CIA has photos of bin Attash there, but fails to show them to Omar. This identification is important because bin Attash is a known bin Laden operative connected to the USS Cole attack and East African embassy bombings. The CIA also knows that Almihdhar and Alhazmi were at the summit, so this could connect them to the Cole attack. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 268-271 ] Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Almihdhar, “Omar”, Tawfiq bin Attash, CIA Islamabad Station Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, CIA Hiding Alhazmi & Almihdhar, Other Possible Moles or Informants, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit, Key Hijacker Events

January 5, 2001: French Report Al-Qaeda Plan to Hijack Plane Possibly Headed to US; CIA Apparently InformedEdit

Alain Chouet. [Source: La Repubblica] A five page summary French intelligence report dated on this day is entitled “Hijacking of an Airplane by Radical Islamists.” The report details tactical discussions since early 2000 between bin Laden, Chechen rebels, and the Taliban about a hijacking against US airlines (Early 2000 and October 2000). The plot considers hijacking a US airliner flying from Frankfurt to the US or hijacking a French or German airliner. The French intelligence comes from Uzbek spies who have infiltrated the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a militant group based in Uzbekistan next door to Afghanistan and closely tied to bin Laden and the Taliban. Some of the spies ended up in al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. The French report makes clear that the information was independently verified from other sources, including satellite telephone intercepts and possibly spies recruited in France. [LE MONDE (PARIS), 4/15/2007; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 4/16/2007; LE MONDE (PARIS), 4/17/2007] When this French report will be leaked to the press in 2007, French officials will insist that the information in it would have been forwarded to the CIA at the time. For instance, Pierre-Antoine Lorenzi, responsible at the time for communications between French and other foreign intelligence services, will say the information would have gone to Bill Murray, chief of the CIA Paris station. Lorenzi says, “That, typically, is the kind of information that would certainly have been forwarded to the CIA. It would even have been an error not to have done it.” [LE MONDE (PARIS), 4/15/2007] Alain Chouet, head of the French intelligence subdivision tracking terrorist movements, also says the information was certainly passed to the CIA. “We transmitted everything to our American counterparts, everything that could have posed a threat, and they did the same with us.” Chouet thinks it is possible the information was deliberate misdirection by al-Qaeda, because it does not mention multiple hijackings or suicide pilots. No CIA officials have gone on record saying that they received the warning. [LE MONDE (PARIS), 4/15/2007; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 4/16/2007] However, the Chechens are likely connected to Chechen leader Ibn Khattab, who has a long history of collaboration with bin Laden (see 1986-March 19, 2002), and by April 2001 an FBI report says that Ibn Khattab and bin Laden are seriously planning an attack together, possibly against US interests (see Before April 13, 2001). In May 2001, President Bush will be given a warning entitled, “Terrorist Groups Said Cooperating on US Hostage Plot,” which could involve a hijacking to free al-Qaeda prisoners in the US (see May 23, 2001). The plot described by French intelligence is also designed to free al-Qaeda prisoners in the US, though this may just be coincidence as the terrorist groups in Bush’s warning have not been publicly named. [LE MONDE (PARIS), 4/17/2007] Entity Tags: Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, Pierre-Antoine Lorenzi, Alain Chouet, Bill Murray, Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Warning Signs, Key Warnings

January 5, 2001 and After: CIA Does Not Tell FBI about Identification of Al-Qaeda Leader by Informer, but Allegedly Thinks It Has Done So After an informer later referred to as “Omar” tells the CIA that al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash was at al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit (see January 4, 2001), the CIA fails to communicate this information to the FBI, even though it is important for their investigation of the USS Cole bombing and connects 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi to the Cole bombers. Omar is a joint FBI/CIA source, but the FBI assistant legal attaché responsible for him will later say he does not know of this identification and documentation he drafts at this time indicates he is unaware of it. It is unclear why the FBI agent is unaware of the identification, although he does not speak Omar’s language and may have been out of the room making photocopies when Omar identified bin Attash in a photo of the Malaysia summit for his CIA counterpart. The CIA officer who shows the photos will later say he has no independent recollection of any particular meeting with Omar. However, when Omar previously identified a photo of bin Attash provided by Yemeni authorities on December 16, 2000 (see November 22-December 16, 2000), the CIA officer had the source repeat the identification specifically for the benefit of the FBI assistant legal attaché and the cable he drafted about the meeting said this clearly. In addition, the assistant legal attaché will later say that he recalls the specific circumstances of the previous debriefing and will be able to recount them, including the identification of bin Attash in the photograph provided by the Yemenis. The CIA officer drafts three cables about the January 4 meeting; one internal cable provides little detail about the meeting, but says bin Attash was identified in one of the photos, a cable to the general US intelligence community fails to mention the identification of bin Attash, as does a third cable, which is sent to the CIA. However, according to statements made by CIA officials after 9/11, at this time the CIA thinks that the FBI knows that bin Attash has been identified in the photos. For example, Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center Cofer Black will tell the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, “[O]ur records establish that the Special Agents from the FBI’s New York Field Office who were investigating the USS Cole attack reviewed the information about the Kuala Lumpur photo in late January 2001.” However, there is no documentary record of information about the second identification placing bin Attash in Kuala Lumpur with the two hijackers being passed to the FBI. In addition, in July 2001 CIA manager Tom Wilshire will suggest passing this information to the FBI (see July 13, 2001), possibly meaning he thinks it is not passed at this time. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 264-278 ] Entity Tags: Tawfiq bin Attash, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Cofer Black, “Omar”, Federal Bureau of Investigation, CIA Islamabad Station, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, CIA Hiding Alhazmi & Almihdhar, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit

After January 4, 2001: 9/11 Hijackers Alhazmi, Almihdhar, and Al-Qaeda Leader Not Watchlisted, Despite Connection to Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit After an informant identifies a photo of al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash for the CIA, indicating that he was at al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit (see January 4, 2001), the CIA fails to place him on the US watch list. The identification links bin Attash, who was involved in the attack on the USS Cole, to 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi. The CIA has already been informed that Alhazmi entered the US in March 2000, yet once again they fail to watchlist either Alhazmi or Almihdhar. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will point out, “In January 2001, Khalid Almihdhar was abroad, his visa had expired, and he would have to clear a watch list check before obtaining a new visa to re-enter the United States.” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/22/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 148-150 ] CNN later notes that at this point the CIA, at the very least, “could have put Alhazmi and Almihdhar and all others who attended the [summit] in Malaysia on a watch list to be kept out of this country. It was not done.” [CNN, 6/4/2002] One of bin Attash’s aliases, Salah Saeed Muhammed bin Yousaf, will be placed on the US watch list on August 23, at the same time as Alhazmi and Almihdhar (see August 23, 2001), but US authorities apparently will not be aware that this is actually one of his aliases at that point. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 152 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 538; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 302 ] Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency, Tawfiq bin Attash Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, CIA Hiding Alhazmi & Almihdhar, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit, Key Hijacker Events

January 7, 2001: Rumsfeld Report Echoes ‘New Pearl Harbor’ Language Donald Rumsfeld publishes a report as chairperson of the Rumsfeld Commission that makes proposals for the US Space Command. Rumsfeld is in the process of becoming defense secretary for the incoming Bush administration. His commission’s report says with respect to attacks in space: “The question is whether the US will be wise enough to act responsibly and soon enough to reduce US space vulnerabilities. Or whether, as in the past, a disabling attack against the country and its people—a ‘Space Pearl Harbor’—will be the only event able to galvanize the nation and cause the US government to act.” Author Peter Dale Scott will later note the similarity between this language and that of a Project for the New American Century (PNAC) think tank report published several months before, signed by Rumsfeld and others, that warned of impediments to overhauling the US military “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor” (see September 2000). Scott will comment that such quotes indicate that the US oil industry and military had achieved a quiet consensus by this time that “America would need full-spectrum dominance to guarantee access to oil and other resources in the rest of the world. This program would require massive expenditures, perhaps as much as a trillion dollars, and this could not be expected from Congress—except in response to an attack as massive and frightening as Pearl Harbor.” [SCOTT, 2007, PP. 24] Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, US Space Command, Peter Dale Scott Category Tags: US Dominance

January 10, 2001: Two Attas Enter the US on the Same Day?

Atta’s immigration record for his arrival on January 10, 2001, after alteration in early May. [Source: 9/11 Commission] The Miami Herald will report: “INS documents, matched against an FBI alert given to German police, show two men named Mohamed Atta [arrive] in Miami on January 10, each offering different destination addresses to INS agents, one in Nokomis, near Venice, the other at a Coral Springs condo. He (they?) is admitted, despite having overstayed his previous visa by a month. The double entry could be a paperwork error, or confusion over a visa extension. It could be Atta arrived in Miami, flew to another country like the Bahamas, and returned the same day. Or it could be that two men somehow cleared immigration with the same name using the same passport number.” [MIAMI HERALD, 9/22/2001] Officials will later call this a bureaucratic snafu, and insist that only one Atta entered the US on this date. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/28/2001] In addition, while Atta arrives on a tourist visa, he tells immigration inspectors that he is taking flying lessons in the US, which requires an M-1 student visa. [WASHINGTON POST, 10/28/2001] The fact that he had overstayed his visa by over a month on a previous visit also does not cause a problem. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/27/2001] The INS will later defend its decision, but “immigration experts outside the agency dispute the INS position vigorously.” For instance, Stephen Yale-Loehr, co-author of a 20-volume treatise on immigration law, will assert: “They just don’t want to tell you they blew it. They should just admit they made a mistake.” [WASHINGTON POST, 10/28/2001] Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mohamed Atta, Stephen Yale-Loehr Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Mohamed Atta, Hijacker Contact w Government in US

January 10-25, 2001: Rice Rejects Resuming Use of Surveillance Drone to Track Bin Laden

The Predator drone. [Source: US military] (click image to enlarge) Even before President Bush’s official inauguration, Clinton holdover counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke pushes National Security Adviser Rice and other incoming Bush officials to resume Predator drone flights over Afghanistan (originally carried out in September and October 2000) in an attempt to find and assassinate bin Laden. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/20/2002; CBS NEWS, 6/25/2003] On January 10, Rice is shown a video clip of bin Laden filmed by a Predator drone the year before. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/20/2002] Aware of an Air Force plan to arm the Predator, when Clarke outlines a series of steps to take against al-Qaeda on January 25 (see January 25, 2001), one suggestion is to go forward with new Predator drone reconnaissance missions in the spring and use an armed version when it is ready. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] The original Air Force development plan calls for three years of Predator testing, but Clarke pushes so hard that a Hellfire missile is successfully test fired from a Predator on February 16, 2001. The armed Predator will be fully ready by early June 2001 (see Early June-September 10, 2001). [CBS NEWS, 6/25/2003; NEW YORKER, 7/28/2003] However, Rice apparently approves the use of the Predator but only as part of a broader strategy against al-Qaeda. Since that strategy will still not be ready before 9/11, the Predator will not be put into use before 9/11. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/22/2003] Entity Tags: Stephen J. Hadley, Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden

January 11, 2001: Rumsfeld Warns of Surprise Attack Like Pearl Harbor At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense-designate Donald Rumsfeld warns of the danger of a surprise attack like Pearl Harbor happening again. He testifies, “We all know that history is filled with instances where people were surprised. There were plenty of signals, plenty of warnings, plenty of cautions. But they weren’t taken aboard. They didn’t register. They weren’t sufficient to cause a person to act on those.” He continues, “We know that the thing that tends to register on people is fear, and we know that that tends to happen after there’s a Pearl Harbor, tends to happen after there’s a crisis. And that’s too late for us. We’ve got to be smarter than that. We’ve got to be wiser than that. We have to be more forward-looking.” As ABC News later comments, “eight months to the day after his warning of a surprise attack, Rumsfeld’s fears became reality with the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.” [CNN, 1/11/2001; SCARBOROUGH, 2004, PP. 165-166; ABC NEWS 7 (CHICAGO), 3/25/2004] Rumsfeld will again refer to the danger of military surprises four months later, during meetings with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees (see May 23-24, 2001). Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs

January 11-18, 2001: Overstaying Visa No Obstacle for Alshehhi

Marwan Alshehhi. [Source: FBI] Hijacker Marwan Alshehhi flies from the US to Casablanca, Morocco, and back, for reasons unknown. He is able to reenter the US without trouble, despite having overstayed his previous visa by about five weeks. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/27/2001; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 5/20/2002] Curiously, Mohamed Atta’s cell phone is used on January 2 to call the Moroccan embassy in Washington, DC. Abdelghani Mzoudi, a Hamburg associate, is also in Morocco at the same time as Alshehhi, but there’s no documentation of them meeting there. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 17] Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Abdelghani Mzoudi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta

January 17, 2001: Hijacker Atta Wires Money from US to Bin Al-Shibh in Germany Lead hijacker Mohamed Atta uses the name variant Mahmoud Elsayed to wire $1,500 to Ramzi bin al-Shibh in Germany. The money is wired from a Western Union office in Temple Terrace, near Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The 9/11 Commission will comment, “There is no known explanation for this transaction, which seems especially odd because bin al-Shibh had access to Alshehhi’s German account at the time.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 143 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/3/2006 ] Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, Ramzi bin al-Shibh Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, Al-Qaeda in Germany

January 19, 2001: UN Sanctions on Taliban Do Not Stop Illegal Trade Network New United Nations sanctions against Afghanistan take effect, adding to those from November 1999 (see November 14, 1999). The sanctions limit travel by senior Taliban authorities, freeze bin Laden’s and the Taliban’s assets, and order the closure of Ariana Airlines offices abroad. The sanctions also impose an arms embargo against the Taliban, but not against Northern Alliance forces battling the Taliban. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/19/2000] The arms embargo has no visible effect because the sanctions fail to stop Pakistani military assistance. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] The sanctions also fail to stop the illegal trade network that the Taliban is secretly running through Ariana. Two companies, Air Cess and Flying Dolphin, take over most of Ariana’s traffic. Air Cess is owned by the Russian arms dealer Victor Bout (see Mid-1996-October 2001), and Flying Dolphin is owned by the United Arab Emirates’ former ambassador to the US, who is also an associate of Bout. In late 2000, despite reports linking Flying Dolphin to arms smuggling, the United Nations will give Flying Dolphin permission to take over Ariana’s closed routes, which it does until the new sanctions take effect. Bout’s operations are still functioning and he has not been arrested. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 1/20/2002; GAZETTE (MONTREAL), 2/5/2002] Ariana will essentially be destroyed in the October 2001 US bombing of Afghanistan. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 11/18/2001] Entity Tags: United Nations, Victor Bout, Ariana Airlines, Osama bin Laden, Flying Dolphin, Air Cess, Northern Alliance, Taliban Category Tags: Pakistan and the ISI, Terrorism Financing, Victor Bout

January 19, 2001: US and Pakistan Discuss Operation to Snatch Bin Laden The US considers mounting an operation to snatch Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan and discusses this with Pakistan, but this operation apparently will not be attempted before 9/11. Pakistan is asked to support the operation, which is to be conducted by US special forces inside Afghanistan, and the matter is discussed by US general Tommy Franks and Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf in January 2001. However, the Pakistani government advises the US that such an operation would be counterproductive and would further inflame religious sentiment in the region. [UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 8/17/2001] The plan apparently will be foiled when details about it are leaked to a Pakistani newspaper in August 2001 (see August 17, 2001). Entity Tags: Pervez Musharraf, Osama bin Laden, Thomas Franks, Pakistan, United States Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden, Pakistan and the ISI

Before January 20, 2001: Pre-Inaugural Discussions about Removing Saddam Hussein There are discussions among future members of the Bush administration, including Bush himself, about making the removal of Saddam Hussein a top priority once they are in office. After the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke will say that the Bush team had been planning regime change in Iraq since before coming to office, with newly named Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (see December 28, 2000) and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz (see January 11, 2001) taking the lead. “Since the beginning of the administration, indeed well before, they had been pressing for a war with Iraq,” he will write in his book Against All Enemies. “My friends in the Pentagon had been telling me that the word was we would be invading Iraq sometime in 2002.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 7-9; UNGER, 2007, PP. 192] During an appearance on Good Morning America on March 22, 2004, he will say, “[T]hey had been planning to do something about Iraq from before the time they came into office.” [GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 3/22/2004] Evidence of pre-inaugural discussions on regime change in Iraq comes from other sources as well. Imam Sayed Hassan al-Qazwini, who heads the Islamic Center of America in Detroit, will tell the New York Times in early 2004 that he spoke with Bush about removing Saddam Hussein six or seven times, both before and after the 2000 elections. [NEW YORK TIMES, 1/12/2004] In 2007, author Craig Unger will write: “In certain respects, their actions were a replay of the 1976 Team B experiment (see Early 1976 and November 1976), with one very important difference. This time it wasn’t just a bunch of feverish ideologues presenting a theoretical challenge to the CIA. This time Team B controlled the entire executive branch of the United States.” [UNGER, 2007, PP. 192] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Imam Sayed Hassan al-Qazwini, Craig Unger, Saddam Hussein, ’Team B’, George W. Bush, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion Category Tags: Alleged Iraq-Al-Qaeda Links

January 20-September 10, 2001: Bush Administration Sees Rogue States with Missiles as Top Security Threat instead of Al-Qaeda

Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley (R) and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (L) speak to reporters in Moscow after taking part in negotiations with Russia regarding an anti-ballistic missile shield on May 11, 2001. [Source: Yuri Kochetkov/ Corbis] While still campaigning to become president, George W. Bush frequently argued the US should build an anti-ballistic missile shield (see October 12, 2000). After Bush is made president, the development of such a shield and getting out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty the US has signed that would prevent such a shield, becomes the top US security priority (see May 26, 1972 and December 13, 2001). Senior officials and cabinet members make it their top agenda item in meetings with European allies, Russia, and China. Five Cabinet-level officials, including Condoleezza Rice, travel to Moscow to persuade Russia to abandon the ABM Treaty. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith is there on September 10 to make the same case. [SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 9/5/2004] Ballistic Missiles 'Today's Most Urgent Threat' - In a major speech given on May 1, 2001, Bush calls the possible possession of missiles by rogue states “today’s most urgent threat.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/2/2001] In a June 2001 meeting with European heads of state, Bush names missile defense as his top defense priority and terrorism is not mentioned at all (see June 13, 2001). It will later be reported that Rice was scheduled to give a major speech on 9/11, in which, according to the Washington Post, she planned “to promote missile defense as the cornerstone of a new national security strategy, and [made] no mention of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, or Islamic extremist groups.” However, the speech will be cancelled due to the 9/11 attacks (see September 11, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 4/1/2004] Criticism and Controversy - Bush’s missile shield stance is highly controversial. For instance, in July 2001 a Guardian article is titled, “US Defies Global Fury Over Missile Shield.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/2/2001] Domestic critics suggest the missile shield could start a new arms race and cost over $500 billion. [REUTERS, 5/3/2001] Diverting Attention from Terrorism - Some argue that Bush’s missile focus is diverting attention from terrorism. For instance, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) tells Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a June 2001 hearing that the US is spending too much money on missile defense and not “putting enough emphasis on countering the most likely threats to our national security… like terrorist attacks.” [SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 9/5/2004] On September 5, 2001, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes: “And why can George W. Bush think of nothing but a missile shield? Our president is caught in the grip of an obsession worthy of literature” and notes that “sophisticated antimissile interceptors can’t stop primitive, wobbly missiles from rogue nations, much less germ warfare from terrorists.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/5/2001] On September 10, 2001, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) warns that if the US spends billions on missile defense, “we will have diverted all that money to address the least likely threat, while the real threats come into this country in the hold of ship, or the belly of a plane.” In 2004, a San Francisco Chronicle editorial will suggest that if the Bush administration had focused less on the missile shield and had “devoted more attention, more focus and more resources to the terrorist threat, the events of Sept. 11 might have been prevented.” [SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 9/5/2004] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush, Russia, Douglas Feith, Condoleezza Rice, China, Al-Qaeda, Carl Levin, Donald Rumsfeld, Joseph Biden Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

January 20-September 10, 2001: President Bush Briefed on Al-Qaeda over 40 Times National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice later testifies to the 9/11 Commission that in the first eight months of Bush’s presidency before 9/11, “the president receive[s] at these [Presidential Daily Briefings] more than 40 briefing items on al-Qaeda, and 13 of those [are] in response to questions he or his top advisers posed.” [WASHINGTON POST, 4/8/2004] The content of the warnings in these briefings are unknown. However, CIA Director George Tenet claims that none of the warnings specifically indicates terrorists plan to fly hijacked commercial aircraft into buildings in the US. [NEW YORK TIMES, 4/4/2004] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke will later emphasize, “Tenet on 40 occasions in… morning meetings mentioned al-Qaeda to the president. Forty times, many of them in a very alarmed way, about a pending attack.” [VANITY FAIR, 11/2004] These briefings are normally given in person by CIA Director George Tenet, and are usually attended by Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Rice. In the Clinton administration, up to 25 officials recieved the PDB. But in the Bush adminisration before 9/11, this was sharply reduced to only six people (see After January 20, 2001). Other top officials have to make due with an Senior Executive Intelligence Brief generally released one day later, which is similar to the PDB but often contains less information (see August 7, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 256, 533] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Al-Qaeda, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George J. Tenet, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Key Warnings, Warning Signs, Bush's Aug. 6, 2001 PDB, Presidential Level Warnings, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

January 21, 2001: George W. Bush Inaugurated as President

George W. Bush taking the oath of office. [Source: White House/ Wally McNamara] George W. Bush is inaugurated as president, replacing President Bill Clinton. [NEW YORK TIMES, 1/21/2001] Entity Tags: George W. Bush Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, US Dominance

After January 20, 2001: Counterterrorism Chief: Bush Tries to Impress Older White House Staffers White House counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke meets with President Bush and others to discuss the administration’s approach to cyber-security and terrorism. Clarke will later express his surprise at the way Bush conducts himself: “We had a couple of meetings with the president, and there were detailed discussions and briefings on cyber-security and often terrorism, and on a classified program. With the cyber-security meeting, he seemed—I was disturbed because he seemed to be trying to impress us, the people who were briefing him. It was as though he wanted these experts, these White House staff guys who had been around for a long time before he got there—didn’t want them buying the rumor that he wasn’t too bright. He was trying—sort of overly trying—to show that he could ask good questions, and kind of yukking it up with [Dick] Cheney. The contrast with having briefed his father [George H. W. Bush] and [Bill] Clinton and [Al] Gore was so marked. And to be told, frankly, early in the administration, by Condi Rice and [her deputy] Steve Hadley, you know, ‘Don’t give the president a lot of long memos, he’s not a big reader’—well, sh_t. I mean, the president of the United States is not a big reader?” [VANITY FAIR, 2/2009] Entity Tags: Stephen J. Hadley, Bush administration, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Richard A. Clarke, George W. Bush Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics, Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11

January 21, 2001: Bush Administration Takes Over; Many Have Oil Industry Connections

The Chevron oil tanker named after National Security Advisor Rice. [Source: ABC News] George W. Bush is inaugurated as the 43rd US President, replacing Bill Clinton. The only Cabinet-level figure to remain permanently in office is CIA Director Tenet, appointed in 1997 and reputedly a long-time friend of George H. W. Bush. FBI Director Louis Freeh stays on until June 2001. Numerous figures in Bush’s administration have been directly employed in the oil industry, including Bush, Vice President Cheney, and National Security Adviser Rice. Rice had been on Chevron’s Board of Directors since 1991, and even had a Chevron oil tanker named after her. [SALON, 11/19/2001] It is later revealed that Cheney is still being paid up to $1 million a year in “deferred payments” from Halliburton, the oil company he headed. [GUARDIAN, 3/12/2003] Enron’s ties also reach deep into the administration. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/18/2002] Entity Tags: William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George W. Bush, George J. Tenet, Louis J. Freeh, Enron Category Tags: Pipeline Politics

January 21-September 10, 2001: Transportation Secretary Says Bush Administration Does Nothing to Fight Terrorism In 2003, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta will later be asked by the 9/11 Commission, “Did this higher level of [terrorist] chatter [before 9/11]… result in any action across the government? I take it your answer is no.” He will reply, “That’s correct.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 5/23/2003] Entity Tags: 9/11 Commission, Norman Mineta Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

January 22, 2001 and After: Neoconservatives Begin Push for Invasion of Iraq An orchestrated push in the media begins to make the case for the need to invade Iraq. The San Diego Union-Tribune reprints a Weekly Standard article by William Kristol and Robert Kagan that tells readers (after comparing President Bush favorably to Ronald Reagan, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Harry Truman, and lauding Bush’s “steely determination”) that US military action “could well be necessary to bring Saddam down.” They write: “At some point, Bush could well find himself confronted by an Iraq armed with weapons of mass destruction. During these past few years, it was relatively easy for congressional Republicans to call for arming and funding the Iraqi opposition. That remains a good idea. But the more sober of Bush’s advisers, like Robert Zoellick and Paul Wolfowitz (see February 18, 1992 and February 27, 2001), have recognized that this alone will not do the trick. Some use of American military force, both from the air and on the ground, could well be necessary to bring Saddam down, no matter how wonderfully the Iraqi opposition performs. Whether he chooses it or not, Bush may quickly be faced with the same decision his father had to make in 1990. He has in his cabinet at least one person who counseled inaction the last time [referring to Secretary of State Colin Powell]. If the crisis comes, Bush, like his father, will not be able to rely only on the judgment of the men and women around him: He will have to act from his own instincts and his own courage.” [WEEKLY STANDARD, 1/22/2001; UNGER, 2007, PP. 206] In the coming weeks, an onslaught of print and television op-eds and commentaries, some from Bush administration officials, will advocate the overthrow of Hussein (see February 27, 2001, February 16, 2001, April 9, 2001, and July 30, 2001). Entity Tags: Robert Kagan, William Kristol Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Neoconservative Influence Category Tags: Alleged Iraq-Al-Qaeda Links, US Dominance

January 22-26, 2001: 9/11 Hijacker Jarrah Takes Trip to Jacksonville; Purpose Unknown 9/11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah takes a trip to Jacksonville, Florida, where he stays for three days at the Ramada Inn. The purpose of this trip is not known, although he will return again one month later (see February 25-March 4, 2001). It is unclear how he arrives in Jacksonville, as there is no record of him taking a flight there. However, he is known to have arrived in Newark from Tampa on January 16, and to have bought a ticket on January 15 for a flight from Newark to Tampa on January 22, the day he arrives in Jacksonville. He departs the US on January 26, flying from Jacksonville to Newark and then to Dusseldorf, Germany. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 120-121 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 5-6, 22 ] Marwan Alshehhi, and possibly Mohamed Atta, stopped in Jacksonville around October 2000 (see (October 2000)). Entity Tags: Ziad Jarrah Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Ziad Jarrah

Shortly Before February 1, 2001: CIA Bin Laden Unit Asked to ‘Touch Base’ with Cole Investigators about Identification of Al-Qaeda Leader, but Key Information Leading to Two 9/11 Hijackers Is Not Passed A CIA officer in Islamabad, Pakistan, asks Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, to “touch base” with FBI agents investigating the bombing of the USS Cole who are preparing to come to Islamabad to interview a joint FBI/CIA source about the identification of one of the Cole bombers, but the suggested briefing is either never given, or lacks a crucial detail. Alec Station is aware that the source, referred to later as “Omar,” has identified al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash as being present at al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit (see January 4, 2001) and that the FBI agents are going to Islamabad specifically to document another identification of bin Attash by Omar (see November 22-December 16, 2000). The cable from Islamabad even notes that Omar is “currently of very high interest to our [FBI] colleagues,” but Alec Station fails to notify the Cole investigators that bin Attash attended the summit in Malaysia. This is important because it connects bin Attash to 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, who also attended the summit (see January 5-8, 2000). [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 275-8 ] The CIA officer will meet the FBI agents in Pakistan, but will also fail to mention the identification of bin Attash at the Malaysia meeting to them (see February 1, 2001). Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Tawfiq bin Attash, Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Omar”, CIA Islamabad Station, Alec Station Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, CIA Hiding Alhazmi & Almihdhar, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit

January 24, 2001: Media Reports Tie 9/11 Plotter to Bombings in Indonesia Following a series of bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines at the end of the previous year (see December 24-30, 2000), Southeast Asian authorities begin to investigate the Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) with more urgency (see January 2001 and after). One of the prime suspects in the bombings is Hambali, a JI leader, and his name appears in the media. Initially, Hambali is thought to have fled to Saudi Arabia. [NEW STRAITS TIMES, 1/25/2001; NEW STRAITS TIMES, 1/27/2001; JAKARTA POST, 2/7/2001; JAKARTA POST, 2/9/2001] The Malaysian government finds more information out about him in the spring and puts out an all points bulletin for him (see April-May 2001). The FBI had previously connected Hambali to the Bojinka plot (see May 23, 1999) of Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Hambali attended the Malaysia summit in January 2000 at which al-Qaeda apparently planned various attacks, including 9/11. The summit was monitored by Malaysian intelligence, which recognized Hambali as an attendee (see Shortly After January 8, 2000) and a report on the summit was passed on to the CIA (see January 5-8, 2000). However, the publicity Hambali receives at this point apparently does not lead to a re-examination of the Malaysia summit. Entity Tags: Jemaah Islamiyah, Hambali Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Hambali, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit, 2002 Bali Bombings, Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia

January 24, 2001: Italians Hear of Brothers Going to US for ‘Very, Very Secret’ Plan, Other Clues On this day, Italian intelligence hears an interesting wiretapped conversation eerily similar to the one from August 12, 2000 (see August 12, 2000). This one occurs between al-Qaeda operatives Mahmoud Es Sayed (see Summer 2000) and Ben Soltane Adel, two members of al-Qaeda’s Milan cell. Adel asks, in reference to fake documents, “Will these work for the brothers who are going to the United States?” Sayed responds angrily, saying: “don’t ever say those words again, not even joking!… If it’s necessary… whatever place we may be, come up and talk in my ear, because these are very important things. You must know… that this plan is very, very secret, as if you were protecting the security of the state.” This will be only one of many clues found from the Italian wiretaps and passed on to US intelligence in March 2001 (see March 2001). However, they apparently will not be properly understood until after 9/11. Adel is later arrested and convicted of belonging to a terrorist cell, and Es Sayed will flee to Afghanistan in July 2001. [GUARDIAN, 5/30/2002] Entity Tags: Ben Soltane Adel, Al-Qaeda, Mahmoud Es Sayed Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, Foreign Intelligence Warnings, Al-Qaeda in Italy, Remote Surveillance

January 25, 2001: WTC Construction Manager Says Tower Could Sustain Multiple Plane Impacts Edit

Frank De Martini. [Source: New York Times] Frank De Martini, an architect who works as the World Trade Center’s construction manager, is interviewed for a History Channel documentary about the WTC towers. He says, “I believe the building probably could sustain multiple impacts of jetliners because this structure is like the mosquito netting on your screen door, this intense grid, and the jet plane is just a pencil puncturing the screen netting. It really does nothing to the screen netting.” [DWYER AND FLYNN, 2005, PP. 149] De Martini will be in his office on the 88th floor of the North Tower when it is hit on 9/11. He will die when the tower collapses, after helping more than 50 people escape. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/29/2003; NEW YORK TIMES, 8/29/2003] Entity Tags: Frank De Martini, World Trade Center Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: WTC Investigation

January 25, 2001: Clarke Warns Rice Al-Qaeda Cells Are Inside US and Are ‘Major Threat’ Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke’s plan to deal with al-Qaeda is given to National Security Adviser Rice on this day. It includes a warning that al-Qaeda cells already exist in the US. The plan was outlined in a document he prepared in December 2000 (see January 25, 2001), which stated that US intelligence believes there are al-Qaeda “sleeper cells” in the US and that they’re not just a potential problem but “a major threat in being.” Clarke noted in the document that two key al-Qaeda members involved in the Millennium plot were naturalized US citizens (presumably a reference to Raed Hijazi and Khalil Deek) and that one suspect in the 1998 embassy bombings had “informed the FBI that an extensive network of al-Qaeda ‘sleeper agents’ currently exists in the US” (see August 12-25, 1998). It also said that Ahmed Ressam’s attempted December 1999 attack revealed al-Qaeda supporters in the US (see December 15-31, 1999). Finally, the Clarke warned that more attacks have almost certainly been set in motion. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/20/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 260, 535] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke Category Tags: Warning Signs, Millennium Bomb Plots, Key Warnings, Khalil Deek

January 25, 2001: Clarke Presents Plan to Roll Back Al-Qaeda, but Response Is Delayed

Richard Clarke. [Source: Robert Flores/ Defense Information Systems Agency] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke submits a proposal to National Security Adviser Rice and “urgently” asks for a Cabinet-level meeting on the al-Qaeda threat. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 230-31] He forwards his December 2000 strategy paper and a copy of his 1998 “Delenda Plan” (see August 27, 1998). He lays out a proposed agenda for urgent action:

Approve covert assistance to Ahmed Shah Massoud’s Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] 
Significantly increase funding for CIA counterterrorism activity. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004]
Respond to the USS Cole bombing with an attack on al-Qaeda. (The link between al-Qaeda and that bombing had been assumed for months and is confirmed in the media two days later.) According to the Washington Post, “Clarke argue[s] that the camps [are] can’t-miss targets, and they [matter]. The facilities [amount] to conveyor belts for al-Qaeda’s human capital, with raw recruits arriving and trained fighters departing either for front lines against the Northern Alliance, the Afghan rebel coalition, or against American interests somewhere else. The US government had whole libraries of images filmed over Tarnak Qila and its sister camp, Garmabat Ghar, 19 miles farther west. Why watch al-Qaeda train several thousand men a year and then chase them around the world when they left?” No retaliation is taken on these camps until after 9/11. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/20/2002] 
Go forward with new Predator drone reconnaissance missions in the spring and use an armed version when it is ready (see January 10-25, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] 
Step up the fight against terrorist fundraising. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] 
Be aware that al-Qaeda sleeper cells in the US are not just a potential threat, but are a “major threat in being.” Additionally, more attacks have almost certainly been set in motion (see January 25, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 1/20/2002] Rice’s response to Clarke’s proposal is that the Cabinet will not address the issue until it has been “framed” at the deputy secretary level. However, this initial deputy meeting is not given high priority and it does not take place until April 2001. [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 230-31] Henry Shelton, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman until 9/11, says, “The squeaky wheel was Dick Clarke, but he wasn’t at the top of their priority list, so the lights went out for a few months. Dick did a pretty good job because he’s abrasive as hell, but given the [bureaucratic] level he was at” there was no progress. [BENJAMIN AND SIMON, 2002, PP. 335-36; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 3/30/2004] Some counterterrorism officials think the new administration responds slowly simply because Clarke’s proposal originally came from the Clinton administration. [TIME, 8/4/2002] For instance, Thomas Maertenson, on the National Security Council in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, says, “They really believed their campaign rhetoric about the Clinton administration. So anything [that administration] did was bad, and the Bushies were not going to repeat it.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 3/24/2004; STAR-TRIBUNE (MINNEAPOLIS), 3/25/2004] The Bush administration will finally address the gist of Clarke’s plan at a cabinet-level meeting on September 4, 2001, just one week before 9/11 (see September 4, 2001). Clarke will later comment that the plan adopted “on Sept. 4 is basically… what I proposed on Jan. 25. And so the time in between was wasted.”

Entity Tags: Henry Hugh Shelton, Northern Alliance, Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice, Clinton administration, Al-Qaeda, Bush administration, Central Intelligence Agency, Thomas Maertenson, Taliban, Ahmed Shah Massoud Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden

January 25, 2001-September 10, 2001: Counterterrorism ‘Tsar’ Clarke Unable to Talk to President Bush about Terrorism before 9/11 Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke submits a comprehensive plan to deal with al-Qaeda within days of President Bush’s inauguration (see January 25, 2001). He wants to meet with Bush directly to discuss it with him, but he is unable to do so before 9/11. Clarke will later recall, “I asked for a meeting with the president several times beginning, in fact, before [National Security Adviser] Rice even took office in the transition briefing. I said I have given this briefing to the vice president, I’ve given it to the secretary of state, I’ve given it now to you, I would like to give it to the president. And what I was told was I could brief the president on terrorism after the policy development process had been completed.” He does have one meeting with Bush before 9/11, but only to discuss cyber security because Clarke is planning to quit his current job to focus on that issue instead (see June 2001). When asked why he didn’t bring up al-Qaeda at that meeting, Clarke will reply, “Because I had been told by Dr. Rice and her deputy that this was a briefing on countering the cyber threats and not on al-Qaeda and that I would have my opportunity on al-Qaeda if I just held on, eventually they would get to it, probably in September.” [ABC NEWS, 4/8/2004] The Bush administration had downgraded Clarke’s position in early January 2001 and he was no longer able to send memos directly to the president as he could during the Clinton administration (see January 3, 2001). Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics, Presidential Level Warnings, Warning Signs

(January 25-Early March, 2001): Atta and Alshehhi Move to Georgia and Attend Flight School According to the FBI and 9/11 Commission, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi move temporarily to Georgia on January 25, 2001, staying briefly in Norcross and Decatur, near Atlanta. The FBI says it believes they remain in the Atlanta area during February and March. [US CONGRESS, 9/26/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 229] According to several news reports, between late February and early March, Atta and Alshehhi twice visit the Advanced Aviation Flight Training School in nearby Lawrenceville. They pay $171 in total and on both occasions rent a small Piper Warrior plane for an hour. They are accompanied by an instructor on the first occasion, but fly alone the second time. According to the school’s owner Bruce Buell, the two are “well-dressed, polite and friendly.” Two days after 9/11 Chrissy Ross, a flight dispatcher at the school, will recognize Atta’s name when the identities of the suspected hijackers are made public. She calls the FBI, whose agents then come and take all the school’s records. [CNN, 9/26/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/19/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/19/2001] However, the FBI claims Atta and Alshehhi visit Advanced Aviation about a month earlier than news reports suggest, on January 31 and February 6. [US CONGRESS, 9/26/2002] Entity Tags: Advanced Aviation Flight Training School, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, Alleged Hijackers' Flight Training

January 27, 2001: Confirmation of Al-Qaeda’s Role in USS Cole Bombing Triggers No Immediate US Response The Washington Post reports that the US has confirmed the link between al-Qaeda and the October 2000 USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000). [WASHINGTON POST, 1/27/2001] This conclusion is stated without hedge in a February 9 briefing for Vice President Cheney. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/20/2002] In the wake of that bombing, Bush stated on the campaign trail, “I hope that we can gather enough intelligence to figure out who did the act and take the necessary action.… There must be a consequence.” [WASHINGTON POST, 1/20/2002] Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz later complains that by the time the new administration is in place, the Cole bombing was “stale.” Defense Secretary Rumsfeld concurs, stating that too much time had passed to respond. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] The new Bush administration fails to resume the covert deployment of cruise missile submarines and gunships on six-hour alert near Afghanistan’s borders that had begun under President Clinton. The standby force gave Clinton the option of an immediate strike against targets in Afghanistan harboring al-Qaeda’s top leadership. This failure makes a possible assassination of bin Laden much more difficult. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/20/2002] Entity Tags: William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, Osama bin Laden, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Al-Qaeda, Bush administration, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

January or July 28, 2001: Hijackers Rent Post Office Box in Florida, Some Reports Say Months before They Officially Arrive Hijackers Hamza Alghamdi and Mohamed Alshehri rent a post office box in Delray Beach, Florida. The timing is uncertain. Some reports indicate this occurs in January, which would be several months before they arrive in the US according to the FBI and 9/11 Commission (see April 23-June 29, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 9/30/2001; US CONGRESS, 9/26/2002; MINNEAPOLIS ST. PAUL CITY PAGES, 6/30/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 528] However, a document used as evidence at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui will say the mailbox is actually rented on July 28, 2001. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 7 ] Entity Tags: Hamza Alghamdi, Mohand Alshehri Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers

January 30, 2001: First National Security Council Meeting Focuses on Iraq and Israel, Not Terrorism The Bush White House holds its first National Security Council meeting. The focus is on Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 261] This meeting sets the tone for how President Bush intends to handle foreign affairs. Counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke wants to focus on the threat from al-Qaeda and Islamist terrorism, especially in light of the recent attack on the USS Cole (see October 12, 2000). But Bush isn’t interested in terrorism. [UNGER, 2007, PP. 201] Israeli-Palestinian Conflict to be 'Tilted Back Towards Israel' - Instead, Bush channels his neoconservative advisers, particularly incoming Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (see February 18, 1992 and April-May 1999), in taking a new approach to Middle East affairs, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Referring to President Clinton’s efforts to make peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Bush declares: “Clinton overreached, and it all fell apart. That’s why we’re in trouble. If the two sides don’t want peace, there’s no way we can force them. I don’t see much we can do over there at this point. I think it’s time to pull out of the situation.… We’re going to correct the imbalance of the previous administration on the Mideast conflict. We’re going to tilt it back towards Israel.” His view is that the Israeli government, currently headed by Ariel Sharon, should be left alone to deal as it sees fit with the Palestinians. “I’m not going to go by past reputations when it comes to Sharon. I’m going to take him at face value. We’ll work on a relationship based on how things go.” Justifying his position, he recalls a recent trip he took to Israel with the Republican Jewish Coalition. “We flew over the Palestinian camps. Looked real bad down there.… I don’t see much we can do over there at this point.” Secretary of State Colin Powell, surprised by Bush’s intended policy towards the 50-year old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, objects. According to Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neil, Powell “stresse[s] that a pullback by the United States would unleash Sharon and the Israeli army.” When Powell warns the president that the “consequences of that [policy] could be dire, especially for the Palestinians,” Bush shrugs. “Sometimes a show of strength by one side can really clarify things,” he suggests. [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 265-266; MIDDLE EAST POLICY COUNCIL, 6/2004] In this and subsequent meetings, Bush’s National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, “parrot[s]… the neocon line,” in author Craig Unger’s words, by discussing Iraq. “Iraq might be the key to reshaping the entire region,” she says, clearly alluding to regime change and overthrow in that nation (see March 8, 1992, Autumn 1992, July 8, 1996, Late Summer 1996, Late Summer 1996, 1997-1998, January 26, 1998, February 19, 1998, September 2000, Late December 2000 and Early January 2001, and Shortly after January 20, 2001). [UNGER, 2007, PP. 201] Possible WMD Sites in Iraq Spark Bush to Order Plans for Ground Assaults - The meeting then moves on to the subject of Iraq. Rice begins noting “that Iraq might be the key to reshaping the entire region.” She turns the meeting over to CIA Director George Tenet who summarizes current intelligence on Iraq. He mentions a factory that “might” be producing “either chemical or biological materials for weapons manufacture.” The evidence he provides is a picture of the factory with some truck activity, a water tower, and railroad tracks going into a building. He admits that there is “no confirming intelligence” on just what is going on at these sites. Bush orders Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Hugh Shelton to begin preparing options for the use of US ground forces in Iraq’s northern and southern no-fly zones in support of a native-based insurgency against the Hussein regime. [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 267; MIDDLE EAST POLICY COUNCIL, 6/2004] Author Ron Suskind later sums up the discussion: “Meeting adjourned. Ten days in, and it was about Iraq. Rumsfeld had said little, Cheney nothing at all, though both men clearly had long entertained the idea of overthrowing Saddam.” Defense Intelligence Agency official Patrick Lang later writes: “If this was a decision meeting, it was strange. It ended in a presidential order to prepare contingency plans for war in Iraq.” [MIDDLE EAST POLICY COUNCIL, 6/2004] Regime Change Intended from the Outset - US Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill, later recalls: “From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go.… From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime. Day one, these things were laid and sealed.” O’Neill will say officials never questioned the logic behind this policy. No one ever asked, “Why Saddam?” and “Why now?” Instead, the issue that needed to be resolved was how this could be accomplished. “It was all about finding a way to do it,” O’Neill will explain. “That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this.’” [CBS NEWS, 1/10/2004; NEW YORK TIMES, 1/12/2004; GUARDIAN, 1/12/2004; VANITY FAIR, 5/2004, PP. 234] Another official who attends the meeting will later say that the tone of the meeting implied a policy much more aggressive than that of the previous administration. “The president told his Pentagon officials to explore the military options, including use of ground forces,” the official will tell ABC News. “That went beyond the Clinton administration’s halfhearted attempts to overthrow Hussein without force.” [ABC NEWS, 1/13/2004] Unger later writes, “These were the policies that even the Israeli right had not dared to implement.” One senior administration official says after the meeting, “The Likudniks are really in charge now.” [UNGER, 2007, PP. 201] Funding the Iraqi National Congress - The council does more than just discuss Iraq. It makes a decision to allow the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an Iraqi opposition group, to use $4 million to fund efforts inside Iraq to compile information relating to Baghdad’s war crimes, military operations, and other internal developments. The money had been authorized by Congress in late 2004. The US has not directly funded Iraqi opposition activities inside Iraq itself since 1996. [GUARDIAN, 2/3/2005] White House Downplays Significance - After Paul O’Neill first provides his account of this meeting in 2004, the White House will attempt to downplay its significance. “The stated policy of my administration toward Saddam Hussein was very clear,” Bush will tell reporters during a visit to Mexico In January 2004. “Like the previous administration, we were for regime change.… And in the initial stages of the administration, as you might remember, we were dealing with desert badger or fly-overs and fly-betweens and looks, and so we were fashioning policy along those lines.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 1/12/2004] Entity Tags: Richard B. Myers, Hugh Shelton, Paul O’Neill, George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, George J. Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, Craig Unger, Iraqi National Congress Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion Category Tags: Alleged Iraq-Al-Qaeda Links

January 30, 2001: Hijacker Jarrah Possibly Questioned at Request of CIA, Then Released Edit

Hijacker pilot Ziad Jarrah is questioned at Dubai airport over suspected radical Islamist links in January of 2000 or 2001. Initial accounts place the stop in 2001, after Jarrah had received flight training in the US. [SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL, 12/13/2001; CNN, 8/1/2002; CORBIN, 2003] However, other accounts place this a year earlier (see January 30, 2000). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 496; VANITY FAIR, 11/2004; MCDERMOTT, 2005, PP. 186-7; CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/28/2005] In the 2001 version, Jarrah has already started flight training and has a US visa, whereas in the 2000 version he merely tells UAE officials of his plans to get a US visa and receive flight training there. [CORBIN, 2003; HISTORY CHANNEL, 2004] There is evidence to suggest Jarrah is not in Dubai on January 30, 2001 (see Late November 2000-January 30, 2001). In addition, there is evidence to suggest Jarrah was in Afghanistan in January 2000 (see January 18, 2000). Entity Tags: Ziad Jarrah, United Arab Emirates, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Ziad Jarrah

Late January 2001: Islamic Militants Converge at Beirut Conference

Four members of the American delegation to the “First Conference on Jerusalem” (from right to left): Ahmed Yusef, Abdurrahman Alamoudi, Yaser Bushnaq, and Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad. [Source: Minaret of Freedom Institute] (click image to enlarge) Hundreds of the world’s most extreme Islamic militants attend an unprecedented conference in Beirut, Lebanon called “The First Conference on Jerusalem.” Participants include leaders of al-Qaeda, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and militants from Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Algeria, Sudan, Qatar, and Yemen. The conference is held with the purpose of uniting militant groups for holy war against Israel and the US. The participants create a new organization called “the Jerusalem Project,” with the goal of winning total Muslim control over Jerusalem. The participants produce a document which calls for a boycott on US and Israeli products and states, “The only decisive option to achieve this strategy [to regain Jerusalem] is the option of jihad [holy war] in all its forms and resistance… America today is a second Israel.” [JERUSALEM POST, 6/22/2001; FOX NEWS, 5/17/2002] At least four of the attendees come from the US. One of them, Abdurahman Alamoudi, is a prominent lobbyist in the US for Muslim causes. Yet there is no indication Alamoudi faces any investigation in the US after attending this conference. In fact, in June 2001, Alamoudi will apparently take part in a meeting with Vice President Cheney at the White House for a briefing on the Bush administration’s domestic and foreign policies of interest to the American Muslim community. [JERUSALEM POST, 6/22/2001; ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/11/2003; MINARET OF FREEDOM INSTITUTE, 2/8/2005] Another participant in the conference is Ahmad Huber, a director of the Al Taqwa Bank, which will be shut down in the months after 9/11 for suspected terrorism ties. Huber is known for his connections to both neo-Nazi and radical Muslim groups (see 1988). After 9/11, Huber will claim that he met some al-Qaeda leaders in this conference and will praise them for being “very discreet, well-educated, and very intelligent people.” [FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/8/2001; PLAYBOY, 2/1/2002] Huber says that in the five years before 9/11, the bin Laden family sponsors Al Taqwa’s attendance at several international Muslim conferences, possibily including this one. He nonetheless claims the family is estranged from Osama bin Laden. [LE MONDE (PARIS), 5/3/2002] It has not been reported if Alamoudi met with Huber or any al-Qaeda leaders while at the conference. Alamoudi will later be sentenced to 23 years in prison in the US for illegal dealings with Libya (see October 15, 2004). Entity Tags: Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Jerusalem Project, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Air Cess, Ahmad Huber, Al Taqwa Bank, Ariana Airlines, Abdurahman Alamoudi, Hamas, Bin Laden Family Category Tags: Terrorism Financing, Al Taqwa Bank, Bin Laden Family

Late January 2001: US Intelligence Told to Back Off from Bin Laden and Saudis

A. Q. Khan receiving a medal. [Source: Associated Press] The BBC later reports, “After the elections, [US intelligence] agencies [are] told to ‘back off’ investigating the bin Ladens and Saudi royals, and that anger[s] agents.” This follows previous orders to abandon an investigation of bin Laden relatives in 1996 (see February-September 11, 1996), and difficulties in investigating Saudi royalty. [BBC, 11/6/2001] An unnamed “top-level CIA operative” says there is a “major policy shift” at the National Security Agency at this time. Bin Laden could still be investigated, but agents could not look too closely at how he got his money. One specific CIA investigation hampered by this new policy is an investigation in Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan and his Khan Laboratories. Khan is considered the “father” of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capability. But since the funding for this nuclear program gets traced back to Saudi Arabia, restrictions are placed on the inquiry. [PALAST, 2002, PP. 99-100] Also in early 2001, FBI agent Robert Wright, attempting to pursue an investigation into Saudi multimillionaire Yassin al-Qadi, is told by FBI superiors, “it’s just better to let sleeping dogs lie”(see January-March 2001). Reporter Greg Palast notes that President Clinton was already hindering investigations by protecting Saudi interests. However, as he puts it, “Where Clinton said, ‘Go slow,’ Bush policymakers said, ‘No go.’ The difference is between closing one eye and closing them both.” [PALAST, 2002, PP. 102] Entity Tags: Abdul Qadeer Khan, National Security Agency, Bin Laden Family, Yassin al-Qadi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, Osama bin Laden Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network Category Tags: Robert Wright and Vulgar Betrayal, Saudi Arabia, Terrorism Financing, Bin Laden Family, Pakistani Nukes & Islamic Militancy, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

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

Gary Hart (left) and Warren Rudman (right) testify before a Senate committee in 2002. [Source: Reuters / Win McNamee] The final report of the US Commission on National Security/21st Century, co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart (D-CO) and Warren Rudman (R-NH), is issued. The bipartisan panel was put together in 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Hart and Rudman personally brief National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Colin Powell on their findings. The report has 50 recommendations on how to combat terrorism in the US, but all of them are ignored by the Bush administration. Shelved by White House - According to Hart, Congress will begin to take the commission’s suggestions seriously in March and April, and legislation is introduced to implement some of the recommendations. Then, “Frankly, the White House shut it down.… The president said, ‘Please wait, we’re going to turn this over to the vice president‘… and so Congress moved on to other things, like tax cuts and the issue of the day.” The White House will announce in May that it will have Vice President Dick Cheney study the potential problem of domestic terrorism, despite the fact that this commission had just studied the issue for 2 1/2 years. Interestingly, both this commission and the Bush administration were already assuming a new cabinet level National Homeland Security Agency would be enacted eventually, even as the public remained unaware of the term and the concept. [SALON, 9/12/2001; SALON, 4/2/2004] Cannot Get Meeting with Bush - At the meeting with Rice, Rudman says he wants to see President Bush, and is planning to deliver a “blunt and very direct” warning to him that he needs to deal early in his presidency with the question of domestic terror threats. Rice initially agrees to pass on Rudman’s request for a meeting with Bush, but nothing happens. Rudman will contact Rice’s office several times, but still no meeting is arranged. Rudman will later say he is “disappointed” by this, adding, “There’s no question in my mind that somebody at the White House dropped the ball on this.” [SHENON, 2008, PP. 56-57] Ignored by 9/11 Commission - Hart will be incredulous that neither he nor any of the other members of this commission are ever asked to testify before the 9/11 Commission. [SALON, 4/6/2004] The 9/11 Commission will later make many of the same recommendations as this commission. However, it will barely mention the Hart/Rudman Commission in its final report, except to note that Congress appointed it and failed to follow through on implementing its recommendations. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 107, 479] Entity Tags: US Congress, Newt Gingrich, Warren Rudman, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Gary Hart, Commission on National Security/21st Century, Bush administration, 9/11 Commission, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell Category Tags: Key Warnings, Warning Signs, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

  1. . 
  2. [SHENON, 2008, PP. 42-44]
  3. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 283 ]
  4. . [US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006; US CONGRESS, 2/15/2006]
  5. [CNN, 3/23/2006; ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/30/2006; CLEARWATER CITIZEN, 4/6/2006]
  6. [US CONGRESS, 3/19/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 17]
  7. [CNN, 3/23/2006]
  8. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 15 ]
  9. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/30/2006]
  10. [BOSTON GLOBE, 2/5/2001]
  11. [NEW YORK TIMES, 1/15/2001]

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