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Main article: 2001

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June 2001: Hijacker Almihdhar Requests More Information about Planned Attack on US WarshipEdit

Jemaah Islamiyah operative Faiz abu Baker Bafana. [Source: Channel News Asia] 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar makes another visit to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to continue planning for an attack on a US warship in Singapore (see October 2000). He asks Faiz abu Baker Bafana, an operative for the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) group, for more information about the operation and for a proposed budget. Almihdhar was apparently involved in the attacks on the USS The Sullivans and USS Cole in Yemen (see Late 1999 and Around October 12, 2000). Bafana then begins meeting with two other bin Laden operatives to discuss the Singapore operation and an attack that is being planned for Manila. They end up only meeting twice, because by the second meeting Bafana believes he is under surveillance by Malaysian intelligence. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 3/8/2006; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 3/8/2006] JI has been under increased surveillance from the authorities in Southeast Asia since a series of bomb attacks at the end of 2000 (see December 24-30, 2000 and January 2001 and after). Malaysian intelligence also monitored an al-Qaeda summit held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which Almihdhar and JI leader Hambali attended (see January 5-8, 2000 and January 5-8, 2000 and Shortly After). If Malaysian intelligence did monitor this meeting, they had an opportunity to recognize Almihdhar from their earlier surveillance of the 2000 al-Qaeda summit, but it is not known if they did so. Entity Tags: Malaysian Secret Service, Faiz abu Baker Bafana, Khalid Almihdhar, Jemaah Islamiyah Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Alhazmi and Almihdhar

June 2001: Hijacker Almihdhar Said to Receive Money from Plot Facilitator According to the 9/11 Commission’s Terrorist Finance Monograph, Khalid Almihdhar receives $4,900 from plot facilitator Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi in the United Arab Emirates. Almihdhar then uses the money to buy traveler’s checks in Saudi Arabia. The commission says, “According to al-Hawsawi’s notebook, al-Hawsawi gave the funds to Almihdhar in the UAE in June 2001.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 137 ] However:

The section of the 9/11 Commission’s main report that details his travel during this time does not include a trip to the United Arab Emirates; [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 237] 
Al-Hawsawi’s substitute for testimony at the trial of Zacarias Moussoaui does not mention this transaction or any meeting with Almihdhar, although it deals with al-Hawsawi’s meetings with four other hijackers and telephone conversations with Mohamed Atta, as well as his dealings with some other al-Qaeda operatives; [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] 
No mention of this transaction is made at al-Hawsawi’s Combat Status Review Tribunal hearing, even though it again deals with the assistance provided to four hijackers and conversations with Atta. [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 3/21/2007 ]

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Alhazmi and Almihdhar

June 2001: Moussaoui Expresses Interest in Crop-Dusting Zacarias Moussaoui, living in the US, makes some professional inquires about crop-dusting. He uses the pretext of launching a crop-spraying company. Information about this, including a computer disk about the aerial dispersal of pesticides, will be found on Moussaoui’s computer after 9/11. [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 146] Roughly around the same time, Mohamed Atta expresses interest in flying crop-duster planes (see March-August 2001). Counterterrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna will later comment that this suggests al-Qaeda was already working on another plot using crop-duster aircraft to distribute unconventional weapons. [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 146] Category Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui

June 2001: Wolfowitz Asks CIA and DIA to Look into Theory that Iraq Masterminded 1993 Bombing of WTC Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz asks the CIA to look over the 2000 book, Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished War Against America by Laurie Mylroie, which argued that Iraq was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center (see October 2000). Wolfowitz will mention shortly after 9/11 how he asked the CIA to do this, but it is unknown what their response is. Presumably it is not one Wolfowitz liked. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 559] Wolfowitz also asks Thomas Wilson, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), to have his analysts look at the book. The DIA is unable to find any evidence that support the theory. [ISIKOFF AND CORN, 2006, PP. 76] Around late July, the US reopens the files on WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef, presumably in response to these requests (see Late July or Early August 2001). But no evidence will be found to support Mylroie’s theory that Yousef was an Iraqi agent. The 9/11 Commission will conclude in 2004, “We have found no credible evidence to support theories of Iraqi government involvement in the 1993 WTC bombing.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 559] Entity Tags: 9/11 Commission, Central Intelligence Agency, Thomas Wilson, Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Intelligence Agency, Ramzi Yousef Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Neoconservative Influence Category Tags: 1993 WTC Bombing, Alleged Iraq-Al-Qaeda Links

June 2001: Abrams, Other Think Tank Neoconservatives Move to Join White House Hardline neoconservative Elliott Abrams (see June 2, 1987) joins the National Security Council as senior director of Near East and North African affairs. A State Department official will later recall: “Elliott embodied the hubris of the neocon perspective. His attitude was, ‘All the rest of you are pygmies. You don’t have the scope and the vision we have. We are going to remake the world.’ His appointment meant that good sense had been overcome by ideology.” Rush of Neoconservatives into Administration - Abrams’s entry into the White House heralds a rush of former Project for the New American Century members (PNAC—see January 26, 1998 and September 2000) into the Bush administration, almost all of whom are staunch advocates of regime change in Iraq. “I don’t think that most people in State understood what was going on,” the State Department official will say later. “I understood what this was about, that PNAC was moving from outside the government to inside. In my mind, it was an unfriendly takeover.” [UNGER, 2007, PP. 205] Neoconservatives Well-Organized, Contemptuous of Congress - In June 2004, former intelligence official Patrick Lang will write: “It should have been a dire warning to the US Congress when the man who had been convicted of lying to Congress during the Iran-contra affair [Abrams] was put in charge of the Middle East section of the NSC staff. One underestimated talent of the neocon group in the run-up to this war was its ability to manipulate Congress. They were masters of the game, having made the team in Washington in the 1970s on the staffs of two of the most powerful senators in recent decades, New York’s Patrick Moynihan and Washington’s Henry ‘Scoop’ Jackson (see Early 1970s). The old boy’s club—Abe Shulsky at OSP [the Office of Special Plans—see September 2002], Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, Middle East Desk Officer at the NSC Abrams, Defense Policy Board Chairman Richard Perle—had not only worked together in their early government years in these two Senate offices, but they had stayed together as a network through the ensuing decades, floating around a small number of businesses and think tanks, including the American Enterprise Institute and the openly neoimperialist Project for a New American Century. The neocons were openly contemptuous of Congress, as they were of the UN Security Council.” [MIDDLE EAST POLICY COUNCIL, 6/2004] Entity Tags: Richard Perle, Project for the New American Century, United Nations Security Council, US Department of State, Paul Wolfowitz, Henry (“Scoop”) Jackson, Office of Special Plans, Bush administration, American Enterprise Institute, Patrick Lang, Douglas Feith, Abram Shulsky, National Security Council, Elliott Abrams, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Timeline Tags: US International Relations, Neoconservative Influence Category Tags: US Dominance

June 2001: US Still Fails to Aid Taliban Resistance The US considers substantially aiding Ahmed Shah Massoud and his Northern Alliance. As one counterterrorism official put it, “You keep [al-Qaeda terrorists] on the front lines in Afghanistan. Hopefully you’re killing them in the process, and they’re not leaving Afghanistan to plot terrorist operations.” A former US special envoy to the Afghan resistance visits Massoud this month. Massoud gives him “all the intelligence he [has] on al-Qaeda” in the hopes of getting some support in return. However, he gets nothing more than token amounts and his organization isn’t even given “legitimate resistance movement” status. [TIME, 8/4/2002] Entity Tags: Northern Alliance, United States, Ahmed Shah Massoud, Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden

June 2001: Group of 9/11 Hijackers Allegedly Meet in London British investigators believe that at least five of the 9/11 hijackers have a “vital planning meeting” held in a safe house in north London, Britain. No specific hijacker names are mentioned, but eleven of the hijackers are known to visit London around this time (see January-June 2001 and April 22-June 27, 2001). [LONDON TIMES, 9/26/2001] Authorities suspect that the meeting takes place in a home owned by Mustapha Labsi, an Algerian. It is believed Labsi also trained the hijackers in Afghanistan. However, Labsi could not have been at the June meeting because he was arrested in February 2001 in Britain and will be held continuously after that. He is a suspect in Ahmed Ressam’s attempting bombing of the Los Angeles airport. He is also wanted in France for planning a suspected attack at the 1996 G7 summit. [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/30/2001] Entity Tags: Mustapha Labsi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers, Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism

June or July 2001: Hijackers Plan Attacks from German University Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, and an unknown third person are seen in the ground-floor workshops of the architecture department at this time, according to at least two witnesses from the Hamburg university where Atta had studied. They are seen on at least two occasions with a white, three-foot scale model of the Pentagon. Between 60 and 80 slides of the Sears building in Chicago and the WTC are found to be missing from the technical library after 9/11. [SUNDAY TIMES (LONDON), 2/3/2002] A Hamburg friend of Atta’s, Margritte Schroeder, will confirm that Atta is in Hamburg around this time, saying later in 2001, “I saw him here in early July and he was as nice as ever.” Other eyewitnesses see Atta and Alshehhi in Hamburg as well. But there is no record of Alshehhi leaving the US around this time, which suggests that he travels on a false passport for this trip. [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 251, 290] Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, Pentagon, Marwan Alshehhi, World Trade Center Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Mohamed Atta, Al-Qaeda in Germany

June 2001: Janitor Claims to Witness Hijacker inside World Trade Center

Mohand Alshehri. [Source: FBI] Janitor William Rodriguez, who has worked at the World Trade Center for 20 years, believes he sees Flight 175 hijacker Mohand Alshehri in one of the towers. Rodriguez is cleaning washrooms on the Trade Center’s concourse level one weekend, when a person he later believes to have been Alshehri approaches him and asks, “[H]ow many public bathrooms are in this area?” Rodriguez says he finds this “very strange.” After 9/11, he will recognize the man from newspaper photos as having been the suspected hijacker. He will say he is “very certain, I’ll give it 90 percent” that the man he’d seen was Alshehri. He will tell the FBI of this encounter, but will never hear back from them. FBI officials later say they have never heard of Rodriguez, but they do not discount his story. [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 6/15/2004; MSNBC, 6/15/2004; NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, 6/15/2004] According to FBI and 9/11 Commission accounts, Mohand Alshehri has only recently entered the US, on May 28, 2001 (see April 23-June 29, 2001), though other reports suggest he was in the country several months earlier (see January or July 28, 2001). [US CONGRESS, 9/26/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 23 ] Entity Tags: Mohand Alshehri, William Rodriguez Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers

June-September 11, 2001: CD Cover Depicts Scene Much Like 9/11 Attacks on WTC

The original cover design for The Coup’s album Party Music. [Source: 75 Ark] Cover artwork is designed for a forthcoming CD, which looks eerily like the attack on the World Trade Center that occurs three months later. The CD, “Party Music,” is the fourth album by a little-known hip-hop group called The Coup, which is known for its political activism. [CNN, 9/13/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 5/22/2002] The intended cover design shows the two members of the group standing in front of the Twin Towers. One of them is pressing a button on a guitar tuner, as if it was a detonator, and two fireballs are exploding from the top floors of the WTC above them. [VILLAGE VOICE, 11/2/2001] Days after 9/11, Wired magazine comments, “If it weren’t for the super-imposed images of the Oakland, California, hip-hop duo known as The Coup, the scene could pass for a remarkably precise replica of the horrific tragedy that befell New York City on Tuesday morning.” The CD is in fact initially scheduled for release in early September, but at some point before 9/11, it is pushed back two months for release in November. Furthermore, as Wired describes, “Timing of the original album printing was disturbingly in sync with real-world events. The printers were set to crank out copies of the fiery World Trade Center image on Tuesday [September 11]… when the label put in a last-minute call, urging them to stop the presses.” [WIRED NEWS, 9/13/2001] The group’s lead member, Raymond “Boots” Riley, is described by Kansas City newspaper The Pitch as a “confessed communist” who “has built a career out of making bold political statements.” [PITCH, 11/8/2001] Riley later says he’d come up with the idea for the CD cover along with his photographer, and they’d finished work on it by the beginning of June. He says, “Any similarities [with 9/11] are totally coincidental, and it was originally supposed to be more of a metaphor for destroying capitalism—where the music is making capitalist towers blow up.” [STRANGER, 9/20/2001] A new cover will be designed and used when the CD is eventually released. [PITCH, 11/8/2001] But copies are sent out prior to 9/11 to members of the press and others, and reviews appear in several publications before September 11 that show the original cover artwork of the exploding WTC. [WIRED NEWS, 9/13/2001] Entity Tags: The Coup, Raymond, World Trade Center Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Other Pre-9/11 Events

June 2001: Germans Warn of Plan to Use Aircraft as Missiles on US and Israeli Symbols German intelligence warns the CIA, Britain’s intelligence agency, and Israel’s Mossad that Middle Eastern militants are planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack “American and Israeli symbols, which stand out.” A later article quotes unnamed German intelligence sources who state the information was coming from Echelon surveillance technology, and that British intelligence had access to the same warnings. However, there were other informational sources, including specific information and hints given to, but not reported by, Western and Near Eastern news media six months before 9/11. [FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG (FRANKFURT), 9/11/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/14/2001; FOX NEWS, 5/17/2002] Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Israel Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks (Mossad), Echelon Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, Foreign Intelligence Warnings, Remote Surveillance, Key Warnings

June 2001: US Intelligence Warns of Spectacular Attacks by Al-Qaeda Associates US intelligence issues a terrorist threat advisory, warning US government agencies that there is a high probability of an imminent attack against US interests: “Sunni extremists associated with al-Qaeda are most likely to attempt spectacular attacks resulting in numerous casualties.” The advisory mentions the Arabian Peninsula, Israel, and Italy as possible targets for an attack. Afterwards, intelligence information provided to senior US leaders continues to indicate that al-Qaeda expects near-term attacks to have dramatic consequences on governments or cause major casualties. [US CONGRESS, 9/18/2002] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Warning Signs

June 2001: Bank Refuses to Cash Check for ‘Suspicious’ Hijacker A branch of the SunTrust Bank in Florida refuses to cash a $2,180 check for hijacker pilot Marwan Alshehhi, as he arouses suspicion by presenting identification documents with different addresses and the bank personnel think the signature on the check does not match the signature on the file. The bank manager refuses to cash the check and issues an internal alert to other SunTrust branches to watch out for possible fraud. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 53, 140 ] Entity Tags: SunTrust Bank, Marwan Alshehhi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Marwan Alshehhi

June 2001: Al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad Complete Merger Two major terrorist organizations, al-Qaeda and the Egypt-based Islamic Jihad, formally merged into one. This completes a merging process that had been going on for years (see August 11-20, 1988, December 1, 1996-June 1997, and February 22, 1998). The technical name of the new entity is Qaeda al-Jihad, though it is widely called al-Qaeda. Bin Laden remains in charge, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Islamic Jihad, remains second in command. [NEW YORKER, 9/9/2002] Entity Tags: Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden

June 2001: US Intelligence Fears Al-Qaeda Will Strike on Fourth of July The CIA provides senior US policy makers with a classified warning of a potential attack against US interests that is thought to be tied to Fourth of July celebrations in the US. [SUNDAY HERALD (GLASGOW), 9/23/2001] The head of counterterrorism at the FBI, Dale Watson, will later recall that he and Cofer Black, the head of counterterrorism at the CIA, expected an attack to occur around the Fourth of July. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 265] Entity Tags: Cofer Black, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Dale Watson, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

June 2001: CIA Gets Hints of Imminent, Multiple Al-Qaeda Attacks CIA Director George Tenet will later write that in June 2001, the CIA learns that Arabs in Afghanistan are said to be anticipating as many as eight celebrations. Additionally, al-Qaeda operatives are being told to await important news within days. [TENET, 2007, PP. 148-149] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency Category Tags: Warning Signs

June 2001: Clarke Asks for Different Job as White House Fails to Share His Urgency about Terrorism Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke asks for a transfer to start a new national program on cyber security. His request is granted, and he is to change jobs in early October 2001 (which he does, see October 9, 2001). He makes the change despite the 9/11 attacks. He claims that he tells National Security Adviser Rice and her deputy Steve Hadley, “Perhaps I have become too close to the terrorism issue. I have worked it for ten years and to me it seems like a very important issue, but maybe I’m becoming like Captain Ahab with bin Laden as the White Whale. Maybe you need someone less obsessive about it.” [WHITE HOUSE, 10/9/2001; CLARKE, 2004, PP. 25-26] He later claims, “My view was that this administration, while it listened to me, either didn’t believe me that there was an urgent problem or was unprepared to act as though there were an urgent problem. And I thought, if the administration doesn’t believe its national coordinator for counterterrorism when he says there’s an urgent problem, and if it’s unprepared to act as though there’s an urgent problem, then probably I should get another job.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 3/24/2004] Entity Tags: Stephen J. Hadley, Richard A. Clarke, Osama bin Laden, Condoleezza Rice Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

June 2001: DEA Draws Up Report on Israeli Spies

States the Israeli spy ring were known to have operated in, according to a June 2001 Drug Enforcement Administration report (this Fox news graphic was based on information from that report). [Source: Fox News] The DEA’s Office of Security Programs prepares a 60-page internal memo on the Israeli “art student spy ring.” [DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY, 6/2001] The Memo is a compilation of dozens of field reports, and was meant only for the eyes of senior officials at the Justice Department (of which the DEA is adjunct), but it is leaked to the press around December 2001. The report connects the spies to efforts to foil investigations into Israeli organized crime activity involving the importation of the drug Ecstasy. The spies also appear to be snooping on top-secret military bases. For instance, on April 30, 2001, an Air Force alert was issued from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City concerning “possible intelligence collection being conducted by Israeli art students.” Tinker AFB houses AWACS surveillance craft and Stealth bombers. By the time of the report, the US has “apprehended or expelled close to 120 Israeli nationals” but many remain at large. [LE MONDE (PARIS), 3/5/2002; SALON, 5/7/2002] An additional 20 or so Israeli spies are apprehended between June and 9/11. [FOX NEWS, 12/12/2001] Entity Tags: US Department of Justice, “Israeli art students”, Office of Security Programs Category Tags: Israel

June 2001: CIA Hears Key Al-Qaeda Operatives Are Disappearing, Preparing for Suicide Attack Edit

In June 2001, the CIA learns that key al-Qaeda operatives are disappearing, while others are preparing for martyrdom. [US CONGRESS, 9/18/2002] CIA Director George Tenet will later elaborate in a 2007 book that during the month of June, the CIA learns:

Several training camps in Afghanistan are closing, a sign that al-Qaeda is anticipating a retaliatory strike. 
Bin Laden is leaving Afghanistan in fear of a US strike (this later turns out to be erroneous). 
Al-Qaeda operatives are leaving Saudi Arabia and returning to Afghanistan, which fits a pattern of movement just before attacks. 
Ayman al-Zawahiri is warning associates in Yemen to flee in anticipation of a crackdown. 
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, one of the masterminds of the USS ‘Cole’ bombing, has disappeared. 
Other important operatives are disappearing or preparing for martyrdom. 
A key Afghan training camp commander was reportedly weeping for joy because he believed he could see his trainees in heaven. [TENET, 2007, PP. 148-149] The CIA also heard in May that operatives are disappearing and preparing for martyrdom (see May 2001).

Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency Category Tags: Warning Signs

(June 2001): ’Lackawanna Six’ Hear Bin Laden Give Speech Mentioning 40 Suicide Attackers Taking Part in Very Important Mission A group of seven Yemeni-Americans from Lackawanna, New York, go to train in Afghanistan (see April-August 2001). Just two days after some of them have arrived, two of the seven—Sahim Alwan and Jaber Elbaneh, plus their mentor Kamal Derwish, briefly meet Osama bin Laden in a small group setting. One of the men asks bin Laden about a rumor that something big is about to happen. Bin Laden responds: “They’re threatening us. And we’re threatening them. But there are brothers willing to carry their souls in their hands.” [TEMPLE-RASTON, 2007, PP. 107-108] A couple of weeks later, the seven Lackawanna men and Derwish begin training at the Al Farooq training camp near Kandahar. One day, bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri come to their camp and bin Laden gives a speech in Arabic to the hundreds of trainees there. The crowd is told the speech is being videotaped. In his 20-minute speech, he discusses the merger between al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad. At the end, he calls on the gathering to pray for the 40 operatives who are en route for a very important mission. He drops hints about suicide operations against the US and Israel. One of the seven men, Yaseinn Taher, speaks Arabic well enough to understand the speech, and explains the gist of it to the other six. The Lackawanna men also sense a mood in the camp that something big is going to happen soon. For instance, the camp is regularly conducting evacuation drills in anticipation of the US bombing it. [TEMPLE-RASTON, 2007, PP. 117-120] One by one, all the members of the group except for Jaber Elbaneh drop out and go home before their basic training course is done. They will later be known as the “Lackawanna Six.” But none of the six tell any US authorities what they learned when they get back to the US before 9/11. Some of the six, such as Taher and Alwan, will later say that on the morning of 9/11 they realize the attack they are watching on television is what bin Laden was talking about when he discussed the 40 men on a suicide mission. [TEMPLE-RASTON, 2007, PP. 136-138] Entity Tags: Kamal Derwish, Al Farooq training camp, Jaber Elbaneh, Yaseinn Taher, Shafel Mosed, Faysal Galab, Osama bin Laden, Sahim Alwan, Mukhtar al-Bakri, Yahya Goba Category Tags: Osama Bin Laden, "Lackawanna Six"

(June 2001): FAA Committee Prepares to Change ‘Preemptive Surrender’ Approach to Hijackings In response to some hijacking incidents abroad, an FAA advisory committee looks at the FAA’s longstanding “preemptive surrender” approach regarding the response to attempted hijackings. [FREEDOM DAILY, 12/7/2005] This policy, called the Common Strategy, teaches “flight crews that the best way to deal with hijackers [is] to accommodate their demands, get the plane to land safely, and then let law enforcement or the military handle the situation,” according to the 9/11 Commission. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 85] Less than three months before 9/11, the FAA advisory committee decides to upgrade the training manuals and official guidance for responding to hijacking attempts. The updated materials are to be available some time in the fall of this year. FAA official Mike Morse says the new scenario prepared for in training “will be one involving a team of hijackers with a higher degree of sophistication and training.” In addition, the scenario will “replicate what we’ve faced in some of the international hijackings abroad in recent years.” [FREEDOM DAILY, 12/7/2005] An exercise to study the new policy will take place during the summer (see Summer 2001). Entity Tags: Mike Morse, Federal Aviation Administration Category Tags: US Air Security

June-July 2001: Terrorist Threat Reports Surge, Frustration with White House Grows During this time, President Bush and other top White House officials are given a series of Presidential Daily Briefings relating to an al-Qaeda attack (see January 20-September 10, 2001). The exact contents of these briefings remain classified, but according to the 9/11 Commission they consistently predict upcoming attacks that will occur “on a catastrophic level, indicating that they would cause the world to be in turmoil, consisting of possible multiple—but not necessarily simultaneous—attacks.” CIA Director Tenet later will recall that he feels President Bush and other officials grasp the urgency of what they are being told. [9/11 COMMISSION, 4/13/2004] But Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin later states that he feels a great tension, peaking these months, between the Bush administration’s apparent misunderstanding of terrorism issues and his sense of great urgency. McLaughlin and others are frustrated when inexperienced Bush officials question the validity of certain intelligence findings. Two CIA officials even consider resigning in protest (see Summer 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] Dale Watson, head of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, wishes he had “500 analysts looking at Osama bin Laden threat information instead of two.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 4/13/2004] Entity Tags: Dale Watson, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, Bush administration, John E. McLaughlin, Osama bin Laden, George J. Tenet, George W. Bush Category Tags: Warning Signs, Key Warnings

Early June 2001: US Meets with Pakistani Officials, but Only Give Vague Warnings about Supporting Bin Laden Since the Bush administration came into office in January 2001, it has been slow to develop an approach on how to deal with Pakistan. In February 2001, President Bush and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf exchanged formal letters, but to little impact. The Bush administration is working on a regional policy review, but will not complete it before 9/11 (see January-September 10, 2001). The first substantial diplomatic contact between the US and Pakistan takes place in June 2001, when Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar and ISI Maj. Gen. Faiz Jilani visit Washington, Canada, and Britain. Jilani is accompanying Sattar because it is well known that the ISI controls Pakistan’s relations with the Taliban. Sattar and Jilani meet with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in early June. Another Pakistani diplomat who attends the meeting will later recall: “She told us that the Taliban were dead in the water and we should drop them. It was a very rough meeting.” But Rice does not give any specific threats or incentives, presumably because the Bush administration has yet to make much progress with its policy review. Despite the harsh words, the Bush administration actually is more conciliatory than the Clinton administration had been. Later in June, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage says in an interview: “I don’t want to see Pakistan only through the lens or the prism of Osama bin Laden. We want to look at Pakistan and see what Pakistan thinks about Pakistan’s future.” Bush writes another letter to Musharraf in August, but it simply repeats previous warnings (see August 4, 2001). Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, author of the 2000 book Taliban, will later comment: “There was now even less incentive for Musharraf to change his policies toward the Taliban and there was no extraordinary US pressure to go after al-Qaeda. Dealing with Bush was going to be much easier than dealing with Clinton. Whereas Clinton resisted the wool being pulled over his eyes, the Bush administration simply closed their eyes themselves.” [RASHID, 2008, PP. 56-58] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Abdul Sattar, Bush administration, Faiz Jilani, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Richard Armitage, Condoleezza Rice, Pervez Musharraf Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics, Pakistan and the ISI

Early June 2001: Taliban Leader Claims Interest in Resolving bin Laden Issue Reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar says the Taliban would like to resolve the bin Laden issue, so there can be “an easing and then lifting of UN sanctions that are strangling and killing the people of [Afghanistan].” [UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 4/9/2004] Entity Tags: Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden

Early June 2001: FBI Misses Tip on Likely Al-Qaeda Cell in Buffalo

Sahim Alwan. [Source: PBS] The FBI’s Buffalo, New York, field office receives an anonymous, handwritten letter from someone in the Yemeni community of Lackawanna, near Buffalo. The letter says that a group has traveled to “meet bin Laden and stay in his camp for training.” The person who wrote it adds, “I can not give you my name because I fear for my life.” It says that “two terrorists” have been recruiting in Lackawanna, and that eight men have gone to train in Afghanistan, and four more are planning to go later. It gives the names of the men. In fact, all eight of the men named are currently in an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. This group will later be dubbed the “Lackawanna Six,” for the six of them that eventually return to the US (see September 13, 2002). The letter is assigned to FBI agent Edward Needham, the only Buffalo agent at this time working on counterterrorism. He runs the names through criminal databases and finds that many of them have criminal records for drug dealing and cigarette smuggling. He is skeptical that drug dealers would fight for al-Qaeda, but he sends the letter up the chain of command and formally opens an investigation on June 15. Three of them—Faysal Galab, Shafel Mosed, and Yaseinn Taher—are stopped on June 27 when they arrive in New York on a flight back from Pakistan, because Needham put their names on an FBI watch list. But they are merely questioned for two hours and released. He keeps occasional tabs on the men as they return from Afghanistan over the next months, but does not learn they actually were in an al-Qaeda training camp until after 9/11. [PBS FRONTLINE, 10/16/2003; TEMPLE-RASTON, 2007, PP. 124-125, 129] Entity Tags: Yaseinn Taher, Yahya Goba, Shafel Mosed, Mukhtar al-Bakri, Kamal Derwish, Edward Needham, Faysal Galab, Sahim Alwan, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jaber Elbaneh Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, "Lackawanna Six"

Early June 2001: Counterterrorism Plan Circulated, but Contingency Plans Are Not Created

Steve Hadley. [Source: NATO] Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley circulates a draft presidential directive on policy toward al-Qaeda. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and his staff regard the new approach as essentially the same as the proposal that they developed in December 2000 and presented to the Bush administration in January 2001. The draft has the goal of eliminating al-Qaeda as a threat over a multi-year period, and calls for funding through 2006. It has a section calling for the development of contingency military plans against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Hadley contacts Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to tell him these contingency plans will be needed soon. However, no such plans are developed before 9/11. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and others later admit that the contingency plans available immediately after 9/11 are unsatisfactory. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] The draft is now discussed in three more deputy-level meetings. Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard A. Clarke, Stephen J. Hadley, Paul Wolfowitz Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

Early June-September 10, 2001: Armed Drone Ready to Hit Bin Laden, but Bureacratic Concerns Prevent Its Use

A Predator drone firing a Hellfire missile. [Source: US Air Force] An armed version of the Predator drone successfully passes a test showing it is ready for use in Afghanistan. The Predator had been used successfully in 2000 to spot bin Laden (see September 7-October 2000), but it was not used in early 2001 while an armed version was prepared (see January 10-25, 2001). A Hellfire missile was successfully test fired from a Predator on February 16, 2001. [CBS NEWS, 6/25/2003] In early June 2001, a duplicate of the brick house where bin Laden is believed to be living in Kandahar, Afghanistan, is built in Nevada, and destroyed by a Predator missile. The test shows that the missile fired from miles away would have killed anyone in the building, and one participant calls this the long sought after “holy grail” that could kill bin Laden within minutes of finding him. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/20/2002] But National Security Adviser Rice reportedly wants to use the Predator only after an overall strategy for confronting al-Qaeda is worked out, and no such plan is close to being ready. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/22/2003] She and her deputy Steve Hadley decide to delay reconnaissance flights until all the arrangements for using the armed version can be worked out. In July 2001, Hadley directs the military to have armed Predators ready to deploy no later than September 1. [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] The main hold up seems to be bureaucratic. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke repeatedly advocates using the Predator, armed or unarmed. However, infighting between the CIA and the Air Force over who would pay for it and take responsibility delays its use. Clarke later says, “Every time we were ready to use it, the CIA would change its mind.” [NEW YORKER, 7/28/2003] The issue comes to a head in early September 2001, but even then, a decision to use the Predator is delayed (see September 4, 2001). [NEW YORKER, 7/28/2003] The armed Predator will finally be used in Afghanistan just days after 9/11. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/25/2003] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Osama bin Laden, Bush administration, Condoleezza Rice, National Security Council Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics, Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11

Summer 2001: FBI Internal Report Highlights Lack of Resources For Counterterrorism But Ashcroft Denies More Funding The New York Times will later report that, according to senior government officials, “A top secret report warned top officials of the FBI in the months before Sept. 11 that the bureau faced significant terrorist threats from Middle Eastern groups like al-Qaeda but lacked enough resources to meet the threat.” The internal assessment finds that virtually every major FBI field office is undermanned for evaluating and dealing with the threat from groups like al-Qaeda. The report gives detailed recommendations and proposes spending increases to address the problem. [NEW YORK TIMES, 6/1/2002] The report is the result of “MAXCAP 05,” short for maximum feasible capability, an evaluation effort launched by Dale Watson, the head of the new counterterrorism division created in 1999, to identify the FBI’s weaknesses in counterterrorism and remedy them by 2005. It is presented to Robert Mueller upon his appointment as FBI director in early September. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 78-79; ZEGART, 2007, PP. 142] The report will not be made public. [NEW YORK TIMES, 6/27/2007] However, in August 2001, acting FBI Director Tom Pickard meets Attorney General John Ashcroft to ask for supplemental funding for counterterrorism, but his request is turned down. On September 10, 2001, Ashcroft rejects a proposed $58 million increase in FBI counterterrorism funding for the next year’s budget (see September 10, 2001). Entity Tags: Thomas Pickard, Robert S. Mueller III, Dale Watson, Federal Bureau of Investigation, John Ashcroft Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

June 1, 2001: Revised Hijacking Procedure Outlines Defense Department Responsibilities A military instruction is issued by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, outlining the procedure for dealing with hijackings within the United States. The instruction, titled “Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects,” states that “the administrator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has exclusive responsibility to direct law enforcement activity related to actual or attempted aircraft piracy (hijacking) in the ‘special aircraft jurisdiction’ of the United States. When requested by the administrator, Department of Defense will provide assistance to these law enforcement efforts.” It adds that the National Military Command Center (NMCC) within the Pentagon “is the focal point within Department of Defense for providing assistance. In the event of a hijacking, the NMCC will be notified by the most expeditious means by the FAA. The NMCC will, with the exception of immediate responses as authorized by reference d, forward requests for DOD assistance to the secretary of defense for approval.” [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 6/1/2001 ] Some will later assume that this requirement for defense secretary approval was new with this instruction. [NEW YORK OBSERVER, 6/20/2004] But it has in fact been a requirement since 1997, when the previous instruction was issued, if not earlier. [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 7/31/1997 ] Although the defense secretary has this responsibility, the 9/11 Commission will conclude that, on the day of 9/11, the “secretary of defense did not enter the chain of command until the morning’s key events were over.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 15 ] Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will later incorrectly claim that, up to 9/11, terrorism and domestic hijackings were “a law enforcement issue.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 3/23/2004; PBS, 3/25/2004; US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 6/14/2005] Entity Tags: National Military Command Center, US Department of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, Federal Aviation Administration Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics, US Air Security

Summer 2001: 9/11 Hijackers’ Associates Call Monitored Al-Qaeda Communications Hub in Yemen Associates of the 9/11 hijackers call a number in Yemen also called by the radicals who bombed two US embassies in East Africa in 1998. The calls, which MSNBC says are made “in the weeks before the attacks,” are presumably to an al-Qaeda communications hub in Sana’a, Yemen, run by Ahmed al-Hada, an associate of Nairobi embassy bomber Mohamed al-Owhali (see August 4-25, 1998). The number is monitored by US intelligence at this time and is also called by the hijackers themselves (see Early 2000-Summer 2001), at least one of the calls being around this time (see (August 2001)). But it is not clear what intelligence the NSA and CIA gleaned from these calls or which associates of the hijackers make the calls. [MSNBC, 10/3/2001] However, it is thought that one of the hijackers’ associates, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, met with an associate of al-Hada’s in Yemen the year before (see Before October 12, 2000) and traveled to Yemen before the bombing of the USS Cole (see Around September 15-16 and October 10-21, 2000). Entity Tags: Ahmed al-Hada, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, National Security Agency Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Remote Surveillance, Yemen Hub

June 1, 2001: 9/11 Hijacker Alhaznawi Leaves Saudi Arabia, Possibly Tracked by Saudi Authorities 9/11 hijacker Ahmed Alhaznawi departs Saudi Arabia, traveling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 151 ] According to the 9/11 Commission, Alhaznawi may have had a passport with an indicator of Islamic extremism (see Before November 12, 2000). Such indicators were used by the Saudi authorities to track some of the hijackers before 9/11 (see November 2, 2007), so the Saudis may register his departure. Entity Tags: Ahmed Alhaznawi Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers

June 1-2, 2001: Military Conducts Exercises Based on Scenario in which Cruise Missiles Are Launched against USEdit

Osama bin Laden is pictured on the cover of the Amalgam Virgo exercise. [Source: NORAD] The US military conducts Amalgam Virgo 01, a multi-agency live-fly homeland security exercise sponsored by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and involving the hypothetical scenario of a cruise missile being launched by “a rogue [government] or somebody” from a barge off the East Coast. Osama bin Laden is pictured on the cover of the proposal for the exercise. [GLOBALSECURITY (.ORG), 4/14/2002; AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE, 6/4/2002; ARKIN, 2005, PP. 253] The exercise takes place at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. Drones simulating cruise missiles are launched from Tyndall, head out to sea, circle a ship as if they are being launched from there, and then head back to land. Air Force F-16s, Navy gunners, and Army missile defense units attempt to find and track the drones. The Coast Guard attempts to catch the ship serving as the dummy launch site. [TAMPA TRIBUNE, 6/3/2001] Another scenario in the exercise involves a suicide mission in which a Haitian man with AIDS attempts to deliberately crash a small private plane into NORAD’s Southeast Air Defense Sector (SEADS) at Tyndall AFB. [US AIR FORCE, 2001] The next Amalgam Virgo exercise, scheduled to take place in 2002, will involve two simultaneous commercial aircraft hijackings. Planning for that exercise will begin in July 2001 (see July 2001). [AMERICAN FORCES PRESS SERVICE, 6/4/2002; USA TODAY, 4/18/2004] Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, Amalgam Virgo, North American Aerospace Defense Command Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Military Exercises

Summer 2001: State Department Official Allegedly Receives Bribe from Nuclear Proliferation Network An unnamed high-ranking State Department official is said to receive a $15,000 bribe around this time in connection with assistance he provides to a nuclear smuggling ring run by Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan (see (1997-2002) and Summer-Autumn 2001), according to FBI translator Sibel Edmonds. Edmonds will later leave the FBI, becoming a whistleblower, and will say she knows this based on telephone conversations she translated. [SUNDAY TIMES (LONDON), 1/27/2008] According to an intercepted phone call, the package is to be dropped off at an agreed location by someone in the Turkish diplomatic community who is working for the network. [SUNDAY TIMES (LONDON), 1/6/2008] The high-ranking State Department official who is not named by the Sunday Times is said to be Marc Grossman by both Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story and former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, writing in the American Conservative. [RAW STORY, 1/20/2008; AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE, 1/28/2008] Entity Tags: Marc Grossman, Larisa Alexandrovna, US Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Philip Giraldi, Sibel Edmonds Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network Category Tags: Sibel Edmonds, Pakistani Nukes & Islamic Militancy

Summer-Autumn 2001: State Department Official Allegedly Tips Off Nuclear Smuggling Ring about CIA Front Company

Marc Grossman at an American-Turkish Council meeting in 2005. [Source: Canal+] An unnamed high-ranking State Department official tips off members of a nuclear smuggling ring about a CIA operation to penetrate it, according to FBI translator Sibel Edmonds. Edmonds will later leave the FBI, becoming a whistleblower, and will say she knows this based on telephone conversations she translated. The ring is headed by Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan, and includes Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, as well as Turkish and Israeli representatives. The official is said to tell a member of the ring that a company the ring wants to do business with, Brewster Jennings & Associates, is a CIA front company. Brewster Jennings & Associates is a front for Valerie Plame Wilson, who will later be outed as a CIA officer in 2003, and possibly other operatives. A group of Turkish agents come to the US on the pretext of researching alternative energy sources and are introduced to Brewster Jennings through a lobby group, the American Turkish Council (ATC). The Turks apparently believe Brewster Jennings are energy consultants and plan to hire them. According to Edmonds, the State Department official finds out about this and contacts a foreign target under FBI surveillance, telling him, “[Y]ou need to stay away from Brewster Jennings because they are a cover for the government.” The FBI target then warns several people about Brewster Jennings, including a person at the ATC and an ISI agent, and Plame Wilson is moved to another operation. Comments and Denial - The Sunday Times will comment: “If the ISI was made aware of the CIA front company, then this would almost certainly have damaged the investigation into the activities of Khan. Plame [Wilson]‘s cover would also have been compromised, although Edmonds never heard her name mentioned on the intercepts.” The unnamed State Department official will deny the allegations, calling them “false and malicious.” Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi will comment: “It’s pretty clear Plame [Wilson] was targeting the Turks. If indeed that [State Department] official was working with the Turks to violate US law on nuclear exports, it would have been in his interest to alert them to the fact that this woman’s company was affiliated to the CIA. I don’t know if that’s treason legally but many people would consider it to be.” [SUNDAY TIMES (LONDON), 1/27/2008] Official Said to be Marc Grossman - The high-ranking State Department official who is not named in the Sunday Times is said to be Marc Grossman by both Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story and Giraldi, writing in the American Conservative. [RAW STORY, 1/20/2008; AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE, 1/28/2008] Entity Tags: Sibel Edmonds, Valerie Plame Wilson, Philip Giraldi, US Department of State, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Larisa Alexandrovna, Brewster Jennings & Associates, American-Turkish Council, Marc Grossman, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network, Niger Uranium and Plame Outing Category Tags: Sibel Edmonds, Pakistani Nukes & Islamic Militancy

June 1, 2001: 9/11 Hijacker Almihdhar Acquires New Saudi Passport Despite Presence on Saudi Watchlist Edit

9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar obtains a new passport in Saudi Arabia, despite being on the terrorist watch list there due to his part in a failed gunrunning plot (see 1997). The passport contains an indicator of possible terrorist affiliation used by the Saudi authorities to track terrorist suspects (see November 2, 2007) and lacks an expiry date. Although the nature of the indicator is not clear, one of the other hijackers, Ziad Jarrah, has an overlay of the Koran in his passport and immigration officials in the United Arab Emirates are said to find this suspicious, so the indicator in Almihdhar’s passport may be similar. Nevertheless, Almihdhar uses it to obtain a US visa (see June 13, 2001) and travels to the US on it (see July 4, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 496; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 24, 27 ] Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Saudi General Intelligence Directorate Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Alhazmi and Almihdhar, Saudi Arabia

Summer 2001: FAA Participates in Exercise Based around Hijacking of a Boeing 767 The FAA takes part in a training exercise based around the hijacking of a Boeing 767, the same kind of aircraft as those that hit the Twin Towers on 9/11. The exercise is conducted as part of efforts to update the strategy for dealing with hijackings. Its participants include the FAA, the FBI’s Miami field office, Miami-Dade County Police Department, a SWAT team, and Varig Airlines, and it utilizes a 767. Further details are unknown, but the hijacking exercise presumably takes place somewhere in the Miami area of Florida. [9/11 COMMISSION, 9/15/2003, PP. 6 ] Entity Tags: FBI Miami Field Office, Federal Aviation Administration, Miami-Dade County Police Department, Varig Airlines Category Tags: US Air Security, Military Exercises

Summer 2001: CIA Allegedly Tells Bush Al-Qaeda Has Been Penetrated The CIA tells President Bush that co-operation between the CIA and Saudi Arabia’s GID intelligence agency has enabled the US to penetrate al-Qaeda, according to a later account by investigative reporters Joe and Susan Trento. They will write: “The great secret of why the president and his team were complacent about warnings of an impending 9/11 attack in the summer of 2001 is that the CIA had assured the national command authority that the CIA’s cooperative arrangement with Saudi intelligence had resulted in the penetration of al-Qaeda at the highest levels, according to intelligence sources who worked in this area for both the Saudi and US services.” This may be a reference to 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, who the Trentos claim are Saudi intelligence agents (see August 6, 2003). [TRENTO AND TRENTO, 2006, PP. 193-4] Entity Tags: Joseph Trento, George W. Bush, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Susan Trento, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, Presidential Level Warnings, Other Possible Moles or Informants, Warning Signs

June 2, 2001: Wolfowitz Discusses Danger of Surprise Attack, Like Pearl Harbor Edit

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz gives a commencement address at the United States Military Academy graduation at West Point, New York, where he focuses on the danger of surprise attacks. To an audience of about 15,000 people, he points out that 2001 marks the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor—“a military disaster whose name has become synonymous with surprise”—and notes that, “Interestingly, that ‘surprise attack’ was preceded by an astonishing number of unheeded warnings and missed signals.” He continues, “Yet military history is full of surprises… Very few of these surprises are the product of simple blindness or simple stupidity. Almost always there have been warnings and signals that have been missed.” He says one of the reasons these warnings have so often been missed is “a routine obsession with a few familiar dangers,” which “has gotten whole governments, sometimes whole societies, into trouble.” He stresses the need to “use the benefit of hindsight to replace a poverty of expectations with an anticipation of the unfamiliar and the unlikely,” thereby overcoming “the complacency that is the greatest threat to our hopes for a peaceful future.” [US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 6/1/2001; US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 6/2/2001] Journalist James Mann will later reflect on this speech, saying that Wolfowitz “was more prescient than he could have imagined. America was about to be attacked. Once again the United States was unable to deal with the unfamiliar and the unlikely. Once again there were unheeded warnings and missed signals.” [MANN, 2004, PP. 29] In spite of his words of caution, around this time Wolfowitz himself appears to be ignoring the danger of a possible attack by al-Qaeda. In July, he will reportedly doubt whether the recent surge in al-Qaeda warnings is really of significance (see Mid-July 2001). And at a meeting on terrorism in April, he’d complained, “I just don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden” (see April 30, 2001). Entity Tags: Paul Wolfowitz Category Tags: Warning Signs

June 3, 2001-July 24, 2001: Al-Qaeda Leader Escapes Ireland Despite Being under Surveillance On June 3, 2001, a British newspaper reveals that Hamid Aich, who is on the FBI’s international wanted list, is living in Dublin where he is applying for asylum. [MIRROR, 2/18/2001; NEWS OF THE WORLD, 6/3/2001] Irish intelligence has been monitoring Aich’s movements since 1997, when authorities tied him to the mass murder of 77 tourists in Luxor, Egypt (see November 18, 1997). [MIRROR, 10/17/2001; DAILY TELEGRAPH, 11/8/2001] He has since been linked to a number of militant groups (see, e.g., December 14, 1999). It is believed that between 1999 and 2001, Aich assisted 22 Islamic terrorist organizations, and even funded non-Islamic groups, for instance giving $200,000 to the ETA, a separatist group in the Basque region of Spain. Aich was also the director of Mercy International’s Ireland branch. (This charity has several known al-Qaeda connections by this time (see 1988-Spring 1995 and Late 1996-August 20, 1998).) Despite these connections, he will continue to live openly in Dublin after the newspaper discloses his location. [MIRROR, 9/17/2001] Irish authorities only publicly say, “Aich’s case is at a very delicate stage.” [NEWS OF THE WORLD, 6/3/2001] Then, on July 24, he leaves Ireland using a false passport. The FBI, which took no action against him while he was living in Dublin, is reportedly “furious” with Irish police for allowing him to escape. He has not been heard of since, and he has not been included in any known lists of wanted al-Qaeda leaders. It is believed that Aich eventually ends up in Afghanistan. After 9/11, Aich will be described as “one of the FBI’s chief targets” and “one of bin Laden’s most trusted men” who ranks seventh in al-Qaeda’s hierarchy. [MIRROR, 9/17/2001] Entity Tags: Hamid Aich, Zacarias Moussaoui, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mercy International, Al-Qaeda, Ahmed Ressam Category Tags: Remote Surveillance, Terrorism Financing, Millennium Bomb Plots

4Edit

June 4, 2001: Congressional Committee Warned of Large Attacks Soon Edit

A deputy head of the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center warns a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee, “We’re on the verge of more attacks that are larger and more deadly.” Apparently this is based on the spike in “chatter” picked up by NSA and CIA monitors and the realization that a number of well-known al-Qaeda operatives have gone underground. [VANITY FAIR, 11/2004] Entity Tags: House Intelligence Committee, Counterterrorist Center Category Tags: Warning Signs

June 4, 2001: Illegal Afghans Overheard Discussing New York City Hijacking Attack Edit

At some point in 2000, three men claiming to be Afghans but using Pakistani passports entered the Cayman Islands, possibly illegally. [MIAMI HERALD, 9/20/2001] In late 2000, Cayman and British investigators began a yearlong probe of these men, which will last until 9/11. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/20/2001] They are overheard discussing hijacking attacks in New York City during this period. On this day, they are taken into custody, questioned, and released some time later. This information is forwarded to US intelligence. [FOX NEWS, 5/17/2002] In late August, a letter to a Cayman radio station will allege these same men are agents of bin Laden “organizing a major terrorist act against the US via an airline or airlines.” [MIAMI HERALD, 9/20/2001; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/20/2001] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, Foreign Intelligence Warnings, Key Warnings

June 4, 2001: Warrant Issued for Arrest of Mohamed Atta in Florida On June 4, 2001, a warrant is issued for the arrest of Mohamed Atta in the state of Florida. On April 26, he had been stopped at a random inspection near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and given a citation for having no driver’s license. He failed to show up for his May 28 court hearing, resulting in the arrest warrant. After this, he flies all over the US using his real name, and even flies to Spain and back in July (see July 8-19, 2001), but is never stopped or questioned. The police apparently never try to find him. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/16/2001; AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 11/12/2001] Atta will be stopped for speeding in July, but apparently his arrest warrant will not yet be added to the police database (see July 5, 2001). Three other hijackers are also stopped for speeding in the US (see April 1, 2001, August 1, 2001, and September 9, 2001). Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Mohamed Atta, Hijacker Contact w Government in US, Key Hijacker Events

June 7-10, 2001: Hijacker Jarrah Suspects He Is Followed as He Flies to VegasEdit

Ziad Jarrah. [Source: National Geographic] Ziad Jarrah takes a trip to Las Vegas, but will reportedly later say he was followed on the trip. One of the hijackers’ associates, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, will later say that Jarrah felt he was followed on a flight from New York to California by “security officers.” Bin al-Shibh will also say that fellow hijacker Marwan Alshehhi was followed on a similar flight (see May 24-27, 2001). Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar also thought they were followed on a flight to the US (see January 15, 2000 and Mid-July 2000). [FOUDA AND FIELDING, 2003, PP. 135] Jarrah flies first class from Baltimore to Los Angeles on a United Airlines Boeing 757, the same type of plane he will apparently fly on 9/11, and then continues to Las Vegas. Three days later he returns his rental car, having driven 350 miles, and flies back to Baltimore, where he boards a plane back to Fort Lauderdale. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 23 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 55 ] His uncle will describe the trip as a “gambling junket.” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/23/2001] Several other hijackers also travel to Vegas (see May 24-August 14, 2001). Entity Tags: Ziad Jarrah Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Ziad Jarrah

June 9, 2001-July 10, 2001: Wright Says FBI Unit Is Making ‘Virtually No Effort’ to Neutralize Known Terrorists Inside the US FBI agent Robert Wright gives the FBI a mission statement he wrote that outlines his complaints against his agency. It reads, in part, “Knowing what I know, I can confidently say that until the investigative responsibilities for terrorism are removed from the FBI, I will not feel safe. The FBI has proven for the past decade it cannot identify and prevent acts of terrorism against the United States and its citizens at home and abroad. Even worse, there is virtually no effort on the part of the FBI’s International Terrorism Unit to neutralize known and suspected terrorists residing within the United States. Unfortunately, more terrorist attacks against American interests, coupled with the loss of American lives, will have to occur before those in power give this matter the urgent attention it deserves.” Wright asks the FBI for permission to make his complaints public. Larry Klayman, chairman of the public-interest group Judicial Watch, claims that regulations require the FBI to give or deny clearance within 30 days, which would have made FBI failures an issue before 9/11. But the FBI delays making a decision and will only allow Wright to publicly reveal his mission statement in May 2002. [CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE, 5/30/2002; FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, 5/30/2002] One month later, Wright and his lawyer David Schippers have a meeting with a reporter from the CBS news program 60 Minutes to express the concerns in his statement. He claims that he says it is only a matter of time before there will be an attack on US soil. However, he is prohibited by his superior from speaking to 60 Minutes or any other media outlet. [FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, 6/2/2003] Schippers will later claim that this month he also attempts to contact a number of important politicians with his concerns based on information from Wright and other FBI agents that he knows, but he was rebuffed (see July-Late August 2001). Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, David Schippers, Larry Klayman, Robert Wright, International Terrorism Unit Category Tags: Robert Wright and Vulgar Betrayal, Terrorism Financing, Warning Signs, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

11Edit

June 11, 2001: FBI and CIA Hold Shouting Match over Information on Al-Qaeda; CIA Still Withholds Information The FBI and the CIA hold a meeting to discuss the investigation into the USS Cole bombing and a possible connection between it and al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit (see January 5-8, 2000). However, the CIA and FBI headquarters refuse to share all they know, and agents investigating the Cole bombing become angry over this. Attendees - The meeting, which lasts between two and four hours, is attended by CIA officer Clark Shannon, FBI headquarters agent Dina Corsi, an FBI agent loaned to the CIA named Margaret Gillespie, FBI agent Steve Bongardt, FBI agent Russell Fincher, and assistant US attorney David Kelley. Purpose - Although there is no agenda for the meeting and Corsi will later say it is a brainstorming session, author Lawrence Wright will say that one of the reasons for the meeting is that CIA officer Tom Wilshire, an associate of Shannon’s, “want[ed] to know… what the FBI knew” about al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit. Photos Shown - Initially, Bongardt and Fincher brief Shannon on progress in the Cole investigation. Corsi then shows the two Cole investigators three photographs taken at al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit in 2000 (see January 5-8, 2000), showing 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and another man, and Shannon asks if the agents recognize Fahad al-Quso, who is thought to have attended the Malaysia meeting and has been interviewed by the FBI. However, one of the photos shows Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and a tree, and the CIA has already recognized Almihdhar and Alhazmi, so it is unclear how the Cole investigators are supposed to recognize al-Quso in the photo. Corsi received the photographs from CIA officer Tom Wilshire, but Wilshire did not provide her with all the relevant information about them (see Late May, 2001). Questions Asked - Bongardt and Fincher ask who is in the pictures, why were taken, and whether there are other photos of the meeting. Shannon refuses to say, but Corsi eventually admits one of the men is named Khalid Almihdhar. As a name alone is not sufficient to start an investigation, Bongardt asks for a date of birth or other details that will allow him to know which Khalid Almihdhar in the world is being discussed, but Shannon refuses to provide them. Shannon admits that Almihdhar was traveling on a Saudi passport and then leaves the meeting. Author Lawrence Wright will say that providing a date of birth is “standard procedure—the first thing most investigators would do.” Realizing that the photos pertain to the Cole investigation, Bongardt and Fincher become angry at the lack of information being provided and the meeting descends into a “shouting match.” [ABC NEWS, 8/16/2002; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 289-294 ; NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ] What Shannon Knew - Shannon will later admit that at the time he knew Almihdhar had a US visa, that Alhazmi had traveled to the US in 2000, that al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash had been recognized in one of the photos, and that Alhazmi was known to be an experienced operative. However, he does not tell any of this to any FBI agents, as he apparently thinks he does not have the authority. He does not let them keep copies of the photos either and will give conflicting accounts of the meeting after 9/11 (see Between September 12, 2001 and October 17, 2002). [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003 ; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 289-292 ] Corsi Withholds Information - Corsi has NSA information saying Almihdhar and Alhazmi attended the Malaysia meeting, but apparently believes that the Cole agents cannot be told more because of restrictions on sharing intelligence with criminal agents (see July 19, 1995). However, one of the Cole agents present is an intelligence agent, so the information can be communicated to him immediately without Corsi obtaining permission from the NSA and/or Justice Department. In addition, the NSA sent the information to the FBI’s New York field office, where the Cole investigators are based, in 1999 (see December 1999-January 2000). Further, when she asks the NSA’s permission to share the information 10 weeks later, the NSA approves the request on the same day (see August 27-28, 2001). She does not share the information at this time, but promises Bongardt and Fincher to try to do so later. The Cole agents will not receive more information for months. [US CONGRESS, 9/20/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 269, 537] Almihdhar Gets New Visa - Two days after this meeting, Almihdhar has no trouble getting a new, multiple reentry US visa (see May 2001 and June 13, 2001). [US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, 12/12/2001; US CONGRESS, 9/20/2002] Entity Tags: Dina Corsi, Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation, David Kelley, Margaret Gillespie, Central Intelligence Agency, Tawfiq bin Attash, Steve Bongardt, Russell Fincher, Clark Shannon, Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Key Hijacker Events, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, CIA Hiding Alhazmi & Almihdhar, 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit

June 11-14, 2001: 9/11 Hijacker Seen in Hotel before He Apparently Enters US

Saeed Alghamdi. [Source: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division] 9/11 hijacker Saeed Alghamdi is seen in a Florida hotel by the manager before he is said to enter the US. Although the 9/11 Commission will say he arrives in America on June 27 (see April 23-June 29, 2001), the manager of the Deluxe Inn in Dania, Florida, will tell the FBI that he stays there for these three nights from June 11-14 together with fellow hijackers Mohamed Atta, Ahmed Alnami, and Marwan Alshehhi, who completed the registration forms. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 157 ] Entity Tags: Saeed Alghamdi, Mohamed Atta, Ahmed Alnami, Marwan Alshehhi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers

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June 12, 2001: CIA Learns KSM Is Sending Operatives to US to Meet Up with Operatives Already ThereEdit

A CIA report says that a man named “Khaled” is actively recruiting people to travel to various countries, including the US, to stage attacks. CIA headquarters presume from the details of this report that Khaled is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM). On July 11, the individual source for this report is shown a series of photographs and identifies KSM as the person he called “Khaled.” [USA TODAY, 12/12/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 277, 533] This report also reveals that:

Al-Qaeda operatives heading to the US would be “expected to establish contact with colleagues already living there.” 
KSM himself had traveled to the US frequently, and as recently as May 2001. 
KSM is a relative of bomber Ramzi Yousef. 
He appears to be one of bin Laden’s most trusted leaders. 
He routinely tells others that he can arrange their entry into the US as well. However, the CIA doesn’t find this report credible because they think it is unlikely that he would come to the US (in fact, it appears he had (see Summer 1998)). Nevertheless, they consider it worth pursuing. One agent replies, “If it is KSM, we have both a significant threat and an opportunity to pick him up.” In July, the source clarifies that the last time he can definitely place KSM in the US was in the summer of 1998 (see Summer 1998). The CIA disseminates the report to all other US intelligence agencies, military commanders, and parts of the Treasury and Justice Departments. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will later request that the CIA inform them how CIA agents and other agencies reacted to this information, but the CIA does not respond to this. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003] It appears that KSM will send at least one and probably two operatives to the US after this time and before 9/11 (see August 4, 2001 and September 10, 2001). On July 23, 2001, the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will give KSM a US visa (he uses an alias but his actual photo appears on his application) (see July 23, 2001). Also, during this summer and as late as September 10, 2001, the NSA will intercept phone calls between KSM and Mohamed Atta, but the NSA will not share this information with any other agencies (see Summer 2001).

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of Justice, US Department of the Treasury, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit, Key Warnings, Other Possible Moles or Informants

June 12, 2001: Sting Operation Exposes Al-Qaeda, ISI, and Drug Connections; Investigators Face Obstacles to Learn More

Kevin Ingram, Randy Glass, and Diaa Mohsen in August 1999. [Source: Getty Images] (click image to enlarge) Operation Diamondback, a sting operation uncovering an attempt to buy weapons illegally for the Taliban, bin Laden, and others, ends with a number of arrests. An Egyptian named Diaa Mohsen and a Pakistani named Mohammed Malik are arrested and accused of attempting to buy Stinger missiles, nuclear weapon components, and other sophisticated military weaponry for the Pakistani ISI. [CNN, 6/15/2001; SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL, 8/23/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 8/2/2002] Malik appears to have had links to important Pakistani officials and Kashmiri militants, and Mohsen claims a connection to a man “who is very connected to the Taliban” and funded by bin Laden. [WASHINGTON POST, 8/2/2002; MSNBC, 8/2/2002] Some other ISI agents came to Florida on several occasions to negotiate, but they escaped being arrested. They wanted to pay partially in heroin. One mentioned that the WTC would be destroyed. These ISI agents said some of their purchases would go to the Taliban in Afghanistan and/or militants associated with bin Laden. [WASHINGTON POST, 8/2/2002; MSNBC, 8/2/2002] Both Malik and Mohsen lived in Jersey City, New Jersey. [JERSEY JOURNAL, 6/20/2001] Mohsen pleads guilty after 9/11, “but remarkably, even though [he was] apparently willing to supply America’s enemies with sophisticated weapons, even nuclear weapons technology, Mohsen was sentenced to just 30 months in prison.” [MSNBC, 8/2/2002] Malik’s case appears to have been dropped, and reporters find him working in a store in Florida less than a year after the trial ended. [MSNBC, 8/2/2002] Malik’s court files remain completely sealed, and in Mohsen’s court case, prosecutors “removed references to Pakistan from public filings because of diplomatic concerns.” [WASHINGTON POST, 8/2/2002] Also arrested are Kevin Ingram and Walter Kapij. Ingram pleads guilty to laundering $350,000 and he is sentenced to 18 months in prison. [CNN, 6/15/2001; BLACK ENTERPRISE, 6/19/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/1/2001] Ingram was a former senior investment banker with Deutsche Bank, but resigned in January 1999 after his division suffered costly losses. [BLACK ENTERPRISE, 6/19/2001; JERSEY JOURNAL, 6/20/2001] Walter Kapij, a pilot with a minor role in the plot, is given the longest sentence, 33 months in prison. [CNN, 6/15/2001; BLACK ENTERPRISE, 6/19/2001; PALM BEACH POST, 1/12/2002] Informant Randy Glass plays a key role in the sting, and has thirteen felony fraud charges against him reduced as a result, serving only seven months in prison. Federal agents involved in the case later express puzzlement that Washington higher-ups did not make the case a higher priority, pointing out that bin Laden could have gotten a nuclear bomb if the deal was for real. Agents on the case complain that the FBI did not make the case a counterterrorism matter, which would have improved bureaucratic backing and opened access to FBI information and US intelligence from around the world. [WASHINGTON POST, 8/2/2002; MSNBC, 8/2/2002] Federal agents frequently couldn’t get prosecutors to approve wiretaps. [COX NEWS SERVICE, 8/2/2002] Glass says, “Wouldn’t you think that there should have been a wire tap on Diaa [Mohsen]‘s phone and Malik’s phone?” [WPBF 25 (WEST PALM BEACH), 8/5/2002] An FBI supervisor in Miami refused to front money for the sting, forcing agents to use money from US Customs and even Glass’s own money to help keep the sting going. [COX NEWS SERVICE, 8/2/2002] Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mohammed Malik, Kevin Ingram, World Trade Center, Diaa Mohsen, US Customs Service, Walter Kapij, Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Randy Glass, Operation Diamondback Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network Category Tags: Randy Glass/ Diamondback, Pakistan and the ISI, Drugs, Other Possible Moles or Informants

June 12, 2001: 9/11 Hijacker Obtains US Visa, despite Lying on Application

Saeed Algahdmi, in a video apparently made in the spring of 2001. [Source: As-Sahab] Future 9/11 hijacker Saeed Alghamdi obtains a US visa from the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The application is made through the Visa Express program (see May 2001), using a passport issued two days earlier. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 24 ] The visa is issued by Shayna Steinger, a consular official who apparently issues the 9/11 hijackers with 12 visas (see July 1, 2000). [9/11 COMMISSION, 12/30/2002, PP. 2; OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL (US DEPARTMENT OF STATE), 1/30/2003] Lies on Application - Alghamdi lies on his application form, claiming that he has never before applied for a US visa, when in fact he obtained one the previous year, also from Steinger (see September 4, 2000). Fellow hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Ahmed Alnami make similar false statements on their visa applications around this time (see April 23, 2001 and June 13, 2001), although Alnami corrects his application. The information about his previous visa is available at the consulate, but is not accessed, as consular workers do not usually examine previous visa issunces, only refusals. The 9/11 Commission will speculate that he lied on purpose to conceal the previous application. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 24 ] Fraudulent Features - The Commission will also suggest that one or more of Alghamdi’s passports may contain fraudulent features, but will claim that this is not certain, as Alghamdi’s passport was not recovered after 9/11. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 563-4; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 42 ] This is an error by the Commission, as Alghamdi’s passport will actually be found after 9/11 and the Commission will be aware of this (see Shortly After September 11, 2001). KSM's Travel Agent - The travel agency used for the Visa Express application is Minhal Travel, which will also later be used by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to obtain a US visa (see July 23, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 24, 29 ] Entity Tags: Shayna Steinger, US Consulate, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Office, Minhal Travel, Saeed Alghamdi Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers

June 12-September 11, 2001: Cole Investigator Repeatedly Asks FBI Headquarters for Information Leading to 9/11 Hijackers, but Gets Nothing Following a meeting at which FBI agents investigating the attack on the USS Cole were shown pictures of operatives who attended al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit, including 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, but were not given all the relevant information (see June 11, 2001), deputy head of the investigation Steve Bongardt continues to ask for the material, but FBI headquarters fails to provide it. Bongardt apparently has “heated telephone conversations and e-mail exchanges” with FBI headquarters agent Dina Corsi over the passage of the information. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 291, 294 ] Bongardt will tell the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, “I’ve had several conversations with the analyst [Corsi] after that, because we would talk on other matters, and almost every time I would ask her, ‘What’s the story with the Almihdhar information, when is it going to get passed, do we have anything yet, when is it going to get passed,’ and each time I was told that the information had not been passed yet. And the sense I got from here, based on our conversations, was that she was trying as hard as she could to get the information passed or at least the ability to tell us about the information.” [US CONGRESS, 9/20/2002] But in fact Corsi does not appear to take any steps towards having the information passed to the Cole investigators for two and a half months after the meeting. Part of the relevant information is from a wiretap on Almihdhar’s phone (see Shortly Before December 29, 1999) and, due to measures related to the “wall,” the NSA general counsel has to approve its passage to criminal agents. Corsi finally asks the NSA to approve passage of the information on August 27; the NSA immediately agrees, but Corsi continues to withhold the information from Bongardt (see August 27-28, 2001). The other part of the information consists of photos of the two hijackers in Malaysia with other extremists (see January 5-8, 2000). Corsi will later say she “probably” has follow up conversations about passing the photographs with the two CIA officers, Tom Wilshire and Clark Shannon, who gave them to her (see Late May, 2001), but these alleged conversations do not result in the photos being passed to Bongardt, even though Wilshire will later say that, as far as he was concerned at this point, they could be distributed through the FBI. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 294 ] After Corsi is told that Almihdhar is in the US (see August 21-22, 2001), this information is made available to intelligence investigators at the FBI (see August 28, 2001), but not to the team investigating the Cole bombing (see August 28, 2001). Entity Tags: Dina Corsi, FBI Headquarters, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Steve Bongardt Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing, Alhazmi and Almihdhar, CIA Hiding Alhazmi & Almihdhar, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit

13Edit

Main article: 13 June 2001

14Edit

June 14, 2001: Asian Alliance Seeks to Counter US Dominance in Central AsiaEdit

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization logo. [Source: Shanghai Cooperation Organization] The Shanghai Five (see 1996) becomes known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and expands to include Uzbekistan. [BBC, 6/11/2001] SCO member-states agree unanimously to take the organization to a “higher level” and expand its mission beyond the original objectives of resolving border disputes and dealing with Islamic separatists to include issues such as regional economic development, commerce, and investment. [SHANGHAI COOPERATION [.ORG], 6/20/2005] Leaders of the organization’s member-states say they hope the SCO will counterbalance US dominance of world affairs. According to Chinese President Jiang Zemin, the organization will foster “world multi-polarization” and contribute to the “establishment of a fair and reasonable international order.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/15/2001] During their meeting in Shanghai, members sign a letter of support for the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty (see May 26, 1972), which the United States has said it wants to scrap to make way for a missile defense shield (see December 13, 2001). [BBC, 6/15/2001] SCO members say the defense system will have a “negative impact on world security.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/15/2001] One Russian official at the meeting says the 1972 ABM Treaty is the “cornerstone of global stability and disarmament.” [BBC, 6/15/2001] China and Russia also discuss collaborating on a joint program to develop a radar system capable of tracking US F-117A stealth fighter planes. [CNN, 6/20/2001] Entity Tags: Russia, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan Timeline Tags: US confrontation with Iran Category Tags: US Dominance

Mid-June 2001: US Hears Bin Laden Tell Followers of an Attack in Near Future Bin Laden tells trainees in his Afghanistan training camps that there will be an attack in the near future. US intelligence learns of this comment and it is mentioned to top US leaders in an early July 2001 briefing (see July 10, 2001). More details, such as how the US learned this or how many people bin Laden told this to, have not been made public. [TENET, 2007, PP. 152] But in the summer of 2001, bin Laden is overheard making a number of similar comments hinting at upcoming attacks (see Summer 2001). Entity Tags: US intelligence, Osama bin Laden Category Tags: Warning Signs

Early-Late June, 2001: Plot Facilitator Assists Four 9/11 Hijackers in United Arab Emirates

Documentation used by Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi in the United Arab Emirates. [Source: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division] Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi assists four hijackers transiting Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on their way to the US: Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Salem Alhazmi, Abdulaziz Alomari, and Saeed Alghamdi. Banihammad stays at al-Hawsawi’s flat in nearby Sharjah for two or three weeks and they open bank accounts together (see June 25, 2001 and Early August-August 22, 2001), and al-Hawsawi recognizes Alghamdi and Alhazmi from Afghanistan. He coordinates their arrival dates in telephone conversations with Mohamed Atta (see Late June-August, 2001) and then purchases tickets for them, paying for Alomari and Alhazmi. Al-Hawsawi provides this information to the US under interrogation, which is considered by some to make it unreliable (see June 16, 2004), and then again before a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay to determine his combat status (see March 9-April 28, 2007). [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 3/21/2007 ] It is unclear who assisted the nine muscle hijackers who transited Dubai before this: Waleed Alshehri, Satam Al Suqami, Ahmed Alghamdi, Maqed Moqed, Hamza Alghamdi, Mohand Alshehri, Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Alhaznawi, and Wail Alshehri (see April 11-June 28, 2001 and April 23-June 29, 2001). Entity Tags: Salem Alhazmi, Saeed Alghamdi, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, Mohamed Atta, Abdulaziz Alomari, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers

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June 16, 2001: Major Simulated Terrorist Attack Exercise is Held in PennsylvaniaEdit

A major training exercise based upon a simulated terrorist attack is held in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, which neighbors Somerset County where Flight 93 crashes on 9/11. The exercise, called Mall Strike 2001, is conducted in Greengate Mall, Hempfield, and involves over 600 emergency first responders and emergency managers responding to the simulated release of a toxic chemical agent and the simulated release of radiation and radiological contamination. [WESTMORELAND COUNTY ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT, 2001 ; CONNELLSVILLE DAILY COURIER, 9/11/2002] Mall Strike is organized by the Pennsylvania Region 13 Working Group: a 13-county organization that began preparing for terrorist attacks in 1998. When Flight 93 crashes on September 11, the Region 13 Working Group’s chair immediately contacts other members of the group and emergency teams are quickly deployed to the crash site. The group’s four years of preparing and working together “allowed them to develop and train teams that could work efficiently together during an event of this magnitude.” [DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, 3/12/2003 ] Entity Tags: Mall Strike 2001 Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Military Exercises

June 16, 2001: 9/11 Hijacker Salem Alhazmi Receives Passport Containing Suspicious Indicator of Islamist Extremism, Reportedly Tracked by Saudi Authorities 9/11 hijacker Salem Alhazmi receives a new passport in Saudi Arabia. According to the 9/11 Commission, the passport contains an “indicator of extremism” that is “associated with al-Qaeda.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 9, 25, 33 ] According to author James Bamford, this is a “secret coded indicator, placed there by the Saudi government, warning of a possible terrorist affiliation.” [BAMFORD, 2008, PP. 58-59] Alhazmi’s previous passport contained the same indicator (see April 4, 1999). The Saudi government will reportedly use this indicator to track Alhazmi and other Saudi hijackers before 9/11 “with precision” (see November 2, 2007). Entity Tags: Salem Alhazmi Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers

17Edit

June 17, 2001: USS Cole Investigators Withdrawn from Yemen over ThreatsEdit

A guard on the US embassy in Sana’a, Yemen. [Source: CNN] In early June, new threats are received in Yemen and create a security crisis for the FBI team investigating the bombing of the USS Cole, as Yemeni authorities say they have arrested eight men who are part of a plot to blow up the US embassy in Sana’a, where the team is staying. Although the FBI is apparently on the verge of being granted access to a group of people who may have further information about the bombing, FBI manager John O’Neill and director Louis Freeh agree that the team should be pulled out and they all fly home. The investigation moved at a reduced pace after staff were relocated from Aden, where the attack occurred, to Sana’a, the country’s capital. O’Neill will send agents back to Yemen on his last day with the FBI in late August (see August 22, 2001). [TIME, 7/10/2001; NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ] Entity Tags: John O’Neill, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louis J. Freeh Category Tags: 2000 USS Cole Bombing

June 18, 2001: 9/11 Hijacker Obtains US Visa Using Passport with Fraudulent Travel Stamps Future 9/11 hijacker Abdulaziz Alomari obtains a US visa from the American consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 525] The visa is issued by Shayna Steinger, a consular official who apparently issues the 9/11 hijackers with 12 visas (see July 1, 2000). [9/11 COMMISSION, 12/30/2002, PP. 2; OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL (US DEPARTMENT OF STATE), 1/30/2003] Alomari’s application is incomplete, as he lists his home address as the Alqudos Hotel in Jeddah. He is not interviewed and the application is submitted by Attar Travel as a part of the Visa Express program (see May 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 25 ] Further, Alomari leaves blank the fields for his sex, his wife’s name, and his school’s address, although he says he is a student. He claims to be a tourist, that he wants to stay two months from June 25, and that he will first stay at the JKK Whyndam Hotel. [US DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 6/18/2001] The 9/11 Commission will say Alomari’s passport contains fraudulent travel stamps whose use will subsequently be associated with al-Qaeda. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 563-4; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 25 ] Entity Tags: Abdulaziz Alomari, Shayna Steinger, US Consulate, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Office Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers

June 18, 2001: 9/11 Hijacker Gets US Visa in United Arab Emirates despite Mistakes on Application 9/11 hijacker Fayez Ahmed Banihammad applies for and receives a US visa, although his application is incomplete and his passport is only five days old. Banihammad is a citizen of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The consular officer in Abu Dhabi, UAE, who adjudicates his visa will later say that interviews were almost never required of UAE nationals for visas and it was treated as a de facto visa waiver country. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 25 ] Banihammad neglects to list a present occupation or the purpose of his trip. In the field asking where he intends to stay in the US, he writes, “No.” [JEWISH WORLD REVIEW, 10/9/2002] He is apparently a former UAE immigration officer. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 25 ] His birth date is wrongly entered into the system—as May 19, 1977, instead of March 19, 1977. This means that if he comes into contact with US consular officials again, the computer system that provides details about visa applicants will not associate this visa application with Banihammad and his real date of birth, and it will appear he did not apply for a US visa at this time. [UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, 10/21/2002, PP. 46 ] Entity Tags: Fayez Ahmed Banihammad Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers

19Edit

June 19, 2001: Bin Laden Calls for ‘Blood and Destruction’ and Tells Followers to ‘Penetrate America and Israel’

Scenes in the al-Qaeda recruitment video show operatives training at the al-Farouq camp in Afghanistan. [Source: CBC] An al-Qaeda recruitment video created months earlier is made public. The video had been circling amongst radical militants, but appears on the news worldwide after a Kuwaiti newspaper gets a copy. The video celebrates the bombing of the USS Cole. Bin Laden appears on the video, and while he does not take credit for the bombing, others in the video do. Bin Laden says that Muslims have to leave countries that are ruled by “allies of Jews and Christians,” and join his cause to be “prepared” for holy war. In an address to Palestinians, he calls for “blood, blood and destruction, destruction.” He says, “We give you the good news that the forces of Islam are coming…” He also issues a call to arms: “Your brothers in Palestine are waiting for you; it’s time to penetrate America and Israel and hit them where it hurts the most.” He also tells his supporters to “slay the United States and Israel.” A similar video appeared shortly before the bombing of the USS Cole. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/20/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/20/2001; NEWSWEEK, 7/22/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/11/2001] Intrest in the videotape will grow in the Muslim world in the months before the 9/11 attacks (see September 9, 2001). Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden Category Tags: Warning Signs, Alleged Al-Qaeda Media Statements, Osama Bin Laden

June 19, 2001: Hanjour Fails Night Flying Test Hani Hanjour attempts to obtain pilot’s certification to fly at night, but is unsuccessful as he fails the test. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 67 ] More details, such as the location of the airfield where the test was taken, are not known, but Hanjour’s flying skills were previously said to be poor (see January-February 2001). Entity Tags: Hani Hanjour Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Hani Hanjour, Alleged Hijackers' Flight Training

June 19-25, 2001: Nawaf Alhazmi Flies to Miami to Meet Other 9/11 Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi flies from Newark to Miami and presumably meets the other hijackers there. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 243] Earlier in the month the CIA showed the FBI a photo of Alhazmi taken at a meeting in Malaysia with other al-Qaeda members, but refused to identify him in the photo (see June 11, 2001). The CIA will watchlist Alhazmi in August (see August 23, 2001), but his Florida trip apparently fails to lead US intelligence to the other hijackers. He obtains a Florida driver’s license on June 25 (see April 12-September 7, 2001), giving the same address as two of the other Florida-based hijackers, but this will not be noticed before 9/11 either. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/16/2001; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 26 ] Alhazmi purchased his ticket for the outward journey at Apollo Travel in Paterson, New Jersey, which was also used by Mohamed Atta (see March 2001-September 1, 2001), and perhaps some of the other hijackers (see July 2001). [CNN, 10/29/2001] Entity Tags: Apollo Travel, Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Alhazmi and Almihdhar

June 20, 2001: 9/11 Hijacker Salem Alhazmi Obtains US Visa, despite NSA Surveillance, Incomplete Application, and Possible Lie on Application Future 9/11 hijacker Salem Alhazmi obtains a US visa from the American consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. There are some problems with his visa application, which is submitted through the Visa Express program (see May 2001):

The application is incomplete; 
Alhazmi gives his occupation as “unemployed” (this does not concern consular staff because Saudi Arabia is a rich country); 
His passport is only four days old; 
The passport contains a suspicious indicator of Islamic extremism placed their by Saudi intelligence in order to track him (see June 16, 2001 and November 2, 2007). Some of the radicals who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 also had Saudi passports with the same indicator (see Around February 1993); [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 563-4; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 25-6 ] 
Some of the other future hijackers who apply for visas around this time lie on their applications, claiming never to have received a US visa before, although the opposite is true (see April 23, 2001, June 12, 2001, and June 13, 2001). The 9/11 Commission will not discuss whether Alhazmi claims on this application to have received a US visa before or not, as the Commission will appear to be unaware of any such previous application by him. However, according to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Alhazmi did previously obtain a US visa, in 1999 (see April 3-7, 1999); [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004 ] 
The NSA has been intercepting calls between Alhazmi and an al-Qaeda communications hub in Yemen for at least two years (see Early 1999, Shortly Before December 29, 1999, and Summer 2000); 
The visa is issued by Shayna Steinger, a consular official who apparently issues the future 9/11 hijackers with 12 visas (see July 1, 2000). [9/11 COMMISSION, 12/30/2002, PP. 2; OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL (US DEPARTMENT OF STATE), 1/30/2003]

Entity Tags: Salem Alhazmi, Shayna Steinger, US Consulate, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Office Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers

June 20, 2001: Time Magazine Mentions Al-Qaeda Planning to Use Planes as Weapons Time magazine reports: “For sheer diabolical genius (of the Hollywood variety), nothing came close to the reports that European security services are preparing to counter a bin Laden attempt to assassinate President Bush at next month’s G8 summit in Genoa, Italy. According to German intelligence sources, the plot involved bin Laden paying German neo-Nazis to fly remote-controlled model aircraft packed with Semtex into the conference hall and blow the leaders of the industrialized world to smithereens. (Paging Jerry Bruckheimer).” The report only appears on the Time website and not in the US version of the magazine. [TIME, 6/20/2001] This report follows warnings given by Egypt the week before. In addition, there are more warnings before the summit in July. James Hatfield, author of an unflattering book on Bush called Fortunate Son, repeats the claim in print a few days later, writing: “German intelligence services have stated that bin Laden is covertly financing neo-Nazi skinhead groups throughout Europe to launch another terrorist attack at a high-profile American target.” [ONLINE JOURNAL, 7/3/2001] Two weeks later, Hatfield apparently commits suicide. However, there is widespread speculation that his death was payback for his revelation of Bush’s cocaine use in the 1970s. [SALON, 7/20/2001] Entity Tags: James Hatfield, George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden Category Tags: Warning Signs, Al-Qaeda in Italy

(Between June 20 and June 29, 2001): 9/11 Hijacker Salem Alhazmi Leaves Saudi Arabia, Reportedly Tracked by Saudi Authorities 9/11 hijacker Salem Alhazmi leaves Saudi Arabia. The precise date is unknown, although it must be some time between June 20, when he obtains a US visa in Jeddah (see June 20, 2001) and June 29, when he arrives in the US from the United Arab Emirates (see April 23-June 29, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 25-27 ] According to the 9/11 Commission, Alhazmi has a passport containing an indicator of Islamic extremism (see June 20, 2001). Such indicators are used by the Saudi authorities to track some of the hijackers before 9/11 (see November 2, 2007). Entity Tags: Salem Alhazmi Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers

June 21, 2001: Warnings Cause High Security Alert for US Forces in Arabia and Persian Gulf US Central Command raises the force protection condition level for US forces based in the Arabian peninsula and the Persian Gulf. In six countries the force protection level is raised to Delta, the highest level possible. The US orders all its naval ships docked in those countries out to sea, and the US Fifth Fleet moves out of port in Bahrain. Regional military exercises are canceled and US embassies are temporarily closed. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 256-257, 534] This is partly in response to an al-Qaeda video which surfaced the previous week containing the message, “It’s time to penetrate America and Israel and hit them where it hurts most” (see June 19, 2001). [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 241; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 256, 534] Additionally, Newsweek reports at the time that this alert comes after “Western intelligence agencies picked up ‘quite reliable’ signs of increased activity among Islamic extremists with Afghanistan ties. These indications are said to have included information picked up through electronic monitoring of suspected militants, who US experts say have acquired fairly sophisticated communications and computer equipment.” [NEWSWEEK, 7/22/2001] However, as author James Bamford later notes, “No precautions were ever taken within the United States, only overseas.” [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 241] Entity Tags: US Fifth Fleet, US Central Command Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, Remote Surveillance

June 21, 2001: Senior Al-Qaeda Officials Say Important Surprises Coming Soon

Baker Atyani, reporter for the Middle East Broadcasting Company, sits with Ayman al-Zawahiri and bin Laden. [Source: CNN] (click image to enlarge) Baker Atyani, a reporter for the Middle East Broadcasting Company interviews bin Laden. Keeping a promise made to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, bin Laden does not say anything substantive, but Ayman al-Zawahiri and other top al-Qaeda leaders promise that “[the] coming weeks will hold important surprises that will target American and Israeli interests in the world.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/24/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/25/2001] Atyani says, “There is a major state of mobilization among the Osama bin Laden forces. It seems that there is a race of who will strike first. Will it be the United States or Osama bin Laden?” [REUTERS, 6/23/2001] He adds, “I told my channel that his followers were telling me that the coffin business will increase in the states, the United States.” [CNN, 8/23/2006] After 9/11, Aytani will conclude, “I am 100 percent sure of this, and it was absolutely clear they had brought me there to hear this message.” [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 236] He is also shown a several-months-old videotape in which bin Laden declares, “It’s time to penetrate America and Israel and hit them where it hurts most.” The video is soon made public (see June 21, 2001). [CNN, 6/21/2001] Author James Bamford theorizes that the original 9/11 plot involved a simultaneous attack on Israel and that shoe bomber Richard Reid may have originally wanted to target an Israeli aircraft around this time. For instance, Reid flies to Tel Aviv, Israel on July 12, 2001, to test if airline security would check his shoes for bombs. [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 236-39] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, James Bamford, Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden, Baker Atyani Category Tags: Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Warning Signs, Key Warnings, Alleged Al-Qaeda Media Statements

June 22, 2001: CIA Warns of Imminent Al-Qaeda Suicide Attack The CIA notifies its station chiefs about intelligence suggesting a possible al-Qaeda suicide attack on a US target over the next few days. CIA Director George Tenet asks that all US ambassadors be briefed on the warning. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 256] Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency, Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Warning Signs

June 22-23, 2001: Bio-Terror Exercise Simulates Smallpox Attack A dozen leading politicians, scholars, journalists, and security experts meet at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland for an exercise simulating the consequences of a biological terrorist attack, in this case the release of smallpox by terrorists. The participants include: Senator Sam Nunn (D), who plays the president of the United States; former presidential adviser David Gergen as the national security advisor; Frank Keating, the current governor of Oklahoma, who plays himself; James Woolsey playing the CIA director; and Jerome Hauer as the FEMA director. The exercise, named “Dark Winter,” starts with three states suddenly confronted with an outbreak of smallpox. Americans are no longer vaccinated against this virus because it was eradicated decades ago. Thousands quickly fall ill. The medical system is overwhelmed. Masses start to flee from the infected areas, but are stopped at the borders of neighboring states. Faced with chaos, the exercise ends with the president declaring martial law. Reviewing the exercise, participants and observers agree that the nation is vulnerable to biological terrorism and unprepared for an actual attack. [TIME, 9/24/2001; US MEDICINE, 12/2001; CENTER FOR BIOSECURITY, 2002; O'TOOLE, MAIR, AND INGLESBY, 4/1/2002] In the days following 9/11, Vice President Dick Cheney will watch a video report on the exercise, and, at his urging, the National Security Council will receive a “harrowing” and “gruesome” briefing on September 20, on the possibility of a biological attack. [MAYER, 2008, PP. 3-4] At about the same time as Dark Winter is taking place, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) returns smallpox to the list of reportable diseases. Smallpox had been removed from the list decades ago after worldwide eradication. The agency says it is increasing its surveillance efforts of infectious pathogens that could be used in a biological terrorist attack. [UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, 5/31/2001] After the 9/11 attacks, public health officials will deny that the re-listing of smallpox was the result of any specific intelligence warnings. [UPI, 10/22/2001] Entity Tags: Frank Keating, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, James Woolsey, Sam Nunn, David Gergen, Jerry Hauer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dark Winter Category Tags: Military Exercises

June 22, 2001: Bush Adviser Karl Rove Meets with Suspected Supporters of US-Designated Terrorist Groups

Abduraham Alamoudi (far left), Bush (center), and Rove (far right). Judging from the background, this picture was probably taken in 2000. [Source: PBS] (click image to enlarge) Sami al-Arian attends a meeting in the White House complex with President Bush’s adviser Karl Rove. Al-Arian is one of 160 members of the American Muslim Council who are briefed on political matters by Rove and others. Al-Arian had been under investigation for at least six years by this time, and numerous media accounts reported that US investigators suggested al-Arian had ties to US-designated terrorist groups. Yet al-Arian passes the Secret Service’s stringent security check, enabling him to attend the meeting. [NEWSWEEK, 7/16/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 2/22/2003] “A law-enforcement official… [said] the Secret Service had flagged al-Arian as a potential terrorist prior to the event,” Newsweek later reports. “But White House aides, apparently reluctant to create an incident, let him through anyway.” [NEWSWEEK, 3/3/2003] In 2005, al-Arian will be found innocent of serious terrorism charges, but sentenced to almost three years in a US prison on lesser charges (see December 6, 2005). Abduraham Alamoudi is also at the meeting. US intelligence have suspected Alamoudi of ties to bin Laden and Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman since 1994 (see Shortly After March 1994). Rove and Bush met with Alamoudi in 1999 and 2000 as well (see 1999 and July 2000). Alamoudi will later be sentenced to 23 years in a US prison for illegal dealings with Libya (see October 15, 2004). [WASHINGTON POST, 2/22/2003] Entity Tags: Sami Al-Arian, Karl Rove, George W. Bush, American Muslim Council, Abdurahman Alamoudi Category Tags: Terrorism Financing

June 23, 2001: White House Warned ‘Bin Laden Attacks May Be Imminent’ A Senior Executive Intelligence Brief (SEIB) with the title “Bin Laden Attacks May Be Imminent” is sent to top White House officials. The details of this brief are not known. It is probable President Bush received this warning since SEIBs are usually rehashes of the previous days’ President Daily Briefing (see January 20-September 10, 2001). Also on this day a CIA cable is distributed with the title, “Possible Threat of Imminent Attack from Sunni Extremists.” The cable warns that there is a high probability of near-term “spectacular” terrorist attacks resulting in numerous casualties. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 256, 534] Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, George W. Bush, White House, Osama bin Laden Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, Presidential Level Warnings

June 23-July 2001: Alleged Hijacker Associate Basnan Appears to Take over for Hijacker Associate Al-Bayoumi in San Diego Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Basnan are friends with each other and suspected associates of 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi. On June 23, 2001, al-Bayoumi moves out of the Parkwood Apartments in San Diego where Almihdhar and Alhazmi had lived the year before, and possibly live in again just before 9/11 (see Early September 2001). Basnan had been living in an apartment complex nearby, but he moves into the Parkwood Apartments in July. On the rental application, Basnan lists al-Bayoumi as a personal reference and a friend. A classified FBI report shortly after 9/11 suggests that the fact that Basnan moved in shortly after al-Bayoumi left “could indicate he succeeded Omar al-Bayoumi and may be undertaking activities on behalf of the Government of Saudi Arabia.” Both Basnan and al-Bayoumi have been suspected to be Saudi government agents. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/3/2001 ] Al-Bayoumi moves to Britain (see September 21-28, 2001). Basnan remains in San Diego through 9/11. According to one US official, Basnan later “celebrate[s] the heroes of September 11” and talks about “what a wonderful, glorious day it had been” at a party shortly after the attacks. [NEWSWEEK, 11/24/2002; SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE, 9/2003] Entity Tags: Osama Basnan, Omar al-Bayoumi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Bayoumi and Basnan Saudi Connection

From September 25, 2001 to Summer 2002: Few Photographers Gain Access to Ground Zero After unauthorized photography at Ground Zero is banned by New York City authorities on September 25, 2001 (see September 25, 2001), independent or press-affiliated photographers find it difficult to enter the secured perimeter. Only one professional photographer, Gary M. Suson, obtains official permission to work at the site. He will publish his work in the book Requiem: Images of Ground Zero. [SUSON, 2002; NEW YORK TIMES, 5/28/2002] Photographs taken by New York Police officers will be gathered in the book Above Hallowed Ground: A Photographic Record of September 11, 2001. [DEPARTMENT, 2002] Joel Meyerowitz, a renowned independent photographer, is unable to obtain permission but manages to insert himself into “the forbidden city”. Wily and persistent, Meyerowitz makes friends among some police officers, acquires a hard hat and some gloves to look inconspicuous, and even forges a work permit on his home computer, and succeeds in photographing Ground Zero over a period of nine months. He will later publish this invaluable record in the 2006 book Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive. [MEYEROWITZ, 2006; OBSERVER, 8/27/2006; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/3/2006] Entity Tags: Joel Meyerowitz, Gary M. Suson Category Tags: WTC Investigation

June 25, 2001: Richard Clarke Tells Condoleezza Rice that Pattern of Warnings Indicates an Upcoming Attack Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke warns National Security Adviser Rice and Assistant National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley that six separate intelligence reports show al-Qaeda personnel warning of a pending attack. These include a warning by al-Qaeda leaders that the next weeks “will witness important surprises” (see June 21, 2001) and a new recruitment video making further threats (see June 19, 2001). The 9/11 Commission will say that “Clarke [argues] that this [is] all too sophisticated to be merely a psychological operation to keep the United States on edge…” It is unclear how Rice and Hadley respond, but the CIA agrees with Clarke’s assessment. [NEWSWEEK, 7/22/2001; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 257] Entity Tags: Stephen J. Hadley, Condoleezza Rice, Central Intelligence Agency, 9/11 Commission, Al-Qaeda, Richard A. Clarke Category Tags: Warning Signs

June 25, 2001: 9/11 Hijacker Opens Bank Account in Dubai

Fayez Ahmed Banihammad. [Source: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division] 9/11 facilitator Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi uses a cash deposit to open a checking account at a Standard Chartered Bank branch in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). (Al-Hawsawi is thought by some to be an alias for Saeed Sheikh, see September 7-10, 2001 and September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002). Hijacker Fayez Ahmed Banihammad opens a savings account and a checking account with approximately $30,000 in UAE currency, at the same branch. [MSNBC, 12/11/2001; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 138 ] Banihammad, a UAE national apparently from the Emirate of Sharjah, flies to the US two days later. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] Banihammad gives power of attorney to al-Hawsawi on July 18. Then al-Hawsawi sends Visa and ATM cards to Banihammad in Florida and deposits an extra $4,900 in Banihammad’s account (see Early August-August 22, 2001). Banihammad uses the Visa card to buy his and Mohand Alshehri’s airplane ticket for 9/11. [MSNBC, 12/11/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 12/13/2001; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] Several other hijackers have foreign accounts that they use while they are in the US (see December 5, 2000). Entity Tags: Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers

June 25, 2001: White House Warned Multiple Attacks Are Expected within Days A Senior Executive Intelligence Brief (SEIB) sent to top White House officials is entitled, “Bin Laden and Associates Making Near-Term Threats.” It reports that multiple attacks are expected over the coming days, including a “severe blow” against US and Israeli “interests” during the next two weeks. SEIBs usually contain the same information as the previous day’s President Daily Briefings (see January 20-September 10, 2001), so it is probable Bush received this warning. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 256, 534] Entity Tags: White House, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, Presidential Level Warnings

Late June 2001: Attorney General Ashcroft Not Very Interested in Terrorism in First Briefing from Acting FBI Director Shortly after being appointed acting FBI director, Thomas Pickard gives his first briefing to Attorney General John Ashcroft. Pickard sends an agenda in advance, and terrorism is the first item on it, as the CIA is reporting there is an increased risk of attacks. During the briefing, Ashcroft suggests he does not know much about al-Qaeda, so Pickard fills him in. “I told him about al-Qaeda and [Osama] bin Laden, a little history about the World Trade Center bombing and East Africa,” Pickard will later say. Although Ashcroft listens to Pickard’s explanation, he shows more interest in other items on the agenda, such as ending delays on background checks for gun buyers, which interests him because of his relationship with the National Rifle Association. [SHENON, 2008, PP. 246-247] Entity Tags: John Ashcroft, Thomas Pickard Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

26Edit

June 26, 2001: US, Russia, and Regional Powers Cooperate to Oust Taliban An Indian magazine reports more details of the cooperative efforts of the US, India, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran against the Taliban regime: “India and Iran will ‘facilitate’ US and Russian plans for ‘limited military action’ against the Taliban if the contemplated tough new economic sanctions don’t bend Afghanistan’s fundamentalist regime.” Earlier in the month, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a meeting of the Confederation of Independent States that military action against the Taliban may happen, possibly with Russian involvement using bases and forces from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as well. [INDIAREACTS, 6/26/2001] Entity Tags: Iran, Bob Kerry, India, Vladimir Putin, Taliban, Tajikistan, Russia Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden

June 26, 2001: State Department Issues Worldwide Caution The State Department issues a worldwide caution warning American citizens of possible attacks. [CNN, 3/2002] Around the same time, the State Department notifies all US embassies about the increased terrorist threat. [US DISTRICT COURT OF EASTERN VIRGINIA, 5/4/2006, PP. 3 ] Entity Tags: US Department of State, Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Warning Signs

June 27, 2001: India and Pakistan Discuss Building Pipeline Project Through Iran The Wall Street Journal reports that Pakistan and India are discussing jointly building a gas pipeline from Central Asian gas fields through Iran to circumvent the difficulties of building the pipeline through Afghanistan. Iran has been secretly supporting the Northern Alliance to keep Afghanistan divided so no pipelines could be put through it. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/27/2001] Entity Tags: Northern Alliance, India, Pakistan Category Tags: Pipeline Politics

June 27, 2001-July 11, 2001: Al-Marabh Arrested But Quickly Released; While in Prison He Boasts of FBI Ties

A courtroom artist’s depiction of Mahmoud Jaballah. [Source: CBC] On June 27, 2001, Nabil al-Marabh is arrested while trying to enter the US from Canada in the back of a tractor-trailer, carrying a forged Canadian passport and a bogus social insurance card. [ST. CATHERINES STANDARD, 10/2/2001] The New York Times will note that, “American officials had plenty of reason to believe that he was up to no good. Nine months earlier, he had been identified to American intelligence agents as one of Osama bin Laden’s operatives in the United States. American customs agents knew about money he had transferred to an associate of Osama bin Laden in the Middle East. And the Boston police had issued a warrant for his arrest after he violated probation for stabbing a friend with a knife. But [US officials] simply let him go.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/14/2001] The US turns him back to the Canadians. He is held for two weeks, then released on bail despite evidence linking him to militants (see Shortly Before July 11, 2001). During his two-week detention in a Canadian prison, al-Marabh boasts to other prisoners that he remains in contact with the FBI. When one prisoner asks him why, his reply is “because I’m special.” After 9/11, these prisoners will be puzzled that the FBI has not tried to interview them on what they know about al-Marabh. Al-Marabh will fail to show up for a Canadian deportation hearing in August and for a court date in September. It appears he quickly sneaks back into the US instead. [ST. CATHERINES STANDARD, 10/2/2001] Al-Marabh’s Boston landlord will later be asked if he thought al-Marabh could have been a terrorist. The landlord will reply, “He was too stupid, number one, to be a terrorist. Because terrorists today are very intelligent people. But he might be used by some smarter or intelligent sources, who use people like that.” [ABC NEWS 7 (CHICAGO), 1/31/2002] In July, just after he is released on bail in Canada, the Boston police will go to his former Boston address with a warrant for his March arrest, but he will not be there. [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/14/2001] Also at some point in July, Canadian authorities inform US Customs about some dubious financial transactions involving al-Marabh, and apparently the information is used in a Customs money-laundering probe (see Spring 2001). [NEWSWEEK, 10/1/2001] One prominent former Canadian intelligence official will say that whether a more detailed look at al-Marabh at this time could have stopped the 9/11 attacks is an “intriguing question.… It becomes ever more intriguing as evidence seeps in.” [OTTAWA CITIZEN, 10/29/2001] Entity Tags: Nabil al-Marabh, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Canada Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Nabil Al-Marabh

June 27-July 16, 2001: Counterterrorism Plan Delayed with More Deputies Meetings The first Bush administration deputy-secretary-level meeting on terrorism in late April is followed by three more deputy meetings. Each meeting focuses on one issue: one meeting is about al-Qaeda, one about the Pakistani situation, and one on Indo-Pakistani relations. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke’s plan to roll back al-Qaeda, which has been discussed at these meetings, is worked on some more, and is finally approved by National Security Adviser Rice and the deputies on August 13. It now can move to the Cabinet-level before finally reaching President Bush. The Cabinet-level meeting is scheduled for later in August, but too many participants are on vacation, so the meeting takes place in early September. [WASHINGTON POST, 1/20/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 3/24/2004] Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Bush administration, Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

June 27-August 23, 2001: Hijackers Open Bank Accounts in New Jersey, Information Sufficient to Roll Up Plot All the hijackers based in New Jersey open at least one bank account there:

Hani Hanjour opens an account with the Hudson United Bank on June 27, 2001; 
He opens another account with the same bank three days later, when Nawaf Alhazmi also opens one; 
Ahmed Alghamdi, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Majed Moqed open accounts with the Dime Savings Bank on July 9, 2001; 
Khalid Almihdhar opens an account with the Hudson United Bank on July 18, 2001. He closes it on August 31; 
Salem Alhazmi opens an account with the Hudson United Bank on July 21, 2001; 
Abdulaziz Alomari opens an account with the Hudson United Bank on July 26, 2001; 
Khalid Almihdhar opens an account with the First Union National Bank on August 22, 2001 with a $50 deposit. He changes his contact address on September 5; 
Hani Hanjour opens an account with First Union National Bank on August 23, 2001 with a $50 deposit. He then attempts to withdraw $5,000 on September 5 and $4,900 from it on September 7, despite it containing nothing but the original $50. Unable to make the withdrawal, he cashes a $20 check instead. Hanjour closes the account the next day. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] These hijackers will subsequently fly on three of the planes on 9/11. In its Terrorist Financing monograph the 9/11 Commission will note: “Among other things they used the debit cards to pay for hotel rooms—activity that would have enabled the FBI to locate them, had the FBI been able to get the transaction records fast enough. Moreover, Alhazmi used his debit card on August 27 to buy tickets for himself… and fellow Flight 77 hijacker Salem Alhazmi. If the FBI had found either Almihdhar or Nawaf Alhazmi, it could have found the other. They not only shared a common bank but frequently were together when conducting transactions. After locating Almihdhar and Alhazmi, the FBI could have potentially linked them through financial records to the other Flight 77 hijackers… Nawaf Alhazmi and Flight 77 pilot Hani Hanjour had opened separate savings accounts at the same small New Jersey bank at the same time and both gave the same address. On July 9, 2001, the other Flight 77 muscle hijacker, Majed Moqed, opened an account at another small New Jersey bank at the same time as Nawaf Alhazmi, and used the same address. Given timely access to the relevant records and sufficient time to conduct a follow-up investigation, the FBI could have shown that Hani Hanjour, Majed Moqed, and Salem al Hazmi were connected to potential terrorist operatives Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 58-59, 141 ] The hijackers also open several other bank accounts (see June 28-July 7, 2000).

Entity Tags: Hani Hanjour, Ahmed Alghamdi, Khalid Almihdhar, Salem Alhazmi, Nawaf Alhazmi, Abdulaziz Alomari, 9/11 Commission, Majed Moqed Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Alhazmi and Almihdhar, Hani Hanjour, Other 9/11 Hijackers

June 28, 2001: Clarke Warns Rice That Threat Level Has Reached a Peak Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke writes an e-mail to National Security Adviser Rice saying that the pattern of al-Qaeda activity indicating attack planning has “reached a crescendo.” He adds, “A series of new reports continue to convince me and analysts at State, CIA, DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], and NSA that a major terrorist attack or series of attacks is likely in July.” For instance, one report from an al-Qaeda source in late June warned that something “very, very, very, very” big is about to happen, and that most of bin Laden’s network is anticipating the attack. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 256; US DISTRICT COURT OF EASTERN VIRGINIA, 5/4/2006, PP. 1 ] CIA Director Tenet sends Rice a very similar warning on the same day (see June 28, 2001). The 9/11 Commission does not record Rice taking any action in response to these warnings. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 256] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, White House Category Tags: Warning Signs, Key Warnings

June 28, 2001: Tenet Warns Rice of Imminent Al-Qaeda Attack CIA Director Tenet writes an intelligence summary for National Security Adviser Rice: “It is highly likely that a significant al-Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks.” A highly classified analysis at this time adds, “Most of the al-Qaeda network is anticipating an attack. Al-Qaeda’s overt publicity has also raised expectations among its rank and file, and its donors.” [WASHINGTON POST, 5/17/2002] The same day, CIA Director Tenet is briefed by another CIA official that bin Laden “will launch a significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or interests” (see June 28, 2001). [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003] Apparently, these warnings are partly based on a warning given by al-Qaeda leaders to a reporter a few days earlier (see June 21, 2001). Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke also later asserts that Tenet tells him around this time, “It’s my sixth sense, but I feel it coming. This is going to be the big one.” [CLARKE, 2004, PP. 235] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Bush administration, Al-Qaeda, Condoleezza Rice, George J. Tenet Category Tags: Key Warnings, Warning Signs

June 28, 2001: CIA Leaders Told Bin Laden Will Launch Spectacular Attack against US and/or Israeli Targets within Weeks CIA official Richard Blee gives a briefing on the state of the terrorism threat to CIA Director George Tenet and Counterterrorist Center Director Cofer Black. According to an account by Tenet in his 2007 book, Blee identifies more than 10 specific pieces of intelligence about impending attacks. Tenet claims that experienced analysts call this intelligence “both unprecedented and virtually 100 percent reliable.” Blee specifically mentions:

A key Afghanistan training camp commander was seen weeping with joy because he believed he could see his trainees in heaven, implying a successful suicide attack to come. 
For the last three to five months, al-Qaeda’s number two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is believed to have been involved in an unprecedented effort to prepare terrorist operations. 
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, one of the USS Cole bombing masterminds, has disappeared. [TENET, 2007, PP. 149] Leaders of the Cole bombing are believed to be planning new attacks against the US. [TENET, 2007, PP. 147] 
Other important operatives around the world are disappearing or preparing for martyrdom. [TENET, 2007, PP. 149]

Blee concludes by saying: “Based on a review of all source reporting over the last five months, we believe that [Osama bin Laden] will launch a significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.” [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 322; TENET, 2007, PP. 149] This warning, including the concluding quote, is shared with “senior Bush administration officials” in early July. [US CONGRESS, 9/18/2002] Entity Tags: Rich B., George J. Tenet, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda, Cofer Black Category Tags: Key Warnings, Warning Signs

June 29, 2001: Surveillance Indicates Al-Qaeda Will Attack Genoa Summit with Multiple Planes

Abu Hamza al-Masri. [Source: BBC] The Italian Secret Service SISDE records a meeting in the Finsbury Park mosque, in northern London, Britain. Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri (an Afghanistan war veteran heading a radical Islamic group), Mustapha Melki (linked to al-Qaeda member Abu Doha—see February 2001), and a man only known as Omar talk to each other. Notes of the meeting state, “Abu Hamza proposed an ambitious but unlikely plot which involved attacks carried by planes.” This is apparently a reference to an attack on the upcoming G8 summit in Genoa scheduled in several weeks. But unlike other reports of an al-Qaeda attack on that summit, this refers to an attack using more than one plane. The notes of the meeting conclude, “The belief that Osama bin Laden is plotting an attack is spreading among the radical Islamic groups.” [DISCOVERY NEWS, 9/13/2001] Entity Tags: Secret Service, Osama bin Laden, Italian Secret Service, Al-Qaeda, Abu Hamza al-Masri, Mustapha Melki Category Tags: Warning Signs, Abu Hamza Al-Masri, Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism

June 29, 2001: MASCAL Training Exercise Held at Fort Belvoir A MASCAL (mass casualty) training exercise is held at Fort Belvoir, an army base 12 miles south of the Pentagon. It is “designed to enhance the first ready response in dealing with the effects of a terrorist incident involving an explosion.” [MDW NEWS SERVICE, 7/5/2001] Entity Tags: Fort Belvoir Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Military Exercises

Late Summer 2001: US Intelligence Learns Al-Qaeda Is Considering Mounting Operations in the US US intelligence learns that an al-Qaeda operative is considering mounting operations in the US. There is no information on the timing or specific targets. [US CONGRESS, 9/18/2002] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Warning Signs

Late Summer 2001: US Contingency Plans to Attack Afghanistan According to a later Guardian report, “reliable western military sources say a US contingency plan exist[s] on paper by the end of the summer to attack Afghanistan from the north.” [GUARDIAN, 9/26/2001] Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden

Late June 2001: Bin Al-Shibh Travels to Malaysia; Atta Fails to Meet Him There According to a statement later made by plot facilitator Ramzi bin al-Shibh under interrogation, at this time he is to courier operational details that are too sensitive to trust to telephone or e-mail to Mohamed Atta. He arranges a meeting with Atta in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and travels there on a genuine Saudi passport in the name of Hasan Ali al-Assiri. While in Kuala Lumpur, bin al-Shibh applies for a Yemeni passport, but Atta does not show up and bin al-Shibh travels to Bangkok. Atta fails to come to Bangkok as well and bin al-Shibh then flies to Amsterdam and travels to Hamburg by train. In Hamburg he purchases a plane ticket to Spain, where he finally meets Atta (see July 8-19, 2001). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 5 ] However, the reliability of such statements by detainees is questioned due to the methods used to extract them (see June 16, 2004). Another of the hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar, is in Malaysia around this time, but it is not clear whether he and bin al-Shibh meet (see June 2001). Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, Ramzi bin al-Shibh Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Mohamed Atta, Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit

Late June 2001: FAA Disregards Recommended Antiterrorist Measures Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gives a direct warning to the FAA to increase security measures in light of an impending terrorist attack. The FAA refuses to take such measures. [NEW YORKER, 1/14/2002] Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Federal Aviation Administration Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics, US Air Security

Late June-August, 2001: Atta Calls Plot Facilitator Several Times 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta makes several calls to plot facilitator Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi to coordinate the arrival in the US of four muscle hijackers (see April 23-June 29, 2001) and one candidate hijacker (see August 4, 2001) al-Hawsawi is assisting in the United Arab Emirates. Al-Hawsawi is in contact with Atta both before tickets are purchased, to learn where the hijackers are traveling, and after the hijackers arrive, to check whether they have made it through immigration. Atta and two other hijackers also call al-Hawsawi later to make arrangements for returning unspent money (see September 5-10, 2001). [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 3/21/2007 ] Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Mohamed Atta

June 30, 2001: White House Warned ‘Bin Laden Planning High-Profile Attacks’ A Senior Executive Intelligence Brief (SEIB) sent to top White House officials is entitled, “Bin Laden Planning High-Profile Attacks.” It states that bin Laden operatives expect near-term attacks to have dramatic consequences of catastrophic proportions. Despite evidence of delays possibly caused by heightened US security, the planning for the attacks is continuing. The briefing also contains another report entitled, “Bin Laden Threats Are Real.” SEIBs are typically based on the previous day’s President Daily Briefings (see January 20-September 10, 2001), so it is probable Bush is given this warning. Also on this day, Saudi Arabia declares its highest level of terror alert. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 256-257, 534; US DISTRICT COURT OF EASTERN VIRGINIA, 5/4/2006, PP. 3 ] Entity Tags: White House, Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, Key Warnings, Presidential Level Warnings

June 30-July 1, 2001: New York Times Reporter Told Al-Qaeda Is ‘Planning Something So Big the US Will Have to Respond,’ but Fails to Publish Warning

The three authors of the book Germs, Judith Miller (left), Stephen Engelberg (top), and William Broad (bottom). This was the book Miller was working on before 9/11; it was published several weeks after 9/11. [Source: Publicity photo] New York Times reporter Judith Miller learns her government counterterrorism sources are worried that al-Qaeda is going to attack a US target on the Fourth of July holiday. There has been an increase in chatter about an impending attack. In 2005, Miller will recall, “Everyone in Washington was very spun-up in the counterterrorism world at that time. I think everybody knew that an attack was coming—everyone who followed this.… I got the sense that part of the reason that I was being told of what was going on was that the people in counterterrorism were trying to get the word to the president or the senior officials through the press, because they were not able to get listened to themselves.” Conversation Overheard - She has a conversation with a still-anonymous top-level White House source who reveals there is some concern about a top-secret NSA intercept between two al-Qaeda operatives. She explains, “They had been talking to one another, supposedly expressing disappointment that the United States had not chosen to retaliate more seriously against what had happened to the [USS] Cole. And one al-Qaeda operative was overheard saying to the other, ‘Don’t worry; we’re planning something so big now that the US will have to respond.’ And I was obviously floored by that information. I thought it was a very good story: (1) the source was impeccable; (2) the information was specific, tying al-Qaeda operatives to, at least, knowledge of the attack on the Cole; and (3) they were warning that something big was coming, to which the United States would have to respond. This struck me as a major page one-potential story.” Not Printed - Miller tells her editor Stephen Engelberg about the story the next day. But Engelberg says, “You have a great first and second paragraph. What’s your third?” Miller finds only one other source to confirm these details. Yemen Connection - She later learns from her first source that the conversation occurred in Yemen. Though the telephone number is never disclosed, some circumstances suggest one of the parties taking part in the call may have been at the al-Qaeda communications hub in Sana’a, Yemen, that is monitored by US intelligence. One of the hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar, lives there with his wife and children (see Late August 1998), and communicates there will be forthcoming attacks to at least one family member (see Late October 2000-July 4, 2001). The hijackers in the US apparently call the Yemen hub around this time (see (August 2001)). On July 3, the CIA will request the arrest of Djamel Beghal (see July 3, 2001), an al-Qaeda operative whose calls to the hub are apparently being monitored at this time (see Before July 3, 2001). Regrets - Miller later regrets not following through more because she “had a book coming out” as well as other stories and that there wasn’t a “sense of immediacy” about the information. In 2005, Engelberg will confirm Miller’s story and agree that he wanted more specifics before running the story. Engelberg also later wonders “maybe I made the wrong call,” asking, “More than once I’ve wondered what would have happened if we’d run the piece?” The New York Times has yet to mention the warning in all of their post-9/11 reporting and the 9/11 Commission has never mentioned anything about the warning either. In 2005, Miller will spend 85 days in jail for refusing to reveal a source and then leave the New York Times after widespread criticism about her reporting. [COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW, 9/2005; ALTERNET, 5/18/2006; EDITOR & PUBLISHER, 5/18/2006] Entity Tags: Stephen Engelberg, Al-Qaeda, Judith Miller Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Key Warnings, Warning Signs, Yemen Hub, Remote Surveillance