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1980s and 1990s: Most 9/11 Hijackers Have Middle-Class Backgrounds Edit

Ahmed Alnami. [Source: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division] After 9/11, some in Western countries will say that one of the root causes of the attacks is poverty and assume that the hijackers must have been poor. However, most of them are middle class and have relatively comfortable upbringings. The editor of Al Watan, a Saudi Arabian daily, will call them “middle class adventurers” rather than Islamist fundamentalist ideologues. [BOSTON GLOBE, 3/3/2002]

Mohamed Atta grows up in Cairo, Egypt. His father is an attorney, and both Atta and his two sisters attend university. [MCDERMOTT, 2005, PP. 10-11] 
Marwan Alshehhi is from Ras al-Khaimah Emirate in the United Arab Emirates. His family is not particularly wealthy, but his father is a muezzin and one of his half-brothers a policeman. He attends university in Germany on an UAE army scholarship (see Spring 1996-December 23, 2000). [MCDERMOTT, 2005, PP. 55] 
Ziad Jarrah is from Beirut, Lebanon. His father is a mid-level bureaucrat and his mother, from a well-off family, is a teacher. The family drives a Mercedes and Jarrah attends private Christian schools before going to study in Germany. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 4/19/2002; MCDERMOTT, 2005, PP. 49-50] 
Hani Hanjour is from Taif, near Mecca in Saudi Arabia. His family has a car exporting business and a farm, which he manages for five years in the mid-1990s. [WASHINGTON POST, 10/15/2001] 
Nawaf and Salem Alhazmi are from Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Their father owns a shop and the family is wealthy. [ARAB NEWS, 9/20/2001; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 378] 
Abdulaziz Alomari is from southwestern Saudi Arabia. He is a university graduate (see Late 1990s). He apparently marries and has a child, a daughter, before 9/11. [SUNDAY TIMES (LONDON), 1/27/2002; SAUDI INFORMATION AGENCY, 9/11/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 232] 
Mohand Alshehri is from Tanooma in Asir Province, Saudi Arabia. He attends university (see Late 1990s). [SAUDI INFORMATION AGENCY, 9/11/2002] 
Hamza Alghamdi is from Baha Province, Saudi Arabia. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 231] He works as a stockboy in a housewares shop. [BOSTON GLOBE, 3/3/2002] 
Fayez Ahmed Banihammad is from the United Arab Emirates. He gives his home address as being in Khor Fakkan, a port and enclave of Sharjah Emirate on the country’s east coast. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006] The 9/11 Commission will say he works as an immigration officer at one point. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 20 ] 
Maqed Mojed is from Annakhil, near Medina in western Saudi Arabia. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 232] He attends university (see Late 1990s). 
Ahmed Alhaznawi is from Hera, Baha Province. His father is an imam at the local mosque and he is reported to attend university (see Late 1990s). 
Ahmed Alnami is from Abha, Asir Province. His family is one of government officials and scientists and his father works for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. He attends university (see Late 1990s). [DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/15/2002] 
Wail Alshehi and Waleed Alshehri are from Khamis Mushayt in Asir Province, southwestern Saudi Arabia. Their father is a businessman and builds a mosque as a gift to the town. They both go to college (see Late 1990s). The Alshehris are a military family with three older brothers who hold high rank at the nearby airbase. Their uncle, Major General Faez Alshehri, is the logistical director of Saudi Arabia’s armed forces. [BOSTON GLOBE, 3/3/2002] Dr. Ali al-Mosa, a Saudi academic, will later comment: “Most of them were from very rich, top-class Saudi families. The father of the Alshehri boys is one of the richest people in the area and the other families are not far behind him.” [SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/5/2002] 

The social situation of the families of Satam al Suqami, Ahmed Alghamdi, Saeed Alghamdi, and Khaled Almihdhar is unknown. However, Almihdhar is from a distinguished family that traces its lineage back to the prophet Mohammed. [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 379] Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, Khalid Almihdhar, Majed Moqed, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohand Alshehri, Salem Alhazmi, Saeed Alghamdi, Ziad Jarrah, Nawaf Alhazmi, Wail Alshehri, Hani Hanjour, Satam Al Suqami, Hamza Alghamdi, Waleed M. Alshehri, Ali al-Mosa, Abdulaziz Alomari, Ahmed Alghamdi, Ahmed Alnami, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Ahmed Alhaznawi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

1992-1995: KSM Fights and Fundraises in Bosnia Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) fights and fundraises in Bosnia. The 9/11 Commission will later state, “In 1992, KSM spent some time fighting alongside the mujaheddin in Bosnia and supporting that effort with financial donations.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 147] He reportedly fights with the elite El Mujahid battalion, and gains Bosnian citizenship. [SCHINDLER, 2007, PP. 281] He also works for Egypitska Pomoc, an Egyptian aid group in Zenica, Bosnia, and in 1995 becomes one of its directors. [PLAYBOY, 6/1/2005] KSM mostly lives in Qatar for the next three years (see 1992-1996), but in 1995 he is back fighting in Bosnia as the violence escalates that year. Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani, Qatar’s Minister of Religious Affairs, underwrites the costs of the trip. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12/22/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 147, 488] This second trip to Bosnia means that KSM fights there at the same time as 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, though it is not known if they meet (see 1993-1999). The FBI will later suspect that KSM helped build a bomb used to blow up a police station in neighboring Croatia while KSM was in the area (see October 20, 1995). Entity Tags: El Mujahid battalion, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Egypitska Pomoc, Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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

Nawaf Alhazmi (left), and Khalid Almihdhar (right). [Source: FBI] Of all the 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar have the longest records of involvement with al-Qaeda. CIA Director Tenet calls them al-Qaeda veterans. According to the CIA, Alhazmi first travels to Afghanistan in 1993 as a teenager, then fights in Bosnia with Alhazmi (see 1995). Almihdhar makes his first visit to Afghanistan training camps in 1996, and then fights in Chechnya in 1997. Both swear loyalty to bin Laden around 1998. Alhazmi fights in Afghanistan against the Northern Alliance with his brother, Salem Alhazmi. He fights in Chechnya, probably in 1998. [OBSERVER, 9/23/2001; ABC NEWS, 1/9/2002; US CONGRESS, 6/18/2002; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/1/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ] He then returns to Saudi Arabia in early 1999 where he shares information about the 1998 US embassy bombings. However it is not clear what information he disclosed to whom or where he obtained this information. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ] It is possible that some or all of this information came from the NSA, which is intercepting some of Alhazmi’s phone calls at this time (see Early 1999). Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, George J. Tenet, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Northern Alliance, Salem Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

1995: Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Fight in Bosnia 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi fight in the Bosnian civil war against the Serbs. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ] The 9/11 Commission will later say that the two “traveled together to fight in Bosnia in a group that journeyed to the Balkans in 1995,” but will not give any other details. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 155] Ramzi bin al-Shibh fights there too, and a witness later recounts traveling to Hamburg from Bosnia with bin al-Shibh in 1996. [SCHINDLER, 2007, PP. 281-282] 9/11 planner Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) fights in Bosnia in 1995 as well (see 1992-1995), but it is not known if any of them are ever there together. Under interrogation, KSM will say that in 1999 he did not know Almihdhar. However, doubts will be expressed about the reliability of statements made by KSM in detention, because of the methods used to extract them (see June 16, 2004). [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, 7/31/2006, PP. 17 ] Alhazmi and Almihdhar will later go on to fight in Chechnya (see 1993-1999). Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Khalid Almihdhar, Ramzi bin al-Shibh Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

1996-1997 and After: Bin Laden’s Brother-in-Law Khalifa Said to Fund Al-Qaeda Linked Group in Yemen Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, helps fund a militant group in Yemen that will later take credit for the 2000 USS Cole bombing. The group, the Islamic Army of Aden, is apparently formed in 1996 or 1997, but is not heard from until May 1998, when it issues the first of a series of political statements. The group will kidnap 16 mainly British tourists in December 1998 and four of the tourists will be killed during a shootout with police. The remaining hostages are rescued. [YEMEN GATEWAY, 1/1999] Evidence ties Khalifa to the 1995 Bojinka plot and other violent acts, though he has denied all allegations that he is linked to terrorist groups. Vincent Cannistraro, former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, later claims that not only did Khalifa fund the Islamic Army of Aden, but that 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar had ties to the group as well. (A San Diego friend of Almihdhar’s will later say that Almihdhar told him he was a member of the group (see Around October 12, 2000).) [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/19/2001] Cannistraro further notes that Khalifa went on to form the group after being deported from the US in 1995. “He should never have been allowed to leave US custody.” [SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 10/24/2001] The group praises bin Laden and uses a training camp reportedly established by him in southern Yemen. But the group is more clearly tied to Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, a handless, one-eyed Afghan war veteran living and preaching openly in London. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/23/2001] Entity Tags: Vincent Cannistraro, Abu Hamza al-Masri, Islamic Army of Aden, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

1996-December 2000: Majority of 9/11 Hijackers Attempt to Fight in Chechnya

A young Ahmed Alnami in Saudi Arabia. [Source: Boston Globe] At least 11 of the 9/11 hijackers travel or attempt to travel to Chechnya between 1996 and 2000 (see 1999-2000):

Nawaf Alhazmi fights in Chechnya, Bosnia, and Afghanistan for several years, starting around 1995. [OBSERVER, 9/23/2001; ABC NEWS, 1/9/2002; US CONGRESS, 6/18/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003 ] 
Khalid Almihdhar fights in Chechnya, Bosnia, and Afghanistan for several years, usually with Nawaf Alhazmi. [US CONGRESS, 6/18/2002; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/1/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003 ] 
Salem Alhazmi spends time in Chechnya with his brother Nawaf Alhazmi. [ABC NEWS, 1/9/2002] He also possibly fights with his brother in Afghanistan. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003 ] 
Ahmed Alhaznawi leaves for Chechnya in 1999 [ABC NEWS, 1/9/2002] , and his family loses contact with him in late 2000. [ARAB NEWS, 9/22/2001] 
Hamza Alghamdi leaves for Chechnya in early 2000 [WASHINGTON POST, 9/25/2001; INDEPENDENT, 9/27/2001] or sometime around January 2001. He calls home several times until about June 2001, saying he is in Chechnya. [ARAB NEWS, 9/18/2001] 
Mohand Alshehri leaves to fight in Chechnya in early 2000. [ARAB NEWS, 9/22/2001] 
Ahmed Alnami leaves home in June 2000, and calls home once in June 2001 from an unnamed location. [ARAB NEWS, 9/19/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/25/2001] 
Fayez Ahmed Banihammad leaves home in July 2000 saying he wants to participate in a holy war or do relief work. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/25/2001; ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/27/2001] He calls his parents one time since. [ARAB NEWS, 9/18/2001] 
Ahmed Alghamdi leaves his studies to fight in Chechnya in 2000, and is last seen by his family in December 2000. He calls his parents for the last time in July 2001, but does not mention being in the US. [ARAB NEWS, 9/18/2001; ARAB NEWS, 9/20/2001] 
Waleed M. Alshehri disappears with Wail Alshehri in December 2000, after speaking of fighting in Chechnya. [ARAB NEWS, 9/18/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/25/2001] 
Wail Alshehri, who had psychological problems, went with his brother to Mecca to seek help. Both disappear, after speaking of fighting in Chechnya. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/25/2001] 
Majed Moqed is last seen by a friend in 2000 in Saudi Arabia, after communicating a “plan to visit the United States to learn English.” [ARAB NEWS, 9/22/2001] 

Clearly, there is a pattern: eleven hijackers appear likely to have fought in Chechnya, and two others are known to have gone missing. It is possible that others have similar histories, but this is hard to confirm because “almost nothing [is] known about some.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/21/2001] Indeed, a colleague later claims that hijackers Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Ziad Jarrah, and would-be hijacker Ramzi Bin al-Shibh wanted to fight in Chechnya but were told in early 2000 that they were needed elsewhere. [WASHINGTON POST, 10/23/2002; REUTERS, 10/29/2002] Reuters later reports, “Western diplomats play down any Chechen involvement by al-Qaeda.” [REUTERS, 10/24/2002] Entity Tags: Hamza Alghamdi, Ahmed Alghamdi, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Ahmed Alnami, Marwan Alshehhi, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Mohand Alshehri, Mohamed Atta, Khalid Almihdhar, Ziad Jarrah, Nawaf Alhazmi, Waleed M. Alshehri, Salem Alhazmi, Wail Alshehri, Majed Moqed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

1997: Future Hijackers Supposedly Watchlisted in Saudi Arabia for Failed Gunrunning Plot Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi intelligence minister until shortly before 9/11 (see August 31, 2001), will later claim that al-Qaeda attempts to smuggle weapons into Saudi Arabia to mount attacks on police stations. The plot is uncovered and prevented by Saudi intelligence, and two of the unsuccessful gunrunners, future hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, are watchlisted. [SALON, 10/18/2003; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 266, 310-311, 448] However, Almihdhar and Alhazmi continue to move in and out of Saudi Arabia unchecked and will obtain US visas there in April 1999 (see 1993-1999 and April 3-7, 1999). The US is supposedly informed of Almihdhar and Alhazmi’s al-Qaeda connection by the end of 1999 (see Late 1999). Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, an associate of Almihdhar and Alhazmi (see January 5-8, 2000), is implicated in a plot to smuggle four Russian antitank missiles into Saudi Arabia around the same time, although it is unclear whether this is the same plot or a different one. The Saudi authorities uncover this plot and the US is apparently informed of the missile seizure in June 1998. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 152-3, 491] Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Khalid Almihdhar, Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, Turki al-Faisal, Al-Qaeda Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

November 2, 1997-June 20, 2001: Hijackers Obtain US Visas The 19 hijackers apply and receive a total of 23 visas at five different posts from November 1997 through June 2001. Hani Hanjour, Khalid Almihdhar, Saeed Alghamdi and Ahmed Alnami, Saudi citizens, apply twice at Jeddah. Only Hanjour applies for a student visa, others for tourist/business visa. [UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, 10/21/2002 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 7-45 ]

The fifteen Saudi hijackers apply for their visas in their home country. Four at the embassy in Riyadh: Hamza Alghamdi (10/17/2000), Mohand Alshehri (10/23/2000), Majed Moqed (11/20/2000) and Satam Al Suqami (11/21/2000). Eleven at the US consulate in Jeddah: Hani Hanjour (11/2/1997 and 9/25/2000), Khalid Almihdhar (4/7/1999 and 6/13/2001), Saeed Alghamdi (9/4/2000 and 6/12/2001), and Ahmed Alnami (10/28/2000 and 4/28/2001), Nawaf Alhazmi (4/3/1999), Ahmed Alghamdi (9/3/2000), Wail Alshehri (10/24/2000), Waleed M. Alshehri (10/24/2000), Abdulaziz Alomari (6/18/2001), Salem Alhazmi (6/20/2001), and Ahmed Alhaznawi (11/12/2000). 
Fayez Ahmed Banihammad and Marwan Alshehhi apply in their home country, the United Arab Emirates, respectively at the US embassy in Abu Dhabi on 6/18/2001 and at consulate in Dubai on 1/18/2000. 
Mohamed Atta (Egyptian) and Ziad Jarrah (Lebanese) apply, as third-country national applicants, at the US embassy in Berlin, respectively, on May 18 and 25, 2000.

Entity Tags: US Consulate, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Office, US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, US Embassy in Berlin, Ziad Jarrah, Wail Alshehri, US Embassy in Riyadh, Salem Alhazmi, Waleed M. Alshehri, Saeed Alghamdi, US Consulate, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Office, Mohand Alshehri, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Ahmed Alghamdi, Abdulaziz Alomari, Nawaf Alhazmi, Government Accountability Office, Satam Al Suqami, Hani Hanjour, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, Majed Moqed, Khalid Almihdhar, Hamza Alghamdi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

August 5-16, 1998: Hijacker Almihdhar Calls Al-Qaeda Communications Hub Before and After US Embassy Bombings, FBI Learns of This 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar makes a series of calls to an al-Qaeda communications hub run by his father-in-law, Ahmed al-Hada. A Yemeni police official will later tell Agence France-Presse that Almihdhar “made a number of overseas calls to Ahmed al-Hada, who was then in Sana’a, before, during, and after” the African embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998). Al-Hada is involved in the embassy bombings and the US intelligence community begins joint surveillance of his phone after the bombings (see Late August 1998), although the NSA may already have been monitoring it (see Before August 7, 1998). The calls made by Almihdhar are from overseas and the FBI learns of this, presumably during the investigation into the embassy bombings (see August 4-25, 1998) [AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 2/15/2002] Around this time Almihdhar is also in contact with al-Hada’s son, Samir, who is his brother-in-law, and the Yemen Times will later report that these contacts are monitored. However, it is not clear whether this is just by local authorities in Yemen, or also by US intelligence. [YEMEN TIMES, 2/18/2002] British Prime Minister Tony Blair will later say that one of the 9/11 hijackers, presumably Almihdhar, played a key role in the attacks on the US embassies in East Africa (see October 4, 2001). Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ahmed al-Hada, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998: Al-Qaeda Bombs US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Killing Over 200

Bombings of the Nairobi, Kenya, US embassy (left), and the Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, US embassy (right). [Source: Associated Press] (click image to enlarge) Two US embassies in Africa are bombed within minutes of each other. At 10:35, local time, a suicide car bomb attack in Nairobi, Kenya, kills 213 people, including 12 US nationals, and injures more than 4,500. Mohamed al-Owhali and someone known only as Azzam are the suicide bombers, but al-Owhali runs away at the last minute and survives. Four minutes later, a suicide car bomb attack in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, kills 11 and injures 85. The attacks are blamed on al-Qaeda. Hamden Khalif Allah Awad is the suicide bomber there. [PBS FRONTLINE, 2001; UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. USAMA BIN LADEN, ET AL., DAY 38, 5/2/2001] The Tanzania death toll is low because, remarkably, the attack takes place on a national holiday so the US embassy there is closed. [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 195] The attack shows al-Qaeda has a capability for simultaneous attacks. The Tanzania bombing appears to have been a late addition, as one of the arrested bombers allegedly told US agents that it was added to the plot only about 10 days in advance. [UNITED STATE OF AMERICA V. USAMA BIN LADEN, ET AL., DAY 14, 3/7/2001] A third attack against the US embassy in Uganda does not take place due to a last minute delay (see August 7, 1998). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/25/1998] August 7, 1998, is the eighth anniversary of the arrival of US troops in Saudi Arabia, and some speculate that is the reason for the date of the bombings. [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 46] In the 2002 book The Cell, reporters John Miller, Michael Stone, and Chris Miller will write, “What has become clear with time is that facets of the East Africa plot had been known beforehand to the FBI, the CIA, the State Department, and to Israeli and Kenyan intelligence services.… [N]o one can seriously argue that the horrors of August 7, 1998, couldn’t have been prevented.” They will also comment, “Inexplicable as the intelligence failure was, more baffling still was that al-Qaeda correctly presumed that a major attack could be carried out by a cell that US agents had already uncovered.” [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 195, 206] After 9/11, it will come to light that three of the alleged hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi, had some involvement in the bombings (see October 4, 2001, Late 1999, and 1993-1999) and that the US intelligence community was aware of this involvement by late 1999 (see December 15-31, 1999), if not before. Entity Tags: Hamden Khalif Allah Awad, Mohamed al-Owhali, Salem Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Azzam, Al-Qaeda, Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Late August 1998: US Intelligence Community Begins Joint Surveillance of Al-Qaeda Communications Hub

Al-Qaeda’s communications hub in Sana’a, Yemen. [Source: PBS NOVA] The investigation of the East Africa embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998) led to the discovery of the phone number of an al-Qaeda communications hub in Sana’a, Yemen (see August 4-25, 1998). The hub is run by an al-Qaeda veteran named Ahmed al-Hada, who is helped by his son Samir and is related to many other al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen and elsewhere. He is also the father in law of 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, whose wife, Hoda al-Hada, lives at the hub with their children. [NEWSWEEK, 6/2/2002; DIE ZEIT (HAMBURG), 10/1/2002; MSNBC, 7/21/2004; SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 94; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 277, 309, 343, 378] Several of Ahmed al-Hada’s relatives die fighting for al-Qaeda before 9/11, a fact known to US intelligence. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12/21/2005; GUARDIAN, 2/15/2006] The NSA may already be aware of the phone number, as they have been intercepting Osama bin Laden’s communications for some time (see November 1996-Late August 1998) and, according to Newsweek, “some” of bin Laden’s 221 calls to Yemen are to this phone number. [NEWSWEEK, 2/18/2002; SUNDAY TIMES (LONDON), 3/24/2002; MEDIA CHANNEL, 9/5/2006] The US intelligence community now begins a joint effort to monitor the number. The NSA and CIA jointly plant bugs inside the house, tap the phones, and monitor visitors with spy satellites. [MIRROR, 6/9/2002; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 343; NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ] US intelligence also learns that the communications hub is an al-Qaeda “logistics center,” used by agents around the world to communicate with each other and plan attacks. [NEWSWEEK, 6/2/2002] The joint effort enables the FBI to map al-Qaeda’s global organization (see Late 1998-Early 2002) and at least three of the hijackers use the number, enabling the NSA to intercept their communications and find out about an important al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia (see December 29, 1999 and January 5-8, 2000 and Early 2000-Summer 2001). It appears al-Qaeda continues to use this phone line until Samir al-Hada dies resisting arrest in early 2002 (see February 13, 2002). Entity Tags: National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Samir al-Hada, Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency, Osama bin Laden, Hoda al-Hada, Ahmed al-Hada Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Late 1998-Early 2002: US Intelligence Maps Al-Qaeda Network Using Phone Records; Many Attacks Thwarted

Dan Coleman [Source: CNN] Beginning in the autumn of 1998, the FBI uses the phone records of an al-Qaeda communications hub run by operative Ahmed al-Hada and his son Samir to build a map of al-Qaeda’s global organization. A map showing all the places in the world that have communicated with the hub is posted on the wall of the interagency counterterrorism I-49 squad in New York. The hub’s telephone number was uncovered during the East African embassy bombings investigation (see August 4-25, 1998 and Late August 1998). [AL AHRAM, 2/21/2002; MSNBC, 7/21/2004; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 343; NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ] According to FBI agent and I-49 squad member Dan Coleman, al-Hada is “uncle of half the violent jihadists we knew in the country.” [SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 94] Several of his sons and sons-in-law are al-Qaeda operatives and some die fighting and training with radical Islamists; this is known to US intelligence before 9/11. Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar is also a son-in-law of al-Hada. [MSNBC, 2/14/2002; FOX NEWS, 2/14/2002; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12/21/2005] The number is monitored by the NSA and over the next three years it mines intelligence that helps authorities foil a series of plots, including planned attacks on the US Embassy in Paris and the US Consulate in Istanbul, along with an attempted airline hijacking in Africa. However, the hub also serves as a planning center for the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, which is successful (see October 12, 2000). [US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, 3/15/2004] The CIA, as the primary organization for gathering foreign intelligence, has jurisdiction over conversations on the al-Hada phone. Helped by the NSA, it stakes out the house—tapping the phone, planting bugs, and taking satellite photographs of its visitors. However, the CIA apparently does not provide the FBI with all the relevant information it is obtaining about al-Qaeda’s plans. [MIRROR, 6/9/2002; NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ] For example, the FBI is not informed that hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi make calls to the communications hub from the US between spring 2000 and summer 2001 (see Spring-Summer 2000 and Mid-October 2000-Summer 2001). The FBI also asks the NSA to pass any calls between the communications hub and the US to the FBI, but the NSA does not do this either (see Late 1998). [SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 94] Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, I-49, National Security Agency, Samir al-Hada, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Dan Coleman, Ahmed al-Hada, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

December 1998-December 2000: Hijacker Associate Al-Bayoumi Stays in Contact with Saudi Consulate Official After 9/11, the FBI will examine phone records and determine that hijacker associate Omar al-Bayoumi calls Saudi official Fahad al Thumairy many times between December 1998 and December 2000. Al-Bayoumi calls al Thumairy’s home number at least ten times, and al Thumairy calls al-Bayoumi much more often—at least 11 times in the month of December 2000 alone. At the time, al Thumairy is working at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, and is a well-known Islamic radical. For part of 2000 at least, al-Bayoumi is living at the Parkwood Apartments in San Diego at the same time as hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. Al Thumairy will later deny knowing al-Bayoumi, but al-Bayoumi will admit knowing al Thumairy. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 514; SHENON, 2008, PP. 310-311] Entity Tags: Omar al-Bayoumi, Fahad al Thumairy, Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Early 1999: NSA Monitoring Hears 9/11 Hijacker Names, This Information Is Not Shared with CIA or FBI

Salem Alhazmi. [Source: FBI] As the NSA continues to monitor an al-Qaeda communications hub in Yemen run by hijacker Khalid Almihdhar’s father-in-law (see Late August 1998), they find references to Almihdhar and the hijacker brothers, Salem and Nawaf Alhazmi. They also learn that Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi are long time friends. [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004] In early 1999, the NSA intercepts communications mentioning the full name “Nawaf Alhazmi.” However, this information is not disseminated to the intelligence community, as it apparently does not meet NSA reporting thresholds. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will say, “Those thresholds vary, depending on the judgement of the NSA analyst who is reviewing the intercept and the subject, location, and content of the intercept.” Another intelligence organisation intercepts the same or similar calls and reports this to the NSA. The Inquiry comments: “NSA’s practice was to review such reports and disseminate those responsive to US intelligence requirements. For an undetermined reason, NSA did not disseminate the […] report.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/25/2002; US CONGRESS, 10/17/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 135 ] The NSA continues to intercept such calls and finds more information a few months later (see Summer 1999 and Late Summer 1999). Near the end of 1999, there will be additional intercepts that give Khalid Almihdhar’s full name and the first names of the other two (see Shortly Before December 29, 1999). But while the NSA will provide some information about these new intercepts to the CIA and other agencies, they will not go back to the earlier intercepts to figure out Nawaf’s full name and close connection to Almihdhar (see December 29, 1999). Entity Tags: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Nawaf Alhazmi, National Security Agency, Salem Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

April 3-7, 1999: Three 9/11 Hijackers Obtain US Visas

Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar’s US visas. [Source: FBI] (click image to enlarge) 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi, and Khalid Almihdhar obtain US visas through the US Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003] Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi are already “al-Qaeda veterans” and battle-hardened killers. Almihdhar’s visa is issued on April 7, and he can thereafter leave and return to the US multiple times until April 6, 2000. [STERN, 8/13/2003] Nawaf Alhazmi gets the same kind of visa; details about Salem are unknown. All three men have indicators in their passports marking them as Islamist radicals (see March 21, 1999, April 4, 1999, and April 6, 1999). These indicators are used to track them by the Saudi authorities, but are apparently not noticed by US officials. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 9, 33 ] The CIA claims the hijackers then travel to Afghanistan to participate in “special training” with at least one other suicide bomber on a different mission. The training is led by Khallad bin Attash, who applies for a US visa on April 3 from Yemen, but fails to get one (see April 3, 1999). The CIA will learn about Almihdhar’s visa in January 2000 (see January 2-5, 2000). The Jeddah Consulate records the fact that Nawaf and Salem Alhazmi obtain US visas a couple of days before Almihdhar, but apparently these records are never searched before 9/11. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 135 ] Entity Tags: US Consulate, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Office, Tawfiq bin Attash, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

After Early April 1999: Three 9/11 Hijackers Leave Saudi Arabia, Reportedly Tracked by Saudi Authorities 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi leave Saudi Arabia after obtaining new passports and US visas there (see March 21, 1999, April 4, 1999, April 6, 1999, and April 3-7, 1999). According to the 9/11 Commission, their passports contain an “indicator of extremism” that is “associated with al-Qaeda.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 9, 33 ] According to author James Bamford, the indicator is a “secret coded indicator, placed there by the Saudi government, warning of a possible terrorist affiliation.” [BAMFORD, 2008, PP. 58-59] The Saudi government reportedly uses this indicator to track some of the Saudi hijackers before 9/11 “with precision” (see November 2, 2007). Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi apparently return to Afghanistan to discuss an attack on the US. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 155] Salem Alhazmi’s destination is unknown. He will be reported to be in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000) and Afghanistan (see Summer 2000) the next year. Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi are placed on the Saudi terrorist watch list later this year (see Late 1999). Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Salem Alhazmi, Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

April 6, 1999: 9/11 Hijacker Almihdhar Receives Passport Containing Suspicious Indicator of Islamist Extremism, Reportedly Tracked by Saudi Authorities 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar receives a new passport from 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, 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] Presumably, this indicator is placed there because Almihdhar is on the Saudi government watch list at this point due to his radical ties (see Late 1999). The Saudi government will reportedly use this indicator to track Almihdhar and other Saudi hijackers before 9/11 “with precision” (see November 2, 2007). Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

June 1999-March 2000: FBI Investigates Al-Qaeda-Linked Imam and Misses His Contacts with 9/11 Hijackers Edit

Anwar Al Aulaqi. [Source: Public domain] The FBI conducts a counterterrorism inquiry into Anwar Al Aulaqi, an imam who will later be suspected of involvement in the 9/11 plot. He serves as the “spiritual leader” to several of the hijackers (see March 2001 and After), and by 2008 US intelligence will determine he is linked to al-Qaeda (see February 27, 2008).

The investigation is opened when it is learned he had probably been visited by a “procurement agent” for bin Laden, Ziyad Khaleel. Khaleel had helped buy a satellite phone for bin Laden; when he is arrested in December 1999 he reportedly tells the FBI crucial details about al-Qaeda operations in the US (see December 29, 1999). 
In early 2000 the FBI is aware when Al Aulaqi is visited by an unnamed close associate of Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ; WASHINGTON POST, 2/27/2008] 
He also serves as vice president of the Charitable Society for Social Welfare (CSSW), the US branch of a Yemeni charity founded by Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, a Yemeni imam who the US will officially designate a terrorist in 2004. CSSW also has ties to the Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan, Italy, considered one of the centers of al-Qaeda activity in Europe. The FBI begins investigating CSSW in 1999 after a Yemeni politician visits the US to solicit donations for the charity, and then visits Mahmoud Es Sayed, a known al-Qaeda figure at the Islamic Cultural Institute, on the same trip. [BURR AND COLLINS, 2006, PP. 243; WASHINGTON POST, 2/27/2008] 
The FBI learns that Al Aulaqi knows individuals from the suspect Holy Land Foundation and others involved in raising money for Hamas. Sources allege that Aulaqi has even more extremist connections. 

But none of these links are considered strong enough for criminal charges, and the investigation is closed. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 517] Al Aulaqi is beginning to associate with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar shortly before the investigation ends. For instance, on February 4, one month before the FBI investigation is closed, Al Aulaqi talks on the telephone four times with hijacker associate Omar al-Bayoumi. The 9/11 Commission will later speculate that these calls are related to Alhazmi and Almihdhar, since al-Bayoumi is helping them that day, and that Alhazmi or Almihdhar may even have been using al-Bayoumi’s phone at the time (see February 4, 2000). Al-Bayoumi had also been the subject of an FBI counterterrorism investigation in 1999 (see September 1998-July 1999). Entity Tags: Omar Abdul-Rahman, Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Es Sayed, Ziyad Khaleel, Omar al-Bayoumi, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Abdul Mejid al-Zindani, Islamic Cultural Institute, Charitable Society for Social Welfare, Anwar Al Aulaqi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Summer 1999: NSA Intercepts More of Almihdhar’s Calls The NSA intercepts more calls (see Early 1999) involving Khalid Almihdhar, who is at an al-Qaeda communications hub in Sana’a, Yemen, with his family (see Late August 1998). The identity of the person he is talking to and the content of the intercepts is so sensitive that the whole passage regarding these communications is redacted in the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry’s report. After the redacted passage, the Inquiry comments, “At about the same time, the name [of al-Qaeda leader] Khallad [bin Attash] came to the attention of the NSA for the first time,” so the calls may involve bin Attash in some way. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 155-6 ] Almihdhar is staying at the communications hub at this time and will stay there later as well (see (Mid-June-Mid-July 2000) and Late October 2000-July 4, 2001). Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, National Security Agency, Tawfiq bin Attash Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Late Summer 1999: NSA Intercepts Calls Mentioning 9/11 Hijacker Almihdhar, Does Not Disseminate Information The NSA intercepts more calls involving an al-Qaeda communications hub in Sana’a, Yemen (see Early 1999 and Summer 1999). The names of Khaled, who turns out to be 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, and others are mentioned in the calls. However, the NSA reportedly does not think the intelligence gleaned from the calls is important and does not disseminate it. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 156 ] However, the FBI regarded the hub as a key element in al-Qaeda’s communications network and after 9/11 a senior US counterterrorism official will say, “The NSA was well aware of how hot the number was… and how it was a logistical hub for al-Qaeda.” Several plots are stopped based on information obtained from listening to calls to and from the hub (see Late 1998-Early 2002). [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12/21/2005] Entity Tags: National Security Agency, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

November 1999: Hijackers Said to Lease Apartment in San Diego, Two Months Before Alleged First Arrival in US The Washington Post refers to hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar when it later reports, “In November 1999, two Saudi Arabian men moved into a ground-floor apartment at the Parkwood Apartments, a town house complex near a busy commercial strip in San Diego.” [WASHINGTON POST, 9/30/2001] Alhazmi’s name is on the apartment lease beginning in November 1999. [WASHINGTON POST, 10/2001] The Los Angeles Times similarly notes, “A man by [the name Alhazmi] moved to the Parkwood Apartments in San Diego in 1999, according to manager Holly Ratchford.” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/15/2001] Some reports even have them visiting the US as early as 1996. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/17/2001; LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/26/2001] However, FBI Director Mueller has stated the two hijackers did not arrive in the US until the middle of January 2000, after attending an important al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000). While some news reports mention that the hijackers first arrive in late 1999 [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/1/2002; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 11/24/2002] , over time, mentions of the lease beginning in 1999 will slowly fade from media accounts. Entity Tags: Robert S. Mueller III, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Late 1999: 9/11 Hijackers Train with Cole Bomber and Other Militants A group of al-Qaeda operatives receives advanced training at the Mes Aynak camp in Afghanistan. The large group includes 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see November/December 1999), al-Qaeda commander Khallad bin Attash, would-be 9/11 hijacker Abu Bara al Taizi, USS Cole bomber Ibrahim al-Thawar (a.k.a. Nibras), an operative who leads a series of suicide bombings in Riyadh in 2003, and another who is involved against the 2002 attack against a ship called the Limburg (see October 6, 2002). According to statements by detainees, the course focuses on physical fitness, firearms, close quarters combat, shooting from a motorcycle, and night operations. Osama bin Laden and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed apparently visit the camp during the course. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 157; OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, 9/6/2006, PP. 12 ] Candidate hijacker Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian passport holder, may also be present at this training course. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 527] Entity Tags: Tawfiq bin Attash, Osama bin Laden, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ibrahim al-Thawar, Khalid Almihdhar, Abderraouf Jdey, Abu Bara al Taizi, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Late 1999: Saudis Claim to Add Two 9/11 Hijackers to Watch List and Inform CIA Prince Turki al Faisal, Saudi intelligence minister until shortly before 9/11 (see August 31, 2001), will later claim that around this time its external intelligence agency tells the CIA that hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar have been put on a Saudi terror watch list. The Saudis have been tracking the two men, as well as Nawaf’s brother Salem, for some time (see March 21, 1999, April 4, 1999, April 6, 1999, and After Early April 1999). Saeed Badeeb, Turki’s chief analyst, and Nawaf Obaid, a security consultant to the Saudi government, support Turki’s account though Turki himself will later back away from it after becoming Saudi ambassador to the US (see August 21, 2005). In 2003, Prince Turki will say, “What we told [the CIA] was these people were on our watch list from previous activities of al-Qaeda, in both the [1998] embassy bombings and attempts to smuggle arms into the kingdom in 1997,” (see 1997 and October 4, 2001). However, the CIA strongly denies any such warning, although it begins following Almihdhar and Alhazmi around this time (see January 2-5, 2000 and January 5-8, 2000). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/16/2003; SALON, 10/18/2003; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 310-311, 448] The US will not put Almihdhar and Alhazmi on its watch list until August 2001 (see August 23, 2001). Entity Tags: Turki al-Faisal, Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, Nawaf Obaid, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency, Saeed Badeeb, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

December 1999-January 2000: FBI’s New York Office Receives NSA Information on Hijackers’ Travel to Malaysia Summit The FBI’s New York field office, which specializes in international terrorism and houses the I-49 squad that focuses on Osama bin Laden (see January 1996), receives information from the NSA about a wiretap on the phone of 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar. The information concerns travel by Almihdhar, fellow alleged hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi, and other operatives to an al-Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (see December 29, 1999, Shortly Before December 29, 1999, and January 5-8, 2000), but the office, like the rest of the FBI, is not told Almihdhar has a US visa (see 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. January 5, 2000). However, the New York office apparently does not realize it has this information and when investigators become aware of its importance in June 2001 they will conduct a running argument with FBI headquarters and the CIA over whether they can receive it again (see June 11, 2001). [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 293 ] Entity Tags: National Security Agency, I-49, FBI New York Field Office, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Early December 1999: KSM Trains Operatives for Hijackings Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) gives a course lasting one or two weeks for three operatives scheduled to take part in the 9/11 operation. Nawaf Alhazmi, Khallad bin Attash, and abu Bara al Taizi learn how to say basic English words and phrases, read plane timetables and phone books, use the Internet, make travel reservations, rent an apartment, and use code words. In addition, they play flight simulator games, watch hijacking-themed films, and investigate visas for Southeast Asian countries. KSM also tells them what to watch for when casing a flight, for example whether flight attendants bring food into the cockpit. Khalid Almihdhar is apparently not present at the training, since he has just returned to Yemen (see November/December 1999). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 157-8, 493] Entity Tags: Abu Bara al Taizi, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Nawaf Alhazmi, Tawfiq bin Attash Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Late 1999: Hijacker Almihdhar Has Foreknowledge of Forthcoming Seaborne Attack 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar tells another operative that al-Qaeda is planning a ship-bombing attack. The US will learn this from a detainee interviewed in December 2001. The detainee will say that Almihdhar informed him that al-Qaeda operative Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was the plot’s originator. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 491] Al-Nashiri discussed the ship bombing attack in a telephone call made in late 1998. The call may have been to the al-Qaeda communications hub at which Almihdhar lived and may also have been picked up by the US (see (Mid-August 1998)). Al-Qaeda soon attempts to attack the USS The Sullivans in Aden, Yemen, but the plan fails (see January 3, 2000). Almihdhar, who will be accused of participating in the plot to bomb the USS Cole in Yemen (see October 12, 2000, Early October 2001 and October 4, 2001), travels to Yemen shortly before the attack on the Sullivans (see November/December 1999) and apparently leaves one day after it (see January 2-5, 2000). Entity Tags: Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

November/December 1999: Almihdhar Returns to Yemen, Falls under US Surveillance 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar returns from Afghanistan to Yemen, where he and his family live at an al-Qaeda communications hub that is being monitored by the US (see Late 1998-Early 2002). The NSA listens in on calls to his number and finds that he and several al-Qaeda leaders are to meet in Malaysia for a terrorism summit (see December 29, 1999). The reason for his departure to Yemen is unclear, as he has already been selected for the 9/11 operation and his fellow operatives are undergoing training in Afghanistan at this point (see Late 1999 and Early December 1999). Detainees give varying accounts of the reasons for his departure, as well as the exact timing. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 157, 493] According to author James Bamford, Almihdhar returns to Yemen to be with his wife when he learns she is pregnant with their first child. [BAMFORD, 2008, PP. 11] Whatever the reason for Almihdhar’s travel to Yemen, while he is there al-Qaeda mounts an abortive attack against the USS The Sullivans (see January 3, 2000). Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

December 11, 1999: Watch List Importance Is Stressed but Procedures Are Not Followed The CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center sends a cable reminding all its personnel about various reporting obligations. The cable clearly states that it is important to share information so suspected members of US-designated terrorist groups can be placed on watch lists. The US keeps a number of watch lists; the most important one, TIPOFF, contains about 61,000 names of suspected terrorists by 9/11. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/22/2002; KNIGHT RIDDER, 1/27/2004] The list is checked whenever someone enters or leaves the US “The threshold for adding a name to TIPOFF is low,” and even a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is connected with a US-designated terrorist group warrants being added to the database. [US CONGRESS, 9/20/2002] Within a month, two future hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, will be identified as al-Qaeda operatives (see December 29, 1999), but the cable’s instructions will not be followed for them. The CIA will initially tell the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry that no such guidelines existed, and CIA Director Tenet will fail to mention the cable in his testimony to the Inquiry. [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/15/2003; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 157 ] Entity Tags: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Counterterrorist Center, Central Intelligence Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi, TIPOFF, George J. Tenet, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

December 29, 1999: NSA Tells CIA about Planned Al-Qaeda Summit Involving Future Hijackers The NSA, monitoring a telephone in an al-Qaeda communications hub in Yemen (see Late August 1998 and Late 1998-Early 2002), has listened in on phone calls revealing that hijackers Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi are to attend an important al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia in January 2000 (see Shortly Before December 29, 1999). Almihdhar’s full name was mentioned, as well as the first names of hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Salem Alhazmi. On this day, the NSA shares this information with the CIA’s Alec Station bin Laden unit. Other US intelligence agencies, including FBI headquarters and the FBI’s New York field office, are told as well. Although Khalid Almihdhar’s full name was mentioned in one call, the NSA only passes on his first name. Also, the NSA has already learned from monitoring the Yemen hub that Nawaf’s last name is Alhazmi and that he is long-time friends with Almihdhar (see Early 1999). However, they either don’t look this up in their records or don’t pass it on to any other agency. [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 239 ; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 310] An NSA analyst makes a comment that is shared between US intelligence agencies, “Salem may be Nawaf’s younger brother.” This turns out to be correct. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 135 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ] A CIA officer will later tell the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry that information from the Africa embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998) was reviewed in late 1999 during a worldwide effort to disrupt millennium attack plots (see December 15-31, 1999) and “a kind of tuning fork… buzzed when two [of the hijackers] reportedly planning a trip to [Malaysia] were linked indirectly to what appeared to be a support element… involved with the Africa bombers.” [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 135 ] The fact that they are connected to the Yemen communication hub already indicates some importance within al-Qaeda. It is learned they are connected to the embassy bombings in some way (see October 4, 2001 and Late 1999). [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 135 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ] The NSA report about them on this day is entitled, “Activities of Bin Laden Associates,” showing the clear knowledge of their ties to bin Laden. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 502; VANITY FAIR, 11/2004] The CIA will track Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi to the Malaysia summit (see January 2-5, 2000 and January 5-8, 2000). Entity Tags: Salem Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI New York Field Office, Khalid Almihdhar, FBI Headquarters, Al-Qaeda, Alec Station, Central Intelligence Agency, Ahmed al-Hada, National Security Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Shortly Before December 29, 1999: NSA Monitors 9/11 Hijackers Talking to Each Other about Upcoming Al-Qaeda Summit The NSA has been monitoring a telephone in an al-Qaeda communications hub in Yemen (see Late August 1998 and Late 1998-Early 2002). According to Vanity Fair, “Amid the storm of pre-millennial ‘chatter,’ the [NSA] intercepted communications among three Arabic men, each of whom bore some connection to the East Africa bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998) and to al-Qaeda.” The men are hijackers Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi. [VANITY FAIR, 11/2004] Apparently, the NSA listens in on a phone call between al-Qaeda figure Khallad bin Attash and hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, who is staying at the hub. Attash mentions Almihdhar’s full name, as well as the first names of hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Salem Alhazmi. He says he wants the three of them to come to an important al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia in January 2000 (see January 5-8, 2000). The NSA has already heard the names of the three hijackers mentioned repeatedly in 1999 while monitoring the Yemen hub (see Early 1999). Apparently, US intelligence does not yet know bin Attash’s full name or role in al-Qaeda and won’t figure it out until late 2000 (see Early December 2000). [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 310] At the same time, US officials in Pakistan intercept Nawaf Alhazmi in Karachi calling Almihdhar at the Yemen hub. They learn Nawaf is planning a trip to Malaysia on January 4, 2000. The NSA is also monitoring Nawaf calling his brother Salem (the location of Salem at this time has not been revealed). [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 143-144 ; ASIA TIMES, 3/19/2004] The NSA will share details of these calls with the CIA and other agencies on December 29, 1999 (see December 29, 1999) and the CIA will eventually track Almihdhar to the Malaysia summit (see January 2-5, 2000). Entity Tags: US intelligence, Salem Alhazmi, Tawfiq bin Attash, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency, Al-Qaeda, National Security Agency, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

2000Edit

Main article: Khalid al-Mihdhar:2000

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