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Early 2000: Hijackers Allegedly Tell Friend in San Diego of Plan to Crash Plane into Building Edit

Mohdar Abdullah. [Source: San Diego Union-Tribune]

Mohdar Abdullah, a friend of hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar when they live in San Diego, allegedly learns about the hijackers’ attack plans in early 2000. Abdullah helps Alhazmi and Almihdhar adjust to life in the US when they first arrive in San Diego. While imprisoned in the US in 2003 on minor charges, Abdullah reportedly will brag to other prisoners that he knew the two hijackers were planning an attack. According to one prisoner, Abdullah claimed he had been told by an unnamed individual that Alhazmi and Almihdhar would be arriving in Los Angeles to carry out an attack before they arrived there on January 15, 2000 (see January 15, 2000). According to another prisoner, Abdullah claimed that after Alhazmi and Almihdhar arrived in San Diego, they told him they planned to fly an airplane into a building and they invited him to join in the attack. Abdullah’s prison boasts have yet to be completely verified by the FBI. However, he will admit to the FBI that he knew of the hijackers’ extremist beliefs and that Almihdhar was involved in the Islamic Army of Aden, a militant group in Yemen with al-Qaeda ties (see 1996-1997 and After and Around October 12, 2000). The 9/11 Commission will later comment, “Abdullah clearly was sympathetic to those extremist views.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 218-219] There is evidence that Abdullah cases the Los Angeles airport in June 2000 with Alhazmi (see June 10, 2000), and he appears to know about timing of the 9/11 attacks several weeks in advance (see Late August-September 10, 2001).

Entity Tags: Mohdar Abdullah, Khalid Almihdhar, Islamic Army of Aden, Nawaf Alhazmi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


(Early 2000-November 2000): Hani Hanjour Possibly Spends Time in San Diego; 9/11 Commission Says He Visits Afghanistan

Officially, in 2000, hijacker Hani Hanjour is said to enter the US on December 8, and briefly visit San Diego (see December 8, 2000). However, some reports suggest he may spend a significant amount of time in San Diego earlier in the year. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/27/2001; SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/14/2002]

For example, in the two weeks following 9/11, the FBI will identify him as having lived in San Diego during 2000. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/14/2001; NBC (SAN DIEGO), 9/15/2001; SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/21/2001]

In 2004, court records relating to a local terror probe will include authorities stating that Hanjour, along with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, had regularly dined and prayed with Mohdar Abdullah, a Yemeni university student in San Diego. [SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/2/2004]

When Alhazmi and Almihdhar attend a San Diego flying school in May 2000 (see May 5 and 10, 2000), they are accompanied by one or even two men called Hani. [KGTV 10 (SAN DIEGO), 9/18/2001; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/27/2001; SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL, 9/28/2001]

A neighbor of Abdussattar Shaikh, a Muslim leader and also undercover FBI asset living in San Diego, later remembers Shaikh having introduced him to a friend called Hani, who he assumes to have been Hanjour. [CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/30/2001] (Alhazmi and Almihdhar stay with Shaikh during 2000 (see Mid-May-December 2000).) For a short period beginning August 10, another resident at Shaikh’s San Diego house is a Saudi called Yazeed al-Salmi. After 9/11, Al-Salmi will reportedly confide to having known Hanjour and, according to the 9/11 Commission, has “childhood ties” to him. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 222 AND 518]

Witnesses see Hanjour in San Diego with suspected Saudi agent Omar al-Bayoumi at least twice in early 2000 (see Early 2000).

Little else is written about Hanjour’s movements during 2000, but the Washington Post notes that for at least part of the year, he “appears to have been in Saudi Arabia, because it was there that he obtained a student visa to take another English course. He applied in September 2000.” [WASHINGTON POST, 10/15/2001] The 9/11 Commission will claim that Hanjour goes to Afghanistan in spring 2000, where he spends time in al-Qaeda’s Al Farooq training camp. He is then sent to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) in Karachi, for training in using code words, before returning to Saudi Arabia on June 20. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 226] However, this account will come mainly from written reports of the interrogation of KSM, with whom the commission has no direct contact. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/16/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 146 AND 521] Partly because of the highly coercive interrogation methods used, there will be questions about the reliability of KSM’s information. [NEW YORK TIMES, 6/17/2004] According to the 9/11 Commission, the only time Hanjour is in San Diego this year is from December 8-12, before he moves to Arizona. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 223]

Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Mohdar Abdullah, Abdussattar Shaikh, Al Farooq training camp, Osama bin Laden, Hani Hanjour, Omar al-Bayoumi, Khalid Almihdhar, Yazeed al-Salmi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January-February 2000: Secret Military Unit Identifies Al-Qaeda ‘Brooklyn’ Cell; Mohamed Atta Is Member


A blurry photograph of a 2005 reconstruction of the pre-9/11 Able Danger chart showing Mohamed Atta and others. [Source: C-SPAN]

A US Army intelligence program called Able Danger identifies five al-Qaeda terrorist cells; one of them has connections to Brooklyn, New York and will become informally known as the “Brooklyn” cell by the Able Danger team. This cell includes 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta, and three other 9/11 hijackers: Marwan Alshehhi, Khalid Almihdhar, and Nawaf Alhazmi. According to a former intelligence officer who claims he worked closely with Able Danger, the link to Brooklyn is not based upon any firm evidence, but computer analysis that established patterns in links between the four men. “[T]he software put them all together in Brooklyn.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/9/2005; WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/22/2005; FOX NEWS, 8/23/2005; GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005] However, that does not necessarily imply them being physically present in Brooklyn. A lawyer later representing members of Able Danger states, “At no time did Able Danger identify Mohamed Atta as being physically present in the United States.” Furthermore, “No information obtained at the time would have led anyone to believe criminal activity had taken place or that any specific terrorist activities were being planned.” [CNN, 9/21/2005; US CONGRESS, 9/21/2005] James D. Smith, a contractor working with the unit, discovers Mohamed Atta’s link to al-Qaeda. [WTOP RADIO 103.5 (WASHINGTON), 9/1/2005] Smith has been using advanced computer software and analysing individuals who are going between mosques. He has made a link between Mohamed Atta and Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, ringleader of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. [FOX NEWS, 8/28/2005; GOVERNMENT SECURITY NEWS, 9/2005] Atta is said to have some unspecified connection to the Al Farouq mosque in Brooklyn, a hotbed of anti-American sentiment once frequented by Abdul-Rahman, which also contained the notorious Al-Kifah Refugee Center. [TIMES HERALD (NORRISTOWN), 9/22/2005] Smith obtained Atta’s name and photograph through a private researcher in California who was paid to gather the information from contacts in the Middle East. [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/22/2005] Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer claims the photo is not the well-known menacing Florida driver’s license photo of Atta. “This is an older, more grainy photo we had of him. It was not the best picture in the world.” It is said to contain several names or aliases for Atta underneath it. [JERRY DOYLE SHOW, 9/20/2005; CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/28/2005] LIWA analysts supporting Able Danger make a chart, which Shaffer describes in a radio interview as, “A chart probably about a 2x3 which had essentially five clusters around the center point which was bin Laden and his leadership.” [SAVAGE NATION, 9/16/2005] The 9/11 Commission later claims that Atta only enters the United States for the first time several months later, in June 2000 (see June 3, 2000). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 224] However, investigations in the months after 9/11 find that Mohamed Atta and another of the hijackers rented rooms in Brooklyn around this time (see Spring 2000). Other newspaper accounts have the CIA monitoring Atta starting in January 2000, while he is living in Germany (see January-May 2000). Atta, Alshehhi, Almihdhar, Alhazmi and other hijackers have connections to associates of Sheikh Abdul-Rahman (see Early 2000-September 10, 2001).

Entity Tags: Al-Kifah Refugee Center, El Farouq, Al-Qaeda, Khalid Almihdhar, Mohamed Atta, Nawaf Alhazmi, Omar Abdul-Rahman, Al Farouq Mosque, Able Danger, Marwan Alshehhi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January-May 2000: Hijacker Associate Al-Bayoumi Frequently Calls Saudi Government Officials


The Saudi Arabia Royal Consulate in Los Angeles. [Source: InfoUSA]

According to Sen. Bob Graham (D), co-chair of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, during this time Omar al-Bayoumi has an “unusually large number of telephone calls with Saudi government officials in both Los Angeles and Washington.” Graham will note this increased communication corresponds with the arrival of hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar into al-Bayoumi’s life. He will see this as evidence of Saudi government involvement in the 9/11 plot. [GRAHAM AND NUSSBAUM, 2004, PP. 168-169] An FBI report obtained by the Intelwire.com website in 2008 will specify that from January through May 2000, al-Bayoumi calls the Saudi embassy in Washington 32 times, the Saudi Cultral Mission in Washington 37 times, and the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles 24 times. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 4/15/2002 ] Al-Bayoumi is in contact with Fahad al Thumairy during this time, and the two call each other’s private phone numbers many times (see December 1998-December 2000). Al Thumairy is an official at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles and a known Islamic radical (see January 15-February 2000).

Entity Tags: Omar al-Bayoumi, Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Fahad al Thumairy, Nawaf Alhazmi, Bob Graham

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 2-5, 2000: CIA Learns 9/11 Hijacker Almihdhar Has US Visa as He Is Tracked to Al-Qaeda Summit


A photocopy of Nawaf Alhazmi’s passport. No image of Khalid Almihdhar’s passport has been released, but it would have looked similar to this one. [Source: FBI]

The CIA is aware that hijacker Khalid Almihdhar is staying at a highly monitored al-Qaeda communication hub (see Late 1998-Early 2002) and is planning to travel to an al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia. He is closely watched as leaves the hub and flies from Sana’a, Yemen, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on his way to Malaysia. Agents from eight CIA offices and six friendly foreign intelligence services are all asked to help track him, in the hopes he will lead them to bigger al-Qaeda figures. [STERN, 8/13/2003; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ] The CIA and local authorities are running an operation to track militants transiting Dubai airport (see 1999), and United Arab Emirates officials secretly make copies of his passport as he is passing through it, immediately reporting this to the CIA. [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 224] Another account suggests CIA agents break into Almihdhar’s Dubai hotel room and photocopy the passport there. Either way, the information is immediately faxed to Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit. [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 311] The CIA not only learns his full name, but also discovers the vital fact that he has a multiple entry visa to the US that is valid from April 1999 to April 2000. But even though the CIA now knows about this US visa which indicates he plans to go to New York City, they do not place him on a terror watch list and they fail to tell the FBI about the visa. [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 224; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ]

Entity Tags: United Arab Emirates, Nawaf Alhazmi, Alec Station, Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar, Al-Qaeda

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 5, 2000: Malaysian Intelligence Only Videotapes First Day of Al-Qaeda Summit, 9/11 Hijackers Videotaped with Hambali

Acting on the behalf of the CIA, Malaysian intelligence videotapes the attendees of an al-Qaeda summit. Counterterrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna will later claim that the attendees were “videotaped by a Malaysian surveillance team on January 5, 2000.” [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 261] But this is only the first of four days of meetings, all held at the same location (see January 5-8, 2000), and the attendees are secretly photographed on the other days (see January 5-8, 2000 and Shortly After). The Los Angeles Times will similarly note that Malaysian intelligence made a single surveillance videotape “that shows men arriving at the meeting, according to a US intelligence official. The tape, he said, has no sound and [isn’t] viewed as very significant at the time.” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/14/2001] The contents of the videotape remain murky, but one account claims Ramzi bin al-Shibh was one of the attendees videotaped at the summit. [NEWSWEEK, 11/26/2001] Further, a US Treasury press release in 2003 will state that “[Hambali] was videotaped in a January 2000 meeting in Malaysia with two of the September 11, 2001 hijackers of AA Flight 77 - Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi.” [US DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, 1/24/2003 ] Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, an Iraqi, is also videotaped at the meeting. [NEWSWEEK, 11/5/2001; WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/6/2001] US intelligence officials consider the summit so important that CIA Director George Tenet, FBI Director Robert Mueller, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, and other high-ranking officials are given daily briefings about it while it is taking place (see January 6-9, 2000). So it is unclear why only the first day would be videotaped and why such video would not be considered more important. Malaysia will give the CIA a copy of the tape about one month after the summit ends (see February 2000). By 1999, the FBI had connected Hambali to the 1995 Bojinka plot and also obtained a photo of him (see May 23, 1999). Yet the CIA will not share this video footage with the FBI nor will they warn Malaysian intelligence about Hambali’s Bojinka plot connection (see Shortly After January 8, 2000).

Entity Tags: Malaysian Secret Service, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Nawaf Alhazmi, Hambali, Khalid Almihdhar, Al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, Ahmad Hikmat Shakir

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 5-8, 2000: Al-Qaeda Summit in Malaysia Discusses 9/11 and Cole Plots; CIA Has Malaysians Monitor It


Attendees of the Malaysian summit. Top row, from left: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Middle row, from left: Khallad bin Attash, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Hambali. Bottom row, from left: Yazid Sufaat, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Fahad Al-Quso. [Source: FBI]

About a dozen of bin Laden’s trusted followers hold a secret, “top-level al-Qaeda summit” in the city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. [CNN, 8/30/2002; SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/27/2002] Plans for the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole (see October 12, 2000) and the 9/11 attacks are discussed. [USA TODAY, 2/12/2002; CNN, 8/30/2002] At the request of the CIA, the Malaysian Secret Service monitors the summit and then passes the information on to the US (see January 5-8, 2000 and Shortly After). Attendees of the summit are said to include:

Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar - The CIA and FBI will later miss many opportunities to foil the 9/11 plot through Alhazmi and Almihdhar and the knowledge of their presence at this summit. The CIA already knows many details about these two by the time the summit begins (see January 2-4, 2000), and tracked Almihdhar as he traveled to it (see January 2-5, 2000).

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed - Mohammed is sometimes referred to as “KSM,” a top al-Qaeda leader and the alleged “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks. The US has known KSM is an Islamic militant since the exposure of Operation Bojinka in January 1995 (see January 6, 1995), and knows what he looks like. US officials have stated that they only realized the summit was important in the summer of 2001, but the presence of KSM should have proved the its importance. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 2/2/2002] Although the possible presence of KSM at this summit is highly disputed by US officials, one counterterrorism expert will testify before the 9/11 Commission in 2003 that he has access to transcripts of KSM’s interrogations since his capture, and that KSM has admitted leading this summit and told the attendees about a planes as weapons plot targeting the US (see July 9, 2003). [NEWSWEEK, 7/9/2003; NEW YORK POST, 7/10/2003] Many other media reports identify him there as well. [INDEPENDENT, 6/6/2002; CNN, 8/30/2002; CNN, 11/7/2002; CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 10/29/2003] For instance, according to Newsweek, “Mohammed’s presence would make the intelligence failure of the CIA even greater. It would mean the agency literally watched as the 9/11 scheme was hatched—and had photographs of the attack’s mastermind… doing the plotting.” [NEWSWEEK, 7/9/2003]

Hambali - An Indonesian militant known as Hambali, or Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin [BBC, 8/15/2003] , was heavily involved in the Bojinka plot, an early version of the 9/11 plot (see January 6, 1995 and June 1994). [CNN, 3/14/2002; CNN, 8/30/2002] The FBI was aware of who he was and his connections to the Bojinka plot at least by 1999 and identified a photograph of him by that time (see May 23, 1999). He will be arrested by Thai authorities in August 2003 (see August 12, 2003). [CNN, 8/14/2003; CBS NEWS, 8/15/2003] Malaysian officials recognize Hambali from summit surveillance photos, as he is a long-time Malaysian resident. But the US does not tell them of his Bojinka connections so they will not know to arrest him after the summit is over (see Shortly After January 8, 2000). [NEW STRAITS TIMES, 2/10/2002]

Yazid Sufaat - Sufaat is a Malaysian who owned the condominium where the summit was held. [NEW YORK TIMES, 1/31/2002; NEWSWEEK, 6/2/2002] A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through Sufaat’s presence at this summit is later missed in September 2000 (see September-October 2000). Sufaat will travel to Afghanistan in June 2001 and be arrested by Malaysian authorities when he returns to Malaysia in late 2001. [AUSTRALIAN, 12/24/2002] Malaysian officials also recognize Sufaat from summit surveillance photos, as he is a long-time Malaysian resident (see Shortly After January 8, 2000). [NEW STRAITS TIMES, 2/10/2002]

Fahad Al-Quso - Al-Quso, a top al-Qaeda operative [NEWSWEEK, 9/20/2001] , will be arrested by Yemeni authorities in December 2000 (see Late October-Late November 2000), but the FBI will not be given a chance to fully interrogate him before 9/11. He will escape from prison in 2003. [CNN, 5/15/2003]

Tawfiq bin Attash - Better known by his alias “Khallad,” Bin Attash, a “trusted member of bin Laden’s inner circle,” was in charge of bin Laden’s bodyguards, and served as bin Laden’s personal intermediary at least for the USS Cole bombing. [NEWSWEEK, 9/20/2001] He is also thought to be a “mastermind” of that attack. Attash is reportedly planning to be one of the hijackers, but will be unable to get a US visa. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/16/2004, PP. 8] US intelligence had been aware of his identity as early as 1995. [US CONGRESS, 9/18/2002] A possibility to expose the 9/11 plot through bin Attash’s presence at this summit will later be missed in January 2001 (see January 4, 2001). Bin Attash had been previously arrested in Yemen for suspected terror ties, but let go (see Summer 1999). [CONTEMPORARY SOUTHEAST ASIA, 12/1/2002] He will be captured in Pakistan by the US in April 2003 (see April 29, 2003).

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri - Al-Nashiri is one of al-Qaeda’s top field commanders and operates out of Malaysia while 9/11 is being prepared. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/10/2001; GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 188; GRAHAM AND NUSSBAUM, 2004, PP. 59] He was involved in an arms smuggling plot (see 1997) and the East African embassy bombings (see August 22-25 1998), in which his cousin was martyred (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998). He also organized the attack against the USS The Sullivans (see January 3, 2000), and will be involved in the attacks against the USS Cole (see October 12, 2000) and the Limburg (see October 6, 2002). He will be arrested in the United Arab Emirates in November 2002. An al-Qaeda operative had identified a photo of al-Nashiri for the FBI in late 1998 (see August 22-25 1998). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 152-3] (Note: in the sources al-Nashiri is referred to by two of his aliases: Muhammad Omar al-Harazi and Al Safani). [CNN, 12/11/2000; CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, 9/6/2006]

Ramzi bin al-Shibh - Investigators believe he wanted to be the twentieth hijacker. His presence at the summit may not have been realized until after 9/11, despite the fact that US intelligence had a picture of him next to bin Attash, and had video footage of him. [NEWSWEEK, 11/26/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 7/14/2002; TIME, 9/15/2002; DIE ZEIT (HAMBURG), 10/1/2002; CNN, 11/7/2002] German police have credit card receipts indicating bin al-Shibh is in Malaysia at the same time. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/1/2002] Ulrich Kersten, director of Germany’s federal anticrime agency, the Bundeskriminalamt, will later say, “There are indications that Ramzi bin al-Shibh was in Kuala Lumpur for the meeting.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 8/24/2002] Another account noting he was photographed at the summit further notes that he entered and left Thailand three times in the first three weeks of January 2000. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/17/2001] Anonymous Malaysian officials claim he is there, but US officials deny it. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/20/2002] One account says he is recognized at the time of the summit, which makes it hard to understand why he is not tracked back to Germany and the Hamburg cell with Mohamed Atta and other hijackers. [DER SPIEGEL (HAMBURG), 10/1/2002] Another opportunity to expose the 9/11 plot through bin al-Shibh’s presence at this summit will be missed in June. It appears bin al-Shibh and Almihdhar are directly involved in the attack on the USS Cole in October 2000 (see Around September 15-16 and October 10-21, 2000). [GUARDIAN, 10/15/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 7/14/2002; NEWSWEEK, 9/4/2002]

Ahmad Hikmat Shakir - A suspected al-Qaeda agent of Iraqi nationality, Shakir is a greeter at Kuala Lumpur airport. He meets Almihdhar there and travels with him to the apartment where the summit is held. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/2/2002; NEWSWEEK, 10/7/2002; AUSTRALIAN, 12/24/2002; KNIGHT RIDDER, 6/12/2004] After 9/11, he will be linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1995 Bojinka plot. Jordan will arrest him and let him go after the US says they don’t want to take custody of him (see September 17, 2001).

Salem Alhazmi - Alhazmi, a 9/11 hijacker and brother of Nawaf Alhazmi, is possibly at the summit, although very few accounts mention it. [AUSTRALIAN, 12/24/2002] US intelligence intercepts from before the summit indicate that he at least had plans to attend. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 51 ]

Abu Bara al Taizi - A Yemeni al-Qaeda agent, he is reportedly meant to be one of the 9/11 hijackers, but will be unable to enter the US due to greater scrutiny for Yemenis. [9/11 COMMISSION, 6/16/2004, PP. 8]

Mohamed al-Khatani - A Saudi, he allegedly will confess to attending the summit while being held in the US Guantanamo prison (see July 2002). He apparently will unsuccessfully attempt to enter the US in August 2001 to join the 9/11 plot (see August 4, 2001). However, al-Khatani will later recant his testimony and say he lied to avoid torture (see October 26, 2006).

Others - Unnamed members of the Egyptian-based Islamic Jihad are also said to have been at the summit. [COX NEWS SERVICE, 10/21/2001] Islamic Jihad merged with al-Qaeda in February 1998. [ABC NEWS, 11/17/2001] However, according to the Wall Street Journal, bin Attash and al-Quso are suspected of being Islamic Jihad members at one point, so this may just be a reference to them. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/8/2001]

Entity Tags: Ulrich Kersten, Fahad al-Quso, Al-Qaeda, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Abu Bara al Taizi, Hambali, Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, Islamic Jihad, Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Tawfiq bin Attash, Yazid Sufaat, Khalid Almihdhar, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Salem Alhazmi, Mohamed al-Khatani, Nawaf Alhazmi, Malaysian Secret Service

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 5-8, 2000 and Shortly After: Malaysian Authorities Monitor Al-Qaeda Leaders at Kuala Lumpur Summit


Hazel Evergreen Park, located on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is the condominium complex where the terror summit was held. [Source: FBI]

After being alerted by the CIA that top al-Qaeda leaders plan to meet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the local security service, Malaysia’s Special Branch, monitors the operatives there (see January 5-8, 2000). The surveillance begins with the arrival of Khalid Almihdhar from Dubai on January 5, when he is met at the airport by a militant named Hikmat Shakir Ahmad (see January 12, 2000). [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 144 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 502] A video recording is made (see January 5, 2000), photographs are taken (see (January 5-8, 2000)), and, when the attendees visit an internet café, the hard drives of the computers they use are searched (see January 7, 2000 or Shortly After). All this information is passed to the CIA (see January 5-9, 2000). However, it will later be reported that, despite the heavy surveillance, no audio recordings are made of what the attendees actually talk about. [OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/17/2001; OBSERVER, 10/7/2001; NEW YORKER, 1/14/2002; CNN, 3/14/2002; NEWSWEEK, 6/2/2002; STERN, 8/13/2003; CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 10/29/2003] Apparently, Malaysian officials are not informed what to look for, and focus more on monitoring the local Malaysian and Indonesian hosts who serve as drivers than the visitors attending the summit. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/20/2002]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Hikmat Shakir Ahmad, Khalid Almihdhar

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 5-6, 2000: CIA Liaison with FBI Who Just Learned about Almihdhar’s US Visa Twice Fails to Tell FBI about It

A CIA officer known only as “James,” who knows that 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar has a US visa, twice briefs FBI officials about al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit, but fails to mention the visa.

First Briefing - On the night of January 5, 2000, James, who has been assigned to the FBI’s Strategic Information Operations Center (SIOC) to deal with problems “in communicating between the CIA and the FBI,” briefs an FBI agent who works in the FBI’s bin Laden unit, which is part of the SIOC at that time, about a number of cables he has received regarding the al-Qaeda summit that is just starting in Malaysia and one of the people attending it, Almihdhar. The FBI agent will later say he does not know why James chooses to brief him, as he is not a designated contact point for the CIA.

Documented by E-mail - James will later write an e-mail to several other CIA officers and detail “exactly” what he briefed this person on. Although the CIA should inform the FBI of a terrorist like Almihdhar having a US visa, he does not mention discussing the visa with the FBI agent, even though he had just seen several CIA cables talking about it.

Second Briefing - Overnight, another CIA cable comes in to him providing new details about Almihdhar and the Malaysia summit. An FBI agent then asks another CIA officer detailed to the FBI for an update on Almihdhar. This second CIA officer asks James for the update, so he can pass it on. James’s response to this request is to brief a third FBI agent in the SIOC about the new information. Again, records will indicate he fails to mention anything about Almihdhar’s US visa. This FBI agent will also say he does not know why he was briefed on the matter, as he is not a designated contact point for the CIA. James then tells his CIA colleague he has already provided the FBI with an update, so this second officer does not have to do so.

Informing Other Agents - James also sends an e-mail to other CIA agents describing “exactly” what he told both of the FBI agents. One section of his e-mail reads: “Thus far, a lot of suspicious activity has been observed [in Malaysia] but nothing that would indicate evidence of an impending attack or criminal enterprise. [I told the first FBI agent] that as soon as something concrete is developed leading us to the criminal arena or to known FBI cases, we will immediately bring FBI into the loop. Like [the first FBI agent] yesterday, [the second FBI agent] stated that this was a fine approach and thanked me for keeping him in the loop.”

Refuses to Be Interviewed - After 9/11, James will refuse to talk to the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, but will tell the CIA’s inspector general that he has no recollection of these events. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 135 ; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 241-247 ; TENET, 2007, PP. 195]

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, CIA officer known as “James”, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 5-15, 2000: CIA Bin Laden Unit Fails to Draft Proper Report about Malaysia Summit

Although Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, is coordinating surveillance of al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit (see January 5-8, 2000), it fails to draft a full report on it to alert the rest of the intelligence community. Author James Bamford will comment, “Despite the importance of the operation, [Alec Station chief Richard Blee] had never bothered to write up and distribute an intelligence report on it—what is known as a TD, or Telegraphic Dissemination.” Blee must be aware of the operation’s importance because he repeatedly briefs the CIA’s leadership, and these briefings are passed on to top government officials such as National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and FBI Director Louis Freeh (see January 6-9, 2000). A senior intelligence officer will later say, “A TD would have gone to a lot of people, but we didn’t do that.” This is one of the reasons why three of the attendees at the meeting, including 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, are able to apparently disappear in Thailand on January 8 (see January 8, 2000). Bamford will call the failure to write the report “a serious blunder.” [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 227]

Entity Tags: Rich B., Khalid Almihdhar, Alec Station, Nawaf Alhazmi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


(January 5-8, 2000): CIA Fails to Act on Triangle of Calls Linking Malaysia Summit, Cole Bomber’s House, and 9/11 Hijackers’ Hotel

A series of calls by al-Qaeda operatives, some of whom are under surveillance by the CIA and the Malaysian Special Branch at this time, links three sites involved in the bombing of the USS Cole. Even though the CIA is aware of the calls, it will later say it is unable to find the hijackers in Bangkok, the location of one of the call sites. The calls made by the operatives are between the following three locations:

A payphone in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, near an apartment where about a dozen al-Qaeda operatives are holding a summit (see January 5-8, 2000);

The Washington Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. Al-Qaeda operatives Ibrahim al-Thawar and Fahad al-Quso are staying at the hotel around this time and will go on to be involved in the Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000). They are later joined in the hotel by summit attendees Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, and Khallad bin Attash;

Al-Quso’s house in Yemen. The calls from the payphone to this location are made by bin Attash.

Although bin Attash and possibly others call the Washington Hotel while they are under surveillance, the CIA will be unable to locate them there during the week they spend in Bangkok, from January 8-15 (see January 13, 2000). Author Lawrence Wright will comment, “Although the CIA later denied that it knew anything about the phone, the number was recorded in the Malaysians’ surveillance log, which was given to the agency.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 156-160, 181-2; NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ] The FBI team investigating the Cole bombing will later learn some of this information before 9/11 and ask the CIA for details. However, the CIA will fail to disclose what it knows about the Malaysia summit or that it looks for the hijackers and associates in Thailand after January 8 (see July 2001).

Entity Tags: Tawfiq bin Attash, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency, Fahad al-Quso, Khalid Almihdhar, Ibrahim al-Thawar

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


(January 5-8, 2000): Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit Attendees Photographed

Although Malaysian authorities video the militants attending al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit on its first day (see January 5, 2000), photos of the meeting’s attendees are later circulated and must be taken during the meeting as well. One account says that, in general: “As the terrorists left the [condominium where the summit was held], the Malaysian police clicked away with their cameras. There was enough material for a whole photo series.” [DIE ZEIT (HAMBURG), 10/1/2002] As of March 2008, none of the photos have been made public, and information about them is scanty. However, it is known that the photos include:

Three high-quality surveillance photos later shown to the FBI (see June 11, 2001). One is shot from a low angle and shows 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi standing by a tree. The two others in this set appear to show Almihdhar and Alhazmi individually, and will also later be shown to Yemeni authorities and an FBI asset in Pakistan (see Mid-Late December 2000, Early January 2001, January 3, 2001, and January 4, 2001). [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 341]

More photos of Almihdhar “meeting with other al-Qaeda operatives.” He is also “photographed in various locations meeting with several different people.” [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 234, 243 ] The photos of Almihdhar include ones taken at his hotel, which is discovered by the Malaysians, and more coming and going from the condominium where the meeting is held. [NEWSWEEK, 9/20/2001; OBSERVER, 10/7/2001]

A picture of al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash, apparently standing by Alhazmi and Almihdhar. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 285 ; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 342]

Photos of USS Cole bomber Fahad al-Quso, or a person who looks like him, standing next to Almihdhar. [NEWSWEEK, 9/20/2001]

A picture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh next to bin Attash. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/17/2001; DIE ZEIT (HAMBURG), 10/1/2002]

Hambali, head of an al-Qaeda affiliate in Southeast Asia, is in some photos, and is immediately recognized by Malaysian intelligence (see Shortly After January 8, 2000).

Yazid Sufaat, the summit’s host, is also in some photos, and also is recognized by Malaysian intelligence. [NEW STRAITS TIMES, 2/10/2002]

On January 8, the CIA will be told that an unnamed new person has just joined Almihdhar and the others, and that additional photographs have been taken. It is not mentioned who the new person is. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 247 ]

The total number of photos taken and then passed to the CIA is not known. It is also unclear why only two or three of the photos are circulated within the within some US intelligence agencies before 9/11 (see Early January 2001, January 3, 2001, Late May, 2001, and June 11, 2001).

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Hambali, Fahad al-Quso, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Khalid Almihdhar, Tawfiq bin Attash, Nawaf Alhazmi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. January 5, 2000: CIA Bin Laden Unit Blocks Notification to FBI about Hijacker Almihdhar’s US Visa Edit

Victims’ family members Lorie Van Auken (right) and Kristen Breitweiser (left) are shocked to learn Tom Wilshire blocked a cable to the FBI about Khalid Almihdhar’s visa. [Source: Banded Artists]

Doug Miller, an FBI agent assigned to Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, reads CIA cables reporting that 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar has a US visa and drafts a cable to the FBI to inform it of this. The CIA obtained the information through a tap on Almihdhar’s phone in Yemen (see December 29, 1999) and by monitoring him as he passed through Dubai (see January 2-5, 2000) on his way to an al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000).

Draft Cable - Miller writes that Almihdhar has a US visa (see April 3-7, 1999) and that the visa application states his destination is New York and he intends to stay for three months. The draft cable mentions the tap on Almihdhar’s phone, his planned travel to Malaysia, and the links between his phone and the 1998 East African embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998 and October 4, 2001). It also says that the CIA has obtained photographs of Almihdhar and these will be sent separately. Miller asks the FBI for feedback resulting from an FBI investigation.

Blocked - A CIA officer known as “Michelle” accesses Miller’s draft about an hour after he writes it. The cable is then blocked on the orders of the station’s deputy chief, Tom Wilshire, as a few hours after Miller drafts the cable Michelle attaches a message to it saying, “pls hold off on [cable] for now per [Tom Wilshire].” [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 240 ] Miller is also told, “This is not a matter for the FBI.” [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 311]

'No Reason to Kill the Message' - Author James Bamford will later comment: “A potential terrorist and member of al-Qaeda was heading for the US, the FBI’s jurisdiction—its turf—and he [Miller] was putting the FBI on notice so it could take action. There was no reason to kill the message.” [BAMFORD, 2008, PP. 19] Miller will later say he has no “rational answer” as to why the cable was blocked, but will speculate that Alec Station officers were annoyed he had encroached on their territory. [CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY, 10/1/2008] Michelle drafts a cable falsely saying that the information about Almihdhar’s visa has been shared with the FBI (see Around 7:00 p.m. January 5, 2000) and there will be a discussion the next day about whether the cable should be sent (see January 6, 2000). The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General will later call the failure to pass the information to the FBI a “significant failure” but will be unable to determine why the information was not passed on. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 250 ] The 9/11 Commission will know of the incident, but will relegate it to an endnote in its final report, omitting Wilshire’s role entirely. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 502] The CIA inspector general will falsely claim that the cable is not sent, “[a]pparently because it was in the wrong format or needed editing.” [CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, 6/2005, PP. XV ]

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Doug Miller, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, ’Michelle’, 9/11 Commission, Tom Wilshire, Alec Station, Office of the Inspector General (CIA)

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


Around 7:00 p.m. January 5, 2000: CIA Officer Sends out Cable with False Claim FBI Has Been Told of Hijacker Almihdhar’s US Visa

A CIA officer known only as “Michelle” sends out a cable saying the information that 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar has a US visa has been sent to the FBI “for further investigation.” The cable does not state how the visa information was passed or by whom. Michelle is with Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit. The cable, which is lengthy and summarizes information about Almihdhar and three other operatives planning an al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia, is sent to some overseas CIA stations, but not the FBI. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 243 ] The CIA, which will be criticized for its apparent failure to tell the FBI of Almihdhar’s visa after 9/11, will repeatedly tout this cable as evidence that it had actually informed the FBI of Almihdhar’s visa, or at least thought it had done so. [US CONGRESS, 9/20/2002; NEW YORK TIMES, 10/17/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 146 ; TENET, 2007, PP. 195] However, this appears not to be true, as after 9/11 the FBI will be unable to find any record of receiving such information and the CIA will be unable to find any record of having sent it. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 502; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 249-252 ] In addition, as Michelle blocked the relevant notification to the FBI on this day (see 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. January 5, 2000) and insists it not be passed the next day (see January 6, 2000), she must know the claim the information about Almihdhar’s visa had been passed is false. Michelle will apparently lie about this cable to the Justice Department’s inspector general (see February 2004) and CIA Director George Tenet (see Before October 17, 2002 and Shortly Before April 30, 2007).

Entity Tags: Alec Station, Central Intelligence Agency, ’Michelle’, Khalid Almihdhar

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 6, 2000: Two Malaysia Summit Attendees Travel to Singapore and Thailand, But Agents Monitoring Them Fail to Get Their Names

Two of the operatives attending al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit make short trips to neighboring countries, returning to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, within 24 hours. The two operatives are Nawaf Alhazmi and Khallad bin Attash and the two countries they visit are Thailand and Singapore, but it is not definitively known which operative goes to which country. [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 4 ] However, an associate of bin Attash’s, Fahad al-Quso, arrives in Thailand on this day. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 269 ] In addition, Alhazmi will later be said to have visited Singapore. [SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/4/2003] Presumably, therefore, it is bin Attash that travels to Thailand, whereas Alhazmi goes to Singapore. The 9/11 Commission will later say of these two trips, “After the fact, efforts were made to track them. US officials in Kuala Lumpur wondered if one of these Arabs was the still mysterious Nawaf. Both returned to Kuala Lumpur within the next 24 hours, though the authorities did not know it at the time.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 4 ] Khalid Almihdhar is also said to visit Singapore, and both he and Alhazmi are said to travel to Indonesia around this time as well, but the circumstances of these additional trips, if they are actually made, are not known. [SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/4/2003] Almihdhar’s passport was copied by intelligence services on the way to Malaysia (see January 2-5, 2000) and a similar operation to obtain Alhazmi’s passport details failed (see January 2-4, 2000). These two trips represent opportunities to obtain Alhazmi and bin Attash’s passport details, but this is apparently not done, even though the two are under surveillance at this point (see January 5-8, 2000).

Entity Tags: CIA Kuala Lumpur station, Nawaf Alhazmi, Tawfiq bin Attash, Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 6, 2000: CIA Informs FBI Leaders about Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit but Fails to Mention One Attendee Has US Visa

FBI Director Louis Freeh and other top FBI officials are briefed about the ongoing al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000) as part of their regular daily update. They are told the CIA is in the lead and that the CIA promises to let the FBI know if an FBI angle to the case develops. But they also are not told that the CIA just found out one of the participants, Khalid Almihdhar, has a US visa. [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004] It is unclear who the other top officials are. However, Dale Watson, the assistant director for the counterterrorism division, and Thomas Pickard, the FBI’s deputy director at this time and its acting director in the summer of 2001, will also learn of the summit by 2001, although it is unclear exactly when they are informed. [PICKARD, 6/24/2004] One FBI official familiar with the case will later complain, “[The CIA] purposely hid [Almihdhar] from the FBI, purposely refused to tell the bureau.… The thing was, they didn’t want John O’Neill and the FBI running over their case. And that’s why September 11 happened.… They have blood on their hands.” [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 224] Jack Cloonan, an FBI agent in the I-49 squad that focused on al-Qaeda, later says: “If that information [got] disseminated, would it have had an impact on the events of 9/11? I’m telling you that it would have.” [ABC NEWS, 5/10/2004]

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, John O’Neill, Central Intelligence Agency, Louis J. Freeh, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jack Cloonan

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 6-9, 2000: Top CIA and Clinton Cabinet Officials Repeatedly Briefed about Al-Qaeda Summit in Malaysia

On January 6, 2000, the CIA station in Malaysia begins passing details from the Malaysian government’s surveillance of the al-Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to the CIA Counterterrorist Center (CTC) (see January 5-8, 2000 and January 5-8, 2000 and Shortly After). Cofer Black, head of the CTC, orders that he be continually informed about the meeting. CIA Director George Tenet is frequently informed as well. They are given continual updates until the meeting ends on January 8. [STERN, 8/13/2003] National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, FBI Director Louis Freeh, and other top officials are briefed, but apparently President Clinton is not. [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 225-26] However, it appears that the CIA deliberately and repeatedly fails to tell the FBI that one attendee, future 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, has an active visa to visit the US (see Mid-July 2004, January 6, 2000, and January 5-6, 2000). No evidence will be presented suggesting anyone else outside the CIA is told this crucial fact either. The Malaysia summit ends on January 8. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 237] Officially, the CIA will later claim to have lost future hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar as they left the meeting (see January 8, 2000). However, Almihdhar will later report back to al-Qaeda that he thought he was followed to the US (see Mid-July 2000). It will not be reported whether any of the other attendees are monitored after leaving the meeting.

Entity Tags: Sandy Berger, Nawaf Alhazmi, William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, Khalid Almihdhar, George J. Tenet, Central Intelligence Agency, Louis J. Freeh, Counterterrorist Center, Cofer Black

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 8, 2000: Al-Qaeda Summit Ends; CIA Still Fails to Add Attendees to Watch List

The al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000) ends and the participants leave. Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar fly to Bangkok, Thailand, with al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash (see January 8, 2000). Other attendees depart to other locales. There have been no media reports that any of the others were followed by intelligence agents. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/20/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ] Before the summit started the CIA knew one attendee was named Khalid Almihdhar and that another had the first name Nawaf. At the end of the summit the CIA appears to have learned little more, and still does not know Nawaf’s last name is Alhazmi. Around this time, on January 7 and 10, the CIA searches for their names in their databases but get no hits. Yet they don’t ask for a search of the much larger NSA databases, which had vital information on them (see Early 1999). CIA headquarters asks the NSA to put Almihdhar on their watch list so they can pass on more information about him (see Mid-January 2000). However, neither Alhazmi nor Almihdhar are placed on the State Department’s watch list, which would actually prevent them from coming to the US. [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004] The CIA still fails to tell the FBI that Almihdhar has a valid US visa, and in fact seems to go out of their way not to tell the FBI about it (see 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. January 5, 2000, January 6, 2000, Mid-July 2004, and January 5-6, 2000). [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ; STERN, 8/13/2003]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar, Al-Qaeda, Nawaf Alhazmi, Tawfiq bin Attash

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 8, 2000: 9/11 Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Fly to Thailand

The al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000) ends and the participants leave. Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar fly to Bangkok, Thailand, traveling under their real names. Al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash also travels with them and the three sit side by side in the airplane, but bin Attash travels under the false name “Salah Saeed Mohammed bin Yousaf” (see After January 8, 2000). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/20/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 248 ] Malaysian intelligence and the CIA are aware of this flight (see January 8, 2000).

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi, Tawfiq bin Attash, Khalid Almihdhar

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 8, 2000: CIA Bangkok Station Informed Hijacker Almihdhar Has Departed for Thailand with Two Companions

The CIA’s station in Bangkok, Thailand, is informed that 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar has departed Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he was meeting other top al-Qaeda operatives, en route to Bangkok (see January 8, 2000). Almihdhar is known to be traveling with two companions, who turn out to be Nawaf Alhazmi and al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash. [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 5 ] Some sources state that a message about this is passed from the Malaysian authorities monitoring the three men to the CIA station in Kuala Lumpur and then to the CIA station in Bangkok. [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 226; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 5 ] It is not known exactly how promptly this message is sent, but it is sent five hours after another one about al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit dispatched the same day. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 247 ] However, author Lawrence Wright will later say that the Malaysians notify the CIA station chief in Thailand, implying that the notification is direct and possibly faster. [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 311] The 9/11 Commission will say that this notification comes too late for the three to be picked up at the airport. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 181] A flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok usually takes about 2 hours. [AIRLINEMEALS (.NET), 4/29/2008]

Entity Tags: Tawfiq bin Attash, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 8-15, 2000: 9/11 Hijackers Associate with Cole Bombers in Thailand

While in Thailand, 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi associate with three of the operatives who will later be involved in the bombing of the USS Cole (see October 12, 2000). The two hijackers arrive with Khallad bin Attash, who will command the Cole operation. The three of them come from Malaysia, where they were under surveillance by the CIA (see January 5-8, 2000 and January 8, 2000). While in Bangkok, bin Attash meets Cole bombers Fahad al-Quso and Ibrahim al-Thawar, who give bin Attash some money, possibly $36,000. Some of this may be passed to Alhazmi and Almihdhar. Under interrogation after 9/11, bin Attash will claim that, even though they all stay in the same hotel for part of the time (see (January 5-8, 2000)) the two groups do not meet. However, such statements are thought to be unreliable because of the methods used to extract them (see June 16, 2004). [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 159; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 312] Shown photographs of Alhazmi and Almihdhar after 9/11 by the FBI, al-Quso will say that he recognizes the two, but indicate that this may be because he met them at camps in Afghanistan. [NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ] However, he is apparently photographed by Malaysian authorities standing next to Almihdhar in Kuala Lumpur (see (January 5-8, 2000)).

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Ibrahim al-Thawar, Tawfiq bin Attash, Nawaf Alhazmi, Fahad al-Quso

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 8-9, 2000: CIA Obtains Additional Information about Almihdhar’s Companions on Bangkok Flight, Apparently Does Not Realize Nawaf Is Alhazmi’s First Name

After learning that 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar has flown from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Bangkok with two companions (see January 8, 2000 and January 8, 2000), the CIA obtains more information about the two men. Based on the flight manifest, it learns that one of them was traveling under the name “Alhazmi,” a reference to Nawaf Alhazmi. The CIA knows that one of the people Almihdhar associated with in Kuala Lumpur was named Nawaf, but, apparently, does not connect the first name Nawaf to the second name Alhazmi. [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 227; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 5 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 181, 353, 502] The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will say that the CIA could have put the two names together and that this could have led to his watchlisting, but this does not happen (see January 8, 2000). [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 145 ] The 9/11 Commission will add that, if the State Department were asked about Nawaf Alhazmi, it would discover that he had been issued a US visa in Jeddah around the same time as Almihdhar (see April 3-7, 1999). The NSA has been intercepting Alhazmi’s calls to Almihdhar for at least a year (see Early 1999) and could promptly put Nawaf and Alhazmi together, but it is not asked (see January 9, 2000). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 353-4] The second companion is al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash, who is initially reported to travel under the name “Salahsae.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 181] The CIA will learn that this is part of the name Salah Saeed Mohammed bin Yousaf, one of bin Attash’s aliases, no later than March 2000. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 248 ] Bin Attash previously used this alias to apply for a US visa in Yemen (see April 3, 1999), but the CIA does not realize this (see After January 8, 2000). Bin Attash will leave Thailand in mid-January (see January 20, 2000).

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Tawfiq bin Attash

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 7, 2000 or Shortly After: Malaysian Authorities Search Computers Used by Malaysia Summit Attendees

Some attendees at al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit, including 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, use an Internet café while on a shopping trip. They spend “many hours in front of the computers,” all the while under surveillance by the Malaysian Special Branch. After they leave the café, the Malaysians search the hard drives of the computers that were used. What information is learned and what use is made of this information is not known. However, information about the summit is passed to the CIA around this time (see January 5-9, 2000). [DIE ZEIT (HAMBURG), 10/1/2002; AUSTRALIAN, 12/24/2002; STERN, 8/13/2003]

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


After January 8, 2000: US Apparently Does Not Realize Al-Qaeda Leader Has Applied for US Visa

On January 8, 2000, hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar plus al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash fly from Malaysia to Thailand together, sitting next to each other. Malaysian intelligence soon informs the CIA that Almihdhar was on the flight, sitting next to someone with the last name of Alhazmi and someone with the name Salah Saeed Mohammed bin Yousaf (see January 8, 2000). This is an alias for bin Attash, and in fact is the same alias he used when applying for a US visa in 1999 (see April 3, 1999). Two months later, the CIA learns that several days later, Nawaf Alhazmi flew from Thailand to the US, which means he had to have had a US visa (see March 5, 2000 and March 6, 2000 and After). In fact, Almihdhar, Alhazmi, and bin Attash, using the “bin Yousaf” alias, all applied for US visas within days of each other (see April 3-7, 1999). Alhazmi and bin Attash even applied on the same day. However, apparently no check of visa application records is made that would reveal this. US intelligence also suspects that Alhazmi has a militant brother named Salem, which he does, and Salem Alhazmi also applied for and received a US visa from the same consulate on nearly the same day as his brother Nawaf, but this is not discovered either. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 155-6, 181-2, 492; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 9 ; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 248 ] The US will miss other opportunities to learn more about this alias (see After December 16, 2000 and After August 23, 2001).

Entity Tags: Tawfiq bin Attash, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 9, 2000: CIA’s Bin Laden Unit Asks for Hijacker Almihdhar and Associates to Be Identified in Thailand

Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, sends the CIA station in Bangkok, Thailand, a NIACT cable about Khalid Almihdhar and two associates, who turn out to be Nawaf Alhazmi and al-Qaeda leader Khalled bin Attash. NIACT means the cable is a very high priority and has to be immediately acted on by the duty officer, even if it is received at night. Almihdhar and his two associates had arrived in Bangkok the previous day, but the CIA in Thailand had apparently been unable to track them (see January 8, 2000 and January 8, 2000). Alec Station wants the Bangkok station to identify Almihdhar and his associates, although the precise contents of the cable and the response to it are unknown. [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 227; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 5 ; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 247 ]

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi, Tawfiq bin Attash, Alec Station

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 10, 2000: NSA Receives CIA Report on Almihdhar, but Does Not Disseminate More Information about Him

The CIA sends the NSA some information about hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, including information about al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit (see January 5-8, 2000), which Almihdhar attended, as well as the name of a person who helped him in Kuala Lumpur, where the summit was held. The NSA is also told Almihdhar’s primary purpose for coming to Malaysia was to meet with other people. The CIA knows Almihdhar has a US visa (see January 2-5, 2000), but it is unclear whether the NSA is informed of this. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 156 ] At this time, the NSA has some information about Almihdhar, whose calls it has been intercepting for at least a year (see Early 1999, Summer 1999, Late Summer 1999, and Shortly Before December 29, 1999), that has not been disseminated. In particular, the NSA seems to have overheard something in early 1999 that should have been disseminated, but was not. This new information from the CIA does not cause the NSA to re-examine its material on Almihdhar or disseminate any important information to other US agencies. However, Almihdhar is subsequently put on the NSA watchlist (see Mid-January 2000) and the NSA intercepts calls between his home in Yemen and him in the US (see Spring-Summer 2000), but fails to alert the FBI to his presence in the US (see (Spring 2000)).

Entity Tags: National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Counterterrorist Center, Khalid Almihdhar

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 12, 2000: Iraqi Who Met 9/11 Hijacker in Malaysia Leaves Country

Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, an Iraqi who met 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, around the time of an al-Qaeda summit there, leaves the country (see January 5-8, 2000). The connection between Shakir and Almihdhar is unclear, as Shakir met Almihdhar while working as a greeter of Arab visitors at the airport, but then accompanied Almihdhar to the place he was staying and was videotaped with him there by the Malaysian authorities (see January 5, 2000). Shakir is said to have got the job at the airport with the help of an Iraqi intelligence officer, raising concerns of Iraqi involvement in 9/11. However, although Shakir is watchlisted before 9/11 (see August 23, 2001) and arrested and released twice afterwards (see September 17, 2001), his connection to Saddam Hussein’s regime is found to be not as strong as alleged (see Before June 21, 2004). [KNIGHT RIDDER, 6/12/2004; WASHINGTON POST, 6/22/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 502]

Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Khalid Almihdhar, Ahmad Hikmat Shakir

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 13, 2000: Thai Intelligence Puts Alhazmi, Almihdhar, and Al-Qaeda Leader’s Alias on Watch List

Acting on a tipoff by the CIA, Thai intelligence puts Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi on its watch list. In addition, it puts an alias al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash is using (Salah Saeed Mohammed bin Yousaf) on the watch list (see January 20, 2000). The CIA is aware that the three men arrived in Bangkok on January 8 (see January 8, 2000), but seems to be unable to locate them in Thailand (see January 13, 2000). The Thai authorities will note their departure from Bangkok on January 15, but will not stop them and apparently will not inform the CIA of this for some time (see January 15, 2000 and March 5, 2000). [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 230; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ] The CIA is apparently unaware of Alhazmi’s full name at this point (see January 8-9, 2000), but this does not prevent the watchlisting. The CIA will not add the three to the US watch list until late August 2001 (see August 23, 2001).

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 13, 2000: CIA Says It Is Unable to Locate 9/11 Hijackers in Thailand

The CIA station in Bangkok, Thailand, sends a cable to Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, saying that it is unable to locate Khalid Almihdhar and two companions, who turn out to be Nawaf Alhazmi and al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash, in Bangkok. The three had been under surveillance in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000), but the CIA’s Bangkok station had been unable to pick them up at the airport when they flew to Thailand on January 8 (see January 8, 2000 and January 8, 2000). According to an official, this was because, “when they arrived we were unable to mobilize what we needed to mobilize.” Despite the high priority allocated to the search by CIA headquarters (see January 9, 2000) and the fact bin Attash was under surveillance in Malaysia when he called the hotel where the three are staying in Bangkok (see (January 5-8, 2000)), they cannot be found. The precise steps taken to locate them are unknown. [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 181, 502; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 247 ]

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency, Tawfiq bin Attash, Nawaf Alhazmi, Alec Station

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 13, 2000: CIA Officer Again Fails to Grant Permission to Inform FBI of Hijacker Almihdhar’s US Visa

Doug Miller, an FBI agent detailed to Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, writes to Tom Wilshire, the unit’s deputy chief, about 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar. Miller had drafted a cable eight days before to tell the FBI that Almihdhar has a US visa, but Wilshire and another CIA officer had blocked the cable (see 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. January 5, 2000 and January 6, 2000). Miller asks Wilshire, “Is this a no go or should I remake it in some way?” However, Wilshire does not respond. This is apparently Miller’s last attempt to inform the FBI of Almihdhar’s visa. About a month later, Miller will have some draft cables in the CIA’s computer system deleted, but will ensure that this draft cable is saved. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 241 ] The Justice Department’s inspector general will criticize Miller for not following up more and ensuring the information is passed to the FBI. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 356 ] However, Miller will say that he has a relatively low rank at the CIA at this time, and that he could not have passed the information without CIA approval, as he would have been fired. [CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY, 10/1/2008]

Entity Tags: Doug Miller, Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Inspector General (DOJ), Khalid Almihdhar, Tom Wilshire, Alec Station

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


Mid-January 2000: CIA Asks NSA to Pass on New Information about Hijacker Almihdhar, but NSA Fails to Do So

Following a request by the CIA, the NSA puts hijacker Khalid Almihdhar on its watch list. This means that the NSA should pass details of any new monitored communications involving him to the CIA. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 157 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ] The CIA is looking for Almihdhar and knows he has a US visa (see January 13, 2000), but fails to add him to the State Department’s watch list until 19 months later (see August 23, 2001). The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will later state: “In mid-January 2000, NSA queried its databases for information concerning Khaled [redacted]. These queries remained active until May 2000, but did not uncover any information.” In fact, the NSA intercepts eight of Almihdhar’s calls from San Diego to Yemen during this time and even gives some details about some of the calls to the FBI (see Spring-Summer 2000). However, they do not tell the CIA everything about them, despite the watch list requirement to provide the information. It is not clear why the NSA failed to share this with the CIA. It is also not known if or when Almihdhar was removed from the NSA watch list before 9/11. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 157 ]

Entity Tags: National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 15, 2000: Thai Authorities Note Alhazmi and Almihdhar Depart Bangkok for US, Unclear Whether CIA Informed

Thai authorities note that 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi depart Bangkok for the US (see January 15, 2000). They had been put on a Thai watch list shortly before this at the CIA’s request (see January 13, 2000), but the watchlisting only means the Thais note their departure from Thailand—they are not stopped at the airport. The reason for the watchisting was that the CIA was unable to locate them in Thailand, and wanted to be notified of the two future 9/11 hijackers’ departure, so it could start tracking them again. However, it is unclear whether this information is passed to the CIA at this time. One possibility is that the Thais do not pass this information on and, according to author James Bamford, “[What’s] worse, the CIA didn’t bother to ask for it until months later.” When the CIA asks for the information in February, only one of the names, Alhazmi’s, is allegedly passed to CIA headquarters (see March 5, 2000). [BAMFORD, 2004, PP. 230; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 15, 2000: 9/11 Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Arrive in US Edit

A week after attending the al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000), hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar fly together from Bangkok, Thailand, to Los Angeles, California. [MSNBC, 12/11/2001] The passports of both men have indicators of their terrorist affiliation placed there by Saudi authorities to track them (see March 21, 1999 and April 6, 1999), but the indicators are apparently not noticed by US immigration officials, as they have not been informed of their significance (see Around February 1993). [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 10 ] The CIA will later claim that it lost track of them when they arrived in Bangkok and that it did not receive notification from the Thai government that Almihdhar and Alhazmi entered the US until March 2000 (see March 5, 2000). However, Almihdhar will later tell 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed that he and Alhazmi think they were watched and followed from Bangkok to Los Angeles by unknown individuals (see Mid-July 2000). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 181, 215] One San Diego friend of the two hijackers, Mohdar Abdullah, will later allegedly claim that he was told in advance they were coming to Los Angeles to carry out an attack in the US (see Early 2000).

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Mohdar Abdullah, Central Intelligence Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 15-February 2, 2000: Alhazmi and Almihdhar Allegedly Stay in Omar Al-Bayoumi’s Apartment

An FBI document from shortly after 9/11 states, “Rental records for the Parkwood Apartments [in San Diego] indicate that, prior to moving into apartment 150, hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Alhihdhar lived with Omar al-Bayoumi” in apartment 152 at the same apartment complex. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/3/2001 ] An FBI timeline put together later that month further clarifies that on a rental application on February 5, 2000, the two hijackers specified they had lived with al-Bayoumi from January 15 to February 2. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 52 ] January 15 is the same day the two hijackers arrive in the US (see January 15, 2000), which suggests the hijackers immediately went from the Los Angeles airport to al-Bayoumi’s apartment. Al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence agent, will later claim he only meets the hijackers by chance at a Los Angeles restaurant two weeks later.

Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Omar al-Bayoumi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


January 15-February 2000: Suspected Advance Man Al-Bayoumi Helps 9/11 Hijackers Settle in San Diego

Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi spy, goes to great lengths to help future 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar settle in San Diego. Supposedly, al-Bayoumi meets them by chance in a Los Angeles restaurant and encourages them to move to San Diego, but the accounts of the meeting are highly doubtful (see February 1, 2000). The FBI’s “best source” in San Diego will later say that al-Bayoumi “must be an intelligence officer for Saudi Arabia or another foreign power.” A former top FBI official working on the al-Bayoumi investigation claims, “We firmly believed that he had knowledge [of the 9/11 plot], and that his meeting with them that day was more than coincidence.” [NEWSWEEK, 7/28/2003]

When Alhazmi and Almihdhar move into apartment 150 in the Parkwood Apartments in San Diego in early February, they indicate on their rental application that they have been staying at al-Bayoumi’s apartment in the same apartment complex since January 15, the day they arrived in the US (see January 15-February 2, 2000). (This would suggest the alleged accidental restaurant meeting never took place.) [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/3/2001 ]

He is the co-signer and guarantor for their rental application, because they do not have established credit. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/3/2001 ]

He pays $1,500 cash for their first month’s rent and security deposit. Some FBI officials claim the hijackers immediately pay him back, others claim they do not. [NEWSWEEK, 11/24/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003 ]

The apartment manager will later claim al-Bayoumi occasionally paid rent for Alhazmi and Almihdhar on other occasions. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/3/2001 ]

Shortly after they arrive in San Diego, al-Bayoumi throws a welcoming party to introduce them to the local Muslim community. [WASHINGTON POST, 12/29/2001] One attendee will later say an al-Bayoumi party “was a big deal… it meant that everyone accepted them without question.” [SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/25/2001]

He also introduces hijacker Hani Hanjour to the community a short time later, and Hanjour is seen in his apartment later in the year (see Early 2000). [SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/14/2002]

Cayson Bin Don, a friend of al-Bayoumi, will later say al-Bayoumi “spent a lot of time at Alhazmi and Almihdhar’s apartment.” [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/8/2001 ]

Al-Bayoumi apparently loans the hijackers his cell phone until they can get phone service in their own apartment. On February 15, 2000, someone trying to call al-Bayoumi on his phone has the call answered by Alhazmi instead. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 516]

He tasks an acquaintance, Mohdar Abdullah, to serve as their translator and help them get driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, information on flight schools, and more. [SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/14/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003 ]

Entity Tags: Cayson Bin Don, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mohdar Abdullah, Hani Hanjour, Omar al-Bayoumi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


After January 15, 2000: Hijacker Alhazmi Allegedly Suspects Omar Al-Bayoumi Is Saudi Spy

After getting to know San Diego resident Omar al-Bayoumi, 9/11 hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi allegedly begins to suspect that he is a Saudi spy. Alhazmi, hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, and al-Bayoumi all live in the Parkwood Apartments in San Diego in early 2000 (see January 15-February 2, 2000 and January 15-February 2000). In discussing why the hijackers move from there, the 9/11 Commission will comment, “They may also have been reconsidering the wisdom of living so close to the video camera-wielding al-Bayoumi, who Alhazmi seemed to think was some sort of Saudi spy.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 219] An FBI report from shortly after 9/11 obtained by the website Intelwire.com will similarly mention, “Alhazmi disclosed to _____ [that al-Bayoumi] was a spy for the Saudi government and directed ______ not to socialize too much with him.” (Several names mentioned are redacted, and al-Bayoumi’s name is inferred from other references to him.) [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 4/15/2002 ] It is unclear what the source for this information is, or when exactly Alhazmi may say this. Many US investigators will later conclude that al-Bayoumi was in fact a Saudi spy (see August 1-3, 2003 and September 7, 2004). Furthermore, some FBI officials will allegedly conclude that Alhazmi and Almihdhar also were connected to Saudi intelligence (see 2006 and After and August 6, 2003).

Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Omar al-Bayoumi, Khalid Almihdhar

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


Early 2000-Summer 2001: NSA Intercepts Communications between Hijackers in US and Al-Qaeda Communications Hub

While the 9/11 hijackers are in the US, the NSA intercepts several calls between them and an al-Qaeda communications hub in Sana’a, Yemen, run by Ahmed al-Hada, who is hijacker Khalid Almihdhar’s father-in-law (see August 4-25, 1998).

Summary of Calls -

The first calls are made by Almihdhar and are intercepted during the spring and summer of 2000 (see Spring-Summer 2000).

More calls are made by hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi after the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 (see Mid-October 2000-Summer 2001).

The final call from the US is intercepted just a few weeks before 9/11 (see (August 2001)).

The NSA intercepted the hijackers’ calls outside the US before this (see Early 1999 and December 29, 1999) and continues to do so in 2000 (see Summer 2000) after Almihdhar returns to Yemen (see June 10, 2000 and (Mid-June-Mid-July 2000)).

Calls' Content - Some of the calls may only contain non-operational information, as they are reportedly between Almihdhar and his wife. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 222; SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 94; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 343] However, the calls are also used to relay messages to the 9/11 hijackers. [EMBASSY OF YEMEN (WASHINGTON), 2/13/2002; MSNBC, 2/14/2002; MSNBC, 5/2005]

Agencies' Roles - The CIA is the lead agency monitoring the communications hub. It has planted bugs inside it and is wiretapping all calls (see Late August 1998). Intercepts of calls to and from the hub are a major plank of the US intelligence community’s effort to fight al-Qaeda. Also involved is the FBI, which is using phone records to plot these calls on a map (see Late 1998-Early 2002). Some of the calls intercepted by US intelligence come from Osama bin Laden’s satellite phone in Afghanistan (see August 4-25, 1998 and Late August 1998). After 9/11, counterterrorism officials will say that the number was one of the hottest targets being monitored by the NSA and was an “intelligence bonanza.” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12/21/2005; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 343]

Importance of Failure - Also after 9/11, counterterrorism officials will agree that the failure to follow leads to the US from this number was a huge missed opportunity to stop the 9/11 plot. For instance, FBI agent Kenneth Maxwell will say: “Two al-Qaeda guys living in California—are you kidding me? We would have been on them like white on snow: physical surveillance, electronic surveillance, a special unit devoted entirely to them.” [MSNBC, 7/21/2004; NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ]

Discussed after 9/11 - The failure to roll up the plot based on these communications intercepts will be discussed following 9/11 (see Summer 2002-Summer 2004 and March 15, 2004 and After).

Entity Tags: Ahmed al-Hada, Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nawaf Alhazmi, Kenneth Maxwell, Hoda al-Hada

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


February 2000: CIA Obtains Videotape from Al-Qaeda Summit in Malaysia, But Express Little Interest in It

About a month after the Malaysia al-Qaeda summit (see January 5-8, 2000), “The CIA obtain[s] a surveillance videotape” from Malaysian intelligence “that shows men arriving at the meeting, according to a US intelligence official. The tape, he said, has no sound and [isn’t] viewed as very significant at the time.” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 10/14/2001] Apparently, only the first day of the summit was videotaped (see January 5, 2000). Contents of the tape, which might definitively prove who was at the meeting, have never been made public, but the US Treasury will later mentione that Hambali and hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar were on the tape. [US DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, 1/24/2003 ] There is no evidence the CIA shares the videotape with any other agency before 9/11.

Entity Tags: Hambali, Nawaf Alhazmi, Malaysian Secret Service, Al-Qaeda, Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


February 2000: CIA Rejects Foreign Request for Involvement with Almihdhar Due to Own Investigation

The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will later report, “[I]n February 2000, CIA rejected a request from foreign authorities to become involved [in the search for and/or monitoring of hijacker Khalid Almihdhar] because CIA was in the middle of an investigation ‘to determine what the subject is up to.’” However, the CIA will later say it has no idea where Almihdhar is at this point (see January 13, 2000). The identity of the “foreign authorities” and the nature of the proposed assistance is not known. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 147 ]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


February 2000-Early September 2001: San Diego Neighbors to Hijackers See Mysterious Late Night Visits and Car Rides

While Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar live in the Parkwood Apartments in San Diego in early 2000 and then again before 9/11, neighbors note unexplained late night car rides and visits. Time reports that a neighbor, “Nancy Coker, 36, saw them getting into limos late at night, even though the car that neighbors said they drove was a gray Toyota Camry, early ‘90s vintage. ‘A week ago, I was coming home between 12 and 1 a.m. from a club. I saw a limo pick them up. It wasn’t the first time. In this neighborhood you notice stuff like that. In the past couple of months, I have seen this happen at least two or three times.’” Note the comment, “a week ago,” which is further evidence the two are living in the Parkwood Apartments again just before 9/11 (see Early September 2001) [TIME, 9/24/2001 SOURCES: NANCY COKER] Keith Link, a neighbor with a view of one of the apartments, referring to one of these hijackers, says, “People later in the evening would come and pick him up in really fancy nice cars, brand-new Lincolns. Everybody is friendly in this whole complex, except for that guy. Nobody knew him, nobody spoke to him.” Another neighbor, Sharon Flower, says, “I would see this man being picked up or dropped off at all hours of the day or night.” [SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/15/2001 SOURCES: KEITH LINK, SHARON FLOWER] A similar pattern is seen by neighbors when the hijackers live with FBI asset Abdussattar Shaikh in the neighborhood of Lemon Grove in late 2000. Neighbor Dave Eckler later explains, “There was always a series of cars driving up to the house late at night. Sometimes they were nice cars. Sometimes they had darkened windows. They’d stay about 10 minutes.” At the time, Eckler guesses they are selling fake IDs. [TIME, 9/24/2001 SOURCES: DAVE ECKLER] Neighbor Marna Adair says, “People come and go at all hours. We’ve always thought there was something strange going on there.” Her daughter Denise Adair adds, “We thought it was a little weird, but we never thought this [i.e., the 9/11 attacks].” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/16/2001 SOURCES: DENISE ADAIR, MARNA ADAIR] There has never been any media speculation as to the meaning of these late night rides and official 9/11 investigations have never mentioned the issue.

Entity Tags: Abdussattar Shaikh, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


February 1, 2000: Alhazmi and Almihdhar Supposedly Meet Omar Al-Bayoumi by Accident, but Account Is Very Dubious


Cayson Bin Don, a.k.a. Clayton Morgan. [Source: New York Post]

On February 1, 2000, hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar allegedly meet Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi spy, by pure chance. Alhazmi and Almihdhar had arrived in Los Angeles from overseas on January 15 (see January 15, 2000). On February 1, al-Bayoumi drives about two hours from where he lives in San Diego to Los Angeles. He is driving with Cayson Bin Don, an American formerly known as Clayton Morgan who converted to Islam and became a supporter of radical militant causes. [FRONTPAGE MAGAZINE, 4/27/2005] Al-Bayoumi has a one hour meeting with Fahad al Thumairy, an employee of the Saudi embassy suspected to have radical militant ties. (Al Thumairy will later be deported from the US due to alleged terrorist links (see May 6-8, 2003).) What al-Bayoumi and al Thumairy discuss is unknown, but phone records indicate they had been in contact since 1998 (see December 1998-December 2000). [GRAHAM AND NUSSBAUM, 2004, PP. 12-13] After the meeting, al-Bayoumi rejoins Cayson Bin Don and they go to a Middle Eastern restaurant several miles from the Los Angeles airport. Al-Bayoumi and Bin Don will both be interviewed about this later and describe similar stories. Supposedly, al-Bayoumi hears Arabic being spoken at an adjacent table, and invites the two strangers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, to join them. Alhazmi says that he and Almihdhar do not feel comfortable in Los Angeles as they find the city too big and intimidating. Al-Bayoumi offers to be of help if the two of them decide to move to San Diego. Al-Bayoumi and Bin Don then leave the restaurant and visit the Culver City mosque a few blocks away (Al Thumairy is also the imam at that mosque). Then they return to San Diego. The two hijackers move to San Diego a few days later, and al-Bayoumi helps them extensively. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/8/2001 ; GRAHAM AND NUSSBAUM, 2004, PP. 12-13; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 217-218] Al-Bayoumi will later claim that this first contact with the hijackers is accidental. However, one FBI source will later recall that before al-Bayoumi drove to Los Angeles that day, he said he was going “to pick up visitors.” [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003 ; NEWSWEEK, 7/28/2003] There are numerous problems with Bin Don’s account. He recalls the meeting took place between December 1999 and February 2000, so it just as easily could have taken place on January 15, the day the hijackers first arrived. Also, when initially questioned by the FBI, he will claim that he first met the two hijackers at a party in San Diego. Asked why he failed to remember the restaurant meeting, he will point out he has ADD (attention deficit disorder). He will also concede that there was a “remote possibility” he could have been used as an alibi or cover by al-Bayoumi for the meeting. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/8/2001 ] Additionally, several days after 9/11, Bin Don will tell two police officers that he supported the 9/11 attack and that he would never tip authorities off if he knew of an impending attack. Later in the month, he attempts to purchase an assault rifle and handgun. Then, in comments to the New York Post in October 2001, he says, “I would consider it more noble for me to go and get myself out of the country, renounce my citizenship, end up in Afghanistan, pick up a gun and fight alongside everyone else against the enemy—American soldiers.” [FRONTPAGE MAGAZINE, 4/27/2005] The 9/11 Commission will later note that there are inconsistencies and problems with both al-Bayoumi and Bin Don’s account of the meeting. The Commission will conclude: “We do not know whether the lunch encounter occurred by chance or design. We know about it because al-Bayoumi told law enforcement that it happened.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 217] A former top FBI official working on the al-Bayoumi investigation will later claim, “We firmly believed that [al-Bayoumi] had knowledge [of the 9/11 plot], and that his meeting with them that day was more than coincidence.” [NEWSWEEK, 7/28/2003] Senator Bob Graham (D), co-chair of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, will comment, “That a suspected Saudi spy would drive 125 miles to a meeting at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, where he would meet with a consular officer with suspected terrorist ties, and then drive another 7 miles to the one Middle Eastern restaurant—out of more than 134 Middle Eastern restaurants in Los Angeles—where he would happen to sit next to two future terrorists, to whom he would happen to offer friendship and support, cannot credibly be described as a coincidence.” [GRAHAM AND NUSSBAUM, 2004, PP. 12-13] Furthermore, there is evidence the two hijackers actually stayed in al-Bayoumi’s San Diego apartment from January 15, the day they arrived, until the day after this supposed meeting (see January 15-February 2, 2000).

Entity Tags: Cayson Bin Don, Fahad al Thumairy, Nawaf Alhazmi, Omar al-Bayoumi, Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


February 4, 2000: Hijackers Open San Diego Bank Account

Hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi open an account at the Bank of America in San Diego with a $9,900 deposit. The 9/11 Commission will later report, “The $16,000 that [Khalid Shaikh Mohammed] said he gave Alhazmi to support his and Almihdhar’s travel and living expenses in the United States is the likely source of their funds.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 135-136 ] The account is closed in early June when Almihdhar returns to the Middle East (see June 10, 2000). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 222]

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


February 4, 2000: Phone Calls Suggest Link between 9/11 Hijackers, Omar Al-Bayoumi, and Al-Qaeda-Linked Imam in San Diego

According to phone records, four calls take place between Anwar Al Aulaqi and Omar al-Bayoumi on February 4, 2000. This is the same day hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move into their own apartment in the Parkwood Apartments complex in San Diego. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 517] On this day, al-Bayoumi is the co-signer and guarantor on their lease, and pays their first months’ rent and deposit. It is possible they are using al-Bayoumi’s phone at this time. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/3/2001 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 517] Al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi spy, helps the hijackers settle in San Diego in many ways (see January 15-February 2000). Al Aulaqi is an imam at the Al-Rribat Al-Islami mosque (also known as Rabat) on the La Mesa-San Diego border. US investigators will later conclude he is connected to al-Qaeda and probably involved in the 9/11 plot. [WASHINGTON POST, 2/27/2008] Al Aulaqi is the subject of an FBI counterterrorism investigation at the time these calls are made, but the investigation is closed one month later (see June 1999-March 2000).

Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Anwar Al Aulaqi, Khalid Almihdhar, Omar al-Bayoumi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


February 4-Mid-May 2000: Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Live Openly in San Diego


Nawaf Alhazmi in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book. [Source: Newsweek]

Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move to San Diego and live there openly. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 135 ] They move into apartment 150 in the Parkwood Apartments. On their rental application, they indicate they have been staying in Omar al-Bayoumi’s apartment in the same complex since January 15, the day they arrived in the US (see January 15-February 2, 2000). Al-Bayoumi is suspected to be both an advance man and a Saudi spy (see January 15-February 2000). They will stay in that apartment until mid-May 2000, when they move to another place in San Diego (see May 10-Mid-December 2000). Hijacker Hani Hanjour joins them as a roommate in February 2000 but apparently does not stay long. [KGTV 10 (SAN DIEGO), 9/18/2001; SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/21/2001] The hijackers use their real names on their rental agreement [US CONGRESS, 9/20/2002] , driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, credit cards [NEWSWEEK, 6/2/2002] , car purchase, and bank account. Alhazmi is even listed in the 2000-2001 San Diego phone book. [SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL, 9/28/2001; NEWSWEEK, 6/2/2002] Neighbors notice odd behavior: They have no furniture, they are constantly using cell phones on the balcony, constantly playing flight simulator games, keep to themselves, and strange cars and limousines pick them up for short rides in the middle of the night (see February 2000-Early September 2001). [TIME, 9/24/2001; TIME, 9/24/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/30/2001]

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Hani Hanjour, Nawaf Alhazmi, Omar al-Bayoumi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


February 11, 2000: CIA Station in Malaysia Reminds CIA Station in Thailand about 9/11 Hijacker Almihdhar and Companions

The CIA station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, asks the CIA station in Bangkok, Thailand, what is happening with surveillance of 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, and al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash. The CIA station in Kuala Lumpur had monitored the three when they were in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000) and passed the surveillance over to Bangkok when they flew there in early January (see January 8, 2000). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 181, 502; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 247 ] Although, according to the 9/11 Commission, Bangkok station probably already knows that Alhazmi has departed for the US, it fails to respond for two weeks, when it claims it does not know what has happened (see (February 25, 2000)).

Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Tawfiq bin Attash, Central Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


(February 25, 2000): CIA Bangkok Station Claims It Does Not Have Information about Alhazmi and Almihdhar that It Allegedly Does Have

The CIA station in Bangkok, Thailand, replies to a request from the CIA station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for information about 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, and al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash by saying that there will be a delay with the response due to difficulties obtaining the information. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 247-8 ] The relevant information that should be passed to Kuala Lumpur station concerns the departure of Alhazmi and Almihdhar to the US (see January 15, 2000 and January 15, 2000). Kuala Lumpur station coordinated surveillance of the three men in Malaysia in early January (see January 5-8, 2000). When the trio flew to Bangkok, the surveillance was passed on to Bangkok station (see January 8, 2000). According to the 9/11 Commission: “Presumably the departure information was obtained back in January, on the days that these individuals made their departures. Because the names were watchlisted by the Thai authorities we cannot yet explain the delay in reporting the news.” It is therefore unclear why the CIA’s Bangkok station says it is having difficulty obtaining information it already apparently has in its possession. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 181, 502] The information will be reported about a week later, but will be incomplete, as Bangkok station will only report that Alhazmi has flown to the US, failing to name his companion as Almihdhar (see March 5, 2000).

Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Tawfiq bin Attash, Central Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


Spring 2000: Payments to Suspected Hijacker Associate Increase Significantly

According to leaks from the still-classified part of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, monthly payments to Omar al-Bayoumi increase significantly at this time. Al-Bayoumi has been receiving a salary from the Saudi civil authority of about $500 a month. However, shortly after hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar move to San Diego, al-Bayoumi’s salary increases to about $3,000 to $3,500 a month [NEW YORK TIMES, 7/29/2003] It is not clear whether this pay spike is from his Dallah Avco job, or an additional payment by the Saudi government [NEW YORK TIMES, 7/29/2003; NEW YORK TIMES, 8/2/2003] , but the pay spike appears to be a separate stream of money, because another report indicates his Dallah Avco job started with $3,000 a month payments and remained consistent. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/11/2003] It also fits in with his claims to acquaintances at the time that he is receiving a regular government scholarship. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/1/2002]

Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Dallah Avco, Omar al-Bayoumi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


Spring 2000: Hijackers Attend Same Mosque as Terrorism Suspect

A Saudi citizen named Osama Basnan, who had an apparent connection to Eritrean Islamic Jihad in the early 1990s (see May-December 1992), lives across the street from 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi and attends the same mosque in San Diego as them. He will later be alleged to have known the two men, but he will deny this. He will, however, admit to knowing one of their associates, Omar al-Bayoumi. [SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/22/2002; AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT, 11/28/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 175-7 ; ARAB NEWS, 8/5/2003] In early 2000, a US Army program called Able Danger identifies four of the hijackers as members of the so-called “Brooklyn” cell after the program links them to mosques that were visited by associates of Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman (see January-February 2000). The US Army has not disclosed the identities of the sheikh’s associates, but it is possible that Osama Basnan, who is believed to have held a party for the sheikh in 1992 (see April 1998), is one of them.

Entity Tags: Omar al-Bayoumi, Khalid Almihdhar, Osama Basnan, Nawaf Alhazmi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


(Spring 2000): Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Talk about Wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya, Alhazmi Praises Bin Laden

Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar talk to San Diego acquaintances about the wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya, in which they fought, but apparently do not mention the war in Bosnia, which they also fought in (see 1993-1999 and 1995). Alhazmi says that it would be a “big honor” to fight for Islam. He also expresses his admiration for Osama bin Laden and says bin Laden is acting on behalf of all Muslims. [MCDERMOTT, 2005, PP. 191] Alhazmi will make similar comments in Virginia to two roommates there (see (Mid April 2001)).

Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


Spring-Summer 2000: Calls between 9/11 Hijacker in San Diego and Al-Qaeda Communications Hub Intercepted by NSA

Around eight calls made by hijacker Khalid Almihdhar from San Diego to an al-Qaeda communications hub in Sana’a, Yemen, run by his father-in-law Ahmed al-Hada are intercepted by the NSA. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. XII, 16-17, 157 ; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12/21/2005; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 343; NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ] At least one of the calls is made from a phone registered to hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi in their San Diego apartment. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 251 ] Other calls are made from a mobile phone registered to Alhazmi. [MCDERMOTT, 2005, PP. 296] Calls may also be made from the communications hub to the US. [MSNBC, 7/21/2004]

Dates of Calls - One of the calls takes place days after they move into their San Diego apartment in February (see January 15-February 2000). [MSNBC, 7/21/2004] Another is on March 20, 2000 and lasts 16 minutes. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 57 ; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 251 ]

Intercepted by NSA - Although NSA analysts pick up Almihdhar’s first name, “Khalid,” they do not connect it to his second name, even though the NSA has been intercepting communications to and from the hub involving him throughout 1999 (see Early 1999 and December 29, 1999) and he is on the NSA watch list at this point (see Mid-January 2000). [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. XII, 16, 157 ; US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, 3/15/2004] Some, or perhaps all, of these calls are between Almihdhar and his wife, who lives at the communications hub and reportedly gives birth to a daughter in early 2000 while Almihdhar is in the US. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 222; SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 94; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 343; NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ] However, the NSA analysts suspect that Khalid is part of an “operational cadre.” [US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, 3/15/2004]

Dissemination and Content - According to the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, the NSA disseminates some of this information to the FBI, CIA, and other agencies, but not all of it, as it apparently does not meet reporting thresholds. It is unclear why it does not meet such thresholds, although some sources will suggest Almihdhar was just talking to his wife. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 157 ; US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, 3/15/2004; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 222; SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 94] Another source suggests operational information was passed on during the calls (see Early 2000-Summer 2001). However, two FBI agents who worked on al-Qaeda cases relating to Yemen, Dan Coleman and Ali Soufan, will later claim that they and other senior counterterrorism officials only learn about these calls after 9/11. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12/21/2005; SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 94; NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ]

Significance - Author Lawrence Wright will comment: “You know, this is the key. The NSA is all over this phone. And everybody, you know, that has any connection with it is drawing links from that phone. Now imagine eight lines from Yemen to San Diego. How obvious would it be that al-Qaeda is in America[?]” [FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, 10/5/2006]

Other Calls - The NSA also intercepts various other communications between the hijackers and the communications hub (see Early 2000-Summer 2001).

Entity Tags: Ahmed al-Hada, Al-Qaeda, Salem Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, National Security Agency, Osama bin Laden, Lawrence Wright, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


March 5, 2000: CIA Learns Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Have Entered US, but Does Not Tell FBI or Other Agencies

After being prompted by CIA colleagues in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to provide information about what happened to hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, and al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash after they flew from Malaysia to Thailand on January 8, 2000 (see January 8, 2000 and (February 25, 2000)), the CIA station in Bangkok, Thailand, sends out a cable saying that Alhazmi arrived in the US with an apparently unnamed companion from Thailand on January 15 (see January 15, 2000). This information was received from Thai intelligence, which watchlisted Almihdhar and Alhazmi after being asked to do so by the CIA (see January 13, 2000 and January 15, 2000). [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/17/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 181, 502]

Companion - The companion to whom the cable refers is presumably Almihdhar. According to later testimony of a senior FBI official, the CIA learns the companion is Almihdhar at this time: “In March 2000, the CIA received information concerning the entry of Almihdhar and Alhazmi into the United States.” [US CONGRESS, 9/20/2002] The CIA disputes this, however. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 157 ] If the companion the cable refers to is Almihdhar, then it is unclear why he would not be named, as the NSA has been intercepting his calls for at least a year (see Early 1999), he was under CIA surveillance earlier in January (see January 5-8, 2000), he is known to have a US visa (see January 2-5, 2000), he is associated with Alhazmi (see January 8-9, 2000), and this cable is prompted by another cable specifically asking where Almihdhar is (see February 11, 2000).

Missed Opportunity - Later, CIA officials, including CIA Director George Tenet and Counterterrorist Center Director Cofer Black, will admit that this was one of the missed opportunities to watchlist the hijackers. Black will say: “I think that month we watchlisted about 150 people. [The watchlisting] should have been done. It wasn’t.” Almihdhar and Alhazmi will not be added to the US watchlist until August 2001 (see August 23, 2001). [NEW YORK TIMES, 10/17/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 157 ]

Unclear Who Reads Cable - Although CIA Director George Tenet will tell the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry that nobody at CIA headquarters reads this cable at this time (see October 17, 2002), the CIA’s inspector general will conclude that “numerous” officers access this cable and others about Almihdhar. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DISTRICT, 3/28/2006 ] These officers are not named, but Tom Wilshire, the CIA’s deputy unit chief in charge of monitoring the two men at this time, will access it in May 2001 at the same time as he accesses other cables about Almihdhar from early 2000 (see May 15, 2001). The 9/11 Commission will say that the cables are “reexamined” at this time, suggesting that Wilshire may have read them before. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 267, 537] Wilshire certainly did access at least two of the cables in January 2000, indicating he may read the cable about the arrival of Alhazmi and the unnamed companion in the US in March 2000. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 240, 282 ]

FBI Not Informed - The knowledge that Alhazmi has entered the US will be disseminated throughout the CIA, but not to the FBI or other US intelligence agencies (see March 6, 2000 and After). When asked about the failure by the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Wilshire will be unable to explain it: “It’s very difficult to understand what happened with that cable when it came in. I do not know exactly why it was missed. It would appear that it was missed completely.” [US CONGRESS, 9/20/2002]

Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Alec Station, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Malaysian Secret Service, Nawaf Alhazmi, Tom Wilshire, 9/11 Commission, Khalid Almihdhar

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


March 6, 2000 and After: Numerous CIA Officers Learn Hijacker Almihdhar Is in US; Fail to Inform FBI

After the CIA learns that hijacker Khalid Almihdhar has a US visa (see January 2-5, 2000) and hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi and a companion have arrived in Los Angeles (see March 5, 2000), operational documents reporting this are accessed by numerous CIA officers, most of whom are in the Counterterrorism Division. [CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, 6/2005 ] In addition, the day after the cable reporting Alhazmi’s arrival in Los Angeles is received, “another overseas CIA station note[s], in a cable to the bin Laden unit at CIA headquarters, that it had ‘read with interest’ the March cable, ‘particularly the information that a member of this group traveled to the US…’” [US CONGRESS, 9/20/2002] However, it is unclear what is done with this information as CIA Director George Tenet and Counterterrorist Center Director Cofer Black will later incorrectly testify that nobody read the cable stating Alhazmi had entered the US (see October 17, 2002), so the use to which the information is put is never investigated. In addition, the CIA fails to inform the FBI that Alhazmi has entered the US. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 182]

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


March 25, 2000: Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Buy Car in San Diego

Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar pay $3,000 for a 1998 Toyota Corolla in San Diego. Three days later, the California vehicle registration is made in Almihdhar’s correct name, but a false San Diego address is used. In June 2000, Almihdhar will transfer ownership of the car to Alhazmi just before Almihdhar leaves the US. Alhazmi will buy insurance for the car in October 2000. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 55, 67, 90 ; COX NEWS SERVICE, 10/21/2001] Alhazmi will get a speeding ticket while driving the car through Oklahoma in April 2001 (see April 1, 2001). The car’s license plate will be queried by police in New Jersey in July 2001 (see July 7, 2001). The car will be found outside Dulles Airport in Washington one day after 9/11 (see September 11-13, 2001). However, shortly before 9/11, an FBI agent assigned to find out if Alhazmi and Almihdhar are in the US will fail to find any records relating to this car, even though information on Alhazmi’s ownership of the car is in nationwide police and motor vehicle databases. He will also fail to check vehicle registration and license plate databases (see September 4-5, 2001 and September 5, 2001).

Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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