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1980s and 1990s: Most 9/11 Hijackers Have Middle-Class Backgrounds Edit
Ahmed Alnami. [Source: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division] After 9/11, some in Western countries will say that one of the root causes of the attacks is poverty and assume that the hijackers must have been poor. However, most of them are middle class and have relatively comfortable upbringings. The editor of Al Watan, a Saudi Arabian daily, will call them “middle class adventurers” rather than Islamist fundamentalist ideologues. [BOSTON GLOBE, 3/3/2002] Nawaf and Salem Alhazmi are from Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Their father owns a shop and the family is wealthy. [ARAB NEWS, 9/20/2001; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 378]
1992-1995: KSM Fights and Fundraises in Bosnia Edit
The 9/11 Commission will later state, “In 1992, KSM spent some time fighting alongside the mujaheddin in Bosnia and supporting that effort with financial donations.” He reportedly fights with the elite El Mujahid battalion, and gains Bosnian citizenship. [SCHINDLER, 2007, PP. 281] He also works for Egypitska Pomoc, an Egyptian aid group in Zenica, Bosnia, and in 1995 becomes one of its directors. [PLAYBOY, 6/1/2005]
KSM mostly lives in Qatar for the next three years (see 1992-1996), but in 1995 he is back fighting in Bosnia as the violence escalates that year. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12/22/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 147, 488] This second trip to Bosnia means that KSM fights there at the same time as 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, though it is not known if they meet (see 1993-1999).
1993-1999: Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Fight for Al-Qaeda Edit
Nawaf Alhazmi (left), and Khalid Almihdhar (right). [Source: FBI] Of all the 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar have the longest records of involvement with al-Qaeda. CIA Director Tenet calls them al-Qaeda veterans. According to the CIA, Alhazmi first travels to Afghanistan in 1993 as a teenager, then fights in Bosnia with Alhazmi (see 1995). Almihdhar makes his first visit to Afghanistan training camps in 1996, and then fights in Chechnya in 1997. Both swear loyalty to bin Laden around 1998. Alhazmi fights in Afghanistan against the Northern Alliance with his brother, Salem Alhazmi. He fights in Chechnya, probably in 1998. [OBSERVER, 9/23/2001; ABC NEWS, 1/9/2002; US CONGRESS, 6/18/2002; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/1/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ] He then returns to Saudi Arabia in early 1999 where he shares information about the 1998 US embassy bombings. However it is not clear what information he disclosed to whom or where he obtained this information. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ] It is possible that some or all of this information came from the NSA, which is intercepting some of Alhazmi’s phone calls at this time (see Early 1999). Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, George J. Tenet, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Northern Alliance, Salem Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
1995: Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Fight in Bosnia 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi fight in the Bosnian civil war against the Serbs. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ] The 9/11 Commission will later say that the two “traveled together to fight in Bosnia in a group that journeyed to the Balkans in 1995,” but will not give any other details. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 155] Ramzi bin al-Shibh fights there too, and a witness later recounts traveling to Hamburg from Bosnia with bin al-Shibh in 1996. [SCHINDLER, 2007, PP. 281-282] 9/11 planner Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) fights in Bosnia in 1995 as well (see 1992-1995), but it is not known if any of them are ever there together. Under interrogation, KSM will say that in 1999 he did not know Almihdhar. However, doubts will be expressed about the reliability of statements made by KSM in detention, because of the methods used to extract them (see June 16, 2004). [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, 7/31/2006, PP. 17 ] Alhazmi and Almihdhar will later go on to fight in Chechnya (see 1993-1999). Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Khalid Almihdhar, Ramzi bin al-Shibh Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
1996-December 2000: Majority of 9/11 Hijackers Attempt to Fight in Chechnya
A young Ahmed Alnami in Saudi Arabia. [Source: Boston Globe] At least 11 of the 9/11 hijackers travel or attempt to travel to Chechnya between 1996 and 2000 (see 1999-2000):
Nawaf Alhazmi fights in Chechnya, Bosnia, and Afghanistan for several years, starting around 1995. [OBSERVER, 9/23/2001; ABC NEWS, 1/9/2002; US CONGRESS, 6/18/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003 ] Khalid Almihdhar fights in Chechnya, Bosnia, and Afghanistan for several years, usually with Nawaf Alhazmi. [US CONGRESS, 6/18/2002; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/1/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003 ] Salem Alhazmi spends time in Chechnya with his brother Nawaf Alhazmi. [ABC NEWS, 1/9/2002] He also possibly fights with his brother in Afghanistan. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003 ] Ahmed Alhaznawi leaves for Chechnya in 1999 [ABC NEWS, 1/9/2002] , and his family loses contact with him in late 2000. [ARAB NEWS, 9/22/2001] Hamza Alghamdi leaves for Chechnya in early 2000 [WASHINGTON POST, 9/25/2001; INDEPENDENT, 9/27/2001] or sometime around January 2001. He calls home several times until about June 2001, saying he is in Chechnya. [ARAB NEWS, 9/18/2001] Mohand Alshehri leaves to fight in Chechnya in early 2000. [ARAB NEWS, 9/22/2001] Ahmed Alnami leaves home in June 2000, and calls home once in June 2001 from an unnamed location. [ARAB NEWS, 9/19/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/25/2001] Fayez Ahmed Banihammad leaves home in July 2000 saying he wants to participate in a holy war or do relief work. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/25/2001; ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/27/2001] He calls his parents one time since. [ARAB NEWS, 9/18/2001] Ahmed Alghamdi leaves his studies to fight in Chechnya in 2000, and is last seen by his family in December 2000. He calls his parents for the last time in July 2001, but does not mention being in the US. [ARAB NEWS, 9/18/2001; ARAB NEWS, 9/20/2001] Waleed M. Alshehri disappears with Wail Alshehri in December 2000, after speaking of fighting in Chechnya. [ARAB NEWS, 9/18/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/25/2001] Wail Alshehri, who had psychological problems, went with his brother to Mecca to seek help. Both disappear, after speaking of fighting in Chechnya. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/25/2001] Majed Moqed is last seen by a friend in 2000 in Saudi Arabia, after communicating a “plan to visit the United States to learn English.” [ARAB NEWS, 9/22/2001]
Clearly, there is a pattern: eleven hijackers appear likely to have fought in Chechnya, and two others are known to have gone missing. It is possible that others have similar histories, but this is hard to confirm because “almost nothing [is] known about some.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/21/2001] Indeed, a colleague later claims that hijackers Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, Ziad Jarrah, and would-be hijacker Ramzi Bin al-Shibh wanted to fight in Chechnya but were told in early 2000 that they were needed elsewhere. [WASHINGTON POST, 10/23/2002; REUTERS, 10/29/2002] Reuters later reports, “Western diplomats play down any Chechen involvement by al-Qaeda.” [REUTERS, 10/24/2002]
1997: Future Hijackers Supposedly Watchlisted in Saudi Arabia for Failed Gunrunning Plot Edit
Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi intelligence minister until shortly before 9/11 (see August 31, 2001), will later claim that al-Qaeda attempts to smuggle weapons into Saudi Arabia to mount attacks on police stations. The plot is uncovered and prevented by Saudi intelligence, and two of the unsuccessful gunrunners, future hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, are watchlisted. [SALON, 10/18/2003; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 266, 310-311, 448] However, Almihdhar and Alhazmi continue to move in and out of Saudi Arabia unchecked and will obtain US visas there in April 1999 (see 1993-1999 and April 3-7, 1999). The US is supposedly informed of Almihdhar and Alhazmi’s al-Qaeda connection by the end of 1999 (see Late 1999). Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, an associate of Almihdhar and Alhazmi (see January 5-8, 2000), is implicated in a plot to smuggle four Russian antitank missiles into Saudi Arabia around the same time, although it is unclear whether this is the same plot or a different one. The Saudi authorities uncover this plot and the US is apparently informed of the missile seizure in June 1998. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 152-3, 491] Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Khalid Almihdhar, Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, Turki al-Faisal, Al-Qaeda Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
November 2, 1997-June 20, 2001: Hijackers Obtain US Visas The 19 hijackers apply and receive a total of 23 visas at five different posts from November 1997 through June 2001. Hani Hanjour, Khalid Almihdhar, Saeed Alghamdi and Ahmed Alnami, Saudi citizens, apply twice at Jeddah. Only Hanjour applies for a student visa, others for tourist/business visa. [UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, 10/21/2002 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 7-45 ]
The fifteen Saudi hijackers apply for their visas in their home country. Four at the embassy in Riyadh: Hamza Alghamdi (10/17/2000), Mohand Alshehri (10/23/2000), Majed Moqed (11/20/2000) and Satam Al Suqami (11/21/2000). Eleven at the US consulate in Jeddah: Hani Hanjour (11/2/1997 and 9/25/2000), Khalid Almihdhar (4/7/1999 and 6/13/2001), Saeed Alghamdi (9/4/2000 and 6/12/2001), and Ahmed Alnami (10/28/2000 and 4/28/2001), Nawaf Alhazmi (4/3/1999), Ahmed Alghamdi (9/3/2000), Wail Alshehri (10/24/2000), Waleed M. Alshehri (10/24/2000), Abdulaziz Alomari (6/18/2001), Salem Alhazmi (6/20/2001), and Ahmed Alhaznawi (11/12/2000). Fayez Ahmed Banihammad and Marwan Alshehhi apply in their home country, the United Arab Emirates, respectively at the US embassy in Abu Dhabi on 6/18/2001 and at consulate in Dubai on 1/18/2000. Mohamed Atta (Egyptian) and Ziad Jarrah (Lebanese) apply, as third-country national applicants, at the US embassy in Berlin, respectively, on May 18 and 25, 2000.
Entity Tags: US Consulate, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Office, US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, US Embassy in Berlin, Ziad Jarrah, Wail Alshehri, US Embassy in Riyadh, Salem Alhazmi, Waleed M. Alshehri, Saeed Alghamdi, US Consulate, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Office, Mohand Alshehri, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Ahmed Alghamdi, Abdulaziz Alomari, Nawaf Alhazmi, Government Accountability Office, Satam Al Suqami, Hani Hanjour, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta, Majed Moqed, Khalid Almihdhar, Hamza Alghamdi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998: Al-Qaeda Bombs US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Killing Over 200
Bombings of the Nairobi, Kenya, US embassy (left), and the Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, US embassy (right). [Source: Associated Press] (click image to enlarge) Two US embassies in Africa are bombed within minutes of each other. At 10:35, local time, a suicide car bomb attack in Nairobi, Kenya, kills 213 people, including 12 US nationals, and injures more than 4,500. Mohamed al-Owhali and someone known only as Azzam are the suicide bombers, but al-Owhali runs away at the last minute and survives. Four minutes later, a suicide car bomb attack in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, kills 11 and injures 85. The attacks are blamed on al-Qaeda. Hamden Khalif Allah Awad is the suicide bomber there. [PBS FRONTLINE, 2001; UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. USAMA BIN LADEN, ET AL., DAY 38, 5/2/2001] The Tanzania death toll is low because, remarkably, the attack takes place on a national holiday so the US embassy there is closed. [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 195] The attack shows al-Qaeda has a capability for simultaneous attacks. The Tanzania bombing appears to have been a late addition, as one of the arrested bombers allegedly told US agents that it was added to the plot only about 10 days in advance. [UNITED STATE OF AMERICA V. USAMA BIN LADEN, ET AL., DAY 14, 3/7/2001] A third attack against the US embassy in Uganda does not take place due to a last minute delay (see August 7, 1998). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/25/1998] August 7, 1998, is the eighth anniversary of the arrival of US troops in Saudi Arabia, and some speculate that is the reason for the date of the bombings. [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 46] In the 2002 book The Cell, reporters John Miller, Michael Stone, and Chris Miller will write, “What has become clear with time is that facets of the East Africa plot had been known beforehand to the FBI, the CIA, the State Department, and to Israeli and Kenyan intelligence services.… [N]o one can seriously argue that the horrors of August 7, 1998, couldn’t have been prevented.” They will also comment, “Inexplicable as the intelligence failure was, more baffling still was that al-Qaeda correctly presumed that a major attack could be carried out by a cell that US agents had already uncovered.” [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 195, 206] After 9/11, it will come to light that three of the alleged hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi, had some involvement in the bombings (see October 4, 2001, Late 1999, and 1993-1999) and that the US intelligence community was aware of this involvement by late 1999 (see December 15-31, 1999), if not before. Entity Tags: Hamden Khalif Allah Awad, Mohamed al-Owhali, Salem Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, Azzam, Al-Qaeda, Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline
Late 1998-Early 2002: US Intelligence Maps Al-Qaeda Network Using Phone Records; Many Attacks Thwarted
Dan Coleman [Source: CNN] Beginning in the autumn of 1998, the FBI uses the phone records of an al-Qaeda communications hub run by operative Ahmed al-Hada and his son Samir to build a map of al-Qaeda’s global organization. A map showing all the places in the world that have communicated with the hub is posted on the wall of the interagency counterterrorism I-49 squad in New York. The hub’s telephone number was uncovered during the East African embassy bombings investigation (see August 4-25, 1998 and Late August 1998). [AL AHRAM, 2/21/2002; MSNBC, 7/21/2004; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 343; NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ] According to FBI agent and I-49 squad member Dan Coleman, al-Hada is “uncle of half the violent jihadists we knew in the country.” [SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 94] Several of his sons and sons-in-law are al-Qaeda operatives and some die fighting and training with radical Islamists; this is known to US intelligence before 9/11. Hijacker Khalid Almihdhar is also a son-in-law of al-Hada. [MSNBC, 2/14/2002; FOX NEWS, 2/14/2002; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12/21/2005] The number is monitored by the NSA and over the next three years it mines intelligence that helps authorities foil a series of plots, including planned attacks on the US Embassy in Paris and the US Consulate in Istanbul, along with an attempted airline hijacking in Africa. However, the hub also serves as a planning center for the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, which is successful (see October 12, 2000). [US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, 3/15/2004] The CIA, as the primary organization for gathering foreign intelligence, has jurisdiction over conversations on the al-Hada phone. Helped by the NSA, it stakes out the house—tapping the phone, planting bugs, and taking satellite photographs of its visitors. However, the CIA apparently does not provide the FBI with all the relevant information it is obtaining about al-Qaeda’s plans. [MIRROR, 6/9/2002; NEW YORKER, 7/10/2006 ] For example, the FBI is not informed that hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi make calls to the communications hub from the US between spring 2000 and summer 2001 (see Spring-Summer 2000 and Mid-October 2000-Summer 2001). The FBI also asks the NSA to pass any calls between the communications hub and the US to the FBI, but the NSA does not do this either (see Late 1998). [SUSKIND, 2006, PP. 94] Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, I-49, National Security Agency, Samir al-Hada, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Dan Coleman, Ahmed al-Hada, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
December 1998-December 2000: Hijacker Associate Al-Bayoumi Stays in Contact with Saudi Consulate Official After 9/11, the FBI will examine phone records and determine that hijacker associate Omar al-Bayoumi calls Saudi official Fahad al Thumairy many times between December 1998 and December 2000. Al-Bayoumi calls al Thumairy’s home number at least ten times, and al Thumairy calls al-Bayoumi much more often—at least 11 times in the month of December 2000 alone. At the time, al Thumairy is working at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, and is a well-known Islamic radical. For part of 2000 at least, al-Bayoumi is living at the Parkwood Apartments in San Diego at the same time as hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar. Al Thumairy will later deny knowing al-Bayoumi, but al-Bayoumi will admit knowing al Thumairy. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 514; SHENON, 2008, PP. 310-311] Entity Tags: Omar al-Bayoumi, Fahad al Thumairy, Khalid Almihdhar, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
Early 1999: NSA Monitoring Hears 9/11 Hijacker Names, This Information Is Not Shared with CIA or FBI
Salem Alhazmi. [Source: FBI] As the NSA continues to monitor an al-Qaeda communications hub in Yemen run by hijacker Khalid Almihdhar’s father-in-law (see Late August 1998), they find references to Almihdhar and the hijacker brothers, Salem and Nawaf Alhazmi. They also learn that Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi are long time friends. [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004] In early 1999, the NSA intercepts communications mentioning the full name “Nawaf Alhazmi.” However, this information is not disseminated to the intelligence community, as it apparently does not meet NSA reporting thresholds. The 9/11 Congressional Inquiry will say, “Those thresholds vary, depending on the judgement of the NSA analyst who is reviewing the intercept and the subject, location, and content of the intercept.” Another intelligence organisation intercepts the same or similar calls and reports this to the NSA. The Inquiry comments: “NSA’s practice was to review such reports and disseminate those responsive to US intelligence requirements. For an undetermined reason, NSA did not disseminate the […] report.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/25/2002; US CONGRESS, 10/17/2002; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 135 ] The NSA continues to intercept such calls and finds more information a few months later (see Summer 1999 and Late Summer 1999). Near the end of 1999, there will be additional intercepts that give Khalid Almihdhar’s full name and the first names of the other two (see Shortly Before December 29, 1999). But while the NSA will provide some information about these new intercepts to the CIA and other agencies, they will not go back to the earlier intercepts to figure out Nawaf’s full name and close connection to Almihdhar (see December 29, 1999). Entity Tags: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Nawaf Alhazmi, National Security Agency, Salem Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid Almihdhar, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
March 21, 1999: 9/11 Hijacker Alhazmi Receives Passport Containing Suspicious Indicator of Islamist Extremism, Reportedly Tracked by Saudi Authorities 9/11 Hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi receives a new passport in Saudi Arabia. According to the 9/11 Commission, the passport contains an “indicator of extremism” that is “associated with al-Qaeda.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 9 ] According to author James Bamford, this is a “secret coded indicator, placed there by the Saudi government, warning of a possible terrorist affiliation.” [BAMFORD, 2008] Presumably, this indicator is placed there because Alhazmi is on the Saudi government watch list at this point due to his radical ties (see Late 1999). The Saudi government will reportedly use this indicator to track Alhazmi and other Saudi hijackers before 9/11 “with precision” (see November 2, 2007). Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
April 3-7, 1999: Three 9/11 Hijackers Obtain US Visas
Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar’s US visas. [Source: FBI] (click image to enlarge) 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi, and Khalid Almihdhar obtain US visas through the US Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003] Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi are already “al-Qaeda veterans” and battle-hardened killers. Almihdhar’s visa is issued on April 7, and he can thereafter leave and return to the US multiple times until April 6, 2000. [STERN, 8/13/2003] Nawaf Alhazmi gets the same kind of visa; details about Salem are unknown. All three men have indicators in their passports marking them as Islamist radicals (see March 21, 1999, April 4, 1999, and April 6, 1999). These indicators are used to track them by the Saudi authorities, but are apparently not noticed by US officials. [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 9, 33 ] The CIA claims the hijackers then travel to Afghanistan to participate in “special training” with at least one other suicide bomber on a different mission. The training is led by Khallad bin Attash, who applies for a US visa on April 3 from Yemen, but fails to get one (see April 3, 1999). The CIA will learn about Almihdhar’s visa in January 2000 (see January 2-5, 2000). The Jeddah Consulate records the fact that Nawaf and Salem Alhazmi obtain US visas a couple of days before Almihdhar, but apparently these records are never searched before 9/11. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 135 ] Entity Tags: US Consulate, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Office, Tawfiq bin Attash, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
After Early April 1999: Three 9/11 Hijackers Leave Saudi Arabia, Reportedly Tracked by Saudi Authorities 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi leave Saudi Arabia after obtaining new passports and US visas there (see March 21, 1999, April 4, 1999, April 6, 1999, and April 3-7, 1999). According to the 9/11 Commission, their passports contain an “indicator of extremism” that is “associated with al-Qaeda.” [9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 9, 33 ] According to author James Bamford, the indicator is a “secret coded indicator, placed there by the Saudi government, warning of a possible terrorist affiliation.” [BAMFORD, 2008, PP. 58-59] The Saudi government reportedly uses this indicator to track some of the Saudi hijackers before 9/11 “with precision” (see November 2, 2007). Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi apparently return to Afghanistan to discuss an attack on the US. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 155] Salem Alhazmi’s destination is unknown. He will be reported to be in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000) and Afghanistan (see Summer 2000) the next year. Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi are placed on the Saudi terrorist watch list later this year (see Late 1999). Entity Tags: Khalid Almihdhar, Salem Alhazmi, Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
June 1999-March 2000: FBI Investigates Al-Qaeda-Linked Imam and Misses His Contacts with 9/11 Hijackers
Anwar Al Aulaqi. [Source: Public domain] The FBI conducts a counterterrorism inquiry into Anwar Al Aulaqi, an imam who will later be suspected of involvement in the 9/11 plot. He serves as the “spiritual leader” to several of the hijackers (see March 2001 and After), and by 2008 US intelligence will determine he is linked to al-Qaeda (see February 27, 2008).
The investigation is opened when it is learned he had probably been visited by a “procurement agent” for bin Laden, Ziyad Khaleel. Khaleel had helped buy a satellite phone for bin Laden; when he is arrested in December 1999 he reportedly tells the FBI crucial details about al-Qaeda operations in the US (see December 29, 1999). In early 2000 the FBI is aware when Al Aulaqi is visited by an unnamed close associate of Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 131 ; WASHINGTON POST, 2/27/2008] He also serves as vice president of the Charitable Society for Social Welfare (CSSW), the US branch of a Yemeni charity founded by Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, a Yemeni imam who the US will officially designate a terrorist in 2004. CSSW also has ties to the Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan, Italy, considered one of the centers of al-Qaeda activity in Europe. The FBI begins investigating CSSW in 1999 after a Yemeni politician visits the US to solicit donations for the charity, and then visits Mahmoud Es Sayed, a known al-Qaeda figure at the Islamic Cultural Institute, on the same trip. [BURR AND COLLINS, 2006, PP. 243; WASHINGTON POST, 2/27/2008] The FBI learns that Al Aulaqi knows individuals from the suspect Holy Land Foundation and others involved in raising money for Hamas. Sources allege that Aulaqi has even more extremist connections.
But none of these links are considered strong enough for criminal charges, and the investigation is closed. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 517] Al Aulaqi is beginning to associate with hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar shortly before the investigation ends. For instance, on February 4, one month before the FBI investigation is closed, Al Aulaqi talks on the telephone four times with hijacker associate Omar al-Bayoumi. The 9/11 Commission will later speculate that these calls are related to Alhazmi and Almihdhar, since al-Bayoumi is helping them that day, and that Alhazmi or Almihdhar may even have been using al-Bayoumi’s phone at the time (see February 4, 2000). Al-Bayoumi had also been the subject of an FBI counterterrorism investigation in 1999 (see September 1998-July 1999). Entity Tags: Omar Abdul-Rahman, Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Es Sayed, Ziyad Khaleel, Omar al-Bayoumi, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Abdul Mejid al-Zindani, Islamic Cultural Institute, Charitable Society for Social Welfare, Anwar Al Aulaqi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
November 1999: Hijackers Said to Lease Apartment in San Diego, Two Months Before Alleged First Arrival in US The Washington Post refers to hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar when it later reports, “In November 1999, two Saudi Arabian men moved into a ground-floor apartment at the Parkwood Apartments, a town house complex near a busy commercial strip in San Diego.” [WASHINGTON POST, 9/30/2001] Alhazmi’s name is on the apartment lease beginning in November 1999. [WASHINGTON POST, 10/2001] The Los Angeles Times similarly notes, “A man by [the name Alhazmi] moved to the Parkwood Apartments in San Diego in 1999, according to manager Holly Ratchford.” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/15/2001] Some reports even have them visiting the US as early as 1996. [WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/17/2001; LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/26/2001] However, FBI Director Mueller has stated the two hijackers did not arrive in the US until the middle of January 2000, after attending an important al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia (see January 5-8, 2000). While some news reports mention that the hijackers first arrive in late 1999 [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/1/2002; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 11/24/2002] , over time, mentions of the lease beginning in 1999 will slowly fade from media accounts.
Late 1999-2000: Alleged CIA Informant Said to Train Six 9/11 Hijackers in Turkey Edit
Majed Moqed. [Source: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division] In 2007, the London Times will report that imprisoned al-Qaeda leader Luai Sakra claims that he trained six of the 9/11 hijackers in Turkey. Sakra allegedly had links to the CIA and Syrian intelligence before 9/11 (see 2000 and September 10, 2001) and also allegedly was in contact with 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta before 9/11 (see September 2000-July 24, 2001). According to Sakra’s account, Sakra established a training and support network for radical militants in Turkey in the mid-1990s. In the Yalova mountain resort area between the cities of Bursa and Istanbul, he trained many militants heading to fight in Chechnya and elsewhere. Sakra worked with al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida to provide forged documents enabling trainees to travel to Afghanistan and elsewhere after their training was over. According to Sakra’s lawyer, in late 1999, 9/11 hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, Saeed Alghamdi, and Nawaf Alhazmi undertook Sakra’s training program. They had been planning to go to fight in Chechnya, but Sakra recommended them to Zubaida and they went to Zubaida’s training camp in Afghanistan instead. Hijackers Majed Moqed and Satam Al Suqami also later trained with Sakra in Turkey. Sakra alleges Moqed and Al Suqami were hand-picked by al-Qaeda leaders for the 9/11 plot. Sakra claims that at one point the entire group were arrested by police in Yalova, Turkey, after their presence raised suspicions. They were interrogated for a day but released because no evidence of wrongdoing could be shown. [LONDON TIMES, 11/25/2007] In early 2006, Sakra made the claim that he had helped some of the 9/11 hijackers near Bursa, but he did not give specifics. [WASHINGTON POST, 2/20/2006] While Sakra’s account cannot be corroborated, it does fit with details given in the 9/11 Commission’s final report. According to that report, after 9/11, captured al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash claimed that a number of militants trying to go to Chechnya in 1999 were unable to get there and stayed at al-Qaeda guesthouses in Turkey instead, where they were to wait to make another attempt to enter Chechnya in the summer of 2000, but they ended up going to Afghanistan instead. Bin Attash mentions nine hijackers who may have been trying to get to Chechnya in this fashion, including all the ones mentioned by Sakra. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 233] The 9/11 Commission report also mentions that most of the “muscle” hijackers trained at the Al Farooq camp, except for Al Suqami and Moqed, who trained at the Khaldan camp. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 234] Also, in early 2008, an FBI document will be released that shows Al Suqami spent almost six months in Turkey, helping to corroborate Sakra’s claims (see Late 1999-2000). Entity Tags: Saeed Alghamdi, Satam Al Suqami, Tawfiq bin Attash, Luai Sakra, Majed Moqed, Abu Zubaida, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ahmed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
Late 1999: 9/11 Hijackers Train with Cole Bomber and Other Militants A group of al-Qaeda operatives receives advanced training at the Mes Aynak camp in Afghanistan. The large group includes 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar (see November/December 1999), al-Qaeda commander Khallad bin Attash, would-be 9/11 hijacker Abu Bara al Taizi, USS Cole bomber Ibrahim al-Thawar (a.k.a. Nibras), an operative who leads a series of suicide bombings in Riyadh in 2003, and another who is involved against the 2002 attack against a ship called the Limburg (see October 6, 2002). According to statements by detainees, the course focuses on physical fitness, firearms, close quarters combat, shooting from a motorcycle, and night operations. Osama bin Laden and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed apparently visit the camp during the course. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 157; OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, 9/6/2006, PP. 12 ] Candidate hijacker Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian passport holder, may also be present at this training course. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 527] Entity Tags: Tawfiq bin Attash, Osama bin Laden, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ibrahim al-Thawar, Khalid Almihdhar, Abderraouf Jdey, Abu Bara al Taizi, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
Late 1999: Saudis Claim to Add Two 9/11 Hijackers to Watch List and Inform CIA Prince Turki al Faisal, Saudi intelligence minister until shortly before 9/11 (see August 31, 2001), will later claim that around this time its external intelligence agency tells the CIA that hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar have been put on a Saudi terror watch list. The Saudis have been tracking the two men, as well as Nawaf’s brother Salem, for some time (see March 21, 1999, April 4, 1999, April 6, 1999, and After Early April 1999). Saeed Badeeb, Turki’s chief analyst, and Nawaf Obaid, a security consultant to the Saudi government, support Turki’s account though Turki himself will later back away from it after becoming Saudi ambassador to the US (see August 21, 2005). In 2003, Prince Turki will say, “What we told [the CIA] was these people were on our watch list from previous activities of al-Qaeda, in both the  embassy bombings and attempts to smuggle arms into the kingdom in 1997,” (see 1997 and October 4, 2001). However, the CIA strongly denies any such warning, although it begins following Almihdhar and Alhazmi around this time (see January 2-5, 2000 and January 5-8, 2000). [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/16/2003; SALON, 10/18/2003; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 310-311, 448] The US will not put Almihdhar and Alhazmi on its watch list until August 2001 (see August 23, 2001). Entity Tags: Turki al-Faisal, Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, Nawaf Obaid, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency, Saeed Badeeb, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
December 1999-January 2000: FBI’s New York Office Receives NSA Information on Hijackers’ Travel to Malaysia Summit The FBI’s New York field office, which specializes in international terrorism and houses the I-49 squad that focuses on Osama bin Laden (see January 1996), receives information from the NSA about a wiretap on the phone of 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar. The information concerns travel by Almihdhar, fellow alleged hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi, and other operatives to an al-Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (see December 29, 1999, Shortly Before December 29, 1999, and January 5-8, 2000), but the office, like the rest of the FBI, is not told Almihdhar has a US visa (see 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. January 5, 2000). However, the New York office apparently does not realize it has this information and when investigators become aware of its importance in June 2001 they will conduct a running argument with FBI headquarters and the CIA over whether they can receive it again (see June 11, 2001). [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 293 ] Entity Tags: National Security Agency, I-49, FBI New York Field Office, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
Early December 1999: KSM Trains Operatives for Hijackings Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) gives a course lasting one or two weeks for three operatives scheduled to take part in the 9/11 operation. Nawaf Alhazmi, Khallad bin Attash, and abu Bara al Taizi learn how to say basic English words and phrases, read plane timetables and phone books, use the Internet, make travel reservations, rent an apartment, and use code words. In addition, they play flight simulator games, watch hijacking-themed films, and investigate visas for Southeast Asian countries. KSM also tells them what to watch for when casing a flight, for example whether flight attendants bring food into the cockpit. Khalid Almihdhar is apparently not present at the training, since he has just returned to Yemen (see November/December 1999). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 157-8, 493] Entity Tags: Abu Bara al Taizi, Khalid Almihdhar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Nawaf Alhazmi, Tawfiq bin Attash Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
December 11, 1999: Watch List Importance Is Stressed but Procedures Are Not Followed The CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center sends a cable reminding all its personnel about various reporting obligations. The cable clearly states that it is important to share information so suspected members of US-designated terrorist groups can be placed on watch lists. The US keeps a number of watch lists; the most important one, TIPOFF, contains about 61,000 names of suspected terrorists by 9/11. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/22/2002; KNIGHT RIDDER, 1/27/2004] The list is checked whenever someone enters or leaves the US “The threshold for adding a name to TIPOFF is low,” and even a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is connected with a US-designated terrorist group warrants being added to the database. [US CONGRESS, 9/20/2002] Within a month, two future hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, will be identified as al-Qaeda operatives (see December 29, 1999), but the cable’s instructions will not be followed for them. The CIA will initially tell the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry that no such guidelines existed, and CIA Director Tenet will fail to mention the cable in his testimony to the Inquiry. [NEW YORK TIMES, 5/15/2003; US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 157 ] Entity Tags: 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, Counterterrorist Center, Central Intelligence Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi, TIPOFF, George J. Tenet, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
December 1999: Hijackers Meet to Discuss Operation, Indication Alhazmi Flew Flight 77 Mohamed Atta, Ziad Jarrah, Marwan Alshehhi, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, and Nawaf Alhazmi meet to discuss the 9/11 operation at a building known as the “House of Alghamdi” in Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to a statement made by bin al-Shibh in 2002. Bin al-Shibh will say, “We had a meeting attended by all four pilots including Nawaf Alhazmi, Atta’s right-hand man,” which the Guardian will interpret to mean Alhazmi flew Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon, instead of Hani Hanjour (see (December 2000-January 2001)). [GUARDIAN, 9/9/2002] The 9/11 Commission, based on information obtained from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) under interrogation, will place Hanjour in Afghanistan in spring 2000, indicating he will arrive some months after this meeting is held, and could not therefore attend it. Please note: information from detainee interrogations is thought to be unreliable due to the methods used to extract it (see June 16, 2004). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 226] In a substitution for testimony introduced as evidence at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, KSM will place Hanjour’s arrival at the training camps in Afghanistan in “September or October” of 2000. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, 7/31/2006, PP. 23 ] Entity Tags: Marwan Alshehhi, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ziad Jarrah, Mohamed Atta, Hani Hanjour, Nawaf Alhazmi, Ramzi bin al-Shibh Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
December 29, 1999: NSA Tells CIA about Planned Al-Qaeda Summit Involving Future Hijackers The NSA, monitoring a telephone in an al-Qaeda communications hub in Yemen (see Late August 1998 and Late 1998-Early 2002), has listened in on phone calls revealing that hijackers Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi are to attend an important al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia in January 2000 (see Shortly Before December 29, 1999). Almihdhar’s full name was mentioned, as well as the first names of hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Salem Alhazmi. On this day, the NSA shares this information with the CIA’s Alec Station bin Laden unit. Other US intelligence agencies, including FBI headquarters and the FBI’s New York field office, are told as well. Although Khalid Almihdhar’s full name was mentioned in one call, the NSA only passes on his first name. Also, the NSA has already learned from monitoring the Yemen hub that Nawaf’s last name is Alhazmi and that he is long-time friends with Almihdhar (see Early 1999). However, they either don’t look this up in their records or don’t pass it on to any other agency. [9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 239 ; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 310] An NSA analyst makes a comment that is shared between US intelligence agencies, “Salem may be Nawaf’s younger brother.” This turns out to be correct. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 135 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ] A CIA officer will later tell the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry that information from the Africa embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998) was reviewed in late 1999 during a worldwide effort to disrupt millennium attack plots (see December 15-31, 1999) and “a kind of tuning fork… buzzed when two [of the hijackers] reportedly planning a trip to [Malaysia] were linked indirectly to what appeared to be a support element… involved with the Africa bombers.” [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 135 ] The fact that they are connected to the Yemen communication hub already indicates some importance within al-Qaeda. It is learned they are connected to the embassy bombings in some way (see October 4, 2001 and Late 1999). [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 135 ; 9/11 COMMISSION, 1/26/2004, PP. 6 ] The NSA report about them on this day is entitled, “Activities of Bin Laden Associates,” showing the clear knowledge of their ties to bin Laden. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 502; VANITY FAIR, 11/2004] The CIA will track Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi to the Malaysia summit (see January 2-5, 2000 and January 5-8, 2000). Entity Tags: Salem Alhazmi, Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI New York Field Office, Khalid Almihdhar, FBI Headquarters, Al-Qaeda, Alec Station, Central Intelligence Agency, Ahmed al-Hada, National Security Agency, Nawaf Alhazmi Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
Shortly Before December 29, 1999: NSA Monitors 9/11 Hijackers Talking to Each Other about Upcoming Al-Qaeda Summit The NSA has been monitoring a telephone in an al-Qaeda communications hub in Yemen (see Late August 1998 and Late 1998-Early 2002). According to Vanity Fair, “Amid the storm of pre-millennial ‘chatter,’ the [NSA] intercepted communications among three Arabic men, each of whom bore some connection to the East Africa bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998) and to al-Qaeda.” The men are hijackers Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi. [VANITY FAIR, 11/2004] Apparently, the NSA listens in on a phone call between al-Qaeda figure Khallad bin Attash and hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, who is staying at the hub. Attash mentions Almihdhar’s full name, as well as the first names of hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Salem Alhazmi. He says he wants the three of them to come to an important al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia in January 2000 (see January 5-8, 2000). The NSA has already heard the names of the three hijackers mentioned repeatedly in 1999 while monitoring the Yemen hub (see Early 1999). Apparently, US intelligence does not yet know bin Attash’s full name or role in al-Qaeda and won’t figure it out until late 2000 (see Early December 2000). [WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 310] At the same time, US officials in Pakistan intercept Nawaf Alhazmi in Karachi calling Almihdhar at the Yemen hub. They learn Nawaf is planning a trip to Malaysia on January 4, 2000. The NSA is also monitoring Nawaf calling his brother Salem (the location of Salem at this time has not been revealed). [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003, PP. 143-144 ; ASIA TIMES, 3/19/2004] The NSA will share details of these calls with the CIA and other agencies on December 29, 1999 (see December 29, 1999) and the CIA will eventually track Almihdhar to the Malaysia summit (see January 2-5, 2000). Entity Tags: US intelligence, Salem Alhazmi, Tawfiq bin Attash, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency, Al-Qaeda, National Security Agency, Khalid Almihdhar Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline
- Main article: Nawaf al-Hazmi:2000
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