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September 7, 2001: New Security Director Criticizes Poor Security at the World Trade Center Edit
Former FBI counterterrorism chief John O’Neill recently started his new job as director of security at the World Trade Center (see August 23, 2001). From the outset, he has engrossed himself in discovering what security systems are in place there, and what will be needed in future. On this day, he runs into Rodney Leibowitz, a friend of his, and complains to him about the very poor standard of security at the Twin Towers. For instance, he mentions that, even though the complex receives bomb threats on a daily basis, its telephone system does not feature caller identification. [WEISS, 2003, PP. 354 AND 358] The Trade Center has in fact recently been on a heightened security alert, due to numerous phone threats (see Late August-September 10, 2001). [NEWSDAY, 9/12/2001] Leibowitz is the president and CEO of a company called First Responder Inc., which provides bioterrorism preparedness training to healthcare professionals. [FIRST RESPONDER INC., 1/14/2004] Until the 9/11 attacks intervene, First Responder Inc. is in fact scheduled to send in a team to conduct a threat assessment of the World Trade Center for O’Neill on September 15. [SWANSON, 2003, PP. 52]
September 7, 2001: Governor of Florida Jeb Bush Updates Executive Order Mobilizing the Florida National Guard in Case of TerrorismEdit
Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the brother of President Bush, issues a new executive order authorizing the Florida National Guard to order its membership on active duty in response to acts of terrorism. The new order (EO 2001-261) states that the National Guard may now be called upon to assist law enforcement activities at Florida ports “[b]ased on the potential massive damage to life and property that may result from an act of terrorism at a Florida port.” This new order replaces an earlier one (EO 2001-17) issued on January 19, 2001, and which was not to expire until June 30, 2003, that is identical except for the new terrorism clause. [STATE OF FLORIDA, 9/7/2001] Entity Tags: John Ellis (“Jeb”) Bush Category Tags: Other Pre-9/11 Events
September 7, 2001: ’Prophetic’ B-Movie Delivered to Television Network, But Too Close to Reality to Be Shown after 9/11 AttacksEdit
A made-for-television film made by Chuck Norris for CBS Television is delivered to the network. Originally entitled The President’s Man: Ground Zero, the film stars Norris as Joshua McCord, a “Mission Impossible”-type special agent that the president of the United States likes to call upon when the FBI or CIA are not up to the task. McCord and his crew have just returned from West Africa, where they blew up Saddam Husein’s nuclear supplies, when they receive another urgent mission from the White House. This time a group of young Muslim terrorists has smuggled a small nuclear bomb into the US. The group is directed by a shadowy sheikh hiding deep underground below an ancient fort in Afghanistan. The sheikh threatens to blow up an American city unless the US releases terrorists captured after a previous attack. McCord’s mission: grab the sheikh from his lair, then find the bomb before it is too late. [NEW YORK TIMES, 2001; GLENN BECK, 3/3/2009] According to Norris, CBS will refuse to show the film. He will say: “CBS got so scared of it, they said… ‘[W]e can’t release this.… [I]t’s too prophetic.’” The film will later be released on video under the title The President’s Man: A Line in the Sand. [GLENN BECK, 3/3/2009]
September 7, 2001: Priest Is Told of Plot to Attack US and Britain Using Hijacked Airplanes Edit
At a wedding in Todi, Italy, Father Jean-Marie Benjamin is told of a plot to attack the US and Britain using hijacked airplanes as weapons. He is not told specifics regarding time or place. He immediately passes what he knows to a judge and several politicians. He later will state, “Although I am friendly with many Muslims, I wondered why they were telling me, specifically. I felt it my duty to inform the Italian government.” Benjamin has been called “one of the West’s most knowledgeable experts on the Muslim world.” Two days after 9/11, he will meet with the Italian Foreign Minister on this topic. He will say he learned the attack on Britain failed at the last minute. [ZENIT (VATICAN), 9/16/2001] An al-Qaeda cell based in nearby Milan, Italy, appears to have had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks (see August 12, 2000) and (see January 24, 2001). It is not known if the Italian government warns the US government of this latest warning before 9/11.
September 7-8, 2001: High Level Air Force Discussions Call for Dismantling NORAD’s Alert Sites Edit
The future of “continental air sovereignty” over America is in doubt. Discussions at the Air Force’s highest levels call for the dismantling of NORAD’s seven “alert” sites around the US and its command and control structure. [FILSON, 2003, PP. 149] Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold, the commanding general of NORAD’s Continental Region, will later add that “the secretary of the Air Force, James G. Roche, stated that he and the then chief of staff of the Air Force, General John Jumper, had decided to withdraw funding for air defense, and they had made that decision on September 7, 2001.” [SPENCER, 2008, PP. 289] Earlier in the summer of 2001, “a reduction in air defenses had been gaining currency in recent months among task forces assigned by [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld to put together recommendations for a reassessment of the military” (see Summer 2001). [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/15/2001]
September 7, 2001: French Give ‘Very Specific Information’ about Possible Attack on US Soil Edit
The French newspaper Le Figaro will report in late 2001 that on this day, “According to Arab diplomatic sources as well as French intelligence, very specific information [is] transmitted to the CIA with respect to terrorist attacks against American interests around the world, including on US soil.” A French intelligence report sent to the US this day “enumerates all the intelligence, and specifies that the order to attack [is] to come from Afghanistan.” [LE FIGARO (PARIS), 10/31/2001] It will later be revealed that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed gives Mohamed Atta the final go-ahead in a phone call from Afghanistan the day before 9/11 (see September 10, 2001).
September 7, 2001: State Department Issues Overseas Warning Edit
The State Department issues a little noticed warning, alerting against an attack by al-Qaeda. However, the warning focuses on a threat to American citizens overseas, and particularly focuses on threats to US military personnel in Asia. [US DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 9/7/2001] In the one-page alert, the State Department says it received information in May 2001 “that American citizens may be the target of a terrorist threat from extremist groups with links to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organization. Such individuals have not distinguished between official and civilian targets.… As always, we take this information seriously. US Government facilities worldwide remain on heightened alert.” Such warnings are issued periodically and usually are so vague that few pay them serious attention. In any event, most airlines and officials will claim that they did not see this warning until after 9/11. [SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 9/14/2001] Entity Tags: US Department of State, Al-Qaeda Category Tags: Warning Signs
September 7, 2001: Alshehhi Transfers Money to Other Hijacker’s Account in Saudi Arabia Edit
Marwan Alshehhi transfers $200 from his and Atta’s joint account at SunTrust Bank to fellow hijacker Abdulaziz Alomari’s account in Buraidah, Saudi Arabia. Alomari’s account is with Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp, which will later be unsuccessfully sued for allegedly supporting terrorism (see August 15, 2002). The transfer costs $50 plus charges. The reason for the transfer is not clear, as Alomari, who also has an account with the Hudson United Bank in the US (see June 27-August 23, 2001), had only left Florida the previous day and will be in Boston at the same time as Alshehhi on September 9. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA; ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] Records show that Alshehhi completes the transaction just before 4.00 p.m. However, according to some accounts, Alshehhi is drinking at Shuckums bar at this time (see September 7, 2001). [WASHINGTON POST, 9/13/2001; OBSERVER, 9/16/2001]
September 7, 2001: Confusion over Flight 93 Hijackers’ Arrival in NewarkEdit
The four hijackers of flight 93 apparently arrive in Newark from Florida on this day, although there is much confusion over this. Two of them, Ahmed Alnami and Saeed Alghamdi, take Spirit Airlines flight 1460 via Atlanta, leaving around 6:30 p.m. and arriving three hours later. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 253 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 81 ] However, the travel of the other two, Ziad Jarrah and Ahmed Alghamdi, is very confusing: Ticket Purchase - According to an initial FBI chronology, Jarrah and Alghamdi book tickets on Continental Flight 1500 on September 5. But the chronology gives the wrong times, departure at 8:35 p.m. and arrival at 11:20 p.m., for this flight, which, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, actually leaves just after midday (note: the 8:35 p.m. and 11:20 p.m. times are actually for Continental Flight 1700). The chronology also refers to this flight as “Spirit Airlines Flight 1500.” [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 253 ; BUREAU OF TRANSPORTATION STATISTICS, 2/20/2008] Chronologies for Jarrah and Alhaznawi submitted at the 2006 trial of Zacarias Moussaoui will say that they purchase tickets for Spirit Air Flight 1500. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] Continental Flight 1500 - A stipulation used at the Moussaoui trial will claim that Jarrah takes this flight, and also Flight 1700 (note: this is impossible as he does not have time to arrive in Newark on the first flight, rent a car and hotel room there, and return to Florida in time for the second flight). [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 81-82 ] Jarrah rents the car and hotel room in Newark just before 5:00 p.m., suggesting that he does indeed take Continental flight 1500, which arrives in time for him to rent the car. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 264 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] A luggage tag will be found after 9/11 indicating that Jarrah did in fact fly on this flight. However, Jarrah’s name is not on the passenger manifest for this flight and neither is Alhaznawi’s. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 261, 265 ] Spirit Flight 1460 or 1500 - Used Spirit Airline tickets dated September 7 will be found after 9/11 in Newark for all four flight 93 hijackers. This indicates Jarrah and Alhaznawi may fly with Alnami and Alghamdi on Spirit Airlines. However, Spirit Airlines flight 1460 arrives in Newark several hours after Jarrah rents a car and hotel room there. [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 264 ] Chronologies for Jarrah and Alhaznawi submitted at the Moussaoui trial will say that they purchase tickets for “Spirit flt 1500”, but this may be a typo due to confusion with the Continental booking that is said to have occurred the same day, also for a flight 1500. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] Continental Flight 1700 - Jarrah takes this flight, which arrives in Newark several hours after he rents a car and hotel room there, according to the Moussaoui trial stipulation, which also says he takes the earlier flight (for which he is not on the manifest). [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 81-82 ] Alhaznawi, who has a ticket for either Continental 1500 or Spirit 1500 and for whom a used ticket for a Spirit flight was found, takes this flight, according to one of the Moussaoui trial chronologies, the Moussaoui trial stipulation, and a chart of the hijackers’ name usage used as evidence at the Moussaoui trial. [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 81-82 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006, PP. 24 ] Entity Tags: Ahmed Alhaznawi, Ziad Jarrah Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Ziad Jarrah, Other 9/11 Hijackers, Key Hijacker Events
September 7, 2001: Bush’s Plan to Visit Sarasota on 9/11 Is Publicly Announced; Atta and Alshehhi Are Seen in Sarasota that EveningEdit
President Bush’s plan to visit a Sarasota, Florida elementary school on September 11 is publicly announced. According to a later news article, numerous eyewitnesses see hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi in Sarasota later that evening. They appear to stay at a Holiday Inn very close to the place Bush will later stay. Atta is seen at the Holiday Inn bar, where he orders one drink, a rum and Coke. He is met by an unidentified male who motions he doesn’t speak English, and then they leave. [LONGBOAT OBSERVER, 11/21/2001] Entity Tags: Mohamed Atta, George W. Bush, Marwan Alshehhi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta
September 7, 2001: 9/11 Hijacker Obtains Driving Licence Duplicate 9/11 hijacker Ahmed Alhaznawi obtains a duplicate Florida driver’s license. The same day he leaves Florida and travels to Newark (see September 7, 2001), from where his plane departs on 9/11. It is unclear why he obtains new identification a mere four days before the attacks. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/14/2001; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 33 ] This is one of several licenses and duplicates the hijackers obtain (see April 12-September 7, 2001). Entity Tags: Ahmed Alhaznawi Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers, Hijacker Contact w Government in US
September 7, 2001: Story of Hijackers Drinking Alcohol Changes Over Time
Shuckums bar and grill, in Hollywood, Florida. [Source: Patrick Durand/ Corbis] One of the first and most frequently told stories about the hijackers is their visit to Shuckums, a sports bar in Hollywood, Florida, on this day. What is particularly interesting about this story is how it has changed over time. In the original story, first reported on September 12 [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/12/2001] , Mohamed Atta, Marwan Alshehhi, and an unidentified man come into the restaurant already drunk. “They were wasted,” says bartender Patricia Idrissi, who directs them to a nearby Chinese restaurant. [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/13/2001] Later they return and drink—Atta orders five vodka and orange juices, while Alshehhi orders five rum and Cokes. [TIME, 9/24/2001] According to manager Tony Amos, “The guy Mohamed was drunk, his voice was slurred and he had a thick accent.” Idrissi says they argue about the bill, and when she asks if there was a problem, “Mohamed said he worked for American Airlines and he could pay his bill.” [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/12/2001] This story was widely reported through much of September. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/13/2001; SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL, 9/15/2001; SUNDAY HERALD (GLASGOW), 9/16/2001; MIAMI HERALD, 9/22/2001; NEWSWEEK, 9/24/2001; TIME, 9/24/2001] However, beginning on September 15, a second story appears. [TORONTO STAR, 9/15/2001] This story is similar to the first, except that here, Atta is playing video games and drinking cranberry juice instead of vodka, and Alshehhi is the one who argues over the bill and pays. After some coexistence, the second story seems to have become predominant in later September. [WASHINGTON POST, 9/16/2001; WASHINGTON POST, 9/22/2001; LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/27/2001; ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/27/2001; AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 11/12/2001; SUNDAY TIMES (LONDON), 2/3/2002] Entity Tags: Patricia Idrissi, Mohamed Atta, Tony Amos, Marwan Alshehhi Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Key Hijacker Events, Marwan Alshehhi, Mohamed Atta
September 7-10, 2001: Dubai Banker Claims Al-Qaeda Agent Speculates on Airline and Blue-Chip Stocks French author Bernard-Henri Levy claims to know an anonymous manager at a Dubai, United Arab Emirates, bank who gives him astute and accurate tips on Arab banking. The manager tells Henri-Levy in 2002, “We know a bank here that made [a put option] transaction between the 8th and 10th of September on certain Dow Jones blue-chip stocks for accounts linked to bin Laden. I know the name of a bank that, by shorting 8,000 shares of United Airlines on the 7th of September, then 1,200 shares of American Airlines on the morning of the 10th, allowed the attack to finance itself.” The manager won’t name the bank, but he quotes bin Laden from a late September 2001 interview, stating, “al-Qaeda is full of young, modern, and educated people who are aware of the cracks inside the Western financial system, and know how to exploit them. These faults and weaknesses are like a sliding noose strangling the system.” [DAILY UMMAT (KARACHI), 9/28/2001; LEVY, 2003, PP. 312-313] The timing and amount of type of stock speculation mentioned in this account is similar to, but not the same as, previously published reports (see September 6-10, 2001). Levy suspects the al-Qaeda agent making these transactions is the financially astute Saeed Sheikh, graduate of the London School of Economics. An al-Qaeda agent using the alias Mustafa Ahmad is captured by a surveillance camera entering the Bank of Dubai on September 10, Dubai time, to pick up money sent by Mohamed Atta in previous days, but this video footage has never been publicly released. Levy and others argue that Mustafa Ahmad and Saeed Sheikh are one and the same (see September 5-10, 2001). [LEVY, 2003, PP. 312-313] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Saeed Sheikh, American Airlines, Osama bin Laden, United Airlines Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Insider Trading/ Foreknowledge, Saeed Sheikh
September 7-11, 2001: Some 9/11 Hijackers Sleep with Prostitutes
Mohand Alshehri. [Source: Spiegel TV] In the days before the attacks, some of the hijackers (including Waleed Alshehri and/or Wail Alshehri) apparently sleep with prostitutes in Boston hotel rooms, or at least try to do so. A driver working at an “escort service” used by the hijackers claims he regularly drove prostitutes to a relative of bin Laden about once a week until 9/11, when the relative disappeared. Bin Laden has several relatives in the Boston area, most or all of whom returned to Saudi Arabia right after 9/11. [BOSTON HERALD, 10/10/2001] On September 7, two female escorts are sent to “Arab men” in the Park Inn, Boston. One of the escorts will later say that a photo of Satam Al Suqami looks “very familiar.” [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, 10/2001, PP. 264 ] On September 10, four other hijackers in Boston (Marwan Alshehhi, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Mohand Alshehri, and Satam Al Suqami) call around to find prostitutes to sleep with on their last night alive, but in the end decline. Says one official, “It was going to be really expensive and they couldn’t come to a consensus on price, so that was the end of it… Either they thought it was too extravagant [over $400] or they did not have enough money left.” [BOSTON GLOBE, 10/10/2001] Entity Tags: Satam Al Suqami, Waleed M. Alshehri, Mohand Alshehri, Wail Alshehri, Fayez Ahmed Banihammad, Marwan Alshehhi, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Other 9/11 Hijackers