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Kevin Fenton's blog
Several entries have been added to the 9/11 Timeline in the past fortnight, in particular concerning tracking of the 9/11 hijackers by Saudi authorities. Nawaf Alhazmi obtained a new passport in Saudi Arabia in March 1999. The passport contained an indicator+the+Saudi+authorities+used+to+track+his+movements. Alhazmi obtained a US visa with the passport and entered the US with it. Another hijacker, Ahmed Alhaznawi, possibly obtained a passport with the same+indicator before November 2000 and then left+Saudi+Arabia. It has also been suggested that a third hijacker, Ahmed+Alnami, had a similar indicator in his passport.
9/11 Commission, Londonistan, and Day of 9/11 - Additions to the 9/11 Timeline as of October 19, 2008
Several of this week's new entries focus on the 9/11 Commission, in particular its Executive Director Philip Zelikow, who offered public+support for the invasion of Iraq in 2002, but did not want the commission to investigate false+claims of links between 9/11 and Iraq. After the commission's investigation started, one+staffer was sent to review CIA documents, and another, Warren Bass, was sent to review NSC material. Bass came+to+favor the account of events in the Bush Administration in the summer of 2001 given by counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke over that given by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. However, Zelikow distrusted+Clarke and tried to protect his friend Rice; it was these ties to Rice which caused both Bass and Commissioner Bob+Kerrey to threaten to quit the commission, although neither of them made good on their threat.
I have obtained a new document via FOIA request. It is an FAA memo comprising a transcript of calls between various FAA facilities and other institutions on the day of 9/11, and was referenced in the 9/11 Commission Report, in endnote 128 to Chapter 1 (on page 459). It is not spectacularly exciting, but touches on awareness of all four hijacks, in particular the last three. You can find it here.
Author James Bamford was recently interviewed by Amy Goodman about his new book, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. He talked about some issues that are covered in the 9/11 Timeline's CIA+Hiding+Alhazmi+and+Almihdhar and Yemen+hub categories. The interview follows on from an article in the Congressional Quarterly and it is well worth reading the whole thing.
I have some comments on a couple of the aspects Bamford touches on. First, I'd like to say that Bamford is obviously a really good reporter and he's done a much better job on this than anyone who came before him (for example, Terry McDermott knew about the intercepts between San Diego and Sana'a, but relegated this information to the endnotes). Having said this, as far as I can see at the moment, he's making a couple of errors and missing some things out.
Several new entries have been added this week about Osama bin Laden during the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. In 1986, his brother Salem asked the Pentagon to supply him with missiles, but received+no+reply, although a Pentagon official did later ask Afghan+commanders if resources should be diverted to the Arab Afghans. The bin Laden brothers purchased some anti-aircraft missiles in+London and, in May, Osama led a group of Arab fighters into Afghanistan, but the mission ended in failure.
Why are the links between alleged Pentagon hijacker Khalid Almihdhar and the USS Cole bombing important? Because, according to recent revelations, officers at Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, protected Almihdhar and his partner Nawaf Alhazmi from the FBI in January 2000, and this protection seems to have continued after this. If the CIA had simply been allowing Almihdhar to operate to see what connections they might uncover, then the Cole bombing showed clearly that this policy had been a complete disaster—a terrorist under their protection participated in the murder of 17 US sailors. However, the CIA continued to protect Almihdhar even after the Cole bombing.
One of the main arguments used by British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a key speech on 4 October 2001 that held al-Qaeda responsible for 9/11 was that one of the 19 hijackers “has also been identified as playing key roles in both the East African Embassy attacks and the USS Cole attack.”
It was recently revealed that Tom Wilshire, a deputy chief of Alec Station, the CIA's bin Laden unit, conspired with other officials at the CIA to withhold information from the FBI about Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, who attended al-Qaeda's Malaysia summit and went on to hijack with plane that hit the Pentagon. Previously, it was claimed that Wilshire had acted in good faith, but he was only able to come up with a dog-ate-my-homework excuse to cover his blocking of the information for the FBI. As two of his co-conspirators, Doug Miller and Marc Rossini, have confessed, we now know Wilshire was not acting in good faith. Had it not been for this conspiracy, it is highly likely the FBI would have arrested some of the hijackers before 9/11 and thwarted the plot.
A number of other officials connected to Wilshire withheld similar information from the FBI and came up with similar dog-ate-my-homework excuses for not doing so. Given the recent revelations, it is highly likely that they were involved in the same conspiracy as Wilshire, Rossini and Miller. They are:
I just saw this article at the Congressional Quarterly. It is a major, major development:
The FBI has blocked two of its veteran counterterrorism agents from going public with accusations that the CIA deliberately withheld crucial intelligence before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
FBI Special Agents Mark Rossini and Douglas Miller have asked for permission to appear in an upcoming public television documentary, scheduled to air in January, on pre-9/11 rivalries between the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency.
The program is a spin-off from The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, by acclaimed investigative reporter James Bamford, due out in a matter of days.
The FBI denied Rossini and Miller permission to participate in the book or the PBS "NOVA" documentary, which is also being written and produced by Bamford,/ on grounds that the FBI "doesn't want to stir up old conflicts with the CIA," according to multiple reliable sources.
Pentagon on 9/11, Shoe Bombing, Bin Laden in the Soviet-Afghan War and More – Additions to the 9/11 Timeline as of September 28,
This week, a massive amount of new entries have been added to the timeline, dealing with a whole range of different issues. We will start with the day of 9/11, in particular the Pentagon, which a fire chief warned could be a target nearly 20+minutes before it was hit. The attack itself created confusion by setting off 300+fire+alarms, although some medical workers thought the ensuing evacuation was a drill.
About half of this week's new entries concern United Airlines Flight 93. The airline's operations centre sent a message to the plane's co-pilot some minutes before the hijacking, but received+no+reply; it also notified flights of a crash at the WTC around 9:03 but did not send a warning about possible hijackings at this time. The airline's dispatchers were asked to warn+flights at 9:21, the same time Flight 93 sent a routine+message to one of the dispatchers. A couple of minutes later, it checked+in with Cleveland air traffic control; the pilots then sent their last last+message at 9:27.
Most new entries this week focus on Londonistan and British intelligence informer Abu Hamza, who improperly+obtained+British+citizenship in 1986. After gaining control of Finsbury Park mosque, he helped recruit a would-be+shoe+bomber, Saajid Badat, as well as another suicide+bomber who had advanced+training at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Badat and fellow shoe bomber Richard Reid traveled to Afghanistan to meet the bombmaker after the US invasion started, but Badat later backed+out of the plot.
Many of the new entries in the 9/11 Timeline this week focus on the 9/11 Commission and, in particular, its executive director Philip Zelikow, who co-authored a book with National+Security+Adviser+Condoleezza+Rice in the mid-1990s, but was not+offered a full-time job in the Bush administration despite serving on the transition team. Some of the other commissioners were unhappy with Zelikow's appointment and the degree+of+control+he+exercised. For example, Zelikow had control over the hiring+process, which he used to appoint a current+CIA+officer to lead the commission's investigation of the CIA.
The main focus in the 9/11 Timeline this last week has been the anthrax attacks. There was some material about them in the Timeline at one point, but it got lost somehow. It has now been revived and new material has been added. The first anthrax mailing was in 1997, when the target was the Jewish+service+organization+B'nai+B'rith, and the CIA investigated the possibility of anthrax attacks using+letters in 1999. Wrongly accused scientist Steven Hatfill's contract with USAMRID ended in the same year, and he then started helping the US military build a mock+biological+weapons+factory. White House staff started taking anti-anthrax drugs on+9/11.
The FBI has just released a bunch of evidence it thinks is bad for Bruce Ivins in the anthrax case. You can find a report about it here.
There are several new points against Ivins. Let's look at them one by one:
(1) He sent e-mails saying Osama had anthrax and sarin (not actually true) and that he decreed death to all Jews and all Americans. This is apparently similar to the wording in the anthrax-carrying letters, which said "Death to America" and "Death to Israel." This is actually the first point in the NYT story today.
You have got to be kidding me - we are talking about the period shortly after 9/11, everybody thought Osama wanted death to America and was writing e-mails about it. This is hardly damning. Google "Death to America" and see how many hits you get.
(2) The envelopes used for the letters were bought in Maryland or Virginia.
That's just in no way conclusive, although if there were a prize for the most circumstantial evidence, it might just win.
The vast majority of new entries in the 9/11 Timeline this week are related to the 7/7 and 21/7 London bombings. Lead bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan was already radicalized and linked+to+two+future+suicide+bombers in 2001, when, four years before the attacks, a computer expert warned+British+police+about+two+of+the+bombers. Hasib Hussain, another of the bombers, visited Pakistan in the years before the bombings, as did Shehzad+Tanweer, who met militant leaders linked to Jaish-e-Mohammed there. Khan visited+Israel, shortly before British Islamist bombers performed a bombing+there.
Salon recently published an article entitled Exposing Bush's historic abuse of power about a database known as Main Core. The article was focused on domestic surveillance in the US and connected up with a lot of other threads I have noticed swirling around 9/11. It strikes me that this could be the key to uncovering how the intelligence agencies, in particular the NSA, failed in the run up to 9/11 (and a lot more besides), and I will try and explain here how and why I think Main Core could be linked to the attacks.
Given that the article also said that lawmakers are considering the launch of an investigation modelled on the Church Committee into the programme, as well as other aspects of surveillance, this represents a very decent chance of getting to the bottom of what actually happened.
Continued at the History Commons Groups blog.
About half of the new entries in the History Commons' 9/11 Timeline this week deal with the actual day of 9/11. One set focus on Flight 93, on which passenger Todd Burnett reportedly said a hijacker had a gun, although the 9/11 Commission disagreed. Burnett's wife informed the FBI of her husband's calls before+the+plane+crashed. United Airlines informed its staff of the crash at 10:17, American Airlines at 10:27, and the public at 11:17.
7/7 Mastermind Allegedly Worked for British Intelligence, Deena Burnett – Additions to the 9/11 Timeline as of July 20, 2008
(Edit: No matter what you think happened on 9/11, cooperative research is an outstanding resource for 9/11 researchers. Please send them a donation if you can. -rep. Donate here.)
Most of the new entries in the 9/11 Timeline this week are about the 7/7 London bombings, and in particular the alleged mastermind, Haroon Rashid Aswat. Aswat recruited militant fighters in London in the late 1990s, when his activities were known+to+British+intelligence. He also attempted to set up terrorist+training+camps+in+the+US, but the Justice Department blocked+his+indictment on these charges in 2002. He was falsely+thought to have been killed in Afghanistan in 2003, monitored meeting the leaders of another British plot in 2004, and the British prevented the US from capturing him in South Africa in 2005.
There are numerous new entries about the 9/11 hijackers this week, in particular about their US visas, eleven of which were issued by the same+consular+official in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Ahmed Alghamdi was issued a visa in Jeddah, but not interviewed, despite general+terrorism+concerns+at+the+consulate. Wail and Waleed Alshehri got new passports from a family+member in the Saudi passport office in October 2000 and used them to get US visas despite errors+on+their+applications.
The majority of new entries this week deal with Pakistan and its relations with al-Qaeda after 9/11. The Pakistani government allowed+al-Qaeda+and+the+Taliban+to+regroup in its tribal region, which was assisted by the US's failure to fund reform+of+Islamist+education in Pakistan and to monitor+Taliban+strongholds. Suicide bombings dramatically+increased+in+Afghanistan starting in 2004, partly because one top militant leader was allowed to operate+openly+in+Pakistan, and a detainee released form Guantanamo became an important+Taliban+leader.
Many of the new entries this week deal with Pakistan. President Pervez Musharraf expressed his public+support+for+the+Taliban in May 2000, and the ISI then assisted an autumn+offensive by the Taliban. After taking office, the Bush administration was slow+to+develop a new policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and only gave Pakistan vague+warnings about its links with Osama bin Laden three months before 9/11. After the attacks, Richard Armitage made his disputed+"stone+age"+comment, but the ISI secretly+advised+the+Taliban to resist the US-led invasion.
CIA Inspector General's Report, Mole in Londonistan, Russia – 9/11 Timeline Additions as of August 15, 2008
One of the main additions to the 9/11 Timeline this week is a category dealing exclusively with the report drafted by the CIA's inspector general about some aspects of the agency's poor performance before 9/11. It deals with the report's origins, its redrafting at the insistence of the CIA's management, and the final release of a redacted executive summary. You can read a summary of the whole chapter here.
It will soon be the 10th anniversary of the African embassy bombings. I am planning to write a series of short pieces about the attacks, and how they could easily have been prevented. The first one is a summary of the 9/11 Timeline's chapter on one of the bombers, Wadih El-Hage.
Wadih El-Hage was an al-Qaeda operative involved in the 1998 East African embassy bombings, as well as serving as Osama bin Laden’s personal secretary. He was under investigation and known to both the FBI and CIA for years before the attacks, and this surveillance represented a missed opportunity to save over 200 lives. He was arrested after the bombings and sentenced to life in prison.
Linked to Blind Sheikh
One large group of new additions to the 9/11 Timeline this week concerns London-based imam Abu Hamza al-Masri, a key figure in the global militant network and an informer for the British security services.
Bali Bombings, CIA Search for 9/11 Hijackers in Thailand – 9/11 Timeline Additions as of June 1, 2008
The largest chunk of new entries this week deal with al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia in general and the 2002 Bali bombings in particular. A 1994 phone tap in the Philippines indicated that Hambali, a leader of the al-Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiya (JI), was involved in the Bojinka+plot, and after he was arrested in 2003 President Bush falsely+promised+he+could+be+tried+in+Indonesia, where Jemaah Islamiya attacked+the+Philippine+ambassador+in+2000. Al-Qaeda-linked figures also helped militant+Islamists+fight+Christians+in+the+spice+islands in 2000-2001, and the US unsuccessfully pressured Indonesia to allow the rendition+of+JI's+spiritual+leader in 2002.
Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia, the Bali Bombings, and the Indonesian Military – 9/11 Timeline Additions as of May 25, 2008
Most new entries in the 9/11 Timeline this week focus on al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Southeast Asia. One of the key moles, who penetrated radical Islamist organizations in Southeast Asia for the Indonesian government from the end of the 1970s, was Fauzi+Hasbi, who was a founding+member+of+the+al-Qaeda+affiliate+Jemaah+Islamiyah+(JI), lived near JI+leader+Hambali for many years, and attended a top-level+meeting+of+Southeast+Asian+militants.
At the Pentagon, before 9/11 a clinic developed an emergency plan that helped+the+response+to+the+attacks, and a fire five+weeks+before+9/11 further enhanced preparedness. The alert+level+was+raised+shortly+before+the+Pentagon+was+hit, and people disguised+as+firefighters were arrested there the day after the attacks.
Regarding the World Trade Center, a structural engineer found evidence of extreme+temperatures+in+the+fires and criticized the decision+to+destroy+the+steel. In addition, an engineering+journal recently published an article questioning whether the WTC was really destroyed by fire and impact damage.
Again this week, most of the new entries in the 9/11 Timeline focus on the 2004 Madrid bombings. Shortly after 9/11, investigators linked together a+cell+in+Madrid,+London-based+cleric+Abu+Qatada,+and+the+"Hamburg+Cell", and Spanish police monitored a house where the Madrid+bombers+would+later+build+the+bombs. They failed to arrest the bombers for common+crimes+they+committed, but focused on one+of+the+bombers'+apartments, and increased+surveillance+of+them in spring 2003.
The vast majority of entries this week are about the 2004 Madrid train bombings and al-Qaeda in Spain. A suspect Spanish policeman sold a house to Moutaz Almallah, one+of+the+bombers, in 1995, some of the bombers could have been arrested in a general sweep of al-Qaeda-linked militants in Spain after+9/11, but were not, although one of the masterminds was photographed with top+al-Qaeda+operative+Barakat+Yarkas. However, surveillance of the bombers continued and an informant spied+on+their+secret+meetings. The police learned one of the masterminds was preparing for "violent+action", and another mastermind was surrounded+by+informants.
One informer monitored the bombers closely, and realized another of the alleged bombers also worked+for+the+police. The wife of one of the bombers gave police stunning+details about his activities in 2003 and they started monitoring a house used+by+he+bombers based on a tip-off from her. She warned police the bombers were planning a suicide+attack, and continued+reporting on the group. Police received a big+tip that could have prevented the bombings, monitored the apartment of one+of+the+masterminds, and turned+down+the+chance+to+videotape+the+bombers'+meetings.