Whatever happened to the WTC hard drives?

German Experts Press For Truth
Of Pre-911 Stock Activity
By Erik Kirschbaum



PIRMASENS, Germany (Reuters) - German computer experts are working round the clock to unlock the truth behind an unexplained surge in financial transactions made just before two hijacked planes crashed into New York's World Trade Center on September 11.

Were criminals responsible for the sharp rise in credit card transactions that moved through some computer systems at the WTC shortly before the planes hit the twin towers?

Or was it coincidence that unusually large sums of money, perhaps more than $100 million, were rushed through the computers as the disaster unfolded? A world leader in retrieving data, German-based firm Convar is trying to answer those questions and help credit card companies, telecommunications firms and accountants in New York recover their records from computer hard drives that have been partially damaged by fire, water or fine dust. Using a pioneering laser scanning technology to find data on damaged computer hard drives and main frames found in the rubble of the World Trade Center and other nearby collapsed buildings, Convar has recovered information from 32 computers that support assumptions of dirty doomsday dealings.

"The suspicion is that inside information about the attack was used to send financial transaction commands and authorizations in the belief that amid all the chaos the criminals would have, at the very least, a good head start," said Convar director Peter Henschel.

"Of course it is also possible that there were perfectly legitimate reasons for the unusual rise in business volume," he told Reuters in an interview.


"It could turn out that Americans went on an absolute shopping binge on that Tuesday morning. But at this point there are many transactions that cannot be accounted for," Henschel said.

"Not only the volume but the size of the transactions was far higher than usual for a day like that. There is a suspicion that these were possibly planned to take advantage of the chaos."

Nearly 3,300 people were killed in the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center.

Some 30,000 people in the buildings, symbols of America's financial might, were able to escape between the time the planes crashed and about an hour later when they collapsed -- even though many of the unmanned computers continued working.

The United States blames the al Qaeda group led by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) for the attack and has since waged war on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (news - web sites) that sheltered them.


There are several data retrieval companies in the United States and Europe, but Convar said it has won the lion's share of the contracts from the World Trade Center because of its laser scanning technology.

Convar developed the laser scanner two years ago that made it possible to retrieve data from badly damaged computers.

With a staff of 30 in its high-security facility in Pirmasens near the French border, the firm has worked with the U.S. armed forces in Germany as well as German federal police for the last 15 years.

Its offices in Pirmasens, a town of 36,000 still suffering from the departure of some 4,000 American soldiers stationed here during the Cold War, are closely guarded behind high fences and monitored by dozens of security cameras.

Inside the building, an endless series of code-operated door locks keeps unwelcome visitors away. In the center of the facility is a 120 square meter (1,292 square foot), dust-free "clean room" where the damaged computer drives are coaxed back to life.

Citing client privacy, Henschel declined to say which companies Convar is working for, or provide details about the data retrieved so far. But he said the raw material, up to 40 gigabytes per computer hard drive, is sent immediately by satellite or courier back to New York.


Richard Wagner, a data retrieval expert at the company, said illegal transfers of more than $100 million might have been made immediately before and during the disaster.

"There is a suspicion that some people had advance knowledge of the approximate time of the plane crashes in order to move out amounts exceeding $100 million," Wagner said. "They thought that the records of their transactions could not be traced after the main frames were destroyed."

The companies are paying between $20,000 and $30,000 for each computer recovered, Henschel said.

The high recovery costs are one reason why only a limited number of hard drives are being examined. Convar has turned down a request by one British newspaper to try to recover personal last hour e-mails sent by someone trapped in the doomed building.

Henschel said the companies in the United States were working together with the FBI (news - web sites) to piece together what happened on September 11 and that he was confident the destination of the dubious transactions would one day be tracked down.

"We have been quite surprised that so many of the hard drives were in good enough shape to retrieve the data," he said.

"The contamination rate is high. The fine dust that was everywhere in the area got pressed under high pressure into the drives. But we've still been able to retrieve 100 percent of the data on most of the drives we've received.

"We're helping them find out what happened to the computers on September 11 as quickly as possible. I'm sure that one day they will know what happened to the money."

Is this new? No, not at all. But never followed up...

Is this new? No, not at all. The story was published in December 2001. It was even carried into the world by Reuters.

But it was never followed up AFAIK.

I'd not be surprised if that initial publication was more or less initiated by an eager marketing department of that Convar company, and if their bosses would have been called to order the very same day by their US "customers"....

Yes, it would be interesting to find out what the initial story's heading expresses...

Someone with an investigative journalist's vein should maybe phone Convar, and interview them, or try to get a statement:

  CONVAR Deutschland GmbH 
  Massachusetts Avenue, 4600
  D-66953 Pirmasens
  phone: +49-6331-268-268 
  fax:   +49-6331-268-299  
  email: Support@convar.de

  Chief Economic Officer: 
  Karin D.G. Hensel

  Press Officer:
  Armand G. Schulz 
  Convar Building E
  phone: +49 (0)6331 268 231
  fax.   +49 (0)6331 268 390
  email: ASchulz@convar.de

  Website (english version):

Their website even today keeps saying:

"If your data are important to you, then you should choose CONVAR - Die Datenretter. Just like thousands of customers already before you. It wasn’t for nothing that CONVAR was contracted for the data preparation of data volumes from the destroyed World Trade Center."

the last i had heard was

the last i had heard was that this company was later purchased after this information came out. i can't recall which company purchased them, but i beleive that richard grove (8thestate.com) has made reference to the investigation into these drives and how the investigation was dropped after they were acquired.

Convar is now a subsidiary

Convar is now a subsidiary of Marsh...The same Marsh accused of insider trading..the same Marsh in which Paul Brehmer was a CEO in before going to Iraq and announcing the capture of Saddam.
And the way I understand it is Convar was purchased by Kroll which was purchased by Marsh.
So now the "accused" owns the evidence. Which would explain how the story disappeared.

Some Kroll info...

Kroll Associates, a security consultant firm, which was renamed to Kroll Inc. in August 2001, started in New York City in 1972. In December 1997, Kroll merged with armored car manufacturer O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt to form The Kroll-O'Gara Company.

O'Gara is responsible for the security of all US-Presidents since 1945. However the background of Kroll is very interesting, too:

In 1993, Maurice Greenberg's American International Group (AIG ->), became co-owner of the "private spy agency", Kroll Associates, as a result of rescuing Kroll from bankruptcy with a cash infusion. Kroll was notorious during the 1980s as the "CIA of Wall Street" due to the prevalence of former CIA, FBI, Scotland Yard, British secret service and British Special Air Service men Kroll employed for corporate espionage in takeover bids, as well as for destabilization of foreign nations. (See Greenberg,Maurice) Maurice Greenberg was deeply involved in chinese trade in the 80s, where Henry Kissinger was one of his representatives. In the China trade, Greenberg became very close to Shaul Eisenberg, the leader of the Asian section of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, and agent for the sales of sophisticated military equipment to the Chinese military. Maurice Raymond Greenberg was born in New York City May 4, 1925, the son of Jacob Greenberg and Ada (Rheingold) Greenberg. The young man adopted the nickname "Hank" to make people think of a popular American baseball player with the name, Hank Greenberg. Greenberg served in the U.S. Army in the Korea conflict. He joined the insurance firm, Continental Casualty Co., in 1952. Continental executive J. Milburn Smith recommended Greenberg to the C.V. Starr insurance/spy organization, which made Greenberg its vice president in 1960, its president and CEO in 1967, and its chairman, succeeding Starr, in 1969. From 1988 to 1995, Greenberg was a director of the New York Federal Reserve bank - this branch of the system is the main instrument through which Federal Reserve chiefs and the Bank of England traditionally execute their U.S. political-economic policy. Greenberg was deputy chairman of the New York Fed in 1992 and 1993, and New York Fed chairman in 1994 and 1995. During 1996, while Greenberg was deputy chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations (See Cfr, he chaired the CFR task force on intelligence, which published "Making Intelligence Smarter: The future of U.S. Intelligence." This report mostly served to exhibit Greenberg's access to the intelligence community; but he parlayed it into a nomination by Senator Arlen Specter and others, for Greenberg to be Director of the Cia
Greenberg has used his connections to covert intelligence, supranational institutions, private bankers and speculators, and his huge global cash inflow, to shape a unique personal empire. Since 1997, Frank G. Wisner, Jr., has been a board member of Kroll , and is currently Greenberg's Deputy Chairman for External Affairs. Wisner's father was a founder of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who killed himself over the scandal from his being duped by British-Soviet masterspy Kim Philby. Frank Wisner, Jr., is a director of the George Bush-linked energy giant Enron (a client for whom AIG negotiated payments from Peru over nationalization of Enron operations).

In the early 1990s, Miami-based private investigator Lou Polumbo joined Kroll Associates. According to sources in the industry, Polumbo brought with him a personal history of involvement with the Medallin and other South American narcotics cartels; his business included helping relocate some of the capabilities of these cartels out of Colombia. The deal to bring Polumbo into Kroll was worked out by Avram Shalom, the former head of Israel's Shin Beth secret police. Shalom went to work for Kroll; he had been fired as Shin Beth boss due to a scandalous massacre of Palestinians in the Israel-occupied territories by his Shin Beth agents.
GFP would like to inform, that in June 2002, Ontrack/Convar was aquired by Kroll Inc. (Kroll O'gara Eisenhardt), which has strong ties with the US Government. One of their former employees, Jerome Hauer, organized a security job for ex-FBI anti-terror chief John O'Neill in the Twin Towers, where he died on Sep11th.

Good catch!

Good catch!

the search on this site

the search on this site actually works really well now, here is a little bit about convar:

Kroll did not purchase Convar of Pirmasens, Germany.

Kroll purchased the British Ontrack subsidiary from Convar. These are now two separate companies. Convar still operates independently.

Which is not to say that there might not have been some deal between Convar and Kroll to guarantee nothing suspicious is made public.

At any rate, Convar got huge PR in Germany for recovering the data from WTC harddrives, and the news stories emphasized that some of the drives allegedly contained information about suspicious transactions indicating insider knowledge.

But Convar does not own the data. The clients who commissioned the data recovery (of which the US government was one!) are the ones who own the data. Convar of course is barred from revealing the data as a condition of the contract.

Convar would probably claim they don't even have the data anymore. The subpoenas would have to go to the commissioning companies, and other than the government these are unknown.

A minor addendum: When CNN

A minor addendum: When CNN reported this story, they omitted the speculation about $100 million in trades being made, a fact that was reported in foreign media.



"The company has completed processing 39 drives; another 42 have arrived, and a further 20 drives are expected in early January, Wagner said."

So the $100 million figure represents results when less than 40% of the available drives had been processed.

Obviously the FBI knows who made the transactions. Marsh occupied many of the floors struck in WTC1.

"They thought that the records of their transactions could not be traced after the main frames were destroyed."

The $100 million question:

Why would "they" assume the mainframes would be destroyed unless a) they knew exactly what floors would be hit/burned or b) they knew the whole towers would be coming down?

Not a sane assumption without precise foreknowledge of either a) impact points or b) controlled demolition.

As (b) is by far the safer bet, I submit that whoever made these transactions is involved with the demolitions.