Another Malaysia Meeting Attendee Identified

The Malaysia meeting was a major planning session for 9/11 and was held from 5-8 January 2000 and attended by various al-Qaeda operatives, some of whom went on to participate in the operation. The CIA and NSA found out about it in advance by tapping one of the hijackers’ phones, so it was also surveilled by Malaysian intelligence and the results were passed to the CIA. However, no complete list of the attendees has ever been published.

In his book Intelligence Matters, Bob Graham, co-chairman of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, makes the following claim:

One of the organizers of the failed attack ((on the USS Sullivans)) was Muhammad Omar al-Harazi, an al-Qaeda operations chief in East Africa and one of the plotters of the Nairobi embassy bombing. Al-Harazi was personally humiliated by the failed attack. Two days later, he headed to Kuala Lumpur for the terrorist summit that the CIA knew was taking place. (p. 59)

Graham seems pretty solid as a source to me, so we can add al-Harazi to the other 6 generally accepted attendees (the total is supposed to be 13):
(1) Khalid Almihdhar, American 77 hijacker;
(2) Nawaf Alhazmi, American 77 hijacker;
(3) Tawfiq bin Attash (aka Khallad) al-Qaeda commander;
(4) Abu Bara al-Taizi, candidate hijacker;
(5) Hambali, head of al-Qaeda franchise in SE Asia; and
(6) Yazid Sufaat, member of al-Qaeda franchise, associate of Zacarias Moussaoui.

So who is this al-Harazi?
This may only be one of his aliases. In the wake of the October 2000 Cole bombing CNN reported:

Yemeni officials say the name of the Cole suspect is Mohammed Omar Al-Harazi -- though U.S. intelligence officials say he is known by at least two other names: Abdul Rahman Hussein Al-Nashari or Al-Nassir.

The 9/11 Commission refers to him as Abd al Rahim al Nashiri and has a section on him on pages 152-3, but, for some reason, doesn’t mention he attended the Malaysia meeting.

The CIA admits it received surveillance from the Malaysia meeting, but its defence is that, through an unfortunate series of missteps, it didn’t really recognise its significance or figure out who the people were, and failed to register that Almihdhar and Alhazmi flew to the US a week after the meeting ended.

The thing is, an al-Qaeda operative in custody had already identified a photo of al-Nashiri and the Saudis had sent the US notification of an arms smuggling plot he was involved in, so the excuse the CIA didn’t know who he was is going to be a lot harder to make here.

So what’s the story with the photo?
The 9/11 Commission tells us (in endnote 28 on page 491) that for Nashiri’s involvement in the embassy bombing plot we should see “FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohammad Rashed Daoud al Owhali, Sept. 9, 1998, p. 6.” This document is the FBI 302 for al-Owhali, who was supposed to be martyred in the attack, but ended up not dying and was captured and talked. It was helpfully released after the Moussaoui trial and you can find it here:

On page 6 we find that what al-Nashiri did in the embassy bombings plot was to procure a false passport in Yemen for al-Owhali, who knew al-Nashiri by the alias Bilal. However, if you carry on reading to page 16 you find this:

Subject ((al-Owhali)) was shown photographs and identified the following: Harun’s house (photos 1/7); Azzam (aka Jihad Ali) subject kissed the photograph of Azzam when shown (photo 8); Bilal ((al-Nashiri’s alias)), the cousin of Azzam who helped subject obtain a Yemen passport… (photo 9)…

I don’t know where the photo came from, but Saudi Arabia uncovered a plot to smuggle antitank missiles in which al-Nashiri (and perhaps Almihdhar and Alhazmi) were involved in early 1998. The US was apparently informed in June 1998, so I suppose the photo could have been passed along then.

I didn’t believe the CIA’s account of its botching the Malaysia surveillance anyway, but this - the fact a prisoner had already identified a photo of al-Nashiri and the US had been told about his arms smuggling - makes it even less likely that the CIA is telling us the full truth of what happened.

If you are interested in further reading, the 9/11 Timeline’s chapter on the Malaysia meeting can be found here: