Al-Qaeda in Yemen, Italy and Canada; Bernard Lewis, Rich B, and Osama bin Laden - Additions as of April 13, 2008

This week's new entries cover a number of varied topics. An address book seized in 1997 provided an opportunity to uncover al-Qaeda cells in Canada, where no action was taken against a founder of al-Qaeda despite evidence against him, although the Pakistani army did at least shoot him dead in 2003. However, his son became an informer for the CIA and uncovered a Bosnian network sending fighters to Iraq

Neoconservative academic Bernard Lewis wanted to break up Middle Eastern countries in 1992, a neoconservative group urged President Bush to invade Iraq in order to dominate the Middle East shortly after 9/11, and yet more neoconservatives wanted to split up Saudi Arabia to control its oil in 2003.

In Yemen, a militant leader was allegedly executed in 1999, but doubts persisted, and local militants promised the government not to perform any attacks inside Yemen after 9/11, leaving them free to carry out attacks elsewhere. Ten of the USS Cole bombing suspects escaped from prison in 2003, and 23 suspected al-Qaeda operatives escaped in 2006, when government collusion was suspected. In addition, the Yemeni authorities seemed reluctant to keep a top Cole bomber in jail last year.

In the "war on terror" the Bush administration rejected a proposal to raid al-Qaeda-linked charities after 9/11 and a proposal to hire 80 more terrorism finance investigators in 2004. A 2003 study found that there had been few successful terrorism prosecutions since 9/11, and the US effort to fight terrorist finance was foundering by 2008.

CIA Bin Laden unit chief Rich B wanted to increase ties with the Northern Alliance, but failed to draft a proper report about al-Qaeda's Malaysia summit, although the meeting's attendees were photographed, computers they used were examined, and the information was sent to the CIA. The CIA received several new pieces of intelligence indicating an al-Qaeda attack in early July 2001; the meeting they led to with Condoleezza Rice was left out of the 9/11 Commission report, but mentioned by Time magazine in 2002.

Osama Bin Laden served as a middleman between Saudi intelligence and Afghan warlords during the anti-Soviet jihad, and was linked to a wave of militant attacks in France in 1995. A group of CIA assets in Afghanistan may have attempted to capture him in late 1998, and he allegedly went bird hunting with the future ruler of the United Arab Emirates a year later.

Continuing the series of entries on al-Qaeda in Italy, new entries have been added covering links to the "Hamburg Cell" that was instrumental in 9/11. One of the key operatives in Milan was named Mahmood Es Sayed and was a close associate of Ayman al-Zawahiri. He arrived in Italy in the summer of 2000 and moved in with Abu Omar, an imam who had previously informed for the CIA and was to be kidnapped by the agency after 9/11. Monitoring of Es Sayed uncovered a terrorist summit in Bologna, which was attended by one of his Hamburg contacts; and monitoring also uncovered the extremists' route to Afghanistan. There are signs the Italian operatives had foreknowledge of 9/11.

A group of entries simply focus on officials' statements: President Bush wanted to rid the world of evil, Donald Rumsfeld said it was inevitable terrorists would use WMDs, and Condoleezza Rice said there was a need to transform the Middle East to stop terrorism. President Musharraf said al-Qaeda no longer existed in Pakistan in 2005, al-Qaeda's military chief said the US was drawn into Iraq intentionally, and, to no-one's surprise, Michael Hayden said the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program may have detected 9/11.

In counterterrorism, ten of al-Qaeda's 24 top leaders were killed or captured in the first year of the GWOT, background checks had not been completed for almost half of US airport screeners by the summer of 2003, and the FBI missed a tip on a sleeper cell in Buffalo, whose members were recruited by al-Qaeda and went to Afghanistan shortly before 9/11, meeting bin Laden.

Miscellaneous entries: Ramzi bin al-Shibh was tortured in Jordan, Benazir Bhutto was interviewed by David Frost, and future attorney general Michael Mukasey told a puzzling anecdote at his confirmation hearings. In addition, Interpol put out a bulletin about bin Laden's brother-in-law Jamal Khalifa shortly before he was murdered, Marwan Alshehhi had trouble with basic flying questions in July 2001, and Philip Zelikow wanted to read all the 9/11 Commission's staff reports at its public hearings.

US special forces wanted to poison Afghanistan's food supply, the US and Britain were aware that Abu Nidal was using a BCCI branch in London, and the US attempt to forge an alliance with Khomeini's Iran ended badly. Finally, there is another entry about Laurie Mylroie, a wanted war criminal became head of Kosovo in 2006, when the charges against him were dropped, and an al-Qaeda leader was allowed to live in Britain after attempting to assassinate the president of Egypt.

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