Abu Hamza, WTC Bombing, and More – 9/11 Timeline Additions as of June 8, 2008

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. In one meeting with MI5, officers appeared unconcerned Abu Hamza intended to fund terrorism overseas, in another he refused to denounce the killing of dozens of tourists in Egypt, and in a third an officer told Abu Hamza incitement to commit terrorism abroad was "fraught with peril." When a group supported by Abu Hamza in Yemen murdered some British citizens, Abu Hamza was arrested and then released, and the British authorities even gave him his bomb-making manual back.

Captured millennium plot bomber Ahmed Ressam told the US Abu Hamza was a major al-Qaeda figure in 2001, and the British Home Secretary campaigned to strip Abu Hamza of his citizenship in 2003, although MI5 concealed information about Abu Hamza from him. When he was finally arrested, some British politicians were unhappy. In a related matter, a contemporary of Abu Hamza, Abu Qatada, said that British intelligence offered to help him escape after 9/11.

The operatives involved in the 1993 WTC bombing had numerous links to the Al-Kifah charity front, and, after the bombing, twice threatened more attacks. Lead bomber Ramzi Yousef also attacked the Israeli embassy in Thailand, and was involved in the Bojinka plot, although most members of a front company linked to the plot were still at large in 2002.
In Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden was said to be linked to the Afghan drug trade in the late 1990s, and a NATO commander said al-Qaeda was making more money from drugs in Afghanistan in 2006. At the same time, Taliban leaders were reported to be living openly in Pakistan.

On the day of 9/11, about half of Flight 93's passengers booked onto it at the last minute, and about half of the flight attendants were not originally assigned to it either, a similar situation to Flight 11. In addition, some officers in the part of the Pentagon hit by Flight 77 thought a bomb had gone off when the plane impacted.

In February 2000, the CIA station in Malaysia reminded its counterpart in Thailand about al-Qaeda's Malaysia summit and travel by Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, prompting the Thailand station to claim it did not have information about the hijackers it apparently did have. In addition, just before 9/11, an FBI agent failed to conduct a check on the two men's credit card usage that could have stopped the attacks.

The "Lackawanna Six" heard Osama bin Laden give a speech mentioning 40 suicide attackers in the summer of 2001, but one of them failed to tell the FBI about it after returning to the US, and the Bush administration considered designating them enemy combatants.

The Egyptian national Abdallah Higazy was arrested after 9/11 because a ground-to-air radio was alleged to have been found in his hotel room, and the FBI forced him to confess to involvement in the plot by threatening his family. However, the evidence against him was later found to have been fabricated, and he sued the FBI.

In Iraq, the spy Mohamed Atta was supposed to have met in Prague denied the meeting occurred in 2004, and was released from prison in 2006. Meanwhile, the US invasion had successfully made Iraq the world's main training ground for terrorists.

Several of this week's miscellaneous entries finish off topics started in past weeks, such as the 9/11 Commission's claims about Iran's links to al-Qaeda, the funnelling of US and Saudi aid during the Soviet-Afghan war to the A. Q. Khan network, and a warning that preceded the Bali bombings. Further, a monitored fax linked Ali Mohamed to an al-Qaeda leader, there has been some talk the anthrax attacks were related to al-Qaeda, and the CIA repeatedly failed to spend all its counterterrorism budget, despite complaining of resource shortages.

A person connected to the Al Taqwa bank was also linked to militants in all the usual places, such as Algeria, Bosnia, and Kosovo, a former counterterrorism official blamed bin Laden straight away on 9/11, and New York Times journalist James Risen pointed out the Bush administration was ignoring ties between al-Qaeda and the Saudi elite. Finally, attacks on a third African embassy and a market in Strasbourg were averted, but an attack against American contractors in Riyadh was successful in suspicious circumstances indicating government collusion.

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