New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Hijackers Arrive at Dulles Airport, FBI Behaves Suspiciously, Cheney Gives Shootdown Order, and More

From the History Commons Groups blog:

A large number of entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, many of them providing important details about the events of September 11, 2001, and others describing notable incidents that took place before and after 9/11.

Hijackers Were Recorded on Video at Dulles Airport

The majority of the new entries describe events that took place on September 11. A number of them describe the arrival of the five alleged hijackers of Flight 77 at Washington's Dulles International Airport.

Khalid Almihdhar and Majed Moqed were the first of the hijackers to check in at the American Airlines ticket counter at the airport. Minutes later, the two men entered the airport's west security checkpoint and, despite setting off alarms when they walked through the metal detectors, were cleared to proceed on their way.

About 10 minutes later, brothers Nawaf Alhazmi and Salem Alhazmi arrived at the ticket counter, and, despite missing the official deadline for doing so by a few minutes, were allowed to check in. They then entered the west checkpoint and although Nawaf Alhazmi set off the alarms when he walked through the two metal detectors, both men were eventually permitted to proceed.

The other hijacker, Hani Hanjour, checked in at the ticket counter shortly before or shortly after the Alhazmis, although the exact time when he did so is unknown. He then passed through the security checkpoint without any problems.

Dulles Airport was the only one of the airports used by the 9/11 hijackers that had videotaping equipment in use at its security checkpoints, and the Flight 77 hijackers were filmed as they checked in and went through the west checkpoint.

FBI Said Airport Employees Could Have Colluded With the Hijackers

Events at Dulles Airport that took place later in the day are described in other new timeline entries. Within two hours of the Pentagon attack, which occurred at 9:37 a.m., the airport was locked down, which meant no one was allowed to enter or leave. Then, at around 12:40 p.m., a team of 50 FBI agents arrived and began the FBI's investigation of the hijacking of Flight 77.

Agents asked Steve Wragg, a manager in charge of the airport for the company Argenbright Security, and another manager to help identify the screeners who worked at the west checkpoint, and suggested these screeners could be guilty of colluding with the hijackers. When investigators interviewed the screeners, they were allegedly only concerned with what the screeners might have done wrong and uninterested in the Flight 77 hijackers. Furthermore, they refused to let Wragg get involved with the interviews of his employees, even just to act as a translator for those with limited English-speaking skills.

And when Ed Nelson, a security manager at the airport, watched surveillance camera footage of the west checkpoint with FBI agents, he was astonished that the agents were able to quickly pick out the five hijackers from the hundreds of people passing through the checkpoint.

Successful Entrepreneur Was Killed by a Hijacker

A number of entries relate to the killing of Daniel Lewin--a highly successful Internet entrepreneur who was a passenger on Flight 11--by one of the hijackers. Lewin reportedly had his throat slashed by Satam Al Suqami when the hijackers took over his plane. However, about 30 minutes later, the operations center at FAA headquarters heard over a conference call that a passenger on Flight 11--presumably Lewin--had been shot.

Later on, at 9:20 a.m., an FAA security inspector talked on the phone with a manager at American Airlines and was similarly informed that Lewin had been shot dead by Al Suqami. Early in the evening, an internal FAA memorandum was written, which included the details of this phone call, but various agencies and investigations subsequently determined that the alleged shooting never happened and Lewin was instead killed with a knife.

Curiously, the high-tech firm that Lewin co-founded and ran--Akamai--had been visited just two months before then by Richard Clarke, the White House counterterrorism chief, and asked to protect the White House website against an imminent attack by a computer virus.

Vice President Authorized the Military to Shoot Down Hijacked Aircraft

At the White House, Ashley Snee, Vice President Dick Cheney's special assistant, became concerned that terrorists might attack the building after she saw the second crash at the World Trade Center on television, but assumed it was considered safe since Cheney was being allowed to stay in his office.

Later on, after a suspicious plane was spotted heading toward Washington, DC, a Navy officer at the White House was called by a senior official at the Pentagon who wanted permission for fighter jets to shoot down hijacked aircraft. The officer, Anthony Barnes, passed on the request to Cheney and the vice president immediately authorized the military to engage the suspicious aircraft. Barnes then informed the Pentagon official of Cheney's order.

At the CIA, a secure phone line was set up, but because this was kept constantly connected to the White House, the CIA was unable to receive the latest information about the attacks from the National Security Agency over it.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court building in Washington was only evacuated at 10:15 a.m.--more than half an hour after the Pentagon was attacked--despite being a potential target for terrorists. And in Stahlstown, Pennsylvania, a man called 9-1-1 and described to the operator his observations of the final minutes of Flight 93 before the hijacked plane crashed into the ground.

Government Websites Were Attacked by Hackers

Throughout the morning, United Airlines, which owned two of the four hijacked airliners, received many reports about threats and other emergencies that turned out to be incorrect. Another problem was that numerous key websites, including government websites and news websites, went offline, allegedly due in part to malicious attacks by computer hackers.

Around mid-afternoon, President Bush was able to have a short phone conversation with his parents, former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, who were at a hotel in Wisconsin after the plane they were traveling on was instructed to land at the nearest airport. Then, in spite of the seriousness of the day's events, George H. W. Bush left the hotel and spent his time playing a relaxed game of golf at the course across the street.

Terrorists Attempted to Simultaneously Hijack Three Planes in 1970

A number of new timeline entries describe events that took place in the years before 9/11. The earliest of these occurred in 1970, when terrorists tried to simultaneously hijack three planes bound for the US and subsequently blew up two of them, along with another hijacked plane, at an airfield in Jordan.

Entries describe two training exercises held by the North American Aerospace Defense Command that had similarities to the 9/11 attacks. The first of these, held in January 1999, was based around the scenario of terrorists planning to crash a stolen aircraft into the White House; the second, held five months later, was based around the same scenario.

Former Intelligence Official Warned the CIA of the Attacks

A few entries describe apparent warning signs of the 9/11 attacks in the months before they occurred. These include the recording by the United States of telephone conversations between Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the attacks, and three other men apparently talking in code about the 9/11 plot.

Additionally, Mehmet Eymur, a retired Turkish intelligence official, has claimed that he alerted the CIA to the imminent attacks just over a month before they occurred, but his warning was ignored. And in May 2001, alleged hijacker Mohamed Atta was witnessed examining the security checkpoints at Logan International Airport in Boston, but no action was taken when the witnesses reported their concerns about his behavior.

A couple of notable incidents that took place on the evening before 9/11 at Dulles Airport are described. Firstly, one or two of the alleged hijackers were recorded by the airport's security cameras. And secondly, a group of Middle Eastern men, which allegedly included two of the hijackers, got into a confrontation with an employee after they tried to get to a secure area. And yet FBI agents who came to the airport the following day were apparently unwilling to look into the incident after the employee told them about it.

Former Business Associate of President Trump Assisted US Intelligence

An entry describes work conducted before 9/11 by Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman, for US intelligence agencies, which included obtaining Osama bin Laden's satellite telephone numbers. Sater, who is now known for his past business ties with President Trump, continued his intelligence work after 9/11 and provided valuable information about al-Qaeda.

A few other events that took place in the years since 9/11 are covered in new timeline entries. These include the astonishing revelation that the FBI stated five years after the event that it had "no assurances as to who really carried out the attacks."

More recently, in March 2018, a Syrian-born German national who has been accused of recruiting several of the alleged 9/11 hijackers to al-Qaeda was arrested and detained by Kurdish fighters in Syria. In interviews later that year, the man, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, denied any involvement in the 9/11 attacks or ever having foreknowledge of them.

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FBI said in 2006 it had no assurances as to who carried out 9/11

Be sure to check out the following new timeline entry, which is reminiscent of the FBI's admission around the same time that it had found "no hard evidence" connecting Osama bin Laden to the 9/11 attacks:
(Shortly Before October 2006): FBI Says It Is Unsure Who Perpetrated 9/11
The FBI admits it is uncertain about who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. In a book published in October 2006, investigative journalists Joseph Trento and Susan Trento will report that the US government’s no-fly list, which comprises the names of people who are prohibited from boarding commercial aircraft that depart from or arrive in the United States, still includes the names of 14 of the 19 men accused of being responsible for the 9/11 hijackings in official accounts, even though these men supposedly died five years ago (see March 2006). They will suggest that a possible reason for this anomaly is that “the FBI has never been able to confirm the real identities of many of the 9/11 hijackers” and note that on September 21, 2001, CNN reported that FBI Director Robert Mueller “acknowledged that some of those behind [the 9/11 attacks] may have stolen the identification of other people.” They will add that a “top FBI official” said there is uncertainty over who was responsible for 9/11. According to the unnamed official, “There is a real fear we have no assurances as to who really carried out the attacks.” [CNN, 9/21/2001; Trento and Trento, 2006, pp. 189-190, 192] The FBI has also stated that it has found “no hard evidence connecting [Osama] bin Laden to 9/11” (see June 6, 2006). [Milli Gazette, 6/11/2006]

Shoot Down With What?

Yes, it appears that several people were working on authorization to shoot, including Garabito (SS) Steenbergen (FAA) and Barnes (WHMO). However, they appear to be unaware that the military had neutered its defense forces. They could do nothing substantive. They did a lot of training, but when it came to actually reacting to an ongoing threat, they were not capable.

Here you can listen to Heather Penny describe the conditions at Andrews.

She and one other pilot did not get airborne until 10:39 and they had nothing to shoot. They were instructed to ram a confirmed hijacked aircraft and attempt to eject in time.

I take issue with the 10:18 timeline. Garabito and Steenbergen were discussing this authorization shortly after 9:03.

Time of shootdown authorization

I take issue with the 10:18 timeline. Garabito and Steenbergen were discussing this authorization shortly after 9:03.

What is your evidence for this? In the document you link to, it states: "National Command Authority needed to give access to shoot down an aircraft. [Terry Van Steenbergen] told Nelson [Garabito ] that he needed to get that, if fighters were going to launch to fire." However, I see no information about when this conversation occurred.

VP Authorized Lathal Force Just Two Minutes Later

Two minutes after Steenbergen suggested Garabito seek authorization to shoot, he responded that the Vice President had authorized the use of lethal force.

We have to use reasonable deduction here. Garabito and Steenbergen were on the phone shortly after 9:03. They discussed closing Class Bravo airspace and launching fighters.

Garabito was feeding information to Steenbergen. WHY? Because the WH has a better radar system than the FAA has, capable of seeing much further out. Garabito used this optimized radar to see two planes 30 and 45 minutes out.

It doesn't make sense that key players would wait an hour, till after 10am, to do what was painfully obvious. It doesn't make sense that authorization came after the Pentagon itself was struck.

We need to keep digging. Somewhere in this stinking manure pile are the time logs. Stay with me here.

2. Notes on Selected Department of Defense Chat Logs, Charts, and Other Records (2012-042-doc10)
3. Scroll down to Page 4 where we see times "13:05 AC enroute to DC" and "VP Shoot Down unk b/t 9:25 9:38"

Those times make a lot more sense to me. They are notes taken from various logs. Let's get the logs.

This evidence tells us nothing specific

Two minutes after Steenbergen suggested Garabito seek authorization to shoot, he responded that the Vice President had authorized the use of lethal force.

This sentence tells us nothing about the time these incidents occurred. It just lets us know that at some unstated time on September 11, Garabito told Van Steenbergen that Cheney had "authorized the use of lethal force."

We have to use reasonable deduction here.

I think that in this case it is best to just stick with what the evidence tells us. Filling in the gaps and trying to establish what actually happened are tasks for a new investigation of 9/11.

Good evidence of when Cheney gave the shootdown authorization, in my opinion, is the recording of a military officer at the White House saying over the Pentagon's air threat conference call that the vice president had confirmed that fighter jets were cleared to engage aircraft if they could confirm that the aircraft were hijacked. He did this between 10:14 a.m. and 10:19 a.m., so I assume Cheney gave the authorization around 10:12 a.m. or 10:13 a.m. For more details, see this 9/11 Timeline entry: