ClackaBlog and KiloSeven (the latter has the FreeGeek RipOff news) have new homes. Go there.
20th November, 2006. 3:46 pm. Clackablog Moved
ClackaBlog and KiloSeven (the latter has the FreeGeek RipOff news) have new homes. Go there.
13th July, 2006. 12:05 pm. Dubious Climate Science discussion
The Democrat blog Blue Oregon once again tries to beat the drum for global warming, yet neglects some very sound science in making their case. Blue Oregon's co-founder suggests a scientific consensus, but, no, we're not yet there.
There is adequate scientifically based evidence that other factors are at play. Says who? Al Gore:
"(scientists) don't have any models that give them a high level of confidence" (one way or the other)... "(scientists) don't know... They just don't know."- from "An Inconvenient Truth."
Most of the climate community has agreed since 1988 that global mean temperatures have increased on the order of one degree Fahrenheit over the past century, having risen significantly from about 1919 to 1940, decreased between 1940 and the early '70s, increased again until the '90s, and remaining essentially flat since 1998, as per an MIT climatologist.
Why the variation? Why the three decade dip when Detroit had NO environmental controls whatsoever? There's better evidence for the recent warming, incontrovertibly provable evidence for an external factor; that fusion reactor 93 million miles away, which has, beyond doubt, been proven to be getting brighter.
A Swiss/German study suggested historic solar output increases cause global climate changes; East Anglians verified it (an essential element of science, replicability). Indirect effects on the ozone layer and cloud cover were cited, which could magnify the hotter sun.
You see, there's one greenhouse gas which is far more powerful than CO2, which no one is doing anything about; dihydrogen monoxide. Yep, water vapor.
"I can only see one element of the climate system capable of generating these fast, global changes, that is, changes in the tropical atmosphere leading to changes in the inventory of the earth's most powerful greenhouse gas-- water vapor"says Dr. Wallace Broecker, Columbia University, a leading world authority on climate.
Here's a source-referenced analysis of the impact of CO2, methane and other greehouse gases when compared to the impact of dihydrogen monoxide. It should be required reading for anyone wishing to invoke science in this discussion.
You have to double CO2 content to equal what a 10% boost in water vapor does. Therefore, any serious climate control plan requires considering how to make more cirrus (and especially altocirrus) while reducing altocumulus formation.
Not only does dihydrogen monoxide retain heat far better than C02, but it also condenses into clouds. Some clouds trap heat, some reflect it back into space.
That's really what we need to spend resources on; a global thermostat we can alter at will, so when the next Ice Age comes, we can deal with that as well as any excessive warming (and what's excessive to you might not be excessive the the Viking settlers of Greenland; oh, that's right, they froze to death when the last Little Ice Age struck, so they can't complain any more).
There are far cheaper ways to control our climate than the economy-busting Kyoto mutual suicide pact. Forex, if CO2 was proven to be a serious problem once scientifically compared to the impact of dihydrogen monoxide, pay cargo ships to to drop iron filings into the oceans as they go about their travels, which will soaks up a very large amount of CO2 in a non-toxic way.
Lastly, have you considered that Global Warming may not be an unqualified evil? I was taught in Revolutionary History class that Knox was able to sledge cannon from Ticondaroga to Boston via the frozen Hudson River. The Hudson hasn't frozen over for over a century, and there are an awful lot of folks who like it that way.
23rd November, 2004. 6:49 am. 'Tis the season to change blogsites
LiveJournal, although a nice service, has not kept up with what Google is doing with its Blogger site and, perhaps more importand, what the rest of the blogging community is doing with it. I'll be slowly moving over to a new site on Blogger, and will be moving articles from here to there as time permits.
See you over there!
30th June, 2004. 1:46 pm. Washington Post Iraq coverage found wanting by vet
Here's a posting from a Marine reservist, a journalist whose assignment was in civil affairs, applying a little media criticism to the Washington Post's coverage.
Kinds suggests the REMF attitude is at play in the Post's leadership, which distorts any truth-gathering process.
22nd June, 2004. 12:48 pm. The Miranda Warning for the Bush Administration
Peruse this little billet-doux from the Supremes, consider the Martha Stewart case, and then get ready to hear this new interpretation of the Miranda Warning, courtesy Robert Bruce Thompson (scroll down to 12:31):
"You have don't have the right to remain silent or to refuse to answer questions. Do you understand? Anything you do or don't say may be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand? We can make things up if we want to and charge you on that basis. Do you understand? You have no right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police or to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand? If you cannot afford an attorney, tough luck. Do you understand? You do not have the right to refuse to answer questions at any time. Do you understand? Knowing and understanding your complete lack of rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions or do we have to beat it out of you?"
21st June, 2004. 4:42 pm. We're not the 'hood, yet, but here's an interesting gunfire tracking system
The ShotSpotter system is turning up in a number of places, where gunfire has become an issue. See also Gunfire detection system busy New Year's Day: ShotSpotter microphones in Charleston and North Charleston identified dozens of probable gunshots amid the din of holiday fireworks as well as this NCJRS evaluation.
There's even a wearable version available.
Should Sheriff-elect Roberts be thinking about this?
16th June, 2004. 1:07 pm. Outline of the 9/11 Plot
Final Hearing of the 9/11 Panel
Outline of the 9/11 Plot
Staff Statement No. 16
Members of the Commission, your staff is prepared to report its preliminary findings
regarding the conspiracy that produced the September 11 terrorist attacks against the
United States. We remain ready to revise our understanding of this subject as our work
continues. Dietrich Snell, Rajesh De, Hyon Kim, Michael Jacobson, John Tamm, Marco
Cordero, John Roth, Douglas Greenburg, and Serena Wille did most of the investigative
work reflected in this statement.
We are fortunate to have had access to the fruits of a massive investigative effort by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies, as well intelligence
collection and analysis from the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security
Agency, the State Department, and the Department of Defense.
Much of the account in this statement reflects assertions reportedly made by various 9/11
conspirators and captured al Qaeda members while under interrogation. We have sought
to corroborate this material as much as possible. Some of this material has been
inconsistent. We have had to make judgment calls based on the weight and credibility of
the evidence. Our information on statements attributed to such individuals comes from
written reporting; we have not had direct access to any of them.
Origins of the 9/11 Attacks
The idea for the September 11 attacks appears to have originated with a veteran jihadist
named Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM). A Kuwaiti from the Baluchistan region of
Pakistan, KSM grew up in a religious family and claims to have joined the Muslim
Brotherhood at the age of 16. After attending college in the United States, he went to
Afghanistan to participate in the anti-Soviet jihad. Following the war, he helped run a
non-governmental organization in Pakistan assisting the Afghan mujahidin.
KSM first came to the attention of U.S. authorities as a result of the terrorist activity of
his nephew Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
KSM provided a small amount of funding for that attack. The following year, he joined
Yousef in the Philippines to plan what would become known as the “Bojinka” operation,
the intended bombing of 12 U.S. commercial jets over the Pacific in a two-day period.
That plot unraveled, however, when the Philippine authorities discovered Yousef’s
bomb-making equipment in Manila in January 1995. During the course of 1995, Yousef
and two of his co-conspirators in the Bojinka plot were arrested overseas and were
brought to the United States for trial, but KSM managed to elude capture following his
January 1996 indictment for his role in the plot.
By the middle of 1996, according to his account, KSM was back in Afghanistan. He had
met Usama Bin Ladin there in the 1980s. Now, in mid-1996, KSM sought to renew that
acquaintance, at a point when Bin Ladin had just moved to Afghanistan from the Sudan.
At a meeting with Bin Ladin and Mohamed Atef, al Qaeda’s Chief of Operations, KSM
presented several ideas for attacks against the United States. One of the operations he
pitched, according to KSM, was a scaled-up version of what would become the attacks of
September 11. Bin Ladin listened, but did not yet commit himself.
Bin Ladin Approves the Plan
According to KSM, the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings demonstrated to him that
Bin Ladin was willing to attack the United States. In early 1999, Bin Ladin summoned
KSM to Kandahar to tell him that his proposal to use aircraft as weapons now had al
Qaeda’s full support. KSM met again with Bin Ladin and Atef at Kandahar in the spring
of 1999 to develop an initial list of targets. The list included the White House and the
Pentagon, which Bin Ladin wanted; the U.S. Capitol; and the World Trade Center, a
target favored by KSM.
Bin Ladin quickly provided KSM with four potential suicide operatives: Nawaf al Hazmi,
Khalid al Mihdhar, Walid Muhammad Salih bin Attash, also known as Khallad, and Abu
Bara al Taizi. Hazmi and Mihdhar were both Saudi nationals-although Mihdhar was
actually of Yemeni origin-and experienced mujahidin, having fought in Bosnia
together. They were so eager to participate in attacks against the United States that they
already held U.S. visas. Khallad and Abu Bara, being Yemeni nationals, would have
trouble getting U.S. visas compared to Saudis. Therefore, KSM decided to split the
operation into two parts. Hazmi and Mihdhar would go to the United States, and the
Yemeni operatives would go to Southeast Asia to carry out a smaller version of the
In the fall of 1999, training for the attacks began. Hazmi, Mihdhar, Khallad, and Abu
Bara participated in an elite training course at the Mes Aynak camp in Afghanistan.
Afterward, KSM taught three of these operatives basic English words and phrases and
showed them how to read a phone book, make travel reservations, use the Internet, and
encode communications. They also used flight simulator computer games and analyzed
airline schedules to figure out flights that would be in the air at the same time.
Following the training, all four operatives for the operation traveled to Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. Khallad and Abu Bara were directed to study airport security and conduct
surveillance on U.S. carriers, and Hazmi and Mihdhar were to switch passports in Kuala
Lumpur before going on to the United States. Khallad-who traveled to Kuala Lumpur
ahead of Hazmi and Mihdhar-attended a prosthesis clinic in Kuala Lumpur. He then
flew to Hong Kong aboard a U.S. airliner and was able to carry a box cutter, concealed in
his toiletries bag, onto the flight. He returned to Kuala Lumpur, where Hazmi and
Mihdhar arrived during the first week in January 2000. The al Qaeda operatives were
hosted in Kuala Lumpur by Jemaah Islamiah members Hambali and Yazid Sufaat, among
others. When Khallad headed next to a meeting in Bangkok, Hazmi and Mihdhar
decided to join him to enhance their cover as tourists.
Khallad had his meetings in Bangkok and returned to Kandahar. Khallad and Abu Bara
would not take part in a planes operation; in the spring of 2000, Bin Ladin cancelled the
Southeast Asia part of the operation because it was too difficult to coordinate with the
U.S. part. Hazmi and Mihdhar spent a few days in Bangkok and then headed for Los
Angeles, where they would become the first 9/11 operatives to enter the United States on
January 15, 2000.
Four Students in Hamburg
While KSM was deploying his initial operatives for the 9/11 attacks to Kuala Lumpur, a
group of four Western-educated men who would prove ideal for the attacks were making
their way to the al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. The four were Mohamed Atta, Marwan
al Shehhi, Ziad Jarrah, and Ramzi Binalshibh. Atta, Shehhi, and Jarrah would become
pilots for the 9/11 attacks, while Binalshibh would act as a key coordinator for the plot.
Atta, the oldest of the group, was born in Egypt in 1968 and moved to Germany to study
in 1992 after graduating from Cairo University. Shehhi was from the United Arab
Emirates (UAE) and entered Germany in 1996 through a UAE military scholarship
program. Jarrah was from a wealthy family in Lebanon and went to Germany after high
school to study at the University of Greifswald. Finally, Binalshibh, a Yemeni, arrived in
Germany in 1995.
Atta and Binalshibh were the first of the four to meet, at a mosque in Hamburg in 1995.
In 1998, Atta and Binalshibh moved into a Hamburg apartment with Shehhi, who had
been studying in Bonn; after several months, the trio moved to 54 Marienstrasse, also in
Hamburg. How Shehhi came to know Atta and Binalshibh is not clear. It is also
unknown just how and when Jarrah, who was living in Greifswald, first encountered the
group, but we do know that he moved to Hamburg in late 1997.
By the time Atta, Shehhi, and Binalshibh were living together in Hamburg, they and
Jarrah were well known among Muslims in Hamburg and, with a few other like-minded
students, were holding extremely anti-American discussions. Atta, the leader of the group, denounced what he described as a global Jewish movement centered in New York
City which, he claimed, controlled the financial world and the media. As time passed,
the group became more extreme and secretive. According to Binalshibh, by sometime in
1999, the four had decided to act on their beliefs and to pursue jihad against the Russians
The Hamburg Students Join al Qaeda
As Binalshibh is the only one of the four still alive, he is the primary source for an
explanation of how the Hamburg group was recruited into the 9/11 plot. Binalshibh
claims that during 1999, he and Shehhi had a chance meeting with an individual to whom
they expressed an interest in joining the fighting in Chechnya. They were referred to
another individual named Mohamedou Ould Slahi-an al Qaeda member living in
Germany. He advised them that it was difficult to get to Chechnya and that they should
go to Afghanistan first. Following Slahi’s advice, between November and December of
1999, Atta, Jarrah, Shehhi, and Binalshibh went to Afghanistan, traveling separately.
When Binalshibh reached the camps in Kandahar, he found that Atta and Jarrah had
already pledged bayat, or allegiance, to Bin Ladin, and that Shehhi had already left for
the UAE to prepare for the anti-U.S. mission the group had been assigned. Binalshibh
followed suit, pledging bayat to Bin Ladin in a private meeting. Binalshibh, Atta, and
Jarrah met with Bin Ladin’s deputy, Mohamed Atef, who directed them to return to
Germany and enroll in flight training. Atta was chosen as the emir, or leader, of the
mission. He met with Bin Ladin to discuss the targets: the World Trade Center, which
represented the U.S. economy; the Pentagon, a symbol of the U.S. military; and the U.S.
Capitol, the perceived source of U.S. policy in support of Israel. The White House was
also on the list, as Bin Ladin considered it a political symbol and wanted to attack it as
well. KSM and Binalshibh have both stated that, in early 2000, Shehhi, Atta, and
Binalshibh met with KSM in Karachi for training that included learning about life in the
United States and how to read airline schedules.
By early March 2000, all four new al Qaeda recruits were back in Germany. They began
researching flight schools in Europe, but quickly found that training in the United States
would be cheaper and faster. Atta, Shehhi, and Jarrah obtained U.S. visas, but
Binalshibh-the sole Yemeni in the group-was rejected repeatedly. In the spring of
2000, Atta, Shehhi, and Jarrah prepared to travel to the United States to begin flight
training. Binalshibh would remain behind and help coordinate the operation, serving as a
link between KSM and Atta.
While the Hamburg operatives were just joining the 9/11 plot, Nawaf al Hazmi and
Khalid al Mihdhar were already living in the United States, having arrived in Los
Angeles on January 15, 2000. It has not been established where they stayed during the
first two weeks after their arrival. They appear to have frequented the King Fahd Mosque
in Culver City, possibly staying in an apartment nearby. Much remains unknown about their activities and associates while in Los Angeles and our investigation of this period of
the conspiracy is continuing.
KSM contends that he directed the two to settle in San Diego after learning from a phone
book about language and flight schools there. Recognizing that neither Hazmi nor
Mihdhar spoke English or was familiar with Western culture, KSM instructed these
operatives to seek help from the local Muslim community.
As of February 1, 2000, Hazmi and Mihdhar were still in Los Angeles, however. That
day, the two al Qaeda operatives met a Saudi named Omar al Bayoumi. Bayoumi told
them that he lived in San Diego and could help them if they decided to move there.
Within a few days, Hazmi and Mihdhar traveled to San Diego. They found Bayoumi at
the Islamic Center and took him up on his offer to help them find an apartment. On
February 5, Hazmi and Mihdhar moved into a unit they rented in Bayoumi’s apartment
complex in San Diego. While it is clear that Bayoumi helped them settle in San Diego,
we have not uncovered evidence that he did so knowing that they were terrorists, or that
he believed in violent extremism.
Hazmi and Mihdhar also received assistance from various other individuals in the
Muslim community in San Diego. Several of their new friends were foreign students in
their early 20’s who worshipped at the Rabat Mosque in La Mesa. One of them, an
illegal immigrant named Mohdar Abdullah, became particularly close to Hazmi and
Mihdhar and helped them obtain driver’s licenses and enroll in schools. When
interviewed by the FBI after 9/11, Abdullah denied knowing about the operatives’
terrorist plans. Before his recent deportation to Yemen, however, Abdullah allegedly
made various claims to individuals incarcerated with him about having advance
knowledge of the operatives’ 9/11 mission, going so far as to tell one inmate that he had
received instructions to pick up the operatives at Los Angeles International Airport, and
had driven them from Los Angeles to San Diego. Abdullah and others in his circle
appear to have held extremist sympathies.
While in San Diego, Hazmi and Mihdhar also established a relationship with Anwar
Aulaqi, an imam at the Rabat Mosque. Aulaqi reappears in our story later.
Another San Diego resident rented Hazmi and Mihdhar a room in his house. An
apparently law abiding citizen with close contacts among local police and FBI personnel,
the operatives’ housemate saw nothing in their behavior to arouse suspicion. Nor did his
law enforcement contacts ask him for information about his tenants.
Hazmi and Mihdhar were supposed to learn English and then enroll in flight schools, but
they made only cursory attempts at both. Mihdhar paid for an English class that Hazmi
took for about a month. The two al Qaeda operatives also took a few short flying lessons.
According to their flight instructors, they were interested in learning to fly jets and did
not realize that they had to start training on small planes. In June 2000, Mihdhar abruptly
returned to his family in Yemen, apparently without permission. KSM was very EMBARGOED UNTIL 11:00 AM ON JUNE 16, 2004
EMBARGOED UNTIL 11:00 AM ON JUNE 16, 2004 6
displeased and wanted to remove him from the operation, but Bin Ladin interceded, and
Mihdhar remained part of the plot.
The Hamburg Group Arrives in the United States
On the East Coast, in May and June 2000, the three operatives from Hamburg who had
succeeded in obtaining visas began arriving in the United States. Marwan al Shehhi
arrived first, on May 29, 2000, at Newark Airport in New Jersey. Mohamed Atta arrived
there five days later, on June 3. He and Shehhi had not yet decided where they would
train. They directed inquiries to flight schools in New Hampshire and New Jersey, and,
after spending about a month in New York City, visited the Airman Flight School in
Norman, Oklahoma, where Zacarias Moussaoui would enroll the following February.
For some reason, Atta and Shehhi decided not to enroll there. Instead, they went to
Venice, Florida, where Ziad Jarrah had already started his training at Florida Flight
Training Center, having arrived in the United States on June 27. Atta and Shehhi
enrolled in a different flight school, Huffman Aviation, and began training almost daily.
In mid-August, Atta and Shehhi both passed the Private Pilot Airman test. Their
instructors described Atta and Shehhi as aggressive and rude, and in a hurry to complete
Meanwhile, Jarrah obtained his single engine private pilot certificate in early August
2000. In October, Jarrah went on the first of five foreign trips he would take during his
time in the United States. He returned to Germany to visit his girlfriend, Aysel Senguen,
the daughter of Turkish immigrants, whom Jarrah had met in 1996 and married in a 1999
Islamic ceremony not recognized under German law.
The Fourth Pilot: Hani Hanjour
By this point, in the fall of 2000, three 9/11 pilots were progressing in their training. It
was clear, though, that the first two assigned to the operation, Hazmi and Mihdhar, would
not learn to fly aircraft. It proved unnecessary to scale back the operation, however,
because a young Saudi with special credentials arrived at an al Qaeda camp in
Hani Hanjour had studied in the United States intermittently since 1991, and had
undergone enough flight training in Arizona to obtain his commercial pilot certificate in
April 1999. His friends there included individuals with ties to Islamic extremism.
Reportedly a devout Muslim all his life, Hanjour worked for a relief agency in
Afghanistan in the 1980s. By 2000, he was back in Afghanistan where he was identified
among al Qaeda recruits at the al Faruq camp as a trained pilot and who should be sent to
KSM for inclusion in the plot.
After receiving several days of training from KSM in Karachi, Hanjour returned to Saudi
Arabia on June 20, 2000. There he obtained a U.S. student visa on September 25, before
traveling to the UAE to receive funds for the operation from KSM’s nephew, a
conspirator named Ali Abdul Aziz Ali. On December 8, 2000, Hanjour traveled to San Diego to join Nawaf al Hazmi, who had been alone since Mihdhar’s departure six months
Once Hanjour arrived in San Diego and joined Hazmi, the two quickly relocated to
Arizona, where Hanjour had spent most of his previous time in the United States. On
December 12, 2000, they were settling in Mesa, Arizona, and Hanjour was ready to brush
up on his flight training. By early 2001, he was using a Boeing 737 simulator. Because
his performance struck his flight instructors as sub-standard, they discouraged Hanjour
from continuing, but he persisted. He and Hazmi then left the Southwest at the end of
March, driving across the country in Hazmi’s car. There is some evidence indicating that
Hanjour may have returned to Arizona in June of 2001 to obtain additional flight training
with some of his associates in the area.
9/11 Operatives on the Move
Back in Florida, the Hamburg pilots-Atta, Shehhi, and Jarrah-continued to train. By
the end of 2000, they also were starting to train on jet aircraft simulators. Around the
beginning of the New Year, all three of them left the United States on various foreign
trips. Jarrah took the second and third of his five foreign trips, visiting Germany and
Beirut to see his girlfriend and family respectively. On one trip, Jarrah’s girlfriend
returned with him to the United States and stayed with him in Florida for ten days, even
observing one of Jarrah’s training sessions at flight school.
While Jarrah took these personal trips, Atta traveled to Germany for an early January
2001 meeting with Ramzi Binalshibh. Atta reported that the pilots had completed their
training and were awaiting further instruction from al Qaeda. After the meeting, Atta
returned to Florida and Binalshibh headed to Afghanistan to brief the al Qaeda
leadership. As soon as Atta returned to Florida, Shehhi took his foreign trip, an
unexplained eight-day sojourn to Casablanca.
After Atta and Shehhi returned to Florida, they moved on to the Atlanta area, where they
pursued some additional training. The two rented a small plane with a flight instructor
and may have visited a flight school in Decatur, Georgia. By February 19, Atta and
Shehhi were on the move again, traveling to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Here is a shot of
Atta on February 20, withdrawing $4,000 from his account at a SunTrust Bank branch in
Virginia Beach. A bit later, Jarrah spent time in Georgia as well, staying in Decatur in
mid-March. At the end of March, he left again for Germany to visit his girlfriend.
At about this time, Hanjour and Hazmi were driving from Arizona toward the East Coast.
After being stopped for speeding in Oklahoma on April 1, they finally arrived in
Northern Virginia. At the Dar al Hijra mosque in Falls Church, they met a Jordanian man
named Eyad al Rababah, possibly through Anwar Aulaqi, the imam whom they had
known in San Diego and who, in the interim, also had moved east in early 2001.
With Rababah’s help, Hanjour and Hazmi were able to find a room in an apartment in
Alexandria, Virginia. When they expressed interest in the greater New York area,
Rababah suggested they accompany him to Connecticut, where he was in the process of
moving. On May 8, the group-which by now included al Qaeda operatives Ahmad al
Ghamdi and Majed Moqed-traveled to Fairfield, Connecticut. The next day, Rababah
took them to Paterson, New Jersey to have dinner and see the area. Soon thereafter, they
moved into an apartment in Paterson. At this time, we have insufficient basis to conclude
that Rababah knew the operatives were terrorists when he assisted them. As for Aulaqi,
there is reporting that he has extremist ties, and the circumstances surrounding his
relationship with the hijackers remain suspicious. However, we have not uncovered
evidence that he associated with the hijackers knowing that they were terrorists.
While Hanjour and Hazmi were settling in New Jersey, Atta and Shehhi were returning to
southern Florida. We have examined the allegation that Atta met with an Iraqi
intelligence officer in Prague on April 9. Based on the evidence available-including
investigation by Czech and U.S. authorities plus detainee reporting-we do not believe
that such a meeting occurred. The FBI’s investigation places him in Virginia as of April
4, as evidenced by this bank surveillance camera shot of Atta withdrawing $8,000 from
his account. Atta was back in Florida by April 11, if not before. Indeed, investigation
has established that, on April 6, 9, 10, and 11, Atta’s cellular telephone was used
numerous times to call Florida phone numbers from cell sites within Florida. We have
seen no evidence that Atta ventured overseas again or re-entered the United States before
July, when he traveled to Spain and back under his true name. Shehhi, on the other hand,
visited Cairo between April 18 and May 2. We do not know the reason for this
The Muscle Hijackers
While the pilots trained in the United States, Bin Ladin and al Qaeda leaders in
Afghanistan started selecting the muscle hijackers-those operatives who would storm
the cockpit and control the passengers on the four hijacked planes. (The term “muscle”
hijacker appears in the interrogation reports of 9/11 conspirators KSM and Binalshibh,
and has been widely used to refer to the non-pilot hijackers.) The so-called muscle
hijackers actually were not physically imposing, as the majority of them were between
5’5” and 5’7” in height and slender in build. In addition to Hazmi and Mihdhar, the first
pair to enter the United States, there were 13 other muscle hijackers, all but one from
Saudi Arabia. They were Satam al Suqami, Wail and Waleed al Shehri (two brothers),
Abdul Aziz al Omari, Fayez Banihammad (from the UAE), Ahmed al Ghamdi, Hamza al
Ghamdi, Mohand al Shehri, Saeed al Ghamdi, Ahmad al Haznawi, Ahmed al Nami,
Majed Moqed, and Salem al Hazmi (the brother of Nawaf al Hazmi).
The muscle hijackers were between 20 and 28 years of age and had differing
backgrounds. Many were unemployed and lacked higher education, while a few had
begun university studies. Although some were known to attend prayer services regularly,
others reportedly even consumed alcohol and abused drugs. It has not been determined
exactly how each of them was recruited into al Qaeda, but most of them apparently were
swayed to join the jihad in Chechnya by contacts at local universities and mosques in
By late 1999 and early 2000, the young men who would become the muscle hijackers
began to break off contact with their families and pursue jihad. They made their way to
the camps in Afghanistan, where they volunteered to be suicide operatives for al Qaeda.
After being picked by Bin Ladin himself for what would become the 9/11 operation, most
of them returned to Saudi Arabia to obtain U.S. visas. They then returned to Afghanistan
for special training on how to conduct hijackings, disarm air marshals, and handle
explosives and knives. Next KSM sent them to the UAE, where his nephew, Ali Abdul
Aziz Ali, and another al Qaeda member, Mustafa al Hawsawi, would help them buy
plane tickets to the United States.
In late April 2001, the muscle hijackers started arriving in the United States, specifically
in Florida, Washington, DC, and New York. They traveled mostly in pairs and were
assisted upon arrival by Atta and Shehhi in Florida or Hazmi and Hanjour in DC and
New York. The final pair, Salem al Hazmi and Abdulaziz al Omari, arrived New York
on June 29 and likely were picked up the following day by Salem’s brother, Nawaf, as
evidenced by Nawaf’s minor traffic accident while heading east on the George
Washington Bridge. Finally, on July 4, Khalid al Mihdhar, who had abandoned Nawaf al
Hazmi back in San Diego 13 months earlier, re-entered the United States. Mihdhar
promptly joined the group in Paterson, New Jersey.
Summer of Preparations
In addition to assisting the newly-arrived muscle hijackers, the pilots busied themselves
during the summer of 2001 with cross-country surveillance flights and additional flight
training. Shehhi took the first cross-country flight, from New York to San Francisco and
on to Las Vegas on May 24. Jarrah was next, traveling from Baltimore to Los Angeles
and on to Las Vegas on June 7. Then, on June 28, Atta flew from Boston to San
Francisco and on to Las Vegas. Each flew first class, in the same type of aircraft he
would pilot on September 11.
In addition to the test flights, some of the operatives obtained additional training. In early
June, Jarrah sought to fly the “Hudson Corridor,” a low altitude “hallway” along the
Hudson River that passed several New York landmarks, including the World Trade
Center. Hanjour made the same request at a flight school in New Jersey.
The 9/11 operatives were now split between two locations: southern Florida and
Paterson, New Jersey. Atta had to coordinate the two groups, especially with Nawaf al
Hazmi, who was considered Atta’s second-in-command for the entire operation. Their
first in-person meeting probably took place in June, when Hazmi flew round-trip between
Newark and Miami.
The next step for Atta was a mid-July status meeting with Binalshibh at a small resort
town in Spain. According to Binalshibh, the two discussed the progress of the plot, and
Atta disclosed that he would still need about five or six weeks before he would be able to
provide the date for the attacks. Atta also reported that he, Shehhi, and Jarrah had been
able to carry box cutters onto their test flights; they had determined that the best time to
storm the cockpit would be about 10-15 minutes after takeoff, when they noticed that
cockpit doors were typically opened for the first time. Atta also said that the conspirators
planned to crash their planes into the ground if they could not strike their targets. Atta
himself planned to crash his aircraft into the streets of New York if he could not hit the
World Trade Center. After the meeting, Binalshibh left to report the progress to the al
Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan, and Atta returned to Florida on July 19.
In early August, Atta spent a day waiting at the Orlando airport for one additional muscle
hijacker intended for the operation, Mohamed al Kahtani. As noted in Staff Statement
No. 1, Kahtani was turned away by U.S. immigration officials and failed to join the
operation. On August 13, another in-person meeting of key players in the plot apparently
took place, as Atta, Nawaf al Hazmi, and Hanjour gathered one last time in Las Vegas.
Two days later, the FBI learned about the strange behavior of Zacarias Moussaoui, who
was now training on flight simulators in Minneapolis.
The Final Days
In addition to their last test flights and Las Vegas trips, the conspirators had other final
preparations to make. Some of the pilots took practice flights on small rented aircraft,
and the muscle hijackers trained at gyms. The operatives also purchased a variety of
small knives that they may have used during the attacks. While we can’t know for sure,
some of the knives the terrorists bought may have been these, which were recovered from
the Flight 93 crash site. On August 22, Jarrah attempted to buy four Global Positioning
System (GPS) units from a pilot shop in Miami. Only one unit was available, and Jarrah
purchased it along with three aeronautical charts.
Just over two weeks before the attacks, the conspirators purchased their flight tickets.
Between August 26 and September 5, they bought tickets on the Internet, by phone, and
in person. Once the ticket purchases were made, the conspirators returned excess funds
to al Qaeda. During the first week in September, they made a series of wire transfers to
Mustafa al Hawsawi in the UAE, totaling about $26,000. Nawaf al Hazmi attempted to
send Hawsawi the debit card for Mihdhar’s bank account, which still contained
approximately $10,000. (The package containing the card would be intercepted after the
FBI found the Express Mail receipt for it in Hazmi’s car at Dulles Airport on 9/11.)
The last step was to travel to the departure points for the attacks. The operatives for
American Airlines Flight 77, which would depart from Dulles and crash into the
Pentagon, gathered in Laurel, Maryland, about 20 miles from Washington, DC. The
Flight 77 team stayed at a motel in Laurel during the first week of September and spent
time working out at a nearby gym. On the final night before the attacks, they stayed at a
hotel in Herndon, Virginia, close to Dulles Airport. Further north, the operatives for
United Airlines Flight 93, which would depart from Newark and crash in Stony Creek
Township, Pennsylvania, gathered in Newark. Just after midnight on September 9, Jarrah
received this speeding ticket as he headed north through Maryland along Interstate 95,
towards his team’s staging point in New Jersey.
Atta continued to coordinate the teams until the very end. On September 7, he flew from
Fort Lauderdale to Baltimore, presumably to meet with the Flight 77 team in Laurel,
Maryland. On September 9, he flew from Baltimore to Boston. By this time, Marwan al
Shehhi and his team for Flight 175 had arrived in Boston, and Atta was seen with Shehhi
at his hotel. The next day, Atta picked up Abdul Aziz al Omari, one of the Flight 11
muscle hijackers, from his Boston hotel and drove to Portland, Maine. For reasons that
remain unknown, Atta and Omari took a commuter flight to Boston during the early
hours of September 11 to connect to Flight 11. As shown here, they cleared security at
the airport in Portland and boarded the flight that would allow them to join the rest of
their team at Logan Airport.
The Portland detour almost prevented Atta and Omari from making Flight 11 out of
Boston. In fact, the luggage they checked in Portland failed to make it onto the plane.
Seized after the September 11 crashes, Atta and Omari’s luggage turned out to contain a
number of telling items, including: correspondence from the university Atta attended in
Egypt; Omari’s international driver’s license and passport; a video cassette for a Boeing
757 flight simulator; and this folding knife and pepper spray, presumably extra weapons
the two conspirators decided they didn’t need.
On the morning of September 11, after years of planning and many months of intensive
preparation, all four terrorist teams were in place to execute the attacks of that day.
Financing of the 9/11 Plot
We estimate that the 9/11 attacks cost somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000 to
execute. The operatives spent over $270,000 in the United States, and the costs
associated with Zacarias Moussaoui-who is discussed at greater length below-were at
least $50,000. Additional expenses included travel to obtain passports and visas; travel to
the United States; expenses incurred by the plot leader and facilitators outside the United
States; and expenses incurred by the people selected to be hijackers but who ultimately
did not participate. For many of these expenses, we have only fragmentary evidence
and/or unconfirmed detainee reports and can make only a rough estimate of costs. Our
$400,000-$500,000 estimate does not include the cost of running the camps in
Afghanistan where the hijackers were recruited and trained, or the cost of that training.
We have found no evidence that the Hamburg group received funds from al Qaeda before
late 1999. They apparently supported themselves before joining the conspiracy.
Thereafter, according to KSM, they each received $5,000 to pay for their return to
Germany from Afghanistan plus funds for travel from Germany to the United States.
KSM, Binalshibh, and plot facilitator Mustafa al Hawsawi, each received money-
perhaps $10,000-to cover their living expenses while they fulfilled their roles in the
In the United States, the operatives’ primary expenses consisted of flight training, living
expenses (room, board and meals, vehicles, insurance, etc.), and travel (casing flights,
meetings, and the flights on 9/11). All told, about $300,000 was deposited into the 19
hijackers’ bank accounts in the United States. They received funds in the United States
through a variety of unexceptional means. Approximately $130,000 arrived via a series
of wire transfers from Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, who sent approximately $120,000 from Dubai,
and Binalshibh, who sent just over $10,000 from Germany. Shown here is the receipt for
the largest wire transfer sent to the conspirators in the United States, $70,000 that Ali
wired Marwan al Shehhi on September 17, 2000, just when Shehhi, Atta and Jarrah were
in the middle of their flight training. In addition to receiving funds by wire, the
operatives brought significant amounts of cash and travelers checks with them into the
United States, the largest amount coming with the 13 muscle hijackers who began
arriving in April 2001. Finally, several of the operatives relied on accounts in overseas
financial institutions, which they accessed in the United States with ATM and credit
The conspiracy made extensive use of banks in the United States, both branches of major
international banks and smaller regional banks. All of the operatives opened accounts in
their own names, using passports and other identification documents. There is no
evidence that they ever used false social security numbers to open any bank accounts.
Their transactions were unremarkable and essentially invisible amidst the billions of
dollars flowing around the world every day.
No credible evidence exists that the operatives received substantial funding from any
person in the United States. Specifically, there is no evidence that Mihdhar and Hazmi
received funding from Saudi citizens Omar al Bayoumi and Osama Bassnan, or that
Saudi Princess Haifa al Faisal provided any funds to the conspiracy either directly or
To date, the U.S. government has not been able to determine the origin of the money used
for the 9/11 attacks. Compelling evidence traces the bulk of the funds directly back to
KSM, but from where KSM obtained the money remains unknown at this time.
Ultimately the question is of little practical significance. Al Qaeda had many avenues of
funding and a pre-9/11 annual budget estimated at $30 million. If a particular source of
funds had dried up, al Qaeda could have easily found enough money to fund an attack
that cost $400,000-$500,000 over nearly two years.
A Closer Look at Specific Aspects of the Plot
Given the catastrophic results of the 9/11 attacks, it is tempting to depict the plot as a set
plan executed to near perfection. This would be a mistake. The 9/11 conspirators
confronted operational difficulties, internal disagreements, and even dissenting opinions
within the leadership of al Qaeda. In the end, the plot proved sufficiently flexible to
adapt and evolve as challenges arose.
Initial Changes in the Plot
As originally envisioned, the 9/11 plot involved even more extensive attacks than those
carried out on September 11. KSM maintains that his initial proposal involved hijacking
ten planes to attack targets on both the East and West coasts of the United States. He
claims that, in addition to the targets actually hit on 9/11, these hijacked planes were to be
crashed into CIA and FBI headquarters, unidentified nuclear power plants, and the tallest
buildings in California and Washington State. The centerpiece of his original proposal
was the tenth plane, which he would have piloted himself. Rather than crashing the plane
into a target, he would have killed every adult male passenger, contacted the media from
the air, and landed the aircraft at a U.S. airport. He says he then would have made a
speech denouncing U.S. policies in the Middle East before releasing all of the women and
KSM concedes that this ambitious proposal initially received only a lukewarm response
from the al Qaeda leadership in view of the proposal’s scale and complexity. When Bin
Ladin finally approved the operation, he scrapped the idea of using one of the hijacked
planes to make a public statement but provided KSM with four operatives, only two of
whom ultimately would participate in the 9/11 attacks. Those two operatives, Nawaf al
Hamzi and Khalid al Mihdhar, had already acquired U.S. visas in their Saudi passports by
the time they were picked for the operation. According to KSM, both had obtained visas
because they wanted to participate in an operation against the United States, having been
inspired by a friend of theirs who was a suicide bomber in the August 1998 attack on the
U.S. embassy in Kenya.
It soon became clear to KSM that the other two operatives, Khallad bin Attash and Abu
Bara al Taizi-both of whom had Yemeni, not Saudi, documentation-would not be able
to obtain U.S. visas. Khallad, in fact, had already been turned down in April 1999, at
about the same time that Hazmi and Mihdhar acquired their U.S. visas in Saudi Arabia.
Although he recognized that Yemeni operatives would not be able to travel to the United
States as readily as Saudis like Hazmi and Mihdhar, KSM wanted Khallad and Abu Bara
to take part in the operation. Accordingly, by mid-1999, KSM made his first major
adjustment, splitting the plot into two parts so that Yemeni operatives could participate
without having to obtain U.S. visas. He focused in particular on Southeast Asia because
he believed it would be easier for Yemenis to travel there than to the United States.
The first part of the operation would remain as originally planned-operatives including
Hazmi and Mihdhar would hijack commercial flights and crash them into U.S. targets.
The second part, however, would now involve using Yemeni operatives in a modified
version of the Bojinka plot: operatives would hijack U.S. commercial planes flying
Pacific routes from Southeast Asia and explode them in mid-air instead of crashing them
into particular targets. (An alternate scenario, according to KSM, involved flying planes
into U.S. targets in Japan, Singapore or Korea.) All planes in the United States and in
Southeast Asia, however, were to be crashed or exploded more or less simultaneously, to
maximize the psychological impact of the attacks.
Khallad has admitted casing a flight between Bangkok and Hong Kong in early January
2000 in preparation for the revised operation. According to his account, he reported the
results from this mission to Bin Ladin and KSM. By April or May 2000, however, Bin
Ladin had decided to cancel the Southeast Asia part of the planes operation because he
believed it would be too difficult to synchronize the hijacking and crashing of flights on
opposite sides of the globe. Deprived of the opportunity to become a suicide operative,
Khallad was re-deployed, first helping KSM communicate with Hazmi in California and
later assisting in the Cole bombing, much as Binalshibh was assigned to assist the
Hamburg pilots after failing to obtain a visa himself.
Hazmi and Mihdhar were particularly ill-prepared to stage an operation in the United
States. Neither had any significant exposure to western culture; Hazmi barely spoke
English, and Mihdhar spoke none. Given this background, KSM had real concerns about
whether they would be able to fulfill their mission. In fact, he maintains that the only
reason the two operatives were included in the 9/11 plot was their prior acquisition of
visas and Bin Ladin’s personal interest in having them participate.
Unlike the other 9/11 hijackers-who were instructed to avoid associating with others in
the local Muslim community-Hazmi and Mihdhar received specific permission from
KSM to seek assistance at mosques when they first arrived in the United States.
According to KSM, he also directed them to enroll in English language classes as soon as
possible so that they could begin flight training right away. As KSM tells it, Hazmi and
Mihdhar attempted to enroll in three language schools upon arriving in Los Angeles but
failed to attend classes at any of them. Once they moved to San Diego, Hazmi enrolled
in English classes and, a little later, both took some flight training, but they failed to
make progress in either area.
According to their flight instructors, Hazmi and Mihdhar said they wanted to learn how
to control an aircraft in flight, but took no interest in take-offs or landings. One Arabicspeaking
flight instructor has recalled that the two were keen on learning to fly large jets,
particularly Boeing aircraft. When the instructor informed them that, like all students,
they would have to begin training on single engine aircraft before learning to fly jets, they
expressed such disappointment that the instructor thought they were either joking or
KSM says now that he was surprised by the failure of Hazmi and Mihdhar to become
pilots. This failure, however, had little impact on the plot. The setback occurred early
enough to permit further adjustment. Al Qaeda’s discovery of new operatives-men with
English language skills, higher education, exposure to the West, and, in the case of Hani
Hanjour, prior flight training-soon remedied the problem.
Additional Saudi Participants in the Plot
In addition to the reassignment of operatives, the plot saw a variety of potential suicide
hijackers who never participated in the attacks. These al Qaeda members either backed
out of their assignment, had trouble acquiring the necessary travel documentation, or
were removed from the operation by al Qaeda leadership.
According to KSM, al Qaeda intended to use 25 or 26 hijackers for the 9/11 plot, as
opposed to the 19 who actually participated. Even as late as the summer of 2001, KSM
wanted to send as many operatives as possible to the United States in order to increase
the chances for successful attacks, contemplating as many as seven or more hijackers per
flight. We have identified at least nine candidate hijackers slated to be part of the 9/11
attacks at one time or another:
-- Ali Abd al Rahman al Faqasi al Ghamdi and Zuhair al Thubaiti were both
removed from the operation by al Qaeda leadership.
-- Khalid Saeed Ahmad al Zahrani and Saeed Abdullah Saeed al Ghamdi, whom we
discussed in Staff Statement No. 1, failed to acquire U.S. visas.
-- Saeed al Baluchi and Qutaybah al Najdi both backed out after Najdi was stopped
and briefly questioned by airport security officials in Bahrain.
-- Saud al Rashid and Mushabib al Hamlan apparently withdrew under pressure
from their families in Saudi Arabia.
-- And, as discussed in Staff Statement No. 1, Mohamed Mani Ahmad al Kahtani
was denied entry by U.S. officials at the airport in Orlando on August 4, 2001.
For the most part, these operatives appear to have been selected by Bin Ladin in
Afghanistan and assigned to KSM in much the same manner as the others. All nine were
Saudi nationals. A tenth individual, a Tunisian named Abderraouf Jdey, may have been a
candidate to participate in the 9/11 attack, or he may have been a candidate to participate
in a later attack. He withdrew, and we will discuss him later in connection with plans
involving Moussaoui. None of these potential hijackers succeeded in joining the 19.
Internal Disagreement: Atta, Jarrah, and Moussaoui
Internal disagreement among the 9/11 plotters may have posed the greatest potential
vulnerability for the plot. It appears that, during the summer of 2001, friction developed
between Atta and Jarrah-two of the three Hamburg pilots-and that Jarrah may even
have considered dropping out of the operation. What is more, it appears as if KSM may
have been preparing another al Qaeda operative, Zacarias Moussaoui, to take Jarrah’s
Jarrah was different from the other Hamburg pilots, Atta and Shehhi. Given his
background and personality, Jarrah seemed a relatively unlikely candidate to become an
al Qaeda suicide operative. From an affluent family, he studied at private, Christian
schools in Lebanon before deciding to study abroad in Germany. He knew the best
nightclubs and discos in Beirut, and partied with fellow students in Germany, even
drinking beer-a clear taboo for any religious Muslim. His serious involvement with his
girlfriend, Aysel Senguen, and close family ties resulted in almost daily telephone
conversations with them while he was in the United States. He took five overseas trips
within a ten-month span before September 11.
Jarrah also appears to have projected a friendly, engaging personality while in the United
States. Here he is, hair frosted, proudly displaying the pilot’s certificate he received
during his flight training in Florida. Yet, this is the same person who, only a year earlier,
had journeyed from Hamburg to Afghanistan and pledged to become one of Bin Ladin’s
Both KSM and Binalshibh have reported that Atta and Jarrah clashed over the extent of
Jarrah’s autonomy and involvement in planning the operation. Binalshibh believes the
dispute stemmed, at least in part, from Jarrah’s frequent visits to and contact with his
girlfriend and his family. Further, unlike Atta and Shehhi-who had attended flight
school together-Jarrah spent much of his time in the United States alone. Binalshibh
was supposed to have trained with Jarrah but failed to obtain a U.S. visa. As a result,
according to Binalshibh, Jarrah felt isolated and excluded from decision-making.
Binalshibh claims he had to mediate between Atta and Jarrah.
Jarrah’s final trip to see his girlfriend, from July 25 to August 5, 2001, is of particular
interest. In contrast to his prior trips, this time Senguen bought him a one-way ticket to
Germany. Moreover, it appears that Atta drove him to the airport in Miami, another
unusual circumstance suggesting that something may have been amiss. Finally,
according to Binalshibh, who met Jarrah at the airport in Duesseldorf, Jarrah said he
needed to see Senguen right away. When he had time to meet with Binalshibh a few days
later, the two of them had an emotional conversation during which Binalshibh
encouraged Jarrah to see the plan through.
Perhaps the most significant evidence that Jarrah was reconsidering his participation in
the 9/11 plot resides in communications that took place between KSM and Binalshibh in
mid-July 2001. During the spring and summer of 2001, KSM had a number of
conversations that appear to have concerned the 9/11 plot. Both KSM and Binalshibh
confirm discussing the plot during their mid-July conversation, which occurred just a few
days before Jarrah embarked on his last trip to Germany. At this point, Binalshibh had
just returned from his meeting with Atta in Spain and was now reporting to KSM on the
status of the plot. Concerned that Jarrah might drop out of the operation, KSM
emphasized to Binalshibh the importance of ensuring peace between Jarrah and Atta. In
the course of discussing this concern and the potential delay of the plot, moreover, KSM
instructed Binalshibh to send “the skirts” to “Sally”-a coded reference instructing
Binalshibh to send funds to Zacarias Moussaoui. Atta and Jarrah were referred to as an
unhappy couple. KSM warned that if Jarrah “asks for a divorce, it is going to cost a lot
There is good reason to believe that KSM wanted money sent to Moussaoui to prepare
him as a potential substitute pilot in the event Jarrah dropped out. Moussaoui attended al
Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. Sent to Malaysia in September 2000 by Bin Ladin and KSM to obtain pilot training, Moussaoui told terrorist associates there about his plans
to crash a plane into the White House. He came to the United States in February 2001-
armed with the fruits of Atta’s flight school research-and started taking flight lessons at
the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma, but stopped that training by early June.
Shortly after he received $14,000 from Binalshibh in early August, however, Moussaoui
rushed into an intensive flight simulator course at Pan Am International Flight Academy
in Eagan, Minnesota. At about this same time, he also purchased two knives and inquired
of two GPS manufacturers whether their units could be converted for aeronautical use-
actions that closely resembled those of the 9/11 hijackers during their final preparations
for the attacks. Moussaoui’s August 16, 2001 arrest ended his simulator training and may
have prevented him from joining the 9/11 operation.
The reports of the interrogations of Binalshibh and KSM regarding Moussaoui are not
entirely consistent. According to Binalshibh, he understood that KSM was instructing
him to send the money to Moussaoui in July 2001 as part of the 9/11 plot. Moreover,
recounting a post-9/11 discussion he had with KSM in Kandahar, Binalshibh says KSM
referred to Moussaoui as if he had been part of the 9/11 plot, noting that Moussaoui was
arrested because he was not sufficiently discreet and had been an exception to Bin
Ladin’s strong overall record of choosing the right operatives for the plot.
KSM, on the other hand, denies that Moussaoui was ever intended to be part of the 9/11
operation and was slated instead to participate in a so-called “second wave” of attacks on
the West Coast after September 11. KSM also claims that Moussaoui never had any
contact with Atta in the United States, and we have seen nothing to the contrary.
Notably, however, KSM also claims that by the summer of 2001 he was too busy with the
9/11 plot to plan the second wave attacks. Moreover, he admits that only three potential
pilots were recruited for the alleged second wave, Moussaoui, Abderraouf Jdey, also
known as Faruq al Tunisi (a Canadian passport holder), and Zaini Zakaria, also known as
Mussa. By the summer of 2001, both Jdey and Zaini already had backed out of the
operation. The case of Jdey holds particular interest, as some evidence indicates that he
may have been selected for the planes operation at the same time as the Hamburg group.
In any event, Moussaoui’s arrest did not cause the plot any difficulty. Jarrah returned to
the United States on August 5 and, as subsequent events would demonstrate, clearly was
resolved to complete the operation.
Timing and Targets
The conspirators’ selection of both the date and the targets for the attacks provides
another opportunity to examine the plot from within. Although Atta enjoyed wide
discretion as tactical commander, Bin Ladin had strong opinions regarding both issues.
The date of the attacks apparently was not chosen much more than three weeks before
September 11. According to Binalshibh, when he met with Atta in Spain in mid-July,
Atta could do no more than estimate that he would still need five to six weeks before he
could pick a date. Then, in a mid-August phone call to Binalshibh, Atta conveyed the
date for the attacks, which Binalshibh dutifully passed up his chain of command in a
message personally delivered to Afghanistan by Hamburg associate Zakariya Essabar in
Bin Ladin had been pressuring KSM for months to advance the attack date. According to
KSM, Bin Ladin had even asked that the attacks occur as early as mid-2000, after Israeli
opposition party leader Ariel Sharon caused an outcry in the Middle East by visiting a
sensitive and contested holy site in Jerusalem that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
Although Bin Ladin recognized that Atta and the other pilots had only just arrived in the
United States to begin their flight training, the al Qaeda leader wanted to punish the
United States for supporting Israel. He allegedly told KSM it would be sufficient simply
to down the planes and not hit specific targets. KSM withstood this pressure, arguing
that the operation would not be successful unless the pilots were fully trained and the
hijacking teams were larger.
In 2001, Bin Ladin apparently pressured KSM twice more for an earlier date. According
to KSM, Bin Ladin first requested a date of May 12, 2001, the seven-month anniversary
of the Cole bombing. Then, when Bin Ladin learned from the media that Sharon would
be visiting the White House in June or July 2001, he attempted once more to accelerate
the operation. In both instances, KSM insisted that the hijacker teams were not yet ready.
Other al Qaeda detainees also confirm that the 9/11 attacks were delayed during the
summer of 2001, despite Bin Ladin’s wishes. According to one operative, Khalid al
Mihdhar disclosed that attacks had been delayed from May until July, and later from July
until September. According to another al Qaeda member in Kandahar that summer, a
general warning-much like the alert issued in the camps two weeks before the Cole
bombing and ten days before the eventual 9/11 attacks-was issued in July or early
August of 2001. As a result of this warning, many al Qaeda members dispersed with
their families, internal security was increased, and Bin Ladin dropped out of sight for
about 30 days until the alert was cancelled.
KSM claims he did not inform Atta or the other conspirators that Bin Ladin wanted to
advance the date because he knew they would move forward when they were ready. Atta
was very busy organizing the late arriving operatives, coordinating the flight teams, and
finalizing the targets. In fact, target selection appears to have influenced the timing of the
attacks. As revealed by an Atta-Binalshibh communication at this time, recovered later
from a computer captured with KSM, Atta selected a date after the first week of
September so that the United States Congress would be in session.
According to KSM, the U.S. Capitol was indeed on the preliminary target list he had
initially developed with Bin Ladin and Atef in the spring of 1999. That preliminary list
also included the White House, the Pentagon, and the World Trade Center. KSM claims
that while everyone agreed on the Capitol, he wanted to hit the World Trade Center
whereas Bin Ladin favored the Pentagon and the White House.
Binalshibh confirms that Bin Ladin preferred the White House over the Capitol, a
preference he made sure to convey to Atta when they met in Spain in the summer of
2001. Atta responded that he believed the White House posed too difficult a target, but
that he was waiting for Hani Hanjour and Nawaf al Hazmi to assess its feasibility. On
July 20, Hanjour-likely accompanied by Hazmi-rented a plane and took a practice
flight from Fairfield, New Jersey to Gaithersburg, Maryland, a route that would have
allowed them to fly near Washington, DC. When Binalshibh pressed Atta to retain the
White House as a target during one of their communications in early August, Atta agreed
but said he would hold the Capitol in reserve as an alternate target, in case the White
House proved impossible. Based on another exchange between Atta and Binalshibh, as
late as September 9-two days before the attacks-the conspirators may still have been
uncertain about which Washington target they would strike.
Dissent Among al Qaeda Leaders
The attitude of the al Qaeda leadership toward the 9/11 plot represents one last area for
insight. As Atta made his final preparations during the summer of 2001, dissent emerged
among al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan over whether to proceed with the attack.
Although access to details of the plot was carefully guarded, word started to spread
during the summer of 2001 that an attack against the United States was imminent.
According to KSM, he was widely known within al Qaeda to be planning some kind of
operation against the United States. Many were even aware that he had been preparing
operatives to go to the United States, as reported by a CIA source in June 2001.
Moreover, that summer Bin Ladin made several remarks hinting at an upcoming attack,
which spawned rumors throughout the jihadist community worldwide. For instance,
KSM claims that, in a speech at the al Faruq training camp in Afghanistan, Bin Ladin
specifically urged trainees to pray for the success of an upcoming attack involving 20
With news of an impending attack against the United States gaining wider circulation, a
rift developed within al Qaeda’s leadership. Although Bin Ladin wanted the operation to
proceed as soon as possible, several senior al Qaeda figures thought they should follow
the position taken by their Afghan host, Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who opposed
attacking the United States. According to one al Qaeda member, when Bin Ladin
returned after the general alert in late July, he spoke to his confidants about problems he
was having with Omar’s unwillingness to allow any further attacks against the United
States from Afghanistan.
KSM claims that Omar opposed attacking the United States for ideological reasons but
permitted attacks against Jewish targets. KSM denies that Omar’s opposition reflected
concern about U.S. retaliation but notes that the Taliban leader was under pressure from
the Pakistani government to keep al Qaeda from engaging in operations outside
Afghanistan. While some senior al Qaeda figures opposed the 9/11 operation out of
deference to Omar, others reportedly expressed concern that the U.S. would respond
Bin Ladin, on the other hand, reportedly argued that attacks against the United States
needed to be carried out immediately to support the insurgency in the Israeli occupied
territories and to protest the presence of U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia. Bin Ladin
also thought that an attack against the United States would reap al Qaeda a recruiting and
fundraising bonanza. In his thinking, the more al Qaeda did, the more support it would
gain. Although he faced opposition from many of his most senior advisers-including
Shura council members Shaykh Saeed, Sayf al Adl, and Abu Hafs the Mauritanian-Bin
Ladin effectively overruled their objections, and the attacks went forward.
16th June, 2004. 12:58 pm. Overview of the Enemy
Final Hearing of the 9/11 Panel
Overview of the Enemy
Staff Statement No. 15
Members of the Commission, with your help, your staff has developed initial findings to present to the public on the nature of the enemy that carried out the September 11 attacks. In this statement, we will focus on al Qaeda’s history and evolution, and how this organization came to pose such a serious threat to the United States. These findings may help frame some of the issues for this hearing and inform the development of your judgments and recommendations. This report reflects the results of our work so far. We remain ready to revise our understanding of events as our investigation progresses. This staff statement represents the collective effort of a number of members of our staff. Douglas MacEachin, Yoel Tobin, Nicole Grandrimo, Sarah Linden, Thomas Dowling, John Roth, Douglas Greenburg, and Serena Wille did much of the investigative work reflected in this statement. We were fortunate in being able to build upon a great deal of excellent work already done by the Intelligence Community. Several Executive branch agencies cooperated fully in making available documents and personnel for interviews.
Roots of al Qaeda
In the 1980s a large number of Muslims from the Middle East traveled to Afghanistan to join the Afghan people’s war against the Soviet Union, which had invaded in 1979. Usama Bin Ladin was a significant player in this group, then known as the “Afghan Arabs.” A multimillionaire from a wealthy Saudi family, Bin Ladin used his personal wealth and connections to rich Arab contributors to facilitate the flow of fighters into Afghanistan. He provided extensive financing for an entity called the “Bureau of Services” or Maktab al Khidmat. This Bureau operated a recruiting network in Muslim communities throughout the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Western Europe, and the United States. It provided travel funds and guest houses in Pakistan for recruits and volunteers on the road to the Afghan battlefield. Bin Ladin also used his financial network to set up training camps and procure weapons and supplies for Arab fighters. Major Afghan warlords who led forces in the battle against the Soviets also benefited from the use of these camps.
Following the defeat of the Soviets in the late 1980s, Bin Ladin formed an organization called “The Foundation” or al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was intended to serve as a foundation upon which to build a global Islamic army. In 1989, the regime in Sudan, run by a military faction and an Islamic extremist organization called the National Islamic Front, invited Bin Ladin to move there. He sent an advance team to Sudan in 1990 and moved there in mid-1991. Bin Ladin brought resources to Sudan, building roads and helping finance the government’s war against separatists in the south. In return, he received permission to establish commercial enterprises and an operational infrastructure to support terrorism. By 1992, Bin Ladin was focused on attacking the United States. He argued that other extremists, aimed at local rulers or Israel, had not gone far enough; they had not attacked what he called “the head of the snake,” the United States. He charged that the United States, in addition to backing Israel, kept in power repressive Arab regimes not true to Islam. He also excoriated the continued presence of U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War as a defilement of holy Muslim land. In Sudan, Bin Ladin built upon the al Qaeda organization he had established back in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda had its own membership roster and a structure of “committees” to guide and oversee such functions as training terrorists, proposing targets, financing operations, and issuing edicts—purportedly grounded in Islamic law—to justify al Qaeda actions.
al Qaeda Shura /
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Military Sharia & Finance Security Foreign Information
Committee Political Committee Committee Purchases Committee
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Training Camp Admin
Included in the structure were:
-- The “Shura” or Advisory Council, an inner circle of Bin Ladin’s close associates, most of whom had longstanding ties with him going back to the formative days in Afghanistan;
-- A “Sharia” and Political Committee responsible for issuing fatwas — edicts purporting to be grounded in Islamic Law directing or authorizing certain actions — including deadly attacks;
-- A Military Committee responsible for proposing targets, gathering ideas for and supporting operations, and managing training camps;
-- A Finance Committee responsible for fundraising and budgetary support for training camps, housing costs, living expenses, travel, and the movement of money allocated to operations;
-- A Foreign Purchases Committee responsible for acquiring weapons, explosives, and technical equipment;
-- A Security Committee responsible for physical protection, intelligence collection and counterintelligence; and
-- An Information Committee in charge of propaganda.
This organizational structure should not be read as defining a hierarchical chain of command for specific terrorist operations. It served as a means for coordinating functions and providing material support to operations. But once a specific operation was decided upon it would be assigned to a carefully selected clandestine cell, headed by a senior al Qaeda operative who reported personally to Bin Ladin. With al Qaeda as its foundation, Bin Ladin sought to build a broader Islamic army that also included terrorist groups from Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Oman, Tunisia, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Somalia, and Eritrea. Not all groups from these states agreed to join, but at least one from each did. With a multinational council intended to promote common goals, coordinate targeting, and authorize asset sharing for terrorist operations, this Islamic force represented a new level of collaboration among diverse terrorist groups. Bin Ladin set up training camps and weapons and supply depots in Sudan. He used them to support al Qaeda and other members of the Islamic army. Bin Ladin’s operatives used positions in his businesses as cover to acquire weapons, explosives, and technical equipment such as surveillance devices. To facilitate these activities, Sudanese intelligence officers provided false passports and shipping documents. At this time al Qaeda’s operational role was mainly to provide funds, training, and weapons for attacks carried out by allied groups. Contrary to popular understanding, Bin Ladin did not fund al Qaeda through a personal fortune and a network of businesses. Instead, al Qaeda relied primarily on a fundraising network developed over time. Bin Ladin never received a $300 million inheritance. From about 1970 until approximately 1994, he received about $1 million per year—a significant sum, but hardly a $300 million fortune that could be used to fund a global 4 jihad. According to Saudi officials and representatives of the Bin Ladin family, Bin Ladin was divested of his share of his family’s wealth. Bin Ladin owned a number of businesses and other assets in Sudan, although most were small or not economically viable.
Launching Attacks on the United States
A December 1992 explosion outside two hotels in Aden, Yemen—a stopover for U.S. troops en route to Somalia—killed one Australian tourist but no Americans. U.S. intelligence would learn four years later that the attack was carried out by a Yemeni terrorist group whose leader was close to Bin Ladin, and whose members reportedly trained at a Bin Ladin-funded camp in Sudan that was run by a member of the al Qaeda Military Committee. In October 1993, two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and 18 U.S. soldiers were killed in Mogadishu, Somalia. U.S. intelligence learned in the ensuing years that Bin Ladin’s organization had been heavily engaged in assisting warlords who attacked U.S. forces in Somalia. The head of the al Qaeda Military Committee, from a command center set up in Nairobi, Kenya, reportedly sent scores of trainers into Somalia, including experts in the use of rocket propelled grenades, the same kind of weapon used to shoot down the helicopters. Operatives dispatched to Somalia were told their mission was “to kill U.S. troops, incite violence against U.S. personnel, and undermine the success of the U.S. mission.” Sources have described several of these operatives bragging that their work had caused the defeat of the Americans. Bin Ladin and his senior associates touted the subsequent withdrawal of U.S. forces from Somalia in March 1994 as a victory for the mujahidin and a demonstration that the Americans could be forced to retreat. Two additional attacks on U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia took place during 1995-96 for which the evidence of Bin Ladin’s involvement is ambiguous. On November 13, 1995, a car bomb exploded in Riyadh outside the Office of Program Management of the U.S.-trained Saudi Arabian National Guard. Five Americans and two officials from India were killed. Saudi authorities arrested four suspects, whom they quickly convicted and beheaded. The Saudis televised confessions of three perpetrators indicating that their actions had been influenced by Bin Ladin, but there was no charge that Bin Ladin was directly involved. Later, in a March 1997 CNN interview, Bin Ladin denied responsibility for the attack but said he was sorry he had not been a participant. By this time U.S. intelligence learned that a year-and-a-half before the bombing of the Saudi National Guard facility, al Qaeda leaders and members of other aligned groups had decided to attack U.S. targets in Saudi Arabia and directed a team to ship explosives there. The shipment was a case study in collaboration: Bin Ladin supplied the money for purchasing the explosives; the Sudanese Ministry of Defense served as the conduit for bringing them into Sudan; they were stored briefly in the warehouse of one of Bin Ladin’s business facilities; transported in a Bin Ladin company truck under the cover of Ministry of Defense invoice papers; moved to a warehouse provided by the Ministry of Defense at Port Sudan on the Red Sea; and then transported on a Bin Ladin-owned boat to Islamic army operatives residing in Yemen. From there they were moved by land to the eastern part of Saudi Arabia. Bin Ladin and his organization’s role in this attack remains unclear. The attack, however, was consistent with the described purpose of the shipment. On June 26, 1996, an explosion ripped through a building in the Khobar Towers apartment complex housing U.S. Air Force personnel in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Nineteen Americans were killed and 372 others were injured. Subsequent investigation concluded that the attack had been carried out by a Saudi Shia Hezbollah group with assistance from Iran. Intelligence obtained shortly after the bombing, however, also supported suspicions of Bin Ladin’s involvement. There were reports in the months preceding the attack that Bin Ladin was seeking to facilitate a shipment of explosives, to Saudi Arabia. On the day of the attack, Bin Ladin was congratulated by other members of the Islamic army. In light of the historical animosity between Shia and Sunni Muslims, the confirmation of the Hezbollah role in the attack led many to conclude that Bin Ladin’s Sunni-populated organization would not have been involved. Later intelligence, however, showed far greater potential for collaboration between Hezbollah and al Qaeda than many had previously thought. A few years before the attack, Bin Ladin’s representatives and Iranian officials had discussed putting aside Shia-Sunni divisions to cooperate against the common enemy. A small group of al Qaeda operatives subsequently traveled to Iran and Hezbollah camps in Lebanon for training in explosives, intelligence and security. Bin Laden reportedly showed particular interest in Hezbollah’s truck bombing tactics in Lebanon in 1983 that had killed 241 U.S. Marines. We have seen strong but indirect evidence that his organization did in fact play some as yet unknown role in the Khobar attack. Bin Ladin also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein’s secular regime. Bin Ladin had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded Bin Ladin to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Ladin in 1994. Bin Ladin is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded. There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after Bin Ladin had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior Bin Ladin associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States. Whether Bin Ladin and his organization had roles in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and the thwarted Manila plot to blow up a dozen U.S. commercial aircraft in 1995 remains a matter of substantial uncertainty. 6 Ramzi Yousef, who was a lead operative in both plots, trained in camps in Afghanistan that were funded by Bin Ladin and used to train many al Qaeda operatives. Whether he was then or later became a member of al Qaeda remains a matter of debate, but he was at a minimum part of a loose network of extremist Sunni Islamists who, like Bin Ladin, began to focus their rage on the United States. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who provided some funding for Yousef in the 1993 WTC attack and was his operational partner in the Manila plot, later did join al Qaeda and masterminded the al Qaeda 9/11 attack. He was not, however, an al Qaeda member at the time of the Manila plot. A number of other individuals connected to the 1993 and 1995 plots or to some of the plotters either were or later became associates of Bin Ladin. We have no conclusive evidence, however, that at the time of the plots any of them was operating under Bin Ladin’s direction. What is clear is that these plots were major benchmarks in the evolving Islamist threat to the United States and foreshadowed later attacks that were indisputably carried out by al Qaeda under Bin Ladin’s direction. Like the later attacks, they were aimed at demolishing symbols of American power and killing enormous numbers of Americans. Like Bin Ladin, Yousef was willing to employ any means to achieve these ends, and contemplated use of non-conventional weapons. In one of his television interviews Bin Ladin characterized Ramzi Yousef as a “symbol and a teacher” that would drive Muslims suffering from U.S. policy to “transfer the battle into the United States.” In May 1996, Bin Ladin left Sudan and moved back to Afghanistan. His departure resulted from a combination of pressures from the United States, other western governments, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Libya, all three of which faced indigenous terrorist groups supported by Bin Ladin. The pressure on Sudan intensified in April 1996 when the UN sanctioned Sudan for harboring individuals from the group that had attempted to assassinate Egyptian President Mubarak in June 1995. At the time of Bin Ladin’s move to Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community had uncovered many details of his financial and business structures and their use to support terrorist groups. It was not until later in 1996, however, after he was back in Afghanistan, that new sources disclosed the nature of his organizational structure, his commitment to attacking the United States, and the involvement of his organization in attacks that had already been carried out.
Changing Fortunes in Afghanistan
Bin Ladin’s departure from Sudan marked a setback for him. The Saudi government had frozen his assets three years earlier, and the Sudanese government expropriated his assets there after he left Sudan. The financial stresses contributed to strained relations with some of his associates, who used the move back to Afghanistan as an occasion to break from al Qaeda. There were, nonetheless, some benefits to the move. In an effort to reduce external pressures, Sudan had made some efforts to keep Bin Ladin under control and prohibited him from making public diatribes. Afghanistan’s lack of a central government gave him 7 greater latitude to promote his own agenda. Moreover, al Qaeda had never entirely left the region: even when headquartered in Sudan, it had used Pakistan and Afghanistan as a regional base and training center supporting Islamic insurgencies in Tajikistan, Kashmir, and Chechnya. In August 1996, Bin Ladin made public his war against the United States. In his “Declaration of Holy War on the Americans Occupying the Country of the Two Sacred Places” (Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia), Bin Ladin called on Muslims worldwide to put aside their differences and join in deadly attacks against U.S. forces to compel their withdrawal from the Arabian Peninsula. A month after this declaration, the Taliban, an Afghan faction supported by Pakistan, seized control of Kabul, the nation’s capital. Bin Ladin began cementing his ties with the Taliban, and they soon forged a close alliance. The Taliban paid a great price for this alliance in the form of outside pressure, isolation, UN sanctions, and, after 9/11, the destruction of its regime. But prior to 9/11, the Taliban also benefited from its relationship with al Qaeda: Bin Ladin provided significant financial support to the Taliban, and supplied hundreds, if not thousands, of fighters to support the Taliban in its ongoing war against other factions in northern Afghanistan. From al Qaeda’s perspective, the alliance provided a sanctuary in which to train and indoctrinate recruits, import weapons, forge ties with other jihad groups and leaders, and plan terrorist operations. Al Qaeda fighters could travel freely within the country; enter and exit without visas or any immigration procedures; and enjoy the use of official Afghan Ministry of Defense license plates. Al Qaeda also used the Afghan state-owned Ariana Airlines to courier money into the country. There were also ideological ties. Both the Taliban and Bin Ladin espoused the vision of a pure Islamic state. Bin Ladin reportedly swore an oath of loyalty to Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Relations between Bin Ladin and the Taliban leadership were sometimes tense, and some Taliban leaders opposed the al Qaeda presence. In the end, however, Mullah Omar never broke with Bin Ladin and al Qaeda. Similarly, Pakistan did not break with the Taliban until after 9/11, although it was well aware that the Taliban was harboring Bin Ladin. The Taliban’s ability to provide Bin Ladin a haven in the face of international pressure and UN sanctions was significantly facilitated by Pakistani support. Pakistan benefited from the Taliban-al Qaeda relationship, as Bin Ladin’s camps trained and equipped fighters for Pakistan’s ongoing struggle with India over Kashmir. By early 1998, Bin Ladin was also in the early stages of what would become a merger of his al Qaeda and another major terrorist group, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. On February 23, 1998, Bin Ladin and the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Ayman Zawahiri, published a fatwa that announced a “ruling to kill the Americans and their allies.” It was also signed by the heads of three other groups, but their signatures were more a matter of show than substance. Unlike earlier statements, this fatwa explicitly instructed followers to kill “civilians and military.” The decree said this ruling was “an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.”
New Attacks on the United States
On August 7, 1998 nearly simultaneous truck bombs ravaged the U.S. embassies in the East African capitals of Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Nairobi embassy was destroyed, and 213 people were killed, including 12 Americans. About 5,000 people were injured. In Dar es Salaam 11 more were killed, none of them American, and 85 were injured. U.S. intelligence learned a few months later that the targeting of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi began in late 1993. It was one of more than a dozen potential targets analyzed by a team residing with the same Nairobi cell used to provide assistance to the Somalis. In January 1994, al Qaeda leaders concluded that the U.S. embassy in Nairobi would be easy to attack. Preparations for the attack did not begin in earnest until late spring 1998, and the bombs were only assembled a few days before the attacks. By the night before the embassy bombing, all al Qaeda members except the suicide squads and a few people assigned to clean up the evidence trail had left East Africa. Bin Ladin and other al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan had also left for the countryside in expectation of U.S. retaliation. The attacks on the U.S. embassies in East Africa in the summer of 1998 demonstrated a new operational form—they were planned, directed, and executed by al Qaeda, under the direct supervision of Bin Ladin and his chief aides. On October 12, 2000, an explosives-laden boat tore through the side of the U.S.S. Cole anchored in Aden, Yemen. Seventeen members of the Cole crew were killed, and another 39 were wounded. In the course of the ensuing investigation, U.S. officials learned that an earlier attempt to attack a U.S. warship had been made in January 2000, aimed at the U.S.S. The Sullivans, but had failed because the boat was overloaded with explosives and sank. The boat was salvaged, a new martyr crew was selected, and the attack was successfully executed ten months later. The operational commander of the attack was Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who had previously assisted one of the East African embassy bombers. He had arrived in Yemen in late 1999 to supervise the purchase of the boat used in the attack, and to direct the casing and execution of the attacks. Nashiri was assisted by an al Qaeda member close to Bin Ladin, Tawfiq bin Attash (“Khallad”), who supplied the explosives used in the attack. This attack followed the operational pattern demonstrated in the East African embassy bombings—it was directed by key al Qaeda operatives, using equipment and explosives purchased with al Qaeda funds, and executed by members of al Qaeda willing to be martyrs for the cause. By mid-November 2000, U.S. investigators were aware of the roles Nashiri and Khallad had played in the attack, and that they were senior al Qaeda operatives. The one part that could not be ascertained at the time was whether the attack had been carried out under direct orders from Bin Ladin himself. This could not be confirmed until Nashiri and Khallad were captured in November 2002 and April 2003, respectively. At the same time, however, two disrupted Millennium plots demonstrate that Bin Ladin remained willing to provide support to attacks initiated by more independent actors. Neither intended Millennium attack was a traditional al Qaeda operation: rather, both were planned and orchestrated by independent extremist groups which received training and assistance from al Qaeda-affiliated figures. One was a plot to destroy hotels and tourist sites in Amman, Jordan. It was planned and carried out by a Palestinian radical and his partner, an American citizen, who sought to kill Americans. The other was the attempted bombing of Los Angeles International Airport. It was orchestrated by Ahmed Ressam, who conceived and prepared for the attack on his own. Ressam commented after his arrest that he had offered to let Bin Ladin claim credit for the attack, in return for providing Ressam future funding. Both Ressam and the Jordanian cell took what they needed from al Qaeda-associated camps and personnel, but did not follow the traditional al Qaeda top-down planning and approval model.
Terrorist Training Camps
Many of the operatives in the African Embassy and Cole attacks attended training camps in Afghanistan, as did all 19 of the 9/11 hijackers. There was a mutually reinforcing relationship between the camps and terrorist operations: the camps provided operatives for terrorist attacks, and successful attacks boosted camp recruitment and attendance. The training at al Qaeda and associated camps was multifaceted in nature. A worldwide jihad needed terrorists who could bomb embassies or hijack airliners, but it also needed foot soldiers for the Taliban in its war against the Northern Alliance, and guerrillas who could shoot down Russian helicopters in Chechnya or ambush Indian units in Kashmir. Thus, most recruits received training that was primarily geared toward conventional warfare. Terrorist training was provided mostly to the best and most ardent recruits. The quality of the training provided at al Qaeda and other jihadist camps was apparently quite good. There was coordination with regard to curriculum, and great emphasis on ideological and religious indoctrination. Instruction underscored that the United States and Israel were evil, and that the rulers of Arab countries were illegitimate. The camps created a climate in which trainees and other personnel were free to think creatively about ways to commit mass murder. According to a senior al Qaeda associate, various ideas were floated by mujahidin in Afghanistan: taking over a launcher and forcing Russian scientists to fire a nuclear missile at the United States; mounting mustard gas or cyanide attacks against Jewish areas in Iran; dispensing poison gas into the air conditioning system of a targeted building; and, last but not least, hijacking an aircraft and crashing it into an airport terminal or nearby city. in the camps did not focus solely on causing the deaths of enemies. Bin Ladin portrayed “martyrdom” in the service of jihad as a highly desirable fate, and many recruits were eager to go on suicide missions. As time passed and al Qaeda repeatedly and successfully hit U.S. targets, Bin Ladin became a legendary figure among jihadists both inside and outside of Afghanistan. He lectured at the camps. His perceived stature and charisma reinforced the zeal of the trainees. Bin Ladin also personally evaluated trainees’ suitability for terrorist operations. The camps were able to operate only because of the worldwide network of recruiters, travel facilitators, and document forgers who vetted would-be trainees and helped them get in and out of Afghanistan. There are strong indications that elements of both the Pakistani and Iranian governments frequently turned a blind eye to this transit through their respective countries. We can conservatively say that thousands of men, perhaps as many as 20,000, trained in Bin Ladin-supported camps in Afghanistan between his May 1996 return and September 11, 2001. Of those, only a small percentage went on to receive advanced terrorist training.
Funding al Qaeda in Afghanistan
After establishing itself in Afghanistan, al Qaeda relied on well-placed financial facilitators and diversions of funds from Islamic charities. The financial facilitators raised money from witting and unwitting donors, primarily in the Gulf countries, and particularly in Saudi Arabia. The facilitators also appeared to rely heavily on certain imams at mosques, also primarily in the Gulf countries, who were willing to divert mandatory charitable donations known as zakat. Al Qaeda also collected money from employees of corrupted charities. Operatives either penetrated specific foreign branch offices of large, international charities, particularly those with lax external oversight and ineffective internal controls, or controlled entire smaller charities, including access to their bank accounts. There is no convincing evidence that any government financially supported al Qaeda before 9/11 (other than limited support provided by the Taliban after Bin Ladin first arrived in Afghanistan). Some governments may have turned a blind eye to al Qaeda’s fundraising activities. Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of al Qaeda funding, but we found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior officials within the Saudi government funded al Qaeda. Still, al Qaeda found fertile fundraising ground in the Kingdom, where extreme religious views are common and charitable giving is essential to the culture and, until recently, subject to very limited oversight. The United States has never been a primary source of al Qaeda funding, although some funds raised in the United States likely made their way to al Qaeda. No persuasive evidence exists that al Qaeda relied on the drug trade as an important source of revenue, or funded itself through trafficking in diamonds from African states engaged in civil wars. After raising money, al Qaeda frequently moved its money by hawala, an informal and ancient trust-based system for transferring funds. Al Qaeda also used couriers as a secure, albeit slower, way to move funds. Bin Ladin relied on the established hawala networks operating in Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and throughout the Middle East to transfer funds efficiently. Hawaladars associated with al Qaeda may have used banks to move and store money, as did various al Qaeda fundraisers and operatives outside of Afghanistan, but there is little evidence that Bin Ladin or his core al Qaeda members used banks during this period. Al Qaeda’s money was distributed as quickly as it was raised—what was made was spent. The CIA estimates that al Qaeda spent $30 million annually, including paying for terrorist operations, maintaining terrorist training camps, paying salaries to jihadists, contributing to the Taliban, funding fighters in Afghanistan, and sporadically contributing to related terrorist organizations. The largest expense was payments to the Taliban, which totaled an estimated $10-20 million per year. Actual terrorist operations were relatively cheap. Although there is evidence that al Qaeda experienced funding shortfalls as part of the cyclical fundraising process (with more money coming during the holy month of Ramadan), we are not aware of any evidence indicating that terrorist acts were interrupted as a result.
Al Qaeda Today
Since the September 11 attacks and the defeat of the Taliban, al Qaeda’s funding has decreased significantly. The arrests or deaths of several important financial facilitators have decreased the amount of money al Qaeda has raised and increased the costs and difficulty of raising and moving that money. Some entirely corrupt charities are now out of business, with many of their principals killed or captured, although some charities may still be providing support to al Qaeda. Moreover, it appears that the al Qaeda attacks within Saudi Arabia in May and November of 2003 have reduced—perhaps drastically— al Qaeda’s ability to raise funds from Saudi sources. Both an increase in Saudi enforcement and a more negative perception of al Qaeda by potential donors have cut its income. At the same time, al Qaeda’s expenditures have decreased as well, largely because it no longer provides substantial funding to the Taliban or runs a network of training camps in Afghanistan. Despite the apparent reduction in overall funding, it remains relatively easy for al Qaeda to find the relatively small sums required to fund terrorist operations. Prior to 9/11, al Qaeda was a centralized organization which used Afghanistan as a war room to strategize, plan attacks, and dispatch operatives worldwide. Bin Ladin approved all al Qaeda operations, often selecting the targets and operatives. After al Qaeda lost Afghanistan after 9/11, it fundamentally changed. The organization is far more decentralized. Bin Ladin’s seclusion forced operational commanders and cell leaders to assume greater authority; they are now making the command decisions previously made by him. Bin Ladin continues to inspire many of the operatives he trained and dispersed, as well as smaller Islamic extremist groups and individual fighters who share his ideology. As a result, al Qaeda today is more a loose collection of regional networks with a greatly weakened central organization. It pushes these networks to carry out attacks, and assists them by providing guidance, funding, and training in skills such as bomb-making or urban combat. Al Qaeda remains extremely interested in conducting chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attacks. In 1994, al Qaeda operatives attempted to purchase uranium for $1.5 million; the uranium proved to be fake. Though this attempt failed, al Qaeda continues to pursue its strategic objective of obtaining a nuclear weapon. Likewise, it remains interested in using a radiological dispersal device or “dirty bomb,” a conventional explosive designed to spread radioactive material. Documents found in al Qaeda facilities contain accurate information on the usage and impact of such weapons. Al Qaeda had an ambitious biological weapons program and was making advances in its ability to produce anthrax prior to September 11. According to Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, al Qaeda’s ability to conduct an anthrax attack is one of the most immediate threats the United States is likely to face. Similarly, al Qaeda may seek to conduct a chemical attack by using widely-available industrial chemicals, or by attacking a chemical plant or a shipment of hazardous materials. The Intelligence Community expects that the trend toward attacks intended to cause ever higher casualties will continue. Al Qaeda and other extremist groups will likely continue to exploit leaks of national security information in the media, open-source information on techniques such as mixing explosives, and advances in electronics. It may modify traditional tactics in order to prevent detection or interdiction by counterterrorist forces. Regardless of the tactic, al Qaeda is actively striving to attack the United States and inflict mass casualties.
13th June, 2004. 8:25 am. Neil's World - Not your or mine
Steve Duin gets is once more, with his op-ed column "The curious convergences in Neil's world."
Does anyone, really have any idea how deep his tendrils run in Oregon's ruling elites? Forex: Discovering Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto got his start as Governor Molestor's driver blew my mind.
10th June, 2004. 5:13 am. If it's Important to Oregonians, It's in the NY Times - Especially when it concerns fraud by Enron
This NY Times article details that the Marion County Circuit Court has sent a Double Grande of Wake-Up to the Public Utility Commission of Oregon.
It's reprinted here in a North Florida paper which does not require your registration to read.
A state judge has ordered a regulatory hearing into whether Portland General Electric, a unit of Enron, fraudulently collected more than $665 million from ratepayers to cover corporate income taxes that Enron never paid.
So, the Oregonian decided to cover it, too. But, do you notice any difference in spin when comparing the stories?