s would have done their WorkPreceding the terrible events on September 11th, 2001, the American Secret Services have made many mistakes in regard to the possibility of preventing 9-11. The Secret Services, mainly the CIA and the FBI, have made a great lot of mistakes. After an initial meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where eight terrorists met, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) let go of them after their meeting, assuming it was unimportant . After the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 they changed their minds, now coming to the conclusion that major agreements regarding the Cole as well as regarding the WTC (World Trade Center) were made in Malaysia. However, it was too late. As the year 2001 approached and warnings accumulated, they still did not react. The September 11th-attacks could have been avoided if the Secret Services would not have been hindered in their work by higher authorities and if they would have cooperated/shared their findings.
Mistakes long before 9-11
After the 1996 crash of TWA flight 800, 31 urgent proposals by a White House commission were proposed. The Los Angeles Times:
The White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, created in 1996 after TWA Flight 800 crashed off Long Island, N.Y., recommended 31 steps that it said were urgently needed to provide a multilayered security system at the nation’s airports… The Federal Aviation Administration expressed support for the proposals, which ranged from security inspections at airports to tighter screening of mail parcels, and the Clinton administration vowed to rigorously monitor the changes. But by Sept. 11, most of the proposals had been watered down by industry lobbying or were bogged down in bureaucracy, a Times review found.
This was not at all done; according to Larry Klayman, CEO of Judicial Watch (a Washington-based legal organization aimed at fighting the corruption in state and Government):
During the last eight years of scandal during the Clinton administration, and the first eight months of the Bush Administration, reports this morning confirm that little to nothing was done to secure our nations airports and transportation systems as a wholedespite warnings. Instead, cosmetic reform of education, social security, taxes, and other less important issues were given precedence. In addition, the American people were led to believe that appropriate anti-terrorist counter measures were being taken. Instead of telling the truth so the problems could be addressed, politicians painted a rosy picture in order to be elected and re-elected.
After this missal of an urgent proposal, there are also some other interesting facts about the secret services, especially the CIA. At first, they did not even take UBL (Osama bin Laden, utilizing the FBI-spelling and -abbreviation) serious, although he wrote a 20-page Fatwa and clearly said: I predict a bad day for America in near future (Mai 28th 1998)
So they knew from early on that UBL was planning an attack on the US. In fact, he planned that from even earlier than early, as he was only brought into connection with serious terrorism after the 1993 WTC-bombing. For example, in 1993 material found on a hard drive taken from a computer of one of the imprisoned in connection with the WTC bombing included a letter saying: This time our calculations were too rough. We promise you, next time we will be very precise. The WTC will continue being on our list of targets. The agents also had to realize that future attacks could as well be suicide missions: For your information: Our army has more than one hundred and fifty suicide soldiers at disposal. from then on the CIA knew that there would be a sure second time. From the moment of the September 11th attacks, high-ranking federal officials insisted that the terrorists method of operation surprised them. Many stick to that story. Actually, elements of the hijacking plan were known to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) as early as 1995 and, if coupled with current information, might have uncovered the plot (Chicago Sun Times)
They the CIA found details of the plan in a computer seized in an apartment used by three men who were part of Bin Ladens al Qaeda network. It provided for 11 planes to be exploded simultaneously by bombs with time fuses placed on board, but also in an alternative form for several planes flying to the United States to be hijacked and flown into civilian targets. Among targets mentioned was the World Trade Center in New York, which was destroyed in the September 11 terror attacks in the United States that killed thousands. (Die Welt)
This plan was called Project Bojinka Bojinka means big bang in Serbo-Croatian. In further detail, Yousef had developed mini-bombs which can easily be passed through airport security checks. Several people were to plant the mini-bombs on two to three planes after each other. The terrorists wanted to leave the plane on the stopover and board another plane and again plant the bomb under their seat.
This plot emerged once again in the 1997 trial against Ramzi Yousef, the person who had come up with the plan described above, and Abdul Murad, both al-Qaeda members, and the latter the organizing terrorist of the 1993 WTC bombing. The FBI and CIA knew of the plan at the latest from this point. With no connection to the trial Yousef boasted about his plans on the flight from Pakistan to the US in February 1995 to Secret agent Brian Parr and CIA-agent Charles Stern. They confirmed this in court later on: The plans not only targeted the CIA but also other government buildings in Washington, including the Pentagon. The Insight Magazine managed to get copies of Murads interrogation by the Philippine police, codenamed Blue Marlin. Murad said that he planned to board the plane as a normal passenger. He then would take control of the cockpit and (flying himself) ram the plane into the Pentagon. He would neither use a bomb or explosives. He just needed to get a pistol onboard the aircraft. This Blue Marlin paper seemed like a blueprint of what happened seven years later.
The report indicating that UBL was continuing Bojinka was that young and convinced al-Qaeda members were taking flight training in the US. This should have resulted in an intensive watch over the flight schools in which they were trained however nothing happened.. Zacarias Moussaoui, another al-Qaeda terrorist, was taken notice of after his flight trainer told the FBI he wanted to learn how to fly a 747, but did want to learn takeoffs or landings. Zacarias Moussaoui (Zac) traveled with a French passport. On request the French authorities answered that Zac probably was a terrorist connected to UBL. Reuters reported the following about Zac: The FBI arrested an Islamic militant in Boston last month and received French intelligence reports linking him to Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden but apparently did not act on them Furthermore the French authorities informed the Americans that Zac was most likely trained in Afghanistan but the American did nothing. French Secret Services, according to Jean-Charles Brisard, informed their American colleagues that Zac, the so-called 20th hijacker, has connections to the al-Qaeda and the Americans, once again, did not react to this information. This flight trainer training Zac called the FBI several times trying to find an agent willing to react to his information: He suspected Zac having connections to al-Qaeda which was later proved and told the FBI of the apparent possibility of using a 747 with full tanks as a bomb. He told them: Do you realize a 747 loaded with fuel can be used as a bomb? Foregoing these calls Zac attracted lots of attention in the flying school. He said he came from France, but when the instructor tried to speak French to Zac, he became very evasive of his background. There was discussion about how much fuel was on board a 747-400 and how much damage that could cause if it hit anything. Despite of the urges in the flight school, a FBI-agent from Minnesota and from the French authorities, the FBI-HQ refused further investigations until 9-11 This FBI-agent in Minnesota, Dave Rapp, was visited by a Mr. Atlas shortly before. He drove Zac from Oklahoma to the school in Minneapolis. He said that Zac thinks it is allowed to kill civilians who hurt Muslims and that he approves it if Muslims die in such attacks as Martyrs.
However, the US Government actively prevented further investigations. The FBI-agents in Minneapolis regarded Zac as a dangerous terrorist and applied for a specific search warrant for counter-espionage in order to evaluate Zacs computer. This was denied because high-rank FBI-agents did not see enough evidence for a link between al-Qaeda. Even after the French secret service showed the broad connection between al-Qaeda and Zac to the FBI, they still blocked further investigations. The final decision (until 9-11) remained No. The official reasoning for this was, according to ABC News, the lack of evidence of a connection between Zac and a known terrorist organization. Now, after 9-11, Zac handed in requests to be heard by the US Congress as well as by a Grand Jury in regard to 9-11 He claims he has information which proves that the US government wanted the attacks to happen. His applications were repeatedly rejected.
Furthermore, in August 1998 the CIA received a report saying that an Arabian group is planning to fly a plane packed with explosives into the World Trade Center, however they did not react. They passed this report onto the FBI, where nothing happened either, however CIA-experts did not regard it as necessary to indicate the FBI that future plane hijackers could as well be suicide missions. The FBI as well as the FAA declined this plan immediately and said this was undoable. So the FBI advised the FAA (Federal Aviation Association) not to pass this memo onto the airlines in order to avoid panic. However, the fact that the FAA was not informed about this change in strategy of the terrorists was to prove as a big mistake. It resulted in the airlines still advising the crew to meet the demands of the hijackers to avoid escalation.
Due to these accumulating warnings DCI (Director of Central Intelligence; Director of CIA) George Tenet wrote a burning memorandum on Dec. 4th 1998: We are in a war. I will not spare staff nor any other resources in this war, not in the CIA nor in the other American secret services. With his burning memorandum to his executives and heads of departments he tried to secure himself to all sides in retrospect. He dexterously covered up the mistakes of his authority by causing the impression that such a brutal and never-done-before terrorist attacks (on the two US-embassies in East Africa) could not have been fought by the CIA with their means at disposal. Tenet did not have any actions follow his plan.
The relations between FBI and CIA were rather cold and competitive, after the FBI uncovered a mole within the CIA, This was not cooperation anymore; they saw each other as competitors, one wins, the other one looses. The CIA thought that the FBI should rather care about car theft and leave their fingers off espionage defense or even terrorism. Due to this competitive thinking information was kept from each other, like the case of al-Mihdhar: The inland authorities were not informed that a dangerous terrorist (al-Mihdhar) ran around with a valid US-Visa the CIA kept this information for themselves.
Totally independent from the above, a young Arab rushed into the FBI-agency in Newark, NJ, in April 2000. He told the puzzled agent that he just came from a al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, where he was not only taught how to handle firearms but also how to hijack planes. Now he was expected to meet with five or six people in the US to together carry such an operation through. One of the hijackers would be a trained pilot, he said, who would fly the plane to Afghanistan. If that wouldnt be possible they should blow the plane up. The FBI-agent thought the man would be lying and did a Polygraph-test. The detector showed the man was not lying. Nonetheless, the agent simply wrote a protocol and left the case.
Mohammed Atta, Ziad Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi all had their US-Visa by May 2000 to train at flight schools, while at least al-Shehhi was watched by the CIA over over a year now. In July 2000 al-Hazmis Visa is about to expire. He, who has been in the states for a while now, applied at the INS to extend it on July 7th, 2000. Although he was long saved in the NSA-computer as a member of the al-Qaeda and although the CIA knew of his stay in the US he did not need to fear anything. The intelligence services still had not put him out for search. Neither the FBI, the INS nor the State Department knew that a dangerous terrorist was in the States since seven months. And as al-Hazmis name was neither listed in NAILS (National Automated Immigration Lookout System) of the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) nor in TIPOFF of the State department, the INS-official in charge did not see a reason to decline an extension of the visa, let alone alarm the FBI. Al-Hazmi received a new visa, valid until January 2001.
The Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Khalid al-Mihdhar, Yazid Sufaat, Nawaf al-Hazmi (whose name was not fully known back then), Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Hambali (full name unknown) and Ramzi Binalshibh met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in January 2000. KSM was one of the highest people in the al-Qaeda. These six and two other young Arabs met in an apartment, under intense surveillance by the CIA and the Malaysian secret service. At that time, the names of two of the attendees were unknown to the CIA However, the CIA does not even inform the NSA (National Security Agency) about the surveillance operation in Malaysia. This would have helped the CIA tremendously, as two of the people the CIA did not know about were already in the huge NSA-computers. When the meeting was over, the CIA decided to see the matter as done., assuming the meeting was unimportant. Their Malaysian colleagues seemed to foresee that this was the biggest mistake in the CIA-history. US officials have stated that they only realized the meeting was important in the summer of 2001, but the presence of Mohammed should have proved the meeting’s importance.
This was proved later on; after the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 the FBI found out that KSM, the one-legged, was the wirepuller behind the attack. They passed this information onto the CIA. To be sure who KSM was, the CIA showed the photos made of him in Kuala Lumpur to the FBI who faultlessly identified him. Although the FBI was highly cooperative in this matter, the CIA still does not see it is as necessary to pass information and photos of the meeting to the FBI, or to at least let them know where and how these photos were made. The CIA had good reason not to let the FBI know further details. They now saw the meeting in Malaysia under a new light and began to realize the importance of the meeting. Back then they had stopped the extensive observation, supposing that the terrorists had not prepared an attack. This seemed to become true shortly afterwards nothing happened to American institutions in Malaysia or in America. However, in the long run this fatal false estimate was one of the worst the CIA ever made. After seventeen American soldiers died in the attack on the Cole the CIA-analysts see the meeting in Kuala Lumpur differently. Now they assume that major agreements upon the attacks on the Cole were made. That was the sole reason why KSM the one-legged was ordered to Malaysia too. These bitter truths also convinced the CIA-people in Langley that the attendees of the meeting had a bigger importance in the al-Qaeda than previously presumed. In retrospect, it was a fatal error to terminate the observation of the terrorists after they left Kuala Lumpur. The Cole-attack could maybe have been prevented if the CIA would have continued to observe the terrorists. But this was not going to be the only fatal mistake.
A CIA Agency now found new information: The full name of al-Hazmi plus his full flight information into the US. This news should get the whole agency moving; however the agents were not particularly worried. Conscientiously they sent a telegram to the HQ in Langley, telling them of al-Hazmis entry, but not mentioning that al-Mihdhar has entered the US too. The Subject line of the telegram: Only to be noticed. No measures necessary. This reserved subject line did not miss its point nobody read it in Langley. It is the CIAs duty to pass news of terrorists in the United States / with a valid visa onto the FBI, state department and other inland authorities. However they did not do this.Nonetheless it is common sense to predict that the terrorists will not only attack once and then stop. There was going to be another attack.
The highest CIA-officials knew that among the terrorists in Kuala Lumpur there were some who had valid US-Visa and could enter and leave the US as they wanted. This can only be prevented if their names were immediately put on the search lists as well as by informing INS, FBI, State Department and customs, but nothing happened.
Mistakes and Lies in the Year 2001
This series of mistakes and lies did not end in the year 2001 as the 11th of September approached. On the 5th of February, 2001, the trial against UBL is started in his absence in the middle of New York City. He is reproached for the attacks on the two US-embassies in East Africa. This trial causes great interest in the media, which is a welcome opportunity for DCI George Tenet to profile himself on the topic of terrorism and the al-Qaeda. He says: Osama bin Laden and his global network of members and followers stay the most important threat to the United States. In the same breath he does not forget to make the impression that the CIA has everything under control: We have increased the security measures around the government and military facilities. The terrorists will look for softer targets causing higher casualties. The truth, however, is different. Neither CIA nor FBI enlarged their counterterrorism-departments adequately. Especially at the FBI the topic of terrorism is handled very negligently. Of the 20,000 people working at and for the FBI merely one solely works on al-Qaeda. And this person does not all have the information which the CIA has which could have prevented the following.
Moreover, the CIA made huge errors in the case of Mohammed Atta. He, the ringleader of the suicide commandos, traveled into the US in 2001 several times, using his tourist visa, which expired in 2000 he also told immigration officers of his flying lessons. Now in the USA, Atta lived under his real name. In April 2001 he was caught driving without a license. When he did not show up at court, the judge wrote a warrant of arrest right away. However, this was never turned into action although Atta was caught and arrested two more times because of drunk driving. The official explanation for the fact that Atta was never arrested was that due to incompetence in the NSA not explained further the protocols of Atta were not passed onto CIA and FBI. However, this is false. Protocols are passed onto FBI, CIA and other secret services by routine. For example, the NSA warned CIA and FBI and others about a meeting in Kuala Lumpur between a substitute for bin Laden and two assassins of 9-11. As one knows, the NSA tapped two helpers of bin Laden right after the WTC was hit who celebrated the successful outcome. The NSA managed to translate this message within hours and passed it onto all secret services. Additionally, the Miami Herald correctly says: The NSA is by law not allowed to tap phone calls out of and into the United States without a specific direction by a court.With other words: Attas calls could only be tapped by order of a higher court.
The luck the ringleader Atta had also helped two other terrorists: the CIA and FBI knew three weeks before 9-11 that two hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar, who were involved in the bombing of the USS Cole in November 2000, were in the United States. Although their names were listed in a watchlist of potential terrorists, which contained names of people for which the entry to the US is forbidden because of their terrorist connections, al-Hazmi and al-Midhar were not stopped at their entry into the US neither were they arrested later. Although the CIA knew that with al-Midhar at least one of the two al-Qaeda terrorists could enter and leave US as he wanted to, they did not pass this information onto other authorities for nearly 1 years. They continued the surveillance of the two as long as possible, leaving the question why the other secret services were not informed. Government officials questioned about the why and how: The CIA failed to pass this information to the FBI and other secret services after they were informed of al-Midhars connections to the terrorist group. That is also the reason why the latter was not put on any government-watchlist until August, which allowed him to enter the country unhindered. The State Department also extended his expired visa in June 2001 for the same reason he was on no watchlist. Strangely the CIA had already decided not to do anything in this terrorist case. When news of al-Hazmis stay in the US reached the CIA-HQ in March 2000, the report was tagged with the note: Necessary measures none. A CIA Agency overseas noted with great interest that before all the fact, that a member of this (terrorist) group entered the United States but measures were apparently not necessary: so none were taken. After the FBI was then given late report (as to the official version), they similarly missed to pass this information down to the airlines, although this normally is a routine measure with important emergencies or other urgent investigations.
The story of Ziad Samir Jarrah, one of the hijackers aboard the United Airlines flight which crashed in Pennsylvania, also leaves many questions. Two days before 9-11 he was caught speeding on Interstate 95 in Maryland and fined. The police entered his name in their computers and did not find anything striking or suspicious. Afterwards he drove off. FBI- and CIA-agents now say that they did not know anything about Jarrah before the attacks, resulting in them not putting Jarrah on any State Department-watchlist. This statement seems very weak seeing the remarks by official people from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE-sources show that Jarrah entered their country on January 30th, 2001. Before that he was in Pakistan and Afghanistan for two months. Yet when entering the UAE he was stopped in the International Airport of Dubai and questioned several hours long after an explicit request of the United States. This proves that the US already knew about him at this point of time and that someone was watching him closely, knowing his moves and whereabouts. It takes a long time of in-depth surveillance to know the exact arrival time in the UAE, which can really only result from a highly suspicious behavior in regard of a terrorist or criminal activity; no other case justifies such an extensive observation. Additionally, the UAE would not have any interest in Jarrah as he was only on transit through their country. Knowing this, it does seem strange that, after he was interesting enough eight months before resulting in an intense interrogation in the UAE, he was now allowed to enter the US and take flying lessons.Now the statement by the CIA, before 9-11 they did not even know of Jarrahs existence does appear, to put it mildly, as a little twisty version of the truth.
European and Arab sources from the Emirates confirmed that the CIA had Jarrah watched a year before September 11th. He was also put on a CIA-Watchlist passed onto the authorities of the UAE. Additionally the American agents found out that Jarrah did in fact visit an al-Qaeda-training camp in Afghanistan for three weeks in January 2001. This only leaves one conclusion: the CIA deliberately left an al-Qaeda-terrorist travel freely and did not stop him, while they previously put him on an official terrorist-watchlist, and who was already observed because of his connections!
This leaves the following questions: Why was Jarrah, who was watched by the CIA and whose name was on watchlist, in spite of his proven training in an al-Qaeda training camp, allowed to travel into and out of the US freely? And why was the CIA-watchlist not passed onto local police authorities? The CIA understands very well what crushing conclusions can be made from these reports and from the only possible answers to these questions and consequently denies to have had information about Jarrah before 9-11. A CIA-spokesman said: This is simply not true.
There are also many uncertainties, which are enigmatic assuming the intelligence services acted according to its duty to protect the American citizen. For example, Richard A. Clarke, National Counterterrorism-Coordinator of the White House, sent a direct warning indication to the FAA, which however refused to heighten the security level. Insight on the News said that Clarke Counterterrorism Security Group has issued no less than five FAA-mailshots in which private airlines were warned of potential terrorist threats. The mailshots were all sent out in the months before 9-11, namely on June 22nd, July 2nd, 18th and 31st, as well as on August 16th. Contradicting to this, Jose Juves, the press manager of the Massachusetts Port Authority (managing the Boston Logan Airport) says in the Boston Globe: The government did not send out any Secret service findings regarding the hijacking of planes.The two planes which destroyed the WTC came from Logan. Someone is lying here.
Also, starting on July 26th, 2001, Minister of Justice John Ashcroft did not use normal scheduled flights but used government planes. The fact that the FBI warned Ashcroft long before 9-11 shows that there was serious threat. The same FBI now says it did not realize the extent of this threat. However, if it was dangerous for John Ashcroft to use scheduled flights, then this was the case for the normal population too. The US-Government took preventive measures to ensure the safety of top-government people against an apparent threat, based on credible secret services-information. Nonetheless, it did not do anything similar for the normal American citizen, so ignored its duty.
In relation to this, a former flight security inspector, Rodney Stich, warned the FAA about the chance of a plane hijacking, finding fault with the insecure cockpit-doors and, moreover, proposed that Pilots should be allowed to wear pistols. The FAA denied to even think about these proposals. Even as the threat became more apparent, the FAA blocked al attempts to arm pilots and to have security members flying aboard. Excerpts from an in-depth study regarding this topic: But instead of putting the security measures into effect, arrogant and corrupt members of the management of the FAA destroyed even official investigation reports about the threats and their necessary counterparts. Also they warned flight security inspectors not to hand in reports which could hurt the reputation of the FAA, if there would be a hijacking which could have been prevented with the addressed measures. Furthermore they threatened inspectors who still attempted countermeasures or who still wrote reports, although nonetheless planes crashed due to these unresolved security problems.
In the middle of march 2001 al-Hazmis brother, Salim, traveled into the US. Although he, as well as his brother Nawaf, was saved in the NSA database, he entered the US without any difficulties. Their data was still not in the police computers: Nawaf al-Hazmi, as said before long saved at the NSA, was caught in a speed trap on April 1st 2001 on Interstate 40. He was stopped and had to show ID, license and registration. Over his radio the officer asked if there is anything against the driver. Al-Hazmis name was entered in the computer. Nevertheless nothing against him could be found, as the CIA still did not inform local police authorities that he is a dangerous, searched-for terrorist. So al-Hazmi simply got a ticket for speeding and can drive off.
At the same time these computer errors occur, an ally of the Western powers pleads for help: Ahmed Massoud is in the European parliament in Strasbourg, France, on April 4th 2001. He asks the world powers to help him fight the Taliban. He also clearly states that al-Qaedas plans are not restricted to Afghanistan: If president Bush does not help us, he says in Strasbourg in front of an armada of reporters, these terrorists will cause great harm in the USA and Europe.
Al-Mihdhar was meanwhile very well known to the CIA. They had a copy of his passport since 1 years. The fact that the young Saudi had a valid visa for the US and traveled into the latter didnt really seem to bother the CIA-agents. At least they did not regard it as necessary to pass this information onto the FBI or other inland authorities. In Jeddah in Saudi-Arabia, al-Mihdhar applied for an extension of his visa. As his name is neither listed in the TIPOFF- nor in the CLASS-database (Consular Lookout and Support System), he got a new visa valid until October 3rd 2001.
When news that KSM has traveled into and out of the US like a normal tourist reaches the CIA-HQ in Langley, they could not really believe this. On the other hand the report was so detailed and concerning that they decided to at least verify it. After all KSM was meant to have brought trained al-Qaeda-members into the US, where they immediately contacted fighters already there and preparing an attack, according to the report. KSM himself is said to have boasted that he, a searched-for terrorist, has entered and left the US several times without any problems. CIA-note: If that really is KSM, we have, one, a serious threat, and, two, a good chance of getting him. The report is passed onto the FBI, were it is unnoticed.
Tenet, at the end of June, sent out an express inquiry to the twenty partner-intelligence services with a list of known al-Qaeda terrorists and asked them to, if possible, arrest them. A similar list with, among others, the names of al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, was not made for the police authorities in the USA. Apparently the CIA did not want to open the possibility for outsiders to realize the momentous errors made in the CIA. Tenet also frequently calls Tom Pickard, the new boss of the FBI after Freeh retired in June, and asked him if he has anything on the more than frequent warnings of al-Qaeda attacks. Pickard can only answer no; although there were papers in his authority which are going to shock the whole country and which will bring discredit upon the FBI for its ignorance. Pickard, too, realized the immediate threat by terrorism and asked for more money for the CTC (Counterterrorism Center) at the start of August. Ashcroft thought this whole terrorism-thing was simple panic-mongering and did not answer the memo until September 10th with a simple No.
The FBI-agents in Minneapolis, having arrested Zac for a simple Visa-violation, agree to hold him for 7 days instead of the usual 24 hours because of an expired visa. Agent Rapp already took into account to simply deport him to France, as he was traveling with a French passport. However, they first wanted to try to use FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) for special cases. Of 12,000 applications only one was declined. However, for the next three days nothing happened. Rapp, in the meantime, questioned himself with some obvious questions: Why should plane hijackers learn to fly planes themselves? And why did the other terrorist write his testament? The only possible answers werent very pleasant. Rapp found it absurd that he cannot take a closer look at Zacs computer and notebook although the apparent and urgent threat. In Washington everyone played safe now in regard to the case from far Minneapolis they contacted several FBI-lawyers who all say there is not enough of a connection between Zac and the al-Qaeda. The problem for the FBI-lawyers is that the new boss, Pickard, just came from the Ministry of Justice and was known for his lawfulness: The law cannot be bent for any reason. Under Freeh the law was not taken that seriously and such a search warrant was granted quickly. For Rapp this was against common sense: There is a man who apparently plans to hijack a plane and Rapp is not allowed to take a look at his computer and notebook.
Regarding the many warnings without any concrete details, Tenet advised the whole CIA to look through their documents and look for all open questions on August 21st, 2001. Through this the information about the meeting in Kuala Lumpur was brought up again. This job coincidentally was given to a FBI-agent working in the CTC. After reading the information he connected two important pieces of information: the fact that al-Mihdhar had a visa even at the time of the meeting in Malaysia, and that with Nawaf al-Hazmi another terrorist who attended the meeting had a valid US-visa. With the help of a INS-official also working for the CTC, they found out that both of them have entered the US several times since, and both were in the US at that time. They were stunned that this information has been known to the CIA since eighteen months. Finally the CTC decided to do what they should have done months earlier: Notify the FBI, the INS and customs that both of these terrorists needed to be put on the wanted lists.
The CIA sent out a CIR (Central Intelligence Report) out to all other intelligence services and authorities on August 23rd, 2001. This asked to put al-Mihdhar, al-Hazmi and two other attendees of the Malaysia-meeting on wanted lists. The CIA recommended rejecting them from entering the States. They didnt mention that the two mentioned above were long in the States already. The CIA still tried to cover its momentous mistakes up.
Special Agent Rapp was meanwhile fed up with the endless waiting. He called a colleague in the RFU (Radical Fundamentalism Unit) in Washington and asked him about the state of things. The answer was only that Rapp only made everyone crazy with his Moussaoui. Rapp replies: Im making every crazy in the HQ because I want to prevent that Moussaoui gets control over a plane and flies into the World Trade Center with it!
In the FBI-agency in New York the agents wanted to try everything possible to track down al-Mihdhar, now that they know of his danger. They asked for reinforcements. These were declined with a ridiculous reason: The search for al-Mihdhar was started due to intelligence (CIA) information. That was not allowed, according to the NSLU (National Security Law Unit). The law states a clear border between police and intelligence findings. These borders had to be strictly honored. The New Yorker-FBI-agent was totally startled. It is bad enough that the CIA only informed the other authorities about the entry of dangerous terrorist months late. Now the FBI was not allowed to search for a wanted terrorist who had his fingers in the attack on the Cole, who could walk around freely in the United States and is probably planning another attack. He wrote an email to his superiors in Washington: Some day someone will die never mind law-borders -, and the public will not understand why we were not more effective and used all our resources to find solutions to certain problems. Lets hope, that the NSLU will back their decisions then too, especially because our biggest threat, UBL, gains the most protection out of this!
In the morning of September 11th, the terrorists checked in at Portland Airport, Maine. For twenty days, the whole country was searched for al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar. Nonetheless, their tickets and passports were issued with their real names. They passed security etc. without any problems.
On the morning of the eleventh of September, 2001, two planes hit the World Trade Center in New York City, which, when collapsing, killed more than 2,750 people. One plane hit the Pentagon, killing 186 people. Another plane crashed in Pennsylvania after a passenger revolt against the hijackers, killing 44 people.
Shortly after the attack Rapp got the permission to search Zacs belongings. After his computer and notebook were evaluated they could proceed fast. Although they were under high pressure, they could not resist and attached a warning sent out before the attacks to every email they send to the HQ, because more and more their anger and certainty was growing, that they could maybe have prevented the attack here in Minneapolis.
Aboard Air Force One, Ari Fleischer gave a first briefing of the press. Replying to the question Were there any warnings known to the president?, he falsely answered No. In a conference of the NSC (National Security Council), to which Tenet is connected through phone, he had strong evidence for once. On the passenger list of AA 77 which flew into the Pentagon he could identify three people long known the CIA: Nawaf and Salim al-Hazmi as well as Khalid al-Mihdhar. Tenet didnt mention since when the CIA knew of the trio, neither did he talk about the CIAs knowledge that at least two of the three entered the US twenty months ago. Without knowing anything on the background or details, the members of the NSC knew that someone badly messed something up. FBI-director Robert Mueller, only in place since one week, didnt even try to make the impression the FBI knew something: The FBI does not have a clue how the hijackers could get control over the planes. We did not receive any according information from the CIA. However, I cannot surely say that there were no possibilities to investigate indications which would maybe have lead to the hijackers early on.
Tenet mentions to Bush that the al-Qaeda did have its headquarters in Afghanistan, but was active worldwide, on all continents. We have a 60-country-problem, he told Bush, to show the dimensions of the operation of extinguishing the al-Qaeda. Bush, who rarely traveled outside of his country before his presidency, is not impressed and replied: Lets shoot them off one after theother.
There is an evident pattern visible here: The al-Qaeda-suspected were under extensive surveillance, they actively prepared a terrorist attack and yet they could enter, leave and travel within the United States without any restrictions – even though watchlists with their names existed. Nobody stopped them, never mind the fact that they were traveling with passports and tickets with their real names. That should have alerted lots of computers at the passport controls and at the check-in counters, when ones passports magnetic strip is scanned.
In conclusion, one can definitely say that the September 11th-attacks could have been avoided if the Secret Services would not have been hindered in their work by higher authorities in their agencies and if they would have cooperated / shared their findings. Many inexplicable events have taken place, clearly showing that the intelligence services made many mistakes of which many are so easy to avoid. The fact that the CIA and FBI see each other as competitors instead of partners is purely shocking and unacceptable. Additionally, some of the terrorists were on several wanted- and watchlists. This should have caused lots of trouble for them traveling under their real name. In spite of this it did not. Why? Why? That is the big question. Why? And How? These are the most important questions, still be unanswered, and will probably stay like that for a long time. The final bitter realization is: The deaths of 2,752 people could have been prevented. In American Cold War movies, the KGB (the USSR-intelligence) is bad, a dark mesh of something, while the US-intelligence is the good side, the light and transparent secret service on your side. Maybe it isn’t