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49 reasons 911 could have been stopped


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Free Press International

7.2.2004

 

 

1994 - French authorities foil an attempt by Algerian hijackers to slam a plane into the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

 

JANUARY 1995 - Philippine police complete a report outlining three terrorist plots after they shut down a terrorist cell. According to the report, one of the plots detailed the use of hijacked airliners to hit targets, including CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. One member of the cell was Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Yousef was convicted in the United States for plotting to blow up U.S. airliners in Asia.

 

JANUARY 1996 - The CIA's Counterterrorism Center creates a special unit focusing on Osama bin Laden after his involvement in planning and directing terrorist acts becomes more evident to the U.S. intelligence community.

 

EARLY 1996 - Sudan, which has harbored bin Laden since his 1991 expulsion from Saudi Arabia, offers to turn al Qaeda's founder over to the Saudis for trial. Saudi Arabia doesn't want him, and President Clinton does not push the issue of expulsion. In May, Sudan throws bin Laden out; he and his family go to Afghanistan.

 

MAY 26, 1998 - Osama bin Laden holds a news conference in Afghanistan declaring war on the United States. Information obtained by senior U.S. policy makers and the intelligence community indicates that bin Laden intends to strike. The U.S. Joint Inquiry Staff, however, reported in September 2002 that intelligence-gathering agencies did not know where, when or how a terrorist attack might have occurred and the information was not corroborated.

 

JUNE 1998 - Several sources reveal to the U.S. intelligence community that bin Laden is considering attacks in the United States -- targeting cities such as Washington and New York. Senior U.S. officials receive this information a month later. The U.S. intelligence community consists of the 14 government agencies that conduct the U.S. government's intelligence activities, including the CIA, Treasury Department, Energy Department, State Department, Defense Intelligence Agency, FBI, National Imagery and Mapping Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, National Security Agency, and the intelligence agencies the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy.

 

AUGUST 1998 = The FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration receive information that unidentified Arabs plan to fly an "explosive-laden plane" from an unnamed country into the World Trade Center. The FAA finds the plot "highly unlikely given the state of that foreign country's aviation program." Skeptical FAA officials also believe a flight originating outside the United States would be detected before it reached its target. The FBI's New York office files away the information.

 

FALL 1998 - Intelligence officials are notified of a bin Laden plot involving aircraft and the New York and Washington areas.

 

SEPTEMBER 1998 - The intelligence community details the infrastructure of al Qaeda in the United States. Also, intelligence information indicates bin Laden's next plan could be to fly an aircraft loaded with explosives into a U.S. airport and then detonate the plane.

 

OCTOBER 1998 - U.S. intelligence officials learn that al Qaeda is trying to establish an operative cell within the United States.

 

NOVEMBER 1998 - The intelligence community is notified that an al Qaeda terrorist cell is trying to recruit a group of five to seven young men from the United States to travel to the Middle East for training. Intelligence officials also learn that bin Laden and senior associates have agreed to offer a $9 million reward for the assassinations of four top CIA officers.

 

1999 - The FBI creates a unit that focuses on bin Laden. On September 10, 2001, about 17-19 people are working in that division.

 

SPRING 1999 - The intelligence community is notified that bin Laden is planning an attack on a U.S. government facility in Washington.

 

AUGUST 1999 - Officials are informed that bin Laden's organization planned to target the U.S. secretary of state, secretary of defense and the director of central intelligence. CIA analysts interpret "target" to mean "assassinate."

 

SEPTEMBER 1999 - A report titled "Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism" commissioned by the National Intelligence Council raises the specter of a September 11-style attack by al Qaeda., including crash landing an airplace packed with explosives into the Pentagon, CIA headquarters or White House. "Whatever form an attack may take, bin Laden will most likely retaliate in a spectacular way for the cruise missile attack against his Afghan camp in August 1998." A source tells the U.S. intelligence that bin Laden's group and others are planning attacks in the United States, possibly against landmarks in California and New York. The reliablity of the source was unknown.

 

LATE 1999 - Intelligence information raises the possibility of attacks on targets in Washington and New York during the New Year's millennium celebrations.

 

DECEMBER 14, 1999 - Ahmed Ressam is arrested in Port Angeles, Washington, as he tries to enter the United States from Canada. A U.S. Customs Service officer searched his rented car and found 130 pounds of explosive chemicals and four homemade timing devices. Ressam was convicted of conspiracy to detonate a suitcase bomb at Los Angeles International Airport on New Year's Eve of 1999, the last day before the new millennium. He has not been senteneced.

 

JANUARY 2000 - Khalid Almidhar, left, and Nawaf Alhamzi -- two of the hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon -- are seen on a surveillance tape at a meeting in January 2000 at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Also at the meeting is Tawfiq al-Atash, who U.S. officials suspect played a hand in the Cole's bombing. The CIA says it warned the FBI about Almidhar but the CIA also did not place him on a watch list until August 2001.

 

FEBRUARY 2000 - Reports indicate that bin Laden may be planning to assassinate U.S. intelligence officials, including then-FBI director Louis Freeh.

 

MARCH 2000 - An unnamed nation tells the CIA that Alhazmi had flown from the January meeting in Malaysia to Los Angeles. The U.S. intelligence also obtains information on the places that bin Laden's network might attack, including the Statue of Liberty, skyscrapers, ports, airports and nuclear power plants.

 

DECEMBER 2000 - U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice says it was this month when the U.S. intelligence community started reporting increases in traffic concerning terrorist activities.

 

JANUARY 30, 2001 - September 11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah is questioned at the Dubai airport at the CIA's request, United Arab Emirates government sources and other Middle Eastern and European intelligence sources told CNN. Sources said he was released because U.S. officials were satisfied but a CIA spokesman denied the agency had anything to do with the questioning, saying it was "flatly untrue." The CIA said it learned of the questioning from CIA officers in the UAE after September 11. The FBI believes Jarrah, who held a Lebanese passport, was the hijacker-pilot of United Airlines Flight 93.

 

FEBRUARY 2001 - Testifying before Congress, CIA Director George Tenet says "Osama bin Laden and his global network of lieutenants and associates remain the most immediate and serious threat" to U.S. security. "As we have increased security around government and military facilities, terrorists are seeking out 'softer' targets that provide opportunities for mass casualties," Tenet said

 

MARCH 2001 - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) informs specific U.S. airlines of threats from suspected terrorists in Middle Eastern nations served by those carriers.

 

APRIL 2001 - A source with terrorist connections speculates that bin Laden might be interested in using commercial pilots as terrorists. The source warns that embassy bombings should not be the focus of intelligence measures because the operatives want "spectacular and traumatic" attacks, like the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. The source did not mention when an attack may occur. The information is not disseminated within the intelligence community because the source was speculating and did not offer hard information.

 

APRIL 18, 2001 - The FAA sends another warning to U.S. airlines that Middle Eastern terrorists could try to hijack or blow up a U.S. plane and that carriers should "demonstrate a high degree of alertness." The warning stemmed from the April 6, 2001, conviction of Ahmed Ressam over a failed plot to blow up Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebrations.

 

APRIL-MAY 2001 - Rice said U.S. intelligence sources reported specific threats regarding al Qaeda attacks against U.S. targets or interests that might be in the works.

 

MAY 29, 2001 - Four men are convicted in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Witnesses testified at the trial that Osama bin Laden was sending al Qaeda agents to the United States for flight-school training and acquiring planes.

 

JUNE 22, 2001 - The FAA issues another warning to U.S. airlines. It mentioned "unconfirmed reports that American interests may be the target of terrorist threats from extremist groups." The warning also said that hijackings might be used to get the release of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted in a plot to blow up New York landmarks in 1993.

 

JUNE 26, 2001 - The State Department issues a worldwide caution warning American citizens of possible attacks. Rice said at this time, there was a "threat spike," focusing on possible attacks on U.S. citizens or targets overseas.

 

JULY 1, 2001 - Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Shelby, both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, appear on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer", and warn of potential attacks by Osama bin Laden. "One of the things that has begun to concern me very much as to whether we really have our house in order, intelligence staff have told me that there is a major probability of a terrorist incident within the next three months," Feinstein said.

 

JULY 2, 2001 - The FBI issues a warning of possible al Qaeda attacks to law enforcement agencies. The messages stated that "there are threats to be worried about overseas. While we cannot foresee attacks domestically, we cannot rule them out." The FAA, meanwhile, issues another message regarding convicted millennium bomb plotter Ahmed Ressam. Rice said Ressam told authorities "there was an intention of using explosives in an airport terminal."

 

JULY 5, 2001 - In a morning meeting, President Bush asks Rice to find out what agencies are doing with intelligence regarding al Qaeda threats. Rice said at this point, "the threat reporting had become sufficiently robust, though, not, again, very specific, but sufficiently robust. There was a lot of chatter in the system."

 

JULY 6, 2001 - Counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke leads a meeting of the Counterterrorism Security Group, part of the National Security Council, to discuss intelligence regarding terrorism threats and potential attacks on U.S. installations overseas. The meeting leads to a suspension of nonessential travel by counterterror staff.

 

JULY 10, 2001 - FBI Agent Ken Williams sends a memo to the counterterrorism division at the FBI's Washington headquarters. It outlines a theory that Middle Eastern students at an Arizona flight school could be al Qaeda agents training for hijackings. FBI analysts review the memo but do nothing. The White House, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft are informed about the memo only after the September 11 attacks.

 

MID-JULY 2001 - U.S. intelligence reports another spike in threats related to the July 20-22 G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy. The reports include specific threats against Bush, who is to attend the summit. The head of Russia's Federal Bodyguard Service is quoted as saying that Osama bin Laden had threatened to assassinate President Bush at the summit. "In fact, the CIA went on ... a full-court press to try and deal with these potential attacks and, indeed, managed, through these intelligence activities and liaison activities,to disrupt attacks in Paris, Turkey, and Rome."

 

JULY 18, 2001 - The FBI issues another warning to domestic law enforcement agencies about threats stemming from the convictions in the millennium bomb plot trial. The FAA also issues a warning, telling the airlines to "use the highest level of caution."

 

JULY 28, 2001 - Authorities in the United Arab Emirates arrest Djamel Beghal, a French-Algerian man, for trying to travel to Europe on a fake French passport. Intelligence sources close to investigators in the UAE say that, under days of interrogation, Beghal told of planned attacks in France, including the U.S. Embassy in Paris, as well as details of terrorist cells operating in Paris and Rotterdam, Netherlands. Beghal has since been extradited to France and investigators there say he has retracted his confession.

 

JULY 31, 2001 - The FAA issues another warning to U.S. airlines, citing no specific targets but saying "terror groups are known to be planning and training for hijackings, and we ask you therefore to use caution."

 

AUGUST 1, 2001 - The FBI issues another warning that mentions the upcoming third anniversary of the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa. It reiterates the message that had been in the July 2 warning.

 

AUGUST 6, 2001 - At his request, President Bush receives a report on al Qaeda during his daily intelligence briefing, known as the Presidential Daily Brief. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said this report was an "analytic brief" and not a warning that only mentioned hijackings in the traditional sense. "Hijacking before 9/11 and hijacking after 9/11 mean two very different things," she said on May 16, 2002.

 

AUGUST 15, 2001 - A Minneapolis flight school reports Zacarias Moussaoui to the FBI because he was interested in learning how to fly jumbo jets but did not have a pilot's license. The following day, Moussaoui was taken into custody and formally arrested the next day on immigration charges. Agents wanted to get a special warrant to search his laptop computer but were denied permission. Later in August, French authorities tell U.S. officials that the French-born Moussaoui is a suspected Islamic extremist.

 

AUGUST 16, 2001 - The FAA issues a warning to airlines concerning disguised weapons. According to Rice, they were concerned about some reports that the terrorists had made breakthroughs in cell phones, key chains and pens as weapons.

 

AUGUST 17, 2001 - Zacarias Moussaoui is arrested by the FBI in Minnesota and is charged with an immigration violation. Agents fear his flight training may have violent intentions. The agency's Minnesota bureau tries to get permission to search his laptop computer, but is turned down.

 

AUGUST 23, 2001 - In late August, the CIA asks the Immigration and Naturalization Service to put Khalid Almidhar on a watch list due to his ties to the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

 

AUGUST 23 - The INS informs the CIA that Almidhar was admitted into the United States as a nonimmigrant visitor on July 4. Almidhar was one of the four hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 77 that slammed into the Pentagon.

 

EARLY SEPTEMBER 2001 - An FBI agent in Minneapolis, Minnesota, writes a memo suggesting Zacarias Moussaoui is training to learn to fly planes into buildings. The agent "mentioned the possibility of Moussaoui being that type of person that could fly something into the World Trade Center," FBI Director Robert Mueller later tells Congress. The FBI notifies the CIA about Moussaoui, but neither agency tells the White House Counterterrorism Security Group. The Federal Aviation Administration, also told about Moussaoui, decides not to warn airlines about a possible threat, an FAA official says.

 

SEPTEMBER 10, 2001 - A CIA plan to strike at al Qaeda in Afghanistan, including support for the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, is given to the White House. Sen. Dianne Feinstein asks for a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney. The California Democrat is told that Cheney's staff would need six months to prepare for a meeting.

 

SEPTEMBER 10, 2001 - The National Security Agency intercepts two communications from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia. "Tomorrow is zero hour," says one. "The match begins tomorrow," says the other. The messages are not translated until September 12.

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