Preceding 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 ….