At the 9/11 Commission hearing on Law Enforcement and the Intelligence Community in April 2004, in response to a question about the FBI’s failings from commissioner Tim Roemer, former FBI Director Louis Freeh said:
… It would have been helpful — it would have been helpful — for the FBI at that particular point in time to know the names of those two individuals [Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi]; that the information which was generated in the January 2000 physical surveillance, not by the CIA but by a liaison agency [Malaysia’s Special Branch] — if that information and the initiation for that surveillance, which were phone calls to a central number, which you’re well aware of, which plays a integral role not only in the East African bombings case but also in the Cole investigation;…
The phone number, Yemen 1200578, was registered Ahmed al-Hada, father-in-law of Flight 77 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar, and Almihdhar lived at al-Hada’s house when not away on bin-Laden-related business. The number is the subject of the 9/11 Timeline’s Yemen Hub category, which summarises pretty-much everything known about the number.
As outlined in the Yemen Hub category, the number was under heavy surveillance by the US. It was al-Qaeda’s operations centre and had been integral in the embassy bombings, when it received calls from both the bombers in Africa and bin Laden in Afghanistan. Intercepts of the calls enabled the FBI to map al-Qaeda’s global network (except the 9/11 hijackers in the US, whose location the NSA failed to communicate). According to a US investigator, the hub number was used by the bombers to “put everything together” before the Cole bombing.
There are two simple questions: If the NSA was listening in on the bombers putting everything together before the Cole attack, why was it not prevented? Second, why was the hub not shut down after the Cole attack? The policy of allowing the hub to operate to map al-Qaeda was proved to be a failure by the Cole bombing, as no amount of intelligence was worth the lives of the dead sailors, so the people who ran the hub should have been arrested, as were some of the other Cole bombers in Yemen, like Fahad al-Quso.
When we started looking at the calls made by the Cole bombers, neither Paul nor I could believe they called this number, as we figured it would have got the plot shut down immediately, due to the heavy surveillance. Oh, how naïve we were. I just don’t get how what happened could have happened – neither the embassy bombings, nor the Cole, nor 9/11.
And here’s one last question: where is the NSA inspector general’s report on the Cole bombing? And its inspector general’s reports on the embassy bombings and 9/11?