Also read “Questions and Answers with Kevin Fenton,” Jon Gold’s interview of the author published July 12, 2011 at 911truthnews.com. – Ed.
July 22, 2011
by Kevin Fenton
In January 2000, several high-ranking al-Qaeda operatives, including alleged Flight 77 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, held a summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting was monitored by the CIA and a local Malaysian service, although the agency reportedly failed to exploit this opportunity to learn what bin Laden’s organization was planning. In addition, the CIA deliberately withheld information about the two men, in particular that Almihdhar had a US visa, from the FBI. The agency then allegedly suffered the misfortune of losing Almihdhar, Alhazmi and another al-Qaeda operative in Bangkok, Thailand. The surveillance of the Malaysia summit was run by Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, its chief Richard Blee and his deputy Tom Wilshire. On January 12 and 14 Blee gave his superior, Cofer Black, incorrect briefings about what was happening with the surveillance. Chapter 15 picks up the story on January 15.
I know nobody read that cable
After the CIA allegedly lost Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Khallad bin Attash in Bangkok, it asked the Thais to watchlist the three men, meaning that Almihdhar and Alhazmi’s departure from Thailand on January 15, 2000 should have been noted and passed to the local CIA station. From there it would have gone to headquarters. Since the two men were flying to the US, they could have been picked up on arrival, or any time later. As they ended up lodging with an FBI counterterrorism informant in San Diego, it could have been a straightforward matter for the Bureau to get close to them.1
For some reason that has not yet been determined, their departure from Thailand was not reported promptly by the CIA station in Bangkok. After a few weeks went by, a CIA officer in Malaysia noticed this lack of reporting and queried Bangkok about what had happened.2 According to the 9/11 Commission:
Presumably the departure information was obtained back in January, on the days that these individuals made their departures. Because the names were watchlisted by the Thai authorities we cannot yet explain the delay in reporting the news.3
The CIA station in Bangkok sat on this request for two weeks. Then it told the CIA station in Kuala Lumpur that there was a delay in responding due to difficulties in obtaining the requested information.4 However, it appears the station already had this information and, even if it did not, it could have simply asked the Thais, who had watchlisted the men at the CIA’s request.
There was a further problem when Bangkok station finally did send a cable reporting the departure information for the two men, on March 5. The cable omitted Almihdhar’s name, only saying that Alhazmi had traveled to the US with a companion, even though the cable was drafted in response to a query from Kuala Lumpur about Almihdhar’s whereabouts.
Most media accounts are wrong about this, claiming that the cable only reported Alhazmi’s departure, not that of a companion as well. However, the executive summary of the re-written CIA inspector general’s report is very clear on this point:
[Please read the full chapter here at 911truth.org in PDF format.]