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August 21, 2011

The NSA & 9/11: Failure to Exploit the US-Yemen Hub & Beyond: Just one of the Legacies of 9/11

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 2:21 pm
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This article was originally posted at Boiling Frogs Post:

Two of the terrorist hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, communicated while they were in the United States to other members of al Qaeda who were overseas. But we didn’t know they were here, until it was too late.

The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after September the 11th helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities. The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time.

-President Bush, December 17, 2005

In the aftermath of 9/11, reams of newsprint were given over to discussing the CIA and FBI failures before the attacks; the agency had some of the hijackers under surveillance and allegedly lost them, the bureau was unable even to inform its own acting director of the Zacarias Moussaoui case. However, the USA’s largest and most powerful intelligence agency, the National Security Agency, got a free ride. There was no outcry over its failings, no embarrassing Congressional hearings for its director. Yet, as we will see, the NSA’s performance before 9/11 was shocking.

It is unclear when the NSA first intercepted a call by one of the nineteen hijackers. Reporting indicates it began listening in on telephone calls to the home of Pentagon hijacker Khalid Almihdhar’s wife some time around late 1996. However, although Almihdhar certainly did stay there later, it is unclear whether he lived there at that time. The house, in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, was a key target for the US intelligence community as it was Osama bin Laden’s communication hub, run by Almihdhar’s father-in-law Ahmed al-Hada.

Carry on reading here.

August 12, 2011

Disconnecting the Dots: How 9/11 Was Allowed to Happen — Chapter 15

This was originally published at 911truth.org – Kevin.

Respected longtime 9/11 researcher and author Kevin Fenton has graciously allowed 911truth.org to publish Chapter 15 of his book recently released by Trine Day Publishing, Disconnecting the Dots: How 9/11 Was Allowed to Happen: .

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

Introduction to Chapter 15 of Disconnecting the Dots, for publication at 911Truth.org:

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.

Chapter 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.]

July 20, 2010

Thomas Pickard and Dale Watson: What Did They Know about Malaysia and When Did They Know It?

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 11:46 am
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For some time we have known that the CIA passed on to the FBI general information about al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit, which was attended by 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, as well as other al-Qaeda leaders, in January 2000. However, with the exception of FBI Director Louis Freeh and the two lower-level officials identified only as “Bob” and “Ted” in the Justice Department inspector general’s report into the bureau’s performance before 9/11, we did not know who at the FBI learned of it.

Now, thanks to a letter from senior FBI official Thomas Pickard that 9/11 researcher Erik Larson found in the National Archives, we can add two names to the list. Unsurprisingly, they are Pickard himself, at the time of the Malaysia summit deputy director, but acting director in the summer of 2001, and Dale Watson, head of the counterterrorism at the FBI from 1999 to 2001.

Pickard’s letter, which deals primarily with Attorney General John Ashcroft’s lack of interest in terrorism at a meeting with Pickard on 12 July 2001, is extremely surprising. It has this to say about Malaysia: “I had not told the AG [Ashcroft] about the meeting in Malaysia since I was told by FBI Assistant Director Dale Watson that there was a ‘close hold’ on that info. This means that it was not to be shared with anyone without the explicit approval of the CIA. I then strongly suggested that the AG meet with [CIA Director] George Tenet to get a full briefing on the matter.”

Although the FBI was told of the meeting’s occurrence in January 2000, the CIA withheld from it key details, such as the fact that Almihdhar had a US visa, meaning that the summit appeared substantially less significant to the bureau than it really was. Indeed, although we now fully appreciate the summit as a unique meeting of al-Qaeda leaders, the CIA subsequently claimed that before 9/11 it did not grasp the full import of the summit, at which 9/11 and the USS Cole bombing in Yemen were evidently discussed.

The first two questions we need to ask are simple: What did Pickard and Watson know about the summit and when did they know it? Did they learn of it in January 2000, or later?

We know now that the CIA, in addition to deliberately withholding information about the summit at the time, continued to withhold it when Ali Soufan, the bureau’s case agent on the Cole bombing investigation, deduced that there had been an al-Qaeda meeting in Southeast Asia in January 2000 that was linked to the Cole bombing. He sent three requests to the CIA for information it might have, but the agency repeatedly claimed it knew nothing. The letter makes it clear that, in addition to the CIA, both Pickard and Watson had some of the information about Malaysia that Soufan was seeking. However, they withheld it from Soufan, evidently on the CIA’s instructions. Had Soufan been given the information he requested, his investigation would have led to Almihdhar and Alhazmi, who could have been detained and/or deported, derailing the 9/11 plot. Therefore, we need to ask what Watson and Pickard did to get the information to Soufan. One would certainly expect them to move heaven and earth to assist such an important investigation. By withholding the information in effect they sabotaged one of the bureau’s most important cases.

Finally, we need to know why Pickard thought the Malaysia summit was important in the summer of 2001. Based on the little information he is known to have had about the meeting, he may well have linked it to the Cole bombing, as it came just after a previous failed ship-bombing attempt in Yemen. But why would he link it to the threat reporting in the summer of 2001?

March 19, 2010

The Secret Coded Indicator in 9/11 Hijackers’ Passports: ‘Holy Capital’?

The “secret coded indicator” of “terrorist affiliation” placed in some of the 9/11 hijackers’ passports by Saudi authorities appears to have been a special reference to the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca. Islam’s holiest city is sometimes known as “Holy Capital,” a term used to describe the passports of two of the hijackers containing the indicator in 9/11 Commission documents found at the National Archives by History Commons contributor Erik Larson.


March 18, 2010

Bizarre Misinfo: 9/11 Happened Because Shakir Was Gay

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 2:50 am
Tags: , , , ,

The CIA withheld information about al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit from the FBI because one of the peripheral attendees, Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, was gay and the CIA used this as leverage in a failed attempt to recruit him, according to a new story in the New York Observer.


February 28, 2010

9/11 Commission Documents about the US Consulate in Jeddah (updated 13 April 2010)

This post lists all the documents we are finding in the 9/11 Commission’s archives about the US Consulate in Jeddah, at which numerous visas were issued to the 9/11 hijackers.The documents have been posted at the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd. I am reading through the commission’s documents gradually and highlighting interesting information. This post will be updated if I find any more information related to the consulate.


December 4, 2009

NSA Drafted ‘Retrospective’ on 9/11 Failings after Attacks

The National Security Agency drafted a “9/11 Retrospective” following the 2001 attacks, according to a document recently released by the National Archives.

Although an unclassified version of the Justice Department inspector general’s report into the FBI’s performance before 9/11 was published in full in 2006 and the executive summary of a parallel report by the CIA inspector general was released in 2007, this is the first known mention of any NSA review about its failings before the attacks.


October 8, 2009

Moussaoui Trial Testimony Published

Thanks to the efforts of one of the people who comments on here, Noise, we have been able to obtain the testimony of Erik Rigler at the Zacarias Moussaoui trial. Rigler was a summary witness who described to the jury a chapter of the Justice Department’s inspector general’s report into the FBI’s pre-9/11 failings. The testimony concerned chapter 5 in the report, which detailed the problems with the 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi.

The testimony was split over two days; you can find the first day here, and the second day here.

Some of the Moussaoui trial transcripts have been published around the web, mostly by Cryptome, but a lot of it is still missing, so we are happy to get this.

Those who are familiar with the issues here will not learn much new from the testimony, as it is only a summary of a chapter in a report that has been available to the public for a couple of years now. However, those who are not familiar with the issues might find it a good introduction.

Having said that, what I found most interesting was that Rigler did not summarise the declassified version of the report, but the classified version, which contains some really key points that don’t appear in the unclassified version (and is still unavailable, so you are getting a peek at what you are not supposed to know). These three points concern the badness of Tom Wilshire, the badness of Rodney Middleton and the badness of Dina Corsi (note: last two entries to be published soon).

August 22, 2009

FBI Document Shows Cole Bombers Called Yemen Hub

One of the more interesting things I have found going through the 9/11 Commission files is this extract, taken from an FBI summary of its investigation into the 9/11 attacks:

UBL can be directly connected to the attack on the USS Cole in October 12, 2000 (ADENBOM 265A-NY-277013). The 200578 telephone number which was originally identified as significant through the KENBOM/TANBOM investigation was also used during the planning of the attack on USS Cole. FBI investigators have learned the 200578 telephone number is subscribed to by AHMED AL-HADDA, whose daughter is married to KHALID AL-MIHDHAR (Flight 77). The ADENBOM investigation has also linked ALMIHDHAR to both NAWAF AL-HAZMI (Flight 77) and KHALLAD, now identified as TAWFIQ MOHAMED BIN SALEH BIN ROSHAYED BIN ATTASH.


January 28, 2009

Tenet Misled Congressional Inquiry about NSA Surveillance of Hijackers

A recently released document shows that CIA Director George Tenet misled the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry about the intelligence community’s knowledge of the 9/11 hijackers. He claimed that a 1999 communications intercept of a conversation between one of the hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar, and al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash only showed an “indirect link” between al-Qaeda, Almihdhar and fellow hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi, who was mentioned in the conversation.


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