Newly Released CIA Documents on 9/11

911-plane-wtc

J. M. Berger over at Intelwire.com has successfully FOIAed agency records relating to the 9/11 attacks. Scanning through, I don’t see any major revelations, but some of the documents are still interesting. Here are some of the more important excerpts I found and my comments:

“Sketch of a South Asia-Based Terrorist Training and Logistic Network”, December 1995

One Peshawar-based nongovernmental organization (NGO)—the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK), or Service Organization—appears to play a key role in facilitating the training and travel of Islamic extremists.

[excised]

World Trade Center and Manila-Based Plots. Many of the individuals convicted of bombing the World Trade Center in New York in 1993 were recruited through the al-Kifah center in Brooklyn—a branch of the MAK—according to press reports. The alleged mastermind of the plot, Ramzi Yousef, left Peshawar for New York six months before the bombing.

[…]

The MAK may be sponsoring one of the mujahidin units in Bosnia.

The MAK was the precursor to al Qaeda, with Osama bin Laden as one of its leaders. The “Blind Sheik” who was the spiritual head of the terrorist cell responsible for the 1993 WTC bombing was apparently a CIA asset, with CIA agents having approved his visa to enter the U.S. on at least six different occasions. It appears the agency may have been facilitating the mujahidin operations in Bosnia the same way the CIA operated alongside bin Laden’s organization in Peshawar during the Soviet-Afghan War. One of the individuals involved in the ’93 plot and was Ali Mohammed, who was also in the Army special forces, was an FBI informant, and was a CIA asset. The FBI knew of the plot in advance and had worked with another informant on a plan to replace an ingredient in the bomb so that it would not explode. But that sting operation was called off by a superior and the plot was allowed to go forward with a real bomb, which was blown up in the basement of the WTC.

“Bin Ladin Determined To Strik in US”, Presidential Daily Brief, August 6, 2001

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and “bring the fighting to America.”

After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a [--------------------------] service.

An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an [--------] service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative’s access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin’s first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.

Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

Although Bin Ladin has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Ladin associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

Al-Qa’ida members—including some who are US citizens—have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintain a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qa’ida members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our Embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [-----------------------------] service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Shayk” ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

This PDB was already declassified, but it’s always useful to review how the initial claims that they had no idea an attack was coming was a lie. Then they admitted they had warnings of an attack, but not within the U.S. Then they had to admit that was a lie, too, but claimed they didn’t know any information on the time or place. Of course, the WTC was perhaps the most obvious target imaginable.

“Terrorism: Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in the US [------]”, Senior Executive Intelligence Brief, August 7, 2001

p. 1

[----------------------------------------------------------------------------------] indicate Usama Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and “bring the fighting to America.”

 A SEIB repeating what Bush was told in the PDB.

“Terrorism: Discovery That 11 September 2001 Hijacker Mohamed Atta Did Not Travel to the Czech Republic on 31 May 2000”, August 12, 2001

[excised]

Subsequent investigation of the travel to the Czech Republic of terrorist Mohammed ((Atta)) revealed that the individual who attempted to enter the Czech Republic on 31 May 2000 at [-----------------] airport was not the Atta who attacked the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. [-------------------------------------------------------------------------] it was Pakistani national [excised]

Remember Dick Cheney’s claim that it had been “pretty well verified” that Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague? Yeah, well, that was a lie, too.

Re: Khalid Al-Mihdhar, August 21, 2001

[------------] as I was reviewing all the cables on Khalid Al-Mihdhar, I noticed he had a U.S. Visa in his passport. I asked INS to check and they just came back and said he entered the U.S. on 15 January 2000 and listed the Los Angeles [----------] as his destination. He departed the U.S. on 10 June 2000. I looked through traffic and could not find anything else.

I’ll be sending [------] to FBI to pass what we know of Khalid Al-Mihdhar and that he entered the U.S. on 15 January. Maybe there is something they can do—perhaps run his name by Ressam?

The CIA knew that al-Mihdhar, one of the 9/11 hijackers, was a member of al-Qaeda, knew he was involved in a terrorist plot, and knew he had a visa to enter the U.S. Yet a decision was made in the CIA not to follow proper procedures and notify the State Department, the Immigration department, and the FBI to put him on a watchlist to prevent him from entering the country or track him down if he made it in. No one in the CIA has been held accountable for this breach of protocol that otherwise could potentially have been the key to stopping the 9/11 attacks before they occurred.

DCI Update: Terrorist Threat Review: Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly, August 23, 2001

  • Islamic fundamentalist travels to US to learn to fly a 747 in Minnesota
  • Pays for training in cash
  • Interested to learn that 747 doors don’t open in flight
  • Wanted training on London-JFK flights
  • FBI arrested him based on the fact that he overstayed his 90 day visa

Again, despite all the lies to the contrary, the government had threat information that there was going to be an attack on U.S. soil, that it might involve hijackings, and that the WTC could potentially be a target.

DCI Report: The Rise of UBL and Al-Qa’ida And the Intelligence Community Response [----------], March 19, 2004

p. 43

Many of these steps contributed to our analysts’ warning during the summer of 2001 that Bin Ladin and al-Qa’ida were engaged in intensive operational planning and preparations against US interests. We documented the increased threat in current intelligence products such as the President’s Daily Brief (PDF) and the SEIB, citing plots in the Arabian Peninsula and Europe. Four current intelligence pieces particularly stand out.

  • On June 29, 2001, our analysts published a piece in the SEIB entitled “Terrorism: Bin Ladin Threats are Real” which concluded that recent indications of near-term attacks were not part of a disinformation campaign, but were consistent with other reporting and public statements by Bin Ladin.
  • A June 30 SEIB article entitled “Bin Ladin Plans High Profile Attacks,’ [------------------------------------------] al-Qa’ida operatives expected their next round of attacks to have dramatic consequences.
  • Another SEIB article, on July 25, noted that, although one Bin Ladin attack had been delayed for a few months, preparations for other, near-term attacks were still underway.
  • A SEIB article on August 7, 2001, “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US,” underscored Bin Ladin’s desire to conduct terrorist attacks in the US homeland. It noted that the Millenium plot to bomb the Los Angeles airport might have been Bin Ladin’s first serious attempt to strike in the United States. It pointed out that al-Qa’ida members—including some who are US citizens—have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks.

p. 44

By 1998, the IC knew that in Bin Ladin we were dealing with more than a “terrorist financier” and that in al-Qa’ida we were dealing with a sophisticated and determined global terrorist organization that represented a serious threat to the security of Americans at home and abroad.

Again, the Bush administration’s claims of ignorance were all lies. But check this out:

p. 52-53

The Kuala Lumpur Meeting

[----------] It was during the December 1999-January 2000 pre- and post-Millennium period that two of the September 11 hijackers—Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi—came across our screen, which has raised the question of how we were able to identify them but not uncover the plot they were part of. CIA, in fact, did some things on this case superbly while others revealed flaws in our approach that we subsequently addressed.

[----------] Turning first to how we were able to identify al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, [-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------] SIGINT from [----------------------------------------] about the travel of possible Bin Ladin operatives to Malaysia. As a consequence [----------------------------] surveillance [----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------] concerned that the suspects were traveling to Malaysia to support regional terrorist plans or operations.

[--------------] The results of these efforts meant that we knew Khalid al-Mihdhar’s true name by early January 2000 and Nawaf al-Hazmi’s by early March 2000. These two dates, respectively, were our first opportunities to watch list them. We had another opportunity to do so in December 2000, when we were able to link one of the Cole bombing suspects as a participant in the Kuala Lumpur meeting. In August 2001, as a result of increasing concern about an al Qa’ida attack in the US, we reviewed our holdings and on August 23, 2001, sent [------] to the Department of State, FBI, INS, and other US Government agencies requesting that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar be entered into [-----------------] TIPOFF [--------------------------------------------------------------] be watch listed immediately and denied entry into the US.

[----------] The fact that we did not recommend either of them for watch listing in March or December 2000 is not attributable to a single point failure. Rather, it demonstrated that a whole new system was needed, not just a fix at a single point.

Notice how this CIA document attempts to blame the failure to notify other agencies of al-Mihdhar’s intention to enter the U.S. on the “system” rather than “a single point failure”. In other words, the “system” didn’t work, and no individual was responsible. Bullshit. Somebody made the decision not to follow protocol that allowed the 9/11 plot to move forward, whereas had the CIA notified other agencies, it could potentially have led to the unraveling of the whole plot and prevented the attacks from ever taking place.

p. 63-64

Continued Warning

[---------] The leadership of the Agency repeatedly warned the policy community in the Executive Branch and the Congress of the seriousness of the threat.

  • During the Millennium threat in late 1999, we told the President to expect between 5 to 15 terrorist attacks against American interests both here and overseas.
  • In spring and summer of 2001, we sought every opportunity to vehemently express our concern about the high level of threat, and we launched the massive program of disruption described above.
  • We placed the Bin Ladin threat prominently in every single annual testimony to the appropriate Congressional Committees on the Worldwide Threat since 1998. In the 1999 testimony, for example, the DCI stated that, “There is not the slightest doubt that Bin Ladin is planning attacks against us. He will strike anywhere in the world he thinks we are vulnerable…and I must tell you we are concerned [these strikes] can occur at any time.” We also warned about the growing likelihood of an unconventional CBRN attack in the United States homeland and elsewhere.
  • [----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------] threat from al-Qai’da was “an immediate and pressing concern.” And that, “Despite [our] successes, there are limits to what we can do. We will generally not have specific time and place warning of terrorist attacks…The result…is that I consider it likely that over the next year or so that there will be an attempted terrorist attack against US interests.”

Known al-Qaeda operatives entering the U.S. Threat of attack on U.S. soil. Involving hijackings. WTC as potential target.  This was all pretty specific threat information.

  • Pat Henry

    Folks honestly, this website is giving you credible news
    and views. If you like some of what you see forward to your
    friends, dead and alive to awake them to the coming storms.

    Today there will be a recall in our country, because one side lost
    the game of sandbox. We are threading in very dangerous waters,
    in the geo-political world.

    Its time to get off the couch, or the fence, and start to educated your friends and family.

  • http://www.investigatingtheterror.com/ TomS

    A really good article, except for repeating this old and utterly wrong story about the FBI being involved in the 1993 WTC bombing. Emad Salem was sacked in August 1992 – 6 months before the bombing. He did NOT build the bomb that was used. There was no sting operation prior to the February 1993 WTC bombing.

    The tapes that are widely distributed as proof that ‘the FBI bombed the World Trade Center’ are from AFTER the 1993 bombing, when Salem was re-hired by the FBI. He was tasked with stinging/entrapping the Blind Sheikh and others in what became known as the New York Landmarks plot or the Day of Terror plot. The conversations about fake explosives etc. all relate to a period AFTER the 1993 bombing.

    Be wary, there are lots of ‘independent’ media outlets spreading this untrue story, either out of ignorance or because they just don’t care about the truth. The CIA was a lot closer to the 1993 bombing than the FBI ever was, via Ali Mohamed, the Blind Sheikh and possibly Ramzi Yousef (the actual bomber). But this gets lost behind this utterly untrue story about the FBI and Emad Salem…

    • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com Jeremy R. Hammond

      New York Times

      Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast

      By RALPH BLUMENTHAL
      October 28, 1993

      Law-enforcement officials were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer said after the blast.

      The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer said.

      The account, which is given in the transcript of hundreds of hours of tape recordings Mr. Salem secretly made of his talks with law-enforcement agents, portrays the authorities as in a far better position than previously known to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York City’s tallest towers. The explosion left six people dead, more than 1,000 injured and damages in excess of half a billion dollars. Four men are now on trial in Manhattan Federal Court in that attack.

      Mr. Salem, a 43-year-old former Egyptian army officer, was used by the Government to penetrate a circle of Muslim extremists now charged in two bombing cases: the World Trade Center attack and a foiled plot to destroy the United Nations, the Hudson River tunnels and other New York City landmarks. He is the crucial witness in the second bombing case, but his work for the Government was erratic, and for months before the trade center blast, he was feuding with the F.B.I. Supervisor ‘Messed It Up’

      After the bombing, he resumed his undercover work. In an undated transcript of a conversation from that period, Mr. Salem recounts a talk he had had earlier with an agent about an unnamed F.B.I. supervisor who, he said, “came and messed it up.”

      “He requested to meet me in the hotel,” Mr. Salem says of the supervisor. “He requested to make me to testify and if he didn’t push for that, we’ll be going building the bomb with a phony powder and grabbing the people who was involved in it. But since you, we didn’t do that.”

      The transcript quotes Mr. Salem as saying that he wanted to complain to F.B.I. headquarters in Washington about the bureau’s failure to stop the bombing, but was dissuaded by an agent identified as John Anticev.

      “He said, I don’t think that the New York people would like the things out of the New York office to go to Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Salem said Mr. Anticev had told him.

      Another agent, identified as Nancy Floyd, does not dispute Mr. Salem’s account, but rather, appears to agree with it, saying of the New York people: “Well, of course not, because they don’t want to get their butts chewed.”

      Mary Jo White, who, as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York is prosecuting defendants in two related bombing cases, declined yesterday to comment on the Salem allegations or any other aspect of the cases. An investigator close to the case who refused to be identified further said, “We wish he would have saved the world,” but called Mr. Salem’s claims “figments of his imagination.”

      The transcripts, which are stamped “draft” and compiled from 70 tapes recorded secretly during the last two years by Mr. Salem, were turned over to defense lawyers in the second bombing case by the Government on Tuesday under a judge’s order barring lawyers from disseminating them. A large portion of the material was made available to The New York Times.

      In a letter to Federal Judge Michael B. Mukasey, Andrew C. McCarthy, an assistant United States attorney, said that he had learned of the tapes while debriefing Mr. Salem and that the informer had then voluntarily turned them over. Other Salem tapes and transcripts were being withheld pending Government review, of “security and other issues,” Mr. McCarthy said.

      William M. Kunstler, a defense lawyer in the case, accused the Government this week of improper delay in handing over all the material. The transcripts he had seen, he said, “were filled with all sorts of Government misconduct.” But citing the judge’s order, he said he could not provide any details.

      The transcripts do not make clear the extent to which Federal authorities knew that there was a plan to bomb the World Trade Center, merely that they knew that a bombing of some sort was being discussed. But Mr. Salem’s evident anguish at not being able to thwart the trade center blast is a recurrent theme in the transcripts. In one of the first numbered tapes, Mr. Salem is quoted as telling agent Floyd: “Since the bomb went off I feel terrible. I feel bad. I feel here is people who don’t listen.”

      Ms. Floyd seems to commiserate, saying, “hey, I mean it wasn’t like you didn’t try and I didn’t try.”

      In an apparent reference to Mr. Salem’s complaints about the supervisor, Agent Floyd adds, “You can’t force people to do the right thing.”

      The investigator involved in the case who would not be quoted by name said that Mr. Salem may have been led to believe by the agents that they were blameless for any mistakes. It was a classic agent’s tactic, he said, to “blame the boss for all that’s bad and take credit for all the good things.”

      In another point in the transcripts, Mr. Salem recounts a conversation he said he had with Mr. Anticev, saying, “I said, ‘Guys, now you saw this bomb went off and you both know that we could avoid that.’ ” At another point, Mr. Salem says, “You get paid, guys, to prevent problems like this from happening.”

      Mr. Salem talks of the plan to substitute harmless powder for explosives during another conversation with agent Floyd. In that conversation, he recalls a previous discussion with Mr. Anticev.

      “Do you deny,” Mr. Salem says he told the other agent, “your supervisor is the main reason of bombing the World Trade Center?” Mr. Salem said Mr. Anticev did not deny it. “We was handling the case perfectly well until the supervisor came and messed it up, upside down.”

      The transcripts reflect an effort to keep Mr. Salem as an intelligence asset who would not have to go public or testify.

      A police detective working with the F.B.I., Louis Napoli, assures Mr. Salem in one conversation, “We can give you total immunity towards prosecution, towards, ah, ah, testifying.” But he adds: “I still have to tell you that if you’re the only game in town in regards to the information,” then, he says, “you’ll have to testify.”

    • Terry S

      Tom S please take your cointelpro BS elsewere!

      • Pat Henry

        I like that the Cointelpro…
        That gang is a whole nother story. But you have to remember
        the FBI closes 90% of the cases or better on flips and entrapment. That is for the domestic consumption.

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