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Abu Zubaydah: needed a serious revision required in the official account of 9/11


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Abu Zubaydah Poses a Real Threat to al Qaeda

Posted on October 15, 2012

By Kevin Ryan

Abu Zubaydah, a man once called al-Qaeda’s “chief of operations” appears to be at the center of an unraveling of the official myth behind al Qaeda. After his capture in early 2002, Zubaydah was the first “detainee” known to be tortured. The information allegedly obtained from his torture played a large part in the creation of the official account of 9/11 and in the justification for the continued use of such torture techniques. Yet in September, 2009, the U.S. government admitted that Zubaydah was never a member or associate of al Qaeda at all. These facts raise an alarming number of questions about the veracity of our knowledge about al Qaeda, and the true identity of the people who are said to be behind the 9/11 attacks.

abuzubaydah1.jpg?w=129&h=150Unlike other alleged al Qaeda leaders, including Khlaid Sheik Mohammed and Rasmi bin Alshibh, Zubaydah has never been charged with a crime. As these other leading suspects await their continually-postponed military trial, Zubaydah is instead being airbrushed out of history. Why would the U.S. government want us to forget Zubaydah, the first and most important al Qaeda operative captured after 9/11?

The 9/11 Commission called Zubaydah an “Al Qaeda associate,” a “long-time ally of Bin Ladin,” a “Bin Ladin lieutenant,” and an “al Qaeda lieutenant.”[1] The Commission’s claims were somewhat contradictory in that Zubaydah was, in the Commission’s report, represented as both an al Qaeda leader and simply a terrorist colleague who collaborated in the training and recruiting of operatives. For example, the Commission reported that Zubaydah “helped operate a popular terrorist training camp near the border with Pakistan” [Khalden Camp], and that Bin Laden had an agreement with Zubaydah to “conduct reciprocal recruiting efforts whereby promising trainees at the camps would be invited to join al Qaeda.” It was unclear why a “Bin Laden lieutenant” would need such a reciprocal agreement with Bin Laden.

Other claims made by the 9/11 Commission were that “KSM and Zubaydah each played key roles in facilitating travel for al Qaeda operatives,” and that “Zubaydah had been a major figure in the millenium plots.” These claims are supported primarily by the torture testimony of Zubaydah and others, and by Zubaydah’s “diary.”

In an amazing turnabout in 2009, an attorney for Zubaydah wrote in The Guardian that the majority of the accusations against Zubaydah were understood by all parties to be false. In fact, he wrote, they “were known to be false when uttered.“[2] Attorney Brent Mickum said that his client, said to be the “number three man in al Qaeda,” was never a member or associate of al Qaeda and that — “These facts really are no longer contested: [Zubaydah] was not, and never had been, a member of either the Taliban or al-Qaida. The CIA determined this after torturing him extensively.” In fact, he “was never a member or a supporter of any armed forces that were allied against the United States,” and he was never the “head of a military camp that trained terrorists. That allegation is false at all levels.”

It turns out that Mickum’s report was correct and that “Abu Zubaydah’s supposed relationship with al-Qaida is a complete myth.”[3]

We know this because, as of September 2009, the U.S. government agreed that Zubaydah was never an al Qaeda operative. During Zubaydah’s habeas corpus petition, the government admitted that Abu Zubaydah had never been a member of al-Qaeda, nor involved in the attacks on the African embassies in 1998, or the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.[4] The motion, filed by the U.S. government, states:

…the Government has not contended in this proceeding that Petitioner [Zubaydah] was a member of al-Qaida or otherwise formally identified with al-Qaida.

Respondent [The United States Government] does not contend that Petitioner was a “member” of al-Qaida in the sense of having sworn a bayat (allegiance) or having otherwise satisfied any formal criteria that either Petitioner or al-Qaida may have considered necessary for inclusion in al-Qaida. Nor is the Government detaining Petitioner based on any allegation that Petitioner views himself as part of al-Qaida as a matter of subjective personal conscience, ideology, or worldview.

The Government has not contended in this proceeding that Petitioner had any direct role in or advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

… the Government has not contended that Petitioner had any personal involvement in planning or executing either the 1998 embassy bombings… or the attacks on September 11, 2001.

In his article that same year, attorney Mickum went on to point out that the torture tapes, which the CIA had first lied to the 9/11 Commission about and then destroyed, had a lot to do with Zubaydah. Mickum wrote: “the videotapes of his torture were destroyed. Just recently, the government revealed that 90 of the 92 videotapes that the CIA destroyed related to our client.” Not only that, Mickum went on to say that the U.S. government has removed all “reference to my client from the charge sheets and factual returns of other prisoners whose cases were being prosecuted. Abu Zubaydah has been linked to nearly 50 prisoners and former prisoners through media accounts and official Guantanamo Bay documents. Of these, approximately two dozen have either had their charges dropped or have been released from custody.” They have, essentially, “airbrushed Abu Zubaydah out of history.”

Obviously this attempt to remove a key 9/11 accomplice from history must make a significant difference to the official account of 9/11. We would expect that major revisions to the 9/11 Commission Report would be necessary given the knowledge that the man never had a connection to al Qaeda.

In order to better understand just how much Zubaydah meant as a primary source for the official account of 9/11, we must review the extensive claims made about Zubaydah by the U.S. government and mainstream media over the years. We’ve seen that the 9/11 Commission (falsely) called Zubaydah an “al Qaeda lieutenant.” The Joint Congressional inquiry did the same, calling him “al-Qa’ida leader Abu Zubaydah,” and the “Bin Ladin lieutenant captured in March 2002.” As late as 2006, the Justice Department’s Inspector General report on the 9/11 attacks called Zubaydah a “Bin Laden lieutenant.”

When Zubaydah was captured, in March 2002, U.S. government officials touted him as the biggest catch of the War on Terror, at least until the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM). FBI Director Robert Mueller stated that Zubaydah’s capture would help deter future attacks.[5] White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that Zubaydah could provide a treasure-trove of information about al-Qaeda.[6] Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed that Zubaydah was “a man who knows of additional attacks”, who has “trained people to do this”, and was a big fish who had a fountain of knowledge.[7]

The extensive allegations against Zubaydah went on and on, and included that he was:

  • along with KSM, one of “Al Qaeda’s top operational managers” – “Counterterrorism Czar”Richard Clarke, in his book Against All Enemies
  • “sinister” and “there is evidence that he is a planner and a manager as well. I think he’s a major player.” – Former State Department director of counter-terrorism, Michael Sheehan [8]
  • “extremely dangerous” and a planner of 9/11. – State Department legal advisor John B. Bellinger III in a June 2007 briefing.[9]
  • a trainer, a recruiter, understood bomb-making, was a forger, a logistician, and someone who made things happen, and made “al-Qaeda function.” – Former CIA station chief, Bob Grenier [10]
  • “a close associate of UBL’s, and if not the number two, very close to the number two person in the organization. I think that’s well established.” -Donald Rumsfeld [11]
  • “a very senior al Qaeda official who has been intimately involved in a range of activities for the al Qaeda.” – Donald Rumsfeld [12]
  • a “very senior al Qaeda operative.” – Donald Rumsfeld
  • a “key terrorist recruiter and operational planner and member of Osama bin Laden’s inner circle.” – White House spokesman Ari Fleischer [13]
  • someone whose capture was a “very serious blow” to al-Qaeda and therefore one of al-Qaeda’s “many tentacles” was “cut off.” – White House spokesman Ari Fleischer
  • “one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.” –President George W. Bush [14]
  • “one of al-Qaeda’s top leaders” who was “spending a lot of time as one of the top operating officials of al Qaeda, plotting and planning murder.” –President George W. Bush [15]
  • “al Qaeda’s chief of operations.” – President George W. Bush [16]
  • “one of the top three leaders” in al-Qaeda. – President George W. Bush [17]
  • someone whose interrogation “led to reliable information”, a “prolific producer” of information, with whom originated roughly 25 percent of the information on al Qaeda that came from human sources. – Michael Hayden [18]
  • one of three individuals “best positioned to know about impending terrorist atrocities.” – Michael Hayden [19]

As the myth of Zubaydah grew, it was reported that he was –

  • “worth a ton of guys at Gitmo.”[20]
  • a “senior bin Laden official” and the “former head of Egypt-based Islamic Jihad.”[21]
  • “played a key role in the East Africa embassy attacks.”[22]
  • listed as a “trusted aide” to bin Laden with “growing power.”[23]
  • in control of al-Qaeda.[24]
  • an aide of bin Laden who ran training camps in Afghanistan and “coordinated terror cells in Europe and North America.”[25]
  • a “key terrorist recruiter, operational planner, and member of Osama Bin Laden’s inner circle.”[26]
  • “bin Laden’s CEO”,[27] and “a central figure in Al Qaeda”[28]
  • Bin Laden’s “travel planner.”[29]
  • “one of a handful of men entrusted with running the terrorism network in the event of Osama bin Laden’s death or capture.”[30]
  • a senior bin Laden lieutenant who was believed “to be organizing al Qaida resources to carry out attacks on American targets.”[31]
  • the fourth ranking member of al Qaeda behind Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Muhamed Atef.[32]
  • someone who knew the identities of “thousands” of terrorists that passed through al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan [33]
  • a colleague of Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber.[34]
  • one of bin Laden’s top planners of terrorist operations who knew of al Qaeda plots and cells.[35]
  • the “connection between bin Laden and many of al-Qaida’s operational cells.”[36]
  • the source of information that UAL Flight 93 was intended to hit the White House.[37]

Because we now know that Zubayda was never an al Qaeda operative, or even an al Qaeda associate, we are forced into the stunning realization that all of this was false. The questions that should arise from that realization include: How much of what we know about al Qaeda, and how much of the War on Terror, was built on the torture testimony of a man who clearly could not have known anything about al Qaeda at all?

Originally, we were told that it was Zubaydha who first identified KSM as the Bin Laden associate called “Mukhtar.” This was according to Ali Soufan, the FBI official who first interrogated him at a secret CIA site in Thailand. Soufan also claimed that Zubaydah said KSM was the “mastermind” behind the 9/11 attacks. In his 2007 book, CIA director Tenet went further, claiming that “interrogating Abu Zubaydah led to Ramsi bin al Shibh.”[38]

But as we know now, the CIA reportedly told Abu Zubaydah during his interrogation that they discovered he was not an al-Qaeda fighter, partner, or even a member.[39] Still, KSM and Bin Alshibh were caught and tortured too.

The 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on third-hand accounts of what these tortured detainees said, with “two of the three parties in the communication being government employees.”[40] The Commission itself wrote that “Chapters 5 and 7 rely heavily on information obtained from captured al Qaeda members.”[41] The truth is, however, that more than half of the 9/11 Commission Report is based on completely unreliable torture testimony to which the Commission had absolutely no access – not even through interviews with the interrogators. KSM’s torture is referred to 221 times in the report, and that of Bin Alshibh is referred to 73 times. The Commission used one or more of these “interrogations” as its source a total of 441 times in its report footnotes.

The U.S. government admits that Zubaydah was water-boarded 83 times and KSM was water-boarded 183 times. Given that most people cannot stand a few seconds of this torture, it is apparent that these sessions were not meant to gain information and were, perhaps, meant to eliminate information through the destruction of the victim’s mind. Through the brief statements his defense team has been allowed to make, Zubaydah has also described how he was kept for long periods in a cage he called “a tiny coffin.”[42]

The torture of Zubaydah was specifically used to support claims about Bin Laden’s plans and actions, al Qaeda’s policies, the recruitment of the hijackers and other al Qaeda operatives, and details about the leaders who planned 9/11.[43] According to author Jane Meyer, CIA agent John Kiriakou said “Zubaydah openly admitted his role in the September 11 attacks and claimed to regret having killed so many Americans.”[44] Apparently, the 9/11 Commission didn’t think this latter claim to be credible although it promoted other dubious information supposedly generated by the torture of these suspects.

Given the apparent “mistakes” related to Zubaydah being represented as an al Qaeda leader, there appears to be some serious revision required in the official account of 9/11. However, realistically, at this late date the information attributed to Zubaydah cannot likely be untangled from the official myth behind the War on Terror and the associated actions of the U.S. government. That’s because the torture of Zubaydah was used in support of unprecedented policy changes and actions.

  • President Bush personally used the perceived value of Zubaydah’s capture and torture to justify the use of the CIA’s torture techniques as well as the detention of suspects in secret CIA prisons around the world.[45]

  • The U.S. government used the questionable intelligence obtained from Zubaydah in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. Officials stated that the allegations that Iraq and al-Qaeda were linked through training people on the use of chemical weapons came from Zubaydah. There was no independent verification of these claims.[46]

  • Zubaydah’s torture testimony was also used to justify the use of military tribunals, moving the trial of alleged al Qaeda suspects out of the open civil courts. President Bush asked Congress in a speech in September 2006 to formulate special rules in order to try Abu Zubaydah via military commission in Guantanamo Bay.[47] In fact, in late April 2002 less than one month after Abu Zubaydah’s capture, Justice Department officials stated Abu Zubaydah “is a near-ideal candidate for a tribunal trial.”[48] Ironically, Zubaydah may be the only leading suspect to never face trial.

  • In addition to justifying the use of illegal torture techniques, the Bush administration used Zubaydah’s capture as justification to accelerate its domestic spying program. The claim was that it would allow quick action on the phone numbers and addresses seized during Zubaydah’s capture.[49]

A second member of Abu Zubayda’s defense team recently wrote another article that was published in the mainstream media. In this article, attorney Amanda Jacobsen points out that:

“U.S. officials have said that Abu Zubaida was a senior al-Qaeda terrorist. They claimed that he was the ‘No. 3 man’ in al-Qaeda, its chief of operations, who worked directly with Osama bin Laden. They said that he was personally involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and every other major al-Qaeda operation and knew the details of future attack plans.

But all of these assertions were wrong.”[50]

Now that the US government has admitted that it has no case against Abu Zubaydah and that he was never associated with al Qaeda, will they release him? As attorney Mickum requested, will his client be allowed to tell his own story? More importantly, will the official accounts of 9/11 be reviewed to extricate claims allegedly made by and about Zubayda so that those false claims do not to provide additional false direction in War on Terror?

No, almost certainly not.

As with the court order to classify “any statements made by the accused” in the trials of KSM and other suspects,[51] if this man is allowed to speak we may find that his mind has not been completely obliterated through the torture we inflicted upon him. And we may find that the official myth of 9/11 and al Qaeda will not hold up against the open and un-tortured testimony of the people alleged to have committed the crimes of 9/11. In the end, it seems that the Zubaydah case is a threat to al Qaeda itself as well as a public admission that some lies must be kept under wraps in order to maintain the overall deception that supports the War on Terror.

[1] National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report, www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf

[2] Brent Mickum, The truth about Abu Zubaydah, The Guardian, March 30, 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/mar/30/guantanamo-abu-zubaydah-torture

[3] Brent Mickum, The truth about Abu Zubaydah

[4] Zayn al Abidin Muhammad Husayn v. Robert Gates, Respondents Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Opposition to Petitioner’s Motion for Discover and Petitioner’s Motion for Sanctions. Civil Action No. 08-cv-1360 (RWR), September 2009.

[5] NEWS SUMMARY: Arrest May Deter Attacks. New York Times, April 4, 2002

[6] World: United States Western Mail, April 3, 2002

[7] Donald Rumsfeld News Transcript, Department of Defense, April 3, 2002

[8] Report: Insider May Testify On Zubaydah April 2, 2002, Highbeam News Database

[9] United States Helsinki Commission Briefing Transcript Political/Congressional Transcript Wire, June 22, 2007

[10] Transcript of Video News Story on Guantanamo Bay with Kelli Arena Reporting CNN, September 24, 2006

[11] Department of Defense News Briefing April 2, 2002

[12] Gerry Gilmore, Rumsfeld Confirms Capture of Senior Al Qaeda Leader Department of Defense, April 2, 2002

[13] Profile: Abu Zubaydah BBC News, April 2, 2002

[14] Remarks by the President at Connecticut Republican Committee Luncheon White House website, April 9, 2002

[15] George W. Bush’s Remarks at the Virginia Military Institute, April 17, 2002

[16] George W. Bush (June 6, 2002). “Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation,” The White House, http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020606-8.html

[17] George W. Bush, Remarks by the President at Thaddeus McCotter for Congress Dinner, White House website, October 14, 2002

[18] Jeff Bliss and Tony Capaccio, Iraq Group May Attack Outside Nation, McConnell Says Bloomberg.com, February 5, 2008, and Richard Esposito and Jason Ryan, CIA Chief: “We Waterboarded”. ABC News, February 5, 2008

[19] Philip Shenon, MIDEAST TURMOIL: INTELLIGENCE; Officials Say Qaeda Suspect Has Given Useful Information, New York Times, April 26, 2002

[20] Terrorism Notebook, More attacks have been prevented, officials say, The Seattle Times, January 11, 2003

[21] David A. Vise and Lorraine Adams, Bin Laden Weakened, Officials Say The Washington Post. March 11, 2000

[22] Ibid

[23] Ibid

[24] Massimo Calabresi and Romesh Ratnesar, Can we stop the next attack? CNN News, March 4, 2002

[25] Ibid

[26] Who’s Who in al-Qaeda? BBC News

[27] Nick Schou, One Degree of Separation, Orange County Weekly, October 11, 2001

[28] Marlise Simons, A NATION CHALLENGED: FRANCE; Ninth Man Held in Suspected Plot Against Paris Embassy, New York Times, October 4, 2001

[29] Bin Laden Videos Suggest Location, The Cincinnati Post, December 5,

[30] Philip Shenon A NATION CHALLENGED: BALKAN TRAIL; U.S. Labels an Arab Captive a Planner of Qaeda Attacks. New York Times, January 23, 2002

[31] Global Impact News Alert. U.S. Seeks New Head of Al Qaida Anti-American Operations, United Press International, February 15, 2002

[32] Ibid

[33] Ibid

[34] Profile: Abu Zubaydah BBC News, April 2, 2002

[35] Bank Terror Attack Fear; Warning issued after interview, Birmingham Evening Mail, April 20, 2002

[36] John J. Lumpkin, Al-Qaida Captive Talks Of Terror, AP News, April 24, 2002

[37] Bush Faces Dissent on European Trip, CNN News Transcripts, May 23, 2002, and Bush: ‘No war plans on my desk’ for Iraq, CNN.com, May 23, 2002

[38] George Tenet, At the Center of the Storm: The CIA During America’s Time of Crisis, Harper Perennial, 2007

[39] Peter Finn and Julie Tate, CIA Says It Misjudged Role of High-Value Detainee Abu Zubaida, Transcript Shows, The Washington Post, June 16, 2009

[40] George Washington, The Reason for the Cover-up Goes Right to the White House, Washington’s Blog, March 18, 2010, http://georgewashington2.blogspot.com/2010/03/did-government-warn-911-commission.html

[41] 9/11 Commission Report, page 146

[42] Jane Meyer, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, First Anchor Books, May 2009

[43] The 9/11 Commission Report sourced eleven of its claims to the torture of Zubaydah: footnotes 18, 43 and 75 in chapter 2, footnotes 19, 31, 35 and 106 in chapter 5, footnotes 8 and 125 in chapter 6, and footnotes 90 and 108 in chapter 7.

[44] Jane Meyer, The Dark Side

[45] George W. Bush, Speech in September 2006, and Bush Concedes CIA Held Suspects in Secret Prisons, NPR, September 6, 2006

[46] Ron Hutcheson and James Kuhnhenn, Iraq deal with Congress nears Bush says, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 26, 2002, and Bush Says He and Congress Will Band Together on Iraq; Capitol Hill Still Sour, Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, September 27, 2002, and Andrew Sullivan, One tortured lie: that’s all it took for war, The Sunday Times, April 26, 2009

[47] Warren Richey ‘Alternative’ CIA tactics complicate Padilla case Christian Science Monitor, September 15, 2006

[48] Neil A. Lewis A NATION CHALLENGED: THE DETAINEES; U.S. Is Seeking Basis to Charge War Detainees. New York Times, April 21, 2002

[49] James Risen and Eric Lichtblau Bush altered rules on spying. International Herald Tribune, December 17, 2005

[50] Amanda L. Jacobsen, Why hasn’t Abu Zubaida been tried?, The Washington Post, March 28, 2012

[51] Peter Finn, Judge’s Order Could Keep Public From Hearing Details of 9/11 Trials, The Washington Post, January 7, 2009

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This suffers from a few major flaws the most serious of which is that it was written by Kevin Ryan who is a complete clown .

  • Neither the Justice Department nor any other agency of the USG has ever “agreed that Zubaydah was never an al Qaeda operative”, saying you have “not contended [something] in this proceeding” is not the same as 'agreeing' that it is not true. Thus Ryan's babble is based on a false premise.
  • Despite Ryan's huffing and puffing the 9/11 Commission, FBI etc. never made Zubaydah a key part of the 9/11 narrative. The other leg Ryan's 'theory' rests upon is yet another false premise.
  • Independent press accounts about him are not directly relevant to the government's narrative.

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Abu Zubaydah is part of the very beginning of Al-Qaeda. British,French,CIA,NSA all monitor him. Only a clown dosent think him Al-Qaeda. It appears that Western intelligence agencies had been monitoring Zubaida’s calls as far back as 1996 (see (Mid-1996) and October 1998 and After).

Late 1980s: Afghan Training Camps Forge Future Boston Al-Qaeda Cell

Four men, Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi, Nabil al-Marabh, Raed Hijazi, and Bassam Kanj, meet each other in an Afghanistan training camp. All four of them take part in fighting against the Soviets. This is according to testimony by Elzahabi in 2004 (see April 16, 2004-June 25, 2004). Elzahabi will claim that while there, he met Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, later famous for allegedly attacking US soldiers in Iraq, and al-Qaeda leaders Abu Zubaida and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. This appears to be the genesis of a Boston al-Qaeda sleeper cell that will play vital roles in 9/11 and other al-Qaeda plots. The four men go their separate ways in subsequent years, but by 1998 all of them will be working as taxi drivers in Boston (see June 1995-Early 1999). [boston Globe, 6/27/2004]

Late 1980s: US Intelligence Already Investigating Abu Zubaida and California Al-Qaeda Operative

Khalil Deek. [source: Ali Jarekji / Reuters]In 2007, the New Yorker magazine will note, “American intelligence officials had been investigating [Khalil] Deek and [Abu] Zubaida’s activities since at least the late eighties,” but it will not explain why. Deek is a Palestinian and naturalized US citizen living in California for most of the 1990s who will later reportedly mastermind several al-Qaeda bomb plots. [New Yorker, 1/22/2007] Abu Zubaida, the nom de guerre of Saudi-born Palestinian Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein (also spelled Zein al-Abideen Muhammad Hassan) [Washington Post, 4/22/2009] , joins the Palestinian uprising in 1987, when he is only sixteen years old. He then goes to Afghanistan, presumably joins with bin Laden, and fights there before the war ends in 1989. [suskind, 2006, pp. 95] Between 1988 and 1996, Deek is apparently involved with the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a US-based charity which the US government will later call a “front group” for the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The IAP is closely tied to the Holy Land Foundation, established near Dallas, Texas, in 1989 (see 1989), and it appears the foundation was investigated from very early on. Deek is living in Dallas that year. [Orange County Weekly, 5/31/2001] Palestinian militant activity through organizations like the IAP may explain why these two are investigated at this time, and/or the two may have engaged in other activities. Counterterrorism expert Rita Katz will later claim that the Jordanian government “knew about Deek since the early 1990s. They had a lot of interest in him. They really considered him a major terrorist figure.” [Orange County Weekly, 6/17/2004] Deek and Zubaida will later work together on a number of operations, for instance using the honey trade to ship drugs and weapons (see May 2000), and masterminding a millennium bomb plot in Jordan. [New Yorker, 1/22/2007]

1994: Al-Qaeda Helps Form Militant Training Camps in Philippines

MILF forces on parade in Camp Abubakar, February 1999. [source: Romeo Gacad / AFP / Getty Images]The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a large Philippine militant group, sets up a major training camp with al-Qaeda help. According to Philippine investigators, a sprawling complex and set of camps known as Camp Abubakar is built this year in a remote part of the southern island of Mindanao. One camp within the complex called Camp Palestine trains Arabs exclusively. Another is Camp Hodeibia, and is used by Jemaah Islamiyah, the al-Qaeda-linked group based in Indonesia. [Ressa, 2003] Al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida is said to send al-Qaeda operative Omar al-Faruq with one other al-Qaeda camp instructor to help recruit and train in these camps. Al-Faruq will remain the head of al-Qaeda’s operations in Southeast Asia until his capture in 2002 (see June 5, 2002). [Time, 9/15/2002; CNN, 10/28/2002] Philipppine officials will claim that over the next few years Camp Abubakar continues to grow and over twenty other MILF camps are used and supported by al-Qaeda operatives (see February 1999). The Philippine military will raze Camp Abubakar during a brief offensive against the MILF in 2000, but the camp will be quickly rebuilt and still be used to train foreign militants. [Ressa, 2003] The Philippine government has had a series of negotiations, cease fires, and peace treaties with the MILF. The MILF has generally denied ties to al-Qaeda, but in 1999 the head of the MILF will say his group had received non-military aid from bin Laden (see February 1999). In 2003, President Bush will pledge $30 million to MILF regions of the Philippines to promote a new peace treaty with the group. [Asia Times, 10/30/2003]

Mid 1995-Spring 1996: French Agent Penetrates Afghan Camps, Meets Top Al-Qaeda Managers

al-Qaeda Afghan training camp. [source: Al Jazeera]A French intelligence asset called Omar Nasiri, who has previously informed on a Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) cell in Brussels (see Mid 1994-March 2, 1995), is given the task of penetrating the network of militant camps in Afghanistan. He flies to Pakistan and soon is in contact with the al-Qaeda network. He is sent to Peshawar, where he meets al-Qaeda leaders Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi and Abu Zubaida. From there he is then taken to al-Libi’s Khaldan camp inside Afghanistan, where he receives physical and weapons training, as well as religious instruction. The training also includes blocks on explosives, tactics, hand-to-hand combat, surveillance, and kidnapping, and is at least partially derived from US army manuals. While at the camp he is told by Kashmiri militants that they have been trained by the Pakistani army (see (Mid 1995-Spring 1996)) and he uses money given to him by French intelligence to purchase weapons for al-Qaeda (see (Late 1995-Spring 1996)). After several months of training at Khaldan and Darunta camps, he returns to Europe via Peshawar. In Peshawar he again meets Abu Zubaida, who gives Nasiri a phone number where he can be reached and asks him to send money from Europe. Upon returning to Europe, Nasiri contacts his handler at French intelligence and tells him about the camps. [Nasiri, 2006, pp. 101-244, 253-7]

June 1996: Bin Laden Meets with Pakistani Military Leaders

Mushaf Ali Mir. [source: Paknews.com]According to controversial author Gerald Posner, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida meet with senior members of Pakistan’s military, including Mushaf Ali Mir, who becomes chief of Pakistan’s air force in 2000. Bin Laden moved to Afghanistan the month before, and the Pakistanis offer him protection if he allies with the Taliban. The alliance will prove successful, and bin Laden will call it “blessed by the Saudis,” who are already giving money to both the Taliban and al-Qaeda. [Posner, 2003, pp. 105-06; Time, 8/31/2003] Perhaps not coincidentally, this meeting comes only one month after a deal was reportedly made that reaffirmed Saudi support for al-Qaeda. Bin Laden is initially based in Jalalabad, which is free of Taliban control, but after the deal, he moves his base to Kandahar, which is the center of Taliban power. [Asia Times, 9/17/2003]

(Mid-1996): French and British Intelligence Listen in on Al-Qaeda Communications, Asset Relays Messages for Al-Qaeda

Omar Nasiri, who informs on al-Qaeda for the British intelligence service MI6 and the French service Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DSGE), makes contact with al-Qaeda logistics manager Abu Zubaida using a telephone bugged by MI6. Nasiri met Abu Zubaida in Pakistan (see Mid 1995-Spring 1996). Usually, when Nasiri calls the number, he talks to one of Abu Zubaida’s associates, but sometimes he talks to Abu Zubaida himself. The phone is used to relay messages between Abu Zubaida in Pakistan and al-Qaeda representatives in London, in particular leading imam Abu Qatada. The French will apparently make great use of this information (see October 1998 and After). [Nasiri, 2006, pp. 270-1, 273, 281]

(Mid-1996 and After): French and British Intelligence Send Al-Qaeda $3,000

The British intelligence service MI6 and the French service Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) send al-Qaeda $3,000 though one of their assets, Omar Nasiri, who has penetrated al-Qaeda’s camps in Afghanistan and its network in London (see Mid 1995-Spring 1996 and Summer 1996-August 1998). The money is sent to al-Qaeda logistics manager Abu Zubaida, whose phone calls they are listening to with Nasiri’s help (see (Mid-1996)). The money is wired to a Pakistani bank account whose number Abu Zubaida has given to Nasiri in three instalments of $1,000. At first, the British and French do not want to send the money, but Nasiri tells them it is essential for his cover and that Zubaida expects it, so they provide it. [Nasiri, 2006, pp. 271-3]

May 22, 1997: Spanish Intelligence Learns Madrid Cell Is Sending Recuits to Al-Qaeda Training Camps, Takes No Action

Spanish intelligence has been monitoring an al-Qaeda cell based in Madrid led by Barakat Yarkas (see 1995 and After), and they are aware that a leader of the cell named Chej Salah left Spain in late 1995 and moved to Peshawar, Pakistan. He serves there as an al-Qaeda talent scout, sending the most promising recruits to a training camp in Afghanistan. Yarkas’s cell is recruiting youths in Spanish mosques to join al-Qaeda. On May 22, 1997, the Spanish monitor a phone call in which Salah tells Yarkas that the recruits he is sending are being taken care of by al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida. Despite such knowledge, the Spanish government will not arrest any members of the Madrid cell until after 9/11. This is according to a book by Jose María Irujo, lead investigative journalist for the Spanish newspaper El Pais. [irujo, 2005, pp. 23-40]

1998-2001: Pakistani ISI Allegedly Protects Al-Qaeda Leader Zubaida from Capture

By 1997, al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida is living in Peshawar, Pakistan, near the border to Afghanistan. He runs an al-Qaeda guest house there called the House of Martyrs, where all foreign recruits are interviewed before being sent to Afghanistan. As a result, Zubaida soon knows the names of thousands of al-Qaeda recruits. [Rashid, 2008, pp. 224-225] In 2006, author Gerald Posner will write that beginning in 1998, Pakistan receives several requests from US intelligence to track down Zubaida. Beginning by October 1998, the US and other countries have been monitoring Zubaida’s phone calls (see October 1998 and After), and will continue to do so through the 9/11 attacks (see Early September 2001 and October 8, 2001). But according to Posner, “Pakistan’s agency, the ISI, had claimed to have made several failed attempts, but few in the US believe they did more before September 11 than file away the request and possibly at times even warn Zubaida of the Americans’ interest.” [Posner, 2003, pp. 184] In 2008, Pakistani journalist and regional expert Ahmed Rashid will repeat the gist of Posner’s allegations, and further explain that Zubaida directly worked with the ISI. Some of the militants he directs to al-Qaeda camps are militants sent by the ISI to fight in Kashmir, a region disputed between India and Pakistan. Presumably, handing Zubaida to the US could hinder Pakistan’s covert war against India in Kashmir. [Rashid, 2008, pp. 224-225] After Zubaida is arrested in 2002, he allegedly will divulge that he has personal contacts with high-ranking officials in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (see Early April 2002).

1998-December 11, 1999: Key Al-Qaeda Operative Working with Zubaida Allegedly Monitored in Pakistan

Khalil Deek, an al-Qaeda operative living in California for most of the 1990s, moves to Peshawar, Pakistan, around this time. Al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida is also operating from the same town and is a close associate of Deek. In fact, US intelligence have been investigating the two of them since the late 1980s (see Late 1980s). It appears Deek is under surveillance by this time. The Wall Street Journal will claim, “US intelligence officials had tracked the onetime California resident for years before they had tied him, [in December 1999], to [an] alleged Jordanian plot.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/8/2000] A 2005 book by counterterrorism expert Jean-Charles Brisard will similarly relate that by the spring of 1999, “For several months the Jordanian government, with the help of the American FBI, had been stepping up pressure on [Pakistan] to arrest [Deek].” [brisard, 2005, pp. 65] Deek lives in a rented villa surrounded by high walls. He runs a small computer school and repair shop. He helps encrypt al-Qaeda’s Internet communications. He exports drums of local honey to the Middle East. Deek and Zubaida apparently use the honey to hide the shipment of drugs and weapons (see May 2000). [Wall Street Journal, 3/8/2000; Orange County Weekly, 6/15/2006] Deek also creates an electronic version of an al-Qaeda terrorist manual known as the Encyclopedia of Afghan Jihad. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004] “US authorities say his house near the Afghan border also served as a way station for recruits heading in and out of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/8/2000] Zubaida also screens recruits and directs them to training camps in Afghanistan. Deek and Zubaida share a Peshawar bank account. [Orange County Weekly, 6/15/2006] It appears that Western intelligence agencies are monitoring Zubaida’s phone calls from 1998, if not earlier (see October 1998 and After and (Mid-1996)). Deek will be arrested on December 11, 1999, quickly deported to Jordan, and then released in 2001 (see December 11, 1999). It will later be alleged that Deek was a mole for the Jordanian government all along (see Shortly After December 11, 1999).

: Taliban and Saudis Meet and Purportedly Make a Deal

Taliban officials allegedly meet with Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi intelligence, to continue talks concerning the Taliban’s ouster of bin Laden from Afghanistan. Reports on the location of this meeting, and the deal under discussion differ. According to some reports, including documents exposed in a later lawsuit, this meeting takes place in Kandahar. Those present include Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi Arabian intelligence, Taliban leaders, senior officers from the ISI, and bin Laden. According to these reports, Saudi Arabia agrees to give the Taliban and Pakistan “several hundred millions” of dollars, and in return, bin Laden promises no attacks against Saudi Arabia. The Saudis also agree to ensure that requests for the extradition of al-Qaeda members will be blocked and promise to block demands by other countries to close down bin Laden’s Afghan training camps. Saudi Arabia had previously given money to the Taliban and bribe money to bin Laden, but this ups the ante. [sunday Times (London), 8/25/2002] A few weeks after the meeting, Prince Turki sends 400 new pickup trucks to the Taliban. At least $200 million follow. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/2001; New York Post, 8/25/2002] Controversial author Gerald Posner gives a similar account said to come from high US government officials, and adds that al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida also attends the meeting. [Posner, 2003, pp. 189-90] Note that reports of this meeting seemingly contradict reports of a meeting the month before between Turki and the Taliban, in which the Taliban agreed to get rid of bin Laden (see June 1998).

October 1998 and After: Multiple Countries Monitor Zubaida’s Phone Calls

Counterterrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna will later write that after the US embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998), surveillance of al-Qaeda is stepped up around the world. “One intelligence officer attached to the French embassy in Islamabad, [Pakistan], urged his counterparts in foreign missions in Pakistan to detail the recipients of phone calls made by… al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida, then living in Peshawar, to individuals in their various countries.” As a result, “several governments [launch] investigations of their own.” [Gunaratna, 2003, pp. 245] A close associate of Zubaida in Peshawar at this time is Khalil Deek, who is actually a mole for the Jordanian government (see 1998-December 11, 1999). One such investigation is launched by the Philippine government on October 16, 1998, after being asked by French intelligence to gather intelligence on people in the Philippines in contact with Zubaida. Code named CoPlan Pink Poppy, the investigation reveals connections between al-Qaeda and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Philippine militant group. On December 16, 1999, Abdesselem Boulanouar and Zoheir Djalili, two French Algerians belonging to the Algerian al-Qaeda affiliate the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC), are arrested due to information learned from monitoring Zubaida’s calls to the Philippines. Boulanouar is arrested at an airport carrying a terrorist training manual he admitted writing for the MILF. Both men also are arrested carrying explosive devices. French intelligence says Boulanouar had ties to Ahmed Ressam (see December 14, 1999), and like Ressam, may have been planning to carry out attacks at the turn of the millennium. He will be deported to France and imprisoned on terrorism related charges. CoPlan Pink Poppy will be canceled in 2000 for lack of funds. [Gulf News, 3/14/2000; Ressa, 2003, pp. 132-133; Gunaratna, 2003, pp. 245] However, while details are murky, it appears other governments continue to monitor Zubaida’s calls. Around the same time as the Philippines arrests, one militant in Jordan is even arrested while still in the middle of a phone call to Zubaida (see November 30, 1999). US intelligence will remain intensely focused on Zubaida before 9/11 (see Late March-Early April 2001 and May 30, 2001), and just days before 9/11 the NSA will monitor calls Zubaida is making to the US (see Early September 2001). It appears his calls will continue to be monitored after 9/11 as well (see October 8, 2001).

Late 1998 and After: US Intelligence Still Monitors Bin Laden’s Calls after He Stops Using His Satellite Phone

Shortly after an August 1998 US missile strike on Afghanistan (see August 20, 1998), bin Laden stops using his satellite phone, correctly deciding that it was being monitored by US intelligence (see Late August 1998). According to counterterrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna, al-Qaeda quickly “developed a system to deceive those monitoring his calls. [but] Western security and intelligence agencies were soon able to monitor the new system, which was based on transferring international calls within safe houses in Pakistan to make them seem like domestic calls.” Other al-Qaeda leaders such as Abu Zubaida will be frequently monitored as they make calls using this new system (see October 1998 and After). Gunaratna later claims to have learned this from a confidential source in a “communications monitoring agency” in Western Europe. [Gunaratna, 2003, pp. 15-16, 3291] It is not known how long it took until al-Qaeda realized this new system was compromised, but there are accounts of bin Laden and Zubaida’s calls being monitored days before 9/11 (see Early September 2001, September 9, 2001, and Early September 2001).

Late 1999-2000: Alleged CIA Informant Said to Train Six 9/11 Hijackers in Turkey

Majed Moqed. [source: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division]In 2007, the London Times will report that imprisoned al-Qaeda leader Luai Sakra claims that he trained six of the 9/11 hijackers in Turkey. Sakra allegedly had links to the CIA and Syrian intelligence before 9/11 (see 2000 and September 10, 2001) and also allegedly was in contact with 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta before 9/11 (see September 2000-July 24, 2001). According to Sakra’s account, Sakra established a training and support network for radical militants in Turkey in the mid-1990s. In the Yalova mountain resort area between the cities of Bursa and Istanbul, he trained many militants heading to fight in Chechnya and elsewhere. Sakra worked with al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida to provide forged documents enabling trainees to travel to Afghanistan and elsewhere after their training was over. According to Sakra’s lawyer, in late 1999, 9/11 hijackers Ahmed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, Saeed Alghamdi, and Nawaf Alhazmi undertook Sakra’s training program. They had been planning to go to fight in Chechnya, but Sakra recommended them to Zubaida and they went to Zubaida’s training camp in Afghanistan instead. Hijackers Majed Moqed and Satam Al Suqami also later trained with Sakra in Turkey. Sakra alleges Moqed and Al Suqami were hand-picked by al-Qaeda leaders for the 9/11 plot. Sakra claims that at one point the entire group were arrested by police in Yalova, Turkey, after their presence raised suspicions. They were interrogated for a day but released because no evidence of wrongdoing could be shown. [London Times, 11/25/2007] In early 2006, Sakra made the claim that he had helped some of the 9/11 hijackers near Bursa, but he did not give specifics. [Washington Post, 2/20/2006] While Sakra’s account cannot be corroborated, it does fit with details given in the 9/11 Commission’s final report. According to that report, after 9/11, captured al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash claimed that a number of militants trying to go to Chechnya in 1999 were unable to get there and stayed at al-Qaeda guesthouses in Turkey instead, where they were to wait to make another attempt to enter Chechnya in the summer of 2000, but they ended up going to Afghanistan instead. Bin Attash mentions nine hijackers who may have been trying to get to Chechnya in this fashion, including all the ones mentioned by Sakra. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 233] The 9/11 Commission report also mentions that most of the “muscle” hijackers trained at the Al Farooq camp, except for Al Suqami and Moqed, who trained at the Khaldan camp. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 234] Also, in early 2008, an FBI document will be released that shows Al Suqami spent almost six months in Turkey, helping to corroborate Sakra’s claims (see Late 1999-2000).

November 30, 1999: Jordan Thwarts Al-Qaeda Connected Millennium Plot

On December 5, 1999, a Jordanian raid discovers 71 vats of bomb making chemicals in this residence. [source: Judith Miller]Jordanian officials successfully uncover an al-Qaeda plot to blow up the Radisson Hotel in Amman, Jordan, and other sites on January 1, 2000. [PBS Frontline, 10/3/2002] The Jordanian government intercepts a call between al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida and a suspected Jordanian terrorist named Abu Hoshar. Zubaida says, “The training is over.” [New York Times, 1/15/2001] Zubaida also says, “The grooms are ready for the big wedding.” [seattle Times, 6/23/2002] This call reflects an extremely poor code system, because the FBI had already determined in the wake of the 1998 US embassy bombings that “wedding” was the al-Qaeda code word for bomb. [Miller, Stone, and Mitchell, 2002, pp. 214] Furthermore, it appears al-Qaeda fails to later change the system, because the code-name for the 9/11 attack is also “The Big Wedding.” [Chicago Tribune, 9/5/2002] Jordan arrests Hoshar while he’s still on the phone talking to Zubaida. In the next few days, 27 other suspects are charged. A Jordanian military court will initially convict 22 of them for participating in planned attacks, sentencing six of them to death, although there will be numerous appeals (see April 2000 and After). In addition to bombing the Radisson Hotel around the start of the millennium, the plan calls for suicide bombings on two border crossings with Israel and a Christian baptism site. Further attacks in Jordan are planned for later. The plotters had already stockpiled the equivalent of 16 tons of TNT, enough to flatten “entire neighborhoods.” [New York Times, 1/15/2001] Key alleged plotters include:

Raed Hijazi, a US citizen who is part of a Boston al-Qaeda cell (see June 1995-Early 1999). He will be arrested and convicted in late 2000 (see September 2000 and October 2000). [New York Times, 1/15/2001]

Khalid Deek, who is also a US citizen and part of an Anaheim, California al-Qaeda cell. He will be arrested in Pakistan and deported to Jordan, but strangely he will released without going to trial.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He will later be a notorious figure in the Iraq war starting in 2003. [Washington Post, 10/3/2004]

Luai Sakra. The Washington Post will later say he “played a role” in the plot, though he is never charged for it. Sakra apparently is a CIA informant before 9/11, perhaps starting in 2000 (see 2000). [Washington Post, 2/20/2006]

The Jordanian government will also later claim that the Al Taqwa Bank in Switzerland helped finance the network of operatives who planned the attack. The bank will be shut down shortly after 9/11 (see November 7, 2001). [Newsweek, 4/12/2004]

December 11, 1999: US Citizen, Alleged Mastermind of Jordanian Bomb Plot, Is Arrested but Never Charged

Khalil Deek. [source: Tawfiq Deek]Khalil Deek is arrested by police in Peshawar, Pakistan, and immediately extradited to Jordan. The Jordanian government requested the arrest after tying Deek to a millennium plot to blow up hotels in Jordan that had been broken up a few days ago (see November 30, 1999). [Orange County Weekly, 6/15/2006] Deek is a naturalized US citizen who has been part of a California al-Qaeda sleeper cell for most of the 1990s. He had been investigated by US authorities since the late 1980s (see Late 1980s, March 1993-1996, and December 14-25, 1999) but was never arrested. Deek’s computer is confiscated when he is arrested, and computer files reveal the targets of the Jordanian plot. [Cooley, 2002, pp. 33] According to contemporary press accounts, Deek, who was running a computer repair shop in Peshawar, Pakistan, had helped encrypt al-Qaeda’s Internet communications and smuggled recruits to al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. Some reports identify him as a former mujaheddin fighter, a US Army veteran, and a close associate of Osama bin Laden. Articles also claim he worked closely with al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida on the Jordanian plot and other things (see May 2000, Late 1980s, and 1998-December 11, 1999). [Orange County Weekly, 6/15/2006] CNN says Deek “is believed to be the mastermind” of the Jordanian plot. [CNN, 12/17/1999] But, unlike the rest of the defendants in the Jordanian case, Deek is transferred from a maximum-security prison to a minimum-security one. He alone is not charged. He will be released in May 2001 (see May 2001). [Orange County Weekly, 6/15/2006] It will later be alleged that Deek was a Jordanian intelligence mole (see Shortly After December 11, 1999).

2000: Saeed Sheikh Works with Al-Qaeda, Establishes Dubai Base

After his released from an Indian prison at the end of 1999 (see December 24-31, 1999), Saeed Sheikh stays in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for several days and meets with Taliban leader Mullah Omar. He also meets with bin Laden, who is said to call Saeed “my special son.” [Vanity Fair, 8/2002] Saeed soon has a falling out with Pakistani militant leader Maulana Masood Azhar and draws closer to al-Qaeda. Based mostly in Karachi, Pakistan, he reports to al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida. Saeed is said to “soon [become] a key figure, especially in terms of fund-raising.” [Gunaratna, 2003, pp. 286] He regularly travels to Afghanistan and helps train new al-Qaeda recruits in training camps there. [New York Times, 2/25/2002; India Today, 2/25/2002; National Post, 2/26/2002; Guardian, 7/16/2002] Saeed helps train some of the 9/11 hijackers, presumably in Afghanistan as well. [Daily Telegraph, 9/30/2001] He also helps al-Qaeda develop a secure web-based communications system. His work is generally so impressive that there is talk he could one day succeed bin Laden. [Daily Telegraph, 7/16/2002; Vanity Fair, 8/2002] Saeed forged a relationship while in Indian prison with Aftab Ansari, a Pakistani gangster who has fled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (see November 1994-December 1999). Thanks to this connection, Sheikh is able to establish an al-Qaeda base for himself in Dubai, UAE. [Gunaratna, 2003, pp. 286] Numerous 9/11 hijackers will later move through Dubai and some of the money sent to Mohamed Atta in 2001 will come from Sheikh and Ansari through Dubai (see Early August 2001). [Guardian, 2/9/2002] At the same time Saeed is strengthening his al-Qaeda ties, he is also openly working with the Pakistani ISI (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001).

2000: Al-Qaeda Operative Allegedly Turns Informant for CIA and Other Intelligence Agencies

Al-Qaeda operative Luai Sakra apparently begins working as an informant for the CIA, Syrian intelligence, and Turkish intelligence. Sakra, a young Syrian whose parents were Turkish, attended the Khaldan training camp in Afghanistan in 1997. He developed a bond with Abu Zubaida, the al-Qaeda leader who was logistics manager for the camp. Zubaida will later be captured and interrogated by the CIA and will reportedly confirm a link with Sakra. Zubaida tasked Sakra with building up an al-Qaeda network in Turkey. In 1999, the Syrian government began hunting him for his role in a revolt in a Lebanon refugee camp. [Der Spiegel (Hamburg), 8/24/2005] The Turkish newspaper Zaman will report shortly after his capture in 2005, “Sakra has been sought by the secret services since 2000.” The CIA interrogated him twice in 2000. “Following the interrogation, the CIA offered him employment. He also received a large sum of money by the CIA. However the CIA eventually lost contact with him. Following this development, in 2000 the CIA passed intelligence about Sakra through a classified notice to Turkey, calling for the Turkish (intelligence) to capture him. [They] caught Sakra in Turkey and interrogated him.” [Zaman, 8/14/2005] Sakra was then apparently let go again. He will then move Germany and assist some of the 9/11 hijackers (see September 2000-July 24, 2001), then reveal details about the 9/11 attacks to Syrian intelligence the day before 9/11 (see September 10, 2001). He also will later claim to have trained some 9/11 hijackers in Turkey starting in late 1999 (see Late 1999-2000). In 2007, former CIA Director George Tenet will write in his book “At the Center of the Storm” that “a source we were jointly running with a Middle Eastern country went to see his foreign handler and basically told him something big was about to go down.” [Tenet, 2007, pp. 160] This is very likely a reference to Sakra, since no one else comes close to matching the description of telling a Middle Eastern government about the 9/11 attacks one day in advance, not to mention working as an informant for the CIA at the same time. Tenet’s revelation strongly supports the notion that Sakra in fact accepted the CIA’s offers in 2000 and had been working with the CIA and other intelligence agencies at least through 9/11.

January 2000: Musharraf Unwiling to Act on Zubaida, Who Is Living Openly in Pakistan

Karl Inderfurth. [source: Harikrishna Katragadda Mint]Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth, accompanied by State Department counterterrorism expert Michael Sheehan, visits Pakistan, shortly after Pervez Musharraf took power in a coup (see October 12, 1999). Inderfurth meets with Musharraf, and is disappointed with Musharraf’s reluctance to take any action against al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida is living openly in the Pakistani town of Peshawar, and the previous month was implicated in an attempted bomb plot in Jordan (see November 30, 1999). A number of intelligence agencies are monitoring Zubaida’s communications (see October 1998 and After), and one of his top aides, Khalil Deek, appears to be a Jordanian intelligence mole (see Shortly After December 11, 1999). There are allegations that the Pakistani ISI intelligence agency has been protecting Zubaida (see 1998-2001). Musharraf indicates to Inderfurth that he is unwilling to act on US intelligence about Zubaida. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 295] US ambassador to Pakistan William Milam will later say: “The Pakistanis told us they could not find him, even though everyone knew where he was. The ISI just turned a blind eye to his activities.” In fact, there is evidence Zubaida was working with the ISI, helping them vet and train militants to later fight in the disputed region of Kashmir (see 1998-2001). [Rashid, 2008, pp. 48] Musharraf also tells Inderfurth that he is unwilling to support any program to capture Osama bin Laden, as his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, had been willing to do (see October 1999). And asked to pressure the Taliban, Musharraf sends ISI Director Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmed to meet Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Mahmood is well known to be a supporter of the Taliban, so his visit is considered an empty gesture. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 295] Robert Einhorn, a specialist on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Clinton administration, does not go on the trip. Inderfurth will later say Einhorn’s absence showed a lack of interest by the administration in non-proliferation: “The fact that Mike [sheehan] was included and Bob left out showed our priorities at that time. Our agenda was counterterrorism, al-Qaeda, and democracy. We had somehow divorced these from the nuclear threat and A. Q. Khan.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 292]

: Suspicious Behavior of Flight School Student Leads to Arizona FBI Investigation

Zacaria Soubra. [source: Public domain]In early April 2000, Arizona FBI agent Ken Williams gets a tip that makes him suspicious that some flight students might be Islamic militants. Williams will begin an investigation based on this tip that will lead to his “Phoenix memo” warning about suspect Middle Easterners training in Arizona flight schools (see July 10, 2001) [New York Times, 6/19/2002] It appears that Lebanese flight school student Zacaria Soubra has been seen at a shooting range with Abu Mujahid, a white American Muslim who had fought in the Balkans and the Middle East. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/2001; Arizona Monthly, 11/2004] Abu Mujahid appears to match Aukai Collins, a white American Muslim who had fought in the Balkans and the Middle East, who also goes by the name Abu Mujahid, and is an FBI informant spying on the Muslim community in the area at the time (see 1998). Collins also claims to have been the informant referred to in the Phoenix memo, which again suggests that Collins was the one at the shooting range with Soubra. [salon, 10/17/2002] On April 7, Williams appears at Soubra’s apartment and interviews him. Soubra acts defiant, and tells Williams that he considers the US government and military legitimate targets of Islam. He has photographs of bin Laden on the walls. Williams runs a check on the license plate of Soubra’s car and discovers the car is actually owned by a suspected militant with explosives and car bomb training in Afghanistan who had been held for attempting to enter an airplane cockpit the year before (see November 1999-August 2001). [Graham and Nussbaum, 2004, pp. 43-44] On April 17, Williams starts a formal investigation into Soubra. [Arizona Republic, 7/24/2003] Williams will be reassigned to work on an arson case and will not be able to get back to work on the Soubra investigation until June 2001 (see April 2000-June 2001). He will release the Phoenix memo one month later. After 9/11, some US officials will suspect Soubra had ties to terrorism. For instance, in 2003, an unnamed official will claim, “Soubra was involved in terrorist-supporting activities, facilitating shelter and employment for people… involved with al-Qaeda.” For a time, he and hijacker Hani Hanjour attend the same mosque, though there is no evidence they ever meet. Soubra’s roommate at the time of Williams’ interview is Ghassan al-Sharbi. In 2002, al-Sharbi will be arrested in Pakistan with al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida. While Williams will focus on Soubra, al-Sharbi will also be a target of his memo. [Los Angeles Times, 1/24/2003] In 2004, Soubra will be deported to Lebanon after being held for two years. He will deny any connection to Hanjour or terrorism. [Arizona Republic, 5/2/2004] Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, the leader of the British militant group Al-Muhajiroun, will later admit that Soubra was the leader of Al-Muhajiroun’s branch in Arizona. [Time, 5/27/2002]

May 2000: CIA Details Al-Qaeda Using Honey Trade to Move Drugs and Weapons, but No Action Taken Until After 9/11

A secret CIA report details al-Qaeda’s use of the honey trade to generate income and secretly move weapons, drugs, and operatives around the world. The CIA had been gathering information and monitoring some honey stores for almost two years before the study. Bin Laden is believed to control a number of retail honey shops in various countries, especially in Sudan, Yemen, and Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda leaders Abu Zubaida and Khalil Deek, an American citizen, are said to be particularly tied to the honey trade. One US official will later say, “The smell and consistency of the honey makes it easy to hide weapons and drugs in the shipments. Inspectors don’t want to inspect that product. It’s too messy.” But although a number of companies dealing in honey are tied to al-Qaeda (and sometimes to Islamic Jihad), the US will not make any move to freeze the assets of these companies until after 9/11. [New York Times, 10/11/2001] Counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson will later claim Deek was “running an underground railroad in the Middle East for terrorists, shuttling them to different countries,” which would fit with his alleged role in the honey network. [LA Weekly, 9/15/2005]

Late March-Early April 2001: CIA Warns Al-Qaeda Leader Zubaida Planning an Attack

The CIA issues repeated warnings that al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida may be planning an attack for the near future. One report cites a source indicating an attack on Israel, Saudi Arabia, or India. At this time, the CIA believes Zubaida was a major figure in the Millennium plots (see May 30, 2001). Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke relays these reports to National Security Adviser Rice. She is also briefed on Zubaida’s activities and the CIA’s efforts to locate him. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 255; US District Court of Eastern Virginia, 5/4/2006, pp. 1 ]

April 19-20, 2001: President Bush Warned ‘Bin Laden Planning Multiple Operations’

On April 19, 2001, the interagency Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG) chaired by counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke discusses recent reports that al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida is planning an attack. The next day, a Senior Executive Intelligence Brief (SEIB) with the title “Bin Laden Planning Multiple Operations” is sent to top White House officials. The New York Times will later report that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were among those who received this warning. Since SEIBs are usually based on previous days’ President Daily Briefings, President Bush probably learned about this report on April 19 (see January 20-September 10, 2001). [New York Times, 4/18/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 255; US District Court of Eastern Virginia, 5/4/2006, pp. 2 ]

May 2001: Report Warns of Al-Qaeda Infiltration from Canada

US intelligence obtains information that al-Qaeda is planning to infiltrate the US from Canada and carry out an operation using high explosives. The report does not say exactly where, when, or how an attack might occur. Two months later, the information is shared with the FBI, the INS, the US Customs Service, and the State Department, and it will be shared with President Bush in August. [uS Congress, 9/18/2002; Washington Post, 9/19/2002] This information could come from captured al-Qaeda operative Ahmed Ressam, who warns around this month that al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida has been seeking Canadian passports as part of a plot to attack the US, possibly by planting explosives in several US cities (see May 30, 2001 and May 2001). [Calgary Herald, 4/3/2002]

Entity Tags: US Customs Service, George W. Bush, US Department of State, US Immigration and Naturalization Service, Ahmed Ressam, Al-Qaeda, Abu Zubaida, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

May 2001: CIA Learns Bin Laden Associates Are Heading to US, Preparing for Martyrdom

The Washington Post will later report, “In May 2001, the CIA learned supporters of bin Laden were planning to infiltrate the United States; that seven were on their way to the United States, Canada and Britain; that his key operatives ‘were disappearing while others were preparing for martyrdom,’ and that bin Laden associates ‘were planning attacks in the United States with explosives.’” [uS Congress, 9/18/2002; Washington Post, 9/19/2002] This information may be related to a warning given by captured al-Qaeda operative Ahmed Ressam this month that al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida is seeking Canadian passports for himself and five other top militants in order to plant explosives in US cities (see May 30, 2001 and May 2001). [Calgary Herald, 4/3/2002] It is not known if the seven traveling to the US, Canada, and Britain refer to any of the 9/11 hijackers, but 11 of the hijackers travel to the US in May and June (see April 23-June 29, 2001), stopping in Britain along the way (see January-June 2001). Investigators will later say that they are not sure if the aliases Zubaida wanted on the Canadian passports could have been used by some of the 9/11 hijackers. [Calgary Herald, 4/3/2002]

Entity Tags: Abu Zubaida, Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Ressam

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

May 2001: President Bush, Who Has Yet to Take Any Action Against Al-Qaeda, Is Tired of ‘Swatting at Flies’

It is claimed that after a routine briefing by CIA Director Tenet to President Bush regarding the hunt for al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida, Bush complains to National Security Adviser Rice that he is tired of “swatting at flies” and wants a comprehensive plan for attacking terrorism. Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke already has such a plan, but it has been mired in bureaucratic deadlock since January. After this, progress remains slow. [Time, 8/4/2002; 9/11 Commission, 3/24/2004] According to Vanity Fair, when 9/11 commissioner Bob Kerrey asked Rice in 2004 exactly what flies Bush swatted before 9/11, “she fumbled embarrassingly for an answer.” [Vanity Fair, 11/2004]

Entity Tags: Richard A. Clarke, Condoleezza Rice, Abu Zubaida, George W. Bush, George J. Tenet

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

May 29, 2001: Counterterrorism ‘Tsar’ Clarke Asks for More to Be Done to Stop Expected Al-Qaeda Attacks

Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke suggests to National Security Adviser Rice that she ask CIA Director George Tenet what more the US can do to stop al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida from launching “a series of major terrorist attacks.” It is believed these attacks will probably be directed at Israeli targets, but possibly on US facilities. Clarke writes to Rice and her deputy, Stephen Hadley, “When these attacks occur, as they likely will, we will wonder what more we could have done to stop them.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 256]

Entity Tags: George J. Tenet, Richard A. Clarke, Abu Zubaida, Stephen J. Hadley, Condoleezza Rice

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

May 30, 2001: FBI Is Warned of Major Al-Qaeda Operation in the US Involving Hijackings, Explosives, and/or New York City

Ahmed Ressam as pictured in his Canadian passport. [source: FBI]Ahmed Ressam is convicted in the spring of 2001 for attempting to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport (see December 14, 1999). Facing the likelihood of life in prison, he starts cooperating with authorities in an attempt to reduce his sentence. On this day, he details his experiences in al-Qaeda training camps and his many dealings with top al-Qaeda deputy Abu Zubaida. According to FBI notes from Ressam’s interrogation, Zubaida asked Ressam to send him six original Canadian passports to help Zubaida “get people to America” (see May 2001 and May 2001). Zubaida “wanted an operation in the US” and talked about the need to get explosives into the US for this operation, but Ressam makes it clear this was a separate plot from the one he was involved with. Notes from this day further explain that Ressam doesn’t know if any explosives made it into the US because once an operation is initiated, operators are not supposed to talk about it to anyone. [Calgary Herald, 4/3/2002; Newsweek, 4/28/2005] Zubaida told this to Ressam in 1999, but also indicated that he is willing to wait a year or more to make sure the plot comes to fruition successfully. [Tenet, 2007, pp. 146]

Similarity to 9/11 Attacks - There’s no concrete evidence that Ressam knows any detail of the 9/11 attacks. [Newsweek, 4/28/2005] However, Fox News will later report that roughly around this time Ressam testifies “that attack plans, including hijackings and attacks on New York City targets, [are] ongoing.” [Fox News, 5/17/2002] Questioned shortly after 9/11, Ressam will point out that given what he’s already told his US interrogators, the 9/11 attacks should not be surprising. He notes that he’d described how Zubaida talked “generally of big operations in [the] US with big impact, needing great preparation, great perseverance, and willingness to die.” Ressam had told of “plans to get people hired at airports, of blowing up airports, and airplanes.” [Newsweek, 4/28/2005]

Sharing the Warning - The CIA learns of this warning in June. [Tenet, 2007, pp. 146] Ressam will repeat some of this in a public trial in July (see July 8, 2001). Apparently, the FBI also waits until July to share the information from this debriefing with most other intelligence agencies, the INS, Customs Service, and the State Department. Ressam’s warnings will first be mentioned to Bush in his now famous August 6, 2001 briefing (see August 6, 2001), but as Newsweek will note, “The information from Ressam that was contained in [bush’s] PDB [is] watered down and seem far more bland than what the Algerian terrorist was actually telling the FBI.” Zubaida’s second plot will be boiled down to one sentence in the PDB: “Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaida was planning his own US attack.” [Newsweek, 4/28/2005]

May 30, 2001: CIA Leaders Warn National Security Adviser Rice about Expected Al-Qaeda Attack

During a regularly scheduled weekly meeting between National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and CIA Director George Tenet, CIA official Richard Blee describes a “truly frightening” list of warning signs of an upcoming terrorist attack. He says that al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida is working on attack plans. CIA leaders John McLaughlin and Cofer Black are also present at this meeting, as is counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke and Mary McCarthy, a CIA officer serving as National Security Council senior director. [Tenet, 2007, pp. 145] Just the day before, Clarke suggested that Tenet and Rice discuss what could be done to stop Zubaida from launching “a series of major terrorist attacks,” so presumably this discussion is in response to that (see May 29, 2001). Tenet will later recall: “Some intelligence suggested that [Zubaida’s] plans were ready to be executed; others suggested they would not be ready for six months. The primary target appeared to be in Israel, but other US assets around the world were at risk.” Rice asks about taking the offensive against al-Qaeda and asks how bad the threat is. Black estimates it to be a seven on a one-to-10 scale, with the millennium threat at the start of 2000 ranking an eight in comparison. Clarke tells her that adequate warning notices have been issued to the appropriate US entities. [Tenet, 2007, pp. 145-146]

July 10, 2001: FBI Agent Sends Memo Warning that Unusual Number of Muslim Extremists Are Learning to Fly in Arizona

FBI agent Ken Williams. [source: FBI]Phoenix, Arizona, FBI agent Ken Williams sends a memorandum warning about suspicious activities involving a group of Middle Eastern men taking flight training lessons in Arizona. The memo is titled: “Zakaria Mustapha Soubra; IT-OTHER (Islamic Army of the Caucasus),” because it focuses on Zakaria Soubra, a Lebanese flight student in Prescott, Arizona, and his connection with a terror group in Chechnya that has ties to al-Qaeda. It is subtitled: “Osama bin Laden and Al-Muhjiroun supporters attending civil aviation universities/colleges in Arizona.” [Fortune, 5/22/2002; Arizona Republic, 7/24/2003] Williams’ memo is based on an investigation of Sorba that Williams had begun in 2000 (see April 2000), but he had trouble pursuing because of the low priority the Arizona FBI office gave terror investigations (see April 2000-June 2001). Additionally, Williams had been alerted to suspicions about radical militants and aircraft at least three other times (see October 1996; 1998; November 1999-August 2001). In the memo, Williams does the following:

Names nine other suspect students from Pakistan, India, Kenya, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. [Die Zeit (Hamburg), 10/1/2002] Hijacker Hani Hanjour, attending flight school in Arizona in early 2001 and probably continuing into the summer of 2001 (see Summer 2001), is not one of the students, but, as explained below, it seems two of the students know him. [uS Congress, 7/24/2003, pp. 135 ; Washington Post, 7/25/2003]

Notes that he interviewed some of these students, and heard some of them make hostile comments about the US. Additionally, he noticed that they were suspiciously well informed about security measures at US airports. [Die Zeit (Hamburg), 10/1/2002]

Notes an increasing, “inordinate number of individuals of investigative interest” taking flight lessons in Arizona. [Die Zeit (Hamburg), 10/1/2002; US Congress, 7/24/2003, pp. 135 ]

Suspects that some of the ten people he has investigated are connected to al-Qaeda. [uS Congress, 7/24/2003, pp. 135 ] One person on the list, Ghassan al Sharbi, will be arrested in Pakistan in March 2002 with al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida (see March 28, 2002). Al Sharbi attended a flight school in Prescott, Arizona. He also apparently attended the training camps in Afghanistan and swore loyalty to bin Laden in the summer of 2001. He apparently knows Hani Hanjour in Arizona (see October 1996-Late April 1999). He also is the roommate of Soubra, the main target of the memo. [Los Angeles Times, 1/24/2003; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 521]

Discovers that one of them was communicating through an intermediary with Abu Zubaida. This apparently is a reference to Hamed al Sulami, who had been telephoning a Saudi imam known to be Zubaida’s spiritual advisor. Al Sulami is an acquaintance of Hanjour in Arizona (see October 1996-Late April 1999). [Mercury News (San Jose), 5/23/2002; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 520-521, 529]

Discusses connections between several of the students and a radical group called Al-Muhajiroun. [Mercury News (San Jose), 5/23/2002] This group supported bin Laden, and issued a fatwa, or call to arms, that included airports on a list of acceptable terror targets. [Associated Press, 5/22/2002] Soubra, the main focus of the memo, is a member of Al-Muhajiroun and an outspoken radical. He met with Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, the leader of Al-Muhajiroun in Britain, and started an Arizona chapter of the organization. After 9/11, some US officials will suspect that Soubra has ties to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. He will be held two years, then deported to Lebanon in 2004. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/2001; Los Angeles Times, 1/24/2003; Arizona Republic, 5/2/2004; Arizona Monthly, 11/2004] Though Williams doesn’t include it in his memo, in the summer of 1998, Bakri publicized a fax sent by bin Laden to him that listed al-Qaeda’s four objectives in fighting the US. The first objective was “bring down their airliners.” (see Summer 1998). [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/2001]

Warns of a possible “effort by Osama bin Laden to send students to the US to attend civil aviation universities and colleges” [Fortune, 5/22/2002] , so they can later hijack aircraft. [Die Zeit (Hamburg), 10/1/2002]

Recommends that the “FBI should accumulate a listing of civil aviation universities and colleges around the country. FBI field offices with these types of schools in their area should establish appropriate liaison. FBI [headquarters] should discuss this matter with other elements of the US intelligence community and task the community for any information that supports Phoenix’s suspicions.” [Arizona Republic, 7/24/2003] (The FBI has already done this, but because of poor FBI communications, Williams is not aware of the report.)

Recommends that the FBI ask the State Department to provide visa data on flight school students from Middle Eastern countries, which will facilitate FBI tracking efforts. [New York Times, 5/4/2002]

The memo is addressed to the following FBI Agents:

Dave Frasca, chief of the Radical Fundamentalist Unit (RFU) at FBI headquarters;

Elizabeth Harvey Matson, Mark Connor and Fred Stremmel, Intelligence Operations Specialists in the RFU;

Rod Middleton, acting chief of the Usama bin Laden Unit (UBLU);

Jennifer Maitner, an Intelligence Operations Specialist in the UBLU;

Jack Cloonan, an agent on the New York FBI’s bin Laden unit, the I-49 squad; (see January 1996 and Spring 2000).

Michael S. Butsch, an agent on another New York FBI squad dealing with other Sunni terrorists. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/10/2001 ; US Congress, 7/24/2003, pp. 135 ]

However, the memo is not uploaded into the FBI’s information system until the end of the month and is apparently not received by all these people (see July 27, 2001 and after). Williams also shares some concerns with the CIA (see (July 27, 2001)). [Mercury News (San Jose), 5/23/2002] One anonymous government official who has seen the memo says, “This was as actionable a memo as could have been written by anyone.” [insight, 5/27/2002] However, the memo is merely marked “routine,” rather than “urgent.” It is generally ignored, not shared with other FBI offices, and the recommendations are not taken. One colleague in New York replies at the time that the memo is “speculative and not very significant.” [Die Zeit (Hamburg), 10/1/2002; US Congress, 7/24/2003, pp. 135 ] Williams is unaware of many FBI investigations and leads that could have given weight to his memo. Authorities later claim that Williams was only pursuing a hunch, but one familiar with classified information says, “This was not a vague hunch. He was doing a case on these guys.” [Mercury News (San Jose), 5/23/2002]

August 6, 2001: Bush Receives Briefing Titled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US’

President Bush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch on August 6, 2001. Advisors wait with classified briefings. [source: White House]President Bush receives a classified presidential daily briefing (PDB) at his Crawford, Texas ranch indicating that Osama bin Laden might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. The PDB provided to him is entitled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” The entire briefing focuses on the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the US. [New York Times, 5/15/2002; Newsweek, 5/27/2002] The analysts who drafted the briefing will say that they drafted it on the CIA’s initiative (see July 13, 2004), whereas in 2004 Bush will state that he requested a briefing on the topic due to threats relating to a conference in Genoa, Italy, in July 2001, where Western intelligence agencies believed Osama bin Laden was involved in a plot to crash an airplane into a building to kill Bush and other leaders (see April 13, 2004). The analysts will later explain that they saw it as an opportunity to convey that the threat of an al-Qaeda attack in the US was both current and serious. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 260] The existence of this briefing is kept secret, until it is leaked in May 2002, causing a storm of controversy (see May 15, 2002). While National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will claim the memo is only one and a half pages long, other accounts state it is 11 1/2 pages instead of the usual two or three. [New York Times, 5/15/2002; Newsweek, 5/27/2002; Die Zeit (Hamburg), 10/1/2002] A page and a half of the contents will be released on April 10, 2004; this reportedly is the full content of the briefing. [Washington Post, 4/10/2004] The briefing, as released, states as follows (note that the spelling of certain words are corrected and links have been added):

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US (see December 1, 1998). Bin Laden 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” (see May 26, 1998).

After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a -REDACTED-service (see December 21, 1998).

An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told -REDACTED- service at the same time that bin Laden 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 Laden’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 (see December 14, 1999), but that bin Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaida encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaida was planning his own US attack (see Late March-Early April 2001 and May 30, 2001).

Ressam says bin Laden was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

Although bin Laden has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998) demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Laden associates surveyed our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993 (see Late 1993-Late 1994), and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

Al-Qaeda 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 (see January 25, 2001). Two al-Qaeda members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were US citizens (see September 15, 1998), and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s (see November 1989 and September 10, 1998).

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks (see October-November 1998).

“We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [REDACTED] service in 1998 saying that bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of ‘Blind Sheikh’ Omar Abdul-Rahman and other US-held extremists” (see 1998, December 4, 1998, and May 23, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 223] According to the Washington Post, this information came from a British service. [Washington Post, 5/18/2002]

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 (see May 30, 2001).

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full-field investigations throughout the US that it considers bin Laden-related (see August 6, 2001). CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group or bin Laden supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives (see May 16-17, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 223]

In retrospect, the briefing is remarkable for the many warnings that apparently are not included (see for instance, from the summer of 2001 prior to August alone: May 2001, June 2001, June 12, 2001, June 19, 2001, Late Summer 2001, July 2001, July 16, 2001, Late July 2001, Late July 2001, Summer 2001, June 30-July 1, 2001, July 10, 2001, and Early August 2001). According to one account, after the PDB has been given to him, Bush tells the CIA briefer, “You’ve covered your ass now” (see August 6, 2001). Incredibly, the New York Times later reports that after being given the briefing, Bush “[breaks] off from work early and [spends] most of the day fishing.” [New York Times, 5/25/2002] In 2002 and again in 2004, National Security Adviser Rice will incorrectly claim under oath that the briefing only contained historical information from 1998 and before (see May 16, 2002 and April 8, 2004).

Two apparent associates of the al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, Ismail Bin Murabit (a.k.a. Ismail Ben Mrabete) and Labed Ahmed (a.k.a. Ahmed Taleb), purchase tickets to fly to Pakistan on September 3, 2001. They will be joined on that flight by cell member Said Bahaji (see September 3-5, 2001). All three will disappear into Afghanistan thereafter. It is later discovered that Ahmed had been in e-mail contact with al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida. [Chicago Tribune, 2/25/2003] Note that these purchases occur one day before Zacarias Moussaoui’s arrest in Minnesota, suggesting the date for the 9/11 attacks was set before his arrest (see August 16, 2001).

August 24, 2001: Foreign Intelligence Warns US of Al-Qaeda Plot to Attack within US

The 9/11 Commission later will note that at this time, an unnamed foreign intelligence “service report that [al-Qaeda deputy leader] Abu Zubaida [is] considering mounting terrorist attacks in the United States, after postponing possible operations in Europe. No targets, timing or method of attack [are] provided.” Newsweek will suggest that most or all of this information may have come from a US debriefing of al-Qaeda bomber Ahmed Ressam in May 2001 (see May 30, 2001). Newsweek will note that it is a common occurrence for foreign intelligence agencies to “simply rereport to the CIA what it had originally learned from the FBI through separate channels.” Still, even “the multiple channels for Ressam’s warnings [do] little to change thinking within the FBI or CIA…” [Newsweek, 4/28/2005; US District Court of Eastern Virginia, 5/4/2006, pp. 6 ] However, it is possible the information could be more than a mirror of what Ressam said, since a number of Western intelligence agencies are monitoring Zubaida’s phone calls before 9/11 (see October 1998 and After).

2001: NSA Intercepts Phone Calls from Al-Qaeda Leader Zubaida to the US

The NSA intercepts “multiple phone calls from Abu Zubaida, bin Laden’s chief of operations, to the United States.” The timing and information contained in these intercepted phone calls has not been disclosed. [ABC News, 2/18/2002] In 2007, author and former CIA officer Robert Baer will comment that “apparently, when Abu Zubaida was captured, telephone records, including calls to the United States, were found in the house he was living in. The calls stopped on September 10, and resumed on September 16 (see September 16, 2001 and After). There’s nothing in the 9/11 Commission report about any of this, and I have no idea whether the leads were run down, the evidence lost or destroyed.” [Time, 12/7/2007] US intelligence had just been warned about a week earlier that Zubaida may be planning an attack on the US (see August 24, 2001). Zubaida’s exact position within al-Qaeda is disputed; he will be captured in 2002 (see March 28, 2002). It appears that a number of Western intelligence agencies were monitoring Zubaida’s calls since at least late 1998 (see October 1998 and After), and continue monitoring his calls in the weeks after 9/11 (see October 8, 2001).

September 10, 2001: NSA Intercepts: ‘The Match Begins Tomorrow’ and ‘Tomorrow Is Zero Hour’

At least two messages in Arabic are intercepted by the NSA. One states, “The match is about to begin” and the other states, “Tomorrow is zero hour.” Later reports translate the first message as, “The match begins tomorrow.” [Reuters, 9/9/2002] The messages were sent between someone in Saudi Arabia and someone in Afghanistan. The NSA will claim that they are not translated until September 12, and that even if they had been translated in time, “they gave no clues that authorities could have acted on.” [ABC News, 6/7/2002; Reuters, 6/19/2002] Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Bob Graham will later confirm that the messages were from al-Qaeda sources—a location or phone number—that made them a high priority, but that they were not from bin Laden or one of his top commanders. [Graham and Nussbaum, 2004, pp. 139] On the morning of September 12, 2001, the CIA will tell President Bush that a recently intercepted message from al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida referred to the 9/11 attacks as “zero hour,” but it is not clear if this is the same message or a different message (see September 12, 2001). These messages turn out to be only two of about 30 pre-9/11 communications from suspected al-Qaeda operatives or other militants referring to an imminent event. An anonymous official will say of these messages, including the “Tomorrow is zero hour” message: “You can’t dismiss any of them, but it does not tell you tomorrow is the day.” [Reuters, 9/9/2002] There will be a later attempt to explain the messages away by suggesting they referred to the killing of Afghan opposition leader Ahmed Shah Massoud the day before (see September 9, 2001). [Reuters, 10/17/2002]

to President Bush Lays Out Evidence of Bin Laden Responsibility for Attacks

Mike Morell. [source: Public domain]CIA Director George Tenet arrives at the White House to give the president his daily intelligence briefing. With him is Mike Morell, the president’s regular CIA briefer. They meet with Bush at 8 a.m. in the Oval Office, joined by Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. The Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) on this day is about ten to twelve pages long, and a further twelve pages includes full reports from case officers, the Directorate of Intelligence, and the National Security Agency. The PDB includes a review of the available intelligence tracing the previous day’s attacks back to Osama bin Laden and his top al-Qaeda associates. Among the evidence presented:

Several reports identify Capitol Hill and the White House as intended targets of the attacks.

One report says a bin Laden associate incorrectly “gave thanks for the explosion in the Congress building.”

A key figure in the al-Qaeda charity front the Wafa Humanitarian Organization had initially claimed that “The White House has been destroyed,” but then had to correct himself.

A report shows that al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan had said at 9:53 a.m. the previous day that the attackers were following through with “the doctor’s program” (see 9:53 a.m. September 11, 2001). This is thought to be a reference to the second-ranking member of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician often referred to as “the Doctor.”

The CIA and the FBI have evidence connecting at least three of the alleged hijackers to Osama bin Laden and his training camps in Afghanistan. Hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Almihdhar, and Salem Alhazmi were quickly linked to al-Qaeda on the day of 9/11, as two of them were on a US watch list even before 9/11 (see 9:53 p.m. September 11, 2001). The attacks were also consistent with intelligence reports throughout the summer that indicated bin Laden was planning “spectacular attacks” against US targets.

A report out of Kandahar, Afghanistan shows the attacks were “the results of two years’ planning.”

Another report says the attacks were “the beginning of the wrath.”

A key piece of evidence involves Abu Zubaida, who has been identified as the chief field commander for the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. A supposedly reliable report received after the 9/11 attacks stated that Zubaida had referred to September 11 as “zero hour.” It is not known is an intercepted message from before 9/11 saying “tomorrow is zero hour,” or some other message (see September 10, 2001).

According to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, “For Tenet, the evidence on bin Laden was conclusive—game, set, match.” Though Tenet, along with Rice and other officials, has already spent several months working on a plan to vastly expand covert action in Afghanistan and worldwide, he tells Bush that an even more extensive plan will soon be presented for approval, and this will be very expensive. The president tells him, “Whatever it takes.” [Woodward, 2002, pp. 39-41; Washington Post, 1/28/2002; Kessler, 2003, pp. 231-233; Tenet, 2007, pp. 165] Bush will approve Tenet’s plan by the following Monday (see September 17, 2001).

Entity Tags: Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi, Michael J. Morell, Osama bin Laden, Khalid Almihdhar, George J. Tenet, Wafa Humanitarian Organization, Abu Zubaida, George W. Bush, Al-Qaeda, Condoleezza Rice, Central Intelligence Agency, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney

September 16, 2001 and After: Zubaida Continues Making Calls to US

In 2007, former CIA officer Robert Baer will comment in Time magazine, “[A]pparently, when [al-Qaeda leader] Abu Zubaida was captured, telephone records, including calls to the United States, were found in the house he was living in. The calls stopped on September 10, and resumed on September 16. There’s nothing in the 9/11 Commission report about any of this, and I have no idea whether the leads were run down, the evidence lost or destroyed.” [Time, 12/7/2007] In fact, it seems likely the calls were monitored at the time by US intelligence and not just discovered after Zubaida’s capture in 2002. For instance, it has been reported elsewhere that Zubaida’s calls to the US in the week before 9/11 were being monitored by US intelligence (see Early September 2001) and 70 calls Zubaida made to operatives in Bosnia were monitored in the weeks just after 9/11 (see October 8, 2001). These calls to the US after 9/11 would suggest that al-Qaeda continues to have operatives there, but there have been no reports of any genuine al-Qaeda operatives arrested in the US in the weeks and months after 9/11 except for Nabil al-Marabh arrested on September 19, 2001 (see September 19, 2001).

October 8, 2001: US Still Monitoring Zubaida’s Phone Calls; Bosnian Plot Possibly Foiled

Bensayah Belkacem at Guantanamo. [source: US Defense Department]US intelligence intercepts numerous phone calls between Abu Zubaida and other al-Qaeda leaders and Bensayah Belkacem, an operative living in Bosnia. The New York Times will later report that shortly after 9/11, “American intelligence agencies, working closely with the government of neighboring Croatia, listened in as Mr. Belkacem and others discussed plans for attacks.” One US official says, “He was apparently on the phone constantly to Afghanistan, with Zubaida and others. There were dozens of calls to Afghanistan.” Belkacem, an Algerian, had moved to Bosnia to fight in the early 1990s war there, then obtained Bosnian citizenship and settled in Zenica, working for an Islamic charity. [New York Times, 1/23/2002] On October 8, 2001, Bosnian police detain Belkacem. While searching his home, they find a piece of note listing the name “Abu Zubeida” and Zubaida’s phone number. [Washington Post, 8/21/2006] It is later revealed that Belkacem made 70 calls to Zubaida between 9/11 and his arrest and more calls before then. He had repeatedly sought a visa to leave Bosnia for Germany just before 9/11. Phone transcripts show Zubaida and Belkacem discussed procuring passports. [Time, 11/12/2001] A US official will later claim that it was believed Zubaida was in Afghanistan with bin Laden at the time of Belkacem’s arrest. [New York Times, 1/23/2002] It has not been explained why this knowledge was not used to capture or kill Zubaida and/or bin Laden. It appears that Western intelligence agencies had been monitoring Zubaida’s calls as far back as 1996 (see (Mid-1996) and October 1998 and After). Belkacem and five of his associates will be renditioned to Guantanamo Bay prison in 2002 and remain imprisoned there (see January 18, 2002).

Late 2001-Early 2002: Pakistani Militant Group Helps Al-Qeada Operatives Escape into Pakistan

After US forces conquer Kandahar, Afghanistan, in early December 2001, al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida gets Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) to help al-Qaeda operatives escape from Afghanistan to Pakistan. LeT has already given operatives safe houses in the Pakistani cities of Peshawar and Muzaffarabad, trained them there, and helped them travel to Afghanistan to fight US troops. This is according to US government documents leaked by the nonprofit whistleblower group Wikileaks in 2011. These documents provide some details:

In 2002, three suspected al-Qaeda operatives are arrested in a safe house in Lahore, Pakistan, run by a LeT member. This person had been helping al-Qaeda operatives and their families move to Lahore. Pakistani officials transfer the three al-Qaeda suspects to US custody, but they release the LeT member. [Express Tribune, 5/12/2011]

On December 11, 2001, a Saudi named Abdul Aziz al-Matrafi is arrested by police at the Lahore airport. Al-Matrafi is the director of the Wafa Humanitarian Organization, a non-profit organization that the US officially designated an al-Qaeda front in late September 2001 (see September 24, 2001). Al-Matrafi had been staying at an LeT linked non-profit in Lahore, and LeT provided him with a visa and exit paperwork to leave Pakistan. Al-Matrafi is handed over to US custody several days later, and he will eventually be sent to the US-run prison in Guantanamo. [uS Department of Defense, 10/25/2007; Express Tribune, 5/12/2011]

A Saudi named Jabir Hasan Mohammad al-Qahtani, a suspected al-Qaeda operative who also works for the Wafa Humanitarian Organization, is captured in Kabul, Afghanistan, in mid-November 2001. He is discovered to possess 16 $100 bills. He will later be transferred to the Guantanamo prison. An intelligence analyst will later note: “There were individuals passing out $100 notes to al-Qaeda fighters fleeing Afghanistan for Pakistan. This may have been a part of the help that LeT provided al-Qaeda members.” [uS Department of Defense, 2/11/2005; Express Tribune, 5/12/2011]

When al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida is captured in Faisalabad, Pakistan, on March 28, 2002 (see March 28, 2002), more than 30 other suspected al-Qaeda operatives are arrested at the same time. These arrests take place in two safe houses in Faisalabad run by LeT. The safe houses are apparently run by Hamidullah Khan Niazi, an educational professor and head of the LeT in Faisalabad. Niazi’s house is raided at the same time, and he and 11 others are arrested. According to media reports shortly after the raid, electronic intercepts show that Niazi’s home phone was used by Lashkar-e-Toiba members to help al-Qaeda. However, Niazi and the others at his house are released several days later. [Observer, 4/7/2002; New York Times, 4/14/2002; US Department of Defense, 11/11/2008] But The Observer reports that local police nevertheless say Niazi’s “apparent links to Zubaida are evidence that Pakistan’s militant Islamic fringe is providing key assistance to al-Qaeda as it tries to regroup.” [Observer, 4/7/2002]

In 2003, the London Times will report, “US intelligence says [Lashkar-e-Toiba] smuggled [Zubaida] out of Afghanistan, taking advantage of the fact that police never stop their distinctive Landcruisers, which have tinted windows and Free Kashmir numberplates.” [London Times, 3/30/2003]

As some of the examples above indicate, al-Qaeda operatives are often taken into US custody while LeT members are often let go, even though the US names LeT a terrorist group in December 2001 (see December 20, 2001). This may be due to ties between LeT and the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency. For instance, a 2009 diplomatic cable by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will note continued links between the ISI and LeT (see December 2009).

2002: European Intelligence Agencies Monitor Al-Qaeda Relocating in Pakistan

In September 2002, shortly after the arrest of al-Qaeda leader Ramzi bin al-Shibh in Karachi, Pakistan (see September 11, 2002), the New York Times will report: “Even before Mr. bin al-Shibh’s arrest, European officials warned that al-Qaeda appeared to have shifted much of its operations in Pakistan to Karachi. A year ago, 90 percent of communications and other links between suspected al-Qaeda members in Europe and individuals in Pakistan were traced to the city of Peshawar, near the Afghan border, a European law enforcement official said. As of this spring, roughly half of intercepted communications and other links were being traced to Karachi.” A European diplomat comments, “Obviously the brains and money for the terrorists have shifted from Peshawar to Karachi.” [New York Times, 9/15/2002] Presumably many of the communications to Peshawar involve al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida, considered a key communications hub and who has been monitored by a number of intelligence agencies, including the French, since at least 1998 (see October 1998 and After). Zubaida moves from his long-time base in Peshawar to the Pakistani city of Faisalabad after 9/11 and is captured there in March 2002 (see March 28, 2002). Al-Qaeda leaders Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh are interviewed in Karachi around June 2002, a fact that is quickly shared with US intelligence (see June 14, 2002 and Shortly After).

Edited by Steven Gaal
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Abu Zubaydah is part of the very beginning of Al-Qaeda. British,French,CIA,NSA all monitor him. Only a clown dosent think him Al-Qaeda.

I agree with you 100% but it was RYAN who insisted that “we now know that Zubayda was never an al Qaeda operative, or even an al Qaeda associate” and I who dismissed that notion. Thus Ryan by your definition is a clown”and so must you as well since you obviously backed his conclusion, you posted his essay w/o comment.

Edited by Len Colby
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Yet in September, 2009, the U.S. government admitted that Zubaydah was never a member or associate of al Qaeda at all. These facts raise an alarming number of questions about the veracity of our knowledge about al Qaeda, and the true identity of the people who are said to be behind the 9/11 attacks. // RYAN

================================================

Now that the US government has admitted that it has no case against Abu Zubaydah and that he was never associated with al Qaeda, will they release him? As attorney Mickum requested, will his client be allowed to tell his own story? More importantly, will the official accounts of 9/11 be reviewed to extricate claims allegedly made by and about Zubayda so that those false claims do not to provide additional false direction in War on Terror?

No, almost certainly not.

As with the court order to classify “any statements made by the accused” in the trials of KSM and other suspects,[51] if this man is allowed to speak we may find that his mind has not been completely obliterated through the torture we inflicted upon him. And we may find that the official myth of 9/11 and al Qaeda will not hold up against the open and un-tortured testimony of the people alleged to have committed the crimes of 9/11. In the end, it seems that the Zubaydah case is a threat to al Qaeda itself as well as a public admission that some lies must be kept under wraps in order to maintain the overall deception that supports the War on Terror. // RYAN

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The reason the government now says Zubaydah not al-Queda is that its lifts the veil and reveals FOREKNLOWLEDGE.

RYAN only restates the government position as a devils advocate showing the weakness of the governments STORY that non penetrated al-Qaeda did 911 without help/knowlege of western governmental sources.,

+++++++++++++++++

Gee .....Government says Zubaydah not al-Queda. Colby says those who think Zubaydah not al-Queda.are clowns,thus Government is clown ......makes me think.....uhummm......uhummmm.....yeah 911 Commission government and NIST are government ....OH !!!

Oh !!! Colby must then believe 911 Commission and NIST are clowns !!!!!!!!!!!!! Now Maxwell Colby is on the right track.

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Gee .....Government says Zubaydah not al-Queda.

Wrong see above, they never said any such thing, Ryan did and you endorsed his conclusion, then you come back and said “only a clown” believes this. So tell us one way or the other, without dodging or equivocation do you or don't think he was a member of AQ?

Colby says those who think Zubaydah not al-Queda.are clowns,

You said the exact same thing and I agreed.

thus Government is clown

False conclusion based on false premise, see above.

......makes me think.....uhummm......uhummmm.....yeah 911 Commission government and NIST are government ....OH !!!

Oh !!! Colby must then believe 911 Commission and NIST are clowns !!!!!!!!!!!!!

NIST? NIST? LOL please point to where they made any reference to AQ or OBL let alone Zubaydah

http://www.nist.gov/customcf/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=909017

Now Maxwell Colby is on the right track.

LOL uuuuh, the irony

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Gee .....Government says Zubaydah not al-Queda.

// GAAL

Wrong see above, they never said any such thing, Ryan did and you endorsed his conclusion, then you come back and said “only a clown” believes this. So tell us one way or the other, without dodging or equivocation do you or don't think he was a member of AQ? // END COLBY

COLBY WRONG

http://www.foreignpo...-to-al-qaeda/0/

U.S. officials have said that Abu Zubaida was a senior al-Qaeda terrorist. They claimed that he was the ‘No. 3 man’ in al-Qaeda, its chief of operations, who worked directly with Osama bin Laden. They said that he was personally involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and every other major al-Qaeda operation and knew the details of future attack plans.

But all of these assertions were wrong.[50]

Now that the US government has admitted that it has no case against Abu Zubaydah

[50] Amanda L. Jacobsen, Why hasn’t Abu Zubaida been tried?, The Washington Post, March 28, 2012

MAXWELL COLBY STRIKES AGAIN !!

Edited by Steven Gaal
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The cited source was an Op-Ed written by one of his lawyers, which you know but opted to omit from your reply. She in turn cited a WP article which reported "Intelligence, military and law enforcement sources told The Washington Post this year that officials later concluded he was a Pakistan-based "fixer" for radical Islamist ideologues, but not a formal member of al-Qaeda, much less one of its leaders." So it seems his importance was exaggerated but this does little to change the "official" narrative of 9/11 since the 9/11 Commission never said he was involved in planning or executing the attacks

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  • 911 COMMISSION USED ZUBAYHA INFO
    Information from CIA interrogations of two of the three—KSM and Abu Zubaydah—is cited throughout two key chapters of the panel's report focusing on the planning and execution of the attacks and on the history of Al Qaeda.
    Footnotes in the panel's report indicate when information was obtained from detainees interrogated by the CIA. An analysis by NBC News found that more than a quarter of the report's footnotes—441 of some 1,700—referred to detainees who were subjected to the CIA's "enhanced" interrogation program, including the trio who were waterboarded.
    Commission members note that they repeatedly pressed the Bush White House and CIA for direct access to the detainees, but the administration refused. So the commission forwarded questions to the CIA, whose interrogators posed them on the panel's behalf.
  • ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
  • FBI officials say just loud mouth
  • Abu Zubaida was well-known to the FBI as being literally crazy. The Washington Post quotes "FBI officials, including agents who questioned [alleged Al-Qaeda member Abu Zubaida] after his capture or reviewed documents seized from his home" as concluding that he was:

    [L]argely a loudmouthed and mentally troubled hotelier whose credibility dropped as the CIA subjected him to a simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding and to other "enhanced interrogation" measures.


  • AGENT SMART USE TO SAY,"Missed it by thaaaat much"
  • BUT SOME SAY IMPORTANT + A CONFLICT

  • along with KSM, one of “Al Qaeda’s top operational managers” – “Counterterrorism Czar”Richard Clarke, in his book Against All Enemies
  • “sinister” and “there is evidence that he is a planner and a manager as well. I think he’s a major player.” – Former State Department director of counter-terrorism, Michael Sheehan [8]
  • “extremely dangerous” and a planner of 9/11. – State Department legal advisor John B. Bellinger III in a June 2007 briefing.[9]
  • a trainer, a recruiter, understood bomb-making, was a forger, a logistician, and someone who made things happen, and made “al-Qaeda function.” – Former CIA station chief, Bob Grenier [10]
  • “a close associate of UBL’s, and if not the number two, very close to the number two person in the organization. I think that’s well established.” -Donald Rumsfeld [11]
  • “a very senior al Qaeda official who has been intimately involved in a range of activities for the al Qaeda.” – Donald Rumsfeld [12]
  • a “very senior al Qaeda operative.” – Donald Rumsfeld
  • a “key terrorist recruiter and operational planner and member of Osama bin Laden’s inner circle.” – White House spokesman Ari Fleischer [13]
  • someone whose capture was a “very serious blow” to al-Qaeda and therefore one of al-Qaeda’s “many tentacles” was “cut off.” – White House spokesman Ari Fleischer
  • “one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.” –President George W. Bush [14]
  • “one of al-Qaeda’s top leaders” who was “spending a lot of time as one of the top operating officials of al Qaeda, plotting and planning murder.” –President George W. Bush [15]
  • “al Qaeda’s chief of operations.” – President George W. Bush [16]
  • “one of the top three leaders” in al-Qaeda. – President George W. Bush [17]
  • someone whose interrogation “led to reliable information”, a “prolific producer” of information, with whom originated roughly 25 percent of the information on al Qaeda that came from human sources. – Michael Hayden [18]
  • one of three individuals “best positioned to know about impending terrorist atrocities.” – Michael Hayden [19]
  • *******************************************************************************

Edited by Steven Gaal
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  • 911 COMMISSION USED ZUBAYHA INFO
    Information from CIA interrogations of two of the three—KSM and Abu Zubaydah—is cited throughout two key chapters of the panel's report focusing on the planning and execution of the attacks and on the history of Al Qaeda.
    Footnotes in the panel's report indicate when information was obtained from detainees interrogated by the CIA. An analysis by NBC News found that more than a quarter of the report's footnotes—441 of some 1,700—referred to detainees who were subjected to the CIA's "enhanced" interrogation program, including the trio who were waterboarded.
    Commission members note that they repeatedly pressed the Bush White House and CIA for direct access to the detainees, but the administration refused. So the commission forwarded questions to the CIA, whose interrogators posed them on the panel's behalf.
  • ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
  • FBI officials say just loud mouth
  • Abu Zubaida was well-known to the FBI as being literally crazy. The Washington Post quotes "FBI officials, including agents who questioned [alleged Al-Qaeda member Abu Zubaida] after his capture or reviewed documents seized from his home" as concluding that he was:
    [L]argely a loudmouthed and mentally troubled hotelier whose credibility dropped as the CIA subjected him to a simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding and to other "enhanced interrogation" measures.

  • AGENT SMART USE TO SAY,"Missed it by thaaaat much"

You are better at tossing out dumb insults and trawling truther sites then cutting and pasting what you turn up than verifying their claims or thinking for yourself. The truth is out of the report’s total of 1742 footnotes most of which cited various sources his diary was cited in one and his interrogation in about 16. Few if any of those referred directly to the plot.

The quote above is a classic example of the dishonest cherry picking going on here. The full paragraph is:

While CIA officials have described him as
an important insider
whose disclosures under intense pressure saved lives,
some
FBI agents and analysts say he is
largely a loudmouthed and mentally troubled hotelier whose credibility dropped as the CIA subjected him to a simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding and to other "enhanced interrogation" measures.

So the “truther” was intentionally deceptive editing out the part that did fit with his pet theory. I have yet to see any solid evidence Zubaida was not an important player not from truthers, his lawyers or the MSM. Even the WP, AFAICT the only MSM source to cast doubt on his importance paints him as an important training camp operator and logistician which is not radically different from how he was portrayed in the 9/11 C. Rep.


  • BUT SOME SAY IMPORTANT + A CONFLICT

  • along with KSM, one of “Al Qaeda’s top operational managers” – “Counterterrorism Czar”Richard Clarke, in his book Against All Enemies
  • “sinister” and “there is evidence that he is a planner and a manager as well. I think he’s a major player.” – Former State Department director of counter-terrorism, Michael Sheehan [8]
  • “extremely dangerous” and a planner of 9/11. – State Department legal advisor John B. Bellinger III in a June 2007 briefing.[9]

[…]

  • “one of the top three leaders” in al-Qaeda. – President George W. Bush [17]
  • someone whose interrogation “led to reliable information”, a “prolific producer” of information, with whom originated roughly 25 percent of the information on al Qaeda that came from human sources. – Michael Hayden [18]
  • one of three individuals “best positioned to know about impending terrorist atrocities.” – Michael Hayden [19]
  • *******************************************************************************

None of the quotes above (even the ones I snipped out) came from the 9/11 C. Rep. due to their brevity and the tendency of truthers to cherry pick and distort (see above) they are hard to judge. Here’s another example I checked just one of the quotes, the one from Bellinger who supposedly indicated he was ‘a planner of 9/11’.But the State department official was referring to “many of the people we have captured in this conflict” not specifically to Zubaydah, Ryan is not a credible source.

http://2001-2009.sta...2007/112725.htm

Edited by Len Colby
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  • POST # 2 starts the insults by DEBUNKER COLBY Kevin Ryan who is a complete clown . //END Colby
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  • AGENT SMART USE TO SAY,"Missed it by thaaaat much"
  • June 2002: CIA Claims to Get Vital Intelligence from Torture of Zubaida, but Others Claim His Leads Are Mostly Vague and Useless
    In May 2002, the CIA began using new torture techniques on captured al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida (see Mid-May 2002 and After), and by June senior CIA officials prepare a preliminary report to determine whether Zubaida’s confessions are accurate or not. According to author Gerald Posner, they “found nothing that could definitively prove Zubaida a xxxx. And they had uncovered some minor corroborating evidence about the times and places of the meetings he had mentioned, which meant he could be telling the truth.” [Posner, 2003, pp. 192] Vanity Fair will later comment that the “CIA would go on to claim credit for breaking Zubaida, and celebrate [James] Mitchell”—the psychologist who devised the torture techniques used on Zubaida by the CIA (see Late 2001-Mid-March 2002, January 2002 and After, and Mid-April 2002)—“as a psychological wizard who held the key to getting hardened terrorists to talk. Word soon spread that Mitchell and [his business partner Bruce] Jessen had been awarded a medal by the CIA for their advanced interrogation techniques. While the claim is impossible to confirm, what matters is that others believed it. The reputed success of the tactics was ‘absolutely in the ether,’ says one Pentagon civilian who worked on detainee policy.” [Vanity Fair, 7/17/2007]
    Much Intelligence Comes from His Possessions and FBI Interrogations - However, the reliability of Zubaida’s confessions remains controversial years later, and several factors complicate accessing their impact. For one, it appears that some of his most important confessions took place a month earlier when the FBI was interrogating him using rapport building instead of torture (see Late March through Early June, 2002). What the New York Times calls his two most notable confessions—that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the 9/11 mastermind and giving up the name of Jose Padilla, a militant living in the US—appear to come from this earlier period, although some accounts conflict. [New York Times, 6/27/2004; Suskind, 2006, pp. 116-117; New York Times, 9/10/2006; Vanity Fair, 7/17/2007] Furthermore, it is often not clear what was obtained from Zubaida’s confessions and what was obtained from his possessions. Journalist Ron Suskind will later write: “The phone numbers, computers, CDs, and e-mail address seized at Zubaida’s apartment now—a month after his capture—began to show a yield.… These higher-quality inputs were entered into big Cray supercomputers at NSA; many then formed the roots of a surveillance tree—truck to branches to limbs and buds.” [Suskind, 2006, pp. 116-117] So while it is said that information from Zubaida helped lead to the capture of al-Qaeda figures such as Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Omar al-Faruq, and Ahmed Muhammad al-Darbi, it is unclear where this information came from exactly. [Washington Post, 6/27/2004] Additionally, it is not even clear if he provided such leads. For instance, it has been reported that the main break that led to bin al-Shibh’s capture had nothing to do with Zubaida (see June 14, 2002 and Shortly After). [Salon, 9/7/2006]
    Zubaida Describes Vague and Unverifiable Plots - By most accounts, Zubaida’s confessions under torture around this time are frustratingly vague. He describes many planned attacks, such as al-Qaeda attacks on US shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and more. Red alerts are sounded and thousands of law enforcement personnel are activated each time, but the warnings are too vague to lead to any arrests. Suskind will later comment that Zubaida’s information was “maybe nonsense, maybe not. There was almost no way to tell.” [Suskind, 2006, pp. 115-116, 121] But Suskind will later say more definitively: “[Zubaida] said, as people will, anything to make the pain stop. And we essentially followed every word and various uniformed public servants of the United States went running all over the country to various places that Zubaydah said were targets, and were not. Ultimately, we tortured an insane man and ran screaming at every word he uttered.” [Salon, 9/7/2006] Posner claims that Zubaida provided “false information intended to misdirect his captors.” For instance, “He caused the New York police to deploy massive manpower to guard the Brooklyn Bridge at the end of May [2002], after he told his interrogators that al-Qaeda had a plan to destroy ‘the bridge in the Godzilla movie.’” [Posner, 2003, pp. 191]
    Link between Iraq, al-Qaeda - Perhaps the most important claims Zubaida makes, at least from the viewpoint of Bush administration officials, are his allegations of an operational relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Some of Zubaida’s claims will later be leaked by administration officials, particularly his assertion that Osama bin Laden’s ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was working directly with Saddam Hussein to destabilize the autonomous Kurdish regime in northern Iraq (see December 2001-Mid-2002, October 2, 2002, and January 28, 2003). A former Pentagon analyst will later say: “I first saw the reports soon after Abu Zubaida’s capture. There was a lot of stuff about the nuts and bolts of al-Qaeda’s supposed relationship with the Iraqi Intelligence Service. The intelligence community was lapping this up, and so was the administration, obviously. Abu Zubaida was saying Iraq and al-Qaeda had an operational relationship. It was everything the administration hoped it would be.” Another Pentagon analyst will recall: “As soon as I learned that the reports had come from torture, once my anger had subsided I understood the damage it had done. I was so angry, knowing that the higher-ups in the administration knew he was tortured, and that the information he was giving up was tainted by the torture, and that it became one reason to attack Iraq.” [Vanity Fair, 12/16/2008]
    Zubaida Appears to Be Feeding Interrogators' Expectations - Dan Coleman, the FBI’s top al-Qaeda expert at the time who was able to analyze all the evidence from Zubaida, will later claim that the CIA “got nothing useful from the guy.” [Congressional Quarterly, 12/14/2007] Coleman will say: “The CIA wants everything in five minutes. It’s not possible, and it’s not productive. What you get in that circumstance are captives and captors playing to each other’s expectations, playing roles, essentially, that gives you a lot of garbage information and nothing you can use.” [Suskind, 2006, pp. 114] Given his low position in the jihadist hierachy, Coleman will add, Zubaida “would not have known that if it was true. But you can lead people down a course and make them say anything.” [Vanity Fair, 12/16/2008] Counterterrorism “tsar” General Wayne Downing is apparently intimately involved in Zubaida’s interrogation and will later recall: “[Zubaida] and some of the others are very clever guys. At times I felt we were in a classic counter-interrogation class: They were telling us what they think we already knew. Then, what they thought we wanted to know. As they did that, they fabricated and weaved in threads that went nowhere. But, even with these ploys, we still get valuable information and they are off the street, unable to plot and coordinate future attacks.” [Washington Post, 12/26/2002] In legal papers to prepare for a military tribunal hearing in 2007, Zubaida himself will assert that he told his interrogators whatever they wanted to hear to make the torture stop. [Washington Post, 12/18/2007]
    +++++++++++++++++++
    MAYBE THE REAL REASON FOR PROBLEMS WITH Zubaida's credibility..+...he pointed to Saudi elites
  • see
    http://www.historyco...102zubaidatrick
  • Early April 2002: Al-Qaeda Leader Zubaida Allegedly Incriminates Saudi Princes
  • Prince Ahmed bin Salman. [source: Thoroughbred Corp.]Author Gerald Posner, controversial for his books dismissing JFK assassination and other conspiracy theories, will claim that a remarkable interrogation of al-Qaeda prisoner Abu Zubaida begins at this time. Zubaida, arrested three days earlier (see March 28, 2002), is flown to a US Special Forces compound outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan. There, he is tricked into thinking the US has handed him to the Saudis for a more brutal interrogation, but in fact “the Saudis” are still American agents. Zubaida expresses great relief at this and, under the influence of the “truth serum” sodium pentothal, tells his interrogators to call Prince Ahmed bin Salman, a nephew of the Saudi king. He provides telephone numbers from memory and says, “He will tell you what to do.” He proceeds to give more information and phone numbers, claiming ties with higher-ups in both the Saudi and Pakistani governments. He also names:
    Pakistani Air Force chief Mushaf Ali Mir, who is said to be closely tied to the fundamentalists in the ISI.
    Saudi Intelligence Minister Prince Turki al-Faisal.
    Prince Sultan bin Faisal, another nephew of the Saudi King.
    Prince Fahd bin Turki, another member of the Saudi royalty.
    9/11 'Rosetta Stone?' - According to Posner, Zubaida claims that all of these people were intermediaries he dealt with in the frequent transfer of money to al-Qaeda. The phone numbers and other details he provides are consistent with information already known by US intelligence. Zubaida then lays out many secrets about the 9/11 attacks. One unnamed investigator will later call them “the Rosetta Stone” of 9/11. According to Zubaida, he was present in a meeting in 1996 where the Pakistanis and the Saudis struck a deal with Osama bin Laden (see 1996), promising him protection, arms, and supplies in exchange for not being the targets of future terror attacks. He claims both governments were told the US would be attacked on 9/11, but not given the details of how the attack would work. Within months, all of the people named by Zubaida will die mysteriously except for Prince Turki, who is made an ambassador, giving him diplomatic immunity. [Posner, 2003, pp. 186-94]
    Zubaida Sent to Thailand - Shortly after his stint in Afghanistan, Zubaida is sent to a secret detention facility in Thailand, where he is subjected to extensive torture and abuse (see April - June 2002).
    Questionable Sourcing - Posner will say he learned of this story from two unnamed US government sources who gave similar, independent accounts. One is from the CIA and the other is a senior Bush administration official “inside the executive branch.” [salon, 10/18/2003] With the notable exception of a prominent Time magazine article [Time, 8/31/2003] , few news outlets will cover the story [MSNBC, 9/5/2003; Asia Times, 9/17/2003; Salon, 10/18/2003] , and some that cover it only do so in the form of book reviews. [Washington Post, 9/10/2003; New York Times, 10/12/2003; New York Times, 10/29/2003] Some experts will put forth the theory that the story could have been made up by neoconservatives interested in starting a war with Saudi Arabia. It is also possible Zubaida mixed facts with lies, as he will be found to have lied to interrogators on many other occasions. [salon, 10/18/2003] There will also be speculation that the gist of the story may be true, but that Zubaida’s Saudi and Pakistani contacts may have been pinned on dead men to protect the actual guilty parties. [Asia Times, 9/17/2003; Salon, 10/18/2003]
    Later Confirmation from US Government Officials - New York Times reporter James Risen will essentially repeat and confirm Posner’s account in his 2006 book State of War. He will add, “In addition to the incidents described by Posner, a senior former American government official said that the United States has obtained other evidence that suggests connections between al-Qaeda operatives and telephone numbers associated with Saudi officials.” Risen further points out, “There is no evidence that a thorough examination of [Zubaida’s] claims of ties to powerful Saudis was ever conducted.” [Risen, 2006, pp. 187] Also, in 2005, the New York Times will report that Michael Chertoff, who is currently a Justice Department official, advised the CIA about which interrogation techniques they could use on Abu Zubaida and others, and allowed the use of trickery to make the detainee believe “he was being questioned by a member of a security service from another country” (see 2002-2003).

Edited by Steven Gaal
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POST # 2 starts the insults by DEBUNKER COLBY Kevin Ryan who is a complete clown . //END Colby

Unless you're posting under a false name, you are not Mr. Ryan nor is he a member of this forum. If you were to Mike Williams, Mark Roberts, James Bennett or some other 'prominent' debunk would that justify my insulting you?

AGENT SMART USE TO SAY,"Missed it by thaaaat much"

As noted above ,"you are better at tossing out dumb insults and trawling truther sites then cutting and pasting what you turn up than verifying their claims or thinking for yourself."

PS - I have no idea what image you were trying to post but you screwed something up.

June 2002: CIA Claims to Get Vital Intelligence from Torture of Zubaida, but Others Claim His Leads Are Mostly Vague and Useless

  • In May 2002, the CIA began using new torture techniques on captured al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida (see Mid-May 2002 and After), and by June senior CIA officials prepare a preliminary report to determine whether Zubaida’s confessions are accurate or not. According to author Gerald Posner, they “found nothing that could definitively prove Zubaida a xxxx. And they had uncovered some minor corroborating evidence about the times and places of the meetings he had mentioned, which meant he could be telling the truth.” [Posner, 2003, pp. 192] Vanity Fair will later comment that the “CIA would go on to claim credit for breaking Zubaida, and celebrate [James] Mitchell”—the psychologist who devised the torture techniques used on Zubaida by the CIA (see Late 2001-Mid-March 2002, January 2002 and After, and Mid-April 2002)—“as a psychological wizard who held the key to getting hardened terrorists to talk. Word soon spread that Mitchell and [his business partner Bruce] Jessen had been awarded a medal by the CIA for their advanced interrogation techniques. While the claim is impossible to confirm, what matters is that others believed it. The reputed success of the tactics was ‘absolutely in the ether,’ says one Pentagon civilian who worked on detainee policy.” [Vanity Fair, 7/17/2007]

To make a long story short no one (but a couple of toofers) doubts the value of what he told before he was tortured but there is some dispute of the intel he gave after. Were some high level Saudis involved in 9/11? I think that should have been better investigated, but even if true that wouldn't change the basic narrative of 9/11. And even IF what Zubaida said before and after torture was unreliable that wouldn't change the narrative much either, especially not the 9/11 Com. Rep. for which he was only a minor source.

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Were some high level Saudis involved in 9/11? I think that should have been better investigated, but even if true that wouldn't change the basic narrative of 9/11. // end Colby

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Gee ever hear of 911 WTC security connection to Bush family and Bandar Bush ????????

COLBY missed it bt thaath much.

The Bush-Saudi Connection

By Michelle Mairesse

Ancestral Voices

In 1920, under a League of Nations mandate, officials from France and Great Britain carved up vast tracts of warlord-dominated territories in Arabia into what they imagined would be nation states devoid of the complex historical, cultural, and tribal realities of the Mideast.

Instead of establishing European-style nation states, the strongest warlords quickly entrenched themselves with the aid of standing armies and spy networks. In much of the Mideast, fealty is often accorded to tribal overlords and the Islamic sects they favor rather than to the territory and people within the boundaries of the nation state. Jonathan Rabin succinctly defines the reality, past and present, of the desert sheikdoms: "The systems of government that have evolved in Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are paranoid family dictatorships with ancestral roots in a single city or village." (1)

Islamic fundamentalists like Osama bin Laden make their appeals to the nation or community of believers, not to any particular nation state, although the rich and powerful among the Muslims have founded Western-style businesses and formed corporations both inside and outside the boundaries of their native countries. Because Osama himself is a scion of a rich Saudi family with wide-ranging business interests throughout the world, the split Saudi personality is most evident in him and the bin Laden clan. Osama, who calls America "The Great Satan," has done business with the infidel Americans whenever it suited him.

Throughout the eighties, when the United States assisted the Saudis in a giant military buildup of airfields, ports, and bases throughout the kingdom, many of the contracts were awarded to the largest construction company in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Binladen Group, founded by Osama bin Laden's father.

At the same time, the United States trained and armed troops in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. The United States and Saudi Arabia spent about $40 billion on the war in Afghanistan, recruiting, supplying, and training nearly 100,000 radical mujahideen from forty Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, and Afghanistan itself. Among the recruits were Osama bin Laden and his followers. (2)

With C.I.A. funding, Osama bin Laden imported engineers and equipment from his father's Saudi construction company to build tunnels for guerrilla training centers and hospitals, and for arms dumps near the Pakistan border. After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, the C.I.A. and the Pakistani intelligence agency sponsored the Taliban organization, a government composed of the fanatic Wahhabi Islamic sect, the same sect that is the state religion in Saudi Arabia. Although followers of the Wahhabi sect do not refer to themselves as Wahhabis, the label is useful because it applies to a single Muslim group with a set of beliefs peculiar to them alone: Wahhabis maintain that Shi'ites and Sufis are not Muslims, and that Muslims should not visit shrines or celebrate Mohammed's birthday. (3)

The Saudi sheiks have been Wahhabis since they intermarried with the family of a puritanical Muslim scholar, Mohammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab, in 1774. Supported first by Britain and later by the United States, the Saudis captured the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, easily gaining control of the entire Arabian peninsula.

Wherever they ruled, the Wahhabis imposed their medieval code on their hapless subjects, making public spectacles of stoning adulterers to death and maiming thieves, destroying decorated mosques and cemeteries, prohibiting music, sequestering women, and promoting war on infidels. The Saudi sheiks have lavished funds on anti-American and anti-Israeli terrorists-in-training while indoctrinating other Muslims through its worldwide network of religious schools, mosques, newspapers, and presses.

Jihad

The Wahhabi Taliban in Afghanistan had the blessings of the Saudi royal family and of The Big Three--the bin Laden family, the al Ahmoudi family, and the Mahfouz family--the richest clans in that medieval kingdom. (Khalid bin Mahfouz is bin Laden's brother-in-law, according to the C.I.A.). The desert oligarchs profited from world-wide investments as well as sleazy banking schemes such as the infamous Bank of Credit and Commerce International.

Salem bin Laden, Osama's brother, has conducted all his American affairs through James Bath, a Houston crony of the Bush family. Bath's former business partner Bill White testified in court that Bath had been a liaison for the C.I.A. In 1979 Bath invested $50,000 in Arbusto, George W. Bush's first business venture. Rumor had it that Bath was acting as Salem bin Laden's representative. "In conflicting statements, Bush at first denied ever knowing Bath, then acknowledged his stake in Arbusto and that he was aware Bath represented Saudi interests." (4)

In addition to doing aviation business with Saudi sheiks, Bath was part owner of a Houston bank whose chief stockholder was Ghaith Pharaon, who represented the Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI), a criminal global bank with branches in 73 countries. BCCI proceeded to defraud depositors of $10 billion during the '80s, while providing a money laundry conduit for the Medellin drug cartel, Asia's major heroin cartel, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, the C.I.A., and Islamist terrorist organizations worldwide. (5)

Big Three wheeler-dealer Khalid bin Mahfouz, one of the largest stockholders in the criminal bank, was indicted when the massive BCCI banking scandal blew apart in the early 1990s. The Saudi royal family placed him under house arrest after discovering that Mahfouz had used the royal bank to channel millions of dollars through fake charities into bin Laden's organizations, but Mahfouz was not so much punished as inconvenienced. (6)

Members of the Wahhabist Saudi oligarchy are driven by the sometimes conflicting emotions of power lust and religious fervor. Their support of radical Islamists follows from their ambition to dominate the Muslim world, but their fear that radical Islamists might overthrow the Saudi regime at home motivates them to fund and encourage holy warriors in countries other than their own.

As Daniel Pipes points out, jihad (holy war) is a central tenet of Muslim belief . "According to one calculation, Muhammad himself engaged in 78 battles, of which just one (the Battle of the Ditch) was defensive. Within a century after the prophet's death in 632, Muslim armies had reached as far as India in the east and Spain in the west. " (7)

Pipes traces the bloody advance of fundamentalist jihadists against their twentieth century co-religionists. "Islamists, besides adhering to the primary conception of jihad as armed warfare against infidels, have also adopted as their own Ibn Taymiya's call to target impious Muslims. This approach acquired increased salience through the 20th century as Islamist thinkers . . . promoted jihad against putatively Muslim rulers who failed to live up to or apply the laws of Islam. The revolutionaries who overthrew the Shah of Iran in 1979 and the assassins who gunned down President Anwar Sadat of Egypt two years later overtly held to this doctrine. So does Osama bin Laden."

In 1989, bin Laden established al Qaeda (the Base) in Afghanistan to organize extremist Wahhabis and disperse their networks throughout the country. A year later, he returned to Saudi Arabia and founded a welfare agency for Arab-Afghan veterans. Bin Laden hoped to mobilize the veterans as a kind of religious-military army, but King Faud discouraged the venture. When King Faud invited 540,000 American troops to the kingdom to fight in the Gulf War, bin Laden lambasted the royal family and urged religious authorities to issue fatwahs (religious rulings) condemning the American infidels.

In 1991, Osama bin Laden and a band of Afghan veterans agitated in Sudan for a holy war against the enemies of Islam. In 1992, he claimed responsibility for the attack on American soldiers in Yemen, and again for attacks in Somalia in 1993. He was mum about the terrorist truck bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the explosion that killed six people and injured more than a thousand, but investigators knew bin Laden had donated heavily to the religious "charity" that financed the bombing operation.

Spiked Investigations

In February 1995, when he was appointed chief of the F.B.I.'s counter-terrorism section in Washington, John O'Neill immediately assembled and coordinated a team to capture Ramzi Yousef, who was en route from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Yousef was strongly suspected of planning and directing the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

In three days, the kingpin of the World Trade Center bombing was in custody, and O'Neill went on to accumulate damning evidence against the 1993 World Trade bombers that led to their conviction in American courts. For the next six years, John O'Neill tirelessly investigated terrorist strikes against Americans and American interests in Saudi Arabia, East Africa, and Yemen, often encountering American officials' roadblocks on the way. Even in 1996, after Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl turned himself in at the American Embassy in Eritrea and divulged details of bin Laden's and al Qaeda's organization and operations, the State Department refused to list al Qaeda as a terrorist organization.

In February 1998, bin Laden assembled a number of terrorist groups, including Islamic Jihad, and issued a fierce fatwa calling for the deaths of all Americans. On August 7, 1998, 226 people died in the simultaneous bombing of American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Investigators blamed bin Laden for the attacks. On August 20, 1998, President Clinton amended Executive Order 12947 to add Osama bin Laden and his key associates to the list of terrorists, thus blocking their US assets--including property and bank accounts--and prohibiting all U.S. financial transactions with them. The United States conducted a missile attack against bin Laden's facilities in Afghanistan.

On October 12, 2000, two suicide bombers ignited their boatload of explosives next to the USS Cole, an American destroyer refueling in Aden, off the coast of Yemen. The blast killed seventeen sailors and wounded thirty-nine others. O'Neill and his crack investigating team were dispatched to Yemen and hit a stone wall. He had hoped satellite intercepts of phone calls between an al Qaeda operative in Aden and Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan would lead him to the mastermind of the Cole attack, but the American ambassador and the Yemeni officials blocked the investigation at every turn.

O'Neill resigned from the F.B.I. in July 2001 and signed on as security chief for the World Trade Center in September. He died in the WTC attack on September 11, 2001.

Oil Diplomacy

In Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for bin Laden, two French intelligence analysts, Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, claim that the Clinton and Bush administrations impeded investigations of bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist group in order to maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia and to maintain the stability of the oil market. "As the late John O'Neill told one of the authors [brisard] of this book, 'All of the answers, all of the clues allowing us to dismantle Osama bin Laden's organization, can be found in Saudi Arabia.'" (8)

In articles and interviews, Brisard has expanded on this statement, pronouncing the official story about bin Laden's exile from his native Saudi Arabia in 1994 and his frozen assets to be a canard. Not only did O'Neill and the F.B.I. have extensive information concerning the finances of bin Laden and al Qaeda, but the business connections between the bin Ladens, the Mahfouzes, the al Ahmoudis, the Saudi royal family, and the Bush family kept turning up in their investigations.

Mahfouz, who owns Nimir Petroleum, has conducted joint ventures with the al Amoudi family, which owns Delta Oil. Delta Oil and Unocal planned to build a pipeline through Afghanistan before the Taliban backed away. These Saudi companies are still partnered with bigger oil companies (such as Texaco and Unocal) in developing Central Asian oil projects.

Although Brisard's interpretation of events has been disputed, the documentation of Forbidden Truth is impeccable. Clearly, the finances and fortunes of the Saudi oligarchs and the Bush family have been intertwined for many years, and oil has been the lubricant of choice, even non-existent oil.

In The Conspirators, Al Martin describes an instance of the latter. He says that the Gulf Oil Drilling Supply, of New York, Miami, and Bahrain, was Jeb Bush's favorite artifice for oil and gas frauds:

"The fraud was rather simple. Richard Secord arranged through then Vice President George Bush Sr.'s old friend, Ghaith Pharaon, the then retired head of Saudi intelligence, for Gulf Oil and Drilling to purchase from the Saudi government oil and gas leases in the Gulf which were effectively worthless."

The leases would be embellished to appear extremely valuable and then used as loan collateral. Great American Bank and Trust of West Palm Beach subsequently failed under the weight of unpaid Iran-Contra loans.

"Also, in the case of Gulf Oil Drilling Supply, there was some moderately large international lending to that company. As you would suspect, it was principally out of the old George Bush friendly banks--Credit Lyonnais and Banque Paribas, which, combined lent $60 million dollars to Gulf Oil Drilling Supply, which, of course, was defaulted on later." (9)

Special Saudis

Michael Springmann, formerly chief of the visa section at the US Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, claims that he rejected hundreds of suspicious visa applications, but the C.I.A. officer overruled him and ordered the visas to be issued. Springmann protested to the State Department, the Office of Diplomatic Security, the F.B.I., the Justice Department and congressional committees, but in vain. (10)

Springmann observed that 15 of the 19 people who allegedly flew airplanes into buildings in the United States got their visas from the same CIA-dominated consulate in Jeddah. As a special favor to residents of Saudi Arabia (including non-Saudi citizens), applicants for non-immigrant visas can apply at private travel agencies and receive their visa through the mail. During the months following the 9-11 attack, 102 applicants received their visas by mail, 2 more were interviewed, and none were rejected.

The Saudis always got special treatment. In a November 6, 2001 BBC broadcast Greg Palast revealed just how special that treatment was. Even after Pakistan expelled the World Association of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and India claimed that the organization was linked to terrorist bombings in Kashmir and the Philippines military accused WAMY of funding Muslim insurgency, the F.B.I. got orders to leave the "charitable association" alone.

After 9/11, investigators of the Islamic charities discovered overwhelming evidence that Saudis at all levels worked in tandem with the terrorists. David Kaplin reports, "At the Saudi High Commission in Bosnia, which coordinated local aid among Saudi charities, police found before-and-after photos of the World Trade Center, files on pesticides and crop dusters, and information on how to counterfeit State Department badges. At Manila's international airport, authorities stopped Agus Dwikarna, an al Haramain representative based in Indonesia. In his suitcase were C4 explosives." The interlocking charities make it difficult to follow the money trail. "Many share directors, office space, and cash flow. For two years, investigators have followed the money to offshore trusts and obscure charities which, according to court records, they believe are tied to Hamas, al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups." (US News and World Report, December 15, 2003).

"The White House official line is that the Bin Ladens are above suspicion --apart from Osama, the black sheep, who they say hijacked the family name. That's fortunate for the Bush family and the Saudi royal household, whose links with the Bin Ladens could otherwise prove embarrassing. But Newsnight has obtained evidence that the FBI was on the trail of other members of the Bin Laden family for links to terrorist organisations before and after September 11th." (11)

In the Boston Globe, March 11, 20004, Carl Unger, author of House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties, states that the 9/11 commission should ask who authorized the evacuation of 140 Saudi nationals on at least 8 aircraft making stops in 12 cities immediately following the attacks. "Many of the passengers were high-ranking members of the royal House of Saud. About 24 of them were members of the bin Laden family, which owned the Saudi Binladin Group, a multibillion-dollar construction conglomerate." Unger obtained passenger lists for 4 of the flights, which are posted on his website: www.houseofbush.com and includes the name of Prince Ahmed bin Salman.

"As reported last year by Gerald Posner in 'Why America Slept,' Prince Ahmed not only had alleged ties to Al Qaeda, but may also have known in advance that there would be attacks on 9/11. According to Posner, Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda operative who was part of Osama bin Laden's inner circle and was captured in 2002, made these assertions when he was interrogated by the CIA. The commission should ask Mueller about Zubaydah's interrogation. They should also ask whether the FBI interrogated Prince Ahmed before his departure.

"But Prince Ahmed will never be able to answer any questions because not long after the CIA interrogation, he died of a heart attack at the age of 43. Yet we do know that he was on one of the flights."

Unger believes that this episode "raises particularly sensitive questions for the administration. Never before in history has a president of the United States had such a close relationship with another foreign power as President Bush and his father have had with the Saudi royal family, the House of Saud. I have traced more than $1.4 billion in investments and contracts that went from the House of Saud over the past 20 years to companies in which the Bushes and their allies have had prominent positions -- Harken Energy, Halliburton, and the Carlyle Group among them. Is it possible that President Bush himself played a role in authorizing the evacuation of the Saudis after 9/11? What did he know and when did he know it?"

In October 2001, the Treasury Department identified the Muwafaq Foundation, largely endowed by Khalid bin Mahfouz, as an al Qaeda front that had funneled millions of dollars to bin Laden. Some families of the 9/11 victims have named Mahfouz and dozens of prominent Saudis, including members of the royal family, in a lawsuit that accuses the Saudis of funding the 9/11 terrorists. Bush administration officials stated that they would seek to have the suit dismissed or delayed. (12)

Senators Bob Graham and Richard C. Shelby, leaders of the congressional panel ending an investigation of the 9/11 attacks, said the administration should declassify information concerning Saudi funding of terrorists.

"Citing 'their people and a lot of their leaders and probably even the royal family,' Shelby said: 'I believe [the Saudis] cannot support so-called charities that support terrorism on a big scale, and then pretend that they're our friends or our allies.

"'As we get into the money trail, it might be embarrassing, but the American people need to know; the victims and their families need to know,' he added. Shelby and Graham said avoiding embarrassment and maintaining good relations with Saudi Arabia are not legitimate reasons to withhold information from the public.

"'The question is,' Graham said after the news conference, 'will we get [the information declassified] in 30 years when the archives are open, or will we get it in time, before the next attack?'" (13)

Doubtless one of the connections the senators referred to was the Princess Haifa, the wife of Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the United States for the last twenty years, the longest serving ambassador in Washington. Princess Haifa had been making monthly transfers, $130,000 in all, from her Washington bank account to a needy woman who relayed some of the checks to her husband and another man who assisted and funded the two hijackers who were based in San Diego. (14)

"The money moved into the family's bank account beginning in early 2000, just a few months after hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi arrived in Los Angeles from an Al Qaeda planning summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, according to the sources. Within days of the terrorists' arrival in the United States, Al Bayoumi befriended the two men who would eventually hijack American Flight 77, throwing them a welcoming party in San Diego and guaranteeing their lease on an apartment next door to his own. Al Bayoumi also paid $1,500 to cover the first two months of rent for Al Midhar and Alhazmi, although officials said it is possible that the hijackers later repaid the money." (15)

Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa professed their ignorance of the whole affair.

Mark Stein speculates about the recent visit Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa paid to George and Laura at the Crawford ranch, where they were received with the accolades usually reserved for heads of state. Bush must have known about the money transfers and Bandar must have known Bush knew, but apparently a good time was had by all.

"Meanwhile, Majeda Ibrahin, the woman the princess was sending all that money to, turns out to be married to Osama Basnan, another buddy of the al-Qa'eda duo, and one who subsequently celebrated 11 September as a 'wonderful, glorious day'. But here's an odd little thing: Mr Basnan is known to have been in Texas in April when Crown Prince Abdullah and his entourage flew in to the state to see Bush at the ranch. Just another coincidence? Well, sorta: he's supposed to have had a meeting in Houston with some big-time Saudi prince who deals with 'intelligence matters.' This seems an unusual degree of access for some schlub from San Diego who's in the US illegally, as it transpires. He is variously described as a Saudi government agent and al-Qa'eda sympathiser, as if these positions are mutually exclusive. The Saudi embassy say they've only received queries about this matter from the media, not from the FBI. Odd that. The federal government claims it needs vast new powers to track every single credit-card transaction and every single email of every single American, yet a prima facie link between the terrorists and Prince Bandar's wife isn't worth going over to the embassy to have a little chat about." (16)

Apparently it is not only the Saudis' oil riches that insulates them from criticism, but also their calculated distribution of largesse. The Saudis have contributed to every presidential library in recent decades. Not surprisingly, former ambassadors to Saudi Arabia from the United States end up being apologists for the corrupt, despotic Saudi regime. The Saudis have arranged that American ambassadors to their country not speak Arabic. The American embassy in Saudi Arabia gets all its information about the reactionary regime from the rulers.

Some of the Washington politicians who found the Saudi connection lucrative include Spiro Agnew, Frank Carlucci, Jimmy Carter, Clark Clifford, John Connally, James Baker, George H. W. Bush, William Simon and Caspar Weinberger. (17)

Profits before Patriotism

The Bush dynasty has always been comfortable putting profits before patriotism. Prescott Bush, Bush Senior's father, extended credit to Adolph Hitler and supplied him with raw materials during Word War II. The U. S. seized his assets under the Trading with the Enemy Act, but grandfather Bush found other ways to replenish the family coffers.

Bush Senior struck it rich in oil and in the defense industry. Mahfouz (yes, that Mahfouz), Prince Bandar and Prince Sultan (Bandar's father) were also heavily invested in the defense industry through their holdings in the Carlyle Group, where Bush Senior served on the board of directors. Founded in 1987 as a private investment group with strong connections to the Republican Party establishment, Carlyle increased its original investment of $130 million to $900 million when it went public in 2001.

"In recent years, Carlyle has been successful both at raising and making money. It has raised $14 billion in the last five years or so, and its annual rate of return has been 36 percent. Its 550 investors consist of institutions and wealthy individuals from around the world including, until shortly after September 2001, members of the bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia. The family--which has publicly disavowed links with Osama bin Laden--had been an investor since 1995." (18)

"As the eleventh largest US defence contractor, Carlyle is involved in nearly every aspect of military production, including making the big guns used on US naval destroyers, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle used by US forces during the Gulf War and parts used in most commercial and military aircraft. United Defense has joint ventures in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, two of the United States' closest military allies in the Middle East." (19)

It's passing strange that even as the hijacked planes smashed into the World Trade Center, the Carlyle Group was holding its annual investor conference. Shafig Bin Laden, brother of Osama Bin Laden, attended.

Bush Junior once served as an executive with Caterair, one of hundreds of companies Carlyle has bought and sold over the past 15 years, but he removed the record of this period from his resume.

In 1986, Bush Junior, to date a flop as a businessman, joined Harken Energy Corporation as a director and was awarded 212,000 shares of stock and other plums.

In 1987, Khalid bin Mahfouz arranged for BCCI investor Abdullah Bakhsh to purchase 17% of Harken. A Harken official acknowledged that Bush's White House connections had everything to do with the appointment. Somehow, the inexperienced, obscure firm was awarded a prime drilling contract by Bahrain, and Harken's stock price soared.

In June 1990, Bush Junior sold his Harken stock for a juicy $848,000, enabling him to pay off the loan he had assumed on buying shares in the Texas Rangers. Never mind that the Harken stock promptly tanked when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, for Abdullah Bakhsh, a major Harken shareholder and an investor in BCCI, who had purchased 17% of Harken Energy in 1987, got his money's worth. By 1990, Bakhsh's representative on Harken's board, Talet Othman, began attending Middle East policy discussions with President Bush Senior.

Now that Bush Junior occupies the White House, Bush Senior receives frequent CIA briefings (his prerogative as a former president). "In July 2001, Bush personally contacted Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah to 'clarify' his son's Middle East policies. Also during the summer of 2001, Bush forwarded his son a North Korea policy plan penned by 'Asia expert' and former ambassador to Korea, Donald Gregg. Gregg is a 31-year CIA veteran and the elder Bush's former national security adviser whose expertise involved participation in the Vietnam-era Phoenix Program (death squads), Air America heroin smuggling, 'pacification' efforts in El Salvador and Guatemala, the 'October Surprise,' and the Iran-Contra operation (for which Gregg received a Bush pardon in 1992)." (20)

Bush Junior has received more than advice from his father. He has taken on the team of hustlers and criminals that worked with George Herbert Walker Bush when he was Vice President and President of the United States of America.

Just as his father did, he invokes executive privilege to hide all evidence of collusion with the petroleum pashas who have enriched the Bushes and intimidated the rest of us.

Sandy Tolan, an I.F. Stone Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, asserts that what the Bush administration really wants in Iraq is a remapping of the Mideast. "The plan is, in its way, as ambitious as the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement between the empires of Britain and France, which carved up the region at the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The neo-imperial vision, which can be ascertained from the writings of key administration figures and their co-visionaries in influential conservative think tanks, includes not only regime change in Iraq but control of Iraqi oil, a possible end to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and newly compliant governments in Syria and Iran -- either by force or internal rebellion."

The Bushes are carriers of the deny-destroy-and-be-damned virus. Prescott Bush never apologized for trading with the Nazis. George Bush Senior professed to know nothing of the drug and arms dealing that funded the bloody, illegal Iran-Contra operations, although it was common knowledge that he directed them. He and his sons enriched themselves through shady real estate deals and financial manipulations that brought down entire banking and savings and loan institutions. They are all consummate inside traders, looting and leaving ruin in their wake.

President-Select George Bush is no exception. He has no scruples about exploiting his office for personal and family gain. The Texas governor who could joke about frying prisoners in the electric chair will not, as president, agonize over the decision to send young men and women into battle--or over denying them medical care when they are injured.

There is irrefutable evidence that highly-placed Saudis aided and supported the terrorists who murdered over 3000 American citizens on September 11, 2001. Yet George Bush persists in protecting and colluding with those who sponsor terrorists. Is this not an an act of treason?

Will George Bush ever be tried and convicted for war crimes?

Notes:

(1) Jonathan Raban, "Western conceit of nation-building ignores culture and history of Arabia," Seattle Times, November 24, 2002

(2) Michael Parenti, 9-11 Terrorism Trap: September 11 and Beyond (2000) City Lights Books, San Francisco

(3) Laura Secor, "Which Islam?," Boston Daily Globe, December 15, 2002

(4) Wayne Madsen, "Questionable Ties: Tracking bin Laden's money flow leads back to Midland, Texas,"

(5) "The Press on the BCCI-bin Mahfouz-bin Laden Intelligence Nexus, " Boston Herald , December 11, 2001

(6) Jonathan Beaty & S. C. Gwynne, The Outlaw Bank: A Wild Ride Into the Secret Heart of BCCI, (1993) Random House, New York

(7) Daniel Pipes, "Jihad: How Academics Have Camouflaged Its Real Meaning," December 2, 2002

(8) Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for bin Laden (2002) Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, New York

(9) Al Martin, The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran-Contra Insider (2002) National Liberty Press, LLC

(10) Center for Cooperative Research, "Hijackers who were under surveillance before 9/11"

(11) Greg Palast and David Pallister, "FBI and US Spy Agents Say Bush Spiked Bin Laden Probes Before 11 September," The Guardian, November 7, 2001

(12) Jeff Gerth and Judith Miller, "Saudis Called Slow to Help Stem Terror Finances," New York Times, November 28, 2002

(13) Dana Priest and Susan Schmidt, "9/11 Panel Criticizes Secrecy on Saudi Links," Washington Post, December 12 2002

(14) Greg Miller, Greg Krikorian and H.G. Reza, "FBI Looks at Saudi's Links to 9/11," Los Angeles Times, November 23, 2002

(15) Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, November 22, 2002

(16) Mark Steyn, "Bush and the Saudi Princess"

(17) Daniel Golden, James Bandler and Marcus Walker, Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2001 Posted at globalresearch.ca 5 October 2001

(18) James Hatfield, "Why would Osama bin Laden want to kill Dubya, his former business partner?" Online Journal, July 13, 2001

(19) Steve Lohr, "Gerstner to Be Chairman of Carlyle Group," New York Times, November 22, 2002

(20) Tim Shorrock uncovers the Bush connection to US defence giant the Carlyle Group, New Internationalist 347, July 2002

Edited by Steven Gaal
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Were some high level Saudis involved in 9/11? I think that should have been better investigated, but even if true that wouldn't change the basic narrative of 9/11. // end Colby

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Gee ever hear of 911 WTC security connection to Bush family and Bandar Bush ????????

This is largely truther myth the only connection is that until the fall of 2000 Marvin Bush was on the board of directors of a company involved in electronic security at the WTC. The rest of your post is smoke that doesn’t do anything for your case. I note that you are trying to change the subject again.

COLBY missed it bt thaath much.

Getting a bit old, and you can’t even spell it correctly

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