THE ATTACK LOOMS
7.1 FIRST ARRIVALS IN CALIFORNIA
In chapter 5 we described the Southeast Asia travels of Nawaf al Hazmi, Khalid al Mihdhar, and others in January 2000 on the first part of the "planes operation." In that chapter we also described how Mihdhar was spotted in Kuala Lumpur early in January 2000, along with associates who were not identified, and then was lost to sight when the group passed through Bangkok. On January 15, Hazmi and Mihdhar arrived in Los Angeles. They spent about two weeks there before moving on to San Diego.1
Two Weeks in Los Angeles
Why Hazmi and Mihdhar came to California, we do not know for certain. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the organizer of the planes operation, explains that California was a convenient point of entry from Asia and had the added benefit of being far away from the intended target area.2
Hazmi and Mihdhar were ill-prepared for a mission in the United States. Their only qualifications for this plot were their devotion to Usama Bin Ladin, their veteran service, and their ability to get valid U.S. visas. Neither had spent any substantial time in the West, and neither spoke much, if any, English.3
It would therefore be plausible that they or KSM would have tried to identify, in advance, a friendly contact for them in the United States. In detention, KSM denies that al Qaeda had any agents in Southern California. We do not credit this denial.4 We believe it is unlikely that Hazmi and Mihdhar--neither of whom, in contrast to the Hamburg group, had any prior exposure to life in the West--would have come to the United States without arranging to receive assistance from one or more individuals informed in advance of their arrival.5
KSM says that though he told others involved in the conspiracy to stay away from mosques and to avoid establishing personal contacts, he made an exception in this case and instructed Hazmi and Mihdhar to pose as newly arrived
Saudi students and seek assistance at local mosques. He counted on their breaking off any such relationships once they moved to the East Coast.6 Our inability to ascertain the activities of Hazmi and Mihdhar during their first two weeks in the United States may reflect al Qaeda tradecraft designed to protect the identity of anyone who may have assisted them during that period.
Hazmi and Mihdhar were directed to enroll in English-language classes upon arriving in Southern California, so that they could begin pilot training as soon as possible. KSM claims to have steered the two to San Diego on the basis of his own research, which supposedly included thumbing through a San Diego phone book acquired at a Karachi flea market. Contradicting himself, he also says that, as instructed, they attempted to enroll in three language schools in Los Angeles.7
After the pair cleared Immigration and Customs at Los Angeles International Airport, we do not know where they went.8 They appear to have obtained assistance from the Muslim community, specifically the community surrounding the King Fahd mosque in Culver City, one of the most prominent mosques in Southern California.
It is fairly certain that Hazmi and Mihdhar spent time at the King Fahd mosque and made some acquaintances there. One witness interviewed by the FBI after the September 11 attacks has said he first met the hijackers at the mosque in early 2000. Furthermore, one of the people who would befriend them--a man named Mohdar Abdullah--recalled a trip with Hazmi and Mihdhar to Los Angeles in June when, on their arrival, the three went to the King Fahd mosque. There Hazmi and Mihdhar greeted various individuals whom they appeared to have met previously, including a man named "Khallam." In Abdullah's telling, when Khallam visited the al Qaeda operatives at their motel that evening, Abdullah was asked to leave the room so that Hazmi, Mihdhar, and Khallam could meet in private. The identity of Khallam and his purpose in meeting with Hazmi and Mihdhar remain unknown.9
To understand what Hazmi and Mihdhar did in their first weeks in the United States, evidently staying in Los Angeles, we have investigated whether anyone associated with the King Fahd mosque assisted them. This subject has received substantial attention in the media. Some have speculated that Fahad al Thumairy--an imam at the mosque and an accredited diplomat at the Saudi Arabian consulate from 1996 until 2003--may have played a role in helping the hijackers establish themselves on their arrival in Los Angeles. This speculation is based, at least in part, on Thumairy's reported leadership of an extremist faction at the mosque.10
A well-known figure at the King Fahd mosque and within the Los Angeles Muslim community, Thumairy was reputed to be an Islamic fundamentalist and a strict adherent to orthodox Wahhabi doctrine. Some Muslims concerned about his preaching have said he "injected non-Islamic themes into his guidance/prayers at the [King Fahd] Mosque" and had followers "supportive of the events of September 11, 2001."11 Thumairy appears to have associated
with a particularly radical faction within the community of local worshippers, and had a network of contacts in other cities in the United States. After 9/11, Thumairy's conduct was a subject of internal debate among some Saudi officials. He apparently lost his position at the King Fahd mosque, possibly because of his immoderate reputation. On May 6, 2003, Thumairy attempted to reenter the United States from Saudi Arabia but was refused entry, based on a determination by the State Department that he might be connected with terrorist activity.12
When interviewed by both the FBI and the Commission staff, Thumairy has denied preaching anti-Western sermons, much less promoting violent jihad. More to the point, he claimed not to recognize either Hazmi or Mihdhar. Both denials are somewhat suspect. (He likewise denied knowing Omar al Bayoumi--a man from San Diego we will discuss shortly--even though witnesses and telephone records establish that the two men had contact with each other. Similarly, Thumairy's claim not to know Mohdar Abdullah is belied by Abdullah's contrary assertion.) On the other hand, Thumairy undoubtedly met with and provided religious counseling to countless individuals during his tenure at the King Fahd mosque, so he might not remember two transients like Hazmi and Mihdhar several years later.13
The circumstantial evidence makes Thumairy a logical person to consider as a possible contact for Hazmi and Mihdhar. Yet, after exploring the available leads, we have not found evidence that Thumairy provided assistance to the two operatives.14
We do not pick up their trail until February 1, 2000, when they encountered Omar al Bayoumi and Caysan Bin Don at a halal food restaurant on Venice Boulevard in Culver City, a few blocks away from the King Fahd mosque. Bayoumi and Bin Don have both told us that they had driven up from San Diego earlier that day so that Bayoumi could address a visa issue and collect some papers from the Saudi consulate. Bayoumi heard Hazmi and Mihdhar speaking in what he recognized to be Gulf Arabic and struck up a conversation. Since Bin Don knew only a little Arabic, he had to rely heavily on Bayoumi to translate for him.15
Mihdhar and Hazmi said they were students from Saudi Arabia who had just arrived in the United States to study English. They said they were living in an apartment near the restaurant but did not specify the address. They did not like Los Angeles and were having a hard time, especially because they did not know anyone. Bayoumi told them how pleasant San Diego was and offered to help them settle there. The two pairs then left the restaurant and went their separate ways.16
Bayoumi and Bin Don have been interviewed many times about the February 1, 2000, lunch. For the most part, their respective accounts corroborate each other. However, Bayoumi has said that he and Bin Don attempted to visit the King Fahd mosque after lunch but could not find it. Bin Don, on the other
hand, recalls visiting the mosque twice that day for prayers, both before and after the meal. Bin Don's recollection is spotty and inconsistent. Bayoumi's version can be challenged as well, since the mosque is close to the restaurant and Bayoumi had visited it, and the surrounding area, on multiple occasions, including twice within six weeks of February 1. We do not know whether the lunch encounter occurred by chance or design. We know about it because Bayoumi told law enforcement that it happened.17
Bayoumi, then 42 years old, was in the United States as a business student, supported by a private contractor for the Saudi Civil Aviation Authority, where Bayoumi had worked for over 20 years.18 The object of considerable media speculation following 9/11, he lives now in Saudi Arabia, well aware of his notoriety. Both we and the FBI have interviewed him and investigated evidence about him.
Bayoumi is a devout Muslim, obliging and gregarious. He spent much of his spare time involved in religious study and helping run a mosque in El Cajon, about 15 miles from San Diego. It is certainly possible that he has dissembled about some aspects of his story, perhaps to counter suspicion. On the other hand, we have seen no credible evidence that he believed in violent extremism or knowingly aided extremist groups.19 Our investigators who have dealt directly with him and studied his background find him to be an unlikely candidate for clandestine involvement with Islamist extremists.
The Move to San Diego
By February 4, Hazmi and Mihdhar had come to San Diego from Los Angeles, possibly driven by Mohdar Abdullah. Abdullah, a Yemeni university student in his early 20s, is fluent in both Arabic and English, and was perfectly suited to assist the hijackers in pursuing their mission.20
After 9/11, Abdullah was interviewed many times by the FBI. He admitted knowing of Hazmi and Mihdhar's extremist leanings and Mihdhar's involvement with the Islamic Army of Aden (a group with ties to al Qaeda) back in Yemen. Abdullah clearly was sympathetic to those extremist views. During a post-9/11 search of his possessions, the FBI found a notebook (belonging to someone else) with references to planes falling from the sky, mass killing, and hijacking. Further, when detained as a material witness following the 9/11 attacks, Abdullah expressed hatred for the U.S. government and "stated that the U.S. brought 'this' on themselves."21
When interviewed by the FBI after 9/11, Abdullah denied having advance knowledge of attacks. In May 2004, however, we learned of reports about Abdullah bragging to fellow inmates at a California prison in September-October 2003 that he had known Hazmi and Mihdhar were planning a terrorist attack. The stories attributed to Abdullah are not entirely consistent with each other. Specifically, according to one inmate, Abdullah claimed an unnamed individual had notified him that Hazmi and Mihdhar would be arriving
in Los Angeles with plans to carry out an attack. Abdullah allegedly told the same inmate that he had driven the two al Qaeda operatives from Los Angeles to San Diego, but did not say when this occurred. We have been unable to corroborate this account.22
Another inmate has recalled Abdullah claiming he first heard about the hijackers' terrorist plans after they arrived in San Diego, when they told him they planned to fly an airplane into a building and invited him to join them on the plane. According to this inmate, Abdullah also claimed to have found out about the 9/11 attacks three weeks in advance, a claim that appears to dovetail with evidence that Abdullah may have received a phone call from Hazmi around that time, that he stopped making calls from his telephone after August 25, 2001, and that, according to his friends, he started acting strangely.23
Although boasts among prison inmates often tend to be unreliable, this evidence is obviously important. To date, neither we nor the FBI have been able to verify Abdullah's alleged jailhouse statements, despite investigative efforts.
We thus do not know when or how Hazmi and Mihdhar first came to San Diego. We do know that on February 4, they went to the Islamic Center of San Diego to find Omar al Bayoumi and take him up on his offer of help. Bayoumi obliged by not only locating an apartment but also helping them fill out the lease application, co-signing the lease and, when the real estate agent refused to take cash for a deposit, helping them open a bank account (which they did with a $9,900 deposit); he then provided a certified check from his own account for which the al Qaeda operatives reimbursed him on the spot for the deposit. Neither then nor later did Bayoumi give money to either Hazmi or Mihdhar, who had received money from KSM.24
Hazmi and Mihdhar moved in with no furniture and practically no possessions. Soon after the move, Bayoumi used their apartment for a party attended by some 20 male members of the Muslim community. At Bayoumi's request, Bin Don videotaped the gathering with Bayoumi's video camera. Hazmi and Mihdhar did not mingle with the other guests and reportedly spent most of the party by themselves off camera, in a back room.25
Hazmi and Mihdhar immediately started looking for a different place to stay. Based on their comment to Bayoumi about the first apartment being expensive, one might infer that they wanted to save money. They may also have been reconsidering the wisdom of living so close to the video camera-wielding Bayoumi, who Hazmi seemed to think was some sort of Saudi spy. Just over a week after moving in, Hazmi and Mihdhar filed a 30-day notice of intention to vacate. Bayoumi apparently loaned them his cell phone to help them check out possibilities for new accommodations.26
Their initial effort to move turned out poorly. An acquaintance arranged with his landlord to have Mihdhar take over his apartment. Mihdhar put down a $650 deposit and signed a lease for the apartment effective March 1. Several weeks later, Mihdhar sought a refund of his deposit, claiming he no longer
intended to move in because the apartment was too messy. When the landlord refused to refund the deposit, Mihdhar became belligerent. The landlord remembers him "ranting and raving" as if he were "psychotic."27
Hazmi and Mihdhar finally found a room to rent in the home of an individual they had met at a mosque in San Diego. According to the homeowner, the future hijackers moved in on May 10, 2000. Mihdhar moved out after only about a month. On June 9, he left San Diego to return to Yemen. Hazmi, on the other hand, stayed at this house for the rest of his time in California, until mid-December; he would then leave for Arizona with a newly arrived 9/11 hijacker-pilot, Hani Hanjour.28
While in San Diego, Hazmi and Mihdhar played the part of recently arrived foreign students. They continued to reach out to members of the Muslim community for help. At least initially, they found well-meaning new acquaintances at the Islamic Center of San Diego, which was only a stone's throw from the apartment where they first lived. For example, when they purchased a used car (with cash), they bought it from a man who lived across the street from the Islamic Center and who let them use his address in registering the vehicle, an accommodation "to help a fellow Muslim brother." Similarly, in April, when their cash supply may have been dwindling, Hazmi persuaded the administrator of the Islamic Center to let him use the administrator's bank account to receive a $5,000 wire transfer from someone in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (this was KSM's nephew, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali).29
Hazmi and Mihdhar visited other mosques as well, mixing comfortably as devout worshippers. During the operatives' critical first weeks in San Diego, Mohdar Abdullah helped them. Translating between English and Arabic, he assisted them in obtaining California driver's licenses and with applying to language and flight schools. Abdullah also introduced them to his circle of friends; he shared an apartment with some of those friends near the Rabat mosque in La Mesa, a few miles from the hijackers' residence.30
Abdullah has emerged as a key associate of Hazmi and Mihdhar in San Diego. Detained after 9/11 (first as a material witness, then on immigration charges), he was deported to Yemen on May 21, 2004, after the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California declined to prosecute him on charges arising out of his alleged jailhouse admissions concerning the 9/11 operatives. The Department of Justice declined to delay his removal pending further investigation of this new information.31
Other friends of Abdullah also translated for Hazmi and Mihdhar and helped them adjust to life in San Diego. Some held extremist beliefs or were well acquainted with known extremists. For example, immediately after 9/11, Osama Awadallah, a Yemeni whose telephone number was found in Hazmi's Toyota at Washington Dulles International Airport, was found to possess photos, videos, and articles relating to Bin Ladin. Awadallah also had lived in a house where copies of Bin Ladin's fatwas and other similar materials were distributed
to the residents. Omar Bakarbashat, a Saudi, also met Hazmi and Mihdhar at the Rabat mosque. He admitted helping Hazmi to learn English and taking over the operatives' first apartment in San Diego after they moved out. Bakarbashat apparently had downloaded stridently anti-American Web pages to his computer's hard drive.32
Another potentially significant San Diego contact for Hazmi and Mihdhar was Anwar Aulaqi, an imam at the Rabat mosque. Born in New Mexico and thus a U.S. citizen, Aulaqi grew up in Yemen and studied in the United States on a Yemeni government scholarship. We do not know how or when Hazmi and Mihdhar first met Aulaqi. The operatives may even have met or at least talked to him the same day they first moved to San Diego. Hazmi and Mihdhar reportedly respected Aulaqi as a religious figure and developed a close relationship with him.33
When interviewed after 9/11, Aulaqi said he did not recognize Hazmi's name but did identify his picture. Although Aulaqi admitted meeting with Hazmi several times, he claimed not to remember any specifics of what they discussed. He described Hazmi as a soft-spoken Saudi student who used to appear at the mosque with a companion but who did not have a large circle of friends.34
Aulaqi left San Diego in mid-2000, and by early 2001 had relocated to Virginia. As we will discuss later, Hazmi eventually showed up at Aulaqi's mosque in Virginia, an appearance that may not have been coincidental. We have been unable to learn enough about Aulaqi's relationship with Hazmi and Mihdhar to reach a conclusion.35
In sum, although the evidence is thin as to specific motivations, our overall impression is that soon after arriving in California, Hazmi and Mihdhar sought out and found a group of young and ideologically like-minded Muslims with roots in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, individuals mainly associated with Mohdar Abdullah and the Rabat mosque. The al Qaeda operatives lived openly in San Diego under their true names, listing Hazmi in the telephone directory. They managed to avoid attracting much attention.
Flight Training Fails; Mihdhar Bails Out
Hazmi and Mihdhar came to the United States to learn English, take flying lessons, and become pilots as quickly as possible. They turned out, however, to have no aptitude for English. Even with help and tutoring from Mohdar Abdullah and other bilingual friends, Hazmi and Mihdhar's efforts to learn proved futile. This lack of language skills in turn became an insurmountable barrier to learning how to fly.36
A pilot they consulted at one school, the Sorbi Flying Club in San Diego, spoke Arabic. He explained to them that their flight instruction would begin with small planes. Hazmi and Mihdhar emphasized their interest in learning to fly jets, Boeing aircraft in particular, and asked where they might enroll to train
on jets right away. Convinced that the two were either joking or dreaming, the pilot responded that no such school existed. Other instructors who worked with Hazmi and Mihdhar remember them as poor students who focused on learning to control the aircraft in flight but took no interest in takeoffs or landings. By the end of May 2000, Hazmi and Mihdhar had given up on learning how to fly.37
Mihdhar's mind seems to have been with his family back in Yemen, as evidenced by calls he made from the apartment telephone. When news of the birth of his first child arrived, he could stand life in California no longer. In late May and early June of 2000, he closed his bank account, transferred the car registration to Hazmi, and arranged his return to Yemen. According to KSM, Mihdhar was bored in San Diego and foresaw no problem in coming back to the United States since he had not overstayed his visa. Hazmi and Mohdar Abdullah accompanied him to Los Angeles on June 9. After visiting the King Fahd mosque one last time with his friends, Mihdhar left the country the following day.38
KSM kept in fairly close touch with his operatives, using a variety of methods. When Bin Ladin called KSM back from Pakistan to Afghanistan in the spring of 2000, KSM asked Khallad (whom we introduced in chapter 5) to maintain email contact with Hazmi in the United States. Mihdhar's decision to strand Hazmi in San Diego enraged KSM, who had not authorized the departure and feared it would compromise the plan. KSM attempted to drop Mihdhar from the planes operation and would have done so, he says, had he not been overruled by Bin Ladin.39
Following Mihdhar's departure, Hazmi grew lonely and worried that he would have trouble managing by himself. He prayed with his housemate each morning at 5:00 A.M. and attended services at the Islamic Center. He borrowed his housemate's computer for Internet access, following news coverage of fighting in Chechnya and Bosnia. With his housemate's help, Hazmi also used the Internet to search for a wife (after obtaining KSM's approval to marry). This search did not succeed. Although he developed a close relationship with his housemate, Hazmi preferred not to use the house telephone, continuing the practice he and Mihdhar had adopted of going outside to make phone calls.40
After Mihdhar left, other students moved into the house. One of these, Yazeed al Salmi, stands out. In July 2000, Salmi purchased $4,000 in traveler's checks at a bank in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. On September 5, Hazmi deposited $1,900 of the traveler's checks into his bank account, after withdrawing the same amount in cash. It is possible that Hazmi was simply cashing the traveler's checks for a friend. We do not know; Salmi claims not to remember the transaction. After 9/11, Salmi reportedly confided to Mohdar Abdullah that he had previously known terrorist pilot Hani Hanjour. After living in the same house with Hazmi for about a month, Salmi moved to the La Mesa apartment shared by Abdullah and others.41
By the fall of 2000, Hazmi no longer even pretended to study English or take flying lessons. Aware that his co-conspirators in Afghanistan and Pakistan would be sending him a new colleague shortly, he bided his time and worked for a few weeks at a gas station in La Mesa where some of his friends, including Abdullah, were employed. On one occasion, Hazmi told a fellow employee that he was planning to find a better job, and let slip a prediction that he would become famous.42
On December 8, 2000, Hani Hanjour arrived in San Diego, having traveled from Dubai via Paris and Cincinnati. Hazmi likely picked up Hanjour at the airport. We do not know where Hanjour stayed; a few days later, both men left San Diego. Before departing, they visited the gas station in La Mesa, where Hazmi reportedly introduced Hanjour as a "long time friend from Saudi Arabia." Hazmi told his housemate that he and his friend "Hani" were headed for San Jose to take flying lessons and told his friends that he would stay in touch. Hazmi promised to return to San Diego soon, and he and Hanjour drove off.43
Hazmi did not sever all contact with his friends in San Diego. According to Abdullah, after Hazmi left San Diego in December 2000, he telephoned Abdullah twice: in December 2000 or January 2001, Hazmi said he was in San Francisco and would be attending flight school there; about two weeks later, he said he was attending flight school in Arizona. Some evidence, which we will discuss later, indicates that Hazmi contacted Abdullah again, in August 2001. In addition, during the month following Hazmi's departure from San Diego, he emailed his housemate three times, including a January 2001 email that Hazmi signed "Smer," an apparent attempt to conceal his identity that struck the housemate as strange at the time. Hazmi also telephoned his housemate that he and his friend had decided to take flight lessons in Arizona, and that Mihdhar was now back in Yemen. That was their last contact. When the housemate emailed Hazmi in February and March of 2001 to find out how he was faring, Hazmi did not reply.44
The housemate who rented the room to Hazmi and Mihdhar during 2000 is an apparently law-abiding citizen with long-standing, friendly contacts among local police and FBI personnel. He did not see anything unusual enough in the behavior of Hazmi or Mihdhar to prompt him to report to his law enforcement contacts. Nor did those contacts ask him for information about his tenants/housemates.
7.2 THE 9/11 PILOTS IN THE UNITED STATES
The Hamburg Pilots Arrive in the United States
In the early summer of 2000, the Hamburg group arrived in the United States to begin flight training. Marwan al Shehhi came on May 29, arriving in Newark on a flight from Brussels. He went to New York City and waited there for
Mohamed Atta to join him. On June 2, Atta traveled to the Czech Republic by bus from Germany and then flew from Prague to Newark the next day. According to Ramzi Binalshibh, Atta did not meet with anyone in Prague; he simply believed it would contribute to operational security to fly out of Prague rather than Hamburg, the departure point for much of his previous international travel.45
Atta and Shehhi had not settled on where they would obtain their flight training. In contrast, Ziad Jarrah had already arranged to attend the Florida Flight Training Center (FFTC) in Venice, Florida. Jarrah arrived in Newark on June 27 and then flew to Venice. He immediately began the private pilot program at FFTC, intending to get a multi-engine license. Jarrah moved in with some of the flight instructors affiliated with his school and bought a car.46
While Jarrah quickly settled into training in Florida, Atta and Shehhi kept searching for a flight school. After visiting the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma (where Zacarias Moussaoui would enroll several months later and where another al Qaeda operative, Ihab Ali, had taken lessons in the mid-1990s), Atta started flight instruction at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida, and both Atta and Shehhi subsequently enrolled in the Accelerated Pilot Program at that school. By the end of July, both of them took solo flights, and by mid-August they passed the private pilot airman test. They trained through the summer at Huffman, while Jarrah continued his training at FFTC.47
The Hamburg operatives paid for their flight training primarily with funds wired from Dubai by KSM's nephew, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali. Between June 29 and September 17, 2000, Ali sent Shehhi and Atta a total of $114,500 in five transfers ranging from $5,000 to $70,000. Ali relied on the unremarkable nature of his transactions, which were essentially invisible amid the billions of dollars flowing daily across the globe.48 Ali was not required to provide identification in sending this money and the aliases he used were not questioned.49
In mid-September, Atta and Shehhi applied to change their immigration status from tourist to student, stating their intention to study at Huffman until September 1, 2001. In late September, they decided to enroll at Jones Aviation in Sarasota, Florida, about 20 miles north of Venice. According to the instructor at Jones, the two were aggressive, rude, and sometimes even fought with him to take over the controls during their training flights. In early October, they took the Stage I exam for instruments rating at Jones Aviation and failed. Very upset, they said they were in a hurry because jobs awaited them at home. Atta and Shehhi then returned to Huffman.50
In the meantime, Jarrah obtained a single-engine private pilot certificate in early August. Having reached that milestone, he departed on the first of five foreign trips he would take after first entering the United States. In October, he flew back to Germany to visit his girlfriend, Aysel Senguen. The two traveled to Paris before Jarrah returned to Florida on October 29. His relationship with her remained close throughout his time in the United States. In addition
to his trips, Jarrah made hundreds of phone calls to her and communicated frequently by email.51
Jarrah was supposed to be joined at FFTC by Ramzi Binalshibh, who even sent the school a deposit. But Binalshibh could not obtain a U.S. visa. His first applications in May and June 2000 were denied because he lacked established ties in Germany ensuring his return from a trip to the United States. In September, he went home to Yemen to apply for a visa from there, but was denied on grounds that he also lacked sufficient ties to Yemen. In October, he tried one last time, in Berlin, applying for a student visa to attend "aviation language school," but the prior denials were noted and this application was denied as well, as incomplete.52
Unable to participate directly in the operation, Binalshibh instead took on the role of coordinating between KSM and the operatives in the United States. Apart from sending a total of about $10,000 in wire transfers to Atta and Shehhi during the summer of 2000, one of Binalshibh's first tasks in his new role as plot coordinator was to assist another possible pilot, Zacarias Moussaoui.53
In the fall of 2000, KSM had sent Moussaoui to Malaysia for flight training, but Moussaoui did not find a school he liked. He worked instead on other terrorist schemes, such as buying four tons of ammonium nitrate for bombs to be planted on cargo planes flying to the United States. When KSM found out, he recalled Moussaoui back to Pakistan and directed him to go to the United States for flight training. In early October, Moussaoui went to London. When Binalshibh visited London in December, he stayed at the same 16-room dormitory where Moussaoui was still residing. From London, Moussaoui sent inquiries to the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma.54
Confronting training or travel problems with Hazmi, Mihdhar, Binalshibh, and Moussaoui, al Qaeda was looking for another possible pilot candidate. A new recruit with just the right background conveniently presented himself in Afghanistan.
The Fourth Pilot: Hani Hanjour
Hani Hanjour, from Ta'if, Saudi Arabia, first came to the United States in 1991 to study at the Center for English as a Second Language at the University of Arizona. He seems to have been a rigorously observant Muslim. According to his older brother, Hani Hanjour went to Afghanistan for the first time in the late 1980s, as a teenager, to participate in the jihad and, because the Soviets had already withdrawn, worked for a relief agency there.55
In 1996, Hanjour returned to the United States to pursue flight training, after being rejected by a Saudi flight school. He checked out flight schools in Florida, California, and Arizona; and he briefly started at a couple of them before returning to Saudi Arabia. In 1997, he returned to Florida and then, along with two friends, went back to Arizona and began his flight training there in earnest. After about three months, Hanjour was able to obtain his private
pilot's license. Several more months of training yielded him a commercial pilot certificate, issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in April 1999. He then returned to Saudi Arabia.56
Hanjour reportedly applied to the civil aviation school in Jeddah after returning home, but was rejected. He stayed home for a while and then told his family he was going to the United Arab Emirates to work for an airline. Where Hanjour actually traveled during this time period is unknown. It is possible he went to the training camps in Afghanistan.57
The fact that Hanjour spent so much time in Arizona may be significant. A number of important al Qaeda figures attended the University of Arizona in Tucson or lived in Tucson in the 1980s and early 1990s.58 Some of Hanjour's known Arizona associates from the time of his flight training in the late 1990s have also raised suspicion.59 FBI investigators have speculated that al Qaeda may have directed other extremist Muslims in the Phoenix area to enroll in aviation training. It is clear that when Hanjour lived in Arizona in the 1990s, he associated with several individuals holding extremist beliefs who have been the subject of counterterrorism investigations. Some of them trained with Hanjour to be pilots. Others had apparent connections to al Qaeda, including training in Afghanistan.60
By the spring of 2000, Hanjour was back in Afghanistan. According to KSM, Hanjour was sent to him in Karachi for inclusion in the plot after Hanjour was identified in al Qaeda's al Faruq camp as a trained pilot, on the basis of background information he had provided. Hanjour had been at a camp in Afghanistan for a few weeks when Bin Ladin or Atef apparently realized that he was a trained pilot; he was told to report to KSM, who then trained Hanjour for a few days in the use of code words.61
On June 20, Hanjour returned home to Saudi Arabia. He obtained a U.S. student visa on September 25 and told his family he was returning to his job in the UAE. Hanjour did go to the UAE, but to meet facilitator Ali Abdul Aziz Ali.62
Ali opened a bank account in Dubai for Hanjour and providing the initial funds for his trip. On December 8, Hanjour traveled to San Diego. His supposed destination was an English as a second language program in Oakland, California, which he had scheduled before leaving Saudi Arabia but never attended. Instead, as mentioned earlier, he joined Nawaf al Hazmi in San Diego.63
Hazmi and Hanjour left San Diego almost immediately and drove to Arizona. Settling in Mesa, Hanjour began refresher training at his old school, Arizona Aviation. He wanted to train on multi-engine planes, but had difficulties because his English was not good enough. The instructor advised him to discontinue but Hanjour said he could not go home without completing the training. In early 2001, he started training on a Boeing 737 simulator at Pan Am International Flight Academy in Mesa. An instructor there found his work well below standard and discouraged him from continuing. Again, Hanjour persevered;
he completed the initial training by the end of March 2001. At that point, Hanjour and Hazmi vacated their apartment and started driving east, anticipating the arrival of the "muscle hijackers"--the operatives who would storm the cockpits and control the passengers. By as early as April 4, Hanjour and Hazmi had arrived in Falls Church, Virginia.64
The three pilots in Florida continued with their training. Atta and Shehhi finished up at Huffman and earned their instrument certificates from the FAA in November. In mid-December 2000, they passed their commercial pilot tests and received their licenses. They then began training to fly large jets on a flight simulator. At about the same time, Jarrah began simulator training, also in Florida but at a different center. By the end of 2000, less than six months after their arrival, the three pilots on the East Coast were simulating flights on large jets.65
Travels in Early 2001
Jarrah, Atta, and Shehhi, having progressed in their training, all took foreign trips during the holiday period of 2000-2001. Jarrah flew through Germany to get home to Beirut. A few weeks later, he returned to Florida via Germany, with Aysel Senguen. She stayed with him in Florida for ten days, even accompanying him to a flight training session. We do not know whether Atta or al Qaeda leaders knew about Jarrah's trips and Senguen's visit. The other operatives had broken off regular contact with their families. At the end of January 2001, Jarrah again flew to Beirut, to visit his sick father. After staying there for several weeks, Jarrah visited Senguen in Germany for a few days before returning to the United States at the end of February.66
While Jarrah took his personal trips, Atta traveled to Germany in early January 2001 for a progress meeting with Ramzi Binalshibh. Binalshibh says Atta told him to report to the al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan that the three Hamburg pilots had completed their flight training and were awaiting orders. Atta also disclosed that a fourth pilot, Hanjour, had joined Hazmi. Upon returning to Florida, Atta wired Binalshibh travel money. Binalshibh proceeded to Afghanistan, made his report, and spent the next several months there and in Pakistan.67
When Atta returned to Florida, Shehhi left for Morocco, traveling to Casablanca in mid-January. Shehhi's family, concerned about not having heard from him, reported him missing to the UAE government. The UAE embassy in turn contacted the Hamburg police and a UAE representative tried to find him in Germany, visiting mosques and Shehhi's last address in Hamburg. After learning that his family was looking for him, Shehhi telephoned them on January 20 and said he was still living and studying in Hamburg. The UAE government then told the Hamburg police they could call off the search.68
Atta and Shehhi both encountered some difficulty reentering the United States, on January 10 and January 18, respectively. Because neither presented a
Atta's Alleged Trip to Prague
Mohamed Atta is known to have been in Prague on two occasions: in December 1994, when he stayed one night at a transit hotel, and in June 2000, when he was en route to the United States. On the latter occasion, he arrived by bus from Germany, on June 2, and departed for Newark the following day.69
The allegation that Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April 2001 originates from the reporting of a single source of the Czech intelligence service. Shortly after 9/11, the source reported having seen Atta meet with Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani, an Iraqi diplomat, at the Iraqi Embassy in Prague on April 9, 2001, at 11:00 A.M. This information was passed to CIA headquarters.
The U.S. legal attaché ("Legat") in Prague, the representative of the FBI, met with the Czech service's source. After the meeting, the assessment of the Legat and the Czech officers present was that they were 70 percent sure that the source was sincere and believed his own story of the meeting. Subsequently, the Czech intelligence service publicly stated that there was a 70 percent probability that the meeting between Atta and Ani had taken place. The Czech Interior Minister also made several statements to the press about his belief that the meeting had occurred, and the story was widely reported.
The FBI has gathered evidence indicating that Atta was in Virginia Beach on April 4 (as evidenced by a bank surveillance camera photo), and in Coral Springs, Florida on April 11, where he and Shehhi leased an apartment. On April 6, 9, 10, and 11, Atta's cellular telephone was used numerous times to call various lodging establishments in Florida from cell sites within Florida. We cannot confirm that he placed those calls. But there are no U.S. records indicating that Atta departed the country during this period. Czech officials have reviewed their flight and border records as well for any indication that Atta was in the Czech Republic in April 2001, including records of anyone crossing the border who even looked Arab. They have also reviewed pictures from the area near the Iraqi embassy and have not discovered photos of anyone who looked like Atta. No evidence has been found that Atta was in the Czech Republic in April 2001.
According to the Czech government, Ani, the Iraqi officer alleged to have met with Atta, was about 70 miles away from Prague on April 8-9 and did not return until the afternoon of the ninth, while the source was firm that the sighting occurred at 11:00 A.M. When questioned about the reported April 2001 meeting, Ani--now in custody--has denied ever
meeting or having any contact with Atta. Ani says that shortly after 9/11, he became concerned that press stories about the alleged meeting might hurt his career. Hoping to clear his name, Ani asked his superiors to approach the Czech government about refuting the allegation. He also denies knowing of any other Iraqi official having contact with Atta.
These findings cannot absolutely rule out the possibility that Atta was in Prague on April 9, 2001. He could have used an alias to travel and a passport under that alias, but this would be an exception to his practice of using his true name while traveling (as he did in January and would in July when he took his next overseas trip). The FBI and CIA have uncovered no evidence that Atta held any fraudulent passports.
KSM and Binalshibh both deny that an Atta-Ani meeting occurred. There was no reason for such a meeting, especially considering the risk it would pose to the operation. By April 2001, all four pilots had completed most of their training, and the muscle hijackers were about to begin entering the United States.
The available evidence does not support the original Czech report of an Atta-Ani meeting.70
student visa, both of them had to persuade INS inspectors that they should be admitted so that they could continue their flight training. Neither operative had any problem clearing Customs.71
After returning to Florida from their trips, Atta and Shehhi visited Georgia, staying briefly in Norcross and Decatur, and renting a single-engine plane to fly with an instructor in Lawrenceville. By February 19, Atta and Shehhi were in Virginia. They rented a mailbox in Virginia Beach, cashed a check, and then promptly returned to Georgia, staying in Stone Mountain. We have found no explanation for these travels. In mid-March, Jarrah was in Georgia as well, staying in Decatur. There is no evidence that the three pilots met, although Jarrah and Atta apparently spoke on the phone. At the end of the month, Jarrah left the United States again and visited Senguen in Germany for two weeks. In early April, Atta and Shehhi returned to Virginia Beach and closed the mailbox they had opened in February.72
By the time Atta and Shehhi returned to Virginia Beach from their travels in Georgia, Hazmi and Hanjour had also arrived in Virginia, in Falls Church. They made their way to a large mosque there, the Dar al Hijra mosque, sometime in early April.73
As we mentioned earlier, one of the imams at this mosque was the same Anwar Aulaqi with whom Hazmi had spent time at the Rabat mosque in San Diego. Aulaqi had moved to Virginia in January 2001. He remembers Hazmi
from San Diego but has denied having any contact with Hazmi or Hanjour in Virginia.74
At the Dar al Hijra mosque, Hazmi and Hanjour met a Jordanian named Eyad al Rababah. Rababah says he had gone to the mosque to speak to the imam, Aulaqi, about finding work. At the conclusion of services, which normally had 400 to 500 attendees, Rababah says he happened to meet Hazmi and Hanjour. They were looking for an apartment; Rababah referred them to a friend who had one to rent. Hazmi and Hanjour moved into the apartment, which was in Alexandria.75
Some FBI investigators doubt Rababah's story. Some agents suspect that Aulaqi may have tasked Rababah to help Hazmi and Hanjour. We share that suspicion, given the remarkable coincidence of Aulaqi's prior relationship with Hazmi. As noted above, the Commission was unable to locate and interview Aulaqi. Rababah has been deported to Jordan, having been convicted after 9/11 in a fraudulent driver's license scheme.76
Rababah, who had lived in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, told investigators that he had recommended Paterson, New Jersey, as a place with an Arabic-speaking community where Hazmi and Hanjour might want to settle. They asked for his help in getting them an apartment in Paterson. Rababah tried without success. He says he then suggested that Hazmi and Hanjour travel with him to Connecticut where they could look for a place to live.77
On May 8, Rababah went to Hazmi and Hanjour's apartment to pick them up for the trip to Connecticut. There he says he found them with new roommates--Ahmed al Ghamdi and Majed Moqed. These two men had been sent to America to serve as muscle hijackers and had arrived at Dulles Airport on May 2. Rababah drove Hanjour to Fairfield, Connecticut, followed by Hazmi, who had Moqed and Ghamdi in his car. After a short stay in Connecticut, where they apparently called area flight schools and real estate agents, Rababah drove the four to Paterson to have dinner and show them around. He says that they returned with him to Fairfield that night, and that he never saw them again.78
Within a few weeks, Hanjour, Hazmi, and several other operatives moved to Paterson and rented a one-room apartment. When their landlord later paid a visit, he found six men living there--Nawaf al Hazmi, now joined by his younger brother Salem, Hanjour, Moqed, probably Ahmed al Ghamdi, and Abdul Aziz al Omari; Hazmi's old friend Khalid al Mihdhar would soon join them.79
Atta and Shehhi had already returned to Florida. On April 11, they moved into an apartment in Coral Springs. Atta stayed in Florida, awaiting the arrival of the first muscle hijackers.80
Shehhi, on the other hand, bought a ticket to Cairo and flew there from Miami on April 18. We do not know much more about Shehhi's reason for traveling to Egypt in April than we know about his January trip to Morocco.
Shehhi did meet with Atta's father, who stated in a post-9/11 interview that Shehhi just wanted to pick up Atta's international driver's license and some money. This story is not credible. Atta already had the license with him and presented it during a traffic stop on April 26 while Shehhi was still abroad. Shehhi spent about two weeks in Egypt, obviously more time than would have been needed just to meet with Atta's father. Shehhi could have traveled elsewhere during this time, but no records indicating additional travel have been discovered.81
Shehhi returned to Miami on May 2. That day, Atta and Jarrah were together, about 30 miles to the north, visiting a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, to get Florida driver's licenses. Back in Virginia, Hazmi and Hanjour were about to leave for Connecticut and New Jersey. As the summer approached, the lead operatives were settled in Florida and New Jersey, waiting for the rest of their contingent to join them.82
7.3 ASSEMBLING THE TEAMS
During the summer and early autumn of 2000, Bin Ladin and senior al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan started selecting the muscle hijackers--the operatives who would storm the cockpits and control the passengers. Despite the phrase widely used to describe them, the so-called muscle hijackers were not at all physically imposing; most were between 5' 5" and 5' 7" in height.83
Recruitment and Selection for 9/11
Twelve of the 13 muscle hijackers (excluding Nawaf al Hazmi and Mihdhar) came from Saudi Arabia: Satam al Suqami, Wail al Shehri, Waleed al Shehri, Abdul Aziz al Omari, Ahmed al Ghamdi, Hamza al Ghamdi, Mohand al Shehri, Majed Moqed, Salem al Hazmi, Saeed al Ghamdi, Ahmad al Haznawi, and Ahmed al Nami. The remaining recruit, Fayez Banihammad, came from the UAE. He appears to have played a unique role among the muscle hijackers because of his work with one of the plot's financial facilitators, Mustafa al Hawsawi.84
Saudi authorities interviewed the relatives of these men and have briefed us on what they found. The muscle hijackers came from a variety of educational and societal backgrounds. All were between 20 and 28 years old; most were unemployed with no more than a high school education and were unmarried.85
Four of them--Ahmed al Ghamdi, Saeed al Ghamdi, Hamza al Ghamdi, and Ahmad al Haznawi--came from a cluster of three towns in the al Bahah region, an isolated and underdeveloped area of Saudi Arabia, and shared the same tribal affiliation. None had a university degree. Their travel patterns and information from family members suggest that the four may have been in contact with each other as early as the fall of 1999.86
Five more--Wail al Shehri, Waleed al Shehri, Abdul Aziz al Omari, Mohand al Shehri, and Ahmed al Nami--came from Asir Province, a poor region in southwestern Saudi Arabia that borders Yemen; this weakly policed area is sometimes called "the wild frontier." Wail and Waleed al Shehri were brothers. All five in this group had begun university studies. Omari had graduated with honors from high school, had attained a degree from the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, was married, and had a daughter.87
The three remaining muscle hijackers from Saudi Arabia were Satam al Suqami, Majed Moqed, and Salem al Hazmi. Suqami came from Riyadh. Moqed hailed from a small town called Annakhil, west of Medina. Suqami had very little education, and Moqed had dropped out of university. Neither Suqami nor Moqed appears to have had ties to the other, or to any of the other operatives, before getting involved with extremists, probably by 1999.88
Salem al Hazmi, a younger brother of Nawaf, was born in Mecca. Salem's family recalled him as a quarrelsome teenager. His brother Nawaf probably recommended him for recruitment into al Qaeda. One al Qaeda member who knew them says that Nawaf pleaded with Bin Ladin to allow Salem to participate in the 9/11 operation.89
Detainees have offered varying reasons for the use of so many Saudi operatives. Binalshibh argues that al Qaeda wanted to send a message to the government of Saudi Arabia about its relationship with the United States. Several other al Qaeda figures, however, have stated that ethnicity generally was not a factor in the selection of operatives unless it was important for security or operational reasons.90
KSM, for instance, denies that Saudis were chosen for the 9/11 plot to drive a wedge between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and stresses practical reasons for considering ethnic background when selecting operatives. He says that so many were Saudi because Saudis comprised the largest portion of the pool of recruits in the al Qaeda training camps. KSM estimates that in any given camp, 70 percent of the mujahideen were Saudi, 20 percent were Yemeni, and 10 percent were from elsewhere. Although Saudi and Yemeni trainees were most often willing to volunteer for suicide operations, prior to 9/11 it was easier for Saudi operatives to get into the United States.91
Most of the Saudi muscle hijackers developed their ties to extremists two or three years before the attacks. Their families often did not consider these young men religious zealots. Some were perceived as devout, others as lacking in faith. For instance, although Ahmed al Ghamdi, Hamza al Ghamdi, and Saeed al Ghamdi attended prayer services regularly and Omari often served as an imam at his mosque in Saudi Arabia, Suqami and Salem al Hazmi appeared unconcerned with religion and, contrary to Islamic law, were known to drink alcohol.92
Like many other al Qaeda operatives, the Saudis who eventually became the muscle hijackers were targeted for recruitment outside Afghanistan--probably in Saudi Arabia itself. Al Qaeda recruiters, certain clerics, and--in a
few cases--family members probably all played a role in spotting potential candidates. Several of the muscle hijackers seem to have been recruited through contacts at local universities and mosques.93
According to the head of one of the training camps in Afghanistan, some were chosen by unnamed Saudi sheikhs who had contacts with al Qaeda. Omari, for example, is believed to have been a student of a radical Saudi cleric named Sulayman al Alwan. His mosque, which is located in al Qassim Province, is known among more moderate clerics as a "terrorist factory." The province is at the very heart of the strict Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia. Saeed al Ghamdi and Mohand al Shehri also spent time in al Qassim, both breaking with their families. According to his father, Mohand al Shehri's frequent visits to this area resulted in his failing exams at his university in Riyadh. Saeed al Ghamdi transferred to a university in al Qassim, but he soon stopped talking to his family and dropped out of school without informing them.94
The majority of these Saudi recruits began to break with their families in late 1999 and early 2000. According to relatives, some recruits began to make arrangements for extended absences. Others exhibited marked changes in behavior before disappearing. Salem al Hazmi's father recounted that Salem--who had had problems with alcohol and petty theft--stopped drinking and started attending mosque regularly three months before he disappeared.95
Several family members remembered that their relatives had expressed a desire to participate in jihad, particularly in Chechnya. None had mentioned going to Afghanistan. These statements might be true or cover stories. The four recruits from the al Ghamdi tribe, for example, all told their families that they were going to Chechnya. Only two--Ahmed al Ghamdi and Saeed al Ghamdi--had documentation suggesting travel to a Russian republic.96
Some aspiring Saudi mujahideen, intending to go to Chechnya, encountered difficulties along the way and diverted to Afghanistan. In 1999, Ibn al Khattab--the primary commander of Arab nationals in Chechnya--reportedly had started turning away most foreign mujahideen because of their inexperience and inability to adjust to the local conditions. KSM states that several of the 9/11 muscle hijackers faced problems traveling to Chechnya and so went to Afghanistan, where they were drawn into al Qaeda.97
Khallad has offered a more detailed story of how such diversions occurred. According to him, a number of Saudi mujahideen who tried to go to Chechnya in 1999 to fight the Russians were stopped at the Turkish-Georgian border. Upon arriving in Turkey, they received phone calls at guesthouses in places such as Istanbul and Ankara, informing them that the route to Chechnya via Georgia had been closed. These Saudis then decided to travel to Afghanistan, where they could train and wait to make another attempt to enter Chechnya during the summer of 2000. While training at al Qaeda camps, a dozen of them heard Bin Ladin's speeches, volunteered to become suicide operatives, and eventually were selected as muscle hijackers for the planes operation. Khallad says he met a number of them at the Kandahar airport, where they were helping
to provide extra security. He encouraged Bin Ladin to use them. Khallad claims to have been closest with Saeed al Ghamdi, whom he convinced to become a martyr and whom he asked to recruit a friend, Ahmed al Ghamdi, to the same cause. Although Khallad claims not to recall everyone from this group who was later chosen for the 9/11 operation, he says they also included Suqami, Waleed and Wail al Shehri, Omari, Nami, Hamza al Ghamdi, Salem al Hazmi, and Moqed.98
According to KSM, operatives volunteered for suicide operations and, for the most part, were not pressured to martyr themselves. Upon arriving in Afghanistan, a recruit would fill out an application with standard questions, such as, What brought you to Afghanistan? How did you travel here? How did you hear about us? What attracted you to the cause? What is your educational background? Where have you worked before? Applications were valuable for determining the potential of new arrivals, for filtering out potential spies from among them, and for identifying recruits with special skills. For instance, as pointed out earlier, Hani Hanjour noted his pilot training. Prospective operatives also were asked whether they were prepared to serve as suicide operatives; those who answered in the affirmative were interviewed by senior al Qaeda lieutenant Muhammad Atef.99
KSM claims that the most important quality for any al Qaeda operative was willingness to martyr himself. Khallad agrees, and claims that this criterion had preeminence in selecting the planes operation participants. The second most important criterion was demonstrable patience, Khallad says, because the planning for such attacks could take years.100
Khallad claims it did not matter whether the hijackers had fought in jihad previously, since he believes that U.S. authorities were not looking for such operatives before 9/11. But KSM asserts that young mujahideen with clean records were chosen to avoid raising alerts during travel. The al Qaeda training camp head mentioned above adds that operatives with no prior involvement in activities likely to be known to international security agencies were purposefully selected for the 9/11 attacks.101
Most of the muscle hijackers first underwent basic training similar to that given other al Qaeda recruits. This included training in firearms, heavy weapons, explosives, and topography. Recruits learned discipline and military life. They were subjected to artificial stresses to measure their psychological fitness and commitment to jihad. At least seven of the Saudi muscle hijackers took this basic training regime at the al Faruq camp near Kandahar. This particular camp appears to have been the preferred location for vetting and training the potential muscle hijackers because of its proximity to Bin Ladin and senior al Qaeda leadership. Two others--Suqami and Moqed--trained at Khaldan, another large basic training facility located near Kabul, where Mihdhar had trained in the mid-1990s.102
By the time operatives for the planes operation were picked in mid-2000, some of them had been training in Afghanistan for months, others were just
arriving for the first time, and still others may have been returning after prior visits to the camps. According to KSM, Bin Ladin would travel to the camps to deliver lectures and meet the trainees personally. If Bin Ladin believed a trainee held promise for a special operation, that trainee would be invited to the al Qaeda leader's compound at Tarnak Farms for further meetings.103
KSM claims that Bin Ladin could assess new trainees very quickly, in about ten minutes, and that many of the 9/11 hijackers were selected in this manner. Bin Ladin, assisted by Atef, personally chose all the future muscle hijackers for the planes operation, primarily between the summer of 2000 and April 2001. Upon choosing a trainee, Bin Ladin would ask him to swear loyalty for a suicide operation. After the selection and oath-swearing, the operative would be sent to KSM for training and the filming of a martyrdom video, a function KSM supervised as head of al Qaeda's media committee.104
KSM sent the muscle hijacker recruits on to Saudi Arabia to obtain U.S. visas. He gave them money (about $2,000 each) and instructed them to return to Afghanistan for more training after obtaining the visas. At this early stage, the operatives were not told details about the operation. The majority of the Saudi muscle hijackers obtained U.S. visas in Jeddah or Riyadh between September and November of 2000.105
KSM told potential hijackers to acquire new "clean" passports in their home countries before applying for a U.S. visa. This was to avoid raising suspicion about previous travel to countries where al Qaeda operated. Fourteen of the 19 hijackers, including nine Saudi muscle hijackers, obtained new passports. Some of these passports were then likely doctored by the al Qaeda passport division in Kandahar, which would add or erase entry and exit stamps to create "false trails" in the passports.106
In addition to the operatives who eventually participated in the 9/11 attacks as muscle hijackers, Bin Ladin apparently selected at least nine other Saudis who, for various reasons, did not end up taking part in the operation: Mohamed Mani Ahmad al Kahtani, Khalid Saeed Ahmad al Zahrani, Ali Abd al Rahman al Faqasi al Ghamdi, Saeed al Baluchi, Qutaybah al Najdi, Zuhair al Thubaiti, Saeed Abdullah Saeed al Ghamdi, Saud al Rashid, and Mushabib al Hamlan. A tenth individual, a Tunisian with Canadian citizenship named Abderraouf Jdey, may have been a candidate to participate in 9/11, or he may have been a candidate for a later attack. These candidate hijackers either backed out, had trouble obtaining needed travel documents, or were removed from the operation by the al Qaeda leadership. Khallad believes KSM wanted between four and six operatives per plane. KSM states that al Qaeda had originally planned to use 25 or 26 hijackers but ended up with only the 19.107
Final Training and Deployment to the United States
Having acquired U.S. visas in Saudi Arabia, the muscle hijackers returned to Afghanistan for special training in late 2000 to early 2001. The training reportedly was conducted at the al Matar complex by Abu Turab al Jordani, one of
only a handful of al Qaeda operatives who, according to KSM, was aware of the full details of the planned planes operation. Abu Turab taught the operatives how to conduct hijackings, disarm air marshals, and handle explosives. He also trained them in bodybuilding and provided them with a few basic English words and phrases.108
According to KSM, Abu Turab even had the trainees butcher a sheep and a camel with a knife to prepare to use knives during the hijackings. The recruits learned to focus on storming the cockpit at the earliest opportunity when the doors first opened, and to worry about seizing control over the rest of the plane later. The operatives were taught about other kinds of attack as well, such as truck bombing, so that they would not be able to disclose the exact nature of their operation if they were caught. According to KSM, the muscle did not learn the full details--including the plan to hijack planes and fly them into buildings--before reaching the United States.109
After training in Afghanistan, the operatives went to a safehouse maintained by KSM in Karachi and stayed there temporarily before being deployed to the United States via the UAE. The safehouse was run by al Qaeda operative Abd al Rahim Ghulum Rabbani, also known as Abu Rahmah, a close associate of KSM who assisted him for three years by finding apartments and lending logistical support to operatives KSM would send.
According to an al Qaeda facilitator, operatives were brought to the safehouse by a trusted Pakistani al Qaeda courier named Abdullah Sindhi, who also worked for KSM. The future hijackers usually arrived in groups of two or three, staying at the safe house for as long as two weeks. The facilitator has identified each operative whom he assisted at KSM's direction in the spring of 2001. Before the operatives left Pakistan, each of them received $10,000 from KSM for future expenses.110
From Pakistan, the operatives transited through the UAE en route to the United States. In the Emirates they were assisted primarily by al Qaeda operatives Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa al Hawsawi. Ali apparently assisted nine future hijackers between April and June 2001 as they came through Dubai. He helped them with plane tickets, traveler's checks, and hotel reservations; he also taught them about everyday aspects of life in the West, such as purchasing clothes and ordering food. Dubai, a modern city with easy access to a major airport, travel agencies, hotels, and Western commercial establishments, was an ideal transit point.111
Ali reportedly assumed the operatives he was helping were involved in a big operation in the United States, he did not know the details.112 When he asked KSM to send him an assistant, KSM dispatched Hawsawi, who had worked on al Qaeda's media committee in Kandahar. Hawsawi helped send the last four operatives (other than Mihdhar) to the United States from the UAE. Hawsawi would consult with Atta about the hijackers' travel schedules to the United States and later check with Atta to confirm that each had arrived. Hawsawi told
the muscle hijackers that they would be met by Atta at the airport. Hawsawi also facilitated some of the operation's financing.113
The muscle hijackers began arriving in the United States in late April 2001. In most cases, they traveled in pairs on tourist visas and entered the United States in Orlando or Miami, Florida; Washington, D.C.; or New York. Those arriving in Florida were assisted by Atta and Shehhi, while Hazmi and Hanjour took care of the rest. By the end of June, 14 of the 15 muscle hijackers had crossed the Atlantic.114
The muscle hijackers supplied an infusion of funds, which they carried as a mixture of cash and traveler's checks purchased in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Seven muscle hijackers are known to have purchased a total of nearly $50,000 in traveler's checks that were used in the United States. Moreover, substantial deposits into operatives' U.S. bank accounts immediately followed the entry of other muscle hijackers, indicating that those newcomers brought money with them as well. In addition, muscle hijacker Banihammad came to the United States after opening bank accounts in the UAE into which were deposited the equivalent of approximately $30,000 on June 25, 2001. After his June 27 arrival in the United States, Banihammad made Visa and ATM withdrawals from his UAE accounts.115
The hijackers made extensive use of banks in the United States, choosing both branches of major international banks and smaller regional banks. All of the hijackers opened accounts in their own name, and used passports and other identification documents that appeared valid on their face. Contrary to numerous published reports, there is no evidence the hijackers ever used false Social Security numbers to open any bank accounts. While the hijackers were not experts on the use of the U.S. financial system, nothing they did would have led the banks to suspect criminal behavior, let alone a terrorist plot to commit mass murder.116
The last muscle hijacker to arrive was Khalid al Mihdhar. As mentioned earlier, he had abandoned Hazmi in San Diego in June 2000 and returned to his family in Yemen. Mihdhar reportedly stayed in Yemen for about a month before Khallad persuaded him to return to Afghanistan. Mihdhar complained about life in the United States. He met with KSM, who remained annoyed at his decision to go AWOL. But KSM's desire to drop him from the operation yielded to Bin Ladin's insistence to keep him.117
By late 2000, Mihdhar was in Mecca, staying with a cousin until February 2001, when he went home to visit his family before returning to Afghanistan. In June 2001, Mihdhar returned once more to Mecca to stay with his cousin for another month. Mihdhar said that Bin Ladin was planning five attacks on the United States. Before leaving, Mihdhar asked his cousin to watch over his home and family because of a job he had to do.118
On July 4, 2001, Mihdhar left Saudi Arabia to return to the United States, arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Mihdhar gave
American Airlines Flight 11
Left to right, Mohamed Atta, pilot; Waleed al Shehri, Wail al Shehri, Satam al Suqami, Abdulaziz al Omari, hijackers
United Airlines Flight 175
Left to right, Marwan al Shehhi, pilot; Fayez Banihammad, Ahmed al Ghamdi, Hamza al Ghamdi, Mohand al Shehri, hijackers
American Airlines Flight 77
Left to right, Hani Hanjour, pilot; Nawaf al Hazmi, Khalid al Mihdhar, Majed Moqed, Salem al Hazmi, hijackers
United Airlines Flight 93
Left to right, Ziad Jarrah pilot; Saeed al Ghamdi, Ahmad al Haznawi, Ahmed al Nami, hijackers
his intended address as the Marriott Hotel, New York City, but instead spent one night at another New York hotel. He then joined the group of hijackers in Paterson, reuniting with Nawaf al Hazmi after more than a year. With two months remaining, all 19 hijackers were in the United States and ready to take the final steps toward carrying out the attacks.119
Assistance from Hezbollah and Iran to al Qaeda
As we mentioned in chapter 2, while in Sudan, senior managers in al Qaeda maintained contacts with Iran and the Iranian-supported worldwide terrorist organization Hezbollah, which is based mainly in southern Lebanon and Beirut. Al Qaeda members received advice and training from Hezbollah.
Intelligence indicates the persistence of contacts between Iranian security officials and senior al Qaeda figures after Bin Ladin's return to Afghanistan. Khallad has said that Iran made a concerted effort to strengthen relations with al Qaeda after the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, but was rebuffed because Bin Ladin did not want to alienate his supporters in Saudi Arabia. Khallad and other detainees have described the willingness of Iranian officials to facilitate the travel of al Qaeda members through Iran, on their way to and from Afghanistan. For example, Iranian border inspectors would be told not to place telltale stamps in the passports of these travelers. Such arrangements were particularly beneficial to Saudi members of al Qaeda.120
Our knowledge of the international travels of the al Qaeda operatives selected for the 9/11 operation remains fragmentary. But we now have evidence suggesting that 8 to 10 of the 14 Saudi "muscle" operatives traveled into or out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001.121
In October 2000, a senior operative of Hezbollah visited Saudi Arabia to coordinate activities there. He also planned to assist individuals in Saudi Arabia in traveling to Iran during November. A top Hezbollah commander and Saudi Hezbollah contacts were involved.122
Also in October 2000, two future muscle hijackers, Mohand al Shehri and Hamza al Ghamdi, flew from Iran to Kuwait. In November, Ahmed al Ghamdi apparently flew to Beirut, traveling--perhaps by coincidence--on the same flight as a senior Hezbollah operative. Also in November, Salem al Hazmi apparently flew from Saudi Arabia to Beirut.123
In mid-November, we believe, three of the future muscle hijackers, Wail al Shehri, Waleed al Shehri, and Ahmed al Nami, all of whom had obtained their U.S. visas in late October, traveled in a group from Saudi Arabia to Beirut and then onward to Iran. An associate of a senior Hezbollah operative was on the same flight that took the future hijackers to Iran. Hezbollah officials in Beirut and Iran were expecting the arrival of a group during the same time period. The travel of this group was important enough to merit the attention of senior figures in Hezbollah.124
Later in November, two future muscle hijackers, Satam al Suqami and Majed
Moqed, flew into Iran from Bahrain. In February 2001, Khalid al Mihdhar may have taken a flight from Syria to Iran, and then traveled further within Iran to a point near the Afghan border.125
KSM and Binalshibh have confirmed that several of the 9/11 hijackers (at least eight, according to Binalshibh) transited Iran on their way to or from Afghanistan, taking advantage of the Iranian practice of not stamping Saudi passports. They deny any other reason for the hijackers' travel to Iran. They also deny any relationship between the hijackers and Hezbollah.126
In sum, there is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers. There also is circumstantial evidence that senior Hezbollah operatives were closely tracking the travel of some of these future muscle hijackers into Iran in November 2000. However, we cannot rule out the possibility of a remarkable coincidence--that is, that Hezbollah was actually focusing on some other group of individuals traveling from Saudi Arabia during this same time frame, rather than the future hijackers.127
We have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack. At the time of their travel through Iran, the al Qaeda operatives themselves were probably not aware of the specific details of their future operation.
After 9/11, Iran and Hezbollah wished to conceal any past evidence of cooperation with Sunni terrorists associated with al Qaeda. A senior Hezbollah official disclaimed any Hezbollah involvement in 9/11.128
We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government.
7.4 FINAL STRATEGIES AND TACTICS
Final Preparations in the United States
During the early summer of 2001, Atta, assisted by Shehhi, was busy coordinating the arrival of most of the muscle hijackers in southern Florida--picking them up at the airport, finding them places to stay, and helping them settle in the United States.129
The majority settled in Florida. Some opened bank accounts, acquired mailboxes, and rented cars. Several also joined local gyms, presumably to stay fit for the operation. Upon first arriving, most stayed in hotels and motels; but by mid-June, they settled in shared apartments relatively close to one another and Atta.130 Though these muscle hijackers did not travel much after arriving in the United States, two of them, Waleed al Shehri and Satam al Suqami, took unusual trips.
On May 19, Shehri and Suqami flew from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport, the Bahamas, where they had reservations at the Bahamas Princess Resort. The two were turned away by Bahamian officials on arrival, however, because they
lacked visas; they returned to Florida that same day. They likely took this trip to renew Suqami's immigration status, as Suqami's legal stay in the United States ended May 21.131
On July 30, Shehri traveled alone from Fort Lauderdale to Boston. He flew to San Francisco the next day, where he stayed one night before returning via Las Vegas. While this travel may have been a casing flight--Shehri traveled in first class on the same type of aircraft he would help hijack on September 11 (a Boeing 767) and the trip included a layover in Las Vegas--Shehri was neither a pilot nor a plot leader, as were the other hijackers who took surveillance flights.132
The three Hamburg pilots--Atta, Shehhi, and Jarrah--took the first of their cross-country surveillance flights early in the summer. Shehhi flew from New York to Las Vegas via San Francisco in late May. Jarrah flew from Baltimore to Las Vegas via Los Angeles in early June. Atta flew from Boston to Las Vegas via San Francisco at the end of June. Each traveled in first class, on United Airlines. For the east-west transcontinental leg, each operative flew on the same type of aircraft he would pilot on September 11 (Atta and Shehhi, a Boeing 767; Jarrah, a Boeing 757).133 Hanjour and Hazmi, as noted below, took similar cross-country surveillance flights in August.
Jarrah and Hanjour also received additional training and practice flights in the early summer. A few days before departing on his cross-country test flight, Jarrah flew from Fort Lauderdale to Philadelphia, where he trained at Hortman Aviation and asked to fly the Hudson Corridor, a low-altitude "hallway" along the Hudson River that passes New York landmarks like the World Trade Center. Heavy traffic in the area can make the corridor a dangerous route for an inexperienced pilot. Because Hortman deemed Jarrah unfit to fly solo, he could fly this route only with an instructor.134
Hanjour, too, requested to fly the Hudson Corridor about this same time, at Air Fleet Training Systems in Teterboro, New Jersey, where he started receiving ground instruction soon after settling in the area with Hazmi. Hanjour flew the Hudson Corridor, but his instructor declined a second request because of what he considered Hanjour's poor piloting skills. Shortly thereafter, Hanjour switched to Caldwell Flight Academy in Fairfield, New Jersey, where he rented small aircraft on several occasions during June and July. In one such instance on July 20, Hanjour--likely accompanied by Hazmi--rented a plane from Caldwell and took a practice flight from Fairfield to Gaithersburg, Maryland, a route that would have allowed them to fly near Washington, D.C. Other evidence suggests that Hanjour may even have returned to Arizona for flight simulator training earlier in June.135
There is no indication that Atta or Shehhi received any additional flight training in June. Both were likely too busy organizing the newly arrived muscle hijackers and taking their cross-country surveillance flights. Atta, moreover, needed to coordinate with his second-in-command, Nawaf al Hazmi.136
Although Atta and Hazmi appear to have been in Virginia at about the same time in early April, they probably did not meet then. Analysis of late April communications associated with KSM indicates that they had wanted to get together in April but could not coordinate the meeting.137 Atta and Hazmi probably first met in the United States only when Hazmi traveled round-trip from Newark to Miami between June 19 and June 25.
After he returned to New Jersey, Hazmi's behavior began to closely parallel that of the other hijackers. He and Hanjour, for instance, soon established new bank accounts, acquired a mailbox, rented cars, and started visiting a gym. So did the four other hijackers who evidently were staying with them in New Jersey. Several also obtained new photo identification, first in New Jersey and then at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, where Hazmi and Hanjour had obtained such documents months earlier, likely with help from their Jordanian friend, Rababah.138
Atta probably met again with Hazmi in early July. Returning from his initial cross-country surveillance flight, Atta flew into New York. Rather than return immediately to Florida, he checked into a New Jersey hotel. He picked up tickets to travel to Spain at a travel agency in Paterson on July 4 before departing for Fort Lauderdale. Now that the muscle hijackers had arrived, he was ready to meet with Ramzi Binalshibh for the last time.139
The Meeting in Spain
After meeting with Atta in Berlin in January 2001, Binalshibh had spent much of the spring of 2001 in Afghanistan and Pakistan, helping move the muscle hijackers as they passed through Karachi. During the Berlin meeting, the two had agreed to meet later in the year in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the operation in person again. In late May, Binalshibh reported directly to Bin Ladin at an al Qaeda facility known as "Compound Six" near Kandahar.140
Bin Ladin told Binalshibh to instruct Atta and the others to focus on their security and that of the operation, and to advise Atta to proceed as planned with the targets discussed before Atta left Afghanistan in early 2000--the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the White House, and the Capitol. According to Binalshibh, Bin Ladin said he preferred the White House over the Capitol, asking Binalshibh to confirm that Atta understood this preference. Binalshibh says Bin Ladin had given the same message to Waleed al Shehri for conveyance to Atta earlier that spring. Binalshibh also received permission to meet Atta in Malaysia. Atef provided money for the trip, which KSM would help Binalshibh arrange in Karachi.141
In early June, Binalshibh traveled by taxi from Kandahar to Quetta, Pakistan, where al Qaeda courier Abu Rahmah took him to KSM. According to Binalshibh, KSM provided a plane ticket to Malaysia and a fraudulent Saudi passport to use for the trip. KSM told him to ask Atta to select a date for the attacks. Binalshibh was to return to Germany and then inform KSM of the date. KSM
also gave Binalshibh the email address of Zacarias Moussaoui for future contact. Binalshibh then left for Kuala Lumpur.142
Binalshibh contacted Atta upon arriving in Malaysia and found a change in plan. Atta could not travel because he was too busy helping the new arrivals settle in the United States. After remaining in Malaysia for approximately three weeks, Binalshibh went to Bangkok for a few days before returning to Germany. He and Atta agreed to meet later at a location to be determined.143
In early July, Atta called Binalshibh to suggest meeting in Madrid, for reasons Binalshibh claims not to know. He says he preferred Berlin, but that he and Atta knew too many people in Germany and feared being spotted together. Unable to buy a ticket to Madrid at the height of the tourist season, Binalshibh booked a seat on a flight to Reus, near Barcelona, the next day. Atta was already en route to Madrid, so Binalshibh phoned Shehhi in the United States to inform him of the change in itinerary.144
Atta arrived in Madrid on July 8. He spent the night in a hotel and made three calls from his room, most likely to coordinate with Binalshibh. The next day, Atta rented a car and drove to Reus to pick up Binalshibh; the two then drove to the nearby town of Cambrils. Hotel records show Atta renting rooms in the same area until July 19, when he returned his rental car in Madrid and flew back to Fort Lauderdale. On July 16, Binalshibh returned to Hamburg, using a ticket Atta had purchased for him earlier that day. According to Binalshibh, they did not meet with anyone else while in Spain.145
Binalshibh says he told Atta that Bin Ladin wanted the attacks carried out as soon as possible. Bin Ladin, Binalshibh conveyed, was worried about having so many operatives in the United States. Atta replied that he could not yet provide a date because he was too busy organizing the arriving hijackers and still needed to coordinate the timing of the flights so that the crashes would occur simultaneously. Atta said he required about five to six weeks before he could provide an attack date. Binalshibh advised Atta that Bin Ladin had directed that the other operatives not be informed of the date until the last minute. Atta was to provide Binalshibh with advance notice of at least a week or two so that Binalshibh could travel to Afghanistan and report the date personally to Bin Ladin.146
As to targets, Atta understood Bin Ladin's interest in striking the White House. Atta said he thought this target too difficult, but had tasked Hazmi and Hanjour to evaluate its feasibility and was awaiting their answer. Atta said that those two operatives had rented small aircraft and flown reconnaissance flights near the Pentagon. Atta explained that Hanjour was assigned to attack the Pentagon, Jarrah the Capitol, and that both Atta and Shehhi would hit the World Trade Center. If any pilot could not reach his intended target, he was to crash the plane. If Atta could not strike the World Trade Center, he planned to crash his aircraft directly into the streets of New York. Atta told Binalshibh that each pilot had volunteered for his assigned target, and that the assignments were subject to change.147
During the Spain meeting, Atta also mentioned that he had considered targeting a nuclear facility he had seen during familiarization flights near New York--a target they referred to as "electrical engineering." According to Binalshibh, the other pilots did not like the idea. They thought a nuclear target would be difficult because the airspace around it was restricted, making reconnaissance flights impossible and increasing the likelihood that any plane would be shot down before impact. Moreover, unlike the approved targets, this alternative had not been discussed with senior al Qaeda leaders and therefore did not have the requisite blessing. Nor would a nuclear facility have particular symbolic value. Atta did not ask Binalshibh to pass this idea on to Bin Ladin, Atef, or KSM, and Binalshibh says he did not mention it to them until after September 11.148
Binalshibh claims that during their time in Spain, he and Atta also discussed how the hijackings would be executed. Atta said he, Shehhi, and Jarrah had encountered no problems carrying box cutters on cross-country surveillance flights. The best time to storm the cockpit would be about 10-15 minutes after takeoff, when the cockpit doors typically were opened for the first time. Atta did not believe they would need any other weapons. He had no firm contingency plan in case the cockpit door was locked. While he mentioned general ideas such as using a hostage or claiming to have a bomb, he was confident the cockpit doors would be opened and did not consider breaking them down a viable idea. Atta told Binalshibh he wanted to select planes departing on long flights because they would be full of fuel, and that he wanted to hijack Boeing aircraft because he believed them easier to fly than Airbus aircraft, which he understood had an autopilot feature that did not allow them to be crashed into the ground.149
Finally, Atta confirmed that the muscle hijackers had arrived in the United States without incident. They would be divided into teams according to their English-speaking ability. That way they could assist each other before the operation and each team would be able to command the passengers in English. According to Binalshibh, Atta complained that some of the hijackers wanted to contact their families to say goodbye, something he had forbidden. Atta, moreover, was nervous about his future communications with Binalshibh, whom he instructed to obtain new telephones upon returning to Germany. Before Binalshibh left Spain, he gave Atta eight necklaces and eight bracelets that Atta had asked him to buy when he was recently in Bangkok, believing that if the hijackers were clean shaven and well dressed, others would think them wealthy Saudis and give them less notice.150
As directed, upon returning from Spain, Binalshibh obtained two new phones, one to communicate with Atta and another to communicate with KSM and others, such as Zacarias Moussaoui. Binalshibh soon contacted KSM and, using code words, reported the results of his meeting with Atta. This important exchange occurred in mid-July.151
The conversation covered various topics. For example, Jarrah was to send Binalshibh certain personal materials from the hijackers, including copies of their
passports, which Binalshibh in turn would pass along to KSM, probably for subsequent use in al Qaeda propaganda.152
The most significant part of the mid-July conversation concerned Jarrah's troubled relationship with Atta. KSM and Binalshibh both acknowledge that Jarrah chafed under Atta's authority over him. Binalshibh believes the disagreement arose in part from Jarrah's family visits. Moreover, Jarrah had been on his own for most of his time in the United States because Binalshibh's visa difficulty had prevented the two of them from training together. Jarrah thus felt excluded from the decisionmaking. Binalshibh had to act as a broker between Jarrah and Atta.153
Concerned that Jarrah might withdraw from the operation at this late stage, KSM emphasized the importance of Atta and Jarrah's resolving their differences. Binalshibh claims that such concern was unwarranted, and in their mid-July discussion reassured KSM that Atta and Jarrah would reconcile and be ready to move forward in about a month, after Jarrah visited his family. Noting his concern and the potential for delay, KSM at one point instructed Binalshibh to send "the skirts" to "Sally"--a coded instruction to Binalshibh to send funds to Zacarias Moussaoui. While Binalshibh admits KSM did direct him to send Moussaoui money during the mid-July conversation, he denies knowing exactly why he received this instruction--though he thought the money was being provided "within the framework" of the 9/11 operation.154
KSM may have instructed Binalshibh to send money to Moussaoui in order to help prepare Moussaoui as a potential substitute pilot for Jarrah. On July 20, 2001, Aysel Senguen, Jarrah's girlfriend, purchased a one-way ticket for Jarrah from Miami to Dusseldorf. On Jarrah's previous four trips from the United States to see Senguen and his family in Lebanon, he had always traveled with a round-trip ticket. When Jarrah departed Miami on July 25, Atta appears to have driven him to the airport, another unique circumstance.155
Binalshibh picked up Jarrah at the airport in Dusseldorf on July 25. Jarrah wanted to see Senguen as soon as possible, so he and Binalshibh arranged to meet a few days later. When they did, they had an emotional conversation during which Binalshibh encouraged Jarrah to see the plan through.156
While Jarrah was in Germany, Binalshibh and Moussaoui were in contact to arrange for the transfer of funds. Binalshibh received two wire transfers from Hawsawi in the UAE totaling $15,000 and, within days, relayed almost all of this money to Moussaoui in two installments.157
Moussaoui had been taking flight lessons at the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma, since February but stopped in late May. Although at that point he had only about 50 hours of flight time and no solo flights to his credit, Moussaoui began making inquiries about flight materials and simulator training for Boeing 747s. On July 10, he put down a $1,500 deposit for flight simulator training at Pan Am International Flight Academy in Eagan, Minnesota, and by the end of the month, he had received a simulator schedule to train from
August 13 through August 20. Moussaoui also purchased two knives and inquired of two manufacturers of GPS equipment whether their products could be converted for aeronautical use--activities that closely resembled those of the 9/11 hijackers during their final preparations for the attacks.158
On August 10, shortly after getting the money from Binalshibh, Moussaoui left Oklahoma with a friend and drove to Minnesota. Three days later, Moussaoui paid the $6,800 balance owed for his flight simulator training at Pan Am in cash and began his training. His conduct, however, raised the suspicions of his flight instructor. It was unusual for a student with so little training to be learning to fly large jets without any intention of obtaining a pilot's license or other goal. On August 16, once the instructor reported his suspicion to the authorities, Moussaoui was arrested by the INS on immigration charges.159
KSM denies ever considering Moussaoui for the planes operation. Instead he claims that Moussaoui was slated to participate in a "second wave" of attacks. KSM also states that Moussaoui had no contact with Atta, and we are unaware of evidence contradicting this assertion.160
Yet KSM has also stated that by the summer of 2001, he was too busy with the planes operation to continue planning for any second-wave attacks. Moreover, he admits that only three potential pilots were ever recruited for the alleged second wave, Moussaoui plus two others who, by midsummer of 2001, had backed out of the plot.161 We therefore believe that the effort to push Moussaoui forward in August 2001 lends credence to the suspicion that he was being primed as a possible pilot in the immediate planes operation.
Binalshibh says he assumed Moussaoui was to take his place as another pilot in the 9/11 operation. Recounting a post-9/11 discussion with KSM in Kandahar, Binalshibh claims KSM mentioned Moussaoui as being part of the 9/11 operation. Although KSM never referred to Moussaoui by name, Binalshibh understood he was speaking of the operative to whom Binalshibh had wired money. Binalshibh says KSM did not approve of Moussaoui but believes KSM did not remove him from the operation only because Moussaoui had been selected and assigned by Bin Ladin himself.162
KSM did not hear about Moussaoui's arrest until after September 11. According to Binalshibh, had Bin Ladin and KSM learned prior to 9/11 that Moussaoui had been detained, they might have canceled the operation. When Binalshibh discussed Moussaoui's arrest with KSM after September 11, KSM congratulated himself on not having Moussaoui contact the other operatives, which would have compromised the operation. Moussaoui had been in contact with Binalshibh, of course, but this was not discovered until after 9/11.163
As it turned out, Moussaoui was not needed to replace Jarrah. By the time Moussaoui was arrested in mid-August, Jarrah had returned to the United States from his final trip to Germany, his disagreement with Atta apparently resolved. The operatives began their final preparations for the attacks.164
Readying the Attacks
A week after he returned from meeting Binalshibh in Spain, Atta traveled to Newark, probably to coordinate with Hazmi and give him additional funds. Atta spent a few days in the area before returning to Florida on July 30. The month of August was busy, as revealed by a set of contemporaneous Atta-Binalshibh communications that were recovered after September 11.165
On August 3, for example, Atta and Binalshibh discussed several matters, such as the best way for the operatives to purchase plane tickets and the assignment of muscle hijackers to individual teams. Atta and Binalshibh also revisited the question of whether to target the White House. They discussed targets in coded language, pretending to be students discussing various fields of study: "architecture" referred to the World Trade Center, "arts" the Pentagon, "law" the Capitol, and "politics" the White House.166
Binalshibh reminded Atta that Bin Ladin wanted to target the White House. Atta again cautioned that this would be difficult. When Binalshibh persisted, Atta agreed to include the White House but suggested they keep the Capitol as an alternate target in case the White House proved too difficult. Atta also suggested that the attacks would not happen until after the first week in September, when Congress reconvened.167
Atta and Binalshibh also discussed "the friend who is coming as a tourist"--a cryptic reference to candidate hijacker Mohamed al Kahtani (mentioned above), whom Hawsawi was sending the next day as "the last one" to "complete the group." On August 4, Atta drove to the Orlando airport to meet Kahtani. Upon arrival, however, Kahtani was denied entry by immigration officials because he had a one-way ticket and little money, could not speak English, and could not adequately explain what he intended to do in the United States. He was sent back to Dubai. Hawsawi contacted KSM, who told him to help Kahtani return to Pakistan.168
On August 7, Atta flew from Fort Lauderdale to Newark, probably to coordinate with Hazmi. Two days later, Ahmed al Ghamdi and Abdul Aziz al Omari, who had been living in New Jersey with Hazmi and Hanjour, flew to Miami--probably signifying that the four hijacking teams had finally been assigned. While Atta was in New Jersey, he, Hazmi, and Hanjour all purchased tickets for another set of surveillance flights. Like Shehhi, Jarrah, Atta, and Waleed al Shehri before them, Hazmi and Hanjour each flew in first class on the same type of aircraft they would hijack on 9/11 (a Boeing 757), and on transcontinental flights that connected to Las Vegas. This time, however, Atta himself also flew directly to Las Vegas, where all three stayed on August 13-14. Beyond Las Vegas's reputation for welcoming tourists, we have seen no credible evidence explaining why, on this occasion and others, the operatives flew to or met in Las Vegas.169
Through August, the hijackers kept busy with their gym training and the pilots took frequent practice flights on small rented aircraft. The operatives also
began to make purchases suggesting that the planning was coming to an end. In mid-August, for example, they bought small knives that may actually have been used in the attacks. On August 22, moreover, Jarrah attempted to purchase four GPS units from a pilot shop in Miami. He was able to buy only one unit, which he picked up a few days later when he also purchased three aeronautical charts.170
Perhaps most significant, however, was the purchase of plane tickets for September 11. On August 23, Atta again flew to Newark, probably to meet with Hazmi and select flights. All 19 tickets were booked and purchased between August 25 and September 5.171
It therefore appears that the attack date was selected by the third week of August. This timing is confirmed by Binalshibh, who claims Atta called him with the date in mid-August. According to Binalshibh, Atta used a riddle to convey the date in code--a message of two branches, a slash, and a lollipop (to non-Americans, 11/9 would be interpreted as September 11). Binalshibh says he called Atta back to confirm the date before passing it to KSM.172
KSM apparently received the date from Binalshibh in a message sent through Binalshibh's old Hamburg associate, Zakariya Essabar. Both Binalshibh and KSM claim that Essabar was not privy to the meaning of the message and had no foreknowledge of the attacks. According to Binalshibh, shortly after the date was chosen, he advised Essabar and another Hamburg associate, Said Bahaji, that if they wanted to go to Afghanistan, now was the time because it would soon become more difficult. Essabar made reservations on August 22 and departed Hamburg for Karachi on August 30; Bahaji purchased his tickets on August 20 and departed Hamburg for Karachi on September 3.173
Binalshibh also made arrangements to leave for Pakistan during early September, before the attacks, as did Ali and Hawsawi, the plot facilitators in the UAE. During these final days, Binalshibh and Atta kept in contact by phone, email, and instant messaging. Although Atta had forbidden the hijackers to contact their families, he apparently placed one last call to his own father on September 9. Atta also asked Binalshibh to contact the family of one hijacker, pass along goodbyes from others, and give regards to KSM. Jarrah alone appears to have left a written farewell--a sentimental letter to Aysel Senguen.174
Hazmi, however, may not have been so discreet. He may have telephoned his former San Diego companion, Mohdar Abdullah, in late August. Several bits of evidence indicate that others in Abdullah's circle may have received word that something big would soon happen. As noted earlier, Abdullah's behavior reportedly changed noticeably. Prior to September 11, both he and Yazeed al Salmi suddenly became intent on proceeding with their planned marriages. One witness quotes Salmi as commenting after the 9/11 attacks, "I knew they were going to do something, that is why I got married." Moreover, as of August 2001, Iyad Kreiwesh and other employees at the Texaco station where Hazmi had worked suddenly were anticipating attention from law enforcement
authorities in the near future. Finally, according to an uncorroborated witness account, early on the morning of September 10, Abdullah, Osama Awadallah, Omar Bakarbashat, and others behaved suspiciously at the gas station. According to the witness, after the group met, Awadallah said "it is finally going to happen" as the others celebrated by giving each other high fives.175
Dissent within the al Qaeda Leadership
While tactical preparations for the attack were nearing completion, the entire operation was being questioned at the top, as al Qaeda and the Taliban argued over strategy for 2001. Our focus has naturally been on the specifics of the planes operation. But from the perspective of Bin Ladin and Atef, this operation was only one, admittedly key, element of their unfolding plans for the year. Living in Afghanistan, interacting constantly with the Taliban, the al Qaeda leaders would never lose sight of the situation in that country.
Bin Ladin's consistent priority was to launch a major attack directly against the United States. He wanted the planes operation to proceed as soon as possible. Mihdhar reportedly told his cousin during the summer of 2001 that Bin Ladin was reputed to have remarked, "I will make it happen even if I do it by myself."176
According to KSM, Bin Ladin had been urging him to advance the date of the attacks. In 2000, for instance, KSM remembers Bin Ladin pushing him to launch the attacks amid the controversy after then-Israeli opposition party leader Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. KSM claims Bin Ladin told him it would be enough for the hijackers simply to down planes rather than crash them into specific targets. KSM says he resisted the pressure.177
KSM claims to have faced similar pressure twice more in 2001. According to him, Bin Ladin wanted the operation carried out on May 12, 2001, seven months to the day after the Cole bombing. KSM adds that the 9/11 attacks had originally been envisioned for May 2001. The second time he was urged to launch the attacks early was in June or July 2001, supposedly after Bin Ladin learned from the media that Sharon would be visiting the White House. On both occasions KSM resisted, asserting that the hijacking teams were not ready. Bin Ladin pressed particularly strongly for the latter date in two letters stressing the need to attack early. The second letter reportedly was delivered by Bin Ladin's son-in-law, Aws al Madani.178
Other evidence corroborates KSM's account. For instance, Mihdhar told his cousin that the attacks were to happen in May, but were postponed twice, first to July, then to September. Moreover, one candidate hijacker remembers a general warning being issued in the al Qaeda camps in July or early August, just like the warnings issued two weeks before the Cole bombing and ten days before the eventual 9/11 attacks. During the midsummer alert, al Qaeda members dispersed with their families, security was increased, and Bin Ladin disappeared for about 30 days, until the alert was canceled.179
While the details of the operation were strictly compartmented, by the time
of the alert, word had begun to spread that an attack against the United States was coming. KSM notes that it was generally well known by the summer of 2001 that he was planning some kind of operation against the United States. Many were even aware that he had been preparing operatives to go to the United States, leading some to conclude that al Qaeda was planning a near-term attack on U.S. soil. Moreover, Bin Ladin had made several remarks that summer hinting at an upcoming attack and generating rumors throughout the worldwide jihadist community. Bin Ladin routinely told important visitors to expect significant attacks against U.S. interests soon and, during a speech at the al Faruq camp, exhorted trainees to pray for the success of an attack involving 20 martyrs. Others have confirmed hearing indications of an impending attack and have verified that such news, albeit without specific details, had spread across al Qaeda.180
Although Bin Ladin's top priority apparently was to attack the United States, others had a different view. The Taliban leaders put their main emphasis on the year's military offensive against the Northern Alliance, an offensive that ordinarily would begin in the late spring or summer. They certainly hoped that this year's offensive would finally finish off their old enemies, driving them from Afghanistan. From the Taliban's perspective, an attack against the United States might be counterproductive. It might draw the Americans into the war against them, just when final victory seemed within their grasp.181
There is evidence that Mullah Omar initially opposed a major al Qaeda operation directly against the United States in 2001. Furthermore, by July, with word spreading of a coming attack, a schism emerged among the senior leadership of al Qaeda. Several senior members reportedly agreed with Mullah Omar. Those who reportedly sided with Bin Ladin included Atef, Sulayman Abu Ghayth, and KSM. But those said to have opposed him were weighty figures in the organization--including Abu Hafs the Mauritanian, Sheikh Saeed al Masri, and Sayf al Adl. One senior al Qaeda operative claims to recall Bin Ladin arguing that attacks against the United States needed to be carried out immediately to support insurgency in the Israeli-occupied territories and protest the presence of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia. Beyond these rhetorical appeals, Bin Ladin also reportedly thought an attack against the United States would benefit al Qaeda by attracting more suicide operatives, eliciting greater donations, and increasing the number of sympathizers willing to provide logistical assistance.182
Mullah Omar is reported to have opposed this course of action for ideological reasons rather than out of fear of U.S. retaliation. He is said to have preferred for al Qaeda to attack Jews, not necessarily the United States. KSM contends that Omar faced pressure from the Pakistani government to keep al Qaeda from engaging in operations outside Afghanistan. Al Qaeda's chief financial manager, Sheikh Saeed, argued that al Qaeda should defer to the Taliban's wishes. Another source says that Sheikh Saeed opposed the operation, both out of deference to Omar and because he feared the U.S. response to an
attack. Abu Hafs the Mauritanian reportedly even wrote Bin Ladin a message basing opposition to the attacks on the Qur'an.183
According to KSM, in late August, when the operation was fully planned, Bin Ladin formally notified the al Qaeda Shura Council that a major attack against the United States would take place in the coming weeks. When some council members objected, Bin Ladin countered that Mullah Omar lacked authority to prevent al Qaeda from conducting jihad outside Afghanistan. Though most of the Shura Council reportedly disagreed, Bin Ladin persisted. The attacks went forward.184
The story of dissension within al Qaeda regarding the 9/11 attacks is probably incomplete. The information on which the account is based comes from sources who were not privy to the full scope of al Qaeda and Taliban planning. Bin Ladin and Atef, however, probably would have known, at least, that
The general Taliban offensive against the Northern Alliance would rely on al Qaeda military support.
Another significant al Qaeda operation was making progress during the summer--a plot to assassinate the Northern Alliance leader, Ahmed Shah Massoud. The operatives, disguised as journalists, were in Massoud's camp and prepared to kill him sometime in August. Their appointment to see him was delayed.185
But on September 9, the Massoud assassination took place. The delayed Taliban offensive against the Northern Alliance was apparently coordinated to begin as soon as he was killed, and it got under way on September 10.186
As they deliberated earlier in the year, Bin Ladin and Atef would likely have remembered that Mullah Omar was dependent on them for the Massoud assassination and for vital support in the Taliban military operations. KSM remembers Atef telling him that al Qaeda had an agreement with the Taliban to eliminate Massoud, after which the Taliban would begin an offensive to take over Afghanistan. Atef hoped Massoud's death would also appease the Taliban when the 9/11 attacks happened. There are also some scant indications that Omar may have been reconciled to the 9/11 attacks by the time they occurred.187
Moving to Departure Positions
In the days just before 9/11, the hijackers returned leftover funds to al Qaeda and assembled in their departure cities. They sent the excess funds by wire transfer to Hawsawi in the UAE, about $26,000 altogether.188
The hijackers targeting American Airlines Flight 77, to depart from Dulles, migrated from New Jersey to Laurel, Maryland, about 20 miles from Washington, D.C. They stayed in a motel during the first week in September and spent
time working out at a gym. On the final night before the attacks, they lodged at a hotel in Herndon, Virginia, close to the airport.189
Further north, the hijackers targeting United Airlines Flight 93, to depart from Newark, gathered in that city from their base in Florida on September 7. Just after midnight on September 8-9, Jarrah received a speeding ticket in Maryland as he headed north on I-95. He joined the rest of his team at their hotel.190
Atta was still busy coordinating the teams. On September 7, he flew from Fort Lauderdale to Baltimore, presumably to meet with the Flight 77 team in Laurel. On September 9, he flew from Baltimore to Boston. By then, Shehhi had arrived there, and Atta was seen with him at his hotel. The next day, Atta picked up Omari at another hotel, and the two drove to Portland, Maine, for reasons that remain unknown. In the early morning hours of September 11, they boarded a commuter flight to Boston to connect to American Airlines Flight 11. The two spent their last night pursuing ordinary activities: making ATM withdrawals, eating pizza, and shopping at a convenience store. Their three fellow hijackers for Flight 11 stayed together in a hotel in Newton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston.191
Shehhi and his team targeting United Airlines Flight 175 from Logan Airport spent their last hours at two Boston hotels.192 The plan that started with a proposal by KSM in 1996 had evolved to overcome numerous obstacles. Now 19 men waited in nondescript hotel rooms to board four flights the next morning.
1. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004 (classified version), p. 16.
2. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, May 19, 2003. Although KSM's stated reasons for sending Hazmi and Mihdhar to California do not seem especially compelling, we have uncovered no evidence tending to establish any more plausible explanation for the California destination. The possibility that the two hijackers were pursuing another al Qaeda mission on the West Coast, while certainly conceivable--see, e.g., CIA analytic report, "Alternate View:Two 11 September Hijackers Possibly Involved in Previous US Plot," CTC 2002-30064, July 5, 2002--conflicts with the organization's preference for having its 9/11 operatives concentrate on that mission exclusively.
3. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, May 19, 2003; Aug. 14, 2003.
4. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Aug. 18, 2003. According to Hambali, in late 1999 or early 2000 KSM sent an al Qaeda operative named Issa al Britani to visit Hambali in Malaysia. At the end of the visit, Issa provided Hambali with two addresses--one in the United States ("possibly in California") and one in South Africa--and told Hambali he could contact "people in those locations" if he "needed help." Hambali claims he never contacted anyone at either address or passed either address to anyone else, and claims not to remember the addresses. Intelligence report, interrogation of Hambali, Sept. 12, 2003. In an assessment of KSM's reporting, the CIA concluded that protecting operatives in the United States appeared to be a "major part" of KSM's resistance efforts. For example, in response to questions about U.S. zip codes found in his notebooks, KSM provided the less than satisfactory explanation that he was planning to use the zip codes to open new email accounts. CIA report, Intelligence Community Terrorist Threat Assessment, "Khalid Shaykh Muhammed's Threat Reporting--Precious Truths, Surrounded by a Bodyguard of Lies," Apr. 3, 2003, pp. 4-5.
5. Notably, as discussed in chapter 5, precisely such arrangements--in the form of lodging and travel assistance provided by Hambali's minions--were in place when the first contingent of operatives (including Hazmi and Mihdhar) journeyed to Kuala Lumpur in late 1999 and early 2000.
6. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, May 19, 2003.
7. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, May 19, 2003; Aug. 14, 2003. KSM also has stated that in addition to providing Hazmi and Mihdhar with a San Diego telephone book, he gave them another directory "possibly covering Long Beach, California." Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, June 15, 2004.
8. Although Hazmi and Mihdhar told immigration authorities on January 15, 2000, that they would be staying at the Sheraton Hotel in Los Angeles, their names do not appear in the hotel's registration records for the second half of January. FBI searches of the records of other hotels near the airport and smaller establishments in Culver City failed to locate the hijackers, as did our own investigation. See FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Nov. 14, 2003 (Apr. 3, 1999, entry, citing 265A-NY-280350-CG, serial 4062; 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 7134); Commission investigation in Culver City; Vicki G. interview (Sept. 30, 2003).
9. For the FBI source's claims, see FBI letterhead memorandum, Penttbom investigation, Oct. 8, 2002. For Abdullah's recollections, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, Jan. 15, 2002. Other reporting indicates that Hazmi and Mihdhar spent time at the King Fahd mosque. A scholar lecturing at the mosque was reportedly approached by either Hazmi or Mihdhar about performing a wedding ceremony. Khalil A. Khalil interview (Feb. 24, 2004). On "Khallam," see FBI electronic communication, "Fahad Althumairy," Sept. 4, 2002; FBI electronic communication, "Ziyat Kharfan," Jan. 8, 2002 (giving description of visitor with whom Hazmi and Mihdhar met at mosque). The Khallam story has never been corroborated. The FBI considered the possibility that Khallam might be Khallad, the al Qaeda member whose role in the 9/11 plot and the Cole attack we discussed in chapter 5. This speculation was based on reporting that Khallad was in the United States in June 2000 and was seen in the company of Fahad al Thumairy, an imam at the mosque. FBI electronic communication, investigation of Cole bombing, interview of witness, Mar. 19, 2003; CIA cable, source reporting, Mar. 18, 2003. Neither we nor the FBI have found any travel documentation establishing Khallad's presence in the United States at any time. We doubt that the person allegedly seen with Thumairy actually was Khallad.
10. Patrick J. McDonnell, "Saudi Envoy in L.A. Is Deported," Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2003, p. B1; Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman, with Jamie Reno, "Failure to Communicate," Newsweek, Aug. 4, 2003, p. 34. As of January 2000, Thumairy was employed by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Religious Endowments and Religious Guidance, to act as the consulate's liaison to the mosque. FBI electronic communication, "Fahad Al Thumairy," Sept. 4, 2002. Before 9/11, Saudi imams employed by the ministry often were dispatched to help serve Muslim communities around the world, sometimes--as in Thumairy's case--with diplomatic status in the host country. On Thumairy's leadership, see FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Mohammed bin Suleiman al Muhanna, July 9, 2003; FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Mohamed Ibrahim Aliter, Dec. 2, 2002.
11. FBI electronic communication, "Abdulaziz Alroomi," Apr. 2, 2003.
12. FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Khaled Charif, Dec. 4, 2002. After 9/11, arguments arose within the Saudi government over whether to allow reputedly radical imams, including Thumairy, to work for the Saudi government in the United States. FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Mohammed bin Suleiman al Muhanna, July 9, 2003. In May 2003, the U.S. government settled the matter, at least in Thumairy's case, by refusing to let him back into the country. DOS memo, Karl Hoffman to the Commission, June 8, 2004, and the attached materials.
13. On Thumairy's religious views, see FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Mohamed Aliter, Dec. 2, 2002; Fahad al Thumairy interviews (Feb. 23-25, 2004). However, two witnesses we interviewed who knew Thumairy and used to hear him preach at the King Fahd mosque deny that he promoted extremism. Sami A. Mekhemar interview (Apr. 21, 2004); Interview (Apr. 23, 2004). Despite the disparate views as to whether Thumairy qualified as an extremist while he was in Los Angeles, it does appear that both the Saudi Arabian government and the leadership of the mosque attempted to discipline him in the summer of 2002 and early 2003 for espousing extremist views. Thumairy denies incurring any such disciplinary measures. Fahad al Thumairy interviews (Feb. 23-25, 2004); FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Mohammed bin Suleiman al Muhanna, July 9, 2003. On Bayoumi, see Khalil A. Khalil interview (Feb. 24, 2004). Bayoumi and Thumairy had numerous telephonic contacts between December 1998 and December 2000. Specifically, Bayoumi called Thumairy's home telephone 10 times during this period, and Thumairy called Bayoumi's cellular and home phones 11 times between December 3 and December 20, 2000. FBI electronic communication, "Fahad Al-Thumairy," Nov. 20, 2002. Bayoumi recalls consulting with Thumairy, solely on religious matters, both by telephone and in person at the mosque. Omar al Bayoumi interview (Oct. 16-17, 2003). As to Thumairy's contact with Mohdar Abdullah, see FBI electronic communication, "Fahad Althumairy," Oct. 25, 2002; FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, July 23, 2002. According to one individual, Abdullah visited the mosque frequently and was "very close" to radical followers of Thumairy. FBI electronic communication, "Fahad Althumairy," Oct. 25, 2002.
14. We have checked, for example, the records for apartments where Thumairy is known to have placed Saudi visitors during 2001. The most intriguing lead concerns an Arabic-speaking taxicab driver, Qualid Benomrane, who was arrested on immigration charges in early 2002. When asked to look at a series of photographs that included the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks, Benomrane responded ambiguously, seeming first to pick out the photographs of Hazmi and Mihdhar but then denying that he recognized them. Later in the interview, Benomrane told the FBI about driving "two Saudis" around Los Angeles and to San Diego's Sea World after being introduced to them by Thumairy at the King Fahd mosque before 9/11. According to Benomrane, someone at the consulate had asked Thumairy to assist the two Saudis, who had recently arrived in Los Angeles and had moved to an apartment near the mosque. FBI electronic communication, "Fahad Althumairy," Sept. 4, 2002; Ashour E. interview (May 20, 2004); FBI reports of investigation, interviews of Qualid Moncef Benomrane, Mar. 7, 2002; Mar. 13, 2002; May 23, 2002. Working with agencies of the U.S. government, we have attempted to locate and interview Benomrane overseas, since he was deported in 2002. After checking many possible avenues of corroboration for this story, our investigation has not substantiated the hypothesis that Benomrane's "two Saudis" were Hazmi and Mihdhar. In fact, we have established that Benomrane did not obtain a taxi license, or even a driver's license, until months after he could be supposed to have chauffeured Hazmi and Mihdhar. Moreover, before his deportation, Benomrane described the two Saudis as sons of a sick father who was seeking medical treatment in Los Angeles. Ibid. We have found evidence corroborating this account.
15. FBI document made available to the Commission; Caysan Bin Don interview (Apr. 20, 2004); Omar al Bayoumi interview (Oct. 16-17, 2003); Interview (Apr. 23, 2004). In Bin Don's presence, Bayoumi met with a still-unidentified consular employee whom Bayoumi already knew and whom Bin Don says he saw in Anaheim as recently as November 2003. The employee provided Bayoumi with Qur'ans and other religious materials during the February 1, 2000, meeting. Omar al Bayoumi interview (Oct. 16-17, 2003). At the time of the February 1, 2000, restaurant encounter, Bin Don, a U.S. citizen, went by the name Isamu Dyson.
16. Caysan Bin Don interview (Apr. 20, 2004); FBI report of investigation, interview of Isamu Dyson, Oct. 8, 2001.
17. See Caysan Bin Don interview (Apr. 20, 2004); FBI report of investigation, interview of Isamu Dyson, Oct. 8, 2001. Bin Don himself has been inconsistent about visiting the mosque. In his initial interviews, he recalled praying with Bayoumi at the consulate before lunch and visiting the mosque only once, after the meal; when we interviewed him recently, however, he stated that both prayer sessions took place at the mosque. For Bayoumi's visits to Los Angeles, see FBI report of investigation, recovery of hotel records, Jan. 15, 2002. Although Bayoumi might deny visiting the mosque on February 1 to conceal some contact he may have made there that day, we have seen no evidence of such contact.
18. Saudi Civil Aviation Authority employment records for Bayoumi, Mar. 2000-Jan. 2002 (provided by the FBI); FBI report of investigation, "Connections of San Diego PENTTBOMB Subjects to the Government of Saudi Arabia," undated; FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Bayoumi, Apr. 15, 2002. While in San Diego, Bayoumi was officially employed by Ercan, a subsidiary of a contractor for the Saudi Civil Aviation Administration, although a fellow employee described Bayoumi as a "ghost employee," noting that he was one of many Saudis on the payroll who was not required to work. In April 2000, Bayoumi received a promotion and his status was also adjusted from "single" to "married" (despite the fact that he was already married). As a result, his salary was raised and his "other allowances" stipend increased significantly, from approximately $465 to $3,925 a month, remaining at that level until December 2000. In January 2001, the stipend was reduced to $3,427. It stayed constant until August 2001, when Bayoumi left the United States. Saudi Civil Aviation Authority employment records for Bayoumi, Mar. 2000-Jan. 2002 (provided by the FBI); Richard L. Lambert prepared statement, June 26, 2003, pp. 7-9; FBI reports of investigation, interviews of Samuel George Coombs, Apr. 8, 2002; July 24, 2002; Aug. 26, 2002.
19. On Bayoumi's activities, see FBI electronic communication, interview of Bayoumi, Sept. 17, 2003. Although Bayoumi admits knowing Thumairy, no telephone records document any contact between the two just before Bayoumi's lunch with Hazmi and Mihdhar in Los Angeles. Nor do individuals who regard Thumairy as an extremist place Bayoumi in Thumairy's circle of associates. KSM has denied knowing Bayoumi. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Aug. 18, 2003.
Bayoumi was once the subject of an FBI counterterrorism investigation, prompted by allegations about him that appear to have been groundless. On the closing of the investigation, see FBI electronic communication, "Omar Ahmed Al Bayoumi," June 7, 1999. Another possible source of suspicion is his passport, which contains a cachet that intelligence investigators associate with possible adherence to al Qaeda. It is a marking that can be obtained by especially devout Muslims. Although we believe the marking suggests the need for further inquiry, it is not the kind of fraudulent manipulation that would conclusively link the document with a terrorist organization. INS records, copy of Bayoumi passport; CIA analytic report, Al-Qa'ida Travel Issues, CTC 2004-40002H, Nov. 14, 2003, pp. ii, 18.
20. On Abdullah's assistance to the hijackers, see FBI electronic communication, Abdullah investigation, May 19, 2004. In a post-9/11 interview with law enforcement, Abdullah claimed that Bayoumi specifically asked him "to be the individual to acclimate the hijackers to the United States, particularly San Diego, California." FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, July 23, 2002. Bayoumi, however, denies even introducing Hazmi and Mihdhar to Abdullah, much less asking him to assist them. Omar al Bayoumi interview (Oct. 16-17, 2003).
21. FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, July 23, 2002; FBI electronic communication, "Osama Bassnan," Oct. 17, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, Sept. 22, 2001; FBI electronic communication, "Shareef Abdulmuttaleb el Arbi," Feb. 4, 2003. For the possibility of the notebook belonging to someone else, see FBI report, Behavioral Analysis Activity, Oct. 4, 2001.
22. FBI electronic communication, interview of Charles Sabah Toma, May 18, 2004.
23. On Abdullah's claims of advance knowledge, see FBI electronic communication, interview, May 17, 2004. On Abdullah's telephone use after August 25, 2001, and acting strangely, see FBI report of investigation, interview, Sept. 24, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, July 23, 2002; Danny G. interviews (Nov. 18, 2003; May 24, 2004).
24. The hijackers' mode of transportation and the exact date of their arrival in San Diego are not known. On their locating Bayoumi on February 4 and his assistance, see Richard L. Lambert prepared statement, June 26, 2003, pp. 6-7; Omar al Bayoumi interview (Oct. 16-17, 2003); FBI report of investigation, interview of Omar al Bayoumi, Aug. 4-5, 2003. The rental application states that Hazmi and Mihdhar resided in Bayoumi's apartment from January 15 to February 2, 2000, but Bayoumi denies it, and we have found no reason to dispute his denial. According to Bayoumi, he was in such a hurry to complete the rental transaction that he signed the application form without reading it. Bayoumi also denies receiving any money from Hazmi or Mihdhar for helping them with the apartment. Omar al Bayoumi interview (Oct. 16-17, 2003). On opening an account, see FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 12.
Contrary to highly publicized allegations, we have found no evidence that Hazmi or Mihdhar received money from another Saudi citizen, Osama Bassnan.
25. Omar al Bayoumi interview (Oct. 16-17, 2003). According to Bayoumi, he originally intended to hold the party at his own apartment, but moved it to the hijackers' apartment when one of the guests created an awkward social circumstance by bringing his wife; Bayoumi solved the problem by having the friend's wife stay with his own wife in Bayoumi's apartment and moving the party to the hijackers' residence. Bayoumi maintains that a visiting sheikh was the party's principal honoree. Ibid. Although Bin Don has recalled that the party was intended to welcome Hazmi and Mihdhar to the community, this is belied by the hijackers' apparent decision to sequester themselves in the back room, and by the account of another party attendee. Caysan Bin Don interview (Apr. 20, 2004); Khalid Abdulrab al Yafai interview (Feb. 24, 2004). Of the two operatives, only Mihdhar appears briefly on the video shot by Bin Don. Bayoumi videotape of party (provided by the FBI).
26. On the hijackers' efforts to relocate, see Omar al Bayoumi interview (Oct. 16-17, 2003); Interview (Apr. 23, 2004); FBI report, "San Diego Brief to 9/11 Commission," June 26, 2003, p. 17. Telephone records indicate that on February 9 and February 14, 2000, Bayoumi's cell phone was used to call the landlord of the operatives' acquaintance, Hashim al Attas, who had decided to vacate his apartment. On February 15, 2000, when the landlord returned a page from Bayoumi's cell phone, Hazmi answered the phone. Steve O. interview (Nov. 17, 2003); FBI report of investigation, interview of George Harb, Oct. 30, 2001. Hazmi and Mihdhar appear to have used Bayoumi's cell phone until telephone service (subscribed in Hazmi's name) was installed in their apartment.
27. FBI report of investigation, interview of George Harb, Sept. 16, 2001. The hijackers may actually have lived in Attas's apartment for a short while. Bayoumi has stated that he recalls hearing that Hazmi and Mihdhar moved into the apartment for two weeks but then returned to their original apartment while Bayoumi was in Washington, D.C. FBI report of investigation, interview of Omar al Bayoumi, Aug. 4-6, 2003. This account is confirmed by Attas's girlfriend, who recalls that Attas met Mihdhar and Hazmi either through friends or at the mosque, and that the pair moved into Attas's apartment for approximately two weeks before moving out and taking Attas's furnishings with them. FBI report, "San Diego Brief to 9/11 Commission," June 26, 2003, p. 18.
28. Interview (Apr. 23, 2004). Hazmi and Mihdhar did not officially vacate their first apartment until May 31, 2000. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Nov. 14, 2003 (citing 265A-NY-280350-SD, serial 1445). The exact details of the hijackers' move to their final San Diego address are not altogether clear, as their landlord--who has been interviewed many times by the FBI and once by us--has provided various accounts of how he first met them. See also FBI electronic communication, Penttbom investigation, Oct. 3, 2001. On Mihdhar's travels, see Interview (Apr. 23, 2004); FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004 (classified version), p. 46. On Hazmi's departure, see FBI report, "San Diego Brief to 9/11 Commission," June 26, 2003, p. 18.
29. On the purchase of the car, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Nov. 14, 2003 (citing Bank of America records). Law enforcement officials recovered the blue 1988 Toyota from the parking lot at Dulles International Airport on September 11. On the wire transfer, see FBI report of investigation, interview, Sept. 17, 2001. After 9/11, the mosque administrator came forward because he feared he had unwittingly aided the hijackers. He recalled Hazmi and Mihdhar arriving at the mosque on their own and describing themselves as clerks employed by the Saudi Arabian government. The two said they needed help finding a school where they could study English, which neither spoke well enough, in the administrator's opinion, to permit them to become pilots. The administrator also suspected that Mihdhar might have been an intelligence agent of the Saudi government. After first declining Hazmi's request for a loan, the administrator agreed to permit him to use the administrator's bank account to receive the $5,000 wire transfer. Claiming to have been suspicious of the entire transaction, the administrator distanced himself from Hazmi and Mihdhar, but not before they had received the assistance they needed. Ibid. We have no evidence contradicting the administrator's account.
30. On visits to other mosques, see FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Ali Ahmad Mesdaq, Jan. 28, 2002; FBI reports of investigation, interviews of Samir Abdoun, Oct. 28, 2001; May 15, 2002. On Bayoumi's assistance, see Richard L. Lambert prepared statement, June 26, 2003, p. 7; FBI electronic communication, "Jay Steven Barlow," Sept. 24, 2002. On April 12, 2000, Hazmi registered for a one-month class in conversational English. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Nov. 14, 2003 (Apr. 12, 2000, entry, citing Bank of America records).
31. Even before learning of Abdullah's alleged jailhouse conversations, we attempted to interview him in November 2003, while he was incarcerated and awaiting deportation. Through counsel, Abdullah refused to be interviewed unless he was released from custody. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to obtain an order of use immunity so that Abdullah's testimony could be compelled. See Commission letter to Daniel Levin, DOJ, Dec. 31, 2003; DOJ letter, Daniel Levin to the Commission, Jan. 5, 2004. On Abdullah's deportation, see FBI electronic communication, Abdullah investigation, July 1, 2004. Abdullah appears to be at liberty in Yemen, although he claims Yemeni authorities are watching him. H. G. Reza, "Deported Friend of Terrorists in Report," Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2004, p. A31.
32. On Awadallah, see FBI electronic communication, interview of Osama Awadallah, June 6, 2002; FBI electronic communication, interview of Osama Awadallah, Feb. 4, 2003. On Bakarbashat, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Omar Bakarbashat, Sept. 17, 2001; FBI electronic communication, Penttbom investigation, Apr. 11, 2002. Another associate of Hazmi and Mihdhar allegedly referred to them after the September 11 attacks as "more than heroes." FBI letterhead memorandum, "Diah Thabet," Oct. 25, 2002.
33. On Anwar Aulaqi, see Wade A. interview (Oct. 16, 2003). The FBI investigated Aulaqi in 1999 and 2000 after learning that he may have been contacted by a possible procurement agent for Bin Ladin. During this investigation, the FBI learned that Aulaqi knew individuals from the Holy Land Foundation and others involved in raising money for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Sources alleged that Aulaqi had other extremist connections. FBI electronic communication, background searches, Feb. 3, 2000; FBI report of investigation, interview, Sept. 24, 2001; FBI electronic communication, interview, Oct. 8, 2002. None of this information was considered strong enough to support a criminal prosecution. For evidence of possible early contacts between Hazmi/Mihdhar and Aulaqi, see Steve O. interview (Nov. 17, 2003), noting that four calls took place between Aulaqi's phone and Bayoumi's phone on February 4, 2000, the day Bayoumi helped Hazmi and Mihdhar find an apartment and perhaps lent them his phone.
One witness remembered meeting Hazmi through Aulaqi and Mohdar Abdullah, and later meeting Mihdhar at Aulaqi's mosque. This same witness recalled seeing Hazmi and Mihdhar in the guest room on the second floor of the mosque and, on one occasion, leaving the room just after Aulaqi, at the conclusion of a meeting. FBI reports of investigation, interviews of Samir Abdoun, Oct. 28, 2001; May 15, 2002; FBI report of investigation, interview of Anwar Aulaqi, Sept. 25, 2001; FBI electronic communication, Penttbom investigation, Sept. 15, 2002.
34. FBI reports of investigation, interviews of Anwar Aulaqi, Sept. 17, 2001; Sept. 19, 2001.
35. Aulaqi took a position at the Dar al Hijra mosque in early 2001. By the time we sought to interview him in 2003, he had left the United States, reportedly returning to Yemen. We attempted to locate and interview him in Yemen, working with U.S. agencies and the Yemeni government, as well as other governments that might have knowledge of his whereabouts. Those attempts were unsuccessful.
36. Whereas Hazmi managed to speak broken English, Mihdhar did not even have this much command of the language, which he appeared uninterested in learning. Interview (Apr. 23, 2004); FBI report of investigation, interview of Omar Bakarbashat, Sept. 17, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Ramez Noaman, Oct. 1, 2001. On April 4, 2000, Hazmi took his first flying lesson, a one-hour introductory session at the National Air College in San Diego. Exactly one month later, Hazmi and Mihdhar purchased flight equipment from an instructor at the Sorbi Flying Club in San Diego. On May 5, both of them took a lesson at Sorbi, followed by a second lesson at the same school five days later. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 18.
37. On the Sorbi Flying Club, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Khaled al Kayed, Sept. 15, 2001. For other instructors' views, see FBI electronic communication, Penttbomb investigation, Apr. 11, 2002.
38. On Mihdhar's phone calls, see, e.g., FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Nov. 14, 2003 (Mar. 20, 2000, entry, citing 265A-NY-280350-19426). On Mihdhar's travels, see FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004 (classified version), p. 17. On KSM's views, see Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, May 19, 2003. On Mihdhar's status, see INS record, NIIS record of Mihdhar, June 10, 2000.
39. On KSM's communication methods, see Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Oct. 15, 2003. Even here, the West Coast operatives' language limitation posed a problem, as KSM had to send emails in Arabic using the English alphabet. Ibid. In addition to having his nephew Ali Abdul Aziz Ali transmit funds to the operatives in the United States, KSM used Ali as an intermediary for telephone messages. Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Jan. 7, 2004. On Khallad's role, see Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, Oct. 15, 2003; Aug. 18, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Feb. 17, 2004. On KSM's annoyance with and views on Mihdhar, see Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, June 15, 2004; May 19, 2003.
40. Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Feb. 17, 2004; FBI report of investigation, interview, Sept. 24, 2001; FBI electronic communication, Penttbom investigation, Sept. 15, 2001; FBI electronic communication, interview, July 26, 2002; Interview (Apr. 23, 2004); FBI electronic communication, Penttbom investigation, Sept. 15, 2001. Both KSM and Khallad were aware of Hazmi's interest in finding a bride, and KSM reportedly went so far as to promise Hazmi a monthly stipend of $700 in the event he succeeded in marrying. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, Aug. 6, 2003; Jan. 9, 2004. Although Hazmi did not use his housemate's telephone to make calls, he apparently received calls on it, including calls from an individual named Ashraf Suboh, who called the house 16 times between July 20 and November 18, 2000. Suboh's name and address appear in a printed email recovered during searches at an al Qaeda site in Pakistan in May 2002. The document was dated Jan. 9, 2001, and included his name and a mailing address. FBI letterhead memorandum, San Diego investigation, July 2, 2002.
41. Salmi arrived in San Diego on August 7, 2000, and three days later moved into the house where Hazmi resided. Omar al Bayoumi--who reported (at least nominally) to Salmi's uncle at the Saudi Civil Aviation ministry--found this accommodation for Salmi, although Salmi claims not to have known Bayoumi before coming to San Diego. FBI report of investigation, interview of Yazeed al Salmi, Oct. 8, 2001. On Salmi's move to Abdullah's house in La Mesa, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Salmi, Sept. 21, 2001. On possible financial links, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Nov. 14, 2003 (citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 59279); FBI electronic communication, Information and questions re Salmi interview, June 9, 2004; FBI report of investigation, interview of Salmi, June 17, 2004. For Salmi's possible link to Hanjour, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Abdullah, July 23, 2002. We made efforts with the assistance of the FBI to interview Salmi, but without success. The FBI interviewed Salmi on its own in June 2004 but failed to ask about his reported childhood ties to Hanjour. FBI report of investigation interview of Yazeed al Salmi, June 14, 2004.
42. At KSM's direction, Khallad notified Hazmi that another operative, who turned out to be Hanjour, would be joining Hazmi soon. Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Feb. 17, 2004. On Hazmi's work at the gas station and his statement about becoming famous, see FBI report of investigation, interview, May 21, 2002. The owner of the gas station, Osama Mustafa, and the manager of the station, Iyad Kreiwesh, have both been the subject of FBI counterterrorism investigations. The investigations did not yield evidence of criminal conduct. Thumairy, the Saudi imam in Los Angeles, allegedly presided over Kreiwesh's wedding at the King Fahd mosque, witnessed by Abdullah and Benomrane, likely around September 2000. FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, July 23, 2002; 4377 Parks Avenue, San Diego record, "Application to Rent and Rental Deposit," Sept. 21, 2000.
43. On Hanjour's travel to San Diego, see INS record, NIIS record of Hanjour, Dec. 8, 2000. Hazmi's housemate remembers him taking an unexplained trip to the San Diego airport around this time. FBI report of investigation, interview, Sept. 24, 2001. On Hanjour and Hazmi leaving San Diego and the visit to the gas station, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, Sept. 19, 2001. On Hazmi's comment to his housemate, see Interview (Apr. 23, 2004). Although Hazmi's housemate claims that the "Hani" whom Hazmi introduced him to is not the same person pictured in Hanjour's photograph, we have little doubt that the housemate did in fact see Hanjour on the day he and Hazmi left San Diego. Ibid.; FBI electronic communication, Penttbom investigation, Sept. 15, 2001.
44. On Hazmi's contact with Abdullah, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, Sept. 19, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Ramez Noaman, Oct. 1, 2001. On Hazmi's contact with his housemate, see FBI reports of investigation, interviews, Sept. 24, 2001; July 26, 2002. On Hazmi's contact to acquaintances in San Diego, see Danny G. interviews (Nov. 18, 2003; May 24, 2004).
45. For Shehhi's arrival, see INS record, NIIS record of Shehhi, May 29, 2000; Customs record, secondary inspection record of Shehhi, May 29, 2000. For Shehhi going to New York City, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (May 30, 2000, entry citing Dresdner bank records). For Atta's travel to the Czech Republic, see ibid. (June 2, 2000, entry citing Teletype, Sept. 21, 2001, 280350-PR, serial 111). Upon entry, Atta received the customary authorization to stay six months as a tourist. For Atta's arrival in Newark on June 3, 2000, see INS record, non-NIIS record of Atta, June 3, 2000. For Atta's apparent motivation, see CIA analytic report, "11 September: The Plot and the Plotters," CTC 2003-40044HC, June 1, 2003, p. 13; Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Oct. 2, 2002; Mar. 3, 2004.
46. Demonstrating Atta and Shehhi's uncertainty regarding flight schools, Atta emailed a New Hampshire school on June 5, 2000, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 3975); and inquired with a New Jersey school on June 22, 2000, see ibid. (citing 265A-NY-280350-NK, serial 15965). As they looked at flight schools on the East Coast, Atta and Shehhi stayed in a series of short-term rentals in New York City. Ibid. (June 19, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serials 80926, 86069; June 25, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 74902). For Jarrah's travel and training, see INS record, NIIS record of Jarrah, June 27, 2000; FBI letterhead memorandum, profile of Jarrah, Mar. 20, 2002. For Jarrah living with instructors, see ibid. For Jarrah purchasing a vehicle, see FBI briefing materials, Penttbom, Dec. 10-11, 2003, p. 150 (citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serials 21113, 66098).
47. For Atta and Shehhi visiting the Oklahoma school, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (July 2, 2000, entry citing FBI electronic communication, Sept. 13, 2001). For Moussaoui's enrollment, see Superseding Indictment, United States v. Moussaoui, Crim. No. 01-455-A (E.D.Va. filed July 16, 2002), para. 44. For Atta's initial training in Florida, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (July 7, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-TP-5382). Atta and Shehhi did not take their return flight to New York, and there are no travel records indicating how they traveled from Oklahoma to Florida. Ibid. (July 7, 2000, entry citing FBI electronic communication, Sept. 19, 2001). For Atta and Shehhi's enrollment in the advanced course, see ibid. (July 17, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350, serial 4234; 265A-NY-280350-CE, serial 632). The two also soon rented an apartment and opened a joint bank account. Ibid. (July 13, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-TP-5679; July 7, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302-16752). Atta bought a car. FBI briefing materials, Penttbom, Dec. 10-11, 2003, p. 150. For their solo flights, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (July 30, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-CE-624, 632). For passing the test, see ibid. (Aug. 14, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serials 9715, 26590). For Atta and Shehhi continuing training, see ibid. (Sept. 1, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-2435). For Jarrah's training, see ibid. (June 27, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-TP (FD-302), serial 1442).
48. Ali reportedly received the money sent to the United States from KSM in Pakistan and via courier. Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, Feb. 11, 2004 (two reports). Ramzi Binalshibh wired some funds withdrawn from Shehhi's bank account in Germany, a total of more than $10,000 in four transfers between June 13 and September 27, 2000. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, pp. 16-17; German BKA (Bundeskriminalamt) report, investigative summary re Binalshibh, July 4, 2002, pp. 39-41.
49. Adam Drucker interview (Jan. 12, 2004); wire transfer documents (provided by the FBI), pp. 6-37. Ali did provide identification for his initial wire transfer to Hazmi in April that, along with some contact information he provided when he made subsequent transfers, helped the FBI unravel his aliases after 9/11. Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, Feb. 11, 2004 (two reports).
50. The applications of Atta and Shehhi for student status include the same supporting financial documentation. See INS record, Atta application to change status, Sept. 19, 2000; INS record, Shehhi application to change status, Sept. 15, 2000. For Atta and Shehhi's enrolling at Jones Aviation, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Sept. 23, 2000, entry citing SunTrust Financial Records). For Atta and Shehhi's behavior, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Ivan Chirivella, Sept. 15, 2001. For their failure, haste, and return to Huffman, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Oct. 4, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-TP, serial 1474; 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 1361).
51. For Jarrah's certificate, see FBI letterhead memorandum, profile of Jarrah, Mar. 20, 2002. For Jarrah's leaving the United States, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Oct. 7, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302-7134). For Jarrah and Senguen's travel to Paris, see FBI letterhead memorandum, profile of Jarrah, Mar. 20, 2002. For Jarrah's return to the United States, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Oct. 29, 2000, entry citing INS NIIS Report; 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 7134). For their telephone contact, see FBI letterhead memorandum, profile of Jarrah, Mar. 20, 2002. For their email contact, see FBI electronic communication, Penttbom investigation, Sept. 18, 2001, p. 5.
52. For Binalshibh's deposit, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (June 27, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-TP (FD-302), serial 1442; 265A-NY-280350-TP, serial 9500). For his May and June visa applications, see DOS records, Binalshibh visa applications, May 31, 2000; July 18, 2000; FBI briefing materials, Penttbom, Dec. 10-11, 2003, pp. 136-137; CIA analytic report, "The Plot and the Plotters," June 1, 2003, pp. 10, 12. For his September application in Yemen, see DOS record, Binalshibh visa application, Sept. 16, 2000. For his October application in Berlin, see DOS record, Binalshibh visa application, Nov. 1, 2000. Even after the last application was rejected, Binalshibh sought ways to get a visa, such as by marrying a U.S. citizen. He corresponded by email with a woman in California, but Atta told him to discontinue this effort. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Sept. 24, 2002.
Essabar may have been intended to replace Binalshibh. Like Atta, Shehhi, and Jarrah, Essabar obtained a new passport even though his old one was nearly a year from expiration, evidently to conceal his prior travel to Afghanistan during the first half of 2000. On December 12, 2000, and January 28, 2001--after Binalshibh's four U.S. visa applications had been denied--Essabar made two unsuccessful U.S. visa applications, stating that he wished to visit the United States during the week of February 15, 2001. DOS records, Essabar visa applications, Dec. 12, 2000; Jan. 8, 2001. See Federal Prosecutor General (Germany), response to Commission letter, June 25, 2004, p. 14. Neither Binalshibh nor Essabar were denied visas based on terrorism concerns.
53. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004 (classified version), p. 82.
54. For KSM sending Moussaoui to Malaysia, see Intelligence Report, interrogation of KSM, Mar. 24, 2003. For Moussaoui not finding a flight school, see Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Jan. 22, 2002. For the ammonium nitrate purchase, see Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Apr. 9, 2002; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Apr. 12, 2004. For the cargo planes operation, see Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Apr. 12, 2004. For KSM's reaction, see Intelligence Report, interrogation of KSM, Mar. 24, 2003. For Moussaoui's and Binalshibh's trips and Moussaoui's emails, see FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004 (classified version), p. 85. There are no witnesses who report that Moussaoui and Binalshibh actually met in London, but Moussaoui's subsequent travel to Afghanistan implies that he received instructions from Binalshibh. See ibid., p. 86. Somewhere in his travels, Moussaoui obtained the funds he would bring to the United States. He declared $35,000 upon arrival on February 23, 2001, and he deposited $32,000 into a Norman, Oklahoma, bank account on February 26. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 78.
55. For Hanjour's entry, see INS record, NIIS record of Hanjour, Oct. 3, 1991. For his university studies, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Oct. 14, 1991, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-PX, serial 3792). For Hanjour being religious, see FBI letterhead memorandum, Penttbom investigation, Jan. 4, 2004, p. 10. One witness interviewed by the FBI after 9/11 remembers Hanjour and Nawaf al Hazmi becoming so entranced during a prayer that both men began to cry. FBI report of investigation, interview of Mourad Jdaini, Sept. 22, 2001. For Hanjour's trip to Afghanistan, his initial studies in the United States, his rejection by the Saudi flight school, and his desire for flight training in the United States, see Intelligence report, interviews of Saudi hijackers' families, Dec. 22, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Adnan Khalil, Sept. 29, 2001.
56. For Hanjour's 1996 trip to the United States, see, e.g., FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Apr. 1, 1996, entry citing 265A-NT-280350, serial 2746; 265A-NT-280350-302, serial 9130). For his interest in flight training in Florida and his training in California, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Adnan Khalil, Sep. 14, 2001; FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Sept. 3, 1996, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-SF, serial 1847). For his 1996 flight instruction in Arizona and return to Saudi Arabia, see ibid. (Sept. 29, 1996, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-IN, serial 953; Nov. 26, 1996, entry citing INS: 265A-NY-280350-NK). For his return to Florida, see FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Bandar al Hazmi, Jan. 15, 2002. For his 1998 flight training in Arizona, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Feb. 2, 1998, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-IN, serial 4468). For his flight training in Arizona with his two friends, see ibid. (Feb. 24, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280530-IN, serial 4468). Hanjour initially was nervous if not fearful in flight training. FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Lotfi Raissi, Jan. 4, 2004, p. 11. His instructor described him as a terrible pilot. FBI letterhead memorandum, interview of James McRae, Sept. 17, 2001.
We have seen no evidence of a familial relationship between Bandar al Hazmi and hijackers Nawaf al Hazmi and Salem al Hazmi. Tim T. interview (Jan. 5, 2004); Ken Williams interview (May 11, 2004). Bandar al Hazmi claims he met Hanjour in Florida, as they were both studying at the same English-language institute. FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Bandar al Hazmi, Jan. 15, 2002. Rayed Abdullah, who knew Bandar al Hazmi from high school, says he moved to Florida to become a commercial pilot after speaking with Bandar al Hazmi, and claims he met Hanjour upon arriving in Florida. FBI report of investigation, interview of Rayed Abdullah, Sept. 15, 2001; FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Abdullah Rayed Abdullah, Nov. 16, 2001, p. 8. This account is not credible, because Abdullah arrived in the United States on November 15, 1997, the day before Hanjour arrived. Ken Williams interview (May 11, 2004); FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 265A-NY-280350-NK, serial 1379). The three of them did attend language school together but not until after all three had arrived in the United States. FBI report of investigation, interview of Rayed Abdullah, Sept. 15, 2001. The Phoenix FBI office remains suspicious of Abdullah and Hazmi and their association with Hanjour. Ken Williams interview (May 11, 2004). (Williams is the FBI agent who authored what is referred to as the "Phoenix memo," discussed in chapter 8.)
For Hanjour obtaining his pilot's license in three months, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Amro Hassan, Sept. 17, 2001, p. 2. For Hanjour receiving his commercial pilot's license, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Apr. 15, 1999, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-PX, serial 334). For Hanjour's apparent return to Saudi Arabia, see ibid. (Apr. 28, 1999, entry citing INS I-94, 265A-NY-280350-NK, serial 1379). Bandar al Hazmi continued his training at Arizona Aviation with intermittent trips home to Saudi Arabia, before departing the United States for the last time in January 2000. Tim T. interview (Jan. 5, 2004); FBI report of investigation, interview of Amro Hassan, Sept. 19, 2001. Rayed Abdullah trained at Arizona Aviation and obtained a private pilot's license in December 1998. FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Rayed Abdullah, May 5, 2001, p. 9. Abdullah then worked as a computer programmer in Arizona before resuming flight training during the summer of 2001. FBI report of investigation, interview of Rayed Abdullah, Sept. 16, 2001, p. 5.
57. Intelligence report, interviews of Saudi hijackers' families, Dec. 22, 2001.
58. Al Qaeda figures at the university or in Tucson included Mubarak al Duri, reportedly Bin Ladin's principal procurement agent for weapons of mass destruction; Muhammad Bayazid, an al Qaeda arms procurer and trainer; Wadi al Hage, an operative convicted for the East Africa bombings; and Wail Julaidan, a Saudi extremist with ties to al Qaeda. CIA and FBI joint analytic report, "Arizona: Long Term Nexus for Islamic Extremists," May 15, 2002, p. 3.
59. Rayed Abdullah, who lived and trained with Hanjour, was a leader at the Islamic Cultural Center in Phoenix and reportedly gave extremist speeches at the mosque. Ken Williams interview (Jan. 7, 2004); FBI electronic communication, Rayed Abdullah, Sept. 22, 2003. Another Hanjour associate, Faisal al Salmi, took flight training with Rayed Abdullah but wanted to keep his training secret. FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Rayed Abdullah, May 5, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Malek Seif, Oct. 25, 2001. When polygraphed on whether he had taken flight training at the behest of an organization, al Salmi's negative response was deemed deceptive. FBI electronic communication, investigation of Zakaria Soubra, June 5, 2002, p. 8.
60. For al Qaeda activity in Arizona, see Ken Williams interview (Jan. 7, 2004). On al Qaeda directing individuals in the Phoenix area to enroll in flight training without telling them why, see FBI electronic communication, investigation of Rayed Abdullah, Sept. 22, 2003. Ghassan al Sharbi, who was captured in March 2002 in Pakistan along with Abu Zubaydah, studied at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. Greg Krikorian, "Detainee Facing Deportation Summoned to Probe," Los Angeles Times, Jan. 24, 2003; Ken Williams interview (Jan. 7, 2004). Although Sharbi has not been tied to the 9/11 attacks, he reportedly attended the training camps in Afghanistan and swore bayat to Bin Ladin during the summer of 2001. FBI memorandum, investigation of Hamed al Sulami, Aug. 1, 2002, p. 6.
After he left the camps, Sharbi looked for his friend Hamdan al Shalawi, another student in Arizona, for a secret project. Shalawi reportedly trained in the camps in November 2000, learning how to conduct "Khobar Towers"-type attacks that he and a colleague planned to execute in Saudi Arabia. FBI electronic communication, investigation of Hamdan al Shalawi, Oct. 16, 2003, p. 2; Intelligence report, trace request on Shalawi, Nov. 27, 2000. Shalawi, however, denies this, claiming to have been studying in Arizona at the time, which neither the FBI nor we have been able to confirm. Shalawi was involved in a widely publicized incident in November 1999, when he and his friend Muhammed al Qudhaieen were detained because the crew of a cross-country America West flight reported that Qudhaieen had attempted to open the cockpit door on two occasions. FBI letterhead memorandum, Hamed al Sulami, July 25, 2002, p. 7. After the 9/11 attacks, FBI agents in Phoenix considered whether the incident was a "dry run" for the attacks. See, e.g., FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Fahad al Wahedi, Nov. 8, 2002, p. 4. In our interviews of Shalawi and Qudhaieen, they both claimed that Qudhaieen was only looking for the lavatory on the plane. Mohammad al Qudhaieen interview (Oct. 25, 2003); Hamdan al Shalawi interview (Oct. 22, 2003). Shalawi admits having gone to Afghanistan, but only once in the late 1980s after the war with the Soviet Union. Shalawi interview (Oct. 22, 2003).
Finally, another admitted associate of Hani Hanjour in Arizona, Hamed al Sulami, has had telephone contact with Sulayman al Alwan, a radical Saudi cleric from Qassim Province who was reported to be Abu Zubaydah's spiritual advisor and, as discussed later in this chapter, may have had a role in recruiting one or more of the muscle hijackers. FBI memorandum, investigation of Hamed al Sulami, Aug. 1, 2002, p. 2; FBI memorandum, investigation of Fahad al Wahedi, Nov. 8, 2002, p. 4; CIA analytic report, "The Plot and the Plotters," June 1, 2003, p. 27.
61. For Hanjour's meeting KSM, experience in the camp, and incorporation into the 9/11 operation, see Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Feb. 20, 2004. It is unknown how Hanjour got to the camps or who may have directed him to go there. For new arrivals' procedures, see Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, May 15, 2003.
62. For Hanjour returning home and obtaining a visa, see DOS records, visa applications for Hanjour, Sept. 10, 2000; Sept. 25, 2000. For Hanjour's statement to his family, see Intelligence report, interviews of Saudi hijackers' families, Dec. 22, 2001. For the meeting, see Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Jan. 7, 2004.
63. Ali initially gave Hanjour $3,000 to open the account and later deposited another $5,000 into the account. See FBI report, financial timeline of 9/11 hijackers, Dec. 9, 2004, p. 36 (Dec. 5, 2000, and Jan. 28, 2001, entries). Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Feb. 11, 2004. Hanjour also maintained another account, into which more than $9,600 was deposited. While in the United States, he accessed both accounts via ATM. FBI Report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, pp. 9, 11, 13, 17-18, 19. For Hanjour's travel and supposed destination, see INS record, NIIS record of Hanjour, Dec. 8, 2000; DOS record, Hanjour visa application, Sept. 25, 2000. For his enrollment but failure to attend, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Nov. 6, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 11165; 265A-NY-280350-SF, serial 160).
64. For Hanjour's refresher training, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Dec. 13, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-IN, serial 29652). For his desire to train on multi-engine planes, his language difficulties, the instructor's advice, and his reaction, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Rodney McAlear, Apr. 10, 2002. For his training at Pan Am International Flight Academy and completion by March 2001, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Feb. 8, 2001, entries citing 265A-NY-280350, serial 2870; 265A-NY-280350-PX, serials 334, 1033). For the Academy's instructor's reaction, see FBI report of investigation, interview of James Milton, Apr. 12, 2002; FBI electronic communication, Penttbom investigation, Sept. 16, 2001, pp. 2-3. For his perseverance, see ibid., p. 3. For vacating their apartment, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Mar. 31, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-PX, serial 762). During the cross-country drive, Hazmi received a speeding ticket in Oklahoma on April 1, 2001. Ibid. (citing 265A-NY-280350-W, serial 693, items k2453, k2454; 265A-NY-280350-OC, serial 1541; 265A-NY-280350-302, serials 58753, 58757). For arrival in Virginia, see ibid. (citing 265A-NY-280350-NH, serial 1859).
65. For Atta's training at Huffman, see, e.g., FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Nov. 19, 2000, entry citing 265A-280350-TP-5382). For Atta's certificate, see ibid. (Nov. 20, 2000, entry citing FAA records). For Shehhi's training at Huffman, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Erik Seiberlich, Sept. 12, 2001. For Shehhi's certificate, see FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 20. For Atta and Shehhi taking the commercial pilot test, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Dec. 19, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302-9715, serial 26590). For Atta and Shehhi's commercial pilot licenses, see ibid. (Dec. 21, 2000, entries citing FAA records; 265A-NY-280350-302-2340). For Atta and Shehhi's simulator training, see ibid. (Dec. 30, 2000, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 1177). For Jarrah's training, see ibid. (Dec. 15, 2000, entries citing 265D-NY-280350-1399, serial 8048).
66. For Jarrah's trip to Beirut and return trip with Senguen, see FBI letterhead memorandum, profile of Jarrah, Mar. 20, 2002. For Senguen accompanying Jarrah to flight training, see German BKA report, investigative summary re Jarrah, July 18, 2002, p. 60. According to Binalshibh, Senguen visited Jarrah in order to verify that he actually was studying to become a pilot. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, June 9, 2004. For Jarrah's second trip to Beirut and visiting Senguen, see FBI letterhead memorandum, profile of Jarrah, Mar. 20, 2002; FBI electronic communication, Penttbom investigation, Sept. 18, 2001, p. 5.
67. For Atta's trip to Germany and meeting with Binalshibh, see Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Sept. 24, 2002; Dec. 10, 2002; FBI Penttbom timeline briefing (Dec. 10-11, 2003). For Atta giving money to Binalshibh, see ibid. For Atta returning to Florida, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Jan. 10, 2001, entry citing INS NIIS report; 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 7134). For Binalshibh's trip to Afghanistan, see FBI Penttbom timeline briefing (Dec. 10-11, 2003).
68. For Shehhi's trip, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Jan. 11 and 12, 2001, entries citing 265A-NY-280350-TP, serials 11182, 11183; 265A-NY-280350-OUT, serials 2248, 2256, Intelligence report). We do not have information on what Shehhi did in Morocco. Atta's cell phone was used on January 2 to call the Moroccan embassy in Washington, D.C. before Shehhi left. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing cellular telephone records). Shehhi's trip occurred at a time when Abdelghani Mzoudi, one of the Hamburg cell associates, was also in Morocco. Mzoudi claims he went home to Morocco to get married but could not because he was injured in a car accident there. German BKA report, investigative summary re Mzoudi, Jan. 13, 2003, p. 43. He denies having met with Shehhi, and neither German nor U.S. investigators have uncovered evidence of a meeting. See Federal Prosecutor General (Germany), response to Commission letter, June 25, 2004. For Shehhi's family contacting the UAE embassy, which contacted Hamburg police, and the UAE official's search, see German BKA report, investigative summary re Shehhi, July 9, 2002, p. 23. For Shehhi's call home, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 265A-NY-280350-BN-98). For the search being called off, see German BKA report, investigative summary re Shehhi, July 9, 2002, p. 24.
69. Reports that Atta was in the Prague airport on May 30-31, 2000, and that he was turned back because he lacked a visa appear to be a case of mistaken identity: a Pakistani traveler with a name similar to Atta's attempted to enter the Czech Republic from Saudi Arabia via Germany but was forced to return to Germany because he lacked a valid Czech visa. CIA cable, report re traveler to Prague, Dec. 8, 2001.
70. For Czech source reporting and credibility assessment, see CIA briefing (Jan. 28, 2004); Eliska T. interview (May 20, 2004). For the information being reported to CIA, see CIA briefing (Jan. 28, 2004). For the leak and the ministers' statements, see CIA briefing (Jan. 28, 2004); Shirley interview (Apr. 29, 2004). On April 4, 2001, Atta cashed an $8,000 check at a bank in Virginia Beach; he appears on a bank surveillance tape. For FBI evidence of Atta being in Virginia Beach, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Apr. 4, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302-615, 688, 896, 898). For FBI evidence of Atta being in Coral Springs, see ibid. (Apr. 11, 2001, entries citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 381; 265A-NY-280350-MM, serials 3817, 5214). For Czech government finding no evidence of Atta's presence and having evidence that Ani was not in Prague, see CIA briefing (Jan. 28, 2004). Aside from scrutinizing various official records, the Czech government also reviewed surveillance photos taken outside the Iraqi embassy. CIA briefing (Jan. 28, 2004); Shirley interview (Apr. 29, 2004). None of the people photographed that day resembled Atta, although the surveillance only operated from 8:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. CIA cable, review of surveillance photos, Feb. 27, 2002. For Ani's denials of any meetings and request to superiors, see CIA briefing (Jan. 28, 2004); Intelligence report, interrogation of Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani, Oct. 1, 2003. For KSM's denial of the meeting, see Shirley interview (Apr. 29, 2004). Binalshibh has stated that Atta and he were so close that Atta probably would have told him of a meeting with an Iraqi official. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Oct. 2, 2002. Binalshibh also stated that Bin Ladin was upset with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein for committing atrocities against Iraqi Muslims, and that Bin Ladin would never have approved such a meeting. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Oct. 4, 2002. For Atta not using an alias during his July 2001 trip, see FBI memo, Penttbom investigation, Jan. 14, 2002.
71. Atta was admitted as a tourist for an eight-month stay, even though the legal limit for tourists is six months. Shehhi was admitted for a four-month "business" stay. The Atta and Shehhi applications to change status were ultimately adjudicated on July 17 and August 9, 2001. Each received until October 1, 2001, to complete his studies. For Atta's INS inspection, see INS records, NIIS record of Atta, Jan. 10, 2001; copy of Atta's Egyptian passport; Atta's inspection results; student/school form presented by Atta; primary and secondary inspectors interviews (Mar. 25, 2004). For Shehhi's INS inspection, see INS records, NIIS record of Shehhi, Jan. 18, 2001; Shehhi's inspection results; primary inspector interview (Mar. 26, 2004); secondary inspector interview (Mar. 22, 2004).
72. For Atta and Shehhi staying in Norcross and Decatur, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Jan. 25, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-3631; 265A-NY-280350-AT-141). For the plane rental in Lawrenceville, see ibid. (Jan. 31, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350, serial 13850). These locations are all near Atlanta. For return to Virginia, see ibid. (citing 265A-NY-280350-NF-48). For mailbox rental, see ibid. (Feb. 20, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-NF-48, 51). For check cashing, see FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 26. For return to Georgia, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Feb. 21, 2001, entry citing 65A-NY-280350-302, serial 49563). For Jarrah staying in Decatur, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Mar. 15, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350, serial 15661). For Atta-Jarrah call, see FBI letterhead memorandum, profile of Jarrah, Mar. 20, 2002. For Jarrah's apparent visit with Senguen, see INS records, NIIS record for Jarrah, Feb. 25, 2001 (with departure date of Mar. 30, 2001); NIIS record for Jarrah, Apr. 13, 2001. For Atta and Shehhi returning to Virginia Beach, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Apr. 3, 2001, entry citing FBI electronic communication, Sept. 17, 2001). For Atta closing the mailbox, see ibid. (Apr. 4, 2001, entry citing FBI electronic communication, Sept. 18, 2001).
73. For Atta and Shehhi arriving in Virginia, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Apr. 3, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302-615, 688, 896, 898). For Hazmi and Hanjour arriving in Virginia, see ibid. (Apr. 4, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-NH, serial 1859). For their attendance at the Dar al Hijra mosque, see FBI electronic communication, request for interviews, Aug. 6, 2002.
74. For Aulaqi moving to Virginia, see FBI electronic communication, analysis related to Penttbom investigation, Oct. 23, 2001. For his denial of contacts with Hazmi and Hanjour, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Anwar Aulaqi, Sept. 17, 2001.
75. The apartment was already occupied by two other individuals. The al Qaeda operatives spent little time with their roommates, but did mention at one point that they had considered going to Afghanistan for jihad. FBI report of investigation, interview of Ahmad Ahmad, Oct. 4, 2002. For Hazmi and Hanjour meeting Rababah, see FBI electronic communication, request for interviews of certain individuals, Aug. 6, 2002. For Rababah seeking work at the mosque, his meeting them, and his assistance in finding them an apartment, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Eyad al Rababah, June 10, 2002. For Hazmi and Hanjour renting the apartment, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Derar Mohammed Saleh, Jan. 16, 2003.
76. For FBI agents' suspicions, see Jim B. interview (Nov. 6, 2003). Rababah was reluctant to admit meeting the hijackers at the mosque and initially told a story about meeting them for the first time at a store. Rababah attributed his initial prevarication to wanting to protect the mosque from anti-Arab sentiment following September 11. FBI report of investigation, interview of Eyad al Rababah, June 10, 2002; Robert B. interview (Nov. 6, 2003). For Rababah's deportation, see Peter A. interview (Oct. 10, 2003).
77. FBI report of investigation, interview of Eyad al Rababah, June 10, 2002.
78. For Rababah going to the apartment and finding new roommates, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Eyad al Rababah, June 10, 2002. For the trips to Connecticut and New Jersey, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (May 8, 2001, entries citing 265A-NY-280350-NH, serial 1859); FBI electronic communication, summary of Penttbom investigation, June 3, 2002. For the telephone calls, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (May 8, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-NH, serial 1859). For return to Connecticut and Rababah not seeing the hijackers again, see ibid. (May 10, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-NH, serial 1859); FBI report of investigation, interview of Eyad al Rababah, June 10, 2002.
79. For the apartment rental in New Jersey, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Eyad al Rababah, June 10, 2002; FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (May 21, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serials 25453, 25445). For the landlord finding six people, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Jimi Nouri, Sept. 19, 2001. Although no specific evidence places Omari in the apartment, the muscle hijackers based in New Jersey likely lived together, as they apparently conducted other activities jointly, such as obtaining identification cards. See, e.g., FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (July 1, 2001, entries citing 265A-NY-280350-FD-302, serials 4718, 11815, 20900, 21529).
80. For Atta's renting the apartment, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 381; 265A-NY-280350-MM, serial 3817). For Shehhi's presence in Florida, see, e.g., ibid. (Apr. 13, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 17575).
81. For Shehhi's ticket purchase, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (Apr. 13, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 17575; Apr. 18, 2001 entry citing 265A-NY-280350-CG, serial 1928; 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 16379; Apr. 19, 2001, entry citing CIA report; 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 17575). For Shehhi's visit with Atta's father, see ibid. (Apr. 20, 2001, entry citing CIA report). For Atta having license during April 26, 2001, traffic stop and Shehhi spending two weeks abroad, see ibid. (citing 265A-NY-280350-MM, serial 2746; May 2, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 16379; 265A-NY-280350-CG, serial 1928); FBI Penttbom timeline briefing (Dec. 10-11, 2003).
82. For Shehhi's return, see INS record, NIIS record of Shehhi, May 2, 2001. For Atta and Jarrah obtaining driver's licenses, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (May 2, 2001, entry citing 265A-NY-280350-MM, serial 59). Also on May 2, Atta and two unidentified companions appeared at the Miami District Immigration Office, where an inspector reduced Atta's authorized length of stay by two months, correcting the mistake made back in January. Interview of inspector (Mar. 25, 2004).
83. For a description of the muscle hijackers, see CIA analytic report, "The Plot and the Plotters," June 1, 2003, pp. 34-52.
84. On Banihammad, see CIA analytic report, "Facilitating Disaster: An Overview of 11 September Finance," CTC 2002-40093H, Aug. 22, 2002, p. 4
85. Intelligence reports, interviews of Saudi hijackers' families, Dec. 22, 2001; July 17, 2002; Saudi Arabian Mabahith briefing (Oct. 17, 2003) (disclosing that two of the muscle hijackers had married shortly before joining the plot and only one, Wail al Shehri, was employed, as a physical education teacher).
86. CIA analytic report, "The Plot and the Plotters," June 1, 2003, p. 25.
88. Ibid., p. 26.
89. Ibid., p. 25. On Nawaf's efforts on behalf of his brother, see CIA analytic report, "Afghanistan Camps Central to 11 September Plot: Can al-Qa'ida Train on the Run?" CTC 2003-40071CH, June 20, 2003, p. 1; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Oct. 18, 2001.
90. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Feb. 18, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogations of KSM and another detainee, Feb. 18, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, Feb. 19, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of Nashiri, Feb. 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Feb. 18, 2004.
91. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Jan 7, 2004. Khallad agrees about the recruit pool, but also argues that operatives' ethnicity was important for symbolic reasons, citing the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam embassy bombings and the planes operation as examples. In the planes operation, Khallad notes, Bin Ladin selected operatives from Mecca (Mihdhar and the Hazmi brothers) and would have used more had they been available. Moreover, with respect to the remaining Saudi muscle hijackers, Khallad claims Bin Ladin chose them because he wanted the 9/11 attacks to resound across Saudi Arabia, especially among the southern tribes and those of the hijackers themselves. According to Khallad, Bin Ladin wanted operatives from strong tribal areas of Saudi Arabia and chose two Saudi brothers from the al Shehri tribe, of which their father was a leader. Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Feb. 18, 2004.
92. CIA analytic report, "The Plot and the Plotters," June 1, 2003, pp. 24, 26. According to Saudi authorities, none of the hijackers had any record of extremist activity, but Satam al Suqami and Salem al Hazmi both had minor criminal offense records. Saudi Arabian Mabahith briefing (Oct. 17, 2003).
93. CIA analytic report, "Afghanistan Camps Central to 11 September Plot," June 20, 2003, pp. 1-2.
94. For trainer's comments, see Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Feb. 8, 2002. For Omari's, Ghamdi's, and Shehri's backgrounds, see CIA analytic report, "The Plot and the Plotters," June 1, 2003, p. 27; Intelligence reports, interviews of Saudi hijackers' families, Dec. 22, 2001; July 17, 2002.
95. CIA analytic report, "The Plot and the Plotters," June 1, 2003, p. 26; Intelligence reports, interviews of Saudi hijackers' families, Dec. 22, 2001; July 17, 2002. According to Saudi authorities, a substantial number of the hijackers isolated themselves and became religious only within a few months of leaving the Kingdom. All but Ahmad al Haznawi, who called his aunt to inquire about his sick mother, ceased contact with their families about six months before the attacks. Saudi Arabian Mabahith briefing (Oct. 17, 2003).
96. CIA analytic report, "The Plot and the Plotters," June 1, 2003, p. 26; Intelligence reports, interviews of Saudi hijackers' families, Dec. 22, 2001; July, 17, 2002.
97. On Khattab, see CIA analytic report, "The Plot and the Plotters," June 1, 2003, p. 26, n. 2. For KSM's claim, see Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, May 15, 2003. For difficulties traveling to Chechnya, see also Saudi Arabian Mabahith briefing (Oct. 17, 2003).
98. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Khallad, Sept. 5, 2003; Mar. 26, 2004; Jan. 8, 2004; Jan. 7, 2004. Khallad claims he also encouraged Salem al Hazmi to participate in a suicide operation. Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Apr. 13, 2004.
99. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, May 15, 2003; Jan. 9, 2004; Oct. 21, 2003. KSM does acknowledge that the commander of al Faruq training camp was known to urge trainees to swear bayat. Moreover, peer pressure certainly appears to have been a factor in swaying recruits to choose "martyrdom." Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Apr. 30, 2004.
100. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Feb. 18, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Jan. 8, 2004.
101. Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Feb. 18, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Jan. 7, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Feb. 8, 2003.
102. CIA analytic report, "Afghanistan Camps Central to 11 September Plot," June 20, 2003, pp. 2-3.
103. Ibid., p. 8; Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, May 15, 2003.
104. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, May 15, 2003; Jan. 9, 2004; Apr. 2, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Apr. 13, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Apr. 14, 2004. For description of martyrdom video filming, see Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, May 21, 2004.
105. Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Apr. 13, 2004; Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, Aug. 20, 2003; Apr. 13, 2004; Apr. 5, 2004; Apr. 3, 2004.
Dates of U.S. visas obtained in 2000: Ahmed al Ghamdi (September 3), Saeed al Ghamdi (September 4), Hamza al Ghamdi (October 17), Mohand al Shehri (October 23), Wail and Waleed al Shehri (October 24), Ahmed al Nami (October 28), Ahmad al Haznawi (November 12), Majed Moqed (November 20), and Satam al Suqami (November 21). Five Saudi muscle hijackers obtained visas in 2001: Ahmed al Nami (April 23), Saeed al Ghamdi (June 12), Khalid al Mihdhar (June 13), Abdul Aziz Omari (June 18) and Salem al Hazmi (June 20). For Nami, Ghamdi, and Mihdhar, this was their second visa, and each applied using a new passport. Banihammad, the only non-Saudi muscle hijacker, also obtained his visa much later than most of the Saudi muscle hijackers, on June 18, 2001. See Commission analysis of DOS records; CIA analytic report, "The Plot and the Plotters," June 1, 2003, p. 55. According to KSM, the three hijackers who obtained their first visas much later than the others were not replacements for unsuccessful candidates. KSM simply wanted to get as many hijackers into the United States as possible to enhance the odds for success, even if each flight ended up with as many as six or seven. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Feb. 20, 2004.
106. Only the passports of Satam al Suqami and Abdul Aziz al Omari were recovered after 9/11. Both had been doctored. According to KSM, two hijacker passports were damaged in the doctoring process. These may have belonged to Saeed al Ghamdi and Ahmed al Nami, as both acquired new passports and new U.S. visas, although the old visas were still valid. Of the hijacker visa applications we were able to review, all were incomplete. Tourist visas were granted anyway. On obtaining "clean" passports and the two damaged passports, see Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, July 3, 2003; Sept. 9, 2003. Wail and Waleed al Shehri had a family member in the Saudi passport office who provided them with new passports for their trip to the United States. See CIA analytic report, Al Qaeda Travel Issues, CTC 2004-40002H, Jan. 2004, p. 12.
107. Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Apr. 5, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Mar. 20, 2004. The candidate operatives were
1. Muhammad Mani Ahmad al Kahtani. Currently in custody, he is the last known Saudi muscle candidate to be sent to the United States, in early August 2001, to round out the number of hijackers. As discussed later in this chapter, he was refused entry. Secretary of Defense interview with David Frost (BBC), June 27, 2004, available at www.defenselink.mil. CIA analytic report, "Threat Threads: Recent Advances in Understanding 11 September," CTC 2002-30086CH, Sept. 16, 2002, p. 4; Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, July 3, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Apr. 3, 2003.
2. Khalid Saeed Ahmad al Zahrani. He traveled to Afghanistan illegally after being prohibited by Saudi authorities from leaving Saudi Arabia. After being assigned to a mission in the U.S., he secretly reentered the Kingdom but failed in an attempt to have his name removed from the list of prohibited travelers so that he could obtain a U.S. visa. See Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, Apr. 20, 2002; Oct. 4, 2002; Apr. 3, 2003.
3. Ali Abd al Rahman al Faqasi al Ghamdi. (aka Abu Bakr al Azdi) He reportedly was to have been part of the planes operation but was held in reserve by Bin Ladin for a later, even larger operation. Like other muscle hijackers, he reportedly set out for Chechnya but diverted to Afghanistan. See Intelligence reports, interrogations of Abu Bakr al Azdi, July 23, 2003; Sept. 25, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Nov. 6, 2003.
4 and 5. Saeed al Baluchi and Qutaybah al Najdi. Both were sent to Saudi Arabia via Bahrain, where Najdi was stopped and briefly questioned by airport security officials. Both were so frightened by the experience that they withdrew from the operation. KSM urged Baluchi to obtain a U.S. visa, but Baluchi refused, fearing that he might be watchlisted at the U.S. embassy. See Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, July 9, 2003; Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, Mar. 27, 2003; July 3, 2003; Feb. 20, 2004.
6. Zuhair al Thubaiti: He has reportedly admitted membership in al Qaeda, stating "proudly" that he was among a select number of operatives who had the personal endorsement of Bin Ladin. He was not ultimately selected for the 9/11 attacks because the al Qaeda leadership considered him too high-strung and lacking the necessary temperament. CIA analytic report, "Threat Threads," Sept. 16, 2002, p. 3; Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, May 21, 2002; June 17, 2002; June 20, 2002; Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, Feb. 20, 2004 (two reports).
7. Saeed Abdullah Saeed ("Jihad") al Ghamdi. He arranged to travel to Afghanistan in March 2000, swore allegiance to Bin Ladin (agreeing to serve as a suicide operative), and was sent to Saudi Arabia by KSM with 9/11 hijacker Ahmad al Haznawi to obtain a U.S. visa, but his visa application was denied because he appeared to be intending to immigrate. DOS record, Ghamdi visa application, Nov. 13, 2000. CIA analytic report, "Threat Threads," Sept. 16, 2002, p. 4; Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, Apr. 11, 2002; Sept. 11, 2002; Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Feb. 20, 2004.
8. Saud al Rashid. Describing him as headstrong and immature, KSM says he disappeared after being sent to Saudi Arabia for a U.S. visa, either because he had second thoughts or because his family interceded and confiscated his passport. Passport photos of Rashid and three 9/11 hijackers--Nawaf al Hazmi, Mihdhar, and Omari--were found together during a May 2002 raid in Karachi. After discovery of the photos in 2002, Rashid turned himself in to the Saudi authorities, but he has since been released from custody. In a Commission interview, he has admitted training in Afghanistan but denies hearing of al Qaeda before returning from Afghanistan or meeting Bin Ladin, KSM, or any 9/11 hijacker other than Ahmad al Haznawi, whom he claims seeing only once or twice at a guesthouse. He has no credible explanation why photos of him were found with those of three other hijackers, or why others identified him as a candidate hijacker. See Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Mar. 27, 2003; June 11, 2003; July 3, 2003; Feb. 20, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, July 9, 2003; Saud al Rashid interview (Feb. 24, 2004).
9. Mushabib al Hamlan. Sent to Saudi Arabia to acquire a U.S. visa, he and his travel companion, 9/11 hijacker Ahmed al Nami, both applied for and received visas on October 28, 2000. Hamlan never returned to Afghanistan, probably dropping out either because he changed his mind or because his family intervened.
In December 1999, while still in high school in Saudi Arabia, Hamlan became involved with a group that gathered periodically to watch jihad propaganda tapes, and was encouraged by a mentor named Bandar Marui to pursue jihad, especially as practiced in the Bosnia-Herzegovina and Russian-Afghan wars and a book titled Gladiator of Passion. As instructed, Hamlan acquired a passport, on February 15, 2000, and agreed to go to Afghanistan after the hajj in mid-March 2000. He and two travel companions obtained Pakistani visas in Sharjah, UAE, and traveled to Islamabad, where al Qaeda facilitator Hassan Ghul took them to a guesthouse managed by Abu Zubaydah. Days later, two men helped Hamlan cross the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
At the Khaldan camp, Hamlan received military training courses. Upon hearing that the camp was to be closed, he and others traveled to al Faruq camp near Kandahar, where they received more training. He also met and proclaimed allegiance to Bin Ladin at this time. Injured during a further training session, Hamlan was assigned to guard the airport, where he met future hijacker Ahmed al Nami (whose recent laser eye surgery had interrupted his training). An individual named Abu Basir al Yemeni indoctrinated the two in Bin Ladin's anti-U.S. position and extolled the virtues of martyrdom. Hamlan and Nami eventually agreed to approach Abu Hafs al Mauritani about participating in a suicide operation. The day after visiting Abu Hafs, Hamlan and Nami heard from Abu Basir that Bin Ladin was planning an attack against the United States. After taking their passports, Abu Basir arranged for Hamlan and Nami to meet Bin Ladin and instructed them to use the following phrase to express their desire to become martyrs: "I want to be one of this religion's bricks and glorify this religion." The al Qaeda leader accepted both applicants.
In October 2000, Abu Basir took Hamlan and Nami to Kandahar to meet KSM, who impressed on them the high expectations for martyrs and instructed them on using coded telephone numbers. He returned their passports, which had been altered and now contained forged tourism stamps for Singapore, Malaysia, Turkey, and Egypt. KSM told them to meet with Atef before returning to Saudi Arabia, where they should contact future 9/11 hijacker Waleed al Shehri for additional documentation.
After meeting with Atef, Hamlan and Nami traveled by car and by air to an address KSM had given them in Tehran, where arrangements were made for them to fly to Qatar. From Qatar they traveled onward to the UAE and then to Mecca. Nami contacted KSM and received coded instructions to go to Jeddah, call Waleed al Shehri, and obtain visas at the U.S. consulate. In Jeddah, they briefly shared an apartment with Shehri, who provided them with directions to the consulate and showed them how to fill out the visa application. After acquiring visas, Hamlan and Nami presented their passports to Shehri for inspection and returned to Mecca. Nami called KSM, who told them to return to Afghanistan the next day.
Despite instructions to the contrary, Hamlan insisted on calling his family before leaving Saudi Arabia because he had begun to have second thoughts after acquiring the visa. Told by his brother that their mother had fallen ill. Hamlan decided not to return to Afghanistan even after Nami reminded him of his allegiance to Bin Ladin and commitment to complete the suicide mission. In Riyadh, he told his brothers that he had been on jihad in Chechnya. Fearing that they might ask for his passport, he removed the U.S. visa--as later confirmed by forensic analysis performed by Saudi authorities. Hamlan returned to college and resumed living with his parents, who confiscated his passport.
Thereafter, Hamlan received a visit at the college from a former associate at al Faruq camp, Khalid al Zahrani, who asked why he had not returned to Afghanistan. Zahrani admitted having been sent by KSM to convince Hamlan to return to Afghanistan. Hamlan never did. Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Mar. 16, 2003.
10. Abderraouf Jdey, a.k.a. Faruq al Tunisi. A Canadian passport holder, he may have trained in Afghanistan with Khalid al Mihdhar and Nawaf al Hazmi and received instruction from KSM with Atta and Binalshibh. A letter recovered from a safehouse in Pakistan, apparently written by Sayf al Adl, also suggests that Jdey was initially part of the 9/11 operation at the same time as the Hamburg group. A videotape of Jdey's martyrdom statement was found in the rubble of Atef 's house near Kabul following a November 2001 airstrike, together with a martyrdom video of Binalshibh. While both Binalshibh and Khallad confirm Jdey's status as an al Qaeda recruit, KSM says Jdey was slated for a "second wave" of attacks but had dropped out by the summer of 2001 while in Canada. FBI briefing (June 24, 2004); Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Sept. 11, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, May 21, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, July 1, 2003.
108. On the few operatives fully aware of the plot and Abu Turab's training, see Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Feb. 23, 2004. Abu Turab was the son-in-law of Ayman al Zawahiri. Intelligence report, interrogation of Zubaydah, Feb. 18, 2004. KSM also taught the muscle hijackers English and provided lessons about airplanes. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Apr. 2, 2004. Binalshibh also has discussed this training in post-capture statements, describing it as hand-to-hand combat training. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Jan. 8, 2004. According to Binalshibh, after returning to Afghanistan, muscle hijacker recruits fought on the front lines alongside the Taliban and participated in the March 2001 destruction of the giant Buddha statues in Bamian Province, Afghanistan. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Mar. 31, 2004.
109. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Feb. 23, 2004. According to KSM, the muscle hijackers learned about the specific targets and the Atta's completed operational plan only in late August. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Apr. 2, 2004.
110. On the facilitator's comments, see Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, Sept. 14, 2002; Oct. 3, 2002; May 5, 2003 (two reports), in which he claims also to have assisted the Hamburg pilots and Binalshibh. On KSM's funding of the hijackers, see Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, June 15, 2004; July 25, 2003.
111. On Ali's role and the transit of the hijackers, see Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Feb. 12, 2004. According to the detainee, the operatives arrived with their own money to buy plane tickets and anything else they needed. Ali referred them to places where they could obtain travelers checks. He also helped Ahmed al Ghamdi, one of the earliest operatives to transit Dubai, acquire a mobile phone account so that the operatives could use that number as a travel agency point of contact. Ibid.
112. In May 2001, however, Ali asked KSM to participate in a suicide mission and offered to travel to the United States and assist the operatives there. As discussed in a set of Atta-Binalshibh exchanges in August 2001, Ali (referred to by the nickname "Losh") appears to have contacted Atta and expressed the desire to join the operation. Ali actually applied for a U.S. visa on August 27, 2001, listing his intended arrival date as September 4 for a one-week stay. His application was denied because he appeared to be an economic immigrant. DOS record, visa application of Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Aug. 27, 2001. Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Nov. 17, 2003; Intelligence report, documents captured with KSM, Sept. 24, 2003; CIA notes, "DRG Research Notes," Jan. 17, 2004; FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 72.
113. Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, May 6, 2003; Jan. 8, 2004. See also Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Sept. 11, 2003. Hawsawi's role as financial facilitator appears to have begun when he and hijacker Banihammad opened bank accounts at the same UAE bank while Banihammad was on his way to the United States. Banihammad, who was from the UAE, was familiar with the country's procedures and helped Hawsawi complete his account application. Banihammad gave Hawsawi roughly $3,000 and granted him power of attorney over his account so that Hawsawi could forward the bank card to him in the United States. After Banihammad arrived in the United States, Hawsawi deposited $4,900 into the account. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 29.
114. All but 2 of the 15 muscle hijackers were admitted as tourists, affording a six-month stay in the United States (except in the case of Mihdhar, who received four months). The first pair to arrive were Waleed al Shehri (Flight 11) and Satam al Suqami (Flight 11), who flew from the UAE to London and arrived in Orlando on April 23, 2001, where Atta most likely met them. Suqami was admitted as a business visitor, allowing him only a one-month stay and thus making him an illegal overstay by May 21, 2001. INS records, NIIS records of Waleed al Shehri and Satam al Suqami, Apr. 23, 2001. Suqami was the only hijacker not to obtain a U.S. identification document.
Shehri and another individual (presumably Suqami) settled in Hollywood, Florida, moving into a motel on April 30. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing London EC, serial 2236; 315N-NY-280350-302, serial 7134; 315N-NY-280350, serial 8082).
The next set, Ahmed al Ghamdi (Flight 175) and Moqed (Flight 77), arrived at Dulles Airport on May 2, 2001, on a flight from London originating in Dubai. INS records, NIIS records of Ghamdi and Moqed, May 2, 2001. Although Customs declarations of the two indicate that Moqed claimed to be carrying more than $10,000, the Customs Service generated no report of this event. Both Ghamdi and Moqed gave the Hyatt Hotel in Washington as their intended destination, but instead moved into the apartment in Alexandria,Virginia, that Nawaf al Hazmi and Hani Hanjour had rented. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing flight manifest and Customs records, referenced in 265A-NY-280350, serial 2746; 265A-NY-280359-RY, serial 5; 265A-NY-280350-302, New Hampshire ECs dated Sept. 28, 2001, Sept. 29, 2001; 265A-NY-280350, serial 9776; 265A-NY-280350-IN, serial 5151; 265A-NY-280350-302).
Hamza al Ghamdi (Flight 175), Mohand al Shehri (Flight 175), and Ahmed al Nami (Flight 93) arrived in Miami on May 28, 2001. INS records, NIIS records of Hamza al Ghamdi, Mohand al Shehri, and Ahmed al Nami, May 28, 2001. The three had taken a flight from London after starting out in Dubai. Atta probably picked up the group at the airport, having rented a Ford Explorer for the day. Shehri and Nami gave the Sheraton in Miami as their intended destination, but do not appear to have stayed there. Marwan al Shehhi helped them settle in Florida. Within a few days, Shehhi found the group an apartment in Delray Beach, Florida. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 265A-NY-280350-NK, serial 2851; 265A-NY-280350-CG, serial 1928; 265A-NY-280350-NK, serial 2851; 265A-NY-280350-DL, serial 1778; 265A-NY-280350-DL, 838; 265D-NY-280350-A, serial 16; 265A-NY-280350-NK, serial 2851; 265A-NY-280350-MM-302, serial 11703).
Haznawi (Flight 93) and Wail al Shehri (Flight 11) arrived in Miami from London on June 8, 2001 using the same route as the previous three. INS records, NIIS records of Haznawi and Wail al Shehri (June 8, 2001). FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 265A-NY-280350-RY, serial 5).
Saeed al Ghamdi (Flight 93) and Banihammad (Flight 175) arrived in Orlando from London on June 27, 2001. INS records, NIIS records of Saeed al Ghamdi and Banihammad, June 27, 2001. Saeed al Ghamdi was questioned by immigration authorities as a possible intending immigrant, as he spoke little English, had no return ticket, and listed no address on his arrival record. INS record, inspection results for Ghamdi, June 27, 2001; primary inspector interview (Mar. 17, 2004); secondary inspector interview (Apr. 19, 2004). Ghamdi and Banihammad presumably stayed with the hijackers who preceded them or with Atta and Shehhi in the Hollywood, Florida, apartment. Post-9/11 investigation revealed that during this time period Atta and Shehhi also checked into hotels or rented apartments with unidentified males, probably the newly arrived muscle hijackers. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 265A-NY-280350-302-19615; 265A-NY-280350-MM, serial 3255; 265A-NY-280350-MM-302, serial 34927; 265A-NY-280350-MM-Sub, serial 3255; 265A-NY-280350-RY, serial 5; 265A-NY-280350-MM-302, serial 34927; 265A-NY-280350-MM, serials 48418, 2374, 4449, 4696; 265A-NY-280350, serials 925, 449, 18695).
The remaining hijackers entered the United States through New York. Salem al Hazmi (Flight 77) and Omari (Flight 11) arrived at JFK on June 29, 2001, from Dubai with a connection in Zurich. INS records, arrival records of Salem al Hazmi and Omari, June 29, 2001. They likely were picked up by Salem's older brother Nawaf--who was then living in Paterson, New Jersey, with Hani Hanjour--the following day, for on June 30, Nawaf had a minor car accident traveling eastbound on the George Washington Bridge, toward JFK. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing Bern EC Sept. 15, 2001; INS NIIS report; 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 7134; 265A-NY-280350-HQ, serial 11297; Bern EC (Omari PNR, Swiss Air); 265A-NY-280350-302, serial 60839). On Salem al Hazmi in the Paterson apartment, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Jimi Nouri, Oct. 6, 2001, p. 5.
115. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, pp. 29-41; Adam Drucker interview (Jan. 12, 2004).
116. In some cases, bank employees completed the Social Security number fields on the new account application with a hijacker's date of birth or visa control number, but did so on their own to complete the form. Adam Drucker interview (Jan. 12, 2004). Contrary to persistent media reports, no financial institution filed a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR)--which U.S. law requires banks to file within 30 days of a suspicious transaction--with respect to any transaction of any of 19 hijackers before 9/11. A number of banks did file SARs after 9/11, when the hijackers' names became public. Adam Drucker interview (Jan. 12, 2004); James Sloan interview (Nov. 14, 2003). Nor should SARs have been filed. The hijackers' transactions themselves were not extraordinary or remarkable. See Commission analysis of financial transactions; Adam Drucker interview (Jan. 12, 2004); Dennis Lormel interview (Jan. 16, 2004).
117. Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Mar. 26, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, May 19, 2003.
118. Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, Nov. 27, 2001; Feb. 5, 2002.
119. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 315N-NY-280350-DL, serial 2812; 315N-NY-280350-302, serial 21529; 315N-NY-280350-NK, serials 21529, 11815, 4718).
120. Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, Oct. 18, 2001; Mar. 13, 2002; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Mar. 7, 2002; Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, Aug. 20, 2003; Sept. 12, 2003, July 16, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of Khallad, Sept. 12, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Sept. 30, 2003; CIA analytic report, "Iran and al-Qa'ida: Ties Forged in Islamic Extremism," CTC 200440009HCX, March 2004, pp. i, 6-12.
121. Intelligence report, analysis of Hezbollah, Iran, and 9/11, Dec. 20, 2001; Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, July 16, 2004.
122. Ibid.; Intelligence report, Hezbollah activities, Oct. 11, 2001; Intelligence report, operative's travel to Saudi Arabia, Aug. 9, 2002.
123. Intelligence reports, hijacker activities, Oct. 11, 2001; Oct. 29, 2001; Nov. 14, 2001; Intelligence report, operative's claimed identification of photos of two Sept. 11 hijackers, Aug. 9, 2002.
124. Intelligence reports, hijacker activities, Nov. 14, 2001; Oct. 2, 2001; Oct. 31, 2001.
125. Intelligence reports, hijacker activities, Oct. 19, 2001; Dec. 7, 2001.
126. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, July 16, 2004; Intelligence report; interrogation of Binalshibh, July 16, 2004.
127. Intelligence report, analysis of Hezbollah, Iran, and 9/11, Dec. 20, 2001.
128. Intelligence report, Hezbollah and Sunni terrorist activities, Sept. 21, 2001; Intelligence report, Hezbollah denies involvement in 9/11, Sept. 22, 2001.
129. For Atta and Shehhi's efforts, see FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, pp. 25-37.
130. Ibid., pp. 29-41.
131. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 315N-NY-280350-302, serials 12436, 7134); see Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, June 15, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, June 9, 2004. Another example of unusual travel was a trip by Suqami on July 10 from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando; he stayed at a hotel in Lake Buena Vista with an unidentified male through July 12. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 31.
132. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 315N-NY-280350-302, serial 27063; 315N-NY-280350-DL, serial 2245); Commission investigation in Las Vegas.
133. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2001, pp. 41-44.
134. FBI letterhead memorandum, profile of Jarrah, Mar. 20, 2002.
135. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 315N-NY-280350-302, serial 7228; 315N-NY-280350-F, serial 99; 315N-NY-280350-NK, serial 263). Documents from Sawyer Aviation in Phoenix, Arizona, show Hanjour joining the flight simulator club on June 23, 2001, with Faisal al Salmi, Rayed Abdullah, and Lotfi Raissi. FBI report of investigation, interview of Jennifer Stangel, Sept. 14, 2001. But the documents are inconclusive, as there are no invoices or payment records for Hanjour, while such documents do exist for the other three. FBI memo, Penttbom investigation, Oct. 7, 2001; FBI memo, Penttbom investigation, summary of dispatch sheets, Oct. 12, 2001; Don W. and Steve B. interview (Jan. 6, 2004). One Sawyer employee identified Hanjour as being there during the time period, though she was less than 100 percent sure. FBI report of investigation, interview of Tina Arnold, Oct. 17, 2001. Another witness identified Hanjour as being with Salmi in the Phoenix area during the summer of 2001. FBI letterhead memorandum, investigation of Lotfi Raissi, Jan. 4, 2004, p. 18. Documentary evidence for Hanjour, however, shows that he was in New Jersey for most of June, and no travel records have been recovered showing that he returned to Arizona after leaving with Hazmi in March. Nevertheless, the FBI's Phoenix office believes it plausible that Hanjour returned to Arizona for additional training. FBI electronic communication, Penttbom investigation, Feb. 19, 2002.
136. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Oct. 1, 2002.
137. CIA cable, communications analysis, Sept. 11, 2003.
138. On Hazmi, see FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 46. On obtaining photo identification, see ibid.; FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 315N-NY-280350-NK, serial 1243; 315N-NY-280350-BS, serial 352; 315N-NY-280350-302, serials 33059, 64343).
139. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 47.
140. For Binalshibh moving the muscle hijackers, see Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, June 9, 2004. According to Binalshibh, he took each of the muscle hijackers shopping for clothes and set them up with email accounts during their time in Karachi. Ibid. For meeting with Atta and Bin Ladin, see Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Sept. 24, 2002; Feb. 18, 2004. Binalshibh has provided inconsistent information about who else was present during his meeting with Bin Ladin. In one interview, Binalshibh claimed he attended two different meetings, one of which was attended by Bin Ladin, Atef, KSM, and Abu Turab al Jordani, and the second of which was attended just by Bin Ladin, Atef, and KSM. More recently, however, Binalshibh has mentioned only one meeting and has claimed he alone met with Bin Ladin because Atef and KSM were busy with other matters. Compare Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Dec. 11, 2002, with Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Feb. 18, 2004.
141. On Binalshibh's meeting with Bin Ladin, Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Dec. 11, 2002; Sept. 24, 2002; Feb. 18, 2004; Apr. 7, 2004. KSM claims that the White House and the Capitol were both acceptable targets and had been on the list since the spring of 1999. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Apr. 2, 2004. On Binalshibh's receipt of money, Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Oct. 23, 2002; Dec. 11, 2002. In one report, Binalshibh says that Atef provided him with $3,000; in another he claims it was $5,000.
142. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Sept. 24, 2002; Oct. 23, 2002; Dec. 11, 2002.
143. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Sept. 24, 2002; Dec. 11, 2002.
144. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Oct. 1, 2002; Mar. 7, 2003; Apr. 8, 2004.
145. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 48. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Oct. 1, 2002; Mar. 7, 2003; Dec. 21, 2002. Atta had a stopover in Zurich, where he bought two Swiss Army knives and withdrew 1,700 Swiss francs from his SunTrust bank account. He may have intended to use the knives during the attacks. It is unknown why he withdrew the money. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 47.
Although U.S. authorities have not uncovered evidence that anyone met with Atta or Binalshibh in Spain in July 2001, Spanish investigators contend that members of the Spanish al Qaeda cell were involved in the July meeting and were connected to the 9/11 attacks. In an indictment of the Spanish cell members dated September 17, 2003, the Spanish government relies on three main points. First is a 1997 trip to the United States by Ghasoub al Abrash Ghalyoun, a Syrian living in Spain. During the trip, Ghalyoun videotaped a number of U.S. landmarks, including the World Trade Center. The Spanish indictment alleges that an al Qaeda courier was in Ghalyoun's town in Spain shortly after the trip and that the courier probably delivered the tape to al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan. Second, the Spanish government contends that during the relevant time period, an individual named Muhammed Belfatmi was near the town where the Atta-Binalshibh meeting took place. and that Belfatmi traveled to Karachi shortly before September 11 on the same flight as Said Bahaji, one of Atta's Hamburg associates, and even stayed at the same hotel. Finally, Spanish authorities rely on an intercepted telephone conversation between cell leader Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas and an individual named "Shakur" in August 2001, in which "Shakur" describes himself as entering "the field of aviation" and "slitting the throat of the bird." "Shakur" has been identified by Spanish authorities as Farid Hilali. Although we cannot rule out the possibility that other facts will come to light as the Spanish case progresses to trial, we have not found evidence that individuals in Spain participated in the July meeting or in the 9/11 plot. See Baltasar Garzon interview (Feb. 13, 2004); Indictment, Central Investigating Court No. 5, Madrid, Sept. 17, 2003, pp. 151-200, 315-366; Superseding Indictment, Central Investigating Court No. 5, Madrid, April 28, 2004.
146. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Oct. 1, 2002; Mar. 7, 2003; Apr. 17, 2003.
147. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Oct. 1, 2002; Mar. 7, 2003; Sept. 11, 2003; Oct. 11, 2003; Feb. 18, 2004; Apr. 7, 2004. KSM claims to have assigned the Pentagon specifically to Hanjour, the operation's most experienced pilot. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Feb. 20, 2004.
148. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Mar. 7, 2003; Oct. 11, 2003. Binalshibh since has denied that the term electrical engineering was used to refer to a potential nuclear target despite having said so earlier. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Sept. 11, 2003. KSM has admitted that he considered targeting a nuclear power plant as part of his initial proposal for the planes operation. See chapter 5.2. He has also stated that Atta included a nuclear plant in his preliminary target list, but that Bin Ladin decided to drop that idea. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Mar. 12, 2002.
149. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Oct. 1, 2002; Mar. 7, 2003; Feb. 18, 2004.
150. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Sept. 24, 2002; Oct. 1, 2002; Mar. 7, 2003; Apr. 17, 2003.
151. On Binalshibh's new phones, see Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Dec. 21, 2002. On Binalshibh's call to KSM, see Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Oct. 1, 2002; Mar. 31, 2003. CIA cable, Sept. 10, 2003; CIA report, Director's Review Group, Oct. 2003.
152. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Oct. 31, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Nov. 1, 2003. KSM may also have intended to include these documents as part of the historical file he maintained about the 9/11 operation. He says the file included letters and email communications among those involved with the attacks, but was lost in Afghanistan when he fled after September 11. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Oct. 15, 2003.
153. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Nov. 1, 2003; Oct. 11, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Oct. 31, 2002.
154. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Oct. 31, 2002; Dec. 19, 2002; Apr. 17, 2003; Oct. 11, 2003; Nov. 1, 2003; Intelligence report interrogation of KSM, Sept. 11, 2003.
155. FBI letterhead memorandum, Penttbom investigation, Mar. 20, 2002, p. 60; FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 315N-NY-280350-302, serial 20874); Jarrah travel documents (provided by the FBI).
156. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Dec. 11, 2002; Apr. 8, 2004.
157. According to Binalshibh, Jarrah was not aware of Moussaoui or the wire transfers. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Dec. 11, 2002; Apr. 17, 2003. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004 (classified version), pp. 89-90.
158. FBI report, Moussaoui, Zacarias, a.k.a. Shaqil, Aug. 18, 2001, pp. 7, 11; FBI briefing materials, Penttbom, Dec. 10-11, 2003, p. 148 (citing 315N-NY-280350-302, serial 98252).
159. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004 (classified version), p. 90; DOJ Inspector General interview of John Weess, Oct. 22, 2002; FBI letterhead memorandum, "Moussaoui, Zacarias," Aug. 31, 2001.
160. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, July 2, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Sept. 11, 2003.
161. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, July 1, 2003; July 8, 2003. In addition to Moussaoui, the two al Qaeda operatives identified by KSM as candidates for the second wave of attacks were Abderraouf Jdey, a.k.a. Faruq al Tunisi (a Canadian passport holder, discussed earlier as a candidate hijacker) and Zaini Zakaria, a.k.a. Mussa (a Jemaah Islamiah member who worked in Hambali's Malaysia stronghold and was directed by Atef to enroll in flight training sometime in 2000, according to KSM). Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, July 8, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of Hambali, Mar. 4, 2004.
162. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Apr. 17, 2003. According to Binalshibh, KSM said that the operative had been raised and educated in Europe and that his arrest resulted, at least in part, from his having been insufficiently discreet. KSM identified this operative as an exception in Bin Ladin's overall record of selecting the right people for the 9/11 attacks. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Dec. 18, 2002. Subsequently, however, Binalshibh has sought, somewhat incredibly, to exculpate a host of individuals, including Moussaoui, from complicity in the 9/11 plot. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Apr. 2, 2004.
163. For Binalshibh's claims, see Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Nov. 7, 2002; Feb. 13, 2003; Feb. 27, 2003. On KSM, see intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, July 2, 2003.
164. Jarrah returned to the United States on August 5, 2001. INS record, arrival record of Jarrah, Aug. 5, 2001.
165. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 315N-NY-280350-302, serial 14139; Boston electronic communication). The communications were recovered from materials seized during the March 2003 capture of KSM. For background, see Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, Aug. 13, 2002 (two cables); Intelligence report, documents captured with KSM, Sept. 24, 2003.
166. Intelligence reports, interrogation of KSM, Aug. 12, 2003. Binalshibh, however, has denied that law and politics referred to two separate targets; he claims that both terms referred to the U.S. Capitol, even though in the context of the exchange it seems clear that two different targets were contemplated. Intelligence report, interrogations of Binalshibh, Sept. 11, 2003 (two reports).
167. CIA notes, "DRG Research Notes," Jan. 17, 2004. In another exchange between Atta and Binalshibh on September 9--two days before the attacks--it still appears as though the White House would be the primary target for the fourth plane and the U.S. Capitol the alternate. See CIA report, Documents captured with KSM, Sept. 24, 2003.
168. On the Atta-Binalshibh communication, see Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Sept. 11, 2003. On Kahtani's attempt to enter the U.S., see INS record, withdrawal of application for admission of Kahtani, Aug. 4, 2001. For Hawsawi, see Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Apr. 3, 2003.
169. On Atta's trip to Newark, see FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 50. On arrivals in Florida, see FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2004 (citing 315N-NY-280350, serials 388, 5860; 315N-NY-280350-BS, serial 294; 315N-NY-280350-302, serial 66933). On travel to Las Vegas, see ibid. (citing 315N-NY-280350-LV, serial 53299; 315N-NY-280350-302, serial 110). Atta's flight from Washington, D.C., arrived in Las Vegas within an hour of Hazmi and Hanjour's arrival. Ibid. The three hijackers stayed in Las Vegas only one night, departing on August 14. Ibid. (citing 315N-NY-280350-DL, serial 829; 315N-NY-280350-SD, serial 569; 315N-NY-280350-302, serial 165970). Detainee interviews have not explained the Las Vegas meeting site. See, e.g., Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Nov. 5, 2003.
170. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, pp. 52-57. Hanjour successfully conducted a challenging certification flight supervised by an instructor at Congressional Air Charters of Gaithersburg, Maryland, landing at a small airport with a difficult approach. The instructor thought Hanjour may have had training from a military pilot because he used a terrain recognition system for navigation. Eddie Shalev interview (Apr. 9, 2004).
171. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, pp. 57-60. According to Binalshibh, Atta deliberately selected morning flights because he anticipated that the most people would be at work then. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, June 3, 2004.
172. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Oct. 1, 2002; Dec. 17, 2002; Dec. 21, 2002.
173. On KSM's receipt of date of attacks, see Intelligence report, interrogations of KSM and Binalshibh, May 27, 2003. Although Binalshibh also has claimed that he called KSM with the date after receiving the information from Atta, KSM insists that he learned of the date in a letter delivered by Essabar, and that it would have been a serious breach of communications security to communicate the date over the phone. Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Oct. 1, 2002; Dec. 17, 2002. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Feb. 20, 2004. Most recently, Binalshibh has claimed that he neither called nor sent a letter to KSM, but rather passed a verbal message via Essabar. Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Apr. 8, 2004. On Binalshibh's communication to Essabar, see Intelligence reports, interrogations of Binalshibh, Dec. 17, 2002; Nov. 6, 2003; Apr. 8, 2004.
174. On Binalshibh's travel, see FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004 (classified version), p. 84. On Binalshibh's communication with Atta, see Intelligence report, Documents captured with KSM, Sept. 24, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Sept. 11, 2003. On Atta's call to his father, see Intelligence report, re Atta, Sept. 13, 2001. On Jarrah's letter, see German BKA report, investigative summary re Jarrah, July 18, 2002, p. 67.
175. Shortly after 9/11, Abdullah told at least one witness that the FBI was asking questions about his having received a phone a call from Hazmi in August. FBI report of investigation, interview, Sept. 24, 2001. In a July 2002 FBI interview, Abdullah asked whether the FBI had taped the call. FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, July 23, 2002. Also on possibility of Hazmi-Abdullah contact shortly before 9/11, see Danny G. interviews (Nov. 18, 2003; May 24, 2004). On the change in Abdullah's mood, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Mohdar Abdullah, July 23, 2001. On the sudden interest of Abdullah and Salmi in proceeding with marriage plans, see FBI report of investigation, interview, Sept. 24, 2001; FBI report of investigation, interview of Samir Abdoun, Oct. 21, 2001. On anticipated law enforcement interest in gas station employees and September 10, 2001, meeting, see FBI report of investigation, interview, May 21, 2002.
176. Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Feb. 5, 2002.
177. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, Aug. 14, 2003; Feb. 20, 2004.
178. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, June 3, 2003; Feb. 20, 2004; Apr. 3, 2004.
179. Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, Nov. 27, 2001; Feb. 5, 2002. Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, May 30, 2002.
180. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Jan. 9, 2004; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, June 27, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Feb. 5, 2002. KSM also says that he and Atef were so concerned about this lack of discretion that they urged Bin Ladin not to make any additional remarks about the plot. According to KSM, only Bin Ladin, Atef, Abu Turab al Jordani, Binalshibh, and a few of the senior hijackers knew the specific targets, timing, operatives, and methods of attack. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, Oct. 27, 2003; Feb. 23, 2004. Indeed, it was not until midsummer that Egyptian Islamic Jihad leader Ayman al Zawahiri learned of the operation, and only after his group had cemented its alliance with al Qaeda and Zawahiri had become Bin Ladin's deputy. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Jan. 9, 2004.
181. See Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, July 24, 2003.
182. On Omar's opposition, see, e.g., Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, May 30, 2002, in which the detainee says that when Bin Ladin returned after the general alert during July, he spoke to his confidants about Omar's unwillingness to allow an attack against the United States to originate from Afghanistan. See also Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Oct. 27, 2003. There is some discrepancy about the position of Zawahiri. According to KSM, Zawahiri believed in following the injunction of Mullah Omar not to attack the United States; other detainees, however, have said that Zawahiri was squarely behind Bin Ladin. Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, June 20, 2002; Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, June 27, 2003; Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Sept. 26, 2003.
183. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Jan. 9, 2004; Intelligence reports, interrogations of detainee, June 27, 2003; Dec. 26, 2003. On Abu Hafs's views, see Intelligence report, interrogation of detainee, Oct. 7, 2003.
184. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, Oct. 27, 2003; Sept. 27, 2003, in which KSM also says Bin Ladin had sworn bayat to Omar upon first moving to Afghanistan, following the Shura Council's advice. KSM claims he would have disobeyed even had the council ordered Bin Ladin to cancel the operation. Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, Jan. 9, 2004.
185. See Intelligence report, interrogation of KSM, July 24, 2003.
186. Abdul Faheem Khan interview (Oct. 23, 2003); see also Arif Sarwari interview (Oct. 23, 2003).
187. Intelligence reports, interrogations of KSM, May 8, 2003; July 24, 2003.
188. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 315N-NY-280350, serial 3112; Western Union records; 315N-NY-280350-302, serials 28398, 37864). In addition, Nawaf al Hazmi attempted to send Hawsawi the debit card for Mihdhar's bank account, which still contained approximately $10,000. The package containing the card was intercepted after the FBI found the Express Mail receipt for it in Hazmi's car at Dulles Airport on 9/11. FBI report, "Summary of Penttbom Investigation," Feb. 29, 2004, p. 61.
189. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 315N-NY-280350-WF, serial 64; 315N-NY-280350-BA, serials 273, 931, 628; 315N-NY-280350-302, serials 10092, 17495).
190. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 315N-NY-280350, serials 6307, 9739). In the early morning hours of September 11, Jarrah made one final call to Senguen from his hotel. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003. The conversation was brief and, according to Senguen, not unusual. FBI electronic communication, Penttbom investigation, Sept. 18, 2001, pp. 5-6.
191. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 315N-NY-280350-FD-302; 315N-NY-280350-SD, serial 1522; 315N-NY-280350-302, serials 16597, 5029, 6072, 11098, 11114, 11133, 4119; 315N-NY-280350-BS, serials 349, 19106, 16624; 315N-NY-280350-CD, serial 373; 315N-NY-280350, serials 7441, 21340; 315N-NY-280350-AT, serial 135). There have been many speculations about why Atta scheduled the Portland flight. Although he may have believed that security was more relaxed at the smaller airport, he and Omari had to pass through security again at Logan. Ibid. (citing 315N-NY-280350-BS, serial 2909). Interrogation of detainees has produced no solid explanation for the trip. See, e.g., Intelligence report, interrogation of Binalshibh, Mar. 3, 2004.
192. FBI report, "Hijackers Timeline," Dec. 5, 2003 (citing 315N-NY-280350, serial 2268; 315N-NY-280350-302, serials 32036, 9873; 315N-NY-280350-LO, serial 2).
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