9/11, 18 Years Later

It is a solemn day for sure. It is a day where memories begin to fade and for some there are no memories at all. The ‘Never Again’ must be taught and understood to those that were not yet born at the time or too younger to comprehend the details.
But, America, don’t be sad. Each year that passes from that struck the hearts and souls of America, we have come to learn more and America DID prove how resolute and resilient we actually are as citizens. Those attributes are to be celebrated. Sure, we have given up too many freedoms to prevent another such attack. Our way of life did change forever that day, yet for the victims of 9/11 and those so near to all that occurred that day and for all the days that followed, many of their lives changed in often unspeakable ways.

A firefighter at the site of the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11 2001 photo
This is a time to review what has past to ensure it is not dismissed as a distant chapter in American history.

On September 11, 2001–a clear, sunny, late summer day–al Qaeda terrorists aboard three hijacked passenger planes carried out coordinated suicide attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing everyone on board the planes and nearly 3,000 people on the ground. A fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all on board, after passengers and crew attempted to wrest control from the hijackers.


JAKARTAThe plot to blow up several airliners over the Atlantic, uncovered by British authorities, bears a striking, if not eerie, resemblance to a plot hatched 12 years ago to simultaneously blow up a dozen airliners over the Pacific.

That scheme was developed in Manila by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was starting his climb to become a top lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, and Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who was a mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Philippine investigators came to believe that the Manila operation was financed by Bin Laden.

Mohammed code-named the operation Bojinka, which was widely reported to have been adopted from Serbo-Croatian, meaning big bang. But Mohammed has told his C.I.A. interrogators that it was just a “nonsense word” he adopted after hearing it when he was fighting in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviet Union, according to “The 9/11 Commission Report.” Mohammed was seized in Pakistan in 2003, and is now being held by the CIA at an undisclosed location.

The Bojinka plot in 1995 was anything but nonsense. At an apartment in Manila, Yousef began mixing chemicals, which he planned to put into containers that would be carried on board airliners, much like the plotters in Britain are alleged to have been planning.

In those days, it would have been relatively easy to get liquid explosives past a checkpoint. Mohammed and Yousef, according to the 9/11 Commission, studied airline schedules and planned to sneak the liquid on a dozen planes headed to Seoul, South Korea, and Hong Kong and then on to the United States. The idea was that the bombs, complete with timing devices, would be left on the airliners, but that the plotters would disembark at a stop before detonating the devices.

To rehearse the operations, a practice bomb was detonated in a Manila theater late in 1994. Another bomb was concealed aboard Philippine Airlines Flight 434 from Manila to Tokyo 10 days later. The bomb exploded on the way to Tokyo, killing a passenger, but the pilot managed to land the damaged 747. American prosecutors later concluded that Yousef had taken a liquid explosive onto the plane before disembarking.

The plot, however, was foiled in early 1995 when a fire broke out in the apartment where some of the conspirators were working. Among the things found when the police investigated was Yousef’s laptop, with a file named “Bojinka.” They also found dolls with clothes containing nitrocellulose, according to the 9/11 Commission.

Yousef was captured in Pakistan, turned over to the United States, convicted in New York and sentenced to life without parole.

According to investigators, Yousef’s specialty was making bombs from innocuous-looking objects that could be smuggled through airport security – a digital wristwatch modified to serve as a timer, or a plastic bottle for contact lens solution filled with liquid components for nitroglycerine.

When questioned after his arrest, Yousef refused to explain precisely how he had planned to carry out the bombings, according to testimony at his trial for the Bojinka plot.

Brian Parr, a Secret Service agent, testified at the trial that under questioning Yousef made clear that other terrorists were aware of the explosive technique, and he did not want to compromise their ability to carry out similar acts.

“He said that he didn’t want us to have knowledge of the techniques that they were going to use,” Parr testified, “because it may help us prevent other people from using those techniques.”

And Yousef, in his statement to Parr, made clear that he had carefully analyzed how to carry explosives through airline security.

For example, when questioned about one chemical mixture that could be used in explosives, Yousef said he would not have used it because it could have “been easily detected by airport security screening,” Parr testified.

Parr said that Yousef “specifically said that he would have used a different type of device that even the most sophisticated bomb-screening machines would not have been able to detect.”

Mary Jo White, the former United States attorney whose office successfully investigated and prosecuted Yousef in the Bojinka plot, recalled: “It was frightening. There were people wandering the globe able to do this. And that was 10 years ago.”

Mohammed has told his interrogators that after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which involved explosives loaded onto a truck that failed to bring down the building, he “needed to graduate to a more novel form of attack,” as the 9/11 report puts it. That led to Bojinka, and the first thoughts about using planes to bomb the World Trade Center.


To hear the 2 hours of audio of the FAA, NORAD and American Airlines, click here.

"The activity was so high and things were happening so quickly ... there wasn't any time to be afraid." - Nic Calio photo

September 11, 2001
Hijackers crash two airliners into the World Trade Center in New York. A third strikes the Pentagon, and a fourth crashes in a field in rural Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 people are killed in the terror attacks.

September 13, 2001
The White House announces that there is “overwhelming evidence” that Osama bin Laden is behind the attacks.

September 14, 2001
Congress authorizes [PDF; requires free Adobe Reader] President George W. Bush to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

September 16, 2001
Osama bin Laden denies any involvement in the 9/11 attacks in a statement to Al Jazeera television, saying, “I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons.”

September 18, 2001
The Justice Department publishes an interim regulation allowing non-citizens suspected of terrorism to be detained without charge for 48 hours or “an additional reasonable period of time” in the event of an “emergency or other extraordinary circumstance.” The new rule is used to hold hundreds indefinitely until the USA Patriot Act passes in October.

September 20, 2001
President Bush announces the new cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security, to be led by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. Ridge later becomes secretary of a new Homeland Security Department.

In an address to a joint session of Congress, President Bush declares, “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”

British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets with President George Bush at the White House. According to former British Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, who also attended the dinner, Bush indicates that he is determined to remove Saddam Hussein from power: “We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.”

October 2, 2001
The USA Patriot Act [PDF; requires free Adobe Reader] is introduced in Congress.

October 4, 2001
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, speaking before an emergency session of Parliament, says that three of the 19 9/11 hijackers have been positively identified as “known associates” of Osama bin Laden.

October 5, 2001
A photographer for the tabloid newspaper The Sun dies of inhalation anthrax in Boca Raton, Florida. Over the next several weeks, along with several false alarms, four other letters containing anthrax are received, by NBC News, the New York Post, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Eleven people are infected; five people die.

October 5, 2001
One thousand soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division are sent to the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan, which borders Afghanistan.

October 7, 2001
The U.S. begins bombing Afghanistan. In a televised address, President Bush tells the nation: “On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations, and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.”

October 24, 2001
The House of Representatives passes the final version of the USA Patriot Act [PDF; requires free Adobe Reader].

October 26, 2001
President Bush signs the USA Patriot Act [PDF; requires free Adobe Reader] into law.
Learn more about the USA Patriot Act: Flashpoints USA – Sacrifices of Security

November 5, 2001
The Justice Department announces that it has put 1,182 people into secret custody since 9/11. Nearly all of them are from the Middle East or South Asia.

November 21, 2001
Speaking at a Thanksgiving dinner for troops and their families at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, President Bush states, “Afghanistan is just the beginning on the war against terror. There are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends, and there are other nations willing to sponsor them. We will not be secure as a nation until all of these threats are defeated. Across the world and across the years, we will fight these evil ones, and we will win.”

December 11, 2001
In the first criminal indictments stemming from the 9/11 attacks, Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, is charged with conspiring with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to “murder thousands of people” in New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania.

The House International Relations Committee drafts House Joint Resolution 75, which states that if Iraq refuses to allow U.N. inspectors to investigate freely in Iraq, the refusal will constitute an “act of aggression against the United States.” The bill is sponsored by Representatives Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Porter Goss (R-FL) and Henry Hyde (R-IL).

December 13, 2001
The U.S. Army responds to an investigation by the Baltimore Sun and confirms that it has been making weapons grade anthrax in recent years, in violation of an international treaty.

December 17, 2001
The Northern Alliance defeats Taliban forces in the battle of Tora Bora, eliminating the last major pocket of Taliban resistance and effectively ending the Afghan war.

December 22, 2001
British citizen Richard Reid is arrested for allegedly trying to blow up a Miami-bound jet using explosives hidden in his shoe. He later pleads guilty to all charges, and declares himself a follower of Osama bin Laden.

January 23, 2002
Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, in Karachi, Pakistan to investigate the case of alleged shoe bomber Richard Reid, is kidnapped while on his way to meet a source. A group calling itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty claims responsibility and demands the release of all Pakistani terror detainees and the release of a halted shipment of F-16 fighter jets to the Pakistani government. A videotape of Pearl’s murder surfaces on February 23, and his body is discovered in a shallow grave on the outskirts of Karachi on May 16.

January 29, 2002
In his State of the Union address, President Bush describes an “axis of evil” between Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Osama bin Laden is not mentioned in the speech.

February 6, 2002
In a Senate hearing CIA Director George Tenet denies that there was any 9/11 intelligence failure, and states that the 9/11 plot was “in the heads of three or four people” and thus nearly impossible to prevent. He tells the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence “our major near-term concern is the possibility that Saddam might gain access to fissile material, . . . [and] with substantial foreign assistance, [Iraq] could flight-test a longer-range ballistic missile within the next five years.”

February 12, 2002
Testifying before the Senate Budget Committee, Secretary of State Colin Powell states: “With respect to Iraq, it’s long been, for several years now, a policy of the United States’ government that regime change would be in the best interest of the region, the best interest of the Iraqi people. And we’re looking at a variety of options that would bring that about.”

March 19, 2002
Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA Director George Tenet claims that there are links between Iraq and al Qaeda: “There is no doubt that there have been (Iraqi) contacts and linkages to the al Qaeda organization. As to where we are on September 11, the jury is still out. As I said carefully in my statement, it would be a mistake to dismiss the possibility of state sponsorship whether Iranian or Iraqi and we’ll see where the evidence takes us.”

May 5, 2002
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Secretary of State Colin Powell says, “The United States reserves its option to do whatever it believes might be appropriate to see if there can be a regime change…. U.S. policy is that regardless of what the inspectors do, the people of Iraq and the people of the region would be better off with a different regime in Baghdad.”

May 20-24, 2002
The Bush administration issues an unprecedented series of terror warnings. Vice President Cheney warns it is “not a matter of if, but when” al Qaeda will next attack the U.S., a warning repeated by Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says that terrorists will “inevitably” obtain weapons of mass destruction, and FBI Director Mueller says more suicide bombings are “inevitable.” Authorities also issue separate warnings that al Qaeda terrorists might target apartment buildings nationwide, banks, rail and transit systems, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

June 1, 2002
In a speech to the graduating class at West Point, President Bush announces a new U.S. policy of preemptive military action: “If we wait for threats to fully materialize we will have waited too long. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge.” This preemptive strategy is included in a defensive strategic paper the next month, and formally announced in September 2002. More here.

There of course is so much more to know, yet this timeline will help teach the facts and context. Citizens have a duty. Share, remember and explain.


More Photos From 9/11, 17 Years Later

The attack(s) continue to claim victims years later due to developing illnesses. Many may be unaware that post 9/11, illness claimed the lives of 3 FBI agents.

There is a fund with more than a billion dollars that has been available to survivors to have financial aid assisting in medical needs. Congress funded this account and frankly, Saudi Arabia and Iranian al Qaeda supporters should be funding this.

Meanwhile, for those too young to remember, share the following please:

The September 11th attacks took the lives of more than 3,000 Americans, and transformed the US in countless ways.

It sparked the Global War on Terror (which the US is now fighting in 76 countries), and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

It led to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Patriot Act.

And it also fundamentally changed New York City.

In honor of the 17th anniversary of the horrific attacks, we compiled 17 photos showing how Manhattan’s Financial District and skyline have changed since 9/11 as the city rebuilt Ground Zero. See for yourself:

Here’s an aerial view of the Twin Towers on a peaceful June day in 1999.

Here's an aerial view of the Twin Towers on a peaceful June day in 1999. Associated Press

But that skyline was horrifically shaken a little more than two years later.

But that skyline was horrifically shaken a little more than two years later. Associated Press

You can see the stark difference between this August 30, 2001 photo and a photo taken from the spot 16 days after the attacks. It would take several months for rescuers to go through the rubble.

You can see the stark difference between this August 30, 2001 photo and a photo taken from the spot 16 days after the attacks. It would take several months for rescuers to go through the rubble. Reuters

In December 2003, a design for the new One World Trade Center was finally unveiled.

In December 2003, a design for the new One World Trade Center was finally unveiled.
An aerial view showing the footprint of the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, with the Hudson River, left, on Friday Sept. 10, 2004.
Associated Press

In addition to the 1,776 foot One World Trade Center building, the site would also come to include four other World Trade Center buildings, a 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center, a WTC Transportation Hub, and Liberty Park.

Sources: New York City Port Authority, Curbed

But about four years after the unveiling, the site still looked about the same, as construction was hamstrung by lawsuits, budget overruns, design changes, and a recession.

But about four years after the unveiling, the site still looked about the same, as construction was hamstrung by lawsuits, budget overruns, design changes, and a recession.
Photo shows the World Trade Center site, center, surrounded by skyscrapers in New York in Aug. 29, 2007.
Associated Press

Source: Time

In 2009, the 9/11 memorial pools was starting to take shape.

In 2009, the 9/11 memorial pools was starting to take shape. Associated Press

The Freedom Tower was just starting to rise from the rubble.

The Freedom Tower was just starting to rise from the rubble.
Cranes work at the World Trade Center site on Jan. 27, 2009.
Associated Press

In June 2010, the skyscraper was slowly rising.

In June 2010, the skyscraper was slowly rising. Associated Press

By July 2011, the memorial waterfalls were being tested, and One World Trade Center’s facade was beginning to reflect the sky.

By July 2011, the memorial waterfalls were being tested, and One World Trade Center's facade was beginning to reflect the sky. Associated Press

Here’s the Manhattan skyline in August 2011. You can see the unfinished tower beginning to peek over the other skyscrapers.

Here's the Manhattan skyline in August 2011. You can see the unfinished tower beginning to peek over the other skyscrapers.
One World Trade Center towers over the lower Manhattan skyline, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011 in New York. The skyscraper is now 76 floors and will reach 104 floors.
Associated Press

The memorial waterfalls officially opened in September 2011, and the museum, seen on the right, opened in May 2014.

The memorial waterfalls officially opened in September 2011, and the museum, seen on the right, opened in May 2014.
The September 11 Museum entrance pavilion, right, sits next to one of the September 11 Memorial pools, at the World Trade Center Monday, April 14, 2014.
Associated Press

By November 2014, One World Trade Center was completed, as was 4 World Trade Center (left) and 7 World Trade Center (right.) But 3 World Trade Center, seen here with the crane above it, still wasn’t finished.

By November 2014, One World Trade Center was completed, as was 4 World Trade Center (left) and 7 World Trade Center (right.) But 3 World Trade Center, seen here with the crane above it, still wasn't finished.
A construction crane works on top of the rising steel frame of Three World Trade Center, center, November 20, 2014 in New York.
Associated Press

The WTC Transportation Hub, on which the soaring white Oculus was built, was also under construction in late 2014.

The WTC Transportation Hub, on which the soaring white Oculus was built, was also under construction in late 2014.
The WTC Transportation Hub and One World Trade Center as seen from Church Street, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in New York.
Associated Press

The hub officially opened in June 2016, when 3 World Trade Center was still under construction.

The hub officially opened in June 2016, when 3 World Trade Center was still under construction.
3 World Trade Center, center, reaches its full height of 80 stories in New York in this June 22, 2016 photo.
Associated Press

The $50 million Liberty Park also opened in June 2016. From there, visitors can get an overhead view of the Ground Zero memorial.

The $50 million Liberty Park also opened in June 2016. From there, visitors can get an overhead view of the Ground Zero memorial.
A visitor to Liberty Park take a selfie, Wednesday, June 29, 2016, in New York. The one-acre, elevated Liberty Park opened to the public Wednesday.
Associated Press

Source: Gothamist

It took 3 World Trade Center another two years to be completed. This June 8, 2018 photo shows 3 World Trade Center, One World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial, and Liberty Park finally complete.

It took 3 World Trade Center another two years to be completed. This June 8, 2018 photo shows 3 World Trade Center, One World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial, and Liberty Park finally complete.
In this June 8, 2018 photo, 3 World Trade Center, second from right, joins its neighbors One World Trade Center, left, and 4 World Trade Center, right, next to the September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York. The center’s latest skyscraper opens Monday.
Associated Press

And the Manhattan skyline was forever changed.

And the Manhattan skyline was forever changed.
New World Trade Center Tower in June 7, 2018.
Associated Press

Then there was the Pentagon:

The FBI released 27 new photos of the Pentagon on 9/11

9 11 Pentagon FBI 6


The FBI has released 27 new photos of the Pentagon on 9/11 after it was struck by a plane that was hijacked by five terrorists.

Five al-Qaeda terrorists took over American Airlines flight 77, which was traveling from Washington DC to Los Angeles, as it flew over eastern Kentucky. They then turned it back towards Washington, D.C., eventually crashing it into the Pentagon, killing 184 people.

The pictures released by the FBI show debris from the plane, the Pentagon on fire and crews putting out the blaze and cleaning up the damage.

Debris from American Airlines flight 77.

Debris from American Airlines flight 77. FBI

More debris from the flight, which appears to be part of the body of the plane.

More debris from the flight, which appears to be part of the body of the plane. FBI

The red “C” in the American Airlines logo is clearly visible in this picture.

The red FBI

Dark smoke billows up over the flames still burning.

Dark smoke billows up over the flames still burning. FBI

Crews working to put out the blaze.

Crews working to put out the blaze. FBI

Crews use heavy machinery to clean up the damage.

Crews use heavy machinery to clean up the damage. FBI

A large hole in the wall, which appears to have been caused by blowout.

A large hole in the wall, which appears to have been caused by blowout. FBI

A side view of the blowout hole.

A side view of the blowout hole. FBI

Crews inspecting the damage.

Crews inspecting the damage. FBI

Workers using more heavy machinery to clean up the damage.

Workers using more heavy machinery to clean up the damage. FBI

Firefighters gazing down at the wreckage.

Firefighters gazing down at the wreckage. FBI

The Pentagon, seen at a distance, still smoldering.

The Pentagon, seen at a distance, still smoldering. FBI

Crews still going through the wreckage.

Crews still going through the wreckage. FBI

Crews in Haz Mat suits walking near the damage.

 Crews in Haz Mat suits walking near the damage. FBI

Workers shoveling up the ash and small debris.

Workers shoveling up the ash and small debris. FBI

Workers holding an American flag near the site.

Workers holding an American flag near the site. FBI

Workers still picking up the debris.

Workers still picking up the debris. FBI

A view inside the Pentagon.

A view inside the Pentagon. FBI

Another view of the inside of the Pentagon.

Another view of the inside of the Pentagon. FBI

A view from inside the Pentagon looking out.

A view from inside the Pentagon looking out. FBI

A view from the top of where the plane struck the Pentagon.


SCOTUS to Decide to Hear Case on Post 9/11 Case on FBI

Justices Will Hear Post-Sept. 11 Claims Against Ashcroft, Mueller

 Photo, BBC

NationalLawJournal: The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to decide whether a 14-year-old suit should go forward against former George W. Bush attorney general John Ashcroft and former FBI director Robert Mueller III based on their roles in the post-Sept. 11 roundup and detention of Muslim, Arab and South Asian men.

In Ashcroft v. Turkmen, the Obama administration had asked the high court to review a June 2015 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that reinstated claims by eight men and a potential class of 80. The plaintiffs alleged the former Bush officials purposely and unconstitutionally directed their detentions in harsh and abusive conditions due to their race, religion or national origin.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, a former Second Circuit judge, and Elena Kagan, a former U.S. solicitor general, did not participate in the high court’s decision to review the case. Their potential recusals from the case could set the stage for a six-justice court to decide the outcome if the vacancy caused by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia remains unfilled through early next year.

The justices on Tuesday also added another potentially high profile case: Hernandez v. Mesa, a challenge stemming from a U.S. Border Patrol agent’s shooting of a 15-year-old Mexican boy on Mexican soil.

In the Ashcroft petition, the Obama administration argued that the Second Circuit was wrong—in the context of the Sept. 11 investigations—to allow Ashcroft, Mueller and other Justice department officials to be sued in their individual capacities for violations of constitutional rights under the 1971 high court decision Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents.

The Second Circuit is “the first circuit to permit such a damages remedy to be pursued ‘against executive branch officials for national security actions taken after the 9/11 attacks,’” then-Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. wrote in the petition.

The Obama administration also challenges the appellate court’s ruling that Ashcroft and Mueller, now a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, were not entitled to qualified immunity for their alleged role in the treatment of those detained. The government also contends the allegations that the former officials personally condoned the detentions because of “invidious animus” against Arabs and Muslims are not “plausible.”

The justices set the plausibility standard in a similar case, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, in 2009. The court ruled 5-4 then that Javaid Iqbal, a Pakistani Muslim and post Sept. 11-detainee, failed to plead sufficient facts to support his claim of intentional, unlawful discrimination.

From Verrilli’s petition:

Based on conclusory allegations and after-the-fact inferences drawn in the chambers of appellate judges, the court of appeals concluded that the nation’s highest-ranking law-enforcement officers—a former Attorney General of the United States and former Director of the FBI—may be subjected to the demands of litigation and potential liability for compensatory and even punitive damages in their individual capacities because they could conceivably have learned about and condoned the allegedly improper ways in which their undisputedly constitutional policies were being implemented by lower-level officials during an unprecedented national-security crisis.

Representing the Turkmen plaintiffs, Rachel Meeropol of the Center for Constitutional Rights, had urged the justices to deny review.

“The petitions instead boil down to a request for a new and remarkable form of immunity, one in which the clearly unconstitutional actions of federal officials are untouchable so long as they occur in temporal proximity to a national tragedy,” Meeropol wrote.

The justices also granted review in two related petitions raising similar issues. Ballard Spahr’s William McDaniel Jr. filed a petition on behalf of former Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner James Ziglar, and  MoloLamken’s Jeffrey Lamken filed on behalf of former wardens of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

The Second Circuit decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed in 2002 by the Center for Constitutional Rights. The center charged that the plaintiffs and other detainees were placed in solitary confinement, some for up to eight months, even though they were only charged with civil immigration violations like overstaying a visa or working without authorization.

The lawsuit has yet to go to trial.

Fourth Amendment at the border

In Hernandez, the border shooting case, the parents of Sergio Hernandez, represented by Deepak Gupta of Washington’s Gupta Wessler, are asking the high court to overturn a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The appeals court said the Fourth Amendment’s protection against excessive deadly force did not apply because their son was a Mexican citizen with no significant voluntary connection to the United States and he was killed on Mexican territory.

The justices have directed the parties also to brief whether Hernandez’s claim against border patrol agent Jesus Mesa could be brought under their 1971 decision in Bivens.

The Obama administration had urged the justices to deny review.

Obama to Veto the bill Authorizing Lawsuits Against Saudi Arabia

It was thought that declassifying and releasing those 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission report would produce the smoking gun that Saudi Arabia was exclusively behind the attacks. While there were some interesting facts and connections, the real proof was not there. In the first order of business since the return from summer break, the House voted along with the Senate approving legislation where victims’ families could sue Saudi Arabia. This puts, Barack Obama in a precarious position with regard to his veto pen. Does he stand with the families or with Saudi Arabia?

We have the answer according to Josh Earnest, the White House spokesperson:

Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 3.44.01 PM

“That is still the plan. The president does plan to veto this legislation,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. “I do anticipate the president will veto the legislation when it is presented to him. It hasn’t been presented to him yet.”

The Press Secretary reiterated the White House’s concerns with passing the bill saying, “It’s not hard to imagine other countries using this law as an excuse to haul U.S. diplomats or U.S. service members or even U.S. companies into courts all around the world.”

“The president believes that it’s important to look out for our country, to look out for our service members, to look out for these diplomats and allowing this bill to come into law would increase the risk that it would face,” he continued. More here.

It was al Qaeda that struck America 15 years ago for sure, but Iran and Saudi Arabia had is some measure a hand in training, financial support and harboring key al Qaeda operatives. Meanwhile, the al Qaeda operation is still quite functional and not to be dismissed or under-estimated.

In part from the LWJ: Some US officials argue that al Qaeda has been “decimated” because of the drone campaign and counterterrorism raids. They narrowly focus on the leadership layer of al Qaeda, while ignoring the bigger picture. But even their analysis of al Qaeda’s managers is misleading.

Al Qaeda has lost dozens of key men, but there is no telling how many veterans remain active to this day. Experienced operatives continue to serve in key positions, often returning to the fight after being detained or only revealing their hidden hand when it becomes necessary. Moreover, al Qaeda knew it was going to lose personnel and took steps to groom a new generation of jihadists capable of filling in.


From left to right: Saif al Adel, Abu Mohammed al Masri and Abu Khayr al Masri. These photos, first published by the FBI and US intelligence officials, show the al Qaeda leaders when they were younger.
Last year, several veterans were reportedly released from Iran, where they were held under murky circumstances. One of them was Abu Khayr al Masri, who paved the way for Al Nusrah’s rebranding in July. Another is Saif al Adel, who has long been wanted for his role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. At least two others freed by Iran, Abu Mohammed al Masri and Khalid al Aruri, returned to al Qaeda as well.

Masri, Al Adel, and Aruri may all be based inside Syria, or move back and forth to the country from Turkey, where other senior members are based. Mohammed Islambouli is an important leader within al Qaeda. After leaving Iran several years ago, Islambouli returned to Egypt and eventually made his way to Turkey, where he lives today.

Sitting to Julani’s right during his much ballyhooed announcement was one of Islambouli’s longtime compatriots, Ahmed Salama Mabrouk. The diminutive Mabrouk is another Zawahiri subordinate. He was freed from an Egyptian prison in the wake of the 2011 uprisings.

Al Qaeda moved some of its senior leadership to Syria and several others from this cadre are easy to identify. But al Qaeda has also relied on personnel in Yemen to guide its global network. One of Zawahiri’s lieutenants, Hossam Abdul Raouf, confirmed this in an audio message last October. Raouf explained that the “weight” of al Qaeda has been shifted to Syria and Yemen, because that is where its efforts are most needed.

The American drone campaign took out several key AQAP leaders in 2015, but they were quickly replaced. Qasim al Raymi, who was trained by al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1990s, succeeded Nasir al Wuhayshi as AQAP’s emir last summer. Raymi quickly renewed his allegiance to Zawahiri, whom Raymi described as the “the eminent sheikh” and “the beloved father.” Another al Qaeda lifer, Ibrahim Abu Salih, emerged from the shadows last year. Salih was not a public figure beforehand, but he has been working towards al Qaeda’s goals in Yemen since the early 1990s. Ibrahim al Qosi (an ex-Guantanamo detainee) and Khalid al Batarfi have stepped forward to lead AQAP and are probably also part of al Qaeda’s management team.

This old school talent has helped buttress al Qaeda’s leadership cadre. They’ve been joined by men who signed up for al Qaeda’s cause after the 9/11 attacks as well. In July, the US Treasury Department designated three jihadists who are based in Iran. One of them, known as Abu Hamza al Khalidi, was listed in bin Laden’s files as part of a “new generation” of al Qaeda leaders. Today, he plays a crucial role as the head of al Qaeda’s military commission, meaning he is the equivalent of al Qaeda’s defense minister. Treasury has repeatedly identified other al Qaeda members based in Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Some members of the “new generation” are more famous than others. Such is the case with Osama’s son, Hamzah bin Laden, who is now regularly featured in propaganda.

This brief survey of al Qaeda is not intended to be exhaustive, yet it is still sufficient to demonstrate that the organization’s bench is far from empty. Moreover, many of the men who lead al Qaeda today are probably unknown to the public.

The threat to the West

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned that al Qaeda “nodes in Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey” are “dedicating resources to planning attacks.” His statement underscored how the threats have become more geographically dispersed over time. With great success, the US worked for years to limit al Qaeda’s ability to strike the West from northern Pakistan. But today, al Qaeda’s “external operations” work is carried out across several countries.

During the past fifteen years, Al Qaeda has failed to execute another mass casualty attack in the US on the scale of the 9/11 hijackings. Its most recent attack in Europe came in January 2015, when a pair of brothers backed by AQAP conducted a military-style assault on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris. AQAP made it clear that the Charlie Hebdo massacre was carried out according to Zawahiri’s orders.

Thanks to vigilance and luck, al Qaeda hasn’t been able to replicate a 9/11-style assault inside the US. Part of the reason is that America’s defenses, as well as those of its partner nations, have improved. Operations such as the 9/11 hijackings are also difficult to carry out in the first place. Even the 9/11 plan experienced interruptions despite a relatively lax security environment. (Most famously, for example, the would-be 20th hijacker was denied entry into the US at an Orlando airport in the summer of 2001.)

But there is another aspect to evaluating the al Qaeda threat that is seldom appreciated. It is widely assumed that al Qaeda is only interested in attacking the West. This is flat false. Most of the organization’s resources are devoted to waging insurgencies in Muslim majority countries.

The story in Syria has been telling. Although al Qaeda may have more resources in Syria than anywhere else, Zawahiri did not order his men to carry out a strike in the West. Al Qaeda’s so-called “Khorasan Group” laid the groundwork for such operations, but Zawahiri did not give this cadre the green light to actually carry them out. Zawahiri’s stand down order is well known. In an interview that aired in May 2015, for instance, Julani explained that the “directives that come to us from Dr. Ayman [al Zawahiri], may Allah protect him, are that Al Nusrah Front’s mission in Syria is to topple [Bashar al Assad’s] regime” and defeat its allies. “We have received guidance to not use Syria as a base for attacks against the West or Europe so that the real battle is not confused,” Julani said. However, he conceded that “maybe” the mother al Qaeda organization is plotting against the West, just “not from Syria.” Julani emphasized that this “directive” came from Zawahiri himself.

To date, al Qaeda has not lashed out at the West from inside Syria, even though it is certainly capable of doing so. Al Qaeda’s calculation has been that such an attack would be too costly for its strategic interests. It might get in the way of al Qaeda’s top priority in Syria, which is toppling the Assad regime. This calculation could easily change overnight and al Qaeda could use Syria as a launching pad against the West soon. But they haven’t thus far. It helps explain why there hasn’t been another 9/11-style plot by al Qaeda against the US in recent years. It also partially explains why al Qaeda hasn’t launched another large-scale operation in Europe for some time. Al Qaeda has more resources at its disposal today than ever, so the group doesn’t lack the capability. If Zawahiri and his advisors decided to make anti-Western attack planning more of a priority, then the probability of another 9/11-style event would go up. Even in that scenario, al Qaeda would have to successfully evade the West’s defenses. But the point is that al Qaeda hasn’t been attempting to hit the West nearly as much as some in the West assume.

In the meantime, it is easy to see how the al Qaeda threat has become more diverse, just as Clapper testified. AQAP has launched several thwarted plots aimed at the US, including the failed Christmas Day 2009 bombing. In 2009, al Qaeda also plotted to strike trains in the New York City area. In 2010, a Mumbai-style assault in Europe was unraveled by security services. It is not hard to imagine al Qaeda trying something along those lines once again. Other organizations tied to al Qaeda, such as the Pakistani Taliban, have plotted against the US as well.

Fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda lives. Fortunately, Zawahiri’s men have not replicated the hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 Americans. But the al Qaeda threat looms. It would be a mistake to assume that al Qaeda won’t try a large-scale operation again. Comprehensive story here.


Remembering the Horror of 9/11

Knox/Yahoo: A previously unpublished behind-the-scenes account of President George W. Bush’s response in the traumatic minutes and hours after the 9/11 attacks shows him preparing for military action, serving up several doses of his trademark Western swagger and openly worrying about the safety of his wife, his daughters and his Scottish terrier, Barney.

Flooded with inaccurate reports — of a credible threat to Air Force One, of a car bomb at the State Department, of an airliner crashing near Camp David, of a “high-speed object” screaming toward his Texas ranch — Bush pressed intelligence officials for information and resolved to try to reassure Americans even as security concerns kept him away from Washington, D.C., for most of the day.

On Sept. 11, 2001, at 10:37 a.m., not quite two hours after al-Qaida terrorists crashed the first hijacked airliner into the north tower of the World Trade Center, Bush and top aides aboard Air Force One watched as a hair-removal commercial came on the airplane’s television screens, interrupting a channel’s coverage of the national tragedy.

These chaotic, sometimes surreal details come from six pages of handwritten notes taken by Ari Fleischer, Bush’s press secretary at the time. Fleischer provided the notes to me and to Steve Holland of Reuters, two print reporters who were with the president on what was supposed to have been a humdrum, even newsless education-themed trip to Sarasota, Fla., 15 years ago. (Fleischer has previously tweeted what it was like behind the scenes on 9/11 but has never published his entire notes from that day.)

There are no shocking revelations in Fleischer’s real-time narrative, which 9/11 Commission investigators reviewed as they compiled their report. But Fleischer’s detailed account helps to flesh out how Bush and his top advisers reacted to catastrophic attacks that still shape America’s national security policies and public debate today. It also serves as a good reminder of how little the reporters who cover a president see of the way the commander in chief does the people’s work — and thus as a good reminder of the importance of laws requiring the preservation and potential release of official documents. Fleischer told Yahoo News that two sections are redacted, at 10:37 a.m. and 10:41 a.m., when he wrote down the location of secure facilities where Bush daughters, Barbara and Jenna, were taken. Yahoo News has included a digital version of the notes here to give readers the ability to review them for themselves.

9/11 documents

The chronology starts when top political adviser Karl Rove tells Bush about the first crash. The entry is labeled 8:45 a.m., a minute before the actual time of the first attack, an understandable lapse at a time of uncertainty and crisis. It then skips to 9:45 a.m., with the president aboard Air Force One. “Sounds like we have a minor war going on here. I heard about the Pentagon,” he tells Vice President Dick Cheney. Not long thereafter, Bush tells congressional leaders by phone: “We’re at war.”

An entry at 10:20 a.m. notes Bush “authorized shoot down if reason” — a reference to the president deciding that, if a hijacked airliner were dangerously on course with a potential target, fighter planes could be allowed to fire. The false threat to Air Force One — “Angel is next” — comes in via the White House switchboard at 10:32 a.m.

Five minutes later, the hair-removal commercial comes on. That’s also when Fleischer records that the Bush daughters are safe: “girls removed 2 safe house.”

The 10:37 a.m. entry is also when Bush asks White House Chief of Staff Andy Card — best remembered for whispering word of the second attack into the president’s ear in an elementary school classroom at the Florida stop — about Barney. “He’s nipping at the heels of Osama bin Laden right now,” Card replies. Officials get word that a plane “has crashed in the vicinity of Camp David, but Rove quickly corrects that to “50 [miles] outside of Pittsburgh.”

PDF: Bush aide’s behind-the-scenes 9-11 notes show chaos >>>

At 10:41 a.m., Bush learns that his daughters have been moved to a more secure location. “How did they take it?” he asks. “They wanted 2 stay in their apartments,” an aide replies.

At 10:55 a.m., Rove lets other officials know that reports of a car bomb at the State Department were wrong.

Bush makes another momentous decision at 11:00 a.m., taking U.S. forces to the increased DEFCON 3 state of readiness.

At 12:25 p.m., speaking to Cheney from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, Bush says, “I think it’s important 4 ppl 2 see the gov is functioning because TV shows our nation has been blasted and bombed. Gov is not chaotic. It’s functioning smoothly. We’re going 2 get the bastards.” And, later, the president declares, “It’s the new war. It’s the faceless coward that [attacks].”

At 12:40 p.m. Bush announces, “I can’t wait to find out who did it. It’s going to take a while + we’re not going 2 have a little slap on the wrist crap.”

9/11 documents

The president speaks to Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York at 12:55 p.m. “We’ll come together. God Bless.”

On the phone with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Bush says it will soon be up to the Pentagon “to respond.”

At 1:05 p.m., another inaccurate report: “high-speed object heading 4 POTUS ranch” in Crawford, Texas.

“I want 2 go back home ASAP,” Bush says aboard Air Force One at 1:25 p.m. “I don’t want whoever this is holding me outside of Washington.”

At 1:35 p.m., Bush declares “this administration will spend whatever is necessary 2 find, hunt down, and destroy whoever did this.”

The president speaks to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New York Gov. George Pataki by phone at 2:25 p.m., promising to do “anything we can do to help you.” He also notes “some possibility of a second wave” of attacks.

At 2:58 p.m., Bush tells an aide “we need 2 get back to Wash. We don’t need some tinhorn terrorist to scare us off. The Am ppl want 2 know where their dang P is.”

At 4:26 p.m., the president tells his personal military aide that he’s going back to Washington.

At 4:39 p.m., after another stop, this one at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, Bush finally speaks to first lady Laura Bush. “I’m coming home. See you at the White House,” he said. “Love you … go on home.” And, he adds, “If I’m in the WH and there’s a plane coming my way, all I can say is I hope I read my bible that day.”

At 5:05 p.m., Bush learns Cheney has briefed congressional leaders, who will come to the White House a day later. “We will find these ppl + they will suffer the consequences of taking on this nation,” Bush says. “We will do what it takes. Everyone must understand this will not stand.”

Over the next few hours, Bush speaks to British Prime Minister Tony Blair as aides plan briefings for Congress and start to chart the way forward after the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. At one point, Fleischer’s chronology notes, the directive comes down: “No loose lips.”

9/11 documents

View photos

Courtesy of Ari Fleischer


Al-Qaeda’s U.S.-Born Leader Adam Gadahn And 9/11

MEMRI: On April 23, 2015, the White House announced that Adam Gadahn, known as Al-Qaeda’s American spokesman and a major figure in the organization’s media apparatus, including its media wing Al-Sahab, had been unintentionally killed in a January 2015 U.S. drone attack in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.[1] Gadahn had been charged with treason in October 2006 – the first U.S. citizen to be so charged since World War II. 

In 2004, at age 26, Gadahn made it to the FBI’s most wanted list. He trained in Afghanistan terrorist camps, and was asked by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Muhammad to join a plot for a suicide attack outside Baltimore. A sealed indictment dated September 8, 2006 accused Gadahn, aka Al-Qaeda operative “Azzam the American,” of helping the terror organization with communications and propaganda, serving as its Engli sh translator, and providing it with information about American culture and vulnerabilities. The following month, the U.S. government formally announced treason charges against him. 

Adam Pearlman’s parents converted to Christianity and took the last name Gadahn. Adam’s first contact with Islam came when his father sold meat he had slaughtered to Muslim halal markets. As a 17-year-old, Adam embraced Islam at an Orange County California mosque.  

Both Gadahn’s knowledge of American culture and his media skill s played a significant role in the development of Al-Sahab, the Al-Qaeda media company; he was one of its key officials. He also laid the groundwork for other homegrown terrorists and for the use of the Internet for cyber jihad. High-ranking members of the Al-Qaeda leadership – even leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri – told Americans to listen to his words. 

In the numerous videos that Gadahn made for Al-Sahab, the 9/11 attacks were a frequent theme. A video released September 12, 2005 showed him noting that “four years after the blessed raids on New York and Washington, we find the people of the West continuing to speculate” about the motivation and objectives behind 9/11 and other major terror attacks. He went on to clarify: “A s Sheikh Osama has told you repeatedly, your security is dependent on our security. You can’t have one without the other. If you ensure our security, you will have automatically ensured your own… We are Muslims; we love peace but peace on our terms. Peace that is laid down by Islam, not the so called peace of occupiers and dictators.”

Gadahn with image of burning World Trade Center in background 

In an Al-Sahab video released September 10, 2006, titled “Knowledge Is For Acting Upon – The Manhattan Raid,” Gadahn noted that “all the brothers who took part in the raids on America were dedicated, strong-willed, highly motivated individuals with a burning concern for Islam and Muslims… All of them had lived and studied in the West. All of them had the world within their reach if they had wanted it. But how could they live with themselves if they were to enjoy this worldly life while their Ummah [Muslim nation] burns… In hindsight, everything that Al-Qaeda was doing was preparation for the Manhattan and Washington raids and the expected crusader invasion…”

Another video, titled “Mujahideen Don’t Target Muslims” and released December 12, 2009, featured Gadahn criticizing the Arab media for floating 9/11 conspiracy theories, underlining that Al-Qaeda deserved full credit for the attacks. A March 7, 2010 video titled “A Call to Arms” showed him stating: “As the blessed operations of September 11th showed, a little imagination and planning and a minimal budget can turn almost anything into a deadly, effective and convenient weapon which can take the enemy by surprise and deprive him of sleep for years on end.”

Finally, in an October 24, 2010 video, he encouraged “Muslim brothers residing in the states of the Zio-Crusader coalition” to carry out lone wolf attacks at home, saying: “My brothers: Know that jihad is your duty as well, and that you have an opportunity to strik e the leaders of unbelief and retaliate against them on their own soil… Here you are in the battlefield, just like heroes before you, like Muhammad Atta and his fellow [9/11] pilots…”

On June 25, 2015, two months after his death was announced, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) published a special issue of its English-language magazine Resurgence featuring a lengthy interview with Gadahn.[2] In the interview, which stretches over 80 pages, Gadahn talks about his youth and his conversion to Islam, his radicalization and turn to militancy, and his experiences as a new recruit in Al-Qaeda’s training camps. He also discusses a wide range of topics on the global jihad movement, such as his and Al-Qaeda’s attitudes to the Islamic State (ISIS).

The interview also focuses on the 9/11 attacks; Gadahn notes that as soon as he joined Al-Qaeda, he was “immediately” brought to one of the organization’s main training camps in Afghanistan to train with some of the “muscle men” of 9/11; that he had met some of the 9/11 planners and attackers; that his initial reaction to the attacks was “exhilaration” as well as “apprehension”; that some people had had “prophetic dreams” predicting 9/11; that following the fall of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan, 9/11 ma stermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad had “hosted and sheltered” him and his “emigrant brothers”; and more.

Cover of Resurgence Summer 2015 issue featuring Gadahn 

The following report highlights Gadahn’s statements in his Resurgence interview on the subject of 9/11. They are excerpted from the forthcoming book American Traitor – The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda’s U.S.-Born Leader Adam Gadahn 

As Soon As He Joined Al-Qaeda, He Was Taken “Immediately” To Mes Aynak Training Camp Where 9/11 “Muscle Men” Trained

Resurgence: “We’ll delve into the topic of Takfeerism in more detail later (Allah willing), but right now, let’s return to the moment you joined Al-Qaeda. What happened when you were introduced to Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Misri (may Allah preserve him)?”

Gadahn: “As I recall, he asked me a few questions. Then he handed me over to Brother Khallad (Waleed bin Attash) and Sheikh Abu Al-Faraj Al-Libi (may Allah deliver them), who took me immediately to one of the main Al-Qaeda training camps at that time, which was located at the Mes Aynak copper mine in Logar province. There I was enrolled at once in an extremely difficult course which had already started some days or even weeks before. This course was taught by a tough drill sergeant known as Salahuddin the Iranian – who may have been a Baloch or a Kurd or a Persian convert from Shi’ism – assisted by a (not-so-tough) Tanzanian broth er called Abu Qatada. The focus was on close-range fighting using martial arts techniques and light weapons like knives and pistols. From what I gathered from the other brothers enrolled in the course, it was meant to train new bodyguards for Sheikh Osama bin Laden (may Allah have mercy on him). However, I later came to the conclusion – two years later, to be exact – that it was meant to train the ‘muscle men’ for the September 11th operations! And Allah knows best.”

Resurgence: “So did you finish the course?”

Gadahn: “No, I was dismissed by the instructor two days later! And for the record, I was by no means the only one to be expelled from the course or drop out of it, because as I said, it was extremely diffi­cult. Moreover, no one actually ‘completed’ the course, since it ended up being cut short due to the camp being closed down.”

Osama bin Laden firing a rifle. Source: Resurgence, Summer 2015, p. 32.

At Training Camp, He Reacts To 9/11 Attacks With “Surprise, Amazement, And Exhilaration” – “I Had No Doubts Whatsoever About Who Was Behind Them”

Resurgence: “Aameen. Now for the obligatory question without which no interview would be complete: how did you hear about the September 11th operations and what was your reaction?”

Adam: “Hmm. Let’s see… It was about 5:30 in the afternoon Qandahar time. I had just returned home from the bazaar, and when I turned on the radio and tuned it to the BBC, the first thing I remember hearing was the host was asking his guests, ‘Who could have done an oper ation like this?’ My first thought was that the death of Ahmad Shah Massoud had been confirmed and they were now trying to digest the news, because as you know, he had been the target of an attack two days before and the word around town was that he was in fact dead, contrary to official claims of him being lightly injured. But as I listened further to the broadcast, it became clear that they were talking about something else altogether, something bigger – much bigger.

“Slowly and piece by piece, the picture began to develop: New York, Washington, the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, hijacked passenger aircraft, etc.; and I think it was when the announcer confirmed that the second WTC tower had just collapsed and that both towers were now down that the enormity of the whole thing really hit me. As for my reaction, it was a mix of surpr ise, amazement and exhilaration as well as some apprehension, at least in the very beginning. The magnitude of the operations, the unprecedented damage they caused and the fact that I had no doubts whatsoever about who was behind them made me entertain the possibility that Qandahar could be the target of American aggression that very night! The feeling passed, however, after I calmed down a bit and was able to think things over in a rational manner.”

Resurgence: “What was the reaction of those around you to the operations?”

Gadahn: “Many people didn’t sleep that night. I certainly didn’t. There was a celebratory atmosphere, with cars full of mujahideen driving around and groups of brothers walking and talking in the streets. People were congratulating each other on this incredible and historic victory with which Allah had favored us. I remember some brothers said that now that Allah had blessed them to see America’s nose rubbed in the dirt and the myth of its invincibility debunked, they were totally 100% ready for martyrdom: i.e., after an experience like this, what more could they possibly want from this worldly life? That was a sample of the reaction of the brothers in Al-Qaeda in particular and the Arabs and non-Afghan muhajireen [foreign fighters] in general.

“As for the Afghan brothers, I will relate one story to give you a sense of their reaction. It was about a week after the operations – and perhaps just a day or two after the announcement of the death of Massoud – and I was walking along the main road when a driver stopped his car and offered me a ride home. He was an older Talib – perhaps in his mid-forties – whose leg had been amputated and who wore a black turban. As soon as I got into the car, he began to talk excitedly about the September 11th operations and the attack on Massoud, and how the Arab mujahideen were the best mujahideen in the world (he thought I was an Arab); and this continued for the entire duration of the ride (actually only about two minutes because he picked me up close to home). And as I was about to get out of the car, he told me one more thing which struck me: he told me he wanted to carry out a martyrdom operation too and asked if I coul d help him! So if this was the direction the Afghans were going in even before the Crusader invasion of Afghanistan, it’s no surprise then that the martyrdom operation would later become an important weapon of the Afghans in their blessed Jihad against America and her allies and puppets.

“There’s another amusing anecdote I’d like to mention in the context of people’s reaction to the operations. I was with David Hicks (‘Abu Muslim the Australian’ – may Allah guide him)[3] a few weeks after the operations, perhaps just before the American bombing began, and I asked him jokingly if he had ever thought he would live to see the start of World War 3, to which he replied, ‘Yes, but I didn’t think it would be started by people w ho eat naan (Afghan flatbread) and drink chai (Afghan green tea)!’ In other words, he didn’t expect it to be started by people of such modest means and simple lifestyles.”

On 9/11 Attackers: Al-Ghamdi “Was A Cheerful Guy”; Al-Haznawi Served As “Master Of Ceremonies At A Wedding Party”

Resurgence: “Did you know any of the martyrs of the September 11th operations?”

Gadahn: “I knew a couple of the brothers fairly well, specifically Brother Julaybeeb (Hamza Al-Ghamdi may Allah accept him),[4] who was a cheerful guy who was always helping out with cooking and other chores, and Brother ‘Urwah Al-Taaifi (Hani Hanjour – may Allah accept him),[5] who spent some time with us on the Qarabagh frontline north of Kabul, and who I remember asked me once while we both were at the Ghulam Badshah guesthouse (which was located in the Karte Parwan neighborhood of Kabul) about domestic flights in America and whether security on them was less strict than on international flights, to which I replied in the affirmative. So it seems he had already been recruited for the operation by that time (late 1999).

  Gadahn met Osama bin Laden (top) and 9/11 attackers (highlighted in yellow by MEMRI), clockwise from bottom left: Hani Hasan Hanjour, Hamza Al-Ghamidi, and Abdul Aziz Al-Omari, as well as Ahmad Al-Haznawi, center. Source: Resurgence Summer 2015, p. 75. 

“By the way, Hani Hanjour is – as far as I know – the only one of the four pilots to have received flight training and a commercial pilot’s license before preparations commenced for the operation, which perhaps explains how he was able to seemingly effortlessly execute the difficult 330-degree turn and high-speed, low-altitude approach needed to hit the Pentagon, but the irony is that the conspiracy theorists insist on portraying him as a novice student with poor piloting skills in order to support their theory that a missile hit the Pentagon and not a plane!

“As for the other brothers, I must have seen or met most of them either in Kabul or in Qandahar, but I really can’t recall any of them, other than Brother Al-Jarraah Al-Ghamdi (Ahmad Al-Haznawi – may Allah accept him) who I am able to place only because he was the master of ceremonies at a wedding party that was held at the airport complex. I may also have exchanged greetings with Brother Abu Al-Abbas Al-Janoobi (Abdulaziz Al-Omari – may Allah accept him) during a visit to the offices of as-Sahab in Qandahar.”

“Allegations Concerning The Un-Islamic Character And Behavior” Of The 9/11 Attackers “Were A Deliberate Attempt… [To] Keep Muslims From Sympathizing With Those Behind Them And Emulating Them”

Resurgence: “Speaking of conspiracy theorists, one of the claims they have often put forward as ‘proof’ of the falseness of the official version of 9/11 is that that some of those alleged to have planned and carried out the operations were ‘known’ to have engaged – in the period in which they were supposed to be preparing for the operations – in forms of sin and debauchery inconsistent with what one would expect to be the behavior of Muslims about to become martyrs for Islam. Does this oft-repeated claim have any factual basis?”

Gadahn: “I think rumors and allegations concerning the un-Islamic character and behavior of the heroes of September 11th were a deliberate attempt by certain parties to confuse people about the operations and k eep Muslims from sympathizing with those behind them and emulating them. I know for a fact that a number of the aspersions cast on the character of the September 11th brothers are totally baseless.

“For example, the enemies claim that Brother Ziad Jarrah – may Allah accept him – had a Turkish ‘girlfriend’ in Germany who he continued to visit and correspond with until shortly before the execution of the operations. But I heard from none other than Brother Said Bahaji, one of the members of the so-called ‘Hamburg Cell,’ that she was in fact Ziad’s legal wife whom he had married according to Islamic law; however, their marriage was not registered with the government, which led the enemies to call her his ‘girlfriend.’

“Similarly, Commander Khalid Sheikh Muhammad – may Allah deliver him – is sometimes described as having been some sort of irreligious, womanizing playboy, when in fact everyone who knows him knows he is a devoted family man with a great love for Islam from an early age. You can see his zeal for Islam clearly in the words of Sheikh Abdullah ‘Azzam (may Allah have mercy on him), who, in an article in Al-Jihad Magazine eulogizing ‘Aabid Sheikh Muhammad (Khalid’s brother who was martyred in the Afghan Jihad against the Russians – may Allah have mercy on him) mentions that he (i.e. Sheikh Abdullah Azzam) spent time during one of the major battles with Khalid, whom he called ‘the Secretary,’ and that Khalid loved to listen to Koranic recitation, and that both he and Khalid each tried to finish reciting the entire Koran in seven days, which is how the Prophet – peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – used to recite it. Obviously, this is not the description of a man with a superficial connection to Islam. And those who want to read more can find Sheikh ‘Azzam’s eulogy of ‘Aabid Sheikh Muhammad in a compilation of articles and transcripts entitled ‘Ushaaq Al-Hoor (Lovers of Houries).”

Photo of New York City skyline during 9/11 attacks. Source: Resurgence, Summer 2015, p. 77.

Two “Prophetic Dreams” He Heard About Prior To 9/11

Resurgence: “One of the things brothers talk about in connection with September 11th is the prophetic dreams which were seen by a number of people before the operations. Can you tell us about some of these dreams?”

Gadahn: “Yes. One dream I overheard being related second-hand in late 1999 while at the Ghulam Badshah guesthouse went something like this: ‘A brother saw in his dream that he was flying, and he entered a large building or a tower, and th en an angel struck the building with his wing, and it fell down.’ This was around the same time that Brother ‘Urwah asked me about security on flights; and some of the other pilots may also have been staying in Kabul then. Another dream which was related to me just a few months before the operations, and which I heard directly from the mouth of the brother who saw it, was as follows: ‘I saw New York City, with its famous skyline, but the city was empty and devoid of life, like a ghost town.’

“The brother interpreted it as meaning that there might be some sort of an attack on New York City which might cause the city to be evacuated, an interpretation which I took with a grain of salt at the time! I should mention that the brother who saw this dream had absolutely nothing to do with the operations and would not have known anything about them.

“And I totally forgot about this dream until one of the brothers reminded me of it a few days after September 11th. There was at least one other dream I heard before the operations involving towers and some sort of aircraft, again seen by someone with no connection to the operations and (moreover) no connection to Al-Qaeda – he was a businessman visiting from the Arabian Gulf – but the two I have mentioned here are the most direct and explicit and the ones which have stayed with me over the years. I should point out in this context that these sorts of visions were not limited to the run up to September 11th; rather, they were regularly seen before other major operations as well, to the extent that Sheikh Usama had to forbid people from relating any dreams they might have had just before the attack on the destroyer USS Cole, because so many people were seeing dreams about attacks on ships and Jihad at sea that the Sheikh was afraid that the operation would be compromised or uncovered by the enemies if they got wind of this ‘chatter’!”

After 9/11 And Fall Of Islamic Emirate In Afghanistan, 9/11 Mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad And Family “Hosted And Sheltered” Gadahn And His “Emigrant Brothers”

Resurgence, Summer 2015, p. 79. 

Resurgence: “How was your time in Pakistan after the fall of the Islamic Emirate?”

Gadahn: “While in Pakistan, I and my emigrant brothers were blessed by Allah to have numerous Ansaar (supporters) who combined Nusra (support) with Hijrah (emigration), Jihad and Istishhaad (seeking of martyrdom), and who hosted and sheltered us and did their best to take care of all our needs despite the difficulties and risks. We are greatly indebted to them all, and if I could, I would mention and thank all of them by name, but because I know that naming them could compromise their security, I will only mention a few of those who have embraced martyrdom or will not be harmed by being mentioned: [Gadahn lists and details a number of individuals]… Commander Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (may Allah deliver him) and his nephews, family and friends (may Allah accept their martyrs and free their captives).”

Among Those He Was “Most Inspired Or Affected By” Gadahn Lists Leading Al-Qaeda Figures – Including Current Al-Qaeda Leader Al-Zawahiri

Resurgence: “Amongst your teachers and instructors over the years, who has inspired or influenced you most?”

Gadahn: “I think those I have been most inspired or affected by were by and large the scholars and students of knowledge, whether those whom I studied under, like Sheikh Abu Hafs Al-Mauritani, Sheikh Abu Abdullah Al-Muhajir and Sheikh Abu Yusuf Al-Mauritani (may Allah accept him), or those I consulted with in matters of ‘aqeedah and fiqh and from whose fatwas I have benefited, like Sheikh Abu Al-Waleed Al-Ansaari, Sheikh Esa and Sheikh Mansoor Al-Shami (may Allah accept him), as well as those who I came to know later on and work with and consult not only in matters of religion but also in matters of media and policy, like Sheikh ‘Attiyatullah and Sheikh Abu Yahya – may Allah accept them – and our beloved Ameer Sheikh Ayman Al-Zaw ahiri – may Allah preserve him – who has never been sparing nor stingy in offering me encouragement and advice as well as constructive criticism whenever needed.

“I think Sheikh Abu Mus’ab Al-Suri also deserves mention in this context. Another person really dear to me and close to my heart is Sheikh Ibn Al-Sheikh Al-Libi (may Allah accept him), the ameer of Khalden, although he wasn’t really one of my teachers, but he was a really nice person who I looked up to; and the same goes for Abu Zubaidah, Sheikh Abu Hafs Al-Misri (may Allah have mercy on him), Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and a number of other Sheikhs, commanders and brothers too many to mention here. And last but not least, I have to make special mention of the director of As-Sahab, who has taught me a lot about media work.”

Meeting With Bin Laden

Also in the interview, Gadahn spoke of meeting Osama bin Laden numerous times, even of sharing meals with him. “There was an occasion,” he added, “where I acted as translator between Shaykh Usama and a group of brothers who had come from Pakistan. I also attended a number of gatherings and events at the Qandahar airport complex (aka Tarnak Farms), where Shaykh Usama lived. One of the memories I have of those gatherings is the day on which were taken those famous pictures of Shaykh Usama dressed in white and firing a Kalashnikov from a crouching position with his bodyguards and other brothers lined up behind him (I’m the one on th e Shaykh’s right who is wearing a white turban, long green shirt and black shoes and has his hands crossed behind his back).”

Referring to the letters taken from bin Laden’s compound in Abottabad, Pakistan after his assassination, he said that he was glad that they showed bin Laden’s concern for the wellbeing of the Al-Qaeda fighters, and added: “The Shaykh would also regularly inquire about the conditions of the Mujahideen in the various regions, whether in terms of supplies, finances, their security situation or even their marital status and how often they were able to visit their families.”

*Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).


[1] Whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/04/23/statement-press-secretary, April 23, 2015.

[3] David Hicks is an alleged terrorist who was held at Guantanamo from 2002 to 2007. In 2007 he pleaded guilty to attempted murder and to providing material support for terrorism in exchange for a transfer to an Australian prison, but is now attempting to have his conviction overturned. See Abc.net.au, January 23, 2015.

[4] Hamza Al-Ghamdi was on United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into th e World Trade Center’s south tower, the second of the two planes to hit the World Trade Center buildings.

[5] Hani Hanjour was on American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.