Six years before the Sept. 11 attacks, Philippine police took down an al Qaeda cell in Manila that, among other things, had been plotting to fly explosives-laden planes into the Pentagon -- and possibly some skyscrapers. The CIA knew about the plot, known as Operation Bojinka. So did the FBI. "We told the Americans about the plans to turn planes into flying bombs as far back as 1995," a Philippine inspector says.
Is this excuse even remotely plausible?
Agency Knew of Flight Training Before 9/11, Moussaoui Jury Told
By Timothy Dwyer and William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, March 7, 2006; 12:57 PM
A top FBI expert on the al-Qaeda terrorist network testified in court today that the agency knew before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that the group's leader, Osama bin Laden, had sent followers to an Oklahoma flight school to train as pilots and was interested in hijacking airplanes.
FBI agent Michael Anticev said investigators understood that bin Laden used the flight school in Norman, Okla., to train pilots to fly his own aircraft. He also acknowledged that the FBI knew before the Sept. 11 attacks that al-Qaeda was training pilots to hijack planes, but he said the agency believed the aim was to carry out conventional hijackings and fly the aircraft to other countries, rather than crash them into buildings.
Do Popes shit in the woods?
Two months before the attacks, Italian security officials had anticipated the possibility of planes hijacked by Muslim extremists attacking the G8 summit in Genoa (which George W. Bush had attended). The BBC reported:
Up to 20,000 police and military personnel are involved in the security operation. The huge force of officers and equipment which has been assembled to deal with unrest has been spurred on by a warning that supporters of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden might attempt an air attack on some of the world leaders present.
Anti-aircraft missiles have been deployed at the airport, and naval vessels are patrolling the seas. "It looks like we're at war," said one resident inside the red zone, Attilio Cipollina. The summit has sparked massive media interest in Italy, with Wednesday's headlines dominated by the security alerts. La Repubblica also comments that this may be the last G8 summit as the pillars of international politics crumble under the pressure of globalisation.
August 23-27, 2001: Minnesota FBI Agents Convinced Moussaoui Plans to Do Something with a Plane, Undermined by FBI Headquarters
In the wake of the French intelligence report (see August 22, 2001) on Zacarias Moussaoui, FBI agents in Minnesota are “in a frenzy” and “absolutely convinced he [is] planning to do something with a plane.” One agent writes notes speculating Moussaoui might “fly something into the World Trade Center.” [Newsweek, 5/20/02] Minnesota FBI agents become “desperate to search the computer lap top” and “conduct a more thorough search of his personal effects,” especially since Moussaoui acted as if he was hiding something important in the laptop when arrested. [Time, 5/27/02; Time, 5/21/02] They decide to apply for a search warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). “FISA allows the FBI to carry out wiretaps and searches that would otherwise be unconstitutional” because “the goal is to gather intelligence, not evidence.” [Washington Post, 11/4/01] Standards to get a warrant through FISA are so low that out of 10,000 requests over more than 20 years, not a single one was turned down. Previously, when the FBI did not have a strong enough case, it allegedly simply lied to FISA. In May 2002, the FISA court complained that the FBI had lied in at least 75 warrant cases during the Clinton administration, once even by the FBI director. [New York Times, 8/27/02] However, as FBI Agent Coleen Rowley later puts it, FBI headquarters “almost inexplicably, throw[s] up roadblocks” and undermines their efforts. Headquarters personnel bring up “almost ridiculous questions in their apparent efforts to undermine the probable cause.” One Minneapolis agent's e-mail says FBI headquarters is “setting this up for failure.” That turns out to be correct. [Time, 5/21/02; Time, 5/27/02]