Nov 26 2005
In attempt to delay the massive leaf raking I must face every year after Thanksgiving, I have been researching diligently (over my morning coffee) some Able Danger and ‘Atta in Prague’ updates, something we posted recently on here. Fair warning – this sucker is one long post.
Or are they may be accurately called ‘predates’. A couple of folks have pointed to articles I had not seen before on the question of whether Atta did meet with Iraqi intelligence agent Al Ani in April of 2001 – a period when the US trail of Atta ‘disappears’ for a period of a few days. This lack of knowledge of Atta’s whereabouts persists to this day even though nearly all his moves in country have been traced. The first link comes from Mac Ranger and points to this June 03, 2004 article by Deroy Murdock at NRO:
Epstein and other Prague-Connection proponents believe Mohamed Atta met on April 8, 2001 with Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Consul and Second Secretary at Iraq’s Czech embassy between March 1999 and April 22, 2001. Al-Ani, a suspected intelligence officer, allegedly handled several agents, possibly including Atta.
According to his May 26, 2000 Czech visa application â€” submitted in Bonn, Germany â€” Atta called himself a “Hamburg student.” He had studied urban planning for seven years at Hamburg-Harburg Technical University and launched an Islamic club there in 1999.
Atta apparently had pressing business in Prague. With his visa application pending until May 31, Atta nonetheless flew to Prague International Airport on May 30 and remained in its transit lounge for about six hours before flying back to Germany. Czech officials suspect he may have met someone there. Two days later, on June 2, he returned to Prague by bus on Czech visa number BONN200005260024. He stayed there for some 20 hours, and then flew to Newark, New Jersey, on June 3.
While skeptics dismiss this encounter, Czech intelligence found Al-Ani’s appointment calendar in Iraq’s Prague embassy, presumably after Saddam Hussein’s defeat. Al-Ani’s diary lists an April 8, 2001, meeting with “Hamburg student.” Maybe, in a massive coincidence, Al-Ani dined with a young scholar and traversed the nuances of Nietzsche. Or perhaps Al-Ani saw Mohamed Atta and discussed more practical matters.
Gimme a break. How is this evidence better than
misinformation evidence provided by Khalid Sheikh Mohamed – master mind of 9-11? The 9-11 commission would leave you to believe there is evidence of Atta in Virginia Beach (my native beach hang out BTW). But in reality there isn’t:
On April 4, 2001, the FBI says, Atta departed Virginia Beach’s Diplomat Inn with Al-Shehhi and cashed a SunTrust check for $8,000. No American eyewitness saw Atta again until April 11.
Gone. Disappeared. After years of investigation and tracing purchase, hotels, etc all they have is someone using Atta’s cell phone ( a phone which is most likely useless in Europe due to the different mobile phone protocols). One last item:
As is well known, on June 18, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet told the Congressional Joint Inquiry on 9/11 that his agency could not “establish that Atta left the US or entered Europe in April 2001.” But Tenet also admitted: “It is possible that Atta traveled under an unknown alias.”
That means there are a number of international travelers that the CIA found during that time period that they cannot clearly identify with a person they could track down. They knew who flew in and out of the country on the days that could support Atta being in Prague. But obviously there is some name or names which have defied scrutiny and been eliminated as being Atta under an assumed name.
Again, are we to believe the mastermind of 9-11 over leaders from a western nation?
Hynek Kmonicek booted Al-Ani from Prague. He was then the Czech Republic’s deputy foreign minister, and today is its United Nations ambassador. As Kmonicek tersely insisted in the Prague Post in June 2002: “The meeting took place.”
You want to know possibly why Mohamed might do all he could to not implicate Iraq? Well, Saddam and his thugs were known to treat traitors and their families with a special kind of touch, if you know what I mean. However, if Mohamed believed deeply in the cause, and the cause still involved remnants of the Baathists as key elements, Mohamed would never lead the US towards those still fighting.
And what about the veracity of the 9-11 report? Well, their conclusions have been shot full of holes it seems. This one stunned me:
Epstein also disputes news accounts that Atta was in Virginia when he was supposed to be in Prague. The New York Times, quoting “federal law enforcement officials,” said Atta was in Virginia Beach on April 2, 2001 and “was back in Florida, renting a car” by April 11. According to Newsweek, “The bureau [FBI] had his rental car and hotel receipts.”
“There were no car rental records in Virginia, Florida, or anywhere else in April 2001 for Mohamed Atta,” Epstein responds, “since he had not yet obtained his Florida license. His international license was at his father’s home in Cairo, Egypt (where his roommate Marwan al-Shehhi picked it up in late April).”
Without a driver’s license, Atta could not have been “back in Florida, renting a car,” as the Times claims. Anyone who has rented an automobile knows the first words out of every car rental agent’s mouth: “Driver’s license and credit card.”
Especially foreign travelers! The article shows how Atta could get around, but the point is the evidence placing Atta in the US is incredibly shaky and requires assumptions no commission investigating 9-11 should have made and pretended were facts.
And this article adds, or repeats, another Iraq connection to 9-11 (emphasis mine):
Additional records further illuminate Iraqi complicity in the September 11 massacre. As a May 27 Wall Street Journal editorial reported, Ahmed Hikmat Shakir’s name appears on three different rosters of the late Uday Hussein’s prestigious paramilitary group, the Saddam Fedayeen.
On January 5, 2000, Shakir allegedly welcomed Khalid al Midhar and Nawaz al Hamzi to Kuala Lampur and escorted them through immigration and on to the Kuala Lumpur Hotel. That’s where these September 11 hijackers met with 9/11 conspirators Ramzi bin al Shibh and Tawfiz al Atash. Five days later, according to The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes (he is also author of the new book The Connection), Shakir vanished.
On January 15, al Midhar and al Hamzi quietly flew from Hong Kong to Los Angeles. Nearly eight months later, they very loudly smashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.
Saddam Fedayeen Lieutenant Colonel Shakir resurfaced on September 17, 2001, in Qatari handcuffs. His pockets and apartment yielded, among other things, phone numbers for the contacts and safe houses of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers. Shakir also possessed information on “Operation Bojinka,” al Qaeda’s 1995 conspiracy to explode 12 passenger jets simultaneously over the Pacific. Shakir passed from Qatari to Jordanian custody before being released after three months of Iraqi pressure. He reportedly returned to Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad.
We have pointed out many times that connections between the 9-11 Al Qaeda members and the WTC bombing in 1993 was going to create a clear connection to Iraq.
OK, well that was ‘old news’ article number one. Big Dog, a commenter on our site, pointed us to this New American article by William Jasper and published October 31st, 2005. It focuses in on Atta’s time in Germany, and the interest he garnered in connection with Iraq intelligence activities also being monitored.
There was nothing in outward appearance to draw attention to the four-bedroom apartment at 54 Marienstrasse. Nonetheless, the attention of the intelligence services of Germany, the U.S., Israel, and other Middle Eastern and European countries had been drawn to the nondescript flat in Hamburg, Germany, as early as 1998. That was when Mohammed Atta signed the lease and he and Ramzi bin al Shibh moved in. Soon thereafter, it was identified by intelligence agencies as a target of interest. It became known as the hub of al-Qaeda’s “Hamburg Cell.”
The Malaysia meeting was in 2000, so why did Ramzi bin al Shibh have to fly to Malaysia to meet with people when Hamburg was available? That is something that should be investigated. Was it to keep hidden a possible Iraq connection from German and/or Western intelligence?
Over the next two and a half years, dozens of al-Qaeda operatives, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the reputed 9/11 “mastermind,” passed through the 54 Marienstrasse apartment. Twenty-nine al-Qaeda recruits from the Middle East or Northern Africa listed it as their registered address.
Gee, I wonder why it caused so much attention. But notice the timeframe nicely overlaps the Able Danger timeframe and all that traffic is exactly the kind of signature a data mining analysis would pick up. And you know what, that kind of traffic is impossible to miss (given the US Embassy bombings in 1998 and the millennium scare in 2000).
Over the past several years, as more and more evidence has come out, it has grown more and more difficult for U.S. government officials to sustain the cover story that they had no way of anticipating the attacks. As it turns out, U.S. intelligence agencies and their foreign counterparts were almost tripping over each other as they shadowed the al-Qaeda network across the face of the planet. The FBI and CIA were tracking al-Qaeda operatives and their activities in the U.S. and overseas. The National Security Agency (NSA) was intercepting and recording the telephone calls of many al-Qaeda operatives, including Osama bin Laden himself. More recently, it has come to light that a super-secret Pentagon operation, known as “Able Danger,” was also tracking and monitoring al-Qaeda. Using advanced computer “data mining” capabilities, the Able Danger team reportedly identified Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Midhar, and Nawaf al-Hazmi as members of an al-Qaeda cell code-named “Brooklyn” because of its connections to New York City.
Notice the same names identified are the ones in the Malaysia meeting.
This story also makes a claim that had up until now not been made so clearly: Clinton appointees were the ones who destroyed the Able Danger data – in an effort to shut down and purge a study on ‘China’ infiltration of the US being done using the same technology and government/contractor resources:
This much we do know: first, the Clinton administration in 2000 and then the Bush administration in 2001 failed to heed the Able Danger warnings on al-Qaeda. Moreover, Clinton administration officials ordered the main Able Danger files destroyed in 2000; Bush administration officials ordered Lt. Col. Schaffer’s duplicate Able Danger files destroyed in 2004.
That last item is a bit of a stretch. There are indications the Deputy Director of DIA – a holdover from the Clinton period, possibly in a different position – is the one who ignored the Able Danger results and purged Shaffer’s duplicate data sets to cover up his actions pre 9-11, when he dismissed the warnings. That would not mean the ‘Bush Administraion’ was at fault.
What is becoming clear is there was lots of activity around Al Qaeda in Germany throughout the period of 1999 – 2001. Ed Morrissey reported on the round up of Iraqi intelligence agents in Germany in February 2001, which might have caused a meeting in Germany to move to Prague. But this article adds to that picture immensely:
Whatever useful data Able Danger might have been able to offer concerning Mohammed Atta and his associates would have been superfluous. The FBI and CIA had been tracking the al-Qaeda 9/11 conspirators very closely for years â€” both in the U.S. and overseas, using both technical means and human intelligence. Dedicated FBI and CIA field operatives had warned their superiors repeatedly and had urged them to authorize the arrest of the terrorists.
The following is a comprehensive list of ‘dots’ that should have been connected – but where not. The most disturbing ones are from supposed Clinton Allies like Germany. Why didn’t are vaulted relationship bear the fruit of preventing 9-11?
Hamburg Cell. Mohammed Atta, Ramzi bin al Shibh, and their roommates in Hamburg came under surveillance by German intelligence and the CIA in 1998 because of their association with al-Qaeda operatives in Hamburg who had been linked to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Those operatives included Mamoun Darkazanli, Mohammad Haidar Zammar, Said Bahaji, and Mounir al-Motassadek. The CIA station chief in Hamburg, Tom Volz, who posed as a U.S. embassy employee, actually tried to recruit Darkazanli as an informant in late 1999 and 2000.
San Diego Cell. Even the 9/11 Commission Report, which whitewashed federal government failures, acknowledged that the failure to identify hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar when they entered the U.S. was one of the biggest “lost opportunities.” The CIA had tracked both men to the “secret” al-Qaeda planning meeting for 9/11 in Malaysia, where they and other participants were photographed and videotaped by the CIA and Malaysian intelligence. The FBI claims that the CIA didn’t inform them about the two men, so they had no way of knowing about them.
That won’t wash. Available evidence shows the FBI had multiple tails on the duo in San Diego, where Hazmi and Midhar lived with former San Diego State professor Abdussattar Shaikh, an acknowledged longtime undercover asset of the FBI! What’s more, the two terrorists had regular contacts with several other area jihadists who had long been under FBI surveillance, including Omar al-Bayoumi, an agent of the Saudi government whom federal authorities acknowledge as a primary financial conduit for Hazmi and Midhar.
Stop here a second and contemplate this. Able Danger had Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in their sites in January 2000. That is the same time as the Malaysia meeting was being held. Atta and Shehhi could have been tracked back to Hamburg and to all the subsequent meetings with the other Al Qaeda key players like Khalid Sheikh Mohamed. But more importantly, had the Able Danger warnings been dispersed to law enforcement, then the names of Mihdar and Hazmi would never have been missed in the US.
In fact, I am beginning to wonder if the reason the Able Danger meetings with the FBI were cancelled was to absolutely conform to the Gorelick wall! If the FBI was on to Mihdar and Hamzi then meeting with SOCOM and Able Danger might put their legal case into jeopardy. To see if this is the case we must check the timeline for when these two entered the US:
The FBI and the 9/11 Commission report say that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar first entered the United States in 2000, but the Washington Post and the LA Times report that the two first came in 1999, and that al-Hazmi’s name was on their future apartment’s lease in November of 1999. Either way, the two definitely attended the 2000 Al Qaeda Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was there that the details of the 9/11 attacks were decided upon. He was secretly videotaped at this meeting by Malaysian authorities.
A week afterwards, on January 15, 2000, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar flew to Los Angeles, California from Bangkok, Thailand. They were identified by the CIA, but were not put on the terrorist watch list that is shared with other agencies, despite the fact that the CIA’s counter-terrorism center had sent out a cable just a month before, reminding agents how important it was to put suspicious people on this shared list when they enter the United States
OK, I am not a temporally grounded person (which means I do not automatically place events into a timeline) so maybe I just missed this the whole time. But Able Danger had identified the four key highjackers at the most critical juncture of their planning! So I agree with former FBI Director Freeh: had Able Danger been paid attention to 9-11 could have probably been averted.
For some time I had chalked up ignoring Able Danger to the fact it was using cutting edge technology in a novel way which had not been validated yet. Therefore its results would rightfully be suspect, initially. But now I see that the FBI was tracking these folks and find it disturbing that even questionable information was not passed on when it pertained to terrorists. Unless it would impact a prosecution.. Its possible a meeting with SOCOM to pass terrorism information from Able Danger to the FBI could actually hit the Gorelick wall (as opposed to a credibility wall).
Once you see that Hamzi and Mihdar would have been red flagged by Able Danger getting the news out, the domino effect of this becomes clear. Again, back to the article from New American:
Phoenix Cell. FBI informant Aukai Collins, who monitored Middle East terrorist suspects for the FBI for four years in Phoenix, claims to have told the FBI about 9/11 hijacker Hani Hanjour while Hanjour was in flight training in Phoenix. Collins said the FBI knew Hanjour lived in Phoenix, knew his exact address, his phone number, and even what car he drove. “They knew everything about the guy,” Collins claims. In July 2001, Phoenix FBI agent Ken Williams sent an electronic memo to FBI headquarters in Washington outlining his investigation into area flight schools that led him to believe al-Qaeda may be using U.S. flight schools to train terrorists as pilots.
What does Hanjour have to do with all of this? Again, back to Wikipedia and Hamzi:
In June of 2000, al-Mihdhar returned to Yemen, his birthplace, leaving al-Hazmi to take care of himself. This move was not authorized by al-Qaida. Another al-Qaida operative and future 9/11 hijacker named Hani Hanjour moved in with him. In 2001, al-Hazmi and Hanjour moved to Falls Church, Virginia. Eventually two other hijackers, Ahmed al-Ghamdi and Majed Moqed, moved in with them.
Yep. The killer FBI memo that was ignored probably would not have been if Hamzi’s AQ connection from Able Danger had been distributed into the law enforcement community. Once the flight school link was seen the 9-11 plan would have crumbled into the open.
This could be more damning than I originally suspected. The Able Danger find was right on top of (and maybe due to) key planning meetings on the final stages of 9-11. The four people identified could have easily led to the unraveling of the plot members, and the warning signs that were missed would have been obvious with the four names associated with the events. Able Danger could have been the tipping point for detecting 9-11 in the early stages.
Now we must know, and in the open, why Able Danger was silenced and its data purged in 2000. There is no more important issue to our national security than getting to the root of this. And if the Gorelick Wall was the rationale used to keep SOCOM intel from reaching FBI resources that were at times in the next room with the 9-11 perpetrators, then we need to know that too.