Records Obtained by Judicial Watch Reveal U.S. Knew of Sophisticated Al Qaeda Plan to Hijack Commercial Airliner in 2000
WASHINGTON, DC(Marketwired - Oct 7, 2013) - Judicial Watch announced today that on August 29, 2013, it obtained a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Intelligence Information Report (IIR) revealing that the United States disregarded advanced warning of a 2000 al Qaeda plot to hijack a commercial airliner because "nobody believed that Usama bin Laden's organization or the Taliban could carry out such an operation."
The report, dated September 27, 2001, was obtained by Judicial Watch in response to a May 16, 2002, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed as part of its ongoing "Terrorism Research and Analysis Project." Entitled "Letters Detailing Usama bin Laden and Terrorist's Plans to Hijack an Aircraft Flying Out of Frankfurt, Germany in 2000," the IIR report included the following specific revelations:
- Al Qaeda (AQ) planned to hijack departing Frankfurt International Airport between March and August 2000. The hijack team was to consist of an Arab, a Pakistani, and a Chechen. Chechen withdrawal from the plot delayed the operation. Sheik Dzabir, a 40-year-old Saudi with ties to the House of Saud, directed the operation. Advanced warning of the plot "was disregarded because nobody believed that Usama bin Laden or the Taliban could carry out such an operation." [Emphasis Added]
- AQ penetrated the consular section of the German Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, and was relying on a "Mrs. Wagner" to provide European Union (EU) for use in forged Pakistani passports for terrorists.
- AQ, the Taliban, and Chechen Islamic militants all had substantial operating support bases in Hamburg and Frankfurt, Germany. Name, address, and telephone numbers identify an AQ passport forger in Hamburg for Taliban and other Afghan terrorists and support personnel during January and February 2000.
- The existence of a secure, reliable terrorist-sponsored route to Chechnya from Pakistan and Afghanistan through Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.
- Documented operational coordination and cooperation between AQ and Chechen militants.
- A January 2000 two-day hijack planning meeting between bin Laden and Taliban officials in Kabul, Afghanistan.
According to the IIR report, information about the plot came from an unidentified human intelligence source that provided U.S. authorities with copies of eight Arabic letters containing details of the al Qaeda plot. For 13 years the subject report was classified "SECRET," until it was finally declassified and released to Judicial Watch on August 29, 2013.
"The details of names, addresses, and such, from this reporting should have provided 'actionable intelligence' for any number of U.S. anti-terrorist operations," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "It is clear as day that the 9/11 plot could have been derailed if the leads in these documents had been followed."
Judicial Watch previously obtained documents from the Department of State ("Terrorism/Usama bin Ladin: Who's Chasing Whom?" showing that as far back as 1996, the Clinton administration knew of and ignored a bin Laden terrorist plans against the United States. The New York Times, reporting on Judicial Watch's find in 2005, detailed:
"State Department analysts warned the Clinton administration in July 1996 that Osama bin Laden's move to Afghanistan would give him an even more dangerous haven as he sought to expand radical Islam 'well beyond the Middle East,' but the government chose not to deter the move, newly declassified documents show."
The documents also warned of a suicide car bombing threat in London: "[redacted]... indicated bin Ladin planned to sponsor suicide car bombings against US interests in the UK, in part to punish London for 'submitting' to US pressure to bar his entry into the UK."
Judicial Watch is continuing to gather information on al Qaeda activities and U.S. investigations leading to the 9/11 hijackings as well as other terrorist attacks.