by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 We previously looked at some of the details of the 911 attacks on the Twin Towers (New York) and the Pentagon (Virginia). Today we move on to consider a bit more about those who participated in those attacks. While they were under the al-Qaeda organization, they utilized intelligence from a variety of sources and by logic should have been detected and prevented from boarding their flights.

We have had nine years in which to study these tactics, but no one really feels like we have put into place the safeguards that would keep our country safe from more such attacks. The main response seems to have been to strip personal freedoms from the general population. When will government get things right?

Let us learn to be diligent and alert to those who would attack this great land of ours. But let us NOT lose sight of the liberties that brave men and women patriots have fought hard for over the years.

Long may our flag wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave.  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2010 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 1786 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to Terrorism

“Terrorism is not new to black people.”
— Vernon Jordan

“We need new partnerships in fighting terrorism and building peace.”
— Anna Lindh

“The threat of terrorism is not stronger than the will of the American people.”
— Chaka Fattah

“No state should be allowed to profess partnership with the global coalition against terror, while continuing to aid, abet and sponsor terrorism.”
— Atai Bihari Vajpayee

“Then we can help these failed states turn around and give their people a better life. This, too, is a critical part of this global war on terrorism, and Canada and the United States are together.”
— Paul Cellucci

“Another part of the global war on terrorism that Canada and the United States are working on together is in helping failed states, states like Afghanistan, where people have no voice.”
— Paul Cellucci

“One might have thought the world would stop ascribing moral equivalence between acts of terrorism and acts of punishing terrorism. It has not happened that way.”
— Theodore Bikel

“The U.S. government has in recent years fought what it termed wars against AIDs, drug abuse, poverty, illiteracy and terrorism. Each of those wars has budgets, legislation, offices, officials, letterhead – everything necessary in a bureaucracy to tell you something is real.”
— Bruce Jackson

 

Remembering 9-11: The Attackers

September_11_2001_just_collapsed The September 11 attacks (often referred to as September 11th or 9/11) were a series of coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States on September 11, 2001. On that morning, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners. The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. Both buildings collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C. There were no survivors from any of the flights.

Nearly 3000 victims and the 19 hijackers died in the attacks. According to the New York State Health Department, 836 responders, including firefighters and police personnel, have died as of June 2009. Among the 2752 victims who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center were 343 firefighters and 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority. 184 people were killed in the attacks on the Pentagon. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of over 70 countries. In addition, there was at least one secondary death – one person was ruled by a medical examiner to have died from lung disease due to exposure to dust from the World Trade Center’s collapse.

Attackers and their Background

Within hours of the attacks, the FBI was able to determine the names and in many cases the personal details of the suspected pilots and hijackers. Mohamed Atta, from Egypt, was the ringleader of the 19 hijackers and one of the pilots. Atta died in the attack along with the other hijackers, but his luggage, which did not make the connection from his Portland flight onto Flight 11, contained papers that revealed the identities of all 19 hijackers and other important clues about their plans, motives, and backgrounds. By midday, the National Security Agency had intercepted communications that pointed to Osama bin Laden, as did German intelligence agencies.

On September 27, 2001, the FBI released photos of the 19 hijackers, along with information about the possible nationalities and aliases of many. Fifteen of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt (Atta), and one from Lebanon.

The FBI investigation into the attacks, code named operation PENTTBOM, was the largest and most complex investigation in the history of the FBI, involving over 7,000 special agents. The United States government determined that al-Qaeda, headed by Osama bin Laden, bore responsibility for the attacks, with the FBI stating "evidence linking al-Qaeda and bin Laden to the attacks of September 11 is clear and irrefutable". The Government of the United Kingdom reached the same conclusion regarding al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden’s culpability for the 11 September attacks.

Author Laurie Mylroie, writing in the conservative political magazine The American Spectator in 2006, argues that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his family are the primary architects of 9/11 and similar attacks, and that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s association with Osama bin Laden is secondary and that al-Qaeda’s claim of responsibility for the attack is after the fact and opportunistic. Angelo Codevilla, of the same magazine, agrees with Mylroie, comparing Osama bin Laden to Elvis Presley. In an opposing point of view, former CIA officer Robert Baer, writing in Time magazine in 2007, asserts that George W. Bush Administration’s publicizing of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s claims of responsibility for 9/11 and numerous other acts was a mendacious attempt to claim that all of the significant actors in 9/11 had been caught.

Al-Qaeda and Blowback

The origins of al-Qaeda can be traced back to 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Soon after the invasion, Osama bin Laden traveled to Afghanistan where he helped organize Arab mujahideen and established the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) organization to resist the Soviets. During the war with the Soviet Union, Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding, with American and most Saudi funds funneled through the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service. In 1989, as the Soviets withdrew, MAK was transformed into a "rapid reaction force" in jihad against governments across the Muslim world. Under the guidance of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden became more radical. In 1996, bin Laden issued his first fatwā, which called for American soldiers to leave Saudi Arabia.

In a second fatwā issued in 1998, bin Laden outlined his objections to American foreign policy towards Israel, as well as the continued presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War. Bin Laden used Islamic texts to exhort violent action against American military and citizenry until the stated grievances are reversed, noting "ulema have throughout Islamic history unanimously agreed that the jihad is an individual duty if the enemy destroys the Muslim countries."

Planning of the Attacks

The idea for the September 11 plot came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who first presented the idea to Osama bin Laden in 1996. At that point, Bin Laden and al-Qaeda were in a period of transition, having just relocated back to Afghanistan from Sudan. The 1998 African Embassy bombings and Bin Laden’s 1998 fatwā marked a turning point, with bin Laden intent on attacking the United States. In December 1998, the Director of Central Intelligence Counterterrorist Center reported to President Bill Clinton that al-Qaeda was preparing for attacks in the USA, including the training of personnel to hijack aircraft.

In late 1998 or early 1999, bin Laden gave approval for Mohammed to go forward with organizing the plot. A series of meetings occurred in spring of 1999, involving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Osama bin Laden, and his deputy Mohammed Atef. Mohammed provided operational support for the plot, including target selections and helping arrange travel for the hijackers. Bin Laden overruled Mohammed, rejecting some potential targets such as the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles because "there was not enough time to prepare for such an operation".

Bin Laden provided leadership for the plot, along with financial support, and was involved in selecting participants for the plot. Bin Laden initially selected Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, both experienced jihadists who fought in Bosnia. Hazmi and Mihdhar arrived in the United States in mid-January 2000, after traveling to Malaysia to attend the Kuala Lumpur al-Qaeda Summit. In spring 2000, Hazmi and Mihdhar took flying lessons in San Diego, California, but both spoke little English, did not do well with flying lessons, and eventually served as "muscle" hijackers.

In late 1999, a group of men from Hamburg, Germany arrived in Afghanistan, including Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Ziad Jarrah, and Ramzi Binalshibh. Bin Laden selected these men for the plot, as they were educated, could speak English, and had experience living in the west. New recruits were routinely screened for special skills, which allowed Al Qaeda leaders to also identify Hani Hanjour, who already had a commercial pilot’s license, for the plot.

Hanjour arrived in San Diego on December 8, 2000, joining Hazmi. They soon left for Arizona, where Hanjour took refresher training. Marwan al-Shehhi arrived at the end of May 2000, while Atta arrived on June 3, 2000, and Jarrah arrived on June 27, 2000. Binalshibh applied several times for a visa to the United States, but as a Yemeni, he was rejected out of concerns he would overstay his visa and remain as an illegal immigrant. Binalshibh remained in Hamburg, providing coordination between Atta and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The three Hamburg cell members all took pilot training in south Florida.

In spring 2001, the muscle hijackers began arriving in the United States. In July 2001, Atta met with Binalshibh in Spain, where they coordinated details of the plot, including final target selection. Binalshibh also passed along Bin Laden’s wish for the attacks to be carried out as soon as possible.

[ To Be Continued… ]

    

References

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: September 11 Attacks…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/911_attacks

Brainy Quote: Terrorism Quotes…
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/terrorism_3.html