Issue #4:
Was there a failure by the FBI to collect, analyze or disseminate intelligence about the 9-11 conspiracy?

The FBI had the principal responsibility for a number of major investigations abroad involving al-Qaeda prior to 9-11. These cases included, among others, the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998 for which Osama bin Laden was indicted, the millennium plot to blow up Los Angeles Airport and the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000. The FBI also had a responsibility for penetrating, tracking and countering terrorist conspiracies in the United States. If it did not pursue leads arising out of these cases abroad and at home, or pass the information on, it would constitute an intelligence failure.

Consider the following three FBI events:

1) In the summer of 2001, Phoenix, FBI agents had received reports of Islamists training to be pilots at American flight schools. One informer reported a putative liaison between one of the Islamist trainees and Abu Zubyada. Abu Zubyada had been identified by Ahmad Ressam, who had been arrested six months earlier. as a principal in the Millennium conspiracy to attack Los Angeles Airport. By July 2001, FBI agent Kenneth Williams of the Phoenix field office had sent a memo to FBI headquarters detailing te possible connections and asking for an investigation of Islamists training in US flight schools. Williams reportedly suggested in the memo that " the FBI should accumulate a listing of civil aviation universities/colleges around the country" to find radical Islamists. This memo was of direct concern to the FBI's Radical Fundamentalist Unit, which focused on Osama Bin Laden on his organization (which included Abu Zubyada.)

2) One month later, in Minnesota, the subject of Islamist pilots at US flying schools again came across the FBI's radar. In early August, an executive at the Pan Am Flight Academy in Eagan, Minnesota reported to the FBI field office in Minneapolis that an Islamist student named Zacarias Moussaoui was acting suspiciously in requesting simulated training on the Boeing 747-400.

On August 15th after the executive specifically warned that the Boeing 747 could be used as a bomb by a terrorist pilot, FBI agents detained Moussaoui on an immigration charge and seized his laptop computer. Since Moussaoui was a French citizen, the FBI consulted the French intelligence service, which reported back that Moussaoui had radical Islamic associations, including one involved with an Algerian Muslim group that included a known Bin Laden associate. The possible association with Bin Laden should have been of interest to the FBI's Radical Fundamentalist Unit

The FBI field office in Minneapolis then sought a special warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). To get immediate attention of FBI executives in Washington DC, a FBI supervisor wrote that the warrant, and investigation, was needed to make sure Moussaoui "did not take control of a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center." Despite this dramatic warning, FBI executives decided against forwarding the request to a FISA intelligence court because they believed it likely that the court would turn down the request.

As a result, Moussaoui's computer was not searched by the FBI prior to 9- 11, although Moussaoui himself was imprisoned on an immigration charge. He was subsequently indicted in the 9-11 plot.

3) While Moussaoui was being detained, the FBI learned that Khalid Al- Mihdhar, a radical Islamist, who was a possible suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole, had entered the United States in June 2001. This information came from the CIA, which on August 23, 2001 reported that Khalid Al-Mihdhar, along with Nawaf Al-Hazmi, had attended a summit meeting of al-Qaeda leaders in Malaysia in January 2000. The meeting had been photographed by Malaysian intelligence, which identified Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi to the CIA in January 2000, and in on March 5th 2000 the CIA received an "information only" cable that both men connected to al-Qaeda were in the US. They had taken rooms in San Diego and were taking flying lessons in US flying schools in 2001. Such al-Qaeda residents were also of direct concern to the FBI's Radical Fundamentalist Unit.

After Al-Mihdhar had made a trip to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in the Spring of 2001, he returned to the US, listing on his landing card a false address at the Marriot Hotel in New York.

In August 2001 the FBI sought to find al-Mihdhar. On August 29th, an FBI agent in the New York field office asked headquarters to allow it to use its "full criminal investigative resources," but, misled by the false address, the FBI was unable to track him down. By this time, he and Al-Hazmi were in Laurel, Maryland, preparing to hijack Flight 77.

In all three cases, the FBI had encountered cases of radical Islamists, with possible connections to al-Qaeda, who were taking flight training lessons in the United States.


1) In early January 2000, prior to George Bush assuming the Presidency, the representatives of the CIA, FBI and Defense Department all regularly attended meetings of the Counter terrorism and Security Group (CSG), which was an interagency group chaired by Richard Clarke that focused on threats from Al-Qaeda. Was the CSG informed by the CIA of the identification of al-Qaeda members at the summit in Malaysia (which included Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi.)? If so, was the FBI representative excluded from this information? If not, and the FBI had access to the names of the al-Qaeda members identified at the summit, did he, or anyone else at the CSG, relay them to the FBI's Radical Fundamentalist Unit, which had a responsibility for investigating al-Qaeda. If not, why not?

2) Did the FBI relay any information about Islamist radicals training as pilots in the United States, or its assessments of their possible associations with al-Qaeda, to the CSG, or any other units of the national security apparatus, so it could be factored into their risk assessments?

3) Did the FBI relay any information about Islamist radicals training as pilots in the United States, or its assessments of their possible associations with al-Qaeda, to the FAA, or other government agencies involved in ensuring security at US airports?

4) Did the FBI submit intelligence reports to the CSG or any other unit of the National Security Council as other intelligence agencies did on terrorism prior to 9-11?

5) The FBI search for al-Mihdhar that began on August 29th 2001. Did it check his name against the computerized data base of passenger reservations? If so, why did it not find him booked on American Airlines Flight 77 on 9- 11?

6) If the FBI had elected to request a FISA search warrant, and it had been authorized by the Intelligence Court, was there any information on Moussaoui's computer that would have led the FBI to any of the hijackers prior to 9-11?


George Tenet (CIA)

Richard Clarke (CSG)

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III

FBI ex-director Louis Freeh

FBI Agent Kenneth Williams

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Billy Kurtz

Special Agent Dave Frasca (Radical Fundamentalist Unit)

FBI Agent Coleen Rowley (Legal Adviser in the Minneapolis field office)

Zacarias Moussaoui

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