The Twenty Year Shadow of 9/11 (Part II): Why Did Key US Officials Protect the Alleged 9/11 Plotters?

Aaron Good, Ben Howard and Peter Dale Scott

This failure resulted from previous FBI, CIA, and NSA protection for al-Qaeda members connected with the plot.

This is Part II of a startling new three part examination of 9/11 by Ben Howard, Aaron Good and Peter Dale Scott. Part I can be found here.

Before examining the details of the 9/11 plot, it is worth noting the extent to which the CIA, FBI, and NSA have acted to protect members of al Qaeda in the past. The most relevant recent history begins with the 1987 founding of al-Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn, a hub for U.S.-based mujahideen to travel to Afghanistan, and later Bosnia.[1]

It originated as an office of Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK), an organization financed by Osama bin Laden and founded by Mustafa Shalabi, an Egyptian who would later help bin Laden move to Sudan in 1991.[2]

The Center chiefly supported Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s jihadi organization, Hezb-I-Islami.[3] The Egyptian “blind sheik” Omar Abdel-Rahman was one of the key MAK figures.

Eventually convicted for his role in the 1993 landmarks plot, Abdel-Rahman had previously been granted several visas by CIA officers who were serving as consular officials (presumably under official cover) in U.S. embassies in Sudan and Egypt.[4]

There is much to say about the Al-Kifah Center and its support for American foreign policy goals in Afghanistan and Bosnia. For now, we shall focus on the role that MAK figures played in domestic terror attacks and the protection they received from the U.S. government.

Three of Abdel-Rahman’s followers who were affiliated with the center, including El Sayyid Nosair, conspired to kill Jewish Defense League leader Meir Kahane in Brooklyn on November 5, 1990.[5]

As detailed above, Blee was certain of an upcoming al-Qaeda attack on American soil. Tenet told the 9/11 Commission that during the summer of 2001, “the system was blinking red” in anticipation.[88] Kevin Fenton has argued that Wilshire, aware of this threat, may have been attempting to alert Blee to the fact that al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi—the soon-to-be alleged hijackers they had been protecting—were likely to be involved in this upcoming attack.[89]

If this is the case, then the curious coincidence of Wilshire’s cable on July 5 and al-Mihdhar’s re-entry into the United States on July 4 takes on new significance. If Wilshire was aware that al-Mihdhar had re-entered the U.S. on July 4, it may have prompted him to attempt to warn Blee of impending danger.

Wilshire and Blee had been protecting al-Mihdhar for 18 months at this point, and if he was involved in an upcoming attack, any investigation into what the CIA knew would, as it ultimately did, discover this fact. Wilshire may have been acting to protect himself and Blee, or just himself.

While nothing in the CIA’s publicly available records indicates that the agency was surveilling al-Mihdhar, strong circumstantial evidence suggests that elements within the Saudi Arabian government may have relayed this information to elements within the CIA.

In 2007, Prince Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the U.S., commented that “Saudi security had been actively following the movements of most of the terrorists with precision” in advance of the 9/11 attacks.[90]

Bayoumi was employed at Dallah Avco,[93] a Saudi aviation services company ultimately owned by the now disgraced and presumably imprisoned[94] Saudi billionaire Saleh Abdullah Kamel.[95]

When Bayoumi began his employment, he was paid a small stipend of under $500 a month. When al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar arrived in San Diego, his pay increased to $3,700 a month.[96] This, despite the fact that a source told the FBI that Bayoumi was a “ghost employee” of Dallah Avco who was “being paid for doing nothing.”[97]

Bayoumi was also receiving large sums of money, totaling in the tens of thousands of dollars, from none other than Haifa bint Faisal, Prince Bandar’s wife.[98] On one occasion, Bayoumi received a check from Prince Bandar’s account directly.[99]

Bayoumi left the U.S. in July 2001,[100] but not long after, his good friend Osama Basnan moved into his apartment building, which as noted also housed al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar. The FBI felt this “could indicate [Basnan] succeeded Omar al Bayoumi and may be undertaking activities on behalf of the Government of Saudi Arabia.”[101]

Certainly Basnan seemed to sympathize with the alleged hijackers: After 9/11, Basnan reportedly “celebrated the heroes of September 11” and talked about “what a wonderful, glorious day it had been.”[102]

The FBI’s investigation revealed that Basnan had received more than $74,000 in cashier’s checks from Bandar’s wife between February 1999 and May 2002. On one occasion, Basnan received $15,000 directly from Prince Bandar.[103]

In April 2002, Basnan met with an unknown “high Saudi prince who has responsibilities for intelligence matters”[104] and who was part of a Saudi royal entourage which had arrived in Texas to conduct meetings with Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. This prince provided Basnan with “a significant amount of cash.”[105] These connections strongly suggest that Basnan was an agent of Saudi intelligence.

Collectively, these links between Saudi (GID) intelligence agents, Prince Bandar, and the alleged 9/11 hijackers are strongly suggestive of a GID role in the handling of the hijackers, and they lend credence to Bandar’s claim that the GID was closely following the hijackers’ movements.

Given all this, it is worth uncovering any details about the information that Bandar or other Saudi intelligence officials may have provided Tenet. As James Risen has reported, Bandar and Tenet were close, with Tenet visiting Bandar’s McLean, Virginia, estate monthly. Tenet and Bandar would frequently exchange information, but Tenet would not reveal this information to other officials at the CIA—the broader agency only discovered what had been discussed through Saudi sources, typically long after the fact. [106]

Tenet’s relationship with the Saudis was held so close to the vest that in the 1990s, Tenet appointed one of his top aides as station chief in Riyadh. This station chief would frequently communicate with Tenet directly, bypassing the chain of command and thereby “[driving] the barons of the [Near East Division] and [Counterterrorism Center] crazy because they were not in the loop.”

Indeed, according to Risen’s source, “top CIA managers were intent on making sure that the CIA did not produce politically inconvenient intelligence that could cause headaches at the White House.”[107] Tenet’s appointment of a top aide to a sensitive position in Riyadh mirrors Tenet’s appointment of Blee to a sensitive position at Alec Station.

This close relationship between Tenet and Saudi intelligence, which kept the Near East Division and Counterterrorism Center out of the loop, follows the long-standing and alarming post-Watergate pattern of bypassing the CIA bureaucracy to enable covert operations and avoid accountability in the face of “congressional interference.”

The Safari Club network, of which this Tenet/Saudi relationship seems a piece, was created specifically to link CIA leadership with the leaders of Saudi and other intelligence agencies for the purpose of avoiding accountability and keeping intelligence operations covert and unimpeded by congressional fetters.

In this context, Tenet’s close relationship with Bandar and others in the Saudi intelligence community is concerning, as it indicates his desire for secrecy even from high CIA officials, not mention Congressional bodies tasked with providing intelligence oversight.

Another likely venue for GID-CIA collaboration was the 1997 Saudi-U.S. “joint intelligence committee” established by Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz and presumably his counterparts in U.S. defense and intelligence. This committee was established “to share information on terrorism in general and on bin Laden (and al-Qaeda) in particular.”[108]

Peter Dale Scott has written that this committee was part of a liaison agreement between the CIA and GID. The nature of these liaison arrangements, as Scott explains, means that it “would probably have required special access clearances for those privy to the arrangement and sharing the liaison information.”

Such could help explain some serious anomalies.

First, there is the extensive protection provided to al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar by Wilshire and others of the CIA’s Alec Station. Second, there is the evidence suggesting transmission of information between elements of the GID monitoring al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar’s movements and Wilshire.

Third, there is the fact that certain other members of Alec Station, like Doug Miller, were deliberately kept out of the loop.[109]

A heretofore secret liaison arrangement which provided for al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar’s safe passage into the United States would seem to be the most sensible explanation for all of this.

The pattern of facts presented here is circumstantial, but highly supportive of the conclusion that certain elements within the CIA, including Wilshire and Blee, were not only aware of al-Hazmi’s and al-Mihdhar’s movements, but were actively protecting operations of some kind under the terms of a joint CIA-GID liaison agreement.

Such an explanation takes into account a number of factors, namely: the GID’s role in handling al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, Prince Bandar’s personal role in financing their handlers Bayoumi and Basnan, Bandar’s close and secretive relationship with Tenet, and Tenet’s direct personal relationship with Blee. In this context, the timing of Wilshire’s July 5 cable expressing alarm at al-Mihdhar’s probable role in an upcoming terrorist attack and al-Mihdhar’s re-entry into the U.S. on July 4 should not be dismissed as mere coincidence.

Tenet’s Involvement in the Pre-Coverup

In recent months, Tenet has come under further scrutiny for his role in protecting key al Qaeda personnel. As detailed by Alex Rubinstein, leaked phone calls between Tenet and then-Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, published by the Houthi government of Yemen, indicate that Tenet was pressuring Saleh to release a prisoner who was being held by the Yemeni government in connection with the USS Cole bombing.[110]

At this time, the suspects of the Cole bombing were top priority for Alec Station. In fact, Tom Wilshire’s July 23, 2001, cable (discussed above) was a reply to a July 13 cable he had sent.

In this cable, Wilshire discussed Walid Mohammed bin Attash as a key player in the USS Cole bombing, and asked the CIA Counterterrorism Center leadership, Blee among them, if the FBI could be informed. To reiterate, permission for this was not forthcoming.[111]

Khalid al-Mihdhar, who had been protected by Blee, Wilshire, and others in Alec Station on numerous occasions, was also a key suspect in the bombing. The Yemeni Prime Minister at the time, Abd al-Karim al-Iryani, declared that al-Mihdhar “was one of the Cole perpetrators, involved in preparations.”[112]

It seems that Tenet himself was committed to ensuring the FBI was not fully informed about al-Qaeda and the Cole bombings. When President Saleh informed Tenet that the FBI was on the ground in Yemen investigating the bombing, and asked if they could come to retrieve the prisoner in question, Tenet was insistent that “this is my person, this is my problem, this is my issue.”

Saleh and Tenet then discussed the details, whereby an officer from the CIA station in Yemen would come and retrieve the prisoner, instead of the FBI.[113]

Major General Abdul Qadir al-Shami, the deputy head of the Yemeni Security and Intelligence Service, told Houthi media that the identity of this prisoner was none other than Anwar al-Awlaki.

Al-Awlaki had already been under investigation by the FBI in 1999 and 2000 over his possible role as a procurement agent for Osama bin Laden.[114]

His possible role as a CIA asset of some kind is particularly intriguing in light of his relationships with the alleged hijackers al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar—the men whose activities were being concealed by Blee and others at Alec Station.

As the 9/11 Commission Report notes, al-Awlaki admitted to meeting al-Hazmi when he was an imam at the Rabat mosque in San Diego.[115] In fact, many FBI agents suspected that al-Awlaki may in fact have secured al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar housing when they moved to Alexandria, Virginia, a suspicion that the Commissioners shared.[116]

As documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a 2013 FOIA request revealed, by September 27, 2001, the FBI was aware that al-Awlaki had purchased plane tickets in July and August of 2001 for alleged hijackers Atta, Suqami, and al-Sheri.[117]

Al-Awlaki’s subsequent presence at a February 5, 2002, Pentagon dinner as an “up and coming” “moderate Muslim” seems incongruous with his assistance to the alleged 9/11 hijackers.[118] In fact, an FBI surveillance team followed al-Awlaki to the dinner, likely because just the day before they had identified him as a “terrorist organization member.”[119]

But while he may have been just a surveillance target for the FBI in February 2002, his repeated arrests and releases from U.S. custody, including in October 2002, November 2006, and July 2007, paint the picture of an FBI asset.[120]

An October 22, 2002, FBI memo, with the subject line “Anwar Nasser Aulaqi” and the heading “Synopsis: Asset Reporting,” seems to confirm this,[121] as does the fact that just 12 days before this memo was written, he was being held at JFK Airport under a warrant for passport fraud, but was released at the direction of an FBI agent.[122]

Al-Awlaki’s apparent status as an FBI asset following 9/11 is concerning given his relationship to Bayoumi, a handler of al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar in San Diego.

A 2011 Atlantic article described al-Awlaki as one of Bayoumi’s frequent “discussion partners.” In February 2000, soon after al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar arrived in San Diego, they used Bayoumi’s phone to call al-Awlaki on four occasions.[123]

Given that al-Awlaki served the same role in securing housing for al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar in Alexandria as Bayoumi did in San Diego, and that he had a close relationship with GID asset Bayoumi, it seems likely he was a subject of the GID-CIA liaison agreement that pertained to al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, and was certainly under GID surveillance (via Bayoumi) at the very least.

In either case, elements of the CIA who were privy to the GID-CIA liaison agreement would have been aware of al-Awlaki and his actions, just as they were aware of al-Hazmi’s and al-Mihdhar’s movements.

Assuming Major General al-Shami was correct and that the prisoner Tenet freed was al-Awlaki, it is worth exploring the implications of this fact. As discussed earlier, Tenet’s relationship with Bandar and the GID-CIA liaison agreement means that he would likely have been aware of al-Awlaki’s relationship with al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar in San Diego, just as Wilshire at Alec Station was.

If Tenet had not secured al-Awlaki’s release, and FBI agents had been able to interview him, they would have found themselves in front of a man who had already been investigated by the Bureau in 1999 and 2000.[124]

Investigation of al-Awlaki’s activities in San Diego might have uncovered his connection to his frequent discussion partner and GID asset Bayoumi, certainly an inviting target for the Bureau within their counterintelligence responsibilities if nothing else.

While the outcomes of any counterfactual FBI investigation are speculative, had al-Awlaki been in federal custody it certainly would have meant that he would not have been in Alexandria to secure housing for al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar in advance of the 9/11 attacks.

That al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, was killed by a drone strike on September 30, 2011, less than six months after Rep. Peter King (R-NY) opened a new investigation into his connections to the alleged hijackers, has potentially grave implications.[125]

The FBI actively concealed al-Awlaki from the 9/11 Commission, “refus[ing] to set up interviews between the Commission and al-Aulaqi [sic].”

They continued to obstruct, even after an official at the FBI Academy received an October 23, 2003, email from al-Awlaki in which he said he was “around and available” for interview by the Commission, who were on the ground in Yemen searching for him at that time.

Ultimately, he was never interviewed by the Commission, and whatever he knew about Bayoumi, al-Hazmi, or al-Mihdhar was made finally inaccessible on his death.[126]

The CIA Cover-up: Misfeasance or Malfeasance?

By now it is clear that,when Alec Station Deputy Chief Tom Wilshire reported to the 9/11 Joint Intelligence Inquiry that “something apparently was dropped somewhere, and we don’t know where that was,” he was not being entirely truthful.[127]

In fact, he and his co-workers, including his superiors—Alec Station Chief Richard Blee and CIA Director Tenet—were engaged in the concealment of what appear to have been ongoing CIA-GID operations.

These CIA officials took a number of active steps to conceal these operations from the FBI and members of the Clinton and Bush administrations.

These operations involved some of those who would later be accused of having a role in 9/11 and were conducted in collaboration with elements of the Saudi GID. This protection of the alleged 9/11 hijackers may have had a benign explanation in its earlier phases, for example, as an attempt to surveil the “real terrorists” within al-Qaeda cells.

But following al-Mihdhar’s involvement in the USS Cole bombing, and particularly after Wilshire’s identification of al-Mihdhar as a serious threat and his subsequent failure to act on that threat in July 2001, this innocent explanation is arguably untenable.

Kevin Fenton, in his book Disconnecting the Dots, concluded that “by the summer of 2001, the purpose of withholding had become to allow the attacks to go forward.”[128]

We do not have sufficient evidence to know the extent to which Blee, Wilshire, and perhaps Tenet may have been privy to the scope and scale of the attacks. That said, Blee’s comments that there would be “significant terrorist attacks against the United States in the coming weeks or months” and that these “attacks will be spectacular” provide some hints at what they expected.[129]

Dating back to 1999, Blee’s role in cultivating relationships with the Uzbekistan government and the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance also indicates that they could have expected the likely outcome of these spectacular attacks would be an invasion of Afghanistan.

Following the events of 9/11, Tenet engaged in a cover-up, which included making false statements under oath to protect Blee and Wilshire. At the same time, he rewarded Blee with a plum promotion to Kabul station chief, where Blee would carry out his role in the NSPD-9 plans for the Afghan invasion, plans which had been drawn up on September 4 and 10, 2001.

Finally, Tenet’s own actions to protect a prisoner being held in connection with the USS Cole bombing seemingly belie the “bumbling CIA” narrative put forth by Wilshire in his testimony. Given that this prisoner was apparently Anwar al-Awlaki, Tenet appears to have engaged in a type of protection analogous to the actions of Wilshire and Blee with respect to al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar. After all, al-Awlaki had been in contact with those two alleged hijackers before the USS Cole bombing, and he purchased plane tickets or provided housing for five of the alleged hijackers after the bombing. Tenet’s actions demand explanation.

While the slow trickle of information into the mainstream press about Saudi involvement in 9/11 seems to advance a fallback “Saudis-did-it” cover story, the arguments developed in this piece indicate CIA complicity in whatever operations the Saudi security services were running.

CIA protection for alleged hijackers al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar was crucial, as without this protection, the FBI would likely have arrested them and many of the other alleged hijackers. Indeed, without al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar’s protection, al Qaeda’s apparent involvement in the 9/11 attacks may not have been so apparent.

That is to say that without this protection, the U.S. foreign policy establishment would have been deprived of the pretext they needed to convince the American public and politicians,  as well as international alliances and institutions like NATO and the UN Security Council, of the need to launch the Global War on Terror. Ascribing sole responsibility for the 9/11 attacks to al Qaeda was the most important element of this pretext.

The evidence belatedly assembled herein renders that pretext essentially untenable at this point. It is our hope that new information about Saudi involvement in 9/11 does not distract from the demonstrable complicity of the CIA and other elements of the national security bureaucracy.


  1. Peter Dale Scott, “The Falsified War on Terror: How the US Has Protected Some of Its Enemies,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 11, no. 40 (October 1, 2013),
  2. Scott, “The Falsified War on Terror.” 
  3. Stephen Franklin, “Slain Muslim Had Link to Radical Cleric,” Chicago Tribune, July 11, 1993,
  4. Douglas Jehl, “C.I.A. Officers Played Role In Sheik Visas,” The New York Times, July 22, 1993,
  5. Scott, “The Falsified War on Terror.” 
  6. “Ali Mohamed Case” (U.S. Department of Defense: Defense Human Resources Activity, n.d.),
  7. John Kifner, “Police Think Kahane Slaying Suspect Acted Alone,” The New York Times, November 8, 1990,
  8. “Ali Mohamed Case.” 
  9. Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Vintage Books, 2011), 180. 
  10. Wright, The Looming Tower, 181. 
  11. Peter Lance, 1000 Years for Revenge: International Terrorism and the FBI (New York: Regan Books, 2003), 30, 31, 32. 
  12. Wright, The Looming Tower, 181. 
  13. Scott, “The Falsified War on Terror.” 
  14. Selwyn Raab, “Jury Acquits Defendant in Kahane Trial,” The New York Times, December 22, 1991,
  15. Ronald Sullivan, “Judge Gives Maximum Term in Kahane Case,” The New York Times, January 30, 1992,
  16. Gil Stern and Stern Shefler, “‘Sharon Was Kahane Killer’s Target,’” Jerusalem Post, August 15, 2010,
  17. Scott, “The Falsified War on Terror.” 
  18. Estanislao Oziewicz and Tu Thanh Ha, “Canada freed top al-Qaeda operative,” The Globe and Mail, November 22, 2001,
  19. Scott, “The Falsified War on Terror.” 
  20. “Ali Mohamed Case.” 
  21. Ralph Blumenthal, “Tapes in Bombing Plot Show Informer and F.B.I. at Odds,” The New York Times, October 27, 1993,
  22. Ralph Blumenthal, “Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast,” The New York Times, October 28, 1993,
  23. Joseph Neffand and John Sullivan, “Al-Qaeda Terrorist Duped FBI, Army,” The News & Observer, October 21, 2001, reprinted at:
  24. Neffand and Sullivan, “Al-Qaeda Terrorist Duped FBI, Army.” 
  25. Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots: How CIA and FBI officials helped enable 9/11 and evaded government investigations (Walterville, OR: Trine Day, 2011), 13, 14. 
  26. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 15. 
  27. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 13. 
  28. John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror (New York: Hot Books, 2018), 25, 26. 
  29. “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001” (U.S. Government Printing Office, September 2002),
    Cf. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 61. 
  30. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 46. 
  31. James Risen, “David H. Blee, 83, C.I.A. Spy Who Revised Defector Policy,” The New York Times, August 17, 2000,
  32. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 47. 
  33. Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 [New York: Penguin Press, 2004), 451-452. Blee is known as “Rich” throughout this book. 
  34. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 47. 
  35. Coll, Ghost Wars, 456. 
  36. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 46. 
  37. Coll, Ghost Wars, 456. 
  38. Coll, Ghost Wars, 459. 
  39. Ned Zeman, et al., “The Path to 9/11: Lost Warnings and Fatal Errors,” Vanity Fair, December 19, 2004,
  40. Coll, Ghost Wars, 461, 471, 472. 
  41. Coll, Ghost Wars, 539, 540. 
  42. Peter Dale Scott and Aaron Good, “Was the Now-Forgotten Murder of One Man on September 9, 2001 a Crucial Pre-condition for 9/11?” CovertAction Magazine, December 9, 2020. 
  43. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 380. 
  44. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 371. 
  45. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 42. 
  46. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 43, 44, 45. 
  47. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 115, 116, 117. 
  48. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 267. Wilshire is referred to by the pseudonym “John” throughout the report. 
  49. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 284. 
  50. Chris Whipple, “‘The Attacks Will Be Spectacular’: An exclusive look at how the Bush administration ignored this warning from the CIA months before 9/11, along with others that were far more detailed than previously revealed,” Politico, November 12, 2015,
  51. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 267. 
  52. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 270, 271, 272, 273. 
  53. Whipple, “‘The Attacks Will Be Spectacular.’” 
  54. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 289, 290. 
  55. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 246. 
  56. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 247. 
  57. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 225. 
  58. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 273. 
  59. Harry Samit, “Short Notice Legat Checks,” Email, August 15, 2001,
  60. The 9/11 Commission Report, Justice Department OIG report, and an FBI agent in the Minneapolis Field Office, Coleen Rowley—all indicate that this arrest was done to prevent Moussaoui from becoming a possible imminent threat: Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 273; “The FBI’s Investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui,” in A Review of the FBI’s Handling of Intelligence Information Related to the September 11 Attacks (Office of the Inspector General, 2004),;Coleen Rowley, “Coleen Rowley’s Memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller: An Edited Version of the Agent’s 13-Page Letter,” Time, May 21, 2002,,8599,249997,00.html.

    Despite the imminent danger FBI agents on the ground saw, there has been speculation that Moussaoui was likely not involved in 9/11, and this is frequently mustered as a point in defense of the FBI’s inaction in this case. But despite alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s insistence that Moussaoui was being trained for a “second wave” of attacks, which was to follow 9/11, “The 9/11 Commission Report” indicates that Moussaoui was likely being trained as a possible pilot for the 9/11 plot. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that Binalshibh was ordered by KSM to give Moussaoui money “within the framework” of the 9/11 plot, and that these funds were being provided so Moussaoui could pay for flight training at a time when KSM indicated he was not planning a second wave attack. This would strongly indicate that Moussaoui was intended to have a role in the 9/11 plot: Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 246-247. 

  61. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 246. 
  62. Charles Frahm, “Re: Fwd: 199M-MP-60130(Zacarias Moussaoui),” Email, August 24, 2001,
  63. Rowley, “Coleen Rowley’s Memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller: An Edited Version of the Agent’s 13-Page Letter.” 
  64. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 274; Philip Shenon, “The Terrible Missed Chance,” Newsweek, September4, 2001. 
  65. Rowley, “Coleen Rowley’s Memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller: An Edited Version of the Agent’s 13-Page Letter.” 
  66. “The FBI’s Investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui.” 
  67. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 295. 
  68. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 294. 
  69. Rowley, “Coleen Rowley’s Memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller: An Edited Version of the Agent’s 13-Page Letter.” 
  70. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 296, 297. 
  71. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 297. 
  72. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 297, 298. 
  73. “The FBI’s Investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui.” 
  74. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 296. 
  75. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 299. 
  76. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 291, 292. 
  77. “Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly,” DCI Update: Terrorist Threat Review, August 23, 2001,
  78. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 262. 
  79. “‘Meet the Press’ Transcript for May 6, 2007,” NBC News, May 6, 2007,
  80. “Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly.” 
  81. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 275. 
  82. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 85. 
  83. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 47. 
  84. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 380. 
  85. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 8, 9. 
  86. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 120, 121. 
  87. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 121, 122. 
  88. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 277. 
  89. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 276, 277. 
  90. Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, “The Kingdom and the Towers,” Vanity Fair, June 30, 2011,
  91. Michael Isikoff, “The Saudi Money Trail,” Newsweek, December 1, 2001,; Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 232, 233. 
  92. Isikoff, “The Saudi Money Trail.” 
  93. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 111, 112. 
  94. Stephen Kalin and Reem Shamseddine, “Purge of Saudi Princes, Businessmen Widens, Travel Curbs Imposed,” Reuters (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 6, 2017),
  95. “Dallah Al Baraka Group,” D&B Business Directory, n.d.,
  96. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 111, 112. 
  97. Judicial Watch, “FBI Documents Raise Additional Questions About Saudi and al-Aulaqi Connections to 9/11 Attacks,” February 12, 2014, reprinted at:
  98. Isikoff, “The Saudi Money Trail.” 
  99. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 154. 
  100. Isikoff, “The Saudi Money Trail.” 
  101. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 112. 
  102. Isikoff, “The Saudi Money Trail.” 
  103. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 154. 
  104. Isikoff, “The Saudi Money Trail.” 
  105. Duffy and Nowosielski, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, 150. 
  106. James Risen, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (New York: Free Press, 2006), 186-187. 
  107. James Risen, State of War, 186-187. 
  108. Prince Turki al-Faisal, “Allied Against Terrorism,” The Washington Post, September 17, 2001,
  109. Peter Dale Scott, “Launching the U.S. Terror War: the CIA, 9/11, Afghanistan, and Central Asia,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 12, no. 3 (March 12, 2012),
  110. Alex Rubinstein, “Did the CIA pressure Yemen to release al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki?” Substack, March 22, 2021,
  111. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 270, 271, 272, 273. 
  112. Brian Whitaker, “Piecing Together the Terrorist Jigsaw,” The Guardian, October 15, 2001, Cf. Fenton, 186, 187 
  113. Rubinstein, “Did the CIA pressure Yemen to release al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki?” 
  114. Rubinstein, “Did the CIA pressure Yemen to release al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki?” 
  115. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 221. 
  116. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 230. 
  117. Judicial Watch, “Docs Indicate FBI Knew Terrorist Anwar al-Aulaqi Purchased Airline Tickets for 9/11 Hijackers,” January 3, 2013,
  118. Catherine Herridge, “Al Qaeda Leader Dined at the Pentagon Just Months After 9/11,” Fox News, October 10, 2010,
  119. Judicial Watch, “New Docs Reveal FBI Surveillance Team Trailed Terrorist al-Aulaqi to Pentagon for His Luncheon Speech to DOD Brass,” September 11, 2013,
  120. Judicial Watch, “Docs Indicate FBI Knew Terrorist Anwar al-Aulaqi Purchased Airline Tickets for 9/11 Hijackers.” 
  121. Judicial Watch, “New Docs Reveal FBI Surveillance Team Trailed Terrorist al-Aulaqi to Pentagon for His Luncheon Speech to DOD Brass.” 
  122. Judicial Watch, “Docs Indicate FBI Knew Terrorist Anwar al-Aulaqi Purchased Airline Tickets for 9/11 Hijackers.” 
  123. J.M. Berger, “Anwar Al-Awlaki’s Links to the September 11 Hijackers,” The Atlantic, September 9, 2011,
  124. Kean and Hamilton, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” 221 (Endnote 33). 
  125. Jordy Yager, “Rep. Peter King investigating links between Anwar al-Awlaki, 9/11 hijackers,” The Hill, August 16, 2011,
  126. Judicial Watch, “New Documents Show FBI Kept Channels Open to Al-Aulaqi Despite Terrorist Designation,” September 30, 2014, reprinted at:
  127. “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.” Cf. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 61. 
  128. Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 372. 
  129. Whipple, “‘The Attacks Will Be Spectacular.’” 

Aaron Good is Editor at Large for CovertAction Magazine. His revised doctoral dissertation, American Exception: Empire and the Deep State, is to be published by Skyhorse in the spring of 2022. You can follow Aaron on Twitter: @Aaron_Good_

Ben Howard is an independent researcher. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and daughter. You can follow Ben on Twitter: @housetrotter.

Peter Dale Scott is a former Canadian diplomat and poet. Peter has written many important books on the CIA and the so-called “deep state,” including Deep Politics and the Death of JFK  (University of California, 1993); The War Conspiracy, rev ed. (Skyhorse, 2008); The Road to 9/11 (University of California, 2007),  American War Machine (Rowman & Littlefield, 2010) and The American Deep State (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). You can follow Peter’s work at:

This article was first published on Covert Action magazine.