Today from the Norman city court clerk I obtained a document confirming that Nicholas E. Berg, who reportedly was decapitated by militants in Iraq, was arrested twice for trespassing on the University of Oklahoma campus during the spring of 2000. Earlier, OU police had reported that he had been sleeping on couches around the campus. He appeared to be living as a vagrant during that period. The OUPD actually contacted him six times.
Today I gave the arrest record to the editor of The Norman Transcript.
Friday, I ascertained that Berg had been an OU employee during academic year 2000-2001. The OU personnel directory for that year listed him as a facilities attendant at the Lloyd Noble arena.
The thought crosses one's mind that Berg might have been the one who bought the 9/11 hijacker's airline ticket from the OU library computer terminal. I have not been able to ascertain whether he was ever an OU library employee. Most likely, he would have been a temp.
Still, there are things about Berg's story which don't add up. Are we to believe that someone would really voluntarily surrender his email password to a stranger he met on the bus? This is apparently the story which Berg told the FBI to account for the fact that the password and Berg's email address were on Moussaoui's computer when they searched it, after 9/11.
If Berg was the one who bought the ticket, then appearing to be a vagrant would have been a way to gain the trust of Al Qaeda, for infiltration purposes. They would be likely to trust someone who appeared to be a misfit and alienated from mainstream American society. Also, it has been reported that Berg had been in possession of anti-Semitic literature. That would be another tactic for gaining the trust of Al Qaeda.
How does a one who was a vagrant in spring 2000 make the transition to independent businessman in Iraq, doing telecommunications work, in 2004? Maybe with the help of funds paid by the CIA to its operatives?
If he bought the plane ticket, then the CIA had a good reason to set him up to be snuffed: dead men tell no tales. The execution also served the propaganda purpose of taking the focus of off American mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners.
See my website for the details about the 9/11 hijacker's airline ticket purchase from the OU library.
website of Michael P. Wright:
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An Investigative Essay
David Boren and George Tenet
Was Their Bungled Sting Operation a Factor in the 9/11 Attack? -- Read This and Decide
Michael Phillip Wright
Copyright 2003 (Updated 2004)
All Rights Reserved
"The information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a defence of incompetence." -- John Loftis, former US federal prosecutor
Kathy Ashton's son Tommy was killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Eight months after the attack, she asserted that the mass murder of 3,000 Americans was enabled "because many agencies in this country dropped the ball." 1 In the wake of the 9/11 attack, it has became popular to talk about the failure of the nation's intelligence community to "connect the dots" in advance of the catastrophe and take the necessary steps to obstruct the terrorists. The American people, their leaders, and the media need to give serious consideration to the likelihood that within the inner circles of the intelligence world they were indeed connecting dots. The problem was that they were drawing a different picture.
The view presented here is not far-fetched conspiricism. Sting operations are common in law enforcement. We were reminded of this by USA Today (August 13, 2003), with a page-one article about an individual being arrested and accused of attempting to sell a surface-to-air missile to Al Qaeda, for use in the US. In fact, the missile was purchased from him by two FBI agents posing as Al Qaeda terrorists. It was a sting on both sides: the missile and launcher had been sold to the accused by two Russian agents acting in concert with the FBI and pretending to be illegal arms merchants. There was no plot to attack an aircraft with a missile. The entire episode appears to be little more than choreographed public relations stagecraft intended to convince Americans that their government is "doing something" about homeland security. A desperate sucker trying to relieve his financial problems played right into their hands.
Given that I do not have police or subpoena power, I have relied mostly on information gathered from commonly available publications. From careful consideration of the various odd events in the trail of evidence, it appears very likely that former U.S. Senator David Boren of Oklahoma, an adroit political schemer still ambitious for higher office, was working with George Tenet and other CIA inner circle associates trying to conduct a sting operation against Al Qaeda. Always hungry for adoration, glory was Boren's goal. This explains why they allowed the 9/11 plot to advance instead of obstructing it when opportunities were presented. Of course, they failed tragically. One of their big blunders was assuming that hijackers intended to land the aircraft and then engage in negotiations over passenger hostages. Readers are invited to review the evidence discussed in this document and then to give careful consideration to the argument that the bungled sting explanation is the best way to account for the known facts.
CIA Allowed Known Al Qaeda Members to Buy 9/11 Flight Tickets
When viewed as a whole, a large troubling question emerges from the following brief set of facts:
1. In his June 2002 testimony before Congress, CIA boss George Tenet admitted that the agency had been tracking Al Qaeda members Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar since January 2000, when an Al Qaeda meeting was held in Malaysia.
2. according to a consensus of experts hired by National Review, the State Department acted unlawfully in granting visas to 15 of the 19 hijackers; the article mentioned Khalid Almihdhar as one of them; 2
3. In his briefing for the President of August 6, 2001, Tenet highlighted his knowledge of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden's interest in hijacking aircraft.
4. In his testimony, Tenet admitted that the CIA waited until August 23, 2001, to recommend to the FBI and other agencies that Alhazmi and Almihdhar be put on a watchlist.
5. According to the indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui, Alhazmi purchased his ticket for American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, on or about August 27, 2001. Khalid Almihdhar bought his ticket for the same flight on August 25.
6. It was disclosed to the 9/11 Commission in January 2004 that the watchlist, called TIPOFF, was not shared with FAA.
Big Questions: Given the CIA's knowledge of Al Qaeda's interest in hijacking aircraft, why were these two known Al Qaeda members allowed to purchase airline tickets, after they had been put on a watchlist? Why was the TIPOFF list not shared with FAA?
In view of the compelling evidence available in late August 2001 indicating that at least one airline hijacking was under way for September 11, an intelligence leadership with honest motives could have obstructed the success of that team of hijackers. At the very least, the "defense of incompetence" seems highly suspect with regard to the question of preventing the crash of Flight 77. Could other 9/11 crashes have been prevented by conscientious action from the American intelligence community?
An Airline Ticket for a 9/11 Hijacker Was Purchased from the OU Library Computer
Former Senator David Boren is currently president of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, where I reside. In the fall of 2001, I was talking to an OU library employee who told me that she was present when an FBI agent was interviewing her colleague. From this encounter she learned that an OU library computer terminal had been used for an online purchase of an airline ticket for a 9/11 hijacker who was on the plane which crashed in Pennsylvania. She also told me that the person who made the purchase had not been a hijacker. Contrary to expectation, he was a white American male, but he knew he was assisting the hijacking operation.
The librarian's report is consistent with information provided by Yosri Fouda and Nick Fielding in their book Masterminds of Terror. 3 They wrote that the 9/11 hijackers mostly used the Internet for selecting their airplane seats. Fouda is a reporter for Al-Jazeera and Fielding works for the London Sunday Times.
In October 2002 I assisted Bill Crozier, a fellow OU graduate, in making a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI, in order to obtain more details about this incident. The letter requesting details from the FBI began with this sentence:
Under the Freedom of Information Act I request information about a report I heard involving purchase of airline tickets for the 9/11 terrorist hijacking from the public computer terminals in the University of Oklahoma library.
The request also asked FBI to identify the purchaser and to report whether he was taken into custody. The scan of their reply is at the bottom of this article. The FBI letter confirms that the incident happened. Their subject line at the top reads:
PURCHASE OF AIRLINE TICKETS/911 TERRORIST HIJACKING/ PUBLIC COMPUTER TERMINALS
The letter informs us that "the material you requested is located in an investigative file which pertains to a pending investigation." While confirming the event, the FBI did not identify the person who bought the ticket. Their secrecy over this matter inspires a strong suspicion that the purchaser was an infiltrator operating under the CIA's instructions. The most likely explanation indicated by all the evidence compiled for this report is that he was a participant in a failed attempt by the CIA to organize a sting operation against terrorists who later succeeded in the 9/11 attack. Had he not been an infiltrator, he would have been accused of a crime and brought to court in a public proceeding. The concealing of his identity cannot be explained by offering the possibility that he is a fugitive. The names and photos of fugitives are commonly put on wanted posters. If he were a fugitive, why haven't they put out a wanted poster?
An Oklahoma City TV news station broadcast a report about this ticket purchase, but I did not see the broadcast. Several people have told me about it. One of them who saw the broadcast has emailed the Family Steering Committee for the Independent 9/11 Commission and confirmed having seen it. She copied the email to me. Other Oklahomans who saw this broadcast are asked to write and tell me.
According to USA Today, the CIA definitely had infiltrated Al Qaeda. The newspaper reports that "the intercepts and field reports didn't specify where or when a strike might occur." Those who supervised the purchase of the 9/11 ticket from OU library knew, for at least one flight. Conscientious action by the leadership of the American intelligence community could have saved Flight 93.
KOCO TV News Reported the Airline Ticket Purchase at OU But Later Denied It
In early October 2003 I began to call Oklahoma City TV news stations in order to discover who reported the terrorist airline ticket purchase and to try to obtain a videocassette of the broadcast. At first I reached an editor at KFOR (Channel 4). He said they did not report this.
Then I tried KOCO (Channel 5) and reached a woman named Melissa at the news desk. She confirmed that KOCO reported the event and proudly asserted, "We broke the story." She told me I needed to speak to reporter Terri Watkins about obtaining a videocassette and transferred me to her voice mail, and I left a message requesting it.
Watkins returned the phone call and left a message on my answering machine. She denied that Channel 5 had reported this event. It now appeared very likely that the station had been pressured into covering it up. I needed evidence of this. In Oklahoma, it is legal to record a telephone conversation if only one party to it grants consent. Bearing this in mind, I called again and recorded Melissa confirming it.
OU President David Boren Is the Mentor of George Tenet
David Boren has been president of the University of Oklahoma since 1994, the year of his resignation from the U.S. Senate. He had been Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and in 1987 appointed George Tenet (photo at left) to be its chief of staff. This appointment launched Tenet on the career path which led to his being named CIA director in 1997. Columnist John Curtis discloses the fact that Tenet had no military, criminal justice, or spy experience when Boren gave him his job.
Boren and Tenet Helped Politicize and Corrupt the CIA
In 1991 Boren and Tenet helped politicize and corrupt the analytical division of the CIA by assisting in the process of pushing through the appointment of Robert Gates as director. Details are available in this article by Robert Parry of the Consortium for Independent Journalism. Gates was an anti-Soviet hardliner who earlier had helped the Reagan administration falsify information in its propaganda war against the Soviet Union. Tenet has been totally comfortable with a politicized CIA he and Boren helped create -- one which will slant intelligence to suit political objectives.
Author Bill Gertz on Tenet's Lack of Qualifications
Bill Gertz is the author of Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11. 4 He agrees with John Curtis that Tenet had no background qualifying him for intelligence work. On page 58 he writes that in 1995 Tenet "became deputy director of Central Intelligence despite never having received training as a professional intelligence officer."
Boren and Tenet have remained on very close terms. During the ceremony when he was sworn in, Tenet expressed deep gratitude to Boren. In January 2001 Boren called the newly inaugurated George Bush and persuaded him to keep Tenet as CIA director. Time reported that Tenet and Boren were having a "leisurely breakfast" together in a Washington hotel on the morning of the 9/11 attack. In May 2003, Tenet was the commencement speaker at OU's graduation ceremony.
Boren's Presidential Ambitions
Boren (photo at right) continues to aspire to high national office. His father Lyle, a U.S. Congressman in the 30s and 40s, taught him to have the ambition of growing up to be President of the USA. 5 Boren, a Yale graduate, Rhodes Scholar, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, was a U.S. Senator from 1979 until his 1994 resignation, which followed allegations of sexual misconduct. Since leaving the Senate he has continued to act like a politician. During his period of employment at OU he has frequently been on TV during the half-times of football games. Boren was on a PBS broadcast speaking about security matters after the 9/11 attack. Over the years he has hosted numerous political celebrities to give speeches at OU. They typically sing his praises and then collect their generous honoraria. These have included Joe Lieberman, Margaret Thatcher, Colin Powell, and Desmond Tutu. The OU website boasts:
Over the past few years, guests have included Henry Kissinger, five former CIA directors, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, General Colin Powell, former President George Bush, Bob Dole, George Mitchell, His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, the ambassadors of China, Russia, Mexico, Britain, Australia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and many others. Several of the sessions have been broadcast live on C-SPAN.
Within the Reform Party there was a committee to draft Boren as its Presidential candidate for 2000. Success in the planning of a sting operation to overwhelm a terrorist hijacking attempt would have been a perfect event in the service of his ambitions for high national office. For more evidence of Boren's presidential ambitions, see the politics1.com website.
The Boren-Rudman Commission: Another Failure
Boren’s resignation from the U.S. Senate in 1994 was a significant blow to his ambitions for higher office. In 1999, his unexplained departure from the co-chairmanship of the National Security Study Group, originally called the Boren-Rudman Commision, was another setback. His replacement was Gary Hart. The Reform Party Committee to draft Boren for President in 2000 never got off the ground. In 2001, Boren was desperate for a chance to put the national spotlight on himself as a man of distinguished achievement.
The Commission had been established by Congress in 1998 and was expected to have a life of two and a half years, during which it was expected to perform "the most comprehensive review of the national security environment, processes, and organizations since the National Security Act of 1947."
Its final report, due in February 2001, was expected to "delineate a national security strategy" and recommend "concomitant changes to the national security apparatus." Viewed from the vantage point of hindsight provided by the 9/11 tragedy, the Commission can be seen as a having failed miserably to accomplish anything to improve the nation’s defense -- another empty exercise in political stagecraft and resume-building.
A Tragic Miscalculation: They Expected a Hostage Situation
On August 6, 2001, President Bush received a CIA briefing, approved by Tenet, and indicating that bin Laden was interested in hijacking aircraft. The report did not prepare the President for the possibility of using American passenger aircraft to destroy buildings and kill thousands of people in the U.S. Eight months later, National Security advisor Condoleeza Rice stated, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center...All of this reporting about hijacking was about traditional hijacking." By that she meant using airline passengers as hostages. 1
The briefing was also reported by CNN:
At the briefing...Bush received a 1 1/2-page document, which, according to Rice, was an "analytic report" on al-Qaeda. Included was a mention that al-Qaeda might be tempted to hijack airliners, perhaps so that they might use hostages to secure the release of an al-Qaeda leader or sympathizer. Rice was not present but discussed the briefing with Bush immediately after it had ended, as she always does.
The Washington Post reported that Rice and other Bush administration officials said the memo contained no reference to suicide attacks and instead focused on "hijackings in the traditional sense."
Senate Intelligence Committee Report
A September 2002 Senate Intelligence Committee document also indicates that Tenet believed hijackers were going to land the aircraft and negotiate over hostages. The document describes an August 2001 intelligence briefing which incorporated the expectation that Bin Laden "wanted to hijack airplanes to gain the release of U.S.-held extremists" (p. 23). BBC news reported that Congressional investigator Eleanor Hill stated that officials never looked closely at the potential threat of hijacked airliners flying into buildings.
January 2004 Update
FAA Also Did Not Expect Suicide Missions
In January 2004, USA Today reported that before the 9/11 attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration played down the possibility of suicide hijackings. Their source was a preliminary report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks. In July 2001, the FAA issued a warning to air carriers but did not mention suicide hijackings. Instead, it focused on the possibility that some terrorist groups might conceal explosive devices inside luggage.
As early as March 1998, the FAA's Office of Civil Aviation Security had officially considered the possibility of suicide hijackings. An FAA spokesman quoted by Knight-Ridder said that "the assumptions were turned on their head." The news articles did not inform readers about who had intervened to convince the agency to reverse itself. It did state that Bush administration officials have maintained that before the attacks there was no indication terrorists were considering suicide hijackings.
Another news item disclosed that on 9/11 the FAA flagged nine hijackers for their passenger screening; however, the news indicates that they weren't noticed for any reason related to information the FAA might have received from the CIA about the group being terrorists. All five of the hijackers on Flight 77 were flagged but then allowed to board. Since January 2000 the CIA knew, at least, that within this group Al Hazmi and Al Mihdhar were Al Qaeda members and that Bin Laden was interested in hijacking aircraft. Further, according to the Moussaoui indictment, they bought their tickets in late August. Yet the group came to FAA's attention only because they met the agency's criteria for suspicion: (1) paying with cash, or (2) buying a one-way ticket. Their luggage was searched for explosives.
CIA Had Been Tracking Hijackers Since January 2000
On June 3, 2002, the Associated Press reported that the CIA first learned about Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, who later became 9/11 hijackers, because they had attended a meeting in Malaysia in early 2000. The agency did not alert domestic authorities to watch for them until three weeks before the attacks. By then, they were already in the USA. In response to this news, Senator Richard Shelby, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said CIA Director George Tenet "is in denial." He added: "But I believe he is totally wrong."
Reuters reported on June 3 that the CIA knew that one of the terrorists, Nawaf Alhazmi, had attended the Malaysia meeting, which was a secret planning session of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida. Agents also discovered that Almihdhar had already obtained a multiple-entry visa that allowed him to enter and leave the United States at will.
CIA Did Nothing
The story was originally broken by Newsweek, which said that the CIA did nothing with the information. 6 It neither notified the FBI, which could have tracked the two men, nor the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which could have turned them away at the border. Experts hired by National Review to analyze the visa application forms of the terrorists determined that 15 of the 19 should have been denied visas under the law as it existed at that time. 2
CIA Agent David Edger Arrives as OU Visiting Professor in August 2001
CIA agent David Edger arrived on the OU campus in August 2001 to begin his duties as a visiting professor in the political science department. Up until that month he had responsibility for surveillance of the Al Qaeda cell in Germany, 7 whose membership included Ramzi bin Al-Shibh (photo at right) , paymaster for the Al Qaeda organization, and Mohammed Atta, a hijacker on one of the airliners which crashed into the World Trade Center (WTC). Edger was described by The Norman Transcript as an "expert in intelligence collection, counterintelligence investigations, and political action" [emphasis added]. The newspaper also reports that he has directed espionage and counter-espionage activities. 8 Edger was in Chile in 1973 when the CIA was overthrowing the Allende government. During the month of Edger's arrival in Norman, hijackers bought their 9/11 plane tickets.
Edger (photo at left) is a native Oklahoman whose appointment at OU was arranged by Boren , who also teaches a class in political science. During a speech in Tulsa , Edger expressed his interest in covert action and infiltration. Penetrating and manipulating terrorist cells was listed as a goal of CIA counterintelligence operations in a declassified CIA document approved for release in 1999 [emphasis added]. See page 21 of the document.
Al Qaeda Operative Zacarias Moussaoui Lived in Norman During 2001
Norman is the home of the University of Oklahoma, where David Boren is president. Al Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui arrived in Norman in February 2001 and was a student at the Airman Flight School until May. As an Airman student he was housed in OU dormitories. He remained in Norman for most of the summer. In August, OU engineering student Hussein Al-Attas drove him to Minnesota, where he enrolled in another flight school. Moussaoui had persuaded Al-Attas to the jihad in Chechnya. 9
According to the LA Weekly before his trip to Minnesota Moussaoui had a meeting with Mohammad Atta, ringleader of the 9/11 plot, in an Oklahoma City motel. Also present was a man who appeared to be Marwin Al-Shehhi, who helped crash a jetliner into the south tower of the WTC.
Did CIA agent Edger, whose responsibility was surveillance over the Hamburg cell of which Atta was a member, know about this meeting? The FBI knew about it but apparently did not treat it as significant. The meeting was confirmed on the O'Reilly show by Larry Johnson, former Deputy Director of the State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism (May 11, 2002).
Moussaoui Jailed in Minnesota
On August 16, Moussaoui was detained in Minnesota under suspicion of immigration violations. He had arrived at a flight school in Eagan on August 13, for simulator training for a Boeing 747. Time reported that he expressed a desire to learn how to fly the aircraft in four or five days and did not want it known that he was a Muslim.10 Oklahoma City's Channel 5 news reported that Moussaoui was jailed in Sherbourne County in mid-August after an instructor at a flight-similar school in Eagan became suspicious when he attempted to pay cash for classes and only had a student pilot's license.
Intelligence Agencies Ignored Opportunity to Disrupt the Plot Before 9/11
In August 2001, Zacarias Moussaoui was the key to unraveling the 9/11 plot before it hatched into the worst act of terrorism ever committed against the American people on a single day. No one knew this better than the Al Qaeda leaders themselves. After his arrest, they changed their plans in response to fear that he might talk. Rohan Gunaratna is an expert at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence in Scotland. He writes:11
The arrest of Moussaoui forced bin Laden's organisation to bring forward its operation to strike America's outstanding landmarks. Although Al Qaeda strives to train agents who disclose nothing to their captors, in reality they were well aware of the growing danger to the operation with every day that passed. Moreover Moussaoui was one of the few suspected terrorists who knew about both the Hamburg and the Kuala Lampur cells. With the imminent threat of being compromised, Al Qaeda's cells stepped up their financial, logistical, and administrative preparations within a week of Moussaoui's arrest.
Reporting the proceedings against Moussaoui, USA Today (6/3/02) provided similar information: "Prosecutors have indicated in court that Moussaoui...not only knew about the hijacking plan in advance but also was the key to any hope that U.S. agents had of uncovering and stopping it."
Reporters Fouda and Fielding agree that the arrest of Moussaoui was the event which compelled Al Qaeda to settle upon September 11 as the date of the attack.12 These authors did not know how the other conspirators learned of the arrest. Hussein Al-Attas, Moussaoui's friend from the University of Oklahoma who drove him to Minnesota, is the most likely suspect for having told Al Qaeda about this. As we gave noted, Moussaoui had convinced Al-Attas to join the Jihad in Chechnya. 9
Evidence Found at Time of Moussaoui's Arrest
In September 2001, Oklahoma Daily reporter Ryun Chittum informed readers that Moussaoui was identified by French intelligence as "a high-ranking member of the terrorist organization headed by Osama bin Laden."13
From the indictment, Gunaratna also gives a detailed report of items in Moussaoui's possession when he was arrested: 14
Moussaoui was found in possession of two knives, fighting gloves, shin guards, flight deck videos for a Boeing 747 Model 400, a flight simulator computer programme, software that could be used to review pilot procedures for the Boeing 747 Model 400, notes referring to a handheld GPS receiver and a camcorder, a handheld aviation radio, a notebook listing two German phone numbers and the name of Ahad Sabet, letters from Infocus Tech and a computer disk containing information relating to the aerial dispersal of pesticides.
USA Today reported that Infocus Tech was the front company for Yazid Sufaat, who had sponsored the Malaysia Al-Qaeda meeting in January 2000. Moussaoui also had a crop-dusting manual. In spite of all this evidence, the FBI headquarters told the Minneapolis office that there was not sufficient probable cause to justify a search of his computer when he was in their custody three weeks before 9/11.
The Significance of Moussaoui's Crop-Dusting Manual
There is evidence indicating that the 9/11 hijackers were very interested in using anthrax as a bioterror weapon. Hijacker Ahmed Al Haznawi, who was on United Flight 93, was treated for a lesion which his doctor concluded was consistent with exposure to anthrax. The AP reported that experts at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies studied the incident and concluded that anthrax was the most likely diagnosis for Al Haznawi.
Al Haznawi received the treatment in a Florida clinic three months before the September attack. The Moussaoui indictment states that hijacker Mohammed Atta made inquiries about starting a crop-dusting company in Florida, and that several hijackers attended flight training school in that state. The indictment also says that Moussaoui was making crop-dusting inquiries in June 2001.
We must look for consistency. Where there is want of it we must suspect deception.
-- Sherlock Holmes
Tenet's CIA Influences FBI to Obstruct Search of Computer
Tenet is able to influence the FBI, and in August 2001 did so in such a way as to assist the headquarters in its obstruction of the Moussaoui investigation. Time reported that the CIA at that time described Moussaoui as merely one having "extremist views." 15 Additionally, Tenet's CIA offered the misleading statement that information from the French "didn't say Al Qaeda or anything like that." In striking contrast, FBI agent Coleen Rowley's May 2002 letter to director Robert Mueller emphasized that the French had confirmed Moussaoui's "affiliations with radical fundamentalist groups and activities connected to Osama bin Laden" within five days of his arrest.
On the morning when the leisurely breakfast with his mentor Boren was interrupted by the news of the 9/11 attack, Tenet suddenly found his memory about the true identity of Moussaoui. The Washington Post reported a comment from this breakfast conversation:
"I wonder," Tenet was overheard to say, "if it has anything to do with this guy taking pilot training." He was referring to Zacarias Moussaoui, who had been detained in August after attracting suspicion when he sought training at a Minnesota flight school.
Moussaoui's case was very much on Tenet's mind. The previous month, the FBI had asked the CIA and the National Security Agency to run phone traces on Moussaoui, already the subject of a five-inch-thick file in the bureau.
Regarding the Minneapolis FBI agents and their August 2001 interest in Moussaoui, CNN reports that the FBI informed the CIA of his arrest, and the CIA ran checks on him while asking foreign intelligence services for information. Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern reports more on this history in The Miami Herald :
Tenet's people learned about Moussaoui in a back-door message from the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis enlisting the CIA's help in obtaining information on Moussaoui from French intelligence. The French promptly pointed out Moussaoui's affiliations with radical fundamentalist groups and Osama bin Laden. (The French service had been keeping close tabs on the likes of Moussaoui, having foiled a plan by Algerian terrorists to crash an airplane into the Eiffel Tower in 1994.)
Why did the 5-inch intelligence file seemingly escape the CIA's notice when they were helping FBI headquarters obstruct the Minneapolis agents in their attempt to obtain a warrant to examine Moussaoui's computer?
Oklahoma City's Channel 5 news reported that, in response to the August FBI inquiry about Moussaoui, the CIA "checked its own files and found nothing on him." What appeared to be "on Tenet's mind" that month was the desire to keep the lid on Moussaoui's computer. CNN reported that by the time Moussaoui came to court, the government had been unable to secure evidence of his e-mail record until it was too late to recover it.
Moussaoui: a Balloon To Be Inflated or Deflated
Tenet and other U.S. officials have treated Moussaoui like a balloon who can be inflated or deflated in response to the political agenda of the moment. Tenet presented Moussaoui as merely a "religious extremist" when FBI headquarters was constructing its rational for obstructing the search of his computer three weeks before 9/11. On the morning of the attack, suddenly Tenet remembered "this guy taking pilot training" in Norman.
In his 2002 testimony about Al Qaeda, Tenet contradicted his August 2001 position again. On this occasion he described the Al Qaeda plot as "resilient." This meant that it could go forward "despite several real blows." On this occasion Tenet acknowledged that Moussaoui was an important part of the Al Qaeda team. He described his arrest as the most important setback survived by the terrorist group on its path to the September attack:
Most important, even after 16 August arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui -- currently under indictment for conspiracy to commit terrorism and aircraft piracy, among other charges -- the plan was not aborted. In fact, the hijackers began buying their tickets for 11 September just over a week after Moussaoui's arrest.
French Official Talks About Moussaoui's Membership in GIA
In the fall of 2001, ABC broadcast an interview by Brian Ross with Alexis Debat, a former French defense official. Debat talked about the terrorist plot to hijack an airliner and fly it into the Eiffel Tower. The plot was disrupted by French police and the details were provided to American authorities. Debat also stated that they were aware of Moussaoui's position as a "high-ranking member of GIA," the Groupe Islamique Arme, a terrorist organization.
During the same broadcast, Ross also interviewed Vince Canastero, the CIA's former head of counter-intelligence. He was talking about the August 2001 arrest of Moussaoui in Minnesota. He said, "Unfortunately it appears it was a warning sign for the impending September 11 operation that we missed completely." Narrator Ross, quoting Canastero, then added that information gathered by FBI agents in Minnesota never made it to Washington. Canastero continued: "Information that was known in August about Moussaoui, particularly from foreign intelligence services, that he was a member of Bin Laden's organization Al Qaeda should have been a large warning flag if that information had been put together in Washington. It was not."
MSNBC News Wonders If Obstruction of Moussaoui Investigation Facilitated 9/11 Attack
At its website MSNBC News engages in some troubling speculation about Moussaoui:
Dec. 14 His arrest on Aug. 16 poses one of the great what-ifs of the war on terrorism -- the possibility, remote but tantalizing, that FBI agents working in Minneapolis might have discovered the Sept. 11 hijacking conspiracy before it happened.
August 2001: FBI Agent Speculated That Moussaoui Might Be Planning WTC Attack
Newsweek published a dramatic statement in its issue of May 27, 2002. The article is reproduced at the website of the library of the University of Missouri journalism school:
In mid-August Minneapolis agents arrested a French-Moroccan flight student, Zacarias Moussaoui, and worked themselves into a "frenzy" over the possibility that he was planning a terrorist act involving a large aircraft, one official said. One agent even speculated in his notes that Moussaoui, whom some authorities now believe was supposed to have been the 20th hijacker, might be planning to crash a plane into the World Trade Center.
Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2002, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified that during the summer of 2001 an agent warned the bureau that Moussaoui "could fly something into the World Trade Center." He also admitted that the bureau "should have more aggressively pursued warnings" from Minneapolis agents about Moussaoui.
Moussaoui's Oklahoma Budget: $64,000
Zacarias Moussaoui's 2001 excursion in Norman was well-funded. USA Today reported that his sponsor, Yazid Sufaat, provided him $35,000 at the start and agreed to send an additional $2500 monthly. Sufaat was host of the January 2000 Al Qaeda meeting in Malaysia. When Moussaoui arrived in Norman in February 2001 he deposited $32,000 in a local bank. Given that he was in Norman six months, the total sum of the monthly payment amounted to another $15,000. Item 67 of the Moussaoui indictment states that in early August 2001 Ramzi Bin al-Shibh provided Moussaoui a wire transfer of $14,000. The total sum of cash available to Moussaoui during his half-year in Norman was $64,000.
What were Moussaoui's expenses? MSNBC says that at the Airman Flight School Moussaoui expressed interest in a course which would cost $5000. While he was attending Airman, he was housed in a University of Oklahoma dormitory contracted with the school. Item 71 of the indictment alleges that he paid approximately $6300 in cash to attend the flight school in Minnesota. During the summer Moussaoui lived in an apartment on Monnett Avenue in Norman. This was a short walk from the OU campus. Housing costs in Oklahoma are fairly inexpensive compared to the nation. The apartment rental was probably around $300 monthly. Another expense was the $1000 he spent on a Ford Taurus. These known expenses amount to $13,200. When he was arrested he in Minneapolis he had $32,000 in cash. This sum and his expenses account for $45,200 out of a total purse of $64,000.
What happened to the remaining sum of nearly $19,000? Recalling that his housing and school enrollment costs have already been considered, a young single male not encumbered by medical expenses can easily live on $1000 per month in Norman. Moussaoui was in the community for six months. A a strict Islamic zealot, he cannot be expected to have been a high-rolling spendthrift.
Hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi made a visit to Oklahoma in April 2001.6 Gunaratna reports that he was there "to consult with his cell colleagues." By late August, after this visit, Gunaratna reports that Moussaoui was running out of cash and contacted Bin al-Shibh for a wire transfer. 16 Connect the dots. In all likelihood, Alhazmi was in the state to receive cash from Moussaoui in order to help finance his preparation for martyrdom on September 11.
FBI Agent Rowley Suspects Political Interference
In response to these peculiar events, in May 2002 FBI agent Coleen Rowley wrote to bureau director Robert Mueller and accused FBI headquarters of obstructing the investigation. She wrote that the Minneapolis agents "believed that Moussaoui signaled he had something to hide in the way he refused to allow them to search his computer" [emphasis added]. Reminding the director that French Intelligence had confirmed Moussaoui's activities connected with bin Laden, she stated that probable cause "was certainly established after that point and became even greater with successive, more detailed information from the French and other intelligence sources."
Rowley was tempted to describe the FBI's behavior in the Moussaoui matter as a "cover-up," but decided that the term would be "too strong a characterization." She decided instead to "carefully (and perhaps over laboriously) choose my words here."
In spite of her pledge to choose her words carefully, Rowley could not contain her passion. She told Mueller that headquarters "brought up almost ridiculous questions in their apparent efforts to undermine the probable cause." One of these ridiculous questions was the supposition that Zacarias Moussaoui was such a common name in France as to render meaningless the information from there. A look at a Paris phone directory found only one person by that name. In spite of this, she wrote that headquarters "continued to stall."
Groping for an explanaion for FBI headquarters' peculiar behavior, former Justice Department attorney Mary Schiavo said FBI officials in Washington may have had a regional bias in the Moussaoui case: "They probably assumed there's nothing going on in Minnesota."
Rowley was more direct. She wrote that "certain facts" had "been omitted, downplayed, glossed over and/or mis-characterized in an effort to avoid or minimize personal and/or institutional embarrassment on the part of the FBI and/or perhaps even for improper political reasons [emphasis added]." The most interesting question is: what were the likely improper political reasons?
Why did Tenet's CIA intervene to hush things up about Moussaoui? Was Tenet working in concert with his mentor Boren?
Rowley Describes "Climate of Fear" at the FBI
This Time magazine article highlight’s Rowley’s observation that a "climate of fear" within the FBI prevented agents from doing their jobs when it was time to investigate Moussaoui.
David Boren is very adept at using intimidation and creating such climates within agencies and institutions where his long tentacles can reach. In October 2003, in a rare editorial bold enough to criticize the state of affairs at OU, The Oklahoma Daily used the phrase "culture of fear" to describe the atmosphere at the school. With obvious implied reference to Boren as the "former politician," the Daily continued:
Often, members of the OU community whom The Daily tries to speak to tell reporters they have been told not to talk, or that the reporter should talk to an official source.
There is a reason these answers are given.
OU is a large, public organization run by a former politician that has an interest in making itself look good.
A March 2003 letter published by The Norman Transcript also described OU as a "culture of fear." The writer expressed opposition to Boren’s plan to create a gargantuan new weather center south of the main campus. It was signed "Name Withheld." 17
Boren "Not Surprised" by WTC Attack
Boren summoned some of his associates for a public discussion about the "war on terrorism" at the University of Oklahoma on February 25, 2002. Among those in attendance was CIA officer Edgar. According to The Daily Oklahoman (2/26/2002), Edgar said he was "not surprised" by the September 11 attacks on the U.S. The Oklahoman continued:
The attacks also didn't surprise OU President David Boren. The former head of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said Monday he and CIA Director George Tenet were not "totally shocked" Sept. 11.
"I thought George was obsessed with Osama bin Laden and terrorism around the world," Boren said.
The two often had talked about the potential for international terrorists to strike in the United States before word [of the attack] came as they shared breakfast on Sept. 11.
What are we to make of these "experts" telling us so nonchalantly that they were "not surprised" by the WTC attack? This language is very close to suggesting that they were able to predict the attack. If that were the case, why did they not use their presumed expertise and command over resources to intervene to prevent it?
Sherlock didn't say this but he might as well have: even the most cunning of criminals can betray themselves with a slip of the tongue.
Other Revealing Statements by Boren and Tenet
In his August 6 memo, Tenet told Bush that al-Qaeda might be "tempted" to hijack airliners. What did he mean by this? Exactly who was going to do the tempting? Was this a coded communication?
In his remarks to PBS after the hijacking, Boren was cheering for retribution. He said, "if we don't act now...we're going to continue to ask for this kind of thing" [emphasis added]. Continue to ask? Were Boren and Tenet "tempting" Al Qaeda and "asking for" the 9/11 attack in order to give themselves an opportunity to disrupt it with dramatic action at the last moment to make themselves appear heroic?
Boren described to ABC news his response to the announcement of the WTC attack when he was having breakfast with Tenet. "Out of the corner of my eye," he said, "I could see several people converging on our table." He continued: "One of them said to George Tenet, 'Mr. Director, the World Trade tower has just been attacked by an airplane.' I was struck by the fact he used the word 'attacked.'"
What's interesting here is that Boren was not "struck" by the fact that there had been hijackings. He was surprised that buildings had been attacked. In contrast to the report of this breakfast given by the Washington Post, there is no mention of Tenet's having recalled Moussaoui's six-month stay in Norman, where he took pilot lessons, stayed in OU housing, and worked out at OU's gym. That's because ABC was relying on Boren for information about the event.
Boren also told PBS that Mohmmar Qadaffi expressed his disapproval of the hijackings, but sanctimoniously accused him of not being sincere and just trying to take Libya off the "suspect list." How was Boren able to go about making allegations that Qadaffi had devious motives with such confidence? Was he really talking about himself?
OU Gives Money to Saudi Prince -- Prince's Wife Gives Money to Terrorists
In March 2002 The Oklahoma Daily proudly reported another one of Boren's love-fests for the international rich and famous. The guest of honor this time was His Royal Highness Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, ambassador to the United States for Saudi Arabia. His Most Royal Excellency Prince Bandar addressed a dinner audience at 7 p.m. in the OU student union. Boren was there to glow in the Prince's limelight and moderate the question-and- answer session between the ambassador and audience members. I do not know how large an honorarium in OU funds was paid to Boren's good friend the Prince.
CIA boss and Boren protege George Tenet was also scheduled to speak at the event. Additionally CIA agent and visiting OU professor David Edger participated and expressed deep feelings of warmth toward his good friends Boren and Tenet. He described Tenet as "a very close friend of President Boren." Edger added, "We are lucky to have him. He's playing an important role in the Middle East in the Arab-Israeli problem."
Members of the Saudi royal family appear to have rather peculiar notions of noblesse oblige. The Washington Post reports that Princess Haifa al-Faisal, wife of Prince Bandar, has provided "charitable support" to Osama Bassnan, described by the FBI as "an extremist and [an Osama] bin Laden supporter." Bassnan also befriended 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi.
Alhazmi was in Oklahoma on April 1, 2001, probably to receive cash from Zacarias Moussaoui. On that day he was given a speeding ticket while traveling east on I-40. He was in Washita county in western Oklahoma driving toward Oklahoma City, which is 20 miles north of Norman. A copy of the speeding ticket was published by Newsweek on June 10, 2002. 6 Along with Khalid Almihdhar, Alhazmi was one of the two hijackers known by the CIA to have attended the January 2000 Al Qaeda meeting in Malaysai.
The father of Boren's friend Prince Bandar is facing legal problems resulting from allegations that the family was funding terrorists. Hundreds of relatives of 9/11 victims have filed a lawsuit alleging that Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz knowingly contributed money and support to al Qaeda through Islamic charitable organizations.
CIA Agent Edger Admits to Failure
Evidence suggests that Edger reinforced Boren and Tenet in the belief that any terrorist activities involving the seizing of aircraft would be conducted with the purpose of taking hostages for negotiation. In February 2002 he was hosted for a speaking engagement by the Norman public library. The Norman Transcript reported: 7
He said although officers knew members of the cell and some of what they were doing, they had no idea that they would meet in London and go to different parts of the U.S., where they would learn to fly planes to crash into the World Trade Center.
"In that case, we failed," Edger said.
Le Figaro Says CIA Let Bin Laden Slip Away in July 2001
In November 2001 The Guardian of London published its account of a story, earlier reported by Le Figaro, that two months before the attack bin Laden flew to Dubai for 10 days of treatment at the American hospital, where he was visited by the local CIA agent. The Guardian continued:
Bin Laden is reported to have arrived in Dubai on July 4 from Quetta in Pakistan with his own personal doctor, nurse and four bodyguards, to be treated in the urology department. While there he was visited by several members of his family and Saudi personalities, and the CIA.
The CIA chief was seen in the lift [elevator], on his way to see Bin Laden, and later, it is alleged, boasted to friends about his contact. He was recalled to Washington soon afterwards.
Bin Laden was likely to have found comfortable hospitality in Dubais. According to Gunaratna, of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence in Scotland, Al Qaeda had a cell there in 2001. The United Arab Emirates was a major center for the terror network's financial operations. 18
You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles.
-- Sherlock Holmes
CIA Agent Edger Scowls at Le Figaro Story
In January 2002, I attended a small discussion on the OU campus led by CIA agent Edger. I asked him what he knew about the Le Figaro report of Bin Laden's July 2001 presence in the American hospital in Dubais. A scowl emerged on his face as he replied, "Never heard of it." He added, "That doesn't mean it didn't happen." Then he disposed of the matter by quickly pointing to the next questioner. The others in the discussion group were obsequious OU students unwilling to raise any issues which might create discomfort or embarrassment.
CIA Agent Edger Ignores Questions
On August 27, 2003, I visited the OU poltical science department and was given Edger's email address by the secretary. I sent him this email:
Dear Mr. Edger:
I am doing some research into pre-9/11 survellance over Al Qaeda activities by the U.S. intelligence community. Perhaps you can answer some questions for me.
According to the LA Weekly, before his trip to Minneapolis Zacarias Moussaoui had a meeting with Mohammad Atta, ringleader of the 9/11 plot, in an Oklahoma City motel. Also present was a man who appeared to be Marwin Al-Shehhi, who helped crash a jetliner into the south tower of the WTC.
The Norman Transcript reported that your responsibility was surveillance over the Hamburg cell, of which Atta was a member. Did you know about this meeting? The FBI knew about it but apparently did not treat it as significant. Why not?
Additionally, the meeting was confirmed on the O'Reilly show by Larry Johnson, former Deputy Director of the State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism (May 11, 2002).
Further, US News (9/23/02) reported an Al Jazeera interview with Ramzi Bin Al Shibh. He described an August 2001 coded chat room message among Al Qaeda members. The content was:
The first semester starts in three weeks. Nothing has changed. Everything is fine. ...This summer will surely be hot...Nineteen certificates for private study and four exams.
Did you intercept this message?
Thank you for any answers you can provide.
Agent Edger has not answered the questions. Since he is retired and has already admitted to failure, he would have nothing to lose by answering, if the true answers were no. Since he chose not to answer, we are led to the strong suspicion that the true answers were yes .
French Set Example for War Against Terrorists in 1994
Americans backing Bush's 2003 war in Iraq found occasion to ridicule and denounce the French as "cowards" because they would not support it. In view of the way French commandos in 1994 successfully reclaimed control of an aircraft seized by hijackers intent upon crashing it into the Eiffel tower, this is supreme irony.
An Air France jet hijacked by GIA terrorists landed landed in Marseille, where the hijackers ordered it filled with 27 tons of jet fuel for a trip to Paris. The events were reported by The Seatlle Times:
As the plane was being fueled, French commandos hid in mobile loading ramps rolled near the jet. In a flash, they stormed the jet, throwing in stun grenades. Through the smoke and noise, they shot and killed the four hijackers.
None of the remaining 177 passengers was seriously hurt. Massive tragedy had been averted.
America's entire intelligence community, including its friends in academia, has shown itself to be worthless at best. At worst, the higher circles are riddled with corruption, political intrigue, and treacherous misconduct.
Japanese Journalist Expresses Suspicion
Yoichi Clark Shimatsu, former general editor of The Japan Times Weekly and journalism lecturer at The University of Hong Kong offers more information about the CIA's mysterious failure to obstruct the 9/11 attacks:
Though Osama bin Laden, a popular hero in the Muslim world, makes a tempting, if elusive, target for American grief, it is a mystery how he could have organized the U.S. attacks right under the noses of the CIA's top intelligence experts camped out at his front door. Over the past summer, the entire State Department team for South Asia - all of them former or acting CIA officials - has visited or been stationed in the capitals of Pakistan and India. They include:
George Tenet, CIA director - made a clandestine visit to Islamabad and Peshawar, the listening post near the Afghan border.
Richard Armitage, a CIA and Defense Intelligence veteran - met with Indian security officials in New Delhi.
Christina Rocco, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia and former official in the CIA Directorate of Operations (the covert arm that conducts sabotage and assassination) - toured Pakistan in July.
Wendy Chamberlin, Bush's newly appointed Ambassador to Islamabad, is also a former CIA operative and close associate of Rocco.
Robert D. Blackwill, the new Ambassador to New Delhi, is an intelligence veteran and served as assistant in the National Security Agency to then President George Bush in 1989-90. Blackwill, by the way, was the faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government who served as the CIA's chief "handler" of the Chinese PLA officer who defected late last year.
As late as September, three members of the Senate Intelligence Subcommittee also visited Pakistan with an entourage of espionage operatives.
Failed Sting Operation Accounts for Facts
The facts presented in this document can be accounted for by the explanation that Boren, Tenet, and their collaborators had planned a sting operation against Al Qaeda, and it backfired in their face as the 9/11 attack. They had made a very tragic blunder in their scheming. As various news services reported, in August 2001 Tenet told the President that Bin Laden was interested in hijacking aircraft, but led him to expect that the terrorists would "take over an airliner holding passengers and demand the release of one of their operatives." Enthusiastic about the prospect of glory from planning a rescue mission, Boren and the incompetent sting planners did not reckon that spectacular suicide bombings would be the Al Qaeda method. Their judgment was blinded by the inextinguishable gleam burning in Boren's eye, as the former Senator dreamed of a Presidential candidacy.
We know that Tenet's CIA was conducting surveillance over terrorists who later became 9/11 hijackers as early as the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia, but the agency did not move to disrupt the plot. They also passed up an opportunity to capture Bin Ladin in July 2001. With their obstruction of the effort to search Moussaoui's computer, the high-level operators in the intelligence community actually facilitated the advance of the 9/11 attack by frustrating the efforts of the honest agents in Minneapolis.
The theory of a sting operation explains the coincidence of CIA agent David Edger's arrival at OU in August 2001. Boren arranged for his appointment as a visiting professor. Edger is a specialist in covert action and infiltration. His earlier CIA assignment was surveillance over the Hamburg Al Qaeda cell. One could expect a man with such a background and interest to be enthusiastic about the opportunity to participate with the inner circles of the intelligence community in a dramatic sting operation.
The sting theory explains other facts in the situation. Evidence is not sufficient to evaluate the question of whether sting planners were aware in advance of the scope of the 9/11 terror operation and the number of aircraft to be hijacked. We do know that United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into the ground before it reached its target. Why?
We have been greeted with the story that heroic passengers resisted the hijackers. Is this believeable? The alternative explanation is that CIA operatives assigned to the sting attempt were trying to rescue the aircraft and failed. It is useful to review certain essential facts, as reported by news media, for the purpose of evaluating this alternative explanation, which is speculative. Readers can weigh all the evidence in this document and decide whether it is plausible speculation which justifies additional investigation by those with subpoena power.
[The first MSNBC news online article has been taken down since this webpage appeared.]
One: There were five large men on board the flight, and they attempted to regain control of the aircraft from the hijackers. As far as we know, this kind of event only happened on Flight 93. Tom Burnett was 6'2" and a former high school quarterback. MSNBC describes the other four as follows:
This much we know, they were big guys: Bingham was a 6-foot-4 rugby player; Glick, also a rugby player and judo champion; Beamer was 6 foot 1 and 200 pounds, and Nacke was a 5-foot-9, 200-pound weightlifter with a "Superman" tattoo on his shoulder.
Two: The five men allowed themselves to be herded to the rear of the aircraft with the other passengers.
Three: One of the hijackers announced to passengers that he had a bomb strapped to his belt.
Four: A hijacker pretending to be the legitimate pilot announced over the public address system that he intended to land the aircraft at an airport.
Five: After they had been herded to the rear, information reached the passengers that other hijacked aircraft had crashed into the World Trade Center.
Six: The five men made their move against the hijackers after this information reached them.
Seven: The aircraft was deliberately crashed by hijackers in the course of the struggle with those attempting to regain control.
Eight: the legitimate pilots of the aircraft had been injured or possibly killed by the hijackers.
An interesting clue is found in a statement by author Jere Longman. Describing the passengers credited for attempting to resist the hijackers, he says that they were not a group of ordinary people in an extraordinary moment. "They were," he says, "as a group, very accomplished people, generally on top of their game" ( MSNBC).
Now we move from reported events to informed speculation. Here is how the sting explanation accounts for these events plus other information assembled in this document. The five men described as heroic passengers were covert CIA operatives assigned to the sting. They allowed themselves to be herded to the rear of the craft, at the beginning of the operation, because they believed Tenet's advice that the purpose of the hijacking was to take hostages and negotiate for some demand. They did not expect a suicide crash. Further, their instruction was to save the aircraft, so they did not want to provoke the hijacker claiming to have a bomb to detonate it. Their plan was to conceal their identities until the aircraft landed and then to assault the hijackers.
They changed their plan and attempted to regain control only after news about the WTC attacks reached the passengers from cell phone communication. At that time, they attempted attempted unsuccessfully to regain control of the aircraft with an assault on the pilot's cabin. Such an attempt would have feasible if one or more of men planted on the plane by the CIA were a trained pilot, since by then they understood that hijackers intended to crash the aircraft into a target and commit suicide. In the course of the physical confrontation, the hijacker in the pilot's seat decided to prevent the a