U.S. Knew About 9-11 Terror Plot Since 1995
December 19, 2001
With a massive amount of information about planned terrorist attacks in hand, how could the government have been caught by surprise on 9-11?
The CIA and FBI have known - since 1995 - about a terrorist plan to use civilian aircraft to attack the World Trade center and U.S. government installations. The plans to hijack a large number of American commercial passenger planes simultaneously and explode them in mid-flight or crash them into predetermined targets such as the World Trade Center have been well known by western intelligence agencies since 1995, according to a report in Die Welt, a leading German newspaper on Dec. 7.
The terrorist scenario that unfolded on Sept. 11 was neither new nor unexpected - and the American intelligence agencies, both the CIA and the FBI, have known of the plan to execute such an act for more than six years, Die Welt said.
The airline terror plan, code named "Project Bojinka," was first discovered in January 1995 during a police search of a Manila apartment in which a suspicious fire had occurred just days before Pope John Paul II was to travel nearby during his visit to the Philippines. A Philippines police investigation revealed that a three-man terrorist cell had occupied the apartment in the center of Manila and made preparations to assassinate the pope. The contents of the apartment included bombs made of liquid chemicals along with the garb of priests, Bibles, and religious paraphernalia meant to disguise the assassins.
The three terrorists who had occupied the apartment, Ramsi Ahmed Yousef, Abdul Hakim Murad and Wali Khan Amin Shah, where allegedly affiliated with international terrorist networks. All three had attended pilot training schools in the Philippines. The Kuwaiti terrorists, Yousef and Murad, had developed undetectable liquid nitroglycerine bombs that could be hidden in contact lens bottles, and plotted to kill the pope and President Bill Clinton, according to the Guardian. Investigators say the Bojinka bombs are among the most sophisticated they have seen. Yousef and Murad planned to use liquid nitroglycerin, which is virtually undetectable by airport security screening. Although Yousef and Shah managed to escape after the fire, Murad was arrested when he returned to the apartment to retrieve his laptop computer.
Federal investigative sources have confirmed that Murad detailed an entire plot to dive bomb aircraft into the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley, Va. The plot was contained on the laptop computer he had tried to recover.
On Murad's computer the police discovered "Project Bojinka," a plan to terrorize the United States by sabotaging 11 westbound civilian aircraft simultaneously with bombs, exploding them in mid-air as they approached the West Coast. Furthermore, "Project Bojinka" included plans to hijack and crash several commercial airplanes into civilian and government buildings simultaneously, precisely as it occurred on Sept. 11. Yousef independently boasted of the plot to U.S. Secret service agent Brian Parr and FBI agent Charles Stern on an extradition flight from Pakistan to the United States in February 1995. The agents later testified to that fact in court.
Philippine investigators say the plan targeted not only the CIA but other U.S. government buildings in Washington, including the Pentagon. The Philippine police said that the World Trade Center and Sears Tower were specific targets in the plan. Shortly before the fire in Manila, at the end of 1994, Yosef conducted a Bojinka test run. Yousef boarded Philippine Airlines Flight 434 bound for Tokyo from Manila. He carried the volatile liquid onto the airliner in a plastic contact-lens solution bottle. Once airborne, Yousef went to the rest room to prepare the bomb. Using a Casio watch as a timer and batteries from children's toys, he assembled the bomb, which he placed under a passenger seat.
Yousef left the plane during a stop in the Philippine city of Cebu. The bomb exploded soon after the airliner left Cebu. One person was killed and several were injured, though the pilot was able to make an emergency landing.