Thursday, January 20

Signs that warned of the attack on the Twin Towers

(CNN) — Here’s a tour of the warning signs that preceded the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers.


Osama bin Laden founds al Qaeda (or “the base”), a militant group whose main objective is to wage world jihad.

January 6, 1995

Abdul Hakim Murad is detained in Manila, Philippines. He details plans to blow up US planes over the Pacific and crash an explosives-laden plane into CIA headquarters or another US federal building.

August 7, 1998

Bombs explode at US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, causing the death of 224 people. Al Qaeda claims responsibility for the attack.

October 8, 1998

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advises airlines and airports to maintain a “high degree of alertness.” The warning comes in response to statements made by Bin Laden following the US bombings of al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan and Sudan.

Late 1998

The American intelligence community collects information which indicates that Bin Laden wants to coordinate an attack within the United States, but the threats are vague and lack details about the time and place. The concern peaks during the spring and summer of 2001.


French intelligence includes Zacarias Moussaoui on a list of terrorism suspects.

1999 September

Federal study on terrorism published. According to the study, al Qaeda “represents the most serious terrorist threat to the security interests of the United States.” The study warns that al Qaeda “could crash a plane loaded with high explosives (C-4 and Semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA or the White House.”

December 1999

The CIA intercepts telephone conversations in Yemen detailing plans for an upcoming al Qaeda summit in Malaysia.

December 14, 1999

Ahmed Ressam is arrested while trying to enter the United States from Canada. In his car, researchers find 59 kilograms of material to make bombs. It is eventually discovered that Ressam was planning to blow up the Los Angeles International Airport.

January 2000

The CIA obtains information about a meeting of suspected al Qaeda members in Kuala Lumpur.

October 12, 2000

Suicide terrorists attack the USS Cole in Yemen, killing 17 sailors. Al Qaeda claims responsibility for the attack.


Moussaoui trains at flight schools in Oklahoma and Minnesota.

January-September 2001

The FAA issues 15 informative circulars with widespread warnings about terrorist threats.

July 10, 2001

The FBI agent Kenneth Williams writes a memorandum on Middle Eastern men training at Phoenix-area flight schools, speculating they might be connected to al Qaeda. The CIA Director George Tenet, informs officials, including the National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, on the threat of al Qaeda.

August 6, 2001

The presidente George W. Bush receives a memo titled “Bin Ladin is determined to attack America”.

August 15, 2001

Minnesota’s Pan Am International Flight Academy alerts FBI of its suspicions about Moussaoui, who had paid for the training in cash and had requested instruction in piloting large aircraft, despite having little experience. Subsequently, the FBI interrogates Moussaoui and steps are taken to deport him.

August 23, 2001

The CIA sends an urgent cable to the FBI, the State Department, the Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, in which he alerted them of his concern for individuals linked to Bin Laden.

September 4, 2001

Bush’s national security advisers approve a preliminary version of a plan to fight al Qaeda. It includes allocations of US $ 200 million to arm the enemies of the Taliban. The advisers plan to present the draft to Bush on September 10, but the president is away and does not see it.

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