31 Days Before 9/11
August 11, 2001
- “Bootylicious” by Destiny’s Child is the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100.
- American Pie II is the top movie in box office receipts.
- The major stories of the summer involve shark attacks and a missing intern in Washington, D.C., named Chandra Levy.
- President Bush is on vacation in Crawford, Texas, where five days earlier he had been warned by the CIA of a possible attack in a paper titled: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The document said al Qaeda members were believed to be in the U.S., and that a caller to the U.S. embassy in the United Arab Emirates said “a group of bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives.” According to The One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind, the president told the CIA briefing officer, “All right. You’ve covered your ass now.”
- All 19 hijackers are, in fact, already in the U.S. on visas obtained under their actual names.
- On August 11, Hamza al-Ghamdi, who will be one of the hijackers in the second plane to hit the World Trade Center, buys a blue blazer at a Florida men’s store.
- Osama bin Laden has approved the targets and is only awaiting final word on which day the attack will occur.
From The New Yorker
by Nicholas Schmidle
Shortly after eleven o’clock on the night of May 1st, two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters lifted off from Jalalabad Air Field, in eastern Afghanistan, and embarked on a covert mission into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. Inside the aircraft were twenty-three Navy SEALs from Team Six, which is officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU. A Pakistani-American translator, whom I will call Ahmed, and a dog named Cairo—a Belgian Malinois—were also aboard. It was a moonless evening, and the helicopters’ pilots, wearing night-vision goggles, flew without lights over mountains that straddle the border with Pakistan. Radio communications were kept to a minimum, and an eerie calm settled inside the aircraft…
(ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan) — A “huge stash” of pornography was found among the trove of evidence seized from Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound by U.S. Navy SEALs, according to a report confirmed by ABC News.
An official tells ABC News the material was found in bin Laden’s bedroom, apparently stored in a wooden box.
The discovery of the pornographic videos is just the latest in a steady stream of information gleaned from evidence obtained by the SEALs during the mission that killed bin Laden nearly two weeks ago, from invaluable intelligence on al Qaeda operations to embarrassing personal revelations about the terror leader.
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(NEW YORK) — Pakistan is denying U.S. investigators access to Osama bin Laden’s compound and the wives who lived there with him, a rebuke to the U.S. that is escalating tensions between the two allies in the wake of the raid that killed the al Qaeda leader.
Pakistan’s prime minister on Monday spoke publicly for the first time since the operation about the raid and rejected accusations that Pakistani officials aided bin Laden, who had been hiding in Pakistan for several years.
In a speech to the parliament, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani denied that officials were incompetent in searching for bin Laden or complicit in hiding him, a suggestion CIA chief Leon Panetta repeatedly made to lawmakers last week.
Gilani added that Pakistani officials will investigate why bin Laden went undetected while hiding virtually in plain sight in a military town, and criticized the United States for not sharing information of the mission beforehand.
Gaining access to bin Laden’s compounds and his wives are among the United States’ key demands to Pakistan and officials say the denial is another disappointment from Pakistan.
Pakistanis have in custody three of bin Laden’s wives, eight of his children and five other children, according to a senior Pakistani military official.
The CIA is pouring through the trove of information seized at bin Laden’s compound, which is enough information to fill the library of a small college, officials say. Among the mysteries they are hoping to uncover is what the Pakistani government knew and did not know.
(NEW YORK) — One of the reasons that al Qaeda has not yet named a replacement for Osama bin Laden is because there’s possible confusion within the ranks as to who was actually second-in-command during the slain leader’s long tenure.
It was reported in The Wall Street Journal that the person assumed to be bin Laden’s top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, actually “parted ways” with his boss six years ago.
According to a senior Pakistani intelligence official quoted by the newspaper, al-Zawahiri was “marginalized” and lost popularity because he didn’t have the funds to continue helping underwrite al Qaeda operations.
However, the The Wall Street Journal also cites U.S. officials as questioning any rift between al-Zawahiri, the group’s chief ideologue and operational commander, and bin Laden.
The 59-year-old is still believed to be the logical choice to run al Qaeda, which indeed may have cash-flow problems, U.S. counterterrorism officials told the Journal.