Report sheds light on al Qaeda-linked hijacking plot in 2000
The document cites a January 2000 meeting between Osama bin Laden and Taliban officials to discuss a plot to hijack airplanes.
October 8th, 2013
07:01 PM ET

Report sheds light on al Qaeda-linked hijacking plot in 2000

By Jamie Crawford

Did the United States intelligence community dismiss a warning of an al Qaeda plot to hijack a commercial airliner a year before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001?

That's the assertion made by Judicial Watch, a conservative, nonpartisan government watchdog group, based on a document it obtained from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) through the Freedom of Information Act and distributed to media.

In the Intelligence Information Report dated September 27, 2001, the DIA says al Qaeda planned to hijack a plane leaving Frankfurt International Airport sometime between March and August 2000. Advanced warning of that plot "was disregarded because nobody believed that (Osama) bin Laden or the Taliban could carry out such an operation," the report said.

The plot was eventually delayed after one of the participants withdrew from the plot.

According to the document, al Qaeda operatives were able to infiltrate the consular section of the German embassy in Pakistan to provide European Union visas for use in forged Pakistani passports, which would be used by terrorists.

Details including the name, address and telephone numbers for an al Qaeda operative in Hamburg, Germany, who also forged passports for Taliban and other Afghan-based terrorists were included in the report as well.

The document also describes a two-day January 2000 meeting in Kabul between bin Laden and Taliban officials, during which an operation was discussed to hijack an airplane in Germany. From Germany, the report said, the hijackers were to commandeer a U.S. airliner headed to the United States, or a Lufthansa flight headed to Turkey or Central Asia.

"The details of names, addresses and such from this reporting should have provided 'actionable intelligence' for any number of U.S. anti-terrorist operations," Judicial Watch president Tom Fitten said in a written statement. "It is clear as day that the 9/11 plot could have been derailed if the leads in these documents had been followed."

The hijacking plot detailed in the intelligence report did not bear much resemblance to the suicide attacks of 9/11, when four terrorists used four U.S. airliners to kill nearly 3,000 people.

Rather, the plane was to be flown to Iran, with backup destinations in Tajikistan and Afghanistan if permission to land were denied. The report notes that the plan was for hostages to be held for ransom and not killed.

Also, the point of the hijacking was to draw attention to the European Union's failure to denounce Russia's actions in quelling the revolt in the breakaway republic of Chechnya. This was not a central issue to bin Laden, whose wrath was most focused on the presence of U.S. military forces in his native Saudi Arabia.

However, the report is seemingly more detailed than previously declassified reports about al Qaeda's push to launch a major strike on the U.S. homeland, such as the daily intelligence briefing delivered to President George W. Bush in August 2001 about bin Laden's determination to pull off an attack.

According to Judicial Watch, the DIA report was declassified and released to the organization on August 29.
The DIA has not yet responded to CNN's request for a comment.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Intelligence • Osama bin Laden • Terrorism
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. USAPeasant

    This story really speaks to the real 9/11 conspiracy. That we underestimated the radical islamist threat and let them in even after warnings from them themselves and from our allies. A big problem is we still seem to not only underestimate this threat by letting in immigrants from radicalized countries, giving money to nations that harbor these rogues, and aiding and comforting these people whose allegiance is not with America. To make matters worse at the same time we also seem to overreact on our own people who are just Americans trying to live by spying and searching them and trampling their rights.

    It is not good policy to be inviting in the enemy and funding him while simultaneously cracking down on your own People who are the loyal bulwark of the Nation. Because of this now the enemy can exploit us with conspiracies as wild as saying our own government did 9/11, and behold most of the common American believes this propaganda. It's really time to start giving back liberty to the lawful citizen and win back the People's trust and also to start being more cautious about how we deal with countries and international groups that have a very real hatred of us.

    It is good that the intelligence agencies have disclosed this in this article to help dispel myth and also help plan for the policy of the future. The leaks of wikileaks and Snowden also ironically help to restore that confidence. I hope the government considers this and is a little more lenient with them. I Also saw we have cut some aid to Egypt, and our rethinking of the syrian strike was a solid move. These are all good things and good signs of the government changing for the better. Would liek to see a little budging on the legislative aspect of some of these though. We might have a Renaissance yet.

    October 13, 2013 at 1:56 am | Reply
  2. bluedevilrn

    There were NINETEEN 9/11 hijackers. Not four. One person didn't overtake each aircraft on his own. There were NINETEEN.

    October 9, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  3. ShiverMeTimbers

    CNN reports world's top ten terrorists are all arabs or muslims.

    October 9, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Reply
  4. ShiverMeTimbers

    America's real enemy is Israel.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:24 am | Reply
    • Josh

      Israel has never hijacked any airplane. That is something Muslims do.

      October 9, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Reply
  5. Phelix Unger

    I understand the question, what I don't understand is why the author chose to put the picture of a murdering sack of feces at the top of it. So Americans see this tool but not the individuals who died as a result of his actions. This piece of crap is at the bottom of the ocean, his image should be sent there as well.

    Everyone knows that GW had received intelligence reports on the possiblity of something like what happened on 9/11 but failed to act.

    Jamie, if your going to use images of this killer, maybe use the caption underneath "feeding the fishes".

    Thank you

    October 9, 2013 at 12:49 am | Reply
    • ShiverMeTimbers

      What about the 5 Israelis who were dancing and high-fiving while filming the burning towers?

      October 9, 2013 at 5:29 am | Reply
      • Josh

        Muslims immigrants like Mohammed Atta and his friends were the hijackers on 911 – these are the terrorists living among us.
        Pakistani Muslim immigrants like Shanawaz Faisal, the time square bomber, are the terrorists living among us.

        October 9, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
      • Phelix Unger

        Let's look at that, how many muslims were jumping up and down and giving each other high fives? Think maybe more than five and less than 10,000,000. Five misguided Isreali's is nothing compared to millions of muslims. Not one person should have been celebrating that death and destruction, and I would say, treat them like any other enemy who revels is the misery of American lives lost.

        October 13, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • USAPeasant

      Lol I get your sentiment. It would seem kind of in poor taste with that smirk on his face too. Be better to show the picture of him turned into fishbait for every article associated with him.

      Osama bin Laden: Killed by seals. Eaten by sharks.

      October 13, 2013 at 6:07 am | Reply
  6. George patton

    Is there any truth to this report or is this just more right-wing propaganda?

    October 8, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Reply
    • Random

      Sounds legit to me. No one took them seriously back then. If people understood the volume of 'threats' they get and we never hear about they would probably understand but it would probably cause a panic. It is really easy to look back and pick others actions. The only question is was there intent to do harm , or did they just miss something that they shouldnt have. I dont think there was intent.

      October 8, 2013 at 8:25 pm | Reply
      • ShiverMeTimbers

        There are still many unanswered questions about 911, for instance; I can't understand why building #7 collapsed in its own footprint.

        October 9, 2013 at 5:31 am |

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