Sunday, March 27, 2011
Because of information gathered during interrogations, the mastermind of 9/11 — Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) — was captured, and he, in turn, was interrogated. His questioning produced many intelligence reports. In an article about a new book, the author says:
In one of these reports, KSM describes in detail the revisions he made to his failed 1994-1995 plan known as the “Bojinka plot” to blow up a dozen airplanes carrying some 4,000 passengers over the Pacific Ocean.
Years later, an observant CIA officer notices that the activities of a cell being followed by British authorities appear to match KSM’s description of his plans for a Bojinka-style attack.
In an operation that involves unprecedented intelligence cooperation between our countries, British officials proceed to unravel the plot. On the night of Aug.9, 2006 they launch a series of raids in a northeast London suburb that lead to the arrest of two dozen al Qaeda terrorist suspects. They find a USB thumb-drive in the pocket of one of the men with security details for Heathrow airport, and information on seven trans-Atlantic flights that were scheduled to take off within hours of each other:
United Airlines Flight 931 to San Francisco departing at 2:15 p.m.;
Air Canada Flight 849 to Toronto departing at 3:00 p.m.;
Air Canada Flight 865 to Montreal departing at 3:15 p.m.;
United Airlines Flight 959 to Chicago departing at 3:40 p.m.;
United Airlines Flight 925 to Washington departing at 4:20 p.m.;
American Airlines Flight 131 to New York departing at 4:35 p.m; and
American Airlines Flight 91 to Chicago departing at 4:50 p.m.
They seize bomb-making equipment and hydrogen peroxide to make liquid explosives. And they find the chilling martyrdom videos the suicide bombers had prepared.
Today, if you asked an average person on the street what they know about the 2006 airlines plot, most would not be able to tell you much. Few Americans are aware of the fact that al Qaeda had planned to mark the fifth anniversary of 9/11 with an attack of similar scope and magnitude.
And still fewer realize that the terrorists’ true intentions in this plot were uncovered thanks to critical information obtained through the interrogation of the man who conceived it: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.