The terror group's mission was to acquire basic information on how to hijack an airplane and checks at the airports, the New Straits Times reported quoting its sources.
The terrorists even timed the pilots -- when they would come out of the cockpit to rest and when the flight attendants would take food into the cockpit for the pilots, the paper said.
All four aircraft hijacked in the September 11, 2001 attacks were identical to the aircraft boarded by militants during the "tests", the paper said.
The source said KLIA, Bangkok and Hong Kong were chosen because al-Qaeda believed the security at these airports was similar to that in the American airports. The tests were conducted between December 1999 and January 2000.
Al-Qaeda operations planner Tawfiq Attash made five flights, from Karachi to KLIA then on to Bangkok and Hong Kong. Investigations revealed that Tawfiq took the box cutter onto the plane but it was not noticed by airport security personnel.
While staying in the Evergreen Condominium in Kajang, Tawfiq discussed the mission with other operatives. They were Khalid Al-Mihdar, Nawaf Al-Hazmi, Tawfiq Attash, Abu Bara Al Yemeni and Ramzi Al-Shibh, whose missions were to study flight patterns and crew activity while in the air, the paper said.