9/11: The big wedding that involved planes
Washington, Sep 11: On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed in one of the most horrific attacks that the world has ever seen. Ironically 9/11 was not the first attack on the World Trade Centre. A bombing in February 1993 had killed six people.
Masterminded by the Supreme Commander of the Al-Qaeda, the 9/11 attacks were a series of coordinated terrorist strikes.
The attacks of September 11, 2001:
- Four passenger airlines were hijacked by 19 terrorists. Two were crashed into the World Trade Centre, while a third was crashed into the Pentagon. The fourth initially flown towards Washington DC crashed into a field at Pennsylvania.
- Laden, initially claimed responsibility, but later denied it. A videotape recovered at Jalalabad, Afghanistan shows Laden speaking to Khaled al-Harbi of the Al-Qaeda. Laden is heard admitting foreknowledge of the attacks.
- In 2002, Al Jazeera reported that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed admitted his involvement in the attacks along with Ramzi bin al-Shibh. Mohammad was arrested in Pakistan on March 1 2003.
- Khalid had in 1996 first presented the idea of the attack to Laden, who in turn gave approval for the attack in 1999. For the mission, a group of men from Hamburg, Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Ziad Jarrah, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh are selected.
- A letter presented by the lawyers of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed in the US District Court, Manhattan on 26 July 2019, stated that he was interested in testifying against Saudi Arabia's role in the 9/11 attacks. However, as per the letter, Mohammed's agreement upon the same in "the present time" isn't certain. James Kreindler, one of the lawyers for the plaintiff also raised questions over the usefulness of Mohammed.
- In 1999, the NSA intercepts a call between Walind Bin Attash and Mihdhar, a seasoned jihadi. The agency feared that some big was afloat, but took no action. The Alec Station alerted intelligence agencies worldwide but did not share the information with the FBI.
- An FBI liaison to Alec Station sought permission to inform FBI of the meeting but was told, this is not a matter of the FBI.
- On July 13, a CIA agent assigned to the FBI's international terrorism division mailed his superiors requesting permission to inform the FBI. The CIA did not respond.
- The same month, an FBI based agent sent a message to headquarters that there is a possibility of a coordinated effort by Laden to sent students to civil aviation universities. The agent noted that the operation was codenamed The Big Wedding and it involved aeroplanes.
- August 6 2001: The CIA's presidential brief said that Bin Laden determined to strike in the US. The FBI information indicates patterns of suspicious activity in the country, the brief also stated.
- The failures in intelligence-sharing were attributed to 1995 Justice Department policies limiting intelligence sharing, combined with CIA and NSA reluctance to reveal "sensitive sources and methods" such as tapped phones
- Investigations by the FBI identified the hijackers including leader Mohamed Atta when his luggage was discovered at Boston's Logan Airport. Atta had been forced to check two of his three bags due to space limitations on the 19-seat commuter flight he took to Boston.
- On September 27, 2001, FBI released photos of all 19 hijackers, along with information about possible nationalities and aliases. Fifteen were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one from Lebanon.
- On every anniversary, in New York City, the names of the victims who died there are read out against a background of somber music.
- The President of the United States attends a memorial service at the Pentagon and asks Americans to observe Patriot Day with a moment of silence.