Friday, November 6, 2009

OUR TERRORISTS by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

Islamic fundamentalist militants are the enemies of Israel and Western governments, right? Think again. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed reports.

US and Pakistani intelligence bigwigs get chummy at a mujahidin training camp in 1987. Note then-Director of the ISI (Inter-Service Intelligence) Major Gen. Hamid Gul (front left) and then-Director of the CIA William Webster (second left). Photo:

Once upon a time, the CIA trained, financed and supported Osama bin Laden and his mujahidin networks in Afghanistan to repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. After the end of the Cold War, bin Laden turned against the West and we no longer had any use for him. His persistent terrorist attacks against us for more than a decade, culminating in 9/11, provoked our own response, in the form of the ‘War on Terror’. This is the official narrative. And it’s false. Not only did Western intelligence services continue to foster Islamist extremist and terrorist groups connected to al-Qaeda after the Cold War; they continued to do so even after 9/11.

The CIA’s jihad

The story begins in the summer of 1979, six months before the Soviet invasion, when the CIA had already begun financing elements of an emerging Islamist mujahidin force inside Afghanistan. The idea, according to former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former CIA Director Robert Gates, was to increase the probability of a Soviet invasion, and entrap ‘the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire’.[1]

Osama bin Laden arrived in the country later that year, sent by then-Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal, where he set up the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) which helped finance, recruit and train mujahidin fighters.[2] Bin Laden, the MAK, and the Afghan mujahidin in total received about half a billion dollars a year from the CIA, and roughly the same from the Saudis, funnelled through Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).[3]

By around 1988, as Jane’s Defence Weekly reports, ‘with US knowledge, Bin Laden created al-Qaeda (The Base): a conglomerate of quasi-independent Islamic terrorist cells spread across at least 26 countries’.[4] US and Western intelligence agencies facilitated this process, seeing rightwing Islamist movements as a counterweight to Communist, leftwing and nationalist political trends. They supported the Saudis and other Gulf states, as well as Pakistan, Turkey and Azerbaijan among others, in proliferating Islamist extremist institutions in far-flung countries such as Algeria, Yemen, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Funding for these activities was intertwined with the establishment of organized criminal financial centres in Malaysia, Madagascar, South Africa, Nigeria, Latin America, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Turkestan, and elsewhere.[5]

Islamism and the CIA’s destabilization doctrine

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in particular in 1991 when the Saudis accepted the stationing of 300,000 US troops in the country due to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Osama bin Laden reportedly turned against his former masters in Riyadh and Washington. Since then, bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network became our enemy, targeting Western citizens and interests throughout the 1990s, culminating in the most devastating strike of all in the form of the 9/11 atrocities in the US.

Unfortunately, this is where the official story begins to break down. Because after 1991, Islamists affiliated to bin Laden and al-Qaeda continued to receive selective support from Western intelligence services. The policy was alluded to by Graham Fuller, former Deputy Director of the CIA’s National Council on Intelligence, when he stated: ‘The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvellously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.’[6]

Afghanistan, Big Oil and the Taliban

Throughout the 1990s, the selective US intelligence sponsorship of Islamist extremist networks was linked not simply to destabilizing potential Russian and Chinese influence, but further to securing US-led Western control over strategic energy reserves. When bin Laden moved from Sudan to Afghanistan in June 1996, the State Department warned that the move ‘could prove more dangerous to US interests’, granting him ‘the capability to support individuals and groups who have the motive and wherewithal to attack US interests almost worldwide’.[7] He had been offered protection by Pakistan in May on condition that he align his mujahidin forces with the Taliban. The new al-Qaeda-Taliban alliance was reportedly blessed by the Saudis.[8]

Yet as the respected Pakistani correspondent Ahmed Rashid reported, US intelligence supported the Taliban as a vehicle of regional influence at least between 1994 and 1998. This policy continued up to the year 2000, despite growing cautions. Thus, when the Taliban conquered Kabul in 1996, a State Department spokesperson explained that the US found ‘nothing objectionable’ in the event. One year later, a US diplomat commented: ‘The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis… There will be Aramco (consortium of oil companies controlling Saudi oil), pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that.’[9]

Continued US sponsorship of the al-Qaeda-Taliban nexus in Afghanistan was confirmed as late as 2000 in Congressional hearings. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on South Asia, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher – former White House Special Assistant to President Reagan and now Senior Member of the House International Relations Committee – declared that ‘this administration has a covert policy that has empowered the Taliban and enabled this brutal movement to hold on to power’. The assumption is that ‘the Taliban would bring stability to Afghanistan and permit the building of oil pipelines from Central Asia through Afghanistan to Pakistan’.[10] US companies involved in the project included UNOCAL and ENRON. As early as May 1996, UNOCAL had officially announced plans to build a pipeline to transport natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through western Afghanistan.

US officials held several meetings with the Taliban from 2000 to summer 2001, in an effort to get the Taliban to agree to a joint federal government with their local enemies, the Northern Alliance, promising financial aid and international legitimacy if the deal was struck. By then, US policymakers had belatedly concluded that the Taliban would never bring the stability needed for the pipeline project. According to Pakistani Foreign Minister Niaz Naik, who was present at the meetings, US officials threatened the Taliban with military action if they failed to comply with the federalization plan. Even the date of threatened military action, October 2001, was proposed. Needless to say, the Taliban rejected the plan.[11] So months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a war on Afghanistan was already on the table. Jean-Charles Brisard, a former French intelligence officer, thus speculates that 9/11 may have been a pre-emptive attack by al-Qaeda to head off the declared US military invasion of Afghanistan.[12]

There is still keen interest in the pipeline. ‘Since the US-led offensive that ousted the Taliban from power,’ reported Forbes in 2005, ‘the project has been revived and drawn strong US support’ as it would allow the Central Asian republics to export energy to Western markets ‘without relying on Russian routes’. Then-US Ambassador to Turkmenistan Ann Jacobsen noted that: ‘We are seriously looking at the project, and it is quite possible that American companies will join it.’[13] The problem remains that the southern section of the proposed pipeline runs through territory still de facto controlled by Taliban forces.

Mega Oil and mujahidin from the Balkans to the Caucasus

Unfortunately, we now know that US flirtations with the al-Qaeda-Taliban nexus in Afghanistan throughout the 1990s were only one moment in a much wider covert US geostrategy to secure control over strategic energy resources across the Eurasian continent, by co-opting Islamist networks affiliated with bin Laden.

In 1991, the first Bush Administration wanted an oil pipeline from Azerbaijan, across the Caucasus, to Turkey. That year, three US Air Force officers, Richard Secord (a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs), Heinie Aderholt and Ed Dearborn, landed in Baku, and set up a front company, ‘MEGA Oil’. They were veterans of previous CIA covert operations in Laos and later with Lt. Col. Oliver North’s Contra scandal. In Azerbaijan, they setup an airline to secretly fly hundreds of al-Qaeda mujahidin from Afghanistan into Azerbaijan. By 1993, MEGA Oil had recruited and armed 2,000 mujahidin, converting Baku into a base for regional jihadi operations.[14]

The covert operation contributed to the military coup that toppled elected president Abulfaz Elchibey that year, and installed US puppet Heidar Aliyev. A secret Turkish intelligence report leaked to the Sunday Times confirmed that ‘two petrol giants, BP and Amoco, British and American respectively, which together form the AIOC (Azerbaijan International Oil Consortium), are behind the coup d’état.[15]

From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon flew thousands of al-Qaeda mujahidin from Central Asia into Europe, to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs. The mujahidin were ‘accompanied by US Special Forces equipped with high-tech communications equipment,’ according to intelligence sources. Bin Laden’s mercenaries were used as shock troops by the Pentagon ‘to coordinate and support Bosnian Muslim offensives’.[16]

The pattern continued in Kosovo, where ethnic violence broke out between Albanians and Serbs. In 1998, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization financed by bin Laden and the heroin trade. Bin Laden had sent a senior lieutenant, Muhammed al-Zawahiri (brother of al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri), to lead an élite KLA unit during the Kosovo conflict. He had direct radio contact with NATO leadership. Indeed, British SAS and American Delta Force instructors were training KLA fighters as early as 1996. The CIA supplied military assistance up to and during the 1999 bombing campaign, including military training manuals and field advice, under the cover of OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) ceasefire monitors.[17]

After the Kosovo War, when the KLA switched operations to Macedonia under the banner of the National Liberation Army (NLA), its links with al-Qaeda were as strong as ever according to US, Macedonian, Albanian and Yugoslav intelligence sources. Yet by 2001, Canadian military correspondent Scott Taylor reported after a visit to Tetovo that ‘there is no denying the massive amount of material and expertise supplied by NATO to the guerrillas’.[18]

So why the Balkans? Gen. Sir Mike Jackson, then-commander of NATO troops in the region, summed it up in 1999: ‘We will certainly stay here for a long time in order to guarantee the safety of the energy corridors which cross Macedonia.’ The General was talking about the Trans-Balkan pipeline passing through Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania, planned to be a primary route to the West for Central Asian oil and gas.[19]

Around the same time, US intelligence stepped up sponsorship of al-Qaeda mujahidin in Chechnya. Chechnya is traditionally a predominantly Sufi society, yet the increasing encroachment of US-sponsored mujahidin operatives linked to Osama bin Laden transformed the character of the Chechen resistance movement, empowering al-Qaeda’s hardline Islamist ideology. US intelligence ties had been established in the early 1990s in Baku under Dick Secord’s operation, where mujahidin activities had quickly extended into Dagestan and Chechnya, turning Baku into a shipping point for Afghan heroin to the Chechen mafia.[20]

From the mid-1990s, bin Laden funded Chechen guerrilla leaders Shamil Basayev and Omar ibn al-Khattab to the tune of several millions of dollars per month, sidelining the moderate Chechen majority.[21] US intelligence remained deeply involved until the end of the decade. According to Yossef Bodanksy, then-Director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Washington was actively involved in ‘yet another anti-Russian jihad, ‘seeking to support and empower the most virulent anti-Western Islamist forces’. US Government officials participated in ‘a formal meeting in Azerbaijan’ in December 1999 ‘in which specific programmes for the training and equipping of mujahidin from the Caucasus, Central/South Asia and the Arab world were discussed and agreed upon’, culminating in ‘Washington’s tacit encouragement of both Muslim allies (mainly Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) and US “private security companies”... to assist the Chechens and their Islamist allies to surge in the spring of 2000 and sustain the ensuing jihad for a long time.’ The US saw the sponsorship of ‘Islamist jihad in the Caucasus’ as a way to ‘deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiralling violence and terrorism’.[22]

Algeria – state terrorism in disguise

Parallel covert operations were deployed in the same period in Algeria, where the army cancelled national democratic elections in 1992 that would have brought the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) to power in a landslide victory. Tens of thousands of FIS voters were rounded up into detention camps in the Sahara, while the FIS and other Islamist political parties were banned. Not long after the coup, hundreds of civilians were being mysteriously massacred by an unknown terrorist group, identified by the Algerian junta as a radical offshoot of the FIS calling itself the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). The GIA was formed largely of Algerian veterans of bin Laden’s mujahidin forces in Afghanistan who had returned in the late 1980s.[23] To date, the total death toll from the massacres by the GIA is an estimated 150,000 civilians.[24]

Yet in the late 1990s, evidence began to emerge from dissident Algerian Government and intelligence sources that the GIA atrocities were in fact perpetrated by the state. ‘Yussuf-Joseph’, a career secret agent in Algeria’s sécurité militaire for 14 years, defected to Britain in 1997 and told the Guardian that civilian massacres in Algeria, blamed on the GIA, were ‘the work of secret police and army death squads… not Islamic extremists’. GIA terrorism was ‘orchestrated’ by ‘Mohammed Mediane, head of the Algerian secret service’, and ‘General Smain Lamari’, head of ‘the counter intelligence agency’. According to Joseph: ‘The GIA is a pure product of Smain’s secret service. I used to read all the secret telexes. I know that the GIA has been infiltrated and manipulated by the Government. The GIA has been completely turned by the Government… In 1992 Smain created a special group, L’Escadron de la Mort (the Squadron of Death)... The death squads organize the massacres... The FIS aren’t doing the massacres.’

Joseph also confirmed that Algerian intelligence agents organized ‘at least’ two of the bombs in Paris in summer 1995. ‘The operation was run by Colonel Souames Mahmoud, alias Habib, head of the secret service at the Algerian embassy in Paris.’ Joseph’s testimony has been corroborated by numerous defectors from the Algerian secret services.[25]

Western intelligence agencies are implicated. Secret British Foreign Office documents revealed in a terrorist trial in 2000 showed that ‘British intelligence believed the Algerian Government was involved in atrocities, contradicting the view the Government was claiming in public’. The documents referred to the ‘manipulation of the GIA being used as a cover to carry out their own operations’, and that ‘there was no evidence to link 1995 Paris bombings to Algerian militants’.[26]

Algeria has the fifth largest reserves of natural gas in the world, and is the second largest gas exporter, with 130 trillion proven natural gas reserves. It ranks fourteenth for oil reserves, with official estimates at 9.2 billion barrels. Approximately 90 per cent of Algeria’s crude oil exports go to Western Europe, including Britain, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. Algeria’s major trading partners are Italy, France, the United States, Germany, and Spain.

Currently, the militant Algerian splinter group, the al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb – formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) – plays a predominant role in regional terrorist violence. Yet in a series of extensive analyses for the Review of African Political Economy, social anthropologist Dr Jeremy Keenan – Director of Sahara Studies at the University of East Anglia – documents ‘an increasing amount of evidence to suggest that the alleged spread of terrorist activities across much of the Sahelian Sahara, has indeed been an elaborate deception on the part of US and Algerian military intelligence services’. He discusses evidence that an al-Qaeda hostage-taking of European tourists in early 2003 ‘was initiated and orchestrated by elements within the Algerian military establishment’, an operation ‘condoned by the US’, and that al-Qaeda leader Ammar Saifi (also known as Abderazzak El Para, or ‘the Maghreb’s bin Laden’) ‘was “turned” by the Algerian security forces in January 2003’.[27]

Energy hegemony is a key priority. Reported al-Qaeda activity in North Africa has focused on oil-rich nations, particularly the Niger Delta, Nigeria, and Chad. Thus, in July 2003, Keenan reports, under US auspices Algeria, Chad, Niger and Nigeria ‘signed a co-operation agreement on counter-terrorism that effectively joined the two oil-rich sides of the Sahara together in a complex of security arrangements whose architecture is American’. This has now evolved into the $500 million Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative, in which Algeria plays a pivotal role in US plans for future regional military deployment. The region-wide security arrangement coincides with the inauguration of a $6 billion World Bank project, the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline.[28]

Islamist extremism and the Israeli connection

Curiously, Israel has played a key role in some of these policies, starting with the involvement of Congressman Charlie Wilson, who used his position in the House Select Committee on Intelligence, gained with the support of then Senator Dick Cheney, to ramp up billions of dollars’ worth of support for both Israel and the Afghan mujahidin.[29] Gust Avracotos, the CIA’s Station Chief in Islamabad, commented that Wilson brought ‘the Israelis into the CIA’s Muslim jihad’, opening opportunities for Mossad penetration of the ISI and al-Qaeda and securing Israeli arms contracts and intelligence ties with Pakistan.[30]

Closer to home, Israel played a very similar game in its ambiguous relationship to Hamas. US Government and intelligence sources confirm that Israel provided direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas in the late 1970s as a counterbalance to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).[31] According to the Israeli military affairs experts Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Ya’ari, at the time of the first Intifadah, Fatah ‘suspected the Israelis of a plot first to let Hamas gather strength and then to unleash it against the PLO, turning the uprising into a civil war... many Israeli staff officers believed that the rise of fundamentalism in Gaza could be exploited to weaken the power of the PLO’.[32]

Israeli support for Hamas reportedly continued even after the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, during the period of some of the worst suicide bombings.[33] Even the late Palestinian Authority (PA) President Yassir Arafat said in 2001 that Hamas ‘continued to benefit from permits and authorizations, while we have been limited, even [for permits] to build a tomato factory... Some collaborationists of Israel are involved in these [terrorist] attacks.’[34]

Indeed, there are indications that the Israeli assassination of Hamas leader Abu Hanoud in November 2001 was a ploy to provoke more terror bombings. Three months earlier, the Israeli Insider reported Ariel Sharon’s plan for an all-out attack on the PA to permanently destroy its infrastructure, noting that the plan would only ‘be launched immediately following the next high-casualty suicide bombing’ – which was later provoked by Israel’s extrajudicial killing of Hanoud. As Israeli military security analyst Alex Fishman noted: ‘Whoever gave a green light to this act of liquidation knew full well that he was thereby shattering in one blow the gentleman’s agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Under that agreement, Hamas was to avoid in the near future suicide bombings inside the Green Line (pre-1967 border), having come to the understanding that it would be better not to play into Israel’s hands by mass attacks on its population centres. This understanding was, however, shattered by the assassination the day before yesterday – and whoever decided upon the liquidation of Abu knew in advance that that would be the price. The subject had been extensively discussed both by the military and the political echelon, before it was decided to carry out the liquidation.’[35]

Elements of the Israeli far-right, including senior cabinet officials, recognized that the plan to destroy the PA would facilitate the rise of Hamas. In an Israeli Cabinet meeting in December 2001, for instance, one minister declared: ‘Between Hamas and Arafat, I prefer Hamas.’ He added that Arafat is a ‘terrorist in a diplomat’s suit, while Hamas can be hit unmercifully… there won’t be any international protests’.[36]

Ties with terror

Islamist terrorism cannot be understood without acknowledging the extent to which its networks are being used by Western military intelligence services, both to control strategic energy resources and to counter their geopolitical rivals. Even now, nearly a decade after 9/11, covert sponsorship of al-Qaeda networks continues. In recent dispatches for the New Yorker, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh cites US Government and intelligence officials’ confirmation that the CIA and the Pentagon have funnelled millions of dollars via Saudi Arabia to al-Qaeda affiliated Sunni extremist groups, across the Middle East and Central Asia. The policy, which Hersh says began in 2003, has spilled over into regions like Iraq and Lebanon, fuelling Sunni-Shi’a sectarian conflict.[37] The programme is part of a drive to counter Iranian Shi’a influence in the region. In early 2008, a US Presidential Finding to Congress corroborated Hersh’s reporting, affirming CIA funding worth $400 million to diverse anti-Shi’a extremist and terrorist groups. This was not contested by any Democratic members of the House.[38] Now, President Obama has retained Bush’s Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, as his own. Yet Gates was the architect of the covert strategy against Iran. To date, Obama has given no indication that this strategy will change. The history outlined here throws into doubt our entire understanding of the ‘war on terror’. How can we fight a war against an enemy that our own governments are covertly financing for short-sighted geopolitical interests?

If the ‘war on terror’ is to end, it won’t be won by fighting the next futile oil war. It will be won at home by holding the secretive structures of government to account and prosecuting officials for aiding and abetting terrorism – whether knowingly or by criminal negligence. Ultimately only this will rein in the ‘security’ agencies that foster the ‘enemy’ we are supposed to be fighting.

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development. His latest book is The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry (Duckworth, 2006).

This is an extended version of the article which appeared in the October 2009 issue of NI, Islam in Power.

1. Le Nouvel Observateur (15-21 January 1998) p. 76; Robert Gates, From the Shadows – The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997) pp. 143-149

2. Craig Unger, House of Bush, House of Saud – The Secret Relationship between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties (London: Scribner, 2004) p. 100.

3. Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (Yale: Yale University Press, 2000) p. 91

4. Rahul Bedi, ‘Why? An attempt to explain the unexplainable,’ Jane’s Defence Weekly (14 September 2001)

5. Richard Labeviere, Dollars For Terror: The United States and Islam (New York: Algora, 2000)

6. Cited in ibid.

7. Judicial Watch Press Release, ‘Clinton State Department Documents Outlined bin Laden Threat to the United States in Summer 1996’ (17 August 2005)

8. Gerald Posner, Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11 (New York: Ballantine, 2003) pp. 105-6

9. Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2000) pp. 166, 179

10. Dana Rohrabacher, ‘US Policy Toward Afghanistan,’ Statement before Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on South Asia (Washington DC: US Senate, 14 April 1999). Also see Rohrabacher, Statement before Hearing of the House International Relations Committee on ‘Global Terrorism And South Asia,’ (Washington DC: US House of Representatives, 12 July 2000).

11. George Arney, ‘US ‘planned attack on Taleban’,’ BBC News (18 September 2001)

12. Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, Forbidden Truth: US-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy and the Failed Hunt for Bin Laden (New York: Nation, 2002); George Arney, ‘US ‘planned attack on Taleban’,’ BBC News (18 September 2001).

13. ‘US Companies Eye Trans-Afghan Pipeline’, Forbes (19 January 2005)

14. Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 911 – Wealth Empire and the Future of America (Berkley: University of California Press, 2007) pp. 163-165

15. ‘BP Linked to the Overthrow of Azerbaijan Government,’ Drillbits and Trailings (17 April 2000, vol. 5, no. 6)

16. Cees Wiebes (2003) Intelligence and the War in Bosnia 1992-1995: The role of the intelligence and security services (New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, Rutgers State University, 2003); ‘US Commits Forces, Weapons to Bosnia,’ Defense and Foreign Affairs: Strategic Policy (31 October 1994)

17. Sources in Nafeez Ahmed, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (New York: Interlink, 2005)

18. Scott Taylor, ‘Macedonia’s Civil War: ‘Made in the USA’’ (Randolph Bourne Institute, 20 August 2001)

19. Michel Collon, Monopoly – L’Otan à la Conquête du monde (Brussels: EPO, 2000) p. 96

20. Scott, op. cit., pp. 163-165.

21. Mark Erikson, ‘Bin Laden’s terror wave 2’, Asia Times (29 October 2002)

22. Yossef Bodanksy, ‘The Great Game for Oil’, Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy(June/July 2000)

23. Colin Robinson, ‘Armed Islamic Group a.k.a. Groupement Islamique Armé’ (Washington DC: Center for Defense Information, 5 February 2003)

24. The Guardian (8 April 2004)

25. Ahmed, 2005, pp. 65-77; Ahmed, 2001

26. Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Terrorist case collapses after three years’, The Guardian (21 March 2000)

27. Jeremy Keenan, ‘Terror in the Sahara: the Implications of US Imperialism for North & West Africa,’ Review of African Political Economy (September 2004, 31 (101): 475–486); ‘Political Destablisation and ‘Blowback’ in the Sahel’, Review of African Political Economy (December 2004, 31(102): 691–703).

28. Keenan (2005) ‘Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline: World Bank and ExxonMobil in Last Chance Saloon,’ Review of African Political Economy (2005, Vol. 32, No. 104/5) pp. 395-405; Keenan, (2006) ‘The making of terrorists: Anthropology and the alternative truth of America’s ‘War on Terror’ in the Sahara’, Focaal – European Journal of Anthropology (2006, No. 48) pp. 144-51.

29. George Crile, Charlie Wilson’s War (London: Atlantic Books, 2003).

30. Ibid. p. 391.

31. Richard Sale, ‘Analysis: Hamas History Tied to Israel,’ United Press International (18 June 2002)

32. Ze'ev Schiff and Ehud Ya'ari, The Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising – Israel’s Third Front (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990)

33. George Szamuely, ‘Israel’s Hamas’, New York Press (April 2002, Vol. 15, No. 17)

34. L’Espresso (19 December 2001) [Rome]

35. Yediot Ahranot (25 November 2001)

36. Ha’aretz (4 December 2001)

37. Seymour M. Hersh, ‘The Redirection’, New Yorker (5 March 2007)

38. Alexander Cockburn, ‘Exclusive: Secret Bush ‘Finding’ Widens Covert War on Iran’, Counterpunch (2 May 2008)


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Amalgam Virgo: Document Reveals Details of Military Exercise Involving Suicide Pilot Three Months before 9/11

New details of a NORAD exercise called Amalgam Virgo 01-02 have been found in a document at the National Archives. The exercise involved a suicide pilot attacking a military installation in the US. It was run in early June 2001, just three months before 9/11.

The document was found in the 9/11 Commission’s files at the National Archives by History Commons contributor Erik Larson (a.k.a. Paxvector) and uploaded to the 9/11 Document Archive at Scribd. Some information about the exercise was revealed at the History Commons Groups blog in June, when we publicised a commission document summarising a group of military exercises designed to help the military deal with suicide hijackings. However, the newly-found three-page scenario provides more detail.

In the scenario, a Haitian AIDS sufferer named Reginald Montrose forms an alliance with Columbian drug lords. This link-up is inspired by funding the Columbians have provided to treat AIDS patients in Haiti. Montrose plans to crash a Cessna into the headquarters of the Southeast Air Defense Sector (SEADS) in Florida. Its destruction will draw attention to the Haitians’ plight and “allow the drug cartel to flood the US with flights of aircraft and to increase their market share in the US drug market.”

The exercise starts with a call from a local airport manager to SEADS saying that they have found a suicide note in a suspicious car, and one of their small aircraft is missing. Another call then comes in based on FBI information. Montrose’s sister has contacted the bureau and told it of a second suicide note. The target is believed to be a Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, where SEADS is located.

The text of both suicide notes is included in the scenario. The first even states that Montrose has taken out an insurance policy with Lloyds of London to cover the cost of the plane he intends to crash into SEADS, and has filled the gas tank of his rental car, which is to be returned to the Alamo facility at Tampa International airport.

SEADS launches fighters to intercept and identify the incoming Cessna, and to attempt to turn it away from the Florida coastline. However, Montrose is to remain on course, without turning. The scenario states, “This will develop into an ROE [Rules of Engagement] drill that will challenge the battlestaff as they work to keep the target aircraft from impacting SEADS.” It adds, “Target will remain on course… throughout scenario or until simulated shot down…. Scenario fruition is up to Blue Forces.”


Destruction of Flight Controllers’ Tape, Day of 9/11 – Additions to the 9/11 Timeline as of November 4, 2009

One of the main focuses at the 9/11 Timeline recently has been the destruction of a tape of FAA flight controllers’ recollections. The tape was made at the FAA’s New York Center about an hour and a half after the attacks ended, despite worries about the procedure by a union official and the controllers. However, when New York Center forwarded evidence about the attacks to the FBI the next day, it did not provide the tape, and its existence was not reported to superiors. The controllers then prepared written statements without reviewing the tape, and a union official was concerned whether anyone had heard it. One of the controllers later asked to listen to the taped statement he had made, but his request was denied. When New York Center submitted a formal accident package, the tape was again absent. Although the Center had been told to retain 9/11 evidence, the tape was later destroyed. Following the tape’s destruction, the manager who destroyed it was suspended, but did not face criminal charges. A later Transportation Department report simply attributed the tape’s destruction to “poor judgment.”

There are also a number of new entries about the day of 9/11. The Secret Service learned of additional hijacked aircraft around 9:03 a.m., but the agents protecting Vice President Dick Cheney were apparently not alerted. A National Reconnaissance Office exercise simulating a plane crashing into its building was scheduled to begin around 9:30 a.m., when unidentified planes were flying near the Pentagon. Shortly after 9:40 a.m., the FAA Command Centre updated FAA headquarters about hijacked flight 93, a National Airborne Operations Center plane launched from Andrews Air Force base, and American Airlines briefly lost contact with a third airliner.

After 9:50 a.m., American Airlines CEO Don Carty questioned Transportation Secretary Mineta about the plane that hit the Pentagon, Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) officers created a battleplan to respond to the attacks, the control tower at Reagan Airport was evacuated due to a report on an approaching aircraft, and numerous international flights began transmitting emergency codes. After 10:00 a.m., NORAD commanders considered a shootdown authorization, but pilots launched from Langley Air Force Base were told they could not shoot down hijacked planes, and NORAD sectors were told peacetime rules of engagement applied.

Finally, alleged lead hijacker Mohamed Atta was supported by a German Foundation with US ties and Robert Fuller, one of the FBI agencies involved in the failed hunt for Khalid Almihdhar, later handled an informer so badly he immolated himself in front of the White House.


Osama bin Laden Responsible for the 9/11 Attacks? Where is the Evidence?

The idea that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks has been an article of faith for public officials and the mainstream media. Calling it an “article of faith” points to two features of this idea. On the one hand, no one in these circles publicly challenges this idea.

On the other hand, as I pointed out at length in two of my books – 9/11 Contradictions1 and The New Pearl Harbor Revisited,[2] no good evidence has ever been publicly presented to support it.

Colin Powell’s Withdrawn Promise Two weeks after 9/11, Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking to Tim Russert on Meet the Press, said that he expected “in the near future . . . to put out . . . a document that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking [bin Laden] to this attack.”[3]

Powell reversed himself, however, at a press conference with President Bush in the White House Rose Garden the next morning, saying that, although the government had information that left no question of bin Laden’s responsibility, “most of it is classified.”[4] According to Seymour Hersh, citing officials from both the CIA and the Department of Justice, the real reason for the reversal was a “lack of solid information.”[5]

This was the week that Bush, after demanding that the Taliban turn over bin Laden, refused their request for evidence that bin Laden had been behind the attacks.[6] A senior Taliban official, after the US attack on Afghanistan had begun, said: “We have asked for proof of Osama’s involvement, but they have refused. Why?”[7] Hersh’s answer was that they had no proof.

Tony Blair’s Weak Document

The task of providing such proof was taken up by Bush’s chief ally in the “war on terror,” British Prime Minister Tony Blair. On October 4, 2001, Blair made public a document entitled: “Responsibility for the Terrorist Atrocities in the United States.” Listing “clear conclusions reached by the government,” it stated: “Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the terrorist network which he heads, planned and carried out the atrocities on 11 September 2001.” Blair’s report, however, began by saying: “This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama Bin Laden in a court of law.”[8] Although the case was not good enough to go to court, Blair seemed to be saying, it was good enough to go to war.

The weakness in Blair’s report, in any event, was noted the next day by the BBC, which said: “There is no direct evidence in the public domain linking Osama Bin Laden to the 11 September attacks. At best the evidence is circumstantial.”[9]

The FBI’s Surprising Statement

What does our own FBI say? Here is a surprising but little-known fact, because it has scarcely been reported in the mainstream media: The FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorist” webpage on “Usama bin Laden” does not list the 9/11 attacks as one of the crimes for which he is wanted. It does list bombings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi as terrorist acts for which he is wanted. But it makes no mention of 9/11.[10] In 2006, Rex Tomb, then the FBI’s chief of investigative publicity, was asked why not. He replied: “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”[11]

After this story started flying around the Internet and was even covered by a TV station in Louisiana,[12] Dan Eggen tried to downplay its significance in an August 2006 Washington Post article entitled “Bin Laden, Most Wanted For Embassy Bombings?”[13] Complaining about “conspiracy theorists” who claimed that “the lack of a Sept. 11 reference [on the FBI's "Most Wanted" webpage for bin Laden] suggests that the connection to al-Qaeda is uncertain,” Eggen quoted the explanation offered by a former US attorney, who said that the FBI could not appropriately “put up a wanted picture where no formal charges had been filed.”

But that explanation, while true, simply pushes the issue back a step to this question: Why have such charges not been filed? Rex Tomb’s fuller statement, which Eggen failed to mention, had answered this question the previous June, saying:

The FBI gathers evidence. Once evidence is gathered, it is turned over to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice then decides whether it has enough evidence to present to a federal grand jury. In the case of the 1998 United States Embassies being bombed, Bin Laden has been formally indicted and charged by a grand jury. He has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.[14]

The 9/11 Commission

What about the 9/11 Commission? Its report gave the impression that it was in possession of solid evidence of bin Laden’s guilt. But the Commission’s co-chairs, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, undermined this impression in their follow-up book, which they subtitled: “The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission.”[15] (I discussed this book at length in Chapter 2 of my 2007 book, Debunking 9/11 Debunking.[16]

As the endnotes for The 9/11 Commission Report reveal, whenever the Commission referred to evidence of bin Ladin’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, the Commission was always referring to CIA-provided information, which had (presumably) been elicited during interrogations of al-Qaeda operatives. By far the most important of these operatives was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, generally called simply “KSM,” who has been called the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. The Commission, for example, wrote:

    Bin Ladin . . . finally decided to give the green light for the 9/11 operation sometime in late 1998 or early 1999. . . . Bin Ladin also soon selected four individuals to serve as suicide operatives. . . . Atta – whom Bin Ladin chose to lead the group – met with Bin Ladin several times to receive additional instructions, including a preliminary list of approved targets: the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the U.S. Capitol.[17]

The note for each of these statements says: “interrogation of KSM.”[18]

Kean and Hamilton, however, reported that they had no success in “obtaining access to star witnesses in custody . . . , most notably Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”[19] Besides not being allowed to interview these witnesses, Commission members were not even permitted to observe the interrogations through one-way glass or to talk to the interrogators.[20] Therefore, Kean and Hamilton complained: “We . . . had no way of evaluating the credibility of detainee information. How could we tell if someone such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed . . . was telling us the truth?”[21]

An NBC “deep background” report in 2008 pointed out an additional problem: KSM and the other al-Qaeda leaders had been subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” i.e., torture, and it is now widely acknowledged that statements elicited by torture lack credibility. “At least four of the operatives whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report,” NBC pointed out, “have claimed that they told interrogators critical information as a way to stop being ‘tortured.’” NBC then quoted Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, as saying: “Most people look at the 9/11 Commission Report as a trusted historical document. If their conclusions were supported by information gained from torture, . . . their conclusions are suspect.”[22]

The “Bin Laden Confession Tapes”

As we have seen, neither the 9/11 Commission, the Bush-Cheney White House, the FBI, the British government, nor the 9/11 Commission provided good evidence that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Many people, however, have assumed that the question of his responsibility was settled by the existence of videotapes and audiotapes in which he himself confessed to the attacks. There are, however, good reasons to believe that these so-called confession tapes are fakes. I will illustrate this point in terms of the two best-known videotapes of this nature.

The “Jalalabad Video” Released December 13, 2001: The first and most famous of the “Osama bin Laden confession video tapes” was released by the Pentagon on December 13, 2001. It had purportedly been made on November 9, 2001, after which it was allegedly found by US forces in a private home in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. In this video, an Osama bin Laden figure is seen talking about the 9/11 attacks with a visiting sheikh. During the course of the conversation, the bin Laden figure boasts about the success of the attacks, saying that he had planned them.[23] Both US and British officials claimed that this tape left no doubt about bin Laden’s guilt.[24]

Stories in both the Canadian and British media, however, raised questions about the tape’s authenticity. These stories, besides pointing out the existence of the technical ability to create fake video tapes, also mentioned the suspicion of some people that the bin Laden figure was not Osama bin Laden himself.

A BBC News report said: “Washington calls it the ‘smoking gun’ that puts Bin Laden’s guilt beyond doubt, but many in the Arab world believe the home video of the al-Qaeda chief is a fake.”[25] This report was, in fact, entitled, “Could the Bin Laden Video Be a Fake?”

This question was also raised in Canada by CBC News, which pointed out that some people had “suggested the Americans hired someone to pretend to be the exiled Saudi.”[26]

This question was raised even more insistently in a Guardian story with the title, “US Urged to Detail Origin of Tape.” Reporting “growing doubt in the Muslim world about the authenticity of the film,” writer Steven Morris said:

    The White House yesterday came under pressure to give more details of the video which purports to show Osama bin Laden admitting his part in the September 11 attacks.[27]

Morris, pointing out that the White House had provided no details about how the Pentagon came to be in possession of the tape, added:

According to US officials the tape was found in a house in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, and handed to the Pentagon by an unnamed person or group. . . . But for many the explanation is too convenient. Some opponents of the war theorise that the Bin Laden in the film was a look-alike.

Morris then quoted one such opponent in Pakistan, who said: “This videotape is not authentic. The Americans made it up after failing to get any evidence against Osama.”

Morris also cited Bob Crabtree, the editor of Computer Video magazine, who explained that it was impossible to determine whether the video was authentic without more details of its source, adding: “The US seems simply to have asked the world to trust them that it is genuine.”[28]

This skepticism about the authenticity of this “Jalalabad video” was based on sound reasons. For one thing, this video’s bin Laden figure appeared too heavy and healthy, compared with the bin Laden who made the last of the undoubtedly authentic bin Laden videos, which was made sometime in 2001 between November 16 (on which occurred an event mentioned on the tape) and December 27 (the date on which the tape was released). In this post-November 16 video, bin Laden’s beard was white, he had a “gaunt, frail appearance,” and his “left arm hung limply by his side while he gesticulated with his right.”[29] This immobile left arm, Dr. Sanjay Gupta observed on CNN, suggested that bin Laden had suffered a stroke, adding that this plus a “frosting of the appearance” suggested that bin Laden was in the final stages of kidney failure.[30]

But in the “Jalalabad video,” which was reportedly made at about the same time (being dated November 9 and released December 13), the bin Laden figure was heavier and also darker, in both skin and beard color; his nose had a different shape;[31] and his hands were shorter and heavier than those of Osama bin Laden as seen in undoubtedly authentic videos.[32]

Still another problem is that, whereas bin Laden was left-handed, the man in the “Jalalabad video” wrote with his right hand. Although it might be thought that this was because his left arm was immobile, the bin Laden figure in this video was easily able to lift his left arm above his head.[33]

If this video was made on November 9, as claimed, then it would have been made at most only a few weeks before the post-November 16 video. It is very hard to believe that the heavy, dark-skinned, healthy-looking man with a dark beard could have, within two or three weeks, turned into the pale, gaunt, white-bearded, man seen in the post-November 16 video.

If one accepts the Jalalabad video as authentic, one not only has to accept these radical changes in bin Laden’s physical appearance; one must also accept a complete change in his statements about 9/11. In the previous weeks, he had repeatedly – on September 12, 16, 17, and 28 – stated that he had had nothing to do with the attacks.[34] In the September 28 statement, he had even declared:

I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people. Such a practice is forbidden even in the course of a battle. . . . [W]e are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed.[35]

Is it likely that he would have made such statements if he himself had authorized the attacks and thereby the killing of innocents?

Whatever be one’s opinion about that, the bin Laden figure in the “Jalalabad video” made other statements that Osama bin Laden himself would surely not have made. For example, he said:

[W]e calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy who would be killed based on the position of the tower. . . . [D]ue to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for.[36]

But in light of the real bin Laden’s “experience in the field” as a building contractor, he would have known that high-rise buildings are framed with steel, not iron. Even more important, he would have known that the buildings’ support columns – whether made of steel or iron – would not have been melted by the “fire from the gas in the plane.” Why? Because he would have known, on the one hand, that a building fire, even if fed by jet-fuel (which is essentially kerosene), could not, even under the most ideal conditions, have risen above 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius). And he would have known, on the other hand, that iron and steel do not begin to melt until they are heated to a temperature far higher than that: to almost 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,540 degrees Celsius). The real bin Laden, therefore, would not have expected any iron or steel to melt.

A final reason to consider the “Jalalabad video” a fake is that bin Laden experts have declared it to such. When Dr. Bruce Lawrence, a Duke University history professor widely considered the country’s leading academic bin Laden expert,[37] was asked what he thought about this video, he said, bluntly: “It’s bogus.” Some friends of his in the US Department of Homeland Security assigned to work “on the 24/7 bin Laden clock,” he added, “also know it’s bogus.”[38]

General Hamid Gul, former head of Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), suggested that the man in the video was an “Osama bin Laden lookalike.”[39]

Former Foreign Service officer Angelo Codevilla, after saying “[t]he guy just does not look like Osama,” added: “The fact that the video had been made for no self-evident purpose except perhaps to be found by the Americans should have raised suspicion.”[40]

A fourth expert opinion has been issued implicitly, it would seem, by the Department of Justice and its FBI. If they considered this “confession video” authentic, would they not consider it “hard evidence” of bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11? They say, however, that they have no such evidence, so they must not consider this video authentic.

The “October Surprise Video of 2004: The other most famous of the “bin Laden confession tapes” is the video tape that was released on October 29, 2004, just before the presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry, leading to its being called “the October Surprise video.” In this one, for the first time, a bin Laden figure directly addressed the American people. The Associated Press, focusing on the most important aspect of the speaker’s message, entitled its story: “Bin Laden, in Statement to U.S. People, Says He Ordered Sept. 11 Attacks.”[41] However, although the AP accepted the authenticity of the tape, there are serious reasons to doubt it.

A reason to be at least suspicious is the very fact that it appeared just four days before the presidential election and seemed designed to help Bush’s reelection – an assessment that was made even by CIA analysts.[42] The video, moreover, evidently did help: Bush’s lead over Kerry in national polls increased right after it appeared,[43] and both Bush and Kerry said that this tape was significantly responsible for Bush’s victory.[44] Given the fact that this video would quite predictably help Bush win reelection, it would seem to have been issued by his friends, not his enemies.

There are also substantive reasons to doubt this tape’s authenticity, one of which is the speaker’s language. The clearly authentic bin Laden messages were filled with religious language. A bin Laden video released October 7, 2001, for example, began thus:

Praise be to God and we beseech Him for help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with the Lord of our bad and evildoing. He whom God guides is rightly guided . . . . I witness that there is no God but God and Mohammed is His slave and Prophet.[45]

Even though this talk as a whole had only 725 words, bin Laden referred to God (Allah) 20 times and to the prophet Mohammed 3 times. Likewise, his message of November 3, 2001, which contained 2,333 words, referred to God 35 times and to the prophet Mohammed 8 times.[46] By contrast, the 2004 October Surprise video, which had almost the same number of words as the November 3 video, referred to God only 12 times. The only “Mohammad” mentioned, moreover, was Mohamed Atta.

Another substantive difference involved the type of causal analysis provided. Bin Laden’s clearly authentic messages had portrayed historical events as occurring only because they were caused, or at least allowed, by God. In his message of October 7, 2001, for example, he said: “God Almighty hit the United States. . . . He destroyed its greatest buildings.” Human agents were involved, to be sure, but they were successful only because “Almighty God . . . allowed them to destroy the United States.”[47] In his message of November 3, likewise, bin Laden said that, if people are helped or harmed, it is always by “something that God has already preordained for [them].”[48]

The message on the 2004 confession video, however, reflected a worldview in which events can be understood through a causal analysis based on secular rationalism. “One of the most important things rational people do when calamities occur,” the lecturer asserted, “is to look for their causes so as to avoid them.” He himself, in analyzing “the [Iraq] war, its causes and consequences,” provided a causal analysis involving purely human actors: Bush, al-Qaeda, and the American people. Far from suggesting that everything is finally in the hands of God, he said to the American people: “Your security is in your own hands” – a statement that a devout Wahabi Muslim such as Osama bin Laden would surely have considered blasphemous.

Still another reason to doubt the authenticity of this 2004 video is that, although the speaker was addressing the American public, he spoke Arabic rather than English. This is strange, because Osama bin Laden was reportedly fluent in English, which he had started studying when he was 11 years old.[49] A British journalist reported that, when he and bin Laden met in 1989, they conversed in English for 45 minutes.[50] General Hamid Gul, speaking to United Press International in 2001, said: “I know bin Laden and his associates. They are graduates of the best universities and . . . speak impeccable English.[51] If bin Laden spoke impeccable English, would he not have used it when speaking directly to the American people?[52]

Accordingly, this video does not, any more than the “Jalalabad video,” provide evidence that Osama bin Laden himself confessed to planning the 9/11 attacks.


I showed in a previous essay that, according to the best evidence presently available, Osama bin Laden has been dead for many years.[53] In the present essay, I have shown that there is not even any good evidence for the claim that bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Accordingly, insofar as the justification for the continuation of the AfPak war is based on the fact that bin Laden in the region both before and after the 9/11 attacks, that justification would seem to be doubly baseless.

David Ray Griffin is the author of 36 books, nine of which are about 9/11. His most recent book is The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 Is Unscientific and False (Olive Branch, 2009). In 2008, he put out two books: The New Pearl Harbor: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé (which was named a “Pick of the Week” by Publishers Weekly) and Osama bin Laden: Dead Or Alive? (which has generated considerable media coverage in England).


1. 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2008), Chap. 18, “Does the Government Have Hard Evidence of Bin Laden’s Responsibility?”

2. The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2008). This book was named Publishers Weekly’s “Pick of the Week” on November 24, 2008 (

3. “Meet the Press,” NBC, September 23, 2001 (

4. “Remarks by the President, Secretary of the Treasury O’Neill and Secretary of State Powell on Executive Order,” White House, September 24, 2001 (

5. Seymour M. Hersh, “What Went Wrong: The C.I.A. and the Failure of American Intelligence,” New Yorker, October 1, 2001 (

6. “White House Warns Taliban: ‘We Will Defeat You,’” CNN, September 21, 2001 (

7. Kathy Gannon, “Taliban Willing to Talk, But Wants U.S. Respect,” Associated Press, November 1, 2001 (

8. Office of the Prime Minister, “Responsibility for the Terrorist Atrocities in the United States,” BBC News, October 4, 2001 (

9. “The Investigation and the Evidence,” BBC News, October 5, 2001 (

10. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Most Wanted Terrorists: Usama bin Laden” (

11. Ed Haas, “FBI says, ‘No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11′” Muckraker Report, June 6, 2006 (

12. “Bin Laden’s FBI Poster Omits Any 9/11 Connection,” KSLA 12 in Shreveport, Louisiana

13. “Bin Laden, Most Wanted For Embassy Bombings?” Washington Post, August 28, 2006 (

14. Haas, “FBI says, ‘No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.’”

15. Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, with Benjamin Rhodes, Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006).

16. David Ray Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory, revised and updated edition (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2007). This book won a bronze medal in the 2008 Independent Publishers Book Awards.

17. The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, authorized edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004), 149, 155, 166; henceforth 9/11CR.

18. See 9/11CR Ch. 5, notes 16, 41, and 92.

19. Kean and Hamilton, Without Precedent, 118.

20. Ibid., 122-24.

21. Ibid., 119. I have discussed this issue at greater length in Ch. 8, “9/11 Commission Falsehoods about Bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Pakistanis, and Saudis,” of The New Pearl Harbor Revisited.

22. Robert Windrem and Victor Limjoco, “The 9/11 Commission Controversy,” Deep Background: NBC News Investigations, January 30, 2008

23. “U.S. Releases Videotape of Osama bin Laden,” Department of Defense, December 13, 2001 (; “Pentagon Releases Bin Laden Videotape: U.S. Officials Say Tape Links Him to Sept. 11 Attacks,” National Public Radio, December 13, 2001 The entire video can be viewed at this NPR Web page.

24. See my book Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? (Northampton: Olive Branch [Interlink Books], 2009), 23-26.

25. “Could the Bin Laden Video Be a Fake?” BBC News, December 14, 2001 (

26. “‘Feeble’ to Claim Bin Laden Tape Fake: Bush,” CBC, December 14, 2001 (

27. Steven Morris, “US Urged to Detail Origin of Tape,” Guardian, December 15, 2001 (

28. Ibid.

29. Toby Harnden, “US Casts Doubt on Bin Laden’s Latest Message,” Telegraph, December 27, 2001

30. “Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Bin Laden Would Need Help if on Dialysis,” CNN, January 21, 2002
( For the tape, see “”Osama Bin Laden Tape Dezember [sic] 2001″ (

31. For a nose comparison, see “Osama bin Laden Gets a Nose Job” (,
or “Bruce Lawrence,” Radio Du Jour (

32. Compare his hands with bin Laden’s hand as shown in the post-November 16 video (

33. This can be seen in a portion of the Jalalabad video placed on YouTube (

34. For documentation and discussion, see Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? 27-29.

35. “Interview with Usama bin Laden,” Ummat (Karachi), September 28, 2001
Bin Laden’s statement about innocents repeated what he had said in an interview with John Miller of ABC News in 1998: “Our religion forbids us from killing innocent people such as women and children”

36. “Transcript of Usama bin Laden Video Tape,” Department of Defense, December 13, 2001 (

37. Bruce Lawrence is the editor of Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden (London and New York: Verso, 2005).

38. Lawrence made these statements on February 16, 2007, during a radio interview conducted by Kevin Barrett of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. It can be heard at Radio Du Jour (

39. BBC News, “Tape ‘Proves Bin Laden’s Guilt,’” December 14, 2001 (

40. Angelo M. Codevilla, “Osama bin Elvis,” American Spectator, March 2009 (

41. Maggie Michael, “Bin Laden, in Statement to U.S. People, Says He Ordered Sept. 11 Attacks,” Associated Press, October 29, 2004 (

42. Ron Suskind, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006), 336.

43. Philip Sherwell, “Bush Takes a Six-Point Lead After New Bin Laden Tape,” Telegraph, November 1, 2004 (

44. “Kerry Blames Defeat on Bin Laden,” BBC News, January 31, 2005; “Bush Says Bin Laden Tape Aided Re-Election: Report,” Reuters, February 28, 2006

45. “Bin Laden’s Warning: Full Text,” BBC News, October 7, 2001 (

46. “BBC Transcript Of Osama Bin Laden Statement,” November 7, 2001 (

47. “Bin Laden’s Warning: Full Text.”

48. “BBC Transcript Of Osama Bin Laden Statement.”

49. See “In the Footsteps of Bin Laden,” CNN, August 23, 2006, and Steve Coll, “Young Osama,” New Yorker, December 12, 2005

50. “In the Footsteps of Bin Laden.”

51. “Arnaud de Borchgrave Interviews Hameed Gul, Former Chief of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence,” UPI, September 26, 2001 (; also available at(

52. I have given a more thorough analysis of the problems in these two “confession videos” in my book Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? (Northampton: Olive Branch [Interlink Books, 2009).

53. “Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?” Veterans Today, October 22, 2009 (


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