Documents released by Wikileaks indicate that a group of Qataris were involved in plans for a fifth attack on 9/11. On August 15, three Qataris arrived in Newark and then began visiting landmarks including the World Trade Center, White House and Statue of Liberty. On August 24, they flew to Los Angeles. The maids tending to their room found a large number of suspicious items, such as a laptop connected to a cell phone by a wire, boxes to be shipped to the Middle East, uniforms like those that pilots wear, and data about specific flights including the names of pilots. They asked that the maids not come into their room for the rest of their stay.
In California, the three Qataris traveled with a fourth individual from the United Arab Emirates who is suspected of having a part to play in 9/11. They reserved the room until September 10, and booked a flight on the exact same airliner that crashed into the Pentagon. The Qataris escaped back to their home country.
Lastly, questions still surround Ahmad Hikmat Shakir Azzawi, an Iraqi who worked for his country’s embassy in Malaysia. His supervisor at the Iraqi embassy arranged for him to work as a “facilitator” for VIPs at an airport. He met one of the hijackers at the airport and drove him to an important 9/11-related meeting attended by other Al-Qaeda operatives, including another hijacker. Azzawi took part in the meetings. After the meetings ended on January 8, 2000, Azzawi worked for two days more at the airport and stopped showing up. This strongly suggests that the purpose of having him work at the airport was for these meetings.
On September 17, 2001, he was arrested in Qatar and found with contact information for Al-Qaeda members including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He was released and arrested in Jordan on his way to Iraq. The CIA interviewed him and concluded he had been trained in counter-interrogation techniques. The Saddam Hussein regime pressured Jordan to let him go and they did. It is unclear what happened after that.
The 9/11 attacks and intelligence failures in Iraq showed the U.S. intelligence community to be broken, so it shouldn’t be a shock that the same broken system might have made some mistakes in the investigation into the attacks. Diligent reporters are given good reasons to second-guess some of the conclusions about who was responsible for those attacks and they should be commended for it. We should never take a break from our duty to find out how our country is being targeted and how to stop it.
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