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New Details of the al Qaeda Plot

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The September 11 plot was years in the making. As they investigated it, members of the 9/11 Commission learned that although it was carefully planned, the plot did not go as smoothly as it might have appeared to.

In a public hearing on June 16, 2004, 9/11 Commission staff members presented a summary of the terrorists' plan.

Their report says the plot began in Afghanistan. All 19 of the September 11 hijackers had come through training camps in Afghanistan set up by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin.

"The camps created a climate in which trainees and other personnel were free to think creatively about ways to commit mass murder," the staff report says. "According to a senior al Qaeda associate, various ideas were floated by mujahidin in Afghanistan, such as taking over a launcher and forcing Russian scientists to fire a nuclear missile at the United States, mounting mustard gas or cyanide attacks against Jewish areas in Iran, dispensing poison gas into the air conditioning system of a targeted building, and last but not least, hijacking an aircraft and crashing it into an airport terminal or nearby city."

Bottom of Khalid Sheik Muhammed's visa application with photo and signature. Muhammed was on a terrorist watchlist, but he was able to get a U.S. visa by applying under a false name. Apparently, he never used the visa to travel to the United States. From 9/11 Commission report
In Afghanistan, Osama bin Ladin met a Kuwaiti named Khalid Sheik Muhammed. Muhammed is now in U.S. custody. Some of the information in the commission report comes from statements he made during interrogation. The 9/11 Commission staff corroborated some, but not all, of what he said.

Muhammed's nephew is Ramzi Yousef who masterminded the first bombing of the World Trade Center, in 1993. In 1996, Muhammed approached Osama bin Ladin with a new, grandiose plan. The staff report says Muhammed initially wanted to hijack ten planes at once.

The report also says Muhammed "claims that in addition to the targets actually hit on 9/11, these hijacked planes were to be crashed into CIA and FBI headquarters, unidentified nuclear power plants, and the tallest buildings in California and Washington state. The centerpiece for his original proposal was the tenth plane, which he would have piloted himself. Rather than crashing the plane into a target, he would have killed every adult male passenger, contacted the media from the air, and landed the aircraft at a U.S. airport. He says he then would have made a speech denouncing U.S. policies in the Middle East before releasing all of the women and children passengers."

Continued: part 2