Hill's 9/11 Probe Finds Multiple Failures

Washington Post) - The U.S. intelligence community "failed to fully capitalize" on information that might have allowed agents to unravel the hijack plot and bungled clues that should have led the FBI to two or more of the terrorists before they could act, according to a partially declassified investigation by the joint Congressional Committee on Intelligence released Thursday. The report paints a picture of a poorly organized, understaffed, and sometimes half-hearted effort, in agencies across the government, that missed the warning signs and failed to add up the clues. In particular, the report raises questions about the role of several men who aided hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, who moved to San Diego after attending a January 2000 al Qaeda meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the attacks may have been planned. The two hijacked and crashed an American Airlines plane into the Pentagon. They were befriended in California by a Saudi, Omar Bayoumi, an employee of the Saudi civil aviation authority who had been the subject of a counterterrorism investigation begun in 1998. Bayoumi, who had large amounts of cash from Saudi Arabia, put down a security deposit and first month's rent on an apartment for the conspirators and set them up with a translator, a man whose brother is the subject of a counterterrorism investigation. After Sept. 11, the FBI found that Bayoumi "has connections to terrorist elements," including ties to al Qaeda, the report said. The FBI also determined that another Saudi who had befriended the San Diego hijackers, Osama Bassnan, "is an extremist and a bin Laden supporter." The FBI was aware that in 1993 Bassnan hosted a party in Washington for Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric now imprisoned for his role in the first World Trade Center attack. Bassnan and his family received charitable support from Princess Haifa al-Faisal, wife of Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Passages that were declassified portray the Saudi government as uncooperative in the fight against terrorism both before and after Sept. 11.

2003-07-25 00:00:00

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