Osama bin Laden

Keys to symbols

1996:
==Jan.20 > [] Arafat is elected president of the Palestinian Authority.      [lmd]

==Jan.--- > [X] US authorities are beginning to understand Osama bin Laden’s importance. The CIA's Counterterrorism Center begins tracking his activities through a computer-based CIA station under the direction of Michael Scheuer (who later wrote Imperial Hubris). Scheuer code-names the station 'Alec,' after his son. In February, the State Department names bin Laden "the most significant financial sponsor of Islamic extremist activities in the world today."  Soon afterwards, Clinton effectively authorizes bin Laden’s assassination, but Richard Clarke later comments that the CIA was "pathetically unable to accomplish the mission."      [naftali / hiro1 / clarke]

==early.1996 > [XX] A high-level meeting in Washington fails to agree to move quickly on the arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is hiding out in Qatar on a farm owned by a member of the ruling family.  The delay allows KSM to escape and relocate to Afghanistan.     [lat.Dec.22.2002 / 911cm]

==Feb-Mar > [X] Hamas launches a wave of bloody bombings in Israel.  On Apr.18, Israel retaliates by shelling a refugee camp in southern Lebanon, killing 98 people.      [lmd / usdos]

==Mar.08-May.15 > [X] The Sudanese government later claimed that during the spring of 1996 it attempted to turn bin Laden over to America, but US authorities declined to take him. This story has been emphatically denied by George Tenet, Richard Clarke, and other senior US officials, and there seems to be no evidence to support it.     [clarke / coll / 911cm]

==Apr.04 > [X] An assembly in Kandahar proclaims Mullah Omar ‘Commander of the Faithful’ and swears fealty to him as he stands before them draped in the revered cloak of Muhammed.  About this time, Pakistan and the Saudis are increasing their aid to the Taliban, and the US informally aligns with the group.      [hiro1]

==Apr.-- > [X] International sanctions are imposed on Sudan for its support of terrorism, and the country becomes less hospitable to Islamist extremists.     [911cm]

==May.18 > [X] Under pressure, Bin Laden relocates from Sudan to Afghanistan. He flies into Jalalabad with an entourage of 150, but for security reasons soon moves into austere quarters in the nearby caves of Tora Bora, where he stays for several months. His arrival very likely has the tacit approval of Pakistani intelligence (the ISI), but in the ongoing internal conflicts in Afghanistan, bin Laden is not initially aligned with Pakistan's Taliban allies.       [hiro1 / wap.Oct.03.2001 / 911cm]
=The Khartoum regime soon seizes all of bin Laden's Sudanese assets.      [911cm]

==May.29 > [] A rightwing coalition wins Israeli elections and Benjamin Netanyahu becomes Prime Minister.  The peace process is faltering and the Israeli economy is beginning to show signs of strain.      [lmd]

==May, approximately > [X] Longtime al-Qaeda operative Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl walks into the American Embassy in Asmara, Eritrea, and defects to the United States. He'd skimmed $110,000 from bin Laden's business ventures in Sudan and nimbly switched sides when bin Laden became aware of the theft. "Fadl was a gold mine," recalled one of his American debriefers. "He described the network, bin Laden's companies, his farms, his operations in the ports." He also described bin Laden's attempts to obtain uranium. Fadl's testimony is the US intelligence community's first good look at the internal workings of al-Qaeda - yet the State Department still refuses to list the group as a terrorist organization.     [nykr.Jan.14.2002 / usdos.Jan.14.2001]

==Jun.25 > [X] The Khobar Towers are bombed.  The military housing complex near Dhahran air base in Saudi Arabia is wrecked by a tremendous blast from 4,500 lbs of explosive concealed in a fuel tanker truck.  The explosion kills 19 US servicemen and injures hundreds.  The FBI concludes that the perpetrators had links to Hezbollah and Iran, but the Saudis deny this and once again give little assistance to US investigators.      [hiro1 / berg]
=For several weeks, the administration considers launching a major blow against Iran, including the possibility of all-out war, but decides to apply pressure to Iran's intelligence system throughout Europe and the Middle East. This proves to be effective - anti-American activities by Iran and Hezbollah drop off dramatically.      [naftali / clarke]

==Jul.08 > [] The report 'A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm' is published; the authors include American neo-conservatives Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser.  The paper urges Israeli Premier Netanyahu to abandon the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo peace process, and change the “balance of power” in the Middle East by “rolling back” Syria and overthrowing Saddam.  The authors call for “reestablishing the principle of preemption.”  The advice is too extreme even for the very hawkish Netanyahu, but is partly adopted by the Sharon government five years later.  Feith later publishes an article calling upon Israel to reoccupy the West Bank and Gaza, writing “The price in blood would be high, but it would be a necessary form of ‘detoxification - the only way out of Oslo's web.” In the second Bush administration, Perle, Feith, and Wurmser play major roles in developing US foreign policy.      [ceip / nyrb.Sep.26.2002 / nyt.Mar.02.2003 / nat.Aug.15.2002]

==Jul.--- > [] Conservatives William Kristol and Robert Kagan publish 'Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy' in the journal Foreign Affairs.  They argue that America’s goal should be “benevolent global hegemony” through a massive buildup of the armed forces, the increased militarization of American society, and a more aggressive foreign policy, including the active pursuit of “regime change” in China and other countries.  The authors contend that much of the world wants to be dominated by the US.  Kristol and Kagan go on to become key figures in the influential ‘Project for the New American Century.’  See Sep.2000.

==summer > [X] US authorities quietly and efficiently conduct a thorough anti-terrorist surveillance of air activity around the Atlanta Summer Olympics.  Suspicious flights near the games are intercepted, all regional airports are put under surveillance, and any crop-dusting within hundreds of miles is monitored.      [ctr.Nov.18.2001]

==Aug.05 > [X] Speaking at George Washington University, Clinton compares the struggle against terrorism to World War II and the Cold War, saying "Terrorism is the enemy of our generation."      [clarke]

==Aug.23 > [X] From Afghanistan, bin Laden declares jihad on the United States, and proclaims that expelling Americans from the Persian Gulf region “is the most important duty (of Muslims) after the duty of belief in God.”  Bin Laden is said to have written the proclamation on an Apple Macintosh.      [berg / hiro1]

==Sep.05 > [X] A New York federal jury convicts an impassive Ramzi Yousef and two co-defendants of plotting to blow up a dozen airliners over the Pacific (‘Project Bojinka’).      [cnn]

==Sep.09 > [X] The Clinton administration proposes anti-terrorism measures that would cost $1.1 billion, including $429 million for airline security suggested by a commission headed by Vice President Gore. Clinton has been urging fast action on counterterrorism since late July, but House Republican leaders continue to block the proposals. Frustrated by Congressional intransigence, after 1996 Clinton largely abandons attempts to pass counterterrorist legislation and instead concentrates on covert action against bin Laden. But as the struggle with al-Qaeda becomes more clandestine, the growing danger of the situation becomes more hidden from the public.      [nwd / cnn / clarke / naftali]


Afghan woman under the Taliban regime

==Sep.26 > [X] The Taliban take Kabul after a rapid advance in eastern Afghanistan, driving out their mujahedeen rivals and putting an end to four years of fighting in the capital, though intense warfare continues in northern Afghanistan.  On Sep.27, the Taliban drag former President Najibullah from the UN compound, mutilate and murder him, and hang his corpse from a traffic light.  In the following days, they decree that women cannot work or attend school outside their homes, cannot appear in public unless accompanied by male relatives, and cannot be examined by male doctors.  All women are required to wear burqas.  Young women cannot speak to young men.  Music, photography, videos, suits, neckties and tie pins, and makeup are forbidden.  Men are ordered to grow full beards and wear turbans.  All Muslims are required to say prayers at specified times.  All non-Muslims are required to wear yellow clothing and to fly yellow flags by their homes.  In time, the Taliban bans an enormous array of items and activities, including playing cards, chessboards, billiard tables, satellite dishes, the use of the Internet, the use of the English language, kite flying, soccer, fireworks, dancing, applause, greeting cards, statues, pictures of animals, anything made of human hair, alcohol, and, of course, pornography.  The bans are brutally but not consistently enforced.     [hiro1 / info.Jul.2001 / cbc.Jul.2001 / anan]
=Strangely, arch-conservative Iran quickly condemns the Taliban’s oppressive domestic policies, while a US spokesman says in October that there is “nothing objectionable” about them.  Pleased by the Taliban’s anti-Iranian stance, believing that it will suppress opium production, and hoping that it will permit construction of an oil pipeline to Central Asia the US initially ignores the regime’s extremism.      [hiro1 / berg]

==Sep.27-29 > [] An Israeli archeological tunnel near Temple Mount triggers a serious wave of Palestinian rioting.      [lmd]

==Oct.04-05 > [] A Central Asian-Russian conference is held in Alma Alta in Kazakhstan.  Iran, the Central Asian states, and Russia are aligning against the Taliban regime, which is supported by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and to some extent by the US.      [hiro1]

==Oct.--- > [XX] The first meetings are held between the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.  Bin Laden is soon lavishly bankrolling the Taliban, and providing al-Qaeda fighters to prop up the regime.  Eventually, the Taliban buys into al-Qaeda’s anti-American ideology.      [hiro1]


Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

== ------- > [X] The origins of the 9/11 plot.  Khalid Shaikh Mohammed meets with Osama bin Laden and discusses plans for large-scale terrorist attacks within the US.  The original plans, derived from Mohammed's earlier Project Bojinka, call for the hijacking of five airliners on each coast.  Bin Laden is somewhat skeptical, but assigns four al-Qaeda operatives to the plot, including Almihdhar and Alhazmi, who will eventually fly Flight 77 into the Pentagon.  Although planning continues, evidently little concrete preparation takes place for several years.  See 1999      [ap.Sep.22.2003]

== ------- > [] In an editorial, Paul Wolfowitz calls for a pre-emptive military attack on Iraq.  Wolfowitz will become Deputy Defense Secretary in the second Bush administration, and the main architect of Bush’s foreign policy.      [harp.Oct.2002]

== ------- > [] Russia withdraws from Chechnya.



1997:
==Feb.12 > [X] A panel chaired by Al Gore reports that US airport security is woefully inadequate and makes over fifty recommendations for improvements - in particular, it urges greater information sharing on suspected terrorists between the CIA, the FBI, and the airlines.  Little is done; there's not much support for reform. A National Research Council study published in 1996 had concluded that upgrading the nation’s aviation security system would lead to protests from passengers.  On Mar.10, the New Republic prints an article by Susan Ellingwood entitled 'Hot Air,' mocking the Clinton administration’s attempts to strengthen airport security as an absurd waste of money.     [nyt.Dec.30.2001 / maha / lat.Sep.23.2001 / nrp.Mar.10.1997]

==Mar.-- > [X] Bin Laden gives an inflammatory interview to CNN. Soon afterwards, Taliban leader Mullah Omar 'invites' bin Laden to move to Kandahar, where Omar can more easily keep an eye on him.      [911cm]

==spring > [] The neoconservative Project for the New American Century is established.  On Jun.03, its Statement of Principles is signed by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, and other big names in the future Bush administration.  Other signatories include such neocon and conservative heavy hitters as Norman Podhoretz, Donald Kagan, Jeb Bush, William Bennett, Gary Bauer, Steve Forbes, Francis Fukuyama, and Dan Quayle.  In the next few years, the PNAC becomes a major source of neoconservative policy proposals, which often become blueprints for US foreign policy after 9/11.      [pnac]

==spring, to 2001 > [XX] The US repeatedly attempts to persuade the Taliban to deport bin Laden - without success.      [ap.Mar.23.2004]

==Jun.--- > [X] FBI counterterrorism expert John O’Neill publicly warns that Islamic extremists have the ability to strike within the US.      [nyt.Dec.30.2001]

==Aug.--- > [X] The moderate Muhammad Khatami is elected President of Iran by a large margin.  Although highly conservative clerics still hold most of the power in the country, the Iranian public is mellowing.      [hiro1]

==Nov.12 > [X] Ramzi Yousef is convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  At his sentencing he declares “Yes, I am a terrorist, and I am proud of it.”      [dss / nwwk.Sep.26.2001]

==Nov.17 > [XX] Al Gamaat massacres 58 tourists at Luxor in upper Egypt.  But the group is soon suppressed, and later that year its surviving leaders call a cease-fire, from prison.  Islamist terrorism in Egypt is finally largely defeated, but Egypt’s crucial tourist industry is temporarily wrecked.      [hiro1 / ict / usdos / bbc]

==Nov.--- > [X] An Egyptian informant tells intelligence officials at the US embassy in Nairobi that there is a plot underway to truck-bomb the building.  He is ignored.  See Aug.07.1998       [berg]

==late.1997 > [] Enron forms Chewco, a secret partnership designed to conceal $600 million in debts.  This is the first of a string of off-the-book partnerships created to hedge bad investments and hide debt - and to ensure immense profits for some well-placed Enron executives.  Jeff Skilling has recently become president of Enron, and under him the company’s business strategy becomes what investigating Congressmen will later call a high-tech Ponzi scheme.      [wap.Jul.28+Jul.31.2002]

==early.Dec > [] The ICO holds an Islamic summit in Tehran.  Moderate Iranian President Khatami tells the conference that “Islamic and Western civilizations are not necessarily in conflict and contradiction,” and that much can be learned from the West.  Iranian-Saudi relations are improving.      [hiro1]

==early.Dec > [X] Still trying to secure an agreement on a pipeline through Afghanistan, Unocal invites a Taliban delegation to its corporate headquarters in Sugarland, Texas.  The Afghans have dinner at a vice-president’s mansion, where the austere visitors “marveled at his swimming pool, views of the golf course and six bathrooms.”   The US government has been openly backing Unocal since early 1996, causing Russia and China to grow suspicious of American designs on Central Asia.  After the US missile attacks on Afghanistan in Aug.1998, hopes for the pipeline venture largely collapse.      [bbc.Dec.04.1997 / tele.Dec.14.1997 / rash2]

==Dec.24 > [] Ed and Jennifer Yourdon’s Time Bomb 2000 is published, perhaps the most famous of several Y2K books predicting a social collapse brought on by computer failures.  The now-forgotten Y2K panic reaches its height in 1998 and early 1999.  But it is only one of several waves of paranoia.  From roughly the mid-1990s, there is a steady output of books warning of imminent global plagues, end-of-the-world disaster movies, and other manifestations of public unease and insecurity.  Even before 9/11, there is a general appetite for fear in America.      [amz]

==end.1997-early.1998 > [X] During 1997, Mohamed Atta and Ramzi bin al-Shibh become the dominant figures in an informal group of young Islamist fundamentalists associated with al Quds mosque in Hamburg. Future hijacker Ziad Jarrah is loosely involved. At the end of 1997, Atta disappears for three months. He probably travels to Afghanistan and trains in a jihad camp, effectively joining al-Qaeda. See spring.1998      [mcder]



1998:
==Jan.26 > [] In an open letter from the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, eighteen leading hawks advocate “removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power” by unilateral military action.  Many of the signatories will hold influential positions in the Bush administration, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, and Richard Perle.      [pnac / nwd.Jan.23.03]

==Jan.--- > [] Tapes of Monica Lewinsky discussing her affair with Bill Clinton are turned over to Independent Counsel Ken Starr by Linda Tripp.  The impeachment crisis is underway.  It largely paralyzes the Clinton administration for over a year.      [msnbc]

==early.1998 > [X] The CIA forms a team of 15 Afghan agents to track bin Laden’s whereabouts, which they do with some success for the next three years despite bin Laden's increasing caution.      [wap.Dec.23.2001 / 911cm]

==Feb.23 > [X] After forming the ‘Coalition Against Crusaders, Christians, and Jews’ in alliance with the remnants of Egyptian Al Jihad and extremists from Pakistan and elsewhere, Osama bin Laden issues a fatwa declaring it is the duty of Muslims everywhere to kill Americans, including civilians. This is perhaps the most important of bin Laden’s decrees.  On May 28, he reiterates his intention to attack civilians in an interview with ABC, saying clearly that military personnel and civilians “are all targets.”  By now, al-Qaeda has recovered from its expulsion from Sudan, and from 1998 to 2001 the organization is at the height of its power.     [nyt.Jan.14+Dec.27+Dec.30.2001 / fbi / berg / 911cm]
=By 1998, bin Laden is closely tied to the Taliban regime and has formed an extensive terrorist training camp network in Afghanistan. From 1996 to Sep.2001, an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 trainees go through the camps, only a few hundred of whom are admitted into al-Qaeda.     [nyt.Jan.14+Dec.27+Dec.30.2001 / 911cm]

==Feb.--- > [] An Iraqi-US crisis develops over Saddam’s refusal to cooperate with weapons inspectors.  The Saudis refuse to allow the US to launch air strikes from Arabian air bases.      [hiro1]

==Mar.12 > [X] A conference of Afghan clerics endorse bin Laden’s call for a jihad against the US, giving his fatwa more authority.  In late April, a group of Pakistani ulamas also backs bin Laden.      [berg]

==spring > [XX] Acting without publicity, Saudi Arabia cracks down on al Qaeda, arresting dozens of suspects and disrupting plans to attack American troops. In meetings with Tenet in late spring, the Saudis promise to make a serious effort to persuade the Taliban to expel bin Laden. See Jun-Jul.     [911cm]

==spring > [X] After Mohamed Atta returns to Germany from Afghanistan, he and Ramzi bin al-Shibh transform their informal Islamic study circle into a tightly organized cell. The group becomes intensely militant and secretive, and members cut most of their ties with family and friends. Future hijacker Marwan al-Shehhi joins during summer. Shibh and Shehhi evidently travel to Afghanistan for training in the jihad camps during the course of the year. See late.1998      [mcder]

==May.08 > [X] A FBI five-year strategic plan makes counterterrorism the agency's highest priority - but the proposals are never successfully implemented.      [camp.Mar.22.2004 / 911cm]

==May.11-28 > [] A dangerous nuclear crisis develops in south Asia. India tests nuclear weapons on May.11-13, and Pakistan responds with tests of its own on May.28. This saber-rattling sharply increases regional tensions. America is caught off-guard, but quickly imposes sanctions on both nations.      [cnn.May.28.1998]

==May.14 > [] The 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the state of Israel is marked by serious Palestinian rioting.      [lmd]

==May.18 > [X] An FBI agent reports large numbers of Middle Eastern men receiving flight training in Oklahoma, and expresses concern that this could be related to terrorist activity.  Little attention is paid to his memo.      [jdw / fox / wap.Sep.23.2001]

==May.22 > [X] Two major counterterrorism directives are released by the White House: PDD-62 on general counterterrorism policy and PDD-63 on cyber-counterterrorism. Clinton publicly announces the directives in a speech at the Naval Academy in June.  Richard Clarke is named National Coordinator of Counterterrorism, and begins attending all top level principals' meetings that deal with terrorism.      [clarke / usgov / naftali]

==May.29 > [] Echoing the neoconservative letter of Jan.26, Speaker of the House Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Lott again call for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and add “We should establish and maintain a strong U.S. military presence in the region, and be prepared to use that force to protect our vital interests in the (Persian) Gulf.”      [lat.Jan.12.2003]

==May.29 > [XX] CIA Director Tenet cancels a plan to abduct bin Laden, less than a month before it's scheduled to happen. The operation called for Afghan tribesmen to snatch him from his compound near Kandahar and to hold him until he could be spirited out of the country. This was the most solid and workable American plan to eliminate bin Laden before 9/11.      [911cm]

==May.--- > [X] al-Qaeda begins planning widespread attacks during the millennium celebrations, including the bombing of Los Angeles International Airport.      [nyt.Sep.16.2001]

==Jun.08 or Jun.10 > [X] A federal grand jury issues a sealed indictment charging bin Laden with conspiring to attack US defense facilities and alleging his involvement in the Oct.1993 fighting in Somalia.  See Nov.04      [pbs.Oct.03.2002 / 911cm]

==Jun.12 > [X] In response to bin Laden’s recent threats, the US State Department announces that it’s increasing security at American facilities in the Middle East and Asia.  It fails to mention Africa.  See Aug.07      [berg]

==mid.Jun > [X] Acting at the request of the US, Prince Turki, head of Saudi intelligence, meets with Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Kandahar and supposedly reaches an agreement on extraditing bin Laden to Saudi Arabia. Turki may have offered the Taliban cash incentives. According to Turki, a Taliban delegation visits Riyadh in July and conducts more negotiations on the handover. See mid-Sep.       [naftali / coll / lat.Aug.08.1999]
=A major American civil lawsuit against Saudis who allegedly bankrolled al-Qaeda, filed in 2002, claimed that Turki offered to pay off the Taliban and Pakistan if al-Qaeda refrained from attacking Saudi Arabia. The Saudis emphatically denied the charges; Prince Turki called them "baloney." In Nov.2003, a federal court ruled that Turki's status as a Saudi government official exempted him from the lawsuit.      [cnn.Aug.27.2002 / nyt.Mar.14.2004]

==Jun.--- > [X] US intelligence learns that al-Qaeda is considering launching attacks within the US, with Washington and New York among the possible targets.      [senic.Sep.18.2002]

==Jul.--- > [X] The Clinton administration charters the Hart-Rudman commission on national security.  See Sep.15.1999 and Jan.31.2001      [maha]

==Aug.05 > [] Iraq ends cooperation with UN arms inspectors.      [maha]

==Aug.07 > [X] On the eighth anniversary of the arrival of US troops in Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda truck-bombs the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.  The Nairobi embassy, at the intersection of two of the busiest streets in the city and near a train station, is hit at 1030 AM - 201 Kenyans and 12 Americans are killed, and about 4,000 are injured.   The Dar es Salaam blast occurred nine minutes later, killing eleven Tanzanians.  Bin Laden would later comment on the casualties to al-Jazeera: “They deserved it.”      [berg]
=In the years after the East African bombings, US embassies world-wide greatly beef up their security, but in doing so they become less able to freely interact with local populations.  In Nairobi, the US embassy relocates from its accessible but vulnerable location downtown to a fortress-like building on the outskirts.

==Aug.08-20 > [X] From the first news of the bombings, US authorities suspect bin Laden. On Aug.08, Tenet announces that the CIA has reports that bin Laden will be presiding over a high-level al-Qaeda meeting at a base near Khowst. Detailed military planning for a missile strike is begun on Aug.11. By Aug.14, US intelligence has confirmed that al-Qaeda is responsible for the embassy bombings, and Tenet, Clarke, and Berger urge that a strike be launched to kill bin Laden. Clinton and his chief advisers give final approval for the missile attack in the wee hours of Aug.20. Clinton is fully aware that he will be accused of conducting the strike to attempt to distract the public from the ongoing Lewinsky scandal; he tells Sandy Berger "that they were going to get crap either way, so they should do the right thing." See Aug.20      [911cm / naftali / berg / clarke]

==Aug.08 > [X] The Taliban conquers the town of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, and slaughters 6000 Shiite civilians in the following weeks.  Eleven Iranian diplomats and a journalist are also killed by the Taliban.  By early September, the Iranians are massing troops near the Afghan frontier.      [lat.Sep.23.2001 / rash2]

==Aug.17 > [] In an address to the nation, Clinton admits to having had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.      [cnn]

==Aug.20 > [X] The Operation Infinite Reach fiasco: Clinton launches cruise missiles against al-Qaeda in America's first military response to terrorist attacks since 1986. Training camps are hit in Afghanistan where an al-Qaeda conference is supposedly underway, but the wary leadership had already evacuated the sites - bin Laden probably left only a few hours before the missiles hit. The Pakistanis were informed that the missiles would be flying through their airspace, and there has been speculation that someone in Pakistan warned al-Qaeda. Other missiles destroy a Sudanese plant that the CIA believed was manufacturing chemical weapons, but which was in fact very probably producing only medicines. In an unexpected side effect of the air strikes, bin Laden becomes a hero in parts of the Middle East.      [naftali / berg / 911cm]
=In the United States, there is a storm of accusations from conservatives - including some Congressmen - that Clinton planned the strikes purely as a ploy to divert attention from the Lewinsky scandal. Republican leaders Lott and Gingrich initially support the attacks, but later disparage them.      [911cm]
=Despite the failure of the Infinite Reach missile strikes and the bitter criticism from the right, Clinton is inclined to launch follow-up attacks. Senior Defense Department officials disagree, citing a lack of worthwhile targets. The Clinton administration eventually keeps submarines stationed in the Indian Ocean prepared to launch missiles against bin Laden on short notice.     [911cm / nyt.Dec.20.2001]

==Aug.20 > [X] Clinton issues Executive Order 13099, imposing broad sanctions against al-Qaeda.     [clarke]

==Aug.21 > [X] The Washington Times reports that bin Laden has been communicating by cell phone, and soon afterwards bin Laden stops using his phone and the NSA loses the ability to monitor his communications and his whereabouts. The Times article is frequently blamed for alerting bin Laden, but that is probably untrue. Bin Laden's cell phone use had long been widely known - he himself mentioned it to reporters on one occasion.      [nyrb.May.26.2005 / wap.Dec.22.2005]

==Aug.22 > [] Mullah Omar indicates that he's open to a dialogue with the US concerning bin Laden's presence in Afghanistan. After the missile strike, the Taliban briefly seems more conciliatory, but this trend doesn't last long. See mid-Sep.      [911cm]

==Aug-Dec > [X] There are a stream of intelligence reports indicating that terrorists are planning operations in the US involving aircraft - in Aug, there are even rumors that a group of Arabs is planning to fly a plane full of explosives into the World Trade Center, but the FBI and the FAA consider this information highly dubious.  On Oct.08, the FAA issues a classified bulletin to airports and airlines, warning of a possible attack or hijacking by al-Qaeda at an airport in the eastern US. On Oct.26, Richard Clarke's Counterterrorism Security Group meets to assess the possibility of an al-Qaeda attack inside the US. On Dec.04, Clinton's daily CIA brief includes reports on the possibility of an al-Qaeda hijacking within America. The FAA orders tightened security at New York City airports on Dec.08. Also, sometime in 1998 the FBI learns that terrorists are planning to study aviation in the US, with the possible intention of targeting American airlines.  FBI headquarters instructs 24 field agencies to investigate, but little is done. The hijacking alarm fades away in late Dec.      [senic.Sep.18.2002 / bog.May.26.2002 / jdw / 911cm]

==Aug.--- > [] North Korea launches a three-stage missile over Japan.      [reu]

==Sep.14 > [] The US formally warns the Taliban regime that it will be held responsible for any terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda so long as it continues to provide sanctuary to the group. Sudan receives similar warnings about this time.      [911cm]

==mid.Sep > [X] Prince Turki has another meeting with Mullah Omar in Kandahar. When Turki asks that the Taliban honor their agreement to hand over bin Laden, Omar flies into a rage, flinging insults and shouting "Why are you persecuting and harassing this courageous, valiant Muslim?" Turki finally storms out of the room. A few days later the Saudis recall their ambassador from Kabul.      [coll / 911cm]

==Sep.16 > [X] Abu Hajer, the head of computer operations and weapons procurement for al-Qaeda, is arrested in Germany. There are widespread arrests of al-Qaeda operatives worldwide in the weeks following the embassy bombings.      [911cm]

==late.Sep > [X] The Saudis rebuff a request from Vice President Gore for American access to Madani al Tayyib, an important al-Qaeda financial official who has been in Saudi custody since 1997. Despite strong US pressure for improved intelligence sharing, the Saudis remain generally uncooperative.      [911cm]

==Sep.--- > [X] Counterterrorist chief Richard Clarke creates "Political-Military Plan Delenda," calling for coordinated diplomatic, covert, financial, and military operations to destroy al-Qaeda, including relentless attacks on targets in Afghanistan. At about the same time, a group of mid-level Defense Department officials draw up an ambitious and imaginative eight-part strategy for defeating international terrorism. Neither plan attracts much attention.      [911cm]

==Oct.23 > [] The Wye River Memorandum is signed after talks mediated by Clinton.  Israel agrees to hand over more territory to the Palestinian authorities in return for a Palestinian crackdown on terrorists, but on Dec.18, Israel suspends application of the terms.      [usis / lmd]

==Oct.31 > [] Clinton signs the Iraqi Liberation Act, to provide aid to Iraqi groups attempting to overthrow Saddam.      [usgov.Oct.31]

==Oct.--- > [X] Saudi Prince Abdullah visits Pakistan and forcefully urges the Pakistanis to break with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The US is also trying to pressure Pakistan, but has little leverage. Washington feels that the only convincing threat against Pakistan would be even more severe sanctions, but that could collapse the weak Pakistani economy, intensify the already dangerous confrontation with India, and further destabilize the region.      [911cm]

==Nov.04 > [X] A new indictment is issued against bin Laden, charging him with the bombings of the American embassies in East Africa and other acts of terrorism.  An even more complete federal indictment is issued Jan.16.1999.  The US government offers an unprecedented $5 million reward for bin Laden - but shortly afterwards, US intelligence reports that al-Qaeda is offering $9 million for the murder of four top American intelligence officials.      [pbs / hiro1 / senic.Sep.18.2002]

==late.Nov. > [X] The Taliban’s supreme judge declares bin Laden innocent of US charges.      [hiro4]

==late 1998 > [X] German authorities become aware of Mohamed Atta's Hamburg group after some cell members have contacts with known Islamist extremists who are under surveillance. The Germans pass some information on the cell to to the US, but the Americans show little interest, and the Germans themselves drop their investigation when they find no evidence of illegal activity. At the time, German security forces are stretched thin: there is only one man assigned part-time to monitor extremist activities among Hamburg’s 80,000 Muslims.      [mcder]
=In the fall, Mohamed Atta resumes working on his graduate thesis after a year's hiatus. See Aug.1999      [mcder]

==Dec.04 > [X] CIA Director Tenet issues an internal statement, saying bluntly “We are at war” with al-Qaeda, and demanding the highest priority for counterterrorist efforts… but many security officials are unaware of this strong memo.      [senic.Sep.18.2002]

==Dec.16-19 > [] Operation Desert Fox: Clinton orders air strikes against Iraq for obstructing inspections.      [hiro1]

==Dec.19 > [] Clinton is impeached by the House of Representatives.

==Dec.20 > [X] Alarmed by reports of impending al-Qaeda attacks on US embassies and by persistent rumors of plots to hijack planes within America, US officials nearly order a cruise missile strike on bin Laden. But some officials don't trust the intelligence on bin Laden's whereabouts, and the attack is never carried out. By the end of the month, the fears of an imminent al-Qaeda attack are fading.      [911cm]

==Dec.29-30 > [X] Near Aden, 16 Western tourists are kidnapped by an Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda.  The next day, Yemeni forces stage a bungled rescue attempt, and four hostages are killed.  During his trial in January, the lead kidnapper dismisses the hostages as “the grandchildren of pigs and monkeys.”      [berg]

==Dec.--- > [X] America reaches an agreement with Yemen, allowing US warships to refuel in Aden.  Hoping that the accord will improve relations, the Defense Department ignores reports that al-Qaeda is planning to attack American shipping in the area and fails to submit the agreement for interagency security review.  See Jan.03.2000 and Oct.12.2000      [berg / clarke]

== ------- > [] Dick Cheney begins advising Texas Governor George W. Bush on foreign policy.      [nyrb.Sep.26.02]

== ------- > [X] Specialized FAA security evaluating ‘red teams’ are able to smuggle guns and bombs through airport security checkpoints about 85% of the time.  At one airport they got through 97% of the time.  It appears that the FAA did nothing to remedy these shortcomings.     [nyt.Feb.27.2002]





Text Symbols
[] = The Levant: Israel, Palestine,
         Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey
 
[X]  = Non-Islamist Terrorism
[] = Egypt and North Africa
[X] = Islamist Extremists
[] = The Persian Gulf Region and Arabia
[X] = Islamist Terrorism (not al-Qaeda)
[] = Central and Southern Asia
[X] = al-Qaeda and bin Laden
[] = Africa
[X] = The 9/11 Operation
[] = Europe and the Soviet Union
[X] = Counterterrorism
[] = The United States



This chronology is intended as an outline of developments related to 9/11 and its aftermath, and tends to focus on unrest, war, and terrorism. It is not meant to be a comprehensive timeline of Middle East history.


9/11 Intro          Source Abbreviations

1948-1978      1979-1986      1987-1992      1993-1995      1999-2000

2001, Jan-Jun      2001, Jul-Sep.10

September 11, 2001, Part I      September 11, 2001, Part II