Did Not Find Recordings, Transcripts, Reports

One of the most serious omissions in the 9/11 Commission report was its failure to discuss NSA intercepts of calls between two of the alleged hijackers in the US, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, and al-Qaeda’s central communications hub in Yemen. Why the commission failed to deal with the intercepts properly is still unknown, but information newly released by the National Archives shows that two of the staffers involved in searches of NSA records for 9/11-related information must have known of the calls, as they attended a meeting with then-NSA Director Michael Hayden at which Hayden offered an explanation for why the NSA did not exploit the calls.

The intercepted calls were mentioned in the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry report, which all ten 9/11 commissioners and at least some of the staff read at the start of the commission’s investigation.

The calls began soon after Almihdhar and Alhazmi arrived in the US in January 2000 and ended shortly before 9/11. They were all intercepted by the NSA, which had been monitoring the communications hub in Yemen since 1996, and was aware of its importance to al-Qaeda. Author James Bamford, who recently appeared in a PBS NOVA documentary about the hub, even found that it was the organization’s “operations centre.”

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