Tuesday, July 02, 2002

In referring to Moussaoui's allegations that he was being watched prior to September 11 by the U. S. government and that movement of the hijackers in and out of the country was facilitated by the U. S. government, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Spencer wrote in a court declaration: "The U.S. government did not facilitate the movement of any of the 19 hijackers," and "The U.S. government did not have any of the 19 under surveillance while they were in the U.S." The interesting thing is that there are indications that at least some of the hijackers were under some form of surveillance:

  1. Ziad Samir Jarrah, or at least someone using that name, was detained and questioned in Dubai by the United Arab Emirates at the specific request of the U. S. government more than seven months before September 11, when he was returning from Pakistan to Florida. It thus seems likely that Jarrah's travels were being monitored by the U. S. government when he was outside the U. S. Why would they stop surveilling him once he entered the U. S., especially if the UAE questioning made it clear that he was returning to Florida?

  2. While the U. S. government may not have been monitoring any of the hijackers, there is reason to believe that the Israeli government was. I simply cannot believe it was a coincidence that the Israeli spy ring was operating in the same town in Florida in which a number of the hijackers lived (there appears to be some issue whether the spies were near where the hijackers lived, or only near where they had a mail-drop, but the distinction is irrelevant as what is important is the coincidence that, of all the places to be in the United States, they were in the ambit of the hijackers), in Dallas where the FBI had on September 5 (! - more needs to be made of this timing coincidence) raided a number of Islamic charities that were supposed to be supporting terrorism (in particular, Hamas, an issue that had been the subject of complaints by Israeli sympathizers), and in Oklahoma City where so there are so many connections to the terrorist group (not to mention that the spy ring was also active in San Diego, where some of the terrorists were, and there were Israelis, possibly from a separate ring, seen filming the WTC attack from New Jersey and cheering it on). Is it possible that the Israeli spy ring was hushed up and the spies allowed to leave quietly in order to hide the fact that the Israelis were assisting the U. S. government by keeping an eye in the terrorists while allowing the U. S. to maintain plausible deniability should anyone ask if the terrorists were under surveillance by the U. S government?

  3. The two terrorists who were on the State Department 'watch list', Khalid al-Midhar and Salem Alhamzi (Salem is sometimes possibly confused with Nawaf Alhazmi, but the principle is the same whichever Alhazmi it turns out to be!), had been tracked at least since al-Midhar's meeting with a suspected al-Qaeda member in Kuala Lumpur. It is thus clear that they were being watched at least outside of the U. S., and leaves open the question of why the 'watch list' didn't alert someone to the presence of these men in the United States. The FBI has tried to blame part of its seeming incompetence on the fact that the CIA didn't bother to tell them about these terrorists, but it appears that the FBI was aware of them as there is a report that the FBI had started a manhunt for the two on August 23 (also see this).

  4. There is at least one report that states: "In fact, a dozen different individuals that the FBI maintains on a "watch list" and who were under some form of surveillance, shared the same U.S. addressees and were in fact living with several of the 9/11 hijackers." If this is true, and I have no way of knowing whether it is, the statement that the U. S. government wasn't surveilling the hijackers while they were surveilling the hijacker's roommates starts to get a bit cute.