9/11 Hijacker Briefly Detected By NSA in 1999
W A S H I N G T O N, Sept, 26 — The name of a future Sept. 11 hijacker was heard by the National Security Agency in early 1999, in what may have been the first detection by a U.S. intelligence agency of one of the 19 plotters who took part in the attacks.
The NSA, which gathers intelligence by eavesdropping on communications, "received information in which a 'Nawaf al-Hazmi' was referenced. The parties involved were unknown to NSA," said a U.S. intelligence official, speaking Wednesday on the condition of anonymity.
The intelligence official declined to provide more detail on the early 1999 reference. The NSA did not immediately provide the information to other intelligence agencies, the official said.
Al-Hazmi was one of the five hijackers on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. In early 2000, he separately came to the attention of the CIA and the FBI, who learned he was at a meeting of al Qaeda operatives in Malaysia. It is unclear when the NSA information was matched with what the other counterterrorism agencies had learned.
But at some point, the NSA's information, kept in an agency database, also associated al-Hazmi with al Qaeda, according to a report by Eleanor Hill, the director of the congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks.
Hill's report, released last week, detailed the U.S. government's limited pre-Sept. 11 knowledge of the hijackers. NSA Director Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden told the congressional inquiry of his agency's information on Nawaf al-Hazmi, the intelligence official said.
The report concluded that U.S. intelligence knew of only three of the 19 eventual hijackers before the attacks: Nawaf al-Hazmi, Salim al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar. Nawaf al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar took part in the Malaysia meeting, and Salim al-Hazmi was a known associate of the two. U.S. officials had no knowledge of their intentions, the report says.
Sept. 11 inquiry hearings, conducted by members of House and Senate Intelligence committees, were set to continue Thursday with the testimony of Cofer Black and Dale Watson, the top CIA and FBI counterterrorism officials at the time of the attacks.
Black ran the CIA's Counterterrorism Center from 1999 until May, and he remains with the agency. He previously served as an undercover CIA officer and played a role in France's capture of Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, commonly known as Carlos the Jackal, once the world's most famous terrorist.
Watson recently retired from his post as assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division.
—The Associated Press
Judge: ‘Shoe Bomb’ Suspect’s E-Mail Can Be Used at Trial
B O S T O N, Sept. 26 — E-mail from the man accused of trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight — including one note in which he described a duty to "remove the oppressive American forces" — can be used at his trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Attorneys for "shoe bomb" suspect Richard Reid had argued the search of Reid's electronic mail account was illegal because the search warrant was overly broad.
But U.S. District Judge William Young ruled that federal agents needed to search Reid's entire Hotmail account because they believed he could have communicated with co-conspirators in code.
Reid, a British citizen, is charged with attempting to blow up an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami on Dec. 22 with explosives hidden in his shoes. Passengers and crew members restrained him after he allegedly tried to light a fuse. The flight was diverted to Boston.
After his arrest, the FBI obtained a search warrant for Reid's e-mail accounts. Excerpts from his e-mail were included in court documents filed by federal prosecutors.
"What I am doing is part of the ongoing war between Islaam and disbelief," he wrote to his mother two days before his arrest.
"I see it as a duty upon me to help remove the oppressive American forces from the Muslim land and that this is the only way for us to do so as we do not have other means to fight them," he wrote.
Reid's lawyer, Tamar Birckhead, said that when investigators applied for the search warrant, they had no evidence that Reid used his e-mail account for anything except communicating with his mother. The judge said he reserved the right to revise his decision after he reviews new arguments from the defense.
Reid faces eight counts, including a charge of attempting to murder the 197 passengers and crew members on the flight. Trial is set to begin Nov. 4.
The FBI has said it believes Reid had help making the shoe bomb from "an al Qaeda bomb maker."
—The Associated Press
Protesters Pledge to Shut Down Nation’s Capital
W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 26 — Protesters are pledging to shut down the nation's capital Friday with demonstrations that will "disrupt traffic and convey a symbolic message" against capitalism and war.
The protests are a prelude to even larger demonstrations planned for the weekend during meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The FBI issued a warning this week that computer hackers may conduct "cyber protests" during the financial meetings.
"A small group that intends to disrupt the meetings with a physical attack may use cyber means to enhance the effects of the physical attack or to complicate the response by emergency services," the agency said in a statement.
The Anti-Capitalist Convergence, a group that wants to abolish the global financial institutions, said Wednesday that they would hold several nonviolent demonstrations during Friday morning's rush hour. The events include a mass bike ride to protest the Bush administration's environmental policies and a march opposing "corporate greed" that will target the headquarters of various companies.
The demonstrators said they do not have permits for these events, which would wind through Washington's downtown business district.
Police plan to block off streets in the area around the financial institutions, located just a few blocks from the White House, and are bringing in 1,700 officers from neighboring communities to help local law enforcement.
On Wednesday, U.S. Park Police officers practiced crowd control maneuvers, including drills on removing people who obstruct roads and buildings — things protesters are threatening to do Friday.
Deputy Chief Dwight Pettiford said his officers will be "kind and gentle" with protesters, but they'll also be very firm with those who practice disobedience.
Further disruption could be caused by demonstrator "affinity groups," small clusters of protesters working independently.
"They will be staking out strategic and political targets to disrupt traffic and convey a symbolic message to the city to draw attention to the issues they think are important," ACC organizer Andrew Willis said. He said affinity groups will converge from all over the United States and Canada, bringing thousands of demonstrators to Washington.
"The people who are coming here on Sept. 27 do not consider themselves violent nor do they consider their tactics to be violent," Willis said. He said the demonstrators want an end to all debts, including personal debt, and universal access to food, water and housing.
Many members of the ACC call themselves "anarchists." Police have blamed anarchists for much of the violence during past protests against the global financial institutions.
In April 2000, Washington police arrested about 1,300 people during demonstrations against the IMF and World Bank.
Confrontations last year outside the Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy, caused extensive property damage, hundreds of arrests and injuries and the death of one Italian protester who was shot by police.
Last year's IMF and World Bank meeting was canceled after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, so protesters called off their plans, with many holding anti-war demonstrations instead.
Protests in Washington during the April meetings of the IMF and World Bank were peaceful and focused on issues ranging from the war against terrorism to U.S. Mideast policy.
This year, the global financial institutions have scaled back their annual meeting, from a week to two days, in an effort to trim soaring security costs.
Mobilization for Global Justice, which advocates nonviolent protests and serves as an umbrella organization for a number of activist groups, is the main organizer of planned protests to take place outside the World Bank on Saturday. Protest organizers say they expect thousands to turn out to demand that the financial institutions open their meetings to the public, end harmful economic policies and cancel Third World debt.
Protesters from around the world plan a series of teach-ins and workshops leading up to the weekend demonstrations.
—The Associated Press
Man Accused of Interfering With Flight Crew Freed
F O R T S M I T H, Ark., Sept. 26 — A New Jersey man accused of interfering with a flight crew while the nation remembered the terror attacks on Sept. 11 has been freed under a judge's order that he stay out of trouble for a year.
Gurdeep Wander, 48, was released from jail Sept. 19 under a pretrial diversion program that prosecutors agreed to, U.S. Attorney Tom Gean said Wednesday. The Washington (Warren County) man was put on 12 months' probation and must also pay a $1,000 civil penalty, Gean said.
"I call this a common-sense conclusion to this matter. Mr. Wander spent eight days in jail for the actions that he took on that airplane," Gean said.
The federal charges available to prosecutors did not fit the crime in Wander's case, Gean said.
"This guy basically disobeyed the flight attendants and shaved and he is looking at 20 years," Gean said. "Federal prosecutors need a law that addresses conduct that possibly does not rise to the level of [felony charges]. We are going to have to give federal prosecutors greater latitude in addressing these [matters]."
Wander's attorney, Matt Ketcham, of Fort Smith, said the deal saves his client from the stress and high cost of going to trial.
"We felt very good about the case. We felt that if it went to trial we could have got him acquitted," Ketcham said Wednesday. "But there are also risks of going to trial. Trying an East Coast man of Indian descent in ... Arkansas, we just didn't know how that would play."
Wander was jailed after a Northwest Airlines flight attendant said he interfered with her work during a trip between Memphis, Tenn., and Las Vegas. She testified at a hearing last week that Wander refused to leave a restroom and return to his seat.
He was among four men detained when Flight 979 was diverted to Fort Smith and was released after a probable cause hearing in lieu of a $25,000 signature bond and allowed to return to New Jersey.
Crew members aboard the flight said they were suspicious of Wander and the three other men, especially after Wander spent a considerable amount of time shaving in a restroom.
Two men were released after the incident and not charged. Harinder Singh, 41, of Saylorsburg, Pa., was released Sept. 18 on the condition that he avoid trouble for six months. Like Wander, he entered a pretrial diversion program. Family members said Singh and Wander were flying together to an Exxon convention in Las Vegas. At Minneapolis, the men missed a Sept. 10 connection on their New York LaGuardia-to-Las Vegas itinerary and were booked through Memphis the next morning.
—The Associated Press
9/11 Attacks Contributed to Spike in Job Fatalities
W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 26 — The number of people killed on the job last year soared by one-third because of the terrorist attacks, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.
A total of 8,786 people died at work last year. Of those, 2,886 were related to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Excluding the victims of attacks, the overall workplace death count was 5,900, which would have been the third-straight annual drop. In 2000, there were 5,920 people killed on the job.
Most of the attack victims were killed while at work — including jobs at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, on business travel or as a crew member of an airliner or as a rescue worker.
Job descriptions were wide-ranging, though more managers, executives and administrative workers were killed than any other position, at 1,072. Of the rescue workers killed, 335 were firefighters and 61 were police officers or detectives.
Three-quarters of the attack victims were men.
"Today's report demonstrates that workers need more protection, not less," said John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, the federation of 65 labor unions. "The Bush administration and the Congress should be fighting for increased worker protections, not cutting federal funding for safeguards and job safety budgets."
Of the workers killed at the World Trade Center, two-thirds were between ages 25 and 44. Nine percent were black, 10 percent were Hispanic and 26 percent were women. Of the rescue workers who died there, seven out of 10 were between ages 25 and 44, and nearly all were male.
Of workers at the Pentagon, over half were between ages 25 and 44. Thirty-three percent were black, 4 percent were Hispanic and 37 percent were women.
Two-thirds of the workers who died in the attacks were over age 34. Almost 20 percent of the workers were foreign-born.
Excluding workers killed in the attacks, the construction industry continued to have the highest number of worker fatalities, increasing to a record high of 1,225.
Transportation-related deaths dropped for the third straight year. Highway incidents, however, increased slightly and continued to be the leading cause of on-the-job fatalities.
Non-highway fatal incidents, which include tractor and forklift overturns, were at their lowest levels since records started being kept in 1992.
Work-related homicides fell to the lowest level since 1992, to 639. Homicides among technical, sales, and administrative support workers decreased, though homicides increased sharply among workers in service occupations, which include police and detectives, food preparation workers, barbers, and hairdressers.
The number of workplace suicides and fatal assaults by animals also increased slightly.
Deaths from falls increased 10 percent between 2000 and 2001 to 808, the highest total since 1992. Fatal falls in the construction industry increased 13 percent and accounted for over half of all fatal falls.
—The Associated Press