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.