Suspected 9/11 Scout Team Not Connected to Hijackers, Officials Say

No evidence linked group to hijackers, officials say.

Feb. 2, 2011 — -- In the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the FBI investigated three men suspected of scouting targets for the hijackers, but determined there was no concrete evidence linking the group to the Sept. 11 conspirators and conducted the investigation as one of "thousands," officials said.

A leaked diplomatic cable, posted on the Wikileaks website Tuesday, shows that nearly a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar, in Feb. 2010 urged the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center to place a man named Mohamed Ali Mohamed Al Dahham Al Mansoori on a watch list for his alleged connection to the team of three men from Qatar. It notes Mansoori was, as of Feb, 2010, under investigation by the FBI and was considered "an individual who may pose a threat to civil aviation in the U.S. and abroad."

The trio from Qatar arrived in the U.S. on Aug. 15, 2001 and stopped in New York, New York, to visit the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty, and then Washington, D.C., where they saw the White House and "various areas in Virginia," the cable says.

The cable says these visits were so the men could "conduct surveillance of possible targets."

U.S. officials declined to comment on the veracity of the cable, but two U.S. officials told ABC News the men from Qatar were under investigation by the FBI as one of "thousands" of leads chased down in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"They were looked at hard," one of the officials said, but no evidence linked them directly to the Sept. 11 hijackers. For his part, Mansoori was under much more scrutiny by the FBI and other government offices, the official said.

Neither Mansoori, nor the names of the three Qatari men, appear in the 9/11 Commission Report.

"If the [9/11] Commission had information in 2004 that reliably linked these individuals to the 9/11 attack, it would have been in our report," former executive director of the 9/11 Commission Philip Zelikow told ABC News.

Additionally, U.S. officials said that if they believed the men were linked to the hijackers, a public alert would have been issued.

CLICK HERE to read the original cable, as posted on Wikileaks.

Cable: Men Had Pilot Uniforms, Electronic Equipment

After the East Coast visit, the three flew to Los Angeles, Calif., and checked into a hotel on Aug. 24, the cable says. The cleaning staff later reported they grew suspicious of the men because they saw pilot-styled uniforms, several laptops and boxes addressed to Syria, Jerusalem, Afghanistan and Jordan, according to the cable. The room also held a paper print out with pilot names, airlines, flight numbers and flight times. The rooms and plane tickets, an FBI investigation later found, had been paid for by a "convicted terrorist," though the cable does not name the convict.

According to American Airlines records, the cable continues, the men booked a return flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., for Sept. 10, but never boarded the plane. The next day, that same airplane was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon as part of the Sept. 11 attack.

But this group was not a part of the final attack, according to the cable, as they instead boarded a British Airways flight from Los Angeles to London on Sept. 10. Three days later -- and two days after the America suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history -- the group landed in Doha, Qatar. The cable claims Mansoori spent up to a week with the three in California before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Officials told ABC News Mansoori stayed in the U.S. until 2004 when he too slipped away.

The cable does not explain why, nearly a decade after the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. Embassy in Qatari was recommending Mansoori suddenly be added to the watch list.