September 10, 2006

Intelligence Briefing:
Revolution & Terrorism

Dial 9/11 for the PLO

Part 1: A Professional Military Operation

9/11 attack on New York’s World Trade Center
Precision Strike in New York: United Airlines Flight 175 explodes on impact into the World Trade Center’s South Tower; in the background, the North Tower is burning from the first attack 17 minutes earlier (9:03 a.m., Sept. 11, 2001).
All four passenger planes were scheduled to take off almost at the same time, right after 8:00 a.m., from the east coast, all bound for California on that fateful Tuesday morning in 2001. They were heavy with fuel, over ten thousand gallons each to cross the continent, and light in passengers — thus being perfect explosive weapons easy to take over.

The well-trained teams of commando terrorists, four or five per plane, quietly slipped their weapons on board and took their seats, waiting until the aircraft had climbed into the sky and settled into routine flight. Then, in a perfectly timed series of assaults, they quickly and efficiently took the passengers hostage, neutralized the pilots, and seized control of the aircraft. Highly skilled, the hijacking pilots altered or turned off the planes’s transponders, changed course, and raced to their targets while air traffic controllers were only slowly starting to catch on that something might be wrong.

By the time the military was just beginning to scramble fighter jets at 8:46 a.m., and was still utterly confused on where to go or what the mission might be, American Airlines Flight 11 found its mark in the North Tower of New York City’s World Trade Center. The terrorist pilot maneuvered the plane perfectly at high speed near the ground, avoiding other skyscrapers and striking dead center into the narrow bull’s-eye. In a flash, hundreds were dead.

Seventeen minutes later, shortly after the third plane had been hijacked, the second plane finished its mission as well. At 9:03, a commando pilot steered United Airlines Flight 175 at breakneck speed right over the rooftops of Manhattan’s impressive skyline, swerving to avoid the already-hit North Tower and smashing directly into the narrow South Tower. That fireball was captured on innumerable cameras as a horrified world watched.

By 9:30, the fourth plane had come under the control of the hijackers while the third, American Airlines Flight 77, was racing into Washington, DC. Before the U.S. military had the slightest inkling of what was happening, the hijackers were able to target the low-lying Pentagon at 9:37, driving their high-speed aircraft straight into the building’s side without scraping the ground or overshooting the mark.

The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, never reached its target. Having taken off some forty minutes late, the plane’s new schedule threw off the mission’s well-planned timing. Passengers discovered through phone calls that they were captives of a suicide attack. Out of sheer desperation, they counterattacked against the terrorists. At 10:03, the plane went down over Pennsylvania, en route to Washington, DC, for an operation its hijackers never completed.

While that plane was meeting its end, the two towers of the World Trade Center finally gave out under the steel-melting heat of burning jet fuel and crumbled from the top down. The force of the double collapse destroyed or damaged 23 neighboring buildings and four subway stations, with debris covering much of Manhattan. By 10:29 a.m., nearly 3,000 people had died in New York; Washington, DC; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.1

The damaged Pentagon three days after 9/11
U.S. Dept. of Defense
Aftermath at the Pentagon: Cleanup crews work on the burned ruins of one wing of the Defense Department’s headquarters just outside Washington, DC, where American Airlines Flight 77 had struck with perfect aim on 9/11 (Sept. 14, 2001).
The terrorists had orchestrated the nearly flawless sequence of attacks so efficiently as to catch U.S. authorities completely off guard. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers did not even realize each of the airplanes had been hijacked until they were already reaching their targets, and military fighter planes did not arrive over the skies of New York and Washington, DC, until long after the attacks were over. The multi-pronged, highly coordinated operation was conducted by professionally trained commandos with enormous planning, intelligence gathering, and resources invested beforehand. By no stretch of the imagination could the September 11 attacks have been carried out by anyone but a large, well-armed, long-established terrorist organization backed and coordinated by some of the world’s most powerful governments.

Yet the Bush Administration and most of the news media first insisted on blaming the 9/11 operation on intelligence agent Usama bin Laden, known more for international money laundering on behalf of terrorists than for direct involvement in terrorism itself. From Bin Laden, the focus was gradually redirected toward an obscure organization supposedly known as “Al Qaeda,” described first as a small terrorist group, later as a full-blown army of combat soldiers, and still later as an amorphous, corporate-style network of tiny, independent groups. From “Al Qaeda,” the president and the media drifted even further to shift blame away from Bin Laden altogether and onto an even more obscure Kuwaiti Arab, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, known mostly for dividing his time between Pakistan and the Philippines in supporting Asian terrorists, but with no personal involvement in terrorism and little or no contact with Bin Laden.

In the five years since the 9/11 attacks, the official investigation has yielded nothing but dead ends, shadowy rumors, false leads, a total lack of prosecution of any central figures in the plot, and an inability to prevent future attacks. No government has been fingered as coordinating the 9/11 strike — aside from the impoverished, backward, former Taliban regime in Afghanistan that would have to rank among the governments least capable of having pulled off such a dramatic attack. No new groups or cells have been uncovered. And no reliable confession has been obtained from any captured terrorist thus far.

The more authorities investigate, the less they understand and the more confusing the picture becomes. Only one logical conclusion arises from the entire mess: Intelligence and law enforcement must be looking in the wrong direction.

To comprehend the magnitude of the 9/11 attacks, it helps to realize just what backing the hijackers needed to pull off the whole operation:

  • A revolutionary organization with a defined ideology to recruit the hijackers, preferably with a history of conducting suicide attacks, and with tangible, practical objectives to be accomplished by the daring strikes against U.S. cities.
  • A network of intelligence operatives inside the United States, presumably not Middle Eastern to avoid drawing attention, to research and identify targets and to select the best combination of scheduled plane flights.
  • Operatives in key positions in the U.S. to provide fake documentation, credit cards, and other logistical support.
  • Infiltrators working in security screening in all three east coast airports from which the doomed flights took off, to allow the hijackers to pass through with their hidden weapons.
  • Hundreds or thousands of hours of professional, in-flight training on Boeing airplanes by military pilots, enough to enable the hijackers to have a thorough working familiarity with Boeing cockpit controls and to hit narrow targets accurately near the ground while maneuvering at extremely high speeds; such extensive training could only be done in a foreign country with adequate territory and security to hide the preparations from the outside world, and with large, experienced military forces.
  • Combat training by professional military officers, working through scenarios of seizing control of passenger planes in the face of potential obstacles and resistance.
  • A network of covert military air controllers on the ground in the U.S. on September 11th, complete with ground-to-air radio equipment, to guide the hijackers to their targets.
  • An international joint effort of intelligence agencies from several allied governments who could sneak the hijackers into the U.S. bit by bit without drawing attention from law enforcement, and who could provide them the financing, cover, and other resources needed for every aspect of the operation and its planning.

None of these requirements could be filled by the alleged “Al Qaeda” group or the government of Afghanistan. But one well-known terror organization had the structure, size, resources, experience, motivation, and superpower backing to be able to pull off the 9/11 operation, and on the morning of September 11th actually did take credit: the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Only because the PLO later decided to withdraw credit did it become possible for President Bush to redirect the chase off to the remote mountains of Afghanistan.

ATTAC Report’s exclusive re-investigation of 9/11 begins with a second look at the career of Usama bin Laden — and whether his “Al Qaeda” group even exists.

To be continued…


1. “Tracking the flights hijacked on 9/11,” excerpts of staff report for the Sept. 11 Commission, Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2004, p. A26; “September 11, 2001 attacks,” Wikipedia,, retrieved Sept. 8, 2006.