Completely Unpatrolled Road to 9/11


I just finished watching History Channel's "Road to 9/11". It was definitely quite an eye-opening experience, especially about how the authorities responded (or didn't) to the many threats facing the nation leading up to #9/11.

Here is what I gathered was the chronology of events that eventually lead to the fateful day:

  1. Blind Sheikh somehow gets into the U.S. after just having taken part in an uprising in Egypt (nobody puts him on the watch-list)
  2. He starts a cell in Brooklyn - his disciples start a campaign of killings - Rabbi in NY and attack in front of CIA HQ
  3. FBI/NYPD arrests individuals but fail to bring down the whole cell; let's go of the only source of inside information (after he refuses to wear a wire) just as the cell is desperately trying to recruit him to "cook" bombs
  4. Inside man retreats from the cell. Cell finds another cook and conducts the first WTC attack
  5. FBI/NYPD finally rounds up the whole cell as it is getting ready to blow up tunnels/bridges in NYC and the Statue of Liberty
  6. WTC bomb-maker somehow escapes the round-up. Thereafter, is single-mindedly trying to plant bombs in every airline possible using small amounts of liquids
  7. Another hate spewing Egyptian redefines "jihad" to include terroristic tactics and increasingly influences the "financier" Osama bin Laden (OBL)
  8. Jihadists are looking for new targets after their work with Soviets is over
  9. Iraq invades Kuwait and poses a threat to Saudi Arabia's security. OBL offers help of his few thousand jihadists to the Saudi govt. to liberate Kuwait. Saudi govt. instead chooses to go with 250K U.S. troops
  10. After Gulf war there is a period of deceptive peace in the U.S. DC is busy and distracted with Monica Lewinsky scandal
  11. OBL jilted by Saudis feels spite for the U.S. Declares war against it
  12. Embassy and Cole bombings ensue
  13. DC lobs few cruise missiles (no ground options available) in response. OBL escapes and his stature grows exponentially instead
  14. CIA creates a huge dossier on OBL and asks White House/NSC to capture him. WH has no appetite for bad publicity from a potential failed attempt
  15. Meanwhile, first WTC bomb-maker is arrested but his uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) escapes. KSM brings outlandish terroristic plans to OBL as he searches for financing
  16. Plan to use airlines as missiles is put in motion. Two guys on CIA radar arrive in Florida to conduct pilot training. CIA fails to share the Intel with FBI
  17. Rest of the cell also arrives in the U.S. and start their pilot training
  18. Chatter of imminent attack becomes a deafening crescendo for whoever is listening. WH/NSC is not listening, instead says CIA warnings are not actionable/specific enough
  19. Attack that was not specific enough earlier becomes crystal clear on #9/11

The attack, which I believe, could have been thwarted at several occasions through timely and decisive action was not stopped. I believe that if FBI, CIA, and WH/NSC had collaborated and trusted each other wholeheartedly the outcome could have been different. I sincerely hope that they are applying their painfully learned lessons from 9/11 to effectively neutralize constantly evolving new threats.

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