By mid-afternoon, then-CIA chief George Tenet laid the blame squarely on Al Qaeda. Mohamed Atta and 18 other hijackers were identified within 72 hours.
In November 2001, U.S. forces in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, uncovered a videotape which showed Osama bin Laden gloat about his victory.
End of the story--or so it seemed.
Connecting the dots, and the Bush Administration’s seeming failure to do so, obsessed the media for weeks and months to come. Doing so, however, despite officially touted “complexities,” was in fact exceedingly easy, some of the key events having taken place right under official noses in Washington, D.C.
By October 2001, ABC News, Fox and CNN were reporting a fund transfer of $100,000 in early August of that year from Dubai to two Florida bank accounts held by the 9/11 ringleader Atta. On October 6, CNN identified the man who had sent the money—one Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. Yet, when questioned about him, the White House in its news briefings managed to prevent the story from gaining further traction by creating confusion through usage of aliases and alternate spellings for Sheikh’s name.
In his memoir, “In the Line of Fire,” former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf writes, “Omar Sheikh is a British national born to Pakistani parents in London on December 23, 1973. . . . He … went to the London School of Economics but dropped out before graduation. It is believed . . . that . . . he was recruited by the British intelligence agency MI-6.”
The Bush Administration knew that Sheikh had been sent by MI6 to Pakistan to cooperate with its counterpart, the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI). Protecting Britain and Pakistan as two “allies” took precedence over disclosing the truth.
Lt. General Mahmoud Ahmad, then ISI chief, flew into Washington, D.C., on September 4, 2001. As repeatedly reported, he breakfasted with Republican Congressman Porter Goss and Democratic Senator Bob Graham, both of Florida, at the Capitol on the morning of September 11. Also in attendance was Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi.
They discussed bin Laden and the threat he posed, yet Lt. Gen. Ahmad, in all likelihood, failed to mention that he had been the one to instruct Sheikh to wire the $100,000 to the hijackers.
Sheikh’s activities date back to 1994 when he abducted an American and three British travelers in India, a crime for which he was sent to prison. He was released in 1999 to meet the demands of hijackers who were holding 178 passengers hostage aboard Indian Airlines Flight 814. He is currently in a Pakistani prison, found guilty of the February 2002 beheading of The Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
In 2008, in the wake of the November Mumbai attacks, he called Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari from his jail cell, pretending to be India’s Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and threatening him with war. The hoax was taken seriously as Pakistani forces went on high alert. He tried unsuccessfully to play the same prank on then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Sheikh was indicted in the U.S. for the Pearl case and the India abduction in 2002, yet then-Attorney General John Ashcroft who announced the indictments made no mention of his role in 9/11.
Lt. Gen. Ahmad is mentioned in “The 9/11 Commission Report” (with the alternate spelling of Mahmud Ahmed) only twice, principally in regard to his meeting on September 13 with then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage who presented him with seven demands of cooperation from the Pakistani government. There is not a single mention of Sheikh and his ties with the ISI and the MI6 in the entire report. Lt. Gen. Ahmad flew back to Pakistan the next day. He was removed from his post in October at the behest of the American government.
There has been no trace of him ever since.
Ten years later, Islam has become synonymous with terror to the delight of 9/11’s true plotters who made dupes of the hijackers and bin Laden while slaughtering thousands of Americans. Since then the “war on terror” has cost 225,000 lives in the Middle East and more than $4 trillion in American taxpayer money according to a Brown University study.
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq remain among the poorest, most violent and corrupt countries while such oil companies as Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Petronas have signed contracts with Baghdad to ensure themselves humongous rewards for decades to come. Most recently, before any concrete plans for Libya’s economic future were being specified in the wake of Moamar Gaddafi’s fall, declarations were made that oil contracts with Russia and China were to be rescinded and then awarded to NATO countries.
In America today, corporations are wealthier than ever while the majority of Americans, who are profoundly dissatisfied with their government, pay ever-higher energy prices in the thick of an enduring recession. The MI6 and the ISI have succeeded beyond success, reconfiguring global geopolitics to the exact specifications of vested corporate interests.
The United States should rid itself of such toxic “allies” as Pakistan and even Britain, whose governments consider Americans as gauche, gullible and easy to manipulate. Washington should additionally move to restore solvency to Americans by taxing supranational corporations into submission. Belligerence should be replaced by cooperation to foster strong economies and civil societies in the Muslim world.
In the absence of such housecleaning measures, hidden hands that have gotten away with mass murder, calumny and robbery will grow only more brazen and destructive in their monomaniacal quest for world domination.