Washington: The 9/11 terror attack could have been averted if the US had not ignored warning and leads about an earlier al Qaeda plot to hijack a commercial airliner, a judicial rights body has said, citing a just released classified report.
According to a Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) Intelligence Information Report (IIR), obtained by the Judicial Watch, information about the plot came from an unidentified human intelligence source that provided authorities with copies of eight Arabic letters containing details of the al Qaeda plot.
For 13 years the subject report was classified "SECRET", until it was finally declassified and released to Judicial Watch on August 29, 2013, a media release said.
The IIR report revealed that Al Qaeda (AQ) planned to hijack departing Frankfurt International Airport between March and August 2000.
The hijack team was to consist of an Arab, a Pakistani, and a Chechen, it said.
"Chechen withdrawal from the plot delayed the operation. Sheik Dzabir, a 40-year-old Saudi with ties to the House of Saud, directed the operation. Advanced warning of the plot was disregarded because nobody believed that Osama bin Laden or the Taliban could carry out such an operation," the report
According to the report, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Chechen Islamic militants all had substantial operating support bases in Hamburg and Frankfurt.
Name, address, and telephone numbers identify an al Qaeda passport forger in Hamburg for Taliban and other Afghan terrorists and support personnel during January and February 2000, it said.
It also revealed the existence of a secure, reliable terrorist-sponsored route to Chechnya from Pakistan and Afghanistan through Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.
In January 2000 there was a two-day hijack planning meeting between bin Laden and Taliban officials in Kabul.
"The details of names, addresses, and such, from this reporting should have provided `actionable intelligence` for any number of US anti-terrorist operations," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
It was only months later that al-Qaida operatives, mostly from Saudi Arabia, hijacked four American passenger jets at the same time, crashing one into the Pentagon, two more in the Twin Towers in New York, and losing the fourth when passengers apparently fought back and it crashed into a Pennsylvania field, missing its apparent intended target, the White House.
"It is clear as day that the 9/11 plot could have been derailed if the leads in these documents had been followed," he added.