Sunday, April 16, 2006

Was Saddam recruiting pilots for 9/11 attacks?

That's the question explored by Captain Ed over at Captain's Quarters in the thread The Timing Of The Iraqi Air Force Memo.

Having used his own money to pay two independent translators to triple-check the translation performed by a contributer to Free Republic, Ed now explores what that document means.

The document details a program to recruit Iraqi Air Force pilots for terror attacks against the United States in March of 2001 (dates in day/month/year format):

The top secret letter 2205 of the Military Branch of Al Qadisya on 4/3/2001 announced by the top secret letter 246 from the Command of the military sector of Zi Kar on 8/3/2001 announced to us by the top secret letter 154 from the Command of Ali Military Division on 10/3/2001 we ask to provide that Division with the names of those who desire to volunteer for Suicide Mission to liberate Palestine and to strike American Interests and according what is shown below to please review and inform us.

Please read his commentary. The summary:

However, this recruitment memo offers another tantalizing possibility. The one 9/11 pilot who had not traveled outside the US the previous January was Hani Hanjour, who had just begun his flight training, which reportedly had not gone well. (See pages 226-227 of the 9/11 Commission report.) Hanjour had been assigned the most difficult of the 9/11 targets -- the Pentagon. That flight required taking the plane over the Beltway and into an incredibly low but stable approach to maximize the damage done to the building. This took more skill than merely flying a plane into the Twin Towers, and the late start on training could not have helped in Hanjour's preparations. Unlike Atta and Shehhi, the report never mentions Hanjour getting any training in a large-craft simulator.

The trip to Germany in January by the other pilots may have been an attempt to gather better-trained pilots for the attack -- and remember that the original plan was to have two waves of attacks, at least according to KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed], the second of which got cancelled due to increased security after 9/11. The late start for Hanjour would have endangered their mission. We know that the Iraqis started recruiting from their Air Force, and that those pilots had nothing to fly at the time. The trip to Prague may have been to find out if the Iraqis had anyone who could assist Hanjour in the difficult task ahead of him, or to plan the second wave of attacks using skilled pilots rather than the amateurs from the Hamburg cell.

If Saddam was involved in discussions about pilots to carry out a 9/11-type attack, it would cast a whole new light on the need to remove him.

But this story has not been examined by any major news organizations. Having firmly planted the idea that Bush lied or was completely wrong about the reasons for war, and having convinced most of America that Saddam was no threat, and therefore there was no reason to sacrifice lives or money in Iraq, the media seems to have little motivation to prove themselves wrong once again.

Meanwhile Bush seems to have little interest, for an obvious reason -- we already made the decision, and went to war, and we now have to deal with the aftermath. Bush isn't one to go over the past which cannot be changed, even to defend himself or his administration.

That is a mistake. I hope Josh Bolton can convince Bush to spend some time and energy translating these documents and putting the truth out to rebuild support for the hard work in Iraq.

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