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Zacarias Moussaoui: What We Don’t Know Might Hurt Us

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A Significant Stimulus for the Reform that Never Came

10 August 2011
by Kevin Fenton
BoilingFrogsPost.com

Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the numerous “20th hijackers,” was arrested ten years ago next Tuesday, outside the Residence Inn in Eagan, Minnesota. The arrest was one of the first events in a case that gave the FBI a chance to blow open the 9/11 plot, but resulted in abject humiliation for the bureau when its headquarters’ string of errors was exposed in the press.

The Moussaoui case is a poster boy for the state of our knowledge about the attacks: we have some of the details, but know some are missing. Also, two key questions remain unanswered. This despite the wealth of information that came out at the trial and the fact that Moussaoui, although largely ignored by the 9/11 Commission’s final report–partly due to the forthcoming trial–was a major topic of the Justice Department inspector general’s report into the FBI’s pre-attack failings.

These are the bare bones of the case: Moussaoui had been a known extremist for years prior to his arrest. Before the bureau first heard his name on August 15, he had been under surveillance by French and British intelligence and the CIA, although the agency would claim it only knew him under an alias. He was sent to the US for flight training by alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, possibly to participate in 9/11, possibly to participate in a follow-up operation. However, he was a poor student and dropped out of basic flight school before obtaining a licence and went to learn about flying a Boeing 747, which aroused suspicion.

When the FBI was brought in, the Minneapolis agents realized he was dangerous and arrested him on an immigration violation–despite being told not to do so by headquarters. This was the first of many times the Minneapolis field office and FBI headquarters clashed over the case. Essentially, even though they did not know he was linked to al-Qaeda, the local agents understood the risk Moussaoui posed–one even speculated he would fly a large airliner into the World Trade Center–and they wanted a warrant to search his belongings
to get information that would lead to his accomplices. On the other hand, headquarters seemed to think they were alarmist and there was nothing to the case. They kept throwing up roadblocks.

Story continued at the source, BoilingFrogsPost.com