Terrorism: October 2, 2001



@ Mohamed Atta was apparently the tactical leader of the 11 Sept operation, orchestrating the attacks. He piloted the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center. This was a departure for the bin Laden organization. In previous operations, the tactical leader left the target country just before the attack. Perhaps Atta knew that by dying in the attack he could never risk capture or interrogation.

@ Mustafa Ahmed, who lived in the UAE, apparently served as the paymaster for the 11 September attacks, and possibly others. The hijackers mailed their leftover cash back to him before the attacks.

@ The first snowfalls have been reported in Afghanistan. By the end of October, operations there will be very difficult due to bad weather and sub-zero temperatures.

@ The deployment of up to four Marine battalions is curious, as there are no beaches in Afghanistan. Speculation on their possible use includes reinforcing Kuwait against any adventures by Saddam, invading Somalia to stabilize that country, securing port facilities in Pakistan, or possible relocation by air transports to Afghanistan.

@ Reagan National Airport remains closed due to its proximity to possible targets in the national capital area. One plan to reopen it would allow landings and departures only from the south, but as there is only one runway, this would limit Reagan National to 35% of its normal capacity. Another plan is to put a sky marshal on every flight in and out of the airport, but until more sky marshals are recruited, this is not possible. 

@ Sixteen of the nineteen hijackers were in the US on legal visas.

@ Concern over operational security has escalated paranoia in the Pentagon. Reportedly, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is waiting for a senior general to leak something so he can be fired as an object lesson against leaking to the press.

@ NASA (already facing a funding crisis) expects further trouble as anti-terrorism spending will take money away from manned space flights and could stop the Mars exploration program entirely.

@ The Taliban forces probably have at least 100 (but not more than 200) of the Stinger shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles provided to the anti-Soviet rebels. The CIA has bought back at least some leftover missiles, and all of those bought back still worked.

@ Radical Egyptian newspapers continue to print that the Arab men identified as hijackers were kidnapped and murdered by Israeli Mossad agents, who masqueraded as them and conducted the attack in concert with the CIA.--Stephen V Cole


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