Another Detail The 9/11 Commission Seems To Have Missed (Updated!)

Arrests corroborated by BBC and Reuters. See Update V.
Germany has long been known as one of the primary logistical areas for the 9/11 attacks. Mohammed Atta and several of the 9/11 hijackers spent considerable time in Hamburg especially during the recruitment and research effort in 1999 and 2000 before coming to the United States to begin the actual work of preparing the attacks. The 9/11 report contains 75 references to Germany, most of them involving Atta and his team; a search on Hamburg generates 90 hits. Three of the four pilots came from the Hamburg cell (page 242).
With all of these references to Germany and Hamburg, the 9/11 Commission oddly failed to include a published report from March 2001 in a Parisian Arabic newspaper, Al-Watan Al-Arabi, about the arrest of two suspected Iraqi spies — based on a tip from the CIA (boldface mine):

Iraqi Spies Reportedly Arrested in Germany
16 March 2001
Al-Watan al-Arabi (Paris) reports that two Iraqis were arrested in Germany, charged with spying for Baghdad. The arrests came in the wake of reports that Iraq was reorganizing the external branches of its intelligence service and that it had drawn up a plan to strike at US interests around the world through a network of alliances with extremist fundamentalist parties.
The most serious report contained information that Iraq and Osama bin Ladin were working together. German authorities were surprised by the arrest of the two Iraqi agents and the discovery of Iraqi intelligence activities in several German cities. German authorities, acting on CIA recommendations, had been focused on monitoring the activities of Islamic groups linked to bin Ladin. They discovered the two Iraqi agents by chance and uncovered what they considered to be serious indications of cooperation between Iraq and bin Ladin. The matter was considered so important that a special team of CIA and FBI agents was sent to Germany to interrogate the two Iraqi spies.

Not one word of this gets addressed in the final Commission report, as far as I can tell. The report contains thirty-one references to arrests, most of them for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Zacarias Moussaoui, but none of them mention any German arrests of Iraqi spies in Germany for March 2001. It isn’t as if the 9/11 Commission considered Al-Watan al-Arabi an unreliable source, either; they used it as a reference for an editorial by Saudi Prince Bandar.
The CIA apparently knew something about this; why didn’t it come out during the hearings? This looks like a very strange coincidence, that the Germans found such an extensive Iraqi espionage ring within their borders at the same time that al-Qaeda planned its largest and most complicated attack on Western interests ever. That attack required extraordinary coordination and planning, with a large amount of resourcing. The attacks before and since have all been suicide or hit-and-run affairs, on a much smaller scale and with much more modest ambitions.
This information was published contemporaneously in March 2001 and was in the public domain. If anyone brought it to the Commission’s attention, no evidence of it exists in the report. Presumably, such public information would have been addressed in the report even if it turned out to be mistaken had anyone bothered to look at it — or if the Commission could explain it away in favor of their “no operational connection” analysis between Iraq and 9/11.
In March 2001, the CIA suspected that the Iraqis had allied themselves with Islamist extremists to carry out attacks on American interests, and as a result the Germans discovered exactly that — right where the planning for 9/11 took place. Did this information get the Able Danger treatment as well? (h/t: CQ reader Tom M.)
Addendum: It’s worth noting that syndicated columnist Amir Taheri considered Al-Watan Al-Arabi to be a pro-Saddam weekly.
UPDATE: These arrests don’t appear to have made it into Stephen Hayes’ book The Connection, either.
UPDATE II: A commenter asks me if I believe that Saddam had an active role in 9/11. Up to this week, I’ve been fairly satisfied with the “no proven operational connection” determination made by the 9/11 Commission regarding the attacks — though reading Hayes’ book shows us plenty of other efforts by Saddam to reach out to radical Islamists. With an apparent attempt to suppress certain kinds of evidence now coming to light with the Able Danger revelations, though, the entire report and its conclusions no longer hold much credibility. It appears that the Commission’s efforts aimed at supporting a preconceived narrative, and that may be the best that can be said of it.
Remembering what analysts said about the attack in the days following 9/11, all of them seem surprised at the sophistication and coordination of the operation. Al-Qaeda had never attempted a mission on that scale before, and it hasn’t since then, either. I recall plenty of experts talking for weeks afterward how that kind of well-timed and effective attack required strong logistical support, training, and funding. Perhaps AQ managed to pull that all together once; maybe not. I think we need to take another look at 9/11, starting completely fresh. What we have has massive holes in it, as we have all discovered in the last 72 hours or so.
UPDATE III: Pierre at Pink Flamingo has had this information on his site for almost three years. (Sorry, Pierre, it didn’t pop up on Google.)
UPDATE IV: I thought most people knew about Ramzi Yousef and the Iraqi passport. Here’s one narrative from

The first major explosion Ramzi Yousef added to his resume was significant in a number of ways — the World Trade Center.
In late 1992, Yousef entered the country with a fake Iraqi passport and asked for asylum. His traveling companion was arrested immediately when a search of his luggage revealed bomb-making manuals. Because the INS holding cells were overcrowded, Yousef was released with instructions to come back a month later for a hearing.

More from Laurie Mylroie:

Several Iraqis hovered around the fringe of the plot. One, Abdul Rahman Yasin, is the sole remaining indicted fugitive. Born in the United States while his father was a graduate student here, Yasin was able to obtain a U.S. passport in June 1992. Yasin arrived in New York from Baghdad in September 1992. He returned there shortly after the Trade Center bombing, transiting through Jordan, where he stopped at the Iraqi embassy and quickly (within 24 hours) received a visa for his U.S. passport. Much later, U.S. authorities found documents in Iraq that showed Yasin was rewarded with a house and monthly stipend.
Ramzi Yousef was a second key figure in that attack. Like Yasin, Yousef arrived in New York in early September 1992. At Kennedy Airport, Yousef presented an Iraqi passport, with stamps showing that his trip began in Baghdad. The immigration inspector who processed him testified that Yousef’s passport “appeared to be valid and unaltered.”

And so on; here’s the Google search that brings up plenty of references.
UPDATE V: These arrests have been corroborated by contemporaneous reports from the BBC and Reuters, quoted by Newsmax here.

A Guide To Able Danger Posts At CQ

In order for CQ readers to access the new posts covering the emerging scandal surrounding the revelations about the Able Danger data-mining project that accurately identified Mohammed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers, I have created a new category for these posts called 9/11 Commission. Here are the posts so far that have gone into this category:

9/11 Cell Identified In 2000

Dafydd: Tangled Webs, Contrasting Countdowns
Confirmation Of Able Danger Raises Even More Questions
9/11 Commission Acknowledges Briefing On Able Danger
The Second Half Of 9/11
9/11 Commission Changes Its Story — Again
Rethinking Prague After Able Danger
The Wall, The White Memo, And The DoD
NEW: Another Detail The 9/11 Commission Seems To Have Missed
Later on, I will try to update older posts relating to the 9/11 Commission to put them in this same category. This will be a subcategory of the War on Terror category, so all of these posts will remain within that group as well. Hopefully this post will provide a quick guide to the coverage of Able Danger here at CQ in the meantime.
UPDATE: WorldNet Daily notes some of my analysis in their overview on Able Danger and the collapse of the 9/11 Commission’s credibility. Darn, no hyperlinks, but a very nice summary of a few of the above posts.

The Second Half Of 9/11

Now that the New York Times has printed its confirmation of the Able Danger story and shown that the 9/11 Commission ignored its existence and later lied about being briefed about it, we can turn our attention to another piece of the 9/11 puzzle that the Commission also conveniently overlooked. Over two weeks ago, I posted about the curious case of Mohammed Afroze, the al-Qaeda conspirator who confessed to masterminding a series of attacks on international targets for September 11, 2001, which intended to turn the AQ attack into global warfare. In my Daily Standard column today, I go into more depth about Afroze and his plans:

On the day after the failed July 21 bombings in London, an Indian court in Delhi sentenced Mohammed Afroze to seven years in prison for his participation in a wider plot which had been planned for September 11, 2001. Afroze led another al Qaeda cell which planned to use commercial airlines as missiles to destroy several international targets. The Islamist terrorists intended to send a global message through coordination with the attacks on America. Their plan failed when the terrorists lost their nerve and fled Heathrow.
Afroze and his compatriots from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan had planned on flying their Manchester-bound flights into the House of Commons and the Tower Bridge in London. Attacking Parliament would have sent a message to the British government about the continued sanctions on Iraq. Blowing up the Tower Bridge would kill a slew of British civilians, with the intent of terrorizing them into demanding a withdrawal of British troops from the Middle East and a halt to support of American actions in the region.
But Afroze had other targets as part of his plan–and these reveal something much deeper and broader than Galloway and the media wish to contemplate.

The other targets? Australia and India. The latter especially destroys the oft-repeated meme that al-Qaeda’s primary motivation comes from Anglo-American occupation in Iraq, or their actions in the first Gulf War. Instead, the aborted attack plans of Afroze show that Osama bin Laden and his gang of terrorists intend on establishing a new Caliphate in Southwest Asia and North Africa, regaining the lands that once fell under Muslim control, and using control of oil to push for global domination.
Interestingly, especially in light of the Able Danger revelations this week, the 9/11 Commission never mentions Mohammed Afroze even a single time, despite his key role in attempting to provide the international half of the attacks on 9/11. The nature of these targets shows that AQ didn’t target America exclusively and should have provided at least some context for their consideration. Like Able Danger, however, they either ignored it or deliberately omitted it as not fitting within the predetermined conclusions they desperately wanted to reach.
Nor has the media provided any coverage of Afroze. The paltry mention his case received came almost exclusively from the international press corps, notably the Times of India and the Times of London. Americans once again find themselves underinformed of the facts of 9/11 despite the vast amount of money, time, and attention spent on supposedly “connecting the dots” after the fact. This willful ignorance on the part of those commissioned to keep us informed should once again demonstrate that the media has aligned itself to certain narratives and have proven unreliable in the main to report facts that do not fit them.
This continues to make life dangerous for Americans and free people around the world. If the media cannot truly depict the issues surrounding global Islamofascist terror, the ignorance they promote about its goals will result in a collapse of will to keep those goals from becoming reality.