al-Qaida acted alone
For anyone interested in the documents on Usama Bin Laden, a very useful web site is:
The September 11 operation was neither complex nor expensive, and well within al-Qaida resources. Almost all the money has been traced by the FBI, which came via either al-Hasawi in the UAE or other cell members in Hamburg to US based accounts. The hijackers kept these accounts in their own names, with no attempt at camouflage, so confident were they. The whole operation appears to have cost on the order of $500,000. Al-Qaida paid salaries like a cheapskate, often only $15,000 to $20,000 a year, and some defectors left precisely because they felt as though they were badly used. It could act this way because most of its cadres were so committed and had other sources of income. Atta even sent back $15,000 that hadn’t been spent to al-Hasawi so it could be used to fund other plots.
The operation simply involved training a small group of pilots to use computerized jet liner guidance systems, which is not an impossible task. These were kept as sleepers in the US. At the last moment “newskins” were brought in, largely Saudis personally loyal to Bin Laden who had been trained as muscle in Afghanistan. Bin Laden seems to say that the muscle was only told they were on a suicide mission at the last moment. The combination of sleepers and newskins in a covert operation is apparently something al-Qaida learned from the CIA back in the 1980s when the two were cooperating.
Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyyah leader Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman has admitted that back in the early 1990s he and his circle of radical fundamentalists were trying to think of some way to get explosives on a plane and then to ram it into a major building. When Muhammad Atta and Ziad Jarrah were recruited in Hamburg, al-Qaida (which had picked up the remnants of the Gamaa and al-Jihad al-Islami, which had been forced to flee Egypt) got highly trained engineers who knew that jet liners are themselves bombs when they first take off, because they are heavy with jet fuel. Atta was a key planner in the attack, and Bin Laden and he and others in Afghanistan had a discussion as to whether the planes could destroy the WTC Towers. Everyone but Bin Laden was convinced that they would hold but suffer substantial damage. Bin Laden, himself an engineer, says he believed that at least the floors above the planes’ impact would collapse. The operation exploited a simple security hole in US thinking, which was the premise that hijackers would not kill themselves in a concerted manner.
There is no evidence of direct funding for the September 11 operation by any organization or state other than al-Qaida. The money trail all goes back to known al-Qaida operatives. Although the Pakistan Inter Services Intelligence certainly gave substantial support in money and arms to the Taliban, whether they helped fund al-Qaida is unknown and perhaps unknowable. In any case ISI was forced to cut off its clients in Afghanistan and turn against them in the aftermath of Sept. 11, or risk becoming a target of the US itself.
The Saudi intelligence chief appears to have met with Bin Laden once or twice, but this was to put pressure on him to stop his operations. Bin Laden wished to overthrow the Saudi government. The mantra one keeps hearing that the majority of the hijackers was Saudi is misleading if it is used to imply that there is any general support in the Saudi government or in the mainstream of Saudi society for terrorism against the US. Al-Qaida is a tiny fringe wherever it exists, rather analogous to the Weathermen in the US in the 60s.
There is likewise no evidence of Iraqi involvement. The Baath Party is militantly secular and has killed thousands of Iraqi Islamists of the sort who might lean toward al-Qaida. Al-Qaida wishes to see states like that of Saddam Hussein overthrown.
Some sources in Czech intelligence believe that Muhammad Atta met with the Iraqi intelligence station chief, al-Ani, in Prague in spring of 2001. This meeting is disputed and unclear, and the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies deny the meeting. There is some evidence that Atta was known to be in Florida when the Czechs allege that it took place.
I do not believe such a meeting is relevant either way. The Iraqis are unlikely to have been willing to deal with al-Qaida, and even if al-Ani met Atta, Atta may have misrepresented himself as sympathetic to the Baathists. Atta had shaved his beard and al-Qaida had absorbed from its earlier CIA partnerships the idea of “false flag tradecraft.” That is a fancy way of saying you misrepresent yourself to a potential agent so as to get him to work against the interests of his own government without knowing it. If Atta and al-Ani met, it would have been to discuss a terrorist action against the headquarters of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, which broadcasts into the Middle East (including Iraq and Afghanistan), and is a pain in the neck to both the Baathists and al-Qaida. Al-Qaida was very good at leveraging resources, and getting Iraq to help it do something that was foolish and for which Iraq would take the fall would have been delicious to them.
Allegations of Iraqi involvement in al-Qaida are completely unsubstantiated and one should be very suspicious of them because the war party in Washington is attempting to trump up a casus belli so as to drag us into a war. Former CIA director Jim Woolsey and others have essentially lied repeatedly on national television, or employed innuendo and spin, to give this impression. An added benefit for the war party is that the Congress has already authorized military reaction to 9/11, so if one could hang it on the Iraqis one would not need to go back to Congress. I write Iraqi history and I see *no* credible evidence of Iraqi involvement in September 11, and there are many reasons to think it implausible.