Key Questions Unanswered In 2001 Terrorist Attacks

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Two years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, investigators know surprisingly little for certain about who in the United States may have helped the 19 terrorists, the Washington Post reports.

Uncertainties remain despite an FBI investigation that has included 180,000 interviews by 7,000 agents. It’s possible, the Post says, that Americans will never know precisely how the hijackers pull off the attacks.

“We know quite a bit about the attacks,” FBI counterterrorism chief Larry Mefford said last week. “Unfortunately, we don’t know everything.”

Among unanswered questions: Why hijacker pilots stayed in Las Vegas during apparent practice runs on commercial airliners in 2001; Why hijackers Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari began their trip on Sept. 11, 2001 with a commuter flight from Portland, Maine, to Boston, coming within minutes of missing their flights out of both cities; what happened at a 2000 meeting in Kuala Lumpur where investigators believe that the Sept. 11 plot was put in motion?

Any domestic accomplices to the hijackers could still be at large.

Eleanor Hill, staff director for the joint House-Senate inquiry on the attacks, remains concerned that U.S. intelligence agencies are “missing the point” of why contacts between hijackers and suspected associates are important. “The question shouldn’t be, ‘Did these people know about the plot?’ ” she said. “The question should be, ‘Were they placed here by al Qaeda to help al Qaeda operatives, whether or not they knew about the plot, and are they still here?’ ”


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