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Context of 'August 30, 2001-September 4, 2001: Egypt Warns Al-Qaeda Is in Advanced Stages of Planning Significant Attack on US'

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is quoted in an Egyptian newspaper saying Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman had worked with the CIA. Under pressure from the US State Department, the newspaper’s editor retracts the story a few days later. (Quinn-Judge and Sennott 2/3/1995; Lance 2006, pp. 127)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak later claims that Egyptian intelligence discovers a “communiqué from bin Laden saying he wanted to assassinate President Bush and other G8 heads of state during their summit in Genoa, Italy” on this day. The communiqué specifically mentions this would be done via “an airplane stuffed with explosives.” The US and Italy are sent urgent warnings of this. (Sanger 9/26/2001) Mubarak will claim that Egyptian intelligence officials informed American intelligence officers between March and May 2001 that an Egyptian agent had penetrated al-Qaeda. Presumably, this explains how Egypt is able to give the US these warnings. (Tyler and MacFarquhar 6/4/2002)

According to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian intelligence warns American officials that bin Laden’s network is in the advanced stages of executing a significant operation against an American target, probably within the US. (Panossian 12/7/2001; Tyler and MacFarquhar 6/4/2002) He says he learned this information from an agent working inside al-Qaeda. US officials will deny receiving any such warning from Egypt. (News 6/4/2002)

In interviews, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak raises questions about who was behind the 9/11 attacks, in particular questioning whether the alleged perpetrators had the necessary flying skills to carry out the attacks. Before becoming president, Mubarak had a successful career in the Egyptian Air Force, having been a pilot, instructor, and squadron leader. He’d eventually become director of the Air Force Academy, Air Force chief of staff, commander of the Air Force, and deputy minister for military affairs. (Egyptian Presidency 1997; George Washington University 6/29/1999) Just days after 9/11, he discusses the attack on the Pentagon, saying, “The Pentagon is not very high, a pilot could come straight to the Pentagon like this to hit, he should have flown a lot in this area to know the obstacles which could meet him when he is flying very low with a big commercial plane to hit the Pentagon in a special place.” He adds, “Somebody has studied this very well, someone has flown in this area very much.” When asked, “Are you suggesting it was an inside operation?” he replies, “Frankly speaking, I don’t want to jump to conclusions.” (Egyptian Presidency 9/15/2001) In an interview six weeks later, he repeats his concerns, saying, “I find it hard to believe that people who were learning to fly in Florida could, within a year and a half, fly large commercial airlines and hit with accuracy the towers of the World Trade Center which would appear, to the pilot from the air, the size of a pencil. Only a professional pilot could carry out this mission, not someone who learned to fly for 18 months in Florida.” (Egyptian Presidency 10/25/2001) Mubarak also later claims that Egyptian intelligence had warned American officials 12 days before 9/11 that al-Qaeda was in the advance stages of conducting a significant operation against a US target (see August 30, 2001-September 4, 2001). (Panossian 12/7/2001; Tyler and MacFarquhar 6/4/2002)

CIA Director George Tenet informs Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh that the Bush administration has already decided to attack Iraq and asks Mubarak not to publicly express Egypt’s opposition to the planned invasion. The Egyptian president warns that an attack on Iraq could destabilize the entire Middle East. (Sobelman 2/17/2002 Sources: Unnamed source interviewed by the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal) A Democratic senator gives the same warning to the heads of state in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria in the same month (see January 2002).


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