The PJ Tatler

Some New Details on 9/11

The Denver Post reports some interesting new details about 9/11 which apparently were never presented to the 9/11 Commission by the FBI:

Just two weeks before the 9/11 hijackers slammed into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, members of a Saudi family abruptly vacated their luxury home near Sarasota, Fla., leaving a brand new car in the driveway, a refrigerator full of food, fruit on the counter — and an open safe in the master bedroom.

In the weeks to follow, law enforcement agents not only discovered the home was visited by vehicles used by the hijackers, but also phone calls were linked between the home and those who carried out the death flights — including leader Mohamed Atta — in discoveries never before revealed to the public.

Ten years after the deadliest attack of terrorism on U.S. soil, new information has emerged that shows the FBI found troubling ties between the hijackers and residents in the upscale community in southwest Florida, but the investigation wasn’t reported to Congress or mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report.

I had recalled reports of a mysterious white van on nearby Longboat Key where President Bush had been staying and a friend, Howard Guja sent me this link  to History Commons which provides more detail than my memory could. Here are some of the Sarasota/Longboat Key reports at the time. History Commons has more :

Bush’s appearance at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, on September 11, 2001 had been in the planning stages since August [Booker web site], but was only publicly announced on the morning of September 7. [White House, 9/7/01] Later that same day, 9/11 hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi traveled to Sarasota and enjoyed drinks and dinner at a Holiday Inn only two miles down the sandy beach from where Bush was scheduled to stay during his Sarasota visit. [Longboat Observer, 11/21/01Washington Post, 1/27/02]

The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, where Bush stayed the night before 9/11. [Colony Resort web site]

On the night of September 10th, Bush stayed at the Colony Beach Resort—“an upscale and relatively pristine tropical island enclave located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, a spindly coral island… off Sarasota, Florida.” [AP, 07/29/01] Zainlabdeen Omer, a Sudanese native living in Sarasota, told the local police that night that someone he knew who had made violent threats against Bush was in town and Omer was worried about Bush’s safety. The man was identified only as “Ghandi.” A police report states the Secret Service was informed immediately. [Hopsicker, 7/22/02]

After a private dinner with various Florida politicians (including his brother Jeb) and Republican donors, Bush went to bed around 10:00 p.m. [Sarasota Magazine, 11/01Washington Post, 1/27/02] Surface-to-air missiles were placed on the roof of the resort [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/10/02], and an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) plane circled high overhead. [Fighting Back: The War on Terrorism—From Inside the Bush White House, by Bill Sammon, 10/02, p. 25] It’s not clear if this type of protection was standard for the president or whether security was increased because of possible threats.

An Assassination Attempt?

Bush awoke a little before 6:00 a.m. on September 11, pulled on shorts and an old T-shirt and laced up his running shoes. [CBS, 11/1/02] At 6:30 a.m., Bush, a reporter friend, and his Secret Service crew took a four-mile jog in the half-light of dawn around a nearby golf course. [Washington Post, 1/27/02Washington Post, 09/11/01]

At about the same time Bush was getting ready for his jog, a van carrying several Middle Eastern men pulled up to the Colony’s guard station. The men said they were a television news crew with a scheduled “poolside” interview with the president. They asked for a certain Secret Service agent by name. The message was relayed to a Secret Service agent inside the resort, who hadn’t heard of the agent mentioned or of plans for an interview. He told the men to contact the president’s public relations office in Washington, DC, and had the van turned away. [Longboat Observer, 9/26/01]

 

UPDATE: Reader “Liz” notes that the links to the articles cited by History Commons are not working. Nevertheless, I choose to leave them in as it offers the reader an opportunity to see where the original account appeared.