For nearly 15 years, ever since jihadists took down the Twin Towers and killed nearly 3,000 Americans, many have wondered how a bunch of novice terrorists—several of whom could barely fly an airplane, much less a big jetliner—could pull off such complex and audacious attack. What al-Qa’ida termed their ‘Planes Operation’ was meticulously planned prior to execution—but by whom, exactly?
That key question remains partly open, and the American public has never received the full explanation from our government that they deserve. I know what they have not been allowed to see: When 9/11 happened I was a counterintelligence officer with the National Security Agency and part of my purview was looking into state connections to international terrorism. I was one of the few officials in our Intelligence Community seriously looking into al-Qa’ida’s links to foreign intelligence before the Twin Towers fell.
In the months after the attacks, a complex intelligence picture emerged of who secretly aided al-Qa’ida in the run-up to 9/11—large portions of which were kept highly classified. Why they remain classified still is a good question that needs to be asked. Regrettably, the 9/11 Commission, which was established to get to the bottom of that national tragedy, dodged certain key questions—though in fairness to its members the Commission was not allowed to see some important evidence.