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9/11 report: 10-plane attack was planned
Updated: 2004-06-17 15:32

The commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks said Wednesday that it found that al-Qaeda had originally planned to hijack 10 planes, instead of four, and to attack more targets in the United States.

The report issued by the panel as it began two days of final hearings said Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the plot, had planned to have nine of the planes crash into the FBI and CIA headquarters, the Pentagon and the White House, as well as nuclearplants and the tallest buildings in California and Washington state.

Library Tower towers over the downtown Los Angeles skyline June 16, 2004. At 1,700 feet, Library Tower is the tallest building in California. This building and other West Coast targets were initially on a list of targets for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the commission investigating the attacks reported Wednesday. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed said he originally envisioned an attack involving 10 hijacked planes. He proposed crashing them into CIA and FBI headquarters, unidentified nuclear power plants and the tallest buildings in California and Washington state. [AP]
Mohammed planned to pilot the 10th hijacked plane and to kill all of the adult men on board and then make a statement denouncingthe United States before freeing the women and children.

The plot also included intentions to hijack and blow up 12 airliners in Southeast Asia, but al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden scrapped that part of the plan because it was too difficult to coordinate operations on two continents.

Bin Laden also scaled back the hijacking plot in the United States to the four planes that were eventually used in the attack.

The report said al-Qaeda narrowed down the list of targets to the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and either the White House or the Capitol. Bin Laden had wanted to hit the White House,but Mohammed and Mohamed Atta, the leader of the 19 hijackers, favored the Capitol, because they felt it would be an easier target, the report said.

Mohammed initially proposed the attacks in 1996, but planning did not begin until 1999, the report said. Bin Laden first wanted the attack to occur as early as mid-2000, and then pressed for a date earlier in 2001 after the hijacker-pilots said they were not yet fully trained.

The September 11 date was not picked until three weeks before, according to the report. The hijackers bought their tickets only two weeks before.

The plot cost an estimated 400,000 dollars to 500,000 dollars, not including the hijackers' training in Afghanistan. The hijackers spent about 270,000 dollars in the United States, mainlyon flight training, travel, housing, and vehicles.

The bipartisan panel said it found "no credible evidence" of cooperation between Iraq and al-Qaeda on the attacks, saying Iraq apparently never responded to bin Laden's request for possible cooperation.

One of the justifications the Bush administration used to go towar with Iraq was charges that Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaeda.Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday repeated those charges, without providing details, although the assertion has been widely challenged.

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