The Center for Grassroots Oversight

This page can be viewed at http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a060401cayman


Context of 'June 4, 2001: Illegal Afghans Overheard Discussing New York City Hijacking Attack'

This is a scalable context timeline. It contains events related to the event June 4, 2001: Illegal Afghans Overheard Discussing New York City Hijacking Attack. You can narrow or broaden the context of this timeline by adjusting the zoom level. The lower the scale, the more relevant the items on average will be, while the higher the scale, the less relevant the items, on average, will be.

On February 4, 1994, a Libyan named Mohammed Abdullah al-Khulayfi attempts to assassinate Osama bin Laden in Sudan. He and two associates steal automatic weapons from two police stations in Sudan, killing two policemen in the process. Then they fire on worshippers at the mosque bin Laden usually attends, killing 16 and wounding 20 others, but bin Laden is not there. The next day, they shoot at police and one of bin Laden’s offices. That afternoon, the three men go to bin Laden’s house and fire on it. Bin Laden is there, but not in his usual spot which the attackers are targeting. Some of bin Laden’s guests and guards are shot, but none of them dies. Al-Khulayfi is shot and captured by Sudanese police, while his two associates are killed. The three men belonged to a rival Islamist group who apparently believed bin Laden was not fanatical enough. Bin Laden later tells a friend that he believes Egyptian intelligence was behind the attack. The CIA suspect Saudi intelligence was responsible. Within days of the attack, double agent Ali Mohamed flies from California to Sudan and begins training bin Laden’s bodyguards to better protect him. Mohamed also leads an investigation into al-Khulayfi’s past and learns that he had fought with bin Laden and the mujaheddin in Afghanistan in the 1980s. (Gunaratna 2003, pp. 45-46; Wright 2006, pp. 192-193)

Bin Laden says in an interview, “I thank God that he has allowed my family to understand my path. They are praying for me.” (Follath and Mascolo 6/6/2005) The Bin Laden family formally disowned Osama in 1994 (see Shortly After April 9, 1994), but some suggest that some of his relatives continue to support him.

At some point in 2000, three men claiming to be Afghans but using Pakistani passports entered the Cayman Islands, possibly illegally. (Whitefield 9/20/2001) In late 2000, Cayman and British investigators began a yearlong probe of these men, which will last until 9/11. (Serrano and Dahlburg 9/20/2001) They are overheard discussing hijacking attacks in New York City during this period. On this day, they are taken into custody, questioned, and released some time later. This information is forwarded to US intelligence. (Cameron 5/17/2002) In late August, a letter to a Cayman radio station will allege these same men are agents of bin Laden “organizing a major terrorist act against the US via an airline or airlines.” (Whitefield 9/20/2001; Serrano and Dahlburg 9/20/2001)

A Cayman Islands radio station receives an unsigned letter claiming that three men from either Pakistan or Afghanistan who are living in the Cayman Islands are agents of Osama bin Laden. These three men were briefly arrested in June 2001 for discussing hijacking attacks in New York City (see June 4, 2001). The letter’s anonymous author warns that the men “are organizing a major terrorist act against the US via an airline or airlines.” On September 6, the letter will be forwarded to a Cayman government official, but no action will be taken until after 9/11. When the Cayman government notifies the US is unknown. Many criminals and/or businesses use the Cayman Islands as a safe, no tax, no-questions-asked haven to keep their money. The author of the letter will meet with the FBI shortly after 9/11 and will claim his information was a “premonition of sorts.” The three men will later be arrested. What happens to them after their arrest is unclear. (Whitefield 9/20/2001; Serrano and Dahlburg 9/20/2001; Hansen 9/23/2001)


Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike