A woman locks her eyes with my lens while exiting Bangkok's Little Arabia enclave. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood
Bangkok- I took a very interesting meander through Bangkok’s bustling “Little Arabia” cluster today in more of my seemingly never ending investigation into the road to 9/11 and more specifically following in the footsteps of the so-called San Diego cell of Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. Here’s why: according to the 9/11 commission section entitled Section 5.2 The “Planes” Operation:
“While in Kuala Lumpur, Khallad wanted to go to Singapore to meet Nibras and Fahd al Quso, two of the operatives in Nashiri’s ship-bombing operation. An attempt to execute that plan by attacking the USS The Sullivans had failed just a few days earlier. Nibras and Quso were bringing Khallad money from Yemen, but were stopped in Bangkok because they lacked visas to continue on to Singapore. Also unable to enter Singapore, Khallad moved the meeting to Bangkok. Hazmi and Mihdhar decided to go there as well, reportedly because they thought it would enhance their cover as tourists to have passport stamps from a popular tourist destination such as Thailand. With Hambali’s help, the three obtained tickets for a flight to Bangkok and left Kuala Lumpur together. Abu Bara did not have a visa permitting him to return to Pakistan, so he traveled to Yemen instead.
In Bangkok, Khallad took Hazmi and Mihdhar to one hotel, then went to another hotel for his meeting on the maritime attack plan. Hazmi and Mihdhar soon moved to that same hotel, but Khallad insists that the two sets of operatives never met with each other or anyone else. After conferring with the ship-bombing operatives, Khallad returned to Karachi and then to Kandahar, where he reported on his casing mission to Bin Ladin.
Bin Ladin canceled the East Asia part of the planes operation in the spring of 2000. He evidently decided it would be too difficult to coordinate this attack with the operation in the United States. As for Hazmi and Mihdhar, they had left Bangkok a few days before Khallad and arrived in Los Angeles on January 15, 2000.”
I find it quite suspect that there is so much vague detail in the 9/11 commission report looking back on it all these years later. Do they (those on the commission chaired by Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton) mean to tell us that they nor their contacts here in Thailand don’t know the names of the hotels in Bangkok? If one looks carefully, there’s an immense amount of detail missing from the finalized 9/11 report. If the people of Alec Station, the CIA’s Bin Laden unit based in Virginia, that was tracking these two and monitoring the Kuala Lumpur AQ summit at Jemmah Islamiyah operative Yazid Sufaat’s condominium, stop tracking them while in they were in Thailand before they went to Los Angeles and rendezvoused with Saudi (agent) Omar al-Bayoumi? Judging by the fact that al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi spoke (supposedly) very limited English, I am guessing that when they arrived in Bangkok, they likely headed straight for Little Arabia where Arabs from the Mashreq, the Maghreb, and the Gulf all seem to congregate here. When al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi arrived in Los Angeles on the flight from Don Mueang airport, they are believed to have immediately gone to a halal restaurant on the border of the Palms neighborhood and Culver City on Venice Boulevard where they met al-Bayoumi (the commission report is sorely lacking in detail on this very clutch episode as well). Now I have no way of proving this is where the two spent there last days before leaving for Southern California but I also don’t have any reason to believe they would have spent their time anywhere else in Bangkok. If you didn’t see Thai women in tank tops and short shorts, you could think you were in a down at the heels part of Amman or Abu Dhabi. The only person I think who would know the answer to this question is the former head of Alec Station but he thus far has not responded to my email query. There remain so many questions still to be answered about 9/11 it boggles the mind.
If I can’t know the answers, I need to at least ask the questions. How long were the hijackers in Bangkok? Who else did they meet with here? How many days were they here and what hotels did they frequent? I am I the only one who desires to know all of these minor but important details? And lastly, why is so much information left out of the 9/11 report?
An Egyptian shisha restaurant frequented by Gulf Arabs in Bangkok's Little Arabia enclave. Note the Saudi flag. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood