The “Presidential Daily Brief” on December 4, 1998 to President Clinton, titled “Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks,” states: “1. Reporting [ redacted ] suggests Bin Ladin and his allies are preparing for attacks in the US, including an aircraft hijacking to obtain the release of Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman, Ramzi Yousef, and Muhammad Sidiq Awda’” Awda was al-Hawalis fellow radical Saudi sheik who was detained from 1994 through 1998. US Sheik Al-Timimi drafted letter for al-Hawali and had it hand-delivered to members of Congress on first anniversary of anthrax letters to Senators. Sheik Abdel-Rahman, Awda and al-Hawali were all expressly the subject of Bin Laden’s 1996 declaration of war against the US.
The December 1998 PDB continued: “One source quoted a senior member of Gama at al-Islamiyya (IG) saying that, as of October, the IG had completed planning an operation in the US on behalf of bin Ladin, but that the operation was on hold. A senior Bin Ladin operative from Saudi Arabia was to visit IG counterparts in the US soon thereafter to discuss options — perhaps including an aircraft hijacking.” The December 4, 1998 PDB stated: “IG leader Islambouli in late September was planning to hijack a US airliner during the next couple of weeks to free Abd al-Rahman and the other prisoners, according to what may be a different source.” Islambouli was the brother of Sadat’s assassin. Islambouli is still at large and is working with Zawahiri. He can be thought of as the leader of those IG members who support Al Qaeda.
That very day, CIA’s George Tenet issued a directive to several CIA officials: “We are at war. I want no resources or people spared in this effort, either inside CIA or the Community.” The message in invisible ink read: Post on FreeRepublic if you need to in order to circumvent any initial missteps by the FBI.
The younger brother of Sadat’s assassin, Mohammed, had gone to Pakistan where he had joined Al Qaeda and run a camp. Islambouli operated in Afghanistan and had good connections in Pakistan. He worked for Maktab al-Khidmat (Bureau of Services) in Peshawar. When the blind sheik visited Peshawar, he would stay at a large house outside of Peshawar with both Islambouli and Ayman. Islambouli had an Algerian passport. He left Peshawar, Pakistan for Afghanistan in Spring 1993 upon a crackdown on foreign fighters. In more recent years he reportedly spent some time living in Algeria. Midhat Mursi had connections to Algerians. Perhaps there was a connection between Midhat Mursi and Islambouli.
In his introduction on an August 2006 tape, Al-Zawahiri said the Egyptian group was led by Mohammed al-Islambouli, the younger brother of Khaled al-Islambouli, the militant who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981. It was the detention of the assassin’s younger brother, who now claims to lead this faction of the Egyptian Islamic Group merging with Al Qaeda, that had motivated the assassin to seize an opportunity presented to kill Sadat on October 6, 1981. Sadat was killed during the annual Armed Forces parade celebrating Egypt’s successful attack on Israel in 1973. The militants objected to his signing the Camp David Agreement establishing a peace between Israel and Egypt. The assassin was promptly tried, sentenced to death, and executed. Al Qaeda chose the dates of the approval of that agreement and Sadat’s assassination to send the anthrax letters.
The Al Qaeda spymaster Al-Hakayma appeared on the tape. Al-Hakayma was once a “second tier” leader of the original Gamaa, Cairo lawyer Montasser al-Zayat told Al-Jazeera. In front of a grove of palm trees, he announced that the Egyptian Islamic Group had joined Al Qaeda. Al-Hakayma said former members had decided to revive the group and rejected the imprisoned leaders adherence to a truce. He vowed loyalty to Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. This was a controversial announcement because the shura members of the group had all announced violence against innocents and dissolved their military wing. A message posted on the Egyptian Islamic Group website in Arabic specifically denied that the blind sheik Abdel Rahman is with the breakaway group: “It is well known [he] was and still is one of the staunchest supporters” of the renunciation of violence. The head of the shura, in his first interview since his release in 2003, told al Jazeera that Zawahiri was lying. One Egyptian Islamic Group leader told Al Jazeera from Germany that support for the merger was limited: “If [some] brothers ... have joined, then this is their personal view and I don’t think that most ... members share that same opinion.”
It was notable that the person making the announcement, Al-Hakayma, was the Al Qaeda spymaster, an Egyptian Islamic Group member himself, who had summarized the Amerithrax investigation in a 2002 treatise on US intelligence apparatus. Al-Hakayma says in the interview that a group of hardliners from Al Jamaa Al Islamiya had joined Al Qaeda, “to help our great scholar, His Eminence the unshakeable Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, languishing in the dungeons of the American prisons, and to repel the attacking enemy which is occupying the countries of the Muslims.”
“The message in invisible ink read: Post on FreeRepublic if you need to in order to circumvent any initial missteps by the FBI.”