9/11's Triumvirate of Terrorist Travel: al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Iran

By Janice Kephart on May 20, 2011

The 9/11 Commission requested the federal government continue an investigation into the extent of involvement of Iran and its de facto terrorist wing, Hezbollah, in the support of Al Qaeda's attacks on 9/11. On p. 241 of the Final Report, the Commission stated:

After 9/11, Iran and Hezbollah wished to conceal any past evidence of cooperation with Sunni terrorists associated with al Qaeda. A senior Hezbollah official disclaimed any Hezbollah involvement in 9/11.

We believe this topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government.

The Commission had no choice. The statute that created it had already been amended to provide a short extension. Our doors were statutorily shutting, and as extensive as the Final Report was, we all knew that there were still places to dig. What is clear now is that perhaps the biggest hole of buried information was regarding the shadowy connection of Iran to 9/11. As the "terrorist travel" affiant in the case filed yesterday in New York City federal court on behalf of 9/11 families suing primarily al Qaeda and Iran, I am now personally convinced that indeed, al Qaeda did not act alone on 9/11. Rather, a triumvirate of terror created 9/11: al Qaeda carried out the deed, while Hezbollah and Iran helped direct and support the largest terrorist event on U.S. soil. More specifically:

  1. Al Qaeda carried out the deed. The 9/11 Final Report provides nearly all the details in that regard.

  2. Hezbollah provided travel facilitation and airline-hijacking training under the auspices of the most renowned and violent anti-American terrorist in the world at the time, Imad Mughniyah, who acted as essentially the Chief Operational Officer of Hezbollah, a wholly owned subsidiary of Iran.

  3. According to the legal brief filed in the case – the result of numerous affidavits, 10 years of investigation using an incredible list of experts (not necessarily including me), and 22 trips abroad to vet potential witnesses in the case – Iran hosted operational meetings to coordinate activities, facilitate travel by telling its officers not to stamp al Qaeda passports, and even placed surveillance on the hijackers upon return from their training in Iran for a large operation in America to assure confidentiality of the plot was not breached.

  4. From my re-analysis of my 9/11 work pertaining to specifically to Iran, my affidavit concludes that Iran provided direct material support to the 9/11 hijackers in the form of facilitating their travel. My entire brief, which includes never before seen images of hijacker travel documents and my work chart I used to conduct much of my 9/11 analysis, can be found here.

For an excellent synopsis of the case, see the New York Post story that, in my mind, captures the essence of the suit and what it means.

What to do now? Since the federal government appears not to have conducted this essential intelligence analysis since the issuance of the 9/11 Final Report, I believe Congress has two choices. First, it could create another Commission to investigate the assertions set forth in this new legal case. Second, Congress could use its Intelligence Committees to review and find what the intelligence community clearly decided to leave alone: the slew of information housed at the National Security Agency pertaining to intercepts that have a direct correlation to Iran's directives to Hezbollah; its relationship with al Qaeda; and its activities regarding its support for the terrorist plot that became 9/11. Third, the president could direct an internal review, similar to that which took place after the Christmas Bomber attempt. However, the visibility into such an investigation in minimal, and a more public approach, especially considering the seriousness of this situation and the intelligence community's unwillingness to do the job, is highly justified.

What does new knowledge about this triumvirate of terror mean? Nearly ten years after that horrific day that changed America and changed our government's way of doing business forever, there are now more lessons to be learned; enough to fill another volume of work, possibly. More than anything, there are more questions to ask about our intelligence community; the information afforded our presidents; our foreign policy, and of course, our decisions on where to send our troops and their safety. With bin Laden dead, will Iran now go on the offensive, and step terror attacks up if they feel they have been sufficiently exposed? Will the Hezbollah factions embedded in Mexico and in the lawless Tri-Border region of South America be called into action directly against the U.S.? Are we looking at war when our country is weary of troop deployment and wants our service men and women home? What does this mean in regard to the known nuclear activity going on in Iran? And why are we still blindly admitting Iranian immigrants through the Diversity Visa Lottery? (See my testimony before Congress on the Visa Lottery from three weeks ago). Currently, President Obama is courting Iran, in a change of diplomacy. Will this lawsuit, seeking the truth and, I think, finding it, be taken seriously at the White House? It is up to the American people, Congress, and the White House to figure it out. It is long past the time to do so.