By Senior investigative producer
NBC News
updated 11/7/2005 6:56:34 PM ET 2005-11-07T23:56:34

What kind of information has the United States gathered in its interrogations of detainees at secret CIA "black sites" around the world? One would think the information is highly classified and much of it is — but not all of it.

While specific information about attack plans remains classified, the 9/11 Commission report has hundreds of citations in which it references "interrogations" of detainees, both specifically and generally. The references deal will all manner of information regarding the 9/11 plot as well as other plots that were carried out both before and after 9/11, including financing, operations, philosophy, disagreements among leaders, the reality of foreign help, etc.

Among the high profile terrorists whose interrogations are cited are:

  • Khalid Sheik Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks - 139 references.
  • Ramzi Binalshibh, organizer of the Hamburg cell that carried out the 9/11 attacks - 61 references.
  • Khallad (No first name), mastermind of the USS Cole attack - 50 references.
  • Hambali (No first name), organizer of the Bali bombings in 2002 - 14 references.

A very quick review of the 9/11 Commission report shows that the following pieces of intelligence were gathered in these interrogations:

"According to Ramzi Binalshibh, had Khalid Sheik Mohammed known that alleged Sept. 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui had been arrested, he would have cancelled the 9/11 attacks" (page 541).

"Mohammed put the total cost (of the Sept. 11 attacks) at approximately $400,000, apparently excluding Moussaoui's expenses" (page 499).

"Aid provided (to the 9/11 plotters) by a dissident member of the royal family" (page 467).

"Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any such ties existed between al-Qaida and Iraq" (page 470).

"Hambali did not originally orient JI’s (Jamaat Islamiya, an Indonesian terrorist group) operations toward attacking the United States, but his involvement with al-Qaida appears to have inspired him to pursue American targets. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, in his post-capture interrogations, has taken credit for this shift, claiming to have urged the JI operations chief to concentrate on attacks designed to hurt the U.S. economy" (page 151).

"With respect to Khalid Sheik Mohammed's additional proposal to bomb cargo planes by shipping jackets containing nitrocellulose, Khalid Sheik Mohammed states that Bin Laden expressed interest in changing the operation so that it would involve a suicide operative" (page 489).

"Khalid Sheik Mohammed asserts that (al-Qaida leader Osama) bin Laden and some of the other jihadist leaders concentrated on overthrowing Arab regimes and argued for limiting confrontation with the United States to places like Somalia" (page 489).

"The number of actual al-Qaida members seems to have been relatively small during the period before 9/11, although estimates vary considerably, from the low hundreds to as many as 5,000. For the low hundreds, see Intelligence report, interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed" (page 470).

"Khallad has said that Iran made a concerted effort to strengthen relations with al-Qaida after the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, but was rebuffed because bin Laden did not want to alienate his supporters in Saudi Arabia. Khallad and other detainees have described the willingness of Iranian officials to facilitate the travel of al-Qaida members through Iran, on their way to and from Afghanistan. For example, Iranian border inspectors would be told not to place telltale stamps in the passports of these travelers. Such arrangements were particularly beneficial to Saudi members of al-Qaida" (page 240).

This is a quick summary and by no means complete.

More references can easily be obtained by going to the Vivisimo Web site. Vivisimo is a search engine that has archived the entire Commission report. It can be searched at http://www.vivisimo.com/911.

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