A new report from the now-defunct Sept. 11 commission details the lax controls on immigration and customs that the hijackers exploited to carry out their plot.
The report, compiled by the commission’s staff, says 13 of the 19 hijackers applying for visas presented passports that were less than three weeks old, yet their visa applications were met with no increased scrutiny.
Two of the hijackers, the report said, lied on their applications “in detectable ways” but were not questioned about those lies. And all 19 of the hijackers’ applications had data fields left blank, or were incomplete in some other way.
Three of the hijackers were carrying Saudi passports “containing a possible extremist indicator” present in the passports of many al-Qaida members, the report said. While it’s not clear what that indicator was, the report added that it had not been analyzed by the CIA, FBI or border authorities for its significance.
The report is one of two staff addenda to the commission’s final report, which was released last month.
The other report released Saturday analyzed the hijackers’ financing.
- There is no evidence that anyone in the United States, or any other country, provided substantial funding to the hijackers. Most of the money came from al-Qaida.
- Gaps remain in the intelligence community’s understanding of how the terrorist network moves its money. “Because of the complexity and variety of ways to collect and move small amounts of money in a vast worldwide financial system, gathering intelligence on al Qaeda financial flows will remain a hard target for the foreseeable future,” the report said.
The commission officially disbanded Saturday, when its congressional mandate expired. The commissioners had not approved the final text of the reports.