As we come up to September 11th, Terry McDermott reports in the Los Angeles Times on “how terrorists hatched a simple plan to use planes as bombs.”
A decade ago, a cadre of freelance terrorists planned an improbable day of horror in which they would blow up a dozen U.S. airliners, killing, if the men were lucky and good, several thousand people.
This plan was foiled and most of the men caught, but one key figure escaped, and the idea went with him. He was something of a ghost, eluding investigators for years, just beyond vision and reach, forever a step ahead. He fled to Afghanistan, where he became a key Al Qaeda agent.
He brought with him the idea of using airplanes as weapons. The leaders of Al Qaeda liked the idea and made it their own.
The story begins in Manila, Christmastime, 1994.