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Khallad was released sometime during the summer of 1999, after his father
and Bin Ladin intervened on his behalf. Khallad learned later that the al Qaeda
leader, apparently concerned that Khallad might reveal Nashiri's operation
while under interrogation, had contacted a Yemeni official to demand Khal-
lad's release, suggesting that Bin Ladin would not confront the Yemenis if they
did not confront him. This account has been corroborated by others. Giving
up on acquiring a U.S. visa and concerned that the United States might learn
of his ties to al Qaeda, Khallad returned to Afghanistan.
Travel issues thus played a part in al Qaeda's operational planning from the
very start. During the spring and summer of 1999, KSM realized that Khallad
and Abu Bara, both of whom were Yemenis, would not be able to obtain U.S.
visas as easily as Saudi operatives like Mihdhar and Hazmi. Although Khallad
had been unable to acquire a U.S. visa, KSM still wanted him and Abu Bara, as
well as another Yemeni operative from Bin Ladin's security detail, to partici-
pate in the planes operation.Yet because individuals with Saudi passports could
travel much more easily than Yemeni, particularly to the United States, there
were fewer martyrdom opportunities for Yemenis.To overcome this problem,
KSM decided to split the planes operation into two components.
The first part of the planes operation--crashing hijacked aircraft into U.S.
targets--would remain as planned, with Mihdhar and Hazmi playing key roles.
The second part, however, would now embrace the idea of using suicide oper-
atives to blow up planes, a refinement of KSM's old Manila air plot.The oper-
atives would hijack U.S.-flagged commercial planes flying Pacific routes across
East Asia and destroy them in midair, possibly with shoe bombs, instead of fly-
ing them into targets. (An alternate scenario apparently involved flying planes
into U.S. targets in Japan, Singapore, or Korea.) This part of the operation has
been confirmed by Khallad, who said that they contemplated hijacking several
planes, probably originating in Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, or
Malaysia, and using Yemenis who would not need pilot training because they
would simply down the planes.All the planes hijacked in the United States and
East Asia were to be crashed or exploded at about the same time to maximize
the attack's psychological impact.
Training and Deployment to Kuala Lumpur
In the fall of 1999, the four operatives selected by Bin Ladin for the planes oper-
ation were chosen to attend an elite training course at al Qaeda's Mes Aynak
camp in Afghanistan. Bin Ladin personally selected the veteran fighters who
received this training, and several of them were destined for important opera-
tions. One example is Ibrahim al Thawar, or Nibras, who would participate in
the October 12, 2000, suicide attack on the USS Cole.According to KSM, this
training was not given specifically in preparation for the planes operation or
any other particular al Qaeda venture. Although KSM claims not to have been
involved with the training or to have met with the future 9/11 hijackers at Mes
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