began to make purchases suggesting that the planning was coming to an end.
In mid-August, for example, they bought small knives that may actually have
been used in the attacks. On August 22, moreover, Jarrah attempted to pur-
chase four GPS units from a pilot shop in Miami. He was able to buy only one
unit, which he picked up a few days later when he also purchased three aero-
Perhaps most significant, however, was the purchase of plane tickets for Sep-
tember 11. On August 23, Atta again flew to Newark, probably to meet with
Hazmi and select flights. All 19 tickets were booked and purchased between
August 25 and September 5.
It therefore appears that the attack date was selected by the third week of
August. This timing is confirmed by Binalshibh, who claims Atta called him
with the date in mid-August. According to Binalshibh, Atta used a riddle to
convey the date in code--a message of two branches, a slash, and a lollipop (to
non-Americans, 11/9 would be interpreted as September 11). Binalshibh says
he called Atta back to confirm the date before passing it to KSM.
KSM apparently received the date from Binalshibh in a message sent
through Binalshibh's old Hamburg associate, Zakariya Essabar. Both Binalshibh
and KSM claim that Essabar was not privy to the meaning of the message and
had no foreknowledge of the attacks.According to Binalshibh, shortly after the
date was chosen, he advised Essabar and another Hamburg associate, Said
Bahaji, that if they wanted to go to Afghanistan, now was the time because it
would soon become more difficult. Essabar made reservations on August 22
and departed Hamburg for Karachi on August 30; Bahaji purchased his tickets
on August 20 and departed Hamburg for Karachi on September 3.
Binalshibh also made arrangements to leave for Pakistan during early Sep-
tember, before the attacks, as did Ali and Hawsawi, the plot facilitators in the
UAE. During these final days, Binalshibh and Atta kept in contact by phone,
email, and instant messaging.Although Atta had forbidden the hijackers to con-
tact their families, he apparently placed one last call to his own father on Sep-
tember 9. Atta also asked Binalshibh to contact the family of one hijacker, pass
along goodbyes from others, and give regards to KSM. Jarrah alone appears to
have left a written farewell--a sentimental letter to Aysel Senguen.
Hazmi, however, may not have been so discreet. He may have telephoned
his former San Diego companion, Mohdar Abdullah, in late August. Several bits
of evidence indicate that others in Abdullah's circle may have received word
that something big would soon happen. As noted earlier, Abdullah's behavior
reportedly changed noticeably. Prior to September 11, both he and Yazeed
al Salmi suddenly became intent on proceeding with their planned marriages.
One witness quotes Salmi as commenting after the 9/11 attacks,"I knew they
were going to do something, that is why I got married." Moreover, as of August
2001, Iyad Kreiwesh and other employees at the Texaco station where Hazmi
had worked suddenly were anticipating attention from law enforcement
THE ATTACK LOOMS
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