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The story begins with “A Factual Overview of the September 11 Border Story.” This introduction summarizes many of the key facts of the hijackers’ entry into the United States. In it, we endeavor to dispel the myth that their entry into the United States was “clean and legal.” It was not. Three hijackers carried passports with indicators of Islamic extremism linked to al Qaeda; two others carried passports manipulated in a fraudulent manner. It is likely that several more hijackers carried passports with similar fraudulent
manipulation. Two hijackers lied on their visa applications. Once in the United States, two hijackers violated the terms of their visas. One overstayed his visa. And all but one obtained some form of state identification. We know that six of the hijackers used these state issued identifications to check in for their flights on September 11. Three of them were fraudulently obtained.

Eldridge, Thomas R., Susan Ginsburg, Walter T. Hemple II, et al.  “9/11 and Terrorist Travel: Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.”  August 21, 2004.


Of late, BackChannels’ reading has involved turning from one chilling, albeit bureaucratise nonfiction, page to the next.  Perhaps with the right coffee or spirits, another reader might set aside the latest McCarry (I’ll have to read him) or Silva (plenty of that here for the winter) and settle into the kind of obscure monograph that packs a moan a minute:

Once the operation was under way, the conspirators attempted to enter the United States 34 times over 21 months, through nine airports. They succeeded all but once. Border inspectors at U.S. airports were unaware of the potential significance of indicators of possible terrorist affiliation in conspirators’ passports and had no information about fraudulent travel stamps possibly associated with al Qaeda. No inspectors or agents were trained in terrorist travel intelligence and document practices. The culture at the airports was one of travel facilitation and lax enforcement, with the exception of programs to interdict drug couriers and known criminals.

Enough said — the staff report “9/11 and Terrorist Travel” is online, free, and, if it’s read, certain to add old flavor to the latest web chat about immigration and travel into the United States.


Reading at length — reading for hours — is practically a lost art but one nonetheless practiced around BackChannels.  The source of the tip to the publication cited above:

Gray, Mitchell.  I Heard You Were Going On Jihad: How a Minnesota FBI agent may have prevented a second wave of attacks before 9/11 and exposed the Oklahoma terror network.  Minneapolis: Mill City Press, 2015.

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