'Network Analysis' Could Have Prevented 9/11

Amid the furor over the National Security Agency�s monitoring of telephone calls in the U.S., a report by an expert reveals that "network analysis� by the NSA might have turned up enough information to prevent 9/11.

Network analysis is a computer-aided method of tracing where and how information moves within an organization, and who is connected to whom.

One expert in the field, Valdis Krebs, usually works for Fortune 500 companies. But after the 9/11 attacks, he began plugging information about terrorists into his computer and examining it with network analysis software he developed, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Krebs began with two terrorist suspects linked to al-Qaida, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, who in 2000 were photographed attending a meeting of known terrorists in Malaysia before returning to Los Angeles. A chief suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen was also present at the meeting.

Krebs used such information as whom the suspects called or e-mailed, who visited with them and where their money came from.

The structure of their extended network begins to emerge as data is discovered via surveillance,� Krebs writes in his report, which appears on orgnet.com.
Krebs turned up direct links between the two men � who were both 9/11 hijackers � and nine of the other hijackers.

Krebs then went a step further and constructed a grid showing the links between those 11 hijackers and other hijackers and their associates. What was immediately clear in this grid was the central role played by 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta � he was linked to so many of the others that the grid resembled an airline flight map with Atta as a major hub.

That marked Atta � one of those who flew the first jet to hit the World Trade Center � as "an information broker and a key to the 9/11 operation,� the Plain Dealer reports.

Such intelligence on Atta, had it been put to use, might have led to the other three pilots among the hijackers, and possibly disrupted the entire operation.
"If intelligence showed an attack was imminent,� according to the Plain Dealer, "taking out the terrorists that network analysis targeted as the central planners or key information conduits could topple the plot.�

As Krebs points out, there have been reports that a similar network grid of 9/11 terrorists was created by a military intelligence unit known as "Able Danger� in 2000.

But its findings were not shared with the FBI due to concerns about the legality of gathering and sharing information on people in the U.S.

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