Two 9/11 Hijackers Were CIA Recruits: Shocking Court Filing

The west wing of the Pentagon building in Arlington County, Virginia, near Washington, DC on September 11, 2001 right after the attack (Credit: Pixabay)

A Special Report

April 21, 2023: Ever since the 9/11 terror attacks, logical-thinking people have been asking some basic questions.

Is it possible for an ailing man, Osama bin Laden, hiding in Afghanistan’s remotest corner, to orchestrate the world’s most sophisticated terror strikes halfway around the globe in the most highly secured nation?

The US runs 18 sophisticated intelligence agencies, including the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). Is it possible for the entire US intelligence community to be clueless about the attacks being planned for months, if not years?  


If some sections of US intelligence had sensed something was cooking in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks, as it has emerged, why were no serious steps taken?

If the CIA and other US intel agencies were tasked to track terror-related activities in the years before September 11, 2001, why are they not being held legally accountable now for failing to foil the attacks?

Most importantly – were the 9/11 attacks a mere failure of the CIA, or something much more sinister?

Guantanamo Bay court

Almost 22 years since the widely reported terror strikes, a shocking piece of document has emerged that claims the CIA was hand-in-glove with two of the Al Qaeda terrorists who hijacked passenger planes and carried out the attacks.   

In a court filing at the US-run Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba, it has been claimed that two of the 19 attackers had earlier been jointly hired by a covert wing of the CIA and a section of the Saudi Arabian intelligence network for an unknown operation – before 9/11 took place.

The document was filed at the American naval base in 2021 because the cases of the September 11 defendants are being heard there. It came to light only recently following a report by the news website Spytalk.

Pentagon attackers

The two 9/11 hijackers allegedly recruited by the CIA-Saudi joint intelligence unit were Saudi Arabian nationals Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, as the court filing claims. On September 11, 2001, the duo was part of a five-member Al Qaeda team that hijacked the passenger plane that was flown into the Pentagon building in Arlington County near Washington, DC.

Saudi hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar (left) and Nawaf al-Hazmi (Credit: Wikipedia)

American Airlines Flight 77, which was a Boeing 757 jet, left Washington Dulles International Airport at 8.20am local time and headed towards its destination, Los Angeles, with 53 passengers and six crew members on board, excluding the team of five attackers. The team hijacked the plane and rammed it into the western face of the Pentagon at 9.37am. Everyone on board the flight died upon impact.

The 21-page court filing that made the revelation was drafted and submitted by Donald C Canestraro, the lead investigator for the US Office of Military Commissions, which is the legal entity that was overseeing the cases of the September 11 defendants. Canestraro is a seasoned law enforcement professional with over 25 years of experience with the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Spytalk has an unredacted copy of the court filing, and the development has also been reported in detail by the investigative news portal, Gray Zone.

US investigator Donald Canestraro submitted his findings about the 9/11 attacks at the Guantanamo naval base in a court filing in 2021 (Credit:

The court filing includes a summary of classified government disclosures as well as revealing interviews that investigator Canestraro had with unnamed high-ranking officers of the CIA and the FBI (US Federal Bureau of Investigation). The paper also features interviews that Canestraro had with the 9/11 Commission staff.

The document that names the two Pentagon-bound hijackers, Hazmi and Mihdhar, essentially raises questions about the alleged murky ties between the Saudi duo and ‘Alec Station’, an undercover CIA team that was assigned to track Laden and his Al Qaeda associates.

CIA’s Alec Station

The CIA’s Alec Station was also known as ‘Bin Laden Issue Station’. The project ran from 1996 to 2005. It was headed first by CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, and later by Richard Blee and a few others.

“In late 1999, with ‘the system blinking red’ [as per the 9/11 Commission Report] about an imminent large-scale Al Qaeda terror attack inside the US, the CIA and the NSA [US National Security Agency] were closely monitoring an ‘operational cadre’ within an Al Qaeda cell that included the Saudi nationals Hazmi and Mihdhar,” Gray Zone reported.

Less than two years before 9/11, the Saudi duo took part in an Al Qaeda meeting from January 5-8, 2000 in Kuala Lumpur. That meeting was secretly taped by local intelligence on the request of the CIA’s Alec Station.

CIA breaks in

In a dramatic turn of events, as narrated in the court filing, Mihdhar went to Kuala Lumpur via Dubai, where a CIA spy team secretly entered his hotel room and took a copy of his passport. The CIA found in his passport pages that he had a multi-entry US visa.

“In reality, Alec Station not only failed to inform the bureau (FBI) of Mihdhar’s US visa, but also expressly forbade two FBI agents assigned to the unit from doing so,” Gray Zone reported.

Canestraro wrote that the starting point for his probe was a Saudi man named Omar al-Bayoumi, who first met Hazmi and Mihdhar at Middle Eastern Gourmet restaurant on Venice Boulevard in Culver City, California. Bayoumi helped the just-arrived Saudi duo quietly settle in. Bayoumi then helped them move to California’s San Diego, open bank accounts, and find an apartment to stay – as the clock slowly counted down towards the 9/11 strikes.

According to Spytalk, “Four unnamed former FBI agents involved in the 9/11 investigation told Canestraro they believed the CIA was covering up an operation on US soil to penetrate Al Qaeda. The most explosive allegations come from a former FBI agent who spoke to Canestraro in June 2021. The former agent, identified only as CS-23, was described as having extensive knowledge of counterterrorism and counterintelligence matters.

Meeting of terrorists

“CS-23 pointedly described the meeting between the Saudi agent and the hijackers at Middle Eastern Gourmet restaurant as part of ‘an operation directed by the Central Intelligence Agency’, and indicated that the CIA has ‘operational’ files on Bayoumi that predated 9/11.”

The Spytalk report added, “After 9/11, CS-23 told Canestraro that FBI officials in San Diego and at FBI headquarters became aware of both Bayoumi’s affiliation with Saudi intelligence and subsequently the existence of the CIA’s operation to recruit Hazmi and Mihdhar through Bayoumi. Senior FBI officials ‘suppressed investigations’ into the matter, C-23 said.

“CS-23’s account could not be independently verified. Canestraro said all the former CIA officers and FBI agents he spoke with were granted anonymity and Canestraro said he could not put SpyTalk in touch with CS-23 without violating attorney-client privilege.”

It is also worth noting that some of the high-ranking intelligence officials and spy agents who Canestrato had interviewed as part of his investigations were also members of a US spy programme called ‘Operation Encore’.

FBI’s Operation Encore

Operation Encore was the FBI’s special undercover mission that was investigating whether the Saudi Arabian regime had any direct links with the September 11, 2001 attacks. Operation Encore was aborted midway into its mission due to the FBI’s internal procedural problems, and eventually shut down in 2016.

On Canestrato’s shocking claim in court about the CIA recruiting the two Saudi hijackers, Gray Zone reported, “When [the court filing was] originally released in 2021 on the Office’s public court docket, every part of the document was redacted except an ‘unclassified’ marking. Given its explosive contents, it is not difficult to see why. As Canestraro’s investigation concluded, at least two 9/11 hijackers had been recruited either knowingly or unknowingly into a joint CIA-Saudi intelligence operation, which may have gone awry.”

There are two disturbing perspectives of these incredible revelations, if Canestraro’s court submission indeed turns out to be genuine.

One, the much-celebrated CIA, which runs on US taxpayer money, is being implicated in a possible involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks – which claimed more than 3,000 innocent lives – through its alleged hobnobbing with two of the hijackers.  

Two, even though the government-appointed investigator’s document is now there for everyone to see and access, America’s mainstream media has clearly decided to turn a blind eye to the claims that have been made. The matter is not being covered by the popular press – even as allegations levelled against the CIA.

Why is it that such a vital piece of document that accuses the CIA of having recruited two 9/11 attackers not being debated across the United States?

Is it because it is too damning, too embarrassing, and too disturbing for Americans to be told about it? When will we know the truth?

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