Zubaydah diaries shed new light on Twin Towers and links to bin Laden

Al Jazeera has obtained a copy of the secret personal diaries of Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah, one of the highest-profile prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The six notebooks, which were obtained from a former U.S. government intelligence official who worked with the CIA and FBI on Al-Qaeda’s rise to power, were discovered at a safe house in Pakistan where Abu Zubaydah was captured in 2002. 

Today is your turn, America
Today, your turn has come …
— from Abu Zubaydah’s diaries, September 2001

Abu Zubaydah clearly knew something big was in the works. Returning from Pakistan in mid-2001, he writes in his diary about an atmosphere of restless anticipation in Afghanistan, which was now his home, “People were waiting for the new operation, which Sheikh Bin Laden announced.” But when the news comes that Al-Qaeda hijackers had killed almost 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, Abu Zubaydah is awed by the scale and audacity of the attacks.

Al-Qaeda had twice struck high-profile blows against U.S. interests abroad — the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the December 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden. But spectacular strikes at the power centers of what bin Laden liked to call "the far enemy" was beyond the imagination of even many of bin Laden’s acolytes and fellow travelers in Afghanistan.

“On the 11th of September, a passenger airplane hit one of the giant towers … and people were surprised by something that was unimaginable,” Abu Zubaydah writes 17 days later. “As soon as they caught up their breath, another airplane hit the other tower, so screaming and crying was heard and the surprise was magnified. A third airplane hit the American Department of Defense building (the Pentagon). Then, the fourth airplane tried to hit the White House, but it did not hit the target, so it swerved away from its target; then we later heard that it crashed or was downed in another location, and news kept coming.”


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