Armed Hostilities

Causes of the Break Down of Intelligence Before the Terrorist Attack of 9-11

Table of Contents
  1. Lack of preparedness of the intelligence agencies
  2. Ignorance on the part of US intelligence agencies
  3. The events of bomb attacks in the Horn of Africa
  4. The past US foreign policies
  5. Conclusion

Lack of preparedness of the intelligence agencies

United States has several standbys antiaircraft military jets that could have been summoned to forestall the attacks. Despite this, the terrorists managed to fly the hijacked planes close to the white house which has an antiaircraft jet and later crashed it at the pentagon which was a serious breach of state security. The antiaircraft jets are meant to shoot down any stray aircraft to preempt any possible attacks on the state installations. It was shocking to note that none was mobilized for such duty. This demonstrated a dramatic breakdown of the national intelligence agency. The failure to respond promptly and even detect the threat further demonstrated their lack of preparedness to protect the country from any external attacks.

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Ignorance on the part of US intelligence agencies

Before the September 11 attacks, there had been several warnings from various intelligent sources all around the world on the impending attacks by the terrorist organizations. For example, there had been rumors about security briefings that had been going on between the US intelligence and their Pakistan counterparts over planned infiltration of terrorists in the US. These warnings seem to have fallen on deaf ears as no serious mitigation measures seem to have been put in place to avert the attacks. In addition, several warnings seem to have been issued by the Italian intelligence after the foiled attacks in Milan which had placed the country on high alert. Sources from the Italian intelligence had insinuated to the American intelligence that some terrorists were being trained on American soil to undertake suicidal attacks using hijacked airliners. Owing to the number of warnings on the planned attacks and the likely use of airplanes, the US government seems to have given the warnings a wide bath.

Secondly, the US has an intelligent monitoring system that can penetrate into most of the communication systems around the world called Echelon which could have captured any communications between terrorist cells across the world. Before the attacks, several communications seems to have taken place between the masterminds and the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks. This is a very effective system as it can decode even the most complex codes around the world as those used by terrorists. It is highly unlikely that these signals were not picked by the system or that they were totally ignored by the security services. If that’s the case then it could be their worst undoing that cost them a breakdown in intelligence.

Airports across the world are areas of national security importance. Despite this, the Al Qaeda operatives were able to transform them into their training grounds for would-be suicide attackers. The attackers for a long time before the attacks had been training as pilots without a clue from the intelligence services an event that amounted to a serious breach of security. This cast doubt on the preparedness of the US intelligence agencies to avert attacks and protect the American citizen from enemy attacks like September 11.

For a long time, terrorist organizations seem to have been running dummy organizations in the United States. These had been operating in the name of charitable organizations and even legitimate business enterprises across the US. These dummy organizations were used by the terrorists to mobilize resources in terms of funds and to recruit young men into the extremist course. These men were usually sponsored for training and flown to Pakistan and Afghanistan where they received training in the terrorists’ bases. What makes it weird is how these groups could have operated in the US within the US boundaries without careful scrutiny by the intelligence agencies. This oversight ensured that the terrorist activities were well-financed both within and outside America. There indeed existed and still exists business enterprises whose operations looked legitimate but whose role is to finance terrorist organizations. Furthermore, Osama Bin Laden is said to operate a good network of search organizations across the globe. There even exists Muslim madrasas that masquerade as legitimate institutions but in real sense they’re indoctrination grounds for youthful terrorists.

The events of bomb attacks in the Horn of Africa

One of the most chilling events prior to September 11 was the simultaneous attacks of American interests in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The bombing of the two American agencies should have put the intelligence agencies on high alert but soon after the tragedies had passed, no serious strategic frameworks were laid to forestall future attacks a mistake the government came to regret later. Just like the septembe11attacks, several warnings had been issued out but which were ignored. This set a worrying precedent of ignorance that led to the 9/11 attacks. The Al Qaeda cell exploited these weaknesses to launch other attacks culminating to the orchestration of the infamous attacks. These breakdowns in the intelligence network cost the nation serious casualties.

In addition the shunning of attention from the ongoing deterioration of instability in the horn of Africa has come with terrible consequences to the United States. The chaotic nature of Somalia which has not had a legitimate government has provided a breeding ground for terrorist cells thus making it hard to contain terrorism. The weakness of the American intelligence has not helped track down the terrorist activities around East Africa which was a precursor to the event that led to the attacks that befell USA.

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The past US foreign policies

Some of the US policies that were employed to contain the spread of Russian influence and the consequent communism were largely counterproductive as they led to increase in terrorist activities and propping up of despotic leadership to power. For example the rise and spread of Osama Bin Laden influence was fueled by America’s desire to control the spread of Russian influence in Afghanistan. During the uprising in the late 70’s that pitted the Mujahideen rebels against the Muhammad Najibullah’s government, the Russian government had joined ranks with the government in order to defend its authority. US on its part played an indirect role in the war by training, arming, and bankrolling the insurgents.

It was during this insurgence that the Saudi born Osama came into the picture by bankrolling the Mujahideen with assistance from US, Pakistan, and Iran. After the withdrawal of Russia, the country was engulfed in a civil war that led to ouster of Najibulah from power. Through the aid of US, the Taliban regime rose to power in 1996 commencing a period of extremist governance in Afghanistan. Using Afghanistan as the base of operation, Osama built a strong expansive terrorist cell in the country behind the backs of ignorant US intelligence. He conducted training and oversaw the grooming up of a formidable terrorist group with several affiliations across the globe. These were some of the blunders that led to the 9-11 disaster catching the American intelligence off guard.


The breakdown of intelligence culminating to September 11 attacks were largely as a result of lack of preparedness, ignorance on the part of the intelligence agencies, failure to learn from the past events and the united states unpopular foreign policies that led to the propping up terrorists masterminds. These factors conspired to facilitate the attacks of United States by enemy forces.

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