A narrative nonfiction podcast chronicling the people and events leading up to the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
Uniform, and Uniformly Wrong
2002 - 2009
With the Taliban ousted and Al Qaeda on the run, the United States begins to shift its attention and resources to Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
The United States and its allies topple the Hussein regime fairly quickly, and soon learn how difficult it is to assume responsibility for running the very fractured country.
Meanwhile, a new U.S. president orders the CIA to come up with a plan to find Osama bin Laden, who has not been sighted in years.
The renewed hunt leads to tragedy during one of the darkest days in the history of the agency.
On the Run
2001 - 2002
In the aftermath of 9/11, the United States and its allies invade Afghanistan for the beginning of a decades-long stay. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are decisively routed in a matter of weeks, but Osama bin Laden manages to give the U.S. military the slip at Tora Bora.
Meanwhile, the United States and other countries around the world begin to face new security challenges, from the outside as well as within.
The events of September 11, 2001 are explored from almost every possible angle: the hijackers; the flights; inside the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; the first responders who risked their lives to save others in an unprecedented emergency; how the President of the United States and top White House officials reacted to the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor.
It is a story of ordinary people forced to do extraordinary things; of the best of humanity responding to the deeds of the worst; and of people making life or death decisions with incomplete and even inaccurate information. But most of all, it is fundamentally a story about how one day literally changed everything, a day whose repercussions we are still living through more than two decades later.
The System Was Blinking Red
2000 - 2001
While planning 9/11 and running Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden somehow finds time to marry a new bride, and his other wives aren't happy about it. As 9/11 approaches, his family life begins to fall apart, and eventually he is forced to make a choice.
In Washington, George W. Bush is sworn in as president several months after a closely contested election. His government is filled with experienced Republican public servants, particularly on the foreign policy and national security side. What did or didn't they do about Al Qaeda during his first eight months in office?
Meanwhile, as the terrorist chatter increases in the months before the attacks, intelligence and law enforcement officials miss crucial warning signs that don't make sense until after the attacks. Two days before 9/11 and half a world away, Ahmed Shah Massoud, a war hero in the fight against the Soviets and leader of the Northern Alliance, is assassinated by two Al Qaeda operatives posing as journalists.
Less than twenty-four hours before the attacks, all nineteen hijackers are in position, wrapping up loose ends, and waiting.
1992 - 2001
This episode is an in-depth look at the nineteen men who carried out the biggest terrorist attack in history. The story begins with four Muslims who go to Germany to pursue graduate studies and discover radical Islam instead. These four men - Mohammed Atta, Ramzi Binalshibh, Marwan al Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah - come from very different backgrounds, but by late 1999, they all want to fight jihad. Within a year, three of them are in the United States taking flying lessons.
The episode also looks into the 15 "muscle hijackers" who were chosen by Al Qaeda to participate in the attacks. Who were they, how did they become radicalized, and how did they get involved in the 9/11 plot? And who was helping them?
This episode also looks at the Al Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur in January of 2000 and asks several questions. How did two known Al Qaeda operatives - both future 9/11 hiijackers - lose the intelligence officers tracking them and make their way to the United States a few days later? Why were they meeting in Los Angeles with a man suspected of being a Saudi intelligence officer? And why was the FBI not notified that they were in the country?
End of the Century
1980 - 2000
This episode is a look at U.S. counterterrorism policy in the intelligence and law enforcement communities during the years leading up to 9/11, culminating with the Millennium Plot. The episode also profiles some of the men and women who were on the terrorism beat, who heard of Osama bin Laden years before he was a household name. The CIA creates a virtual station exclusively dedicated to tracking Osama bin Laden. The episode also looks at contentious issues like whether the wall separating law enforcement from intelligence played a role in the leadup to 9/11, as well as the alleged leak of Osama bin Laden's satellite phone to the media.
Unsettling noise; unsettling content
Background sounds add to the intensity. Seems fitting to me. I wanted to learn more about the background of Al Qaida and what happened / failed to happen to allow the plot to be carried out. Also appreciated the detail about how FBI and CIA investigations are conducted.
Very thorough and well-paced, to the point of feeling like an audiobook, but the inserted interviews/archival audio make it even better. The background music is also a great addition and gives it an thrilling/haunting feel. Truly fantastic. Thank you for putting this together!
I like all the interviews you do. Well produced. Bush had a memo on his desk and did nothing and then plunged the Middle East into chaos.
The world still suffers from the gaping wounds of the past.