A group of Al Qaeda operatives suspected of conducting surveillance on the targets of 9/11 were preparing for a fifth terror attack on the same day in the US but aborted their plan at the last moment, according to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.
According to secret documents published in The Daily Telegraph, the men flew from London to New York on a British Airways flight three weeks before the attacks and allegedly carried out surveillance at the World Trade Centre, the White House and in Virginia, the US state where the Pentagon and CIA headquarters are located.
The disclosure, in US diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks, has raised suspicions that the three men were preparing to be a fifth suicide team, but aborted their attack at the last minute.
The men flew to Los Angeles, where they stationed themselves in a hotel near the airport which the FBI has now established was paid for by a "convicted terrorist", who also bought their airline tickets, the report said.
Hotel staff have told investigators they saw pilot uniforms in their room along with computer print outs detailing pilot names, flight numbers and times and packages addressed to Syria, Afghanistan, Jerusalem and Jordan.
On September 10 they were booked on an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Washington, but failed to board. The following day the same Boeing 757 aircraft was hijacked by five terrorists and crashed into the Pentagon
Instead of boarding a domestic flight to the US capital, the Qatari suspects – named as Meshal Alhajri, Fahad Abdulla and Ali Alfehaid - returned to Doha, via London. Their current location is unknown and the FBI have wlaunched a manhunt for them.
Investigators are also hunting a fourth man, Mohamed Al Mansoori, who they say supported the alleged terrorist cell while they were in the US.
The details of the secret 9/11 team have emerged in a secret American government document sent between the American Embassy in Doha and the Department for Homeland Security in Washington.