- June 28: A US bomber lost in the fog crashes into the side of the Empire State Building in New York City. Until September 11, this is the only time an airplane has ever crashed into a skyscraper. (Killtown)
- After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, Admiral Lyman Lemnitzer, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joins with senior CIA officials to concoct Operation Northwoods, an elaborate plan to deceive the American government and the citizenry into believing it is under attack from an outside enemy, most likely Cuba. According to Lemnitzer, "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba...casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation. ...We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington." Another more elaborate variation is quite disturbing in light of the events of 9/11: to create "an exact duplicate for a civil registered aircraft. ...At a designated time the duplicate would be...loaded with...selected passengers, all boarded under carefully prepared aliases. The actual registered aircraft would be converted to a drone [a remotely controlled unmanned aircraft]...the destruction of [that] aircraft will be triggered by radio signal." Even the space program wasn't safe: on February 20, 1962, John Glenn was scheduled to ride the third Mercury flight into orbit. Lemnitzer decided that if the rocket exploded and killed Glenn, "the objective [would be] to provide irrevocable proof that...the fault lies with [Cuba]...by manufacturing various pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on the part of the Cubans."
- The plans call for establishing prolonged military, not democratic, control over the nation after the invasion. The Kennedy administration, and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in particular, refused to countenance the idea, and the plans were shelved. However, the Pentagon will continue to produce "pretext" operations proposals through 1963. One idea was to create a war between Cuba and another Latin American country so that the United States could intervene; another was to pay someone in the Castro government to attack U.S. forces at the Guantanamo naval base. A third was to fly low level U-2 flights over Cuba, with the intention of having one shot down as a pretext for a war. At its core, Operation Northwoods was a plan for the American government to use terrorist strategies to trick and horrify the country into launching an unjustified war against another country. (Vision TV)
- An unpublished Senate Foreign Relations Committee document reveals that the FBI's assistant director for intelligence, Raymond Winall, testifies that a suspected member of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September, the organization responsible for the 1972 Olympic slayings in Munich, had explained his presence in the US by saying he was attending flight school, the same explanation given years later by a number of the 9/11 hijackers. The unnamed suspect is indicted but flees the US before he can be arrested. In the years that follow, thousands of Middle Easterners obtain visas to enroll in flight-instruction programs. (Seymour Hersh)
Terrorist planning for hijacking planes and crashing them into civilian targets begins in earnest
- Yossef Bodansky, director of the Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare in the US House of Representatives and the author of the 1999 book Bin Laden: The Man Who Targeted America, writes, "The training of suicide pilots started in the Busher air base in Iran in the early 1980s. ...According to a former trainee in Wakilibad (a base for the training of kamikaze pilots), one of the exercises included having an Islamic Jihad detachment seize (or hijack) a transport aircraft. Then trained air crews from among the terrorists would crash the airliner with its passengers into a selected objective." (Yossef Bodansky/Brasscheck)
World Trade Center bombed
- February 26: The World Trade Center is bombed by terrorists closely connected with al-Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups. The bomb is designed to destroy both towers and release a huge cloud of cyanide gas over the site; the bomb does not function as planned, and "only" six people die in the attack. Later estimates show that if the bomb had gone off as planned, up to 50,000 people could have died. (CCR)
Pentagon warns of possible terrorist attacks using hijacked jetliners
- June: A Pentagon report warns of possible terrorist attacks using hijacked commercial airliners to be flown into the White House or the Pentagon. This report, commissioned in 1993 and titled "Terrorism 2000," was commissioned via the Deparment of Defense's office of Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, and is a think tank-style study of the ways terrorists could execute large-scale acts of terrorism on the U.S. Participants in the $150,000 study are made up of a panel of 41 intelligence/security experts that includes former ranking CIA, FBI, State Department and Rand Corp. officials, as well as an ex-KGB general and an Israeli intelligence agent. The report so agitates and disturbs government officials that the original report is blocked from dissemination, and a watered-down version (still containing the hijacking scenario) is only released to the Pentagon, the Justice Department, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In the year 2000, a much more "acceptable" report, also named "Terrorism 2000," is released by the Bush administration. (CCR)
- Three separate attempts are made to crash planes into buildings in the US. A disgruntled Federal Express worker tries to crash a DC-10 into a company building in Memphis, but is overpowered by the crew. An Air France jet is hijacked by terrorists who intend to crash the plane into the Eiffel Tower; French intelligence thwarts the attack. And in September, an apparently deranged man sends his Cessna towards the White House; he is remarkably successful at getting through the entire security infrastructure, and is only prevented from ramming his plane into the President's bedroom when he crashes instead into a tree just 75 yards from the bedroom window. The pilot, Frank Corder, dies in the crash. Right-wing radio and certain Republican politicians use the incident as an opportunity to make fun of Clinton, instead of worrying about how such an amateurish assassination attempt could come so close to succeeding. (CCR)
- November: Osama bin Laden plots to kill President Clinton during Clinton's visit to Manila. American authorities get wind of the plan and intensify security. No attempt on Clinton's life is made.
- December: Algerian terrorists hijack an aircraft, stuff it with explosives, and plan to ram it into the Eiffel Tower. French commandos storm the plane and kill the hijackers before they can take off. In another incident, World Trade Center bombing planner Ramzi Yousef attempts a dry run of "Operation Bojinka," hijacking a Filipino aircraft en route, planting a bomb aboard, and getting off on a stopover. The bomb explodes, but the aircraft lands safely due to "heroic measures" by the pilot. (CCR)