WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States missed many opportunities to pursue two of the Sept. 11 hijackers after they had been spotted at an al-Qaida meeting in Malaysia 18 months before the attacks, a congressional investigator told lawmakers Friday.
In one example, a March 2000 cable from an overseas CIA station noted that one of the hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi, had flown into Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 2000. The cable was marked "Action required: None, FYI."
The information was included in a report prepared by Eleanor Hill, staff director for the House and Senate intelligence committees' inquiry into intelligence failures leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Hill said the missed opportunities to stop al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar were the result of institutional problems at intelligence agencies, such as the failure of the FBI and CIA to communicate with each other.
Intelligence agencies "had, but missed, opportunities both to deny them entry into the United States and subsequently to generate investigative and surveillance action regarding their activities within the United States," Hill said.
She said her investigation has found nothing to indicate that U.S. authorities had information about 16 of the 19 hijackers. It had limited information about al-Hazmi's brother, Salim-al-Hazmi, who like the other two men was aboard American Airlines Fight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.
The CIA maintained interest in al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi since they were seen at the January 2000 meeting in Malaysia. But they continued to live openly in the United States.
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