By mid-2001, al-Qa’ida training camps in Afghanistan were buzzing with the news that a big operation was under way. Details of the project were known only to Osama bin Laden’s inner circle, the suicide operatives and their trainers. But rumours that something dramatic was afoot had been circulating for weeks. Bin Laden himself had hinted that an attack was looming and had urged trainees in Camp Faruq to pray for “the brothers in America.
Bin Laden knew that his dream of a spectacular attack on the US was vehemently opposed by many in the jihadist movement and would cause a deep schism in al-Qa’ida. As a result he had kept the project secret even from his own governing shura council.