Al Qaeda had originally planned to crash hijacked planes into the tallest building in Washington state and nine other targets in the United States and to carry out simultaneous attacks in Southeast Asia, the panel investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks said Wednesday.
The commission issued a report saying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, believed to the main player in the attacks, had originally drawn up a more extensive scheme in which he would also pilot a hijacked airplane.
Al Qaeda had drawn up a list of targets that originally included the sites hit Sept. 11 – the World Trade Center twin towers and the Pentagon – plus the White House, the Capitol, CIA and FBI headquarters, nuclear power plants and the tallest buildings in California and Washington state, but it did not specify which buildings.
The tallest building in Washington state would be the Bank of America Tower in Seattle, a 760-story structure that stands 937 feet. The tallest building in California is the Liberty Tower in Los Angeles, which is the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, at 1,018 feet.
The commission gathered its information in part from written reports of interrogations of al Qaeda captives, including Mohammed and Ramzi bin al Shaibah, another suspected Sept. 11 plotter.
The report said the plot was launched in 1999 when al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden approved a proposal by Mohammed to use planes as weapons.
Mohammed had originally hoped to pilot one of 10 airplanes to be involved in the attacks. Instead of crashing the plane, he would have killed every adult male on board then landed at a U.S. airport to make a speech denouncing U.S. policies in the Middle East. The al Qaeda leaders rejected the plan as too ambitious.