So what direct input did bin Laden have to the operation?
I suggest minimal, compared to that of Atta.
See a pattern developing?
Please consider this example in the mix: -
“… I had sent 250 Mujahidin. We got moral support from local Muslims. In one explosion one hundred Americans were killed, then 18 more were killed in fighting. One day our men shot down an American helicopter. The pilot got out. We caught him, tied his legs and dragged him through the streets.”
~bin Laden interview, 1997
It appears bin Laden was not shy of admitting where he was involved and had ordered direct action. If my calculations are correct, bin Laden admitted right there that over 119 Americans were killed by Mujahideen fighters in Somalia, brutal detail and all, specifically under his direction.
Yet in the same interview, immediately prior to the above excerpt, he denied responsibility for the killing of five Americans in the Riyadh bombing.
The pattern seen is…
- When bin Laden gave a direct order, he accepted responsibility for the action.
- When bin Laden had a peripheral role (moral support, incitement, foreknowledge), he denied responsibility.
In the case of 9/11, he denied responsibility and credited Mohammed Atta. If the pattern above is followed, this suggests bin Laden was not involved in directing the operation, but rather had the peripheral role seen before.
It seems the 9/11 Commission would have done better to investigate backgrounds of the actual hijackers, their movements, associates and support network. This would have revealed all those who were directly responsible for the attack.
And what would they have found?
Hijackers who were Westernised.
Hijackers protected by the CIA.
Hijackers living with a U.S. informant.
Hijackers related to an Israeli informant.
Hijackers funded by an MI6 asset.
Hijackers assisted by Saudi government agents.
Hijackers in a plot that would benefit all those links - the United States, Israel, Britain, Saudi Arabia.
As you said… bin Laden didn't do it himself.