Nearly six years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Los Altos resident Robert Schopmeyer believes his predictions of what was to come are the authoritative account. In a hefty, self-published book, "Prior Knowledge of 9/11," he lays out his case, adding to a growing repository of alternative storylines on the events.
Through sheer logic and some imagination, Schopmeyer said he was able to foretell the terrorist plot - including the targets, the date, the flight numbers and later, the ages and nationalities of the al-Qaida members who crashed the planes into the World Trade Center towers - seven months before the event.
Schopmeyer, the president of Veritools, a software company in Los Altos, claims he unraveled the entire sequence of terrorist planning on a business flight from San Francisco to the East Coast in February 2001, but he didn't come forward until after the attacks, fearful of the reprisal and disbelief that might bar him from telling his story in the future.
"If I went to the FBI and had no credible proof of what I was saying, they would have blackballed me from talking to them in the future. They would feel I was just wasting their time," said Schopmeyer, who added that he recently spoke to FBI agent Vince Tagieri.
Schopmeyer said one of his Los Altos employees signed an affidavit with the FBI attesting that Schopmeyer had told 15 employees at the company his predictions of Sept. 11 in February 2001. A senior account manager at the company confirmed the story on the phone but asked to remain anonymous for fear of a backlash, she said.
Perhaps astoundingly, Schopmeyer's predictions unfolded on a flight from San Francisco to Newark in February 2001, he said. He was stunned to read in a magazine about a fatwa (Muslim religious order) issued by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in 1998. Thousands of the terrorist group's fighters were training in Afghanistan for suicide missions aimed at the United States, the article said.
"From that moment, I thought, 'Oh, my God, if they're going to do harm to me and others, then I better learn more about this,'" he said.
His mind raced back over the last major attacks launched by al-Qaida against U.S. targets before Sept. 11 - the bombings of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998 and the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996.
Using a number scale, Schopmeyer said it appeared al-Qaida leaders were planning attacks of heightened scale - 20 were killed in the Khobar attack and more than 200 in East Africa. "These terrorists think like a drug addict. Anytime you shoot heroin, you have to shoot more," he said.
That only 17 sailors were killed in the Cole bombing wasn't an outlier in his theory, Schopmeyer claims the target was a bold avowal that al-Qaida could knock out any advanced U.S. warship. "It was off course. It was just an event to prove that they could hit the World Trade Center," he said.
The next attack, he estimated, would likely be on the East Coast of the United States. He narrowed the pool to four or five targets, including the White House and Pentagon, predicting instead that the most likely target would be the Twin Towers. Islamic terrorists had bombed the towers in 1993, killing six. With heightened security, they would likely switch methods. Airplanes, he said, were the only way.
Schopmeyer said he traced the date of the hijackings back to a failed attempt to bomb the USS The Sullivans in January 2000. Al-Qaida succeeded in bombing the USS Cole later that year. Planning for the Cole attack and Sept. 11 must have begun years ago around the same time, Schopmeyer surmised. Bin Laden's 1998 fatwa set in motion the timelines for planning the attacks, he said.
"The day they issued that fatwa was the day they knew they were going to hit the World Trade Center, and they knew they were going to put the plan together to hit the Cole, which was going to prove they could hit any target in the world. It's too big of a coincidence," he said.
The bulk of the book centers on allegations, notes and other research that CIA and top government officials knew an attack of the Sept. 11 scale was in the works and did little to prevent it. As a civilian with no training in intelligence, Schopmeyer said he uncovered voluminous evidence that CIA agents withheld information about the Sept. 11 attacks to avoid culpability in the Cole attack. He still reels at his conclusions, argued emphatically in the book.
"The upper level of the U.S. government knew this attack was coming and said nothing," Schopmeyer said. "It is tragic and sad that the CIA allowed almost 3,000 innocent Americans to be killed by the al-Qaida terrorists."
Schopmeyer cited the book as a catharsis, and a way to move past guilt and personal feelings that he was somehow responsible for the acts. "I still think about the events of 9/11 every day," he said.
To purchase the book or for more information, visit www.priorknowledgeof911.com.