Chapter 3

This is the transcript of John’s ill-fated 1993 IRC chat, in which he inadvertently lays out the blueprint for the events of 9/11.

The online conversation happens shortly after the failed attempt to bring down the Twin Towers in late February of ’93. Six people were killed in this attack and over 1,000 were injured, but many still remember it as a primative plot doomed to failure due to ignorance, inept planning, and shoddy execution.

As he was being extradited in 1995, Ramzi Yousef (the alleged ringleader of the ’93 attack) was flown near the World Trade Center, presumably to make the point that his target was still standing. Yousef is reported to have calmly said that next time, they would come by plane.

The original idea for this book came from an interview that I’d seen in the days after 9/11. The interviewee was novelist Tom Clancy, who’d featured terrorist attacks using jetliners in two of his books in the 1990s. As I remembered it, a recurring undertone of the questions was, “Do you feel responsible in any way for giving the terrorists a plan for the attacks of September 11?”  I couldn’t get the implications of that out of my mind, and they ultimately formed the kernel of the theme for the story.

By the way, there were (and still are) a number of active groups (in IRC and Usenet) whose anonymous visitors occasionally turn their imaginations to discussions of far-out plots and innovations in asymmetric warfare.