An original 8-part podcast hosted by WNYC's Jim O'Grady and co-produced by HISTORY in partnership with WNYC Studios. "Blindspot: The Road to 9/11" will bring to light the decade-long shadow struggle that preceded the attacks. The podcast series will discuss the existential threat at stake in every turn, the human drama of political motives and personal ambitions, and the glaring mistakes and unfortunate blind spots that led to the modern world’s single most devastating act of political terrorism.
Based on HISTORY’s television documentary "Road to 9/11," Blindspot will draw on interviews with more than 60 people – including FBI agents, high level bureaucrats, journalists, experts, and people who knew the terrorists personally – and weaves them together with original reporting to create a gripping, serialized narrative audio experience.
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Episode 4: The Sheikh
FBI informant Emad Salem is close to not only the Blind Sheikh but his trusted lieutenant, an ambitious terrorist named Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali. Salem soon finds himself at the Statue of Liberty with Siddig Ali; their goal is not to enjoy their visit but figure out how to destroy it with a bomb. It is one of five targets in what will come to be known as The Landmarks Plot -- a plan to cause mass casualties by attacking not only tourist sites but heavily trafficked crossings such as the Holland Tunnel and George Washington Bridge. Salem convinces Siddig Ali and his accomplices to make their bombs in an abandoned Queens warehouse that has secretly been wired with FBI cameras and other recording devices. As the plans near completion, the plotters are arrested. They will eventually be convicted and sent to prison. Law enforcement now better understands that the threat of terror against America is ongoing and international … which makes it even more difficult to fight.
Episode 3: The Bomb
NYPD Detective Louis Napoli and FBI Special Agent John Anticev fear an attack is coming, but without their mole, Emad Salem, they’re blind to the machinations of the Brooklyn terror cell. Then on February 26, 1993, a bomb goes off in the basement parking garage of the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than a thousand. We follow investigators as they chase down clues and round up suspects, including one who bungles his way directly into the hands of the FBI. (His fellow terrorist will later call him “the stupidest, the stupidest, the stupidest of God’s creatures.”) The mastermind, Ramzi Yousef, gets away. Yousef, the most dangerous terrorist in the world, is now hiding out overseas and planning even deadlier attacks.
Back in New York, the FBI convinces Salem to rejoin the terror cell. He does, and becomes the personal assistant of Omar Abdel-Rahman (a.k.a. the Blind Sheikh). One of Salem’s jobs is to communicate by fax with a Saudi financier named Osama bin Laden. Then Salem learns that the cell is planning an attack designed to topple city landmarks and kill thousands.
Episode 2: The Mole
In 1981, the radical cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman—known as The Blind Sheikh—inspires the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat at a military ceremony. One of the soldiers present is Emad Salem. He swears revenge against the Sheikh.
Episode 1: The Bullet
The 9/11 attacks were so much more than a bolt from the blue on a crisp September morning. They were more than a decade in the making. Our story starts in a Midtown Manhattan hotel ballroom in 1990. Shots ring out and the extremist rabbi, Meir Kahane, lies mortally wounded. His assassin, El-Sayyid Nosair, is connected to members of a Brooklyn mosque who are training to fight with Islamic freedom fighters in Afghanistan. NYPD Detective Louis Napoli and FBI Special Agent John Anticev catch the case, and start unraveling a conspiracy that is taking place in plain sight by blending into the tumult of the city. It is animated by an emerging ideology: violent jihad.
Introducing Blindspot: The Road to 9/11
Time has flattened our understanding of the 9/11 terror attacks. There’s a sense that they came out of the clear blue sky of the day itself. They didn’t. We need to revisit the evidence and question the people at the center of the story.
Voices featured in this trailer include Jim O’Grady, Cofer Black, Steve Simon, John Anticev, Huthaifa Azzam, Michael Sheuer, Emad Salem, Mary Jo White, Cynthia Storer, and Matthew Besheer.