On 9/11, the bulk of al-Qaeda’s leadership was gathered in a single place: Karachi, Pakistan. One key figure was in a hospital following a tonsillectomy; another was preparing for a biological weapons program; and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was with other leaders in a safe house, watching the attacks on TV, the Washington Post reports. Within 24 hours, they returned to Afghanistan to brace for war, WikiLeaks documents show. Once there, Osama bin Laden told Arab fighters “to defend Afghanistan against the infidel invaders."
Bin Laden and deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri spent the first few months following 9/11 traveling around Afghanistan, spending time in a Kabul-area guesthouse as well as caves in Tora Bora. Apparently concerned about his own capture, bin Laden handed al-Qaeda leadership duties to the group's Shura Council. December saw al-Qaeda lieutenants meeting in the mountains of Zormat, Afghanistan. There, tensions within the group began to emerge, as one senior figure planned to attack a British military base in Gibraltar—but didn't discuss the idea with Mohammed. Many of them then returned to Karachi, where Mohammed, who was well-funded at this point, "put together a training program for assassinations and kidnappings." Click to read more details on al-Qaeda’s post-9/11 moves.