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FBI Informant Says Agents Missed Chance To Stop 9/11 Ringleader

Mohammed Atta Undercover Operative 'One Million Percent Positive' Attacks Could Have Been Prevented

Source: abcnews.go.com

By BRIAN ROSS and VIC WALTER
Brian Ross Investigative Unit
Sept. 10, 2009

On the eve of the eight year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an FBI informant who infiltrated alleged terrorist cells in the U.S. tells ABC News the FBI missed a chance to stop the al Qaeda plot because they focused more on undercover stings than on the man who would later become known as 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta.

In an exclusive interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC World News with Charles Gibson and Nightline, former undercover operative Elie Assaad says he spotted and became suspicious of Atta in early 2001, when he was sent by the FBI to infiltrate a small mosque outside Miami. Atta was there with Adnan Shukrujuman, an al Qaeda fugitive who now has a $5 million U.S. reward on his head.

"There was something wrong with these guys," Assaad, a 36-year-old Catholic native of Lebanon who pretended to be an Islamic extremist, says.

The FBI told ABC News the agency "declined to comment."

According to Assaad, Shukrujumah, whose father ran the mosque, invited the undercover FBI operative to meet him at his home, but the FBI told him to stay away. Instead, Assad says the agency assigned him to set up and sting what he calls wannabe terrorists, ending any hope of infiltrating the real al Qaeda terrorists.

Former national security official Richard Clarke, now an ABC News consultant, said the case is "yet another example of the way the system broke down prior to 9/11."

"If the system had worked," Clarke said, "we might have been able to identify these people before the attacks."

After 9/11
Assaad, who posed as "Mohammed" – a personal representative of Osama bin Laden, says he's a "million percent positive" the 9/11 attacks could have been stopped if the FBI had gone after Atta and Shukrujumah. But because Atta and his men were suspicious of the FBI undercover operative, and secretive, Assaad says his FBI agent handlers sent him after the easier target – two wannabe terrorists whose cases were easy to crack and who were both eventually convicted and sent to prison.

"I was right, I was a hundred percent right," Assaad says of his suspicions. He says that when he learned that Atta was one of the 9/11 hijackers, when the FBI asked if he could identify any of the attackers, he was "very upset, angry" and cried.

"I curse on everybody," Assaad says. "I destroyed half of my furniture. Uh, I went crazy."

The FBI's focus on stings, which Assaad has worked in at least 10 states and overseas since becoming an operative in 1996, are being questioned by many counter-terrorism authorities, who wonder what the true value of the stings are. Since 9/11, the stings have largely targeted people that are more aspirational than operational.

"A lot of the cases after 9/11 were manufactured or enormously exaggerated and were announced with great trumpets by the attorney general and the FBI director so that we felt that they were doing something when, in fact, what they were doing was not helpful, not relevant, not needed," said Clarke.

While Assaad's undercover work has been called invaluable by the government in making the U.S. safer and has resulted in successful stings of alleged terrorist cells across the country, defense attorneys call him a master of entrapment against what they consider harmless targets.

After a 2006 sting, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez praised Assaad – who was still unnamed at the time – for disrupting a group preparing a violent attack, resulting in the indictments of seven men on terror charges.

FBI undercover video from the case, obtained by ABC News, shows Assaad leading seven young men from Miami's inner city in a loyalty oath to Osama bin Laden, in which he persuaded them he had been sent by al Qaeda with tens of thousands of dollars to spend on them for weapons and training. The tape shows Assaad , who was working with the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force at the time, hugging his targets and welcoming them to al Qaeda.

Another video of a later meeting shows Assaad counting out $1000 for the leader of the Miami group.

After three trials, including two mistrials, five of the seven men were convicted.

Alleged Law Enforcement Entrapment
Defense lawyers including attorney Richard Houlihan, who represented Naudimar Herrera – one of the two men who were found not guilty, called the case a classic example of law enforcement entrapment.

"Without [Assaad's] performance, none of this would have happened," Houlihan told ABC News. "He's dealing with seven basically inner-city kids from Liberty City. Poor, uneducated, looking for money."

Herrera said he and the others played along with Assaad because of the financial incentives promised by him.

"He was like, "Oh your name here. You say your name here." It was more like, it was more like a movie script," Herrera told ABC News. He said that anyone "blind about greed" would be "vulnerable to [Assaad's] intelligence."

Assaad said some tactics – like suggesting targets, as he did in this case with FBI offices in Miami – are necessary in undercover stings.

"Sometimes you have to see…what he's willing to do….what's he's capable of doing," says Assaad of suspected terrorists.

"When you are working undercover," Assaad says, "your job is to lie."

Stings

"A lot of the cases after 9/11 were manufactured or enormously exaggerated and were announced with great trumpets by the attorney general and the FBI director so that we felt that they were doing something when, in fact, what they were doing was not helpful, not relevant, not needed," said Clarke.
***

This is, of course, old news, but hopefully Clarke's remarks will get a wider audience than others who have said the same thing.

Surprised it's come out...

... but not surprised at the actual content. Atta and Alshehhi are known to have attended a Florida mosque and, given that after the attacks the bureau went straight to the one mentioned by Assaad, it wasn't too hard to figure out which one.

Check this entry:
http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a00floridamosque&scale=0#...
Excuse me while I buff my fingernails for a second, but I wrote that over two and half years ago.

The question is what did the two inquiries know? The Congressional Inquiry knew that Atta and Alshehhi attended a Florida mosque. How did they know that? Did they know of the FBI surveillance? The commission knew that Atta and Adnan el-Shukrijumah were linked, but buried this in an endnote to a subsidiary report (Terrorist Travel) which was published on a weekend in August. Why would they do that?

In this context I can't help but note that the elder Shukrijumah was tight with Blind Sheikh (he lived in Brooklyn before moving to Florida). Remember Able Danger? Did Anthony Schaffer not say Atta et al. were not linked directly to the Blind Sheikh, but to some old guy who knew him?

Simple question: when did Atta and the Shukrijumahs first get in touch?

Let's also not forget that the elder Shukrijumah was getting money from the Saudi embassy in Washington.

Where Is Evidence Of Hijackers Behind Aircraft Controls?

Fingerprints, eyewitnesses, confessions?

How about a Flight Data Recorder or Cockpit Voice Recorder with an inventory control serial number?

The planes were capable of precise flight without a pilot.

This story is a clever means to reinforce the official myth and redirect the public into being angry with a government that simply simply fell asleep at the switch.

Limited Hangout

There is no evidence whatsoever -- none, nadda, zilch, zero -- that this pork-devouring-lap-dance-loving-cocaine-sniffing-kitten-killer had anything to do with the 911 attacks. Certainly, M. Atta could not have wired WTC7. Therefore he's a patsy, or an exceedingly minor player; therefore he's largely irrelevant EXCEPT INSOFAR AS we can track down his handlers and get the true perps. This is an important point to acknowledge. It should be acknowledged, and frequently. The ham-fisted attempts to frame Atta as the "ringleader" of 911 are absurd. Ditto the chap who was tortured for months and spit up a confession.

So goes Oswald. So goes Atta.

You think so?

But what about the purported evidence that was found in his rental car at Logan Airport? Oh wait, strike that; that car was driven by someone else it turns out. Oh wait, another update--the evidence was his, but it was magically teleported from the car that was/wasn't rented by him into his luggage inside the airport, where he had arrived on a connecting flight, ...yeah, this time we're sure we got the story right. Pretty sure. Yup, that there's your ringleader alright.

You're right of course. And we need to remember it too with respect to other acts of terrorism that they use for propaganda, like the 7/7 patsies in London.

The system had worked as expected!

Say what:

"Former national security official Richard Clarke, now an ABC News consultant, said the case is "yet another example of the way the system broke down prior to 9/11."

"If the system had worked," Clarke said, "we might have been able to identify these people before the attacks.""

Is this moronic, completely moronic or totally and completely moronic!

The CIA had actually identified two of al Qaeda terrorists who took part in the attack on 9/11 Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi well before the attacks on 9/11. On August 22, 2001 FBI Agent Margaret Gillespie found out from the INS that both of these known long time al Qaeda terrorists were inside of the US. This information went to CIA officer Tom Wilshire and FBI IOS HQ Agent Dina Corsi. The CIA even knew when these al Qaeda terrorists were found inside of the US that they were here only in order to take part in a massive al Qaeda attack.

So what did the CIA and FBI HQ do with this information. They kept this information secret from the FBI investigators on the Cole bombing although it was known at both the CIA and FBI HQ that these terrorist had taken part in the planning of the Cole bombing, and then they shut down FBI Agent Steve Bongardt’s investigation of Mihdhar and Hazmi when these FBI Cole investigators found out that these terrorists were inside of the US and also knew they were here to take part in an al Qaeda terrorist attack inside of the US.

At the time they did this both the FBI HQ and the CIA knew that thousands of Americans were going to die as a result of their actions in shutting down the only FBI criminal investigation that could have found Mihdhar and Hazmi in time to had prevented the upcoming attacks they had been warned about and that in fact took place on 9/11.

According to Clarke, "If the system had worked, we might have been able to identify these people before the attacks.", but they had identified these terrorists before the 9/11 attacks and then had intentionally allowed these known al Qaeda terrorists to carry out the attacks on 9/11. Since this was all because of deliberate and intentional actions at both the CIA and FBI HQ, one can only conclude that in deed the system had worked as expected.

The system had worked as expected!

Say what:

"Former national security official Richard Clarke, now an ABC News consultant, said the case is "yet another example of the way the system broke down prior to 9/11."

"If the system had worked," Clarke said, "we might have been able to identify these people before the attacks.""

Is this moronic, completely moronic or totally and completely moronic!

The CIA had actually identified two of al Qaeda terrorists who took part in the attack on 9/11 Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi well before the attacks on 9/11. On August 22, 2001 FBI Agent Margaret Gillespie found out from the INS that both of these known long time al Qaeda terrorists were inside of the US. This information went to CIA officer Tom Wilshire and FBI IOS HQ Agent Dina Corsi. The CIA even knew when these al Qaeda terrorists were found inside of the US that they were here only in order to take part in a massive al Qaeda attack.

So what did the CIA and FBI HQ do with this information. They kept this information secret from the FBI investigators on the Cole bombing although it was known at both the CIA and FBI HQ that these terrorist had taken part in the planning of the Cole bombing, and then they shut down FBI Agent Steve Bongardt’s investigation of Mihdhar and Hazmi when these FBI Cole investigators found out that these terrorists were inside of the US and also knew they were here to take part in an al Qaeda terrorist attack inside of the US.

At the time they did this both the FBI HQ and the CIA knew that thousands of Americans were going to die as a result of their actions in shutting down the only FBI criminal investigation that could have found Mihdhar and Hazmi in time to had prevented the upcoming attacks they had been warned about and that in fact took place on 9/11.

According to Clarke, "If the system had worked, we might have been able to identify these people before the attacks.", but they had identified these terrorists before the 9/11 attacks and then had intentionally allowed these known al Qaeda terrorists to carry out the attacks on 9/11. Since this was all because of deliberate and intentional actions at both the CIA and FBI HQ, one can only conclude that in deed the system had worked as expected.