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Feature Story October 31, 2002
 
You Say Terrorist, Washington says Shuttup
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
 
 

Last December, an incredible piece of evidence emerged in the indictment of accused 9-11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui.

While most of the media and Capitol Hill were focused on the CIA and FBI's failure to "connect the dots," a crucial clue has still been left unexplored: the Al Qaeda-Chechnya connection. If the US Government had been willing to explore the Chechen Connection, it could have prevented the terror attacks on September 11th.

Buried in the middle of the June 6th Washington Post article "Hill Probers Upgrade Evidence Gathered From Moussaoui" was proof that the failure to uncover the terrorist plot was not just a matter of poor coordination, but rather a direct result of deliberate U.S. foreign policy.

I'm going to quote a large chunk of the article here because it is so stunning, and because it has hitherto been so grossly overlooked.

A bit of background: on August 16th, 2001, Moussaoui was arrested in Minneapolis on immigration charges after an official at the Pan Am International flight school told the FBI he feared Moussaoui was planning a hijacking. Over the next few weeks, Minneapolis FBI agents tried to convince Washington to give them a warrant to search Moussaoui. Washington refused. The local agents' frustration reached such a pitch that they even went to CIA for help, for which they were upbraided by Washington.

Here is why they couldn't get the warrant:

"The main point of the dispute [between the Minneapolis FBI branch and Washington] was the value of information gathered about Moussaoui, a French national who had entered the United States in early 2001, and whether there was enough evidence to secure a warrant to search his belongings.

"The FBI received information from French intelligence, for example, including interviews with a family that blamed Moussaoui for inciting their son to fight and die with Muslim rebels in Chechnya, sources said.

"In her letter to Mueller, Rowley wrote that the French reports 'confirmed his affiliations with radical fundamentalist Islamic groups and activities connected to Osama bin Laden.' She argued that agents had enough evidence in hand 'within days' of Moussaoui's arrest to provide probable cause for a warrant.

"Headquarters officials, however, insist that the French information detailed no direct ties between Moussaoui and any designated terrorist group, a requirement for obtaining a FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] warrant. The Chechen rebels, while believed to have links with bin Laden, were not considered a terrorist group by the State Department.

"'The angle we consistently had with the French was the Chechnya angle,' one U.S. official said. 'There were no specifics about affiliations with al Qaeda, no reports of being in the [al Qaeda] camps in Afghanistan -- nothing.'

"In the end, lawyers at FBI headquarters declined to approve the Minneapolis request for such a warrant. It wasn't until Sept. 11, hours after the suicide attacks, that the FBI sought and obtained a search warrant, although it came from a criminal court rather than the intelligence panel.

"The evidence they allegedly found included a computer disk containing information related to crop-dusting; the phone numbers in Germany of Ramzi Binalshibh, an al Qaeda fugitive who allegedly helped finance the plot; and flight deck videos from an Ohio store where two of the hijackers, Mohammed Atta and Nawaf Alhazmi, had purchased the same equipment.

"...One of the most tantalizing pieces of information was correspondence identifying Moussaoui as a 'marketing consultant' for a Malaysian computer technology firm, Infocus Tech. The letters were signed by 'Yazid Sufaat, Managing Director,' and stipulated that Moussaoui was to receive a $2,500-per-month allowance.

"That connection, it now appears, could have proved critical. Sufaat, a Malaysian microbiologist, provided his Kuala Lumpur condominium for a 'terrorism summit' attended by Alhazmi and another Sept. 11 hijacker, Khalid Almihdhar, in January 2000, according to CIA and FBI officials [who monitored the summit]. The gathering was also attended by a man later identified as one of the leading suspects in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.


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Ames
Browse author
Email Mark Ames at editor@exile.ru.
 
 
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