Able Danger Round-Up, by Nicholas Levis

What you are allowed to think and what you do think are two different things, aren't they? That's another way of saying that this forum may be NSFW, if your boss is a Republican. A liberal won't fire you for it, but they'll laugh at you in the break room and you may not get promoted. Unless you're an engineer, of course, in which your obsession with facing reality is not actually a career-disabling disability.

Re: Able Danger Round-Up, by Nicholas Levis

Postby admin » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:11 am

9/11 Commission's Staff Rejected Report on Early Identification of Chief Hijacker
by Douglas Jehl and Philip Shenon
N.Y. Times
August 11, 2005

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 - The Sept. 11 commission was warned by a uniformed military officer 10 days before issuing its final report that the account would be incomplete without reference to what he described as a secret military operation that by the summer of 2000 had identified as a potential threat the member of Al Qaeda who would lead the attacks more than a year later, commission officials said on Wednesday. The officials said that the information had not been included in the report because aspects of the officer's account had sounded inconsistent with what the commission knew about that Qaeda member, Mohammed Atta, the plot's leader.

But aides to the Republican congressman who has sought to call attention to the military unit that conducted the secret operation said such a conclusion relied too much on specific dates involving Mr. Atta's travels and not nearly enough on the operation's broader determination that he was a threat.

The briefing by the military officer is the second known instance in which people on the commission's staff were told by members of the military team about the secret program, called Able Danger.

The meeting, on July 12, 2004, has not been previously disclosed. That it occurred, and that the officer identified Mr. Atta there, were acknowledged by officials of the commission after the congressman, Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, provided information about it.

Mr. Weldon has accused the commission of ignoring information that would have forced a rewriting of the history of the Sept. 11 attacks. He has asserted that the Able Danger unit, whose work relied on computer-driven data-mining techniques, sought to call their superiors' attention to Mr. Atta and three other future hijackers in the summer of 2000. Their work, he says, had identified the men as likely members of a Qaeda cell already in the United States.

In a letter sent Wednesday to members of the commission, Mr. Weldon criticized the panel in scathing terms, saying that its "refusal to investigate Able Danger after being notified of its existence, and its recent efforts to feign ignorance of the project while blaming others for supposedly withholding information on it, brings shame on the commissioners, and is evocative of the worst tendencies in the federal government that the commission worked to expose."

Al Felzenberg, who served as the commission's chief spokesman, said earlier this week that staff members who were briefed about Able Danger at a first meeting, in October 2003, did not remember hearing anything about Mr. Atta or an American terrorist cell. On Wednesday, however, Mr. Felzenberg said the uniformed officer who briefed two staff members in July 2004 had indeed mentioned Mr. Atta.

Both Mr. Weldon's office and commission officials said they knew the name, rank and service of the officer, but they declined to make that information public.

Mr. Weldon and a former defense intelligence official who was interviewed on Monday have said that the Able Danger team sought but failed in the summer of 2000 to persuade the military's Special Operations Command, in Tampa, Fla., to pass on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the information they had gathered about Mr. Atta and the three other men. The Pentagon and the Special Operations Command have declined to comment, saying they are still trying to learn more about what may have happened.

Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednesday that the military was working with the commission's unofficial follow-up group - the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, which was formed by the panel's members when it was disbanded - to try to clarify what had occurred.

Mr. Felzenberg said the commission's staff remained convinced that the information provided by the military officer in the July 2004 briefing was inaccurate in a significant way.

"He wasn't brushed off," Mr. Felzenberg said of the officer. "I'm not aware of anybody being brushed off. The information that he provided us did not mesh with other conclusions that we were drawing" from the commission's investigation.

Mr. Felzenberg said staff investigators had become wary of the officer because he argued that Able Danger had identified Mr. Atta, an Egyptian, as having been in the United States in late 1999 or early 2000. The investigators knew this was impossible, Mr. Felzenberg said, since travel records confirmed that he had not entered the United States until June 2000.

"There was no way that Atta could have been in the United States at that time, which is why the staff didn't give this tremendous weight when they were writing the report," Mr. Felzenberg said. "This information was not meshing with the other information that we had."

But Russell Caso, Mr. Weldon's chief of staff, said that "while the dates may not have meshed" with the commission's information, the central element of the officer's claim was that "Mohammed Atta was identified as being tied to Al Qaeda and a Brooklyn cell more than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, and that should have warranted further investigation by the commission."

"Furthermore," Mr. Caso said, "if Mohammed Atta was identified by the Able Danger project, why didn't the Department of Defense provide that information to the F.B.I.?"

Mr. Felzenberg confirmed an account by Mr. Weldon's staff that the briefing, at the commission's offices in Washington, had been conducted by Dietrich L. Snell, one of the panel's lead investigators, and had been attended by a Pentagon employee acting as an observer for the Defense Department; over the commission's protests, the Bush administration had insisted that an administration "minder" attend all the panel's major interviews with executive branch employees. Mr. Snell referred questions to Mr. Felzenberg.

The Sept. 11 commission issued its final report on July 22, 2004. Mr. Felzenberg noted that the interview with the military officer had taken place in the final, hectic days before the commission sent the report to the printers, and said the meeting reflected a willingness by the commission to gather facts, even at the last possible minute.

"Lots of stuff was coming in over the transom," Mr. Felzenberg said. "Lots of stuff was flying around. At the end of the day, when you're writing the report, you have to take facts presented to you." Former Commissioner Spokesperson had this to say about the Commission's leaving Able Danger details out of their report: "Lots of stuff was coming in over the transom," Mr. Felzenberg said. "Lots of stuff was flying around. At the end of the day, when you're writing the report, you have to take facts presented to you."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times.
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Re: Able Danger Round-Up, by Nicholas Levis

Postby admin » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:12 am

Officer Says Pentagon Barred Sharing Pre-9/11 Qaeda Data With F.B.I.
by Philip Shenon
August 16, 2005

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 - A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the F.B.I. in 2000 to warn about the existence of an American-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he had now decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly. The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the F.B.I.

Colonel Shaffer said in an interview that the small, highly classified intelligence program known as Able Danger had identified by name the terrorist ringleader, Mohammed Atta, as well three of the other future hijackers by mid-2000, and had tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the F.B.I.'s Washington field office to share the information.

But he said military lawyers forced members of the intelligence program to cancel three scheduled meetings with the F.B.I. at the last minute, which left the bureau without information that Colonel Shaffer said might have led to Mr. Atta and the other terrorists while the Sept. 11 plot was still being planned.

"I was at the point of near insubordination over the fact that this was something important, that this was something that should have been pursued," Colonel Shaffer said of his efforts to get the evidence from the intelligence program to the F.B.I. in 2000 and early 2001.

He said he learned later that lawyers associated with the Defense Department's Special Operations Command had canceled the F.B.I. meetings because they feared controversy if Able Danger was portrayed as a military operation that had violated the privacy of civilians who were legally in the United States. "It was because of the chain of command saying we're not going to pass on information - if something goes wrong, we'll get blamed," he said.

The Defense Department did not dispute the account from Colonel Shaffer, a 42-year-old native of Kansas City, Mo., who is the first military officer associated with the so-called data-mining program to come forward and acknowledge his role.

At the same time, the department said in a statement that it was "working to gain more clarity on this issue" and that "it's too early to comment on findings related to the program identified as Able Danger." The F.B.I. referred calls about Colonel Shaffer to the Pentagon.

The account from Colonel Shaffer, a reservist who is also working part-time for the Pentagon, corroborates much of the information that the Sept. 11 commission has acknowledged that it received about Able Danger last July from a Navy captain who was also involved with the program but whose name has not been made public.

In a statement issued last week, the leaders of the Sept. 11 commission said the panel had concluded that the intelligence program "did not turn out to be historically significant." The statement said that while the commission did learn about Able Danger in 2003 and immediately requested Pentagon files about the program, none of the documents turned over by the Defense Department referred to Mr. Atta or any of the other hijackers.

Colonel Shaffer said that his role in Able Danger was as the program's liaison with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, and that he was not an intelligence analyst. The interview with Colonel Shaffer on Monday night was arranged for The New York Times and Fox News by Representative Curt Weldon, the Pennsylvania Republican who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a champion of data-mining programs like Able Danger.

Colonel Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, said in an interview that he was concerned that Colonel Shaffer was facing retaliation from the Defense Department - first for having talked to the Sept. 11 commission staff in October 2003 and now for talking with news organizations.

Mr. Zaid said that Colonel Shaffer's security clearance had been suspended last year because of what the lawyer said were a series of "petty allegations" involving $67 in personal charges on a military cellphone. He noted that despite the disciplinary action, Colonel Shaffer had been promoted this year from the rank of major.

Colonel Shaffer said he had decided to allow his name to be used in news accounts in part because of his frustration with the statement issued last week by the commission leaders, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton.

The commission said in its final report last year that American intelligence agencies had not identified Mr. Atta as a terrorist before Sept. 11, 2001, when he flew an American Airlines jet into one of towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

A commission spokesman did not return repeated phone calls for comment. A Democratic member of the commission, Richard Ben Veniste, the former Watergate prosecutor, said in an interview today that while he could not judge the credibility of the information from Colonel Shaffer and others, the Pentagon needed to "provide a clear and comprehensive explanation regarding what information it had in its possession regarding Mr. Atta."

"And if these assertions are credible," he continued, "the Pentagon would need to explain why it was that the 9/11 commissioners were not provided this information despite request for all information regarding to Able Danger."

Colonel Shaffer said that he had provided information about Able Danger and its identification of Mr. Atta in a private meeting in October 2003 with members of the Sept. 11 commission staff when they visited Afghanistan, where he was then serving. Commission members have disputed that, saying they do not recall hearing Mr. Atta's name during the briefing and that the terrorist's name did not appear in documents about Able Danger that were later turned over by the Pentagon.

"I would implore the 9/11 commission to support a follow-on investigation to ascertain what the real truth is," Colonel Shaffer said in the interview this week. "I do believe the 9/11 commission should have done that job: figuring out what went wrong with Able Danger."

"This was a good news story because, before 9/11, you had an element of the military - our unit - which was actually out looking for Al Qaeda," he continued. "I can't believe the 9/11 commission would somehow believe that the historical value was not relevant."

Colonel Shaffer said that because he was not an intelligence analyst, he was not involved in the details of the procedures used in Able Danger to glean information from terrorist databases. Nor was he aware, he said, which databases had supplied the information that might have led to the name of Mr. Atta or other terrorists so long before the Sept. 11 attacks.

But he said he did know that Able Danger had made use of publicly available information from government immigration agencies, from internet sites and from paid search engines such as Lexis Nexis.

"We didn't that Atta's name was significant" at the time, he said, adding that "we just knew there were these linkages between him and these other individuals who were in this loose configuration" of people who appeared to be tied to an American-based cell of Al Qaeda.

Colonel Shaffer said he assumed that by speaking out publicly this week about Able Danger, he might effectively be ending his military career and limiting his ability to participate in intelligence work in the government. "I'm proud of my operational record and I love what I do," he said. "But there comes a time - and I believe the time for me is now -- to stand for something, to stand for what is right."

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Re: Able Danger Round-Up, by Nicholas Levis

Postby admin » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:14 am

Second Officer Says 9/11 Leader Was Named Before Attacks
by Philip Shenon
NY Times
August 23, 2005

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 - An active-duty Navy captain has become the second military officer to come forward publicly to say that a secret intelligence program tagged the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a possible terrorist more than a year before the attacks.

The officer, Scott J. Phillpott, said in a statement on Monday that he could not discuss details of the military program, which was called Able Danger, but confirmed that its analysts had identified the Sept. 11 ringleader, Mohamed Atta, by name by early 2000. "My story is consistent," said Captain Phillpott, who managed the program for the Pentagon's Special Operations Command. "Atta was identified by Able Danger by January-February of 2000."

His comments came on the same day that the Pentagon's chief spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, told reporters that the Defense Department had been unable to validate the assertions made by an Army intelligence veteran, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, and now backed up by Captain Phillpott, about the early identification of Mr. Atta.

Colonel Shaffer went public with his assertions last week, saying that analysts in the intelligence project were overruled by military lawyers when they tried to share the program's findings with the F.B.I. in 2000 in hopes of tracking down terrorist suspects tied to Al Qaeda.

Mr. Di Rita said in an interview that while the department continued to investigate the assertions, there was no evidence so far that the intelligence unit came up with such specific information about Mr. Atta and any of the other hijackers.

He said that while Colonel Shaffer and Captain Phillpott were respected military officers whose accounts were taken seriously, "thus far we've not been able to uncover what these people said they saw - memory is a complicated thing."

The statement from Captain Phillpott , a 1983 Naval Academy graduate who has served in the Navy for 22 years, was provided to The New York Times and Fox News through the office of Representative Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a longtime proponent of so-called data-mining programs like Able Danger.

Asked if the Defense Department had questioned Captain Phillpott in its two-week-old investigation of Able Danger, another Pentagon spokesman, Maj. Paul Swiergosz, said he did not know.

Representative Weldon also arranged an interview on Monday with a former employee of a defense contractor who said he had helped create a chart in 2000 for the intelligence program that included Mr. Atta's photograph and name.

The former contractor, James D. Smith, said that Mr. Atta's name and photograph were obtained through a private researcher in California who was paid to gather the information from contacts in the Middle East. Mr. Smith said that he had retained a copy of the chart until last year and that it had been posted on his office wall at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. He said it had become stuck to the wall and was impossible to remove when he switched jobs.

In its final report last year, the Sept. 11 commission said that American intelligence agencies were unaware of Mr. Atta until the day of the attacks.

The leaders of the Sept. 11 commission acknowledged on Aug. 12 that their staff had met with a Navy officer last July, 10 days before releasing the panel's final report, who asserted that a highly classified intelligence operation, Able Danger, had identified "Mohamed Atta to be a member of an Al Qaeda cell located in Brooklyn."

But the statement, which did not identify the officer, said the staff determined that "the officer's account was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revision of the report or further investigation" and that the intelligence operation "did not turn out to be historically significant."

With his comments on Monday, Captain Phillpott acknowledged that he was the officer who had briefed the commission last year. "I will not discuss the issues outside of my chain of command and the Department of Defense," he said. "But my story is consistent. Atta was identified by Able Danger by January-February of 2000. I have nothing else to say."

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Re: Able Danger Round-Up, by Nicholas Levis

Postby admin » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:15 am

Senate Panel Plans Hearing Into Reports on Terrorist
by Philip Shenon
NY Times
September 1, 2005

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 - The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday that it was investigating reports from two military officers that a highly classified Pentagon intelligence program identified the Sept. 11 ringleader as a potential terrorist more than a year before the attacks.

The committee's chairman, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said in an interview that he was scheduling a public hearing on Sept. 14 "to get to the bottom of this" and that the military officers "appear to have credibility."

The senator said his staff had confirmed reports from the two officers that employees of the intelligence program tried to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2000 to discuss the work of the program, known as Able Danger.

The officers, Capt. Scott J. Phillpott of the Navy and Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer of the Army, have said the intelligence program identified the terrorist ringleader, Mohamed Atta, by early 2000. Colonel Shaffer, a reservist, has said three meetings with F.B.I. agents in 2000 to discuss Able Danger were canceled on the order of military lawyers.

Senator Specter's announcement came as the Pentagon said again on Wednesday that while it was not disputing the officers' reports, it could find no documentation to back up what they were saying.

"Not only can we not find documentation, we can't find documents to lead us to the documentation," said Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a Pentagon spokesman.

Other Pentagon officials have suggested that the memories of Captain Phillpott and Colonel Shaffer are flawed and that Mr. Atta could not have been identified before the attacks, a view shared by members of the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks.

But Colonel Shaffer and military officials involved in the intelligence program say it may not be surprising that documents were destroyed, since the project became controversial within the Pentagon because of potential privacy violations.

"I don't know what kind of documentation they'd be looking for," Senator Specter said of Defense Department investigators. "At this point, you have responsible officials at D.O.D. who have made some pretty serious statements and that ought to be investigated."

The existence of the intelligence program is potentially embarrassing to the Pentagon since it would suggest that the Defense Department developed information about the Sept. 11 hijackers long before they attacked in 2001 but did not share the information with law enforcement or intelligence agencies that could have acted on it.

Senator Specter did not provide a witness list for the Sept. 14 hearing, although he suggested that Captain Phillpott and Colonel Shaffer would testify, along with J. D. Smith, a former Pentagon contractor who worked on the program and has backed up the officers' accounts about the identification of Mr. Atta.

The senator said that if Mr. Atta and other Sept. 11 terrorists were identified before the attacks, "it would be a very serious breach not to have that information passed along."

"We ought to get to the bottom of it," Mr. Specter said.

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Re: Able Danger Round-Up, by Nicholas Levis

Postby admin » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:16 am

Pentagon Finds More Who Recall Atta Intel
by The Associated Press / New York Times
September 2, 2005

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pentagon officials said Thursday they have found three more people who recall an intelligence chart that identified Sept. 11 mastermind Mohamed Atta as a terrorist one year before the attacks on New York and Washington. But they have been unable to find the chart or other evidence that it existed.

Last month, two military officers, Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Navy Capt. Scott Philpott, went public with claims that a secret unit code-named Able Danger used data mining -- searching large amounts of data for patterns -- to identify Atta in 2000. Shaffer has said three other Sept. 11 hijackers also were identified.

In recent days Pentagon officials have said they could not yet verify or disprove the assertions by Shaffer and Philpott. On Thursday, four intelligence officials provided the first extensive briefing for reporters on the outcome of their interviews with people associated with Able Danger and their review of documents.

They said they interviewed at least 80 people over a three-week period and found three, besides Philpott and Shaffer, who said they remember seeing a chart that either mentioned Atta by name as an al-Qaida operative or showed his photograph. Four of the five recalled a chart with a pre-9/11 photo of Atta; the other person recalled only a reference to his name.

The intelligence officials said they consider the five people to be credible but their recollections are still unverified.

''To date, we have not identified the chart,'' said Pat Downs, a senior policy analyst in the office of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence. ''We have identified a similar chart but it does not contain the photo of Mohamed Atta or a reference to him or a reference to the other (9/11) hijackers.''

She said more interviews would be conducted, but the search of official documents is finished.

Downs and the other officials said they could not rule out that the chart recalled by Shaffer, Philpott and three others had been destroyed in compliance with regulations pertaining to intelligence information about people inside the United States. They also did not rule out that the five simply had faulty recollections.

Navy Cmdr. Christopher Chope, of the Center for Special Operations at U.S. Special Operations Command, said there were ''negative indications'' that anyone ever ordered the destruction of Able Danger documents, other than the materials that were routinely required to be destroyed under existing regulations.

Shaffer, who is now a civilian employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency, also has publicly asserted that military lawyers stopped the Able Danger staff from sharing the information on Atta with the FBI out of concern about gathering and sharing information on people in the United States legally.

Chope said there is no evidence that military lawyers blocked the sharing of Able Danger information with the FBI.

Chope also said the nature of Able Danger has been misrepresented in some news stories. He said it was created as a result of a directive in early October 1999 by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to U.S. Special Operations Command to develop a campaign plan against transnational terrorism, ''specifically al-Qaida.''

He called it an internal working group with a core of 10 staffers at Special Operations Command. Philpott was the ''team leader,'' he said. ''Able Danger was never a military unit,'' and it never targeted individual terrorists, he said. It went out of existence when the planning effort was finished in January 2001, he said.

Able Danger's purpose was to ''characterize the al-Qaida network,'' Chope said, and determine the terror network's vulnerabilities and linkages at a time when U.S. officials were unaware that al-Qaida members were operating inside the United States.

''The effort was never: Determine which individuals we ought to roll up,'' he said. ''Did Osama bin Laden's name come up? Of course it did.'' But it was not primarily aimed at identifying individual terrorists, he added.

Of the five people who told Pentagon interviewers they recalled a pre-9/11 chart that either named Atta or showed his photograph, two were on the staff of U.S. Special Operations Command: Philpott and an unidentified civilian analyst. Besides Shaffer, the others were an unidentified private contractor and an analyst with the Army's Land Information Warfare Activity, Downs said.

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Re: Able Danger Round-Up, by Nicholas Levis

Postby admin » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:20 am

Spy Rumors Fly on Gusts of Truth: Americans Probing Reports of Israeli Espionage
by Marc Perelman
March 15, 2002

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Image
SF911Truth Art Contest -- First Prize - Youth Category: Frances Yun
Artist Comments: "I tried to portray how much the truth was blacked out and the repetition of the same minimal facts and images. "


FORWARD STAFF

Despite angry denials by Israel and its American supporters, reports that Israel was conducting spying activities in the United States may have a grain of truth, the Forward has learned.

However, far from pointing to Israeli spying against U.S. government and military facilities, as reported in Europe last week, the incidents in question appear to represent a case of Israelis in the United States spying on a common enemy, radical Islamic networks suspected of links to Middle East terrorism.

In particular, a group of five Israelis arrested in New Jersey shortly after the September 11 attacks and held for more than two months was subjected to an unusual number of polygraph tests and interrogated by a series of government agencies including the FBI's counterintelligence division, which by some reports remains convinced that Israel was conducting an intelligence operation. The five Israelis worked for a moving company with few discernable assets that closed up shop immediately afterward and whose owner fled to Israel.

Other allegations involved Israelis claiming to be art students who had backgrounds in signal interception and ordnance. (See related story, Page 8.)

Sources emphasized that the release of all the Israelis under investigation indicates that they were cleared of any suspicion that they had prior knowledge of the September 11 attacks, as some anti-Israel media outlets have suggested.

The resulting tensions between Washington and Jerusalem, sources told the Forward, arose not because of the operations' targets but because Israel reportedly violated a secret gentlemen's agreement between the two countries under which espionage on each other's soil is to be coordinated in advance.

Most experts and former officials interviewed for this article said that such so-called unilateral or uncoordinated Israeli monitoring of radical Muslims in America would not be surprising.

In fact, they said, Israeli intelligence played a key role in helping the Bush administration to crack down on Islamic charities suspected of funneling money to terrorist groups, most notably the Richardson, Texas-based Holy Land Foundation last December.

"I have no doubt Israel has an interest in spying on those groups," said Peter Unsinger, an intelligence expert who teaches justice administration at San Jose University. "The Israelis give us good stuff, like on the Hamas charities."

According to one former high-ranking American intelligence official, who asked not to be named, the FBI came to the conclusion at the end of its investigation that the five Israelis arrested in New Jersey last September were conducting a Mossad surveillance mission and that their employer, Urban Moving Systems of Weehawken, N.J., served as a front.

After their arrest, the men were held in detention for two-and-a-half months and were deported at the end of November, officially for visa violations.

However, a counterintelligence investigation by the FBI concluded that at least two of them were in fact Mossad operatives, according to the former American official, who said he was regularly briefed on the investigation by two separate law enforcement officials.

"The assessment was that Urban Moving Systems was a front for the Mossad and operatives employed by it," he said. "The conclusion of the FBI was that they were spying on local Arabs but that they could leave because they did not know anything about 9/11."

However, he added, the bureau was "very irritated because it was a case of so-called unilateral espionage, meaning they didn't know about it."

Spokesmen for the FBI, the Justice Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service refused to discuss the case. Israeli officials flatly dismissed the allegations as untrue.

However, the former American official said that after American authorities confronted Jerusalem on the issue at the end of last year, the Israeli government acknowledged the operation and apologized for not coordinating it with Washington.

The five men — Sivan and Paul Kurzberg, Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari and Yaron Shmuel — were arrested eight hours after the attacks by the Bergen County, N.J., police while driving in an Urban Moving Systems van. The police acted on an FBI alert after the men allegedly were seen acting strangely while watching the events from the roof of their warehouse and the roof of their van.

In addition to their strange behavior and their Middle Eastern looks, the suspicions were compounded when a box cutter and $4,000 in cash were found in the van. Moreover, one man carried two passports and another had fresh pictures of the men standing with the smoldering wreckage of the World Trade Center in the background.

The Bergen County police immediately handed the suspects to the INS, which turned them over to a joint police-FBI terrorism task force set up after September 11 to deal with all possible links with the attacks.

The five Israelis were detained in the high-security Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn in solitary confinement until mid-October. On September 25, they all signed papers acknowledging violations of US immigration law. At the end of October, the INS issued a deportation order which was enforced a month later after a review by the Justice Department and prodding by Jewish and Israeli officials.

However, the former official said, this is just the official story.

In fact, he said, the nature of the investigation changed after the names of two of the five Israelis showed up on a CIA-FBI database of foreign intelligence operatives, he said. At that point, he said, the bureau took control of the investigation and launched a Foreign Counterintelligence Investigation, or FCI.

FBI investigations into possible links to the September 11 attacks are usually carried by the bureau's counterterrorism division, not its counterintelligence division.

"An FCI means not only that it was serious but also that it was handled at a very high level and very tightly," the former official said. That view was echoed by several former FBI officials interviewed.

Steven Gordon, an American lawyer hired by the families to help secure their release, said he could not confirm which FBI division was in charge of the investigation. However, he acknowledged that "there were a lot of people involved, including counterintelligence officials from the FBI."

The men all underwent at least two polygraph tests each, the lawyer added. He said one of the Israelis took the test seven times, a very unusual total according to several polygraph experts interviewed by the Forward.

After the men were arrested, FBI agents searched the warehouse of Urban Moving Systems in Weehawken, N.J., seizing computer hard drives and documents. The warehouse was closed on September 14, said Ron George, a spokesman for the New Jersey State Division of Consumer Affairs.

On December 7, a New Jersey judge ruled that the state could seize the goods remaining inside the warehouse. The state also has a lawsuit pending against Urban Moving Systems and its owner, Dominik Otto Suter, an Israeli citizen.

The FBI questioned Mr. Suter once. However, he left the country afterward and went back to Israel before further questioning. Mr. Suter declined through his lawyer to be interviewed for this article.

Earlier this year, the New York State Department of Transportation revoked Urban Moving System's license after discovering that the company's midtown Manhattan base was only a mailing address.

After they returned to Israel at the end of November, the five men told local media that they were kept in solitary confinement, beaten, deprived of food and questioned while blindfolded and in their underwear.

Mr. Ellner, one of the five Israelis, said on two occasions in recent weeks that the five men had decided not to grant any interviews right now "because we went through a very difficult period and we are not ready for this."

Their Israeli lawyer, Ram Horwitz, told the Forward he was still waiting for the results of the medical tests undertaken by the men in Israel to make a decision on an eventual lawsuit in the United States for mistreatment.

Mr. Horwitz insisted the men were not intelligence officers.

Irit Stoffer, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said the allegations were "completely untrue" and that there were "only visa violations."

"The FBI investigated those cases because of 9/11," Ms. Stoffer said.

Charlene Eban, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Washington, and Don Nelson, a Justice Department spokesman, said they had no knowledge of an Israeli spying operation.

"If we found evidence of unauthorized intelligence operations, that would be classified material," added Jim Margolin, a spokesman for the FBI in New York.

One leading expert in American intelligence operations, Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at the Boston-based Political Research Associates, explained that there "is a backdoor agreement between allies that says that if one of your spies gets caught and didn't do too much harm, he goes home. It goes on all the time. The official reason is always a visa violation."
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Re: Able Danger Round-Up, by Nicholas Levis

Postby admin » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:55 am

What If ...
by Jim Gilmore
Co-producer of "The Man Who Knew," with research by Mike Wiser

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What if the CIA had shared information with the FBI back in Jan. 2001 about a meeting in Malaysia and a participant named Khallad? It was information that might have helped O'Neill connect the dots to the 9/11 conspirators.

And what if O'Neill had been able to return to Yemen and the FBI's Cole investigation back in Jan. 2001 to interrograte Fahad al-Quso. Al-Quso had been picked up early in the Cole probe--and al-Quso also had connections to that Malaysia meeting and had met with 9/11 hijackers who had attended it.

In September 2002, agents and officials from the CIA and FBI testified before a joint congressional panel about how their security agencies failed to fully share information about suspected terrorists and their activities in the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks.

As much as anyone working in counterterrorism, John O'Neill knew about this communication breakdown. In fact, just two months before Sept. 11, in a speech to Spanish police on interagency cooperation, he had asked his audience, "How much more successful could we all be if we really knew what our agencies really knew?" O'Neill's last major FBI investigation -- the attack on the USS Cole on Oct. 12, 2000 -- was a case study of just how bad inter-agency communication had become.

The Critical Meeting in Malaysia

The story of this intelligence failure begins with a 1999 CIA breakthrough -- the interception of communications from an Al Qaeda logistics center in Yemen about a meeting of operatives that would take place in January 2000 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The names of two of the participants were mentioned: Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi.

The CIA tracked Almidhar on his way to Malaysia. An agent told FRONTLINE that during a passport check at a stopover, the CIA even got access to his Saudi Arabian passport and learned Almidhar had been issued a multiple-entry visa to the U.S.

Once in Kuala Lumpur, the Al Qaeda operatives were photographed -- at the CIA's request -- by Malaysian authorities at a series of meetings. Reportedly, no sound recordings were made, but intelligence sources now believe the meetings were held to plan future Al Qaeda attacks. Among the men captured in the surveillance photos were:

• Almidhar and Alhazmi (later hijackers of American Flight 77 which flew into the Pentagon on Sept. 11);
• Ramzi bin al-Shibh (a Sept. 11 co-conspirator and Mohamed Atta's roommate. It would not be until after Sept. 11 that bin al-Shibh would be identified in the Malaysia surveillance photos);
• Tawfiq bin-Atash -- AKA "Khallad" (a suspected intermediary between bin Laden and plotters of the October 2000 USS Cole attack).

The CIA maintains that it did notify the FBI by e-mail of the Malaysia meetings soon after they occurred -- and that it did mention Almidhar had a U.S. visa. The FBI, however, states they have no record of this notification.

The CIA admits that it did not inform the bureau that after the Malaysia meetings ended, it tracked Almidhar and Alhazmi to Los Angeles. The CIA further admits that it failed to warn the INS or the State Department, and as a result, the men's names were not added to a terrorist watch list.

Not one of the men who attended the Malaysia meetings was, at the time, known to have been involved in any crime against the United States, so it is perhaps understandable that the CIA missed the full significance of the meetings. This changed, however, in October 2000, when the USS Cole was attacked in Yemen and 17 sailors were killed. The FBI's subsequent investigation into the Cole attack would uncover evidence that would make the CIA's continued withholding of information incomprehensible.

The USS Cole Investigation

John O'Neill and his FBI investigators were on the scene in Yemen within days of the attack on the Cole. For O'Neill, it was obvious that the attack was an Al Qaeda operation. Within weeks, the investigation led to the arrests of several men.

One young man from an elite Yemeni family, Fahad al-Quso, had been tied to the plot with physical evidence found in an Al Qaeda safe house. At the FBI's urgings, Yemeni authorities arrested al-Quso in December 2000.

Meanwhile, the search continued for bigger fish in the conspiracy. One was a man known as "Khallad" (real name: Tafiq bin-Atash). The FBI believed Khallad helped plan and run the Cole operation. At this point, what O'Neill and investigators did not know was that Khallad had been on the CIA's radar screen for about a year because of the surveillance photos taken at the January 2000 Malaysia meeting.

If the CIA now knew -- as a result of the Cole probe -- that Khallad was an Al Qaeda operative tied to a deadly attack against the U.S., the questions begging to be asked were: Who then were the other Al Qaeda representatives with him at that Malaysia meeting? Where were they now? And were they planning additional attacks?

It appears the CIA never asked those questions.

"Someday, someone will die and the public will not understand."

Not until June 11, 2001 did the CIA sit down with those in charge of the Cole investigation at the New York office and show them some of the photos taken at the Malaysia meeting. They asked for help in identifying the men. (John O'Neill was not at that meeting.) A high-ranking FBI official at this meeting told FRONTLINE that when they asked the CIA representatives for more information about Almidhar and Alhazmi -- men the FBI had until then never heard of -- they were told they were not cleared to know more. It was an astonishing meeting -- reportedly, it turned into a shouting match.

Two days later, in Saudi Arabia, Khalid Almidhar received a new American visa. He got on a plane and returned to the United States on July 4, 2001.

According to the September 2002 CIA testimony before the joint congressional panel looking into the Sept. 11 intelligence failures, the agency had not conducted a review of cables in their files concerning the Malaysia meetings until July 13, 2001. This time FBI agents were allowed to participate in the review. When this group found the information concerning Almidhar and Alhazmi's travels to the United States, their names were at last added to terrorist watch lists. But it was too late; they were already in the United States.

Meanwhile, Washington was on high alert. There were warning signs that Al Qaeda was planning some type of attack but no one could put the puzzle pieces together. In New York, the Cole investigation was at a standstill. The FBI had been pulled out of Yemen in June due to security concerns, and John O'Neill, preparing to retire, was no longer actively involved in the investigation.

Finally, on Aug. 23, 2001, the CIA sent an urgent memo to the New York FBI office seeking help in tracking down Almidhar and Alhazmi. At long last, the significance of the information in its files seems to have dawned on the agency. A quick check of hotels listed by the terrorists as places of residence on their travel entry cards came up empty. One New York FBI agent testified before Congress in September 2002 that he had requested use of "full criminal investigative resources" to find Almidhar. But headquarters denied his request. The reason given was that Almidhar was not under criminal investigation, and headquarters cited the wall between prosecution and intelligence as posing a problem. The agent's e-mail response to FBI headquarters, dated Aug. 29, 2001, was that "Someday someone will die and the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain problems."

Postscript: Reconsidering the Yemen Investigation

Following Sept. 11, Fahad al-Quso was interrogated again in Yemen on Sept. 12, 13 and 14 by FBI and Navy investigators, who had only just returned to Yemen a few days earlier. One of O'Neill's last acts at the FBI in late August 2001 was to sign the authorization for that return.

Interrogators showed al-Quso the CIA surveillance photos taken at the critical January 2000 Malaysia meetings. Al-Quso identified Alhazmi and Almidhar and admitted he was a bagman for Al Qaeda, presumably to fund the conspirators' future operations. He claims he wasn't at the meetings, but that Alhazmi and Almidhar met with him soon after the meetings concluded.

One investigator admitted to FRONTLINE that al-Quso's connections to the 9/11 conspirators was a staggering revelation, and he still had nightmares about it. When asked what might have been discovered if they'd learned of al-Quso's connections earlier, he responded, "the possibilities are mind-boggling."

So there was the trail -- the pieces of information linking the Malaysia meetings in January 2000, to the USS Cole attack of October 2000, to the 9/11 plot. At those meetings in Malaysia, it's believed both the 9/11 and Cole plots were planned, their operatives met with each other, and investigators suspect one or more Al Qaeda operatives at the meetings worked both the Cole and 9/11 plots.

The stunning and logical question that hangs in the air about John O'Neill's compromised USS Cole investigation in Yemen is, "What if?"

What if FBI headquarters had backed O'Neill and pushed the State Department to allow him to return to Yemen in January 2001 (over the objections of U.S. Ambassador Barbara Bodine) to continue his investigation?

If O'Neill had been allowed to go back, what could he have done that wasn't already being done? Given his aggressiveness in investigations, it would have meant more wiretaps, more surveillance of suspects, and pushing the government for more arrests. And as his colleagues like Barry Mawn, Clint Guenther and Mary Jo White knew so well, it all would have been done in the John O'Neill style:

-- wining and dining the head of Yemen's PSO, Yemen's equivalent to the FBI...

-- working with the CIA agents in Yemen and building on those past relationships from his Station Alex days...

-- holding the Yemeni officials' feet to the fire to get more access to those detained, and using the interrogations to slowly unravel the Al Qaeda network in Yemen -- especially, Fahad al-Quso, who O'Neill knew had been holding back ...

This is the scenario that might have played out in Yemen and the one that still bothers O'Neill's former allies and supporters. For them, it is conceivable that, in the end, John O'Neill would have been able to learn about that critical January 2000 meeting in Malaysia, and to start connecting the dots that ultimately led to Sept. 11, 2001.
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Re: Able Danger Round-Up, by Nicholas Levis

Postby admin » Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:31 pm

Omar al-Bayoumi
by Wikipedia
April 12, 2016

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Omar al-Bayoumi (Arabic: عمر البيومي‎) is a Saudi national who allegedly befriended two of the 9/11 hijackers in the United States.[1]

Saudi Arabia firmly maintains that al-Bayoumi is not an agent of theirs, and the FBI has concluded that he was not knowingly involved in the 9/11 attacks.[2]

Income

Al-Bayoumi was probably born around 1959, but virtually nothing is known of al-Bayoumi's early life.[citation needed] Until 1994 he lived in Saudi Arabia, working for the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation, a department headed by Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz.

In August 1994, al-Bayoumi moved to the United States and settled down in San Diego, California, where he became involved in the local Muslim community. He was very inquisitive, and was known to always carry around a video camera. According to several sources [3] [4] (Newsweek 11/22/03, 11/24/03) ,[5] al-Bayoumi was strongly suspected by many residents of being a Saudi government spy. The man the FBI considered their "best source" in San Diego said that al-Bayoumi "must be an intelligence officer for Saudi Arabia or another foreign power," according to Newsweek Magazine.

During this time, al-Bayoumi was in the United States as part of a work-study program.[6] The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation paid al-Bayoumi's salary through a government contractor.[7] When the contractor proposed terminating its relationship with al-Bayoumi in 1999, a Saudi government official replied with a letter marked "extremely urgent" that the government wanted al-Bayoumi's contract renewed "as quickly as possible." [8] As a result, Al-Bayoumi's employment with the project continued.

In June 1998, an anonymous Saudi philanthropist donated $500,000 to have a Kurdish mosque built in San Diego, on the condition that al-Bayoumi be hired as maintenance manager with a private office. The donation was accepted, but because al-Bayoumi rarely showed up for work, the mosque's leadership became unhappy with him.[citation needed] Eventually, they moved to fire him.

Some time in late 1999 or early 2000, Omar al-Bayoumi began receiving another monthly payment–this one from Princess Haifa bint Faisal, the wife of Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Checks for between $2,000 and $3,000 were sent monthly from the princess, through two or three intermediaries, to al-Bayoumi.[9] The payments continued for several years, totaling between $50,000 and $75,000.

Al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar

In January 2000, al-Bayoumi drove to Los Angeles, saying he was going "to pick up visitors", according to an FBI source.[citation needed] First, al-Bayoumi visited the Saudi consulate there in LA and had a closed-door meeting with Fahad al Thumairy, according to Newsweek. (After 9/11, al Thumairy was barred entry into the U.S. due to his links to terrorism.[10]) It was only afterward that al-Bayoumi met his visitors.

On January 15, 2000, future 9/11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar flew to Los Angeles, California from Bangkok, Thailand, just after attending the 2000 Al Qaeda Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The final 9/11 Commission Report noted:

Hazmi and Mihdhar were ill-prepared for a mission in the United States. . . Neither had spent any substantial time in the West, and neither spoke much, if any, English. It would therefore be plausible that they or [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] would have tried to identify, in advance, a friendly contact for them in the United States. . . We believe it unlikely that Hazmi and Mihdhar. . . would have come to the United States without arranging to receive assistance from one or more individuals informed in advance of their arrival."


Al-Bayoumi met the hijackers at a restaurant after their landing; he claims he met them by accident. He invited the two hijackers to move to San Diego with him, and they did. Al-Bayoumi found them an apartment, co-signed the lease, and advanced them $1500 to help pay for their rent. The 9/11 Commission, however, concluded that “[n]either then nor later did Bayoumi give money to either Hazmi or Mihdhar.” [11] Al-Bayoumi also helped the two obtain driver's licenses, rides to Social Security, and information on flight schools.[12] Al-Bayoumi says he was being kind to fellow Muslims in need, and had no idea of their plans. But according to Newsweek magazine a former top FBI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "We firmly believed that he had knowledge [of the 9/11 plot], and that his meeting with them that day was more than coincidence."[citation needed] Other FBI officials, however, concluded that al-Bayoumi was not a witting accomplice of the hijackers.[13] As one FBI official explained, “We could not find any contact between him and terrorists, any involvement (with al-Qaeda). There was nothing to indicate he's any different from any of the hundreds of people who had contact with the hijackers, who were unwitting to the fact that they were going to be hijackers. It just wasn't there.” [14]

Al-Hazmi and al-Mihdar's neighbors later reported that the two struck them as quite odd. They had no furniture, they constantly played flight simulator games, and limousines picked them up for short rides in the middle of the night.[15] [16] During this time, al-Bayoumi lived across the street from them. Throughout this period his salary greatly increased. [17] Al-Hazmi and al-Mihdar later moved into the house of Abdussattar Shaikh, a friend of al-Bayoumi's, who was secretly working as an FBI informant at the time.[18]

Arrest and release

In July 2001, Omar al-Bayoumi moved to England to pursue a PhD at Aston University. Ten days after the September 11 attacks he was arrested by British authorities working with the FBI. He was held on an immigration charge while the FBI and Scotland Yard investigated him. His phone calls, bank accounts, and associations were researched, but the FBI says they found no connections to terrorism. When interrogators asked Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, whether he knew al-Bayoumi, he said that he did not.[19] He was released, and went back to studying at Aston,[20] and later moved to Saudi Arabia.

The issue was reopened when the potential links between al-Bayoumi and the Saudi Embassy were reported in the press. Under pressure from Congress, the FBI re-examined the case. They concluded that the allegations were "without merit," and they "abandoned further investigation." [21] But contemporary news accounts reported that "countless intelligence leads that might help solve [the case] appear to have been under investigated or completely overlooked by the FBI." [22]

The final 9/11 Commission reports stated "we have seen no credible evidence that he believed in violent extremism, or knowingly aided extremist groups." [23]

References

1. Mathis-Lilley, Ben (April 11, 2016). "Your Guide to the 28 Classified Pages About Saudi Arabia and 9/11 That Obama Might Release". Slate.
2. Shannon, Elaine; Zagorin, Adam; Duffy, Michael. "Feds Doubt Allegations of Saudi Terror Funding". Time.
3. [1]
4. [2]
5. [3]
6. Final Report on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. p. 218.
7. Final Report on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. pp. 218, 515 n.18.
8. [4]
9. [5]
10. [6]
11. Final Report on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. p. 219.
12. "Funding Terror". In These Times.
13. Shannon, Elaine; Zagorin, Adam; Duffy, Michael. "Feds Doubt Allegations of Saudi Terror Funding". Time.
14. Shannon, Elaine; Zagorin, Adam; Duffy, Michael. "Feds Doubt Allegations of Saudi Terror Funding". Time.
15. [7]
16. [8]
17. http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/sep/07/qu ... mber-11th/
18. [9]
19. Final Report on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. pp. 515–516 n.19.
20. [10]
21. [11]
22. [12]
23. Final Report on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. p. 218.
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Re: Able Danger Round-Up, by Nicholas Levis

Postby admin » Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:41 pm

Mohamed Atta apparently visited a U. S. government office (Department of Agriculture) to apply for a $650,000 loan to buy a cropdusting airplane.
by Johnelle Bryant
Xymphora.blogspot.com
June 9, 2002

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Mohamed Atta apparently visited a U. S. government office (Department of Agriculture) to apply for a $650,000 loan to buy a cropdusting airplane. An interesting point is that he is supposed to have visited the office in the spring of 2000, about 17 months before September 11, 2001, i. e., the end of April (or perhaps May), but he is officially supposed to have arrived in the United States in June 2000! While discussing this doomed mission with the loan officer who turned him down because it did not make sense, Atta made many odd statements, all of which are an obvious attempt to leave the impression that he was really and truly a crazed fundamentalist Islamic terrorist. He lays it on so thick, I don't know how he managed to keep from laughing:

1. He almost refused to deal with her, because she is a woman.

2. He admired a picture of Washington, D. C. that she had hanging on the wall of her office to a ridiculous degree, pointing specifically to the White House and the Pentagon, and then offered to buy it with theatrical flourish by throwing a wad of money down on the desk. When she refused to sell it to him she recounts: "I believe he said, 'How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it' like the cities in his country had been destroyed?" This is very weird, as Atta is supposed to come from Egypt, where cities haven't been destroyed for a long time.

3. He gave her evil, terrorist looks with his 'very scary' black eyes.

4. She said he referred to a safe in her office and she recounts: "He asked me what would prevent him from going behind my desk and cutting my throat and making off with the millions of dollars in that safe."

5. He talked of the massive size of the chemical tank he wanted to install, filling the whole inside of the plane except for the pilot's seat.

6. He became 'very agitated' when he found out that there was an application process and she presumably wouldn't just hand him $650,000 in cash there and then.

7. He asked her about security at the World Trade Center and what she knew of Phoenix, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles, and was particularly interested in open-topped Texas Stadium.

8. He mentioned Osama bin Laden, who she had never heard of, and said that bin Laden "would someday be known as the world's greatest leader."

Of course, seeing as he was in the United States on a student visa, how he ever thought he would be entitled to such a loan is beyond belief. He knew he wasn't allowed to stay to ever be able to use the airplane for any plausibly legitimate purpose. Even if he mistakenly thought he could get away with this, what was his reasoning for sending three other terrorists to the same office on the much the same mission? In one case, he put on glasses as a disguise and pretended to be the accountant of one of the other hijacker-applicants, another obvious attempt to draw attention to himself. The whole thing must have sounded like a Monty Python sketch (it reminds me of the Dead Parrot sketch when Michael Palin puts on the fake mustache). The ridiculous overacting left the bureaucrat completely unsuspicious. I imagine if he had asked her if it would be OK for him to fill the plane full of explosives and fly it into the World Trade Center, she would have replied that she would strongly object to that as blowing up the collateral would be a breach of one of the terms of his loan agreement. If this isn't some kind of hoax, what we have here is another example of Atta creating his 'legend', filling out his terrorist personal identity before a witness who would surely remember him. Notice again that he appears to have no fear that this bureaucrat will report him before September 11 and end the terrorist project he has spent so much work on. One question: why has it taken this long for this story to come out when she is supposed to have informed the authorities about the incident shortly after September 11?
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