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Al-Qaida Tried to Pentrate
FBI's Translation Service

by Fintan Dunne, Editor,
18th June, 2004

A transcript of the 9/11 Commission hearing on June 16, 2004 reveals that the FBI's intelligence translation service was a target for penetration by a senior Al-Qaida operative.

The details barely appear in the Washington Post transcript of proceedings, despite confirming claims by FBI whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds that covert external agents had infiltrated the FBI, and had ensured vital intelligence remained hidden.

The revealing details were in the text of a handout given to all attendees, minutes before the hearing started on 16 June. It was a statement to the commissin by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, US Attorney, Northern District of Illinois, who has prosecuted Al-Qaida cases.

In it, Fitzgerald says that senoir Al-Qaida operative, Ali Mohammed had tried at one point to get a job in intelligence translation with the FBI.

Expurgated Transcript as reported by Washington Post Original

>> FITZGERALD: We heard that same technique when we interviewed one of the bombers who was caught, who described the four cells, and we saw it in place. In that particular case, the man who was part of the intelligence cell that did the surveillance was a U.S. citizen named ali Mohammed, with 17 years experience in the Egyptian military prior to that. He went and joined the U.S. Army for three years, was in the United States, helped train some of the people who later carried out the World Trade Center bombing, went back to Afghanistan and helped train a lot of the top leadership in al Qaeda, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, in these various techniques. Then he went as a U.S. citizen and surveilled a dozen targets in Nairobi in December 1993. <<

Full Transcript available at the 9/11 Commissin hearing:

>> FITZGERALD: One of the more chilling examples of al Qaeda's espionage was Ali Mohamed. Mohamed did not pledge bayat to al Qaeda but he trained most of al Qaeda's top leadership - including Bin Laden and Zawahiri and most of al Qaeda's top trainers. Mohamed taught surveillance, countersurveillance, assassinations, kidnaping, codes, ciphers and other intelligence techniques. Mohamed surveilled the American embassy in Nairobi in 1993. And he was well trained to do it: Mohamed spent 17 years in the Egyptian military (with commando training and experience in embassy security). He left the Egyptian army to join the United States Army and was stationed at the Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg from 1986 to 1989, when he became an United States citizen. He gave some training to persons who would later carry out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, he arranged Bin Laden's security in the Sudan in 1994 after an attempt on Bin Laden's life, and he visited the al Qaeda cell in Kenya. From 1994 until his arrest in 1998, he lived as an American citizen in California, applying for jobs as an FBI translator and working as a security guard for a defense contractor. When he was interviewed as a potential witness in a terrorism trial in December 1994, telephone records showed that he called to the Kenyan Al Qaeda cell to let people know - and we now know he was told by Al Qaeda not to come back. He had otherwise been scheduled at the time to conduct surveillance of American and others targets in West Africa. Mohamed is proof that al Qaeda members often hide in plain sight.

Similarly, those who sought to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa in June 1995 had established front businesses two years earlier so as to establish a presence along the route of Mubarak's motorcade. And al Qaeda gathers intelligence from media accounts, the Internet, Congressional hearings and court proceedings.

A search of Ali Mohamed's California home turned up a sensitive sealed document from the trial of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman with notations indicating that it was sent by him to the head of the Kenyan al Qaeda cell for delivery to Bin Laden. <<

Commission member Roemer questions Fitzgerald Original

>> ROEMER: Mr. Fitzgerald has pointed out in his statement very eloquently about a man by the name of ali Mohammed, who helped train the top leadership for al Qaeda on all kinds of security codes, ciphers, surveillance. He comes to the United States and applies for jobs as an FBI translator and at a Defense contractor.

Now, they seek to penetrate us.
We have not done a very good job penetrating them.

Mr. Fitzgerald, and then Ms. Doran and "Dr. K" how do we rebuild this human intelligence that we vitally need in this country, with diversity and language skills and capabilities, so we are going after them and getting them?

FITZGERALD: That's not my area of expertise, but I'll tell you, the hard part is -- we need it badly, but the hard part for "Dr. K" and his folks is we have to watch out that the people who don't apply for the job as translators and don't walk in the door to be human sources aren't looking for al Qaeda. One of the classic intelligence techniques is the people that come in and pretend to work for you and gather information and feed it back. And we've seen indications that al Qaeda will do that. <<


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