On September 11, 2001, FBI Special Agent Ali H. Soufan was handed a secret file. Had he received it months earlier—when it was requested—the attacks on New York and Washington could have been prevented. During his time on the front lines, Soufan helped thwart plots around the world and elicited some of the most important confessions from terrorists in the war against al-Qaeda—without laying so much as a hand on them. Most of these stories have never been reported before, and never by anyone with such intimate firsthand knowledge.
CIA wants big cuts to memoir of ex-FBI agent
The agent, Ali H. Soufan, argues in his book, “The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaida,” the CIA missed a chance to derail the terror plot by withholding from the FBI information about two future 9/11 hijackers living in San Diego and that the harsh methods used on the agency’s first important captive, Abu Zubaydah, were unnecessary and counterproductive.
“FBI Agent Ali Soufan was in Yemen when the attacks of 9/11 happened. He was there working on gathering evidence to convict those involved in the USS Cole bombing. While most personal there immediately headed back to the U.S. he was told to stay in Yemen as there was a connection to what he was investigating and the attacks of 9/11. Remember – the following excerpt from his book is just after the 9-11 attacks have happened.”
Here is how Ali Soufan found out he was being obstructed by the CIA……
The 9/11 attacks have just happened…….
From his book:
“Let’s go to my office,” the _____ said. He and I were alone, and he closed the door. He took out a file and silently handed it to me.
Inside were three pictures of al-Qaeda operatives taken in Kuala Lumpur, ___________________________ and photos were all dated January 2000 and had been provided to the CIA by the Malaysian ______________________ agency.
For about a minute I stared at the pictures and the report, not quite believing what I had in my hands. We had asked the CIA repeatedly during the USS Cole investigation if they knew anything about why Khallad had been in Maylaysia and if they recognized the number of the pay phone in Kuala Lumpur that we suspected he had used. Each time we had asked- in November 2000, April 2001, and July 2001 – they had said that they knew nothing.
But here in the file was a very different answer: they had in fact known since January 2000 that Khallad had met with other al-Qaeda operatives in Malaysia. They had pictures of them meeting and a detailed report of their comings and goings from Malaysian _________.
As for the phone number, ____________ listed it as being assigned to a pay phone that the al-Qaeda operatives were using to communicate with colleagues everywhere. The phone booth was across from a condominium owned by an al-Qaeda sympathizer in Malaysia, which was where all the al-Qaeda had stayed. Our deduction that Khallad had been using it was right.
______________________ given to the CIA by the Malaysians in January 2000. None of it had been passed to us, despite our specifically having asked about Khallad and the phone number and its relevance to the Cole investigation and to national security. I later found out that the three photos ______ that the ___ gave me were the three photos shown, with no explanation, to Steve and my Cole colleagues at the June 11, 2001, meeting in New York. The Cole team had asked about the photos-who the people were, why they were taken, and so on-but _____, the CIA official present, said nothing.
Also in the file ______ that Khallad had flown first class to Bangkok with Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. We soon would learn that they were listed as passengers on American Airlines flight 77, which had hit the Pentagon. Based upon the chronology in the report, it was clear that the day after Quso and Nibras had met Khallad and given him the $36,000, Mihdhar and Hazmi had bought first-class tickets to the United States. Was that $36,000 used to buy their tickets? And had the rest of the money been intended for their use in the United States? My gut told me yes.
My hands started shaking. I didn’t know what to think. “They just sent these reports,” the ___ said, seeing my reaction. I walked out of the room, sprinted down the corridor to the bathroom, and fell to the floor next to a stall. There I threw up.
I sat on the floor for a few minutes, although it felt like hours. What I had just seen went through my mind again and again. The same thought kept looping back: “If they had all this information since January 2000, why the hell didn’t they pass it on?” My whole body was shaking.
I heard one of the SWAT agents asking “Ali, are you okay?” He had seen me run to the bathroom and followed me in .
“I am fine”
I got myself to the sink, washed out my mouth, and splashed some water on my face. I covered my face with a paper towel for a few moments. I was still trying to process the fact that the information I had requested about major al-Qaeda operatives, information the CIA had claimed they knew nothing about, had been in the agency’s hands since January 2000.
The SWAT agent asked, “What’s wrong, bud? What the hell did he tell you?
“They knew, they knew.” pages 289-290
FBI special agent Andre Khoury had been stationed elsewhere in the Middle East when the planes hit the towers. He was reassigned to join us in Yemen, and after he arrived and saw the file, he wanted to confront the ___. I held Andre back.
“They knew! Why didn’t they tell us?!” Andre said.
“You’re right.” I said. “and I’m just as angry. Believe me. But now is not the time to ask these questions. One day someone will ask the questions and find out, but right now we have to focus on the task at hand.” page 290