June 20, 2005
FBI & 9/11
By Sibel Edmonds
Over four years ago, more than four months prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, in April 2001, a long-term FBI informant/asset who had been providing the bureau with information since 1990, provided two FBI agents and a translator with specific information regarding a terrorist attack being planned by Osama Bin Laden. This asset/informant was previously a high- level intelligence officer in Iran in charge of intelligence from Afghanistan. Through his contacts in Afghanistan he received information that: 1) Osama Bin Laden was planning a major terrorist attack in the United States targeting 4-5 major cities, 2) the attack was going to involve airplanes, 3) some of the individuals in charge of carrying out this attack were already in place in the United States, 4) the attack was going to be carried out soon, in a few months. The agents who received this information reported it to their superior, Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism, Thomas Frields, at the FBI Washington Field Office, by filing “302” forms, and the translator, Mr. Behrooz Sarshar, translated and documented this information. No action was taken by the Special Agent in Charge, Thomas Frields, and after 9/11 the agents and the translators were told to ‘keep quiet’ regarding this issue. The translator who was present during the session with the FBI informant, Mr. Behrooz Sarshar, reported this incident to Director Mueller in writing, and later to the Department of Justice Inspector General. The press reported this incident, and in fact the report in the Chicago Tribune on July 21, 2004 stated that FBI officials had confirmed that this information was received in April 2001, and further, the Chicago Tribune quoted an aide to Director Mueller that he (Mueller) was surprised that the Commission never raised this particular issue with him during the hearing (Please refer to Chicago Tribune article, dated July 21, 2004). Mr. Sarshar reported this issue to the 9/11 Commission on February 12, 2004, and provided them with specific dates, location, witness names, and the contact information for that particular Iranian asset and the two special agents who received the information. I provided the 9/11 Commission with a detailed and specific account of this issue, the names of other witnesses, and documents I had seen. Mr. Sarshar also provided the Department of Justice Inspector General with specific information regarding this case.
For almost four years since September 11, officials refused to admit to having specific information regarding the terrorists’ plans to attack the United States. The Phoenix Memo, received months prior to the 9/11 attacks, specifically warned FBI HQ of pilot training and their possible link to terrorist activities against the United States. Four months prior to the terrorist attacks the Iranian asset provided the FBI with specific information regarding the ‘use of airplanes’, ‘major US cities as targets’, and ‘Osama Bin Laden issuing the order. ’ Coleen Rowley likewise reported that specific information had been provided to FBI HQ. All this information went to the same place: FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC, and the FBI Washington Field Office, in Washington DC.
In October 2001, approximately one month after the September 11 attack, an agent from (city name omitted) field office, re-sent a certain document to the FBI Washington Field Office, so that it could be re-translated. This Special Agent, in light of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, rightfully believed that, considering his target of investigation (the suspect under surveillance), and the issues involved, the original translation might have missed certain information that could prove to be valuable in the investigation of terrorist activities. After this document was received by the FBI Washington Field Office and retranslated verbatim, the field agent’s hunch appeared to be correct. The new translation revealed certain information regarding blueprints, pictures, and building material for skyscrapers being sent overseas (country name omitted). It also revealed certain illegal activities in obtaining visas from certain embassies in the Middle East, through network contacts and bribery. However, after the re-translation was completed and the new significant information was revealed, the unit supervisor in charge of certain Middle Eastern languages, Mike Feghali, decided NOT to send the re-translated information to the Special Agent who had requested it. Instead, this supervisor decided to send this agent a note stating that the translation was reviewed and that the original translation was accurate. This supervisor, Mike Feghali, stated that sending the accurate translation would hurt the original translator and would cause problems for the FBI language department. The FBI agent requesting the retranslation never received the accurate translation of that document. I provided this information to the 9/11 Commission on February 12, 2004, and to the Department of Justice Inspector General in May 2002.
The latest buzz topic regarding intelligence is the problem of sharing information, intelligence, within intelligence agencies and between intelligence agencies. To this date the public has not been told of intentional blocking of intelligence, and has not been told that certain information, despite its direct links, impacts and ties to terrorist related activities, is not given to or shared with Counterterrorism units, their investigations, and countering terrorism related activities. This was the case prior to 9/11, and remains in effect after 9/11. If Counterintelligence receives information that contains money laundering, illegal arms sale, and illegal drug activities, directly linked to terrorist activities; and if that information involves certain nations, certain semi- legit organizations, and ties to certain lucrative or political relations in this country, then, that information is not shared with Counterterrorism, regardless of the possible severe consequences. In certain cases, frustrated FBI agents cited ‘direct pressure by the State Department,’ and in other cases ‘sensitive diplomatic relations’ is cited. I provided the Department of Justice Inspector General and the 9/11 Commission with detailed and specific information and evidence regarding this issue, and the names of other witnesses willing to corroborate this, and the names of certain U.S. officials involved in these transactions and activities.
Now, after almost 4 years, we get to hear new bits & pieces: FBI & Midhar’s Case; FBI & Abdel-Hafiz Case; FBI & Saudi planes leaving just days after 9/11 without having the passengers questioned; FBI & Youssef Case;… and the list goes on.
Today, after nearly four years since 9/11, the American people still do not know that thousands of lives can be jeopardized under the unspoken policy of ‘protecting certain foreign business relations.’ The victims family members still do not realize that information and answers they have sought relentlessly for almost 4 years has been blocked due to the unspoken decisions made and disguised under ‘safeguarding certain diplomatic relations .’
Where is the so-called congressional oversight? Why has the 9/11 Commission intentionally omitted this info; although they’ve had it all along? Where is accountability?