Video: FBI had “mole” in al-Qaeda in 1993

posted at 10:41 am on February 27, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Twelve years after the 9/11 attacks, the story of al-Qaeda and the US effort to stop them still has a few surprises. This one may be less than it seems, though, for reasons that the Washington Times’ Guy Taylor explains to CNN. The FBI had a mole in al-Qaeda as early as 1993, when Osama bin Laden began spitballing about a big attack on the US. Could the FBI have stopped 9/11? That’s a tougher question:

In a revelation missing from the official investigations of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the FBI placed a human source in direct contact with Osama bin Laden in 1993 and ascertained that the al Qaeda leader was looking to finance terrorist attacks in the United States, according to court testimony in a little-noticed employment dispute case.

The information the FBI gleaned back then was so specific that it helped thwart a terrorist plot against a Masonic lodge in Los Angeles, the court records reviewed by The Washington Times show.

“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al Qaeda, directly involved,” Edward J. Curran, a former top official in the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told the court in support of a discrimination lawsuit filed against the bureau by his former agent Bassem Youssef.

Could this have prevented the deaths of 3,000 Americans? No, Taylor says, but it did prevent an AQ attack in Los Angeles:

Youssef wasn’t the mole, though; he was the agent who ran the mole. The mole got killed in 1995 when terrorists in the AQ’s Bosnia network began to suspect he was an informant. What was he doing in Bosnia, when the FBI had him in the inner circle? The CIA had picked him up as an informant, too — stealing him from the FBI rather than coordinate efforts:

But the mole’s success had piqued the interest of another U.S. agency, the CIA. In 1994, a civilian female working for the CIA was able to convince the informant, with the help of a large sum of money, to work for the CIA instead of the FBI.

In 1994 or 1995, the CIA dispatched the informant to Bosnia, where jihadis were aiding Bosnia’s Muslim majority in a war against Serbian forces.

The FBI did not know at the time that its informant had started working for the CIA, or why he had disappeared. His former handler, Bassem Youssef, who by then was working undercover in Los Angeles as a supposed member of al Qaeda, began asking his al Qaeda sources what had become of the driver.

They told Youssef that the driver had gone to Bosnia, and that al Qaeda operatives there had killed him because they believed that he was a mole for the CIA. Later, Youssef was able to confirm that the al Qaeda operatives’ suspicions were justified, and that the driver had been working for the CIA.

So the mole was out of the loop early in the possible run-up to 9/11. Osama bin Laden carried out a number of attacks on US interests in the Middle East rather than the US itself, culminating in the USS Cole attack in 2000 before the 9/11 plot went fully operational. That’s why no one thinks the mole would have made a difference by the time the 9/11 plot became something other than aspirational:

There are two significant takeaways from this story, one of which is obvious — there is still plenty of background that we don’t know, and that wasn’t provided to the 9/11 Commission. That doesn’t mean that conspiracy theorists are any more credible, though; I don’t know of anyone who thought the 9/11 Commission got the whole story, and we may be getting nuggets like this for years. The second takeaway is that a competition between the CIA and FBI on intelligence operations can be deadly, both for key sources and for our ability to prevent attacks on American interests.


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20 years later and Al Qaeda has a man in the White House.

Flange on February 27, 2014 at 10:43 AM

The democrat party is sympathetic to the al Queida cause. It never occurred to them to stop them.

ConstantineXI on February 27, 2014 at 10:44 AM

The demorats were in charge then. When the CIA said it wanted to put a mole into AQ, the demorat geniuses air-dropped a can of garlic and chipotle sauce into Tora Bora.

Bishop on February 27, 2014 at 10:45 AM

The CIA had picked him up as an informant, too — stealing him from the FBI rather than coordinate efforts:

Based upon 1960s abuses, there was a wall in place so that the CIA and FBI were not allowed to cooperate. This was back when the government at least pretended to obey the law.

rbj on February 27, 2014 at 10:46 AM

This will certainly be butt-hurt to the troofers.

nobar on February 27, 2014 at 10:47 AM

But the mole’s success had piqued the interest of another U.S. agency, the CIA. In 1994, a civilian female working for the CIA was able to convince the informant, with the help of a large sum of money, to work for the CIA instead of the FBI.

Wait … don’t tell me …

Valerie Plame!

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on February 27, 2014 at 10:48 AM

I wasn’t aware that the FBI’s purview extended to counter-terrorism outside of the United States. Geez – why bother with the CIA? or NSA? Or…

Hill60 on February 27, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Auto-Play video is Auto-Play …AND LOUD!!

BigGator5 on February 27, 2014 at 10:53 AM

All this really proves is just who feckless and disinterested Clinton was in fighting terrorism. No surprise there and a precursor to the way Killary dealt with terrorist threats when she was SecState.

Happy Nomad on February 27, 2014 at 10:53 AM

I wasn’t aware that the FBI’s purview extended to counter-terrorism outside of the United States. Geez – why bother with the CIA?

Hill60 on February 27, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Because only the FBI are dumb enough to read foreign enemies in foreign nations “their rights”. Yes, it was a well-kept secret that the US Constitution applied to the entire galaxy. Luckily, the dem politicians and leftist judges revealed this super-secret fact so that, even as actual Americans’ rights are routinely violated on sovereign (LOL) US territory, alien enemies on alien ground are fully apprised of their Constitutional rights (and so lucky in that there is no actual enforcement of any Constitutional provisions on foreign territory … the big secret is that only the rights part extends to the galaxy).

The nasty CIA breaks laws of other nations and likes to just kill people – by hand, without the great drones (that leftists now love) – and we can’t have that. Therefore, the FBI had to set out around the world to warn terrorists and enemies of America of their rights, just in case the evil CIA got to them and killed them or broke into their apartments or something. Only the FBI can do that to Americans on American soil.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on February 27, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Can we thank the gorelick wall?

cmsinaz on February 27, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Disconnected dots – blame Bill Clinton.

Schadenfreude on February 27, 2014 at 11:01 AM

All this really proves is just who feckless and disinterested Clinton was in fighting terrorism. No surprise there and a precursor to the way Killary dealt with terrorist threats when she was SecState.

Happy Nomad on February 27, 2014 at 10:53 AM

I’ll wager there’s more information like this out there and that’s one reason why 8,000 pages of Clinton’s WH papers are still under lock and key.

Flora Duh on February 27, 2014 at 11:05 AM

I’ll wager there’s more information like this out there and that’s one reason why 8,000 pages of Clinton’s WH papers are still under lock and key.

Flora Duh on February 27, 2014 at 11:05 AM

BINGO!

workingclass artist on February 27, 2014 at 11:10 AM

I wasn’t aware that the FBI’s purview extended to counter-terrorism outside of the United States. Geez – why bother with the CIA? or NSA? Or… Hill60 on February 27, 2014 at 10:48 AM

The FBI went to Benghazi. I mean, it was a weeks later, but still. They also investigated the USS COLE, and the embassy bombings in Africa.

Was OBL ever actually charged in the 911 attacks? Just wondering.

Akzed on February 27, 2014 at 11:19 AM

This will certainly be butt-hurt to the troofers.

nobar on February 27, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Wait…what?

They maintain the government was involved, at least at the level of knowing what was going on. Preventing a terrorist attack that didn’t happen, but not preventing one that did sounds like pure DNC double speak.

The conventional wisdom we’ve been fed is that the government knew nothing about Al-Qaeda and that they were never a big threat anyway even after the first WTC bombing…nothing to see here, move along. Aw, gee, the gov’t was just as surprised about 9-11 as we were!

Also, the idea that 9-11 is to be put solely on the shoulders of Slick Willy is laughable.

I’m not a 9-11 truther, but if you don’t think plenty smells about all that, then you’re suffering from normalcy bias and a healthy dose of denial.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 27, 2014 at 11:29 AM

I’ll wager there’s more information like this out there and that’s one reason why 8,000 pages of Clinton’s WH papers are still under lock and key.

Flora Duh on February 27, 2014 at 11:05 AM

… or stuffed down Sandy Berger’s pants.

dpduq on February 27, 2014 at 11:29 AM

I wasn’t aware that the FBI’s purview extended to counter-terrorism outside of the United States. Geez – why bother with the CIA? or NSA? Or…

Hill60 on February 27, 2014 at 10:48 AM

When Bill Clinton came into office, he put the FBI in charge of anti-terrorism instead of the CIA. As near as I can tell, it was because the left has always hated the CIA and their secrecy.

This would probably have been shortly after the FBI was put in charge, which probably explains the duplication of effort with the CIA.

And I would certainly consider this to be one of the big bonehead moves made that helped Al Qaeda launch 9/11. The FBI had a completely different mindset. All their procedures were based around being able to gather conclusive evidence without violating any Constitutional privacy protections, while most foreign intelligence is shadowy and inconclusive.

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 27, 2014 at 11:35 AM

The FBI went to Benghazi. I mean, it was a weeks later, but still. They also investigated the USS COLE, and the embassy bombings in Africa.

Was OBL ever actually charged in the 911 attacks? Just wondering.

Akzed on February 27, 2014 at 11:19 AM

I can understand them going in, after an attack has been made against Americans, or American assets. I wasn’t aware of them being involved in overseas counter-terrorism in a preventative sort of way. I thought that’s what we had other agencies for.

Hill60 on February 27, 2014 at 11:43 AM

This will certainly be butt-hurt to the troofers.
nobar on February 27, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Mmm hmmm. The FBI had a mole that either gave them info they didn’t act upon, or was worthless.

Yeah that’s surely an embarrassment to those who don’t believe everything CNN tells them.

Akzed on February 27, 2014 at 11:46 AM

I can understand them going in, after an attack has been made against Americans, or American assets. I wasn’t aware of them being involved in overseas counter-terrorism in a preventative sort of way. I thought that’s what we had other agencies for.
Hill60 on February 27, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Where’d you get the idea that I was describing “preventative” actions? What “other agencies” deal with pre-crime? Is this Minority Report?

Akzed on February 27, 2014 at 11:48 AM

The second takeaway is that a competition between the CIA and FBI on intelligence operations can be deadly, both for key sources and for our ability to prevent attacks on American interests.

Competition is good. The FBI and CIA don’t need to share everything.

faraway on February 27, 2014 at 12:01 PM

What people continue to mis-remember, or forget, is that Ramzi Yousef who carried out the WTC ’93 bombing, was tied to Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law in some very obvious ways.

This was not a “coincidence”!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammed_Jamal_Khalifa

But of course, our Government, FBI, etc., continue to lie & cover-up their incompetence.

Dale in Atlanta on February 27, 2014 at 12:03 PM

BigGator5 on February 27, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Yes, the self-play video is very annoying. Updating page to following discussion results in restarting advert and then video. Interesting thread. Sorry I won’t be here to follow.

deepdiver on February 27, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Can we thank the gorelick wall?

cmsinaz on February 27, 2014 at 11:01 AM

We can thank Gorelick for not mentioning this little tidbit during the 9/11 investigation.

slickwillie2001 on February 27, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Was OBL ever actually charged in the 911 attacks? Just wondering.

Akzed on February 27, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Well, the FBI put him on its Top 10 Most Wanted List after 9/11, but that was for prior crimes, namely the attacks on the overseas US Embassies.

Wanted Poster

The “prior crimes” refers to the Clinton Department of Justice 1998 Indictment against bin Laden, which formally charged him with those attacks. That same Indictment also formally charged him with being in cahoots with Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

CNN:

The original indictment, filed in secret June 8, 1998, accused bin Laden of murder and conspiracy to kill Americans, among other charges, after the cab bombings that year at the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He was the only one originally charged, but other terror leaders were added to that indictment.

After the death of OBL was confirmed, the DOJ formally dropped the indictment, which is routine in such cases.

CNN ends its article thusly:

Other pending criminal indictments will probably be amended in coming weeks or months to remove bin Laden’s name, including his self-admitted role as mastermind of the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York on September 11, 2001.

A number of other civil lawsuits have been filed by surviving victims and family members of the 9/11 attacks, seeking to hold bin Laden and his terror network financially responsible for causing the worst terror attacks ever on U.S. soil. The disposition of those cases remains unclear.

This being CNN of course, they totally ignore that by the time they posted this in 2011, the Federal Judges’ rulings in at least 2 civil lawsuits filed in NY City did find bin Laden responsible for the 9/11 attacks. And those rulings took place in 2003.

One reason CNN doesn’t report those two rulings is that they were handed down by Judges appointed by Bill Clinton, and because one of the rulings concluded that IRAQ was one of the co-conspirators in the 9/11 attacks. CNN would rather be waterboarded than admit something so blasphemous!

Del Dolemonte on February 27, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Can we thank the gorelick wall?

cmsinaz on February 27, 2014 at 11:01 AM

We can thank Gorelick for not mentioning this little tidbit during the 9/11 investigation.

slickwillie2001 on February 27, 2014 at 12:53 PM

The sole reason the Democrats put Gorelick on the 9/11 “Commission” was to prevent her from having to testify under oath.

When another witness before the “Commission” mentioned this Fact in his own testimony before the panel, he was loudly booed by all of the Clinton Kneepads in the Visitors Gallery.

The witness they booed was the Attorney General of the United States.

Del Dolemonte on February 27, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Was OBL ever actually charged in the 911 attacks? Just wondering. Akzed on February 27, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Well, the FBI put him on its Top 10 Most Wanted List after 9/11, but that was for prior crimes, namely the attacks on the overseas US Embassies. Del Dolemonte on February 27, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Short answer: no.

Akzed on February 27, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Well, we did have two presidents (for the price of one) at the time. One (the actual Fornicator-in-Chief) was too busy molesting women and developing new uses for cigars. The original War On Women (WOW I). His co-president/do-nothing senator/Butcher of Benghazi/career criminal was too busy heading up the Bimbo-Eruption Task Force (WOW II). So how were they, with such heavy workloads (though in no ways taaaaaaaaaaaaard) supposed to attend to little minor matters like OBL and AQ?

And since WJC was our firstest black president, I find this whole matter to be RACIST!!!

ZeusGoose on February 27, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Now, if the FBI could just get some moles in the IRS, DHS, ATF, and all the other of O’blivion’s private henchmen operated juggernauts…

vnvet on February 27, 2014 at 5:34 PM