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August 24, 2001: CIA Manager Requests Information about Moussaoui Case, Makes Disparaging Reference to Minneapolis Field OfficeEdit
Tom Wilshire, a CIA manager detailed to the FBI (see May 2001), writes to Dave Frasca, head of the FBI’s radical fundamentalist unit, to obtain information about the progress of the case of Zacarias Moussaoui. Moussaoui was arrested by the FBI’s Minneapolis field office, which Wilshire refers to as the “Minneapolis Airplane IV crowd.” Presumably, this is a reference to the films Airplane and Airplane II, which were parodies of disaster and sci-fi movies. He asks whether leads have been sent out to obtain additional biographical information and whether the FBI has photographs it can provide the CIA. He receives a reply from one of Frasca’s subordinates telling him there are no indications Moussaoui has plans for nefarious activity (see August 24, 2001). [BBC, 3/13/2001; BBC, 3/13/2001; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 151 ; US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, David Frasca, Zacarias Moussaoui, Central Intelligence Agency, Tom Wilshire Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui
August 24, 2001: Foreign Intelligence Warns US of Al-Qaeda Plot to Attack within US The 9/11 Commission later will note that at this time, an unnamed foreign intelligence “service report[s] that [al-Qaeda deputy leader] Abu Zubaida [is] considering mounting terrorist attacks in the United States, after postponing possible operations in Europe. No targets, timing or method of attack [are] provided.” Newsweek will suggest that most or all of this information may have come from a US debriefing of al-Qaeda bomber Ahmed Ressam in May 2001 (see May 30, 2001). Newsweek will note that it is a common occurrence for foreign intelligence agencies to “simply rereport to the CIA what it had originally learned from the FBI through separate channels.” Still, even “the multiple channels for Ressam’s warnings [do] little to change thinking within the FBI or CIA…” [NEWSWEEK, 4/28/2005; US DISTRICT COURT OF EASTERN VIRGINIA, 5/4/2006, PP. 6 ] However, it is possible the information could be more than a mirror of what Ressam said, since a number of Western intelligence agencies are monitoring Zubaida’s phone calls before 9/11 (see October 1998 and After). Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Al-Qaeda, Abu Zubaida, 9/11 Commission, Ahmed Ressam, Central Intelligence Agency Category Tags: Warning Signs, Millennium Bomb Plots, Abu Zubaida
August 24, 2001: CIA Officer Detailed to FBI Asked to Help with Moussaoui Warrant After the CIA sends the FBI information it thinks is sufficient for a warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings (see August 24, 2001), the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center (CTC) sends the same information to a CIA representative to the FBI and asks him to help arrange a search warrant. The representative is not named, but it may be Tom Wilshire (see May 2001), a CIA officer assigned to the FBI who requests information about Moussaoui on this day (see August 24, 2001). The CTC officer writes: “No one in the FBI seems to have latched on to this. Perhaps you can educate them on Moussaoui. This may be all they need to open a FISA on Moussaoui.” [TENET, 2007, PP. 202] Entity Tags: Counterterrorist Center, Central Intelligence Agency, Tom Wilshire, Zacarias Moussaoui, Federal Bureau of Investigation Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui
August 24, 2001: CIA Backs Minneapolis’ Request for Search Warrant After being contacted by FBI headquarters (see (August 20, 2001)) and the local Minneapolis field office (see August 24, 2001), the CIA offers an opinion on the Moussaoui case. In response to French information linking Moussaoui to the Chechen rebels (see August 22, 2001), a CIA officer tells Minneapolis agent Harry Samit that this is “highly interesting,” adding, “[I] am not sure why this is not enough to firmly link Moussaoui to a terrorist group—Ibn Al-Khattab is well known to be the leader of the Chechen mujaheddin movement and to be a close buddy with bin Laden from their earlier fighting days. From a read of the [French] info, Moussaoui is a recruiter for Khattab. I can confirm from our own info that in fact the dead guy [Masooud Al-Benin] in fact was a fighter for Khattab who perished in Chechnya in April 2000” (see Late 1999-Late 2000). In a document submitted to court, the CIA officer will state “[T]he connection between Ibn Khattab and Osama bin Laden had been known for years at the CIA… it was crystal clear that Khattab and [bin Laden] were intricately tied together and they had clearly shared funding operations and training… it was no leap of faith to connect Khattab to [bin Laden] and there was lots of information connecting the two groups… the FBI informed [me] that French information discerned that Moussaoui had recruited for Khattab, clearly establishing his connection to Khattab, and thereby his connection to [bin Laden].” However, FBI headquarters, which is aware that bin Laden and the Chechen rebel leader are plotting together against the US (see, e.g., Before April 13, 2001), will refuse to apply for a search warrant for Moussaoui’s belongings, saying that the connections between Moussaoui and the Chechen rebels, and the Chechen rebels and bin Laden are not strong enough to justify one (see August 20-September 11, 2001 and August 28, 2001). [US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, ALEXANDRIA DIVISION, 7/31/2006 ] Entity Tags: Harry Samit, Central Intelligence Agency, FBI Minnesota field office, Ibn Khattab Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui
August 24, 2001: FBI Agent Tells CIA ‘No Indication’ Moussaoui Is Planning Nefarious Activity, Despite Knowing Evidence Otherwise Mike Maltbie, a supervisory special agent with the Radical Fundamentalist Unit at FBI headquarters, writes to a CIA manager stationed with the FBI as a consultant about the case of Zacarias Moussaoui and Hussein al-Attas. He tells the manager what actions the FBI has taken on the case and concludes by saying, “Please bear in mind that there is no indication that either of these two had plans for nefarious activity as was apparently indicated in an earlier communication.” The word “no” is underlined. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 151 ] However, the FBI’s field office in Minneapolis suspects Moussaoui is part of a wider plot to hijack airliners and Maltbie is aware of their concerns (see August 15-20, 2001). Entity Tags: Radical Fundamentalist Unit, Central Intelligence Agency, FBI Headquarters, Zacarias Moussaoui, Hussein al-Attas, Michael Maltbie Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui
August 24, 2001: FBI Headquarters Tells Minneapolis Moussaoui Warrant Will ‘Take a Few Months’ Mike Maltbie of the Radical Fundamentalist Unit (RFU) at FBI headquarters tells Greg Jones of the FBI’s Minneapolis field office that obtaining a search warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Act (FISA) for Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings could “take a few months” because there are “hundreds of these FISA requests.” (FISA warrants can actually be obtained in a matter of hours if needed, and can even be approved retroactively) Maltbie tells Jones that the situation is not an emergency, as he believes an act of terrorism is not imminent in this case, but that Minneapolis can write a letterhead memorandum for FBI headquarters about the case. [US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 11/2004, PP. 48, 53, 148-9 ; US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, 3/1/2006 ] Entity Tags: Greg Jones, FBI Headquarters, Michael Maltbie, FBI Minnesota field office, Radical Fundamentalist Unit Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui
August 24, 2001: Frustrated Minnesota FBI Asks CIA for Help with Moussaoui Case Frustrated with the lack of response from FBI headquarters about Zacarias Moussaoui, the Minnesota FBI contacts an FBI agent working with the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center, and asks for help. [US CONGRESS, 10/17/2002] On this day, the CIA sends a cable to stations and bases overseas requesting information about Moussaoui. The cable is titled, “Subjects Involved in Suspicious 747 Flight Training.” The cable says that the FBI is investigating Moussaoui for possible involvement in the planning of a terrorist attack and mentions his efforts to obtain flight training. It also suggests he might be “involved in a larger plot to target airlines traveling from Europe to the US” [US CONGRESS, 9/18/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 540] It calls him a “suspect 747 airline attacker” and a “suspect airline suicide hijacker” —showing that the form of the 9/11 attack is not a surprise, at least to the CIA. [US CONGRESS, 10/17/2002] FBI headquarters responds by chastising the Minnesota FBI for notifying the CIA without approval. [TIME, 5/21/2002] Entity Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui, Central Intelligence Agency, FBI Minnesota field office, FBI Headquarters, Counterterrorist Center Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui