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April 1996: US Aware of Al-Qaeda Cell in Kenya, Begins Monitoring It Edit

It will later be revealed in a US trial that, by this time, US intelligence agents are aware that an al-Qaeda cell exists in Kenya. (In fact, it may have been aware of this since late 1994 (see Late 1994)). [EAST AFRICAN, 1/1/2001] Further evidence confirming and detailing the cell is discovered in May and June of 1996 (see May 21, 1996). By August 1996, US intelligence is continually monitoring five telephone lines in Nairobi used by the cell members, such as Wadih El-Hage. The tapping reveals that the cell is providing false passports and other documents to operatives. They are sending coded telephone numbers to and from al-Qaeda headquarters in Afghanistan. The surveillance is apparently being conducted without the required approval of either President Clinton or Attorney General Janet Reno. [ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/19/2000; EAST AFRICAN, 1/1/2001] Prudence Bushnell, the US ambassador to Kenya, will be briefed about the cell in early 1997, but will be told there is no evidence of a specific threat against the embassy or American interests in Kenya. [NEW YORK TIMES, 1/9/1999] Ali Mohamed, an al-Qaeda double agent living in California, will later admit in US court that he had been in long distance contact with Wadih El-Hage, one of the leaders of the cell, since at least 1996. It will also be revealed that US intelligence had been wiretapping Mohamed’s California phone calls since at least 1994 (see Late 1994), so presumably US intelligence is recording calls between Mohamed and the Kenya cell from both ends. The Nairobi phone taps continue until at least August 1997, when Kenyan and US agents conduct a joint search of El-Hage’s Nairobi house (see August 21, 1997). [UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. ALI MOHAMED, 10/20/2000; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/19/2000; EAST AFRICAN, 1/1/2001] Entity Tags: Al-Qaeda, Ali Mohamed, Prudence Bushnell, Wadih El-Hage Category Tags: 1998 US Embassy Bombings, Remote Surveillance, Ali Mohamed, Wadih El-Hage

April 1996-March 1997: Yousef Communicates with Islamic Militants from within Maximum Security Prison Using Telephone Provided by FBI

Gregory Scarpa Jr. [Source: Publicity photo (mafiason.com] Ramzi Yousef, mastermind along with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the Operation Bojinka plots, is in a maximum-security prison, sentenced to hundreds of years of prison time for his plots. However, he can communicate with Gregory Scarpa Jr., a mob figure in the cell next to him. The FBI sets up a sting operation with Scarpa’s cooperation to learn more of what and whom Yousef knows. Scarpa is given a telephone, and he allows Yousef to use it. However, Yousef uses the sting operation for his own ends, communicating with operatives on the outside in code language without giving away their identities. He attempts to find passports to get co-conspirators into the US, and there is some discussion about imminent attacks on US passenger jets. Realizing the scheme has backfired, the FBI terminates the telephone sting in late 1996, but Yousef manages to keep communicating with the outside world for several more months. [NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, 9/24/2000; NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, 1/21/2002; LANCE, 2003, PP. 280-82; HARMON, 2009, PP. 187-188,199-201] Entity Tags: Gregory Scarpa Jr., Ramzi Yousef, Federal Bureau of Investigation Category Tags: Warning Signs, Ramzi Yousef, 1995 Bojinka Plot

April 11, 1996: Mohamed Atta Makes Will

The al-Quds mosque in Hamburg, where Mohamed Atta made his will. [Source: Der Speigel] Mohamed Atta makes his will in Germany. It is not clear that the text of the will is actually written by Atta. For example, author Lawrence Wright will say that Atta merely signs a “standardized will” he gets from the al-Quds mosque in Hamburg, and journalists Yosri Fouda and Nick Fielding will say that the will is a “printed-out form devised by the mosque.” Atta apparently makes it as he is angered by new reports of an Israeli operation against Lebanon, which begins on this day. [FOUDA AND FIELDING, 2003, PP. 81-2; WRIGHT, 2006, PP. 307] Although the act of making a will is not that unusual for a 27-year old Muslim, the content of the will is unusual, perhaps reflecting the radical environment of the mosque (see Early 1996). For example, it says: “… [6] I don’t want a pregnant woman or a person who is not clean to come and say good bye to me because I don’t approve it… [9] The person who will wash my body near my genitals must wear gloves on his hands so he won’t touch my genitals… [11] I don’t want any women to go to my grave at all during my funeral or on any occasion thereafter.” The will is witnessed by Abdelghani Mouzdi and Mounir El-Motassadeq, who also make wills around the same time. [ATTA, 4/11/1996; BURKE, 2004, PP. 242; MCDERMOTT, 2005, PP. 49, 245-7, 274] Entity Tags: Abdelghani Mzoudi, Mohamed Atta, Mounir El Motassadeq Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Mohamed Atta, Al-Qaeda in Germany

April 25, 1996: New Anti-Terrorism Law Passed President Clinton signs the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which the New York Times calls “broad legislation that provides new tools and penalties for federal law-enforcement officials to use in fighting terrorism.” The Clinton administration proposed the bill in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing (see April 19, 1995). In many ways, the original bill will be mirrored by the USA Patriot Act six years later (see October 26, 2001). Civil libertarians on both the left and right opposed the legislation. Political analyst Michael Freeman called the proposal one of the “worst assaults on civil liberties in decades,” and the Houston Chronicle called it a “frightening” and “grievous” assault on domestic freedoms. Many Republicans opposed the bill, and forced a compromise that removed increased wiretap authority and lower standards for lawsuits against sellers of guns used in crimes. CNN called the version that finally passed the Republican-controlled Congress a “watered-down version of the White House’s proposal. The Clinton administration has been critical of the bill, calling it too weak. The original House bill, passed last month, had deleted many of the Senate’s anti-terrorism provisions because of lawmakers’ concerns about increasing federal law enforcement powers. Some of those provisions were restored in the compromise bill.” [CNN, 4/18/1996; NEW YORK TIMES, 4/25/1996; ROBERTS, 2008, PP. 35] An unusual coalition of gun rights groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) and civil liberties groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) led the opposition to the law. [NEW YORK TIMES, 4/17/1996] By the time Congress passed the bill, it had been, in the words of FBI Director Louis Freeh, “stripped… of just about every meaningful provision.” [ROBERTS, 2008, PP. 35] The law makes it illegal in the US to provide “material support” to any organization banned by the State Department. [GUARDIAN, 9/10/2001] Entity Tags: William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, Louis J. Freeh, National Rifle Association, American Civil Liberties Union, Clinton administration, Michael Freeman, USA Patriot Act, US Congress Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties Category Tags: Counterterrorism Policy/Politics, Terrorism Financing

Late April 1996: US Monitors Al-Qaeda Canceling Singapore Plot According to counterterrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna, US intelligence monitoring al-Qaeda communications learn that al-Qaeda is canceling an attack on Western targets in Singapore. On April 18, 1996, 108 Lebanese civilians seeking refuge at a UN camp in Qana, Lebanon, are killed by mortars fired by Israeli forces. Bin Laden “was keen not to dissipate what he envisaged as widespread revulsion against Israel’s action and hence called off the strike in Southeast Asia. Al-Qaeda’s team in question was very determined to go ahead, having spent years preparing the attack, and according to the intercepts it proved difficult for Osama to convince it otherwise.” Gunaratna claims the US learned this through the NSA’s Echelon satellite network (see Before September 11, 2001) “and other technical monitoring of their communications traffic.” [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 133-134] If true, this case supports other evidence that the US was successfully monitoring bin Laden’s communications from an early date (see Early 1990s) and that al-Qaeda’s Southeast Asia operations were penetrated years before an important al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia discussing the 9/11 plot (see January 5-8, 2000). Entity Tags: Echelon, Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, National Security Agency Category Tags: Remote Surveillance, Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia

April 30-Early September 1996: Hani Hanjour Studies English in Northern California; Enrolls at Aeronautics Academy Hijacker Hani Hanjour moves from Florida to the San Francisco Bay area in California, staying with an unidentified family. He lives with them from late April to early September. For most of this time he takes English lessons in an intensive program requiring 30 hours of class time per week, at the ELS Language Center at Holy Names College in Oakland. He reportedly reaches a level of proficiency sufficient to “survive very well in the English language.” Yet in 2001, managers at an Arizona flight school will report him to the FAA at least five times, partly because they think his level of English is inadequate for him to keep his pilot’s license. Due to his poor English, it will take Hanjour five hours to complete an oral exam meant to last just two hours (see January-February 2001). At the end of this period, Hanjour enrolls on a rigorous one-year flight training program at the renowned Sierra Academy of Aeronautics, in Oakland. However, he only attends the 30-minute orientation class, on September 8, and then never returns. [CBS 5 (SAN FRANCISCO), 10/10/2001; SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 10/10/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 10/11/2001; CAPE COD TIMES, 10/21/2001; STAR-TRIBUNE (MINNEAPOLIS), 12/21/2001; ASSOCIATED PRESS, 5/10/2002] Entity Tags: Hani Hanjour, Sierra Academy of Aeronautics Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Hani Hanjour, Alleged Hijackers' Flight Training

May 1996: Saudis and Al-Qaeda Allegedly Strike a Secret Deal French intelligence secretly monitors a meeting of Saudi billionaires at the Hotel Royale Monceau in Paris this month with the financial representative of al-Qaeda. “The Saudis, including a key Saudi prince joined by Muslim and non-Muslim gun traffickers, [meet] to determine who would pay how much to Osama. This [is] not so much an act of support but of protection—a payoff to keep the mad bomber away from Saudi Arabia.” [PALAST, 2002, PP. 100] Participants also agree that bin Laden should be rewarded for promoting Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam that requires literal interpretation of the Koran) in Chechnya, Kashmir, Bosnia, and other places. [FIFTH ESTATE, 10/29/2003 ] This extends an alleged secret deal first made between the Saudi government and bin Laden in 1991. Later, 9/11 victims’ relatives will rely on the “nonpublished French intelligence report” of this meeting in their lawsuit against important Saudis. [STAR-TRIBUNE (MINNEAPOLIS), 8/16/2002] According to French counterterrorism expert Jean-Charles Brisard and/or reporter Greg Palast, there are about 20 people at the meeting, including Saudi intelligence head Prince Turki al-Faisal, an unnamed brother of bin Laden and an unnamed representative from the Saudi Defense Ministry. [FIFTH ESTATE, 10/29/2003 ; CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, 10/29/2003] Palast claims that Saudi businessman Abdullah Taha Bakhsh attends the meeting. Bakhsh also saved Bush Jr.‘s Harken Oil from bankruptcy around 1990. Palast claims the notorious Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi also attends the meeting. [DEMOCRACY NOW!, 3/4/2003; SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN, 3/20/2003] In a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner, Slate has claimed that Khashoggi is a “shadowy international arms merchant” who is “connected to every scandal of the past 40 years.” Amongst other things, he was a major investor in BCCI and a key player in the Iran-Contra affair. [Slate, 12/4/00, Slate, 11/14/01, Slate, 3/12/03] [SLATE, 12/4/2000; SLATE, 11/14/2001; SLATE, 3/12/2003] Palast, noting that the French monitored the meeting, asks, “Since US intelligence was thus likely informed, the question becomes why didn’t the government immediately move against the Saudis?” [PALAST, 2002, PP. 100] Entity Tags: Adnan Khashoggi, Abdullah Bakhsh, Al-Qaeda, France, Greg Palast, Turki al-Faisal Category Tags: Saudi Arabia, Terrorism Financing, BCCI, Bin Laden Family

May 1996: Al-Qaeda Begins Using Vital Communications Hub in Yemen Al-Qaeda begins using an important communications hub and operations center in Yemen. [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 2-3, 16, 188] The hub is set up because al-Qaeda is headquartered in Afghanistan, but requires another location that has access to regular telephone services and major air links. It is located in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, in the neighbourhood of Madbah. Ahmed al-Hada, an associate of Osama bin Laden’s who fought in Afghanistan, runs the hub and lives there with his family. [BAMFORD, 2008, PP. 7-8] Terrorism analyst Rohan Gunaratna will say that the hub is used as a switchboard to “divert and receive calls and messages from the [Middle East] region and beyond.” [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 2-3, 16, 188] FBI agent Mark Rossini will say, “That house was a focal point for operatives in the field to call in, that number would then contact bin Laden to pass along information and receive instruction back.” [PBS, 2/3/2009] Author James Bamford will add: “[T]he house in Yemen became the epicenter of bin Laden’s war against America, a logistics base to coordinate attacks, a switchboard to pass on orders, and a safe house where his field commanders could meet to discuss and carry out operations.” Bin Laden himself places many calls to the house, and it is used to coordinate the attacks on US embassies in East Africa in 1998 and the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Future 9/11 hijacker Khalid Almihdhar also lives at the house at some point in the late 1990s with his wife Hoda, al-Hada’s daughter. [BAMFORD, 2008, PP. 8] Entity Tags: Mark Rossini, Ahmed al-Hada, Al-Qaeda, James Bamford, Rohan Gunaratna Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Remote Surveillance, Yemen Hub, Yemeni Militant Collusion, Alhazmi and Almihdhar

May 1996: US Seeks Stability in Afghanistan for Unocal Pipeline

Robin Raphel. [Source: Mark Wilson / Agence France-Presse] Robin Raphel, Deputy Secretary of State for South Asia, speaks to the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister about Afghanistan. She says that the US government “now hopes that peace in the region will facilitate US business interests,” such as the proposed Unocal gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. [COLL, 2004, PP. 330] Entity Tags: Unocal, Robin Raphel, Russia Category Tags: Pipeline Politics

May-June 1996: FEMA Considers Use of Airborne Operations Center at Atlanta Olympics The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reportedly considers using an E-4B National Airborne Operations Center during the Atlanta Olympics. The reason for this is not known, but it could be related to terrorism fears, including a possible air attack (see January 20, 1997). [FEDERAL COMPUTER WEEK, 6/2/1996] An aviation website will later show a picture of an E-4B taking off from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia on May 14, “after crew attended meeting with FEMA prior to ‘96 Atlanta Olympics.” [AIRLINERS.NET, 2000] However, there are no reports on whether an E-4B is actually used during the Olympics. Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency, E-4B National Airborne Operations Center Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11

Between May and December 1996: NSA Discovers Al-Qaeda Communications Hub The NSA discovers a communications hub al-Qaeda uses to coordinate its global operations. The hub was set up in May 1996 by Ahmed al-Hada, a close associate of Osama bin Laden (see May 1996), and is discovered at some time in the next six months. [BAMFORD, 2008, PP. 16] According to a PBS documentary, the NSA discovers the hub by monitoring bin Laden’s calls from his satellite phone in Afghanistan (see November 1996-Late August 1998): “Once he starts dialing from Afghanistan, NSA’s listening posts quickly tap into his conversations.… By tracking all calls in and out of Afghanistan, the NSA quickly determines bin Laden’s number: 873-682505331.” According to CIA manager Michael Scheuer, bin Laden’s satellite phone is a “godsend,” because “[i]t gave us an idea, not only of where he was in Afghanistan, but where al-Qaeda, as an organization, was established, because there were calls to various places in the world.” As bin Laden’s phone calls are not encrypted, there is no code for the NSA to break. Instead, NSA voice interceptors and linguists translate, transcribe, and write summaries of the calls. In addition, human analysts plot out which numbers are being called from bin Laden’s phone and how frequently. [PBS, 2/3/2009] Entity Tags: National Security Agency, Michael Scheuer Category Tags: Remote Surveillance, Yemen Hub, Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11

May 11, 1996-August 2001: Canadian Intelligence Monitors Islamic Jihad Operative Communicating with High-Ranking Militants

Mahmoud Jaballah. [Source: Public domain via Toronto Star] Islamic Jihad operative Mahmoud Jaballah enters Canada on May 11, 1996 and applies for refugee status. There is evidence Canadian intelligence, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), begins monitoring him shortly after his arrival. A 2008 CSIS report mentions details of phone calls Jaballah makes to high-ranking Islamic Jihad leaders as early as June 1996. The CSIS will later conclude that his “primary objective incoming to Canada was to acquire permanent status in a country where he would feel secure in maintaining communications with other [Islamic Jihad] members.” Jaballah is wary his calls may be monitored, and uses code words to discuss sensitive topics. But the CSIS is able to figure out many of the code words, for instance the mention of clothes to refer to travel documents.

Jaballah frequently calls Thirwat Salah Shehata, one of nine members of Islamic Jihad’s ruling council; the Egyptian government will later also call Shehata “a key figure in bin Laden’s organization.” They are in regular contact until August 1998, when Shehata moves to a new location in Lebanon but does not give Jaballah his new phone number. 
Jaballah also stays in frequent contact with Ahmad Salama Mabruk, another member of Islamic Jihad’s ruling council. Mabruk is arrested in 1998. 
Jaballah is also in frequent contact with Ibrahim Eidarous and Adel Abdel Bary, two Islamic Jihad operatives living in London and working closely with Khalid al-Fawwaz, Osama bin Laden’s de facto press secretary. He calls them over 60 times between 1996 and 1998. Bin Laden is monitored by Western intelligence agencies as he frequently calls Bary, Eidarous, and al-Fawwaz until all three are arrested one month after the 1998 African embassy bombings (see Early 1994-September 23, 1998). Jaballah presumably becomes more suspicious that he is being monitored in September 1998, when Canadian officials interview him and tell him they are aware of his contacts with the three men arrested in London. 
The CSIS will later call Jaballah an “established contact” for Ahmed Said Khadr, a founding al-Qaeda member living in Canada. Khadr had been arrested in Pakistan in 1995 for suspected involvement in an Islamic Jihad bombing there, but he was released several months later after pressure from the Canadian government. After returning to Canada, Khadr ran his own non-profit organization, Health and Education Projects International (HEPI), and allegedly used the money he raised to help fund the Khaldan training camp in Afghanistan. If the CSIS was aware of Khadr’s activities through Jaballah, it is not clear why no action was taken against him or his charity before 9/11. 
Essam Marzouk is an al-Qaeda operative living in Vancouver, Canada. During one call, Jaballah is asked for Marzouk’s phone number. He says he does not have it, but gives the name of another operative, Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub, who is known to be in contact with Marzouk. Marzouk will later leave Canada to train the African embassy bombers, stopping by Toronto to visit Mahjoub on the way out of the country. 
Jaballah is monitored communicating with other Islamic Jihad operatives, including ones in Germany, Yemen, and elsewhere in Canada. 

He is arrested in March 1999, but after his arrest his wife warns him to reduce his communications and offers to help obtain information from his associates. He acquires a post office box in August 1999 and uses it to continue communicating with militants overseas. He is released in November 1999 and the CSIS will later claim he continues to communicate with other militants until he is arrested again in August 2001. [CANADIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE, 2/22/2008 ] Entity Tags: Khaldan training camp, Thirwat Salah Shehata, Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub, Osama bin Laden, Khalid al-Fawwaz, Ahmad Salama Mabruk, Ahmed Said Khadr, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Mahmoud Jaballah, Adel Abdel Bary, Ibrahim Eidarous, Islamic Jihad, Essam Marzouk Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, Remote Surveillance

May 18, 1996: Sudan Expels Bin Laden; US Fails to Stop His Flight to Afghanistan After pressure from the US (see March-May 1996), the Sudanese government asks bin Laden to leave the country. He decides to go to Afghanistan. He departs along with many other al-Qaeda members, plus much money and resources. Bin Laden flies to Afghanistan in a C-130 transport plane with an entourage of about 150 men, women, and children, stopping in Doha, Qatar, to refuel, where governmental officials greet him warmly. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/1/2002; COLL, 2004, PP. 325] The US knows in advance that bin Laden is going to Afghanistan, but does nothing to stop him. Sudan’s defense minister Elfatih Erwa later says in an interview, “We warned [the US]. In Sudan, bin Laden and his money were under our control. But we knew that if he went to Afghanistan no one could control him. The US didn’t care; they just didn’t want him in Somalia. It’s crazy.” [WASHINGTON POST, 10/3/2001; VILLAGE VOICE, 10/31/2001] US-al-Qaeda double agent Ali Mohamed handles security during the move. [RALEIGH NEWS AND OBSERVER, 10/21/2001] Entity Tags: Somalia, Osama bin Laden, Sudan, Elfatih Erwa, Al-Qaeda, Ali Mohamed Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden, Ali Mohamed, Osama Bin Laden

After May 18, 1996-September 1996: Bin Laden Quickly Alligns With the Taliban After Arrival in Afghanistan Bin Laden arrives in Afghanistan on May 18, 1996 after being expelled from Sudan (see May 18, 1996). Initially, bin Laden stays in an area not controlled by the Taliban, who are fighting for control of the country. But by the end of September 1996, the Taliban conquer the capital of Kabul and gain control over most of the the country (see September 27, 1996). Bin Laden then becomes the guest of the Taliban. The Taliban, bin Laden, and their mutual ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyar then call for a jihad against Ahmed Shah Massoud, who retains control over a small area along Afghanistan’s northern border. As bin Laden establishes a new safe base and political ties, he issues a public fatwa, or religious decree, authorizing attacks on Western military targets in the Arabian Peninsula (see August 1996). [COLL, 2004, PP. 326-328] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Ahmed Shah Massoud Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden

May 21, 1996: Boat Accident Helps Alert CIA to Al-Qaeda Cell in Kenya A passenger ferry capsizes on Lake Victoria in East Africa and one of the more than 800 who drown is Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri, al-Qaeda’s military commander (his job will be taken over by Mohammed Atef). Al-Qaeda operatives Wadih El-Hage and Fazul Abdullah Mohammed (a.k.a. Haroun Fazul) show up at the disaster scene to find out if al-Banshiri is still alive. There are many journalists covering the disaster and a Western investigator recognizes Fazul and El-Hage when they happen to appear in some of the widely broadcast footage. [WASHINGTON POST, 11/23/1998] El-Hage sends a computer file about the drowning to double agent Ali Mohamed in California. Mohamed’s computer hard drive will be copied by US intelligence in 1997 (see October 1997-September 10, 1998). The CIA already has much of El-Hage’s biography on file by this time. It appears this event, along with the defection of Jamal al-Fadl (see June 1996-April 1997), only strengthen knowledge of the Kenya cell gained earlier in the year (see April 1996). By August 1996, if not earlier, the phones of El-Hage and Fazul in Nairobi are bugged and closely monitored by the CIA and NSA. Apparently, not much is learned from these phone calls because the callers speak in code, but the CIA does learn about other al-Qaeda operatives from the numbers and locations that are being called. This information is shared with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), and the JTTF becomes “convinced that flipping El-Hage [is] the best way to get to bin Laden.” [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 200] Entity Tags: Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Central Intelligence Agency, Ali Mohamed, Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri, Joint Terrorism Task Force, Wadih El-Hage, National Security Agency Category Tags: Wadih El-Hage, 1998 US Embassy Bombings, Remote Surveillance, Key Captures and Deaths

Summer 1996-August 1998: British Mole Penetrates Militant Islamic Circles in London

Finsbury Park mosque. [Source: Salim Fadhley / Public Domain] Omar Nasiri, an agent of the British intelligence services MI5 and MI6, and the French service Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE), penetrates radical Islamic circles in London, getting close to leading imams Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza (see Mid 1996-October 1997), learning about the Algerian Groupe Isamique Armé (GIA) (see November 1996), and dealing with al-Qaeda manager Abu Zubaida in Pakistan (see (Mid-1996) and (Mid-1996 and After)). Nasiri’s main task is to attend the main locations where radicals gather, Abu Qatada’s Four Feathers center and Abu Hamza’s Finsbury Park mosque, get close to senior operatives there to obtain information, and identify militants, even though the mosques, as Nasiri will later put it, are already “crawling with spies.” The British services are mostly interested in whether the radicals intend to attack in Britain, but, although they come close to inciting such attacks, they never cross the line. Nasiri will later comment: “[Abu Hamza] was inciting his followers to attack just about everywhere else, but never within England. He came very close to this line many times. He incited his followers to attack anyone who tried to claim Muslim land. He said many times that British soldiers and colonizers were fair game.” Nasiri, who previously received explosives training at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan (see Mid 1995-Spring 1996), also gets his associates in Afghanistan to send him his notebook from an explosives course and passes this on to his handlers, who are impressed at how sophisticated the formulae are. However, after a couple of years the radicals realize he is an informer. In addition, on the day of the African embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998) he is so upset that he switches his mobile phone off for the first time since he received it, so MI5 stops trusting him. He will later write: “They must have worried that I was, in fact, a sleeper and that I had disappeared to pursue some mission. I couldn’t blame them of course. I was a trained killer. From the very beginning they hadn’t trusted me; I knew that.” He has to leave Britain and his career as an informer is practically over. [NASIRI, 2006, PP. 259-303] Entity Tags: UK Security Service (MI5), UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Abu Hamza al-Masri, Finsbury Park Mosque, Omar Nasiri, Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, Abu Qatada Category Tags: Abu Hamza Al-Masri, Abu Qatada, Other Possible Moles or Informants, Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism, Algerian Militant Collusion

June 1996: Informant’s Clues Point to KSM

Wali Khan Amin Shah. [Source: Peter Lance] While al-Qaeda operative Jamal al-Fadl gives a treasure trove of useful information on al-Qaeda to US intelligence (see June 1996-April 1997), one person he describes in detail is Wali Khan Amin Shah. Shah was one of the plotters of the Operation Bojinka plot (see February 7, 1995). Al-Fadl reveals that Shah has al-Qaeda ties. Author Peter Lance notes that US intelligence should have concluded that Shah’s fellow Operation Bojinka plotter, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM), also has al-Qaeda ties. However, there is no new effort to find KSM, and he later goes on to mastermind the 9/11 attacks. [LANCE, 2003, PP. 330-31] Entity Tags: Peter Lance, Wali Khan Amin Shah, Al-Qaeda, Jamal al-Fadl, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: 1995 Bojinka Plot, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Other Possible Moles or Informants

June 1996: Bin Laden Meets with Pakistani Military Leaders

Mushaf Ali Mir. [Source: Paknews.com] According to controversial author Gerald Posner, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida meet with senior members of Pakistan’s military, including Mushaf Ali Mir, who becomes chief of Pakistan’s air force in 2000. Bin Laden moved to Afghanistan the month before, and the Pakistanis offer him protection if he allies with the Taliban. The alliance will prove successful, and bin Laden will call it “blessed by the Saudis,” who are already giving money to both the Taliban and al-Qaeda. [POSNER, 2003, PP. 105-06; TIME, 8/31/2003] Perhaps not coincidentally, this meeting comes only one month after a deal was reportedly made that reaffirmed Saudi support for al-Qaeda. Bin Laden is initially based in Jalalabad, which is free of Taliban control, but after the deal, he moves his base to Kandahar, which is the center of Taliban power. [ASIA TIMES, 9/17/2003] Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Taliban, Mushaf Ali Mir, Abu Zubaida Category Tags: Abu Zubaida, Pakistan and the ISI, Saudi Arabia

June 1996-1997: US Intelligence Learns that Abu Qatada Is Al-Qaeda’s Religious Adviser

Abu Qatada. [Source: AFP/Getty Images] From June 1996 into 1997, highly reliable al-Qaeda defector Jamal al-Fadl is debriefed by US intelligence (see June 1996-April 1997), and presumably he reveals what he knows about British imam Abu Qatada. As al-Fadl will later reveal in early 2001 court testimony, in the early 1990s bin Laden grew concerned about the perception of religious legitimacy of al-Qaeda action. In 1992 and 1993, he formed a fatwa committee, made up of al-Qaeda’s more religious leaders, to provide a fatwa (religious sanction) for al-Qaeda’s methods. The committee issues a secret fatwa allowing al-Qaeda to work to evict the US military from the Arabian peninsula. Al-Fadl claims that one of the key members of this fatwa committee is Abu Qatada. In the early 1990s, Abu Qatada is little known, but he moved to Britain in 1994, gained asylum there, and began to gain a public reputation as a radical Islamist preacher. [CORBIN, 2003, PP. 37] Interestingly around the same time the US learns this information from al-Fadl, British intelligence begins using Qatada as an informant (see June 1996-February 1997). Entity Tags: Jamal al-Fadl, Abu Qatada, US intelligence Category Tags: Abu Qatada, Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism

June 1996-April 1997: Highly Trusted Informant Exposes Al-Qaeda Secrets to US

Jamal al-Fadl testifying in a courtroom. Because his identity has been kept secret, his face has been blocked out. [Source: CNN] Jamal al-Fadl, an al-Qaeda operative from al-Qaeda’s first meeting in the late 1980s until 1995, tells the US everything he knows about al-Qaeda. Before al-Fadl’s debriefings, US intelligence had amassed thick files on bin Laden and his associates and contacts. However, they had had no idea how the many pieces fit together. But an official says. “After al-Fadl, everything fell into place.” [MILLER, STONE, AND MITCHELL, 2002, PP. 154-65] The New Yorker will later call al-Fadl “arguably the United States’ most valuable informant on al-Qaeda.” FBI agent Dan Coleman will later say on al-Fadl, “He’s been very, very important to us. When it comes to understanding al-Qaeda, he’s the Rosetta Stone.” FBI agent Mike Anticev will similarly say, “He spoke to us in great detail, and everything that he told us panned out.” CIA officials debrief al-Fadl for a month and a half. Then the CIA hands him, and transcripts of all their interviews with him, over to the FBI. [NEW YORKER, 9/11/2006] Coleman and US prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald interrogate al-Fadl at a US military base in Germany for months. [LANCE, 2006, PP. 261] Roughly between November 1996 and April 1997, al-Fadl tells the FBI about:

The historical background of al-Qaeda. Al-Fadl was one of al-Qaeda’s founding members (see August 11-20, 1988). 
The structure of al-Qaeda and its leadership composition. 
Al-Qaeda’s objectives and direction. 
Its financial infrastructure and networks. Al-Fadl has extensive knowledge of this because he worked as an al-Qaeda financial officer (see December 1996-January 1997). 
Its connections and collaboration with other terrorist groups and supporters. 
Its activities against US soldiers in Somalia (see October 3-4, 1993). 
Its activities in Bosnia. Al-Fadl was sent there on several missions (see Autumn 1992 and Autumn 1992). 
The Al-Kifah Refugee Center, al-Qaeda’s most important charity front in the US. Al-Fadl worked there in the 1980s (see 1986-1993). 
Bin Laden’s efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Al-Fadl was personally involved in an effort to buy uranium for al-Qaeda (see Late 1993). [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 479] 
Bin Laden’s plans to attack either inside the US or US embassies (see Late 1996).

Al-Fadl continues to help US intelligence until current day. For instance, in 2000, he will help US officials capture his brother-in-law, Mohammed Suliman al-Nalfi, who is said to be close to Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Nalfi will eventually be sentenced to ten years in prison in the US. Al-Fadl will have no knowledge of the 9/11 plot, but he will continue to identify captured al-Qaeda operatives after 9/11. [NEW YORKER, 9/11/2006] Interestingly, al-Fadl, a Sudanese citizen, will later claim that he worked with the Sudanese intelligence agency with the direct approval of bin Laden. [DAY 2. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. USAMA BIN LADEN, ET AL., 2/6/2001] Entity Tags: Jamal al-Fadl, Mike Anticev, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Patrick Fitzgerald, Dan Coleman, Al-Kifah Refugee Center, Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Key Warnings, Warning Signs, Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, 1998 US Embassy Bombings, Terrorism Financing, Key Captures and Deaths, Other Possible Moles or Informants

June 1996-February 1997: British Intelligence Recruits Prominent Al-Qaeda Imam Abu Qatada

MI5 headquarters in London. [Source: Cryptome] In June and December 1996, and again in February 1997, a British MI5 agent meets with radical Muslim imam Abu Qatada, hoping he will inform on his fellow extremists. Qatada is a Jordanian national who entered Britain in September 1993 using a forged United Arab Emirates passport, and was granted asylum in 1994. Qatada Promises to Look after British Interests - In his meetings with the MI5 agent he claims to “wield powerful, spiritual influence over the Algerian community in London.” He says he does not want London to become a center for settling Islamic scores, and that he will report anyone damaging British interests. He says the individuals he has influence over pose no threat to British security, and promises that “he would not bite the hand that fed him.” He also promises to “report anyone damaging the interests of [Britain].” The MI5 agent records that “surprisingly enough—[Abu Qatada] revealed little love of the methodology and policies pursued by Osama bin Laden. He certainly left me with the impression that he had nothing but contempt for bin Laden’s distant financing of the jihad.” [SPECIAL IMMIGRATION APPEALS COMMISSION, 1/2004 ; CHANNEL 4 NEWS (LONDON), 3/23/2004; GUARDIAN, 3/24/2004; LONDON TIMES, 3/25/2004] Links to Al-Qaeda - Yet Qatada is later described as being a “key [British] figure” in al-Qaeda related terror activity. Around 1996, a highly reliable informer told US intelligence that Qatada is on al-Qaeda’s fatwa (religious) committee (see June 1996-1997). Videos of his sermons are later discovered in the Hamburg flat used by Mohamed Atta. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and Zacarias Moussaoui, who is later convicted in connection with the 9/11 attacks, are alleged to have sought religious advice from him. [BBC, 8/11/2005; GUARDIAN, 8/11/2005] Meetings Apparently Continue - Reportedly, after Qatada’s February 1997 meeting with the British agent, no further such meetings occur. [SPECIAL IMMIGRATION APPEALS COMMISSION, 1/2004 ] However, some French officials later allege that Qatada continues to be an MI5 agent, and this is what allows him to avoid arrest after 9/11 (see Early December 2001). [OBSERVER, 2/24/2002] It will later emerge that Bisher al-Rawi, a friend of Qatada, served as an informant and a go-between MI5 and Qatada in numerous meetings between late 2001 and 2002, when Qatada is finally arrested (see Late September 2001-Summer 2002). Furthermore, al-Rawi says he served as a translator between MI5 and Qatada before 9/11, suggesting that Qatada never stopped being an informant. [OBSERVER, 7/29/2007] Entity Tags: UK Security Service (MI5), Abu Qatada, Bisher al-Rawi Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, Abu Qatada, Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism, US Intel Links to Islamic Militancy

Mid-1996-September 11, 2001: KSM Travels World; Involved in Many Al-Qaeda Operations After fleeing Qatar, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) travels the world and plans many al-Qaeda operations. He previously was involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and the Operation Bojinka plot. [TIME, 1/20/2003] He is apparently involved in the 1998 US embassy bombings (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998), the 2000 USS Cole bombing (see October 12, 2000), and other attacks. One US official later says, “There is a clear operational link between him and the execution of most, if not all, of the al-Qaeda plots over the past five years.” [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12/22/2002] He lives in Prague, Czech Republic, through much of 1997. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 9/1/2002] By 1999, he is living in Germany and visiting with the hijackers there. [NEW YORK TIMES, 6/8/2002; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/22/2002] Using 60 aliases and as many passports, he travels through Europe, Africa, the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia and South America, personally setting up al-Qaeda cells. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12/22/2002; TIME, 1/20/2003] Entity Tags: USS Cole, Al-Qaeda, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, 2000 USS Cole Bombing

Mid-1996-October 2001: Ariana Airlines Becomes Transport Arm of Al-Qaeda and Taliban In 1996, al-Qaeda assumes control of Ariana Airlines, Afghanistan’s national airline, for use in its illegal trade network. Passenger flights become few and erratic, as planes are used to fly drugs, weapons, gold, and personnel, primarily between Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Pakistan. The Emirate of Sharjah, in the UAE, becomes a hub for al-Qaeda drug and arms smuggling. Typically, “large quantities of drugs” are flown from Kandahar, Afghanistan, to Sharjah, and large quantities of weapons are flown back to Afghanistan. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 11/18/2001] About three to four flights run the route each day. Many weapons come from Victor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer based in Sharjah. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 1/20/2002] Afghan taxes on opium production are paid in gold, and then the gold bullion is flown to Dubai, UAE, and laundered into cash. [WASHINGTON POST, 2/17/2002] Taliban officials regularly provide militants with false papers identifying them as Ariana Airlines employees so they can move freely around the world. For instance, one flight on a Ariana small plane in 2000 lists 33 crew members. A former National Security Council official later claims the US is well aware at the time that al-Qaeda agents regularly fly on Ariana Airlines. (However, US intelligence will not learn of the widespread use of forged Ariana IDs until after 9/11.) The CIA learns of Bout’s connection to Ariana and the Taliban in 1998, but takes no action (see 1998). The US presses the UAE for tighter banking controls, but moves “delicately, not wanting to offend an ally in an already complicated relationship,” and little changes by 9/11. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 11/18/2001; FARAH AND BRAUN, 2007, PP. 139] Much of the money for the 9/11 hijackers flows though these Sharjah, UAE, channels. There also are reports suggesting that Ariana Airlines might have been used to train Islamic militants as pilots. The illegal use of Ariana Airlines helps convince the United Nations to impose sanctions against Afghanistan in 1999, but the sanctions lack teeth and do not stop the airline. A second round of sanctions finally stops foreign Ariana Airlines flights, but its charter flights and other charter services keep the illegal network running. [LOS ANGELES TIMES, 11/18/2001] About nine of the 9/11 hijackers work at the Kandahar airport in 2000, which is Ariana’s main hub (see Summer 2000). Entity Tags: Taliban, United Arab Emirates, United Nations, Al-Qaeda, Ariana Airlines, Victor Bout Category Tags: Hunt for Bin Laden, Victor Bout, Pakistan and the ISI, Drugs

Summer 1996 or Shortly After: Moussaoui Meets Future Shoe Bomber at London Mosque Zacarias Moussaoui meets future shoe bomber Richard Reid at a south London mosque. Moussaoui, who will be arrested in the US shortly before 9/11 for raising suspicions at flight school, is the leader of the radical faction at the mosque and, according to authors Sean O’Neill and Daniel McGrory, Reid “hero-worship[s]” him. Moussaoui also “dominate[s] discussion groups…, shouting down those who dare[…] to criticize his stand that violent jihad [is] the only way to support Islamic communities around the world.” When the moderates at the mosque get together to criticize him, he moves to a more radical mosque, Finsbury Park, where he falls under surveillance by the British authorities (see March 1997-April 2000). Reid goes with him, and by this time he is “mouthing the same radical expressions and insults about America and Tony Blair as his shaven-headed hero.” [O'NEILL AND MCGRORY, 2006, PP. 219] Entity Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard C. Reid Category Tags: Zacarias Moussaoui, 2001 Attempted Shoe Bombing, Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism

June 24, 1996: Uzbekistan Cuts a Deal with Enron Uzbekistan signs a deal with Enron “that could lead to joint development of the Central Asian nation’s potentially rich natural gas fields.” [HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/25/1996] The $1.3 billion venture teams Enron with the state companies of Russia and Uzbekistan. [HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/30/1996] On July 8, 1996, the US government agrees to give $400 million to help Enron and an Uzbek state company develop these natural gas fields. [OIL & GAS JOURNAL, 7/8/1996] Entity Tags: Enron, Uzbekistan Category Tags: Pipeline Politics

June 25, 1996: Khobar Towers Are Bombed; Unclear Who Culprit Is

Destruction at the Khobar Towers, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. [Source: US Air Force] Explosions destroy the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 American soldiers and wounding 500. [CNN, 6/26/1996] Saudi officials later interrogate the suspects, declare them guilty, and execute them—without letting the FBI talk to them. [PBS FRONTLINE, 2001; IRISH TIMES, 11/19/2001] Saudis blame Hezbollah, the Iranian-influenced group, but US investigators still believe bin Laden was involved. [SEATTLE TIMES, 10/29/2001] US intelligence listens when al-Qaeda’s number two leader Ayman al-Zawahiri calls bin Laden two days after the bombing to congratulate him on the operation (see June 27, 1996). The New York Times will later report that Mamoun Darkazanli, a suspected al-Qaeda financier with extensive ties to the al-Qaeda Hamburg cell, is involved in the attack. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/25/2001; NEW YORK TIMES, 9/29/2001] Bin Laden will admit to instigating the attacks in a 1998 interview. [MIAMI HERALD, 9/24/2001] Ironically, the bin Laden family’s construction company will be awarded the contract to rebuild the installation. [NEW YORKER, 11/5/2001] In 1997, Canada will catch one of the Khobar Tower attackers and extradite him to the US. However, in 1999, he will be shipped back to Saudi Arabia before he can reveal what he knows about al-Qaeda and the Saudis. One anonymous insider will call it “President Clinton’s parting kiss to the Saudis.” [PALAST, 2002, PP. 102] In June 2001, a US grand jury will indict 13 Saudis for the bombing. According to the indictment, Iran and Hezbollah were also involved in the attack. [US CONGRESS, 7/24/2003] Entity Tags: William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, Al-Qaeda, Mamoun Darkazanli, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Osama bin Laden, Hezbollah, Ayman al-Zawahiri Timeline Tags: 9/11 Timeline Category Tags: Warning Signs, Mamoun Darkazanli, Saudi Arabia, Alleged Al-Qaeda Linked Attacks

After June 25, 1996: CIA Agents Told Not to Track Militants in Saudi Arabia In the wake of the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia (see June 25, 1996), the Saudi government continues to stonewall about their knowledge of radical militants in the country. Official inquiries about bin Laden go unanswered and the Saudis give no help to a US probe about the bombing. But often the US does not even ask the Saudis questions for fear of upsetting the Saudi government. Former US officials will later claim that even after the bombing, the CIA instructed officials at its Saudi station not to collect information on Islamic extremists in Saudi Arabia. [US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, 12/15/2003] It is not known how long this policy will continue, but there is evidence it continues until 9/11. In August 2001, former CIA agent Robert Baer will attempt to give the CIA a list of hundreds of al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, but the CIA will show no interest in it (see August 2001). Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers will reportedly come from Saudi Arabia. Entity Tags: Saudi Arabia, Central Intelligence Agency Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, Saudi Arabia, Counterterrorism Policy/Politics

June 27, 1996: US Monitors Bin Laden Taking Credit for Khobar Towers Bombing In 1999, a retired CIA official will claim that two days after the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia (see June 25, 1996), bin Laden is congratulated by colleagues about the bombing. Both Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda’s number two leader, and Ashra Hadi, head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, are monitored by the NSA as they call bin Laden. This helps confirm that bin Laden was being monitored while using his first satellite phone (see Early 1990s). It will be widely reported that he was monitored after he started using his second satellite phone later in 1996 (see November 1996-Late August 1998). Bin Laden does not exactly publicly take credit for the bombing, but later in the year he will say, “When I got the news about these blasts, I was very happy. This was a noble act. This was a great honor but, unfortunately, I did not conduct these explosions personally.” [REEVE, 1999, PP. 187; NEW YORKER, 9/9/2002] Entity Tags: Ayman al-Zawahiri, National Security Agency, Osama bin Laden, Ashra Hadi Category Tags: Remote Surveillance, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden

Mid-1996: Bin Laden Withdraws Support from Algerian GIA, Claims It Has Been Penetrated by Spies By 1996, the bombing campaign of the Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) targeting the civilian population in Algeria shocks even other radical Muslim militants around the world. The GIA has been supported by bin Laden since its inception, but through an associate group al-Qaeda declares: “Due to the deviations and legal mistakes committed by its [leader]… jihad in Algeria, which started almost five years ago, faced a major setback following the massacre of a number of leading scholarly and jihadi figures by the current [leader] of the GIA, who is believed to be surrounded by regime spies and collaborators.” [GUNARATNA, 2003, PP. 184] Prominent radical imams Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza are forced to denounce the GIA around the same time due to widespread revulsion about the group’s tactics (see Mid 1996-October 1997). The next year, al-Qaeda will make a final public break with the GIA and form a new group to replace it (see September 1997-May 1998). Entity Tags: Osama bin Laden, Groupe Islamique Armé Category Tags: Algerian Militant Collusion, Other Possible Moles or Informants

Mid-1996: French Intelligence Is Aware Potential Islamist Recruits Transit Turkey The French intelligence service Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) is aware that radical Muslims appear to be traveling through Turkey on their way to training in a third country, presumably Afghanistan. DGSE informer Omar Nasiri will later comment: “[T]he DGSE had noticed a lot of men were disappearing from France, men who were under surveillance. They would attend the radical mosques every day and then, suddenly, they were gone. They went to Turkey and disappeared. A few months later they would be back at the mosques in France, but no one knew where they had been in the meantime. The DGSE thought they were at the training camps.” [NASIRI, 2006, PP. 96] Turkish intelligence is also aware militants transit Turkey at this time and informs German intelligence (see 1996). Several of the 9/11 hijackers will also transit Turkey (see Late November-Early December 1999). Entity Tags: Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, Omar Nasiri Category Tags: Other Possible Moles or Informants

(Mid-1996): French and British Intelligence Listen in on Al-Qaeda Communications, Asset Relays Messages for Al-Qaeda Omar Nasiri, who informs on al-Qaeda for the British intelligence service MI6 and the French service Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DSGE), makes contact with al-Qaeda logistics manager Abu Zubaida using a telephone bugged by MI6. Nasiri met Abu Zubaida in Pakistan (see Mid 1995-Spring 1996). Usually, when Nasiri calls the number, he talks to one of Abu Zubaida’s associates, but sometimes he talks to Abu Zubaida himself. The phone is used to relay messages between Abu Zubaida in Pakistan and al-Qaeda representatives in London, in particular leading imam Abu Qatada. The French will apparently make great use of this information (see October 1998 and After). [NASIRI, 2006, PP. 270-1, 273, 281] Entity Tags: Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, Abu Zubaida, UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Abu Qatada, Omar Nasiri Category Tags: Remote Surveillance, Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism, Other Possible Moles or Informants, Abu Zubaida, Abu Qatada

Mid 1996-October 1997: London-Based Imams Denounce GIA over Massacres Leading London-based imam Abu Qatada denounces the Algerian GIA (Groupe Islamique Armé) over massacres of civilians the group has apparently conducted in Algeria, and severs ties with it. Fellow imam Abu Hamza al-Masri follows suit the next year. Abu Qatada says that support should no longer be provided to the GIA because they are declaring other Muslims infidels and killing them, although they are not learned men and do not have the authority to do this. This is highly controversial in the radical Islamic community in London, as some believe it is the government, not the GIA, that is carrying out the massacres, and Abu Qatada’s popularity declines. Abu Hamza initially defends the GIA, but, as the massacres get worse, support for the GIA in London ebbs. Eventually, Abu Hamza calls a GIA commander and asks for an explanation for a massacre. The commander says that the villagers were killed because they supported the moderate Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and Abu Hamza withdraws his support from the GIA a few weeks later. Omar Nasiri, who informs on Abu Hamza for French and British intelligence and listens in on the call to the commander, will later comment: “More than anything else, this episode proved to me that Abu Hamza was a sham. His objectives shifted with the wind. He needed the GIA to seduce followers away from Abu Qatada. Now, he saw that he might lose more than he gained by continuing to support it. For Abu Hamza, it was all about the zakat, the money he collected every week after the al-Jum’a prayers. The more people attended, the more cash there would be.” [NASIRI, 2006, PP. 271-2, 275, 295-6] Bin Laden denounces the GIA around the same time (see Mid-1996). Entity Tags: UK Security Service (MI5), Groupe Islamique Armé, Omar Nasiri, Abu Qatada, Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, Abu Hamza al-Masri Category Tags: Other Possible Moles or Informants, Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism, Algerian Militant Collusion, Abu Qatada, Abu Hamza Al-Masri

(Mid-1996 and After): French and British Intelligence Send Al-Qaeda $3,000 The British intelligence service MI6 and the French service Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) send al-Qaeda $3,000 though one of their assets, Omar Nasiri, who has penetrated al-Qaeda’s camps in Afghanistan and its network in London (see Mid 1995-Spring 1996 and Summer 1996-August 1998). The money is sent to al-Qaeda logistics manager Abu Zubaida, whose phone calls they are listening to with Nasiri’s help (see (Mid-1996)). The money is wired to a Pakistani bank account whose number Abu Zubaida has given to Nasiri in three instalments of $1,000. At first, the British and French do not want to send the money, but Nasiri tells them it is essential for his cover and that Zubaida expects it, so they provide it. [NASIRI, 2006, PP. 271-3] Entity Tags: Abu Zubaida, Omar Nasiri, UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure Category Tags: Counterterrorism Action Before 9/11, Londonistan - UK Counterterrorism, Other Possible Moles or Informants, Abu Zubaida

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