'KNOWN WOLF' TERROR SCANDAL: CIA Knew About 9-11 Hijackers, Didn't Provide Intel to FBI
As I've recounted in more than 30 articles here at PJ Media over the past three years, virtually every Islamic terrorist who has conducted an attack in the West since 9/11 has already been known to authorities, which prompted me to coin the phrase "known wolf" terrorism.
Amidst the commemoration of the 16th anniversary of 9/11, it bears recalling that 9/11 itself was a "known wolf" attack, too.
The CIA had intelligence that two Saudi 9/11 hijackers were living in the United States, but they deliberately refused to share the information with the FBI. The FBI had authority to act on such information and possibly prevent the 9/11 attacks:
In many respects, the 3,000 Americans killed on 9/11 were not only the victims of al-Qaeda terrorists, but also bureaucratic incompetence and inter-governmental turf wars. Who among those who sat on the information were punished? Well, none were.
The CIA sitting on critical intelligence until just days before the attack was couched in the larger excuse of "intelligence failures," and swept under the rug.
Some of what we know about the CIA's pre-9/11 intelligence about the hijackers comes from a joint congressional inquiry several years after the attacks. But the most revealing information has come from former FBI agent Mark Rossini, who -- though an FBI agent -- was assigned to the CIA and prevented from sharing the information with his colleagues.
Two years ago, Jeff Stein at Newsweek detailed Rossini's story:
Rossini is well placed to do just that. He’s been at the center of one of the enduring mysteries of 9/11: Why the CIA refused to share information with the FBI (or any other agency) about the arrival of at least two well-known Al-Qaeda operatives in the United States in 2000, even though the spy agency had been tracking them closely for years.
That the CIA did block him and Doug Miller, a fellow FBI agent assigned to the “Alec Station,” the cover name for CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit, from notifying bureau headquarters about the terrorists has been told before, most notably in a 2009 Nova documentary on PBS, “The Spy Factory.” Rossini and Miller related how they learned earlier from the CIA that one of the terrorists (and future hijacker), Khalid al-Mihdhar, had multi-entry visas on a Saudi passport to enter the United States. When Miller drafted a report for FBI headquarters, a CIA manager in the top-secret unit told him to hold off. Incredulous, Miller and Rossini had to back down. The station’s rules prohibited them from talking to anyone outside their top-secret group.
The various commissions and internal agency reviews that examined the “intelligence failure” of 9/11 blamed institutional habits and personal rivalries among CIA, FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) officials for preventing them from sharing information. Out of those reviews came the creation of a new directorate of national intelligence, which stripped the CIA of its coordinating authority. But blaming “the system” sidesteps the issue of why one CIA officer in particular, Michael Anne Casey, ordered Rossini’s cohort, Miller, not to alert the FBI about al-Mihdhar. Or why the CIA’s Alec Station bosses failed to alert the FBI—or any other law enforcement agency—about the arrival of Nawaf al-Hazmi, another key Al-Qaeda operative (and future hijacker) the agency had been tracking to and from a terrorist summit in Malaysia.
Because Casey remains undercover at the CIA, Rossini does not name her in his unfinished manuscript. But he wrote, “When I confronted this person...she told me that ‘this was not a matter for the FBI. The next al-Qaeda attack is going to happen in Southeast Asia and their visas for America are just a diversion. You are not to tell the FBI about it. When and if we want the FBI to know about it, we will.’”
Rossini recalled going to Miller’s cubicle right after his conversation with Casey. “He looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.… We were both stunned and could not understand why the FBI was not going to be told about this.”
It remains a mystery. None of the post-9/11 investigating bodies were able to get to the bottom of it, in part because Rossini and Miller, who continued to work at Alec Station after the attacks, didn’t tell anyone what happened there. When congressional investigators came sniffing around, they kept their mouths shut.
“We were told not to say anything to them,” Rossini said. Who told you that? I asked. “The CIA. I can’t name names. It was just understood in the office that they were not to be trusted, that [the congressional investigators] were trying to pin this on someone, that they were trying to put someone in jail. They said [the investigators] weren’t authorized to know what was going on operationally.… When we were interviewed, the CIA had a person in the room, monitoring us.”
As a result, Rossini wasn’t interviewed by the subsequent 9/11 Commission, either. “Based on that interview, I guess the 9/11 Commission [which followed up the congressional probe] thought I didn’t have anything worthy to say.” He kept his secret, he said, from the Justice Department’s inspector general as well. “I was still in shock,” he added, and still fearful of violating Alec Station’s demand for omerta. Finally, when his own agency—the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR)—came to him in late 2004, after the congressional probe and 9/11 Commission had issued their reports, he opened up.
The CIA has long insisted it shared intelligence about al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi with the FBI, but records gathered by the 9/11 Commission contradict this assertion. Indeed, the panel could find no records supporting the claim of another Alec Station supervisor, Alfreda Bikowsky, that she had hand-carried a report to the FBI.
“The FBI is telling the truth,” Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9/11 Commission, told Newsweek. As for why the CIA not only failed to share pre-9/11 information on Al-Qaeda operatives but forbade the FBI agents in Alec Station from sharing it, Zelikow said, “We don’t know.”