During the CIA's Jihad, Al-Farooq Mosque & the Alkifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn were Rahman's key bases of operation and a springboard for "the string of jihad offices that had been set up across America with the help of Saudi and American intelligence." Rahman didn't just pop up in Brooklyn by accident. Rahman received four visas from "CIA agents acting as consular officers at American embassies in Khartoum and Cairo."
From The Times Herald | Analysis by BlackJade
Testimony barred by Pentagon
NORRISTOWN - Three men familiar with the "Able Danger" data-mining operation shut down in 2001 by the Defense Department, were warned by the Pentagon against testifying Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the secret program.
Though Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott and James D. Smith, a defense contractor, choose not to testify, Shaffer and Smith were present at the Capitol Hill hearing.
Shaffer, whose Top Secret clearance was suspended in 2004 over a disputed expense account, had his security clearance revoked Monday.
Also at Wednesday's hearing, a former Army intelligence officer, Erik Kleinsmith, told the committee that he was ordered to destroy information collected during the intelligence operation.
Congressman Curt Weldon, R-7th Dist., and other senators on the committee, chaired by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., expressed their disappointment at the Pentagon's lack of cooperation on the inquiry.
"I think that's a big mistake," committee member Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said.
Atta's terror links
In June, Shaffer, a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) employee, told The Times Herald that "Able Danger" had linked Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta to an al-Qaida cell in New York City. The newspaper was the first to publish his story on June 19.
The military's Special Operations Command ran the high-tech dragnet that searched for terrorist links. The terrorist associations were mapped out on large charts, according to Shaffer, during the program that operated from 1999 to 2001.
But when Shaffer tried to pull the FBI into the operation to delve deeper into the domestic terror associations, he and other "Able Danger" team members were discouraged by military lawyers, he said.
Ultimately the data-mining project was shut down by the Pentagon, which claimed it had concerns about retaining intelligence on United States citizens and foreign residents living in the U.S., so-called "U.S. persons."
Shaffer, Phillpott and James have all said they recall seeing Atta's grainy photo on a chart during the 15-month operation, Weldon said. James, who worked for defense contractor Orion Corp., obtained the picture on his own, and displayed it on the wall of his office.
The intelligence group operated at the Army's former Land Information Warfare Center (LIWA), in Ft. Belvoir, Va.
The Pentagon has been unable to account for any of the "Able Danger" charts.
Pentagon probe denounced
At the Judiciary Committee hearing, Weldon accused the Pentagon of dragging its feet on its monthlong probe into the defunct program.
"The Department of Defense never actually conducted an investigation, but rather an informal inquiry," he said. Weldon said his dealings with the Pentagon about the obscure program were characterized by "denial, deception, character assassination and now silence."
The Seventh District congressman, who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Shaffer's career has been "ruined" because the Army reservist went public with his story.
Weldon, who has advocated intelligence sharing among U.S. agencies, said the Pentagon's justification for destroying the "Able Danger" material is weak, given that the lion's share of the data was publicly available, and according to Pentagon policy, would not have to be destroyed.
The huge amount of collected data was equivalent in size to one quarter of the Library of Congress' printed materials, Weldon said.
Currently, Weldon is trying to launch "Able Providence," a new and improved version of "Able Danger."
Shaffer's attorney, Mark Zaid, called the Pentagon's reluctance to cooperate a "cover up" that has more to do with defense officials trying to avoid blame than with protecting classified material.
Zaid said those working on "Able Danger" made connections, or "associational links," between terrorists involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 American embassy bombings in Africa, and other attacks. "At no time did 'Able Danger' identify Atta as being in the United States," he said.
Previously, Shaffer told The Times Herald that Atta, an Egyptian, had been linked to the El Farouq mosque in Brooklyn, N.Y., a hotbed of anti-American sentiment once frequented by Sheik Omar Ahmed Abdul Rahman, know as the "Blind Sheik." Rahman is also Egyptian.
In 1995, Rahman was convicted of plotting to bomb various sites in New York City. Four of Rahman's associates were convicted in 2002 of conspiring with him to commit terrorist acts while he was in prison.
As a sobering reminder of the intelligence program's unfulfilled promise, Zaid said the charts likely contained "several dozen" terrorist yet to be captured.
"There are terrorists on the chart who may still be out there and planning attacks," he said.
When queried later Wednesday by e-mail, Zaid speculated about why the Pentagon halted "Able Danger."
One theory is that Defense Department officials became "very uncomfortable" when the LIWA program ran China charts that showed links to U.S. political officials. The China effort, however, was not part of "Able Danger," he wrote. When LIWA shut its operation down in 2000, the "Able Danger" program was forced to move elsewhere. But why the program itself was shut down in late 2000 or early 2001 is still a mystery.
Should have shared
Kleinsmith testified that he deleted program records in spring 2000 after being ordered to do so by a military officer.
"I'm the one who deleted all the documents," he said. "Both hard and soft copy were deleted."
William Dugan, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight, said that the Pentagon's intelligence oversight rules required the destruction of data on "U.S. persons."
He testified this term referred not only to American citizens, but also "permanent resident aliens" and corporations incorporated in the U.S. A student visa, however, does not meet the definition, Dugan said.
Sen. Specter pressed him on the Pentagon's reluctance to share "Able Danger" information with the FBI, asking him if this cooperation failure was a mistake.
"Should (the information) have been shared if it could have prevented (the) 9/11 (attacks)?" Specter asked.
After evading a similar question a moment earlier, Dugan conceded.
"Yes, if (the information) was properly collected," he said. Finally, Specter asked Dugan if Atta was considered a "U.S. person" during the time of the intelligence gathering effort.
"No, he was not," Dugan said.
The Pennsylvania senator asked Dugan to tell Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that "The American people deserve some answers" on "Able Danger."
"Pentagon contractor Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer "had his security clearance revoked Monday"? And "Shaffer's career has been 'ruined' because the Army reservist went public with his story"? That's not surprising. I think that he also ended up revealing much more than he really intended to!
"Previously, Shaffer told The Times Herald that Atta, an Egyptian, had been linked to the El Farouq mosque in Brooklyn, N.Y., a hotbed of anti-American sentiment once frequented by Sheik Omar Ahmed Abdul Rahman, know as the 'Blind Sheik.' Rahman is also Egyptian"? This makes sense given what we know about Mohammed Atta. As I said in my comments here, Mohamed Atta Senior in U.S. Two Weeks Before 9.11 Attack, Mohammed Atta's father, Mohammed El-Amir, is a prominent Cairo attorney and known member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohammed Atta's life was with the Muslim Brotherhood from "womb to tomb." The BBC report on Egyptian Islamic Jihad [EIJ] states that Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman "is the spiritual leader of the group." And "Mohammed Atta, the suspected ringleader of the hijackers, is a known member of EIJ." Right after 9-11, there was some US media coverage of Atta's Egyptian connections, but there was no real follow up on this aspect, which is rather amazing given the Egyptian connection in the 1993 WTC attack. Third Source Backs 'Able Danger' Claims About Atta
"Two sources familiar with Able Danger told FOX News that part of its investigative work focused on mosques and the religious ties between known terrorist operatives such as Omar Abdul Rahman (search), who was part of the first World Trade Center bombing plot in 1993. An independent terrorism analyst pointed out to FOX News that German intelligence had no record of Atta before the Sept. 11 attack; that's significant because Atta headed up the Sept. 11 Al Qaeda cell in Hamburg. The analyst also questioned how Atta could be connected to Rahman, who was in prison by the mid-1990s. It isn't much of a secret that Rahman's network flourished long after he was sent to prisoner, including these "mosques and religious ties." And now we find that there was a specific connection found to that Al Farooq mosque in Brooklyn! During the CIA's Jihad, Al-Farooq Mosque & the Alkifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn were Rahman's key bases of operation and a springboard for "the string of jihad offices that had been set up across America with the help of Saudi and American intelligence." Rahman didn't just pop up in Brooklyn by accident. Rahman received four visas from "CIA agents acting as consular officers at American embassies in Khartoum and Cairo."
Smith claims that one way the unit came to know Atta was through Rahman. Smith said Able Danger used data mining techniques publicly available information to look at mosques and religious ties and it was, in part, through the investigation of Rahman that Atta's name surfaced."
It came out in the Jayyousi case that Rahman's followers had an extensive network throughout North American "to raise money and recruit Muslim extremists to fight in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya and Somalia." It is well documented that this Terrorist Network Still Lurks in Bosnia Mountains. But "the US, EU and NATO" are in denial because they will not "admit that they backed the terrorists in the Bosnian civil war. This is also true in Kosovo. It has also been said that "the intelligence services of Austria, Germany and the United States were heavily involved in providing funds and weapons to the KLA [Kosovo Liberations Army]." These KLA training camps in Albania were "run by Osama bin Laden, and various other foreign mujahedeen" and also by the "CIA and British intelligence...while the CIA seems to have provided monetary support." After the 1999 Kosovo war, Kosovo was occupied by a NATO-led army, with a nominal "UN administrator," and "the ultimate goal was the restructuring of the KLA into the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC)."
According to Reports: 9/11 clue hid in Tampa, "Able Danger" "identified a terrorist cell in Brooklyn, N.Y., in September 2000. The individuals identified as members of the cell were Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhamzi." Well, it turns out that Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hamzi also "fought together as Islamist warriors in Bosnia in 1995." Atta & Marwan al-Shehhi were both members of the Al Qaeda cell in Hamburg. According to testimony at the Hamburg trial of Mounir Motassadeq, this Hamburg group were "'obsessed with jihad' and 'cheerfully' sang songs about martyrdom, 'always talked about Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Chechnya.'" Mohamed Atta's "lessons ranged beyond the Koran to include the Muslim struggle, or jihad, in Palestine, Chechnya and Kosovo." This means that this "Brooklyn cell" had something in common with Rahman's network!
"The terrorist associations were mapped out on large charts, according to Shaffer, during the program that operated from 1999 to 2001"? During this time frame, Rahman's followers were still active at the Al Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn. This came out in the Yemeni Sheik Mohammed Ali Hassan Al-Moayad case. He "helped funnel Islamist fighters to al-Qaida in Bosnia and Afghanistan." This happened at the Al Farouq mosque:
"The al-Farooq mosque was recently in the news when federal prosecutors announced charges alleging that a radical Yemeni cleric -- who in 1999 appeared at the mosque to raise money, allegedly for needy families -- in fact helped funnel millions of dollars to al-Qaeda. According to Justice Department officials, Sheikh Muhammad Ali Hasan al-Moayad told a federal informant that money he took in at the mosque went to Osama bin Laden..... Al-Moayad claimed that his relationship with Bin Laden was during "the years when bin Laden was battling Soviet forces in Afghanistan, a cause they shared with the United States." The US government did seem anxious to get him put away for a while, even going to the point of entrapment. He seems like a loose cannon.
Al-Farooq first became a major source of revenue for terrorist groups in the late 1980s and 1990s. In 1988, the late Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, a key figure in the latter-day international jihad movement, addressed a conference at the mosque, exhorting the faithful to carry out holy war wherever they are. Azzam's Alkifah Refugee Center -- a bogus charitable organization that ran a nationwide network out of the mosque -- was involved in both fundraising and recruitment for terrorist operations. In 1990, al-Farooq was taken over by Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind cleric who had just come to the United States from Egypt, and who for a while effectively commanded the jihad movement here.... [Al Farooq] mosque leaders have since claimed to have left the jihad business. According to new indictments, however, the jihad fundraising at al-Farooq may have never really stopped."
"The Pentagon has been unable to account for any of the 'Able Danger' charts"? It sure would be interesting to know more about these "charts," in particular this "Brooklyn cell" of these four hijackers.
"William Dugan, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight, said that the Pentagon's intelligence oversight rules required the destruction of data on 'U.S. persons.'" Then "Specter asked Dugan if Atta was considered a 'U.S. person' during the time of the intelligence gathering effort"? Well, LOL ! Maybe Atta was a "US intelligence asset"? Such when his "lessons" included the "jihad" in Kosovo?
"There are terrorists on the chart who may still be out there and planning attacks"? Well, if there are, how many of them are part of CIA "asset" Rahman's network "to raise money and recruit Muslim extremists to fight in Bosnia, Kosovo..."?