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FBI Agent: Bureau Prevented Terror Probe
NewsMax Staff
Monday, Sept. 23, 2002
"Whatever happened to this -- someday someone will die -- and wall [between domestic and foreign intelligence agencies] or not the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain ‘problems,’” read a pre-9-11 e-mail from a frustrated FBI field agent to his headquarters.

The prophetic warning from the nameless and screened agent was one of the alarming details disclosed in Friday’s testimony before the House and Senate intelligence committees. The agent said he had been instructed by superiors to stand clear of Khalid Al-Mihdhar, a man later identified as a 9-11 terrorist.

The reasoning of his superiors, said the agent, was to prevent a violation of the legal "wall" that prevented overseas intelligence from being used in criminal prosecutions.

Written just 13 days before the attacks, the e-mail goes on to lament, "Let’s hope the [FBI’s] National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decisions then, especially since the biggest threat to us now, UBL [Osama bin Laden], is getting the most ‘protection.’”

The FBI agent, who had been in on the investigation of the attack on the USS Cole in Bahrain, told the congressional investigators that he found about Al-Mihdhar in the spring of 2001 through a confidential contact who claimed that a bagman hauling money to the chief suspect in the Cole attack had met with Al-Mihdhar in Malaysia.

After the 9-11 attacks when the hijackers’ names were revealed, the agent recalled saying to his associates, "This was the same Khalid al-Mihdhar that we had talked about for three months."

"The ‘Wall’ and implied, interpreted, created or assumed restrictions regarding it, prevented myself and other FBI agents working a criminal case out of the New York Field Office from obtaining information from the intelligence community – regarding Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi in a meeting on June 11, 2001,” testified the agent.

"[D]uring the fourth week of August 2001, when, after it was learned that Al-Mihdhar was in the country, FBI HQ representatives said that FBI New York was compelled to open an "intelligence case” and that I nor any of the other "criminal case” investigators assigned to track Al-Qaeda could attempt to locate him…

"I hope…these proceedings are the time to break down the barriers and change the system which makes it difficult for all of us…to have and be able to act on the information that we need to do our jobs…

"In addition to the Wall, the system as it currently exists, however, seduces some managers, agents, analysts, and officers into protecting turf and being the first to know and brief those above…

"How and when did we, the CIA and the FBI, learn that Al-Mihdhar came into the country on either or both occasions…and what did we do with the information?”

The agent, whose identity has been withheld to protect his future work, served as a military aviator between 1985 and 1993.

Read more on this subject in related Hot Topics:

Al-Qaeda

War on Terrorism

Editor's note:
Revealed: The Terrorists Living Among Us

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