by Derek Rose
New York Daily News
Perhaps another piece of the puzzle for those still wondering why CIA chief George Tenet received Bush’s profuse thanks and the Medal of Freedom instead of 30 to life in Leavenworth.
The feds bungled a key opportunity to possibly nix the 9/11 terror plot, it was reported yesterday.
An Arabic-speaking FBI agent had requested information about a Jan. 5, 2000, Al Qaeda meeting in Malaysia, but the CIA never turned it over, The New Yorker reported.
The ambitious FBI detective, Ali Soufan, was so upset when he eventually got the information – after 9/11 – that he vomited.
Soufan, who had been investigating the 2000 attack on the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole that killed 17 sailors, realized the two plots were linked.
“And if the CIA had not withheld information from him he likely would have drawn the connection months before Sept. 11,” The New Yorker reported. The intelligence Soufan had sought showed that a one-legged jihadi named Khallad – a key Al Qaeda lieutenant linked to the Cole bombing – had attended the Malaysia meeting where the Sept. 11 plot was hatched.
According to the magazine, the CIA also learned in March 2000 that Al Qaeda operative Nawaf Alhazmi was in the United States, but the CIA never alerted the FBI. Alhazmi ended up on the American Airlines flight that crashed into the Pentagon.
The CIA may not have told the FBI about Alhazmi and another Qaeda operative, Khalid Almihdhar, because it hoped to recruit them as spies, according to the article.
“Two Al Qaeda guys living in California – are you kidding me?” FBI supervisor Kenneth Maxwell told the magazine. “We would have been on them like white on snow: physical surveillance, electronic surveillance, a special unit devoted entirely to them.”
The CIA wouldn’t comment on specific allegations but said it had improved its processing and sharing of intelligence.
“CIA’s focus is on learning and even closer cooperation with partners inside and outside government, not on public finger-pointing, which does not serve the American people well,” the agency said in a statement.
Source article here.
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