The FBI had a human source in direct contact with Osama bin Laden in 1993 and discovered that he was eager to finance terror attacks on the United States, according to little-noticed testimony in a court case several years back.
The testimony, just reported by the Washington Times, underlines how poorly we understand the degree to which the federal government was interacting with Osama bin Laden and monitoring the activities of a network that came to be widely known as Al Qaeda.
The information, which emerged during an obscure employment dispute case filed by an agent, was provided by Edward J. Curran, who had been a top official in the Bureau’s Los Angeles office. “It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al Qaeda, directly involved,” Curran told a nearly empty courtroom in 2010.
The source was credible enough that the Bureau was able to use his information to prevent an attack on a Los Angeles Masonic temple at the time.
Several former lawmakers involved with 9/11 reviews told the newspaper they were unaware of the FBI-Al Qaeda connection.
“I think it raises a lot of questions about why that information didn’t become public and why the 9/11 Commission or the congressional intelligence committees weren’t told about it,” said former Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), who chaired the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the aftermath of the 9/11 report.
The Commission’s former executive director, Philip Zelikow, now a history professor at the University of Virginia, characterized the panel’s limited appetite for a long view of the events culminating on September 11, 2001. Of the 1993 time frame when the FBI apparently had its source into bin Laden’s outfit, he said, “We did not delve as deeply in this period because it was so distant from the plotting that led directly to the 9/11 attack.”
The notion that what was happening in 1993 had little to do with the 2001 attacks, however, is questionable. It was in 1993 that plotters who had been trained in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan detonated a truck bomb beneath the North Tower of the World Trade Center in a plot that failed to bring the towers down. The alleged financier of that early attack, Khaled Sheikh Mohamed, is credited with coming up with the subsequent idea of crashing a plane into CIA headquarters and later conceptualizing the 9/11 attacks for Al Qaeda. Furthermore, an FBI informant, Emad Salem, was deeply involved with the 1993 plotters while apprising his Bureau handlers.
FBI Hotline to Osama
According to Curran’s testimony, the agent developed a source who was connected to Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called “Blind Sheik” credited with the 1993 Trade Center bombing. Even more significantly, the source went overseas and personally met with bin Laden. He was described as “very in tight, close,” to bin Laden’s leadership team.
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