The Brother “Zacarias” & The Minnesota Terrorism Project
September 16, 2001….Mujahid Abdulqadir Menepta had a burgeoning problem to present to Mitchell Gray. A fellow Muslim from the Masjid Al-Salaam mosque in the city of Edmond, Oklahoma, named Hussein Al Attas has been arrested by law enforcement authorities, and his whereabouts were unknown. Menepta was quite adamant to having him released back to the mosque, because Menepta had asserted he was needed as Al Attas was a valuable member at the mosque and worked with the children there. Gray was taken aback by the aggressive, unruly attitude of Menepta, while Ahmed (unknown last name) who called Gray over for his legal assistance stood silently in the background. Gray, once served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and was studying law at the University of Oklahoma while learning Arabic from Ahmed.
How Gray had met Ahmed was innocent at first. In July 2001, Gray had wanted to learn Arabic and Gray’s wife had told him to visit a nearby mosque. Which was Masjid Al Salaam. From there he had met Ahmed, in which he told Ahmed that he would pay him for teaching him Arabic. Ahmed refused money, and instead made a short trade. He would teach him but if Ahmed was ever in need of legal assistance Gray would provide. It was agreed by both men.
Menepta then relates to Gray that he feared Al Attas had violated his immigration status by engaging in “unauthorized work” at the Masjid Al Nur. Al Attas had an F-1 Student Visa, and was working “under the books” which clearly violates his status. Unknown to Gray, was that Menepta had been living in a unit with Al Attas in Norman. Gray agreed to help locate Al Attas but was obligated to assist only Ahmed, and wanted little to no contact with the volatile Menepta. Gray had begun to call the local FBI and Police Departments regarding the status of Hussein Al Attas. After getting the “run around” Gray had managed to find that Al Attas was arrested by Immigration & Naturalization Services, and was being held on $5,000.00 bond. However, there was an attempt to bond out Attas, from a person named Suhaib Webb. Webb had a troubling past, an ex gang member he then went on to become a local DJ in which he received his bachelor’s degree in Education at the University of Central Oklahoma. He was also a former convert from Christianity to Islam in 1992. Webb is a local imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City.
Gray also had found out that another person was arrested besides Al Attas. Mukarram Ali was a young Muslim and youth member at the Masjid Al Nur. Born in India, he had a residence in Norman. Menepta did not care to mention about his release, which Gray had found rather odd. Both men were members of the Masjid al-Nur mosque, but only Al Attas was the one being mentioned, repeatedly by Menepta, being released. Gray’s suspicions would be met later on about why this was the case. Menepta couldn’t hold his anger towards his vitriol against the U.S legal system, and publicly defended a person by the name of Zacarias Moussaoui. Moussaoui had been detained by the FBI on August 21 2001 for suspicion of committing an act of terrorism against the U.S and air piracy. On the day of September 11th 2001, the unit both Moussaoui and Al Attas had been staying in Egan, Minnesota was searched by local FBI agents.
Just weeks before the attacks however the background regarding Moussaoui began when he first entered the country on February 23, 2001. Moussaoui, a Moroccan, had previously grew up in Saint Jean de Luz in France. Zacarias was the brother to 3 other siblings, in which the mother raised them without a father. In 1995 he would earn a master’s degree in International Business from South Bank University in London. He would attend the Brixton Mosque in South London, there he met a future Islamic fundamentalist named Richard Reid, who would later be nicknamed “The Shoe Bomber”. Moussaoui would begin to become proselytized by members of the Salafist group, Al-Muhajiroun. Moussaoui had always wanted to belong, for which he felt he never did in France due to daily torturous taunts and physical confrontations due to his brown skin and religious background.
Zacarias brother, Abd Samad Moussaoui, who would author a book “My Brother, Zacarias” had explained that Salafist Islam is simply not Islamic.
“ In other words, Wahhabis simply aren’t real Muslims. But I’m afraid it’s simply not that easy — any more than Roman Catholics can just pretend that the defrocked child molesters weren’t real priests. To say that terrorists — be they al Qaeda, Hezbollah or Jemaah Islamiyah in Southeast Asia — draw on Islam is not to tar it as a religion of hate. Rather, these groups are a tumor on Islam.”
Nevertheless, Zacarias Moussaoui had felt the “brotherhood” members of the Al Muhahjiron, showered upon him. But his experiences at the Brixton Mosque were short lived, as Zacarias began showing up to Salaat prayers in military fatigues and asking the local imam, how to engage in jihad. By 1996, Moussaoui had attracted the attention of French authorities due to his outlandish militant extremism and hanging out with known local orthodox militants, one in which had long been under surveillance and was a notorious extremist, Abu Hamza al-Masri.
April 1998, Moussaoui had traveled to Pakistan to begin training at an Al Qaeda camp, Khalden located in the Eastern Patkia Province, near Tora Bora Afghanistan. Another Al Qaeda operative, Ahmed Ressam (part of the 2000 Millennium Terrorist Plot) would later, under oath, testify that he saw Zacarias Moussaoui there. Many of the students at Khalden, would train in many various style of weaponry. Students trained there in light weapons, handguns, small machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers (RPGs), explosives (including TNT, C-$ plastic explosives, and black plastic explosives), poisons (including cyanide), poison gas, sabotage, target selection, urban warfare, tactics (including assassinations), and security. The camp was run by Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan, who would later be captured by Pakistan officials and subsequently tortured for information.
After Moussaoui completed his training, he left to fight in Chechnya, where the notorious Islamic Chechnyan, Ibn Khattab, was active in repelling the Soviets from the Balkans. Moussaoui was more trouble than what he was worth, and was reported to leave the battle to the more dedicated Chechen Mujahid. He then returned to Pakistan in Islamabad, who he had met while there is not entirely known, but from Pakistan he would enter the United States. On February 23, 2001, Zacarias Moussaoui lands at O’ Haire Airport in Chicago. He then gets on a connecting flight to Norman, Oklahoma. Where after landing, he immediately rents a room at the Residence Inn. There he would make 4 phone calls, the first being Masjid al-Salaam in Edmond, the other was for a car rental. On February 28, Moussaoui rents a room at the Sooner Hotel & Suites, just a year prior, two other Al Qaeda operatives had also stayed at this hotel, Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi. They would both be a part of the September 11th attacks, Atta the suspected pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, and al-Shehhi the suspected pilot of United Airlines Flight 175.
Moussaoui would begin taking flight lessons at Airman, Shohaib Nazir Kassam was his personal instructor. Just months prior to Moussaoui arriving here, Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi had also taken flight lessons here, Kassam knew both of the men while he was a student himself before becoming an instructor. During the weeks while training at Airman he visits the Masjid Al Nur mosque in Norman. There he is only known as “Shaqil” (According to Mitchell Gray this turns out to be a lie told by the members of the mosque), many of the members there would claim to only know him by this name and they also claim they never knew him by any other. Mukharram Ali would end up sharing room and board with Moussaoui. Ali’s apartment was located at 209 A Wadstock Drive in Norman. Moussaoui would become acquainted with Mukharram Ali as they both prayed at the mosque. It would be thru Ali that Moussaoui would become acquainted with Al Attas. Al Attas would later tell FBI agents that he lived with Ali, but not Menepta. Why would he leave Menepta out?
Meanwhile Moussaoui continues to use his actual name while he previously rented rooms and even during his flight lessons. Al Attas also had a residence at 209 A Wadstock Drive in Norman, which was rented by Menepta. After 56 hours of flight training, Moussaoui was not doing very well, his instructor, Kassam, would tell him about his continuing to fail basic take off commands. Moussaoui would drop out of the school altogether. At around this time in May, Moussaoui’s US Visa expires, he does not apply for a renewed visa, nor does he even attempt to inform the INS.
Multiple warnings about a looming domestic terrorist threat from Al Qaeda begins making the rounds in every major judicial and domestic agency. Richard Clarke, head of the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism, gave an urgent meeting thru email and memo to the leading representatives of the FBI, NSA, JTTF and elsewhere about a threat to the countries infrastructure and to be on heightened alert. On July 10, 2001…just a mere two days before Clarke’s urgent meeting, an internal FBI memo from the Phoenix field office, written by special agent Ken Williams to FBI headquarters. The memo was rather poignant:
“Advise the Bureau and New York of the possibility of a coordinated effort by Osama Bin Laden to send students to the United States to attend civil aviation universities and colleges. Phoenix has observed an inordinate number of individuals of investigative interest who are attending or who have attended civil aviation universities and colleges in the State of Arizona.”
Most of the information from Williams memo was based off of an informant who was closely associated with Williams over the years, Harry Ellen. Ellen, was a long time resident of Tucson, Arizona. A former businessman who converted to Islam, has “high credibility” with the Muslim populace in Arizona because of his work on behalf of the Palestinian cause. He had once even met with Palestinian Liberation Organization leader, Yasser Arafat. By 1994 however, Ellen become an official “CI-2” informant with the Arizona FBI. In 1996 Ellen warns Kenneth Williams about a very mysterious Algerian who was teaching Arab men how to fly small planes.
“My comment to Williams was that it would be pitiful if the bad guys were able to gain this kind of access to airplanes, flight training and crop dusters. I said, ‘You really ought to look at this, it’s an interesting mix of people.”
This would lead Williams to conduct surveillance on the Algerian known as Abu Sief. Sief had moved to Arizona from New Jersey. While he was living in New Jersey, Sief had been attending the Masjid Al Salaam in Jersey City, the same mosque where Omar Abdel Rahman had preached. Ellen would complain about the lack of response from the FBI about what was taking place, with many Arab students entering flight schools on Tucson. Ellen believed that the “Phoenix Memo’ should have been released back in 1997, instead of 4 and half years later. It would later come out, that future 9/11 hijacker and suspected pilot of American Airlines Flight 77 would be a student at the University of Arizona as far back as 1992. He would also be a flight student in Tucson.
Meanwhile Moussaoui would begin a short stint at a gym membership, to begin physically readying himself for his part in the operation. He would train at the Huston Huffman Physical Fitness Center. He would also receive money from a wire transfer from Germany. the funds were coming directly from a financier, who would become part of the 9/11 Plot, but couldn’t enter the U.S due to his dismissal of obtaining a U.S visa, Ramzi bin al-Shibh. al-Shibh would wire, $14,000 dollars to Moussaoui. Al Attas would begin telling other members of the mosque that “Shaqil” was very secretive and was also quite paranoid about federal agents following him, when there were none. This turned out to be untrue, the name of “Shaqil” was never mentioned before only until Gray found out later they all referred to Moussaoui by his actual name and never by any nickname.
He was also quite aggressive in conducting a jihad against the United States. Elhadje Nidaye, the imam at Mashid Al Salaam in Edmond, saw no reason to force Moussaoui out of the mosque, he just saw him as a brother who was helping the cause from Islamic prejudices.
Due to the failure of not obtaining a license at Airman Flight School and with time as of the essence, Hussein Al Attas and Zacarias Moussaoui would travel to Egan, Minnesota to try an enter a flight school there. It was 794 miles north of Norman, a long drive.
The August 6th 2001 Presidential Daily Brief was displayed before the U.S President , George W. Bush.
“Bin Laden To Strike Inside the United States”
The Central Intelligence Agency daily brief was information obtained by the interrogation of Millennium Plot suspect, Ahmed Ressam. Where he explains about training camps in Afghanistan, especially Khalden, where operatives were training to commit to a terrorist plot inside the United States. The CIA’s own virtual station, code-named Alec Station, was at the time directed under Richard Blee, a career CIA man, whose father was of legend. Thousands of daily reports, cables, were coming in from multiple CIA stations in the Middle East, with notable warnings, even detailed personal information of two 9/11 hijackers who were already inside the United States, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. This information was never shared with anyone outside the Alec Station itself, however two FBI agents, Mark Rossini and Doug Miller had known about a certain cable regarding Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar obtaining dual entry US visas, but were threatened not to share this information with the FBI. According to Mark Rossini in later interviews, he was forced not to share this information by one of the CIA’s staff operations officer, Michael Anne Casey, who told Rossini:
“Look, the next attack is going to happen in Southeast Asia — it’s not the bureau’s jurisdiction. When we want the FBI to know about it, we’ll let them know. But the next bin Laden attack’s going to happen in Southeast Asia.’”
However both al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi were already in Los Angeles at the time of Casey’s response to Rossini. Rossini yelled out, “But they are already here, it is our jurisdiction!” As the Al Qaeda operatives were beginning to enter the United States, Moussaoui had begun to look for flight schools to enroll, in Egan, Minnesota. Both Moussaoui and Al Attas, would rent a unit at the Residence Inn. French intelligence authorities continued their investigation into Zacarias, and contact his mother Aicha Moussaoui, when it is reported that Xavier Jaffo, who was fighting against the Soviets in Chechnya, is killed. On his possession, was a small notebook, in it, the name Zacarias Moussaoui is noted. Jaffo is also known by his Islamic name, Masooud Al-Benin. Al-Benin was fighting in Ibn Khattab’s unit, and was a former recruit and associate to Zacarias Moussaoui. Masooud had been a Moussaoui contact while they lived in London in 1995. Under the direction of Abu Hamza, Massoud became a Muslim convert, where he made his “Shahada” (profession of faith) at the London Central Mosque.
French authorities now wanted to know where Moussaoui was located, his mother had no idea either. Aicha remembered the day they came knocking at her door:
“They said that he had a friend who had died, and they wanted to know whether he had been with him. I said: ‘No, I don’t know.’ And then they left.”
French intelligence got later word that Zacarias Moussaoui had entered the United States, they sent a memo to Oklahoma and Minnesota. By 2001, a very serious file had been secured on Zacarias Moussaoui. By August 11th Moussaoui began sending a number of emails to managers at the Pan Am International Flight School. He uses a fictitious name, “ zuluman tangotango”, and makes many strange inquiries regarding his background. He would tell managers, Hugh Sims & Tim Nelson, about paying half the fee, $4,800, up front in cash. Sims is suspicious right away since cash is harder to trace in light of an investigation, if any. he tells them he has no previous flight experience and would like to learn how to operator a 747, which is highly suspicious due to beginners starting with small prop planes. Moussaoui would piquing the suspicions even further when he sent one email claiming:
”I need to know if you can help me achieve my ‘goal,’ my dream,” Moussaoui wrote, listing five types of Boeing and Airbus jets. “To be able to pilot one of these Big Birds, even if I am not a real professional pilot.”
Moussaoui would enroll, paying most of the $8,300 fee up front. His trainer, Clarence Prevost, was highly suspect of Moussaoui right away. But Nelson wasn’t as suspicious, claiming that he thought he was like some foreign nationals with money, wanting to impress the women. Moussaoui was allowed to sign up for classes and flight-simulator training for the Boeing 747. Moussaoui builds a rapport with Syrian students there, claiming he was a British businessman while being fluent in Arabic. He also inquiries to Prevost about the “planes doors” and it’s control panel. he also insisted that the course not take long, he was on borrowed time. After a couple of days, Prevost is part of a supervisors meeting, during it he raises his concerns about the strange British businessman, and wanted to report him to the FBI. They agreed. The reason for the warnings was warranted, just the day before, Moussaoui had asked Prevost how to turn off the oxygen in the passenger cabin and how to disconnect the transponder used to track the plane.
On August 15, Clarence Prevost called the Minneapolis FBI field office and reported his exchanges with Moussaoui.
“I don’t know what this guy is up to, but he is paying a lot of money for nothing he can use legitimately,” Nelson recalls telling the FBI. “You need to understand this aircraft weighs 900,000 pounds. It carries between 50 and 57,000 gallons of jet fuel.”
The agent talking to Prevost agreed that this warranted an interview with Moussaoui in which the FBI was provided an address Moussaoui was staying in for residency. Immediately the Minneapolis office calls the CIA’s counter-terrorism unit about the impending arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui, it seemed he was inside the United States on an expired U.S Visa. The agency has no prior information about Moussaoui.
August 16, 2001, Harry Samit, John Weess, Dave Rapp (all FBI) and Steve Nordmann (INS), drive to the Residence Inn, where Moussaoui and his associate Hussein al-Attas are staying. Samit goes to the manager of the Inn and asks what room Moussaoui was renting. Upon entering the unit, Samit finds another individual staying in the room, they would find out his name is Hussein Al Attas. They are separated and questioned by different agents, Samit interviews Moussaoui, Weess interviews Al Attas. Al Attas is far more compliant than Moussaoui at first, Al Attas would tell Weess about Moussaouis aggressive behavior towards “kuffar” (non-believers_ and that he wanted to continue a jihad inside the United States. Al Attas is asked to sign a waiver form if he wanted to continue being questioned by the FBI, Al Attas agrees, and signs the I-215-W. Weess then asks the name of who Al Attas was living with, in which he responds that he knows him only as “Shaqil”.
Moussaoui meanwhile gives Samit evasive answers to basic questions about how he was getting money to travel and rent rooms inside the United States while training in flight schools. Moussaoui would have no answer, and didn’t give any response as to why he was inside the United States to begin with.
Al Attas meanwhile would relate to Weess damning information, in which Weess would detail in his report the following:
“Al-Attas indicated that Moussaoui believes that it is acceptable to kill civilians who harm Muslims and that he approves of martyrs.”
“Al-Attas says Moussaoui talked about holy war every day when they roomed together.”
“Al-Attas says Moussaoui holds strong anti-American views and might be willing to act on his beliefs.”
“Al-Attas describes Moussaoui as so secretive that he refuses to give his full name, identifying himself only as “Shaqil.”
This information was enough to arrest Moussaoui as an unindicted co-conspirator to commit to a terrorist act against the United States. But both men would be detained on immigration charges, Moussaoui visa had expired and Al Attas had violated his F-1 Student Visa by taking on illegitimate employment. FBI agents interview al-Attas again the following day, then charge him with violating the terms of his student visa by working at a mosque in Oklahoma, and arrest him. Moussaoui meanwhile is arrested separately. Moussaoui is asked by Samit about the search of his laptop and possessions, Moussaoui would deny access however.
Samit immediately asks for a FISA warrant to search the premises of the Inn both men were staying, as well as searching what was inside Moussaoui’s laptop. On August 18th, Samit requests a criminal search warrant and believes Moussaoui came from Pakistan, a known terrorist hot spot. Samit posits that both, Moussaoui and Al Attas, were conspiring to violate Title 18 of the U.S statutes relating to terrorism and destruction of U.S facilities. The memo is sent to the Radical Fundamentalist Unit (RFU)which is led by Mike Maltbie. Both Maltbie and Rita Flack then send a request to National Security Law Unit chief Marion “Spike” Bowman, regarding a search warrant for Moussaoui’s laptop. However in the memo, Maltbie had edited the request, in which the memo was now an immigration issue and not a criminal one. Edited out was Moussaoui’s link to Al Qaeda in Chechnya and Ibn Khattab.
The RFU chief, Dave Frasca, would end up not attending a meeting with supervising agents, claiming a “last second” meeting with someone else. This left the issue with Maltbie and Bowman whom both agreed that the issue with a search warrant didn’t accommodate with a lack of evidence showing Moussaoui was a foreign agent or employed by a foreign agency. To understand how a FISA warrant works, here is a short explanation:
“In criminal investigations, the FBI can seek a warrant under Title III of the U.S. criminal code by showing a federal court that there is probable cause to believe the target has engaged, or is engaging in, criminal activity. Evidence the FBI can use to support the claim that the U.S. target is knowingly working on behalf of a foreign entity can include information gathered from human sources, physical surveillance, bank transactions, or even documents found in the target’s trash. The completed FISA application goes through the FBI chain of command, before making its way to FBI Headquarters to receive approval and sign off by the Special Agent in charge of the field office before making it to the Justice Department where attorneys from the National Security Division vet the application to verify all the assertions made in it.”
Samit was stunned to get the news back from colleges at the Minneapolis field office. Meanwhile back in Edmond, Oklahoma…..members of the Masjid Al Salaam mosque were wondering about the whereabouts of Al Attas. But Al Attas was allowed a phone call, in which he would end up contacting Abu Mustafa, whose real name is Elhadje Nidaye, the imam of Masjid Al Salaam. The conversation was simple, almost innocent. Nidaye would ask Al Attas where he was, but Al Attas did not know of the exact location. Next Nidaye would ask..
“I heard you were going on jihad?”
Al Attas responded to the calm imam, that now was not the time to ask such questions. Al Attas asked if the imam can bail him out. $5,000 dollars was the bond for release. Nidaye responded it will come in time. Days later, the RFU unit is advised of the conversation between the two men. They downplay the use of the word “jihad” exclaiming in ignorance that it could mean many other things in relation to Islam. Mujahid Abdulqadir Menepta would end up bonding out Al Attas, meanwhile Nidaye would regret that Moussaoui would most likely be deported back to France. Meanwhile Samit’s inquiry regarding his FISA warrant ran into trouble again, this time from Samit error, as he opened the Moussaoui case as an “intelligence case” and not a “criminal case”. FBI Headquarters advised against a criminal warrant however, only because they believed that it would decrease the chance to secure a FISA warrant in due to a court decision to deny it due to being manipulated into thinking its actually a criminal complaint while labeled as an intelligence tool.
Meanwhile CIA Director George Tenet visits U.S President George W. Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas on August 17. The nature of this meeting is not known, but it coincidentally lands while a FISA warrant is issued to search inside Moussaoui’s laptop. They would meet again on August 31 in Washington from a remote visual conference call between Texas and Washington. On August 31, tenet briefs the president about the Moussaoui case. However under sworn oath before the 91/1 Commission, in April 2004, Tenet will testify that he had no direct communication with President Bush during the month of August. Commission member, Tim Roemer, would ask Tenet would his visits to the President’s ranch in Crawford, to which tenet replies he never sees the President at that time in August:
Roemer: “ Okay. I’m just confused. You see him on August 6th with the PDB.
Tenet: “ No, I do not, sir. I’m not there.”
Roemer: “ Okay. You’re not the — when do you see him in August?”
Tenet: “ I don’t believe I do.”
Roemer: “ You don’t see the president of the United States once in the month of August?”
Tenet: “ He’s in Texas, and I’m either here or on leave for some of that time. So I’m not here.”
Clearly Tenet would misleading Roemer in this exchange, as in the CIA own daily memos, Tenet was in contact with the President, twice.
French Intelligence again would provide FBI agent Harry Samit with more information regarding the profile of Zacarias Moussaoui. It was more than enough than Samit even realized. According to the French intelligence reports, Moussaoui had direct ties to a close Osama Bin Laden associate, in Ibn Khattab, the Muslim Chechnya leader, Moussaoui had fought with Mujahid fighters under Khattab’s unit. His links to Abu Hamza al-Masri, known radical imam, while at the Finsbury Park Mosque in London. His travels to Pakistan. His inadequate answers to how he was receiving thousands of dollars to pay for flight training, car rentals and other accessories. The light was flashing red! Harry Samit realized that this man had direct ties to international terrorists and was here to hijack planes in a suspected terrorist plot. How was this not enough to show Moussaoui was a foreign entity in violation of the U.S title 18 code regarding terrorism inside the U.S?!
To top it off, the final email and fax of documents regarding Moussaoui would be the most damning. It would also go to show the deep rooted entrenchment of terrorist activity involving Moussaoui as well as members of the Masjid Al Salaam. Zacarias Moussaoui was a member of the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ). The TJ global Islamic missionary group. An offshoot of the Sunni revivalist movement, the Deobandi, The Tablighi are often in Pakistan, India, Turkey, United Kingdom, Yemen, Algeria and just about most of the world. They are also mired in deep rooted terrorism as well. According to a report from the Middle East Forum in 2005, the Tablighi have adopted stricter interpretations of Sunni Islam, bordering Salafi Islamic jurisprudence.
“Tablighi Jamaat has always adopted an extreme interpretation of Sunni Islam, but in the past two decades, it has radicalized to the point where it is now a driving force of Islamic extremism and a major recruiting agency for terrorist causes worldwide. For a majority of young Muslim extremists, joining Tablighi Jamaat is the first step on the road to extremism. Perhaps 80 percent of the Islamist extremists in France come from Tablighi ranks, prompting French intelligence officers to call Tablighi Jamaat the “antechamber of fundamentalism.”
This put FBI agent Harry Samit on full notice about how Moussaoui was recruited in Great Britain, under Abu Hamza al-Masri. The links to the Mashid Al Salaam mosque went deep with the Tablighi. Mujahid Abdulqadir Menepta was also a member of the Tablighi as well. While travelling to Pakistan in 1989, Menepta went to Tora Bora. Samit says the international Islamic organization that sponsored the trip has been linked by the FBI to the recruitment of militants here inside the United States. It was there he changed his name to his formal Muslim name, but Menepta went once by the name of Melvin Lattimore, a one time football star in college. According to author Terry McDermott, author of Perfect Soldiers, he states that the Tablighi’s controlled the Al Quds Mosque in Hamburg, Germany. Which saw senor Al Qaeda operator, Mohammad Haydar Zammar, recruit Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ramzi bin al-Shibh into the Hamburg Cell.
The brothers at Masjid Al Salaam had a problem, whether to “clean house” or become a target of a federal investigation. As of this writing, the mosque was cleared of having anything to do with terrorism, or the September 11th attacks.
September 11th 2001…..after the planes had impacted the World Trade Center, Pentagon with one crashing into a field in Shanksville. Samit was given the authority to search and seize the Residence Inn room, Room 1414, where Moussaoui and Al Attas had stayed in. The evidence was damning. But Samit was left with an empty vindication. Most of what was found in Moussaoui’s laptop is remained sealed under “national security” however some of the data was used to prosecute Moussaoui in 2006. There were records and files about Boeing 747 and also crop dusting planes, and the use of chemicals and how it can be deployed. This detail was important, since it was Mohamed Atta who once asked James Lester a crop dusting mechanic from Belle Glade, Florida in 2000. According to Lester in a CNN interview:
“They wanted to know (the) capacity of the airplane, how much would the airplane hold, how much fuel and how to crank it,” he said.”
The FBI also found shin guards, two knives, flight manuals pertaining to Boeing’s 747 aircraft, a flight simulator computer program. And also a will made out by Hussein Al Attas. It was a “martyrdom” will, in which Al Attas exclaimed that his testimony would be his last. Al Attas had agreed with federal prosecutors to become a witness against Moussaoui. In 2002, the United States indicted Zacarias Moussaoui due to violations regarding to terrorism, aircraft piracy, conspiracy to destroy aircraft. The indictment also alleges that Ramzi bin al-Shibh used a wire transfer in the amount of $14,000 to Moussaoui. The Grand Jury also alleges that on August 16, 2001 investigators found knives, binoculars, and software for 747 procedures. If found guilty of these charges, Moussaoui was eligible for the death penalty.
On July 18,2002….Hussein Al Attas plead guilty to 7 counts of criminal information and for making false statements to a federal law enforcement official. He also knew “Shaqil” as Zacarias Moussaoui and was planning to visit New York City and then Pakistan. This would call into the credibility of Suahib Webb and Mohamed Abdulqadir Menepta, who would also claim they only knew Moussaoui as “Shaqil”. Did they know Moussaoui personally? Did they know he was a radical Islamist, if so why did they allow him to remain with the mosque?
On April 22, 2002..against the advice of council, Zacarias Moussaoui plead guilty to all charges against him, which included a 5 page statement of facts admitting guilt:
That Osama Bin Laden selected the 9/11 teams.
Swore loyalty (bayat) to Osama Bin Laden
Trained at Khalden training camp in Afghanistan
Admitted he knew plans for planes flying into U.S buildings
That Bin Laden selected him for the operation
Admitting lying to federal agents
Minnesota FBI field agent, Harry Samit, testified against Moussaoui in the penalty phase. Moussaoui then stated that he was not part of the original plot, but was involved of a “follow up” operation. This shocked Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, who would later compliment the judicial knowledge of Moussaoui, regarding his competency. This was to also show the court that Moussaoui could not claim, insanity defense if he wished.
On Match 28, 2006…Moussaoui would tell Judge Brinkema that the plane he was to hijack, he was supposed to crash into the White House. The reason? Was to put pressure against the United States in releasing (Blind Sheikh) Omar Abdel Rahman out from federal prison. Rahman had been found guilty in conspiracy to attack U.S landmarks in 1996.
On May 3, 2006, the jury reached a verdict, Moussaoui would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. the jury panel voted 11–1, 10–2 and 10–2 in favor of the death penalty. A single juror had saved Moussaoui from the death penalty. In which saw Moussaoui as he was leaving court clap his hands and utter over his shoulder, “American you lost, i won!”
Moussaoui was sentenced to life imprisonment, where he sits currently in ADX Florence.
The Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 would issue a final report in 2003, years before the final verdict of Moussaoui. In it, the report critiqued the FBI regarding the FISA warrant request of agent Samit suggesting there was more than enough evidence to support it. The report went on to also state that FBI headquarters had “misunderstood” the legal standings in regards to what constitutes a FISA warrant. The Joint Inquiry was also puzzled as to how the FBI did not have adequate warnings in the years prior to the 9/11 attacks and take advantage of those warnings. Most of the memos from Phoenix, Minnesota and Oklahoma went “unacknowledged” by their superiors.
The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice issued their independent report about the conduct of the FBI and the 9/11 attacks. Suggesting they had concerns about how they handled the Moussaoui case.The OIG report was clear however to advise that there was no “intentional misconduct” on part of the FBI regarding the Moussaoui case. Contrary to the admissions of Harry Samit and Colleen Rowley, a 20 years FBI veteran and Chief Division Counsel. Both whom have written memo’s and letters straight to FBI headquarters. Rowley had even written a personal letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller in which she was highly critical about the dismissals of constant warnings pre 9/11, warnings that went “unheeded by FBI “bureaucrats”
“Your plans for an FBI Headquarters’ “Super Squad” simply fly in the face of an honest appraisal of the FBI’s pre-September 11th failures. The Phoenix, Minneapolis and Paris Legal Attache Offices reacted remarkably exhibiting keen perception and prioritization skills regarding the terrorist threats they uncovered or were made aware of pre-September 11th. The same cannot be said for the FBI Headquarters’ bureaucracy and you want to expand that?! Should we put the counter-terrorism unit chief and SSA who previously handled the Moussaoui matter in charge of the new “Super Squad”?! You are also apparently disregarding the fact the Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs), operating out of field divisions for years, (the first and chief one being New York City’s JTTF), have successfully handled numerous terrorism investigations and, in some instances, successfully prevented acts of terrorism. There’s no denying the need for more and better intelligence and intelligence management, but you should think carefully about how much gate keeping power should be entrusted with any HQ entity. If we are indeed in a “war”, shouldn’t the Generals be on the battlefield instead of sitting in a spot removed from the action while still attempting to call the shots?
During the early aftermath of September 11th, when I happened to be recounting the pre–September 11th events concerning the Moussaoui investigation to other FBI personnel in other divisions or in FBI HQ, almost everyone’s first question was “Why? — Why would an FBI agent(s) deliberately sabotage a case? (I know I shouldn’t be flippant about this, but jokes were actually made that the key FBI HQ personnel had to be spies or moles like Robert Hanssen who were actually working for Osama Bin Laden to have so undercut Minneapolis’s effort.”
Rowley would end up retiring from the FBI in 2003 after 24 years of service.
The story regarding Zacarias Moussaoui had yet not ended….
On May 23 2006, an audio recording which is said to belong to Osama Bin Laden was released by As Sahab, Al Qaeda’s media unit….in the audio, Bin Laden made a rather startling admission, Moussaoui was never involved with Al Qaeda, and was never part of the September 11 plot.
“I begin by talking about the honorable brother Zacarias Moussaoui.
The truth is that he has no connection whatsoever with the events of Sept. 11, and I am certain of what I say, because I was responsible for entrusting the 19 brothers — Allah have mercy upon them — with those raids, and I did not assign brother Zacarias to be with them on that mission. And his confession that he was assigned to participate in those raids is a false confession that no intelligent person doubts is a result of the pressure put upon him for the past four and a half years.
And if Moussaoui was studying aviation to become a pilot of one of the planes, then let him tell us the names of those assigned to help him control the plane. But he won’t be able to tell us their names, for a simple reason: that in fact they don’t exist. This is from one perspective, and from another perspective, the brother Moussaoui was arrested two weeks before the events, and had he known anything — however little — about the September 11 group, we would have told the brother Commander Mohammed Atta and his brothers — Allah have mercy upon them — to leave America immediately before their affair was exposed. And with this it becomes clear to even the novice investigator — not to mention the seasoned one……that there is no connection between him and the events of September 11.”