A threat by President Bush to arrest FBI agents who continued to investigate Al Qaeda was partly due to indirectly protecting a strategic interest in Saudi Arabian oil reserves, but serves to highlight the existence of an even darker agenda. Bush had given a secret directive, W199eye, in 1996 for the FBI and CIA to cease investigations into bin Laden.
A secret FBI document, 199I WF213589, released from the Washington field office, was leaked by disgruntled FBI agents – some reports indicate that John O’Neil, who found himself the first day on a new job a couple of months later the day before 9/11, was the one who leaked the directive to the British press. It details how the FBI were ordered to discontinue investigation into members of the bin Laden family and WAMY (World Association of Muslim Youth) even though both networks had direct links to terrorism. Just weeks after the September 11 attacks, Pakistan and India expelled WAMY operatives with India stating that the Saudi-based WAMY was funding the militant Students Islamic Movement of India, which has provided support to Pakistani-backed terrorists linked to bombings in Kashmir. The Philippines military has also accused WAMY of funding Muslim insurgency. It also emerged in a January 2002 BBC Newsnight feature that WAMY spoke glowingly of bin Laden in their own educational pamphlets and advocated his ideals. When confronted with this documentation, a WAMY representative became noticeably apprehensive and provided a poor defense of his organization’s link with terrorist cells such as Al-Qaeda. This was after Nouredine Miladi, the head of WAMY’s London office protested his organization’s innocence by stating, “we seek social change through education and cooperation.”70 It appears as if that education was fundamentalist in nature and the only cooperation was between WAMY and known terror outfits.[INSERT FIG 5.3] [CAPTION: The FBI was ordered to “back off” investigation of members of the bin Laden family and WAMY who they were linked with. WAMY was known to be funding terrorist cells as far back as the early 1990’s. This policy was enforced even more strictly after current President George W. Bush took office.]
Abdullah bin Laden and Omar bin Laden had helped run WAMY’s operation right up to 2000 and beyond, Abdullah was the U.S. director. They lived together in Falls Church, just outside Washington, conveniently close to WAMY’s basement offices. So why were the FBI, according to a high placed member of a US intelligence agency, told to “back off” investigating these groups?
“I received a phone call from a high-placed member of a US intelligence agency. He tells me that while there’s always been constraints on investigating Saudis, under George Bush it’s gotten much worse. After the elections, the agencies were told to “back off” investigating the Bin Ladens and Saudi royals, and that angered agents…FBI headquarters told us they could not comment on our findings. A spokesman said: “There are lots of things that only the intelligence community knows and that no-one else ought to know.”71 Saudi Arabia, the supposed ‘sworn enemy’ of Osama bin Laden, handed £200 million to bin Laden in ‘protection money,’ in exchange for a promise that bin Laden would not attack Saudi targets. The nerve center of the Al-Qaeda network and its financial resources are based in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, two staunch allies of the US. Since it’s currently in vogue to support these two military dictatorships, their links to Al-Qaeda terrorism were and continue to be completely ignored. Fifteen of the nineteen alleged hijackers were Saudis.
The CIA’s cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia ensured that the FBI’s attempted arrest of a Saudi Al-Qaeda cell in 1998 was prevented. The group, led by two known terrorists, was issued with alias passports, allowing them to escape, by the Saudi royals, again the supposed ‘sworn enemy’ of Osama bin Laden. This was reported by Robert Baer, a former case officer in the CIA’s directorate of operations. He also learned of a “spectacular terrorist operation” that was being planned and would take place shortly. Baer passed the information on to the CIA who, in line with not wanting to upset the Saudis, did nothing. Baer’s January 2002 book, See No Evil, which further documents the CIA’s lenience on Saudi backed terrorists, contains heavily blacked out portions by order of, you guessed it, the CIA.
According to Bill Gertz of the Washington Times, only five CIA analysts were assigned to study Al-Qaeda at the time of the attack. This, despite a National Commission on Terrorism report released in 2000, which urged closer infiltration noting that there were no human intelligence sources inside groups like bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda. This was not an ‘intelligence failure,’ it was a policy directive.
Of course, the policy of holding intelligence agents back from going after Al- Qaeda was merely to keep the compartmentalized well-intentioned investigators in line. The inner circle of the FBI and CIA who were about to sit back and watch the attacks take place, were well aware of every development of the plot. They weren’t about to let anyone get in the way of it. Keep your friends close, keep your ‘enemies’ even closer.
Another attempt to infiltrate Al-Qaeda was blocked just a few months before September 11 by high-level FBI officials, A special agent in an FBI field office was told by a confidential informant that he had been invited to a commando training course at a camp operated by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda organization in Afghanistan. According to two people with knowledge of the events, the agent relayed the informant’s remarks to supervisors in the field office, who passed the information to FBI headquarters in Washington, where it was referred to the Osama bin Laden unit in the bureau’s Counterterrorism Division.72 The Justice Department and the FBI were not interested in pursuing the opportunity because they deemed it illegal. Excuse me, but since when was the world of intelligence known for its honorable policy of playing by the book? The FBI and Justice Department didn’t approve the operation because they had been told to protect Al-Qaeda or lose their careers and perhaps more.
Lawyer Michael Wildes offered FBI agents 14,000 documents relating to Saudi backed terrorism after he represented one of the Khobar Towers bombers. The agents told Wildes they were not permitted to read the documents and blankly refused to obtain information that could have provided groundbreaking revelations concerning the international terrorist underground scene, including Al- Qaeda. Wildes states,
“They’re (the FBI) cut off at the hip sometimes by supervisors or given shots that are being called from Washington at the highest levels…You see a difference between the rank-and-file counterintelligence agents, who are regarded by some as the motor pool of the FBI, who drive following diplomats, and the people who are getting the shots called at the highest level of our government, who have a different agenda – it’s unconscionable.”
One such agent, Robert Wright, grew indignant at this travesty and has filed a judicial complaint with the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility. The agent is represented by David Schippers, a pivotal player in the Clinton impeachment proceedings, being investigative counsel for the House Judiciary Committee. Schippers was responsible for all investigations under the impeachment inquiry.
Before September 11th, Schippers represented a group of FBI agents who were seething because their superiors had pulled them off terrorism related investigations. The agents told Schippers that there was going to be a massive attack on lower Manhattan by the end of the year. Schippers frantically tried to arrange a meeting with Attorney General John Ashcroft right up until a month before the attack. Ashcroft made it clear to his underlings that he was not interested in the information and Schippers was rebuffed again and again.
Wright was jointly represented by Judicial Watch, who stated, “Based on the evidence, the FBI Special Agent believes that if certain investigations had been allowed to run their courses, Osama bin Laden’s network might have been prevented from committing the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks which resulted in the deaths of nearly 5,000 innocents.”74
In a May 30 National Press Club conference, Robert Wright tearfully apologized to the relatives of the victims of 9/11 after he detailed the numerous instances where he had been impeded by his superiors from conducting terrorism investigations. However, these revelations only scratch the surface of what Wright has included in his unpublished book. He is under an FBI gag order which could see his imprisonment if he reveals highly sensitive information. Wright only went public in the first place to avoid being bumped off. Compare his treatment to that of Colleen Rowley, general counsel in the FBI Minneapolis office, who was afforded free speech and whistle-blower protection. Rowley released a watered down report full of ‘intelligence failures’ and to be sure she was purposefully brought out to act as a shill when the prior knowledge issue broke in the mainstream media in May 2002. For the first few days after the story broke, the government was in deep trouble, scrabbling around for excuses. At that point they hyped up Rowley and her information acted as a steam valve – the government were able to manage the story and it dissipated soon thereafter.
Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman described Rowley’s evidence as, “a cover your derriere, PR maneuver.”75
Wright told of terrorist training camps in Chicago and Kansas with links to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that he was on the verge of closing down in 1998. The FBI higher-ups took him off the case. He discussed money laundering operations with links to Hamas (Likud) and Al-Qaeda that he was on the verge of cracking before again being taken off the case, The motive for this conduct his simple and quite disturbing,” Wright charged. He said that by preventing the criminal prosecution of the subjects of their intelligence gathering “these intelligence agents avoided the new and additional work that would be required…” He said once these agents had a case going, “they would ‘milk it’ for years, not taking on any additional work.”
They regarded Wright and others who wanted to prosecute suspects “as a threat to their job security.” The net result, according to the lawsuit, was that “the FBI was merely gathering intelligence so they would know who to arrest when a terrorist attack occurred.”76 Exactly a year after the attacks on New York and Washington, Judicial Watch issued a press release which stated that the FBI were still preventing prosecution of terrorists, SA Wright points to recent misconduct and falsifications of wiretap warrant applications by FBI agents (signed-off by the former FBI Director, Louis Freeh) to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. Prior to September 11th, SA Wright alleged FBI intelligence agents lied and hid vital records from criminal agents for the purpose of obstructing his criminal investigation of the terrorists in order to protect their “subjects,” and prolong their intelligence operations. SA Wright was stunned to learn recently that some of the FBI intelligence agents that
had stalled and obstructed his criminal investigations of terrorists in Chicago had also lied to the judges of the FISA Court in Washington, DC.77
In addition, the former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Michael Springman, was consistently ordered by high level State Department officials to issue visas to unqualified applicants. These ‘unqualified applicants’ were terrorists operating on behalf of Osama bin Laden. Despite bitter complaints to the General Accounting Office, the Inspector General’s office and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, in the same vein as Sen. Bob Graham, he was stonewalled.