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HOMELAND INSECURITY

FBI informant revealed
9-11 plot in April 2001

2 D.C. agents filed report that al-Qaida
planned suicide attacks involving planes

WASHINGTON — A former FBI employee recently briefed the 9-11 Commission
about a tip he says he and two agents got from an intelligence asset
outlining the 9-11 attacks — four months before they happened –
WorldNetDaily has learned.

In April 2001, the long-time FBI source is said to have told two
counterterrorism agents from the Washington field office that al-Qaida
planned to carry out terrorist attacks in major U.S. cities, including New
York, using planes and suicide operatives. The other cities named were
Chicago and Los Angeles. The tip apparently got lost in the FBI bureaucracy.

The asset, a veteran Iranian intelligence officer stationed in Afghanistan
under the shah, did not know details of how or when the attacks would be
carried out, sources familiar with the briefings say. At no time did he
intimate that planes would be used as missiles.

However, he did relay that the al-Qaida terrorists were already in place in
the U.S., and that they would strike very soon, possibly within the next few
months.

The two agents took the tip seriously because the asset, who has lived in
the U.S. since fleeing Iran in the early ’80s, was considered very reliable
and had been on the FBI payroll for a decade, working in the Washington
area. Also, he had Afghan contacts close to al-Qaida’s inner circle. Sources
say the case agent filed a report with his squad supervisor, Thomas Frields,
but it’s not clear if the information was sent by teletype to headquarters,
the standard operating procedure.

The intelligence asset is said to have pressed his FBI handlers to follow-up
on his tip in the months leading up to 9-11.

“He told them, ‘Did you pass the information on? Have you done anything
about this information?’” said a source familiar with the briefings.

Attempts to reach Frields, now retired, were unsuccessful. A spokeswoman for
the Washington field office did not return phone calls.

The commission is scheduled to hold hearings next month on the FBI’s efforts
to counter the al-Qaida threat before 9-11.

The bureau failed to act on other clues that al-Qaida was planning
aviation-related terrorism inside America. In July 2001, for example, an FBI
agent in Phoenix warned headquarters that an “inordinate number” of Middle
Eastern men under surveillance in the area were taking flying lessons.

And in August, a Minneapolis supervising agent told headquarters that he
worried a flight student they had in custody on visa violations, Zacarias
Moussaoui, might be part of a plot to “take control of a plane and fly it
into the World Trade Center.”

Last month, the former FBI employee, who acted as the Iranian asset’s
interpreter and had Top Secret clearance, also gave a classified briefing to
the Justice Department’s inspector general, as well as an unclassified
briefing to Senate Judiciary Committee staffers and a senior aide to Sen.
Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Grassley, a Judiciary member, has long been a
critic of FBI management.

The former FBI employee — Behrooz Sarshar, a Farsi linguist — met Feb. 13
with John Drake, the Grassley aide, and Tara Magner, a Judiciary lawyer for
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., ranking committee member, among others.

“There was a meeting with him,” confirmed a Judiciary committee aide.

Earlier that week, several sources say, Sarshar had briefed three
investigators with the bipartisan 9-11 Commission in a so-called SCIF, or
secure room, at offices here on K Street.

A commission spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the briefing. “It’s
our policy that we cannot talk about people we interview,” Al Felzenberg
said.

But the Judiciary aide, who asked not to be identified, says the committee
followed up to be sure the commission heard the classified details of
Sarshar’s account.

“We were able to confirm that he met with the commission,” the aide said.

Sarshar, who left the FBI in 2002 as a level GS-12 employee after eight
years of service, is an Iranian immigrant.

An FBI insider cautions that the 66-year-old Sarshar may be a disgruntled
former employee. He was placed on administrative leave for undisclosed
reasons before he resigned. It’s not clear if he was allowed to keep his Top
Secret security clearance.

Sarshar, contacted at his northern Virginia home, declined comment.


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