A Los Angeles-based associate of Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called Blind Sheikh in prison for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, was a mole for the FBI, NBC News reports.
And, according to an investigation by the Washington Times, the FBI kept Congress in the dark about the operation, which involved the source meeting with the mastermind of al-Qaida.
“I do not recall the FBI advising us of a direct contact with Osama bin Laden,” former Rep. Lee Hamilton, an Indiana Democrat who served as the vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, tells The Times, the first to report on the mole.
The Times was “recently alerted to the existence of court testimony” in 2010 by Ed Curran, the FBI agent who was in charge of the bureau’s Los Angeles office in the mid-1990s. The FBI was being sued by Bassem Youssef, a Coptic Christian Arab-American agent who claims job discrimination. Youssef developed the source and ran the mole, Curran testified “to an essentially empty courtroom, and thus it escaped notice from the media or terrorism specialists,” according to The Times.
The mole is not identified by name. NBC News reports that he was the “driver and confidant” of Abdel-Rahman, the radical Muslim cleric from Egypt who is serving a life sentence in a supermax prison for the 1993 bombing, which killed six and injured more than a thousand.
Even before the attack 21 years ago today, Youssef was investigating information about an Egyptian when he found out about this possible source.
Curran testified about how the FBI was able to make him change sides.
The FBI gained the trust of his wife and then learning how much he wanted to stay in the United States, got him deported.
“He wanted to come back, and that was the carrot we used to get his cooperation,” Curran testified.
The mole told the FBI that Abdel-Rahman said: “If you need any money, you go to Osama directly and tell him I sent you.”
The mole was sent overseas to meet with bin Laden and reported that al-Qaida “had a target picked out for an explosion in the Los Angeles area. I believe it was a Masonic lodge.”
The plot against the Masons was thwarted.
It remains unclear why Congress and the 9/11 Commission were never informed about the mole.
Read the report by The Washington Times here.