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March 18, 2010

Bizarre Misinfo: 9/11 Happened Because Shakir Was Gay

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 2:50 am
Tags: , , , ,

The CIA withheld information about al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit from the FBI because one of the peripheral attendees, Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, was gay and the CIA used this as leverage in a failed attempt to recruit him, according to a new story in the New York Observer.

Here’s the basic idea behind the article:

The development [that the CIA withheld the information to protect the failed recruitment] is intriguing in part because the informant they were after was thought to be secretly gay—a fact that gave intelligence agents leverage in their efforts to turn him against his conservative Islamist circle. But the case may also help answer one of the long-standing mysteries of the 9/11 narrative: why a terrorist known to one part of the U.S. government wasn’t captured by other parts before he boarded a plane and helped carry out the most devastating attacks on the country.

Intelligence officials tell The Observer that the character at the center of the intrigue was an enigmatic but jovial man named Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, or “Shakir el Iraqi.” “He was tall as a mushroom, fat and gay,” one source familiar with the case told The Observer, “and the idea was to exploit him as an agent against Al Qaeda.”

The C.I.A.’s pursuit of Mr. Shakir, and the role he could have played in stopping, or at least complicating, the 9/11 plot, is a story that’s never been told, adding yet another piece in the puzzle leading up to the attacks.

Telling the F.B.I. about Mr. Mihdhar would have blown the lid on the Shakir gambit—and recruitments are the most sensitive operations in the spook world. The C.I.A., as one source put it, “did not want the bureau messing up the operation.” He added, “The bureau might have demanded everything: ‘Who is this guy? Let’s target him!’”

The article is by a guy named Aram Roston, who seems to have a decent reputation. However, the whole premise–that the intelligence “failures” leading up to 9/11 were deliberate and done by the CIA in order to keep from the FBI a failed recruitment attempt–is ridiculous and holds no water. It might explain why the CIA initially withheld the information from the bureau, but it certainly doesn’t explain why they continued to do so for as long as they did. For example, it doesn’t explain why Almihdhar’s name was left off the internal March 5, 2000 cable, the fishing expedition that was the June 11 meeting, Dina Corsi’s failure to pass on the NSA information to Steve Bongardt even after the bureau was notified of Almihdhar’s entry to the US, why Tom Wilshire told nobody at the bureau about the “very high interest” e-mail, etc., etc. There is also the small matter that the CIA’s protection for Almihdhar extended to Khallad bin Attash, an alleged leader of the attack on the USS Cole; Roston is suggesting that the agency hampered an investigation into the murder of 17 US sailors to protect a failed recruitment a year before. Why would anybody believe that?

The way the article first reads is that it is disinfo, planted to throw the public off the scent. But on second thoughts I’m inclined to go for misinformation, basically because I think nobody would intentionally make up a story this implausible. Presumably, Roston has got this from a former CIA officer in Malaysia who was involved in monitoring the Kuala Lumpur summit (such as the station chief who showed the photos to Frank Pellegrino) and was offered some form of modified, limited hangout after the event and was not bright enough to see through it.


  1. I think this article is getting way “over analyzed”. The title of the Observer article chosen by the editors distorts what Mr. Roston was trying to convey. One of the greatest mysteries is why did the leaders of Alec Station at the CIA deny the passage of the communication, (about the whole Malaysia meeting and the visa information) that one of the FBI agents assigned there drafted, to the FBI? No one, not one soul from the FBI or the CIA has ever offered a plausible explanation for that. Perhaps Mr. Roston is on to something. Most logically Mr. Shakir would have been a weak link since he was an airport greeter and not a jihadist. The fact that he is/was gay is not really relevant for us readers and victim family members, but perhaps it gives us a window as to why the passage of the information to the FBI was not done. Gay or not, to have recruited Shakir would have answered many questions for the CIA about who all those people in Malaysia were and what there were doing there. One last comment: I don’t see how the leap is made from this to the USS Cole.

    Comment by Punji — March 18, 2010 @ 7:07 am | Reply

    • The problem is that Michelle and Wilshire did not just withhold the information on one occasion, when Miller’s cable was blocked in early January. They and others continued to withhold it for the next 20 months or so. Even if this was a credible take on why the information was withheld in January 2000 (and it is not the reason Michelle told Rossini at the time), then it collapses later on. After the Cole bombing, Alec Station realised that bin Attash had been at the Malaysia meeting, but, instead of informing the FBI, it withheld this information as well. Wilshire also knew in the summer of 2001 that Almihdhar was very high interest in connection with a forthcoming al-Qaeda attack against US interests, but he told nobody at the bureau of this. Any explanation must explain all the problems, which “the CIA tried to recruit Shakir” does not.

      Comment by kevinfenton — March 19, 2010 @ 2:18 am | Reply

  2. What should be noted is the failure of the officials who know what happened to come forward and clear up the questions.

    Why don’t US intelligence officials believe in transparency in government? Why doesn’t the media believe that the public deserves some answers?

    Some people get quite upset with 9/11 skeptics, accusing them of being unpatriotic conspiracy nuts. Why aren’t more people upset with government officials who hide their conduct by abusing national security classification procedures?

    Comment by Mike — March 18, 2010 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

    • Kevin, seems disinfo is correct- if it originated as a ltd. hangout cover story, it’s disinfo. Seems it may also be reverse psychology and a demoralizing message to the growing numbers of people the deep state knows know the official story is BS, i.e., ‘Sure, this titillating and ridiculous hangout is BS, but fuck you; what r u gonna do about it?’ Maybe that’s reading too much into it, but it’s absurd that this comes out over 8 years after 9/11 and gets the angle it does- after hundreds of facts coming out over the years that contradict the official story, many of them reported by mainstream media, though hardly any media ask the obvious questions, do any substantive analysis or investigative journalism, and if any MSM do, the story is buried in the cacophony of hype over celebrity and politician sex scandals and the like. So this comes out now, and Roston posits only explanations that are implausible in the larger context, and which John Farmer apparently thinks “aren’t good”; that the CIA was protecting turf/glory, or simply mistrustful of/spiteful towards the FBI. Roston cites anonymous officials, plural: “Intelligence officials tell The Observer.” Are these people really blowing the whistle, or sowing disinfo? Inquiring minds want to know how the public is being socially engineered.

      From the Roston article:

      “So the question has always been quite simple: Why wasn’t the Mihdhar information shared with the F.B.I.? “That is one of the big mysteries. Why was the information not passed on?” Mr. Farmer told The Observer. Mr. Farmer is also the author of a recent book about the attacks, Ground Truth. “And the explanations aren’t good,” he added.”

      “Philip Zelikow, the former executive director of the 9/11 Commission, said he couldn’t rule out the Shakir story and would like to hear more. “We looked at the issue very hard and with some care,” he told The Observer, “including the documentary record, but I would be glad to evaluate any new evidence that might surface.”

      “Mr. Kean, the commission co-chair, said, “It’s a great story.” But he pointed out that no one raised Mr. Shakir during the investigation. “I can’t say it is not true, but it would have been unusual if they withheld that information from the 9/11 Commission. I just have no way of knowing whether it is true, whether part of it is true or whether none of it is true.””

      Chp 6, 49. “CIA cable,”Efforts to Locate al-Midhar,” Jan. 13, 2000.We now know that two other al Qaeda operatives flew to Bangkok to meet Khallad to pass him money. See chapter 8. That was not known at the time. Mihdhar was met at the Kuala Lumpur airport by Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, an Iraqi national. Reports that he was a lieutenant colonel in the Iraqi Fedayeen have turned out to be incorrect.They were based on a confusion of Shakir’s identity with that of an Iraqi Fedayeen colonel with a similar name, who was later (in September 2001) in Iraq at the same time Shakir was in police custody in Qatar. See CIA briefing by CTC specialists (June
      22, 2004);Walter Pincus and Dan Eggen,”Al Qaeda Link to Iraq May Be Confusion over Names,” Washington Post, June 22, 2004, p. A13.”

      Comment by Erik Larson — March 18, 2010 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

      • Erik, I guess you have a point about the misinfo/disinfo thing, although I still reckon the person who told Roston may well have thought it was accurate.

        I don’t think it’s demoralising. Surely, if this were disinfo planted specifically by the Blee/Wilshire group, then it would be better, i.e. more believeable? This is a really pretty weak explanation. Or maybe the idea is to throw lots of different explanations out and let us thrash around in a sea of doubt?

        Comment by kevinfenton — March 19, 2010 @ 2:12 am

  3. Why didn’t Roston ask Zelikow, Kean and Farmer why they couldn’t answer such a fundamental question? The whole country pretends like these questions have no answers. This is simply not true. There are people who know what happened.

    It doesn’t say much for Farmer to put forth such an answer. How could he write an entire book on bureaucratic inefficiencies when he doesn’t know the answer to one of the key questions of 9/11?

    Roston also left out the bizarre conduct of the UBLU.

    Comment by Mike — March 19, 2010 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

    • The way Farmer’s book is written, he presents himself as knowing the answer to this question. I don’t recall reading any “It’s a big mystery” line in his book.

      Comment by kevinfenton — March 20, 2010 @ 1:17 am | Reply

  4. Interesting article but it clearly misses the big picture. It is clear that Roston never followed up on this information and found out the real reasons why the CIA had this information for 21 months and never gave it to the FBI criminal agents that could have used this information to prevent the attacks on 9/11.

    It turns out that the CIA actually working with FBI HQ agents they had subjugated, kept this information on Mihdhar secret from the FBI Agents on the Cole bombing in a wide ranging and massive criminal conspiracy, that involved at least 50-60 people at the CIA, including CIA Director George Tenet and 10-15 people at the FBI, including FBI Director Louis Freeh. Also involved in this massive criminal conspiracy were the Yemen CAI station, the Pakistan CIA station, the Bin Laden unit at the CIA, perhaps the Thailand CIA station, and the Bin Laden unit at the FBI, most likely the RFU unit and perhaps even the entire ITOS section at the FBI HQ.

    While this information went to the FBI HQ Bin Laden unit, these FBI HQ agents kept this information absolutely secret from the FBI Cole bombing investigators even though both the CIA and the FBI HQ knew that both Mihdhar and Hazmi had been at the Kuala Lumpur al Qaeda planning meeting with Walid Bin Attash, Khallad, actually planning the Cole bombing.

    When the agents on the FBI Cole bombing accidentally found out that both Mihdhar and Hazmi were inside of the US on August 28, 2001, and knew these terrorists were planning to carry out another horrific al Qaeda attack, the agents at FBI HQ shut down their investigation with the excuse that the information they would need would have to come from the NSA and this information was not allowed to go to FBI criminal investigators, until written permission had been obtained from the NSA.

    What the FBI HQ agents failed to mention was that they had already been given written permission the day before by the NSA to give this information to the FBI agents on the Cole bombing investigation.

    Because the FBI agents on the Cole bombing wanted to urgently investigate and find both Mihdhar and Hazmi before these two known al Qaeda terrorists could carry out yet another horrific attack, and because the Cole bombing investigators did not see any connection between the NSA information and a FISA warrant, the only legitimate reason NSA information could be withheld temporarily from FBI criminal investigators, the lead Cole bombing investigator Steve Bongardt asked the FBI HQ agents if they would go to the NSLU, the legal people at FBI HQ and get their legal opinion. On August 29, 2001 the FBI HQ agents told the FBI agents on the Cole bombing that the NSLU had ruled that they could have no part in any investigation of Mihdhar.

    But 9/11 Commission report page 238 footnote 81 says that the attorney the FBI HQ agents consulted, Sherry Sabol, had ruled that since the NSA information had no connection to any FISA warrant, the Cole bombing investigators could take part in any investigation for Mihdhar and Hazmi. Since this was two weeks prior to the attacks on 9/11, this would have been more than enough time to located these al Qaeda terrorists and connect them to this upcoming plot especially since the FBI already had all of Mihdhar’s and Hazmi’s credit card information right in their data base and Bongardt was able to located this information in just a few hours on 9/11, but only after the attacks had taken place.

    The FBI HQ agents and the CIA clearly knew, from warnings that they had received since April 2001, that thousands of Americans were going to perish in this massive al Qaeda attack, as a direct result of their actions to block Bongardt’s investigation of Mihdhar and Hazmi, one of only two FBI criminal investigations that could have stopped these attacks. The other investigation that could have prevented the attacks on 9/11, the investigation of Moussaoui and obtaining a FISA search warrant to search his duffle bag, was inexplicably blocked by FBI supervisors at the FBI RFU unit.

    From the information that is now in the public domain, it clearly looks like letting the al Qaeda attacks take place was intentional, and deliberate, on the part of both FBI HQ and the CIA. If it was not intentional and deliberate, why has neither the CIA or FBI HQ ever explained their actions and their criminal conspiracies to block the information on Mihdhar and Hazmi from going to the FBI Cole bombing investigators even after they knew that Mihdhar and Hazmi had taken part in the planning of the Cole bombing and then why did they shut down the very investigation of these known al Qaeda terrorists inside of the US?

    Why have they never explained why they did not raise any alarm that could have resulted in the necessary actions to prevent these attacks, and in fact did just the opposite, when they knew both Mihdhar and Hazmi were inside of the US, knew they were long time al Qaeda terrorists who were connected to the east African bombings that had killed over two hundred people, and the planning of the Cole bombing and even knew they were here only in order to take part in this massive al Qaeda attack, from the information that was detailed in Wilshire’s emails in July 2001, to Blee and Black?

    Maybe someone can explain this?

    Why has the FBI never explained why FBI Director Louis Freeh himself blocked the information on Mihdhar and Hazmi from going to FBI Agent Ali Soufan on November 200 when Soufan made an official request for this information and according to 9/11 Commission report p181, and DOJ IG report p238-239, this information had already been given to Louis Freeh by both the NSA and the CIA.

    It also looks like this horrific information on Mihdhar and Hazmi, and the fact that the CIA knew these terrorists were inside of the US only in order to take part in a massive al Qaeda attack that the CIA and FBI HQ knew about, also went to President Bush on August 24, 2001, when Tenet just after learning this information on August 23, 2001, flew down to Crawford Texas for a 6 hour long meeting with the Present, a meeting so secret that Tenet lied about this meeting and said that it did not take place at the April 14, 2001 9/11 Commission public hearings.

    It looks like Roston never looked into this information other than just scratch the surface. And Framer, Zelikow and Kean, people who should have been in the know, clearly are just trying to continue to propagate information from an investigation that they now must know was nothing but a farce and a total fraud on the American people.

    Comment by Robert Schopmeyer — April 11, 2010 @ 10:28 pm | Reply

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