FBI withheld information on 9/11 attacks

More than four months before 9/11, an FBI informant who had been furnishing the Bureau with information since 1990, contacted two agents and a translator with information about a terrorist attack being planned by Osama bin Laden.

Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, who related this story on Truthout.org, said the informant had been a high-level intelligence officer in Iran and was in charge of intelligence from Afghanistan.

The informant told the agents he had received information that Osama bin Laden was planning a major terrorist attack in the U.S. involving four or five major cities; the attack would involve airplanes; some of the attackers already were in the U.S.; and the attack would occur within a few months.

That information was passed on by the agents to their superiors. The immediate superior was Thomas Fields, Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism at the Washington Field Office of the FBI.

Edmonds said in the article that after the attacks of 9/11, the agents and the translator were told to keep quiet about that information. The translator, who had been present when the information came in, reported this to the Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, and later, to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice.

The Chicago Tribune reported this incident and confirmed the information was received in April 2001, Edmonds said. The paper said an aide to Mueller told them Mueller was surprised the 9/11 Commission never brought up the incident with him during the hearings. The translator reported the information to the Commission on Feb. 12, 2004, and gave them specifics as to dates, witness names, location, and the contact data for the Iranian informant and the two agents who got the data.

Edmonds said on Truthout.org: “I provided the 9/11 Commission with a detailed and specific account of this issue, the names of other witnesses, and documents I had seen.” For nearly four years after the attacks, she said, officials denied having any specific information about terrorist plans to attack the U.S. All the above information went to the same place—FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In October 2001, about a month after the attacks, Edmonds told Truthout.org an agent from one of the FBI field offices sent a document to the Bureau’s Washington office, so it could be re-translated. The agent believed that, considering the person under surveillance in his city and the issues involved, the original translation might have missed some information that could prove valuable in investigating terrorist activities. After the document was re-translated, the agent’s hunch was confirmed. Edmonds said the new translation disclosed information about pictures, blueprints, and building materials for skyscrapers that was sent overseas. It also revealed certain illegal activity about obtaining visas from specific embassies in the Middle East through networking and bribery.

Oddly enough, after the re-translation, the supervisor in charge of certain Middle Eastern languages decided not to forward the new information to the agent who requested the re-translation. Instead, according to Edmonds, he sent the agent a note stating the original translation was reviewed, and it was correct.

Edmonds said in the article that she furnished that information to both the 9/11 Commission and the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

She stated on Truthout.org that: “Today, after nearly four years since 9/11, the American people still do not know that thousands of lives can be jeopardized under the unspoken policy of ‘protecting certain foreign business relations.’ The victims’ family members still do not realize that information and answers they have sought relentlessly for almost four years has been blocked due to the unspoken decisions made and disguised under ‘safeguarding certain diplomatic relations.’

“Where is the so-called congressional oversight?” Edmonds asked. “Why has the 9/11 Commission intentionally omitted this information, although they’ve had it all along? Where is accountability?”

Many feel the American public ought to be asking the same questions.

From the Aug. 10-16, 2005, issue

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