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Context of 'After September 11, 2001: Russian-Born Businessman Provides US Intelligence with Information about Al-Qaeda'

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The National Program Office (NPO) secretly oversees the government’s highly classified Continuity of Government program. Established by a “top-secret” presidential directive in 1982, the NPO is tasked with ensuring the survival of the federal government in times of national emergency. The office, which reports to the vice president, is responsible for coordinating secret emergency plans across four organizations: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Departments of State and Defense. From 1982 to 1991 the office spends roughly $8 billion maintaining massive underground bunkers, developing high-tech hardware, and devising last-resort plans to keep the government functioning during a nuclear war. The existence of the NPO is not publicly disclosed until a 1991 investigation by CNN reveals the title of the office and concludes it is plagued by corruption, fraud, and abuses of authority. [CNN Special Assignment, 11/17/1991]

Entity Tags: National Program Office

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Felix Sater.Felix Sater. [Source: Felix Sater]Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman, works as a spy for American intelligence, and obtains valuable information about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, including bin Laden’s satellite telephone numbers. [BuzzFeed News, 3/12/2018] Sater was born in Moscow in 1966 but moved with his family to America when he was a child and is now an American citizen. [US Congress. House, 12/2017; ABC News, 8/23/2019] He becomes an informant for the FBI around December 1998 after pleading guilty for his role in a $40 million stock fraud scheme orchestrated by New York mafia members. To avoid a prison sentence, he signs a cooperation agreement with the US government. [BuzzFeed News, 3/12/2018; Politico, 5/16/2019; Hill, 5/16/2019; Daily Mail, 8/23/2019] However, his work for American intelligence begins more than a year before this, he will later claim, when he meets an employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency who tells him his country needs him and then recruits him in support of American intelligence efforts. [US Congress. House, 12/2017; ABC News, 8/23/2019] He works as a spy for over 20 years, assisting the CIA, the FBI, and other agencies. [US Department of Justice, 8/27/2009 pdf file; Politico, 3/12/2018]
Sater Faces 'Tremendous Risks' in His Intelligence Work - Sater provides what he will describe as “extraordinary assistance” to the US government that involves “serious matters of national security.” His work poses “tremendous risks to my safety and the safety of my family,” he will state, and implicates “some of our nation’s greatest enemies, whose terrorism threatened our way of life.” His activities include:
bullet Establishing a network of contacts in various countries that includes intelligence officers, military operatives, and personnel at military research facilities. [US Congress. House, 12/2017] Among these contacts are a former senior KGB officer and arms dealer who possesses information regarding “potential threats to the United States emanating from Afghanistan and certain Central Asian republics,” and an intelligence officer working for the Northern Alliance, the resistance group fighting Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban. [US Department of Justice, 8/27/2009 pdf file; BuzzFeed News, 3/12/2018]
bullet Providing information about the location of bin Laden and elements of his command structure. [US Congress. House, 12/2017]
bullet Providing information about who is selling arms to bin Laden. [US Department of Justice, 8/27/2009 pdf file]
bullet Obtaining five of bin Laden’s personal satellite telephone numbers. [US Department of Justice, 8/27/2009 pdf file; US Congress. House, 12/2017; BuzzFeed News, 3/12/2018]
bullet Providing information about the locations of hidden al-Qaeda terrorist training camps.
bullet Assembling a team of mercenaries in an effort to kill bin Laden in one of his terrorist training camps.
bullet Providing information about the location of Stinger missiles that were initially provided to the mujaheddin in Afghanistan, before they are acquired by al-Qaeda. [US Congress. House, 12/2017]
Sater Goes 'above and beyond' What Is Expected - Sater is apparently dedicated and effective in his work for the US government, and will receive significant praise for it. Agents who supervise him will all say he is “an exemplary cooperator who worked diligently to further the aims of the missions to which he was assigned.” [US Department of Justice, 8/27/2009 pdf file] A senior intelligence official who works directly on terrorism cases before and after 9/11 will comment, “Felix likely does not realize how important his work has been in saving American lives” and “deserves a commendation” for his efforts. [BuzzFeed News, 3/12/2018] He went “above and beyond what is expected of most cooperators, and placed himself in great jeopardy in so doing,” federal prosecutors involved with his stock fraud case will write. [US Department of Justice, 8/27/2009 pdf file; Daily Mail, 8/23/2019]
Sater Is Happy to Assist the US Government - Sater is apparently happy to work with US intelligence agencies. He will state that he “enthusiastically embraced” the opportunity to serve and protect his country. He will continue working for US intelligence after 9/11, and provide information about the names and passports of al-Qaeda operatives, and information about the locations of al-Qaeda weapons caches, among other things (see After September 11, 2001). [US Congress. House, 12/2017] He will become known after the 2016 US presidential election for his business ties to then President Donald Trump. [CBS News, 11/29/2018; Hill, 5/16/2019; ABC News, 8/23/2019]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Al-Qaeda, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Osama bin Laden, Felix Sater, Defense Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman, works as a spy for American intelligence and provides it with valuable information about al-Qaeda. [BuzzFeed News, 3/12/2018] Sater started working for US intelligence around 1997 and since then has been assisting the CIA, the FBI, and other agencies. He has obtained information on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, including five of bin Laden’s personal satellite telephone numbers (see (1997-September 11, 2001)). [US Department of Justice, 8/27/2009 pdf file; Politico, 5/16/2019; ABC News, 8/23/2019] But he doubles his efforts after the 9/11 attacks, he will later state. [US Congress. House, 12/2017] His handlers urge him to find any relevant information and, at the direction of the FBI, he heads to the Middle East to collect intelligence on key leaders in al-Qaeda. He then gathers much information during his travels there. [BuzzFeed News, 3/12/2018] His activities include:
bullet Turning the personal secretary of Mullah Omar, the head of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban, into a source. This man then provides copies of al-Qaeda passports and information on jihadi escape routes, as well the locations of al-Qaeda training camps, fighters, and weapons caches.
bullet Providing the names of al-Qaeda operatives.
bullet Providing details of American companies that are fronts for al-Qaeda.
bullet Providing details of the financial networks behind the 9/11 attackers and other al-Qaeda members around the world.
bullet Identifying a New Mexico company believed to be laundering terrorism funds in the US. [US Congress. House, 12/2017; BuzzFeed News, 3/12/2018]
bullet Providing information regarding the whereabouts of bin Laden. [US Department of Justice, 8/27/2009 pdf file]
bullet Providing details of a potential assassination plot against President Bush.
bullet Providing details of a potential assassination attempt on Secretary of State Colin Powell, including information regarding specific plans by al-Qaeda fighters to bring his plane down when he is visiting Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. [US Congress. House, 12/2017]
bullet Reporting on the results of US bombings in Afghanistan. [US Department of Justice, 8/27/2009 pdf file; US Congress. House, 12/2017; BuzzFeed News, 3/12/2018]
bullet Providing information regarding which tribal structures might be coerced into abandoning the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and switching their allegiance to the Northern Alliance or other US-supported groups in Afghanistan. [US Congress. House, 12/2017]
Sater is “an exemplary cooperator who worked diligently to further the aims of the missions to which he was assigned,” according to the agents who supervise his activities. He provides a “massive amount of assistance” in defense of the US, and his intelligence work “significantly enhanced and potentially saved the lives of hundreds if not thousands of military personnel, before and during military operations carried out in hostile countries,” he will state. He also assists US intelligence in areas besides the war on terror, such as North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, Russian organized crime, La Cosa Nostra organized crime families, international cyber criminals, and financial fraud. [US Department of Justice, 8/27/2009 pdf file; US Congress. House, 12/2017; BuzzFeed News, 3/12/2018] He becomes known after the 2016 US presidential election for his business ties to then President Donald Trump. [CBS News, 11/29/2018; Hill, 5/16/2019; ABC News, 8/23/2019]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Colin Powell, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Al-Qaeda, George W. Bush, Felix Sater, Osama bin Laden

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

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