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(1997-September 11, 2001): Russian-Born Businessman Provides the US Government with Information about Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda

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, 9/11 Timeline

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