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Dave Frasca, an FBI supervisor who will later play a key role in the FBI’s failure to get a warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings before 9/11 (see August 21, 2001 and August 29, 2001), attempts to “derail” an investigation into radicals attempting to purchase weapons in the US, according to Randy Glass, a mole used in the operation. Glass, a former conman who poses as an arms dealer to help the FBI catch the radicals, will make the allegations in a May 2004 interview with the 9/11 Commission. According to Glass, Frasca, a supervisor at the FBI’s Miami office, hampers the operation in three ways. First, he rejects the idea of investigating the three men, Diaa Mohsen, Mohammed Malik, and RJ Abbas, the ISI intelligence agent, entirely. However, another FBI supervisor and an official from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) intervene to keep the case alive. Frasca also prevents two unnamed agents from tapping Mohsen’s telephone. According to a 9/11 Commission summary of Glass’s interview, “Mohsen was talking to everybody,” so presumably such electronic surveillance would have been very fruitful. Finally, Frasca attempts to “sabotage” the investigation by refusing to pay money promised to Glass so that he can buy a false passport from Mohsen. Glass will say that Frasca uses another, unnamed agent to “threaten” him over the passport purchase. The other agent tells Glass, “Frasca says that if you buy this passport, you will be charged with a crime.” However, an official apparently with another government agency tells Glass, “F_ck the FBI, go ahead and purchase the passport,” and Glass apparently does so. (9/11 Commission 5/4/2004) Frasca will be promoted in 2001 (see Early 2001).
Randy Glass is a con artist turned government informant participating in a sting called Operation Diamondback. (Pacenti 9/29/2001) He discusses an illegal weapons deal with an Egyptian-American named Mohamed el Amir. In wiretapped conversations, Mohamed discusses the need to get false papers to disguise a shipment of illegal weapons. His brother, Dr. Magdy el Amir, has been a wealthy neurologist in Jersey City for the past twenty years. Two other weapons dealers later convicted in a sting operation involving Glass also lived in Jersey City, and both el Amirs admit knowing one of them, Diaa Mohsen. Mohsen has been paid at least once by Dr. el Amir. In 1998, Congressman Ben Gilman was given a foreign intelligence report suggesting that Dr. el Amir owns an HMO that is secretly funded by Osama bin Laden, and that money is being skimmed from the HMO to fund al-Qaeda activities. The state of New Jersey later buys the HMO and determines that $15 million were unaccounted for and much of that has been diverted into hard-to-trace offshore bank accounts. However, investigators working with Glass are never given the report about Dr. el Amir. Neither el Amir has been charged with any crime. Mohamed now lives in Egypt and Magdy continues to practice medicine in New Jersey. Glass’s sting, which began in late 1998, will uncover many interesting leads before ending in June 2001. (MSNBC 8/2/2002) Remarkably, Dr. Magdy el Amir’s lawyer is none other than Michael Chertoff, a prominent criminal defense lawyer in New Jersey, who will later join the Bush administration’s Justice Department as assistant attorney general in charge of the Criminal Division and then become homeland defense secretary. (New York Times 12/18/1998; Mumma 6/19/2000) After 9/11, Chertoff will play a leading role in investigating and prosecuting terrorist crimes, including terrorism financing through money laundering. (Toobin 11/5/2001) It seems that the only subsequent media reference to Chertoff’s involvement in the el Amir case will appear in an opinion column by Sidney Blumenthal, a strong critic of the Bush administration. (Blumenthal 12/22/2005)
US government informant Randy Glass records a conversation at a dinner attended by himself, illegal arms dealers Diaa Mohsen and Mohammed Malik, a former Egyptian judge named Shireen Shawky, and Pakistani ISI agent Rajaa Gulum Abbas, held at a restaurant within view of the World Trade Center. FBI agents pretending to be restaurant customers sit at nearby tables. (MSNBC 8/2/2002; WPBF 25 (West Palm Beach) 8/5/2002) Abbas says he wants to buy a whole shipload of weapons stolen from the US military to give to Osama bin Laden. (Pacenti 8/2/2002) Abbas points to the WTC and says, “Those towers are coming down.” This ISI agent later makes two other references to an attack on the WTC. (Pacenti 8/2/2002; WPBF 25 (West Palm Beach) 8/5/2002; Pacenti 10/17/2002) Abbas also says, “Americans [are] the enemy,” and, “We would have no problem with blowing up this entire restaurant because it is full of Americans.” (NBC 3/18/2003) The meeting is secretly recorded and parts will be shown on television in 2003. (MSNBC 3/18/2003)
A group of illegal arms merchants, including an ISI agent with foreknowledge of 9/11, had met in a New York restaurant the month before (see July 14, 1999). This same group meets at this time in a West Palm Beach, Florida, warehouse, and it is shown Stinger missiles as part of a sting operation. (Burstein 3/20/2003) US intelligence soon discovers connections between two in the group, Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Mohammed Malik, Islamic militant groups in Kashmir (where the ISI assists them in fighting against India), and the Taliban. Mohamed Malik suggests in this meeting that the Stingers will be used in Kashmir or Afghanistan. His colleague Diaa Mohsen also says Abbas has direct connections to “dignitaries” and bin Laden. Abbas also wants heavy water for a “dirty bomb” or other material to make a nuclear weapon. He says he will bring a Pakistani nuclear scientist to the US to inspect the material. (MSNBC 8/2/2002; NBC 3/18/2003) According to Dick Stoltz, a federal undercover agent posing as a black market arms dealer, one of the Pakistanis at the warehouse claims he is working for A.Q. Khan. A Pakistani nuclear scientist, Khan is considered the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and also the head of an illegal network exporting nuclear technology to rogue nations. (Hansen 1/14/2005) Government informant Randy Glass passes these warnings on before 9/11, but he claims, “The complaints were ordered sanitized by the highest levels of government.” (WPBF 25 (West Palm Beach) 8/5/2002) In June 2002, the US secretly indicts Abbas, but apparently they aren’t trying very hard to find him: In August 2002, MSNBC is easily able to contact Abbas in Pakistan and speak to him by telephone. (MSNBC 8/2/2002)
Operation Diamondback, a sting operation uncovering an attempt to buy weapons illegally for the Taliban, bin Laden, and others, ends with a number of arrests. An Egyptian named Diaa Mohsen and a Pakistani named Mohammed Malik are arrested and accused of attempting to buy Stinger missiles, nuclear weapon components, and other sophisticated military weaponry for the Pakistani ISI. (Frieden 6/15/2001; Burstein 8/23/2001; Mintz 8/2/2002) Malik appears to have had links to important Pakistani officials and Kashmiri militants, and Mohsen claims a connection to a man “who is very connected to the Taliban” and funded by bin Laden. (Mintz 8/2/2002; MSNBC 8/2/2002) Some other ISI agents came to Florida on several occasions to negotiate, but they escaped being arrested. They wanted to pay partially in heroin. One mentioned that the WTC would be destroyed. These ISI agents said some of their purchases would go to the Taliban in Afghanistan and/or militants associated with bin Laden. (Mintz 8/2/2002; MSNBC 8/2/2002) Both Malik and Mohsen lived in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Morrill 6/20/2001) Mohsen pleads guilty after 9/11, “but remarkably, even though [he was] apparently willing to supply America’s enemies with sophisticated weapons, even nuclear weapons technology, Mohsen was sentenced to just 30 months in prison.” (MSNBC 8/2/2002) Malik’s case appears to have been dropped, and reporters find him working in a store in Florida less than a year after the trial ended. (MSNBC 8/2/2002) Malik’s court files remain completely sealed, and in Mohsen’s court case, prosecutors “removed references to Pakistan from public filings because of diplomatic concerns.” (Mintz 8/2/2002) Also arrested are Kevin Ingram and Walter Kapij. Ingram pleads guilty to laundering $350,000 and he is sentenced to 18 months in prison. (Frieden 6/15/2001; Hocker 6/19/2001; Riddle 12/1/2001) Ingram was a former senior investment banker with Deutsche Bank, but resigned in January 1999 after his division suffered costly losses. (Hocker 6/19/2001; Morrill 6/20/2001) Walter Kapij, a pilot with a minor role in the plot, is given the longest sentence, 33 months in prison. (Frieden 6/15/2001; Hocker 6/19/2001; Pacenti 1/12/2002) Informant Randy Glass plays a key role in the sting, and has thirteen felony fraud charges against him reduced as a result, serving only seven months in prison. Federal agents involved in the case later express puzzlement that Washington higher-ups did not make the case a higher priority, pointing out that bin Laden could have gotten a nuclear bomb if the deal was for real. Agents on the case complain that the FBI did not make the case a counterterrorism matter, which would have improved bureaucratic backing and opened access to FBI information and US intelligence from around the world. (Mintz 8/2/2002; MSNBC 8/2/2002) Federal agents frequently couldn’t get prosecutors to approve wiretaps. (Pacenti 8/2/2002) Glass says, “Wouldn’t you think that there should have been a wire tap on Diaa [Mohsen]‘s phone and Malik’s phone?” (WPBF 25 (West Palm Beach) 8/5/2002) An FBI supervisor in Miami refused to front money for the sting, forcing agents to use money from US Customs and even Glass’s own money to help keep the sting going. (Pacenti 8/2/2002)
Randy Glass, a former con artist turned government informant, will later claim that he contacts the staff of Senator Bob Graham (D-NY) and Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL) at this time, and warns them of a plan to attack the World Trade Center, but his warnings are ignored. (Pacenti 10/17/2002) Glass also tells the media at the present time that his recently concluded informant work has “far greater ramifications than have so far been revealed,” and, “potentially, thousands of lives [are] at risk.” (Burstein 8/7/2001) Glass was a key informant in a sting operation involving Pakistani ISI agents who were illegally trying to purchase sophisticated US military weaponry in return for cash and heroin. He will claim that in July 1999, one ISI agent named Rajaa Gulum Abbas pointed to the WTC and said, “Those towers are coming down.” (Pacenti 10/17/2002) Most details will apparently remain sealed. For instance Glass will claim that his sealed sentencing document dated June 15, 2001, lists threats against the WTC and Americans but, according to Glass, “[t]he complaints were ordered sanitized by the highest levels of government.” (WPBF 25 (West Palm Beach) 8/5/2002) Florida State Senator Ron Klein, who has dealings with Glass before 9/11, will say he is surprised it took so many months for the US to listen to Glass. “Shame on us,” he will say. (Pacenti 10/17/2002) Klein will recall getting a warning from Glass, though he cannot recall if it mentions the WTC specifically. He will say he was told US intelligence agencies would look into it. (Walter 10/7/2002) Graham will later acknowledge that his office has contact with Glass before 9/11, and is told about a WTC attack, saying, “I was concerned about that and a dozen other pieces of information which emanated from the summer of 2001.” However, Graham will say that he personally is unaware of Glass’s information until after 9/11. (Pacenti 10/17/2002) In October 2002, Glass will testify under oath before a private session of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, and tell it that he has “specific evidence, and I can document it.” (Pacenti 10/17/2002)
The US secretly indicts Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Abdul Malik for attempting to buy $32 million in Stinger missiles and other military weaponry in an undercover arms-dealing investigation. However, a US official states that Abbas is an alleged member of the ISI, and is thought to have ties to Middle Eastern militant groups and arms-trafficking operations. He also appears to have foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. Abdul Malik is said to be Abbas’s money man. Abdul Malik is not related to Mohammed Malik, another Pakistani targeted by the undercover operation. The chief US informant in the case, Randy Glass, says that both men also have clear ties to al-Qaeda, and the arms were going to be funneled to al-Qaeda and used against American targets. (Spencer-Wendel and Pacenti 3/20/2003; Burstein 3/20/2003) The indictment is not revealed until March 2003; both men still remain missing and are presumed to be in Pakistan. The US says it is still working on capturing and extraditing Abbas and Malik. (NBC 3/18/2003) NBC seems to have no trouble reaching Abbas in Pakistan by telephone. (MSNBC 8/2/2002; NBC 3/18/2003) The indictment “makes no mention of Pakistan, any ties to Afghanistan’s former Taliban regime or the ultimate destination of the weapons.” (Spencer-Wendel and Pacenti 3/20/2003)
MSNBC airs recordings informant Randy Glass made of arms dealers and Pakistani ISI agents attempting to buy nuclear material and other illegal weapons for bin Laden. (MSNBC 8/2/2002) Meanwhile, it is reported that federal investigators are re-examining the arms smuggling case involving Glass “to determine whether agents of the Pakistani government tried to buy missiles and nuclear weapons components in the United States last year for use by terrorists or Pakistan’s military.” (Mintz 8/2/2002) Two such ISI agents, Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Abdul Malik, are already secretly indicted by this time. But Glass still says, “The government knows about those involved in my case who were never charged, never deported, who actively took part in bringing terrorists into our country to meet with me and undercover agents.” (Pacenti 8/2/2002) One such person may be a former Egyptian judge named Shireen Shawky, who was interested in buying weapons for the Taliban and attended a meeting in July 1999 in which ISI agent Rajaa Gulum Abbas said the WTC would be destroyed. (MSNBC 8/2/2002; WPBF 25 (West Palm Beach) 8/5/2002) Others not charged may include Mohamed el Amir and Dr. Magdy el Amir.
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