It has taken nearly ten years, but the real story of Iran’s direct, material involvement in the 9/11 conspiracy is finally coming to light. And it’s being revealed not by the U.S. government or by Congressional investigators but by private attorneys representing families of the 9/11 victims in U.S. District Court.
Just one week before the 9/11 Commission sent its final report to the printers in July 2004, diligent staffers discovered a six-page classified National Security Agency analysis summarizing what the U.S. intelligence community had learned about Iran’s assistance to the 9/11 hijackers.
They happened upon the document by chance. It had been tucked away at the bottom of the last box in the last stack of classified documents they were reviewing. But it was so explosive that several Commissioners pushed hard to make sure the information it contained was included in the final report, despite intense push back from the intelligence community.
The page and a half section that made the final cut (see pages 240-241) details repeated trips to Iran by 8-10 of the “muscle” hijackers between October 2000 and February 2001. Flying in from Saudi Arabia, Damascus, and Beirut, the future hijackers were accompanied by “senior Hezbollah operatives” who were in fact agents of the Iranian regime.
The information was so explosive that the CIA lobbied hard to get it expunged from the final report, in part because they had detected some of the movements as they were occurring but failed to appreciate their import. “They saw them as travel through Iran, not travel to Iran,” a senior 9/11 Commission staffer told me at the time.
By the time the staffers had read into the 75 source documents on a Sunday morning out at NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, MD, the Commission was pushing up against the end of its mandate and could not do any additional work. The information was so serious and had such clear geopolitical import that it “requires further investigation by the U.S. government,” they concluded. Many of the Commissions and senior staff who were aware of the document find assumed someone else would pick up the ball.
But as attorney Thomas Mellon, Jr. and his colleagues representing Fiona Havlish and other 9/11 widows and family members discovered, no such investigation was ever carried out. Not even the Congressional intelligence committees would go near the subject, despite direct appeals from the Havlish plaintiffs and a review of many of the original still-classified documents cited in the report.
I was engaged by the Havlish attorneys in 2004 to carry out the investigation the 9/11 Commission report called on the U.S. government to handle. We had no governmental authority, hardly any budget, and no access to classified intelligence or intelligence assets. But what we found and made public starting this May is enough to hang a fish. Put simply:
• The Islamic Republic of Iran helped design the 9/11 plot;
• provided intelligence support to identify and train the operatives who carried it out;
• allowed the future hijackers to evade U.S. and Pakistani surveillance on key trips to Afghanistan where they received the final order of mission from Osama bin Laden, by escorting them through Iranian borders without passport stamps;
• evacuated hundreds of top al Qaeda operatives from Afghanistan to Iran after the 9/11 just as U.S. forces launched their offensive;
• provided safe haven and continued financial support to al Qaeda cadres for years after 9/11;
• allowed al Qaeda to use Iran as an operational base for additional terror attacks, in particular the May 2003 bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Key elements of our proofs are in bullet points at the end of this article. For those wishing a more detailed account, here is a partially-redacted affidavit I provided to the Court that traces the Islamic Republic of Iran’s relationship al Qaeda back to the early 1990s.
Panic at CIA
As the Havlish case was getting closer to making its information public last year, certain old guard elements within the CIA went into a panic mode, apparently worried that their failure to act on indicators and warnings in 2000 and 2001 would come to light and ruin their post-Agency careers. I can now reveal that they made several attempts to suborn two of the Havlish witnesses who were located overseas.
In the first attempt, in August 2010, an individual presenting himself as a CIA official, told our witness that the Agency wanted to “break” the Havlish litigation against the Islamic Republic of Iran, and considered the witness’s testimony to be crucial to the lawsuit’s success.
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