“The Asset” and the Iran-al Qaida connection

Topics: War Room,

“There is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al-Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers,” the 9/11 commission found, although the report also says Iran probably wasn’t aware of the specific plot.

Today’s Chicago Tribune examines the connections between Iran and al Qaeda before 9/11, exposing a web of contacts and understandings between the fundamentalist regime in Tehran and the terror network. It’s the kind of connection President Bush thought he had before he invaded Iraq. Indeed, some pre-9/11 intelligence on Osama bin Laden’s plans came from Iranian sources, including “the Asset,” an Iranian ex-patriot cooperating with the FBI. From the article:

“Law enforcement officials who have reviewed the April 2001 interview and at least one follow-up conversation insist that the informant’s information, by itself, could not have led the bureau to the Sept. 11 plotters.

You Might Also Like

“But the real significance of that information, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the case, may lie in its source: a former member of the Iranian intelligence service now living in the U.S. and known to his FBI handlers as ‘the Asset.’

“‘His “subsource” was somebody back home’ in Iran, said the law enforcement official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. In the wake of Sept. 11, the official said, it appeared that ‘somebody in Iran had some knowledge of something’ related to Sept. 11.

“Although the Asset has lived in the U.S. 25 years and speaks some English, the FBI has had trouble understanding him in the past. To guard against any misunderstanding, the two FBI agents assigned to interview him in April 2001 brought along an FBI translator fluent in his native language, Farsi.

“The interview followed the standard FBI format. The agents posed their questions in English, which were then translated into Farsi. The Asset’s replies were translated back into English as the agents took notes.

“According to the law enforcement official, ‘there was talk about terrorists and planes,’ but no mention of when or where the attacks might take place.

“It was the FBI agents’ impression, the official said, that the target of the attacks could be ‘possibly here, but more probably overseas.’ The Asset also reported having heard a rumor that a plane would be hijacked to Afghanistan, the official said.

“The FBI’s translator, a former Iranian police colonel named Behrooz Sarshar, does not recall any mention of a hijacking to Afghanistan. But Sarshar, then a career FBI employee assigned to the translation section of the bureau’s Washington field office, does remember the Asset saying the attacks might take place in the U.S. or Europe, and also that the terrorist-pilots were ‘under training.’”

Stephen W. Stromberg is a former editorial fellow at Salon.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Michael Ohl/Museum fur Naturkunde

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Soul-Sucking Dementor Wasp

    Latin name: Ampulex dementor

    Truong Ngyuen

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    10,000th reptile species

    Latin name: Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi

    Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Colour-changing thorny frogs

    Latin name: Gracixalus lumarius

    Judith L. Eger

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Long-fanged bat

    Latin name: Hypsugo dolichodon

    Neang Thy Moe/FFI

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Stealthy wolf snake

    Latin name: Lycodon zoosvictoriae

    Michael Janes

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Feathered coral

    Latin name: Ovabunda andamanensis

    Jerome Constant

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    World's second-longest insect

    Phryganistria heusii yentuensis

    Nantasak Pinkaew

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 8

    Latin name: Sirindhornia spp

    Tim Johnson

    Soul-sucking 'dementor' wasps and 8 other crazy new species

    Slide 9

    Tylototriton shanorum

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>