What we learned from the Report of the 911 Commission XX.

The FBI had treated the USS Cole bombing in August 2000 as a criminal case and had sent agents to Yemen to conduct the investigation. Here they had the assistance of the CIA. A joint FBI/CIA source described someone named “Khallad,” who had directed the bombing. Four months later (December 2000), another conspirator being interrogated mentioned knowing a man named Khallad, who was a senior agent of OBL. The same FBI agent seems to have been informed of both conversations and made the connection. He got a photo of the man believed to have directed the Cole attack and had the person identified by the captured conspirator as Khallad. This established a connection between the Cole attack and OBL.

Kicking the issue around in December 2000, the CIA’s Bin Ladin unit wondered if “Khallad” was Khalid al Midhar. In January 2001 a surveillance photo of Midhar taken in Kuala Lumpur in January 2000 was shown to the source who had identified “Khallad” as the leader of the Cole attack. The source denied that Midhar was “Khallad”; instead, “Khallad” was the other man in the photo. This meant that Midhar was in touch with an important subordinate of OBL and that Midhar had been in the United States for a year.

However, the FBI agent present for this interview spoke no foreign languages and had to depend on the accompanying CIA agent to conduct the interview.   The FBI agent merely received a report from which the identification of Khallad with Midhar had been omitted. Thus, in January 2000 the CIA had failed to inform the FBI that Midhar, a suspected terrorist, had departed from Bangkok for Los Angeles; in January 2001 the CIA failed to inform the FBI that Midhar had links to Islamic terrorists implicated in major terrorist attacks against the United States. (pp. 382- 384.)

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