FRONTLINE aired a documentary about John O’Neill, a former FBI agent who spent years investigating Al Qaeda. His work in counterterrorism began on February 5, 1995. On that day, he started his new job as the Chief of the Counterterrorism Section at FBI Headquarters. His first day on the job, which happened to be a Sunday, proved to be very eventful. On that day, the Chief of Counterterrorism at the National Security Council, Richard Clarke, read a report which contained the location of Ramzi Yousef, the person who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. Upon learning this information, Clarke called the FBI. John O’Neill answered the phone. Clarke told O’Neill the news and told him to arrest Yousef.
Over the next couple days, O’Neill managed to put together the team that would arrest Yousef in Pakistan. In the subsequent investigation, the FBI discovered that Yousef had called Osama bin Laden. This was before bin Laden was a household name. Once O’Neill began investigating bin Laden, he became convinced that bin Laden was a threat to America.
On June 25, 1996, a group of terrorists blew up Khobar Towers, a building which housed U.S. Air Force personnel in Saudi Arabia. O’Neill participated in the investigation. He became convinced the Saudis were hiding something. The FBI director, Louis Freeh, disagreed. This would not be their last disagreement. In fact, much of the documentary focuses on the conflicts between Louis Freeh and John O’Neill.
To this day, the responsibility for the attack on Khobar Towers is still somewhat ambiguous. The White House believed Iran was responsible, as did the Saudi government. According to Richard Clarke, the Saudis obstructed the FBI investigation because they did not want us to learn that Iran was in fact responsible for the attack. Apparently, the Saudis feared that we would bomb Iran if we discovered that Iran was responsible. And the last thing the Saudis want is for us to bomb Iran.1
On August 7, 1998, terrorists blew up the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. This attack made Osama bin Laden famous.
“That clearly was the event that changed bin Laden’s profile dramatically because it was such a major event,” said Michael Sheehan, the former Chief of Counterterrorism at the State Department. “Two embassies blown up simultaneously over 500 miles apart in the continent of Africa was not expected. Most of the attacks previous to that were in the Middle East. This was in a part of the world we didn’t expect. Two embassies done simultaneously showed a great deal of sophistication in the organization. So this was a major event.”2
As counterterrorism was his specialty, O’Neill wanted to head the investigation, but the FBI put another agent, Tom Pickard, in charge. This made O’Neill angry.
“This is the World Series, and he’s gotten benched,” said Fran Townsend, the Deputy Attorney General. “And that’s exactly how he feels about it. And he is very hurt, very upset about it. And bitter.”
After a couple of weeks of investigation, the FBI determined that Al Qaeda was responsible for the bombings and they turned the investigation over to O’Neill. But they would not allow him to go to the crime scene.
During the investigation, the FBI discovered that bin Laden wanted to send his minions to America for pilot training. They also discovered that Al Qaeda had a communications hub in Yemen.3
O’Neill had come to believe that Al Qaeda had infiltrated America, but FBI headquarters said they didn’t believe him, at least not until the failed Millennium bomb plot.4
At one point in the documentary, FRONTLINE hints that Europe may have something to do with Al Qaeda. They mention that O’Neill was working with the police in Germany, Spain, and Italy who were following Al Qaeda operatives in Europe.
“John understood that this was a global operation and that if we were going to get a handle on this, we had to work very, very closely with liaison services, such as the British, the Jordanians and the Egyptians and the Yemenis and the French,” said Chris Isham.
After the embassy bombings, apparently, someone in the FBI staged an incident in order to get O’Neill fired. The incident occurred at an FBI conference which was held at a hotel in Florida. O’Neill was inside a room filled with FBI agents when he received a phone call. Apparently, the room was noisy and so he stepped outside so he could hear what the caller was saying. When he went back inside the room, his briefcase was gone. The briefcase contained a set of classified documents. It was against the rules to take those documents out of the office. Remember, the briefcase vanished inside a room containing 150 FBI agents who were attending an FBI conference. The FBI found his bag a few hours later. They examined the documents for fingerprints and concluded that no one other than O’Neill had looked at them.
O’Neill worried that his detractors in the FBI might use the incident to bury him. But when terrorists struck the USS Cole in Yemen, the FBI sent him to investigate the attack. Soon after he started his investigation, O’Neill came to the belief that the Yemeni government was not cooperating fully with him. Apparently, as O’Neill continued to press the Yemeni government, the Yemeni government decided to press back, and they did so through the U.S. ambassador in Yemen, Barbara Bodine. She started fighting with O’Neill over how he conducted the investigation. She felt O’Neill was hurting our relationship with Yemen.
The job was taking a toll on him. He started to lose weight. Apparently, during his stay in Yemen, he lost 20 to 25 pounds. Towards the end of November, he left Yemen so he could spend Thanksgiving at home. But after Thanksgiving, when he tried to return to Yemen, the ambassador prevented him from returning. And in the spring, apparently, our intelligence agencies told O’Neill that Al Qaeda would soon attack his FBI agents. And so he had them removed. That ended the investigation in Yemen.
The FBI continued to impede O’Neill after the Cole investigation. Headquarters did not send him a copy of a memo written by the Phoenix office in July of 2001. In this memo, the Phoenix office asked headquarters to investigate flight schools. Nor headquarters tell O’Neill about the efforts of the Minnesota office to investigate Zacarias Moussaoui, which happened in August.
Instead of sending him a copy of these memos, the FBI decided to leak the details of the briefcase incident to the New York Times. O’Neill got tired of dealing with headquarters. He retired in August. On his last day, he signed an authorization form allowing FBI agents to return to Yemen. After leaving the FBI, O’Neill took a job as chief of security at the World Trade Center. The job paid $350,000 per year. Apparently, O’Neill was not unaware of the risk. He told some of his acquaintances that Al Qaeda still wanted to destroy those buildings.
On August 23, the New York FBI office received an urgent memo from the CIA. The CIA wanted the FBI to track down two of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. To find those terrorists, one FBI agent requested “full criminal investigative resources” from FBI headquarters. But headquarters refused his request. And so on August 29, that FBI agent sent an email to FBI headquarters.
“Someday someone will die and the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain problems,” said the agent.
On the night of September 10, O’Neill told one of his acquaintances that he thought Al Qaeda would strike again. Soon.
A few days before 9/11, the FBI returned to Yemen. During the original investigation in Yemen, the FBI interviewed Fahd al-Quso, a suspect in the attack. In the days after 9/11, the FBI interrogated al-Quso again. The FBI showed al-Quso a picture of al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar.5 He was able to identify both terrorists. Both of them had attended flight school in America.
You may be wondering why FRONTLINE would produce this documentary. The documentary makes it seem as though our government knew about 9/11 before it happened. The documentary makes it seem like FBI headquarters impeded the investigation into Al Qaeda and ran John O’Neill out of town. And viewers are left with the impression that someway, somehow the government got O’Neill to quit the FBI and take a job at the World Trade Center right before the attacks so he would die there.6 Remember, FRONTLINE is produced by PBS, which is owned by our government. Why would our government want to release this information?
The documentary itself is a form of terrorism. Our government wants other governments to know that we knew about the 9/11 attacks before they happened. Our government does not want other governments to believe that they could attack America without our knowing about it. And our government wants other governments to think, “If this is what we do to ourselves, just think about what we will do to you.”
And our government released this documentary for another reason. The documentary was a threat – a threat to tell the truth. Obviously, were the public to learn the truth it would be devastating for our government given all the crimes they have committed. But the truth would be devastating for other governments as well, particularly governments in Europe. The documentary makes it seem like we will soon blow the lid on all the secrets the world has been hiding since, well, forever. Of course, our government had no intention of revealing the truth. They only wanted to intimidate other governments.
Threatening to reveal the truth is something our government has been doing a long time. Most infamously, they did this with the Kennedy assassination. They believe they can release this information with impunity. But I believe they’re wrong.
1 To me, this explanation sounds completely ridiculous. First of all, I really doubt America would bomb Iran no matter what the investigation revealed. Secondly, the idea that Saudi Arabia wanted to prevent America from attacking Iran is questionable at best. In fact, Robert Gates once said that the Saudis wanted to fight Iran to the last American.
I don’t know who was responsible for the attack on Khobar Towers. The Saudis could have done it (which would explain why they obstructed our investigation). We could have done the attack as a false flag operation. That would allow us to blame someone else for the attack (e.g. Saudi Arabia or Iran). And that would give us an excuse which would allow us to retaliate against either of those countries. The Europeans could have done the attack as a false flag operation, in which case they would try to make it appear as though the Saudis conducted the attack. In that case, the intent of the Europeans would have been to ruin our relationship with Saudi Arabia.
2 In fact, before the embassy attacks, Prudence Bushnell, the U.S. ambassador in Kenya, warned the White House of an impending attack. But the White House ignored the warning. And right before the attack, ABC News interviewed Osama bin Laden. That interview also boosted his profile quite a bit. Based on this information, I believe we wanted bin Laden to blow up those embassies, otherwise we would have stopped the attack. And the interview makes it seem like we wanted to make bin Laden a household name, which not coincidentally, the embassy bombings achieved.
3 Al Qaeda used this communications hub to relay information between Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda operatives worldwide. In fact, the NSA discovered this communications hub in 1996. But apparently they didn’t bother to tell the FBI. Nor did they use this information to dismantle the Al Qaeda network. This, of course, is further evidence that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda worked for our intelligence agencies.
4 The FBI must have known that bin Laden had a network in America. In fact, bin Laden had a long history of operating inside America. During the war between the Soviets and Afghans, Osama bin Laden led an organization called the Afghan Services Bureau. That organization provided funding and recruited soldiers for the war. In fact, the organization had a branch in Brooklyn, which was called the Al Kifah Refugee Center. Incidentally, the terrorists who murdered Meir Kahane and bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 were associated with that organization. And after the war with the Soviets, the Afghan Services Bureau morphed into Al Qaeda. This, of course, is further evidence that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda worked for our intelligence agencies.
5 In fact, that picture of al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar was taken during an Al Qaeda meeting in Malaysia. During that meeting, Al Qaeda set in motion the plan to attack the World Trade Center. What’s more, the CIA was monitoring that meeting, but they somehow managed to lose track of the participants after they left Malaysia and went to Thailand. Guess what this implies?
6 I believe that John O’Neill was a victim of Project Artichoke, the CIA mind control program. I do not believe it was a coincidence that on his first day working counterterrorism, our government found the location of Ramzi Yousef. I do not believe it was a coincidence that someone took his briefcase which just happened to have classified documents while it was in a room filled with 150 FBI agents. I do not believe it was a coincidence that he lost 20 to 25 pounds while investigating the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. I do not believe it was a coincidence that he left his job right before 9/11. And I don’t believe it was a coincidence that he took a job at the World Trade Center right before the attacks. My government is “telling” me that the CIA was using him in a sort of good cop, bad cop routine (O’Neill was the bad cop). They were using him as a sort of attack dog against the Yemeni and Saudi government in order to get those governments to cooperate with us on various issues. And when those governments did what our government wanted, our government would rein in O’Neill. I don’t know if I believe this story. But I do believe that many of his actions and many of the things that happened to him were scripted by our intelligence agencies.