Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #467 Fifth Column, Part IV

Recorded July 4, 2004
Listen:
MP3 Side 1 | Side 2
RealAudio

You can't fool Grover Norquist

Introduction: This program presents more information about a Fifth Column that Mr. Emory believes facilitated the 9/11 attacks. One of the principal elements in the development of this Fifth Column is GOP kingmaker Grover Norquist’s active recruitment of Islamists to the Republican cause. Many of Norquist’s Islamist recruits had terrorist ties. Among the Norquist recruits is Faisal Gill, whose sensitive position with the Department of Homeland Security places him in possession of top-secret information about the vulnerability of America’s seaports, aviation facilities and nuclear power plants. Gill, in turn, is linked to Abdurahman Alamoudi, part of the Al Taqwa milieu implicated in the financing of Al Qaeda. Gill’s appointment is all the more alarming in light of his apparent lack of intelligence qualifications. Much of the program is devoted to further scrutiny of Ptech—a software firm that developed threat-assessment software for both the Air Force and the FAA. Ptech may also be part of the Fifth Column for which the program is titled.

Program Highlights Include: Information that indicates that Islamists did indeed work to establish a Fifth Column in the U.S. in order to gain access to sensitive intelligence information; review of the significance of the Muslim Brotherhood in the terrorist cosmology; discussion of the relationship between Ptech and individuals and institutions under investigation in connection with terrorism; the relationship between BMI (involved in the formation of Ptech) and Al Taqwa; connections between BMI and Abdullah bin Laden (under investigation in connection with terrorism); the Bush administration’s evacuation of Abdullah bin Laden in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks; links between BMI founder Soliman Biheiri and Al Taqwa; links between Ptech and Yaqub Mirza (at the center of the institutions involved in the 3/20/2002 Green Quest raids); indications that Ptech personnel had access to FAA headquarters for a period of two years; suspicious behavior by BMI founder Biheiri in the immediate aftermath of 9/11; review of the FBI’s frustration of Operation Green Quest; more detailed examination of the background of Pakisani Air Force officers killed in the crash that took the life of (alleged) Al Qaeda collaborator Mushaf Ali Mir (the head of the Pakistani Air Force); the resignation of a key information analyst for the Department of Homeland Security the same day that Operation Green Quest was formally eliminated as an independent task force name.

1. Beginning with more information about the Islamists associated with GOP kingmaker Grover Norquist, the program highlights the appointment of Faisal Gill—a Norquist protégé—to a sensitive intelligence position with the Department of Homeland Security. Note that Gill, in turn, is closely associated with Abdurahman Alamoudi, an intimate of the Al Taqwa milieu. “The policy director for the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence division was briefly removed from his job in March when the Federal Bureau of Investigation discovered he had failed to disclose his association with Abdurahman Alamoudi, a jailed American Muslim leader. Alamoudi was indicted last year on terrorism-related money-laundering charges and now claims to have been part of a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah.” (“How Secure is the Department of Homeland Security?” by Mary Jacoby; Salon.com; 6/22/2004; p. 1; accessed at: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/06/22/gill/print.html .)

2. It is frightening to note the information to which Gill’s appointment has given him access. “After a flurry of interagency meetings, however, Homeland Security decided to leave the policy director, Faisal Gill, in place, according to two government officials with knowledge of the Alamoudi investigation. A White House political appointee with close ties to Republican power broker Grover Norquist and no apparent background in intelligence, Gill has access to top-secret information on the vulnerability of America’s seaports, aviation facilities and nuclear power plants to terrorist attacks. [Emphasis added.]” (Ibid.; pp. 1-2.)

3. “The FBI raised concerns with Homeland Security officials in March after discovering that Gill had failed to list on security clearance documents his work in 2001 with the American Muslim council, the officials said. The advocacy group, which was controlled by Alamoudi, has been under scrutiny in an investigation of terrorism financing. The lead agent in that investigation works for an arm of Homeland Security. Gill’s omission of the information on his ‘Standard Form 86’ national security questionnaire is a potential felony violation. There is no evidence, however, that Gill has taken any action to compromise national security.” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

4. “A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman would not comment on Gill or when he was hired, except to say that a ‘thorough investigation’ by the department’s Office of Security found no basis to deny the 32-year-old lawyer a security clearance. Among gill’s political patrons is Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform and a key ally of the White House. Gill listed Norquist as a reference on employment documents, the government officials said. Gill also worked in 2001 for a Muslim political outreach organization that Norquist co-founded with a former top aide to Alamoudi. [That is the Islamic Institute—D.E.] Norquist did not respond to phone calls, a fax and an e-mail seeking comment. . . .” (Idem.)

5. “Mark Zaid, a lawyer in private practice in Washington who specializes in security clearance cases, said it would be unusual for an agency to overlook omissions on a security clearance application. ‘Most agencies get really upset and suspicious and act antagonistically toward applicants if they find they withheld information,’ he said, adding that a minor violation might be forgiven. But he said if the issue concerned failing to list employment at ‘a terrorist organization or one that’s being investigated, all sorts of red flags would go up.’ Gill’s placement in the sensitive intelligence job has alarmed government officials because it fits the operating theory of prosecutors and investigators that Alamoudi was part of a long-term scheme by Islamic extremists to place friendly, if perhaps unwitting, associates in key U.S. government positions.” (Ibid.; pp. 2-3.)

6. Documents seized from Sami Al-Arian indicate that the Fifth Column about which Mr. Emory has hypothesized in connection with 9/11 was indeed contemplated by people targeted by the Operation Green Quest raids of 3/20/2002. (Alamoudi and Al-Arian are part of the milieu targeted in those raids. For more about Al-Arian, see—among other programs—FTRs 406, 462, 464.) “A document seized in a 1995 raid of a close Alamoudi friend and political ally, former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, outlined a plan to ‘infiltrate the sensitive intelligence agencies or the embassies in order to collect information and build close relationships with the people in charge of these establishments.’ The unsigned document, which authorities believe was authored by Al-Arian in part because it was found among his papers, added: ‘We are in the center which leads the conspiracy against our Islamic world . . . Our presence in North America gives us a unique opportunity to monitor, explore and follow up.’ It instructed members of the ‘center,’ thought to refer to an Islamic think tank that Al-Arian founded, to ‘collect information from those relatives and friends who work in sensitive positions in government.’ [Emphasis added.]” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

7. “Al-Arian is in a Florida prison awaiting trial next year on charges he was the North American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group that has targeted Israel with suicide bombings. He denies all the charges. But investigators believe Al-Arian and Alamoudi were part of a broader political Islamic movement in the United States that connects sympathizers of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida.” (Idem.)

8. The article presented here reviews the significance of the Muslim Brotherhood in the context of the events of 9/11. “This movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, is the umbrella under which terror groups have forged ‘a significant degree of cooperation and coordination within our borders,’ former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke told the Senate Banking Committee last year. ‘The common link here is the extremist Muslim Brotherhood—all of these organizations are descendants of the membership and ideology of the Muslim Brothers.’ Alamoudi, for example, has spoken openly of his admiration for the anti-Israeli Hamas, which evolved from a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Arian’s circle of associates, meanwhile, overlaps with members of the Brooklyn, N.Y., precursor to al-Qaida that was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.” (Idem.)

9. “The ties among Alamoudi, the Muslim Brotherhood and Gill help explain why officials are concerned about whether Gill was adequately vetted. These relationships are difficult to understand without immersion in the indictments, court transcripts and case exhibits; the concerned officials said they fear that busy political operatives in the administration simply do not grasp the national-security issues at stake. ‘There’s an overall denial in the administration that the agenda being pushed by Norquist might be a problem,’ one official said. ‘It’s so absurd that a Grover Norquist person could even be close to something like this. That’s really what’s so insidious.’” (Idem.)

10. It is worth noting that some of the moderates involved in Alamoudi’s AMC (for which Gill was a spokesman) came to be suspicious of aspects of the organization’s behavior. “In 1999 a group of reformers ousted Alamoudi as AMC executive director amid questions about the group’s opaque finances and mysterious Middle Eastern funding sources. Alamoudi took a position at the affiliated American Muslim Foundation but remained in control of the AMC through friendly board members, the reformers said. ‘I had concerns about the reluctance to reveal information about the finances. They said they’re not doing well, that they needed more money, but I looked at their office [in Washington], and it was very big,’ said one of the would-be reformers, Ikram Khan, a surgeon in Las Vegas. Khan said he resigned from the AMC board when his friend, Nazir Khaja, a Pakistani-American physician from California who was trying to open the group’s books, told him that Alamoudi was not cooperating. ‘I said, ‘if this is the case, I cannot continue to serve in the group,’ and I sent in my resignation letter,’ Khan said. . . .” (Idem.)

11. “U.S. Justice Department is examining whether Alamoudi was conspiring with a London group the Saudi government says is linked to Osama bin Laden. Who is Abdurahman Alamoudi? We really don’t know,’ one of the concerned government officials said.’ So how can we say there is not a problem with his former aide? He [Gill] has access to information about all our vulnerabilities—aviation, ports. He knows what is protected and what is not.’” (Ibid.; pp. 3-4.)

12. “Yet some officials remain concerned that Gill apparently enjoys the political protection of Norquist, the architect of the 1994 Republican election sweep that brought Georgia Republican Newt Gingrich to power as House speaker. Norquist speaks of ‘crushing’ his political opponents and dismisses those who don’t agree with his anti-tax, anti-government agenda as ‘Bolsheviks.’ His power derives from a formidable coalition of evangelical, business and other conservative groups that he controls to push favored GOP issues, as well as from his close relationship with White House political chief Karl Rove.” (Ibid.; p. 4.)

13. “In 1998, Norquist and a former deputy to Alamoudi at the AMC co-founded the nonprofit Islamic Institute as part of a drive to win Muslim voters for Bush in 2000. Alamoudi donated $35,000 to the institute, records show. Soon, the Islamic Institute, the AMC and Al-Arian were all working together on a top priority for American Muslims: an end to the use of classified intelligence to jail noncitizens as national-security threats. Al-Arian’s brother-in-law had been jailed on the basis of such secret evidence linking him to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Al-Arian lobbied heavily on Capitol Hill to end the practice. In October 2000, through the efforts of Norquist and Rove, Bush came out against secret evidence in a debate with Al Gore, and the AMC endorsed Bush for president. Al-Arian would later claim that the Muslim votes he rounded up for Bush in Florida helped decide the election.” (Idem.)

14. “Gill was in the middle of these advocacy efforts. As director of government affairs at Norquist’s Islamic Institute, Gill lobbied against the use of secret evidence, according to a May 2001 release on the institute’s Web site. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Gill was quoted in news articles as a spokesman for the AMC. A Washington Post article from May 2001, meanwhile, identified Gill as a spokesman for the AMC. A Washington Post article from May 2001, meanwhile, identified Gill as a spokesman for the ‘fledgling’ Taxpayers Alliance of Prince William County, Va., which is affiliated with Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. According to the Post article, Norquist was slated to appear with Gill at an anti-tax rally.” (Idem.)

15. Next, the program returns to the subject of Ptech, a company that made threat-assessment software for the Air Force and the FAA. (For more about Ptech, see—among other programs—FTRs 462, 464.) Targeted by the Operation Green Quest task force, Ptech merits consideration as (possibly) a part of the Underground Reich/Islamist Fifth Column that facilitated the 9/11 attacks. One of the terrorist-linked firms that assisted with the genesis of Ptech is BMI. ” . . . One came from BMI, a New Jersey company that had leased computer equipment to the pair and that introduced Ptech to Sarmany, an investment company backed by Saudi financier Yasin al-Qadi. Sarmany invested $5 million in Ptech, a quarter of the $50 million Ptech raised from about 50 ‘angel’ investors. Al-Qadi visited Ptech in 1994, and he and Ziade met several times in Saudi Arabia. . . ” (“Software Company Tries to Survive Terrorism Investigation” [AP]; USA Today; 12/6/2003; p. 2.)

16. ” . . . Al-Qadi’s appearance on the list was not the first time his name surfaced in connection with terrorism funding, however. Nor was al-Qadi the only link between Ptech and groups that have attracted authorities’ attention. In a 1998 FBI affidavit, al-Qadi was said to have provided a loan related to a complex land deal in Chicago that was used to fund Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group. The loan was instructed to be repaid to Qadi International, care of BMI, the company that introduced Ptech to Sarmany, and ‘Attn: Gamel Ahmed.’ Ahmed was Ptech’s comptroller for about a year-and-a-half in the mid 1990’s. Both BMI and Ptech also employed Hussein Ibrahim, an adjunct professor at Columbia. . .

(Ibid.; p. 3.)

17. Note the relationship between Ptech and the operations of Yaqub Mirza. The latter set up the charities and businesses that were targeted by the 3/20/2002 Operation Green Quest raids. ” . . . In March, federal authorities investigating terror funding raided businesses controlled by Sterling Advisory Services, whose chief executive Yaqub Mirza served on a Ptech advisory board. He had been recommended to Ptech by an investor (not al-Qadi), Ziade said. ‘He took some companies public and understood high-tech, and I understood he had lot of connections in the industry,’ Ziade said. A six-month background check turned up nothing but praise. Ptech declined to say whether Mirza also invested in Ptech, but papers filed in Virginia and obtained by The Investigative Project, an anti-terrorism think-tank, indicate Sterling controlled a company called ‘Ptech Fund LLC.’” (Idem.)

18. Among the personalities in the constellation surrounding Ptech is Dr. Abdullah Azzam, the Muslim Brotherhood mentor to Osama bin Laden. (For more about Azzam, see—among other programs—FTRs 354, 465.) ” . . . Until August, Ptech employed Suheil Laher, listed as an officer at Care International, a Massachusetts charity that has reportedly been investigated by authorities for possible financial ties to terrorists. And Ptech still employs Muhamed Mubayyid, Care’s treasurer, who donated $360.00 to the Alkifah refugees Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., according to a receipt obtained by The Investigative Project. The center was named by federal prosecutors as the center of the conspiracy to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993. A note on the donation’s receipt reads: ‘Make checks payable to Dr. Abdullah Azzam.’ Azzam is believed to have been a mentor of Osama bin Laden. . .” (Ibid.; p. 4.)

19. More about the terror-linked personalities involved with BMI—part of the constellation of organizations involved in generating Ptech: ” . . . The money invested in BMI by the two charities came from a $10m endowment from unnamed Saudi donors, according to the affidavit by David Kane, an agent with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. While it is not clear whether that money came from the Saudi government, the affidavit quotes a recent CIA report that says the Muslim World League ‘is largely financed by the government of Saudi Arabia.’ Mr. Kane said that the charities gave $3.7m to BMI, which may have passed the money to individuals considered terrorists by the U.S. They include Yassin Qadi accused by the US government of transferring millions of dollars to Osama bin Laden through charities such as the Muwafaq Foundation; Mousa Abu Marzook, the self-professed head of the political branch of Hamas, the radical Palestinian organization; and Mohammad Salah, a member of Hamas who spent five years in an Israeli prison. . . .” (“Saudi-backed Charities ‘Aided terrorists’’ by Marianne Brun-Rovet and Edward Alden; The Financial Times; 8/21/2003; p. 2.)

20. BMI’s founder—Soliman Biheiri—is linked to the principal figures of Al Taqwa. “The allegations against BMI were made to back up charges against Soliman Biheiri, BMI’s founder and president, who was indicted two weeks ago on charges of lying to obtain US citizenship. The government alleges that Mr. Biheiri also did business with other designated terrorists. Mr. Biheiri’s laptop computer contained contact information for Ghaleb Himmat and Youssef Nada, members of the Muslim Brotherhood extremist group and people considered terrorists by the US and the United Nations.” (Idem.)

21. Another of the investors in BMI was Abdullah bin Laden—under investigation for involvement in terrorism. ” . . . Prosecutors identified a third BMI investor as Abdullah Awad bin Laden, who BMI partnership records and bank statements show put in more than $500,000.00. He is a nephew of Osama bin Laden, head of al Qaeda and the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. During the 1990’s, Abdullah Awad bin Laden ran the U.S. branch of a Saudi charity called the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and private analysts labeled it a suspected terrorist organization; the group says it doesn’t support terrorism . . . Abdullah Awad bin Laden, who formerly lived in Virginia but left the U.S., after Sept. 11, 2001, has made no public statements and couldn’t be located. U.s. officials believe he is in Saudi Arabia.” (“U.S. Details an Alleged Terror-Financing Web” by Glenn R. Simpson; Wall Street Journal; 9/15/2003; p. A5.)

22. More about the relationship between BMI and Al Taqwa, as well as connections between BMI and the aforementioned Sami Al-Arian: ” . . . Mr. Kane said Mr. Beheiri has relationships with the two founders of the now-banned al-Taqwa, both of whom are also officially listed as terrorists by the U.S. He added that there are other ‘indications there were some connections between Bank al-Taqwa and BMI,’ including ‘financial transactions.’ He was halted from saying anything further on the matter by the prosecutor, who said the information is classified foreign intelligence. Another of Mr. Biheiri’s associates, the government alleged, is Sami Al-Arian the Tampa college professor now under indictment in federal court in Florida as an alleged leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which competes with Hamas to kill Israeli civilians in suicide bombings. . . .” (Idem.)

23. Among the figures implicated in the web of intrigues discussed above is Yaqub Mirza. (For more about Mirza, see—among other programs—FTRs 356, 357, 382, 462, 464.) ” . . . Rounding out their evidence, prosecutors disclosed an e-mail they obtained showing that Mr. Biheiri was involved in Mr. Qadi’s financial dealings with Yaqub Mirza, a Pakistani engineer who manages a group of Saudi-backed Islamic charities which are also under investigation for supporting terrorism, according to a federal search warrant. The e-mail was taken from Mr. Mirza’s computer in the search. They said that one of the top figures in the SAAR network, Ahmed Totonji, is a senior leader of the Muslim charity that Abdullah bin Laden helped run.” (Idem.)

24. Abdullah Bin Laden is linked to the WAMY, which in turn has areas of overlap with Al Qaeda, the GOP’s ethnic outreach organization and the Al Taqwa milieu. (For more about this connection, see—among other programs—FTRs 356, 357, 425.) “In fact, the F.B.I. had been keeping an eye on some of the bin Ladens. A classified F.B.I. file examined by Vanity Fair and marked ‘Secret’ shows that as early as 1996, the bureau had spent nearly nine months investigating Abdullah and Omar bin Laden, who were involved with the American branch of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a charity that has published writings by Islamic scholar Sayyid Qutb, one of Osama bin Laden’s intellectual influences.” (“Saving the Saudis” by Craig Unger; Vanity Fair; October/2003; p. 175.)

25. In addition to Abdullah, Khalil bin Laden has been implicated in terrorist-related activities. “Khalil bin Laden, who boarded a plane in Orlando that eventually took him back to Saudi Arabia, won the attention of Brazilian investigators for possible terrorist connections. According to a Brazilian paper, he had business connections in the Brazilian province of Minas Gerais, not far from the tri-border region, an alleged center for training terrorists. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 176.)

26. Note that Abdullah bin Laden was among the Saudis evacuated by the Bush White House in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. “F.B.I. officials declined to comment on the investigation, which was reported in Britain’s The Guardian, but the documents show that the file on Abdullah and Omar was reopened on September, 19, 2001, while the Saudi repatriation was still under way. ‘These documents show there was an open F.B.I. investigation into these guys at the time of their departure,’ says David Armstrong, an investigator for the Public Education Center, the Washington, D.C., foundation that obtained the documents.” (Idem.)

27. Biheiri was alleged [by his estranged wife] to have destroyed documents in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. ” . . . According to Ms. Mashid Fatoohi, she and Biheiri continued to share the same house until he left the country in 2002. After the events of September 11, 2001, she witnessed Biheiri destroying records.” (“Declaration in Support of Pre-Trial Detention” by David Kane; submitted in connection with Case No. 03-365-A—United States of America vs. Soliman S. Biheiri; p. 10; accessed at: http://www.4law.co.il/Lea99.pdf .)

28. In FTRs 462, 464 Mr. Emory raised the question of whether or not Ptech’s threat assessment software might account for some of the anomalies in the performance of air-defense systems on 9/11. An article from researcher Daniel Hopsicker further develops that question: “A software company called Ptech, founded by a Saudi financier placed on America’s Terrorist List in October 2001, had access to the FAA’s entire computer system for two years before the 9/11 attack. Last week, when the National 9/11 Commission held hearings on The Aviation Security System and the 9/11 Attack, government and aviation officials described a system unprepared for the events that unfolded on September 11. None of them, however, mentioned security breaches involving ‘Saudi terrorists in the basement of the FAA.’” (“FBI Shut Down Saudi Terror Cell Investigation in Boston—the Group had Access to All the FAA Computer System for 2 Years pre-911” by Daniel Hopsicker; madcownews; p. 2; accessed at http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/02/279945.shtml .)

29. Ptech is alleged to have had a team in the basement of FAA headquarters for two years. “Yet that’s what happened, according to a high-level risk analyst who had troubling dealings with the firm. ‘Ptech had a couple of very troubling client relationships,’ states risk architect and whistleblower Indira Singh, ‘one of which was with the FAA. One of the ‘persons of interest’ in the investigation had a team in the basement of the FAA for two years.’” (Idem.)

30. ” ‘Ptech worked on a project that revealed all information processes and issues that the FAA had with the National Airspace Systems Agency, NAS,’ Singh said. ‘The project included incident investigation, law enforcement, military aviation systems, highly sensitive information, especially if you wanted to exploit the FAA’s current capabilities and holes . . . to jam or slow down U.S. military response to a domestic hijacking, for example.’ [Emphasis added.]” (Idem.)

31. A security expert further delineated the potential dangers of Ptech’s contracts with the government: “Ptech is a systems engineering and software consultant firm that helps other companies—including government agencies—manage the ‘work flow’ of complex projects and operations through so-called enterprise software solutions. These customized programs help organize and arrange information based on how each ‘customer’ operates and allows executives to make important decisions faster and more efficiently.” (“Opening Virtual Door to Government” by Paul Eng; ABC News; 12/6/2002; accessed at: http://ABCNEWS.com .)

32. “Mark Rasche, a former Justice Department prosecutor and now a senior vice president of a private security consulting firm called Solutionary in Omaha, Neb., is not aware of exactly what work Ptech might have done for its government customers. And he is extremely cautious about how—or if—any sensitive government computer systems might be compromised by Ptech’s purported terrorism ties. ‘Their ability to insert a virus, or a backdoor, or logic bomb will be dictated by the type of software they were working on, and their amount of access to [sensitive] systems,’ he said.” (Idem.)

33. “Still, he notes that even if Ptech’s software is free of malicious, hidden codes, there is some concern. ‘The goal of [enterprise] software is to improve information flow in an agency. If I were to go to ABCNEWS and work to understand the way you distribute information, I will know names of people, their titles, their job descriptions, how you communicate [with each other], all of your ‘buzz words’ and all of that,’ he said. ‘The more I know, the more I can control and disrupt your operations.’” (Idem.)

34. “Rasche also says that government agencies typically work with outside consulting companies because private firms have expertise to streamline complex government processes. ‘The government very rarely does any of its own software work,’ said Rasche. ‘But when you outsource [software work], you really want to vet who it is that’s designing the code.’” (Idem.)

35. As noted in FTRs 460, 462, 464, one of Al Qaeda’s alleged collaborators was the head of the Pakistani Air Force, killed in a plane crash in February of 2003. When considered in connection with Ptech’s development of threat-assessment software for the Air Force and the FAA, the Mushaf Ali Mir/Al Qaeda link assumes larger significance. Might Ali Mir have provided information dto Al Qaeda and/or Ptech that could have assisted in the frustration of air defense units on 9/11? “Nor was that the end of it. During his interrogation, Zubaydah had also said that Osama bin Laden had struck a deal with Pakistani air force chief Air Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir, and had told him that there would be unspecified attacks on American soil on 9/11. Seven months after the Saudi deaths, on February 20, 2003, Mir and sixteen others were killed when their plane crashed in a northwest province of Pakistan. Sabotage was widely speculated to be behind the crash but could not be proved.” (House of Bush/House of Saud; by Craig Unger; Scribner [HC]; Copyright 2004 by Craig Unger; ISBN 0-7432-5337-X; p. 269.)

36. Two of the other victims in the crash that killed Ali Mir had backgrounds as Air Controllers. Might they have been involved with Al Qaeda as well? Might this have significance for the Ptech connection as well? ” . . . Air Commodore Rizwanullah Khan . . . During his tenure of service, he worked on various appointments including Senior Air Traffic Control Officer, Sargodha. [Emphasis added.] . . . Wing Commander Syed Tabassam Abbas . . . worked on various instructional and staff appointment including Air Traffic Controller, instructor at Directorate of Studies Risalpur [Emphasis added.] . . .” (“Dedicated to the Glorious PAF Shaheeds” by Chief Patron DJ, Air Marshal Asghar Khan; Defence Journal; March/2003; p. 1; accessed at: http://www.defencejournal.com/2003/mar/paf-shaheeds.htm .)

37. The program reviews the FBI’s frustration of Operation Green Quest, the task force whose members executed the investigation into Ptech. (For more about the frustration of Operation Green Quest, see—among other programs—FTRs 462, 464.) ” . . . But even while the White House was preaching cooperation, the various agencies that were being folded into Homeland Security were squabbling with the FBI—the behemoth in the domestic war on terror. One prime example of the tension is the investigation into Ptech, the Boston-area computer software firm that had millions of dollars in sensitive government contracts with the Air Force, the Energy Department and, ironically enough, the FBI. In what turned into a minor embarrassment for the bureau, the firm’s main investors included Yasin Al-Qadi, a wealthy Saudi businessman whom the Bush administration had formally designated a terrorist financier under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Al-Qadi has vigorously denied any connection to terrorism.” (“Whose War on Terror?”; Newsweek; 12/10/2003; p. 2; accessed at: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3068377/ .)

38. “The Ptech case turned into an ugly dispute last year when company whistleblowers told Green Quest agents about their own suspicions about the firm’s owners. Sources close to the case say those same whistleblowers had first approached FBI agents, but the bureau apparently did little or nothing in response, With backing from the National Security Council, Green Quest agents then mounted a full-scale investigation that culminated in a raid on the company’s office last December. After getting wind of the Green Quest probe, the FBI stepped in and unsuccessfully tried to take control of the case.” (Idem.)

39. “The result, sources say, has been something of a train wreck. Privately, FBI officials say Green Quest agents botched the probe and jeopardized other more promising inquiries into Al-Qadi. Green Quest agents dismiss the charges and say the problem is that the bureau ws slow to respond to legitimate allegations that an outside contractor with terrorist ties may have infiltrated government computers. [Emphasis added.] Whatever the truth, there is no dispute that the case has so far produced no charges and indictments against Al-Qadi or anyone else connected with Ptech. The company has denied wrongdoing.” (Idem.)

40. Next, the program reviews allegations that Yaqub Mirza—at the epicenter of the organizations targeted by the Operation Green Quest raids of 3/20/2002—had contacts high-up in the FBI. “Furthermore, the FBI was aware that Ptech provided computer software for several government agencies, including the FBI itself, the FAA, the U.S. Treasury, the Department of Defense, the IRS, and the White House, proving a visible and viable threat to national security. The FBI ignored the repeated requests of concerned employees. Frighteningly, when an employee told the President of Ptech he felt he had to contact the FBI regarding Qadi’s involvement in the company, the president allegedly told him not to worry because Yaqub Mirza, who was on the board of directors of the company and was himself a target of a terrorist financing raid in March 2002, had contacts high within the FBI. [Emphasis added.]” (“Perilous Power Play: FBI vs. Homeland Security” by Rita Katz & Josh Devon; National Review; 5/27/2003; p. 2; accessed at: http://www.nationalareview.com/script/printage.asp?ref=/comment/comment-katz-devon0 .)

41. As noted in previous programs, Operation Green Quest ceased to exist on 6/30/2003. Note that the SAAR investigation is the case at the center of the Operation Green Quest raids of 3/20/2002. ” . . . Now, the FBI is attempting to wrest the SAAR Network investigation from Green Quest and take all the credit for Green Quest’s dedication and hard work. The agreement between Ashcroft and Ridge is a crushing blow to Green Quest, as it effectively dissolves the outstanding task force. According to the memorandum, ‘The secretary of [Homeland Security] agrees that no later than June 30, 2003, Operation Green Quest (OGQ) will no longer exist as a program name.’ [Emphasis added.]” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

42. Closing on a speculative note, the program notes the resignation of a key Homeland Security counterintelligence official. That official—Paul J. Redmond—resigned on 6/30/2003. That is the same day that the Green Quest Task Force ceased to exist. Might there be any connection between the two dates and the Ptech case? “Paul J. Redmond, a top terrorism intelligence expert at the Department of Homeland Security, is retiring, officials said Monday. Redmond, assistant secretary for information analysis and a former CIA officer, is leaving for health reasons, officials said. . . . Previously, Redmond served 33 years at the CIA, working in Asia and Europe, He rose to top positions in the agency’s counterintelligence ranks before retiring in 1997.” (“Ex-CIA Expert Retires as Top Homeland Security Intelligence Analyst” [AP]; San Francisco Chronicle; 6/30/2003.)

Discussion

2 comments for “FTR #467 Fifth Column, Part IV”

  1. Oh lordy, Wednesday mornings in DC just got “more ideologically pure”. Move over Grover, there’s a new wrecking crew in town

    Mother Jones

    Inside Groundswell: Read the Memos of the New Right-Wing Strategy Group Planning a “30 Front War”
    Ginni Thomas, Allen West, and a crew of conservative activists and journalists have formed a hush-hush coalition to battle progressives—and Karl Rove.

    —By David Corn
    | Thu Jul. 25, 2013 9:53 AM PDT

    Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington—including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner—has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for “a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation,” according to documents obtained by Mother Jones.

    Dubbed Groundswell, this coalition convenes weekly in the offices of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group. During these hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of Groundswell—including aides to congressional Republicans—cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and “clueless” GOP congressional leaders. They devise strategies for killing immigration reform, hyping the Benghazi controversy, and countering the impression that the GOP exploits racism. And the Groundswell gang is mounting a behind-the-scenes organized effort to eradicate the outsize influence of GOP über-strategist/pundit Karl Rove within Republican and conservative ranks. (For more on Groundswell’s “two front war” against Rove—a major clash on the right—click here.)

    One of the influential conservatives guiding the group is Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a columnist for the Daily Caller and a tea party consultant and lobbyist. Other Groundswell members include John Bolton, the former UN ambassador; Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy; Ken Blackwell and Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council; Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch; Gayle Trotter, a fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum; Catherine Engelbrecht and Anita MonCrief of True the Vote; Allen West, the former GOP House member; Sue Myrick, also a former House GOPer; Diana Banister of the influential Shirley and Banister PR firm; and Max Pappas, a top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

    Among the conveners listed in an invitation to a May 8 meeting of Groundswell were Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network; Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who resoundingly lost a Maryland Senate race last year (and is now running for a House seat); Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society; Sandy Rios, a Fox News contributor; Lori Roman, a former executive director of the American Legislative Exchange Council; and Austin Ruse, the head of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Conservative journalists and commentators participating in Groundswell have included Breitbart News reporters Matthew Boyle and Mike Flynn, Washington Examiner executive editor Mark Tapscott, and National Review contributor Michael James Barton.

    Groundswell has collaborated with conservative GOPers on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Cruz and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a leading tea partier. At its weekly meetings, the group aims to strengthen the right’s messaging by crafting Twitter hashtags; plotting strategy on in-the-headlines issues such as voter ID, immigration reform, and the sequester; promoting politically useful scandals; and developing “action items.”

    A certain amount of secrecy cloaks Groundswell’s efforts. Though members have been encouraged to zap out tweets with a #GSW hashtag, a message circulated to members of its Google group noted that the role of certain advocates should be kept “off of the Google group for OPSEC [operational security] reasons.” This “will avoid any potential for bad press for someone if a communication item is leaked,” the message explained. (The Groundswell documents were provided to Mother Jones by a source who had access to its Google group page and who has asked not to be identified.)

    Washington is full of coalitions that meet to coordinate messaging and strategy. For two decades, conservative strategist Grover Norquist, who heads Americans for Tax Reform, has held his now-famous Wednesday morning meetings for a broad spectrum of Republicans, including conservatives opposed to gay rights and abortion rights and those who favor them, as well as GOPers on different sides of the immigration reform debate. Groundswell, which meets at the same time as Norquist’s group, appears to be a more ideologically pure version of the Norquist confab, and its emergence—given the prominent role of Ginni Thomas and the participation of journalists—prompts several intriguing questions.

    Critics have contended that Thomas’ work as a lobbyist opposing Obamacare posed a conflict of interest for her husband, who would rule on the constitutionality of the health care reform initiative. (Clarence Thomas joined the Supreme Court minority that favored striking down the law.) And Common Cause has maintained that Justice Thomas had a conflict of interest when he participated in the Citizens United case because his wife at the time was running a conservative nonprofit fighting the “tyranny” of President Barack Obama that would benefit from removing limits on such groups’ spending and fundraising. With her involvement in Groundswell—which zeroes in on contentious issues that come before the high court, including voting rights, abortion, and gay marriage—Ginni Thomas continues to be intricately associated with matters on which her husband may have to render a decision. Ginni Thomas did not respond to requests for comment.

    The participation of journalists in coordinating messaging with ideological advocates and political partisans raises another set of issues. Conservatives expressed outrage when news broke in 2009 about Journolist, a private email list where several hundred progressive-minded reporters, commentators, and academics exchanged ideas and sometimes bickered. (I was on Journolist, mainly as a lurker.) The late Andrew Breitbart once offered $100,000 for the full Journolist archives and denounced it as “the epitome of progressive and liberal collusion that conservatives, Tea Partiers, moderates and many independents have long suspected and feared exists at the heart of contemporary American political journalism.” The Groundswell documents show conservative journalists, including several with Breitbart News, colluding on high-level messaging with leading partisans of the conservative movement.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 26, 2013, 8:41 am
  2. This is great work,Dave.

    Posted by adam | July 11, 2016, 1:01 pm

Post a comment