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

For The Record  

FTR #523 Catching Up With Daniel Hopsicker

Recorded August 21, 2005
REALAUDIO

Bringing up to date the heroic work of Daniel Hopsicker, this program sets forth more attempts to discredit Hopsicker’s heroic investigation in Florida, as well as information that corroborates Hopsicker’s research into 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta’s activities there. In addition, the broadcast updates Daniel’s on-the -ground work in the Sunshine State. It appears that Mohamed Atta’s father was in charge of the hijackers in Florida. Much of the program is devoted to Mr. Emory’s pontification about the Carl Dusiberg Gesellschaft (CDS)—the organization that was trafficking Atta around in Germany and (possibly) Florida. Specifically, the program focuses on the CDS’s links to the Alfa Group, a Russian conglomerate with strong links to criminal activity on a global scale.

Program Highlights Include: The FBI’s splicing of a video surveillance tape to eliminate the footage of Atta’s father in Florida; the German industrial figures on the board of directors of the CDS; the Alfa Group’s links to Cheney’s Halliburton Oil company; the Alfa Group’s links to Iraqgate arms trafficking; the Alfa Group’s links to the oil-for-food scandal in Iraq; Alfa’s links to the Cali cocaine cartel of Colombia; Alfa’s links to heroin trafficking.

1. Following on the heels of nuisance lawsuits and the floating of bogus stories about a “second Mohamed” in Florida [not 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta], Daniel Hopsicker has been the focal point of a “hit piece” in The Sarasota Herald Tribune. The article misrepresented Hopsicker’s work and was clearly aimed at discrediting the important research in his book Welcome to Terrorland. (For more about Daniel’s book, see—among other programs—FTR#’s 477, 482, 483, 484. For more about attempts at discrediting Daniel’s work, see FTR#516.) “The newspaper in Florida covering the town where Mohamed Atta’s cadre of terrorist hijackers cavorted unmolested before the 9/11 attack made an effort recently to hitch a ride aboard the cluetrain and investigate something about the story which played out before them almost unnoticed. But if you weren’t aware of the Sarasota Herald Tribune’s singularly lackluster coverage of the biggest story of the nascent 21st century, much of which transpired in their own backyard, the target of their investigative scrutiny might seem a little odd . . . in a snarky, mistake-filled (they even got the correction wrong) hit piece long on nothing but attitude, they decided to (sigh) investigate me. Imagine my surprise. . . .”
(“Terrorists’ Hometown Paper Discovers 9/11” by Daniel Hopsicker; MadCowMorningNews; 8/28/2005.)

2. “ . . . But what we did find surprising in an article in a newspaper owned by the prestigious New York Times were the apparently freely made-up quotes. We thought they’d decided, after Jayson Blair, that that was a journalistic no-no. We may have been misinformed. The July 11, 2005 story by Herald Tribune reporter Lauren Glenn, headlined ‘Venice Author Questions 9/11 Findings in Controversial Book,’ began this way: ‘Don’t question him too hard. In fact, try to eliminate any tones of doubt from your voice. He doesn’t have to explain himself if he doesn’t want to. Daniel Hopsicker is sitting in a coffee shop in Venice, talking to a reporter and drinking a latte because that is exactly what he wants to be doing.’” (Idem.)

3. “ ‘I’m not here to give you my resume, honey,’ said Hopsicker, his voice loud enough that other people in the Bella Luna Coffee Shop in Miami Avenue turn and stare for a moment.’ Question: What kind of churlish boor calls a female reporter ‘honey?’ Answer: Anyone the Sarasota Herald Tribune doesn’t like. ‘Reporting’ doesn’t get any more cheesy—or dishonest—than this. The dislike itself is understandable (traditional media jealousy guarding their monopoly on what becomes ‘news.’) But if we’d called a female reporter ‘honey’ you can bet that we would also be describing her article as ‘bitchy.’ But we’re not like that. So we used ‘snarky’ instead. . . .” (Idem.)

4. “ . . . The real question is: what was the point of doing a snarky hit piece on an obscure writer who couldn’t get on ‘Hardball’ with pictures of our current President alone in a room doing something inappropriate with a bat and a elephant? I mean, if you’re too lazy to deliver any hit: For an answer, we turned to someone not personally involved. . . ‘Especially funny was her portrait of flight school operator Rudi Dekkers as a victim, and Hopsicker as an evil man out to crush the ‘Naples businessman,’ chortled local political writer John Patten. Calling the article ‘an interesting rib job,’ he wrote, ‘Locals will long remember Dekkers’ face getting plastered all over out television sets when it was revealed that he had taught Mohamed Atta how to fly right here in Venice. Venetians were horrified, but Dekkers, thrilled with all of the attention, turned his Warholian 15 minutes (that stretched out to an ungodly four or five days) into an ad for his flight school.’ That image alone, that of Dekkers as victim, made me throw down the article in disgust.’” (Idem.)

5. In addition to disparaging Hopsicker, the hit piece coddled Rudi Dekkers whose flight school/intelligence front was the vehicle through which Atta and other 9/11 hijackers infiltrated. “ . . . . ‘Rudi Dekkers . . . said Hopsicker’s accusations have taken a toll on his business and caused former customers to stop associating with him. ‘This S.O.B., he doesn’t realize he destroys families and people,’ Dekkers said in a telephone interview Thursday. ‘I have seen nothing that’s the truth. He fantasizes. He fantasizes stories, and names,’ reported the Herald Tribune. ‘If I had the money, would I sue him? Into hell,’ added Dekkers, a Dutch immigrant who now charters airplanes from Naples. ‘I would sue him into hell.’ Well now. I’d contribute $20: Should we take up a collection so poor Mr. Dekkers can have his day in court? What are the odds he’d make it to a deposition without experiencing the ‘old David Ferrie ‘night before testifying heart attack?’ . . . .” (Idem.)

6. Next, the program turns to the subject of the Able Danger intelligence operation, which allegedly detected the presence of Atta and company in the United States before Bush became president. Republican Curt Weldon has attempted to paint the Clinton Administration as responsible for the 9/11 attacks—a manifest absurdity in, and of, itself. As we have seen in the programs cited above, support for the Hilliard/Dekkers flight schools through which Atta and company infiltrated the United States came from Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris. Military intelligence was investigating Hamburg-based heroin trafficking linked to Al Qaeda as far back as 1991, when the elder Bush was President. “Mohamed Atta was protected from official scrutiny as part of an officially-protected cocaine and heroin trafficking network with ties to top political figures, including Republican officials Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris, and it was this fact-and not the ‘terrible lapses’ of ‘weak on terror’ Clinton Administration officials cited by Republican Congressman Curt Weldon—which shielded him from being apprehended before the 9/11 attack. Weldon alleges that Pentagon lawyers rejected the military intelligence unit’s recommendation to apprehend Atta because he was in the country legally, and therefore information on him could not be shared with law enforcement.”
(“Able Danger Intel Exposes Protected Heroin Trafficking” by Daniel Hopsicker; MadCowMorningNews; 8/17/2005.)

7. “But the ‘terrible lapses’ cited by Weldon do not stem from the nonsensical assertion that Atta had a green card (he did not) which rendered him immune from military investigation but were the result of an officially-protected heroin trafficking operation being conducted on planes like those of Wally Hilliard, whose Lear jet flew ‘milk runs’ down and back to Venezuela every week for 39 weeks in a row before finally running afoul of local DEA agents not clued-in on the ‘joke.’ Moreover the secret military intelligence operation which identified Mohamed Atta and three other hijackers as a threat a year before the 9/11 attack, called Able Danger, was by no means the first military intelligence investigation into the activities of the Hamburg cadre.” (Idem.)

8. Hopsicker notes that Hamburg (Germany) based heroin trafficking had been the focal point of military intelligence investigators as far back as 1991. At the core of this traffic was Al Qaeda. “As far back as 1991, military investigators had been detailed to Hamburg Germany, tracking what one military investigator who was there told us were ‘Al Qaeda heroin flows’ from Afghanistan to the West. A two-year investigation in Venice, Fl. Into the flight school attended by Atta and his bodyguard Marwan Al-Shehhi and which provided them with their ‘cover’ while in the U.S. unearthed the amazing fact that during the same month the two men began flying lessons at Huffman Aviation, July of 2000, the flight school’s owner’s Lear jet was seized on the runway of Orlando Executive Airport by Federal Agents who found 43 pounds of heroin onboard. 43 pounds of heroin is known in the drug trade as ‘heavy weight.’ . . .”

9. A blockbuster item concludes discussion on the first side of the program. A surveillance video from a Venice (Florida) pharmacy indicates that Mohamed Atta’s father was in Florida and appeared to be leading the terrorist cadre. The videotape appears to have been edited by the FBI to eliminate the footage of Atta, Sr. In FTR#521, we saw that Atta’s father endorsed the London transit bombings of July of 2001. “In the second major blow in as many weeks to the credibility of the 9/11 Commission report, the MadCowMorningNews has learned exclusively that during final preparations for the Sept. 11 attack, Mohamed Atta’s father was ‘visiting’ his terrorist ringleader son in Venice, Florida. Moreover, the FBI knew about the U.S. visit of Cairo attorney Mohammed El-Amir almost immediately after the attack, when, after seeing him on television denying that his son had anything to do with the terrorist hijackings, a number of credible witnesses called the Sarasota office of the FBI to report they had seen Atta’s father in Venice with his son ten days to two weeks before the attack. In addition closed circuit videotape provided to the FBI as evidence of Atta Senior’s presence appears to have been intentionally erased. . . .”
(“Mohamed Atta Senior in U.S. Two Weeks Before 9/11 Attack” by Daniel Hopsicker; MadCowMorningNews; 8/23/2005.)

10. “ . . . When a pharmacy in Venice provided the Bureau with videotapes from the store’s closed circuit cameras as proof of the visit of Atta, his father, and Marwan Al-Shehhi to the store, it was returned 10 days later, minus ‘excisions’ in the tape from the afternoon of August 28, 2001, the date of the three men’s visit to the store. We first learned of Atta Senior’s presence in Venice in a casual conversation with a Venice pharmacist who has been known to us for over 25 years, since my parents bought a retirement home here after my father suffered a series of heart attacks. Accompanied by Mohamed Atta and his bodyguard Marwan Al-Shehhi, the pharmacist stated that Mohamed Atta Senior had been in his pharmacy several weeks before the attack, to send a fax. ‘We have just about the only public fax in town,’ the pharmacist stated. ‘The fax went to a number in New Jersey.’ . . . .” (Idem.)

11. For much of the rest of the program, Mr. Emory pontificated about evidentiary tributaries running between a number of elements, which—taken together—appear to form parts of a network that involves elements of German heavy industry and finance, massive drug trafficking, arms trafficking and Russian criminal elements. The network will be explored in greater detail in broadcasts to come. The point of departure for this part of the discussion is the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft, the organization that trafficked Atta around in Germany and possibly the United States. As noted in FTR#477, Atta was associated with Germans, Swiss and Austrians in Florida. As noted in—among other programs—FTR#492, the German BKA (the federal police of that country) identified many of Atta’s associates as sons and daughters of prominent German industrialists. In the past, Mr. Emory has speculated about whether the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft might be an element of the Underground Reich. “ . . . ‘In the 1920’s, Carl Duisberg, General Director of Bayer AG in Germany, envisioned sending German students to the United States on work-study programs. Duisberg was convinced that international practical training was critical to the growth of German industry. Many of the returning trainees later rose to prominent positions at AEG, Bayer, Bosch, Daimler Benz, and Siemens, bringing with them new methods for mass production, new ideas, and new business practices. Following World War II, alumni from the first exchanges founded the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft (CDG) in 1949 to help engineers, businessmen and farmers gain international work experience necessary for the rebuilding of Germany . . . .”
(“History of the Carl Duisberg Society”)

12. Note the prominent German industrialists on the board of directors of the Duisberg Society: “Board of Directors Carl Duisberg Society: . . . Gerd D. Mueller (retired) [member of Bundestag on CSU ticket) Chairman of the Board; Executive Vice President and CFO Bayer Corporation . . . . Dr. Hans W. Decker; Treasurer of the Board; Professor—Columbia University . . . Robert Fenstermacher; Executive Director of CDS International, Inc. (ex officio) . . . Carl Geercken; Partner Alston & Bird LLP . . . Dr. Olaf J. Groth; Executive Director, Strategic Analysis & Integration—Boeing International Corporation . . . Dr. H. Friedrich Holzapfel; Managing Director—The Burlington Group . . . Dr. Gudrun Kochendoerfer-Lucius; Managing Director—InWEnt (Capacity Building International, Germany) . . . Fritz E. Kropatscheck; Manging Director—Deutsche Bank, A.G. (retired) . . . Wolfgang Linz (retired) Executive Director CDS International, Inc. . . . Dr. Karl M. Mayer-Wittmann (retired); President—WEFA, Inc. . . . Frances McCaffrey; Manager, Center Development—BMW of North America . . . Dr. Horst K. Saalbach Vice Chairman of the Board–Festo Corporation . . . Dr. Norbert Schneider; Chief Executive Officer—Carl Duisberg Centren GmbH . . . .”
(“Board of Directors: Carl Duisberg Society”)

13. Another of the fellowship programs that operates under the auspices of the CDS is the Alfa Fellowship, that functions on behalf of the Alfa company, a Russian oil company with more links than a switchboard. Among the connections of the Alfa group are profound links to cocaine and heroin trafficking, Halliburton Oil (Dick Cheney’s former firm), and the oil-for-food scam in Iraq. The Iraqi oil scam, in turn, appears to be linked to Carlos Cardoen, one of the principal arms traffickers involved in the Iraqgate scandal presided over by the elder George Bush. (For more about the elder George Bush’s involvement in the Iraqgate scandal, see—among other programs—FTR#384.) Is this Russian part of the network connected to the network that was trafficking Atta around in Florida? “ALFA FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM: Nearly fifteen years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Cold War-era policies and concepts continue to affect U.S. relations with Russia. . . . The Alfa Fellowship Program is designed to address this problem . . . .”
(“ALFA FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM”; Page on the Carl Duisberg Society web site.)

14. Dick Cheney’s former firm—Halliburton—is connected to the Alfa company. “Under the guidance of Richard Cheney, a get-the-government-out-of-my-face conservative, Halliburton Company over the past five years has emerged as a corporate welfare hog, benefiting from at least $3.8 billion in federal contracts and taxpayer-insured loans. One of these loans was approved in April by the U.S. Export-Import Bank. It guaranteed $489 million in credits to a Russian oil company whose roots are imbedded in a legacy of KGB and Communist Party corruption, as well as drug trafficking and organized crime funds, according to Russian and U.S. sources and documents.”
(“Cheney Led Halliburton to Feast at Federal Trough: State Department Questioned Deal with Firm Linked to Russian Mob” by Knut Royce and Nathaniel Heller [Center for Public Integrity]; 8/2/2000.)

15. “Those claims are hotly disputed by the Russian oil firm’s holding company. Halliburton, which lobbied for the Ex-Im loan after the State Department initially asserted that the deal would run counter to the ‘national interest,’ will receive $292 million of those funds to refurbish a massive Siberian oil field owned by the Russian company, the Tyumen Oil Co., which is controlled by a conglomerate called the Alfa Group. . . .” (Idem.)

16. Note that a Russian intelligence officer identifies Chechens as behind the Alfa Group-connected heroin traffic. Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood are strongly connected to the groups active in Chechnya. Again, is this operation connected to Atta’s activities in Florida? “ . . . That document and the FSB report claim that Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s largest and most profitable, as well as Alfa Eko, a trading company, had been deeply involved in the early 1990’s in laundering of Russian and Colombian drug money and in trafficking drugs from the Far East to Europe. The former KGB major, who with the fall of communism in the late 1980’s had himself been involved in the plan by the KGB and Communist Party to loot state enterprises, said that Alfa Bank was founded with party and KGB funds, and quickly attracted rogue agents who had served in anti-organized-crime units. ‘They (the rogue agents on the bank’s payroll) quickly determined that dealing in drugs would bring the highest profits with literally no risk in Russia,’ according to the former KGB officer. He claimed that a ‘large channel of heroin transit was established from Burma through Laos, Vietnam, to the Far East [Siberia].’ From there the drugs were camouflaged as flour and sugar shipments and forwarded on to Germany. The drug operation was controlled by a Chechen mob family, he said. [Italics are Mr. Emory’s] . . .”

17. The Cali cartel—connected to the Iran-Contra drug trafficking networks that were linked to Atta’s operations in Florida—is linked to the Alfa Group’s criminal activities. “ . . . The FSB document claims that at the end of 1993, a top Alfa official met with Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, the now-imprisoned financial mastermind of Columbia’s notorious Cali cartel, ‘to include an agreement about the transfer of money into Alfa Bank from offshore zones such as the Bahamas, Gibraltar and others, The plan was to insert it back into the Russian economy through the purchase of stock in Russian companies.’ The account from the former KGB officer is unclear about Alfa’s alleged role with Rodriguez, but apparently confirms that ‘in 1993-94 there were attempts of the so-called Chess Player [Rodriguez’s nickname] to launder and legalize large amounts of criminal money in Russia. He reported that there was evidence ‘regarding [Alfa Bank’s] involvement with the money laundering of . . . Latin American drug cartels.’ . . .” (Idem.)

18. The program highlights links between Alfa and people linked to the leadership of the Republican Party: “ . . . Tyumen could have significant access to the White House should the Bush-Cheney ticket win in the November presidential elections. Tyumen’s lead attorney at Akin Gump is James C. Langdon Jr., a managing partner at the firm. He is also one of George W. Bush’s ‘Pioneers,’ one of the elite fund raisers who have brought in at least $100,0000 for the Republican presidential hopeful. . . .” (Idem.)

19. The discussion concludes with the links of Alfa Group to the Iraqi oil-for-food scam and the Iraqgate weapons trafficking of the 1980’s. “ . . . One outfit that participated in the Iraqi oil trade is the Alfa Group, a Moscow firm with holdings in banking, telecom, oil and commodities trading, run by billionaire Mikhail Fridman. Alfa quite legally pumped the price of its cheap Iraqi crude by trading it to a succession of affiliates and friends with questionable pasts. [including Alfa subsidiary Crown Trade & Finance] The daisy chain, known internally as a ‘rondo,’ boosted Alfa’s proceeds and also made the money harder to trace. Alfa deposited funds in a Gibraltar tax haven. . . .”
(“The Saddam Shuffle” by Michael Maiello; Forbes; 11/15/2004.)

20. “ . . . A favorite rondo customer—and a point of entry to the U.S. market—was a Houston company, Bayoil. It participated in 32 Iraqi oil trades with Alfa companies between August 1999 and December 2000. Bayoil also bought directly from Saddam. Saddam had been dealing with Bayoil owner David Bay Chalmers Jr. before. During the 1980’s Iran-Iraq war Bayoil apparently got a fee of $2 a barrel for brokering 20 million barrels of Iraqi oil to the Chilean arms dealer Carlos Cardoen. . . .” (Idem.)

Discussion

5 comments for “FTR #523 Catching Up With Daniel Hopsicker”

  1. Add one more to the list of pre-911 “intelligence failures”: Operation Foxden:

    US acted to conceal evidence of intelligence failure before 9/11

    Operation Foxden, delayed by turf war between the FBI and the CIA, given green light three days before the al-Qaida attacks

    Ian Cobain
    guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 27 March 2012 15.26 EDT

    The US government shut down a series of court cases arising from a multimillion pound business dispute in order to conceal evidence of a damning intelligence failure shortly before the 9/11 attacks, MPs were told.

    Moreover, the UK government is now seeking similar powers that could be used to prevent evidence of illegal acts and embarrassing failures from emerging in court, David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, told the Commons.

    The Justice and Security green paper being put forward by Ken Clarke’s justice ministry has already faced widespread criticism from civil rights groups, media representatives and lawyers working within the secret tribunal system that hears terrorism-related immigration cases.

    Davis demanded to know how its proposals could be prevented from being used to cover up crimes and errors. “In light of previous revelations about the UK government’s complicity in torture and rendition of detainees to locations like of Libya, Afghanistan, or illegally into American hands ” how will the Government prevent the Justice and Security green paper proposals being misused in a similar way to cover up illegal acts and embarrassments rather than protect national security?”

    Davis said that in 1998 the FBI seized upon an opportunity to eavesdrop on every landline and telephone call into and out of Afghanistan in a bid to build intelligence on the Taliban. The Bureau discovered that the Taliban regime had awarded a major telephone network contract to a joint US-UK venture, run by an American entrepreneur, Ehsanollah Bayat and two British businessmen, Stuart Bentham and Lord Michael Cecil.

    “The plan was simple” Davis said. “Because the Taliban wanted American equipment for their new phone network, this would allow the FBI and NSA, the National Security Agency, to build extra circuits into all the equipment before it was flown out to Afghanistan for use. Once installed, these extra circuits would allow the FBI and NSA to record or listen live to every single landline and mobile phone call in Afghanistan. The FBI would know the time the call was made and its duration. They would know the caller’s name, the number dialled, and even the caller’s PIN.”

    But the plan, Operation Foxden, was delayed by a turf war, during which “the FBI and the CIA spent more than a year fighting over who should be in charge”, he said.

    The operation was eventually given the green light on 8 September 2001 – three days before the al-Qaida attacks. “A huge opportunity was missed,” Davis said.

    He added that when Bentham and Cecil sued Bayat in the New York courts, and Bayat lodged a legal claim against the two Britons, the case was struck out and all records removed from the courts public database on the grounds of State Secrets Privilege, a legal doctrine that permits the US government to shut down litigation on the grounds of national security. The Britons attempted to sue in London, Davis said, but the case failed because “so long is the reach of the American State Secrets Privilege” that they were prevented from discussing key details of the US case.

    Reprieve’s Executive Director, Clare Algar, director of the legal charity Reprieve, said: “This demonstrates just how ready the intelligence services are to cry national security in order to cover up their own embarrassment. It is yet another compelling example – if one were needed – of why we cannot let the UK Government’s plans for secret justice go ahead.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 29, 2012, 6:24 pm
  2. Note that Operation Foxden was first publicly revealed in this Vanity Fair peice last year and it sounds like the CIA was the primary opponent of the plan due to concerns over the MI6’s involvement. It also sounds like the CIA may have been the eventual winner of the turf war when they got to set up a telecommunications network in Afghanistan very similar to the one proposed in Operation Foxden, post-911

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 29, 2012, 6:31 pm
  3. @Pterrafractyl: Thanks for the info. I’d suspect that there may have been some deliberate subterfuge going on there, and not just incompetence. Yes, a huge opprotunity was indeed missed…..=(

    Posted by Steven L. | March 30, 2012, 11:03 am
  4. http://www.browardbulldog.org/2013/06/mystery-of-sarasota-saudis-deepens-as-justice-moves-end-foi-lawsuit-citing-national-security/

    June 3, 2013 at 5:59 am
    Mystery of Sarasota Saudis deepens as Justice moves to end FOI lawsuit citing national security
    Filed under 9/11, A1 Top Story {5 comments}

    By Dan Christensen and Anthony Summers, BrowardBulldog.org

    A senior FBI official has told a Fort Lauderdale federal judge that disclosure of certain classified information about Saudis who hurriedly left their Sarasota area home shortly before 9/11 “would reveal current specific targets of the FBI’s national security investigations.”

    Records Section Chief David M. Hardy’s assertion is contained in a sworn 33-page declaration filed in support of a Justice Department motion that seeks to end a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed last year by BrowardBulldog.org.

    The government’s latest court filings, thick with veiled references to foreign counterintelligence operations and targets, deepen the mystery about a once-secret FBI investigation of Esam and Deborah Ghazzawi and their tenants, son-in-law and daughter, Abdulaziz and Anoud al-Hijji.

    The filings by Miami Assistant U.S. Attorney Carole M. Fernandez also seek to justify in the name of national security numerous deletions of information from FBI records about the decade-old investigation that were released recently amid the ongoing litigation.

    They do not, however, explain why an investigation the FBI has said found no connection between those Saudis and the Sept. 11th attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people involves information so secret its disclosure “could be expected to cause serious damage to national security.”

    The investigation, which the FBI did not disclose to Congress or the 9/11 Commission, was first reported in a September 2011 story published simultaneously by BrowardBulldog.org and The Miami Herald.

    It began after neighbors in the gated community of Prestancia reported the al-Hijjis had suddenly departed their home at 4224 Escondito Circle about two weeks before the attacks. They left personal belongings and furniture, including three newly registered cars – one of them brand new.

    According to a counterterrorism officer and Prestancia’s former administrator Larry Berberich, gatehouse log books and photographs of license tags were later used by the FBI to determine that vehicles used by the hijackers had visited the al-Hijji home.

    The FBI later confirmed the existence of the probe, but said it found no evidence connecting the Ghazzawis or the al-Hijjis to the hijackers or the 9/11 plot.

    RECORDS CONTRADICT DENIALS

    The newly released FBI records contradict the FBI’s public denials. One dated April 4, 2002 says the investigation “revealed many connections” between the Saudis who fled Sarasota and “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.”

    The report goes on to list three of those individuals and connect them to the Venice, Florida flight school where suicide hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi trained. The names of those individuals were not made public.

    The FBI removed additional information in the report, citing a pair of national security exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act.

    In his declaration to U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch, the FBI’s Hardy sought to explain those deletions and others. He said information was withheld “to protect an intelligence method utilized by the FBI for gathering intelligence data.” Such methods include confidential informants.

    Hardy, who stated that he has been designated a “declassification authority” by Attorney General Eric Holder, said redactions regarding the Sarasota investigation were also made to protect “actual intelligence activities and methods used by the FBI against specific targets of foreign counterintelligence investigations or operations.”

    “The information obtained from the intelligence activities or methods is very specific in nature, provided during a specific time period and known to very few individuals,” Hardy said.

    DAMAGE TO NATIONAL SECURITY?

    No details were provided, but Hardy said the information was “compiled regarding a specific individual or organization of national security interest.” He added that its disclosure “reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.”

    Disclosure would reveal the FBI’s “current specific targets” and “allow hostile entities to discover the current intelligence gathering methods used and reveal the criteria and priorities assigned to current intelligence or counterintelligence investigations,” Hardy said.

    “With the aid of this detailed information, hostile entities could develop countermeasures which would, in turn, severely disrupt the FBI’s intelligence gathering capabilities” and damage efforts “to detect and apprehend violators of the United States’ national security and criminal laws.”

    For months, the FBI claimed it had no responsive documents regarding its Sarasota investigation. But on March 28, Hardy unexpectedly announced the Bureau had located and reviewed 35 pages of records. It released 31 of them.

    Prosecutor Fernandez now contends the FBI conducted a “reasonable search” and that “no agency records are being improperly withheld.”

    Her motion asks the court to grant summary judgment in the government’s favor.

    Dan Christensen is the editor of Broward Bulldog. Anthony Summers is co-author with Robbyn Swan of “The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden,”published by Ballantine Books, which was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2012.

    Posted by Vanfield | June 8, 2013, 11:13 pm
  5. @Vanfield–

    Note the stated pre-occupation of protecting current targets of investigations and confidential informants.

    That, coupled with the reference to Huffman Aviation which you highlighted, makes me wonder of Rudi Dekkers may be providing information on the folks in Venice.

    We’ll explore this more in a future post.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | June 9, 2013, 5:40 pm

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