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Dave Frasca, an FBI supervisor who will later play a key role in the FBI’s failure to get a warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings before 9/11 (see August 21, 2001 and August 29, 2001), attempts to “derail” an investigation into radicals attempting to purchase weapons in the US, according to Randy Glass, a mole used in the operation. Glass, a former conman who poses as an arms dealer to help the FBI catch the radicals, will make the allegations in a May 2004 interview with the 9/11 Commission. According to Glass, Frasca, a supervisor at the FBI’s Miami office, hampers the operation in three ways. First, he rejects the idea of investigating the three men, Diaa Mohsen, Mohammed Malik, and RJ Abbas, the ISI intelligence agent, entirely. However, another FBI supervisor and an official from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) intervene to keep the case alive. Frasca also prevents two unnamed agents from tapping Mohsen’s telephone. According to a 9/11 Commission summary of Glass’s interview, “Mohsen was talking to everybody,” so presumably such electronic surveillance would have been very fruitful. Finally, Frasca attempts to “sabotage” the investigation by refusing to pay money promised to Glass so that he can buy a false passport from Mohsen. Glass will say that Frasca uses another, unnamed agent to “threaten” him over the passport purchase. The other agent tells Glass, “Frasca says that if you buy this passport, you will be charged with a crime.” However, an official apparently with another government agency tells Glass, “F_ck the FBI, go ahead and purchase the passport,” and Glass apparently does so. (9/11 Commission 5/4/2004) Frasca will be promoted in 2001 (see Early 2001).
US government informant Randy Glass records a conversation at a dinner attended by himself, illegal arms dealers Diaa Mohsen and Mohammed Malik, a former Egyptian judge named Shireen Shawky, and Pakistani ISI agent Rajaa Gulum Abbas, held at a restaurant within view of the World Trade Center. FBI agents pretending to be restaurant customers sit at nearby tables. (MSNBC 8/2/2002; WPBF 25 (West Palm Beach) 8/5/2002) Abbas says he wants to buy a whole shipload of weapons stolen from the US military to give to Osama bin Laden. (Pacenti 8/2/2002) Abbas points to the WTC and says, “Those towers are coming down.” This ISI agent later makes two other references to an attack on the WTC. (Pacenti 8/2/2002; WPBF 25 (West Palm Beach) 8/5/2002; Pacenti 10/17/2002) Abbas also says, “Americans [are] the enemy,” and, “We would have no problem with blowing up this entire restaurant because it is full of Americans.” (NBC 3/18/2003) The meeting is secretly recorded and parts will be shown on television in 2003. (MSNBC 3/18/2003)
A group of illegal arms merchants, including an ISI agent with foreknowledge of 9/11, had met in a New York restaurant the month before (see July 14, 1999). This same group meets at this time in a West Palm Beach, Florida, warehouse, and it is shown Stinger missiles as part of a sting operation. (Burstein 3/20/2003) US intelligence soon discovers connections between two in the group, Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Mohammed Malik, Islamic militant groups in Kashmir (where the ISI assists them in fighting against India), and the Taliban. Mohamed Malik suggests in this meeting that the Stingers will be used in Kashmir or Afghanistan. His colleague Diaa Mohsen also says Abbas has direct connections to “dignitaries” and bin Laden. Abbas also wants heavy water for a “dirty bomb” or other material to make a nuclear weapon. He says he will bring a Pakistani nuclear scientist to the US to inspect the material. (MSNBC 8/2/2002; NBC 3/18/2003) According to Dick Stoltz, a federal undercover agent posing as a black market arms dealer, one of the Pakistanis at the warehouse claims he is working for A.Q. Khan. A Pakistani nuclear scientist, Khan is considered the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and also the head of an illegal network exporting nuclear technology to rogue nations. (Hansen 1/14/2005) Government informant Randy Glass passes these warnings on before 9/11, but he claims, “The complaints were ordered sanitized by the highest levels of government.” (WPBF 25 (West Palm Beach) 8/5/2002) In June 2002, the US secretly indicts Abbas, but apparently they aren’t trying very hard to find him: In August 2002, MSNBC is easily able to contact Abbas in Pakistan and speak to him by telephone. (MSNBC 8/2/2002)
Operation Diamondback, a sting operation uncovering an attempt to buy weapons illegally for the Taliban, bin Laden, and others, ends with a number of arrests. An Egyptian named Diaa Mohsen and a Pakistani named Mohammed Malik are arrested and accused of attempting to buy Stinger missiles, nuclear weapon components, and other sophisticated military weaponry for the Pakistani ISI. (Frieden 6/15/2001; Burstein 8/23/2001; Mintz 8/2/2002) Malik appears to have had links to important Pakistani officials and Kashmiri militants, and Mohsen claims a connection to a man “who is very connected to the Taliban” and funded by bin Laden. (Mintz 8/2/2002; MSNBC 8/2/2002) Some other ISI agents came to Florida on several occasions to negotiate, but they escaped being arrested. They wanted to pay partially in heroin. One mentioned that the WTC would be destroyed. These ISI agents said some of their purchases would go to the Taliban in Afghanistan and/or militants associated with bin Laden. (Mintz 8/2/2002; MSNBC 8/2/2002) Both Malik and Mohsen lived in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Morrill 6/20/2001) Mohsen pleads guilty after 9/11, “but remarkably, even though [he was] apparently willing to supply America’s enemies with sophisticated weapons, even nuclear weapons technology, Mohsen was sentenced to just 30 months in prison.” (MSNBC 8/2/2002) Malik’s case appears to have been dropped, and reporters find him working in a store in Florida less than a year after the trial ended. (MSNBC 8/2/2002) Malik’s court files remain completely sealed, and in Mohsen’s court case, prosecutors “removed references to Pakistan from public filings because of diplomatic concerns.” (Mintz 8/2/2002) Also arrested are Kevin Ingram and Walter Kapij. Ingram pleads guilty to laundering $350,000 and he is sentenced to 18 months in prison. (Frieden 6/15/2001; Hocker 6/19/2001; Riddle 12/1/2001) Ingram was a former senior investment banker with Deutsche Bank, but resigned in January 1999 after his division suffered costly losses. (Hocker 6/19/2001; Morrill 6/20/2001) Walter Kapij, a pilot with a minor role in the plot, is given the longest sentence, 33 months in prison. (Frieden 6/15/2001; Hocker 6/19/2001; Pacenti 1/12/2002) Informant Randy Glass plays a key role in the sting, and has thirteen felony fraud charges against him reduced as a result, serving only seven months in prison. Federal agents involved in the case later express puzzlement that Washington higher-ups did not make the case a higher priority, pointing out that bin Laden could have gotten a nuclear bomb if the deal was for real. Agents on the case complain that the FBI did not make the case a counterterrorism matter, which would have improved bureaucratic backing and opened access to FBI information and US intelligence from around the world. (Mintz 8/2/2002; MSNBC 8/2/2002) Federal agents frequently couldn’t get prosecutors to approve wiretaps. (Pacenti 8/2/2002) Glass says, “Wouldn’t you think that there should have been a wire tap on Diaa [Mohsen]‘s phone and Malik’s phone?” (WPBF 25 (West Palm Beach) 8/5/2002) An FBI supervisor in Miami refused to front money for the sting, forcing agents to use money from US Customs and even Glass’s own money to help keep the sting going. (Pacenti 8/2/2002)
The US secretly indicts Rajaa Gulum Abbas and Abdul Malik for attempting to buy $32 million in Stinger missiles and other military weaponry in an undercover arms-dealing investigation. However, a US official states that Abbas is an alleged member of the ISI, and is thought to have ties to Middle Eastern militant groups and arms-trafficking operations. He also appears to have foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. Abdul Malik is said to be Abbas’s money man. Abdul Malik is not related to Mohammed Malik, another Pakistani targeted by the undercover operation. The chief US informant in the case, Randy Glass, says that both men also have clear ties to al-Qaeda, and the arms were going to be funneled to al-Qaeda and used against American targets. (Spencer-Wendel and Pacenti 3/20/2003; Burstein 3/20/2003) The indictment is not revealed until March 2003; both men still remain missing and are presumed to be in Pakistan. The US says it is still working on capturing and extraditing Abbas and Malik. (NBC 3/18/2003) NBC seems to have no trouble reaching Abbas in Pakistan by telephone. (MSNBC 8/2/2002; NBC 3/18/2003) The indictment “makes no mention of Pakistan, any ties to Afghanistan’s former Taliban regime or the ultimate destination of the weapons.” (Spencer-Wendel and Pacenti 3/20/2003)
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