A third person has now come forward to verify claims made by a military intelligence unit that a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it had information showing that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta (search) and other terrorists were identified as being in the United States.
J.D. Smith, a defense contractor who claims he worked on the technical side of the unit, code-named "Able Danger" (search), told reporters Friday that he helped gather open-source information (search), reported on government spending and helped generate charts associated with the unit's work. Able Danger was set up in the 1990s to track Al Qaeda activity worldwide.
"I am absolutely positive that he [Atta] was on our chart among other pictures and ties that we were doing mainly based upon [terror] cells in New York City," Smith said.
Smith said data was gathered from a variety of sources, including about 30 or 40 individuals. He said they all had strong Middle Eastern connections and were paid for their information. Smith said Able Danger's photo of Atta was obtained from overseas.
Rep. Curt Weldon (search), R-Pa., arranged the media roundtable with Smith. Weldon drew attention to Able Danger by speaking about it on the House floor months ago and has publicly called for the Sept. 11 commission to explain why the intelligence information wasn't detailed in its final report.
Besides Smith, Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer (search) and Navy Captain Scott Philpott (search) have also gone on the record, saying they were discouraged from looking further into Atta, and their attempts to share their information with the FBI were thwarted because Atta was a legal foreign visitor at the time.
"This story needs to be told. The American people need to be told what could have been done to prevent 3,000 people from losing their lives," Weldon told FOX News this week.
Shaffer and Philpott claim that in October 2003, they told Sept. 11 commission staffers of the presence of Al Qaeda operatives in the United States in 2000 yet little was included in the panel's final report about those conversations.
During Friday's roundtable with Smith, he was asked by reporters about Atta, who was using another name during 1999-2000. Smith said the charts Able Danger was using had identified him through a number of name variations, one being "Atta."
Two sources familiar with Able Danger told FOX News that part of its investigative work focused on mosques and the religious ties between known terrorist operatives such as Omar Abdul Rahman (search), who was part of the first World Trade Center bombing plot in 1993.
Isn't it interesting that so far no paper trail has been found of this? This could of course be for one of several reasons:
1. There was no paper trail because the three sources are mistaken / lying
2. There was a paper trail and it was a)lost; or b)destroyed
It seems to me that with three people saying the same thing #1 looks unlikely. In the case of #2a, if papers were lost, then there is some possibility that they could be "found" at some point.
In the case of #2b, if the papers were destroyed the question becomes: who destroyed them; and why?
At the present state of knowledge, I have heard nothing yet that invalidates this theory.
AJStrata and Mickey Kaus have more.