At least five witnesses questioned by the Defense Department’s Inspector General told Fox News that their statements were distorted by investigators in the final IG’s report — or it left out key information, backing up assertions that lead hijacker Mohammed Atta was identified a year before 9/11.
FOX NEWS Atta is believed to have been the ringleader of the Sept. 11 hijackers who piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center. Claims about how early Atta first tripped the radar of the Department of Defense date back to 2005, but those claims never made it into the Inspector General’s report. The report was completed in 2006 and, until now, has been available only in a version with the names of virtually all of the witnesses blacked out.
Fox News, as part of an ongoing investigation, exclusively obtained a clean copy of the report and spoke to several principal witnesses, including an intelligence and data collector who asked that she not be named.
The witness told Fox News she was interviewed twice by a Defense Department investigator. She said she told the investigator that it was highly likely a department database included the picture of Atta, whom she knew under an alias, Mohammed el-Sayed.
“When it came to the picture, (the investigator) he was fairly hostile,” the witness told Fox News. She said it seemed the investigator just didn’t want to hear it. “Meaning that he’d ask the same question over and over again, and, you know, you get to the point you go, well, you know… it’s the same question, it’s the same answer.”
The IG report didn’t accurately reflect her statements to investigators, she said, adding that she doesn’t think the investigator simply misunderstood her.
Lt. Col Tony Shaffer, an operative involved with Able Danger, said he was interviewed three times by Defense investigators. He claims it was an effort to wear down the witnesses and intimidate them. Two other witnesses, one a military contractor and the other a retired military officer, said they had the same experience. The two witnesses spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity because they said they feared retaliation. A fifth witness told Fox that statements to investigators were ignored.
“My last interview was very, very hostile,” Shaffer told Fox News last month before he was ordered by the department not to discuss portions of his book, “Operation Dark Heart,” which included a chapter on the Able Danger data mining project.
When asked why the IG’s report was so aggressive in its denials of his claims and those of other witnesses — that the data mining project had identified Atta as a threat to the U.S. before 9/11 — Shaffer said Defense Department was worried about taking some of the blame for 9/11. However, It still isn’t clear how — or whether — the information on Atta could have been used to the disrupt the Sept. 11 attacks.
“The big picture was not Atta, not so much the chart,” Shaffer said. “The fact is this: That we had a pre-9/11 Department of Defense operation focused on taking action against Al Qaeda globally.” READ MORE: FOX NEWS
Background & News Clips about Able Danger
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