10 Failures of the U.S. Government on the Domestic Islamist Threat
ALI MOHAMED (1998)
Al-Qaeda security chief Ali Mohamed infiltrates Army Special Forces,
After Ali Mohamed was expelled from the Egyptian army in 1984 for his sympathies for the assassins who gunned down Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Mohamed traveled to the U.S. and found a new home—In the U.S. Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg. While technically a supply sergeant, he spent most of his time training soldiers in Arabic culture and even starred in a video series produced by the Special Forces school.
That was not the only training he was doing, however, as he was schooling U.S.-based Islamic militants in weapons, explosives and martial arts, including the cell responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. As one of Ayman alZawahiri’s long-time top security officials, he was called upon by the Al-Qaeda leader in 1991 to help relocate bin Laden from Afghanistan to the Sudan. He later trained the Somali forces that attacked U.S. troops in Mogadishu in 1993; he coordinated a meeting between bin Laden and Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh; he set up the Nairobi Al-Qaeda cell and scouted the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania for the 1998 terrorist attacks; and he used classified U.S. Army manuals to compile the “Manchester Manual”, a comprehensive textbook for gathering intelligence, conducting surveillance, and planning terror attacks used by Al-Qaeda operatives. He even arranged a U.S. fundraising tour for Zawahiri.
During Mohamed’s tenure with the U.S. Army, Egyptian authorities warned of his ties with terrorist groups and extremist ideology. In violation of orders, he traveled to Afghanistan and briefly fought with the mujahideen. From 1994-1998, he met regularly with the FBI, providing them cursory information about the growing Al-Qaeda network, but never revealing his role with the terrorist group. Growing suspicious, the FBI searched his apartment following the August 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings, and he was subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury the following month. Arrested for lying to the grand jury, he was indicted as part of the embassy bombings plot and pled guilty to five counts of conspiracy to kill U.S. soldiers and diplomats, and plotting to kill “United States civilians anywhere in the world.”
Benjamin Weiser and James Risen, “The Masking of a militant,” New York Times, December 1, 1998
Lance Williams and Erin McCormick, “Bin Laden’s man in Silicon Valley,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 21, 2001
Joseph Neff and John Sullivan, “Al-Qaeda terrorist duped FBI, Army,” Raleigh News & Observer, October 21, 2001
Lance Williams and Erin McCormick, “Al-Qaeda terrorist worked with FBI,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 4, 2001
John Sullivan and Joseph Neff, “An Al-Qaeda operative at Fort Bragg,” Raleigh News & Observer, November 13, 2001
Peter Waldman, Gerald Seib, et al., “The Infiltrator: Ali Mohamed served in the U.S. Army – and bin Laden’s Circle,” Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2001