A Failure of Intelligence?

To understand why Americans did not recognize the true threat posed by the terrorists of al-Qaeda before September 11, consider the following exchanges. They are quoted from the transcripts of the testimony of Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl, the prosecution’s first witness in the trial for the bombings of two American embassies in East Africa on August 7, 1998. Al-Fadl was questioned about chemical weapons that were allegedly made in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

Q. Are you familiar with a section in Khartoum called Hilat Koko?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you ever travel to the section of Khartoum called Hilat Koko with any member of al Qaeda?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. Who did you go with?
A. I remember one time I went with Abu Rida al Suri, and one time I went with Abu Hajer al Iraqi.
Q. Anyone else?
A. And one time I went with—
Q. We will go through that name. M-U-Q-A-D-E-M. Is that a name or a title?
A. No, a title. He got one eagle and one star.
Q. Does that mean he is an officer?
A. Yes, he is in the army.
Q. In which army?
A. Sudanese army.
Q. His name?
A. Yes. Abdul Baset Hamza.
Q. Tell us about the time you went to Hilat Koko with Abu Hajer al Iraqi, what you discussed.
A. I learn that in this building they try to make chemical weapons with regular weapons.
Q. Can you explain what you mean by chemical weapons with regular weapons.
A. I remember another guy, he explain more to me about this.
Q. Who was that?
A. Amin Abdel Marouf.
Q. What did Amin Abdel Marouf explain to you?
A. He say the war between the government and the Sudan and the rebels in south Lebanon, it’s like 30 years, and always the rebels during the rain time, they took the Sudanese army to north, and he say if we use weapons like that, it easy for us to win.
Q. Was there a war going on in the south of Sudan?
A. Yes.
Q. That was between who and whom?
A. Between Islamic National Front, they run the government, and John Garang group.
Q. Returning to your conversation with Abu Hajer al Iraqi, did he discuss with you who it was that was trying to make the chemical weapons in the area there of Hilat Koko?
A. He tell me the al Qaeda group try to help Islamic National Front to do these weapons, to make these weapons. [italics added]


Q. There came a time you talked about when you went to Hilat Koko…


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