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Monday, August 28, 2006

An interview with Peter Lance

On Thursday evening I had the privilege of talking with Peter Lance for about half an hour about his new book and the dispute between himself and National Geographic, who is airing a documentary based in part on his book tonight. One thing I asked him was about the new cover for his book which you can see a sneak preview of here. You can also pre-order the book at PeterLance.com. Note the site does not have the new cover or postponed publication date yet. Anyway, Peter confirmed it was the mug shot of Ali Mohamed. I also asked if he had uncovered any new charts, besides the chart given to him by Jay Boesen which was created in March 2000. He said that he had not, but that when I saw the chart he did have I would be blown away. He has talked to several people including Congressman Weldon, who believe it shows why the military was embarassed by the information the Able Danger team was uncovering. He thought General Schoomaker in particular may have been embarassed to have his own team uncover the fact that an Al Qaeda mole had been working for SOCOM in the early nineties. Personally, I doubt this is the reason the data at LIWA was deleted in April 2000. For one, Schoomaker was a huge supporter of Able Danger and his second in command, Gene Lambert, was outraged that INSCOM had deleted the data. I asked if he has spoken to any members of the Able Danger team while researching his book, but he digressed citing the need to maintain confidentiality for his sources. He did say that the focus of the book is Ali Mohamed and besides the theory that Mohamed was the reason armed federal agents showed up at LIWA in early 2000, he did not uncover many significant new details on the Able Danger project itself. He did mention someone that is apparently in documentary that airs tonight, or the previous documentary from sunday night, Inside 9/11. During an interview with Patrick Fitzgerald, National Geographic asked him if he would acknowledge that there was a link between Al Qaeda and the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Fitzgerald replied, "I'm not prepared to say that at this time." This is five years after 9/11!

After listening to his interview on 810 AM the night before, I also had several follow up questions to things he had mentioned on the air. He had mentioned a connection between Ali Mohamed and Hamburg, which made my ears perk up. However, he clarified in our conversation that this was back in 1984, when the US sent him into a Hamburg mosque to spy on a radical Muslim cleric there. It was not directly related to the later Al Qaeda Hamburg cell of Mohamed Atta and Ramzi Binalshibh. I asked if he had uncovered any link between the Al Quds mosque or a man by the name of Zammar, who had recruited the Al Qaeda Hamburg cell, but he did not recall finding anything about their name. On the radio, he had mentioned that three of the hijackers got their fake IDs made at a storefront with a direct connection to Ali Mohamed. To me it seemed obvious that if the FBI has followed up after his arrest, and staked out the storefront, they might have intercept the 9/11 plot early on. Peter agreed, and said this location was known as the "Jersey Jihad Center". Ali Mohamed had used the location to train other radicals there and show them training videos or Islamic terrorist propaganda. Last but not least I asked him what he thought had happened to Ali Mohamed, since he was never sentenced. He replied that he did not think he was out on the street, but rather in "custodial witness protection" which means that he is behind bars in a federal prison somewhere, but still has the possibility of getting out at some time in the future if he cooperates.

UPDATE: I have made three corrections after forwarding the link to Peter Lance for review. First, he said Schoomaker "may" have been embarassed, not that he "must" have been. He explained, "I don't know for sure if he ever saw the link chart;" Second, I misunderstood the context of the quote from Fitzgerald. He was quoted denying the link between Al Qaeda and the 1993 attack, not Ramzi Yousef and 9/11. If you see the "Inside 9/11" documentary, you can get the exact quote there. Last and perhaps least, the correct American spelling is "Ali Mohamed" not "Mohammed".