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Monday, August 27, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: An interview with Dr. Bruce Tefft

MIKE: Hi Bruce, let's give people an idea of your background. 21 years in the CIA, 17 years overseas, Chief of Station, founding member of the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center in 1985. Would you say you've been focused on Islamic terrorism for 20 years?

BRUCE TEFFT: Thank you, Mike... yes, since 1985. In the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center I was responsible for operations against the Iranian terrorists and the Iranian-supported proxies, Hizballah in Lebanon.

MIKE: If you can go into this, are we talking about collection operations, offensive operations, both?

BRUCE: Both... although offensive operations all had to have specific White House approval and this was not always forthcoming. Collection operations is CIA "bread and butter" and did not require special approvals.

MIKE: For anyone who might not be familiar with the time period, Hezbollah was founded in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the first attacks against the US in Beirut began in 1983 and 1984, right? Bombings, kidnappings, hijackings, hundreds dead. Do any particular events stand out that had the most impact on you as you worked to counter this new threat?

BRUCE: I would take slight issue with your characterization that Hizballah was founded in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Hizballah would have been created regardless... The Ayatollah Khomeini, following the successful coup in 1979 in Iran, surveilled his next target and decided that Lebanon was sufficiently destabilized that the prospects for a second Islamic Revolutionary Government were best there and he detached units from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to Lebanon to establish camps in the Bekaa Valley to begin training Lebanese proxies - Hizballah - in terrorism.

BRUCE: The greatest impact was the kidnapping, torture and killing of the CIA Station Chief in Beirut by the Iranians/Hizballah on March 16, 1984. He was held and tortured to death by the Iranians who killed him by inserting a catheter with a balloon down his throat. When the balloon expanded it crushed all of his interior organs. The multiple bombings of the U.S. Embassy (twice), the Marine and French hqs, and numerous kidnappings and hijackings all cried for a counter-response.

MIKE: When did you first see a connection between literal reading of the Koran and terrorism, if that's an accurate way to say it?

BRUCE: During the Cold War, I studied Marxism to learn the motivations and weaknesses of the Communist enemy. It made sense, as Islam declared war on the United States, to do the same with Islam. The Koran, according to Muslims may only be read literally... it is blasphemy to attempt to interpret the literal word of Allah. It also made sense to listen to what the new enemy was saying, as we studied both the writings, speeches and propaganda of the Communists and before them, the Nazis to gain an understanding of them of whom we were fighting and why.

BRUCE: As a former Muslim, Ibn Warrach has written: "Without Islam, there is no Islamic terrorism". Obviously, without the Koran there would be no Islam, nor Islamic terrorism.

MIKE: There are over a billion Muslims in the world. Do you see them all as enemies of the United States, or only the terrorists?

BRUCE: Islam is an ideology hostile to the West, and to all non-Muslims. Islam requires all Muslims to work for the overthrow (or subjection) of all non-Muslim religions and political systems. If Muslims reject the words of Allah (as noted in the Koran and hadiths) then they are apostates and no longer Muslims. If Muslims choose to adhere to Islam which has declared war on the non-Muslim world, then yes, of course they are enemies of the U.S., the West and all non-Muslims... by their own words.

MIKE: The World Trade Center was bombed the first time in 1993. If you can say, what types of things were you involved with at the time? Were you familiar with the Blind Sheik and his Islamic Group or the connection to Zawahiri and Egyptian Islamic Jihad?

BRUCE: I was working in Somalia, amongst other places in East Africa.

BRUCE: Of course, I was quite familiar with the Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad... and the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization of which both were members. Rahman was involved with bin Laden in Afghanistan and earlier was involved in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

MIKE: When did you start working for Orion and how would you describe your job? Is it safe to say Islamic terrorism was the focus?

BRUCE: I started working for Orion in 1998, approximately 2 years after leaving the CIA. My responsibility was, as was Orion's, general terrorism... from all over the world. From the Japanese Aum-Shin-ryko to the ETA and German Red Army and Italian Red Brigades. By virtue of my background though, I specifically focussed on Islamic terrorism.

MIKE: In the lead up to 9/11 there were several more attacks on US interests overseas by Al Qaeda. Do you remember when you first became aware of the new terrorist network that Bin Laden and Zawahiri had formed? What about their MAK offices in the US?

BRUCE: I was aware of bin Laden, and his co-founder of the Maktab al-Khadamt (MAK) during the Afghanistan war. bin Laden murdered Azzam and his 2 sons in Peshawar in 1989 and took control of MAK (al-Qaeda) and began turning his attention to international terrorism.

MIKE: Did you see any signs before the 9/11 attacks that they were planning to bring their war against the US to American soil?

BRUCE: Yes, of course. There was nothing to stop al-Qaeda from doing so and it was logical... having defeated (their claim) the Soviets in Afghanistan; bin Laden turned his attention to the sole remaining non-Muslim superpower, the U.S. The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was an obvious indication; as well as the 1993 attack by Amal Kansi outside of CIA Hqs... one might have thought that either event would have focussed American attention to the Islamic War against the US...

BRUCE: Then in 1995, the Philippines captured Ramzi Yousef's roommate, Abdul Hakim Murad, and learned of Operation Bojinka, a plan to bomb 11 US airliners simultaneously over the Pacific, assassinate Pope John Paul II and to hijack an airliner and crash it into CIA Hqs.

BRUCE: In 1998 bin Laden issued his famous declaration of war calling on Muslims to kill all Americans everywhere. It should be noted in the context of bin Laden's terrorism that no Islamic authority has ever declared bin Laden, al-Qaeda or any of his actions un-Islamic... which would have required him being declared an "apostate" and subject to a fatwa death sentence... odd, considering how quickly death sentence fatwas were issued on Salmon Rushdie and the Danish cartoonists for the flimsiest of excuses.

BRUCE: So there were plenty of indications prior to 9/11.

MIKE: Were you personally aware of any Al Qaeda operatives present inside the US before 9/11?

BRUCE: I was aware that al-Qaeda was essentially a Muslim Brotherhood creation (as were the PLO and HAMAS); and that in 1995, al-Qaeda formed an official alliance with Iran (and thus Hizballah). I was aware of the PLO, HAMAS, and Hizballah criminal and fund-raising activities (particularly Hizballah cigarette smuggling from North Carolina and HAMAS coupon-clipping scams in Chicago). Thus I would have made a well-founded assumption that al-Qaeda was present in the US but, prior to any arrests, I was not personally aware of the identities of any individual al-Qaeda operatives in the U.S.

BRUCE: It should be noted that 80% of all of the mosques and Islamic centers in the US and all of the Muslim Student Associations are funded by Wahabbi Saudis. bin Laden is a Wahabbi Saudi. It would also be a reasonable assumption that these are al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda sympathizers too.

MIKE: In early 2002, not long after 9/11, you began commuting to New York. In basic terms, describe the work you did for Orion to assist the NYPD.

BRUCE: Orion volunteered to pay for my salary, commute, and hotel expenses as a patriotic gesture to assist the City of New York and the NYPD following 9/11.

BRUCE: I shared my intelligence and counter-terrorism expertise with members of the NYPD's Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Divisions in an effort to prevent another 9/11-type terrorist attack.

BRUCE: As an intelligence officer, my job had always been to be proactive, to identify threats and events in advance. Typically, police and law enforcement concentrates on reaction, to an incident or a crime. My job was to convey such aspects of proaction as were possible and legal domestically to the NYPD... and some of the 16,000 other law enforcement and first responders that I have trained in the US and abroad since 9/11.

MIKE: At what point did you stop making the trip to Manhattan?

BRUCE: My last commute to Manhatten was prior to Christmas, 2003. This was due to the acquisition of Orion by SRA, a company which did not share Orion's view as to the value of my work in NYC.

MIKE: Was NYPD the only Orion customer you were supporting all this time?

BRUCE: The NYPD was my primary responsibility, but I did other work as well.

MIKE: Let's talk about the email list at issue. I'm a computer guy, so I'm curious, what email software did you use for the list?

BRUCE: I'm NOT a computer guy... I used the basic Microsoft office suite for my emails... Outlook.

MIKE: This might follow from the last answer, but how would people subscribe and how could they unsubscribe?

BRUCE: As I gave speeches, presentations and training to all first responders and law enforcement officials, I would, in my closing remarks, describe my international network of contacts, chatrooms, other email lists, and my own research. I would receive some 1,000 terrorist, political or military-related emails a day (more now) and disseminate perhaps 5% of them to interested parties on my own email list... I offered to place any law enforcement or other interested party on my list...

MIKE: How was the list in question actually managed? Do you keep the list of email addresses in an address book or file on your computer? Do people email you and ask to be added to the list and then you manually add them, or delete them if they request to be deleted?

BRUCE: Yes, the "list" was kept in my address book on my computer. For anyone to be put on the list, they would have to either email me or write down their email address and hand it to me and I would manually add to the list. Most, if not all, deletions were email requests. I received no request from the Muslim suing me to be removed from the mailing list. I might also add, I don't know (although I might hazard a guess) the identity of the Muslim suing me... he has requested court protection of his identity... hence the law suit is John Doe vs City of New York and Bruce Tefft. I have not been informed the identity of John Doe.

MIKE: When was the list started and approximately how many members did it reach at it's peak?

BRUCE: I started the list in connection with my on-line research in 1996 after leaving the CIA. The list is still growing, and I'm told that through various repostings, etc. that I reach approximately 15,000 readers daily.

MIKE: Is the content of the list in question similar to that of the OSINT yahoo group you post to now?

BRUCE: Almost identical... I've actually broken the list down into several now... one exclusively for law enforcement officials; and others more general depending on participants interests.

MIKE: What legal basis is the plaintiff using to sue you individually for emails you wrote?

BRUCE: He claimed in his suit, which is against the City of New York, with me as an addendum, that I contributed to the creation of a hostile work environment for him.

MIKE: If you posted them online instead, spoke the same sentiments in a public forum, or testified about it as an expert witness, could he sue you for that, too?

BRUCE: I did post most of the articles online... and, I imagine, he would attempt to sue me for that, if his objective, as seems clear of so many Islamic-origin law suits, is to silence a critic of Islam.

MIKE: What type of damages is he seeking from you?

BRUCE: None specific... he's requesting a jury trial for a judgement and decision on damages. I have heard that he initially sought a million dollars from the City of New York, but I can not confirm this.

MIKE: Is he claiming you discriminated against him or caused him emotional distress?

BRUCE: I gather he is claiming that I caused the NYPD to discriminate against him and I think there are some claims of emotional distress too. His complaint runs to several dozen pages.

MIKE: What period of time do the emails the plaintiff quotes in his lawsuit cover?

BRUCE: He seems to be claiming from 2001 to 2005... of course I had no NYPD officers on my list (that I am aware of) in 2001... and my last connection to the NYPD was ended in December 2003 although some email contact continued.

MIKE: Were you still working for Orion all that time?

BRUCE: No, my employment with Orion ceased in early 2004 when it was acquired by SRA.

MIKE: Would there be any difference if the plaintiff went and signed up for your OSINT yahoo group today? Could he sue you again?

BRUCE: The material and the commentary is the same.

BRUCE: As we've seen in the U.S. ...anyone can sue anyone else for just about anything... including hot coffee and hurt feelings. I hope the US courts will at some point stop entertaining frivolous law suits like this one, others launched by CAIR and the John Doe airline passenger complaints.

MIKE: To change the subject for a minute, one problem the intelligence community has is a lack of linguists, and native speakers, who can get top level security clearances. How do you think that problem can be solved to help us fight Islamic terrorism?

BRUCE: The FBI flatly, I have heard, refuses to use Jewish linguists. But there are thousands of non-Muslim Arabic and Persian speakers ranging from Palestinian Christians, Egyptian Copts, Lebanese Maronites, Iraqi Christians, Armenians, etc.

BRUCE: The shortage is a result of the intelligence community's own shortsightedness and incompetence.

MIKE: People might be aware of a 2004 conference where your remarks sparked a controversy. You've been in the intelligence business around thirty years now. Have your views on Islam ever caused any problems like this for you in the past?

BRUCE: I spoke in Toronto at a Simon Wiesenthal sponsored conference which infuriated Muslims. CAIR demanded, naturally, immediate retraction, apologies and disavowment from the sponsors. They did not get it.

MIKE: Last but not least, ARC, the Association for the Recovery of Children. When I was researching for this interview I saw you were listed as one of their associates. Can you tell me some more about that organization and the type of work they do?

BRUCE: The Association for the Recovery of Children is a non-profit organization comprised of former and active Intelligence, Military, and Law Enforcement personnel, dedicated to the recovery of missing and exploited children, foreign and domestic. You are aware of the issues of Muslim males stealing or kidnapping children from their non-Muslim or Western wives, and spiriting them off to their own country, often against US divorce court settlements, etc. We try to help the spouses recover their children.

MIKE: Thanks Bruce, hope we can continue the conversation soon and help fill people in on more details of the case.

BRUCE: Thank you, Mike.

MIKE: As a reminder, if readers can afford to make a contribution, checks can be made out to the Bruce Tefft Legal Defense Fund and sent to:

Bruce Tefft Legal Defense Fund
Jerry Goldman, Atty
Two Penn Center Plaza
1500 J.F.K. Blvd. Suite 1411
Philadelphia, PA 19102