WASHINGTON — A former FBI agent who tracked al-Qaida before and after the Sept. 11 attacks has written a scathing book detailing the dysfunction and rivalry inside the government’s counterterrorism agencies, The New York Times
The book describes missed opportunities to defuse the 2001 plot and says other attacks could have been prevented, and that Osama bin Laden could have been found earlier if interrogations had not been badly managed.
The agent, Ali H. Soufan, is the most detailed to date by an insider, The Times reports. The book is to be published Monday with redactions to several chapter by the CIA, which was the target of much of Soufan’s criticism.
In the 571-page book, “The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al Qaeda,” the agent accuses the CIA of withholding information from the FBI before the fateful attacks, despite three written requests. He accuses the agencies’ leadership of lying to the 9/11 Commission.
According to the Times, Soufan recounts a scene at the American Embassy in Yemen, where, a few hours after the 9/11 attacks, CIA officials turned over requested materials and photos that included photographs of two of the hijackers.
“For about a minute I stared at the pictures and the report, not quite believing what I had in my hands,” Mr. Soufan writes, and the Times reports. Then he ran to a bathroom and vomited. “My whole body was shaking,” he writes. He believed the material, documenting a Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in January 2000, combined with information from the Cole investigation, might have helped unravel the airliner plot.
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