Ali Mohamed

Ali Mohamed

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Ali Abdul Saoud Mohamed, (علي محمد) (born June 3, 1952) is a double agent
Double agent
A double agent, commonly abbreviated referral of double secret agent, is a counterintelligence term used to designate an employee of a secret service or organization, whose primary aim is to spy on the target organization, but who in fact is a member of that same target organization oneself. They...

 who worked for both the CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 and Egyptian Islamic Jihad simultaneously, reporting on the workings of each for the benefit of the other.

He came to the United States working as a translator for Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian physician, Islamic theologian and current leader of al-Qaeda. He was previously the second and last "emir" of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, having succeeded Abbud al-Zumar in the latter role when Egyptian authorities sentenced al-Zumar to life...

, who toured California mosques to raise money to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. While there, Zawahiri encouraged him to infiltrate the United States, to whom he later presented himself as defecting. Since he simply walked into the CIA office in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 and asked to speak to the station chief
Station Chief
Station Chief is a term for certain officials who are appointed as chief of a 'station', i.e. a stationary post, of various natures.-Colonial:...

 and offered his services, the Americans assumed he was an Egyptian spy, but nevertheless recruited him to be a junior intelligence officer. When tasked to infiltrate a mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

 with ties to Hezbollah, he simply informed the leadership he was an American spy intending to collect information; since a loyal American spy was also in the congregation, he reported Mohamed's bizarre behaviour to the CIA, who dismissed him and sought to ban him from entering the United States. Ironically however, he was simply picked up by the Special Forces in the American army, who sent him to the Special Warfare school and encouraged him to pursue a doctorate
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 in Islamic Studies and teach courses on the Middle East.

In the 1980s Mohamed trained anti-Soviet fighters en route to Afghanistan. FBI special agent Jack Cloonan called him "bin Laden's first trainer". Mohamed was charged with the August 7, 1998 bombings of the United States embassies
1998 United States embassy bombings
The 1998 United States embassy bombings were a series of attacks that occurred on August 7, 1998, in which hundreds of people were killed in simultaneous truck bomb explosions at the United States embassies in the East African capitals of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The date of the...

 in Nairobi
Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi County. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is...

, Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

 and in Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam , formerly Mzizima, is the largest city in Tanzania. It is also the country's richest city and a regionally important economic centre. Dar es Salaam is actually an administrative province within Tanzania, and consists of three local government areas or administrative districts: ...

, Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

. In October 2000, he pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy
Conspiracy (crime)
In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

 to kill nationals of the United States and to destroy U.S. property.

Mohamed has been described as "Six-foot one, 200 pounds, and exceptionally fit, ... a martial artist and skilled linguist who spoke fluent English, French, and Hebrew in addition to his native Arabic. He was disciplined, clever, and gregarious, with a marked facility for making friends."

Mohamed was a major in the Egyptian army's military intelligence
Military intelligence
Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

 unit, until being discharged for suspected fundamentalism in 1984. He enlisted in the U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and used U.S. military information to train al-Qaeda and other Muslim militants, and write al-Qaeda's multivolume terrorist training guide.

In the United States


In 1984 Mohamed offered his services to the CIA in Cairo station and was stationed in Hamburg, Germany. There he "entered a mosque associated with Hezbollah and immediately told the Iranian cleric in charge that he was an American spy assigned to infiltrate the community." The mosque had already been penetrated and his announcement was passed on to the CIA, which, according to Lawrence Wright, "terminated Mohamed" and "sent out cables labeling him highly untrustworthy." By this "time, however, Mohamed was already in California on a visa-waiver program that was sponsored by the agency itself, one designed to shield valuable assets or those who have performed important services for the country."
In America he married an American woman from Santa Clara, California after a 6 week courtship and became a U.S. citizen. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and managed to get stationed at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 until 1989. "His awed superiors found him 'beyond reproach' and 'consistently accomplished'."
According to Cooperative Research, Mohamed was a Drill sergeant at Fort Bragg, and was hired to teach courses on Arabic culture
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

In 1988 Mohamed informed his superior officers in the U.S. Army that he was taking some leave time to fight Soviets in Afghanistan. "A month later, he returned, boasting that he had killed two Soviet soldiers and giving away as souvenirs what he claimed were their uniform belts."

Mohamed's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Robert Anderson, said he wrote detailed reports aimed at getting Army intelligence to investigate Mohamed — and have him court-martialed — but the reports were ignored.

"I think you or I would have a better chance of winning Powerball
Powerball
Powerball is an American lottery game sold in 44 jurisdictions as a shared jackpot game. It is coordinated by the Multi-State Lottery Association , a non-profit organization formed by an agreement with lotteries. Powerball is a game whose advertised jackpot starts at $20 million and can roll into...

, than an Egyptian major in the unit that assassinated Sadat would have getting a visa, getting to California ... getting into the Army and getting assigned to a Special Forces unit," he said. "That just doesn't happen."

It was equally unthinkable that an ordinary American GI would go unpunished after fighting in a foreign war, he said.

Anderson said all this convinced him that Mohamed was "sponsored" by a U.S. intelligence service. "I assumed the CIA," he said.

Mohamed also took maps and training manuals off base to downsize and copy at Kinko's and used them to write al-Qaeda's multivolume terrorist training guide that became playbook.

Mohamed also conducted clandestine military and demolition training through the Al Kifah Refugee Center
Al Kifah Refugee Center
The Al Kifah Refugee Center is a charity that was active in the United Statesand was based in the Faruq Mosque in Brooklyn.-Overview:Al Kifah Refugee Center had clandestine links to forces fighting in Afghanistan dating to the late 1980s, when the fighters enjoyed American support in their struggle...

. While in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, he helped train a number of jihadis, like El Sayyid Nosair
El Sayyid Nosair
El Sayyid Nosair is an Egyptian-born American citizen, convicted of involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing...

 and Mahmud Abouhalima
Mahmud Abouhalima
Mahmud Abouhalima is a convicted perpetrator of the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. His red hair earned him the nickname Mahmud the Red.-Life:...

, who assisted Ramzi Yousef
Ramzi Yousef
Ramzi Yousef was one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a co-conspirator in the Bojinka plot. In 1995, he was arrested at a guest house in Islamabad, by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence and United States Diplomatic Security Service, then extradited to the...

 in his 1993 attack on the World Trade Center
World Trade Center
The original World Trade Center was a complex with seven buildings featuring landmark twin towers in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. The complex opened on April 4, 1973, and was destroyed in 2001 during the September 11 attacks. The site is currently being rebuilt with five new...

.

In the early 1990s Mohamed returned to Afghanistan, where "he trained the first al-Qaeda volunteers in techniques of unconventional warfare including kidnappings, assassinations, and hijacking planes, which he had learned from the American Special Forces." According to FBI special agent Jack Cloonan, in one of Mohamed's first classes were Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

, Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian physician, Islamic theologian and current leader of al-Qaeda. He was previously the second and last "emir" of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, having succeeded Abbud al-Zumar in the latter role when Egyptian authorities sentenced al-Zumar to life...

, and other al-Qaeda leaders.

In 1993 Mohamed also traveled to Africa to survey embassies
Diplomatic mission
A diplomatic mission is a group of people from one state or an international inter-governmental organisation present in another state to represent the sending state/organisation in the receiving state...

 in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 such as the Nairobi
Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi County. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is...

, (Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

) embassy which Al-Qaeda later bombed. He became an FBI
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 informant.

In 1994, al-Qaeda operative Mohammed Atef
Mohammed Atef
Mohammed Atef was the alleged military chief of al-Qaida, although his role in the organization was not well known by intelligence agencies for years...

 refused to allow Mohamed to know which name and passport he would be traveling under, expressing concerns that Mohamed could be working with the American authorities.

In a televised interview Mohamed explained his rationale for his efforts: "Islam without political dominance cannot survive."

Arrest


While he was subpoena
Subpoena
A subpoena is a writ by a government agency, most often a court, that has authority to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence under a penalty for failure. There are two common types of subpoena:...

ed in Rahman's trial, Ali Mohamed was not arrested until years later — on 10 September 1998, when he attempted to flee to Egypt after being subpoenaed in the aftermath of the embassy bombings in Nairobi
Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi County. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is...

 and Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

. After eight months of imprisonment, Ali Mohamed entered a guilty plea in May 1999. What happened after that is unclear. The trial proceeded, but there is no record of any sentencing or even a conviction. As late as February 20, 2002, CBS News
CBS News
CBS News is the news division of American television and radio network CBS. The current chairman is Jeff Fager who is also the executive producer of 60 Minutes, while the current president of CBS News is David Rhodes. CBS News' flagship program is the CBS Evening News, hosted by the network's main...

 reported that "Mohammad pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing." He has now been arrested again by the Pakistani Army in Karachi.

Speculated cooperation with US Intelligence


In October 2001, the Raleigh News & Observer noted that Ali Mohamed may be cooperating with the US government. "Defense lawyers and many other observers believe that Mohamed, who has not yet been sentenced, is now cooperating with the United States, though the government has never confirmed this. When he is sentenced he could receive as little as 25 years under his plea agreement." In his book "The Mission, The Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander", former Delta Force
Delta Force
1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta is one of the United States' secretive Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units. Commonly known as Delta Force, Delta, or The Unit, it was formed under the designation 1st SFOD-D, and is officially referred to by the Department of Defense...

 commander Pete Blaber indicates he met Ali Mohamed who gave him information on how to infiltrate Afghanistan, find Al Qaeda commanders, and operate in country undetected in late 2001.

Further news sources in 2001 seem to suggest that Ali Mohamed is providing information on Bin Laden and al-Qaeda in an attempt to reduce his sentence, and that his sentencing "has been postponed indefinitely.". In 2006, Mohamed's wife, Linda Sanchez, was reported in 2006 as saying, "He's still not sentenced yet, and without him being sentenced I really can't say much. He can't talk to anybody. Nobody can get to him. They have Ali pretty secretive...it's like he just kinda vanished into thin air."