Nasir Abbas: A commander of the Southeast Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah who opposed the efforts of Hambali to tie the group to al-Qaeda. He later left the group, and I spoke to him in 2010 in Indonesia.
Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah (aliases: Saleh, [1 word redacted], and Abu Mohammed al-Masri): Headed al-Qaeda’s East African cells following the death of Abu Ubaidah on May 21, 1996, and was indicted for his role in planning the 1998 East African embassy bombings. He is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.
Abu Abdul Rahman al-Muhajir (alias of Muhsin Musa Matwakku Atwah): Al-Qaeda’s explosives expert and master bomb maker; indicted for the 1998 East African embassy bombings. He was reported by Pakistani officials to have been killed in 2006 by an airstrike in North Waziristan, a claim confirmed by U.S. officials through DNA testing.
Abu Bakar Bashir: Cofounded the Southeast Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah with Abdullah Sungkar, and after Sungkar’s death in 1999 he took over the group. He supported Hambali’s relationship with al-Qaeda.
Abu Hafs al-Mauritani (alias of Mahfouz Ould al-Walid): Shura council member and the only person in al-Qaeda with religious training; headed the fatwa committee following the arrest of Abu Hajer al-Iraqi. Reports occasionally surface that he has been killed, but they have never been confirmed, and some analysts believe he is living in Iran.
Abu Hafs al-Masri: (alias of Mohammed Atef): Al-Qaeda’s military commander after the death of Abu Ubaidah in 1996. He was eventually killed in November 2001 by a U.S. airstrike on his hiding place; in the rubble of the house we found important evidence that became part of the DocEx program.
Abu Hajer al-Iraqi (alias of Mamdouh Mahmoud Salem): Kurd who fought in Saddam’s army and then alongside bin Laden in Afghanistan, where the two became close friends. Although he wasn’t a cleric, he memorized the Quran, and bin Laden appointed him head of al-Qaeda’s fatwa committee. From that perch he wrote justifications for al-Qaeda’s actions, including the killing of innocent civilians. He was arrested in Germany in September 1998 and extradited to the United States, where he was sentenced for participating in the 1998 East African embassy bombings.
Abu Jandal (literally, “father of death”; alias of Nasser Ahmad Nasser al-Bahri): Member of the Northern Group who was recruited to al-Qaeda in 1996 with the help of Muhannad bin Attash; rose within the organization to become bin Laden’s personal bodyguard. He is the brother-in-law of Salim Hamdan, who served as bin Laden’s driver and confidant; it was the al-Qaeda leader who encouraged the two to marry sisters. Abu Jandal had been arrested by the Yemeni authorities after the October 12, 2000, bombing of the USS Cole, but they only let us question him after 9/11, when another al-Qaeda operative, Fahd al-Quso, linked him to one of the 9/11 hijackers, Marwan al-Shehhi. NCIS Special Agent Robert McFadden and I interrogated him, and he identified many of the 9/11 hijackers and provided invaluable intelligence on al-Qaeda’s structure, operatives, and operations. To date that interrogation is viewed as the most successful in the war against al-Qaeda. Today he is free in Yemen.
Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri (alias of Amin Ali al-Rashidi): A member of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad before joining al-Qaeda, he was bin Laden’s first deputy and then became the group’s first military commander. He drowned in 1996 in a ferry accident on Lake Victoria.
Abu Zubaydah (full name: Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn Abu Zubaydah; alias Daood): Independent terrorist facilitator who served as the external emir of the Khaldan training camp and was the partner of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Liby. We first came across Abu Zubaydah during the Millennium Operation in Jordan. He was captured in a shootout in March 2002 and flown to a secret location, where [3 words redacted] interrogated him. We gained important actionable intelligence from him, including his identification of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of 9/11. He also told us about Jose Padilla and Binyam Mohamed’s so-called dirty bomb plot. [2 words redacted] Abu Zubaydah when final control of his interrogation was given over to CIA contractors employing coercive interrogation techniques. Their techniques failed, and in secret memos they tried to claim [1 word redacted] earlier successes as their own. He is being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Salman al-Adani: Al-Qaeda operative tasked with being one of the suicide bombers for the January 2000 attack on the USS The Sullivans—which failed because Adani and his fellow suicide bomber, Taha al-Ahdal, miscalculated the tide and their boat got stuck in the sand. He later died after jumping into a sewer to try to save a boy who had fallen in.
Saif al-Adel: Senior al-Qaeda operative who is a member of the shura council and heads the organization’s security committee. After bin Laden’s death, he was appointed the interim leader of al-Qaeda. He held that position until June 16, 2011, when Ayman al-Zawahiri officially became its new leader. He remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.
Taha al-Ahdal: An al-Qaeda operative who, with Salman al-Adani, was one of the intended suicide bombers for the aborted January 2000 attack on the USS The Sullivans. He was killed while fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Alvin (not his real name): CIA chief of operations in Jordan during the Millennium Operation. He went on to become the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Sunni extremists chief.
Hussein Ansi: Head of Yemen’s Political Security Organization in Aden while we were investigating the bombing of the USS Cole. He appeared to be sympathetic to al-Qaeda and often tried to frustrate our investigation. After two of the al-Qaeda members involved in the attack, Fahd al-Quso and Jamal al-Badawi, “escaped” from jail in April 2003, we pressured the Yemenis to look into Ansi’s complicity, and he was eventually arrested, questioned, and sacked (but never prosecuted).
John Anticev: FBI Special Agent and I-49 squad member (and brother of Mike Anticev) who was the case agent for Operation Terrorstop, among other high-profile investigations. He also successfully interrogated both Mohamed Sadeek Odeh and Mohamed al-Owhali during the 1998 East African embassy bombings investigation, extracting from Owhali the phone number belonging to Ahmed al-Hada—which served as a virtual switchboard for al-Qaeda.
Mike Anticev: FBI special agent and I-49 squad member (and brother of John Anticev) who helped manage Jamal al-Fadl (“Junior”).
Andy Arena: Assistant agent in charge at the Detroit office who was appointed Pat D’Amuro’s deputy in investigating 9/11. He refused a request from the Bush administration to report links between Iraq and al-Qaeda.
Mohammed Atta: The leader of the 9/11 hijackers, he piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the north tower of the World Trade Center. A member of the Hamburg cell, he roomed there with 9/11 coordinator Ramzi Binalshibh and hijacker Marwan al-Shehhi.
Abdullah Azzam: A Palestinian cleric who inspired many Muslims, including bin Laden, to join the mujahideen and fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. With bin Laden he founded Makhtab al-Khidmat (Bureau of Services), which channeled money and recruits into Afghanistan. He was a potential rival to bin Laden to head al-Qaeda and was assassinated on November 24, 1989. Many suspected that Ayman al-Zawahiri was behind his murder, but this has never been proven.
Jamal al-Badawi: Yemeni al-Qaeda member who was involved in the USS Cole bombing. He was a close friend of Khallad’s; Khallad brought him into the operation. I interrogated him in Yemen with NCIS agent Ken Reuwer, gained his confession, and helped prosecute him in a Yemeni court. He was given a death sentence, “escaped,” and was later pardoned by President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He is on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list.
Ali al-Bahlul (alias of Anas al-Mekki): Served as bin Laden’s propagandist and secretary, a position he was appointed to after putting together the propaganda video celebrating the bombing of the USS Cole. He was captured in 2002 along with a group of thirty other al-Qaeda operatives nicknamed the “dirty thirty.” I gained his cooperation and confession in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and served as the key witness in his trial. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Ammar al-Baluchi (alias of Abdul Aziz Ali): Al-Qaeda operative who was the nephew of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and who helped the hijackers with money and logistics. He was arrested with Khallad in Pakistan on April 29, 2003, and identified by a quick-witted police officer. He is being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Al-Bara (alias of Abdul Aziz bin Attash): Al-Qaeda operative who is one of the younger brothers of Khallad and Muhannad bin Attash. He was convicted and jailed in Yemen in connection with the Bayt Habra plot, and I interrogated him and gained his cooperation.
Mozzam Begg: British Pakistani extremist who operated al-Ansar, a bookstore in Birmingham, and helped raise funds for the Khaldan training camp. He escaped from England to Afghanistan when British authorities first tried to arrest him. He was taken to Guantánamo after being captured in Pakistan in 2002. In 2005 he was freed, and today he is a free man in the UK.
Muhannad bin Attash: Older brother of Khallad, al-Bara, [1 word redacted], and Moaz bin Attash; a key aide to bin Laden and instrumental in recruiting members of the Northern Group in 1996. He was killed in 1997 fighting alongside the Taliban at Murad Beg, in the same battle in which his brother Khallad lost a leg.
Ramzi Binalshibh: Yemeni al-Qaeda operative who was the roommate of Mohammed Atta, the head 9/11 hijacker, and of another hijacker, Marwan al-Shehhi, in Hamburg. He was to be one of the 9/11 hijackers but was unable to get a U.S. visa. Instead he served as the liaison between the hijackers and mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He was arrested on September 11, 2002, after information gained by an FBI colleague from Ahmed al-Darbi helped lead us to him. [1 word redacted] was allowed to interrogate him for forty-five minutes shortly after his capture—but despite the fact that he cooperated, [20 words redacted]. He is being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Osama bin Laden: A Saudi of Yemeni origins, he founded al-Qaeda in 1988 after raising funds during the first Afghani jihad, during which he worked alongside Abdullah Azzam in operating Makhtab al-Khidmat, which channeled money and recruits into Afghanistan. After founding al-Qaeda, bin Laden went back to his homeland, Saudi Arabia, in 1990 before moving the organization to Sudan (1991) and then back to Afghanistan (1996). In Afghanistan he pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban. From Afghanistan bin Laden planned many attacks, including the bombing of the USS Cole and 9/11. He was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs during a May 2, 2011, raid on the compound in which he lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Barbara K. Bodine: U.S. ambassador to Yemen from November 1997 to August 30, 2002. Many in the FBI and the U.S. military investigating the USS Cole bombing felt she obstructed the investigation.
Steve Bongardt: FBI special agent and member of the I-49 squad who was my co–case agent during the USS Cole bombing investigation. He tried to challenge the CIA’s refusal to share information with the FBI pre-9/11—information that may have stopped the attacks—but he was repeatedly told to “stand down.”
Mike Butsch: FBI special agent assigned to the 9/11 investigation and tasked with tracking down Ramzi Binalshibh. With [18 words redacted].
Jack Cloonan: FBI special agent and member of the I-49 squad whom I worked alongside in many cases, including the recruitment of L’Houssaine Kherchtou.
Daniel Coleman: Senior FBI agent and I-49 squad member. He opened the FBI’s case on bin Laden in 1996 and was an FBI expert on the al-Qaeda leader. He played a key role in many high-profile investigations.
Dina Corsi: FBI analyst who worked with the CIA. On June 11, 2001, together with a CIA official and another analyst assigned to the CIA, she met Steve Bongardt and other members of the FBI’s USS Cole team and showed them three photos. She told them that one of the men in the pictures was named Khalid al-Mihdhar. Only the CIA official knew more than that, but he wouldn’t say anything. After 9/11 we learned that those pictures were from al-Qaeda’s 9/11 planning summit in Malaysia. If the CIA official had told us what he knew then, we might have stopped 9/11.
George Crouch: FBI special agent from the I-49 squad who was a member of the USS Cole investigation team. We conducted several interrogations together after the Cole investigation, including that of Salim Hamdan, bin Laden’s driver and confidant, at Guantánamo in 2002.
Pat D’Amuro: The assistant special agent in charge of counterterrorism when I joined the bureau, he was my boss through my most important cases—the Millennium Operation in Jordan, Operation Challenge in the UK, the USS Cole bombing, the 9/11 investigation—and during key interrogations in Guantánamo and elsewhere. He fully supported my decision to object to the introduction of coercive interrogation techniques.
Ahmed al-Darbi (alias Abdul Aziz al-Janoubi): Al-Qaeda operative who was the son-in-law of Ahmed al-Hada and a close friend and brother-in-law of 9/11 hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar. He and Mihdhar were in same combat class in Afghanistan, and it was from this class that Mihdhar was selected for the 9/11 operation. Darbi rose through al-Qaeda’s ranks to become a deputy of Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri. He was eventually captured in 2002 while visiting his mistress in Azerbaijan, and information gained from him by an FBI colleague led to the arrest of Ramzi Binalshibh, [1 word redacted], and [1 word redacted] other al-Qaeda operatives on September 11, 2002. He is being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Tom Donlon: Senior FBI official and the case agent in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He was the supervisor of the I-40 squad, which focused on Sunni extremists, when I joined the FBI, and he encouraged me to write and circulate memos on bin Laden and al-Qaeda. It was one of these memos that attracted the attention of John O’Neill. Donlon was on a thirty-day rotation in Yemen, as a supervisor of the USS Cole investigation, when we received the news about 9/11.
Kevin Donovan: Senior FBI official who did a thirty-day rotation in Yemen as part of the USS Cole investigation. Later he was promoted to assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York office.
Debbie Doran: FBI special agent on the I-49 squad; from a family of FBI agents. She played an important role in many operations. These included the 1998 East Africa embassy bombing investigation, the recruitment of L’Houssaine Kherchtou, and the DocEx program.
Maj. Gen. Michael E. Dunlavey: Commander of Joint Task Force 170 at Guantánamo; responsible for military interrogations from the opening of the base until November 8, 2002, when he was replaced in command by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller. Many FBI and military personnel were critical of his leadership and attitude toward detainees, although my interactions with him on the whole were positive.
Ed (not his real name): CIA interrogator whom I first met in Yemen while investigating the USS Cole bombing. We worked together during [5 words redacted], and later we partnered a few times at Guantánamo. He was unhappy with the coercive interrogation techniques the CIA contractors were using on Abu Zubaydah, and demanded that his superiors provide in writing orders that he go along with the contractors.
Joe Ennis: FBI special agent nicknamed “Alabama Joe” because of his pride in his roots; he joined us in Yemen during the USS Cole investigation. The material witness warrant for Jose Padilla was issued based on an affidavit sworn to by him.
Jamal al-Fadl (alias Abu Bakr Sudani): Nicknamed “Junior” within U.S. government circles, he was an early al-Qaeda member who served as bin Laden’s secretary before turning himself over to the United States in 1996 after getting caught stealing $110,000 from al-Qaeda. The information he gave us was central to our understanding of how the organization operated and evolved up till 1996, and he also became a key witness in subsequent trials against al-Qaeda members. He is in the U.S. Witness Protection Program.
Khalid al-Fawwaz: A trusted bin Laden lieutenant who first led al-Qaeda’s cell in Nairobi; once it was operational he went to London to run al-Qaeda’s operations there, focusing on logistics and public relations. In 1999 I helped the British build a case against Fawwaz and other members of the al-Qaeda–Egyptian Islamic Jihad cell in London. We won the case. Fawwaz is still awaiting extradition to the United States.
Harun Fazul (alias of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed; known mainly as Harun; another alias is Yaqoub al-Dusari): Al-Qaeda operative who served as Wadih el-Hage’s secretary in Nairobi and helped investigate the drowning of Abu Ubaidah. He also helped plan and execute the 1998 East African embassy bombings, and often wrote reports for al-Qaeda leaders. He ran al-Qaeda operations in the Horn of Africa until his death, on June 10, 2011.
Carlos Fernandez: FBI special agent whom I served alongside in many operations.
Patrick Fitzgerald: Worked closely with the FBI when he was an assistant U.S. attorney from the Southern District of New York. He played a central role in gaining the cooperation of several al-Qaeda members, including Mohamed al-Owhali and L’Houssaine Kherchtou, and I worked closely with him on operations in London, Italy, and Yemen. He also successfully prosecuted many terrorists, including Omar Abdul Rahman, and al-Qaeda members involved in the 1998 East African embassy bombings.
Fred (not his real name): CIA official who wrote faulty cables during the Millennium Operation in Jordan that had to be withdrawn, and who tried disrupting George Crouch’s successful interrogation of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Liby. Some of his other errors are discussed in the CIA inspector general’s report on the CIA’s coercive interrogation program.
Louis Freeh: Director of the FBI from September 1993 to June 2001. Aware of problems we were having during the Cole investigation, he flew to Yemen to speak to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, an effort that greatly helped us.
Stephen Gaudin: FBI special agent who was my partner in [4 words redacted]. [19 words redacted] During the 1998 East African embassy bombing investigation, he helped gain the confession of Mohamed al-Owhali, and after 9/11 he served as the FBI Legat in Yemen.
Ahmed al-Hada: Yemeni al-Qaeda member whose son Jaffar and sons-in-law Ahmed al-Darbi and Khalid al-Mihdhar (one of the 9/11 hijackers) also belonged to the organization. During the 1998 East African embassy bombing investigation, we discovered that his phone number in Yemen served as a virtual switchboard for al-Qaeda. The Yemenis only let us question him after 9/11; the interrogation was conducted by Bob McFadden, Andre Khoury, and me.
Wadih el-Hage: Lebanese al-Qaeda member who moved to the United States (and became a citizen) and was inspired by Abdullah Azzam to join the mujahideen. After the Soviet jihad he worked for bin Laden as his secretary, and in Nairobi he replaced Khalid al-Fawwaz (who had been sent by bin Laden to London). El-Hage was later arrested and sentenced to life in prison in the United States for his role in the 1998 East African embassy bombings.
Hambali: Commonly used name of Riduan Isamuddin, a commander of the Southeast Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah with responsibility for Singapore and Malaysia. A disciple of Abdullah Sungkar, he was sent by him in 1996 to train in Afghanistan, where he built a relationship with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Through KSM he pledged allegiance to bin Laden and was central to cementing the relationship between al-Qaeda and JI. On August 11, 2003, he was arrested by Thailand’s Special Branch. He is being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Salim Hamdan (alias Saqr al-Jadawi): Al-Qaeda member who joined the organization as part of the Northern Group in 1996. He is the brother-in-law of Abu Jandal, and served as bin Laden’s driver and confidant. I interrogated him at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, with George Crouch, and gained his confession and cooperation. Without our knowledge, or that of assistant U.S. attorney David Kelley, who was prosecuting the case, Hamdan was labeled an enemy combatant by the Bush administration and barred from cooperating with us anymore. I served as the main witness in his eventual trial. He was convicted, but because of the mishandling of the case by the Bush administration (the enemy combatant label), he was sentenced to only five and a half years in prison. Based on time served, he was released after only a few months in prison. Today he is free in Yemen.
Mustafa al-Hawsawi: Al-Qaeda financial operative who worked with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s nephew Ammar al-Baluchi in helping to coordinate the 9/11 hijackers’ travel and money. He is being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
John Helgerson: Inspector general of the CIA who investigated the agency’s coercive interrogation program after receiving complaints from CIA professionals unhappy with what was being done, and whose report was very critical of the program.
Edmund Hull: Barbara Bodine’s replacement as ambassador to Yemen; served there from 2001 to 2004.
Ibn al-Shaykh al-Liby: An independent terrorist who worked closely with al-Qaeda, he was the internal emir of the Khaldan training camp—Abu Zubaydah’s partner. After his capture he was interrogated by George Crouch and another FBI colleague, and provided actionable intelligence. He was taken away from the FBI and rendered by the CIA to another country, where he was tortured and forced to admit to false connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam. His “confession” was used by Bush administration officials to build its case for war with Iraq. He was later transferred to Libya, where he was put in prison and died under suspicious circumstances.
Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi: One of al-Qaeda’s military commanders. A member of the shura council, after 9/11 he was appointed commander of all the Arabs in Afghanistan. In April 2007 it was reported that he had been arrested. The exact date of the arrest is unclear. He is being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Kenneth Karas: We worked together when he was an assistant U.S. attorney from the Southern District of New York, gaining the conviction in the UK of members of the al-Qaeda–Egyptian Islamic Jihad cell in London. He is a federal judge.
[70 words redacted]
David Kelley: We worked closely together on many operations while he was an assistant U.S. attorney from the Southern District of New York, including during the USS Cole investigation and while building a case against Salim Hamdan. He later became the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York but still continued to personally oversee the USS Cole case.
Khallad (alias of Walid bin Attash; other aliases: “Silver,” Saleh Saeed Mohammed, Sa’eed bin Saleh bin Yousaf, Tawfiq Muhammad Salih bin Rashid, and Saleh bin Saeed bin Yousef): Senior al-Qaeda operative from a family of al-Qaeda members, including older brother Muhannad and younger brothers al-Bara, [1 word redacted], and Moaz. He joined al-Qaeda with the Northern Group, lost a leg in 1997—at Murad Beg, where his brother Muhannad was killed—and rose up through the organization to become a key bin Laden aide. He helped plan major attacks, including the bombing of the USS Cole and 9/11. The failure of the CIA to share information that the FBI requested during the Cole investigation prevented us from following his trail and possibly stopping the 9/11 attacks. He headed al-Qaeda operations in the Arabian Gulf after the November 2002 arrest of Nashiri, and he himself was arrested, by chance, in April 29, 2003, alongside Ammar al-Baluchi, by Pakistani police. [9 words redacted] and the FBI was not given access to him. He is being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Hassan al-Khamiri (alias Abu Yousef al-Ta’efi): Yemeni al-Qaeda member who was the emir of the al-Farouq training camp in Afghanistan until it was hit by U.S. missiles in response to the East African embassy bombings. That experience, along with his arrest in Yemen during the Bayt Habra car theft incident, pushed him to request a martyrdom operation from bin Laden. He was a suicide bomber, alongside Ibrahim al-Nibras, in the October 12, 2000, bombing of the USS Cole.
L’Houssaine Kherchtou (alias Mzungu): Early al-Qaeda member who served as bin Laden’s personal pilot and ran errands for the group. In Morocco Pat Fitzgerald, Jack Cloonan, Debbie Doran, and I convinced him to become a U.S. government asset and witness, and on September 21, 1999, he flew with us to the United States. Nicknamed “Joe the Moroccan,” he helped us understand al-Qaeda—picking up where Jamal al-Fadl left off (his knowledge stopped in 1996, when he defected)—and became a key prosecution witness in the trials of al-Qaeda members. He is in the U.S. Witness Protection Program.
Andre Khoury: FBI special agent whom I worked alongside in Yemen during the USS Cole investigation and in operations after 9/11. We interrogated several al-Qaeda members together, including Ahmed al-Hada.
Anas al-Liby (alias of Nazih Abdul Hamed al-Ruqai’i): Senior al-Qaeda operative and computer expert whose involvement in terrorist plots included casing the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in preparation for the 1998 bombing. We tracked him down to Manchester, England, but because of a lack of immediate evidence and British rules on holding suspects, he was released and escaped. Later, among his possessions, I found what became known as the Manchester Manual—an al-Qaeda handbook full of lessons for terrorist operatives. This manual was later translated into English and misunderstood by CIA contractors and used to justify their use of coercive interrogation techniques. In reality these techniques played into al-Qaeda’s tactics as outlined in the manual.
Mu’awiya al-Madani: Al-Qaeda operative who was a bodyguard for bin Laden and whom the al-Qaeda leader wanted to use as a suicide bomber for the USS Cole (in the end, he wasn’t used). I uncovered his martyrdom video in the DocEx program. He died in the May 12, 2003, al-Qaeda attack on the residential compounds in Riyadh.
Major Mahmoud (not his real name): Yemeni investigator whom we worked closely with during the USS Cole investigation and on investigations after 9/11.
Abu al-Khair al-Masri: Egyptian Islamic Jihad shura council member and a close associate of Ayman al-Zawahiri; joined al-Qaeda’s shura council following the March 2001 official merger of the two groups.
Sheikh Sa’eed al-Masri: Al-Qaeda shura council member who ranked just below Madani al-Tayyib on the financial committee, and who took over from him after he left the group. He refused to give L’Houssaine Kherchtou the $500 he needed to pay for his wife’s Cesarean section. He was killed by a U.S. drone attack in Pakistan in May 2010.
Ahmed Shah Massoud: Leader of the Northern Alliance who played a major role in defeating the Soviets and who was seen as the best hope for defeating the Taliban. He was assassinated by al-Qaeda on September 9, 2001, as a gift to the Taliban—helping to cement the relationship between the two groups.
Barry Mawn: Assistant director in charge of the New York office of the FBI during the USS Cole investigation.
Robert (Bob) McFadden: A Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agent who served as my partner during the investigation into the USS Cole bombing and in several subsequent investigations. Among the very successful interrogations we partnered in was that of Abu Jandal.
Khalid al-Mihdhar (alias Sinan al-Maki): One of the 9/11 hijackers, he was on American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon. The son-in-law of Ahmed al-Hada and the brother-in-law of Ahmed al-Darbi, he was identified by the 9/11 Commission and the CIA’s inspector general as the weakest link in the 9/11 plot. Both concluded that if the CIA had shared information about him with the FBI, as legally required and as the FBI had asked, 9/11 might have been averted.
Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller: On November 8, 2002, he replaced Maj. Gen. Michael E. Dunlavey and took control of Guantánamo. He refused to listen to the professional interrogators at the base and instead allowed coercive interrogation techniques to be used. On August 31, 2003, he flew to Iraq to advise those running the Baghdad prison Abu Ghraib.
Ali Mohamed: An al-Qaeda–EIJ double agent who served in the U.S. Army in the 1980s while also training terrorist operatives and helping plan attacks. Before joining Zawahiri’s EIJ, he had a seventeen-year career in the Egyptian military. He was part of the cell that cased the Nairobi embassy in preparation for the August 7, 1998, bombing. He was arrested by the United States in September in connection with the bombing and pleaded guilty in May 1999. He is awaiting sentencing.
Binyam Mohamed (alias Talha): Al-Qaeda operative who plotted with Jose Padilla to attack the United States with a dirty bomb. Traveling on a fake British passport, he was arrested in Pakistan and was handed over to the CIA and taken to Guantánamo. He was never tried and is today a free man in the UK.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (nickname: KSM; alias Mokhtar): 9/11 mastermind; uncle of the 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and co-planner, with him, of the thwarted Manila Air (or Bojinka) plot. Originally an independent terrorist, he joined al-Qaeda to make use of its organization, operatives, and funds in plotting the 9/11 attacks. The United States only learned that KSM was behind 9/11, and a member of al-Qaeda, from the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah that [4 words redacted] conducted. He was captured in Pakistan in 2003 and put into the CIA’s coercive interrogation program, and the FBI was not given access to him. He is being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Zacarias Moussaoui: Al-Qaeda operative who entered the United States on February 23, 2001, and attended flight schools in Oklahoma and Minnesota. He was arrested on August 16, 2001, and charged with an immigration violation after a flight instructor became suspicious and reported him. He was convicted for his role in 9/11 and sentenced to life in prison.
Robert Mueller: Became director of the FBI on September 4, 2001. Supported the decision of FBI agents not to get involved in the CIA’s coercive interrogation program despite strong pressure from the Bush administration.
Hamoud Naji: Head of Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s security team during our investigation into the USS Cole bombing.
Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri (full name: Abdul Rahim Hussein Muhammad Abda al-Nashiri; aliases: Abda Hussein Muhammad, Abdu, Sa’eed al-Mansouri, and Mullah Bilal): Senior al-Qaeda special operations member who masterminded the October 12, 2000, bombing of the USS Cole. After joining the organization as part of the Northern Group in 1996, he rose through its ranks to eventually become head of operations in the Arabian Gulf. He was captured in November 2002 and put into the CIA’s coercive interrogation program, and the FBI was not given access to him at the time. He is being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Ibrahim al-Nibras (alias of Ibrahim al-Thawer): Yemeni al-Qaeda operative who, with Fahd al-Quso, transported $36,000 from Yemen to Khallad in Bangkok—money that was probably used by 9/11 hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi for their plane tickets to the United States and for spending money there. After delivering the money to Khallad he became a suicide bomber, alongside Hassan al-Khamiri, in the bombing of the USS Cole.
Mullah Omar: Reclusive founder and leader of the Taliban whose followers named him Amir al-Mu’minin, or “commander of the faithful”—emir of the country. Bin Laden pledged allegiance to him, and he in turn offered al-Qaeda refuge and protection.
John O’Neill: Veteran FBI official who, on January 1, 1997, became the special agent in charge of the National Security Division in the FBI’s New York office. He picked me to be the case agent of several important investigations, and became a friend and mentor. He left the FBI on August 22, 2001, to work in the World Trade Center, where he died on 9/11.
Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-Owhali (aliases: Moath al-Balucci and Khaled Saleem bin Rasheed): Al-Qaeda operative who joined the group in 1996 as part of the Northern Group; recruited with the help of Muhannad bin Attash. Tasked with being a suicide bomber for the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, he didn’t end up killing himself, and was later interrogated (separately) by John Anticev and Stephen Gaudin. He confessed his role and was later convicted, and is serving life in prison.
Jose Padilla (alias Abu Abdullah al-Muhajir): American al-Qaeda member who, with Binyam Mohamed, intended to attack the United States with a dirty bomb. [4 words redacted] learned about his intentions during [1 word redacted] interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, and then our squad tracked him across the world before arresting him as he landed in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The Bush administration publicly exaggerated Padilla’s capabilities. He was convicted and sentenced to seventeen years and four months in prison.
Frank Pellegrino: FBI special agent from the I-49 squad who was the case agent for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed but who was prevented by the CIA from interrogating him.
Mohammed al-Qahtani: Al-Qaeda member who attempted to enter the United States on August 4, 2001, but was refused entry by a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agent. After 9/11 he was arrested in Afghanistan and taken to Guantánamo, where a fingerprint check identified him. He was taken from the FBI and subjected to coercive interrogation techniques, which didn’t yield any new information. He is being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Ghalib al-Qamish: Head of the Political Security Organization in Yemen whom we worked with during the USS Cole investigation and in investigations into, and after, 9/11.
Ibrahim al-Qosi (full name: Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi; alias Abu Khubaib al-Sudani): Al-Qaeda operative who was with bin Laden from the start and who served as an accountant for the organization. He is married to the daughter of Abdullah Tabarak. I identified him at Guantánamo and gained his cooperation and confession. Before his trial, he entered a guilty plea.
Fahd al-Quso (alias Abu Hathayfah al-Adani): Member of al-Qaeda in Yemen who was tasked with videotaping the Cole operation. He confessed his role to Robert McFadden and me, and also told us how he and Ibrahim al-Nibras delivered $36,000 to Khallad in Malaysia. We passed this information to the CIA and asked if they knew anything about Khallad’s movements in the region; they replied that they didn’t. After 9/11 we discovered that the CIA had known about Khallad’s movements, and that he met with Quso and Nibras after coming from al-Qaeda’s 9/11 planning summit in Malaysia. The $36,000 was probably used by 9/11 hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi to buy their tickets to the United States and for spending money there. Today he is free in Yemen and remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.
Omar Abdul Rahman: Known as the Blind Sheikh (childhood diabetes left him sightless), he led al-Gamma’a al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Group), a rival of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad. After being imprisoned in, and then expelled from, Egypt in connection with the 1981 assassination of Sadat, he made his way to the United States to take control of Abdullah Azzam’s U.S. operations. He was able to enter the United States after being given a visa by a CIA official, despite being on the U.S. State Department terrorist watchlist. He was arrested in the FBI’s Operation Terrorstop and sentenced to life in prison.
Ali Abdullah Saleh: President of Yemen who, during the Yemeni civil war, built a relationship with mujahideen fighters; they helped him lead the North to defeat the socialist South. That began a complex relationship with extremists and al-Qaeda that continues to this day.
Mohammed Saleh: Egyptian Islamic Jihad shura council member and close associate of Ayman al-Zawahiri who joined the al-Qaeda shura council following the March 2001 official merger of the two groups. On 9/11 al-Qaeda held a celebration of the attacks in his house. He was killed by a U.S. missile.
Marwan al-Shehhi: A member of the Hamburg cell and roommate of 9/11 lead hijacker Mohammed Atta and facilitator Ramzi Binalshibh, he was one of the hijackers on United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center. Fahd al-Quso’s confession to NCIS special agent Robert McFadden and me that Shehhi had stayed at one point in Abu Jandal’s guesthouse enabled us to convince the Yemenis to let us question Abu Jandal.
[2 words redacted]: CIA’s chief operational psychologist with whom [1 word redacted] worked during the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah [3 words redacted]. He left the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah after CIA contractors made it clear that they intended to use coercive interrogation techniques.
Abdullah Sungkar: Leader of Darul Islam who founded the Southeast Asian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah with the cleric Abu Bakar Bashir. He arranged for members to travel to Afghanistan in the 1980s to train and fight the Soviets. One of his key followers was Hambali. He died in 1999.
Adbullah Tabarak (alias Abu Assim al-Maghrebi): Close personal friend of bin Laden’s dating back to their days fighting the Soviets together, he followed him to Sudan and was asked by the al-Qaeda leader to head his bodyguard detachment after the 1998 East African embassy bombings. He is the father-in-law of Ibrahim al-Qosi. Arrested with Ali al-Bahlul as part of the “dirty thirty” group after 9/11 and taken to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. I identified him based on a description Abu Jandal had given me, and I took him out of the general population. Under suspicious circumstances, the FBI was barred from questioning him and he was released. Today he is free in Morocco.
Furqan al-Tajiki (alias of Fawaz al-Rabeiee): Yemeni al-Qaeda operative who was arrested in connection with the Bayt Habra car theft plot and was later involved in other al-Qaeda operations in Yemen. In February 2006 he escaped with other al-Qaeda members from a jail in Saana, and he was killed in October 2006.
Madani al-Tayyib (also known as Abu Fadhl al-Makkee): Al-Qaeda’s first financial chief, he lost a leg during the Soviet jihad and was very close to bin Laden. He ordered Jamal al-Fadl to try to procure uranium for the organization. In the 1990s he traveled to Europe with the help of Khalid al-Fawwaz to get treatment for his leg, and in 1997 it was reported that he had defected from al-Qaeda—causing many operatives, including Harun Fazul, to panic. He cooperated with the Saudi authorities, who said that they shared the information he gave them with the CIA, but this information was never passed along to the FBI. At one point, the U.S. military mistakenly thought that they had him in custody in Guantánamo. Today he is in Saudi Arabia.
George Tenet: Director of the CIA from July 1997 to July 2004. Under his leadership the professional interrogators from the CIA were sidelined, contractors were put in charge of interrogations, and coercive interrogations were introduced.
Tom Ward: An NYPD detective assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York whom I picked to be a member of our team for the USS Cole bombing investigation.
Colonel Yassir (not his real name): Yemeni interrogator whom we worked closely with during the USS Cole investigation and in investigations after 9/11.
Ramzi Yousef: Mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, with whom he plotted the failed Manila Air (Bojinka) attack. He is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison.
Ayman al-Zawahiri: Originally one of the leaders of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, he supported the group’s merger with al-Qaeda and became bin Laden’s deputy. He helped surround bin Laden with fellow Egyptians, ensuring that they dominated and shaped al-Qaeda. He is suspected of being behind the 1989 assassination of Abdullah Azzam. On June 16, 2011, al-Qaeda announced that he had been appointed the new leader of the group following bin Laden’s death.
Aaron Zebley: FBI special agent with a legal background who was instrumental in apprehending and gaining a confession from Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, an operative involved in the 1998 East African embassy bombings. He was assigned to the 9/11 investigation after the attacks, and with Mike Butsch trailed Ramzi Binalshibh. [22 words redacted]