The Case of the Missing Terrorist Solved? Not Yet

by JACOB LEVICH

Three weeks after Counterpunch first probed “The Case of the Missing Terrorist” (16 July – August, 2002), the Financial Times has followed up, adding new information to the strange tale of alleged 9/11 conspirator Atif Ahmed. But the FT story may raise more questions than it answers.

Ahmed, you’ll recall, was nabbed by Scotland Yard detectives in November, 2001, after the FBI said it found evidence suggesting he was a co-conspirator with accused “20th hijacker” Zacarias Moussaoui.

In subsequent months, Moussaoui has repeatedly and insistently identified Ahmed as a key player in the 9/11 conspiracy — and as a British mole within Al Qaeda. Yet the mainstream press declined to investigate, and the elusive Ahmed vanished from the public record in what felt eerily like a press blackout. During the nine months following his arrest, Counterpunch was the only publication to point out that a pivotal figure in an upcoming “Trial of the Century” had been, well, mislaid.

Comes now the Financial Times with a September 19 story reporting that Ahmed was quietly released, without charge, a few days after his arrest. No longer an alleged terror conspirator, Ahmed is now characterized by unnamed UK security sources (presumably MI5) as merely a “minor figure in the London Islamist underground.”

The story also subtly revises an earlier account of the nature of Ahmed’s arrest. Whereas ABC News reported in November that Ahmed was the target of a joint US-UK operation stemming from the discovery of possibly incriminating material on Mousaaoui’s telephone records and hard drive, we are now told that Ahmed was simply scooped up as part of UK anti-terror sweeps that took place in the wake of 9/11.

FT seems to have made no attempt to contact Ahmed and was satisfied with the sources’ assurance that Moussaoui’s charges have no evidentiary basis.

Case closed? Yes, if you assume that a) Moussaoui’s a half-mad fantasist, and b) FT’s spooky sources are on the level.

But we can’t help finding it a little odd that one of Moussaoui’s Islamist connections was back on the streets within a few days of his arrest (“Keep your nose clean, Atif, and don’t hang around with any terrorist kingpins in the future”) — especially at a time when hundreds of terror suspects in both the US and UK were being preventively detained for months, usually on the flimsiest of pretexts.

Moussaoui’s trial begins in January, and further questions about Atif’s role in the 9/11 plot may well be raised. But don’t expect answers. If Ahmed were a British agent, intelligence sources told FT, “MI5 would attempt to restrict whatever evidence he might be prepared to give in a court of law on the grounds of national security and possible compromising of sources.”

Translation: Don’t even go there.

JACOB LEVICH is a writer and editor living in Queens, N.Y. He can be reached at: jlevich@earthlink.net

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”
July 30, 2015
Bill Blunden
The NSA’s 9/11 Cover-Up: General Hayden Told a Lie, and It’s a Whopper
Richard Ward
Sandra Bland, Rebel
Jeffrey St. Clair
How One Safari Nut, the CIA and Neoliberal Environmentalists Plotted to Destroy Mozambique
Martha Rosenberg
Tracking the Lion Killers Back to the Old Oval Office
Binoy Kampmark
Dead Again: the Latest Demise of Mullah Omar
Kathy Kelly – Buddy Bell
No Warlords Need Apply: a Call for Credible Peacemaking in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
Darker Horizons Ahead: Rethinking the War on ‘IS’
Stephen Lendman
The Show Trial of Saif Qaddafi: a Manufactured Death Sentence
John Grant
The United States of Absurdity, Circa 2015