Saudis warned FBI
about OKC bombing?
Evidence suggests possible Iraq link
to terror attack on Murrah building
Posted: June 22, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Jon Dougherty
Saudi Arabian intelligence officials warned the FBI about an Iraqi plot to attack federal facilities in 1995, including the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, according to an Oklahoma lawyer teaming up with a noted Washington, D.C., public-interest law firm.
Mike Johnston, co-counsel for Judicial Watch, said Thursday that on April 19, 1995 the day of the Oklahoma City bombing Saudi intelligence alerted CIA officials in Washington, who in turn advised FBI agents at the Washington Metropolitan Field Office.
"Vincent Canastraro, who is the former chief of counter-terrorism for the CIA called Special Agent Kevin L. Foust and informed him that one of his best sources from Saudi Arabian intelligence specifically advised him that there was a squad of people currently in the United States, very possibly Iraqi, who, and I'm quoting, 'have been tasked with carrying out terrorist acts against the United States,'" Johnston said during an interview on the "Judicial Watch Report" radio program.
"The Saudi informant, who's part of the Saudi counter-terrorism service, told [federal officials] that he had seen the list and that 'first on the list was the federal building in Oklahoma City, Okla.'" Johnston continued.
Johnston said the Saudi agent reported that an Internal Revenue Service building in Houston, Texas, was "second on the list," followed by the FBI's field office in Los Angeles.
The FBI facility was targeted because, according to Johnston, it was the bureau's main counterintelligence operation at that time.
Johnston also said that documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that about a year later, on April 16, 1996, the FBI filed a follow-up report claiming the initial information gleaned from Saudi sources was most likely accurate.
"Even though the government has consistently maintained that no credible evidence exists linking McVeigh to international terrorists," Johnston said, "the FBI generated a follow-up 302 report one year later where a supervisory special agent, name blacked out, contacted another source regarding the original information from Canastraro."
The special agent "was told that the information was confirmed as generated from a general within the Saudi Arabian Intelligence Service," said Johnston. "The FBI 302 memo went on to conclude that this information appears to have validity, citing Canastraro's former position within the CIA."
An FBI spokeswoman told WorldNetDaily the bureau had no comment on Johnston's allegations. CIA officials could not be reached for comment prior to press time.
When asked why the government did not do more to press McVeigh before his death if he was working for another government, Johnston said such a strategy" was apparently not in the game plan for the Justice Department "
Johnston says some of his information came from documents ordered sealed by U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch, the presiding judge in McVeigh's initial trial, which took place in Denver, Colo.
He went on to note that Matsch has never lifted the order, though "its kind of hard to see how it would affect Tim McVeigh now."
"The federal government continues to seek the maintenance of that sealing order on the basis of privacy concerns," he said.
Johnston's disclosure comes on the heels of a report Wednesday that said the U.S. government was warned before the bombing that Islamic extremists were planning attacks.
Islamic terrorists were planning to "strike inside the U.S. against objects symbolizing the American government in the near future," said one warning memo, according to The Associated Press.
That report did not mention Saudi Arabia, but said only that U.S. officials were tipped by evidence "gathered across the globe from Iran and Syria to the Philippines."
AP said documents show the warnings became progressively more specific as to the time, place and type of attack.
Stephen Jones, McVeigh's attorney, was reportedly upset by the disclosure.
"We specifically asked on the record for all evidence, documents and tangible objects to show whether the government had received a warning of acts of terror against federal buildings. We didn't receive this," he told AP.
As WorldNetDaily reported in March, Johnston and Judicial Watch have filed suit against Iraq, charging that Baghdad masterminded and financed "in whole or in part" the OKC bombing.
Chris Farrell, investigative director for Judicial Watch, told WorldNetDaily that the suit has yet to be served on the Iraqi government, but that it is "trudging along" in its process. He said the suit is being handled "through diplomatic channels" in the State Department, which will hand it off to the Polish government.
The U.S. maintains a section in the Polish Embassy in Baghdad, and will serve the Iraqi government through it, with Polish assistance, Farrell said.
As to whether the U.S. government has responded to reports of the suit, Farrell said, "We haven't heard anything."
McVeigh and accomplice Terry Nichols were eventually charged and convicted for differing roles in connection with the OKC bombing. McVeigh was executed June 11, 2001; Nichols has been sentenced to life in prison, but could face state death penalty charges in Oklahoma.
Johnston, in his radio interview, also said there was some evidence suggesting that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed a top al-Qaida lieutenant whom federal authorities believe may have masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks trained Nichols for the OKC bombing in the Philippines.
Mohammed "was not only involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, he was involved in the 1993 World Trade Center attack" as well, Johnston charged. "He was in the Philippines at the same time as Terry Nichols, by the way, in the last trip that he made down there before the Murrah building bombing."
U.S. officials believe Mohammed was also in charge of transferring the funds used by the Sept. 11 hijackers.
"There's lots of links that tie him to 9-11," one government official told AP June 5. "He was intricately involved."
Mohammed is also believed to be an accomplice of Ramzi Yousef, who is currently serving a life sentence in the U.S. for his alleged role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Upon his arrest, Yousef was found in possession of plans to blow up a dozen U.S. airliners. Prosecutors also believe he had planned to crash a plane into the Pentagon.
Jon E. Dougherty is a staff reporter and columnist for WorldNetDaily, and author of the special report, "Election 2000: How the Military Vote Was Suppressed."
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