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INVESTIGATING AL QAIDA
New York Special Agent Testifies Before the 9-11 Commission from an Operational Perspective

06/18/04
On June 16, Special Agent Debbie Doran of our New York Office participated in the 12th and final public hearing of the 9-11 Commission, joining FBI Executive Assistant Director John Pistole, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, and CIA officials in Washington, DC.

Her contribution? In her words, "how we, at the 'street-agent' level, pursued Al Qaida and some of what we learned."

Debbie has been investigating international terrorism in New York City since 1996. At that point she joined a squad in the New York field office that had long historical roots in terrorism investigations--starting with the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force over 20 years ago and gaining special expertise as it responded to attacks like the 1993 World Trade Center and also helped prevent major attacks, such as the one aimed at New York City monuments and bridges in 1995.

She reported for duty in December 1996, just months after the FBI had opened, first, an intelligence investigation into Usama bin Laden, then a criminal investigation.

And just one week after she first hung up her coat in the squad room, the FBI established Jamal al Fadl, an Al Qaida defector nicknamed "Junior," as a cooperating witness against Al Qaida--thanks to the assistance of CIA, which had first taken Junior up on his offer of providing "special information."

Debbie spoke on behalf of her squad members and all members and partners of New York's Joint Terrorism Task Forces (and really all law enforcement and intelligence agents and analysts across the nation who are dedicated to preventing acts of terrorism) when she detailed the pursuit of Al Qaida and "some of what we have learned."

We encourage you to read the full testimony. Among other things, you will learn:

  • When the FBI identified the first seeds of Islamic-extremist terrorism in the U.S.
  • The role of Khalid Sheikh Mohamed in Ramzi Youssef's terrorist plots in New York and Manila--and when and where he was arrested.
  • How the "corporate" command-and-control structure of the Al Qaida organization has been identified...and what it looks like.
  • What we know about the training camps, methods, tradecraft, and intent of Al Qaida.

Beyond this agents'-eye view of the investigation, we also encourage you to read the 9-11 Commission's Staff Statements from this final public hearing that frame the testimony presented on June 16 and 17: Overview of the Enemy and Outline of the 9-11 Plot. To paraphrase the quote in the courtyard of FBIHQ, "The most effective weapon against terrorism is cooperation...the efforts of all law enforcement and intelligence agencies...with the support and understanding of the American people."