Big Reveal: FBI Had Mole Who Met bin Laden—in 1993
He then died on a CIA mission
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Feb 27, 2014 7:47 AM CST
This undated file photo shows al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – The FBI once had a mole so deep within al-Qaeda that he met with Osama bin Laden and provided the intelligence necessary to thwart his planned attack on a Masonic Lodge in LA, new investigative reports from the Washington Times and NBC News have revealed. The informant started out as a driver for the "Blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel-Rahman, in Los Angeles in the early '90s. The driver was deported in 1993, first to Jordan, which threw him in jail, and then to Yemen. There, FBI agent Bassem Youssef approached him—initially as a friend—and offered to help reunite him with his family in California. He was eventually converted into an informant, and provided information from a meeting in Sudan with bin Laden. NBC describes the mole as "the sole human asset providing first-person information about al-Qaeda in the mid-1990s as the terror group gained strength."

The informant's existence was revealed in 2010, after Youssef sued the FBI for discrimination. But the revelation came in testimony "to an essentially empty courtroom," and so went unnoticed, according to the Washington Times, which first reported the story. NBC then discovered the informant's fate: The CIA secretly poached him from the FBI in 1994 and sent him on a mission to Bosnia. The FBI thought he'd simply disappeared, but when Youssef started digging, al-Qaeda sources told him that Bosnian jihadis became suspicious and killed the informant. The revelation might prove explosive, because the informant's existence was never revealed to the 9/11 Commission or congressional intelligence committees.