'Gay Terrorist' Debacle May Explain 9/11 Intel Failure

Agency 'kept info from FBI to protect recruitment effort'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2010 4:08 AM CDT
Updated Mar 17, 2010 7:54 AM CDT
The 9/11 attacks could have been prevented if the FBI had been given Midhar's name in time, Roston writes.   (FBI)

(Newser) – The CIA's eagerness to recruit a gay al-Qaeda insider could explain one of the biggest intelligence failures in the run-up to 9/11, according to investigative journalist Aram Roston. Ahmad Hikmat Shakir—an Iraqi Arab working for Malaysian Airlines—was closely associated with 9/11 hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar, whose name the CIA failed to turn over to the FBI despite his terror links and travel to the US, Roston writes in the New York Observer.

The CIA viewed Shakir as an "access agent" with valuable contacts in the world of jihadis and believed his homosexuality would make him easier to blackmail and recruit as a double agent, intelligence sources tell Roston. The CIA's failure to share Mihdhar's name with the FBI may have been out of fear the agency would mess up the recruitment effort, Roston writes. All efforts to recruit Shakir failed, and the Iraqi has not been seen since September 2001.

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