‘Looming Tower’ agent: 9/11 buoyed by intelligence ‘mistakes’

‘Looming Tower’ agent: 9/11 buoyed by intelligence ‘mistakes’

Early on in “The Looming Tower,” FBI agent Ali Soufan (Tahir Rahim) testifies in entrance of the 9/11 Joint Inquiry in 2004, a yr earlier than he stop the bureau at age 34.

Very calmly, he tells the panel that the CIA withheld intelligence from the bureau that might have prevented the Sept. 11 assaults — including that he first turned conscious of the CIA’s withholding of proof as early as 1998. “There have been quite a lot of errors on all people’s half,” the real-life Soufan tells The Put up. “The CIA knew that these individuals have been within the US. They by no means handed the data.”

Based mostly on the Pulitzer-winning e book by Lawrence Wright, “The Looming Tower” is a 10-episode collection that tells the maddening story of how in-fighting between the CIA and FBI paved the best way for the hijackers ­to realize entry into the US and ultimately wreak their horrific destruction.

In 1998, the Lebanese-born Soufan, who utilized for a job on the FBI on a dare, turned the bureau’s greatest protection towards terrorism following the dual bombings of US embassies in Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania) and Nairobi (Kenya) which killed 224 individuals, 12 of them Individuals. He joined the bureau a yr earlier than and possessed the uncommon distinction of being one among eight brokers who might communicate Arabic and will translate the content material of faxes, cellphone calls and dwell conversations. He was additionally 25 years outdated.

“I used to be the youngest [agent] and I used to be assigned to New York,” says Soufan, now 46. “[Assistant Deputy Director of Investigation] John O’Neill took me below his wing.”

Jeff Daniels performs FBI Assistant Deputy Director of Investigation John O’Neill in “The Looming Tower.”
JoJo Whilden/Hulu

John O’Neill, who labored with Soufan and later perished within the 9/11 assault on the World Commerce Middle
Tim Boyle/Getty Pictures

As soon as the FBI decided that the CIA had in its possession the arduous drive of an al Qaeda cell in Jap Europe that held a listing of operatives and 50 potential targets, O’Neill despatched Soufan to Albania to interrupt up a terrorist cell. He additionally took him alongside to Britain when the bureau and Scotland Yard investigated the actions of al-Qaeda operative Anas al-Libi (Ayman Samman) — one of many males tied to the Nairobi bombing — in Manchester.

“The present has it proper about me working with John, following up the leads in Pakistan and London. A number of the coordination happened within the UK,” Soufan says. “We [eventually] did get Anas al-Libi from Libya after Khadafy fell [in 2011]. We introduced him right here and he was about to face trial. He died in jail. Most of that cell has been taken out.”

Whereas a few of the characters in “The Looming Tower” are composites — amongst them Martin Schmidt (Peter Sarsgaard), the coordinator of the CIA’s Al-Qaeda-gathering “Alec Station” — a number of villains are the actual deal. Khalled (Samer Bisharat) is a one-legged operative who assists with the Nairobi bombing. Mohammed al Owhali (Youssef Berouain) escapes the Nairobi devastation however is later captured and offers up very important data.

Soufan’s stature on the FBI grew after the bombing of the usCole in 2000 and he was accountable for the interrogation (“It was an important honor to convey justice to these 17 [Americans] who have been killed,” he says). He was again working at 26 Federal Plaza when O’Neill retired from the bureau on Aug. 22, 2001, to take a job as the pinnacle of safety on the World Commerce Middle — dying there three weeks later through the assaults.

Soufan, who now runs the Soufan Group, a safety concern that employs former FBI brokers in addition to members of the NYPD and CIA, is listed as a producer on “The Looming Tower” and commends the filmmakers [Dan Futterman, Alex Gibney and Wright] for staying true to the story “as a result of that’s what issues.

“It offers you an concept of the significance of human habits and the way it can result in disasters,” he says.

“Possibly we have to have accountability as a nation. If there’s no accountability, it is going to occur once more.”

“The Looming Tower” Sequence premiere Wednesday on Hulu