Skip to comments.U.S. Secretly Detained bin Laden Brother-in-Law For Four Months (Gorelick and OKC Blast mentioned)
Posted on 09/07/2004 3:33:12 PM PDT by Peach
September 7, 2004
U.S. Secretly Detained bin Laden Brother-in-Law For Four Months After Purported May 1995 Deportation
Controversial 9/11 Commissioner Linked To Case By FOIA Documents By J.M. Berger INTELWIRE.com
The U.S. government secretly detained Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law for four months in 1995, after the INS announced he had already been deported to Jordan, according to documents obtained by INTELWIRE using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The Jordan deportation was authorized by then-Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, at the request of Secretary of State Warren Christopher. A member of the independent commission investigating the September 11 attacks, Gorelick came under fire earlier in 2004 for possible conflicts arising from her role in the Clinton administration's war on terrorism.
Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, an alleged terrorist financier married to a sister of bin Laden, was arrested in San Francisco, Calif., in December 1994. Within a month, the Justice Department instituted extradition proceedings to deport Khalifa to Jordan, where he had been convicted in absentia for his alleged involvement in a terrorist plot to bomb movie theaters.
According to a public statement by the INS, that deportation was completed on May 3, 1995. But new evidence obtained by INTELWIRE shows the case is more complex than it seemed.
Behind The Scenes Of The Arrest Khalifa was in the Philippines in November 1994. According to a 2002 FBI affadavit, he was in contact with a terrorist cell in Manila during that time. (link to document) Led by Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the cell was plotting to bomb a dozen U.S.-bound airliners in mid-January 1995, according to trial records.
Authorities claim that Khalifa helped fund the plot, known as Bojinka, through a network of charities and businesses he had founded in the Philippines. Khalifa has denied all these charges and says he has never been connected to terrorist activity.
Khalifa came to the U.S. on Dec. 1, 1994. He was arrested by the FBI and the INS on Dec. 16, shortly before returning to the Philippines. According to INS records obtained by INTELWIRE, his visa was revoked because he was wanted by Jordanian authorities for funding a series of movie theater bombings earlier that year.
According to the 2002 affadavit, a founding member of al Qaeda was arrested while traveling with Khalifa. Mohamed Loay Bayazid allegedly tried to purchase uranium for al Qaeda in the early 1990s, according to the affadavit and other court records.
Although he was arrested with Khalifa, INTELWIRE has been unable to ascertain the existence of public records which indicate what happened to Bayazid after his arrest. According to the 2002 affadavit, Bayazid was released under unclear circumstances and later fled the country.
After the arrest, Khalifa was held at the Santa Rita County Jail for several months in a high-security cell, according to the San Francisco Examiner. The detention in a local facility was consistent with INS practice at the time.
On Dec. 20, a search warrant was executed for Khalifa's baggage, according to court records obtained by INTELWIRE. An electronic organizer in his luggage contains a phone number linked to Bojinka, according to the 2002 affadavit.
That phone number was for a unit in the Dona Josefa apartment building in Manila, where a member of Yousef's terrorist cell was living. Yousef was living and building bombs in another unit at the same building.
On December 21, 1994, Khalifa was convicted and sentenced to death in absentia by the Jordanian govenrment on charges of aiding terrorist activity. The next day, the ambassador of Jordan requested that Khalifa be extradited, according to an official copy of the letter, obtained by INTELWIRE.
On January 5, 1995, Secretary of State Warren Christopher sent a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno, formally requesting that Khalifa be deported specifically to Jordan. The letter came nearly three weeks after deportation proceedings had already begun.
The next day, Gorelick sent a letter to the Office of the Immigration Judge which stated that she was aware deportation proceedings were underway and stipulates that Khalifa should not be deported to any country except Jordan. The letter was obtained by INTELWIRE under FOIA. (link to document)
Bojinka Busted; Khalifa Cuts A Deal The very same day that Gorelick signed the order to deport Khalifa to Jordan, a virtual death sentence for the detainee, Philippines police raided Ramzi Yousef's apartment at the Dona Josefa.
Police and trial records indicate the raid came after an accidental fire in the apartment sent smoke billowing out the window of the unit. During his trial, Yousef claimed there had been no fire.
As Khalifa's deportation moved forward slowly, the Philippines government sent intelligence reports to U.S. law enforcement officials tying Khalifa to Yousef's Bojinka cell. These reports, obtained by INTELWIRE, include extensive information on Khalifa's alleged activities in the Philippines.
While Khalifa was still in custody, two suspects were arrested in the Bojinka case, Yousef and Abdul Hakim Murad. Yousef was also wanted for his role in bombing the World Trade Center in 1993.
Both men were questioned about their ties to Khalifa within hours of being taken into U.S. custody, according to documents obtained by investigative journalist Peter Lance for his book, "1000 Years for Revenge."
During the spring of 1995, the U.S. developed its first direct intelligence on Osama bin Laden. A joint congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attack said that some time between March and May "[ redacted ] provides most significant reporting on UBL to date."
Based on the 2002 affadavit and numerous other sources, both Khalifa and Bayazid would have been able to provide significant intelligence on bin Laden, but there were several other suspects in the U.S. with similar information. INTELWIRE has found no documentation that indicates the source of the reporting.
On March 27, the Justice Department agreed to return the belongings seized from Khalifa's luggage, settling a civil lawsuit filed by Khalifa, according to court records obtained by INTELWIRE. In early April, Jordan overturned Khalifa's in absentia conviction. (There is some ambiguity about the date this occured, but it had been accomplished by April.)
On April 18, 1995, Khalifa appeared in immigration court and argued against deportation, according to reports in the San Francisco Chronicle. His attorney promised "long term litigation" to prevent the deportation from proceeding.
One day later, the Alfred E. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City was destroyed by a terrorist truck bomb attack. The method of attack was extremely similar to that used by Yousef in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Hours after the explosion took place, Murad informed a prison guard that Yousef's terrorist cell was responsible for the attack, according to court records and FBI interrogation reports obtained by Peter Lance.
A few hours after Murad claimed responsibility, Khalifa was moved from a county jail to a high-security federal prison in California (FCI Dublin), according to a Bureau of Prisons inmate data record obtained by INTELWIRE under FOIA. (link to document)
Timothy McVeigh was picked up the same day on a traffic violation. On April 21, Terry Nichols surrendered to police. His Philippines ties were immediately discovered, as detailed in an FBI "302" interrogation record dated April 21.
Khalifa, Yousef and Murad all had documented contacts in the town where Nichols stayed during a visit to the Philippines from November 22, 1994, to January 16, 1995. (related story, related story) Not all of these details may have been clear to U.S. authorities at the time.
On April 26, 1995, Khalifa appeared in court again, but this time he reversed his previous position and requested that he be immediately deported to Jordan. In exchange for his cooperation, the INS agreed to strike any allegations of terrorism from his U.S. record, according to newspaper accounts of the proceedings. On May 5, 1995, UPI published the following report:
The Immigration and Naturalization Service has deported a Saudi Arabian national to Jordan, where he has been convicted in absentia of bankrolling terrorist attacks on public theaters, officials confirmed Friday.
Thomas J. Schiltgen, INS district director for Northern California, said Mohammed Jamal Khalifah was actually returned to Jordan on Wednesday, but the announcement was withheld for two days.
In Reality, Khalifa Remained In U.S. Custody Until August The Bureau of Prisons document obtained by INTELWIRE appears to refute the INS statement that Khalifa had been turned over to Jordan. (The exact wording of the statement was not available at the time of this posting.)
The document contains an entry for May 3, 1995, indicating that Khalifa had been transferred to an "in-transit facility." According to a BOP document obtained from the agency's Web site, " 'IN TRANSIT' means the inmate has been moved from a BOP facility, and may or may not be returned."
The facility to which Khalifa was transferred was designated "4-I." When contacted, two BOP spokespersons confirmed that the designation indicates Khalifa was being held in custody by another agency of the U.S. government, neither source would to disclose the identity of that agency. Both spokespersons said the meaning of the 4-I designation was "not public information." There is no indication of whether the detention was voluntary or involuntary.
Khalifa was detained with "4-I" status until August 31, 1995, at which point his status was changed to "P95" after an action designated "release." Both BOP spokespersons refused to disclose the meaning of the P95 designation, but one of them indicated that the final two entries on the inmate data record appear to indicate Khalifa's transfer to the custody of a foreign government.
Both spokespersons concurred that the form indicates Khalifa remained in U.S. custody until Aug. 31, 1995. A followup FOIA request for the meaning of the 4-I and P95 facility codes had not been received a response at the time of this posting.
After his return to Jordan, Khalifa was cleared of all charges after a witness in the movie theater bombings recanted his previous testimony. Khalifa was freed, and lives in Saudi Arabia today, where he runs a seafood restaurant in Jeddah, according to media reports. In media reports and civil court filings as recent as 2004, Khalifa has denied ever having any ties to terrorist activity.
9/11 Commission Questions The new documents obtained by INTELWIRE raise several question about exactly what happened in the Khalifa case, including why he was deported instead of being prosecuted in the U.S., why the evidence seized from his belongings was returned to him, which government agency detained him between May and August 1995, and why he was detained.
The quick deportation agreement struck only a week after the Oklahoma City bombing is also noteworthy, given that the federal investigation into Terry Nichols' Philippines ties had barely begun and that a suspected accomplice of Khalifa had confessed to having a role in the bombing.
Furthermore, Khalifa's alleged links to Yousef (who had two major trials ahead of him) were no secret at the time he was deported. Newspaper reports from 1995 about Khalifa's extradition proceedings cited suspicions about such ties, in addition to the links cited above.
The revelation that Khalifa was secretly held in U.S. custody for four more months further elevates the importance of the case. The handling of Khalifa's deportation is one of the most prominent issues in the early 1990s investigation into Osama bin Laden, Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
Gorelick's role in signing the Jordan deportation letter may have been a routine administrative task, but it raises questions that cannot be answered until the full facts of the case are known. The document does not suggest that Gorelick was responsible for initiating Khalifa's deportation proceedings. The deportation was formally requested by Secretary of State Warren Christopher one day earlier, in a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno obtained by INTELWIRE.
Gorelick came under fire in 2004 for potential conflicts of interest in her role as a independent commissioner investigating the 9/11 attacks, when Attorney General John Ashcroft declassified a terrorism policy memo she had authored.
Gorelick was not the only figure on the 9/11 commission tied to the case.
Deitrich Snell, the commission's senior counsel, prosecuted Yousef and Murad in 1996 for the Bojinka plot. Khalifa's links to Yousef were kept obscure during the Bojinka trial. Phone calls between Khalifa's mobile phone and the Bojinka conspirators were mentioned during the trial, but attributed to a "Mr. Jamal." Khalifa's full name was never mentioned, unless in sections of the transcript which were sealed under a court order.
The trial also deleted virtually every mention of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was deeply involved in the Bojinka plot. The only citation of KSM during the trial came when a letter on Yousef's laptop was read aloud. No context for the name was provided during the trial, with the possible exception of sealed deliberations. Partly as a result of that omission, KSM remained virtually unknown in the West until after the September 11 attack, which he masterminded.
A new book, Cover Up, published today by investigative reporter Peter Lance, says that Snell refused to answer questions about why KSM's name was omitted from the Bojinka trial during an interview with the author. Lance says Snell cited his inability to reveal classified information in response to some questions.
Transcripts of the Bojinka trial cited in this story were provided by Peter Lance, author of Cover Up: What the Government Is Still Hiding About the War on Terror.
Philippines government intelligence reports on Mohammed Jamal Khalifa cited in this story were provided by Motley-Rice, a law firm that has sued Khalifa and others seeking restitution for the 9/11 attacks.
Civil court records cited in the report include Khalifah vs. USA (CV-95-15 MISC. MHP), Northern District of California.
Old News. Reviewed after 9/11. Also, probably around the Cole bombing...
So more evidence that Klintoon had ample opportunity to get Bin Laden...
Wait! I thought we hustled all of bin Laden's relatives out of the country before American citizens could fly again. </ sarcasm>
Did you notice the date of the activity in the article?
Jayna Davis PROVES that Iraqis, in cahoots with McVeigh/Nichols, bombed OKC. Read her book - THE THIRD TERRORIST
I own Davis's book and adored it.
I bought an extra copy and donated it to our library so more people would read it.
The more people who read it and understand that Iraq was behind the OKC blast, the more support the president will have on November 2nd.
Very Interesting read here !
Great find peach TYVM
My God...more lies from the government. Pre 9/11, the intelligence community, al queda, the state dept, the justice dept. where all members of a little fraternity who were all known to each other. Dead Americans is the result.
Thanks for posting. This should spark some interesting comments.
Thank you Peach, for an interesting read, it does seem to go around in circles and meet itself with muslim terrorists.
In my most pleasant dreams the President reveals the Iraqi connection to OKC around the end of this month. Otherwise I cannot understand the silence surrounding this event.
Thanks for the ping!