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FBI Informant Says U.S. Missed Chance to Stop 9/11 Ringleader Atta

Could we have prevented the 9/11 attacks? That’s the question we continue to ask. At the time, we certainly could have been doing more. FBI counter-terrorism agent John O’Neill kept warning us of an attack while at the FBI. He eventually left the agency and became director of security at the World Trade Center. He died during that attack. But still, even if we had caputured Mohammed Atta, do you think he would have rolled over and confessed about the plot? Brian Ross’s piece aired Thursday night.

Mohammed Att at Airport 9/11-fbi photo

Mohammed Atta at Airport 9/11-fbi photo

By Brian Ross and Vic Walter
ABC News

On the eve of the eight year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an FBI informant who infiltrated alleged terrorist cells in the U.S. tells ABC News the FBI missed a chance to stop the al Qaeda plot because they focused more on undercover stings than on the man who would later become known as 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta.

In an exclusive interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC World News with Charles Gibson and Nightline, former undercover operative Elie Assaad says he spotted and became suspicious of Atta in early 2001, when he was sent by the FBI to infiltrate a small mosque outside Miami. Atta was there with Adnan Shukrujuman, an al Qaeda fugitive who now has a $5 million U.S. reward on his head.

“There was something wrong with these guys,” Assaad, a 36-year-old Catholic native of Lebanon who pretended to be an Islamic extremist, says.

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