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FBI agent warned superiors 70 times about Moussaoui.

Harry Samit, the Minnesota FBI agent who arrested Zacarias Moussaoui three and a half weeks before the September 11,2001 terror attacks, provided explosive testimony against his superiors during cross-examination by Moussaoui's defense attorneys. Samit, who arrested Moussaoui and his Oklahoma University roommate Hussein Al-Attas on August 16, confirmed on the witness stand that he and other agents in the Minnesota office had argued repeatedly with their Washington, D.C., superiors, urgently requesting permission for a warrant to search Moussaoui's laptop computer, as well as Moussaoui and Al-Attas' apartment and possessions.

Agent Samit said he had contacted his superiors 70 times, urgently requesting assistance with the Moussaoui/Al-Attas investigation, only to be repeatedly rebuffed without any rational explanation. He said the superiors who thwarted the Minnesota investigation were guilty of "criminal negligence and obstruction."

"You tried to move heaven and earth to get a search warrant to search this man's belongings and you were obstructed," defense attorney Edward MacMahon said to the agent. "Yes sir, I was obstructed," Samit replied, noting that these actions were a "calculated" decision "that cost us the opportunity to stop the attacks." His superiors even blocked him from sending a memo to the Federal Aviation Administration to apprise them of the information he had uncovered about Moussaoui and Al-Attas and his belief that they were involved in an international hijacking plot. They also prevented him from putting an undercover Arabic-speaking agent in the same cell with Al-Attas.

Samit's charges echo those of Minnesota FBI agent and lawyer Coleen Rowley, who wrote a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller bitterly criticizing Washington's obstruction in the Moussaoui case.

Moussaoui, a French citizen, is the only person charged in this country as a result of the September 11 attacks. He pleaded guilty last April 22 to conspiring with al-Qaeda to hijack aircraft and commit other crimes. However, he had claimed that he was not directly involved in 9/11, but was training instead for a follow-up attack. Agent Samit had been called to the witness stand on March 20, during the sentencing phase of the trial, to determine Moussaoui's punishment: death or life in prison.
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Title Annotation:Harry Samit; Zacarias Moussaoui
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 17, 2006
Words:357
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