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Renew the Patriot Act provisions or risk another 9/11

A police officer plays Taps in The Pit at the WTC's Ground Zero on the 1st anniversary of 9/11.

A police officer plays Taps in The Pit at the WTC’s Ground Zero on the 1st anniversary of 9/11

Before the Patriot Act, the FBI would have been stymied had it conducted a counter-terrorism investigation involving a now infamous American agent of a foreign power.

Anwar al-Awlaki was born in the United States.

Apparently, Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee believe the only thing worth remembering about him is President Obama “illegally” had him killed in Yemen using a Hellfire missile. (No matter that al-Awlaki: had sent “panty bomber” Abdulmuttalab to blow up a passenger plane over Detroit; attempted to blow up a DHL cargo airplane in flight; had become the well-publicized spiritual leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP); and was heavily guarded in Yemen’s remote tribal areas – sending Americans into those wilds to arrest him would have been difficult and dangerous.)

Others vividly recall that al-Awlaki twice met with 9/11 hijackers.

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Senators Paul and Lee seem to assume America could also safely let the business records and roving wiretap provisions of the Patriot Act expire after March 15, 2020.

Yet Americans would be less safe, and what would have happened had the FBI investigated Anwar al-Awlaki before 9/11 helps to demonstrate why. He was an American and without a suspected crime to bring before a federal criminal court judge, the FBI’s counter-intelligence investigators would have needed to clear each subpoena for business records and wiretap with the FISA court.

The background

In late 1999, Saudi Arabia informed our CIA that members of al Qaeda were about to meet in Malaysia. While Khalid al-Mihdhar was en route to there, the CIA had a foreign intelligence agency enter his hotel room and copy his passport which included an open-ended visa to the United States.

Khalid al-Mihdhar was known by the FBI to be the son-in-law of Ahmed al-Hada who ran al Qaeda’s telecommunications relay in Yemen. In 1998, U.S. embassy (Nairobi) bomber Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-Owhali told the FBI he called al-Hada’s phone number to relay messages to Osama bin Laden. The FBI’s NYC field office was investigating the two embassy bombings and conducting counter-terrorism investigations of al Qaeda; al-Mihdhar entering America would have caused the FBI to investigate.

In January of 2000, the CIA failed to inform the FBI that future hijacker al-Mihdhar had a visa to enter the United States.

That April, the CIA then failed to tell the FBI that al Qaeda member and future hijacker Nawaf al-Hazmi (who the CIA observed with al-Mihdhar in Malaysia) arrived in Los Angeles from Thailand on January 15, 2000. The CIA did not know that al-Mihdhar was also on that plane; the agency with the authority to investigate inside the United States (the FBI) soon discovered it after 9/11.

Further, in 2006, the CIA’s Inspector General reported that none of the “50 to 60” people at the CIA who read – before 9/11 – about al-Mihdhar’s visa and al-Hazmi’s arrival in Los Angeles had complied with the CIA’s own directive requiring those officers to place the two on the terror watch list.

What might have been

What if the CIA had ensured their January 2000 cable was sent to the FBI? And what if the FBI placed al-Mihdhar on the terror watch list, opened up an investigation, and he was spotted when he arrived in Los Angeles the following week?

To that point, al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi had committed no federal crime. It would have necessitated an intelligence investigation that would have almost certainly led to al-Awlaki.

And al-Awlaki’s travels almost certainly would have led the FBI to Hamburg, Germany. (More on this in a moment.)

An FBI informant lived in the same apartment complex and socialized with al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar. The latter had a home phone for his apartment, using his real name, and was listed in the San Diego directory. But except for nine phone calls to his father-in-law’s number in May of 2000 after his wife gave birth in Yemen, he did not use that phone to communicate with anyone involved in the 9/11 plot. (The NSA did not routinely investigate calls between known foreign threats and those in America before the Patriot Act due to, as former FBI Director Robert Mueller later testified, “an abundance of caution for the privacy of U.S. persons.”) 

The FBI’s informant also observed two Saudi Arabians from those once secret ‘28 pages’ socializing with al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi. One of those Saudis lived in that same apartment complex in San Diego. Both regularly attended prayers services conducted by al-Awlaki. Both received significant funding from the Saudi government (which had also funded the mosque).

If fact, one of those Saudis brought al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi to meet al-Awlaki at that mosque within days of their arrival in January of 2000.

The other Saudi communicated with Ramzi bin al-Shibh in Germany by both phone and email several times during 2000 supposedly (per those emails) looking for a wife to marry.

And bin al-Shibh was the plot communications relay between 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and lead hijacker Mohamed Atta.

That same Saudi’s last communication with bin al-Shibh was in December 2000 just days after al-Hazmi and Flight 77 hijacker pilot Hani Hanjour moved from San Diego to the East Coast. (al-Mihdhar left the country in June of 2000 and returned to America in 2001.) Hanjour and al-Hazmi then visited al-Awlaki at his new mosque in Virginia. The latter had moved there during the fall of 2000.

Anwar al-Awlaki traveled extensively. That same fall, he spent a week in Europe including several days in Hamburg, Germany. The first thing a hotel there asks for when you register is your passport to confirm your identity. Strangely, Germany’s investigators were unable to find out where al-Awlaki stayed while there.

Atta and bin al-Shibh operated out of Hamburg.

Atta first came to America in June of 2000 and he traveled frequently. After 9/11, the FBI’s search of flight records revealed a Mohamed Atta flew on the very same flight number – just one day later – direct from Frankfurt to San Francisco as al-Awlaki did immediately after visiting Hamburg. The FBI never determined either Atta’s or al-Awlaki’s whereabouts for several days after those flights. Then, al-Awlaki showed back up in San Diego and Atta traveled to the East Coast a few days later.

Andrew McCarthy pointed out that the business provision of the Patriot Act, “also known as Section 215, simply gives intelligence agents the same kind of power that criminal investigators have to compel production of documents.” Before the Patriot Act was enacted, the FBI could not issue a subpoena, a National Security Letter, concerning al-Awlaki during an intelligence investigation. 

When al-Awlaki returned from Hamburg, the FBI would have had to go to the FISA court every time they needed business records as they tracked him after he arrived in San Francisco and perhaps met with Atta.

How did al-Awlaki communicate ahead of time with those he visited with in Hamburg during the fall of 2000? After 9/11, the FBI did not find communications from his known devices to anyone in Hamburg. Yet had they conducted an intelligence investigation, they would not have been authorized to conduct a roving wiretap of his communications; the law, prior to the Patriot Act, did not authorize it.

Perhaps the Saudi who called and emailed Ramzi bin al-Shibh communicated for him with al-Awlaki’s hosts in Hamburg. Or perhaps al-Awlaki used other phones or communication methods such as emailing from computers outside his home. Alas, we’ll never know.

If the Patriot Act provisions expire, we will resume taking the same risks we took while an American agent of al Qaeda assisted in the mass murder of 3,000 people here. We’ll risk another 9/11 – or worse. President Trump and every Member of Congress should take that into consideration.

Ilhan Omar married her brother? The liberal media has shaded this real news story for nearly three years.

Ilhan Omar (center) with then legally married husband Ahmed Elmi (right) in 2016. Click on image to learn why this photograph matters.

There are court documents, photographs, and social media posts with which to credibly allege Ilhan Omar perjured herself in her 2017 divorce’s legal filings. That may not be her only crime. There is much that supports the assertions that in 2009 she married her biological brother with fraudulent intent and later violated federal tax law. If the investigative reporters are correct, Omar and members of her family committed immigration fraud – not once, but twice.

This is America; everyone here is innocent until proven guilty. Yet Congresswoman Omar is being shaded from scrutiny because she is the liberal media’s Muslim of color progressive Democrat poster lady. So, they didn’t report indisputable facts and they misled.

Where are the bastions of America’s free press?

The Washington Post’s motto is ‘Democracy dies in darkness.’ Yet that major newspaper has not reported or fact-checked the allegations against Ilhan Omar. Instead, they went after President Trump under the guise of political news analysis and a liberal columnist there served as her lead cheer leader (See ‘Ilhan Omar, quintessentially American’).

Ahmed Nur Said Elmi (born April 4, 1985) and Ilhan Abdullahi Omar (born October 4, 1982) married on February 12, 2009. (A Christian minister conducted the ceremony.) But the New York Times’ fact-checker failed in her only attempt to debunk the story when she wrote, “… he is also three years younger than Ms. Omar, whose mother died when she was 2 years old.” As you can see, Elmi was born 30 months after Omar while she was 2 years old.

The “fact-checkers” inexplicably did not report that: In 2008, four months before Ilhan Omar married Ahmed Elmi, the State Department stopped taking Refugee Family Reunification (Priority Three) Program applications from a list of countries – including Somalia – because DNA testing showed more than 80% of applications were fraudulent.

What indicates they are related … and about the name Omar.

Scott Johnson at PowerlineBlog.com reported that: Congresswoman Ilhan Abdullahi Omar’s name before applying for asylum was Ilhan Nur Said Elmi; her father’s name before applying for asylum was Nur Said Elmi Mohamed; and when Ahmed Elmi applied for asylum in the U.K., his name was Ahmed Nur Said Elmi. Official records in the U.K. and U.S. and multiple social media posts indicate Ahmed and Ilhan are the son and daughter of the same man: Nur Said Elmi Mohamed.

(See ‘How Somali children are named‘ – St. Cloud Times, February 22, 2016.)

Where did Ilhan get the name ‘Omar’ from? An Omar family sponsored Ilhan when she became a citizen in 2000 at age 17. In addition, the Omar family was granted asylum in the U.S. in 1995 and her father falsely claimed they were members of that family. There exists credible evidence that they gamed our immigration system.

(That alleged immigration fraud was her father’s doing as Ilhan was just a minor child of 12. While I may disagree with Congresswoman Omar’s politics, it would be cruel and inhumane to punish her for the “sins” of her father. Instead, we need to fix our immigration system.)

Minnesota records show Ahmed N. Elmi (born April 4, 1985) attended his senior year of high school there 2002 to 2003 while living with his father Nur Said Elmi Mohamed. Fast forward to 2009: Ahmed Nur Said Elmi (born April 4, 1985) married Ilhan Abdullahi Omar (born October 4, 1982) in Minnesota.

Investigative reporters discovered official records in the U.K. and U.S., that are available to the public, which layout the family relationships; they are listed here. On that same page, there are captured social media posts (since scrubbed by Ilhan et al) which further confirm those family relationships. They indicate Ilhan Omar and Ahmed Elmi are biological sister and brother.

Yet Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has adamantly refused to confirm the names of any of her siblings.

Records, photographs, and social media posts show Ilhan Omar and Ahmed Hirsi remained together continuously (a British tabloid says they split up last week) since marrying in their faith tradition in 2002. For example, on May 21, 2009 – three months after Ahmed Elmi and Omar were married – Hirsi used the same address as the one the other two used on their marriage license in his application for a license to open his ‘One to One Café’ lounge.

Ahmed Elmi attended college in North Dakota from 2009 to 2012. Ilhan Omar and Ahmed Hirsi also moved to Fargo in 2009. She attended the same university and graduated in 2011. A free press might want to determine if Ahmed Elmi applied for tuition assistance, federally backed student loans, and citizenship using his marriage license.

State and federal crimes.

In her 2017 divorce filing – submitted under penalty of perjury – Ilhan Omar claimed to the court that she had no contact with Ahmed Elmi since June 2011; that statement appears to be untrue.

In June, WCCO in Minnesota reported the state election board announced it had found that Ilhan Omar filed state joint tax forms in 2014 and 2015 with an Ahmed Hirsi while she was legally married to another man, Ahmed Elmi. She was ordered to repay the $3500 inappropriately taken from campaign funds and used for personal expenses – including to help pay for her 2017 divorce – and to pay a $500 fine. Omar expressed relief that the matter was closed. Her spokesperson added, “All of Rep. Omar’s tax filings are fully compliant with all applicable tax law.”

They hoped the story would just go away. It did not …

It is reasonable to suspect Omar and Hirsi also filed ‘married filing jointly’ federal 1040 tax forms for those two years; the IRS usually treats such filings as a crime when they are made with fraudulent intent. They might not get prosecuted for what is presumably a difference of a few hundred dollars. But conspiracy to commit benefits fraud to gain an immigration benefit is a serious federal crime (see ‘Marriage Fraud’), and the statute of limitations has not expired. 

What real journalism looks like.

Being a conservative, Republican, or Trump supporter does not make one alt-right, a sexist, or anti-Muslim any more than being a liberal, Democrat, or Muslim makes one un-American, a communist, or a terrorist. A free press would check the extensive investigative reporting done by Scott Johnson, Preya Samsundar, and David Steinberg.  

Mr. Johnson, a Minneapolis attorney, has a long record of credible investigative reporting. His articles have appeared in newspapers including the New York Times, the New York Post, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, as well as magazines including the National Review and Weekly Standard.

In 2004, Johnson was instrumental in discrediting forged documents on George W. Bush’s National Guard service. He first reported ‘The Curious Case of Ilhan Omar‘ in 2016, two years before she was elected to Congress.

Congresswoman Omar is neither above the law nor immune from scrutiny because she is a Democrat or because of her skin color, gender, and religion. Yet the liberal media has shaded the facts in this real news story for nearly three years. They act like a free press only when it suits them, and they’ve revealed their selective disdain for the Rule of Law.

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Tim Sumner is retired U.S. Army and also a graduate of the DoD’s prestigious Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, Class 87-3. He co-founded 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America in 2004.

Post updated at 11:11 AM, August 2, 2019.