3,565. 5/21/2002

“A United States congressional inquiry into intelligence failures in the run-up to 11 September is to give high priority to allegations that the FBI hindered an investigation of a terrorism suspect. Coleen Rowley, an FBI agent based in Minnesota, has sent a letter [on May 21, 2002] to the head of the FBI [Robert Mueller] and key congressmen, accusing the bureau’s headquarters of setting up a ‘roadblock’ to the investigation of [potential terrorist] Zacarias Moussaoui ahead of the terror attacks on New York and Washington… It said the bureau should have approved a request from her office for a search warrant for Mr. Moussaoui, who was detained in August after arousing suspicions at a local flight school. The Minnesota office asked FBI headquarters to issue a warrant to search Mr. Moussaoui’s computer hard drive in August, but were told there was ‘insufficient probable cause’ to grant the request at the time. But according to the Washington Post, Minneapolis investigators believed there was significant evidence of Mr. Moussaoui’s links to terrorists. When the request for a warrant was denied, the office tried to bypass FBI headquarters and notify the CIA’s counter-terrorist operation directly. Minnesota agents were reprimanded, according to Ms. Rowley’s letter. After receiving the letter on Tuesday, FBI director Robert Mueller acknowledged that his agency needed a ‘different approach’ to fighting terror threats.”

 – “FBI’s ‘Missed Terror Clues’ Investigated,” BBC News, May 25, 2002

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