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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

NYC Trial May Reveal Iran Complicit in the 9/11 Attacks

A federal lawsuit in Manhattan may soon uncover details of Iran's participation in the plot, explains Philip Shenon in his DAILY BEAST article, 'The Iran-9/11 Connection', excerpted below.

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Former investigators on the 9/11 Commission, which uncovered tantalizing but inconclusive evidence of Tehran's ties to the plot, tell The Daily Beast they welcome the lawsuit, because they believe the U.S. government has done little to follow up on the commission's evidence of Iranian complicity.

The lawsuit, they say, may offer the best hope of getting to the truth about whether Iranian government officials had advance knowledge of the plot and worked with al Qaeda to make it easier for several of the hijackers to travel undetected in the year before the attacks.

The suit, brought in the United States District Court in Manhattan on behalf of the families of dozens of 9/11 victims, is promising testimony from three Iranian defectors, all of them identified as former members of Iran's central spy agency, who will implicate Iran and its terrorist proxies in Lebanon in the Sept. 11 attacks [emphasis mine].

In court papers filed last week that outlined their testimony, the defectors were not identified by name out of concern for their safety, said Thomas Mellon, a Pennsylvania lawyer and former federal prosecutor who is representing the families.

"But I can tell you that we have vetted and cross-vetted and examined and cross-examined all three, and they corroborate each other independently," Mellon said of the defectors, identified in the court papers as "Witness X," "Witness Y" and "Witness Z." "I am convinced that our evidence is absolutely real—that Iran was a participant in the preparations for 9/11."

The court papers also include sworn statements from staff members of the 9/11 Commission, including Dietrich Snell, a former top terrorism prosecutor at the Justice Department, who says in his affidavit that "there is clear and convincing evidence the government of Iran provided material support to al Qaeda in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attack." He said the support came in the form of "facilitating the travel of members of the 9/11 conspiracy to and from Afghanistan and Pakistan, in which countries, in my opinion and as found by the 9/11 Commission, the plot was hatched and developed."

The commission uncovered the intelligence about Iran only in the final weeks of its investigation in 2004 when the commission began—belatedly—to explore in depth what was held in the files of the National Security Agency, the government's eavesdropping agency.

In what many commission officials now acknowledge was a grievous oversight, the panel largely ignored the NSA's files, the source of most of the government's raw information on terrorist threats, for most of the first year of the commission's inquiry.