The Gay 9-11 Terrorist : Ahmad Hikmat Shakir
CIA source March 17, 2010Intelligence officials tell The Observer that the character at the center of the intrigue was an enigmatic but jovial man named Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, or “Shakir el Iraqi.” “He was tall as a mushroom, fat and gay,” one source familiar with the case told The Observer, “and the idea was to exploit him as an agent against Al Qaeda.”
Aram Roston of the New York Observer Writes on the Gay 9-11 Terrorist
The Obama administration’s waffling over how and where to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the September 11, 2001 attack’s mastermind, and the long delayed plan for re-construction of the Twin Towers keeps 9-11 alive after nearly 9 years.
But a new story involving the CIA's plan in 2000 to recruit a spy to penetrate al Quaeda could obscure all: The informant was thought to be a closet gay. Due to harsh Muslim penalties, including execution, for homosexual acts, a closeted gay in the Middle East could be influenced with ease by Intelligence agents.
The 9-11 narrative contains a mystery: Why was this terrorist, known to be in with the US government, not captured prior to the devastating terrorist act?
The C.I.A.’s pursuit of Mr. Shakir for the purpose of penetrating al Quada and turning him against the organization, thus curtailing the 9-11 attacks, is a plan little known, even now.
The Mystery of the CIA's Omission to inform FBI
On Jan. 5, 2000, Shakir was reportedly at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to meet a passenger on an incoming flight from Dubai—a Yemeni-born terrorist named Khalid al-Mihdhar. The C.I.A. had both under surveillance, it is said.
Although Shakir's file said only , at the time, that he was an Iraqi Arab, in his late 30s, with a job as a VIP greeter for Malaysian Airlines, Mihdhar, 25, he already had a track record as an experienced terrorist, with battlefield experience in Bosnia and time spent at various jihadi camps. The CIA felt certain there would be some American plan afoot involving him.
C.I.A. agents ought to have informed the FBI immediately about the visa he had, which was a multiple entry one; thus sending up an alarm and preventing the 9-11 attacks. The fact that they did not only deepens the mystery.
Mr. Shakir seemed to have excellent contacts among the radical jihadists but did not look like a terrorist in any way. That he was rumored to be gay only added to his usage as a "social broker": Someone to infiltrate circles and obtain information. He would be "flippable", they thought, in a way only a gay man might be.
But exactly why the CIA had failed to inform the FBI remains an enigma: Some say agency rivalry and spite were at work, but others say that there was something more: Informing the F.B.I. about Mihdhar would have exposed the Shakir plan.
It is said that in the end, the plan with Mr. Shakir failed. He fled the country and the CIA's suspicions about him were raised, even as they lost their grip on him. A scant few before the 9/11 attacks, the C.I.A. added him to its watch list and briefed the FBI. But by then it was too late.
Years after 9/11, and after the Bush administration sought to link Saddam Hussein to the attacks, Mr. Shakir briefly grew quite famous in neoconservative circles, says Roston.
In 2004, the story broke on the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal, positing that Mr. Shakir could constitute “a direct link between Iraq and the al Qaeda operatives who planned 9/11.” Such a link was the Holy Grail for neoconservatives, especially after it became clear that Iraq had no WMD.
It was a desperate push to tie the Iraqi dictator to 9/11 and it failed, notably because whatever Mr. Shakir was, he was no Iraqi agent and he was no fedayeen officer.
The last anyone saw of Mr. Shakir was right after the 9/11 attacks. Briefly in 2001, he was picked up in the Middle East, first by the Qatari authorities, and then in Amman, Jordan. But he was quickly released. No public pictures of him exist. Today, his whereabouts are unknown.