By Ted Gunderson
Sept. 30, 2003
Michael Riconosciuto, an inmate at the FCI in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, who has contacts in the Middle East, informed this reporter that in March 2001 (well prior to September 11), he informed the FBI of the identity of the organizer of certain terrorist activities in the United States, the identities of those who furnished false identification to the terrorists, an aviation company with which the terrorists were dealing, information concerning the smuggling of shoulder-fired missiles into the United States, and other sensitive matters. The FBI agent who interviewed Riconosciuto later admitted that he did not follow up on any of this information. According to Riconosciuto, if properLy investigated, the events of 911 may not have occurred. Riconosciuto also made a confidential source inside the terrorist group available to the FBI. When interviewed by the FBI, this person reportedly was threatened with prosecution and deported. Riconosciuto claimed that the same FBI agent later told him that he (Riconosciuto) was wasting his time, that he was a conspiracy theorist seeking publicity, that he did not investigate Riconosciuto's information, and threatened him with prosecution
Michael J. Riconosciuto, who has been in federal custody since 1991, furnished the following information to Ted Gunderson on January 3,4, and 5, 2003:
1. He has been active in the intelligence community for years, and has a number of contacts in the Middle East, including individuals who have been, or are now actively involved, with AI Qaeda, the Islamic Jihad (Committee), and the International Islamic Front
2. In February 2000, he learned that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were interested in interviewing him by telephone. At the time, Riconosciuto was at the FCI in Coleman, Florida. As soon as he agreed to the interview, he was told by a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) staff member that he should not have agreed to the interview, was threatened by staff and other inmates, and told not to cooperate with the RCMP and a homicide detective from Hercules, California, who was working with the RCMP. The subject of the interview related to the murder of one of Riconosciuto's friends, and national security issues in the U.S and Canada. The BOP staff threatened him with administrative reprimands.
3. In spite of the threats, Riconosciuto agreed to the interview on February 7,2000. Within one hour following the interview, he was charged with a disciplinary infraction.
4. This infraction was expunged at a BOP hearing on February 11,2000.
5. Within an hour of this hearing, the FBI charged Riconosciuto with solicitation of murder; the charge relating to the expunged incident.
6. Because of this allegation, Riconosciuto was placed in solitary confinement for several months.
7. Upon his return to the general prison population, Riconosciuto was transferred to the FCI Allenwood, Pennsylvania, with the reputation of being a "threat" to BOP staff members.
8. On February 5, 2001, Riconosciuto wrote a certified letter (Exhibit A) to his attorney, Don Bailey, that he had contact with someone in an Islamic group called the "Base" (AI Qaeda), and that said group was currently in preparation for an attack in the United States, but would not divulge specific details unless the U.S. Government granted immunity from prosecution to his sources. In this letter, Riconosciuto also stated that he had an inside source who could furnish information concerning the handling of false IDs and passports for the group.
9. On February 13, 2001, Riconosciuto sent a certified letter (Exhibit B) to Congressman Bryan Baird (D- W A), in an effort to expedite the reporting of his information to the appropriate authorities. Note in the referenced exhibit the urgency of the matter according to Riconosciuto, and his identification of sources (one of which has been intentionally blanked by this reportei}
10. On February 19,2001, Louis Buffardi, a second attorney of Riconosciuto's, wrote to Secretary of State Colin Powell, with a cc to Attorney General John Ashcroft (Exhibit C), to the effect that he had a client with information concerning an imminent terrorist attack in the United States, and Buffardi asked that someone other than the FBI obtain the details from his client.
11. I. On February 20, 200 I, Riconosciuto filed BOP Form 148 (Exhibit D), for use of a private telephone to handle sensitive conversations relating to matters mentioned in 8, 9, and 10, above. Riconosciuto informed this reporter that among his. reasons for this request was also the fact that he had a 30-hour "window" relati_g to the shipment of 37 Soviet-made missiles (StreIa-3 and Igla-9) that had been shipped from Bulgaria to Colombia, and thence, to Canada, destined for Thabet Aviation in Quebec City. He further informed this reporter that attorney Buffardi passed this information to the FBI and U.S. Attorney in Chicago, Illinois.
12. Once he received his private telephone, Riconosciuto told this reporter that he had conversations concerning the afore-mentioned topics with, among others, John O'Neill, former FBI terrorist expert in charge of security for the World Trade Center. Others with whom Riconosciuto talked included:
13. On an unrecalled day in March 2001, Riconosciuto was visited by Special Agent (SA) Keith Cutri of the Williamsport, Pennsylvania, FBI resident agency.
14. Riconosciuto furnished SA Cutri with the identification of an individual in New Jersey (unidentified herein to eliminate damage or complications to future official investigations) who:
a. Was coordinating forthcoming terrorist attacks on the United States.
b. Had information on the movement of Soviet-made shoulder-fired missiles into the United States.
c. Was coordinating forthcoming skyjackings.
d. Was coordinating bombings and espionage.
e. Knew the identities of "sleepers" in the United States and overseas.
15. Riconosciuto also furnished SA Cutri with information on a false IDl ring in Montreal, Canada, and in New Jersey, and could furnish the exact false ID of 30 terrorists who had been chosen for actions inside the United States.
16. Riconosciuto further told SA Cutri that the 37 Soviet-made missiles were being handled through Thabet Aviation in Quebec City, Canada, which also brokered old but serviceable aircraft (Swearingtons, DC-9s, 747s, and high-performance military) to be used in drug-running and future terrorist attacks in a so-called "40 minute" war scenario by using aircraft as flying "missiles".
17. Riconosciuto further informed SA Cutri that terrorists were taking flight-training in various types of aircraft brokered by Thabet, and if given immunity for himself and his contacts, he would provide specific information where said training was taking place and the identities of the students involved.
18. [blacked out area for the sanitized public report]
19. In his discussion with SA Cutri, other than the immunity request, RicQnosciuto attached no other conditions to his possible future cooperation with the FBI.
20. [blacked out ]
21. In the period between his March 2001 interview by SA Cutri and September 13, 2001, Riconosciuto heard nothing from the FBI or any other federal agency.
22. Riconosciuto was shocked by what happened on September 11, 2001, especially in view of the information he furnished to SA Cutri in March. In his opinion, if properly handled, 911 would not have happened.
23. On September 13, 2001, SA Cutri and a second, unidentified FBI agent inter viewed Riconosciuto in the Legal Room of FCI Allenwood. In spite of what had just taken place in New York and Washington on September 11, and the information Riconosciuto had already volunteered in March,
SA Cutri: posed the following questions and accusations to Michael Riconosciuto:
a. Wanted to know why Riconosciuto was bothering the FBI and wasting its time.
b. Accused Riconosciuto of seeking publicity.
c. Accused Riconosciuto of being "anti-FBI' and "anti-government".
d. Called Riconosciuto a "conspiracy theorist".
e. Called Riconosciuto a "know-it-all",
f. Called Riconosciuto a "hoaxer" and threatened him with prosecution.
g. Stated that he discontinued inquiry into the information Riconosciuto gave him in March, 2001 because information Riconosciuto gave him about a staff member at FCI Coleman was untrue.
h. Stated that Riconosciuto was still under investigation because of threats he made against a staff member at Coleman. Riconosciuto took this as a threat.
24. In view of 23, above, Riconosciuto stated that he did not wish to continue this interview without the presence of his counsel, to which SA Cutri replied that as a prisoner, he did not have an absolute right to counsel, which Riconosciuto interpreted as another threat.
26. [blacked out ]
27. [blacked out]
28. In the summer of 2002, Riconosciuto secured the assistance of Senator George Allen (R- VA) in an attempt to nail down the date in March 2001 on which he was interviewed for the first time by SA Cutri. Attached as Exhibit F is a copy of the FBI's official response. Note that while it confirms the September 13, 2001 interview, it "dances" around specific dates of any other interviews.
29. In view of the above, on September 23, 2002, this reporter wrote a letter (Exhibit G) to Senator Allen, asking him to contact the FBI to determine the exact date that Riconosciuto was interviewed in March 2001, and whether or not this interview took place as a result of attorney Buffardi's letter to Secretary of State Powell.
30. According to Riconosciuto as well as an independent source, following the letter referenced above, and without warrants, the FBI seized the computers and other items from persons who were in contact with Riconosciuto, but who are not professionally knowledgeable about "terrorism". The FBI also demanded all letters, documents, correspondence, books, etc., and also inquired about any "Arab" contacts of Riconosciuto's about whom they might be knowledgeable. They were also told that Riconosciuto and Ted Gunderson were making irresponsible statements about the terrorism "issue" and that any help given to Riconosciuto or Gunderson might have criminal consequences.
31. It is this reporter's professional opinion that the possible purpose of such raids and seizures are part of a campaign to eliminate any trace or proof of official knowledge of the type claimed by Riconosciuto, with specific reference to his interview by SA Cutri in March 2001. This view is reinforced by President Bush's recent "go-ahead" to the formation of an official board of inquiry into the failings of U.S. intelligence that allowed 911 to happen.
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