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Profile: Mohammed Atef

 
  

Positions that Mohammed Atef has held:



 

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Mohammed Atef actively participated in the following events:

 
  

Early 1996-October 1998: US Tracks bin Laden's Satellite Phone Calls      Complete 911 Timeline

       During this period, bin Laden and Mohammed Atef, his military commander, use a satellite phone provided by a friend to direct al-Qaeda's operations. Its use is discontinued two months after a US missile strike against bin Laden's camps on August 20, 1998, when an unnamed senior official boasts that the US can track his movements through the use of the phone. [Sunday Times, 3/24/02] Records show “Britain was at the heart of the terrorist's planning for his worldwide campaign of murder and destruction.” 260 calls were made to 27 phone numbers in Britain. The other countries called were Yemen (over 200 calls), Sudan (131), Iran (106), Azerbaijan (67), Pakistan (59), Saudi Arabia (57), a ship in the Indian Ocean (13), the US (6), Italy (6), Malaysia (4), and Senegal (2). “The most surprising omission is Iraq, with not a single call recorded.” [Sunday Times, 3/24/02]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Mohammed Atef
          

Late 1998: Taliban Stall Pipeline Negotiations to Keep Western Powers at Bay      Complete 911 Timeline

       During the investigation of the August 7, 1998 US embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998), FBI counterterrorism expert John O'Neill finds a memo by al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef on a computer. The memo shows that bin Laden's group has a keen interest in and detailed knowledge of negotiations between the Taliban and the US over an oil and gas pipeline through Afghanistan. Atef's analysis suggests that the Taliban are not sincere in wanting a pipeline, but are dragging out negotiations to keep Western powers at bay. [Salon, 6/5/02]
People and organizations involved: John O'Neill, Mohammed Atef, United States, al-Qaeda, Taliban
          

July 2000: Potential Informant Ignored by Australian and US Authorities      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Jack Roche.
Jack Roche, an Australian Caucasian Muslim, tries to inform on al-Qaeda for Australia or the US, but is ignored. In April, Roche returned from a trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Malaysia, where he took an explosives training course and met with bin Laden, Mohammed Atef, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and other top al-Qaeda leaders. In Pakistan, Mohammed discussed attacking US jets in Australia and gave Roche money to start an al-Qaeda cell in Australia. Roche also met Hambali in Malaysia and was given more money there. Early this month, he tries to call the US embassy in Australia, but they ignore him. He then tries to contact The Australian intelligence agency several times, but they too ignore him. In September 2000, his housemate also tries to contact Australian intelligence about what he has learned from Roche but his call is ignored as well. Australian Prime Minister John Howard later acknowledges that authorities made a “very serious mistake” in ignoring Roche, though he also downplays the importance of Roche's information. Roche is later sentenced to nine years in prison for conspiring with al-Qaeda to blow up an Israeli embassy. [BBC, 6/1/04; Los Angeles Times, 6/7/04]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin, al-Qaeda, John Howard, Jack Roche, Mohammed Atef
          

Early October-Mid-November, 2001: Air Force Is Repeatedly Denied Permission to Bomb Top al-Qaeda and Taliban Leaders      Complete 911 Timeline

       In mid-November 2001, the Washington Post will report that senior Air Force officials are upset they have missed opportunities to hit top al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders since the start of the bombing of Afghanistan. According to these officials, the Air Force believes it has the leaders in its crosshairs as many as ten times, but they are unable to receive a timely clearance to fire. Cumbersome approval procedures, a concern not to kill civilians, and a power play between the Defense Department and the CIA contribute to the delays. One anonymous Air Force official later says, “We knew we had some of the big boys. The process is so slow that by the time we got the clearances, and everybody had put in their 2 cents, we called it off.” The main problem is that commanders in the region have to ask for permission from General Tommy Franks, based in Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida, or even Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and other higher-ups. Air Force generals complain to Franks about the delay problem, but never receive a response. For example, at one point in October, a Taliban military convoy is moving north to reinforce front line positions. Targeters consider it an easy mark of clear military value. But permission from Central Command is denied on the suspicion that the target is so obvious that “it might be a trick.” In another example, a target is positively identified by real-time imagery from a Predator drone, but Central Command overrides the decision to strike, saying they want a second source of data. An anonymous official calls this request for independent verification of Predator imagery “kind of ridiculous.” [Washington Post, 11/18/01] The London Times paraphrase officials who claim that, “Attempts to limit collateral damage [serve] merely to prolong the war, and force the Pentagon to insert commandos on the ground to hunt down the same targets.” [London Times, 11/19/01 (B)] By the end of the war, only one top al-Qaeda leader, Mohammed Atef, is killed in a bombing raid (see November 15, 2001), and no top Taliban leaders are killed.
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of Defense, Thomas Franks, Mohammed Atef, Donald Rumsfeld, al-Qaeda, Taliban
          

November 15, 2001: Al-Qaeda Leader Reported Dead in Bombing Raid      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Mohammed Atef.
Al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef is believed to have been killed in a US bombing raid on Afghanistan. Atef is considered al-Qaeda's military commander, and one of its top leaders. [ABC News, 11/17/01; State Department, 11/16/01]
People and organizations involved: al-Qaeda, Mohammed Atef
          

'Passive' participant in the following events:

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