A third person has now come forward to verify claims made by a military intelligence unit that a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it had information showing that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta (search) and other terrorists were identified as being in the United States.I do not understand why they cannot duplicate their results using the same data they used originally. It is unlikely the open source data has been purged even if they cannot find their old files.
J.D. Smith, a defense contractor who claims he worked on the technical side of the unit, code-named "Able Danger" (search), told reporters Friday that he helped gather open-source information (search), reported on government spending and helped generate charts associated with the unit's work. Able Danger was set up in the 1990s to track Al Qaeda activity worldwide.
"I am absolutely positive that he [Atta] was on our chart among other pictures and ties that we were doing mainly based upon [terror] cells in New York City," Smith said.
Smith said data was gathered from a variety of sources, including about 30 or 40 individuals. He said they all had strong Middle Eastern connections and were paid for their information. Smith said Able Danger's photo of Atta was obtained from overseas.
Besides Smith, Lt. Colonel Anthony Shaffer (search) and Navy Captain Scott Philpott (search) have also gone on the record, saying they were discouraged from looking further into Atta, and their attempts to share their information with the FBI were thwarted because Atta was a legal foreign visitor at the time.