U.S. counterterrorism officials have linked one of the nation's most wanted terrorists to last year's thwarted plot to bomb the New York City subway system, authorities said Wednesday. Current and former counterterrorism officials said top al-Qaida operative Adnan Shukrijumah met with one of the would-be suicide bombers in a plot that Attorney General Eric Holder called one of the most dangerous since the 9/11 terror attacks.
This is notable for at least two reasons. First, the only reason we know that Shukrijumah is a “top al-Qaeda operative” is because of intelligence derived from the interrogations of two other “top al-Qaeda operatives” – Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Which is to say, because of the very same CIA interrogation program that Attorney General Holder, President Obama, and the rest of this administration have denounced, shut down, and tried to criminalize.
As Thomas Joscelyn noted in this space last year, Shukrijumah came to be known as the "next Mohammed Atta"—a sleeper agent living in Florida who cased targets in the NYC area (possibly the subways) prior to 9/11 and who was planning a follow-on attack.
Acting on the information obtained from Zubaydah and KSM, the FBI put out an alert on Shukrijumah, which led to significant media coverage. Shukrijumah fled the country—possibly because he got wind that his time was up—and has been wanted ever since. Now we know a bit of what he has been up to: Trying to arrange with proxies to attack the same targets that he had planned to attack himself before our intelligence community found out who he was.
The other reason this revelation is notable? The only reason the American people know how our government discovered Shukrijumah’s identity is because of the release of CIA documents analyzing the intelligence gathered through the interrogations of Zubaydah, KSM, and others. Those documents confirm that Zubaydah was the first to identify Shukrijumah—though only by his nom de guerre, Jafar al Tayyar—and that KSM subsequently gave up “Jafar al Tayyar’s” real name: Adnan G. El Shukrijumah. And the only reason those documents were released is because former Vice President Dick Cheney challenged the Obama administration to make them public—knowing full well that the papers would vindicate his claim that the interrogations were highly valuable and gut the administration’s claim that the program was worthless.