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Friday, February 16, 2007

U.S., Interpol Tracked Khalifa In Days Before Madagascar Murder

By J.M. Berger

INTERPOL forwarded information concerning Mohammed Jamal Khalifa to U.S. intelligence agencies just days before the alleged al Qaeda financier was killed by gunmen.

Khalifa, a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden, was killed on about Jan. 30, 2007, in Madagascar, according to news reports. Khalifa's family said the Saudi national was killed by a group of 20 to 30 armed men who stole his computer and briefcase.

Khalifa's family said they believe the killing was political. Terrorism analysts have speculated that an international intelligence agency might have been behind the attack.

Three INTERPOL bulletins were released today to INTELWIRE in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for all documents concerning Khalifa. The release has been heavily redacted. INTERPOL also withheld additional documents pertaining to an "open investigation."

On Jan. 22, about a week before the attack, INTERPOL's Washington bureau sent a bulletin on Khalifa to several U.S. intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

The bulletin concerned an unnamed "project (which) was initiated to proactively target terrorism from captured terrorists (sic)."

INTERPOL is traditionally involved in the arrest, extradition and rendition of international criminal suspects. Recent U.S. counterterrorism efforts have focused on secret renditions, which often amount to armed kidnap operations performed in foreign countries.

On Friday, Jan. 26, 2007, four days before Khalifa was killed, a bulletin was sent from an unknown source to INTERPOL's Washington bureau and an unnamed branch of the organization.

According to the document, an unnamed recipient received information relevant to Khalifa from the Washington bureau and was disseminating it. "The purpose of this initiative is to obtain and share information with INTERPOL member countries in proactively targeting crime and terrorism and to prevent further terrorist attacks," the message states.

"[redacted] would like to received all information possessed by recipients relating to the information contained in this message," the document states. Only Khalifa's alias -- Abu Baraa -- is unredacted in the remainder of the document.

One additional document was released, a short INTERPOL bulletin marked "urgent" and dated April 3, 2002 with the subject line "Mohammed Jamal Khalifah."

According to the New York Times, Khalifa was arrested by the Saudi authorities shortly after September 11 and detained for about six months. This bulletin would correspond roughly to the period in which Khalifa was released.

Full Text of Documents

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Khalifa's Life-And-Death Secrets

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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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