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Monday, February 11, 2008
 

1998-08-31: FBI interrogation of Mohamed Sadiq Odeh (East African Embassy Bombings)

This document is a record of the interrogation of Mohamed Sadiq Odeh.

Much of this document has been redacted. As is the case with many of the documents released, the redaction is inappropriate since much of this document was disclosed during testimony in U.S. v. Bin Laden. An extended excerpt is included below, to illustrate the unreasonable nature of the redaction.

There were two versions of the document released, each redacted differently, which illustrates the FBI's capricious approach to claiming FOIA exemptions. The redacted material revealed by the comparison is completely innocuous.

1998-08-31: FBI interrogation of Mohamed Sadiq Odeh (East African Embassy Bombings)

Testimony: U.S. v. Bin Laden, Feb. 28, 2001

1617



1 time that you deployed to Kenya as part of your duties with

2 the FBI?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. Was that following the bombings in Africa?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. Let me direct your attention to later that month. Did

7 there come a time when you interviewed Mohamed Sadeek Odeh?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. Can you tell the jury what day you began to interview

10 Mohamed Sadeek Odeh.

11 A. We began the interview on August 15.

12 Q. For how many days did you interview Mohamed Odeh in Kenya?

13 A. Until August 27.

14 Q. After that point in time, was Mohamed Odeh brought back to

15 the United States?

16 A. Yes, he was.

17 Q. Between August 15 and the 27th, did you interview him

18 every day?

19 A. Not every day.

20 Q. Do you know how many days you did not speak to him during

21 that time?

22 A. Approximately two days.

23 Q. When you did interview him, what was the earliest, or when

24 did you generally start interviewing him during each

25 interview?



1618



1 A. During the daytime we started about, the earliest we

2 started was about 9, sometimes later.

3 Q. How late would you work during those interview sessions?

4 A. We never worked past -- one time we worked till 6. That

5 was probably the latest.

6 Q. Did you always interview him for the full day or did you

7 ever work half days?

8 A. We worked several half a days.

9 Q. Let me direct your attention to the first day of the

10 interviews, August 15. Do you know what time you started that

11 day?

12 A. We started approximately 10:00.

13 Q. Where did the interview take place?

14 A. At Kenyan police department headquarters.

15 Q. Was it inside that Kenyan police headquarters building?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. Can you tell the jury who was present for the interview?

18 A. Myself, two other US officials, and three Kenyan

19 officials.

20 Q. Over the course of the following days, was it always the

21 same people there?

22 A. No.

23 Q. Generally, how many American officials were present during

24 the interview?

25 A. Two to three.



1619



1 Q. How many Kenyan officials would be present?

2 A. It varied. Sometimes three, sometimes two, sometimes one.

3 Q. In what language did you conduct the interview?

4 A. In English.

5 Q. Did you have any difficulty understanding Mr. Odeh in

6 English?

7 A. No.

8 Q. Did you ever have to repeat a question or have him repeat

9 an answer to a question?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. Did he ever ask you to repeat a question to him?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. Can you tell the jury how you began the interview on

14 August 15.

15 A. On August 15 we started the interview by first advising

16 Mr. Odeh of his rights. We told him that he had the right to

17 remain silent, anything he said would be used against him. We

18 were going over a form that the FBI uses when dealing with

19 subjects overseas, and the form also went on to say that if

20 you were in the United States you would have the right to have

21 an attorney present and if you were in the United States, if

22 you could not afford an attorney one would be appointed to

23 you.

24 Q. Let me approach you with what has been premarked as

25 Government's Exhibit 3 for identification, and I will ask you



1620



1 if you recognize this form? Do you recognize Government's

2 Exhibit 3?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. What is that?

5 A. That is the advice of rights form that he signed.

6 Q. You mentioned that you read it to him. Did you show him a

7 copy of that form?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. What happened when you finished reading the form or while

10 you were reading the form and showing him a copy of the form?

11 A. While we were explaining the form to him he had a

12 question. When we were talking about attorneys, he said, he

13 mentioned something about having an attorney available; a

14 Kenyan attorney.

15 Q. What happened then?

16 A. He asked a couple of other questions, and that original

17 question got lost because he followed up with another

18 question, and eventually he stated that he would be willing to

19 talk to us, but he did not want to sign the form, he first

20 wanted to talk, how he called it, small talk to get to know

21 each other.

22 Q. What happened then?

23 A. At that point we didn't want to pursue that, with that

24 question that he had outstanding, so we broke and we went out

25 into the hallway to discuss that amongst ourselves and with



1621



1 the Kenyans.

2 Q. Did you go back into the room with Odeh after that?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. What if anything was Odeh told at that point?

5 A. We told him that I had talked to the Kenyan authorities

6 and that under their rule of law, that a Kenyan -- that they

7 don't have the same thing as we do, they don't have the right

8 to counsel at that stage of the investigation.

9 Q. What else if anything was said to Odeh at that point about

10 his rights?

11 A. We told him that we could not provide him with an

12 attorney, we did not have a United States, a U.S. attorney

13 with us to represent him. We told him that if he wished to

14 have an attorney that we would respect that wish, and then the

15 US representatives would not partake in the interview and we

16 would leave the room.

17 Q. Just so we are clear for the record, he had asked about an

18 Kenyan attorney and one of the things you made clear to him

19 was that you did not have an American attorney available there

20 to represent him.

21 A. Right.

22 Q. Can you explain what you understood about a Kenyan

23 attorney.

24 A. We also asked him if he had his own Kenyan attorney. He

25 said he did not have an attorney. We told him we could not



1622



1 provide him a Kenyan attorney.

2 Q. What was he told about what his options were at that point

3 in time?

4 A. We told him he had basically three options. One was that

5 he had the right to remain silent and he did not have to talk

6 to either the Kenyan authorities or the US authorities, and if

7 he invoked that right to not talk, that would have ended the

8 matter right there. And the second option was that if he

9 wished to have an attorney present during that questioning,

10 that we would oblige that and we would leave the room. And

11 then he would have to be with the Kenyan authorities to

12 continue the interview or interrogation, but he also had the

13 right to tell them that he didn't want to talk. And the third

14 option was that he could talk to the US authorities and the

15 Kenyan authorities together with no attorney.

16 Q. What if anything did Odeh say when that was explained to

17 him?

18 A. He came up with a fourth one. He said can I just talk to

19 the US authorities alone?

20 Q. What happened at that point?

21 A. At that point we all left the room to discuss that.

22 Remaining in the room with Mr. Odeh was a Kenyan official, and

23 by the time I got out to the hallway, the Kenyan official came

24 out and said he's agreed to talk to both of us, to both

25 authorities.



1623



1 Q. Did you go back in the room with Odeh at that point?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Did he indicate anything about whether he was willing to

4 talk to both the Kenyan and American authorities?

5 A. Yes. He said that he figured that if he spoke to the US

6 authorities alone, that we would tell the Kenyan authorities

7 anyway, so he figured why not just talk to both of them at the

8 same time.

9 Q. What happened at that point?

10 A. At that point he agreed to talk and he signed the form.

11 Q. What happened then?

12 A. He asked some questions about what if I change my mind.

13 We told him that it was fine, that he was the boss, that he

14 was in complete control of his own way of dealing with us. He

15 could stop talking at any time. He could pick and choose to

16 answer the questions, if he didn't like a question he didn't

17 have to answer it.

18 Q. Did he then answer questions after that point?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. What did he tell you about where he was born and where he

21 grew up?

22 A. He told me that he was born in Saudi Arabia and grew up in

23 Jordan.

24 Q. Did he indicate what his ethnic heritage was?

25 A. That he was of Palestinian heritage.



1624



1 Q. Over the course of the interviews, did he indicate what

2 other names he was known by besides Mohamed Sadeek Odeh?

3 A. He is also known as Abu Yasser, Noureldine, Marwan, and

4 Abu Moath.

5 Q. Did he indicate whether he had a son during the interview?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. What was the son's name?

8 A. Yassi.

9 Q. What did he tell you about where he went to school?

10 A. He, I believe, went to school for the earlier grades back

11 in Jordan, but in 1986 he went to university, the Far Eastern

12 University in Manila, Philippines.

13 Q. Did he indicate what he studied at that school?

14 A. Architecture and engineering.

15 Q. Did he indicate whether he became involved in any studies

16 besides school during the time he was in the Philippines?

17 A. Yes. During his studies in the Philippines, he became

18 active in Islamic societies, and he also mentioned a Kuwaiti

19 Islamic center that he used to go to.

20 Q. Did he indicate what if anything he was exposed to when he

21 would go to Islamic societies in the Philippines?

22 A. Yes. He became particularly interested, he told me, in

23 the concept of jihad by listening to tape recordings and

24 videos of individual named Abdallah Azzam, who was the leader

25 of Arabs who were fighting in Afghanistan.



1625



1 Q. Did he indicate whether there came a time when he left the

2 Philippines?

3 A. Yes. In his final year of school, he was getting ready to

4 do his thesis, but he needed a thousand dollars, and his

5 father sent him a thousand dollars, and when he got that money

6 he decided to call a religious scholar back home where he came

7 from, to ask him his advice on what to do with the thousand

8 dollars, should he use it to complete his studies or should he

9 use it to join the jihad movement and go to Afghanistan and do

10 jihad.

11 Q. Did he indicate what advice he was given and what he did?

12 A. His advice that was given to him was to stop what he was

13 doing immediately and go do jihad.

14 Q. What did he tell you that he did?

15 A. From the Philippines he traveled to -- made his way to

16 Afghanistan but he traveled first to Hong Kong and then to

17 Pakistan.

18 Q. Did he indicate where he went in Pakistan?

19 A. Yes. He landed in Karachi and then went from Karachi to

20 the city of Peshawar.

21 Q. Did he indicate how he got from Karachi to Peshawar?

22 A. By bus.

23 Q. What did he tell you that he did once he arrived in

24 Peshawar?

25 A. When he first arrived at Peshawar, he went to a place



1626



1 called Bait Al Ansar, which I think it translates to House of

2 Support, where people who were doing that, that's the first

3 place they stopped.

4 Q. Did he tell you approximately what year, and, if you

5 remember, what month it was that he went from the Philippines

6 to Peshawar, Pakistan?

7 A. I think it was October 1990.

8 Q. What did he tell you happened when he arrived at the Bait

9 al Ansar in Peshawar, Pakistan?

10 A. He stayed there for two days, I believe, and then he made

11 his way by bus to the Afghan border.

12 Q. Then what did he tell you happened there?

13 A. After he got to the border they transferred to another

14 vehicle, and they went to one of the camps, called the Farouq

15 camp.

16 Q. Did he tell you what city, if any, was located near the

17 Farouq camp?

18 A. It's in the area of Khost.

19 Q. What did Mr. Odeh tell you happened at the Farouq camp?

20 A. That was where he received his first series of basic

21 training.

22 Q. Did he tell you how long he spent at the Farouq camp?

23 A. Approximately two months.

24 Q. Did he tell you what type of training he received during

25 those two months?



1627



1 A. He received military training that was broken up into

2 three segments. The first segment was basic use of firearms,

3 particularly the AK47, and kind of moved up to a belt-fed

4 machine gun.

5 Q. Did he describe what the second level of training was like

6 at the Farouq camp?

7 A. The second level, they started learning about topography,

8 map reading, and they got introduced to explosives,

9 particularly C3, C4, and TNT.

10 Q. Did he indicate what happened at the third level of

11 training?

12 A. The third level of training involved more sophisticated

13 weapons, like antitank missiles, rocket launchers, mortars,

14 and antiaircraft weapons.

15 Q. Did Odeh indicate who was the person in charge of the camp

16 at the time he was training?

17 A. For most of the time there, except for the first two

18 weeks, the person in charge was a guy named Basheer.

19 Q. Did Odeh indicate what country Basheer was from?

20 A. I don't remember.

21 Q. Did Odeh indicate whether or not he was approached by any

22 organization at or about the time or after the time he

23 attended the Farouq camp?

24 A. While at the Farouq camp, he was approached by members of

25 the of Al Qaeda organization, if he was interested in joining.



1628



1 Q. Did he indicate his belief as to why he had been

2 approached?

3 A. He stated that he was approached because of his good

4 character, his understanding of the religion, and his ability

5 to get along with other people.

6 Q. Did Mr. Odeh tell you at that time whether he decided at

7 that time to join the Al Qaeda group?

8 A. At that time he decided against joining. He wanted to

9 wait for a while.

10 Q. Did he tell you what he then did after he finished his

11 training at the Farouq camp?

12 A. After he finished the training at the Farouq camp, they

13 were sent back to Peshawar, where they were going to be

14 deployed.

15 Q. Did he indicate how long he stayed at Peshawar after he

16 went back there?

17 A. He didn't stay very long. He had to take care of some

18 dental work. He had dental problems.

19 Q. What happened after that?

20 A. After that, he was sent to Jalalabad to work -- that's not

21 too far from where the fighting was going on. He was sent to

22 Jalalabad to work in a rear area support for the front lines.

23 Q. Did he indicate what role he played in the rear area

24 support in Jalalabad?

25 A. I believe he was taking care of wounded.



1629



1 Q. Do you know if he was working as a medic?

2 A. Yes, medic. He was taking care of wounded people.

3 Q. Did Odeh indicate how long he spent in the area of

4 Jalalabad at that time?

5 A. I believe he was there for about a month.

6 Q. What did Odeh tell you he did after that month in the area

7 of Jalalabad?

8 A. After that, he went back to Peshawar.

9 Q. Did he indicate what he did there?

10 A. After he returned to Peshawar, he was only there a short

11 time, and then I believe he wound up going back to Jalalabad.

12 Q. Did he indicate what happened on his second time he went

13 to Jalalabad?

14 A. The second time he went to Jalalabad, he went back as a

15 medic and he was -- well, when he was in Peshawar that

16 first -- after the camp, after Jalalabad the first time, a

17 doctor, I believe his name was Mohamed, approached him and

18 said if he wanted to go back and be a medic for a small

19 salary, and he did.

20 Q. What happened when he went back to Jalalabad to serve as a

21 medic?

22 A. While there, he was injured in an air raid. He was

23 wounded in the head.

24 Q. What did he do as a result of the wounds?

25 A. He went again back to Peshawar to recover.



1630



1 Q. Did he indicate what he did after he recovered from the

2 injury?

3 A. I believe that --

4 Q. Let me ask you this. Did he tell you about a number of

5 different camps and places where he served --

6 A. He went back into Afghanistan to several of the camps. I

7 believe the second camp he went to after that was the Jihad

8 Wal camp.

9 Q. What did he tell you -- first of all, did he tell you how

10 long, approximately, he spent at the Jihad Wal camp?

11 A. I think 45 days.

12 Q. Did he tell you what he did at the Jihad Wal camp?

13 A. At that camp, they learned different military tactics.

14 They trained in how to attack certain installations and

15 certain points.

16 Q. Did he indicate whether or not he received any nonmilitary

17 training during that time period after he was done in the

18 Jihad Wal camp?

19 A. After the Jihad Wal, a friend of his asked him if he

20 wanted to go for a three-month religious studies course.

21 Q. Did Odeh indicate whether he did --

22 A. Yes, and he did, he went to that course.

23 Q. Did he indicate where he attended these studies?

24 A. In the area, I believe, around Pakistan -- I mean, in

25 Peshawar.



1631



1 Q. Did he indicate when he was done the three months of his

2 Islamic training or study, do you recall what time frame he

3 indicated that would be?

4 A. That was around early '92.

5 Q. Did he indicate whether or not the topic of his joining Al

6 Qaeda ever came up again in 1992?

7 A. Yes. And he was approached to join Al Qaeda at that time,

8 and he decided that he wanted to join Al Qaeda, he was

9 impressed with the philosophy of it and he wanted to join.

10 Q. Did he indicate what it was about Al Qaeda versus other

11 groups that made Al Qaeda attractive to him?

12 A. He liked Al Qaeda because it represented the whole Muslim

13 world. He told me that he didn't want to join like a

14 Palestinian group or another group based upon one country, one

15 ethnic background, because Al Qaeda represented all Muslims.

16 Q. Did he indicate what he thought of whether or not Al Qaeda

17 was Islamically pure as compared to the other groups?

18 A. He did. He said that compared to the other groups that Al

19 Qaeda was Islamically pure and that the leadership in other

20 groups might do things that are not Islamically correct.

21 Q. Did he indicate how he went about becoming a member of Al

22 Qaeda?

23 A. Yes. He took bayat, it's called.

24 Q. Did Odeh explain to you what his understanding -- this

25 will be the last question, your Honor.



1632



1 Did Odeh indicate to you what his understanding was

2 of what the bayat required him to do?

3 A. Bayat is when he pledges his allegiance to Usama Bin Laden

4 and that he will follow his orders as long as those orders are

5 Islamically correct.

6 (Continued on next page)

7

8

9

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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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