The Man Who Knew
Agent John O'Neill considers assassinating bin Laden before al-Qaida could act, prompting his separation from the FBI and his hiring as World Trade Center security director, just weeks before his death in the attacks. For six years, John O'Neill was the FBI's leading expert on Al Qaeda. He warned of its reach. He warned of its threat to the U.S. But to the people at FBI headquarters, O'Neill was too much of a maverick, and they stopped listening to him. He left the FBI in the summer of 2001 and took a new job as head of security at the World Trade Center.
If you believe the media, John P. O'Neill was simply another innocent victim killed in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. But you don't need much imagination to suspect something deeper was at work.
Clearly, O'Neill was a man Osama bin Laden wanted dead. O'Neill had been a Deputy Director of the FBI, and Osama bin Laden's main pursuer in the US government. O'Neill had investigated the bombings of the World Trade Center in 1993, a US base in Saudi Arabia in 1996, the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-Es-Salaam in 1998, and the USS Cole last year.
But once the first plane hit the North Tower, Osama bin Laden wouldn't be the only man to profit from O'Neill's death. At the moment of impact, O'Neill became the man who knew too much.
Just two weeks, TWO WEEKS, prior to the attack, O'Neill had left his job with the FBI. O'Neill had quit because he believed that the Bush administration had stymied the intelligence agency's investigations on terrorism. O'Neill charged that it had done so even as it bargained with the Taliban on handing over of Osama bin Laden in exchange for political recognition and economic aid. In the ultimate irony, O'Neill had gone public with these charges at the same time that he was leaving the FBI to become the head of security at the World Trade Center.