Takedown: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda

By Philip Mudd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
THE YEARS OF THREAT

THERE WAS so much threat reporting, often from credible sources, and so many spikes in activity, over the course of years, that the threats run together. Those years are a jumble, running from one threat to another while we tried to understand the progress in the war more broadly and stand up an office that had the bureaucratic support to provide careers and a life for all the analysts who had flooded to work the terrorism problem. Even years later, though, there were a few tense periods that stand out because of threats, and the intense attention they brought to the persistent Al Qaeda threat.

One of the most chilling resulted from the arrest of Dhiren Bharot, an Al Qaeda operative in Britain who had traveled to the United States before 9/11. Bharot also had, after 9/11, traveled to the tribal areas of Pakistan, along the border with Afghanistan, presumably at least in part to report on what he knew of the United States, and to participate in planning or undertaking operations in the UK or elsewhere.

What we found on Bharot’s computer were files that reaffirmed, once again, the commitment of Al Qaeda to strike a blow against a strategic U.S. target, in this case New York, New Jersey, or sites in Washington. As the information began rolling in, we understood quickly that the casing reports Bharot had amassed during his time in the United States could have been the feed material for an Al Qaeda operation. Furthermore, it wasn’t just the

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