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Captured al-Qa'eda man was FBI spy

By David Rennie in Washington

06/23/03: (The Telegraph. UK) The American al-Qa'eda operative unmasked last week as having planned to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge was first detained in March, and has been used by the FBI for months as a double agent, it was reported yesterday.

US authorities waited until last week to announce a plea bargain struck with Iyman Faris, a Pakistani-born lorry driver ordered to scout out terror targets, including the New York landmark.

They did not say that Faris, who was also ordered to study ultralight aircraft, and the possibility of derailing a train into a chemical storage facility in Washington, had been under FBI control for months.

Justice Department officials told Time magazine that Faris was secretly detained about two weeks after the dramatic capture on March 1 in Pakistan of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qa'eda's chief of operations.

Installed in a safe house in Virginia, Faris sent messages to his terrorist commanders by mobile phone and email. "He was sitting in the safe house making calls for us. It was a huge triumph," a senior Bush administration official told Time.

After pleading guilty to offering material support to al-Qa'eda, Faris will be sentenced in August. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

 Copyright 2003 The Telegraph. UK


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