Ali Mohamed

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Ali Mohammed, probably an al-Qaeda member, was among those arrested, in the U.S., for the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Africa. [1] FBI special agent Jack Cloonan calls him "bin Laden's first trainer".[2]

Originally an Egyptian army captain, in the 1980s Mohamed came to the US and became a supply sergeant supporting United States Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg; he was not a member of Special Forces proper. At the same time he was involved with Egyptian Islamic Jihad (which "merged" with al-Qaeda in the 1990s), and later with al-Qaeda itself. Mohamed boasted of fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. He had worked for the CIA in the earlier 1980s, but the agency supposedly dropped him after he boasted of his relationship. But Mohamed's behavior led his commanding officer, LTC Robert Anderson, to believe he was still a US intelligence asset. ("I assumed the CIA", said Anderson.) He copied military manuals and wrote doctrine for al-Qaeda, perhaps avoiding detection by being a religious Muslim in plain sight, and giving orientations to "country orientations for [Special Forces] teams deploying to the Mideast". He announced he was taking leave, in 1988, to kill Russians in Afghanistan, bringing back Soviet belt buckles, but had actually been training militants there.[3]

In 1989 Mohamed trained anti-Soviet fighters in his spare time, apparently at the al-Khifa center in Brooklyn. He was honorably discharged from the US military in November 1989.

He pled guilty to charges resulting from the embassy bombings, and was described as cooperating with the U.S. government. In October 2000, Mohamed told Judge Leonard Sand of the U.S. District Court in New York City that he had observed, at the direction of bin Laden, of potential U.S., British, and French targets in Nairobi, including the U.S. embassy. Reporting to bin Laden in Khartoum, Sudan, he said that the leader pointed to a place where a truck bomb could be driven. Mohamed said the goal was retaliation against the U.S. intervention in Somalia. He did not, however, testify in the embassy bombing trial.[4]

He testified he had arranged meetings between Ali Mohamed testified that he arranged several meetings between bin Laden and Hezbollah's Imad Mugniyah in Sudan; Bin Laden admired his use of truck bombs in Lebanon, and offered an agreement in which "Hezbollah would provide training, military expertise, and explosives in exchange for money and man power." This agreement may not have been carried out, as relations between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda have had problems. [5]


  1. Marshall, Andrew (1 November 1998), "Terror 'blowback' burns CIA: America's spies paid trained their nation's worst enemies", Independent
  2. "The Torture Question: Interview, Jack Cloonan: When 9/11 happens, what was your history with Al Qaeda?", PBS Frontline, 18 October 2005
  3. Lawrence Wright (2006), The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, Alfred A. Knopf, ISBN 037541486X, p. 180
  4. Oriana Zill, "The U.S. Embassy bombing trials: a summary", PBS Frontline
  5. Eben Kaplan (14 August 2006), The Al-Qaeda-Hezbollah Relationship