Al-Marri Plea Reveals Al Qaeda Codes

Ali al-Marri, the alleged Al Qaeda sleeper spy who has finally been put on trial in Peoria, Illinois (he was arrested in Dec 2001 and jailed without a sentence), recently filed a guilty-plea agreement in federal court. The agreement document reveals interesting details about his past and about Al Qaeda’s 9/11 operations.

Andrew Savage, al-Marri's lawyerHis lawyer, Andrew Savage, has said in past that al-Marri poses no threat to the U.S. Many find this hard to swallow given that, as per al-Marri’s own admission in his plea agreement, he trained at Al Qaeda camps and found refuge in terrorist safe houses in Pakistan between 1998 and 2001. During this training period, al-Marri learned to handle weapons and communicate in code. He arrived in the U.S. on a student visa exactly one day before September 11, and promptly input the phone numbers of Al Qaeda contacts into his PDA.

At least at the time, Al Qaeda was using the techniques we’ve all read about in books to carry out its pre-attack communications, including pre-paid calling cards and simple codes. They also used information found online with search engines when planning their operations.

In the days following the 9/11 attacks, the man behind them – Khalid Shaikh Mohammed – was supposed to use his free hotmail email account to direct an agent to carry out another attack. When al-Marri arrived in the U.S., he created five new email accounts to communicate with Mohammad. He emailed his cell phone number to him using a simple “10-code.” He used the same code to store the phone numbers of his terrorist buddies, subtracting the actual digits in each telephone number from the number ’10.’ Six, for example, becomes four. Any emails containing words were also encrypted – addressed to ‘Muk’ and signed ‘Abdo;’ the details of this cipher were kept in an address book found in a safe house in Pakistan.

Al-Marri researched cyanide gas using the Internet and covered his cyber trail using special software. He identified dams, waterways and tunnels in a U.S. almanac. The details about the gas and U.S. sites in the filed document corroborate U.S. government intelligence that Al Qaeda had plans to attack those specific sites using cyanide gas.

On top of the five years al-Marri already spent in prison as an enemy combatant of the U.S., he can now be sentenced to up to 15 years.

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