Who Is Tom Wilshire?

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January 4-6, 2000: CIA Prevents FBI from Learning about Hijacker’s US Visa; Other CIA Agents Are Deliberately Misled about This
The CIA has been tracking Khalid Almihdhar as he travels to Malaysia for the al-Qaeda summit that starts on January 5, 2000 (see January 5-8, 2000). The CIA has just received a photocopy of his passport that shows he has a valid visa to travel to the US (see January 2-5, 2000). But they deliberately prevent the FBI from learning about this visa. On January 4, a CIA cable containing the photocopy is sent from the CIA’s Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, office to Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit. An FBI agent named Doug Miller assigned to the unit sees the cable and drafts a memo requesting the required permission from the CIA to advise the rest of the FBI that one participant in the Malaysia summit would likely be traveling soon to the US. [US Congress, 7/24/2003, pp. 135 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 502; Wright, 2006, pp. 244] Miller further writes that Almihdhar’s visa indicates he will be traveling to New York City and that he has been connected to the 1998 embassy bombings (see August 7, 1998 and October 4, 2001) and the monitored al-Qaeda communications hub in Yemen (see Late 1998-Early 2002). He also writes that photos of Almihdhar have been obtained and will be sent as well. However, a headquarters desk officer tells him that a deputy unit chief, Tom Wilshire, does not want it sent yet, and that, “This is not a matter for the FBI.” [US Department of Justice, 11/2004, pp. 240 pdf file] Several hours later, this desk officer writes a cable that is distributed only within the CIA. It is sent the next day and claims that Almihdhar’s visa documents were shared with the FBI. This officer will later admit she didn’t personally share the information with the FBI either, and the 9/11 Commission will not be able to find anyone in the CIA who did share it with the FBI. [US Congress, 7/24/2003, pp. 135 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 502; Wright, 2006, pp. 310-311] A week later, Miller follows up by sending his rejected memo to Wilshire. Miller asks, “Is this a no go or should I remake it in some way?” He never gets an answer and drops the matter. [Wright, 2006, pp. 311] The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General will later call the failure to pass the information to the FBI a “significant failure” but will be unable to determine why the information was not passed on. [US Department of Justice, 11/2004, pp. 250 pdf file] In 2002, CIA Director George Tenet will allude to e-mails he claims prove the information about the visa is passed to the FBI around this time. However, the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry and 9/11 Commission fail to find any evidence of these e-mails. The FBI claims it never received any such e-mails. [US Congress, 7/24/2003, pp. 135 pdf file; ABC News, 5/10/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 502]

(Mid-January 2000): CIA Officer Discusses Almihdhar with FBI Counterpart, Fails to Mention His US Visa
Deputy Chief of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit Tom Wilshire discusses al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit with another deputy unit chief who is on loan from the FBI. Wilshire mentions that surveillance photos have been taken, but apparently fails to mention that one of the extremists attending the summit, Khalid Almihdhar, has a US visa. [US Department of Justice, 11/2004, pp. 254 pdf file] Wilshire blocks passage of the information about Almihdhar’s US visa to the FBI around this time (see January 4-6, 2000).

January 5, 2001 and After: CIA Does Not Tell FBI about Identification of Al-Qaeda Leader by Informer, but Allegedly Thinks It Has Done So
After an informer later referred to as “Omar” tells the CIA that al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash was at al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit (see January 4, 2001), the CIA fails to communicate this information to the FBI, even though it is important for their investigation of the USS Cole bombing and connects 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi to the Cole bombers. Omar is a joint FBI/CIA source, but the FBI assistant legal attaché responsible for him will later say he does not know of this identification and documentation he drafts at this time indicates he is unaware of it. It is unclear why the FBI agent is unaware of the identification, although he does not speak Omar’s language and may have been out of the room making photocopies when Omar identified bin Attash in a photo of the Malaysia summit for his CIA counterpart. The CIA officer who shows the photos will later say he has no independent recollection of any particular meeting with Omar. However, when Omar previously identified a photo of bin Attash provided by Yemeni authorities on December 16, 2000 (see November 22-December 16, 2000), the CIA officer had the source repeat the identification specifically for the benefit of the FBI assistant legal attaché and the cable he drafted about the meeting said this clearly. In addition, the assistant legal attaché will later say that he recalls the specific circumstances of the previous debriefing and will be able to recount them, including the identification of bin Attash in the photograph provided by the Yemenis. The CIA officer drafts three cables about the January 4 meeting; one internal cable provides little detail about the meeting, but says bin Attash was identified in one of the photos, a cable to the general US intelligence community fails to mention the identification of bin Attash, as does a third cable, which is sent to the CIA. However, according to statements made by CIA officials after 9/11, at this time the CIA thinks that the FBI knows that bin Attash has been identified in the photos. For example, Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center Cofer Black will tell the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, “[O]ur records establish that the Special Agents from the FBI’s New York Field Office who were investigating the USS Cole attack reviewed the information about the Kuala Lumpur photo in late January 2001.” However, there is no documentary record of information about the second identification placing bin Attash in Kuala Lumpur with the two hijackers being passed to the FBI. In addition, in July 2001 CIA manager Tom Wilshire will suggest passing this information to the FBI (see July 13, 2001), possibly meaning he thinks it is not passed at this time. [US Department of Justice, 11/2004, pp. 264-278 pdf file]

May 2001: CIA Official Connected to Cases of Moussaoui and 9/11 Hijackers Starts Helping FBI
Tom Wilshire, a former deputy chief of Alec Station, the CIA’s bin Laden unit, is detailed to the FBI to help with its counterterrorism work. Wilshire was involved in the failure to watchlist Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar during the al-Qaeda Malaysia summit (see January 4-6, 2000), and will also be involved in the failed search for them in the summer of 2001 (see May 15, 2001, Late May, 2001, and July 13, 2001), as well as the failure to obtain a search warrant for Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings (see August 24, 2001). He acts as the CIA’s chief intelligence representative to Michael Rolince, head of the Bureau’s International Terrorism Operations Section. His primary role is apparently to help the FBI exploit information for intelligence purposes. [US Department of Justice, 11/2004, pp. 282-348 pdf file]

Mid-May-September 10, 2001: CIA Officer Obtains More Information about USS Cole Bombing
CIA officer Tom Wilshire, currently assigned to the FBI, discusses al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit with another CIA officer called Clark Shannon, who is assigned to the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and wrote a report on the USS Cole bombing (see January 2001). Shannon gives Wilshire a timeline of events related to the Cole attack and they discuss Fahad al-Quso, a member of the bombing team in custody at this point (see Early December 2000), and Khallad bin Attash. [US Department of Justice, 11/2004, pp. 282 pdf file] Around this time Wilshire also accesses a March 2000 cable about Nawaf Alhazmi’s travel to the US following the summit (see May 15, 2001). According to Margaret Gillespie, an FBI agent on loan to the CIA, Wilshire “had always been interested in the Malaysia summit and he was especially concerned about any potential ties between the USS Cole investigation and the Malaysia summit.” [US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, 7/31/2006 pdf file]

May 15, 2001: CIA Officer Again Accesses Cables about Hijackers’ Travel in Asia and to US, Fails to Alert FBI or Check If They Are Still in US
Tom Wilshire, a former deputy chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit currently detailed to the FBI, accesses a number of cables about travel by 9/11 hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi in 2000 (see March 5, 2000), but fails to draw the FBI’s attention to this or ask the INS whether they are still in the US. The cables report on Khalid Almihdhar’s travel to Malaysia in January 2000, his US visa, al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit, and Alhazmi’s travel from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Bangkok, Thailand, with another person, and then to Los Angeles. Wilshire had previously blocked a notification to the FBI that Almihdhar had a US visa (see January 4-6, 2000). He writes to another CIA analyst about the travel (see May 15, 2001), but does not alert the FBI to the fact Alhazmi came to the US. Neither does he check with the INS to see whether Alhazmi and Almihdhar are in the country. When one of his colleagues finds these cables in late August, she will immediately check with the INS and become alarmed when she is told they are in the US (see August 21-22, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 266-8, 537; US Department of Justice, 11/2004, pp. 283 pdf file] The 9/11 Commission will explain his failure to alert the FBI by saying he was focused on a possible terrorist attack in Malaysia: “Despite the US links evident in this traffic, [Wilshire] made no effort to determine whether any of these individuals was in the United States. He did not raise the possibility with his FBI counterpart. He was focused on Malaysia.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 268]

Mid-May 2001: CIA Manager Says Photo Identification Is Incorrect, Hinting He Has Greater Knowledge of Al-Qaeda Malaysia Summit Figures
Tom Wilshire, a CIA officer detailed to the FBI, discusses three photographs of al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit (see January 5-8, 2000) with CIA analyst Clark Shannon. Based on an identification by a source inside al-Qaeda, one of the photos is thought to show al-Qaeda leader Khallad bin Attash, who was involved in the bombing of the USS Cole (see January 4, 2001). However, Wilshire tells Shannon that he does not see bin Attash in any of the photos and that he is “missing something” or “someone saw something that wasn’t there.” Wilshire is correct—the photo actually shows 9/11 hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi not bin Attash, but it is unclear why Wilshire would think this; he has apparently not read the cable stating the source identified the man in the photo as bin Attash, but he is aware that bin Attash has been identified in the photo. The three photos will later be passed to the FBI and shown to investigators working on the bombing of the USS Cole (see Mid-May 2001, Late May, 2001, and June 11, 2001). [US Department of Justice, 11/2004, pp. 284-5 pdf file]

Mid-May 2001: CIA Officer Misrepresents Hijacker Alhazmi’s Travel to US in Email Copied to FBI Agent
In an email sent to a fellow CIA officer Clark Shannon and copied to FBI agent Margaret Gillespie, who is working on the USS Cole bombing and the Malaysia summit, Tom Wilshire, a CIA officer assigned to the FBI, misrepresents the travel of hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi and an associate to the US. According to the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, the e-mail says that Alhazmi and an associate traveled from Bangkok to Los Angeles to Hong Kong, indicating they did not remain in the US and left for Hong Kong. However, Alhazmi and hijacker Khalid Almihdhar traveled from Bangkok to Hong Kong and then to Los Angeles. Gillespie and Shannon will subsequently attend a meeting at which this information should be shared, but is not (see June 11, 2001). [US Department of Justice, 11/2004, pp. 282-3, 288, 300 pdf file]

Late May, 2001: CIA Officer Passes Three Malaysia Summit Photographs to FBI, but Fails to Mention Some Important Details
Tom Wilshire, a CIA officer on loan to the FBI, obtains three photographs from the surveillance of al-Qaeda’s Malaysia summit (see January 5-8, 2000), and passes them to Dina Corsi, an agent with the FBI’s bin Laden unit. Corsi learned of the photographs’ existence following a discussion with CIA officer Clark Shannon. Although Wilshire does not have a “substantive conversation” with Corsi about the photos, he does identify hijacker Khalid Almihdhar in one of them, and says Almihdhar traveled from Sana’a, Yemen, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and then Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in early January 2000. However, Wilshire omits to mention that Almihdhar has a US visa, his associate hijacker Nawaf Alhazmi has traveled to the US, or another associate, Khallad bin Attash, has been identified in the photos. He also does not say why the photos were taken. Author Lawrence Wright will later say the photos are passed because Wilshire wants to know what the FBI knows. The CIA says it thinks the photos may show Fahad al-Quso, an al-Qaeda operative involved in the USS Cole bombing. Corsi understands that the photos are “not formally passed” to the FBI, but are only for limited use at a forthcoming meeting. Therefore, only limited information about them is provided at the meeting, causing a disagreement (see June 11, 2001). However, Wilshire will later say that Corsi could give the photos to the FBI, but the FBI could not then give them to a foreign government (note: the photos had been provided to a foreign government five months previously, so this restriction is meaningless). [US Department of Justice, 11/2004, pp. 286-7, 293-4 pdf file; New Yorker, 7/10/2006 pdf file] Other pictures of the summit are available to the CIA, and there is even video footage (see February 2000 and Mid-May 2001), but these are not shared with the FBI or widely discussed.

End Part I