We continue from Part 3, where we saw how the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis was becoming suspicious of a French citizen named Moussaoui.
Moussaoui was trying to learn how to fly a 747, even though he had no aviation background. Paying for his simulator time with thousands of dollars in cash, his activities aroused the suspicions of his instructors; when the FBI heard about it, Special Agent Harry Samit described the activity, writing in his email: "That's pretty ominous and obviously suggests some sort of hijacking plan."
Information was requested from the French government, and within a week it had been received.
Samit now knew that Moussaoui had been connected to terrorists fighting in Chechnya.
Coleen Rowley, who years later wrote some fairly stinging criticism of how this situation was handled by FBI Headquarters, recommended that, even though a criminal search warrant seemed justified, they seek another type of warrant that should be easier to get.
So, the Minneapolis Field Office sent out a priority communication stating that it believed that Moussaoui was "in the U.S. in preparation for an act of international terrorism".
"Minneapolis opines that Moussaoui and Al Attas were, at the time of their arrest, involved in preparing for a terrorist attack involving a Boeing 747-400 aircraft at the direction of an as yet unknown international radical Islamic fundamentalist group."
Moussaoui was arrested for overstaying his visa, with the goal of his arrest to delay his training on 747-type aircraft; he was being held by the INS pending deportation.
His explanations regarding his reasons for wanting to learn to fly a 747 and his funding of his studies had been unconvincing. "Moussaoui was likewise unable to convincingly explain a trip to Pakistan lasting from December 2000 until February 2001".
The Minneapolis office was requesting a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant, "on an emergency basis", to search Moussaoui's personal property. "Minneapolis wishes to emphasize the urgency of this matter in reminding recipients that Moussaoui is in INS custody pending deportation. Further, it is not yet known how far advanced Moussaoui's plan is or how many unidentified coconspirators exist."
Given Moussaoui's ties to Islamic terrorists in Chechnya, and his trip to Pakistan several months previously, a connection to a foreign power -- Al Qaeda, a well-known thorn in the side of the United States -- was obvious. The FISA warrant had to be granted... or so one would assume.