Trail of Terror

Never before broadcast tapes of how arms merchants who may have links to terrorism are buying arsenals of weapons, even components for nuclear bombs

by Chris Hansen and Ann Curry
Dateline NBC
August 2, 2002

Announcer: And now Trail of Terror, a DATELINE Investigation. Here is Stone Phillips.

STONE PHILLIPS: Passenger jets full of people and fuel were the weapons of choice last September 11th. But the terrorists targeting America have other weapons in mind, as you're about to see. Tonight, Chris Hansen has the results of a nine-month DATELINE Investigation. You will hear on tapes, never before broadcast, how arms merchants who may be linked to terrorists are trying to buy an arsenal of weapons, even components for a nuclear bomb. It begins with an unlikely source, a player in a game he knew little about. His story reminds us all of what we're up against and how vigilant we must be.

Mr. RANDY GLASS: I was never involved in any violent activities. I basically was a con man. CHRIS HANSEN reporting: (Voiceover) His name is Randy Glass. He's a former con man who ended up in the middle of an international terrorist arms deal. Tonight, for the first time, you'll listen in on his undercover conversations. You'll hear the voices of people operating here in the United States, people who appear to support the network of terror.

(Randy Glass driving in convertible; Glass and Chris Hansen listening to tapes; Glass)

Mr. DIAA MOHSEN: (From tape) Do you know who supplies them with money?

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Who?

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) Osama bin laden.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) They talk about buying all kinds of weapons.

(Audio cassette player)

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) What is that?

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) One of the components for a nuclear weapon.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And it's no laughing matter.

(Glass and Hansen)

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) I kill him. I'll kill you.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) It's a rare opportunity, an exclusive look inside an ongoing investigation targeting the terror supporters among us. The story begins with Randy Glass, a man who admits he was a thief, a con man.

(People walking down street; Glass; Glass and Hansen)

Mr. GLASS: I gained people's trust. And they felt comfortable giving me their merchandise. If I couldn't talk you out of it, you got to keep it.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Glass says he grew up in a broken family in Baltimore and quit school at the age of 15. He hit the streets, where he learned to do whatever it took to make a living. He had plenty of scrapes with the law, at least nine arrests, and even did a little time in prison. He says he found his greatest success working scams in the jewelry business, especially in New York's diamond district@. Did you ever con anybody on this street?

(Glass; jail cell being opened; people walking down street; Glass)

Mr. GLASS: Yes, I have.

HANSEN: Big cons?

Mr. GLASS: Yes.

HANSEN: Millions of dollars?

Mr. GLASS: Yes.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Glass would win the confidence of unwitting wholesalers, who would lend him diamonds on credit. And when they would come looking for their money?

(Diamond; Glass looking at diamond)

Mr. GLASS: Well, usually I would make up a story that...


Mr. GLASS: ...that I got robbed. That I gave the diamonds to other people on credit, they hadn't paid me. I would lie.

HANSEN: And how long could you run this out?

Mr. GLASS: Months, over a period of years, until finally they either sued me or basically gave up.

Mr. JOSEPH MAMANNE: Randy was very smooth.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Joseph Mamanne@, a jeweler in Los Angeles, says he did diamond deals with Randy Glass for years, and Glass always paid him on time. But then came the sting, and Glass stuck him for more than $1 million.

(Joseph Mammane; money)

Mr. MAMANNE: We were very good friends. And here I am a few years later, find out that he set me up I guess, step by step.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And yet even now, Randy Glass still has plenty of friends in the business. We asked him to show us how easy it is for him to borrow diamonds on good faith. All it took was a few minutes with a jeweler he knew. So you got the goods?

(Diamond rings; Glass and Hansen; Hansen)

Mr. GLASS: Yeah, all you have to do is sign a piece of paper, and you get whatever I do, I get whatever I ask for.

HANSEN: Those are diamonds.

Mr. GLASS: Yes.

HANSEN: Big diamonds.

Mr. GLASS: Well, two of them are large, yes, and two of them...

HANSEN: How many carats are those?

Mr. GLASS: These are--I have to check the papers--over five carats each.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Only a few years ago, Randy Glass seemed to have it all: a big home, luxury cars, a lavish lifestyle in ritzy Boca Raton, Florida.

(Photo of Glass; house; photos of Glass)

Mr. GLASS: I never left the house without a few thousand dollars in my pocket.

HANSEN: Life was sweet?

Mr. GLASS: Life was chaotic. I was addicted to chaos.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Eventually government investigators got wind of the chaos he was causing and charged Glass with a scheme to defraud his victims in the diamond business, federal charges that prosecutors said could send him to prison for 10 years. But while Glass was out on bond awaiting trial, he received a call that would change his life forever, one that would launch him into a whole different career. Randy Glass, now facing criminal charges, was contacted by a man who said he wanted to do a jewelry deal.

(Diamonds; court papers; computers; telephone)

Mr. GLASS: He invited me to lunch, told me he liked the way I handled myself and that jewelry wasn't the only thing that he dealt in. Would I be interested in doing any other type of deals? So we discussed a variety of different deals, and eventually he brought up the subject of arms.


Mr. GLASS: Yes.

HANSEN: As in weapons?

Mr. GLASS: Correct.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) It was late fall 1998, and Randy Glass, con man, was about to become a secret agent, a soldier in the war on terrorism. A war that had been escalating ever since the previous summer, when operatives of Osama bin Laden bombed US embassies in Africa. Glass, a man who spent his life ducking the law, decided to use his skills as a scam artist to help the government go after the bad guys. He agreed to work undercover. He says he did it because it was the right thing to do, though also it could eventually land him a reduced prison sentence. From the start, he was eager to impress his government handlers with all the evidence he could gather.

(Glass driving in car; war footage; Glass; diamonds; Glass)

Mr. GLASS: They couldn't believe what they heard. It was, it--it sounded like it was out of a movie.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And it was all on tape.


Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) He is the buyer for the nuclear weapon materials.


Announcer: We now continue with Trail of Terror.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) It was the fall of 1998. Only a few months earlier, two US embassies in Africa had been bombed by terrorists, and Osama bin Laden had become enemy number one. Back in the US, Randy Glass, diamond thief, was now working undercover for the government to expose illegal weapons deals. In the presence of a federal agent, Glass agreed to make some phone calls, one to a business contact who once casually asked Glass about buying weapons. He was an American citizen born in Egypt who moved to New Jersey about 30 years ago. His name? Diaa Mohsen, Di for short.

(Bombing footage; Osama bin Laden; Glass; house; Glass on phone; photo of Diaa Mohsen; business card)

HANSEN: So you call up Diaa Mohsen in Jersey City.

Mr. GLASS: Uh-huh, correct.

HANSEN: In front of this federal agent...

Mr. GLASS: Absolutely.

HANSEN: And you say what?

Mr. GLASS: I said to him, 'Di, I have an opportunity and a situation here. Are you interested?' He said, 'I'll be on the next plane.'

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Federal agents were about to hit pay dirt. It was the beginning of a 2 1/2-year investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the FBI, with help from US Customs. And so Randy Glass picked up his contact at the Fort Lauderdale airport in a car the Feds had wired for sound. It was December 1998. The tapes you are about to hear have never been broadcast before. The government is aware DATELINE has obtained them. At first, Glass admits he's new to the game, but says he's got the right connections.

(Palm tree; air traffic control tower, airplane; logo for Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; J. Edgar Hoover FBI building; car driving down freeway; cassette tapes; cars on freeway)

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) I never dealt with this stuff like this before, OK? So understand, all right, I'm a little nervous, because I mean, after all, it's--it's so--it's so illegal.

The cover story was that I had people that were stealing these military weapons.

HANSEN: From the US military.

Mr. GLASS: Correct, from the US military.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Glass's contact, Diaa Mohsen, implies he represents men of Arab descent and suggests they need to be discreet.

(Photo of Mohsen and Glass)

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) You have to be very, very, very, very careful, especially right now. I'm telling you, because they've been watching quite carefully.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Mohsen says Arab immigrants like him are being watched carefully because the government is looking for any possible connection to terrorists.

(People carrying grocery bags)

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) They want this guy Osama bin Laden big time.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And what kind of weapons does he say his contacts want? Stinger missiles, for one, and more.

(Men using Stinger missiles)

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) They use rocket grenades. They have howitzer. They have like 120-millimeter howitzer.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) What is that? That's like a--what's a howitzer? A cannon?

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) Cannon. Artillery.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Artillery. It's like artillery like in the movies.

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) Yeah.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Oh, Di. This is a new world for me.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And then Glass's contact tells him where the potential customers can be found.

(Photo of Mohsen and Glass)

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) I'll take you to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Finally, he confirms just what kind of people he's dealing with.

(Footage of terrorist training camp)

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) You know these (word censored by station) people, they are terrorists.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) So these are terrorists?

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) Sure.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) That's wonderful.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And what else do the terrorists want? 'Special technology,' he says, 'for the deadliest of weapons.'

(Footage of terrorist training camp)

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) What is that?

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) One of the components for a nuclear weapon.

HANSEN: You had to be blown away.

Mr. GLASS: Yeah. I was. I--I absolutely--but I went right with it.

HANSEN: I mean, we're not talking about, you know, a trunk full of assault rifles here.

Mr. GLASS: Right.

HANSEN: Nuclear triggers, Stinger missiles, surface-to-air missiles.

Mr. GLASS: Right. I just went right with it.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) By now, Glass says, he began to wonder whether Mohsen was just blowing smoke, whether he just liked to talk big. So he put Mohsen to the test.

(Glass walking on beach)

Mr. GLASS: And I say to him, 'Let me ask you a question. How do you travel to all of these places without coming up on the radar screen of the CIA or other intelligence agencies in the world? It doesn't--this doesn't make sense to me.' At that point, he told me he travels under different passports.

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) You know, I have a special passport I travel with.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) What do you mean, a special passport?

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) I have a passport. I enter any (word censored by station) country and be protected.

Mr. GLASS: So right away I picked up on that. And I say, 'Well, wait a second, you can get different passports that you can travel to other countries?' He said, 'Sure, do you need one?' I said...

HANSEN: 'Why, yes!'

Mr. GLASS: 'Yes. Can you get me one?'

HANSEN: (Voiceover) The federal government has long known that terrorists travel undetected using fake identities, backed up by real passports they obtain illegally. Could Di Mohsen really get one? He could if he was for real. And sure enough, a few weeks later, Randy Glass got a package in the mail, a Venezuelan passport with his photo. Was it legit?

(Security checking passports; Venezuela passport; Glass)

Mr. GLASS: Yes, it was, it was an actual.

HANSEN: A legitimate Venezuelan passport?

Mr. GLASS: Complete with an exit stamp, as if I had been in Venezuela and had left.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And the fake name Glass chose? Of all names, Robert Blake.

(Venezuelan passport)

HANSEN: If you had wanted to, you could have taken this passport and traveled around the world.

Mr. GLASS: That's correct.

HANSEN: As Robert Blake from Venezuela.

Mr. GLASS: That's correct.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Apparently, the man from Jersey City, Di Mohsen, was for real.

(Photo of Mohsen and Glass)

HANSEN: So he just wasn't some two-bit guy from Jersey City?

Mr. GLASS: That's--that's right.

HANSEN: He was connected.

Mr. GLASS: Absolutely.

HANSEN: Now that Diaa Mohsen had shown he could come through, it was time for Randy Glass to do the same. Before Mohsen traveled to the Mideast, he wanted proof Glass could actually deliver weapons. A meeting was set up here in a van here, in this hotel parking lot in New Jersey. It was January 21st, 1999. Glass and the undercover federal agents posing as his associates showed Diaa Mohsen a Stinger missile. He asked them to snap a photo of him posing with the missile. It was all he needed. With photo in hand, Mohsen went off to Egypt, to prove to weapons buyers that Randy Glass was the right guy to make a deal with.

(Voiceover) In short order, he arranged for a couple of prospective buyers to travel from Egypt to Florida to meet Randy Glass in person. By now you may be saying to yourself, 'Can all this be for real? Can Randy Glass be for real? And is he telling the truth?' This man says he is. He's Dick Stoltz, a decorated agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He was asked to play the role of one of Randy Glass' arms suppliers. And he confirmed that Randy Glass is for real.

(People walking in airport; Glass working on computer; Dick Stoltz)

Mr. DICK STOLTZ: He was remarkable. I thought his courage was remarkable. He went way beyond what--what most people that cooperate with the government.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Stoltz, who recently retired from the ATF, says that when the prospective arms buyers showed up in Florida, Glass brought them to his home in a gated community, a setting that was perfect.

(Stoltz; photo of Glass; house)

Mr. STOLTZ: It would be very difficult for the government to try to duplicate an undercover prop like that. There would be maids there in Randy's house and dogs, and he'd introduce them to his wife and his son and...

HANSEN: Sort of like the Osbournes, only they didn't know they were being taped.

Mr. STOLTZ: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) On the tapes, you can hear that one minute Glass is talking arms deals, while the next...


Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Hey, what's hold--hold--hold on one sec. Honey, the dog peed.

Mr. STOLTZ: It really legitimized the undercover op because these people drive in and they see, here's a--here's a--here's a man with a home, and the neighbors are saying, 'Hello, Randy.' And they bought off on the whole package right away.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) His very first visitors sure bought the package. They were a couple of Egyptian businessmen who claimed to have ties to Islamic militant groups known to be connected to bin Laden. Glass and Stoltz took the Egyptians to what they said was an illegal arms showroom, but in fact it was a government undercover warehouse stocked with the real thing, including surface-to-air missiles and an array of weapons.

(Photo of Glass; apartments; weapons)

Mr. STOLTZ: (Voiceover) We showed them some 16s, M-60s, anti-tank weapons. Other--other small arms explosives, C4, plastic explosives.

(Photos of Glass holding weapons)

Mr. STOLTZ: They liked all of it, they wanted all of it, and they said that they wished they had stumbled onto us before.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) On the undercover tapes, it's clear that above all else, the deal depends on Stinger missiles.

(Cassette tapes)

Offscreen Voice: (From tape) You must have the stingers for only one reason. You won't take your money if you don't have stingers.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) The Egyptian arms buyers seemed friendly enough when they posed for pictures, but they then warned Stoltz:

(Photo of man holding weapon)

Mr. STOLTZ: 'If anything goes wrong in this deal, people will die.'

HANSEN: People will die.

Mr. STOLTZ: That's correct.

HANSEN: (VO) Ultimately, though, they never concluded a deal. But Di Mohsen, Randy Glass's contact from Jersey City, said he had another buyer in mind. And who did he do business with?

(Photo of man holding weapon; photo of Glass)

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) He is very connected to the Taliban. Do you know who supplies them with money?

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Who?

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) Osama bin Laden.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) That's very nice.

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) Yeah.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Well, thanks for mentioning that.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Randy Glass was about to be introduced to many others who were interested in buying his weapons. As you'll soon learn, some of them have been living and working here in the US for decades.

(Photo of Glass holding weapon)

HANSEN: (From video) Hi, how are you? Mr. Malik?

Mr. MOHAMMED MALIK: (From video) Yes, sir.

HANSEN: (From video) Chris Hansen, with DATELINE NBC. How are you?


Announcer: Trail of Terror, tonight's DATELINE Investigation, will continue after this brief message.


Announcer: We now return to Trail of Terror, tonight's DATELINE Investigation.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Con-man-turned-undercover operative Randy Glass was infiltrating a terrorist arms-buying network, layer by layer, a network apparently operating here on US soil. Now, in July 1999, more than two years before 9/11, Glass's original contact from Jersey City, Diaa Mohsen, was putting him in touch with someone else, a man who Mohsen said had close ties to the Taliban.

(Photo of Glass holding weapon; people walking down street; street; photo of Glass; photo of Mohsen; war footage)

HANSEN: Did you know who the Taliban was at that time?

Mr. GLASS: I never even heard of them, and I misunderstood what he said.

Mr. DIAA MOHSEN: (From tape) The Taliban from Afghanistan.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Tari--wait, wait, wait. See, I'm not familiar with that stuff. What is it called, Tariban?

And almost comically, I responded with, 'the Tariban?'

HANSEN: The Tariban?

Mr. GLASS: The what?

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) Yeah. This is the group, they rule Afghanistan now.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Yeah.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Finally, it begins to sink in when Mohsen explains that the Taliban is connected to Osama bin Laden.

(War footage; bin Laden)

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) They're protecting this guy.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) OK. And you're telling me that these guys, that's who wants to buy.

Mr. MOHSEN: (From tape) Yeah.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Moments later, Randy Glass is on the phone with his new contact, another American citizen in Jersey City, Mohamed Malik. He's a small businessman who has owned a few convenience stores, a laundromat and a long distance phone card company. He's active in the community, even served on the Jersey City Zoning Board. He goes by the name of Mike.

(Photo of Glass; Mohamed Malik on phone)

Mr. MALIK: (From tape) Hello? Mr. Randy?

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Yes.

Mr. MALIK: (From tape) How do you do, sir?

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Hi, Mike, how are you?

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Mike explains just how quickly the people he represents want weapons.


Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Let me ask you, what the--they're ready to buy right now?

Mr. MALIK: (From tape) Everything, any time. Actually those people are interested, like, yesterday.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And he wants to make sure they're getting a good deal.

(Photo of Malik)

Mr. MALIK: (From tape) But one thing--can I ask one question?

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Yes, of course.

Mr. MALIK: (From tape) Is this competitive prices you're talking about?

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Oh, Mike, no one can beat my prices.

And I tell him, well when can someone come here from there? And he informs me at that time that one of the agents is already here.

HANSEN: And wants to meet with you?

Mr. GLASS: Correct. And this turns out to be a guy by the name of Abbas.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And Randy Glass was about to meet this Abbas character face-to-face. On July 22nd, 1999, Glass flew to New York for a meeting here at the trendy Tribeca Grill, partly owned by actor Robert De Niro. It was dinner for four, Glass, his first contact Diaa Mohsen, the Jersey City business man Mike Malik and the mystery man R.G. Abbas.

(Bridge; Tribeca Grill; Glass; photos of Mohsen; Malik and R.G. Abbas)

Mr. GLASS: I was sitting exactly right here.

HANSEN: Abbas is here.

Mr. GLASS: Abbas is sitting where you are. Malik is sitting to my left and Mohsen is sitting to my right.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Abbas gave Glass a business card, saying he worked for Malik's long distance phone card company. Glass was wearing a wire. Mixed in with the dinner crowd were agents from the FBI's Terrorism Task Force, in case anything went wrong. Glass says Abbas was all business.

(Business card; hidden camera footage; Glass and Hansen)

Mr. GLASS: Basically what he told me was that they were interested in purchasing a large amount of sophisticated weapons systems. And they wanted an actual shipload, not a small amount.

HANSEN: A shipload?

Mr. GLASS: Yes.

HANSEN: And who was Abbas representing in this transaction?

Mr. GLASS: Abbas was represented to me as being an ISI agent.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) ISI, that's the official intelligence agency, like the CIA, of Pakistan. And this is where the stakes really get high, because if Abbas was telling the truth, Randy Glass and the Feds were about to cut an illegal weapons deal with a Pakistani intelligence operative linked to terrorists. Even though the official Pakistani government and its president, Pervez Musharraf, are US allies, there are splinter groups in the Pakistani Intelligence Agency that are sympathetic to bin Laden and his cause. And Abbas seemed anything but a US ally.

(People riding motorcycles; photo of Abbas; war footage; President Pervez Musharraf with President Bush; photo of Abbas)

Mr. GLASS: He told me that Americans were the enemy. And he looked around the restaurant and he said, 'We would have no problem with blowing up this entire restaurant.'

HANSEN: 'We would have no problem blowing up this entire restaurant?'

Mr. GLASS: 'Because it's full of Americans.'

HANSEN: That's a chilling statement.

Mr. GLASS: Well, as a matter of fact, I had a chill that ran through my body because I looked into his eyes and I felt the seriousness of his intention.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Then in the middle of a crowded New York restaurant, Glass says the talk turned to something much more ominous, components for nuclear weapons, triggering devices and plutonium.

(Hidden camera footage; nuclear weapons)

Mr. GLASS: They inquired if it was available.

HANSEN: And you said?

Mr. GLASS: Yes.

HANSEN: And they responded?

Mr. GLASS: They were interested.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Dick Stoltz, the veteran undercover agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who worked the case confirmed Randy Glass' account.

(Stoltz on phone)

HANSEN: You had to realize that the people being talked about as customers for these weapons were the most wanted terrorists in the world.

Mr. STOLTZ: That's correct.

HANSEN: Bin Laden.

Mr. STOLTZ: Correct.

HANSEN: Did you think they were serious?

Mr. STOLTZ: Oh, absolutely.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) In fact, Stoltz says Randy Glass's dinner companions were checked out by US intelligence experts and found to have real connections.

(Names on computer screen)

Mr. STOLTZ: We did confirm through various sources that--that Abbas and Malik did have links to weapons trafficking groups and--and militant operations.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Those groups, law enforcement officials say, include Islamic militants fighting on the border between India and Pakistan, some of which have ties to bin Laden. A few weeks after the dinner at the Tribeca Grill, the arms brokers flew from New Jersey to Florida to see the weapons for sale, and there they met with undercover Agent Stoltz, posing as an arms supplier. Stoltz says that more than anything else, they wanted materials for nuclear weapons, especially a substance called heavy water, which is used to make weapons-grade plutonium. Sometimes, as on this tape, Abbas used a code name, referring to heavy water as "sweet water."

(War footage; plane taking off; photo of Stoltz; nuclear weapons; reel)

Mr. R.G. ABBAS: (From tape) And we hook up to the guys, which is the in Pakistan work for us.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Yeah, of course.

Mr. ABBAS: (From tape) So we say to him, 'Whatever you need, anything up to the, I mean, the sweet water,' you know?

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Yes.

Mr. STOLTZ: They would tell me, the people that I'm dealing with, they have to have the heavy water.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And unless they got it, Stoltz was told, the deal was off.


HANSEN: That was a deal breaker.

Mr. STOLTZ: That was a deal breaker. They were flexible maybe on military parts for airplanes or small arms or maybe even stingers, but they always came back to square one, heavy water.

HANSEN: For nuclear weapons.

Mr. STOLTZ: Correct.

HANSEN: And that wasn't all the arms dealers wanted. DATELINE has learned that Mike Malik gave the undercover agents a list of radioactive chemicals that could be used to make a so-called "dirty bomb," conventional explosives laced with radioactive materials. Bin Laden's terrorists are believed to have talked about detonating such a bomb in a major US city to spread toxic radiation.

(Voiceover) Malik and Abbas were so serious about closing a deal, Stoltz says, they went back to Pakistan to talk to their customers in person. Then, Stoltz says, Abbas informed him there was one more condition, he wanted to bring a Pakistani nuclear scientist to America who could inspect the nuclear materials that would be part of the deal.

(Airplane taking off; Pakistan; photo of Stoltz and Abbas; nuclear scientist)

HANSEN: And he told you the name of the scientist?

Mr. STOLTZ: He told me the name.

HANSEN: And did you check this out?

Mr. STOLTZ: Of course. It was passed up the line and it was confirmed that this person did exist, and that's what--what he did for the Pakistani government, that he was in the field of atomic weapons. He was a scientist.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) It was now October, 2000. The big news involving terrorism was the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. Negotiations between the agents and the arms buyers dragged on until December. Finally, there was an agreement, the buyers would pay $32 million over several years. The first shipments would be conventional weapons. Nuclear components would come later. A Florida bank account was set up to receive the $32 million wire transfer that was supposed to come from a bank in the Middle Eastern Emirate of Dubai. Federal agents waited six months, but the money never came.

(USS Cole; photos of weapons; money; weapons; bank; Dubai; money)

Mr. STOLTZ: And at that point, it was decided that--that we would--we would take the case down. We--we--we thought we had gone about as far as we could with it.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) In June of last year, the Feds moved in and arrested Randy Glass's original contact, Diaa Mohsen, and Mohamed "Mike" Malik. That was three months before 9/11. After 9/11, both men pled guilty to violating arms laws. But remarkably, even though they were apparently willing to supply America's enemies with sophisticated weapons, even nuclear weapons technology, Mohsen was sentenced to just 30 months in prison. And Malik? Mysteriously, his sentence remains under seal. And he appears to be a free man, as we saw recently when we visited him at his New Jersey convenience store.

(Mug shots of Mohsen and Malik; court papers; weapons; mug shot of Mohsen; convenience store)

HANSEN: (From video) Mr. Malik?

Mr. MALIK: (From video) Yes, sir.

HANSEN: (From video) Chris Hansen, with DATELINE NBC. How are you?

(Voiceover) At first he denied his role in the case.

(Malik in store)

HANSEN: (From video) We have a tape on which you and some other men talk about an arms deal.

Mr. MALIK: (From video) Yes.

HANSEN: (From video) With people who have suspected links to terrorists, including Osama bin Laden. And we need to know what was going on.

Mr. MALIK: (From video) I never had anything on that, number one. Number two, I'm not allowed to talk anything.

HANSEN: (From video) What do you mean you're not allowed to talk?

Mr. MALIK: (From video) I'm not--I'm not interested to talk about anything whichever, you know.

HANSEN: (From video) But we heard the tapes. You're on the tape talking about an arms deal.

Mr. MALIK: (From video) No, not me.

HANSEN: (From video) But you pleaded guilty in this case.

Mr. MALIK: (From video) Because I had to. I was in problem, so, you know...

HANSEN: (Voiceover) We asked him about his partner from Pakistan, a mysterious man named Abbas who apparently made no bones about wanting to kill Americans.

(Malik and Hansen in store; photo of Abbas)

HANSEN: (From video) Who is Mr. Abbas?

Mr. MALIK: (From video) That's not me. That's the guys in Pakistan.

HANSEN: (From video) But what's your relationship with Mr. Abbas?

Mr. MALIK: (From video) Nothing.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Nothing? That's not quite the truth. New Jersey corporate records show the two men were both directors of the same long distance phone card business.

(Malik in store; papers)

HANSEN: (From video) Mr. Abbas is with the ISI, Pakistani intelligence?

Mr. MALIK: (From video) No, I don't know. I have no idea, no clue. I'm sorry about it.

HANSEN: (From video) Abbas...

Mr. MALIK: (From video) Like I said, I'm not interested.

HANSEN: (From video) ...made comments about killing Americans, about wanting to get weapons for the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

Mr. MALIK: (From video) Then go there and talk to him.

HANSEN: (From video) Where is Mr. Abbas now?

Mr. MALIK: (From video) I don't know.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Pakistan?

Mr. MALIK: (From video) I don't know.

HANSEN: (From video) Does he have links to terrorist groups?

Mr. MALIK: (From video) I don't know.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Malik suggested that if we wanted answers, we should talk to his old friend and co-conspirator from Jersey City, Diaa Mohsen.

(Malik and Hansen in store)

Mr. MALIK: (From video) He's the man, major guy. He's in jail. He knows. You go to him, find out whatever you want to find out.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) We tried to find out more from Diaa Mohsen, who's now in federal prison in Pennsylvania, but he declined our request for an interview. Among the unanswered questions, with all the talk of Pakistan, Islamic militants and nuclear weapons, were Dick Stoltz and the other federal agents on the verge of cracking a huge conspiracy?

(Letter; war footage; nuclear weapons)

HANSEN: If you were really an arms dealer who really had plutonium, nuclear triggering devices, and if that $32 million really did make it to the US, do you think bin Laden, al-Qaeda, the Taliban would have the potential for nuclear weapons today, some sort of nuclear device?

Mr. STOLTZ: I think it's highly likely, because these people were connected.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And Stoltz says he's surprised that all the evidence and intelligence the case generated wasn't pursued more aggressively at the highest levels of law enforcement in Washington.

(J. Edgar Hoover FBI building)

Mr. STOLTZ: Quite frankly, I was always wondering when maybe the case would be taken away from ATF.

HANSEN: So you thought that you were onto something so big that ultimately FBI, perhaps CIA might take over?

Mr. STOLTZ: Oh, FBI at the minimum.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Could it be that serious leads from this case have been overlooked by authorities? William Wechsler@, at the time one of President Clinton's top counterterrorism advisers, says he, too, is puzzled that law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Washington apparently didn't make this case more of a priority.

(Reel; photo of William Wechsler@ with President Clinton)

Mr. WILLIAM WECHSLER: Any time you have an individual who is talking about getting serious weapons, getting weapons of mass destruction, especially in the United States, you have to take that exceedingly seriously. And you have to take action immediately.

HANSEN: Based upon what you know about this case, did federal investigators go far enough?

Mr. WECHSLER: Based on what I've been told about this case, federal investigators certainly did not go far enough. Certainly not quickly enough.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Where else might this case have led investigators? Are there still people out there with possible links to this investigation who could or should be under government scrutiny?

(Sidewalk; hidden camera footage)

HANSEN: (From video) Dr. el Amir? Chris Hansen with DATELINE NBC, how are you?

Dr. MAGDY EL AMIR: (From video) How are you today?

HANSEN: (From video) How's everything going?


Announcer: Coming up on DATELINE Sunday, you watched him charge to victory in the Tour de France. Now watch him set a difference course. Getting candid about his life.

ANN CURRY reporting: Before cancer you described yourself as, quote, "A kid with four chips on your shoulder."

Mr. LANCE ARMSTRONG: I didn't count them but there were a few.

Announcer: Ann Curry catches up with Lance Armstrong.

Mr. ARMSTRONG: I don't think you get many comebacks in life.

Announcer: It is not about the bike.

And next, this shouldn't be news to the US government, but it appears some of it is.

HANSEN: You seem angry over this.

Representative BEN GILMAN: I'm very angry about it.

Announcer: Has DATELINE learned something the Feds should already know? When Trail of Terror continues.


Announcer: And now, the conclusion to Trail of Terror.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) We've heard people on tape trying to supply terror groups with sophisticated weapons caught in a government sting operation last year. But only one of them is in jail. Since then, the government has definitely stepped up its investigations of people who may be willing to do business with terrorists. But have some of them ducked the government's radar? Who else might be out there? Last fall, DATELINE obtained information about this man, Magdy el Amir. He's a prominent doctor, a neurologist with a practice in Jersey City. Born and educated in Egypt, he moved to this country about 20 years ago and since then has built a fortune. He lives in this mansion, is generous to local charities and is an active supporter of both political parties. Should counterterrorism investigators take an interest in Dr. el Amir? Well, take a look at this document obtained by DATELINE last fall. A foreign intelligence report that makes a startling allegation about the doctor, that he has had financial ties with Osama bin Laden for years. The report was given to a senior member of Congress, Ben Gilman@, back in 1998 when he was chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

(Cassette tapes; mug shot of Mohsen; building; newspaper headlines; sidewalk; Magdy el Amir; mansion; Magdy; document; Representative Ben Gilman in Congress)

Rep. GILMAN: We have a former FBI person on our staff, and I asked him to look it over. He thought it was credible enough to turn it over to the intelligence people. And we turned it over to the FBI practically immediately.

HANSEN: And this was 1998?

Rep. GILMAN: 1998.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) The report alleges that an HMO owned by Dr. el Amir in New Jersey was "funded by Ben Laden," and that in turn Dr. el Amir was skimming money from the HMO to fund "terrorist activities."


HANSEN: To be fair here, though, this can be considered as--as raw intelligence.

Rep. GILMAN: Yeah.

HANSEN: And as we both know sometimes, raw intelligence isn't always accurate.

Rep. GILMAN: Yes.

HANSEN: Is it possible that somebody has a vendetta against the people named in this report for political or other reason?

Rep. GILMAN: Of course. That's always possible. But in like manner, it's important that you pursue it. And make certain that, is there any veracity to it? Is there any substance to it? Is it a credible report or isn't it?

HANSEN: Has the FBI answered those questions? Not to Congressman Gilman's satisfaction. But what DATELINE found intriguing is that less than a year after the congressman says the FBI received the report, Dr. el Amir's HMO was taken over by the state of New Jersey, which opened a fraud investigation. Why? Because, according to sources close to the investigation, more than $15 million is unaccounted for. Where did the money go? DATELINE has reviewed documents that show at least some of it went into hard-to-trace offshore bank accounts.

(Voiceover) Does that mean any of the missing money went, as the intelligence report suggests, to fund terrorist activities? We don't know.


HANSEN: (From video) Dr. el Amir.

Dr. EL AMIR: (From video) Hey.

HANSEN: (From video) Chris Hansen with DATELINE NBC. How are you?

(Voiceover) We caught up with Dr. el Amir recently outside his office. He said he couldn't talk about his HMO and the missing money. But he had this to say about allegations he's connected to bin Laden and terrorism.

Dr. EL AMIR: (From video) That's preposterous. Never.

HANSEN: (From video) Why would somebody say something like that about you?

Dr. EL AMIR: (From video) I have no idea. I have no idea.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) But the intelligence report suggests one thing that he doesn't deny, that he has donated money to the mosque where the blind sheik once preached, Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is now in prison for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

(Omar Abdel-Rahman)

Dr. EL AMIR: (From video) Wait, it does not make you, per se, OK, a supporter of a terrorist group, you know.

HANSEN: (From video) So you're saying that you may have gone to the mosque where Omar Abdel-Rahman was, you may have given money, but that doesn't make you a terrorist?

Dr. EL AMIR: (From video) It should not even be called linked. Linked to bad people. I mean, uh, you invent a good invention.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) DATELINE has found another reason why federal investigators might want to pay close attention to Dr. el Amir and his family. It's something we learned when we interviewed Randy Glass, the con man-turned-undercover operative who helped the government break up an illegal weapons ring allegedly tied to terrorist groups. It turns out that one of the people recorded trying to arrange an arms deal with Randy Glass was Dr. el Amir's own brother, Mohamed, an engineer, also a US citizen now living in Egypt. And just listen to what he was interested in.

(Magdy; Glass and Hansen; reel; photo of Mohamed el Amir)

Mr. MOHAMED EL AMIR: (From tape) Hello?

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Hi. Mohamed?

Mr. EL AMIR: (From tape) Hi.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Hi. This is Randy.

Mr. GLASS: There was a warehouse full of weapons in Italy that they needed shipped.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) It was the spring of 1999. Mohamed el Amir explains that he wants false papers that would identify a shipment of weapons as vegetables.

(Photo of Mohamed; telephone buttons)

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) But you're talking about, they--they--they're saying they want to ship vegetables, right? Is what they want--is what they want on the paperwork, correct?

Mr. EL AMIR: (From tape) Yep.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Then Randy Glass cuts to the chase.


Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Listen, my phone line is secure. And so I'm just going to talk very open with you, OK?

Mr. EL AMIR: (From tape) Yep.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) OK. They want to ship things like tanks, correct?

Mr. EL AMIR: (From tape) Uh-huh.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) OK. How--OK.

Mr. EL AMIR: (From tape) No, no, no, no, just ammunition, not tanks.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) So they just want to do, basically, small arms and ammunition, right?

Mr. EL AMIR: (From tape) Yes.

HANSEN: Did Mohamed give you any indication as to who was going to get these arms?

Mr. GLASS: Never got a chance to ask him.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Glass says federal agents told him to drop the matter.


HANSEN: So what happened to the case?

Mr. GLASS: Nothing.

HANSEN: There was no follow-up.

Mr. GLASS: No.

HANSEN: Was this a missed opportunity?

Mr. GLASS: One hundred percent.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And Randy Glass doesn't know the half of it, because that same intelligence report that talks about Dr. el Amir also names his brother Mohamed as having ties to Osama bin Laden.


HANSEN: (From video) Your brother Mohamed...

Dr. EL AMIR: (From tape) I have a brother Mohamed, yeah.

HANSEN: (From video) He has been heard on tape to be trying to put together a weapons deal.

Dr. EL AMIR: (From tape) I have no idea about these things. He is a legitimate person and has no ties to anybody. Has no...

HANSEN: (From tape) But, doctor, this is on tape. We've heard the tape.

Dr. EL AMIR: (From tape) Listen, is this him or me?

HANSEN: (From tape) Him.

Dr. EL AMIR: (From tape) Ask him.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) We reached Mohamed el Amir by phone in Cairo, and he recalled talking to Randy Glass.

(Photo of Mohamed)

Mr. EL AMIR: (From phone) I remember this conversation. Maybe this was about two, three years ago, but I've never dealt with arms.

HANSEN: (From phone) Well, what were you talking about on the tape then, Mr. el Amir?

(Voiceover) Then, even though we'd told him we were with DATELINE NBC, he asked us if we worked for someone else.


Mr. EL AMIR: (From phone) Well, are you from the FBI, sir?

HANSEN: (From phone) No, no, no. I'm a journalist. I'm a reporter with NBC News.

(Voiceover) In a later conversation, he still seemed to think we were with the FBI, and insisted he had no links to Islamic militant groups.

(Photo of Mohamed)

Mr. EL AMIR: (From phone) I hate them. I hate them. I hate them. Because they destroy the image of the Muslims.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) We also asked him about Diaa Mohsen, who tried to broker so many weapons deals with Randy Glass.

(Photo of Mohsen)

Mr. EL AMIR: (From phone) I know Diaa Mohsen, yes.

HANSEN: (From phone) And how do you know Mr. Mohsen?

Mr. EL AMIR: (From phone) He is a friend of the family.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) A friend, he says, of questionable character.

(Tape cassette)

Mr. EL AMIR: (From phone) He's a big, big, big loser. He talks too much.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) We also asked Mohamed el Amir's brother the doctor about Mohsen.

(From video) Do you know a man named Diaa Mohsen?

Dr. EL AMIR: (From video) Mohsen?

HANSEN: (Voiceover) First, Dr. el Amir says he doesn't know Diaa Mohsen, but later seems to change his tune, sort of.


HANSEN: (From video) Do you know Di Mohsen?

Dr. EL AMIR: (From video) Yeah, I know this name.

HANSEN: (From video) You know this guy.

Dr. EL AMIR: (From video) I know this name, yeah.

HANSEN: (From video) How do you know him?

Dr. EL AMIR: (From video) Well, he is a friend of somebody.

HANSEN: (From video) Did you know that he was in prison?

Dr. EL AMIR: (From video) I saw the Jersey paper and I hear something like that, but I have nothing to do with whatever he does.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Nothing? Well, not exactly. DATELINE has reviewed documents that show, in fact, Diaa Mohsen has been paid at least $5,000 by Dr. el Amir's companies.

(Photo of Mohsen; building)

HANSEN: (From video) There is information that this Diaa Mohsen has a connection to you and he pleaded guilty to trying to sell arms to people with links to terrorist groups, including Osama bin Laden.

Dr. EL AMIR: (From video) I have no idea about no terrorist, no connection to anything. I'm a doctor, I work. I have been working since all of my professional life. Life, from morning to night. I see patients. I invest the excess of my money in medical businesses, and that's all about me.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) We laid all this out for Congressman Ben Gilman, who received the original intelligence report about Dr. el Amir and his brother Mohamed. And we played him excerpts from the undercover tapes.

(Hansen with Gilman; cassettes)

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) All right, you're telling me that they want to ship things like tanks, correct? OK. OK...

Mr. EL AMIR: (From tape) No, no, no, no, just the ammunition, not tanks.

Mr. GLASS: (From tape) Just what?

Mr. EL AMIR: (From tape) Ammunition. Not tanks.

HANSEN: In 1998, the el Amirs are mentioned in this intelligence report...

Rep. GILMAN: Yes.

HANSEN: supporting Osama bin Laden. In 1999, Mohamed el Amir is caught on tape trying to do a weapons deal.

Rep. GILMAN: Is he still...


Rep. GILMAN: I'm going to personally pursue that and find out why.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) Congressman Gilman says he wants to know just what investigators have done with all this information.

(Gilman and Hansen)

Rep. GILMAN: Well, I'm going to be in touch with our intelligence people, our FBI and with the administration about all of this.

HANSEN: You seem angry over this.

Rep. GILMAN: I'm very angry at that. And the--we're talking about lives now. We're talking about what could occur in the future and what has occurred. And the president is urging us to be on the alert, to make certain that we're prepared for any further terrorist activities. And to have material like that laying around and not being pursued is appalling.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And he says he's surprised that DATELINE is the one to bring this to his attention.

(Hansen with Gilman)

Rep. GILMAN: If you could put it all together, where were our federal agencies? And that's what we're going to find out.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) ATF Agent Dick Stoltz, who worked the original undercover investigation with informant Randy Glass, says federal agents on the case were never given the intelligence information about the el Amirs that Congressman Gilman had passed on to the FBI. He says it's the type of lapse that, post-9/11, the government can no longer afford.


Mr. STOLTZ: It is neglect, and I will say, had ATF received the information, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind because I've had 32 years in investigations to say that--that this case would have taken a priority. It would have been pursued.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) For his part, Randy Glass says there's a lot more on those tapes, leads the government could pursue, people still out there only too happy to supply weapons to the network of terror.

(Casettes; Glass)

Mr. GLASS: Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, and Egypt. They all came here.

HANSEN: (Voiceover) And though he knows some people will always judge him by his con man past, Randy Glass hopes that this one time he did something right.

(Photos of Glass)

Mr. GLASS: I finally got to be the good guy that I always knew that I was.

JANE PAULEY: Because of his cooperation, Randy Glass was given a reduced prison term of seven months. He's now free. The FBI told us that aspects of the investigation are still under review. And earlier today, Chris Hansen reached R.G. Abbas on his cell phone. He says he's in Pakistan. He admits meeting with Randy Glass and the others, but denies he was ever part of a weapons deal.


Copyright 2002 National Broadcasting Co. Inc.

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