The New York Observer delivers a story that speculates on the role a closeted gay Iraqi airline employee with ties to Al Qaeda might have played in the run-up to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Reporter Aram Roston asks whether the CIA pursued Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, described as "tall as a mushroom, fat and gay," at the expense of sharing critical information with the FBI.
"The development is intriguing in part because the informant they were after was thought to be secretly gay -- a fact that gave intelligence agents leverage in their efforts to turn him against his conservative Islamist circle. But the case may also help answer one of the long-standing mysteries of the 9/11 narrative: why a terrorist known to one part of the U.S. government wasn't captured by other parts before he boarded a plane and helped carry out the most devastating attacks on the country.
Intelligence officials tell The Observer that the character at the center of the intrigue was an enigmatic but jovial man named Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, or "Shakir el Iraqi." "He was tall as a mushroom, fat and gay," one source familiar with the case told The Observer, "and the idea was to exploit him as an agent against Al Qaeda."
The C.I.A.'s pursuit of Mr. Shakir, and the role he could have played in stopping, or at least complicating, the 9/11 plot, is a story that's never been told, adding yet another piece in the puzzle leading up to the attacks."