New Jersey-born John Patrick O’Neil grew up as a child watching crime shows. His favorite show was a television drama called FBI, which dramatized the FBI’s actual case files. John, after graduating from high school, went to college in Washington in 1971. While there, he got a job as a fingerprint clerk at the FBI headquarters in Washington. In 1973 he obtained a BA in Administration of Justice from The American University and later an MA in forensic medicine. Known to friends and colleagues as a ‘perfectionist’ and always ‘top of his class’, his dream was to work for the FBI and that dream came true in 1976 when he was hired as an agent for what he believed to be the best investigator. . agency in the world, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
For the next 15 years, O’Neil made his way investigating organized crime, white collar crime, and later while at the FBI’s Washington office on counterintelligence. Brilliant, smart, ambitious and tenacious, everyone who worked with him said he was ‘the best’. He was “one of a kind”, nonconformist was the term often associated with him. Handsome, beautifully dressed with very expensive tastes, although much loved and admired, there were those less talented than him and those who had things to hide who felt threatened by John O’Neil.
Due to his professional success, in 1991 O’Neil was promoted and transferred to the FBI field office in Chicago, where he was assigned the important role of Assistant Special Agent in Charge. He also worked to promote interagency cooperation and improve ties and bureaucracy between the FBI and local police. A task that some found counterproductive and “irritating.” He was later known as one of the ‘leading American experts on counterterrorism’, eventually becoming the deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation until the end of 2001.
O’Neil’s connection to 9/11 really began in 1993, after he was directly involved with the capture of Ramzi Yousef, the leader of the first WTC bomb plot. O’Neil went on to investigate the 1996 Khobar Towers bombings in Saudi Arabia. While investigating the Saudi bombings, he became frustrated by the lack of Saudi cooperation and complained to then-FBI Director Lois Freeh that the Saudis were ‘fuming up his ass’, which he did not take lightly and It wasn’t meant to be Not only was O’Neil a brilliant agent with real balls, he couldn’t be bought. His experience with Islamic militants, Middle Eastern cells and counterintelligence was superior to that of many other high-level counterintelligence agents and it was because of this that he later became the subject of a front-line documentary ‘The Man Who Knew’.
In 1997 he was transferred to the New York office, where he was one of the main agents in charge of the fight against terrorism and national security. In 1998, two US embassies were bombed in rapid succession, one in Nairobi, Kenya, and the other in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. O’Neil immediately raised his hand to say that he was willing to participate in the investigation, as he had vast knowledge of Islamic militants. However, the people high up in Washington were beginning to tire of O’Neil’s successes and the ways to obtain information, and one has to wonder why? O’Neil was excluded from the embassy bombing investigation and, instead, inferior and much less informed agents with no experience in the region were dispatched to ‘collect clues’. O’Neil was infuriated by this as he felt he could speed up the process. investigation but to no avail.
In 2000, the investigations again took him to the Arab world and Yemen, where he was sent to investigate the attack on the USS Cole.
His travels to Yemen in the late 1990s had opened up vital new sources of information for him and it was in Yemen that O’Neil made many important underworld Arab connections that began to provide him with vital information, not just on the dynamics of the Islamic Militant. cells, but with whom were those cells connected and funded. O’Neil kept his sources close to his chest because he knew that even the best agencies had insiders.
Upon his arrival in Yemen in 2000, O’Neil complained of his team’s “lack of security” surrounding his investigation into the USS Cole bombings. The ambassador did not like O’Neil and was stingy with his style and approach. She was possessive about what she felt was her territory and created obstacles to O’Neil’s modus operandi. After the first month of investigation, O’Neil returned to the United States with new information and 30 pounds less. His friends said they noticed O’Neil was “worried”, “worried”, “nervous”, certainly not as usual. They believed that he had received information from his contacts that was related to the CIA. Whatever O’Neil learned, it was certainly something “significant.” A few weeks later, O’Neil told his superiors that he needed to return to Yemen to complete his investigation. Barbara Bodine and others in Washington blocked her return and refused to authorize the necessary permits to travel to the Yemen region.
Bodine was later quoted as saying;
“There is too much talk about whether John O’Neill is in Yemen or not,” “John O’Neill did not discover Al Qaeda. He did not discover Osama bin Laden. So the idea that John or his people or the FBI was Somehow forbidden to do his work is an insult to the US government, which was working in Al Qaeda before John showed up. This is all my embassy did for ten months. The fact that not all what John O’Neill asked was appropriate or possible does not mean we did not support the investigation. “
It was at this point that things started to get confusing. O’Neil was accused of losing a briefcase of highly classified documents at an FBI conference when he emerged from a room with more than 350 FBI agents to listen to a misconnected cell phone call. When he returned minutes later, the case was gone. Oddly enough, the briefcase ‘appeared’ a few hours later with nothing missing or even touched. The forensic analysis proved it, as the papers were so sensitive that they were subjected to tests. One has to wonder, how could a briefcase be ‘stolen’ in the midst of 350 FBI agents? Oh, one may think; It must have been a mistake, the wrong bag was picked up by the wrong person, but if that was the case, why was the bag returned anonymously? Why didn’t anyone confess to taking the bag if it was a genuine mistake? He was later accused of being ‘negligent’ after losing a cell phone and a Palm. Or Neil said that he never ‘lost’ anything and that if something was lost, it was taken by people who knew it was there.
He was then subjected to a series of internal FBI investigations. O’Neil’s colleagues came to his defense, suggesting that he was the victim of a “high-level smear campaign” and that he had “worried” people about what he had learned while in Yemen. Eventually, O’Neil was forced to resign from the FBI after his superiors constantly harassed him and eluded O’Neil when he should have been promoted. O’Neil knew that his career with the FBI had reached a dead end. But as he contemplated his departure from the FBI, Jerome Hauer pursued him.
Hauer was a national security advisor to the Dept. of Health and Human Services and also the managing director of Kroll Associates, a company that specializes in security and terrorism prevention. Hauer had a strong background in counterterrorism and specialized knowledge of biological warfare.
Hauer had previously been employed by his friend, Mayor Giuliani, from 1996 to 2000, as director of the Office of Emergency Management. Hauer came up with a job for O’Neil. Hauer told O’Neil that his ‘client’ Larry Silverstein wanted him to be Head of Security at the WTC, this was now late August 2001. O’Neil liked the offer, which was generous, US $ 350,000 PA plus benefits. , but O’Neil wanted a few days off before starting his new job. They told him Silverstein wanted him “in the office by September 11.” So September 11 was going to be John O’Neil’s first day on the job at the WTC. Others have since said that O’Neil started his job on August 26, 2001, but that’s when he was hired. Confirmation of your start date can be heard in an interview with New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik;
“That Tuesday was his first or second day on the job,” (Kerik in an interview with CNN’s Larry King Live).
Both of Larry’s sons, directors of the Silverstein estates, were miraculously late for work on September 11. Larry used to eat breakfast every morning at the WTC, although not that day, Larry was miraculously lucky enough to have canceled the morning business meetings in favor of a last minute appointment with a dermatologist and therefore none of the Members of the Silverstein family died in the collapse. that day, even though the three of them should have been at their desks. Larry’s most recent employee, former FBI counterintelligence agent John O’Neil, was not so lucky.
Of the 2,780 WTC victims, only 12 physically intact bodies were found, John O’Neil was one of those rare 12 bodies that were identifiable with the naked eye. John’s body was found at the foot of a staircase in the south tower on September 22, where he had allegedly been for 11 days, Jerome Hauer formally identified him.