CROSS FERTILIZATION

How Al Qaeda Met the Mob

What do you get for uncovering terrorist plots in the U.S.? A cease-and-desist order, according to journalist Peter Lance, who claims his discovery of an al Qaeda-Mafia connection earned him undue litigious attention from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. In a sprawling first-person account punctuated with scanned letters, records, and documents, Lance argues that Fitzgerald—the prosecutorial golden boy who nabbed Rod Blagojevich and was once a People Magazine “Sexiest Man Alive”—is accountable for a series of decisions that culminated in a dangerous friendship between terrorist Ramzi Yousef (who contributed to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and 9/11) and mobster-turned-informant Gregory Scarpa Jr. Yousef and Scarpa occupied adjacent jail cells and, over the course of elevent months, passed handwritten notes including one step-by-step instruction sheet entitled “How to Smuggle Explosives Into an Airplane.” (Who knew terrorists were so user-friendly? And had such curly handwriting?) Lance says Fitzgerald bungled the handling of a world-endangering terrorist who drew bomb diagrams in his free time, and is now mishandling free speech; Fitzgerald says Lance is defamatory. Describing a terrorist cell in New Jersey, Lance says "In the face of the evidence, you have to ask whether the feds could have interdicted the 9/11 plot if they’d devoted half the surveillance time they’d put in on John Gotti to ... 'the Jersey jihad office.'"