Retired agent John Anticev served in the FBI for 28 years. He was assigned to the FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorist Task Force (JTTF) in the New York Division.
In part one of this two-part episode, John reviews his investigation into the 1990 murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane by Egyptian Islamic radical, El Sayyid Nosair, and the operation of Emad Salem, an FBI confidential source who infiltrated an operational cell of Egyptian Islamic radicals.
He worked this case with his JTTF partner, NYPD Detective Louis Napoli.
The cell’s spiritual leader was Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the Blind Sheikh. Members of this group, including Ramzi Yousef, were later found to be responsible for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
After the 1993 WTC attack, John engaged his source, Emad Salem to penetrated a second operational terrorist cell preparing to attack the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the United Nations, 26 Federal Plaza and other New York City landmarks. This time, the case, known as TERRSTOP, resulted in the prevention of major attacks and identified links between the cell and a hostile intelligence service. Fourteen participants in the plot were convicted of seditious conspiracy, including Sheikh Rahman and El Sayyid Nosair.
John also discusses the stress and frustration he endured during the 6-year internal investigation into his and others handling of the source, Emad Salem, who, unknown to John, had recorded many of their conversations.
This case also identified Osama Bin Laden as a donor to Nosair’s defense fund which eventually led to opening a criminal investigation against Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. John was the team leader for the initial response to the August 7, 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. He interrogated the surviving “suicide” bomber and was able to obtain the satellite phone number he called, which was traced to an Al Qaeda safe house in Yemen that was used by Osama Bin Laden.
John later interrogated another Al Qaeda cell member and Afghan veteran who provided detailed information on Al Qaeda operations and the identities of 95 operatives.
After leaving the JTTF in May 1999 to work criminal matters, John returned to the JTTF on September 11, 2001. He contacted a well-placed human source that provided real time targeting information on Al Qaeda and Taliban operations in Afghanistan. He was also selected as one of the first FBI Agents to be sent to GTMO.
In May 2003, John was promoted to Supervisory Special Agent overseeing domestic terrorism programs. He developed a program entitled “American Islamic Radicals” to investigate and gather intelligence on homegrown/lone wolf actors trying to obtain training and/or travel to Jihad hotspots around the globe. In 2005 he was assigned as the Acting Legal Attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where he initiated an ad hoc JTTF among the various Bosnian security and police services to formally address and develop a program to identify and interview all foreign fighters remaining in Bosnia after the violent breakup of Yugoslavia. In 2005, John became the supervisor of the JTTF Cyber squad and developed programs to enhance technology, utilize undercover operations and partner with private sector entities to address online radicalization as well as cyber threats from foreign actors.
In 2009, John became the Community Outreach Coordinator and worked to bring about a positive interaction between various communities and the FBI, working closely with the Muslim community to sponsor FBI events such as “Muslim Youth Day” to develop mutual trust, respect, collaboration and cultural understanding.
His last assignment before retiring was working on counterintelligence matters. He is a certified Crisis Negotiator, Police Instructor and Adjunct Professor at the FBI Academy. John is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Award, Federal Law Enforcement Foundation Investigative Excellence Award, CIA Intelligence Award and Respect for Law Enforcement Inc. Achievement Award. He is also a member of the NYPD Honor Legion.
Currently, John works as a senior advisor with the Soufan Group and as a contractor conducting background investigations for the Bureau.
Special Agent (Retired)
August 1987 – June 2015
“They said if you won’t wear a wire, you’re fired. And in July of 1992, the source who was friends with the future bombers of the 1993 bombing was fired… Two months later a guy by the name of Ramzi Yousef joins the group.”—Retired Agent John Anticev
The following are links to articles and videos about the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, John Anticev’s confidential source Emad Salem, the investigation into the 1993 World Trade Center bombing:
FBI.gov Website: World Trade Center Bombing 1993
New York Times – 10/31/1993: Bomb Informer’s Tapes Give Rare Glimpse of F.B.I. Dealings
Prime Video – Two Part Series: “Terror Routes”
History Channel – 8/29/2018: Government Terrorist Trackers Before 9/11: Higher Ups Wouldn’t Listen
History Channel – 9/18/2018: This Man Helped Thwart the Biggest Terror Attack That Almost Happened