Ali Soufan, the Lebanese-American FBI agent whose questioning of Qaeda members after 9/11 gleaned valuable intelligence - including confirmation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed was the mastermind of the attacks - reveals his face for the first time in a "60 Minutes" interview with Lara Logan to be broadcast Sunday, September 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.
Soufan used his fluency in Arabic and his understanding of Middle Eastern culture and religious ideology to learn information from captured al Qaeda members, including America's first high-value detainee after 9/11, Abu Zubaydah. Using a combination of "knowledge and empathy," says Soufan, he was able to build a rapport with Zubaydah, and Zubaydah accidently identified Khalid Sheik Mohammed as the 9/11 mastermind. "You need to connect with people on a human level - regardless, if they don't like you, want to kill you," Soufan tells Logan.
He said most of his interrogation subjects don't expect to be treated respectfully, engaged in conversation and offered food and drink. "And that scares them, that shakes them, because they were trained that we are so evil and we torture and we kill and that is the reason of the rage against us," says Soufan. "I try to deprive them from [the rage]."
According to several intelligence sources contacted by "60 Minutes," so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as water boarding and sleep deprivation, were effective and they told us that in the case of Zubaydah, who was water boarded 83 times, the techniques did lead to additional information. Soufan criticizes the methods, though, as unreliable and not as effective on someone trained to withstand much worse. "If you look at [enhanced interrogation] from an American perspective, you will say 'Wow, that's torture.' But really, that's like saying hello in some jail in the Middle East," Soufan tells Logan. That's why, he says, Zubaydah had to be water boarded so many times. "The detainee calls your bluff. You cannot go back and say, 'I'm going to build a rapport.'"
Soufan left the FBI six years ago and now runs his own security consulting company. He says he hasn't been to Ground Zero since the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. "Maybe I'm one of these people who didn't get over it," he tells Logan. During 9/11, he was investigating the Qaeda attack of the U.S.S. Cole, trying to find those responsible so they might not be able to attack again. "If you want to be truthful...[it's] very difficult...not to...feel that...maybe I could have done something."