Interview With Aukai Collins

by: Linda Vester, Brigitte Quinn
Fox News: The Big Story With John Gibson
May 24, 2002

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

VESTER: Twelve minutes after the hour.

Have you heard this name -- Aukai Collins? He's supposedly an American-born jihad warrior turned FBI informant. Now he claims that he warned the bureau long before 9/11 that Hani Hanjour, one of the September 11th hijackers, was using a Phoenix flight school as his training ground for terrorism. Now Collins talks about this stuff in a new book. It's called -- long title -- "My Jihad: The True Story of an American Mujahid's Amazing Journey from Usama Bin Laden's Training Camps to Counterterrorism with the FBI and CIA."

He talked earlier today with Fox News Brigitte Quinn. Have a lock at what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGITTE QUINN, FOX CORRESPONDENT: Why did the FBI recruit you?

AUKAI COLLINS, "MY JIHAD" AUTHOR: I came to them.

QUINN: You came to them?

COLLINS: I came to them.

QUINN: OK. What did you tell them when you came to them.

COLLINS: This was in 1996. I was just concerned with -- a group of tourists had just been slaughtered in Egypt by some group claiming to be an Islamic group, and it just disturbed me that here I just came from the front lines in Chechnya fighting for a good cause, while other people are killing civilians. So I figured that maybe I could use my reputation, my access to maybe circles that other people didn't have access to.

QUINN: You became friendly with a group of Arab men, including Hani Hanjour. Tell us about them. Describe their lives.

COLLINS: They were more non-religious than anything. You know, they were just young guys like any young guys, but they go a little overboard with the young guy stuff. Like they chase after women a little more than American guys. You know, they drink alcohol. It's not the type of people you would have thought of as fundamentalists or something like that.

QUINN: Describe Hani Hanjour.

COLLINS: A little scrawny guy. That's just what sticks out in my mind the most. I mean scrawny. You know, 5'7", 5'8", 150 pounds. A little tiny guy and not all that intelligent. Just kind of a -- kind of -- we called him in Arabic "The Blond," You know, like he's just kind of air- headed, you know.

QUINN: Did you get any -- any sense from them, any indication that they hated Americans, that they wanted to hurt Americans?

COLLINS: From this particular group, not that I ever saw. I mean, you know, they were enjoying life here. I wouldn't see why they'd want to ruin that. I mean, that's not to say that they could have changed in the future, but, at that time, I didn't see anything like any hatred for Americans.

QUINN: Was there any point when you warned the FBI and said, "Hey, you really need to take a look at these guys."

COLLINS: Well, yeah, just for the simple fact that it was a group and not individuals, and they all seemed to have like a common goal, which was, at that time, flight training. I didn't find anything particularly threatening about that at the time, but it deserved some attention.

QUINN: Do you feel now that the information that you were able to gather before 9/11 might have in some way prevented the attacks?

COLLINS: I think when you add the information that I had with all the other pieces that they had, it should have.

QUINN: You have a book out now. You know what your critics are going to say. They're going to say, "Here's a guy that just wants to sell his books."

COLLINS: If I would have had a choice to have written the book or continued working for the FBI, I would have continued working. I didn't want to write a book for the simple fact that now I'm blowing my cover, so to speak, and I can no longer do this kind of work. So I can't, you know, offer my services anymore. So I would have rather have continued to keep working and do what's right.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VESTER: Now the FBI has released a statement about Aukai Collins. Here's what they say. Quote, "We emphatically deny that Aukai Collins provided any information to the FBI about Hani Hanjour prior to 9/11."

Now the bureau also tells us on background that Collins did have some dealings with bureau operatives. They will not, however, describe the nature of those dealings.


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