In today’s dose of WTF news, Felix Sater–a mafia-connected ex-Trump associate, FBI informant and convicted felon–once gave the U.S. government Osama bin Laden‘s phone number, a federal judge previously acknowledged during a hearing on the unsealing of long-hidden documents.
“He has done an awful lot of very interesting and dangerous things,” Judge I. Leo Glasser remarked on April 17 in a Brooklyn federal courtroom.
It’s an understatement to describe Sater’s backstory as “complicated.”
In recent months, he’s been implicated in the whole controversy over a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow, but his story goes back a little further than that. The real estate developer worked as a spy for the U.S. government as part of cooperation agreement, after he pleaded guilty to racketeering in 1998. He leveraged himself into this position by giving the FBI five of bin Laden’s personal satellite telephone numbers (this was before 9/11), according to a BuzzFeed News report from last year.
The authors of that piece took a victory lap on learning that key detail was backed up in federal court.
— Jason Leopold (@JasonLeopold) May 16, 2019
The judge is responding to @firstlookmedia, which seeks to lift the veil on Sater’s deal with the government and his work for the FBI and intelligence agencies. Those docs have remained sealed since his sentencing a decade ago.
— Anthony Cormier (@a_cormier_) May 16, 2019
According to the report, an Afghan intelligence officer called Sater in 1998, gave him bin Laden’s digits, and asked him to give this to U.S. officials.
Matt Naham contributed to this report.
[Screengrab via CNN]