“We started supplying details. There was a 27-person team, the command was divided and it was based in Dubai. We told them who its leader was, his passport number, his Dubai identity card and that they were preparing to attack a U.S. warship,” he said.
At first the CIA asked for more information. But after seven or eight months of reporting, the agency wrote back that the information is interesting “but they think such an attack is impossible,” Makowski said. Three months later, the Cole was attacked as it was in port in Yemen.
“To me, the most appalling thing is that after we supplied all this information about an attack on a warship in the Gulf, the Cole wasn’t protected in any way,” Makowski said.
The CIA had no comment on the book or on Makowski’s assertions. A former senior U.S. intelligence official said he’d never heard of Makowski, but he declined to speak on the record. Michael Scheuer, who from 1996 to 1999 headed the CIA’s special “Alec station,” which monitored bin Laden, said he was unaware of Polish intelligence on the terrorist leader.
Makowski’s former colleague, Gromoslaw Czempinski, who’s a legend at the CIA for having led the rescue of six U.S. intelligence officers from Iraq in 1990, vouches for his story, however.
“The Americans didn’t believe us. They said, ‘We have better sources than you do,’ ” Czempinski told McClatchy. “We offered them bin Laden, but they refused.”
Makowski’s credentials are many. The son of a spy, he speaks fluent English, attended primary school in Great Britain and high school in the United States, and received a postgraduate law degree from Harvard. He graduated from the Polish military intelligence academy at Stare Kiejkuty, also the location of one of the so-called "black sites" where the CIA interrogated – and some say tortured – suspected terrorists, including the alleged mastermind of the Cole attack, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who now faces trial before a military commission at Guantanamo.
Makowski spent 20 years in the Polish espionage service under the communist regime, rising to the rank of colonel, in charge of spying on the democratic opposition and tracking its finances. When the communist government collapsed, he was mustered out in 1990 and went into private business, though he never left the world of espionage behind.
He gave McClatchy this account of his conversations with Massoud:
Massoud was desperate for arms, financial support and a relationship with the United States when he reached out to Makowski in 1997. At the time, Makowski was selling arms manufactured by the Polish state arms industry.
Arriving at Massoud’s Panjshir valley redoubt in northern Afghanistan, Makowski introduced himself as a former spy. Massoud wanted to purchase three things: $150 million in Polish arms, equipment to mine emeralds and an arrangement to print Afghan currency in Poland. A high Polish intelligence official checked first with the CIA.
“The CIA isn’t interested in Massoud. He’s not on their agenda. They don’t want us to sell him any arms,” the Polish official reported after a visit to Langley, Va., where the CIA’s headquarters are. The CIA did say it had no objection to selling the mining equipment or printing money in Poland.