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FBI agents called off al Qaida terror trail | (UPI) -- Two FBI agents said they were taken off criminal investigations into a suspected terror cell linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaida network, ABCNEWS reported on its Web site Thursday.

"September the 11th is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit," FBI agent Robert Wright told ABC.

"Truthfully, if 9/11 had not occurred, we wouldn't be here [giving the interview]," said Wright's colleague, agent John Vincent, a 27-year veteran at the bureau until he retired a few days after being interviewed by ABCNEWS. "Because of 9/11, we're here because we see the danger."

The two Chicago-based agents were assigned in the mid-90s to track a terrorist connection to Chicago, a suspected terrorist cell that would later lead them to a link with bin Laden. But Wright told the network his supervisor stopped him from properly pursuing the suspected terrorist cell in Chicago, the basis of the investigation.

"Do you know what his response was? 'I think it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie,'" said Wright. "Those dogs weren't sleeping. They were training. They were getting ready."

Wright said he soon discovered that all the FBI intelligence division wanted him to do was to follow suspected terrorists and file reports --- but make no arrests.

"The supervisor who was there from headquarters was right straight across from me and started yelling at me: 'You will not open criminal investigations. I forbid any of you. You will not open criminal investigations against any of these intelligence subjects,'" Wright said.

Wright and Vincent said they were taken off criminal investigations of suspected terrorists linked to the deadly 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. U.S. officials say al Qaida was responsible for the embassy attacks and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

The agents said some of the money for the attacks led back to the people they had been tracking in Chicago. But even after the bombings, Wright said FBI headquarters wanted no arrests.

"Two months after the embassies are hit in Africa, they wanted to shut down the criminal investigation," said Wright. "They wanted to kill it." The FBI said its handling of the matter was appropriate at the time, according to ABCNEWS.

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