When the Twin Towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001, among the thousands killed was the one man who may have known more about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda than any other person in America: John O’Neill.
The former head of the FBI’s flagship antiterrorism unit in New York City, O’Neill had investigated the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa and the USS Cole in Yemen. For six years, he led the fight to track down and prosecute Al Qaeda operatives throughout the world. But his flamboyant, James Bond style and obsession with Osama bin Laden made him a controversial figure inside the buttoned-down world of the FBI. Just two weeks before Sept. 11, O’Neill left the bureau for a job in the private sector — as head of security at the World Trade Center. He died there after rushing back into the burning towers to aid in the rescue efforts.
FRONTLINE’s “The Man Who Knew,” chronicles John O’Neill’s story — a story that embraces the clash of personalities, politics and intelligence, offering important insights into both the successes and failures of America’s fight against terrorism.