At the end of episode 10 of Hulu’s Looming Tower, a mysterious woman is seen in the courtroom as a witness in the 9/11 investigation. The woman is a CIA agent who was a part of the team tracking the terrorist group Al Qaeda’s, movements.
The female agent is Diana Marsh, dressed in a black hijab to conceal her identity. She is made to sit in a witness box, where she lies about sharing information about Hazmi and Mihdhar with the FBI to save her own skin.
She is accused of keeping sensitive intel from the FBI, which would have saved 3000 American lives, had she not decided to conceal information.
Of course, blaming her, or the animosity between CIA and FBI entirely would be wrong, since several other factors could have been involved leading up to history’s most brutal terrorist attack.
I will talk a little more about her further in the article, but before that, if you are not aware, Looming Tower is based on the book “The Looming Tower,” written by the Pulitzer prize winner Lawrence Wright. The series recounts the events leading up to the 9/11 attack. It also portrays the animosity between the American intelligence agencies, FBI, and CIA.
1. Who is the Female CIA Agent in Hijab?
The female CIA agent in Hijab, as seen in Hulu’s The Looming Tower, is Diana Marsh, a CIA agent played by Wrenn Schmidt. She believes that the CIA is exclusively positioned to deal with terrorist attacks and decides to conceal sensitive information from the FBI.
She enters the courtroom, dressed in Hijab to conceal her identity. She is accused of withholding information from the FBI that could have prevented the terrorists from attacking the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, saving over 3000 American lives.
While seated in the witness box, she lies about her involvement and handling of intel on Hazmi and Mihdhar, operatives from the Al Qaeda terrorist group, who were responsible for the attack.
Diana’s character is majorly influenced by at least three real-life CIA agents, including Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, who has headed the Bin Laden Issue Station and Global Jihad Unit.
2. More About Alfreda Frances Bikowsky: Who is She?
Alfreda Frances Bikowsky was a CIA agent who led the Bin Laden Issue Station. Just as the show has recounted, Bikowsky sat in the courtroom on the day of the 9/11 investigation and was representing the CIA.
She was accused of withholding information from the FBI, which could have prevented the bloodshed following the attack. The CIA had intel on Al Qaeda operatives, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, at least 18 months prior to 9/11.
By then, the FBI was already on the lead about a possible terrorist attack on America. But Bikowsky and her superior, Michael Scheuer, decided to withhold information in hopes (and arrogance) of dealing with the issue within the CIA itself.
During the post 9/11 investigation, a few of the CIA agents had confirmed that Bikowsky ordered them to keep the information confidential from the FBI. This narrative was recreated in the Hulu series as Marsh is seen instructing the team at Alec Station to overlook the FBI’s request on Intel about the case.
Post-9/11, Bikowsky’s information was also concealed from the public, like Marsh’s was. For years, journalists from America and abroad have been trying to uncover the female CIA agent’s real identity.
Then nearly ten years later, a podcast by independent journalists Ray Nowosielski and John Duffy called “Who is Rich Blew?” was announced, which was focused on the narrative about the CIA concealing information from the FBI.
But the CIA officials traced them down and threatened their lives if they revealed the original names in the documentary. Of course, even this could not prevent Bikowsky’s name from leaking online.
Throughout her CIA career, she was known by many aliases like ‘Frances,’ ‘Rich Blee,’ and ‘Queen of Torture.’
3. Other Bikowsky Impressions in Hollywood
Bikowsky became a model for several female agent characters that were to be seen in Hollywood because of her career in the CIA and her personality. Apart from Diana Marsh from Looming Tower, she has inspired quite a number of female agent characters, like
- Maya Harris, played by Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty (2012).
- Bernadette, played by Maura Tierney in The Report (2019).
- A red-headed CIA agent in Jane Mayer’s book, The Dark Side
4. About The Looming Tower (2018)
The Looming Tower is an American TV miniseries, which recounts the events leading up to the 9/11 attack. It portrays the animosity between the American intelligence agencies, FBI, and CIA.
The 10-episode series is based on the book “The Looming Tower,” written by the Pulitzer prize winner and journalist Lawrence Wright.