Mild-mannered Egyptian accountant and alleged al Qaeda mole who worked as an accountant for the New York Fire Department.
Fire Marshall Ronnie Bucca uncovered Refai's connections to terrorist 'Blind Sheik' Rahman, as well as evidence that Refai had obtained plans to the World Trade Center prior to the first bombing.
Refai was a naturalized Egyptian who was working as an accountant in the FDNY for twenty-five years and was later discovered by Fire Marshal Ronnie Bucca a) to have obtained the plans to the World Trade Center prior to the bombing and b) in 1999 to have lied to obtain a second ID to Metrotech, which is the city's most secure building, the FDNY's new headquarters where the plans of most of the city's buildings are kept.
So Ronnie Bucca was a Fire Marshal. He was a decorated heroic firefighter. He was in Rescue One; Rescue One is like the Green Berets of the Fire Department. They are the guys that go in and do all the heavy rescue work in Manhattan. Ronnie had been injured seriously in 1986 in a fall in which he broke his back and was not expected to live. He could have retired on a three-quarters tax-free pension. Not only did he go back to the Fire Department, but he went back to Rescue One in one year which is unheard of. He was known henceforth as the Flying Firefighter. He was kind of a legend to begin with in the Fire Department. He had always had an active duty army reserve presence. He was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne and because he hurt his back, he put in for Military Intelligence. He was ultimately in a unit that was one of only four army reserve units in the entire country that was tasked to the Defense Intelligence Analysis Center at Boling Air Force Base in Washington. So, Ronnie had top-secret clearance from the U.S. government.
...Having been thwarted the first time from being involved in the FBI investigation, Ronnie then educated himself about Islamic terrorism and began his own, personal probe. He came across an astonishing piece of evidence early on (not long after the bombing) that convinced him that these guys were going to come back to New York and try again to topple the World Trade Center. Ronnie learned a lot because of his contacts at Army Reserve Military Intelligence.
Ronnie learned of an Egyptian-American named Ahmed Refai, who was an accountant for twenty-five years with the FDNY, a naturalized Egyptian citizen. Refai had lied about losing his ID. He had claimed that he'd lost his ID, so that he could obtain a second ID. Ronnie, given his knowledge of the Egyptians and the role that they played earlier with the Blind Sheikh and the Day of Terror plot and the first World Trade Center bombing found that very suspicious. So, just on a hunch, he started taking a closer look at Refai. He went down and observed the videotape taken of Refai which clearly showed that his ID was right there in his back pocket, when he was requesting a new one. Although he was supposed to have lost his ID, later video showed him swiping his ID card through the reader and getting in to Metrotech. Ronnie wondered why would a guy lie like that? Then they found out Refai had filed a false report to report the card missing and forged the signature of a Fire Marshal. Ronnie wondered, "Why would a guy go to that kind of trouble?" Refai was interviewed, but gave conflicting information
Ronnie talked to his boss, one Kay Woods, who is now Deputy Assistant Commissioner, and asked her what kind of employee Refai had been. Woods kind of rolled her eyes and said this guy was like a ghost employee. He would come in late, took every vacation, would fall asleep at his desk, and made calls to Egypt. He was like a non-entity in the department, so saying he was "nostalgic" for his old department just didn't make sense. Ronnie asked her if he had done anything else unusual that she had observed. Wood replied that there was that time that Refai got the blueprints -- and Ronnie asked, "What blueprints?" She replied, "The blueprints to the World Trade Center." Ronnie was shocked, to say the least. Woods then said that in the early 90s (prior to the bombing) the capital budget unit where she and Refai were located was being renovated. They had some old green filing cabinets where the blueprints of a number of buildings were kept from when the inspection department was in that area. They were throwing them out. She had two dumpsters and they were just tossing these old blueprints. She went to lunch one day and came back to find Refai digging through the dumpsters. She said he had found the blueprints to the Trade Center. (Another Marshal also told me Refai also had the blueprints to the bridges and tunnels.) But in any event Kay Woods specifically remembered the World Trade Center blueprints and Refai asking, "Can I have these?" At the time she thought nothing of it. The day of the first World Trade Center bombing (February 26, 1993), Refai called in sick.