sitemap Claims on the Downing of TWA 800

No Claims?

Several claims, including an unspecific warning, were made about TWA 800.   All of them were in the name of Islamist terrorist organizations and groups.  The validity of these claims must be examined in the context of known relationships with terrorism - sponsoring states.  Such spectacular terrorist strikes are always launched in the context of long-term strategies and national interests.  The Islamist terrorists did not arrive lightly at considerations of using weapons of mass destruction.   International terrorism is in the midst of a quest for the super spectacular terrorist strike. The case of TWA 800 served as a turning point because of Washington's determination and to a great extent ability to suppress terrorist explanations and float "mechanical failure" theories. To avoid such suppression after future strikes, terrorism sponsoring states must raise the ante so that the West cannot ignore them."

Yossef Bodansky - "bin Laden - The Man Who Declared War on America"
Bodansky is the Director of the House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare


In a July 10, 1997 Aviation Subcommittee document - "Status of the Investigation of the Crash of TWA 800 and the Proposal Concerning the Death on the High Seas Act" - it is stated ......

Despite a massive and costly recovery and investigative effort by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the FBI, the cause of the crash has not yet been pinpointed. .... Originally, the conventional wisdom was that the crash was caused by a terrorist attack. This explanation was supported by witnesses who said that they saw a streak of light in the sky, considered to be a missile, heading towards the plane just before it exploded. .....So far, no terrorist group or person has come forward with a credible claim of responsibility......

Yet the judge gave an admonition ....

July 20, 1996     London Times.
New York: Jurors at the trial here of the alleged mastermind of the World Trade Centre bombing, who is accused of plotting to attack US airliners over Asia, were told to ignore reports about the crash while considering the case against Ramzi Yousef, arrested in Pakistan last year.

The United States gave missiles to Moslem guerrilla forces which later gave them to terrorist groups.

July 21, 1996,  The Jerusalem Post
French Defense Ministry experts say it is possible that the TWA Boeing 747 which exploded Thursday was accidentally hit by a missile fired by a US Army unit. According to information reaching The Jerusalem Post, the French experts believe that if reports about a surface-to-air missile hitting the plane are confirmed, the infrastructure needed to fire a missile powerful enough to hit a plane at that altitude is only possessed by army units. They ruled out the possibility that a Stinger missile could hit the plane. Such missiles were delivered by the US to Moslem guerrilla forces in Afghanistan, and later according to several intelligence reports were transferred to Moslem fundamentalist terrorist groups. According to the experts, human or technical error could have led to the TWA disaster. They noted the incident in which a US Navy plane shot down an Iranian civilian plane over the Persian Gulf a few years ago, killing some 180 passengers. The experts added that if the TWA plane was accidentally shot down by a military unit, it is unlikely that the US army will admit it. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called US President Bill Clinton on Thursday and offered Israel's help in the war against terror. However, the US government said there was still no evidence that would favor the terror theory as the cause of the TWA explosion. ..... Israeli terrorism experts are looking for possible links between Moslem militants and the explosion of TWA flight 800, the newspaper Ha'aretz said on Friday. The paper quoted an unidentified senior security source as saying Israel was helping US intelligence agencies and the FBI in every way it could in their investigation of the crash. Netanyahu's office declined comment on the report. But Israeli security sources told Reuter that Israel routinely cooperates on such matters with the US. TWA said flight 800 used to go on from Paris to Tel Aviv, but the Israel leg was discontinued in January. Israeli officials have not drawn any connection between the air disaster, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. They say they have yet to determine whether it was an accident or an attack. "We still don't know if this is an attack," Brig.- Gen. Yigal Pressler, Netanyahu's adviser on counter- terrorism, told Israel Radio. But he cited previous attempts he said involved Iran, Syria and Libya. He said some airports and airlines were not as diligent as Israelis in conducting security checks. In Paris, TWA spokesman Gilbert Dennemont ... described as "pure speculation" French media reports which said investigators were increasingly convinced the plane was the target of an attack, possibly downed by a surface-to-air missile fired from the American coast or from a ship at sea. The senior security source cited unspecified recent warnings of a possible attack on a plane

And the Israelis sent a warning ....

July 23, 1996    The London Times
The Tel Aviv paper Yediot Ahronot disclosed yesterday that Israel had been asked by the CIA to check the Athens-New York passenger list of TWA Flight 800. The involvement of Mossad, Israel's secret service, emerged after it was made known that the Israelis warned US Intelligence before the disaster that an American aircraft would be the target of "sabotage or hijacking" by Islamic extremists. "The American intelligence agency gave Mossad the passenger list of the TWA plane from Athens to New York and asked that it check the passengers' backgrounds to reveal if one of them had connections to a terror group," reported the paper, which has close links to the Israeli security services. .... Earlier this month, a Mossad officer monitoring Middle East terrorist groups passed an unspecific warning to his American counterpart in TelAviv. The officer said: "The threat of sabotage or a hijacking against an American plane was analysed and considered serious enough for us to pass on to the Americans. It was then up to the Americans to assess the dangers and decide whether to pass it on to their airlines."

September 22, 1996     The New York Post
Investigators are reviewing an anonymous threat received after the October 1, 1995 conviction of radical sheik Omar Abdel Rahman .... the threat was that a New York airport or jetliner would be attacked in retaliation ........

August 25, 1996      Times of London
U.S. officials are investigating reports that Islamic terrorists have smuggled Stinger ground-to-air missiles into the United States from Pakistan. Senior Iranian sources close to the fundamentalist regime in Tehran claimed this weekend that TWA flight 800 was shot down last month by one of three shoulder-fired Stingers of the type used by Islamic guerrillas during the Afghanistan war. The sources said the missiles arrived in America seven months ago after being shipped from Karachi via Rotterdam and on to the Canadian port of Halifax. They claimed an Egyptian fundamentalist group backed by Iran was responsible for smuggling the weapons across the Canadian border into the United States. The group, the Gama'a al-Islamiya, comprises followers of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric jailed in the United States over the 1993 New York World Trade Center bombing. A senior White House official responsible for counter-terrorism told The Sunday Times this weekend that he had seen a report that a Stinger missile had been smuggled into the United States from Pakistan. The official, who is involved in collating intelligence relating to the TWA inquiry for the White House, said investigators were aware of reports that Stingers may have been smuggled into the country.... If a Stinger was the cause of this, our first theory would be that it came from Afghanistan."   The official was commenting on reports from Tehran that claimed several groups funded by the religious authorities in Iran are active in the United States. The reports claim one previously unknown underground group called Falakh may have as many as 50 highly trained terrorists in the country.

July 19, 1996     CNN Web posted at: 10:50 a.m. EDT
A main investigator in the case on Friday said terrorism had not been ruled out as a cause of Wednesday night's crash of the Paris-bound Boeing 747. "We are looking at mechanical malfunction and at a criminal act," said Robert Francis, vice president of the National Transportation Safety Board. "Certainly the possibility of a criminal act is a distinct one." ... Two parallel investigations -- one looking into accidental causes and the other into possible criminal activity-- are under way. The FBI will continue its probe into the crash until the possibility of criminal activity is ruled out as a cause, said Jim Kallstrom with the agency's Anti-terrorism Task Force. "We will get to the bottom of this, whatever the bottom is," he vowed. The CIA's Counter-terrorism Center also has begun a worldwide search for any clues that terrorism may have been involved in crash. But so far, a CIA official said, "We have nothing that points us in one direction or another." There was some speculation that a surface-to-air missile, perhaps fired from a boat off the coast of Long Island, could have brought the plane down. A top Pentagon intelligence official told CNN such a possibility has been ruled out. The reason: a stinger missile is heat-seeking, and analysts concluded it would have had to make too sharp a turn (See Musing "No Kidding" below) to hit the TWA flight ..... Counter- terrorism analysts in Washington assigned to the case also looked into several calls claiming responsibility for the crash, but all but one such claim has been ruled out. The source declined to discuss the nature of the possible threat they were still looking at. Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday two calls claiming responsibility for the crash had been received after the plane went down, but she said there are "no indications" yet of terrorism. One of the calls mentioned by Reno was received at Tampa, Florida, television station WTSP from a man who identified himself as a member of a "Jihad," a station official said. Jihad, meaning "holy war," is a word used by Islamic militant groups. The WTSP spokesman said the caller gave no name and offered no motive.
In the absence of explanations, theories abounded. One focused on a fax sent Wednesday to an Arabic language newspaper in Beirut warning of an attack. State Department and CIA officials confirmed they had received copies of the fax Thursday. The message said "tomorrow morning we will strike the Americans in a way they do not expect and it will be very surprising to them," according to one official.   A counterterrorism source familiar with the fax said that it was sent at 11 a.m. New York time Wednesday, more than nine hours before the bombing. But a CIA source said that the agency "does not attach too much significance" to the fax.

The fax, written in Arabic, ends with the following threat:  "The Mujahadeen will respond harshly to the threats of the stupid American president. All will be shocked by the magnitude of the response. The determining of the place and time are in the hands of the Mujahadeen. The invaders must get ready to leave alive or dead; and their rendezvous will be morning, and isn't morning near."  U.S. News and World Report magazine, in the July 29, 1996 issue, identified the group who sent the fax as, "The Movement of Islamic Jihad/The Jihad Wing of the Arabian Peninsula."

October 4, 1998    New York Times
Islamic Jihad ....  receives money and sponsorship from bin Laden and has been absorbed into his terror network...

July 19, 1996     Reuters
Attorney General Jane Reno said she was unaware of any threats before the crash but there were "some calls'' afterward claiming responsibility. ABC News reported that an Arabic newspaper received a warning of an attack on an American target Wednesday from the same group that claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed five Americans in Saudi Arabia in November. But the State Department said it had viewed the warning letter as a political tract and not as a specific threat of an extremist attack. "To us it seemed to be a general political tract. We don't see it as a specific threat,'' State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said of the letter sent to Al Hayat, an Arabic language newspaper published in London.

London reminds one of an individual who has connections to Florida and Britain ..

July 19, 1996       New York Times.
A specific warning about the flight had been sent by an extremist Saudi organization called the Movement of Islamic Change, the organization that claimed responsibility for blowing up US military personnel in Saudi Arabia last November. "Late this morning we got a copy of a letter in Arabic that we then had translated, and got it to the FBI" said a State Department spokesman ... "It's a ... statement that seems aimed at the Saudi regime or the American presence in Saudi Arabia"......... Officials said they were reviewing a telephone call placed to a Tampa, Florida television station yesterday morning from a man who identified himself as a member of a jihad and claimed responsibility for the crash.

Note the reference to Florida which links to the item below and a reference to Britain which also closes the loop back to Rahman - all under the umbrella of Islamic Jihad......

November 1, 1995     Electronic Telegraph World News
A British-educated economics lecturer, Ramadan Shallah, yesterday made his first appearance as the new leader of the militant Islamic Jihad movement, whose founder, Fathi Shiqaqi, was assassinated in Malta last week. Mr Shallah, 38, was at Damascus airport with other leaders of the rejectionist Palestinian world to receive Mr Shiqaqi's coffin.. (Shallah's) office in Damascus and the group's members in the Gaza Strip refuse to confirm basic details of his background ..... From the differing accounts of his life, it seems that Mr Shallah was born in 1957 in Gaza City's Shajaiya neighbourhood. Believed to have headed Islamic Jihad's fund-raising operations in Britain. He had been a student with Mr Shiqaqi at Zaqazik university in Egypt, where they joined Egyptian radicals in forming the Egyptian wing of Islamic Jihad, which assassinated President Sadat in 1980 after he made peace with Israel. .... The Palestinian wing of Islamic Jihad became known in the 1980s for its attacks on Israeli targets and was among the early proponents of suicide bombings .....He taught economics in Gaza and left in the mid- 1980s, apparently taking up studies in Egypt and America. He went to Britain in 1986 and received his doctorate in economics at Durham University in 1991. He is believed to have headed Islamic Jihad's fund-raising operations in Britain. He is also thought to have been involved in militant Islamic activities in Florida. ....

May 7, 1999  Company Press Release   The Journal of Counterterrorism & Security International
NPR has not broadcast any in-depth story about the investigative findings and incriminating documents released by the FBI in its ongoing investigation into the secret headquarters of the Islamic Jihad that operated out of the campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa between 1990 and 1995.

August 6, 1999 The New York Times
A Federal judge in Manhattan refused Thursday to release a man who was jailed in May for refusing to testify, on religious grounds, before a Federal grand jury investigating Osama bin Laden and the bombings of the United States Embassies in Africa last August. The witness, Ihab M. Ali, a taxi driver from Orlando, Fla., ....said he feared that if he testified, bin Laden would retaliate against him, or his family in Egypt.

August 8, 1999 The New York Times
The Government has not said why it wants to question Ali. The most recent indictment in the case shows that prosecutors suspect that some of bin Laden's associates have been active in Florida.

And The American Spectator seems to have a strong opinion too ....

September 1997     The American Spectator       
Letter from John B. Roberts II in reply to an earlier one from James Hall - Chairman of the NTSB

Early this summer Hall testified before Congress that a meteorite may have blown up TWA, an event about as likely as an attack by a UFO. Apparently, Mr. Hall is prepared to got to any length to avoid confronting evidence of terrorism in the crash of TWA 800..... minute traces of PETN and RDX were found in TWA 800. Hall would have us believe they came from a bomb-sniffing dog test. But the St. Louis Police Department test record says only that a "wide-bodied jet" was used in the test, and provides no serial number for the aircraft......As TWA's 800's debris was being hauled ashore, it was being tested by the EGIS high-tech explosives detection system operated by FBI technicians and BATF bomb experts. Within five days of the crash, EGIS registered the first of more than a dozen "hits" for PETN on the aircraft. The FBI laboratory--whose work, even before it was subsequently criticized by the Justice Departments's inspector general, was questioned by FBI agents working on EGIS--confirmed only two findings. Do the EGIS findings mean that there was once much more explosive residue .... Whether there were two positive findings or a dozen, the dog-test explanation is almost as zany as Hall's meteorite theory..... Hall states that the U.S. lacks intelligence leads, but at least one terrorist has claimed credit for the TWA 800 bombing. World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Ahmed Yousef told authorities his group is responsible. Yousef's claim has not been made public, but it is in the FBI file.

The sons of his partner-in-crime have linked up with .....

November 8, 1998   CNN
Two sons of an Egyptian cleric convicted of plotting terrorist attacks in New York City have joined the terrorist organization of Osama bin Laden, which is suspected of carrying out deadly bombings against two U.S. embassies in east Africa, CNN has learned. Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, serving a life sentence in a federal prison, also has written a will calling on his sons to seek revenge against the United States, according to sources who have seen it.
.... Abdel-Rahman's two sons, Omar and Asim, both in their late 20s, were among those present when bin Laden held a press conference near Khost, Afghanistan, in May. It was at that press conference that bin Laden publicly unveiled his International Islamic Front and talked about an edict he issued in February, calling for a jihad, or holy war, against American civilians anywhere in the world. A person who spoke to one of Abdel-Rahman's sons told "NewsStand" that "he said that he would follow into the footprints of his father and he would continue the jihad."

The American Spectator's claim was backed up in writing by two individuals who tried to bomb a Brooklyn subway ....

July 12, 1998,    NY Times    No Flight 800 Connection
Abu Maizar and Khalil, 23, were arrested last July when the police raided an apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and found what they described as a pipe bomb "fully rigged and ready to be detonated," along with a rambling note that threatened attacks against Jewish and American interests if various demands were not met. The demands included the release of imprisoned Islamic militants including Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who was convicted of masterminding the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.   Lawyers for Abu Maizar have suggested that he did not intend to set off the bomb but rather planned to use it as a prop in some hazy plot to defraud a government anti-terrorism program of reward money. Khalil's lawyer has not yet addressed the jury, but Khalil insisted after his arrest that he had not known about the bomb's existence. The note -- it was typed on lined yellow paper and rife with grammatical and spelling and punctuation errors -- not only warned that Islamic militants were "ready to hit everywhere" with suicide bombs, but also claimed responsibility for the crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800 in July 1996, in which 230 people died.  Whether Abu Maizar and Khalil are guilty of plotting a subway calamity will be decided by the jury at their trial, but the note's claim of responsibility for the Flight 800 catastrophe will not require a trial, an FBI spokesman indicated.  The claim was one of the "thousands of leads" the bureau pursued in its investigation of the TWA crash, the spokesman, Joseph Valiquette, said on Friday.  "We are comfortable with our announcement last November that we have found no evidence that a criminal act was responsible for the plane going down," he said.

Well Mr. Valiquette may be comfortable, but apparently the U.S.Government was also warned about bombings to take place in Africa under bin Laden's sponsorship and were equally comfortable in their denials of this warning after the fact .....

October 23, 1998    NY Times
Nine months before the attack on the American Embassy here, United States intelligence officials received a detailed warning that Islamic radicals were plotting to blow up the building, according to Kenyan and American officials.
The warning forecast the Aug. 7 bombing in several particulars, the officials said. It came from an Egyptian man who American officials now believe was involved in the simultaneous terrorist assaults on the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. .... Since the bombings, the State Department has maintained that it received no specific warnings about threats to its embassies in East Africa. But late Thursday, a spokesman acknowledged that the C.I.A. had sent the State Department two reports about Ahmed which prompted the embassy in Kenya to step up security for several weeks. .... According to American officials, Ahmed walked into the Nairobi embassy last November and told American intelligence officials that he knew of a group that was planning to detonate a bomb-laden truck inside the diplomats' underground parking garage. .... Analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency were unable to link Ahmed to any terrorist group but they nonetheless sent two reports last November about his statements to various Government agencies. .... A Clinton Administration official acknowledged that the embassy in Kenya had received a specific warning about an attack.... Several non-American diplomats in the region speculated that the United States is allowing the Tanzanians to try Ahmed because they fear his trial in America might bring to light his dealings with American authorities and other Western intelligence services.

Cold comfort, Mr. Valiquette!  Perhaps you should read Yossef Bodansky's book - "bin Laden - The Man who Declared War on America". Bodansky is the Director of the House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare and in this capacity is a key advisor to the highest echelons of the U.S. Government. In his book Bodansky writes that there were two key events "on the eve" of the TWA 800 downing.  

First he describes an editorial in the London Islamist paper 'al-Quds al-Arabi' that spelled out the reasons behind the escalating terrorist attacks on the United States which concluded by mentioning the bombings in Riyadh and Khobar as the beginning of these attacks.  The editor of al-Quds al-Arabi, Abdul-Bari Atwan, is personally close to Osama bin Laden.  

Bodansky indicates that the second key event was a fax received by al-Hayah in London through al-Safir in Beirut  in which on July 16 the Islamic Change Movement - the Jihad Wing in the Arabian Peninsula took credit for both the Riyadh and Khobar Towers bombings .  A warning was then issued by the same group on July 17 stating that "the mujahideen will give their harshest reply to the threats of the foolish U.S. President. Everybody will be surprised by the magnitude of the reply. ... The invaders must be prepared to leave, either dead or alive. Their time is at the morning-dawn.  Is not the morning-dawn near?".  TWA 800 exploded in the early morning in the United Kingdom.  On July 18, this group issued a statement accepting responsibility for the TWA 800 downing. The leaders the Islamic Change Movement had participated in a June 1996 terrorist planning meeting held in Tehran and on July 20, 1996 it attended a follow-up conference in Tehran in which the Islamic Change Movement was singled out for "recent achievements".

We can guess what the "recent achievements" were!